Fit Recovery

Home » Sports

Category Archives: Sports

A Fantastic Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad in 500 Calories Or Less

The hardest part of being an aging athlete is getting the fuel right so we don’t bonk, but also not eating our way to being too heavy for a 16-pound (7kg) race bike. Finding the right balance isn’t easy.

On one hand, I ride a bicycle (one of my five) around 8,000 miles a year. That’s a low-side average. When you’re pushing out 300 miles in a week, it’s easy to not pass on that most excellent double pulled pork barbecue bacon burger with fried onion straws. With fries. Ahem. Therein lies my problem.

When I started cycling at 41, after running for the better part of a decade, I jumped my mileage up quickly and lost a massive amount of weight. I’m 6′ tall and went from 172 pounds down to the 150s. I was skinny. My wife finally said, look, mister, you better do something about this skinny thing you’ve got going on. I like you with a little more meat on those bones. Folks, there’s nothing quite like permission to eat. And eat I did. Now, at 51, I’m pushing 185 and I’m big enough that it’s time to do something to fix it. I used to eat at Subway regularly, but when you do the calorie math, I’m looking at a 1,000 calorie lunch and a 1,500 calorie dinner. Throw in a few muchies here and there, and all of a sudden, BAM! 185 stares back at you on the scale.

I started looking at salads from Wendy’s. The half-size Spicy Chicken Caesar was appealing so I gave it a go. With a piece of fried, spicy chicken. Looking up the calorie content, I’m right around 490 calories. I drink water with my lunch to save unneeded calories. I dropped three pounds in just shy of two weeks. My cardiologist probably wouldn’t be too happy with the “fried” part of the chicken, though. Then I got to thinking… that’s $35 a week just in salads at Wendy’s.

I started thinking about saving some money, because $7 for a freaking salad pissed me off a little, even if it was very tasty. Then, of course, fried

Now, if I butterfly chicken breasts, I can get at least four lunches out of a package of chicken, plus dressing and croutons… I’m looking at about $4 per lunch – and I don’t use the cheap, nutrient-void iceberg lettuce. I use the good stuff; baby spinach, spring mixed greens and a romaine heart here and there.

The key to making your own salad is getting the chicken right. Not enough seasoning and you’ve got a boring hunk of flavorless chicken. Too much and it tastes gross. Cook it too long and it’s dry. Raw will obviously get you sick (or worse).

The best seasoning for chicken is McCormick’s Montreal Chicken seasoning. Montreal Steak seasoning works, too – but go light on either. Also, if you’re really feeling adventurous and want fantastic tasting grilled chicken, is the Grill Mates Applewood Smoked seasoning, again from McCormick. Go with the applewood first, then a light dusting of Montreal. This is the easy part; lightly sprinkle your seasoning over the chicken. I find that too much is overpowering, so be judicious. While I love “heat”, as in spicy seasoning, I find too much salt off-putting.

Next is the actual cooking of the chicken, and this takes some patience and practice to get right. First, I like to butterfly boneless chicken breasts so they cook fast. The only thing worse than over-cooked chicken is under-cooked chicken. The key to juicy chicken is a properly pre-heated grill. We’re aiming for 500+ degrees F (260 C). So, immediately after you get the grill lit (or you get the charcoal going), clean the grill surface with a wire cleaning utensil. Inspect the grill to make sure no pieces of wire stuck to the grill, then wait till the you’re up to temp.

With the grill up to temp, place the chicken diagonally across the grill with the seasoned side down. I know, I know… it looks better. Shut the lid and let it go for about three or four minutes. Make sure the grill isn’t flaring up on you. When you come back, the top side of the chicken should be turning white, as though it’s starting to cook. Flip the chicken, diagonal again. and let it go for another three and check the meat. You don’t want it to be too rigid (over-cooked) or rubbery (under-cooked). The chicken will bend a little bit under it’s own weight if you grab it with tongs on either end of the chicken but not if you grab it in the middle.

Until you get the “feel” of what a cooked piece of chicken feels like in a pair of tongs, I’d cut a piece in half, the thickest piece, to make sure it’s cooked through. The chicken should be a consistent color throughout – no darker center (that’s good for steak, not chicken).

Once the chicken is done – but just done, because you’re going to reheat this, presumably in a microwave oven at work, I place them in a storage container and immediately in the fridge for the next few days.

