Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August 14: Pay Your Debts

It's been a few weeks since I've posted here. I'm not dead and I haven't fallen off the wagon, it's just my busy time of year. I've also been reusing ideas from previous days a lot, and that wouldn't exactly be compelling reading.

Laura went back to work yesterday after three weeks off, leaving me to make up for some of the work I've missed while spending time with her. As such, it was a busy day for me: I wrote pretty steadily from 6:30 am into the afternoon, got a quick workout in and covered last night's Timber Rattlers game.

The busy schedule, leftovers in my fridge and general lack of appealing meatless options at the ballpark made it a difficult time to hold my usual Meatless Monday. So I put it off.

Making a conscious decision to shirk my workout/food routine is something I've been trying not to do, to the point where I've been a pain in the ass to friends and Laura at times and forced them to alter plans so I could go meatless or get a workout in. But sometimes changes have to be made, so I'm eating meatless today instead. I had vegetarian taco mac and cheese for lunch and I'm working on a roasted tomato soup for supper.

The danger in, for example, skipping a Meatless Monday is that it's easy to find another excuse on Tuesday and just push it off into next week or beyond. But when you're working on a plan like this I think it's important to remember that the goal is to get healthier, not to punish yourself. If life gets in the way and you have to move things around a bit, so be it. Just don't forget to repay your debts later.

Exercise log: DDR, 580 calories.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 23: Best Meatless Monday Yet

Meatless Mondays have been something of a struggle over the last few weeks, but yesterday might have been my best one.

For lunch I made stuffed shells. Here's the basic recipe (apologies for vague measurements, I eyeballed it):

  • 12-16 large pasta shells, cooked to al dente and rinsed with cold water.
  • Half of a medium zucchini, diced.
  • Half of a red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Roughly 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • Roughly 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 tbsp Tuscan Sunset (Italian seasoning)
  • 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
Saute the zucchini and bell pepper with salt and pepper in a little olive oil until tender, then set aside on a plate to cool for a moment. Combine the ricotta, half the mozzarella cheese and seasoning in a medium bowl.

To stuff the shells, put a large spoonful of the diced vegetables inside a shell. Then cover that with a spoonful of the cheese mixture and place stuffing-side up in a 9x9 baking dish. Spoon the pasta sauce over the shells, spread it out as evenly as you can, then cover that with the rest of the mozzarella. 

Either cover this with nonstick foil or foil you've sprayed with cooking spray, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. After that remove the foil and broil until the cheese has browned.

That was pretty good, but I'm even prouder of dinner: Nine vegetable crock pot tacos. The recipe is pretty simple:
  • 2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 uncooked ears of corn, with the kernels cut off the cob
  • Half of a red bell pepper, seeded and diced.
  • Half of a medium zucchini, shredded
  • One jar of your favorite salsa
  • One packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • One red onion, diced
  • Roma tomatoes, diced
  • Radishes, sliced thinly
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • Avocado, sliced or diced
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded light Mexican cheese
  • Flour tortillas
Combine the beans, corn, pepper, zucchini, salsa, taco seasoning and cornstarch in a slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve on the tortillas with the remaining ingredients.

We liked this enough that we're eating leftovers of it again tonight, which is a Meatless Monday first.

Exercise log: DDR, although I lost track of my calorie count.

Another sign that my plan is working: Today I'm using the second hole on my belt. I haven't used that in years.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday, July 21: Push Through

I didn't sleep much at all Friday night. Something I ate during the day must have disagreed with me, as I had pretty significant stomach pain and couldn't really get comfortable.

I was tired and still in some pain yesterday morning, but I managed to find a way to work through it. We still went to the Farmers Market (picture later if I get around to it), and when we got home I recognized the best opportunity I was going to get all day for a run. It was about 10 am and starting to get warmer, but it was overcast and still somewhat cool (in the upper 70's).

All I really wanted to do was go back to bed, but my mother-in-law and I went out and got 3.58 miles in before the sun started to come out and the humidity became too much to bear. I probably wouldn't have gotten as far as I did on my own, so having someone with me to set a pace really helped out here.

I'll be honest: After this run I spent a big chunk of the afternoon in bed (watching cartoons instead of sleeping), got up to eat dinner and watch a Brewer game, took the dog for a short walk and then went back to bed early. But at least I still managed to get my run in.

Exercise log: Saturday - 3.58 mile run and a 0.9 mile dog walk (with a brief sprint in the middle when he got loose and took off after a skunk)

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20: Sneaking In Some Vegetables (And A Weigh In)

The Brewers are in Cincinnati and Philadelphia for the next six days, which creates some awkward schedule issues. They play at 6 pm tonight, tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday and at 11 am Sunday and Wednesday.

