Thursday, December 31, 2015

Back to the future!

Every year I go into the new year with resolve to do more regular blogs, thinking my low amount of blog posts can't possibly get any lower than it was in the year ending. Well, after several successive years of blogging decline, I hope 2015 marks my "bottoming out" as far as blog posts go. Counting this post, I had all of three posts the entire year, with this my first post since May. As I've mentioned before, because of my daily journal writing, I guess I have a limit of how much I want to write in a day, though I've also noticed a general decline in that feeling of need to express myself on every issue I come across. There are plenty of posts I've started, but just never had the motivation to finish! That said, here's my 2015 in review for those who are interested. I definitely can't say I've had a dull year by any stretch!

Nieces in Tennessee

Niece and nephews in Indiana!

Probably my most significant "story" of 2015 was what I covered in my last post: my weight loss. I started it in late November 2014 and when I posted in May, I had just passed my 6 month mark and had lost 50 pounds. Well, fast forward to late December now and I'm still going strong in the program! I ultimately lost about 70 pounds total, bottoming out at 156.8 pounds in early September. Since then, I've been maintaining and "bulking", i.e. adding some muscle mass through workouts and continuing to monitor my macronutrients. The difference now is I'm not trying to lose weight, so I obviously have a much larger "budget" during the day. I'm holding steady right around or slightly above 160 pounds, which was my initial target weight. The new target is going to be around 170.

It's been a fascinating experience watching how people react to my weight loss. Just the other day someone remarked how I was "disappearing" even though I haven't really lost weight since September. Perhaps I looked leaner or it's just a case of having clothes that fit me better. Anyone who knew me before I started is fairly surprised to see me now, to the point some have politely asked if everything is OK, thinking perhaps I lost weight because I was sick. 

As for me, I definitely feel more confident in how I look and feel, but the real sense of accomplishment is that I actually did it and continue to do it. I had been thinking about doing something like this for years and just could never do it, so being able to look back and realize I did it is still a bit surreal. But yeah, that's certainly been the main highlight of 2015. At the onset of the year of the year I had just started the program and had lost 15 pounds.
Just before Christmas last year...I had lost about 10-15 pounds by then
Early December 2015 in new glasses this year too!
Professionally, 2015 was much the same as 2014. I continue to sub regularly for two local school districts and a STEM academy, plus I worked the 2015 season for the Cleveland Browns up in the press box at FirstEnergy Stadium (still one more home game this coming Sunday!). While I have continued to keep my eyes and ears open for other opportunities (and applied for many), I have still, overall, enjoyed my time at all the schools I work for and with the Browns. The one change with the Browns this season was getting on the special events crew, meaning in addition to the regular home games, I also work special events at the stadium, mostly receptions and meetings that use one of the various club areas in the stadium. We also had two major concerts, one of which I won "Top Dawg" (best employee) at!

In "teacher clothes" 

At church I was called as Ward Mission Leader at the beginning of July. It's the first time I've ever had that calling, and has brought a lot of mission memories back. Overall it's been an enjoyable experience. Basically, I'm responsible for coordinating the efforts of the full-time missionaries serving in our ward (congregation) and the members of the ward.

After my first correlation meeting. We have one companionship of Sisters serving in the Kent area, and one companionship of Elders serving in the Ravenna area.

After a correlation meeting, they came to hear me sing the National Anthem at a KSU women's basketball game

Like 2014 and many years before, I have had several opportunities to sing the National Anthem at sporting events, and was even able to once again do "O Canada" before an ice hockey game in Cleveland. During the 2015 season I sang for three Cleveland Indians games. The first was on Mormon Night in June, then two weeks later I sang for the 20th anniversary of the 1995 team, so I was on the field with several members of that team. It was pretty cool right afterwards since we were all in the elevator together. My inner 13-year old self was absolutely thrilled. The 1995 team was one I followed very closely and knew every player, so getting to meet them...sweet!