Now, for the reheat, I like to place a damp to wet paper towel over the chicken when I reheat it. This helps keep the meat’s moisture locked in so it stays juicy. The goal is to get it just hot enough without hammering it to death in the nuker.

The rest is just building a salad. I like the aforementioned spring mix and baby spinach, a small handful of croutons, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and some Caesar dressing. Now, for the dressing, I have two favorites. I like Newman’s Own because all profits go directly to charity. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Ken’s Steakhouse Caesar Dressing its props. That dressing is amazing.

Enjoy! And remember, more lettuce than chicken!

Because It’s Easier to Keep a Train Rolling than to Start One from a Stop.

I got home from work, fully intending on riding on the trainer even though I’ve been taking Mondays off since November. I’ve had a nagging sense of “I don’t wanna” on Tuesday’s when I go to start the week again that’s been bugging me for a few weeks, now, and I got a little angry with it last Tuesday.

I get to Monday and think, “alright, a day off!” and all is well. I have a nice evening, sleep well, then get through Tuesday just fine at work until I get home and it’s time to ride and I start thinking, “maybe I should take another day off”… then I have to moderate an argument with the melon committee about getting on the bike or not. This is entirely unacceptable.

F-U-U-U-*-* THAT!

So, yesterday, rather than mess around with the argument, I just told the whole committee to sit down and shut up, “it’s easier to keep a train rolling that start one from a stop”, I explained and rolled my bike out of the bike room to set it up on the trainer.

I was rolling shortly after 5 and had one of my better trainer sessions of the new year. It was made slightly easier, of course, by watching Predator, the original Arnold movie.

And so it was. I had a sparkling dinner with Mrs. Bgddy and our daughter, watched the Rams and Matthew Stafford thrash the Cardinals and drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face. It will be easier, tonight, when I get home to roll my Trek out of the bike room and hook it to the trainer. Whenever I try to embrace “days off”, I always come back to the same concept of keeping a train rolling.

Sure, it’s because it’s true, but mainly because I know me… and after 29 years in recovery, there’s one main concept I have no problem embracing: To Thine Own Self Be True.

Ride hard, my friends. Or pay your doctor to be one of your best buddies.

Fitness and Recovery from Addiction: I Could Have One But Not The Other…

I could have recovery without being as active as I am. It just wouldn’t be as fun.

I couldn’t have fitness without recovery, though. Without the recovery, I’d already be on the wrong side of the grass.

Thank God I found the path and chose to stay on it.

How To Up Your Bowling Game from a 100 Average to a 150. Part One of Several: The Equipment.

So, I’m going to run a new Friday series for a few weeks that’s going to center on bowling, mainly because I’ve been stepping up my game a little bit and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

So, we’re going to start easy and work our way up. This is all going to be fairly simple, an easy progression to get from below average to above average as quickly and painlessly as possible. The operative two words in that last sentence are “as possible”.

The first thing we have to look at in terms of improving is giving up the straight ball. Many sub-par bowlers are stuck on the straight ball because it’s easy, but I can show you very simply why a hook is so important to improvement. You can get good with a straight ball, but it’s hard. Let’s look at a typical layout of pins that you’ll see looking down the lane:

Now, we all know if you want to score a strike with regularity, you’ve got to hit between the 1 & 3 or the 1 & 2, right? Well, let’s look at the same layout from above and you’ll see why the hook is so important:

It’s very simple to see how, with a hook as shown on the left, your margin for error increases by about three times. This is why we throw a hook, it increases the margin for error in a bowling shot.

