Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama 4

November 20, 2010

I don’t need to buy Big & Tall clothes anymore, but the catalogs still come to my house.  Who knew the models’ lives were so drama-filled?


Haircut & Produce & More

November 19, 2010

Where to start today?  Lots of little things to blog about…

1) Haircut. I didn’t just get a hair cut – I got them all cut!  [Rim Shot].  I’ve been going to Heather at the Glendale Salon Spa for a couple of years now, and have always walked away happy.  Here’s what I looked like before Heather and her scissors worked their magic:

And the end result:

2) Produce. Had to go grocery shopping today, and had to be thoughtful about it.  Today is Friday, and on Monday evening I’m leaving on a jet plane to Colorado to visit my sister and her family for Thanksgiving week.  I’ll be gone for 5 days (though I plan to blog from Colorado, and my sister is excited to help me), so the challenge was this:  buy enough fruits and veggies to last exactly until Monday, and if I happen to buy too many, make sure I buy kinds that will last until I get back.  I don’t like buying produce and throwing it away, like I did with that disgusting Yali pear.

So I was off to one of my favorite grocery stores, Jon’s.  I looked up their weekly ad online, and saw that they had grapes on sale (99 cents a pound), which is perfect for my situation, because I can freeze them, and whatever I don’t eat in the next few days will keep for the next few weeks (read about the benefits of freezing grapes here).  Other good produce that will keep if I need it to include apples, carrots, and celery, so all those went into my basket.  Here’s what I walked away with:

1 head of celery, 1 yam, 1 zucchini, 1 pound of carrots, 1 bag of red seedless grapes (brand name: Supergrape!), 2 bananas, 1 green pepper, 1 Rome apple, and 2 Granny Smith apples.  I haven’t had a green apple since I don’t know when, and plus the Granny Smiths were on sale for 50 cents a pound, so I bought a couple.

The grand total?  $5.34!   Some pricing highlights include the yam for 9 cents, the zucchini for 24 cents, and the bell pepper for 34 cents.  Even on sale, the grapes were nearly 1/2 of my bill, at $2.48 – but still a great price for 2 1/2 pounds of grapes!

3) Flat Tire Update. I posed a question in the title of my last postHow Many Calories Do You Burn Changing A Flat Tire? I asked the question rhetorically, but earlier today, I snooped around to see if anyone actually knew the answer.  Lo and behold, someone did!  Eric Lupher, a reporter for KKTV, the CBS affiliate in Colorado Springs, posted a blog in April (you can read it here) claiming he burned 367 calories changing his tire!  Seems like a lot to me, but who am I to argue?

4) Workout. Was up early today for my 3rd session in the park with Oscar and Joe, although Joe couldn’t make it today, so it was just me and Oscar.  Oscar had me do a workout similar to the one I did on Wednesday (read about it and see pictures here), and he added a new piece of equipment into the routine: the kettlebell.  I like Wikipedia’s description: a “weight looking somewhat like a cannonball with a handle, used to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.”  Oscar’s kettlebell is a little more sophisticated than that, with plates that slide in and out so you can adjust the weight.  Oscar had me do kettlebell swings, where I start in a squat position, and simultaneously stand up, thrust my hips forward, and swing the kettlebell from between my legs to straight up in front of me.  You can watch what the movement looks like here (starting at 2 min, 30 sec into the video), except that I did them with each arm individually, instead of both. I felt ready to collapse when the workout was over – a good thing!

Keep it up, David!

How Many Calories Do You Burn Changing A Flat Tire?

November 18, 2010

One of the great things about living in Los Angeles is having the ocean so close.  I’m not a big beach lover (I can count on 2 hands the number of times I’ve been to the beach in the 8 years I’ve lived here), but it really is beautiful.

I was reminded of that today because I went with my friend Alix for a walk on the beach.  She lives in Culver City, so I swung by her house, and then we headed to Marina Del Ray, about ten minutes away.  We walked about a mile down the beach or so, and they headed over to the marina, and walked among the docks.  I love walking on the beach – walking on sand is more difficult than walking on a harder surface, and you use your whole foot and more muscles in your legs.

Here’s some photographic evidence.  Me on the beach:

Me with some boats:

I had a really nice time catching up with Alix, who I hadn’t seen the beginning of 2010 (if I recall correctly).   And I saw some clever boat names, too – my favorites were ‘Sail La Vie’ and ‘Anchor Management.’  Wordplay!

While my morning was really enjoyable, my car’s day pretty much sucked.  Let’s start with this present that was left for me:

Thank you, City of Culver City, for the parking ticket.  You are correct, I failed to notice the signs saying that parking was prohibited on the east side of the street between 10am-2pm on Thursdays due to street cleaning.  What’s the damage?

