I’ve Been a Little Quiet This Week…

December 15, 2011

…and that’s because I’m sick. Again. I was just sick about a month ago, with a terrible sore throat that lasted well over a week, and now I’m sick again. Sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, yuck.

I’m sick of being sick.

The timing is good, in the sense that I just loaded up at the store the other day, so there’s plenty of healthy food in my house and I’m eating it. And drinking lots of fluid, and taking lots of Vitamin C, and getting lots of rest, and self-medicating with lots of DayQuil and NyQuil (depending on the hour). I didn’t work out yesterday, and, as of right now, I don’t think I’ll work out today, either. I’ll just focus on the hours of mindless entertainment that my TiVo has saved for me. And I’ll focus on getting better.

Keep it up, David.

Holidays Parties and Produce Haul

December 13, 2011

I got a special request from a reader for a blog topic! A reader named Andy wrote this:

“How about blogging on how to get through holiday parties and family get togethers, when you’re surrounded by goodies and comfort food? I’d love some ideas.”

That’s a great idea, Andy! I’ve already been to one holiday party this year, and have a couple more coming up, and they can be terribly stressful and tempting if you’re really working hard to eat well and stay on program. Here are my thoughts on how to navigate a treacherous sea of cookies, egg nog, sugar plums, and figgy pudding. (I’ve never had a sugar plum or figgy pudding, and I’m only presuming they’re not healthy options.)

1) Don’t Arrive Hungry. It doesn’t matter if it’s a full-blown dinner party or a simple get-together – eat something healthy before it starts. Get some food in your stomach so you aren’t ravenous – that way, you won’t be reaching for every mini-quiche or piece of fudge that crosses your path.

2) Drink, Drink, Drink! (Water, Water, Water) Drink a big glass before you go, and drink a glass or two before you eat a thing. It’s another trick to help you feel full without consuming vast amounts of gingerbread or cocktail weinees. It also might be helpful for you to carry a glass as you navigate the party –  keeping your hands occupied with a cup might help prevent you from scooping up handfuls of nuts or M&Ms.

3) Identify the Healthiest Options. Survey all the offerings before putting anything on your plate. Is there a veggie platter? Is there fruit? If it’s all snack foods, are there pretzels or crackers or other baked items, as opposed to chips, which are fried? Find the most guilt-free item, and stock up. I find it helpful to know what I can turn to if I’m really feeling peckish later on.

4) Make Your Splurges Count. You don’t have to be perfect. It’s a party – enjoy yourself! If there are foods you wouldn’t normally eat that you want to sample, then go for it – but be reasonable. I like trying new things, so I’m more likely to splurge on someone’s homemade cookie that I’ve never tried before, as opposed to a platter of Oreos that I’ve eaten 10,000 times before.

5) Walk Away. If you hang out by the chips and dip, chances are you’ll probably eat more chips and dip that you should. So do your chit-chat and catching up away from the food table.

6) Eat Slowly. It’s not a race! Fix a plate, walk away (see #5), and take your time eating it! Set your fork or plate down in between bites. No one’s going to steal your grub.

7) Bring Something Healthy! If it’s a potluck (and a lot of holiday parties are), bring something guilt-free to share. I bring food to parties all the time, and I never bring anything I can’t eat copious amounts of. If it’s not a potluck, call the host and offer to help. If they decline your offer because they have it under control, than follow their wishes and come empty-handed. But if they take you up on your offer, than huzzah! Swing through the produce section and knock yourself out!

What am I forgetting? If you have tips for getting through holiday parties, leave them in the comments section!

Moving on…

I went to Whole Foods earlier today, and ended up bringing home a veritable buffet of fresh produce. Check it my haul!

Clockwise from Top Left, we have: carrots, Persian cucumbers, a pineapple, apples (more on these later), holiday grapes, celery, bananas, satsuma tangerines, broccoli and cauliflower, mushrooms, a bag of kale salad, head of garlic, 2 kiwis, orange and yellow bell peppers, a brown onion, 2 red pears, 4 tomatoes, and some green beans. That’s 20 different types of produce!

A quick note about the apples: 4 of them are of the Pink Lady variety (one of my favorite varieties), and 1 of them is an Arkansas Black, a heirloom variety of apple. I’ve never bought an Arkansas Black before. Here it is up close:

Looks like an apple.