June 19th game with the 1995 alumni behind me!
September 29th game

Lake Erie Monsters game on Halloween

As always, I had my share of travels to Indiana and Tennessee to visit with my siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews, and even extended family! I also enjoyed some "random road trips" with my good friend Michelle, one to Cedar Point, one to Ann Arbor, Michigan, one to Detroit, and another to Indiana! My "big" trip in 2015 was driving down to Orlando and Tampa, Florida during Spring Break. I went there via Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and came home via Montgomery, Alabama, and Tennessee. I was able to visit Disney for the first time since 2006, but more importantly was able to see some of my family in central Florida and some friends I hadn't met in person before, including my trainer Josh in Tampa. It was quite the whirlwind trip, but so worth it and so much fun! Another fun trip I had, which my random road trip to Detroit was part of, was a quick trip to East Lansing, Michigan to see Air Force play at Michigan State with my former missionary companion and friend Will, who came from Oklahoma to see the game. Always great to see Will and I got to see another major college stadium in the process. Double win!

With Michelle at Cedar Point on July 4th!
With Mom and Michelle in Ann Arbor!
With my friend and trainer Josh in Tampa in April

With my cousin Bryce at Epcot!

With my Kirtland friends the Nowaceks, who now live in the Orlando area!

With Bryce at Epcot

With high school friends Lyniece and Sharice when I stopped in Montgomery, Alabama!
With Will at Spartan Stadium

In some of my trips, I included a visit to the local Major League ballpark to add to my list of MLB parks I have seen games at, though some were special trips just to see the game. This season I saw my first games at Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay), PNC Park (Pittsburgh), Comerica Park (Detroit), Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati), and Miller Park (Milwaukee). The trips to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh were with my dad and were just for the game, while the other visits were part of trips I was already on. I'm hoping to add Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia) and Nationals Park (Washington, DC) to the list in 2016, if not more! And of course, I had plenty of visits to Progressive Field in Cleveland! Also, my trip to Milwaukee to see the Indians play the Brewers was my nephew Nathan's first MLB game ever!

With my dad at PNC Park in Pittsburgh after a lengthy rain delay

With Michelle at Comerica Park in Detroit

Brother-in-law David and my nephew Nate at Miller Park in Milwaukee

With my dad at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati
Overall, I can't complain about 2015. Sure, I'm still looking for that seemingly elusive full-time job with benefits, but in the meantime, I'm making do with what I have and taking advantage of the time I have to explore my interests and spend time with family and friends. I had to deal with my car getting hit just a few days after having it repaired for another accident where someone hit it, but I also enjoyed having visits this year from my brother and his family for Thanksgiving and my uncle and his family from Washington during the summer. Definitely excited for 2016 with at least one exciting trip planned in May, a new niece set to arrive in April, and more opportunities to develop myself professionally!

After my car was REAR ENDED and smashed into the car in front, which had a wheelchair lift. Geez. It was the third issue with the car in about a month, with this happening just 5 days after I got the car back from getting damage repaired from hitting an animal on the highway. Took a bit to get it all fixed, but eventually it was all taken care of

My grandpa and I enjoyed being tour guides in Kent for my uncle (who grew up in Kent but hadn't been back in years) and his family. So great to see them again!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

6 months in, down 50+

Since late November, I've been following a diet mainly to lose weight. During the process I've been meaning to blog about it, telling myself I'd blog when I hit my first main goal, or after six months. Well, I just recently hit the 50-pounds-down mark, and on May 23 I marked six months, so now is as good a time as ever. I have to say, though, what I've been doing doesn't really feel like a diet in the traditional sense, mostly because what I eat largely hasn't changed.

Progress chart from the beginning. As you can see, weight loss isn't linear! 
Lots of ups and downs
My reasoning for even attempting this was very practical: I simply wanted my clothes to fit better and I didn't want to have to keep buying progressively larger pants and shorts. It's not that I felt like I was horribly overweight or unhealthy, no, it was simply my clothes were tighter than I wanted, so I knew I needed to drop a few pounds. But I wasn't doing it as a "challenge" or to show off on social media; that's a huge part of why most people I know largely didn't know and only noticed because I was obviously losing weight. It wasn't because I was posting my progress for the world to see or taking and posting endless photos of what I was eating. Heck, even my own family didn't know about it until I had been doing it for a few weeks and anyone else who found out did so because they asked if I had lost weight and then I explained how.

