A Sportswriter’s Secret Cure: Green Tea

Every so often, while working out at a hotel gym in Santa Monica, I run into a sportswriter friend. Chances are he has a few belly rolls, as I once did, having lived the unhealthy life of 5:30 a.m. wakeup calls, daily ESPN TV shows, daily columns, radio shows, appearances, meetings and, oh, perhaps a Chicago-to-Boston flight and 90-minute car crawl to Foxborough to cover a Monday night game, followed by two post-game deadlines and a dawn flight back to Chicago, then a rush-hour drive downtown to reach the “Around The Horn” studio in time for another insane cycle.

Exercise? Only when I was dashing through a terminal at O’Hare, where I had a heart issue in 2007 while trying to make a New Orleans flight to cover an inconsequential BCS game. Was Brady Quinn really worth a stent being thread up your thigh and into an artery? Priorities, son, priorities.

But now, away from that life for a bit, I’ve lost some weight. I’m in shape. My doctor is very happy. The old sportswriter friends look at me and say, “Wow, you look different. How did that happen?”

I swim. I lift weights. I ride my bike on the beach. I walk everywhere. I eat veggies and don’t even spit up the kale. I rarely eat meat, and when I do, it’s grass-fed. I don’t always drink beer, and when I do, i prefer Dos … Michelob Ultra. I say no when someone offers a cigarette, no matter what’s wrapped inside.

And I drink green tea.

By … the … gallon.

It doesn’t taste all that great — the Starbucks baristas give me looks when I ask for a shot of cinnamon dolce syrup, which I suppose negates some benefits. But if green tea really speeds the metabolism, blocks fat, reduces cancer and heart disease risks, lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol and even makes the skin bright and shiny, then what the hell? Plus, it has enough caffeine to serve the purpose of coffee without teeth stains and heavy swishing in your gut.

As with anything that seems good for the system, researchers have found supposed detriments in green tea, such as lead contamination. But compared to a burrito on the run at Quicken Loans Arena, I’ll take my chances on the powers of epigallocatechin gallate, the antioxidant said to make green tea so healthy.

They even have it at airport concession stands, scribes.