Once we understand that, we settle on one of three ways to hook a ball. The hard way is the old style, three finger holes with the holes relatively close to each other, close to an equilateral triangle. You throw the ball from the side, lifting up as you follow through which imparts spin on the ball, causing it to hook. If, and this is a big if, you’re using the right kind of ball. We’ll get into that in a minute. The second is the fingertip drilled ball. The thumb and two fingers are spread farther apart, though the two fingers are close together, to a point where you can barely reach the two holes with the tips of your middle and ring fingers when your thumb is in its hole. This requires a lot of wrist strength for your shot but you get the most torque for the hook if thrown properly. The third (other than two-handed which I won’t cover) is a hybrid of the standard drill and fingertip drill. It requires reach, but not as much as a full fingertip drill. This is what I throw. I can comfortably get my fingers into the middle and ring finger holes up to my first knuckle joint. With the fingers and thumb just a little closer together there’s less pressure on the wrist during the rolling of the ball and I still get great torque for lots of hook. The standard isn’t a great hooking ball drill pattern. The fingertip is fantastic for hook but lacks some versatility and requires a considerable amount of wrist strength. The hybrid lacks some torque and some rev rate potential, but it makes up for that deficiency with control. Having bowled with the standard drill for more than a decade, I highly recommend against that. There’s too much room for error in throwing the ball. That will leave either the fingertip or hybrid. You’ll have to choose if you want to improve. The last two add a lot of repeatability to a bowling shot.

Now let’s look at bowling balls. Unlike American citizens, all bowling balls are not all created equal.

Plastic house balls (left – Ebonite Maxim) do not hook very much, especially if you’re throwing with some pace. The plastic ball makes an awesome spare ball for that very reason. You can throw a hook shot and it’ll simply spin down the lane in a (relatively) straight line. Next is the polyurethane covered bowling balls. They have a moderate hook and are great for dry to medium oil. Reactive urethane hybrid covers (right – Scorpion) are good for moderate to heavy oil and resin reactive hook the most and are for heavy oil patterns.

Personally, I have three bowling balls, the same weight and all drilled identically so my release can be the same no matter what I’m throwing at, and under any conditions. Each ball will react differently, meaning I won’t have to. I’ve got a reactive urethane hybrid (Hammer Scorpion), a plastic spare ball, and a straight urethane cover that’s good for dry to medium oil. Technically, three is next level, though. Say, going from 150 to 185. You won’t need three to go from 100 to 150, easily. Two is a great idea, though. Maybe a hybrid reactive (for moderate to heavy oil) and a plastic spare ball.

The last piece in the bowling ball is its weight. I’ve thrown a 16-pound ball (max weight) for decades but recently dropped to a 14-pounder… and it’s not an age thing. The 16 hits like a truck but I can get a little more pace on a 14 and I don’t tire out midway through my last game and reach for a lighter ball. I would never go below 12 pounds, personally, because a lighter ball deflects more when it hits the pins but a 14 is a great compromise weight. However, if you can’t throw a 12-pounder, throw the heaviest you comfortably can. The heavier the ball, the harder the hit and we want to get those pins moving. Use a house bowling ball and check everything from 10 to 14 pounds. Once you choose a good weight for you, go into the pro shop and have a ball drilled for you.

For my Scorpion, my first new bowling ball ever, I walked into the pro shop and said, “I know just enough to be dangerous and stupid at the same time. I want a ball that’s going to hook a lot on a house (league) pattern but not too much.” Then I gave him my 16-pound Hammer Wheel that I was given decades ago and had filled and drilled for me, and asked him to match that drilling because it fits my hand pretty well. He watched me throw a few balls during the warm-up and I picked my ball up a week later. The drilling is close to that of the old Wheel, but it’s definitely slightly wider from thumb to fingers and a little off center. It is spectacular – I’ve never had such an easy time rolling a bowling ball down a lane. That’s what a good pro shop guy can do. I went to a pro shop because of that statement I made when I walked in – I wanted someone who could give me what I needed based on imperfect information. The internet can’t do that.

For shoes, you don’t need a $200 pair of pro shoes. Just make sure you get the slide foot correct (some shoes are right or left slide – the slide foot is the opposite you throw with). After that, a microfiber cloth to wipe the oil off your strike ball and a decent bag (preferably a roller – carrying a two ball bag on your shoulder gets a little old).

With the proper equipment, a decent strike ball and a good spare ball (preferably drilled and weighted the same), you’ll be well on your way to improving rapidly.

Next Friday I’ll cover the bowling shot. How to throw, where to stand, and aim (or lack thereof!).

On Fit Recovery Approaching 1,000,000 Hits

In the very near future, Fit Recovery will cross the millionth hit marker since I thought the blog up and published my first post a little more than a decade ago.

A million hits.