So, what exactly have I been doing? In short, it's a technique called flexible dieting or "IIFYM", which stands for "If It Fits Your Macros". What are macros? That's short for macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, protein, and calories. Basically, flexible dieting means you track what you're eating and try to stay within certain limits for those macronutrients, essentially a daily budget. Every day I make sure what I'm eating is as close to those "budget numbers" as possible. Most days I do pretty well, but some days it just doesn't happen for a variety of reasons. How much of each macro is determined by a percentage of calories. For instance, right now, my percentage goals are about 40% (150 grams) for carbs, 35% (120 g) for protein, and 25% (45 g) for fat. Right now I'm on a low-calorie run of 1,485 calories/day, but in the course of my weight loss, that number has varied at different times. The basic principle is that to lose weight, you have to operate at a calorie deficiency.

Within that budget, I eat pretty much whatever I want as long as I meet those macro goals for the day. I like that because it has allowed me to still enjoy the many foods I like and not have to miss out on things like eating out with friends and family or having something sweet. The difference is that I simply keep track of what I'm eating and limit myself to certain amounts based on my "daily budget". There aren't any foods that I all-out avoid or even foods that I only have at certain times. Doesn't mean I meet my goals eating candy and ice cream all day; but it does mean I get to enjoy those things on a daily basis while still losing weight. Amazing, huh? (note sarcasm).

The idea that eating something like a Reese's peanut butter cup will "make you fat" isn't based on any real science. It's all about the macros. Eating a whole bag of them certainly isn't recommended, but they in themselves won't make you fat or are "bad" for you. Having too many is the problem. That goes for anything. What's "bad" for us is too much of anything, even something as basic as water (drinking too much water, for instance, can lead to hyponatremia, a deficiency of sodium, which can be fatal). The problem with things like sweets and other high calorie foods is that we generally eat too much of them, which is easy to do, not that they're "bad" for us in any amount. I've been able to enjoy things like a Whopper from Burger King, a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, pizza, and even a Big Mac and milkshake from McDonalds with no problems. Not only that, but I still continued to lose weight even after eating them. Why? Because I made sure they fit in my budget that day. Simple as that. I have had something (usually more than one) sweet every day the entire time I've been losing weight, and I'm not talking about artificial sweeteners either, though I do have foods with them too.

Another common element in many diets that isn't really present in flexible dieting is that of a "cheat day," which is a day where someone who is dieting binge-eats all their favorite foods (often sweets). In flexible dieting, there isn't much need for that since you can work those things into your daily diet. If it's "not healthy" to eat sweets to the point they're completely absent from a diet six days of the week, why is eating them in major excess one day of the week "healthy"? Really, about as close as I get to a "cheat day" is Saturday when my budget just allows more flexibility so I can add a few extra treats like a Nestle Drumstick or a trip to Yogurt Vi for some frozen yogurt.


Dated November 26, 2014, so I was all of 3 days into the whole thing. This was my 2nd day in the gym. I remarked in my journal that day that I was was excited to be getting in the habit of going after wanting to do it for so long. And look at that...I even have the super-sad "before" look for my beginning photo. HA! (I took this photo to prove to my trainer that I was actually working out!)

I had made some attempts previous to this on my own, mostly in attempting to get more exercise and/or at least eating more fruits and vegetables in my diet and making sure I was getting enough water. Each one of my attempts, though, ended up being short-lived. Why? Mostly because I didn't feel like I was seeing any noticeable results after a certain amount of time. I looked at getting a personal trainer too, but all of them seemed far too expensive for my budget and/or involved diet philosophies that I knew would make me unhappy, like giving up sugar, significantly reducing carbs, or something else extreme. I've always believed in the importance of balance in all areas of life, especially in diet, but it seemed no one out there shared my views. Just before I started this, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to lose weight and to just accept the fact that my weight at the time was it; it was either be content as is or be miserable trying to lose weight and then potentially gain it all back. On top of that, joining a gym seemed prohibitively expensive with my income, so I tried as much as I could to do things without a gym.

