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The Difference a Real Bowl Makes

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This past week I started eating my breakfasts out of real bowls, instead of the glass Pyrex containers I usually used before. Why did I use the Pyrex containers? Good question. Maybe because I had heated up the food in it? Maybe because it was ‘easier’ or a ‘better’ fit? Maybe because it seemed more durable? Honestly, I don’t really know!

What a difference this has made. It’s a little thing, but it has improved my mood and elevated the whole experience of eating breakfast. Even if I am just eating it at my desk in front of my computer (don’t judge).

Now I just need to get a proper bowl for my large lunch salads!

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Cold Brew Coffee

I have enjoyed the flavor of coffee for years. But, I used to avoid it because the caffeine really affected me. I couldn’t have even a single cup of coffee without it really messing with my sleep and making me jittery.

A few months ago I decided to give coffee another try. I figured if I started to get into coffee, it might, in some sense, provide me with a similar enjoyment that I get from beer, especially my favorite style, imperial stouts. Now, that makes me sound like I have a drinking problem. I only had one or two beers a week at most, and nowadays I only have a beer once every few weeks. Seriously! I still enjoy a nice beer every once in a while (last night I shared my last bottle of Genealogy of Morals from Hill Farmstead with family and friends), but the calories from a pint of great craft beer can be upwards of around twenty percent of what I aim to consume in a day, and the alcohol also affects me much more easily now, so it is now a rare treat.

Since I never drank coffee regularly, and my wife doesn’t care for coffee, we don’t own a coffee maker. I had heard of cold brew coffee, so I decided to look into how to make it. Turns out, it is incredibly simple to make, no fancy or expensive equipment required!

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What you need

  • A 1 quart mason jar (I used a regular mason jar initially, but now I’ve upgraded to a Simple Life Cycle Cold Brew Mason Jar and Filter that my parents gave me for Christmas)
  • A fine reusable filter/strainer
  • 1 cup of roasted coffee beans (I recently have found a fantastic local nonprofit place, Coffee Connection, which supports women in recovery from addiction)
  • 1 quart of water

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What to do

  1. Coarsely grind coffee beans.
  2. Place coffee beans in mason jar.
  3. Fill jar with cold water and cover.
  4. Brew on counter for around 24 hours.
  5. Filter resulting concentrate.
  6. Store in fridge.

To drink, dilute concentrate as desired. I usually do around 1 part concentrate to 1 part water, but it depends how strong the concentrate is. The longer you let it brew, the stronger it will be.

If you want to drink it hot, just pop it in the microwave.

Experiment with different brew lengths and different beans. You can also add other ingredients to the mason jar when brewing… I’ve tried a variety of combinations of things such as coarsely ground cocoa nibs, vanilla beans/extract, dried chilis, and star anise.

A cup of cold brew coffee is now a key part of my daily routine. I love sitting down to drink it at my desk after I’ve exercised!

And, the caffeine no longer bothers me. I’m not sure if it is because my body is used to it now that I regularly consume it, or if changes in my body over the past year made a difference. But, in any case, I can have a cup or two of coffee a day without worry!

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Routine Interrupted

This morning, I was going to write a post about my morning routine. But, today it was interrupted. Life is quite the jokester sometimes.

My recumbent exercise bike decided to stop working, which threw me for a loop. The display still turned on, and I could change the resistance, but it didn’t really make a difference. The bike was extremely difficult to peddle. I like a challenge, but this was taking it too far!

So, I did ten minutes on my old NordicTrack ski machine (which isn’t really ready to be used regularly yet… I still need to tune it up), and although I worked up a good sweat, I still felt unsettled. I can’t stand having unknowns floating around in my mind… how was I going to fix the exercise bike? What was I going to do if I couldn’t fix it? In the winter, I can’t really get out and walk/run regularly in our neighborhood (or more accurately, I don’t really like walking in the cold, rainy/snowy weather that is so frequent). And, I have really grown to love the ability to work and read while I bike. Would this mess with the routine I’ve grown to love so much over the past few months?

I took apart the bike, didn’t see anything wrong, and sprayed some WD-40 in it because that is about the limit of my mechanical abilities. Online, I searched for a manual for the bike and eventually found one. No troubleshooting section. Wonderful.

Then, I decided to just run to the store and get new batteries. It was worth a shot. And wouldn’t you know it, that was all it needed!

So, my routine was interrupted today, but I’m back on track for now. I can rest easy knowing that I don’t need to concern myself with figuring out anything with the bike. And now I can proceed to the next phase of my morning routine that I equally enjoy.

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Pushup + Cat = Plank

Surely, whoever invented the plank exercise must have had a cat and been trying to do pushups!

Our cat Nix loves to walk underneath me when I’m doing pushups, forcing me to hold a plank until she moves. Then, she’ll plop down at the end of the mat and show off her yoga poses.

(Sorry, no photo of this… would be kinda difficult for me to take a photo of myself doing a plank! Update: But, here’s a photo of Nix lounging on my mat afterward.)

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The Year It Finally Clicked

When 2017 started, I couldn’t have imagined what the year would end up holding for me.

Towards the end of January, I completed the Ring in the New Year Challenge in the Apple Activity app on my Apple Watch, which meant that I closed all three Activity rings—Move, Exercise, and Stand—each day for a full week. I don’t know why I even really wanted it. It was just a silly sticker. I didn’t even have any friends on the Activity app to share it with.

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The sticker that started it all

But, it triggered something inside me. As 2017 comes to an end, I am on a 343 day Move streak in the Activity app. And I’m also on a 343 day streak for logging what I eat in Lose It! I’ve lost 75 pounds and gained health and energy that I haven’t seen in years.

One Year Difference
Christmas 2016 vs Christmas 2017

What will 2018 hold for me? Again, I have no idea. But, I’m excited by the possibilities!