Brewer games that encroach on meal times make it a challenge to eat healthy: All of a sudden I'm losing an hour or two I could have spent making sure I'm eating better.

I didn't get a chance to make dinner until 5:30 tonight, so my time was somewhat limited. I gave in and tossed in a frozen pizza, but while I was waiting for the oven to preheat I shredded and sauteed a zucchini with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Tuscan Sunset. I spread that on top of the pizza before it went in the oven and instantly had an extra vegetable to go with what could have been a massive fail of a meal.

Exercise log: I've fallen behind writing here over the last few days, but I have gotten workouts in.

  • Wednesday - I had to wait until almost 11 pm to do it (morning work, afternoon Brewer game, night Timber Rattlers game which went to extra innings), but I ran 2.8 miles.
  • Thursday - In between my morning work and a 2 pm radio booking I hit the gym and swam for 35 minutes.
  • Friday - 350 calories worth of DDR this afternoon followed by a half hour dog walk.
Finally, Thursday's trip to the gym meant another opportunity to check my weight. I had last checked on July 6, when I weighed exactly 260 lbs. My plan must be working, because on Thursday after getting out of the pool I weighed exactly 255. That means I've lost roughly 12-14 lbs in the last month, which is both incredibly encouraging and probably not sustainable. Nonetheless, I'm feeling really good about my progress.

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 13-16: Recapping A Weekend Away And Falling Back Into The Fire

I'm several days behind here, so let's do the quick version"

Friday was a fail. I had to rush through my morning stuff to make it to Milwaukee in time for an afternoon meeting and a Brewer game, didn't find time for exercise and didn't really improve much in terms of food.

Saturday we went to the Wauwatosa Farmers Market (forgot to take a picture of our purchases, sorry), a sporting goods store, lunch, the beach, dinner and Bastille Days in Milwaukee. I didn't eat spectacularly well on this day, but I covered for it a little bit by passing up on several opportunities to drink and having nothing but water all day.

Sunday we went to another Brewer site's tailgate party and I made an interesting discovery: I brought two kinds of hard cider along: A Michelob Ultra Cider that was supposed to be a little lighter and a Magner's Pear cider that wasn't as light. It turns out the difference between the two is only five calories per bottle. So I might be drinking more pear cider going forward.

I also ran 3.48 miles when I got home Sunday night, which has to be the most I've ever run on the same day where I've attended a Brewer game.

Today has been a rough day. I was anticipating taking a break to exercise and maybe do something fun this afternoon, but immediately after I finished writing this morning I was presented with breaking (and then slow developing) news regarding Zack Greinke and as a result I've been at my desk all day. I managed to sneak in about 300 calories worth of DDR (with a long break in the middle to come check for news).

In more positive news, though, today's Meatless Monday is going as planned. I had roasted vegetable soup and a grilled cheese for lunch, and I'm having sun dried tomato and spinach pizza for dinner.

So, to sum up, here are my single things for the last four days:

Friday: FAIL
Saturday: Drink nothing but water
Sunday: Go a little lighter at the tailgate, sneak a run into a day where I normally wouldn't.
Monday: Meatless Monday

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12: Make Up For It

I'll start with an admission: Yesterday was something of a fail. Every year a few members of my family and I go on a day trip adventure to someplace we haven't been before. This year we went to Jefferson County, WI to visit three places:
  • An old archeological dig (perfectly healthy)
  • A local history museum (also healthy, even if it did feature a "dairy shrine")
  • ...and a county fair. 
As you might have guessed, the county fair wasn't my healthiest choice. I didn't go as crazy as I could have gone but still had a giant burrito, deep fried cheese curds and half a cream puff. We brought healthy snacks along for the car and I ate some of those too, but I didn't exercise.

Today I did the best thing I could do: Follow up my unhealthy day with a better one today. Here are my meals for today:

Breakfast: An "instant breakfast" shake.
Lunch: A cup of soup and two salads from a salad bar.
Dinner: Taco salad, chips and salsa.

I waited a while after dinner, then went for another long run. 5.58 miles tonight, the longest run of my life by almost a full mile (and the second longest came earlier this week). I'm not sure why running is getting so much easier, but it's almost surreal how much better I feel than I did a month ago.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10: Personal Bests

Before I start looking at today I'd like to tell the rest of yesterday's story, because I didn't get around to updating the post last night.

After dinner, frustrated with a less than stellar day, I decided to go out for a run. The timing wasn't perfect: I was still full and wasn't sure I'd be able to do all of the 1.6 mile route I'd planned out without stopping. I figured I'd give it a shot and if I had to I'd walk for a while.

I was on the home stretch of the run and still feeling really good, so I turned off the route and tacked on another half mile. Then I turned the other way, crossed the main road and kept going. And detoured through another neighborhood. And around a pond. And through another subdivision. And back across the south half of our subdivision.

