Tag Archives: health

Should Anyone Play Football?

If you have played football, or know anyone who does play football, read this! “The Fragile Teenage Brain”

It is a great piece talking about the concussion problems in the sport, and more specifically, high school football. I played high school football. For four years, it was a huge part of my life and one of my main focuses. After high school, I worked as an equipment manager for the Wisconsin Badgers for another four and a half years. So I have quite a bit of experience and time around the game of football.

Obviously, concussion awareness has shot up over the last few years. Going back to when I was in high school, I definitely fell into the camp of “shake it off and get back out there”. There was nothing that was going to keep me off the field. I played through many injuries, but thankfully no concussions. I did, however, have problems during my junior year with terrible headaches by the end of most games.

As the science continues to progress and more info comes out, I find myself completely changing my views on concussions and football. I love football. I’m a huge fan, ask anyone who knows me. But I’m starting to wonder if there should be a place for football in the future.The more we learn about concussions, the worse it seems. And there’s no good way to deal with it. We expect helmets to fix things, but they aren’t made for that kind of protection. We can keep changing the rules, but so far things haven’t changed in terms of concussions. And if things change too much, the sport will cease to be football anymore.

Far worse, though, is the culture within football. Way too many players underestimate the damage they are doing. I know I did. And I watched countless collegiate athletes adamantly oppose switching to a safer helmet because of the way they looked. (They’ve since made the newer helmets better looking, but the concern over how gear looks will continue to be a ridiculous barrier to protection. Also, concussions haven’t decreased with safer helmets.) Even with all the science coming out, too many kids (also coaches and parents) are ignoring the risks or plain don’t know about them.

Another problem is that far too many kids don’t realize that their football careers aren’t going much further than high school. Positive thinking is fine, but a little realism might help kids realize that they shouldn’t be risking permanent brain damage for something they most likely won’t achieve.

Plus, the damage is hard to see physically afterwards. Players sitting out look okay, prompting people to question if their milking their injury or not dedicated to the team. Concussion education has increased, but the entire culture around football needs to change. There are plenty of injuries that people can fight through. Concussions aren’t one of them.

I love football, both watching and playing. But maybe football should die out. The cost is too high for the players, and too many don’t even realize what it is costing them. Sure, getting paid millions of dollars is quite an incentive to play, but those millions can’t do anything for the brain damage. And that’s only the select few that make it all the way to the NFL. What about the millions of kids who don’t make it, who don’t have millions of dollars to show for their concussions?

I have three younger brothers. I never tried to get them to follow my lead, but after I finished my high school football career, I thought at least one of them would end up playing football too. After all, we had all played football together for years growing up. None of them ended up playing football. I wasn’t disappointed or let down by this. But I never thought that I would be thankful that they didn’t some day. I worry about those headaches from high school ball and what they could have meant. When I’m older, I know don’t want my kids playing. And that’s what the article is all about. (Seriously, read it.)

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Baldaufs Vs. Genetics — First Weigh-in

**Update: Added my dad’s weight and corrected the wrap-up**

Two weeks in. Time for the first weigh-in. To check-in, I asked my dad and uncle to answer the following questions:

  1. How do you think things have been going? Better or worse than you would like?
  2. What’s been the toughest thing so far? The easiest?
  3. Any adjustments going forward?

Bob (The Father) 

Still no picture, so the Barrel Man continues

1. “I haven’t looked at a scale since I weighed in, but I think I started out
pretty well. By later later in the week was drinking as much soda as before
and the second weekend was homecoming here, so everything went out the window(Mary Muellenbach cookies are hard to resist). I’m going to guess that when I weigh in my weight will not have changed much. I think I was down, but gained some back. I hope you and Dan have done better, it’ll force me to work harder.”

2. “I need to find a replacement for soda, something that would help the caffeine headache would be nice.”

3. “I still think portion control is the key to sustaining this for the long haul, but I’m wondering if I should try a more Atkins approach to kick start some weight loss.”

Starting Weight: 223 lbs
Current Weight: 218 lbs

% Change: -2.24% 

 Dan (The Uncle)

Also no picture yet. Might resort to increasingly unflattering pictures until I get something to use.

