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How one man lost 90 pounds without giving up beer

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Brandon after completing the Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage last summer.

Brandon Wood promised himself that he wouldn’t make anything off limits the last time he set out to lose weight. Especially beer.

“Nothing tastes better after a long run,” he said, “than a cold beer.”

In the past, he tried numerous diets that were very restrictive. They didn’t work. So this time, he decided to still be able to enjoy things he wanted, just in moderation.

“I decided to do it my own way, watching my portion sizes, but still making room for the things I truly love,” he said. “Like beer.”

Today, the Alaskan ultra-marathoner will usually stick with one beer, instead of 3 or 4 (or more). As a result he has lost and kept off 90 pounds for the last three years, and last summer he ran his first 50 mile ultramarathon.

“I ran it with 2 friends, and we had an awesome time,” he said. “There were definitely a few beers drank after that was over!”

Brandon's "before" photo

Typically, Brandon goes for a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale after a long run, or hoppier beers like pale ales and IPAs. If he’s celebrating a PR or other big accomplishment, his favorite beer is Moose’s Tooth Fairweather IPA, from a popular restaurant/pizzeria in Anchorage that brews their own beer.

“For the size of Anchorage, we actually have a surprising number of really great breweries to choose from, but I’m going to have to go with Moose’s Tooth as my favorite,” he said. “Last year I set my current marathon PR of 3:49 after a pre-race meal of pizza and beer at Moose’s Tooth the night before, so they’re definitely doing something right.”

As for running, Brandon plans to complete his first 100 miler in 2013, and he favors training on the trails in Bicentennial Park that’s a mile from his front door. He also enjoys getting on the scenic Lost Lake trail, about two hours south of Anchorage, near Seward. These are the type of runs that prepare him to run a marathon at -22F, which is what he did last month.

So what advice does he have for other aspiring beer runners?

Don’t give up what you love,” he said. “You don’t want to fall into the trap of ‘I just ran 20 miles, so I can eat and drink whatever I want for the rest of the day,’ but going for a long run is a great excuse to kick back and enjoy a beer or two.”

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