My best attempt to at least be more active was in 2011 when I got into the habit of going for walks and even a little bit of jogging every day in the spring and summer. I would walk up to the high school campus and walk around the high school and middle school, then do a few laps around one of the two tracks there, both walking and jogging. I was getting about an hour in every day and really enjoyed it. Can't say I lost any weight, but I had no real way to measure it and was just going to go by how my clothes felt. Well, reality had some other plans. First, I got a pretty bad ankle sprain during a dance rehearsal for This is Kirtland! that kept me from walking for several weeks, on top of the show opening, which cut into my time. I had just started getting back into the habit and was even able to jog again when I had to get my gallbladder taken out in late August. Worse was it was done with traditional surgery instead of laparoscopically, so that put me out of commission for a few more weeks (I was literally stapled together) and I simply fell out of habit.

One thing my gallbladder removal and recovery helped me to understand was that even though I may not have been totally thrilled with my weight, I was healthy in terms of how well the rest of my body was functioning and I remember the doctors being quite pleased about how quickly my incisions healed and my prognosis for full recovery and adjustment without the gallbladder. They were quite surprised that I don't drink, smoke, or do any drugs, so that helped even more. Why was I healthy? Mostly from eating a fairly balanced diet (following the Word of Wisdom, also known as a "Mormon Health Code"). I certainly wasn't starving myself (and I told my trainer right at the beginning I'd rather be fat than starving) and I wasn't living on one food group more than the other; I just wasn't paying any kind of detailed attention to it. Even when I really started tracking my macros I noticed it wasn't a case of me not having a balanced diet, it was mostly a matter of how much and getting some more physical activity.

Some basic helps that have made a difference for me:

  • Make sure you have a reliable scale to weigh yourself. I prefer digital since they give you a more precise measurement that's very clear to see. Sometimes the changes you make will only be in tenths, so it's important to be able to see that.
  • Remember that the weight is only part of the success. Pay attention to how your clothes feel too. If they're feeling looser, you're probably on the right track even if the scale isn't showing much change.
  • I weigh myself when I get up in the morning after using the bathroom. I try to be as consistent as possible, though when I get up depends largely on where or if I'm subbing. The more consistent you are, the more accurate your readings will be. 
  • Remember, even if you're following everything perfectly, weight loss is not linear. You can see in my own chart that while the general direction is going down, it's a series of up and down up and down. 
  • I weigh myself every day. Often I will check during the day for my own interest, but the log I have on MFP and that I send to my trainer are from that morning weight. That's my "official" weight for the day.
  • I work out at least five days a week, though six is my ideal. I'm a firm believer in the importance of a rest day for a variety of reasons. My rest day is Sunday (those of you who know me will, I'm sure, be absolutely shocked...haha). I prefer to go to the gym in the evening around 8:30 so that it isn't as crowded.
  • Get to know what a "serving" looks like. I've come to see how some serving sizes are ridiculously small and are clearly for marketing so the manufacturer can put low numbers on the box. Sometimes, though, you'll find that a serving is more than you thought. For instance, a typical scoop of ice cream is actually only a half serving! Yes!
  • Along with serving sizes, make sure you have a kitchen scale to measure your food. That has been a big help in not only making sure I'm staying on track, but getting familiar with those serving sizes!
  • I've been surprised how easy the whole process has gotten. You really do start memorizing certain numbers or what kinds of foods will fit a certain situation, even even measuring food out is routine now for any meal I make on my own. If you can't measure it, make your best guess and overestimate a bit if you're not sure.
  • Going out to eat? Use a search engine to help. Many people have made websites that go through different fast food and sit-down restaurants and have examples of foods that are better for people watching calories, fat, carbs, etc. or options you can add or remove from certain dishes to help you meet your goals. MFP can help with that too. No excuse to damage or destroy your social life because you're on a "diet".
  • Remember being "healthy" is more than just your weight, it's also your mental state. If you're doing a diet but are feeling miserable doing it, are you really all that healthy, even if you might be losing weight? Part of feeling well mentally is being able to have those "comfort foods", those foods you like to eat that make you happy. It's not about restriction, it's all about moderation and being reasonable.
  • I use diet pop/soda as a "filler", meaning I use it when I'm feeling hungry and water just won't cut it but I'm not really able to add anything else because of my budget. That translates to having a diet pop once a day or less.
  • Set realistic goals. What I've done with my trainer is set "major" and "minor" goals. For instance, my first "major" goal was to get below 200 lbs. I started at 230, so that seemed a ways off, so we decided a "minor" goal, based on how well I was progressing at the time, was to hit 215 by New Year's, which I did. Another "minor" goal was to be at 195 before my birthday so I could actually match the weight listed on my driver's license when I had to get it renewed! My next "major" goal is 175, which I'm very close to! Having those incremental goals has helped me notice that I am making progress and gives me a continual sense of accomplishment. It's kind of like taking time to sight-see on a large trip. It helps break the trip up and gives you something to look forward to!