I received several comments over the years suggesting I should write more (or even exclusively) about recovery. They say all of the cycling stuff is a distraction from the good that I do writing about recovery. Believe it or not, I’m not lost on the idea but there are two distinct problems with that suggestion:

  1. Every single post on my top ten list for each year has something to do directly with cycling with one exception; I wrote a post about tight belt syndrome because I had it, struggled with it, and fixed it. That’s the one outlier. I’ve always figured it’s a good thing that the cycling posts bring the eyeballs to the recovery posts. I could be wrong about that assessment, but see #2.
  2. I really love writing about cycling, fitness and an active lifestyle. My daughters like to say I’m the most active dad they know. I write about recovery to freely give away that which saved my bacon and I write about cycling and fitness because it’s fun. One of the greatest things recovery has given me is the ability and cause to enjoy life – and I mean really love it. I try to pass on that passion in both topics.

And so it is what it is, my friends. I’ve actually been working on a little more substance around here, and a little less fluff. In the end, doing something good is more important to me than doing something fun. The key for me with writing fit recovery is that I can have both – it’s just a matter of figuring out the balance.

Thank you for reading, and for those friends I’ve made over the years, thank you for being the cherry on top.

In the end, recovery and fitness are both all about the friends we make. And blogging, too for that matter.

… And That’s Why We Don’t Ride After Freezing Rain.

I stepped outside to take a feel. I’d heard the wind chime playing it’s song but it was technically supposed to be warm – well, above freezing by a degree, at least. It was still quite dark and Mike, Chuck and I were due to roll out in half an hour. Freezing drizzle.

The dirt roads were already out of the question, impassable by bike with a layer of compacted snow and ice we’d be riding mountain bikes on paved roads. With the freezing drizzle the paved roads were out, too.

I texted Chuck I was out with the freezing rain. Mike called in the second I hit send on the text. He confirmed the wisdom of my dropping out when he said he had to walk on the grass to get down to collect his Sunday paper. No way I was riding in that, and Mike was out, too.

I set up the bikes on the trainers and my wife and I had a nice spin to 6 Underground. I was 30 minutes into it when I realized I didn’t have to talk myself into getting on the bike, and I was on my sixth ride of the week – so I could have easily justified a day off. Thankfully, that’s a little more like me.

I received a text from Chuck right around that point that he’d gone out anyway and braved the sleet and freezing rain. It didn’t go well. He went down (though from the sounds of it, not too hard). The bike was fine but I’m sure he’ll be bruised up today.

And that’s exactly why we ride the trainer after freezing rain. It doesn’t matter how fat your tires are on ice. Once you lose it, you’re down before you can blink.

The rest of the day was phenomenal. I spent the whole day in my pajamas watching football and napping intermittently. It was better than a swift kick in the pants. I didn’t do very well with watching what I ate over the weekend, so that starts today.

Biking, Bowling, Family, A Trip to the Local Diner & Nachos; Almost a Perfect Winter Saturday

I woke up early Saturday, then went back to sleep after a cup of coffee.  I wrote my post and caught up on my posts and Strava kudos, then shut the computer down, rolled over and fell back asleep – guessing, about 5 am.  I slept till after 9.  It was awesome.

My wife and I set up our trainers because it was miserably cold and windy outside… we’re deep into winter here in Michigan, and 1 F (-17C) is just too damn cold to enjoy a bike ride outdoors.

After riding we showered up and took the kids to our new favorite weekend breakfast spot. Breakfast was marvelous and probably a little too big. We headed home and played some cards, the four of us before my daughter headed back to college.

My wife had some work in the attic, shifting things around so I took the opportunity to head over to the bowling alley to get a few games of practice in. Friday night’s wasn’t my best performance and I had one thing to figure out before next week; how to move to change my lines when my shot isn’t coming in right.

For decades I’ve tried to stick with the same shot no matter what the lane gives me. Using old, dead urethane strike balls, this wasn’t terrible because they didn’t hook up like a new ball does. I lined up on same board for my right foot, the same target board for my ball, and depending on whether or not the ball was hooking, increase or decrease the speed. This is the hardest way there exists to bowl other than throwing a straight ball. Sure, the approach and release point on the lane stays the same, but with constant speed adjustments, if I’m a little off, I’m looking at a spare. Put simply, there isn’t enough margin for error.

