Welcome to Healthy Living Week at OnMilwaukee.com! The resolutions are made, now the real work begins. But we're here to help get you – and keep you – on track with stories about medicine, diet, exercise, spiritual and emotional health, and more. Healthy Living Week is brought to you by Pairdd: easy gluten-free cooking at your fingertips.
This week, we will tell you all about healthy choices, and this is a good thing. I’m chiming in later this week with an article about going gluten-free and how well it worked for me.
But for the good choices I’ve made – running a half marathon in 2012, hiking up a small mountain or two or going gluten-free – I’ve made many, many more unhealthy choices.
For example, it only took me a minute to come up with the six worst dining decisions in my life:
Competitive eating contest (cheeseburgers): It seemed like a good idea -- or at least, not a horrible idea -- when our friends at Potawatomi invited us to try their new promotion, the "Home Run Challenge" at the Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill in 2010. The challenge was to eat four cheeseburgers, each with four ¼-pound patties, topped with American cheese, pickles and a side of fries, in one hour. If you "win," your meal is free, you get a commemorative shirt and a photo of your bloated mug on the restaurant's wall. That didn’t happen. I ate all my pickles, most of my fries and finished almost two giant burgers before surrendering in 45 minutes. I went back to work and fell asleep on my office futon.
Competitive eating contest (cream puffs): It was the 2010 State Fair, and I didn’t want to participate in this contest. I didn't know what to expect, really, when I sat down at a long table with 17 of my competitors, mostly TV and radio people, as well the Wisconsin Honey Queen, Alice in Dairyland and the Fairest of the Fairs. It was smoking hot by the time the 11:45 a.m. contest began, and looking out at the stands of people, I did get a little nervous. Honestly, it wasn't just the humidity that had me drenched in sweat. As the minutes passed by, I methodically gobbled off the three tops, lapped up and sucked out the creamy middles, and popped my head up occasionally for air. I didn’t win. I didn’t care.
Competitive eating contest (baked potato contest): I didn't head into the 2011 baked potato eating contest at the Wisconsin State Fair thinking I'd win. My main goal, really, was to avoid choking or throwing up. With eight other contestants, including my speedy eating co-worker, Bobby Tanzilo, at the table, I had low expectations. So when they said "go," I just dug in and started eating. I wasn't timing myself, but the first half of the potato, smothered in cheddar cheese, slid down easily. Then, I slowed a bit to swallow, and finished the rest, with just a few pieces of refuse falling outside my Styrofoam container, and oddly enough, not all over my shirt. So, I stood up, chugged my glass of water, and said, as ordered, "I love Wisconsin potatoes." I won.
Kool-Aid and Twinkies dinner: I ate horribly in college – who didn’t? But only a few atrocious dining decisions stick out, like the time as a junior, I didn’t have any groceries at all. I settled for a dinner of Kool-Aid and a box of Twinkies. I’m surprised I lived to tell this story.
Banana split breakfast: One other meal I remember. Near the end of college, after taking a final exam, I ordered a huge banana split for breakfast at the campus mall. Which is still probably healthier than the awesome Napoleon Dynamite at Cafe Centraal.
Wonder Bread lunch: Back in high school, right after I learned to drive, I took my little sister to the grocery store. There I bought a loaf of Wonder Bread and ate the entire thing on the ride home, much to her horror. In retrospect, I think I did this for the shock value. Because that’s the kind of sense of humor I had when I was 16.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.