I actually didn't decide to come home until I was worried people would be starting to worry about me - I had left for a 1.6 mile run and been gone over an hour. I remapped the route when I got home and found I'd gone 4.65 miles, the longest run of my life. It's the furthest I've run in 2012 by a mile and a half.

I figured I'd be sore this morning, but I still felt surprisingly strong. So I set another personal best with a 520 calorie DDR session before lunch.

I'm not sure where this sudden burst of energy and stamina came from, although having lost a few pounds is probably helping. I'm just hoping it lasts for a while, because these last couple of workouts have actually been fun.

Monday, July 09, 2012

July 9: A Meatless Setback

I had a challenging day today. It was Meatless Monday, as it's been for three weeks now. I worked pretty hard to make it work despite a challenging schedule, but the meals I made were somewhat underwhelming and were not well received.

Not everything goes like you think it should. I guess. I'm going to go for a run now.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

July 8: Make It A Little Healthier

Mac and cheese is one of my biggest weaknesses. I run a site full of recipes for it. I buy boxes of it from Amazon by the case. If I could just give up mac and cheese it'd probably knock pounds off my waistline and add years to my life. But that would be a drastic change and, as we've discussed before, I'm not convinced of my ability to maintain drastic change over the long haul.

What I can do, however, is make it a little healthier.

Everyone once in a while Laura gets a phone call as she's getting ready for work to let her know she can come in late if she wants. That happened today, meaning she was unexpectedly home for lunch. I dug into the pantry and pulled out a box of the mac and cheese above. I supplemented it, though, with all of the following:

  • 1/4 cup milk, 2 tbsp butter, a handful of shredded cheese and black and red pepper (as usual)
  • A leftover venison hamburger, crumbled.
  • One zucchini, sliced, basted with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, grilled and chopped
  • A good-sized fistful of snow pea pods, steamed and cut into bite-sized pieces.
I served this with half a peach so the meal was a serving of fruit, a serving or two of vegetables and a serving of lean meat in addition to the usual carbs and dairy. It wasn't my most visually appealing meal ever, but I thought it tasted pretty good. And adding everything above stretched the meal into two large servings, an added bonus.

Did I exercise today? Yes, I ran 1.4 miles. First run outside in over a week.

July 7: Behave Yourself

After five straight days of temperatures in the mid 90's or above, yesterday was beautiful. Temperatures dropped back into the mid 70's in the morning with a nice breeze and finally, I could go outside again.

As usual I spent yesterday morning at the farmers market, then came home and tried to take the dog for a long walk. Gorman, however, wanted none of it. After about half a mile he laid down in the grass and wouldn't go any further. He's never done that to me before, but later inspection showed he's got some sore spots on the bottoms of his little feet. I think he might have burned them on the pavement in the heat this week.

At any rate, after my abbreviated walk (I managed to get G to come home slowly) I took a shower, did some reading outside, watched the first inning of the Brewer game, went grocery shopping, made dinner, went to a Timber Rattlers game and stopped by a neighbor's campfire. Unfortunately, I didn't find time for any more exercise.

At the game I saw someone carrying a bowl of ice cream and it looked incredible. I mentioned it to the friend who came to the game with me (who's also trying to do a little better) and she noticed it, but followed it by saying "I'm trying to behave."

That was all the reminder I needed that I'm supposed to be behaving too. I passed on the ice cream (and later s'mores) until a day where I'd done more to balance it out.

Did I exercise today? Not really, see above.

Finally, for those of you who care, here's a picture of yesterday's farmers market haul:

From (roughly) left to right that's red potatoes, blueberries, granola, snow peas, zucchini, cheese (a 2 yr cheddar), turnips, nine grain sourdough bread, beets and carrots.

Friday, July 06, 2012

July 6: Doubling Up

After a few days of relatively light exercise, today I carved some time out of my schedule to make sure I made up for it a bit. So, once my morning work was wrapped up I headed to the gym (it's still too hot to run outside) for a 1.4 mile run followed by half an hour of swimming.

The pool, unfortunately, brought an unwelcome surprise. I had thought my sore knee was feeling better, but apparently kicking with my left leg is still pretty painful. As such, even my usual slow laps (mostly with a kickboard) were much slower than usual and I was only able to complete a couple of laps without any flotation help. When I was done I rewarded myself with a trip down the slide.

There is good news, though: I stepped on the scale before getting dressed and weighed in at exactly 260 lbs (I tried to nudge the scale down into the 250s but it would have none of it.). I'm not sure how far down I am since I didn't weigh in when I started this project, but I'm confident it was closer to 270. So I'm pretty happy with my progress.