1. “Things were going very well, until I hit the first weekend, seemed like we had 3 “get togethers” that lead to either drinking or eating the wrong things. Back on track after this weekend, down 7lbs, slighly less than I wanted , but enough to continue to motivate.”

2. “Cooking is the toughest thing, time does not always offer itself, therefore ease of eating out takes over. Easiest has been walking, going pretty well. Lunches are very difficult on the road.”

3. “Leaving for Vegas on the 19th, sticking to no carbs until we leave, dealing with repercutions afterwards. Try to continue to walk daily, bike 2 times per week.”

Starting Weight: 268.8 lbs
Current Weight: 261.0 lbs
% Change: -2.91% 

Shane (Me) 

Me

1. “Things haven’t gone well at all. It started with problems with the scale I bought, which is a piece of shit. I think I have it figured out now. Anyways, I’ve been sickish so working out has really taken a backseat. Cooking took a little bit of a backseat too, especially with traveling for my interview.”

2. “Toughest thing has just been getting past this cold/allergies/hell. Not really any easiest yet.”

3. “Well, as soon as I feel better it’s back to the boxing gym. I have 2 weeks left on the membership there. Hopefully I’ll be playing some tennis with my brother (and if I lose again, the racquet probably isn’t surviving). I’d like to get back to the climbing gym soon. I miss going there but I could really use someone to go with so I can climb a couple full walls instead. Cooking should be back on track now. Trying to keep the carbs down a bit still and focusing on cutting down on the grazing throughout the day.”

Starting Weight: 196 lbs* (corrected)
Current Weight: 195 lbs
% Change: -0.51 %

So, not a great start for me. Dan and my dad are off to a good start though, but Dan’s trip to Vegas could give me a chance to get back into it. Regardless, I’ve got to pick up our game.

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OSS — 13 Days Left

If you’ve been following closely, the last OSS was 33 days left. Now we’re at 13. No, I haven’t lost the ability to count. I’ve had another interview scheduled. For two weeks earlier than the other one. I found all of this out yesterday and very MODERATELY freaked OUT. This mostly consisted of me spacing out and muttering, “oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck.”


(Yes, this is the perfect time to panic)

Now last time we were on this subject, the pants fit! So freaking out would seem like an overreaction. But things weren’t great after last Monday. Two problems popped up. I was under the weather for a few days, keeping me from really working out. And speaking of weather, it sucked for awhile. Cold and rain, not exactly great biking weather. Especially coming off a cold.

With the cold, I didn’t want to cook very much. So, we ended up ordering out too much. It’s not like things fell apart. This last week was just kind of a step backwards. Which turned out to be rather poorly timed, considering my surprisingly soon interview. (Note: I had the choice for what day. I could have chosen even sooner or chosen after my other interview. But with all things med school, the earlier the better. So I decided to give myself one extra week from the earliest possibility, then started panicking. [Note to the note: panicking is a strange word. Are there any other words that add a -k when you add an -ing to the end? Hmm.]).

Luckily, all is not lost. First, Baldaufs vs Genetics started Monday. If you missed it, you can click on the category on the right (over thurr ===>) or click here. So that’s good. (Also, there’s an update coming to my starting weight. The scale I bought is crap, so I’m fixing that. But I’m roughly 5 pounds higher than recorded. Lot of parentheses today. I apologize for the tangents.) Additionally, I’ve temporarily solved my bad weather workout problem. Thank you Groupon.

See Groupon has had a few gym membership deals lately. So I can afford the short-term memberships without having to lock-in for longer than I want and I can keep moving around so I don’t get bored. First up, 9rounds gym in Madison for a month. Two months at Princeton Club are next, so that’ll carry me into the new year. And 9rounds might just be the perfect thing to get me all set by my interview.

9rounds is a kinda/sorta boxing gym. You do nine 3-minute rounds (hence the name) of different workouts, non-stop. It’s pretty intense. I thought the 30 seconds in between would be for changing stations/catching my breath. Not so much. Mini-workouts instead. The first day on Monday killed me. My second trip went a little better in terms of feeling like death halfway through. It’s the jump start I needed after last week.