In regards to a trainer and gym:

  • First, yes, if at all possible, GET A TRAINER and JOIN A GYM. You do not need to join an expensive gym either. There are many options available in local gym memberships or chain gyms like Gold's, LA Fitness, etc. Within the various gyms available, they usually have different levels of memberships. For instance, I joined the regional chain Fitworks. They have a basic membership for $15/month which gives me access to the gym whenever they're open. Their higher membership fee includes additional amenities like childcare and bringing guests. Fitworks, like many gyms, also has their own personal trainers and group classes available. Like any PT, though, find out their qualifications! As I said before, trainers provide important guidance, but also motivation, accountability, and moral support.
  • Be wary of any trainer or "fitness" person who works for a supplement company. I personally believe a trainer who is a supplement representative has a conflict of interest, no matter how hard they may try to avoid it. I don't think they're bad people or are even intentionally looking out for their sales more than their clients, but since they work for a company, they're more likely to have motivation for you to buy their products (ESPECIALLY if they work for a Multi-Level Marketing, or MLM, company) or join their "team". The vast majority of supplements aren't all that necessary from what I've found. It's not that they're bad for you, they're just not really helping you but are costing money. The only supplement my trainer recommends is whey protein and that's to help me meet my protein goals. He has never recommended a specific brand of protein, only letting me know what nutrient levels to look for. I could also meet my protein goals just from food intake, but that is often more expensive.
  • Along with that, remember all personal trainers are not created equally. Make sure any trainer you hire has qualifications. At the very least, he or she should have some training, education, and experience in nutrition and physiology, particularly at the college level. Many personal trainers can be "certified" with very little training, so the "training" they recommend for you may be more along the lines of whatever the popular fad is or just a cookie-cutter "plan" they give everyone.
  • Many companies have started giving their reps a more classy title like "coach" or "wellness representative" even though their reps likely have little to no serious training in nutrition or physiology. Again, be aware of that and ask for qualifications, just like you would for any professional. What makes them qualified to give you advice on how to work out and what to eat?
  • It goes without saying to find a PT who is a good person too. Seriously, they need to be on your side and have your best interest in mind. They also need to be someone you feel comfortable asking questions to and discussing any issues or concerns. And they should always be able to explain WHY they want you to do anything they ask you to do. A huge part of my success is from the fact that my trainer and I have a good relationship. I know he's not some shill for a supplement company and my success is his success. And hey, we have tons of other things in common too, like sports and general humor. 
Me with my trainer Josh down in Tampa this past April. And no, he is NOT a Texas Longhorns fan! We had been chatting, mostly about sports (baseball in particular), on and off for almost two years before I learned he had a background in personal training. Most of the time, we correspond by text and I report my results via spreadsheet. For workouts, he sent me several videos to make sure I knew what I was doing. When I was in Florida this past April, we were finally able to meet in person and have two workouts, so I got even more pointers. I also constantly ask him questions about my workouts and the diet to make sure I'm staying on the right track. As you can see, the results are there! See his page at Beyond Fitness.

