By Becky Roozen Published Feb 28, 2005 at 5:27 AM

{image1} If you'd ask me my weaknesses, I'd easily rattle off the usual suspects: anything chocolate, late night Jimmy Johns and Cabernet Sauvignon. But that's just me. Another Milwaukeean? Maybe Pizza Man, ranch Doritos and Miller Lite. It doesn't matter what's on the list, the fact is, we've all got the list.

We're born and bred in Brew City; it's in our blood to eat and drink too much. Right?

Not so. Just because we live in beer-brewing, rough winters Milwaukee doesn't mean we have an excuse to overindulge and not counteract the excess with a little bit of health here and there to tip the scale -- and our city's image -- in the right direction.

I try to balance out my brat and brownie sundae scarffing days with long runs on Lincoln Memorial Drive, lots of fruits, veggies, water and sleep and shots of wheatgrass instead of Jaeger-bombs. It's not always easy.

There are heaps of excuses. It's 3 degrees and snowing. It's 89 degrees, humid, and I'm melting. Berries are expensive. Beer is cheap. I'm bored with working out inside. I want a real meal. I've got too much work. The bugs are bad. My dog ate my homework. You name it; most of us have used it.

OK, so we might not have the always-in-season supply of fruit to munch on or 27 days in a row of pure sunshine and 70-degree weather like in southern California. Yes, it sometimes feels like we're paying an arm and a leg for our organic eats compared to the Dollar Menu at McDonald's. And we even have to wait a little longer for the latest fitness crazes to work their way in from the coasts.

But Milwaukee is recovering its health, and it's certainly worth it. Being a health nut in Miltown isn't quite the oxymoron it might have once been. The Downtown Y is too often jam-packed, as are the checkout lines at Outpost. Good signs for good health in Milwaukee.

Men's Fitness magazine even ranked us as the 15th fittest city in the United States -- that's a few rungs up from last year's 21st fittest and 2003's 21st fAttest.

How do we get to the top?

To start, maybe take a little bit of the brew out of Brew City. I don't want to sound the alarms by attempting to cart off Milwaukee's easily discovered and well-deserved nickname. But maybe our toes would be easier to discover and the Memorial Day burgers more deserved if we cut back on the brewskis every so often.

According to Men's Fitness, "The highest number of bars per capita of any city in our survey, combined with statewide alcohol consumption of almost three gallons per person per year, earns ol' Milwaukee bragging rights as the nation's watering hole."

And with that, they say, 55 percent of Milwaukeeans risk health problems related to their weight.

The answers are easy. We all know the monotonous orders from Drill Sergeant Shape Up: eat less junk, drink less alcohol, move more.

I'm listening. So are all the runners and hikers, vegans and fruit lovers, cyclists and snowboarders. There are those in this City on the Lake who Rollerblade and party alike by its shores come summer and those who opt for a weekend rock climb rather than a Saturday morning sleep-in.

Are we as health-conscious as we ought to be? Yes. Pro-active about it? Getting there. Slowly but surely, the sidewalks, ski hills and tennis courts are filling up with active Milwaukeeans as fast as the bars on a Saturday night. More salads are ordered and entrees split. I applaud the motivated bunch that is cracking Brew City's stereotype of beer, brats and cheese, those who teach outsiders Milwaukee's an all-encompassing city, gluttonous and fitness-striving, health-craving citizens alike.