You know the drill. If your kid is just going to a birthday party, you drop ’em off at the House O’ Fun and go on about your day for 2 hours. However, if you’re hosting said festival, you get to sit there with 1,100 screaming kids, noisy machines, and really bad pizza. So, I’m sitting there yesterday, watching the 8 years olds bowl … lots of bumpers in play … and they bring out the pizza for the minions. Everyone gets their share and starts going to town. I reach in for a slice of cheese pizza thinking, “How bad can this be?”

Granted, I’ve been to Italy and had what I would call the best pizza in the galaxy. So, admittedly, I’m somewhat biased. But this was cardboard with flavorless tomato sauce and a light dusting of cheese. Good news – no temptation to have more. Bad news, I’m flipping starving when the cupcakes come around. Almost like a dark cloud inside my silver lining. I caved on the cupcake. I mean … I’m human.

Breakfast – requisite granola bar. And a cinnamon roll. Birthday treats start early in the BGB household.
Lunch – miserable cheese pizza and a cupcake. At least I didn’t order a pitcher of beer!
Dinner – we went to another local wing/TV/beer joint. I got a grilled chicken wrap with a side salad. I failed when the kids both ordered tater tots and didn’t finish them. But I only had 6-8 of them. So, all in all not a terrible day.

Saturday’s Beer

What beers appeared for the #DrinkAndDropChallenge today? The WZ Tavern in Roswell has a relatively small beer list. but they usually bring the thunder with local beers on tap. This was no exception. I had two pints of Creature Comforts Koko Buni. If you haven’t had it yet this year, it’s outstanding.

Sounds like a Ferris Bueller quote … “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

The birthday weekend begins. Not mine … my soon-to-be 8 year old. Friday through Monday, we’ll celebrate this little dude turning 8; and that means his favorite foods and restaurants (and probably some dessert treats here and there.) Temptation run amok. I’ll need to be extra careful this weekend, and everything was fine Friday until I heard the words, “Daddy, can we go to Taco Mac?”

  1. I love my children.
  2. I’ve obviously trained them properly.
  3. Of course we can go to Taco Mac
  4. Uh oh. More on that later

Breakfast – not sure why I even bother typing this line anymore
Lunch – had some leftover chicken salad with some Wheat Thins. Pretty healthy so far.
Dinner – at the aforementioned Taco Mac. If you’re not familiar with is, picture scores of TVs, wings, billions of beers on draught … basically heaven on Earth. I had a turkey burger with a side of roasted zucchini. A really solid selection for me.  Thank you to TM for listing calories on the menu … I held myself to about 700 for dinner.

But there’s also a beer menu.

Friday Beer

Taco Mac has a loyalty program called the Brewniversity. (We’ve covered this in the past.) Basically, you score a point for every unique beer purchase. Points add up over time, and you occasionally score some solid swag. I’m approaching 700 points and am always interested in adding to that total when we go. I’m also all about beer variety – I like to try as many flavors as possible. And that’s why I love the Mac – so many options! But I’m also not very bright. In all my years of going and accruing, I’ve never thought about ordering smaller sizes to maximize points AND be able to branch out into additional beer options. Last night, I had an epiphany. TM offers a smaller pour called a nooner. It’s in the neighborhood of 6-7 ounces, which is perfect for enjoying several without getting out of control.

However, just like a kid in a candy store, I may have gone a little overboard in my newfound joy. 6 beers later, I went home …

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

One week down and three to go. I have nothing especially noteworthy or next level in terms of revelations to share. But I think that’s the whole point about taking better care of yourself. There’s no a-ha moment when suddenly everything clicks and it’s easy. There is no ‘Easy Button” you can push that makes the cravings go away or makes the pounds disappear. It’s a daily grind … it’s not especially exciting – it’s just a series of decisions, one after the other. Each decision can be a good one or a bad one. Regardless of the decisions … the next choice is right around the corner.