This probably seems like a lot, but it's really not that complicated; it just takes some attention to detail and consistency. The biggest reasons I like flexible dieting are because it fits my personal philosophy of balance and moderation in all things and still lets me enjoy the foods I always have. You shouldn't feel guilty for having something like ice cream or candy nor should you have to give them up (outside of a legitimate and medically diagnosed allergy or other issue). It's one thing to have too much, but no, eating a candy bar or having a Big Mac every so often isn't going to make you fat; heck, in itself none of those things will even result in weight gain for that day unless they're part of an overabundance of calories and other macros. There is nothing wrong with finding comfort in food and having something to look forward to; in fact, that's part of being healthy. Again, the real key is how much.

May 26, 2015, exactly six months later
I also like it because it doesn't involve spending a ton of money. Yes, joining a gym and hiring a trainer isn't free. Are they completely necessary for success? No, but they'll make your success far more probable. But you're not committing to buying regular supplements or investing in a "business". In terms of food consumption, I've actually saved money doing this because I'm eating less. But don't forget, the key to success is making it part of your every day life, not just some "diet" that you do for a few weeks or months and then give up and have to do again in a year or two.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ohio State

Every year, it seems, I see various posts on social media from friends who bemoan the reality that the Ohio State Buckeyes have a large following, even from people who have never attended school there. Heck, many of those same fans actually attend or attended school at another school, often an in-state school like Kent State, Akron, Bowling Green, Ohio U, etc. yet you'll still find them sporting Ohio State gear at some point. Why is that, and is it all that unusual?

I'm one of those who fit in that mold of being an Ohio State fan but never having attended classes there. Even so, it's not like I have no connections to the school; my grandpa got his PhD from Ohio State and two of my aunts have advanced degrees from OSU (one a master's, one a PhD). Just from that, I was raised in a very pro-OSU environment, on top of the fact that OSU games are mostly broadcast on local TV every week, so it was easy to watch. At the same time, though, that same grandpa also took me to virtually all of my early Kent State athletic events (football, and men's and women's basketball) and he and my grandma are long-time financial supporters of KSU athletics even with their attachment to OSU. Come to think of it, the only OSU athletic event my grandma has been to that I can remember was when she and my aunt (who was finishing her PhD at Ohio State at the time) went to the 1997 Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, the thriller where OSU came back to beat Arizona State 20-17.

In my lifetime, I have been to five Ohio State football games, three of which were held in Columbus and one in Cleveland. The first two were in the mid-1990s when that aforementioned aunt was there getting her PhD in sport management. As a grad student, she had football tickets, so I was able to go to one game in 1996 with her and one of her friends (#3 OSU 38, #4 Penn State 7), and then my sister and I attended a game in 1997 (#7 OSU 24, #11 Iowa 7). The next time I was at a game in Ohio Stadium was just this past year, when OSU beat Kent State 66-0. For that game, I wore my yellow KSU hat, a blue KSU shirt, and my red OSU fleece jacket. I was most definitely conflicted!

Inside Ohio Stadium this past September sporting my KSU and OSU gear. I was pleasantly surprised how many KSU fans I saw at the stadium, though!

Outside Ohio Stadium with my sister Katie. It was our 2nd trip to Ohio Stadium together and first since 1997! 

I've been to two road games, one in 2009 when OSU beat Toledo 38-0 in Cleveland and then in 2013 when OSU won 56-0 at Purdue. That game was my first true OSU road game and came as a result of my sister and brother-in-law living about an hour and a half from West Lafayette, Indiana (home of Purdue University) and tickets for that game being as low as $10. It was the first OSU game for my youngest sister and brother-in-law, who like me are both KSU alums.

OSU vs. Toledo game at Cleveland Browns Stadium, September 2009, with my friend Michelle. It was a "home" game for Toledo, but the crowd was almost all dressed in scarlet and gray.

OSU vs. Purdue game last November (2013) in West Lafayette with my sister Becky. The game was Purdue's "blackout" game, but there were as many, if not more, fans in red than black. 

Now, compared to my attendance at Kent State athletic events, my OSU support is almost non-existent. This season I've already been to more than five KSU athletic events, which is the norm every year. Obviously distance is a factor (I can walk to KSU...Columbus is a two-hour drive from here), but so is cost (KSU events are significantly less expensive). Heck, even my the OSU game I went to this year was also a road-trip for KSU! Pretty much all of the OSU games I watch are on TV. But for KSU? Well, see just a few examples of my trips to KSU athletic events...