I bought one other new-to-me item, and I found it in the sprouts-and-sprouted-bean section:


I’ve heard of amaranth before, but I’m a little sketchy as to what it is, and I haven’t done any research yet. But my understanding is that it’s a grain than can be used to make flour and cereal. I don’t know if all amaranth is red, or if this is a super-special product, but I will look into it.

I was drawn to the package by the color – this amaranth is a deep fuchsia color, and it’s beautiful:

I’ve bought sprouts many times before, and I suspect these will end up either in a salad or a sandwich (or possibly both!), and I look forward to trying them.

The nice woman who was bagging my groceries at the check-out counter thought, when she first saw the package, that it was saffron, and I think that’s a reasonable mistake – saffron is also deep red stems. I have a little saffron in my spice cupboard – this is what it looks like:

Some fun facts about saffron: it’s the most expensive spice on the planet. Distributors typically sell it by the gram, and one online retailer I just visited was selling top-quality Spanish saffron for $21 a gram – which means one pound of the stuff would cost over $9,700! That package of red amaranth weighs 1.75 ounces, and if that was saffron, I’d be out hundreds and hundreds of dollars!

Saffron is so outrageously expensive because it’s a beast to harvest. Saffron is the stigma of a particular type of crocus flower. Each flower only has three saffron threads inside it, and they have to be harvested by hand. An entire acre of crocuses will only yield a few pounds of saffron per season.

The good thing is that a little saffron goes a long way. My father’s side of the family is Spanish, and I grew up eating Spanish food regularly, so I know that only a tiny pinch of saffron is all you need to flavor a giant pot of paella.

That was a fun tangent, wasn’t it? You never know what you’ll learn after I make a swing through the produce section!

Keep it up, David!

My Scale is on the Move!

December 12, 2011

My scale is on the move, and I’m not referring to the numbers that I see when I step on it. What I mean is that my scale is physically in a totally new place.

For the longest time, my scale had a comfortable home on the floor of my bathroom:

Then, a couple months ago, I caught myself becoming a little too obsessed with weighing myself. I was stepping on the scale every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, and in an effort to put some distance between me and my scale, I found a new home for my scale, on the top shelf of my closet:

See it? Tucked in amongst my shoes?

My scale had a good long run in my closet. Once a week I would pull it down, move it into the bathroom, have my weigh-in, and return it to my closet shelf.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself becoming obsessed with the scale again. I’ve been holding steady, weight-wise, for the past few weeks, and I’m working hard to get back to my all-time low, which is four pounds less than I currently weigh. I’ve had great workouts over the past few days, and have eaten well, too, and have found myself getting fixated on the scale. I think I must have weighed myself 6 or 7 times over the past few days, and that’s out of control. Everyone’s weight fluctuates up and down a few pounds over the course of the day, and I caught myself over-analyzing these little fluctuations, weighing myself after bowel movements, justifying little gains and losses…

…and none of that is healthy. It’s all mental mind tricks, and I need to squash it. That my scale was out of my bathroom made no difference, either – I was happy to pull it off the shelf multiple times a day, use it, and return it.

So now I need to find a new home for the scale, one even more removed from the bathroom. And I think I found the perfect solution. The first thing I did was put the scale in a box:

And the box went into the trunk of my car.

My car lives in the parking garage in my building, a full flight of stairs away.

Now, in order to weigh myself, I’ll have to come all the way down to the garage to get my scale, and bring it all the way up back into my bathroom. I won’t be tempted to weigh myself in my garage because I like to weigh myself naked, and, well, I’m not stripping down in public!

My normal weigh-ins are on Tuesdays, but since I moved my scale to my trunk yesterday, I’m going to give this whole system a go and skip my official weigh-in this week. In fact, since I need to refocus on my attitude and stay focused on my eating and exercise, I don’t think I’ll weigh myself again until 2012. Since I’m leaving town in about a week for the holidays, that’s not a big stretch anyway. I love my weight loss chart, and l love updating it, but I can’t let the numbers run my life. Nothing is gonna run my life but me.

Keep it up, David!