The key is to keep focusing on long-term objectives. It’s like managing a strategic plan. The goals can be so far down the road, and incremental progress can be nearly invisible. Some people can get discouraged when there is no tangible victory. But it’s exactly in those times that we continue to push forward, following the plan, knowing that the payoff is out there. So, I stay the course …

Breakfast – you know the drill by now
Lunch – Roasted buffalo chicken. And that’s it. I was full, it was tasty, and it’s not all that fattening either.
Dinner – Nice steak salad with NO cheese added … from the local Mexican joint. And that’s where the problem came in. The bag of tortilla chips. Bane of my existence. Curse you, tortilla chips!!!

And more baseball coaching. Between tennis 1-2 times per week and baseball, I’m getting some steps in. Tuesday night, it was something like 13,000 steps just for the three hours of tennis. Not bad at all. Tonight at baseball, while certainly nowhere near what I’d see on the courts, I still put in a nice 5,000 additional steps. What does all that mean? No clue.

Today’s Beer Selection

Since I was good most of the day … and added a little bit of exercise at baseball, I decided to go for a big boy tonight. I’ve been sitting on this EvilTwin + Westbrook collaboration: Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break for a few months now. It’s been taunting me … waiting for the day.

My goodness, it was worth the wait. Yes, that name is a mouthful … and so is the beer. Heavy and sweet (just like me), it has a tremendous comingling of flavors. Cinnamon … coffee … chocolate … vanilla … and just the right hint of spice from some habanero. It. Just. Works. It’s a bit of a calorie monster, but not an indulgence I’ll succumb to every day.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Anyone who’s followed this adventure to this point has come to one of several conclusions …

  1. I’m not a writer
  2. This beer thing is a true obsession
  3. suck at making good food choices
  4. All of the above
If you raised your hand for either 3 or 4 above … this post is for you! Chili cheese dogs, Super Bowl smorgasbord of garbage, wings, fries … this is NOT the path to better health. I know this, but why can’t I get over that mental hurdle and just make better choices??? Ugh.
Today felt – different. I was faced with a situation where I would normally go with the flow and choose the lard-based food options. But I didn’t. I was less bad than I should have been. I’ll explain.
Breakfast. You guessed it. Fiber One bar to the rescue
Lunch. This is where my choosing came into play. I was at a work thing with a catered meal. And as you all know, those situations can be hardest – your options are severely limited. This was a create-your-own-taco/salad bar from a local Mexican chain. (It’s the place that I believe is in opposition to my moral compass … but that’s a story for another day.) Giant fried flour salad bowls … full of greasy ground beef, queso, and tons of assorted deliciousness. Mountains of tortilla chips. YES! This is my jam. What did I create? I skipped the fried bowl, made a bed of lettuce, added grilled chicken with some shredded cheese and some pico de gallo. That was it. Not chips … no queso … no greasy meat. I felt like Rocky Balboa at the top of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was a victory. Not a huge one, but a victory nonetheless.
Dinner. More salad. I got the Zaxby’s Blackened Blue Zalad … with lite vinaigrette dressing. Pretty solid option (although I couldn’t resist the slice of Texas toast. I mean, I’m still human.)
Going to bed tonight feeling somewhat fabulous. Time will tell. Did I turn a corner into understanding the value of good decisions? Or was this just one day? We’ll see soon enough.

Beer time …

Just one beer tonight. But I dug back into the cellar and pulled out a fave. Founders KBS from 2017. Ohmagoodness. So rich and deliciously smooth. This was such a great year for KBS. (I liked it a lot better than 2018, and slightly better than 2016.) Time has NOT taken away from the quality of this one.
Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

I work from home.
The pantry is 50 feet away.
It speaks to me.
I listen too often.