KSU vs. Akron men's basketball game in 2011

KSU at Toledo in men's basketball in 2012, one of several road trips I've taken for KSU. I've seen KSU play in Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, Bowling Green, and even in Logan, Utah!
KSU at Bowling Green in football in 2012, my first road trip for KSU football

KSU home game this past fall!

Now, with my experience in mind, why is it that so many people are fans even though, like me, they never went to OSU as a student? First and foremost, people need to understand that such a situation is hardly unique for the state of Ohio. OSU is easily the largest school in the state and has the most successful big-time football program over generations. The same is true for states like Michigan (UM and Michigan State), Texas (UT, Texas A&M), Nebraska, Wisconsin, Alabama (UA and Auburn), and others, as well as for schools like Notre Dame with Catholics and BYU with Latter-day Saints. (I have to say, it's quite ironic when I see Notre Dame fans in Ohio complain about OSU fans who never went to OSU...there's a good chance they never attended Notre Dame either, which has an enrollment of less than 10,000). Pretty much any major college team that wins consistently is going to have a large amount of fans who have a broader connection to the team (i.e. a casual connection like the same state or similar), but not to the school itself. In other words, you have fans and alumni of The Ohio State University and you have fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes. The latter group is similar to fans of professional teams. 99.9999% of the fans of pro teams never played for that team, they just typically follow them either because it is (or was) their local team or they like a specific player. Again, this is not unique to Ohio or Ohio State; its something that happens all over the sports world.

While not the only Division I school, Ohio State is also currently the only school in Ohio to play in one of the "Power Five" conferences. Of the remaining Division I football programs in Ohio, six play in the Mid-American Conference (Miami, Ohio U, Toledo, Bowling Green, Akron, & Kent State), one plays in the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati), and the others play at the FCS level (Dayton & Youngstown State). Wright State and Cleveland State are Division I schools as well, but do not sponsor football. Because of that, while the other Division I FBS schools are technically eligible to play in the new College Football Playoff, the likelihood of any of the teams outside the "Power Five" conferences is very low.

The other factor that people seem to miss is the support for the Buckeyes is far more in football than it is for basketball. Yes, Ohio State draws well for basketball, but nowhere near what they draw for football. For instance, I mentioned the OSU-Toledo game I attended in Cleveland back in 2009. That game drew over 71,000, almost all of whom were Ohio State fans. Two years earlier, OSU played Cleveland State at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and while OSU had a very large crowd there, the 20,652-seat arena was nowhere near full (announced attendance of 12,715), even though it was the season immediately after OSU made the national title game. (They did draw well in Cleveland when they played at the Q for the first two rounds of the 2011 NCAA tournament, though their games were not the only games played there. The games, though, were sold out). Even in Columbus, OSU basketball isn't sold out consistently. Conversely, the schools that have consistently great basketball teams, but not so much in football (Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, etc.) have much better fan support in basketball when they travel, similar to OSU in football. For instance, ask someone who identifies as a Duke fan (but never went to school there or even lived in the state of North Carolina) and there's a pretty good chance they are fans of Duke men's basketball, not football.

Two views (top: north and west stands; bottom: south and east stands) of Cleveland Browns Stadium during the OSU-Toledo game in September 2009. Attendance was announced at 71,727, overwhelmingly Ohio State fans

Ohio State vs. Cleveland State in men's basketball in December 2007 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. 

There are many factors into why people follow certain teams in sports, but I guess it surprises me when some act like it's a crime to follow a college team that a person doesn't have a direct connection to. In the end, major college athletics attract fans regardless of alumni status for a variety of reasons, but the biggest is simply the success of a given team. Like with me, I was raised rooting for OSU, but when it came time to go to college, the best choice for me wasn't Ohio State. That didn't really affect my fan support of OSU football, though just so everyone knows, in the rare times that KSU does play OSU in any sport, I ALWAYS root for my hometown school and alma mater, even in football (and yes, KSU beating OSU in football would be an upset of mammoth proportions).

That said, GO BUCKS! and GO FLASHES!