Did I exercise today? Yes, 1.4 miles of running and half an hour of steady swimming.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

July 5: Battling Through Soreness

I've been complaining about being sore from this week's raspberry picking for a few days now, and today is no exception. I'm still not able to bend either leg without pain, and I must look ridiculous when I try to walk right now.

With that said, I wasn't going to skip out on exercise two days in a row. So today I busted the DDR back out and decided to see what I could do.

I was actually surprised to discover that, after a few minutes to warm up, I was able to go pretty close to full speed. I burned around 390 calories in 45 minutes this morning and only stopped because I needed to take Gorman to a vet appointment. Once I cooled off my legs tightened up again, but it's good to know that exercise seems to make them feel better.

So, all told, I'm glad I pushed myself.

Did I exercise today? Yes, see above.

July 4: Staying Hydrated

As I've mentioned a couple of other times, it's really hot in Wisconsin this week. I just burned my feet walking out to get the mail. So I've been maximizing my time inside.

With that said, I couldn't stay inside all week. Yesterday we had tickets to the Brewer game and stayed through ten innings and 3:33 (plus time walking in and out and some time inside before the game) despite the fact that it was over 100 degrees at game time.

Our seats were in the shade, thankfully, but it was still hot and the only breeze was coming from people around us fanning themselves with anything that wasn't nailed down. It would've been an easy day to allow the heat to become an issue and get dehydrated. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, it would've been easy  to drink lots of unhealthy things in the interest of staying hydrated.

Fortunately Miller Park allows fans to carry in liquids in factory-sealed containers, so we were able to bring in a small cooler and drink lots of water during the game. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure I went through 72 ounces of water, a 12 ounce diet soda, a 32 ounce Powerade Zero and eight ounces of chocolate milk over the course of the day.

Because I made sure to stay ahead of dehydration yesterday I woke up this morning feeling better than I expected. So that's something, I guess.

Did I exercise today? No, between spending four hours in the sun, not getting home until after 9 (and still needing dinner at that point) and my soreness from raspberry picking on Tuesday, I skipped a day yesterday. I'm not proud of that, but I can live with the decision.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

July 3: Not All Exercise Is Fruitless

The title of this post is a terrible play on words, and for that I refuse to apologize.

Last week I mentioned that Laura and I tried unsuccessfully to go raspberry picking. Today, however, a rainy morning and 90+ degree temps during the day meant the farm didn't get picked out so early and I was able to go by myself.

I headed out around 11 this morning thinking I'd pick for an hour or so. 2 1/2 hours later I was loading my car after picking ~8 pounds of berries in the hot sun. It's not my typical exercise, but multiple hours stooping over to pick berries was easily the most grueling workout I've had in several weeks. I'm going to be ridiculously sore tomorrow.

With that said, I have five cookie sheets worth of berries in the freezer and I got my workout for today. It's a good day.

Monday, July 02, 2012

July 2: A Little Moderation

Exercise is going to be a little bit difficult this week. My knee is feeling better but as of 4 pm today we're under a heat advisory that literally extends through five days. So daylight hour running is more or less out, and last week I learned that late-night running makes a mess of my sleep cycle. I'm probably going to have to get to the gym this week and run inside, as much as I dislike doing that.

At any rate, with exercise opportunities limited today I tried to practice a little self-restraint regarding food. One of our local meat markets makes a great take-and-bake lasagna, and it's a major point of weakness for me. It's sized to be a two-serving meal, but it's delicious and easy to turn into one enormous serving. Add on some garlic bread and it's a meal that could have been featured on the old Thisiswhyyourefat.com site.

So I still made the lasagna tonight even though I was by myself, but I managed to hold myself to half of it. And instead of pairing it with garlic bread or another carb, I filled up on a grilled zucchini.

Did I exercise today? 350 calories worth of DDR. With as hot as it's been outside, DDR has been a fantastic cardio option.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

July 1: Do What You Can

I woke up this morning to an unpleasant but not unexpected discovery: The knee I twisted yesterday felt even worse after stiffening up overnight. I was able to walk on it without too much difficulty, but really struggled to go up and down stairs or do any other bending. I'd like this knee to get better, so I decided not to pound on it by running.

Knowing that my workout level would be down a bit today, I tried to knock down the unhealthiness of my food a little bit. I had a salad for lunch and made a trifle for dessert tonight with leftover angel food cake, sugar-free pudding and fresh fruit. I probably negated all of these gains by having french fries with dinner, but every little step taken is better than no step at all.

For exercise today, I tried to limit the impact on my sore knee by going swimming. The combination of the crowds, the areas open for swimming and my personal fear of deep water meant I didn't do much swimming, though. I did a lot more standing around in water. That was fun and refreshing, but didn't really count as a workout.

Fortunately, by 10 tonight my knee was starting to loosen up a bit and I was able to play some DDR. 306 calories tonight, and I didn't really start to get sore until near the end. I'll call that progress.