So I threw a warm-up game, a decent 187. Then I threw a game where I tried to make my shot work… it wasn’t good. A 170. For my last game, I moved right (I’m left handed) and worked angles rather than speed. I dialed it in almost immediately and after an opening spare, struck twice. I got a little cocky on the next shot and missed my spare try. I spared the next frame then hit three strikes in a row – and they were no-doubters, hammering the pocket. I finished the game with marks and a solid 204.

With my daughter at her boyfriend’s house, my wife and I headed out to dinner at Qdoba, our favorite.  After dinner and some sparkling conversation, it was home for a movie… and it being well past my bedtime, I ended up falling asleep on the couch.  It was about as good as a winter’s day gets for me (unless we start skiing again).

Whatever Happened to Those God-awful Compression Socks, Anyway? Wait, on Second Thought…

I was reading a post a friend wrote yesterday that got me laughing, remembering the horrible, terrible, all bad, no good look of someone in black, or worse, multi-colored compression socks.

Oh, you remember the look.

A veritable assplosion of color!

I’ve got to be straight, here. I hated that look and am actually a little giddy at the fact that fad has faded like a nasty SBD fart in the wind.

The fad started with runners but popularity escalated and quickly jumped to cycling by way of the faddiest of faddies, triathletes. Folks, I might have the order mixed up, here. It very well could have started with triathletes because if ever there was a group of people prone to completely immersing themselves in a fad, it’s a triathlete.

And so I started seeing them at rides, on their $15,000 Quintana Roo with 80 mm carbon wheels and their $300 tri kit, in their compression socks… as I blew by on my ‘99 Trek 5200 road bike.

To tell the truth, I always put a little extra into passing someone like that.

And just like that, they were, thank merciful Jesus, gone. Come to think of it, we don’t even see them in the evenings on the long tours, anymore…

And the universe thankfully takes away, restoring righteousness to sport by sucking compression socks down the black memory hole to hell.

Where they belong.

Praise be to Jesus.

Finally Feeling (Almost) Back to Normal After the Stomach Flu.

Have you ever noticed, when it’s really cold outside (and I mean bone-chilling cold) you sport a dull ache most of the time? It’s not anything terrible, really. I just don’t feel my normal 75 degree (24 C) self. Anyway, because of that it’s hard to really know when I’m actually back after a cold or flu. It’s almost like I have to guess.

This year’s 24hr stomach flu was, well, is, brutal. It started off normal and stayed true through the “once you get sick you start feeling better right away” bit, but after I hit 65% it dragged on forever getting to 95%. I was out for a full week before I finally felt like myself again.

I took one more easy day on the trainer Wednesday night, just to be safe and it took me a minute just to talk myself into not taking a day off. I wasn’t feeling a whole lot better last night and almost dawdled my way into taking the night off. Fortunately, I prevailed against stinkin’ thinkin’ again and had a really good session but I was shocked and chagrinned that I even had to have the debate in the first place.

And that brings me to an interesting point in this saga of trying to get my mojo back after being that sick… I’ve never had this much mental angst getting back into the swing of things. I’ve always just gone for it once I start feeling human again. In fact, usually long before that.

I’m going to evaluate what’s happening in my melon over the weekend. I’ve got some serious changes to make to get my head straight because this back-and-forth just won’t do.

A Belated Happy New Year!

Thursday night, New Year Eve Eve, my wife and daughter went to see The King’s Man and I headed to the bowling alley for some practice. I tried two games the “technically correct way”, yo-yo move and all. It did not go well. After two games, I gave up and didn’t worry as much about high revs and just concentrated on getting the ball down the lane. 198. 170 (I was playing around with lines). 177. 197. and, finally, a 209. I’d figured things out those last two games, which is where I was hoping to be after that practice session.

Tired (seven games is a lot), I went home, cleaned my… erm bowling balls and got ready for bed. I started shivering two minutes after laying down and never fell asleep. By the time morning rolled around I was a mess with a stomach bug.

I will spare you the details, but it wasn’t good. I was out of it New Year’s Eve proper and much of New Year’s Day. I was well into back to normal last night – I even took my wife and daughter to McDonald’s for a burger for dinner… which was a little early, admittedly. Probably a bad idea, really.

Anyway, I feel quite awesome this morning. I apologize for not being around the last few days. I had a decent excuse. Happy New Year! And many more to come (though I’ve had about enough of this being sick on New Year’s day – that’s two out of the last four, I think).