If you’ve been following along for the last week, you might be shocked and saddened to know that I actually am doing a better job of watching what I eat. Obviously, the bar has been set very low. So, I currently find myself in an interesting place. And I always get here when I start monitoring what I eat. If I go salad and baked fish at every meal, I’ll do great, and it’s do-able for a defined period of time. But it is NOT something that I can sustain as a lifestyle change. I know this about myself. Yes, I know to make better decisions in restaurants (and sometimes do), but going to the extreme is not a lifestyle I can live long-term. So, the interesting place is one where I’m eating less, adding to the cardio, but still eating crap-food from time to time. Not the best call, but I’ll be interested to see how this plays out over the course of the month. Enough of the rambling – what did I enjoy yesterday??

Breakfast – same ole, same ole
Lunch – leftover hotdogs (yes, that’s plural) from Sunday. I don’t think I’m doing this right.
Dinner – mostly AirFryer french fries. And maybe a little bit of chicken. I know that sounds ridiculous …

And my saving grace once again … tennis. Cardio is apparently good for you, or something. Nothing like 3 hours of running around like a lunatic to burn off 1000+ calories, right?

The beers I earned on the court …

To be a good and social teammate, it’s important to bond with your crew over a beer or four. Tonight, we went with …

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington
Comments from people have been very interesting since beginning this February #DrinkAndDropChallenge exbeeriment. Most of you are lovely people and have been saying things along the lines of, “This is awesome. I’ll be following this, just out of curiosity. Good luck!” I even had someone go so far as to tell me that they respected my opinions and wanted to see the conclusions.
And then I get the reactions that truly crack me up. I’m not one prone to engender stereotypes, but these reactions are following gender lines at a 100% clip. Guys have clearly and loudly confronted me with, “There’s NO WAY you’re only going to have only one beer per day.” Pay attention, gentlemen. Never did I say it would be only one beer per day … quite the opposite. I merely said that I would have at least one per day. I think there’s another stereotype here about dudes not paying attention or following directions.

And now for my female followers. Any comments outside the supportive arena have adhered to one central theme: “you and are all men are ***holes because you can drink beer all month and still lose weight.” One particular thread went something like this …

Now, I fully get that these were all meant in a spirit of good-natured humor. But I also know that they come from a place of real frustration. So, without discussing this too much more, I appreciate all of you. Everyone who reads, shares, comments, etc.

Okay – how did we do today?
Breakfast – broken record … Fiber One bar
Snack – Unsalted almonds
Lunch – Super Bowl leftovers. 4 roasted wings; one slice of buffalo chicken pizza; half a sandwich. I’m a human garbage disposal, apparently.
Dinner – Roasted buffalo chicken salad. The chicken was pretty lean … and only had carrots, celery, lettuce, and a small amount of blue cheese dressing. I think this was a pretty solid choice.

Feb 4 Beer!

After another baseball practice, chasing 10 7-8 year olds around the field for an hour and a half, I felt like a nice refreshing beer. I reached in the fridge and found an old friend I’d forgotten about. This was a special release from Scofflaw … Jaywalker. It’s a very light IPA. Light in body, has a solid flavor profile, and weighs in about 5%. This was a really nice finish to the day.
Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

I got lucky. Or maybe it’s because I knew deep down that I earned it. Long story short, I kinda went nuts today. The luck part comes in when I tell you that Sunday afternoon included a long tennis match followed by coaching my kid’s baseball team for two hours. Yes … I ate some garbage at Super Bowl time. And yes, I had more like 4-5 beers over the course of the day. But I feel like the 18,000 steps I put in allowed for some indulgences.

Breakfast – My requisite standard Fiber One bar.
Lunch – Not a lot, truthfully. When I play tennis, I don’t eat too much before, and then snack it up a bit after. A few chips … a meatball or two. That’s about it. The bananas weren’t close to ripe, so I didn’t add one of those but should have anyway.
Dinner – Super Bowl. It was a smorgasbord. Dips here, wings there, hot dogs and hamburgers o’ plenty. Not gonna lie. 1) I wasn’t the best at making solid decisions. 2) It’s almost impossible to catalogue everything I ate, because it’s a bite here and a chip there. Suffice it to say that I ate a bunch of crap and don’t feel 100% this morning. I feel like there’s a correlation. The only miniscule saving grace is that we made wings in the AirFryer and in the Instant Pot. So, they weren’t technically as bad for you as fried wings typically are. I know it’s still a fatty meat … small victories.