Me during round 9

Also refocusing on cooking a little bit. Bought a vegetarian meal from Whole Foods for last night. It was terrible. I’ll cover it in The Vegetarian Adventure. Mostly chili for the rest of the week. I’ve done pretty good of limiting myself lately.

Anyways, I’m going to try on the suit on Monday again. Depending on where I’m at then, I’ll go into red alert or I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. We shall see. Next few days are going to be tough. Need to get to 9rounds one more time, but I work two straight doubles, followed by UW-Nebraska (go Badgers!) and a 2nd close for the week. Tough to stay motivated to workout/cook when I’m tired, so I’ll have to fight through it. Things just got real.

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OSS — 33 Days Left

Hello again. I got sick of trying to figure out which day it was in Operation Suit Squeeze and which days this post covered, so I’m switching it to a countdown up above. In case you missed it last post, the first interview is Oct. 24th, so the clock is ticking.

First, the good news! I decided it was about time to try the pants on again. Get a real measure of my progress. And I got them on! Note, I did not say that they fit. But I did manage to get them buttoned and zipped without putting in a serious arm workout trying to get the sides to meet. It’s still a squeeze, though, and there isn’t really room for the shirts to tuck in yet. So there’s still work to be done.

But this proves that I have been making progress! When I started, they weren’t anywhere close to fitting.

Other than that, not much is new. I’m still mainly biking for a workout. Did 17 miles on Monday in just over an hour. No big deal (brushes shoulder off casually). Though the quick time was mostly due to a fear of not being back in time to pick up the girlfriend, which I made it back just in time for. Still, the urgency was nice and really pushed me on the bike.

I was surprised again at how well my legs held up. I used to look at triathlons where they bike like 100 miles (I’m too lazy to look up an actual distance right now) and think that it was crazy, but I’m starting to feel like it’s not impossible. I was shooting for 20 miles, but I think I could do quite a bit more. Especially if I actually start using the gears on my bike. (Longer tangent coming. Skip a paragraph or two if you don’t like sidetracking).

I have an old road bike. Allegedly, its former owner used it for races and the guy at the bike shop was curious about it, commenting on its nice parts. (My only response was: where? It’s pretty much frame, tires, etc. Basic bike. Clearly my bike knowledge is immense). So, despite its image, it is a nicer bike. But I have no clue how the gears work.

Now, I do understand the basic concept of gears and how they work on a bike. But these are the  kind of gears that are attached to the frame. Also, they lack numbers. Originally, I didn’t mess with them because I was getting used to the different position and balance required for a road bike, and I was NOT about to let go of the bars if I didn’t have to. Now, I’m used to the bike and I feel surprisingly natural on it. But I still haven’t used the gears and I’ve been a little afraid to experiment. First, I’m still saving up for a helmet so it seems like an unnecessary wipeout risk. Second, I have this suspicion that the chain could use some work (or replacement) and I really don’t want to mess it up and have to pay to fix that either.

Anyways, once I get the gears down, I feel like I could put some serious distance in on the bike. Until it snows. Which could be any day now, knowing Wisconsin.

In addition to the bike, I feel like my appetite has decreased significantly. I don’t eat breakfast very often anymore and it’s not really even a conscious choice. Just kind of happens. Some days it will be 12 or 1 and I’ll realize I haven’t eaten and marvel at my lack of hunger.

I don’t have any problem with this whatsoever. I’ve never bought into the need to eat breakfast. If you’re not hungry, then don’t eat. If you crash a couple hours later, might want to consider eating breakfast. Pretty straight forward.

I also think the decline in appetite is from eating less in general. Which is good. A move to smaller portion sizes was something I definitely needed, and it’s a lot easier to eat less when your stomach isn’t trying to get you to eat everything in sight.

So 33 days left. Another half inch off the waist and I’ll be set. Feeling pretty confident these days. Plus I’ve got another trick up my sleeve, but you’ll have to wait until next Monday to hear about that. (Woo self-promotion! But I’m pretty excited about it.)