I'm also heading into my week on a better rest level because I've slept in each of the last two mornings. I slept 9 1/2 hours last night, which has to be the most I've logged at once in months or years.

Did I exercise today? Covered above.

June 30: Facing A Fear

I'm 29 years old and a terrible swimmer. I might as well start with that. For a variety of reasons I never really learned how as a kid. The concept of being underwater is about as scary to me as anything I can imagine. I've gotten better at swimming over the last few years but I still do everything I can to keep my head above water.

I'm also not great with heights. It's not nearly as bad as my fear of being underwater, but it's notable. I'm clumsy and I don't like being near/on things that may fall or cause me to fall. If you saw how clumsy I am day-to-day, you might think this fear is completely rational.

At any rate, Saturday gave me an opportunity to cram both of those fears into one package. While on a day trip to visit our friend Andrea, we visited a "jumping rock" on Chute Pond near Mountain.

The rock itself is probably scarier to me than it is to most people. It's only roughly 8 feet high, so it's not like you're jumping off a cliff, and the water underneath is probably between 8-10 feet deep. But that combination of facts meant I'd be underwater, which I hate, and would have to find my way back to the surface and work my way back to dry land.

I had convinced myself I was going to do this, even though the concept of doing so was already freaking me out on Friday. And it took several false starts and a lot of convincing from my wife, Andrea and miscellaneous strangers but I did it.

Most of my false starts involved taking a few running steps towards the edge of the rock and then pulling up at the last second. My actual success wasn't much different. I actually thought I was going to stop at the last second but for whatever reason I took that extra step. I remember nothing of the fall, but I do recall hitting the bottom and frantically finding the surface for that first breath of air.

I thought that once I'd done this once it'd be no big deal and I'd want to do it again. That was not the case. I hung out on the rock for a few minutes before deciding I'd had enough and moving on to our next stop.

Did I exercise today? Yes, but I didn't run. I did the little bit of swimming I mentioned below (and I could still feel the adrenaline rush from it six hours later), walked about two miles and climbed a fire tower.

During the aforementioned walk, I slipped on a wet rock and twisted my knee a little. I don't think it's serious but it's pretty sore today and is probably going to make exercise an interesting challenge for a couple of days.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 28 and 29: A Step Forward, A Step Back

Doubling up on an update here because it's been a busy week.

It's been so busy, in fact, that twice this week I had to do my running after my normal bedtime (I like to be asleep by 11:30). Running that late just doesn't work out well for me: I'm usually tired when I start but by the time I get home, shower and get to bed it's typically an hour later and I'm wide awake.

Earlier this week I had a really bad night of sleep and it seems like it's compounded itself ever since. Smoke alarm batteries went dead in the middle of the night Monday night. Tuesday was fine, but both Wednesday and Thursday I ran after 11 and lost some sleep there.

I'm definitely noticing fatigue creep into my work. I've stumbled through some rough radio interviews this week because I can't concentrate. Laura had to drive so I could sleep in the car on the way to Friday's Brewer game. It might be the first time I've slept in a car in decades. It was my second daytime nap this week, which also might be a record.

So my one thing for Thursday was finding a way to get a run in, because it would've been easy to skip it and go to bed.

My one thing for Friday was...nothing. I failed yesterday. I didn't get much exercise, I ate like crap, I was a drain on Laura and I'm not really better off today in any way.

I could make excuses for it: As I mentioned above I've been running on short sleep all week. I also was pretty busy yesterday, having produced seven posts for BCB, gone out to lunch with a friend, driven to Milwaukee and back and attended a Brewer game. But excuses aren't the point. The goal is to find a way to do one thing better each day, and yesterday I didn't.

Did I exercise on Thursday? I burned off 460 calories on DDR and ran 1.2 miles.
Did I exercise on Friday? Not really, unless you want to count my one mile dog walk.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 27: Extra Unexpected Exercise

I had the morning free yesterday and Laura and I were supposed to go pick raspberries. Our normal place was picked out, though, and another "shot in the dark" didn't work out. With options 1 and 2 out of the picture, we decided to go get breakfast. Then I followed a detoured road in the wrong direction and got lost.

While trying to figure out the way back, though, I stumbled across something else: A walking bridge that could take us across a lake and lead us to a spot about half a mile from our destination. So we parked the car and walked the 2.6 mile round trip. It took a little longer but we had the morning free anyway.

It was a nice reminder that exercise doesn't always have to be work for the sake of work. 

Did I exercise today? Yes, I walked the aforementioned 2.6 miles and ran 1.2 more after 11 pm when it was cooler.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26: Make It Fun

I'd guess that I'm like most people when I say that I rate most of my exercise options on a scale ranging from "completely unbearable" to "a necessary chore." It's pretty rare that I actually enjoy getting sweaty and uncomfortable. That makes it something of a challenge to commit to significant workout time each day.