And now for the beer …

Among others*, I enjoyed two fantastic beers. Thanks to Sprayberry Bottle Shop for always stocking beers that make my wallet go empty.
This weekend, I went out to re-stock the beer fridge and picked up some winners. Back to tennis for a second. I’m not good at that whole “hitting the ball over the net” thing. I’m there for exercise and camaraderie. And there’s always beer. I typically like a pre-match beer, just to calm the jitters. I was completely excited to try Wild Leap’s latest in the Alpha Abstraction line … Vol. 5 (pictured above). This may be the best one in the series.
Once back home and getting everything together for the festivities, I popped open a Bearded Iris Homestyle. Again … so good.
* Yeah … as the game dragged on, I had a few. The commercials were flat, the halftime show was underwhelming, and the game was a yawn-fest. I had some beer. It made everything slightly better. Back to normal life tomorrow. Everyday routines and more normal-ish scheduled and eating habits. (Note: I know that I need to grow as a person to the point where I still make those good decisions on weekends. Again, I say … baby steps.)
Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington
It is never, ever too early for flapjacks?

Ever feel like you go through the same eating and drinking rut day after day after day after day?
Same beer … same bad decisions … same results…

Going through a prolonged challenge like this is giving me the opportunity to change some of those habits and hopefully prove to myself that a wonderful place exists: a place where I can enjoy my beer without looking like Austin Powers’ one-time foe, Fat Bastard.

Moving on to Day 2, I awake knowing that last night, while not my best effort, wasn’t terrible. I stayed within my daily allotment of calories and had a great time with friends. Success. Tonight posed a challenge for a very different reason. My beloved alma mater faced the #1 hated rival in basketball. When games turn south, it can be easy to find solace in a bottle. Fortunately, it was a comfortable and fun win the whole way through, so there were no additional temptations.

Here’s what I had for Day Two:
– Breakfast: same old granola bar
– Lunch: chili cheese dog. But instead of adding more normal fries and being extra bad, I ordered the tomato, cucumber, feta salad and it was delicious!
– Dinner: Bonus! My daughter is cooking these delicious homemade Raddish meals once a month and last night was the night. We had salad nicoise, croque monsieur, and chocolate dipped creme puffs. All from scratch! Super good, and not terrible on the waistline.

And now for the beer …


I had two yesterday: Scofflaw Neopolitan Milkshake Stout and Wild Leap Truck Chaser. First time I had had either and they both were unbelievable! Absolutely great way to finish my Saturday!

Good thing I don’t have any major social events Sunday night. Wait … what?

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Well, I sure know how to pick a great day to start the #DrinkAndDropChallenge …

A friend was celebrating her 40th birthday last night … at a place with a pretty solid tap list. And really good ‘bar food.’ THIS is exactly the situation that typically laughs at my feeble willpower, scoffs at my well-intentioned “I’ll just have one” thoughts … this is real life. Can I go to a festive gathering, surrounded by friends, food, beer and still maintain some level of resistance?