Just $55!  Suh-weet.  Can I have you earmark my money to go towards arts education in the Culver City Unified School District?  Thank you very much.

Then, on the way home from Culver City (about a 30 minute drive), guess who gets a flat tire?  Me!  Luckily, it was just a few blocks from my place.  If I had gotten it on the freeway, and had to pull over to the shoulder, I probably would have cried.  The last time I had a flat (about ten years ago, when I was in college), my friend Becky was with me, and she knew what she was doing, so I barely paid attention.  Having to change a tire with traffic whizzing by at 70mph would probably give me a heart attack.  And when the ambulance came, that would lead to a traffic jam, and my death would anger thousands of Angelenos.  It’s not the way I want to go.

Thankfully, as I said earlier, I was a few blocks from home, so I was able to slowly inch my way back into my parking garage, and I changed the tire ALL MY MYSELF.  I know it’s not rocket science, but I’m still proud.  Even though it’s not health/food/exercise related, I still documented the process and will walk you through it in this blog.

My flat tire:

My car all jacked up:

Flat tire off, spare tire on:

Car lowered, jack removed, lug nuts tightened.  All done!

My first plan was to take it to the dealership first thing in the morning to get a new tire.  But since changing it took less time than I thought (about 45 minutes), and it was 4:30pm, I decided to head out and get the new tire today.   The Goodyear tire place less than a mile down the road didn’t close until 6, so I had plenty of time, and by 5:15, I was driving home $100 poorer but with a new tire.

Total car-related expenses today?  $155.  Unless I don’t pay that parking ticket. [Insert maniacally evil laugh here]

The good thing about getting the tire today and not tomorrow is that I’ll be able to attend two workouts that I really enjoy.  Latin Jam class is tonight (you can watch a video about it in this blog post), and tomorrow I’m heading back bright and early to the park to work out with Joe and Oscar, like I did on Wednesday.  Both would be off the table if I didn’t get a new tire, because getting to both involves freeway driving, which you’re not supposed to do on a spare tire.

Keep it up, David!

Yali Pear FAIL

November 17, 2010

Last week at Super King Market, I continued my quest to purchase fruits and vegetables I’ve never purchased before, and came home with a Yali Pear.

I had high hopes for my little Yali, because pears (specifically Bartlett and Anjou) are perhaps my favorite of all fruits.  Some internet research yielded very little information – Yalis are a variety of Asian pears that originated in China, are high in Vitamin C, and have very white, sweet, juicy flesh.

Not this Yali.

I cut mine open and found this:

It was brown.  Let’s take a look from a slightly different angle:

Yep – still brown.

I cut a very small piece off and tried it – it was mealy and bitter.  Like so many at-risk youths, this pear had gone bad.

I tried to look up information on why or how a pear ends up like this, and, again, didn’t find much – except for a brief mention of ‘brown core’ being “an internal disorder sometimes seen in pears under controlled atmosphere storage.”  That’s courtesy of Volume 17 Issue 8 of the academic journal Food Control, which featured an article on Yali pears in August 2006.  Some researchers at the College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering at China Agricultural University in Beijing devised a way to determine if Yalis have a brown core without cutting into the fruit – apparently brown core is common enough to warrant academic papers and studies!  I don’t quite understand what the test entails – as I have no idea what ‘transmission visible–NIR spectroscopy’ is (sounds like magic to me), but my Yali failed.  It made it all the way from China to North Hollywood, CA, with a brown core.

So my brown core Yali ended up someplace where very little of my uneaten produce ends up – in the trash can.  I had a plum instead.  Its core was succulent and delicious, thank you very much.

Will I try another Yali?  Maybe.  If I do, you’ll be sure to hear about it.

Keep it up, David!

7am Wednesday Workout

November 17, 2010

I met up with my friend Joe and his trainer Oscar again this morning for a workout at the park.  We met up for the first time on Monday (I wrote about it in this post), and this workout was very similar to Monday’s, except for that I brought my camera this time!  Oscar the trainer doubled as Oscar the photographer – so I have him to thank for both an ass-kicking workout (I’ll be sore tomorrow, I’m sure) and lots of visual aids for the blog.

After stretching and warming up, Oscar had me complete a series of exercises designed to target my chest, back, arms, abs, and legs.  All the exercises were designed to use my own weight as resistance, and used two handles attached to a strap that was slung over a tree branch.

Here I am doing a chest exercise.  The motion is similar to a push-up, but I simultaneously had to steady my arms and hands, as they weren’t braced on something solid (like the floor). Instead, they were holding two handles in place as I leaned into them and then pushed myself away from them:

Then came a tricep exercise, also using my own weight as resistance.  This is probably the most effective tricep exercise I’ve ever done – my triceps were crazy sore on Tuesday from Monday’s workout.

Then came lunges (the handles and straps were pretty much just used for balance on these):

Followed by back:

And bicep curls:

A standing ab exercise that’s kinda similar to crunches, with my own weight adding resistance:

And the circuit ended with working my oblique abs on a mat:

On Monday, Oscar taught me all the exercises, so today, I went through the entire circuit, but upped the reps for each from 10 to 12.  Then, after a little rest, Oscar had me do a “30 Seconds of Hell” circuit, where I pushed myself to do as many reps as possible for each exercise for 30 seconds before immediately moving on to the next one.  Exhausting.  Felt great, too!  By the time I left the park, around 8:15am, I felt energized, was in good spirits, and glad my workout for the day was already over!  Back again on Friday morning.

Keep it up, David!

What’s in the RediSetGo? Part Eight

November 17, 2010

Before we get to another rousing game of What’s in the RediSetGo?, I just want to go a quick chart update.  This morning I stepped on the scale (well, actually, it was yesterday morning, because I’m not posting this until after midnight), and I was down 1 pound!  That’s 148 pounds total, and now I’m only 4 pounds away from my next goal!  I added a new dot to the chart:

Now that that business is taken care of, let’s get on to the fun!

Only a couple days have passed, but it’s time for another installment of What’s in the RediSetGo? Grab your windbreaker and your chapstick, because today’s is a doozy.  If you’ve never played before, you may want to check out the prior installment just to get yourself up to snuff.

Is your Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil sharpened?  It’s time to play!

What’s in the RediSetGo?

OSTRICH BURGERS are in the RediSetGo!

Long-time What’s in the RediSetGo? players may have noticed that the RediSetGo cooking surface has been divided into two halves.  This is thanks to the RediSetGo Divider Pan, a subdividing insert.  It’s good for cooking two of something (duh).  Since mostly I cook for myself, I rarely use it, but I should use it more.  The Divider Pan can go from the RediSetGo straight into the dishwasher, making clean-up a breeze!

A good friend came over for dinner last night, and I had ostrich in my freezer that I had been dying to try.  I’ve had ostrich burgers before at restaurants, but never prepared it.  Here’s the package:

It was appealing at the store because it’s leaner and has less calories than chicken (4 oz has 110 calories and 1.5 grams of fat), but it’s red meat and looks like beef, and I haven’t been eating much beef lately.  In fact, hardly at all.  So I thought I’d give it a whirl!

It was delicious – tasted like beef.  I wouldn’t have been able to tell it wasn’t beef had I not known.  I put the cooked burger on a 100 calorie sandwich thin (which I’ve talked about before, in this post) with some lettuce, mustard and a little lite mayo:

Oh!  and for another topping I sauteed an onion, cooking it for about an hour until it got all caramelized:

I baked off some Ore-Ida Steak Fries (they’re 110 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per serving – the healthiest item I’ve found among Ore-Ida’s line-up of various frozen products made from potatoes cut up in different ways).  I also made a salad, so here’s my dinner:

I should confess that I probably ate about 2 servings of the steak fries, which I had doused in paprika, cumin, and a McCormick’s spice blend before they went in the oven.  They were good, and it’s not gonna kill me.

For your salad lovers, here’s a close-up of the salad:

Romaine, grape tomatoes, cucumber, radish, yellow pepper, orange pepper, capers, and I dressed it with lemon juice and a little bit of basil-infused olive oil.  There was leftover salad, which was part of my lunch today (a little soggy, thanks to sitting in dressing overnight, but not a big deal).

Keep it up, David!

A Lot To Catch Up On

November 15, 2010

A few odds and ends to talk about today.

1) Sunday Run. It’s been more than a day and a half since it actually happened, but on Sunday morning, I had a really good run.  I set out to run for 45 minutes, and I ended up running for 45 minutes on the nose.  Add in a few minutes for a walking warm-up and cool-down before and after, and it was 51 minutes I was out on the street.  Here’s my route:

I managed a route that took me past zero strip clubs (which are common in my neck of the woods), and was a total of 3.9 miles.  Let’s add it to my running chart:

  • 9/21/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 41 minutes.  MPH: 4.53
  • 9/27/10: Distance: 3.3 miles.  Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 4.4
  • 10/5/10: Distance: 3.2 miles.  Time: 40 minutes.  MPH: 4.8
  • 10/12/10: Distance: 3.8 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 10/16/10: Distance: 2.9 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 11/1/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 36 minutes.  MPH: 5.16
  • 11/6/10: Distance: 5.1 miles. Time: 60 minutes.  MPH: 5.1
  • 11/14/10: Distance: 3.9 miles. Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 5.2

My fastest pace yet!

2) Today’s Workout. I ran into an old friend from college, Joe, in Hollywood on Saturday, and we got to talking about exercising, and he invited me to join him and his trainer for a workout.  Yesterday I called Joe back and took him up on his offer, and that’s how I ended up in a park at 8:30am this morning.  I was supposed to be there at 8:15, but traffic was a bitch, and even though I gave myself 45 minutes to get there, it took an hour.  It would take me 20 minutes max on the freeways if there wasn’t any traffic, but the freeways aren’t an option at that hour in Los Angeles, unless you like sitting in a parking lot.

The workout was fantastic.  Joe’s trainer is named Oscar, and he had me work out my chest, arms, back, legs, and abs, mostly using my own weight as resistance and two handles attached to a strap that was slung over a tree branch.  Perhaps that’s hard to visualize, and it doesn’t help that I didn’t bring my camera to snap a photo.  What was great about it was that most exercises worked a variety of muscles throughout my upper body in addition to working the intended muscle group, because the exercises had an element of balance involved, so I was giving it all I had just to stay in position on top of completing the actual exercise.

We were there for about an hour, and I’m going back on Wednesday and Friday morning.  Those sessions will be at 7am, so I should be able to fly there on the freeway before rush really starts.  It will be getting home that’s the bitch.

3) Doctor’s Appointment. I went to the doctor today for a little check-up.  Last week I had some blood drawn for some tests, and everything came back wonderfully.  I’ll share some details:

  • Blood Pressure: 110/70 – very good!  At my heaviest I remember getting blood pressure readings that were around 145/95, and my doctor put me on blood pressure medication.  Although the dosage has dropped significantly, I still take a small amount just to stabilize, at my doctor’s recommendation.
  • Glucose: Today it was 75.  At my heaviest, it was 108, which is in the pre-diabetic range.  This is a big one for me, as I have diabetes in my family, but now I’m towards the lower end of the healthy range.
  • Cholesterol: My total cholesterol fell from 196 at my heaviest to 169 now, which is great, right smack in the center of the 125-200 healthy range.   But what’s really impressive is that my triglycerides fell from 197 (which was way above the healthy range, which ends at 150) to 86 – I’ve cut my triglycerides number by more than half!

Nothin’ like a good health update to put a spring in my step!  Keep it up, David!

What’s in the RediSetGo? Part Seven

November 14, 2010

Here’s a fantastic way to start a new week – a new installment of What’s in the RediSetGo? for you to enjoy!  Move over, Wheel of Fortune, because this truly is America’s Game.  Join the millions upon millions of people glued to their computer monitors and play along!

For those of you playing for the first time, there’s no need to worry about rules.  It’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, as you’ll see.  If you’d like to gain a little practice first, though, then how about looking at What’s in the RediSetGo? Part Six by clicking here!

Okay everyone.  Please turn your cell phones off and take a second to locate the closest emergency exit, because it’s time to play!

What’s in the RediSetGo?


I bought pita bread a few days ago for the first time since I-don’t-know-when, and thought it’d be fun and different to make a roasted veggie pita pocket.  The veggies and a quick spritz of Pam went in the RediSetGo, and cooked away for, I don’t know, 8-10 minutes.  They went into one half of a pita, along with a squirt of light salad dressing:

The end result (my dinner, along with some grapes):

Naturally, after one bite, the bottom split open.  Good thing I ate it over a bowl, because about a third of the veggies fell out during the course of consuming it.

I was inspired to make the veggie pita after spending about 20 minutes bonding with my current in-house veggie selection.  I bought a ton of veggies at Super King Market the other day, but since then a majority of them have sat in my fridge unwashed and uncut.  That needed to change, and what better activity for a Sunday night than to prep a ton of veggies for the week ahead?

Here’s the unwashed masses:

After 20 minutes of scrubbing, slicing, and dicing, I ended up with:

This will make assembling a salad for lunch tomorrow a snap!

Keep it up, David!

Hello, Gap, I’m Back!

November 14, 2010

I shopped at the Gap yesterday for the first time in over a decade.

I remember shopping at Gap pretty much my entire childhood.   I remember going to Gap (then called The Gap) at Maple and Telegraph in Birmingham, Michigan with my mom and older siblings when I was too little to fit in the clothes (I don’t recall there being GapKids in our area at that time).  I remember shopping there when I could fit in the clothes.  I remember when I started getting too big for Gap, in high school and college, and suggesting to my mom that we not shop there, so I could avoid the embarrassment of taking things into the dressing room and not fitting in any of them.  My mom has a really good friend who used to work at Gap, and I remember in college when she would set aside for me the one or two XXL shirts her location would receive in a shipment.  I appreciated her thinking of me – it was really very sweet of her – and at the same time was a little mortified that I could barely be accommodated by a mass retailer that sold clothes that I liked.

Soon, I couldn’t fit in the XXLs anyway.

Ever since my college days, my clothes shopping has been limited to Big & Tall stores and Big & Tall catalogs.  I bought everything from Big & Tall companies, from underwear to suits.  Now that I’m 147 pounds lighter, though, I can shop in many many MANY more retailers – the whole mall is pretty much available to me.  It’s too bad that, due to being unemployed at the moment, I can’t really afford to do a lot of shopping!

Some visual aids:  You can see the difference between the clothes I was wearing at my heaviest and the clothes I’m wearing now here and here.  And here’s the link to one of my favorite posts – my final visit EVER to my local Casual Male XL big & tall store.

This bring us to the present.  Right now, I’m in the market for new pants.  The last time I got new pants was over Labor Day weekend, and they were waist size 42.  Now they’re saggy and baggy on me, which means I can probably fit in size 40 pants.  For those unfamiliar with buying men’s pants, that marks a pretty big milestone, because size 40 is the largest waist size that many mass retailers, including Gap, carry in their stores.  They may carry larger sizes online or in catalogs, but I’m not going to shop anymore without trying stuff on, because now I can.

Yesterday I went to a really fun event at Second City in the heart of Hollywood, and I was coming from the suburbs, where I had gone to see my cousin race in his cross-country meet.  I got back to Hollywood about 45 minutes before the Second City thing started, and about 4 blocks away is a Gap, so I headed over there, and for the first time since I don’t know when, walked inside.

I headed over towards the men’s jeans, and soon encountered a decision-making process I haven’t encountered in a while… what type of cut?  When you’re buying pants with a 58″ waist (as I was at my heaviest), you don’t get the pleasure of deciding between cuts.  You buy the pair that’s 58″.  Now I’m staring a wall that’s divided up in sections marked Straight, Boot, Authentic (whatever that means), Easy, and more.  I ruled out Skinny, as I have no intention of dressing like a Jonas Brother, and settled on Standard, because, well, it sounds like a good, standard pair of jeans.  I also grabbed a 40″ pair of Straight leg jeans, just to try something different.

Then, off to the dressing room!  They fit!  I took a couple pictures.  You’ll have to ignore my doofy expressions in them – it was challenge framing the pics on my crappy Blackberry camera to get as much of a head-to-toe shot as possible in the tiny dressing room space, and I thinking about that while snapping away.

First, me in the Straight jeans:

These were pre-distressed for my convenience, which I liked, but a little snug down the legs.  Turns out, according to the Gap website, Straight leg is only 1 up from Skinny on the Skinny-to-Loose scale of different cuts.

Here’s the Standard pair:

I liked these more, and they fit better through the leg, but even though they fit at the waist, they was a little extra room in the butt (I tried to get a picture with me turned around, but I couldn’t make it work).

I headed back into the store to investigate a few more cuts, but got distracted by a lot of the other merchandise.  Turns out, I didn’t really care for a lot of it.  They have a lot of basics, but I was kinda thinking as I walked from my car that I would be really excited about their clothes, due to my history of liking them, and I just wasn’t.  Nothing really screamed ‘you would look great in this’ or ‘you have to buy that’.  Not to mention that the jeans I tried on were $54.50 and $69.50.  That’s not outrageous for jeans, I don’t think, but it is outrageous for transition jeans.  I will be losing more weight, and going down in waist size, and I’m not spending that much money on jeans I’ll wear for just a few months!

It was then that I checked my watch and realized I should start heading back to Second City.  As I walked out, not haven’t purchased anything, I thought, ‘Nice to be back, Gap.  But you’ve changed, and so have I.  I’ll give you another chance when I get to my final goal weight, but until then, I’ll just remain excited at the fact that I could shop here, even though I don’t want to.  Smell ya later!’  And down the sidewalk I went.

Keep it up, David!

Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama 3

November 13, 2010

I don’t need to buy Big & Tall clothes anymore, but the catalogs still come to my house.  Who knew the models’ lives were so drama-filled?

  • To see Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama 1 – click here.
  • To see Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama 2 – click here.


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