I don't recall what made me think of it, but about a week ago I got the urge to play Dance Dance Revolution. I played it a lot in college, and even owned and wore out a pair of control pads. At some point over the last half dozen years or so, though, I had tossed the worn out pads. My PS3 isn't backwards compatible, so I would've had to hook up an old system and find obsolete equipment to play the game.

Anyway, a quick search about a week ago revealed that Amazon has a bundle including the PS3 version of the game and a control pad for $27.99. At that price it was more than worth a shot.

The game arrived yesterday and I gave it a shot for the first time this afternoon. It's not exactly how I remember it, but I was able to download some of the songs I remember from previous editions and get a pretty good workout out of it. I'm still relatively good at the game, even if I have probably put on about 30 pounds since the last time I played it.

I have a few complaints about the game that I'm still trying to find ways to work around:
  •  Previous editions of the game featured a lot of upbeat Japanese-sounding pop and techno. This, for example, is one of my favorite songs from a previous version. So was this. Regardless of whether this is or isn't your style of music, it at least had a solid beat and a fast rhythm. Those are DDR songs. Lady Antebellum, Jason Mraz and Train are not what I had in mind, but they're what's on the new game. Thankfully I was able to download some stuff that was more my speed.
  • One of the primary modes of the game is "Club Mode," where you start with the easiest songs and build your way up while being constantly evaluated to decide if you're ready to advance. The game is really slow letting you advance, though, so at this point for me it's just a mishmash of slow songs on easy levels with no exercise value.

With that said, I had missed DDR a lot and I've quickly remembered how much fun I used to have playing it. If you call sometime in the next few days and I don't answer, it's probably because I'm in my living room stepping away.

Did I exercise today? Yes, I spent about an hour playing DDR, then took a short break before going for a 1.2 mile run.

June 25: A Meatless Game Day

The Timber Rattlers are on a homestand this week and the Brewers come home for the weekend, so Laura and I are spending much of the week at the ballpark. Monday night I covered a T-Rats game as media, we're going to T-Rats games Wednesday and Thursday nights and heading down to Milwaukee on Friday.

Spending that much time at the ballpark is going to make eating reasonably this week an interesting challenge. The food at Fox Cities Stadium is good, but my usual top choice (a bacon cheeseburger with fries) is exactly the kind of thing I'm trying to avoid lately.

Adding another wrinkle to the plan is the fact that yesterday was Meatless Monday.

As I mentioned on Saturday, though, I went to the farmers market this weekend and picked up a pretty good assortment of healthy produce. So, instead of eating at the ballpark last night I made a very vegetable-heavy soup out of the following:
  • An onion
  • Two carrots
  • Two celery stalks
  • Some garlic scapes
  • A zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Roasted Peppers
  • Blue cheese
  • Basil
  • Chicken stock (a slight Meatless Monday cheat. I could've used vegetable stock but didn't have any on hand)
  • Gnocchi
We had to eat dinner pretty early (around 4) to make the plan work, but it turned out reasonably well. The soup (pureed) was kind of an awful color but tasted good and was certainly healthier than what I would have eaten otherwise.

Did I exercise today? Yes and no. I didn't run. Running every day just seems to pound on my legs and make me dread going out. So I've decided to try a new running routine: Seven days on, one day off. Tuesday will be the first day back on.

I did, however, play eighteen holes of disc golf (before 7 am, thanks insomnia!) and go on a 1.9 mile dog walk.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24: Eating Out A Little Better

Every other Sunday is the last day of Laura's week of work, and we have a routine where I deliver dinner for Laura and her co-workers that night. We almost always do takeout (it makes it easier to get something everyone will like), but our options are somewhat limited. We seem to rotate pretty steadily between pizza, Chinese and subs. As you might imagine, I don't typically pursue the healthy options.

So tonight, instead of grabbing something nutritionally disastrous, I grabbed dinner for Laura's office at Panera and had a salad. It wasn't the healthiest salad ever (it had steak and blue cheese on it), but it's better than I usually do.

Did I exercise today? Yes, I ran 1.5 miles around noon today. We also walked the dog 1.6 miles this morning.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23: Eating Fresh

Today, as I do every summer Saturday, I woke up and my first stop was the farmers' market. Here's what I brought home this week:
From left to right that's asparagus, blueberries, zucchini, goat cheese, sourdough bread, red potatoes, tomatoes, salad greens and peaches. 

By itself this haul is not a monumental accomplishment. Having these things in the house, though, will hopefully help me cook homemade healthy meals over the next few days. Meatless Monday is only a couple of days away.

I'm having a real issue today with exercise. I've loaded up on excuses: First I didn't get up early enough to go before the farmers' market, then I was too full, then it was time for lunch, then it was raining, then I had a party to go to and now the Brewer game is on. I've had a bunch of sugar today and the most strenuous things I've done were picking strawberries and playing an hour of Root Beer Tapper. I'm hoping I'll feel like going for a run after the Brewer game.

Did I exercise today? Not yet. Yes, I waited until after 10 pm but did get a 1.1 mile run in.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22: Working Out Together

As I mentioned yesterday, I used a rare in-season off day to get ahead of schedule and buy myself some extra time today. I used that time this morning to take my wife on an hour-long hike in a nature preserve near our house.

It was nice to get a chance to spend some time together this morning, because our early schedules typically don't line up. Laura starts work at 11 am, and 6:30-noon or so is usually the busiest part of my day. On her work days I usually see Laura for a few minutes when she brings me breakfast (if she has time), and again as she's on her way out the door. Most of the time I'm too engaged in my work to have much more than passing conversation.

Anyway, today we got to spend an hour together and we both got some much-needed exercise out of it. It's a good day.

Did I exercise today? Yes. I haven't been able to find a distance-labeled map of the trails we walked this morning, but I think we hiked about two miles over most of an hour. I also ran 1.14 miles when we got home to keep my running streak alive.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21: Taking Advantage Of Opportunities

Today is kind of an unusual day schedule-wise, but the opposite of the way yesterday was. Yesterday I had to pare down my responsibilities in order to find time to prioritize getting a run in. Today I had lots of time.

The Brewers are off today, the Timber Rattlers are out of town and, as such, I had a rare in-season day without baseball to watch or cover. I finished most of today's immediate responsibilities before 1 and after a run, my calendar was open.

I took advantage of the chance to run some errands this afternoon, then came home and used the evening to get some work done in advance to hopefully lighten up my schedule a bit over the coming week. As of this writing I've produced six posts tonight that will run on Brew Crew Ball over the coming days, and I hope to finish one more once I'm done here and start work on tomorrow's daily responsibilities so I'll have time to go exercise with Laura in the morning before she has to go to work.

"Working ahead" was supposed to be today's only goal, but as it turns out I also got some extra exercise in. It's a beautiful night in Appleton tonight so I took a break from writing to take the dog for a long walk in addition to my run.

I have no idea how much of this is physical and how much of it is mental, but today I noticed I'm feeling better. My energy level is up, my soreness level is low, I'm more cheerful and the more mundane parts of my day didn't bother me as much today. I could just be having a good day, I guess.

Did I exercise today? Yes, I ran 2.08 miles early this afternoon and, as mentioned above, I also went for a 2.28 mile walk tonight.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20: Keeping The Streak Alive

Today is kind of a tough day, schedule wise: I got home from the ballpark after 1 am and I'm responsible for previewing and recapping a day game at 1 pm. In the middle I had to take a car in for repairs, and my lawn is in pretty serious need of mowing.

Today would have been a pretty easy day to use my schedule as an excuse to not worry about this project and just drop back into a normal routine for a while. I didn't, though: instead of spending all morning buried in my work I lightened my plans a little bit and still found time for a short run.

That single short run (about 1.2 miles) isn't going to change my life, of course. But it is a little better than what I'd normally do on a day like this, and that's the point of this project.

I went to last night's game with a friend who's seen this space and asked me, "So, you're eating better these days?" I am, but this project is about more than that. Sometimes it's going to be about exercise. Sometimes it's going to be about time management, or life/relationship maintenance, or other things I need to work on to help improve the quality of my life.

June 19: Doing Better At The Ballpark

As a pretty dedicated baseball fan who happens to be paid to write about it, I spend a fair portion (probably an average of two days a week) at the ballpark. Before this season I bought a scorebook with room for 26 games in it. I've already filled that scorebook, used the spare pages from an old one, bought a scorecard and gone a couple of games without keeping score. That's 31 days at various ballparks since March.

Unfortunately, eating well at the ballpark is a real challenge. Most of the foods you think about when you go to the ballpark are things that would kill you if you ate them every day (and you'd die ridiculously in debt from paying for them, too).

So my task for yesterday, as I headed down to Milwaukee to watch the Brewers and Blue Jays, was to find a way to eat a little better on a game day. Sadly, it didn't go very well.

The Brewers do have a pretty nice stadium map showing where you can find various food throughout the ballpark. What they don't have is many stands serving interesting healthy food. You can grab a premade wrap or sandwich or a Caesar salad at the "Grab and Go" stand or...you can wander around the ballpark for a long time lamenting the lack of healthy options, I guess.