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The Vegetarian Adventures, Part 5

This week was a disaster. Ish. I decided to make a butternut squash gnocchi with a creamy cashew/rosemary/garlic sauce off of the blog Hamburger Eats Me. Things started off poorly right away.

What I Expected

I had to work friday night, so I was counting on getting home around my usual 9:30. I had the girlfriend start soaking the cashews and baking the butternut squash in hopes that the more time-consuming steps would be done by the time I got home. Naturally, I got stuck at work longer than I expected, but the squash didn’t sit out for too long.

I chose the recipe, first because it looked tasty, but also because it seemed very doable. Turns out, it was more over my head than I expected. The biggest issue was the lack of concrete measurements. I don’t typically stick right to the measurements anyways, and I have no problem winging it. Not being much of a cooking expert, a definition of soft and smooth versus dry and sticky still seemed pretty obvious. Turns out, it destroyed me. I was reduced to adding the flour a tablespoon at a time. I was terrified of crossing into the dry and sticky realm. After carefully adding numerous spoonfuls of flour and not noticing much difference, I decided to just go for it. It was already pretty late and I was getting impatient.

The next step involves rolling the dough into a tube. So I’m thinking, “Oh, dough. Like cookie dough. Piece of cake to roll.” Not so much. I grabbed a handful to roll it, and it ran through my hands like oatmeal. Awesome. Back to fearfully adding flour. After who knows how many spoonfuls, the dough seemed a little bit stickier (which I was starting to think was more ideal) and was becoming a lighter color. So I tried again. Still pretty oatmeal like. Great.

By now, I’m just hoping to eat by 11. And I am not happy. It was a billion degrees in my closet of a kitchen. I was hungry. And I was sick of being scared of the flour. So I dumped a bunch in, stirred, and still couldn’t determine if it was dry and sticky or smooth and soft. (Clearly, I’m a cooking prodigy). Instead of rolling the dough into a tube, I scooped some up with a spoon, and threw it into the boiling water. Rinse, repeat. And the gnocchi didn’t actually turn out too bad.

The sauce was pretty straight forward. It was pretty dry at the end, so I added a little bit of water. The lack of measurements led to me winging the spices, and I’m pretty sure I woefully underestimated the amount needed. It was pretty bland.

What I Got

The sauce was a little bit paste-like as well, but the gnocchi weren’t terrible. As a meal (in terms of edibility), it wasn’t too bad. But the making of it was a disaster. Also, the lighting in my kitchen sucks for pictures. We’ll see how next week goes.

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Weekly Links #5 — Obesity again and goals

This week’s links are short and sweet. It’s been a busy week between work and the Badger game yesterday (Russell Wilson’s pretty good, turns out). Next week I’ll be back on top of things, scouring for those fatalistic genetics articles.

1. “Study: U.S. obesity rates projected to climb by 2030” This article caught my eye because of its relationship to last week’s articles. In particular, the war on fat article talked about the CDC scaling back obesity projections. This article contrasts with that, citing another study’s projections. Odds are, things will probably fall somewhere in the middle. I did find it interesting, however, that the study noted the problems that childhood obesity could cause with the overall populations obesity. I also liked that they noted some of the cultural problems behind the obesity projections.

2. “It’s Not a Goal, It’s a Reason” This article does a good idea of recognizing both the value and the problems with goals. Goals are great for short-term motivations (like fitting into a suit) but goals are also limited to smaller timeframes. A goal of living a healthy lifestyle is difficult to keep up as motivation for an extended period of time. You need a reason and you need to keep it in view. My reason for wanting to be healthy is to avoid the health problems much of my family has had. It’s about writing my own destiny and not just giving up because I will probably have lots of problems with my weight and health.

I’ll be back next week with more. OSS and Vegetarian Adventures will be coming in the next couple of days.

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Weekly Progress Report #5 — Already?

It’s really already been 5 weeks? I don’t feel good about that. I know moving got in the way for awhile, but I really don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much in the way of losing weight/getting healthier. Drastic changes coming tomorrow though with Operation Suit Squeeze.