In short … yes. These situations are when we turn to little tips and tricks to help make it through those temptations. Borrowing another lyric from a U2 song, Running to Stand Still. “Sweet the sin, but bitter the taste in my mouth.” Yes, the sliders, wings, nachos, and potato skins sound, smell, and look delicious. Of course, I would enjoy them. But how would I feel later tonight … tomorrow morning? Not just physically. How would I feel mentally, knowing that I lost yet another battle with temptation?
The tips and tricks:
– Accountability partner. I don’t care if they publically shame you, slap the food out of your hands, lick the whole bowl … we all need someone to KNOW how to get us to walk away. For me – it’s my spouse, my rock, my smokin’ hot wife.
– Be the DD. This is the gift that keeps on giving. On one hand, you’re the rock star that takes one for the team and offers to get everyone to/from safely. And on top of that, you have a built-in accountability, knowing that you have to stop at one or two so that you’re in good shape to get home. (At least, I hope you have that built-in accountability.) Bonus: it can be quite entertaining to sit back and enjoy the show when other people get a little too “happy.”
– Train Your Brain. This is a long-term solution. But the thought is to continue to tell yourself that the guilty stuff that you love is actually something you don’t like. Easier said than done, I know.
– Eyes on the Prize. Find something tangible to remind you of your goals. If you’re trying to lose twn pounds, write a 10 on your hand. Reaching for the queso, you’ll see the 10 and remember to focus on the goals.
– Don’t Get Discouraged. We all will likely succumb to temptation from time to time. The single most important thing to remember is to not lose focus. One bad decision does not need to lead into a “well, I’ve blown it now … might as well finish the whole bag of Cool Ranch Doritos now” mentality. One decision should have NO bearing on future decisions. Okay, so you had a second pint of stout. BFD. That doesn’t mean that the night is a loss and you can jump into the deep end of the fryer. It’s okay … smile and move on!

Day One – how did I do?

  • Breakfast – a Fiber One Caramel Nut protein bar worth 140 calories.
  • Lunch – I’ll call it a deli sandwich. Swiss, ham, turkey, salami, Dijon mustard. I’m calculating 525 calories.
  • Dinner (at the aforementioned birthday extravaganza) – not so great. I had a much smaller volume of food than I normally would, but the health-quality was not the best. This was pre-ordered food for the party, so I didn’t have much in the way of options. (I know I could still choose to eat something better before I arrive. Lesson for another day.) Two chicken fingers, a few tater tots, and a mozzarella stick. My best guess from MyFitnessPal is about 400 calories.

The Beer

I had three beers … and that still fit within my daily calorie window. I had two Cherry Street Coconut Porters and a Scofflaw Basement. Pretty solid Friday!

And Fitbit says I got in about 5,000 steps. All in all, I think I managed day 1 pretty well. But that’s just Day 1 …

NOTE: I promise every post won’t be this long. When I have more stuff to say about the journey … I’ll share.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

I have a theory. And I’m going to put it to the ultimate test this month. There are diets that seem to spring up just about every day … Keto, Atkins, Whole 30, gluten-free, vegan ….. they all seem to have similar results (according to my extremely non-scientific study.) They are difficult to maintain, and in many cases are dangerous because they do not promote a healthy balance of nutrition.

People who know me well are currently thinking, “When have you ever promoted a healthy balance of nutrition?” I know, I know. Without getting too science-y, here is the theory I’ll put to the test this month …



That’s it. Burn more calories than you consume … lose weight. Take in too much … gain weight. PLEASE KNOW that I am not suggesting that all calories are the same or that you can have 1,500 calories of stout with a McDonalds cheeseburger for a successful day. My point in all of this is that life can still be enjoyed, as long as we enjoy it in moderation.

So, what is the #DrinkAndDropChallenge? I am going to drink at least one beer every day for the month of February. I will also monitor the calories that I take in the rest of the day … aiming to stay under 2,000 calories per day. I am ALSO not recommending this as a permanent lifestyle. I think our friend, Mr. Liver, needs a break from time to time. I reiterate, the point of this exercise is to prove (or disprove) the notion that life should still be celebrated and enjoyed, but we have to understand our limits and live inside the margins.

Every day for the next month, I will post updates of the beers (and foods) I had the previous day. I will also provide weekly weigh-ins, hopefully showing progress toward a smaller me. And I’ll even be sprinkling in some cardio from time-to-time. Wish me luck … and make sure to tune in every day and join me on this little journey.


Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington