CRUISE!

December 26, 2011

This post is comin’ at ya from San Juan, Puerto Rico! I’m on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that apparently has pricey and crappy wi-fi, so I don’t know if and when I’ll be able to post next. It may not be until 2012! I wish you all a wonderful end of the year – and don’t stop keeping it up. I won’t be! I’ll be eating well and exercising every day.
Keep it up, David!


Finger Limes and Calamondin

December 25, 2011

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! Mine was great: the gifts I gave resulted in excitement and appreciation, and I got some great gifts myself. There were lots of laughs and good times with my family, and I didn’t overeat to the point where I fell into a food coma or wanted to unbutton my pants – which have both happened in the past, many many times.

The gym I’ve been going to in Michigan was closed on Christmas day, but I had great workouts for the four days leading up to Christmas. After the gym on Christmas Eve morning, I went to Plum Market, an amazing local grocery store with three Detroit-area locations, for some last minute shopping for dinner that night.

The produce department at Plum is beautiful, and even though I only needed a couple items from it, I wandered the whole thing, and I’m glad I did, because I stumbled upon two new things that I’d never seen before.

Item #1 were finger limes, and in this case, it wasn’t the produce itself that caught my eye, but the price tag:

FIFTY BUCKS A POUND? For produce? Are you kidding me? All I wanted to do was toss a couple in my cart, but this boy’s on a budget, and I need to save some more pennies before making an investment like that! Usually I take a ‘buy now, research later’ approach to produce investigation, but in this case, I think the opposite approach is in order. I know, I know, they’re tiny, and buying one or two would only cost a few bucks, but still. I need to know what I’m getting into!

I’ve learned a little about finger limes since them. Todd, one of my Facebook followers (follow me on Facebook here!), told me about a wonderful iPhone app called Specialty Produce, which has all sorts of information on fruits and veggies (duh). Here’s what’s written about finger limes:

“Known as ‘the caviar of citrus,’ these tiny digit-shaped limes are practically in a category all their own. Their aromatic skin appears in a triad of colors and the flesh holds caviar-shapes vesicles that pop crisply in your mouth with an assertively tart punch. The flavor is a lemon-lime combination with herbaceous undertones.”

Another website describes them as having “A caviar-like appearance and… a delightful pop rock texture.” Pop rock texture? Caviar or citrus? Vesicles? Damn, I wish I bought a finger lime! I’m keeping my eye out for these when I get back to California. Have you had one? What did you think? Share, share, share in the comments section!

Item #2 were calamondins, and at first, I thought these were the tiniest tangerines ever:

Until I saw the signage – and look, they’re much more reasonable than finger limes!

If you’re a fruit with a nickname like ‘sour bomb,’ how can I not eat you? Plum Market gets big-time bonus points for this informational placard – thanks for doing my research for me!

See that part at the bottom about asking a staffer for a sample? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret if you promise to not tell Plum Market management: I just ate one, without asking for permission. Shhhhh! Don’t tell on me!

Sour bomb is actually a perfect description – it’s like a kumquat on steroids. I definitely puckered from the sourness, but it wasn’t overwhelming. I liked it!

I did a little more research and learned that the calamondin is native to southeast Asia, and there’s some mystery as to its history. Call Nancy Drew! Scientists have figured out that calamondrin is an ancient hybrid, but they can’t identify the precise parent plants. It’s thought that it’s a mix of something from the citrus family with something from the kumquat family, but there’s a lot of head-scratching when you delve for more details.

Turns out the calamondin is a wonder fruit! Check out some of the ways (beyond eating and cooking) that the people of the Philippines and Malaysia use them:

  • Frozen whole, as ice cubes in beverages
  • Rub the juice on insect bites and abscesses to relieve itching and irritation
  • To clear up acne and bleach freckles
  • The juice, when diluted, can ease constipation
  • As an anecdote for poison
  • As an phlegm expectorant (when combined with pepper)
  • To remove ink stains from clothing
  • And, lastly, as a hair conditioner

And, like other citrus fruits, it’s high in vitamin C!

It’s been a good week for trying new foods. A few days ago, I tried moose meat for the first time, as well as apple pears (read my blog about both here), and now, I can add calamondin to the list!

Keep it up, David!


I’m Gonna Be On TV!

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to all! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season. My past few days have been splendid – hanging out with family, crossing the final few items off my shopping to-do list, and eating well and exercising. The fun won’t stop after this weekend, either – on the 26th, I’m heading to Puerto Rico, where I’m meeting up with my aunt, uncle, and cousins and getting on a cruise ship! We’ll spend a week cruising the Caribbean, and I’m extraordinarily excited! I’ve given a lot of thought into how I’ll keep healthy in a food-crazy cruise ship environment, and have a plan of attack, but that’s a blog for another day. In fact, I’ll have a whole week to blog about cruising!

Right now, I want to share a big, exciting Christmas announcement:

I’m going be on television again! It won’t be a long appearance, but it’s an appearance nonetheless. Here’s what happened: A few weeks ago, I showed up to take one of Richard Simmon’s classes at Slimmons, and the lobby was full of camera equipment. It was a crew from the daytime talk show The Doctors!

The Doctors is a show all about health, wellness, and medicine, with a panel of four hosts, all of whom are physicians. They’re doing a show in January about getting healthy in the new year, and Richard’s participating. So Richard gathered everyone, and before he started the class, he taped a little message that will air during the show, and in it, he asks me a question (which I answer) and shares how much weight I’ve lost.

That’s it. If I don’t end up on the cutting room floor, I’ll be featured for a matter of seconds, max. A staffer from the show called me the next week and asked me to send in a “before” picture, so I’m hopeful I’ll make it on the air.

After Richard taped that message, one of the hosts of the show, Dr. Jim Sears, stayed and took the class with us, so the crew stuck around and taped most of the class. Dr. Sears ended up exercising right next to me, so I might end up in the background of some of that footage, should they chose to use it. Dr. Sears told me afterward that he had a blast, and that looked to be true.

Mark your calendars! This episode of The Doctors is tentatively scheduled to air on Thursday, January 5th, 2012 (and I’ll monitor the situation and alert you if the airdate changes). It airs at a different time in different cities, so you can go to this website to find out when it airs in your town!

Keep it up, David!


Henry Ford Museum

December 23, 2011

I’m back on the exercise wagon! A few days ago, I wrote about how unmotivated I was feeling to exercise, but I’ve been to the gym three days in a row, and I feel great. All three days I’ve done variations of the same formula: 5 minutes of cardio warm-up, then 30-40 minutes of weightlifting, then 15-25 minutes of cardio. One of my sisters has joined me at the gym for the past 2 days, and today, I was joined by both sisters. Three cheers for family workouts!

Yesterday I got a bonus workout: a couple hours walking around the Henry Ford Museum with my sister, nephew, and niece. Located in Dearborn, Michigan (adjacent to Ford world headquarters, and about 40 minutes from my parents’ house), the Henry Ford Museum is an enormous history museum (the size of 10 football fields, literally – that’s not an exaggeration) with a focus on technology, inventions, and transportation. The museum’s collection is vast and amazingly impressive: they have the chair from Ford’s Theatre that President Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot, the bus that Rosa Parks was riding when she refused to give up her seat, and, in the adjacent Greenfield Village, Thomas Edison’s laboratory and the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop (which were both moved, brick by brick, from New Jersey and Ohio, respectively). And those were all things that we didn’t see!

I brought a camera and got a few shots of some of the stuff we did see. Here I am, with my nephew Sam, in front of one of the original 1952 Weinermobiles:

They have an exhibit on early aviation, with about 12 or 14 actual airplanes on display, including this 1939 Douglas DC-3:

They have 5 Presidential limousines on display, dating back to the very first official Presidential vehicle,  which was used by Teddy Roosevelt. The highlight of this exhibit, for me, was the Lincoln Continental that John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was shot. It was humbling to be standing so close to a defining moment in U.S. history:

They also have one of the rarest and most expensive cars of all time: a 1932 Bugatti Royale. Only 6 of these were ever made, and its sticker price, in 1932 dollars, was $43,000. The last time one of these cars was sold, in 1999, it went for $20 million! Here it is:

The planes and trains and automobiles are all very cool, but I also love that the Henry Ford Museum has a huge display honoring domestic life. They have a big furniture collection, and tons of vintage appliances and electronics. They currently have displays recreating kitchens throughout time, and being a kitchen-loving dude, I couldn’t help but take pictures. Here’s a kitchen from the 1860s:

From the 1900s:

From the 1930s:

It will be fun, when I’m an old old man, to go back to the Henry Ford Museum and see a bunch of kids gawking at a kitchen from the 1980s!

I’d say the stroll around the museum equaled a couple miles, but with so much to look at, I never once thought about the exercise.

Keep it up, David!


Two New Foods: Produce and Protein

December 22, 2011

It’s been a big food day here in Michigan. You know how I love trying new foods, right? Well, I tried two new foods today! Did Christmas come early?

I blog about new types of produce regularly (just scroll down on the My Favorite Posts page for proof), and one of the new foods today was indeed a type of fruit. But the other was a new type of protein, which a very rarely blog about. So let’s save that for later and start with the produce, shall we?

New Produce. In November of 2010, I brought home something from the store that I had never heard of called a yali pear. Turns out it’s a type of Asian pear (which I also had never heard of), but my yali was a complete dud. When I cut it open, it was brown and disgusting. It was the first produce experiment on this blog that was a failure – and you can read all about it here.

I haven’t tried a yali pear since then – or any type of Asian pear, for that matter – partly because I was turned off, and partly because I don’t see them very frequently at stores. But when I arrived at my parents’ house the other day, a whole box of them that my dad had picked up at Costco were sitting on the counter. They weren’t exactly the same – instead of yali, they were an Asian pear variety called apple pears – but I decided to give one a go.

My apple pear:

There’s nothing in that picture to help suggest size, but they’re bigger than the average apple or pear – more like a large orange. Despite their name, apple pears are not a hybrid of apples and pears – they’re an Asian species of pear that look more apple-like than any other pear, hence the name.

The apple pear cut open (look, nothing brown or disgusting!):

I have high expectations for anything pear or pear-related, because I love pears. And the apple pear? Well, I don’t love it. It’s fine. It’s edible. I don’t wanna spit it into the trash and bust out the ipecac. But it’s not the best thing ever. The texture is different from other pears – it’s crispier and lighter, almost jicama-ish in texture. The flavor is more delicate, and the juice is more watery. I will say I liked the second apple pear I ate more than the first – and I don’t know if that’s because it was simply a better apple pear, or if I grew to like it more. There’s still a bunch of apple pears on the counter, so I’ll probably another one (or three), but I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to find them when I get back to California.

New Protein. Have you ever tried moose before? I tried it for the first time a few hours ago. The moose meat, strangely enough, showed up rather unexpectedly at our door. Here’s what happened:

My mom has a friend who lives in Maine. This guy is a hunter, and they were talking recently, and he told her that he bagged a moose (!) and had a butcher process it into all the different cuts and pieces. My mom joked that he should send her some, thinking that he wouldn’t actually do it, but when she got home today, there was a cooler of overnighted moose meat on the front porch! We thawed some of the moose steaks (from the hind quarters, according to his label). Raw moose steaks:

Those are all pretty small, as steaks go – I’d say the largest one was 6 ounces, tops. Look how lean they are! According to this chart, moose is lower in calories than USDA choice beef (130 calories per 100 grams vs. 180), and much leaner, too (.5% fat vs. 6.5%).

Sidebar: I just learned that the moose weighed 800 pounds and yielded 400 pounds of meat. WOWSA!

I was pretty excited to try moose. I don’t eat red meat very often nowadays, which meant this was an extra-special treat. I got out a 10-inch skillet, and started by sauteing 1/2 an onion and a bunch of baby portobello mushrooms. One those were cooked, I removed them, seasoned the steaks with a little pepper and Lawry’s seasoned salt, turned the heat the high, and tossed in the steaks so they’d get a nice sear. They only took a few minutes on each side (the hunter recommended not cooking them beyond medium-rare, or they lose their flavor), and at the end, I threw the onions and mushrooms back in:

I had a piece that was about 4 ounces:

I really enjoyed the moose, and my parents did, too. It was gamier and a little chewier than beef, and I thought it was delicious. And there’s a leftover steak in the fridge… maybe tomorrow I’ll make a moose sandwich!

Moose is the latest game meat that I’ve tried. A few months ago I blogged about eating alligator (read about it here), and I’ve also tried venison, bison, ostrich, and rabbit, and jerky pieces of elk and reindeer. I’ve always been interested in trying wild boar… maybe that’ll be next on the list?

The rest of my dinner, by the way, was a big salad and a bowl of vegetable barley soup.

Keep it up, David!


Greetings From Michigan!

December 20, 2011

I’ve landed in the Great Lakes State – my home state – and I’ll be here through the day after Christmas. Then it’s off to a whole different part of the world… but that’s an announcement for a whole ‘nother day!

My flights today were great. I had a short layover in Phoenix, and, during the Burbank-Phoenix leg, I had a window seat… except that, as you can see in the picture, I got gypped out of a window! From Phoenix-Detroit, I had an aisle seat, which I like because I can stretch a leg into the aisle. Added bonus today: the middle seat next to me was empty, so I could stretch my other leg in that direction!

Tomorrow morning I’m heading to a local gym – the same gym I frequented when I was here in September – and seeing what kind of deal they can cut me for a week. In September, they charged me $25 for 2 weeks, so their 1-week rate must be less than that, right?

I’m hoping the change of fitness-related scenery will provide me a little boost. I’ve been struggling lately to motivate myself to work out. Last week, when I was terribly ill with a cold and/or flu, I ended up missing four days of exercise in a row. I’m not complaining – just an observation. It’s the longest stretch of non-exercise I think I’ve had all year. Plus, two days prior to that little stretch, I had a planned rest day, so, in total, I worked out twice that week, instead of an ideal six times.

Normally when circumstances prohibit me from exercising for a day or two, I start feeling antsy to get back in the gym. Apparently when circumstances prohibit me from exercising for four days straight, I lose all interest in the gym altogether, because that’s how I felt when I got healthy and strong enough to resume exercising. My motivation had disappeared quicker than Santa up the chimney! My first workout back after recuperating was a run. I hadn’t gone running since Thanksgiving Day (when I ran my first 5K with my sister), and at first I felt great. About 15 minutes in, though, my tune had changed, and I couldn’t wait to finish. I had pre-determined my route, so I was nowhere near home by that point, so I kept running, and banned myself from checking the time. All told, I spent 41 minutes on the sidewalks of North Hollywood, and went exactly 4 miles. My route:

I calculated my speed at 5.8 mph (and, yep, I’ve added it to my running chart!). Even though I was fairly miserable by the run’s end, I was happy and proud I stuck it out.

The next day (Monday), I hit the gym for the first time in a week, and had a good workout – 40 minutes of weightlifting and 16 minutes on a bike, plus a little warm-up on the treadmill. Today was a looong travel day – I left my house in California at 5am and walked in my parents’ door at 6pm – so no workout. Tomorrow, it’s gym time. I can’t miss many more workouts – not with all the holiday goodies around!

Keep it up, David!

PS – Wondering why I didn’t weigh myself this morning? It’s because I vowed to not weigh myself again until 2012, as a way to combat a developing obsession with my scale. I found a new hiding spot for my scale, and it’s working like a charm! Find out where it is here.

PPS – Remember the micro red amaranth I purchased last week? A few days ago, I included it in a big kale salad I brought to a dinner party:

The salad was simple and easy (pre-chopped and washed kale, tomatoes, persian cucumbers, micro red amaranth, and bottled nonfat balsamic vinaigrette), and it was a big hit. I thought the amaranth tasted a little like lawn cuttings (in a wheatgrass sorta way, not an off-putting sorta way), but a couple of my friends thought they tasted like beets. Or maybe it was just the color that reminded them of beets!

OK – I’m off. Because of the holidays, my posting schedule may be a little erratic, but I’ll be keeping it up, and so should you!


Sundae Slide

December 19, 2011

Remember the ’80s Nickelodeon game show “Double Dare”? I remember watching it at my best friend Sean’s house when I was a kid – he was also my next door neighbor, and his family got cable television a few years before mine. I used to dream about being a “Double Dare” contestant with Sean (contestants were in teams of two) and winning the game, giving us the chance to run the messy, ridiculous, awesome obstacle course at the end of each show.

One of the obstacles was called the Sundae Slide. First you had to climb up a slide that was covered in pudding, then slide down a different slide into a different pile of pudding. Climbing that first slide was one of the hardest stunts on the obstacle course, and it would often make or break the team: if the contestant did well on the Sundae Slide, they had a fair chance of winning the whole thing, but if the contestant stumbled, it was very hard to recover.

Agile and physically fit contestants would straddle the slide, only letting their feet touch the sides of it, and scamper up it like a monkey. They’d avoid touching the pudding altogether, because they knew that pudding + shoes = a loss of all traction. This will jog your memory – The kid at the 15-second mark in this video really struggles going up the slide, but the kid at the 1:55 mark handles it like a pro:

Watching “Double Dare” was a treat, since I couldn’t watch it at my own house, and my dream of being a contestant would keep me up at night: I could win awesome prizes like Casio keyboards, a year’s supply of gum, or (gulp!) a trip to Space Camp! I could take part in sloppy physical challenges that involved vats of whipped cream and picking giant plastic noses! I could be on TV!

 

Me and Sean in middle school, a few years after my "Double Dare" dreams. I have no idea what I'm doing in this photo.

There was one big problem in my dream of fame and fortune that I needed to solve, though: the team that got to run the obstacle course would alternate through the tasks, and I needed to ensure that Sean would be the one who did the Sundae Slide. This was top priority. The thought of myself, the chubby kid, on the Sundae Slide quickly turned my dream into a nightmare. I knew – I just knew – that I wouldn’t be able to get up that goddamn pudding-covered slide. I knew – I just knew – that the entire 60-second time limit would evaporate as I struggled under my own weight. I knew – I just knew – that the scampering monkey technique was beyond my physical abilities. I knew – I just knew – that I’d end up looking like a weak, pudding-covered fool. I really wanted to go on “Double Dare,” but I didn’t want to humiliate myself in the process. And I certainly didn’t want to be blamed for Sean not winning a Walkman or a pair of rollerblades. The Sundae Slide, simply put, terrified me.

So I developed strategies. If Sean and I somehow got picked to be contestants (which would be a miracle, since I never bothered to learn where the show was taped or how kids got on the show), then I’d be prepared.

  • Plan 1 would be to get Sean psyched for the Sundae Slide, as if we’d already discussed that he’d be the one doing it. I’d start the second we learned we were going on the show: “Sean, you’re going to kill it on the Sundae Slide!” “Sean, aren’t you excited about the Sundae Slide?” I was ready to convince Sean that we had already discussed how he’d do the Sundae Slide, and that he must have forgotten our conversation. Sean’s no dummy, so I’d have to be careful with the mind trickery, but it was worth a shot.
  • Plan 2, to be implemented simultaneously as Plan 1, would be praying daily to God that the Sundae Slide would be broken the day our episode taped. I went to Sunday school and church nearly every week from first through eighth grade, so I could even reinforce my daily prayers with major Sunday prayers.
  • Plan 3 would be to avoid committing to who would go first on the obstacle course until we were in the studio, and the obstacle course was set up, right there in front of us. Then, and only then, would I start insisting on going first or second, whichever meant not doing the Sundae Slide.

Of course, none of these plans were ever actually needed, because I was never a contestant on “Double Dare.” I’m not sure I ever even shared my “Double Dare” dream with Sean, come to think of it.

Last night, I had dinner with a bunch of friends, some of whom I went kayaking with in August. It was a lovely meal and a great time, and on the drive home my mind started wandering. I started thinking about that kayak trip, and how, for most of my adult life, kayaking was out of the realm of possibility for me, a man hundreds of pounds overweight. But thanks to a helluva lot of hard work and determination, I’m changed my life, and now kayaking is possible (and fun!). I don’t remember how I mentally leaped from kayaking to “Double Dare”-related memories, but I had a nice little epiphany, and it’s this: I’m no longer scared of the Sundae Slide. In fact, I’d love to give it a whirl!

So who has a time machine, or access to playground equipment, dozens of pounds of pudding, and a direct line to “Double Dare” host Marc Summers? I need someone to help with the logistics, because I just want to sit back for a little while longer and enjoy the reminder that it’s not just about the number on the scale: my weight loss is, quite literally, rewriting my dreams.

Keep it up, David!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 699 other followers