Eating: Even though I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much, I would say I’ve made a lot of progress in terms of eating. Kind of enjoying the vegetarian meals. I think I’ve been eating less for the most part. Less overeating too. Just not seeing much yet.

So this week we had a basic turkey/colby cheese sandwich, lasagna roll-ups, and a vegetarian curry (for more info check out the vegetarian adventure–it’ll be up soon if you’re on top of things). The lasagna roll-ups aren’t particularly healthy, but we were able to make them without having to buy too much. And they’re delicious. But, of course, I forgot to take a picture of them so you’ll just have to imagine. Plus there were enough leftovers for me to eat them three nights in a row. All in all, pretty good week. Nothing too fancy. No overeating. With one exception.

Went to the Brewer game friday (Cubs suck!) and pigged out. Special occasion, so no problems. Have to be able to cut loose once in a while. Though I did just remember that we bought some organic (and gluten-free) oreos and ate a lot of them. REMEMBER: ORGANIC COOKIES ARE STILL NOT HEALTHY! (Unfortunately. Sorry for yelling.)

Grade: B-

Working Out: Honestly, working out continues to be my downfall–and probably the reason for my lack of progress. I played tennis once with my brother. Ran with the dog for a little while once. She still struggles to get the whole running thing versus stopping and smelling everything. But that’s it. And that’s a problem.

Grade: D

Mitigating Factors:

  1. None really. I need to stop being lazy.

This Week’s Plan: Consistent workouts start tomorrow. Yay for running! (Blech.) Keeping up the momentum with eating but cutting out more sweets.

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Operation Suit Squeeze

So here’s the situation. Last year, I cashed in my birthday and Christmas presents from my parents for a nice suit. My first and only suit. I needed it for medical school interviews.

Fast forward a year. I just finished all of my secondaries. Round two of interviews are coming up. Aaaand my suit doesn’t quite fit anymore. Awesome.

I know what you’re thinking–take the suit in and have them do some alterations. As I have nooo money, I’m going to try to avoid that. (Plus it makes for good motivation to get into better shape). The vest and coat fit okay still. The coat’s a little tight across the shoulders, but it’s more of a comfort thing than anything else. Besides, I don’t really think I can de-broaden my shoulders. I’ll alter it down the road.

The pants are the problem. Can’t get ’em on. At all. I need to lose at least a half inch off my waist. Maybe a full inch if I want to breath comfortably for the whole interview. So the time has come for drastic measure. I’m talking set-in-stone workout routine. Smarter eating. A complete ban on sweets (like I said, drastic measures).

I figure I’ve got 4-8 weeks before I really have to worry about interviews. The plans will get hammered out over the weekend. Everything will be chronicled under the Operation Suit Squeeze category. I’m going to breakdown what kind of things I need to look out for and avoid, how I’m going to eat, and what I’m doing to work out.

This better work. I’d really like to breathe during interviews.

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Weekly Links #4 — Obesity and Another Excuse for Eating all the Cookies

It’s Thursday. Time for weekly links! Only three links this week, because I we’re getting heavy on some stuff. Sorry for the lack of posts this week. There’s a big one coming tomorrow morning and the vegetarian adventure has been postponed to saturday this week. Hang in there. I know you’re excited.

1. “Fat People Are Not Our Enemy” This article talks about a lot of things. It’s main point is that we need to stop hating on ‘fat’ people, citing an article that found overweight people to be just as healthy as their skinny counterparts. A couple things here, from me. First, being a little bit overweight is not necessarily a bad thing. Having a little bit of fat can help the body be more resilient, help it survive difficult times. That is not an endorsement to gain weight, though!

Second, and I agree with the article on this, BMI is a terrible way to measure obesity. The nice thing about BMI is that it is easy to calculate. Therefore, it’s very useful to get a general idea on the population from a public health standpoint. However, easy to calculate also means a lot of error. For example, when I was in some of the best shape of my life during high school, calculating BMI put me at the border of overweight and obese. I most definitely was not! BMI oversimplifies and it doesn’t take into account muscle mass, instead using a simple height vs weight set-up. However, the article claims that our reliance on BMI has changed what we consider healthy. I would disagree with that.

How many people do you know judge health based on BMI (minus healthcare workers)? I’m going to guess not many. Most people can tell the difference between an obese person, someone who is an unhealthy level of overweight, and someone who is maybe overweight but still healthy. Maybe the war on fat has gone too far. Discrimination is never a good thing. But I would not say that science thinks being too heavy is good for you, as the article concludes.

2. “Obesity in America: How the Social Norm on Weight Has Shifted” In sticking with the obesity discussion, this article talks about people’s views on obesity. Most interesting for me was the high numbers of people who skew themselves downward on the obesity scale. (Note: I don’t know if they used BMI or not for the polls). Also, science in this one claims that up to 80% of chronic diseases can be linked to weight. I can understand people’s confusion with science. I’m going to guess the number in actuality comes in below 80%, but I’m also going to believe this side of things a little more than the claim that heavy is good.

Anyways, I love that this article emphasizes the need for bottom-up change. Being honest, I don’t put much hope in top-down change these days. Too much stupid bickering and partisanship for anything to get done. So any changes are going to have to come from below. The community example is nice, and it would be cool to see this pop up in other places too. Good article all around.

3.“Westerners ‘programmed to eat junk food'” Back to busting DNA articles! I’m not arguing with the study. It’s very possible, especially the survival side of things. BUT, the title again! I’ve found that titles tend to be very sensationalist since I’ve started this blog, usually exaggerating the actual claims in the article. Yes, westerners may crave foods that are less healthy due to genetic heritage. But it doesn’t MAKE people eat the unhealthy foods. I crave sugary foods. Constantly. Terrible sweet tooth. Is this because of my ‘switch’? Maybe, but I don’t eat sugary foods all the time. There’s this useful thing called consciousness which allows me to choose what I do and don’t eat. The article doesn’t touch on this at all, mostly just quoting the scientists. Who, I should add, go no further than mentioning that it could control craving and explaining it’s origin. Not saying we are programmed to eat junk food. Saying we might have a genetic based desire for junk food. Programmed is a very different thing. Programmed to crave versus programmed to eat is also very different. Whew! I’m done now.

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The Vegetarian Adventures, Part 3

First of all, pictures! Since I was unable to post it last week, here’s my epic fail of a curry.

The Epic Fail of a Curry. Notice the lack of curry-ness

Moving on then. It’s week 2 of the vegetarian adventures. I actually found a lot of different recipes this week, with a little help from my tweeps (twitter-peeps). I ended up using two recipes off of a great blog at flavorfullblog.blogspot.com. The first was a spicy orzo-stuffed pepper. Pretty easy to make, very tasty, no problems. I did, however, have a hard time shaking the feeling that some italian sausage mixed in there would have made them great. Sorry, it’s in my blood. I’m working on it. This takes time. The breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese helped me survive the lack of meat.

Stuffed Vegetarian Peppers

To go along with the stuffed peppers, I made caprese skewers. We had a bunch of small tomatoes from my grandparent’s garden to use up (I don’t know what kind of tomato. Bigger than grape. Smaller than the ones that go on sandwiches. Sorry for the lack of help. [The girlfriend believes they’re cherry tomatoes. But she doesn’t know tomatoes either. UPDATE: Google image seems to corroborate the cherry tomato claim.])

It was a little more time consuming than I expected. This caused me to let the balsamic vinegar cool too much, and it went kind of molasses on me. Whoops. The mozzarella was good though. Not sure I was a huge fan of the basil/balsamic vinegar combo though. Something just seemed a little too strong.

Oooo pretty!

And for bonus points, I just realized I didn’t eat any meat at all today. This is unprecedented. I feel kind of weird. Then again, I ate a donut and half a cinnamon roll. But I think I deserve credit for that as well. I resisted the urge to eat 1-5 more donuts. No easy feat with my sweet tooth.

Overall, very successful second vegetarian meal. Might go eat a cookie to reward myself. Baby steps.

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