After pursuing the latter option for a while, I finally settled for the most uninteresting grilled chicken sandwich I've ever had in my life. It consisted of:
  • A white hamburger bun.
  • A piece of chicken.
That's it. Now, you're probably not thinking "Yeah, I'd pay $6.75 for that." I did, but I won't again. And you may not be surprised to note that after eating a piece of chicken on processed white bread, I was still hungry. So I wandered for a while again, got disappointed by the options again, grabbed a bag of peanuts and went to my seat.

As I was opening the bag of peanuts, I noticed something that surprised me. The 8 oz bag of peanuts contains six "servings," and each one contains 14 grams of fat. That single bag of peanuts, by itself, contains over 130% of your recommended daily allowance of fat. I ate about a third of the bag at the park last night and this morning I'm throwing the rest out.

It's worth noting that Miller Park has a pretty lenient carry-in policy. The people around me during the game last night certainly took advantage of the ability to bring in Subway, bags of chips, bottles of water and whatnot. It looks like that's more or less the facility's only viable healthy option.

Did I exercise today? Yes, I ran 1.6 miles. Running outside in June is proving to be a real issue. I'm working on finding ways to adjust my schedule to run at better times.

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18, 2012: Meatless Monday

Today's single goal is more or less covered in the title: I meant to go through the whole day today without eating meat. I had a little with breakfast (leftover quiche derailed my plans), but that's all.
Going meatless for a day by itself isn't really a healthy change. I could have, for example, gotten by with three servings of mac and cheese today (I know a thing or two about mac and cheese) and technically met this goal. That's not the point, though. The point was to replace a couple of servings of meat with something healthier, like some fruits or vegetables. Here's what I ate today:

  • A panini with nine grain bread, homemade pesto with asparagus, spring garlic, basil, greens and nuts and a slice of Muenster cheese.
  • A salad with greens, a few crumbles of blue cheese and half a peach.
  • The other half of the peach
  • A piece of low-sugar homemade strawberry rhubarb crisp.
  • Pasta with more of the pesto mentioned above
  • Broiled sesame garlic snow peas.
Add in breakfast (half a peach with yogurt and granola, a slice of quiche and a single piece of cinnamon cobblestone) and I got something like five servings of vegetables today, plus 3-4 of fruit depending on how you count the peaches.

This wasn't my healthiest day ever (especially since I blew my goal with breakfast) by any means, but it's a start.

Did I exercise today? Yes, I ran 1.5 miles. Going to try to run every day for a while again.

Time To Try Something New

It's been a while since I've used this space. I tend to get so wrapped up in my work elsewhere that I forget it's here. By the time I'm done writing there sometimes I don't feel like writing anymore. But sometimes I need an outlet for things that have nothing to do with the Brewers or baseball, and now is one of those times.

My health has never been perfect...in fact, it's been in something of a slow, steady decline more or less nonstop for about a decade now. I distinctly remember the first time I stepped on the scale and weighed over 200 lbs. I remember being caught completely off guard the first time it showed 217. Then 230. And 248. And now it's around 270.

A slow, steady decline has become the status quo for me because it's comfortable and easy. I don't worry about what I eat, I exercise when I feel like it (and I most certainly don't when I don't), and it's rarely become a major issue for me because I'm usually not getting too fat to be comfortable...I'm just slowly packing on pounds at a pace that allows me to get used to being this fat before getting fatter.

I've tried a variety of things over the years but I've never stuck with them very long because I don't think wholesale change is sustainable. Making major adjustments in your life is great when you're motivated, but you're going to have days where you're not. And when you've been depriving yourself of something you want, for example, a month without ice cream, that first bowl/scoop/carton is all too easy to fall back on. When you're already unhappy, failing there won't make you feel worse. And there's nothing more demotivating than going from X pounds to X-10, then falling off your routine and crashing back to X+5.

With that said, I need to do something. I had a moment over the weekend where I put on a piece of clothing I've owned for years, it no longer fit but I had to wear it all day anyway. It really made it hit home that this slow, steady decline may be comfortable but it's not headed somewhere I want to go.

So, now that this intro has you thoroughly depressed, here's my plan: Each day I'm going to do better in one way. Every day I'll pick one thing that's preventing me from living in a more healthy way and for one day I'll focus on improving it. It's that simple. No major diet changes, no life overhauls. Just a conscious effort to focus on and remove individual unhealthy habits, 24 hours at a time.

Some days the changes will be bigger than others. Today's was a small one, in the grand scheme. Some days I'll have time to write about them and some days I won't. As I mentioned above, I don't always have the time/desire to write once my other obligations are done.

I'm reviving this site more as a personal space than a community, but you're certainly welcome to ride along. I'd welcome your ideas for things I can try for a day, your support or your notes on things I'm working on. If you're interested in reading about this or seeing how it turns out for me, bookmark the page and keep an eye on it.