Crime Scene

December 10, 2011

Disclaimer: This post is not for the faint or weak of heart. It contains images that some may find disturbing, and it is suggested that children, pregnant women, and those with a tendency to barf stop reading now. You’ve been warned.

My kitchen was the scene of a heinous, vicious, violent crime. It’s currently sectioned off from the rest of my home with yellow caution tape, and various law enforcement types are walking around, touching my things with their gloved hands, lifting fingerprints off of my various household items. They gathered around this, murmuring and shaking their heads, and photographed it from all angles:

I’ll tell you what I told them: it’s just ketchup. From an unrelated incident.

One detective told me that they wouldn’t be leaving until they’ve gathered all the evidence and completed their investigation, and that really irks me, because there’s no need for an investigation. I already confessed. Take me downtown and put me in a cold gray room with a singular light bulb swinging from the ceiling, and I’ll confess again. Send in your tough, ruggedly handsome, internally-conflicted, doesn’t-play-by-the-rules new guy, and I’ll confess to him. Send in Kyra Sedgwick, Mariska Hargitay, Cagney and/or Lacey, and I’ll confess to them (and compliment their hair).

I am a murderer.

Look at that, I just confessed again! I killed my roommate. It wasn’t an crime of passion or a freak accident. It was a premeditated, carefully orchestrated, masterfully executed event. It’s not the first time I’ve killed my roommate, and it may not be the last. Here’s a picture of my roommate from a few days ago:

If you saw my post from last week, you’ll know that it was the worst roommate a guy could ever have. It was rude and inconsiderate, with a penchant for phone sex that was downright disgusting. I even announced my plans for murder at the end of that post!

Despite my confession and the fact that I declared my murderous intentions days ago, the coppers are still wandering in their trench coats, hunched over their tiny notebooks, putting together their case. I didn’t clean up after myself, so the evidence is abundant:

EXHIBIT A – Bits of my former roommate, including an appendage, on the floor:

EXHIBIT B – More pieces of my roommate, scattered across a cutting board:

EXHIBIT C – A dirty non-stick skillet, still warm t0 the touch, complete with charred roommate bits:

EXHIBIT D – The murder weapon!

(Remember that aforementioned unrelated ketchup incident? Some ketchup got on the knife, too.)

Of course, I can’t be charged with murder if there’s no proof of a death, and I didn’t have time (or the interest) to bury my roommate’s body in the woods or tie it to a brick and toss it off a pier. The corpse was out, in plain sight.

If you’re squeamish but somehow made it this far, I suggest you close your browser, because this is where it gets gross.

I’m not above showing a photograph of my maimed, dismembered, mutilated, defaced, disfigured roommate. Take a deep breath, summon your courage, and take a look:

Haunting, isn’t it? It’s not the sort of image that you can easily erase from your head.

So why did I do it? It’s a question that the detectives have been asking me over and over and over and over again, and I’m getting tired of answering it. But you, dear readers, you deserve to know. My murderous rampage can be attributed to two things:

  1. Revenge. I was sick and tired of my roommate being a jerkface and taking advantage of my generousity.
  2. I wanted a healthy lunch.

There’s two photographs that I have yet to share with the police officers. They saw my roommate’s barren stalk, but not where the rest of it ended up. They know I used that skillet for something, and they must be pretty crappy detectives, because they haven’t yet asked what was in that skillet.

First, I slicked it down with some nonfat cooking spray. Then I added 1/2 an onion, thinly sliced, and 3 minced cloves of garlic. Then, I added my roommate’s delicious sprouts, halved. I sauteed them on medium-high heat (so they got a little color) until they were tender all the way through (6-8 minutes), and about a minute before they were finished, I hit them with about a 1/4 cup of nonfat balsamic vinaigrette.

If you happened to think my roommate looked appealing before, take a look at what it looked like after!

My roommate was even more delicious than he looks. And I’m not afraid to tell that to a judge.

Keep it up, David!

Push That WHAT Away?

December 9, 2011

It’s Friday. The weekend is right around the corner. Do you have some killer workouts planned? Are you gonna hit the gym, go for a bike ride, or go mall-walking? Do you need some new music to help you get through your exercise?

As we head into this fourth-to-last weekend of 2011, I thought I’d share the music that’s been getting me pumped lately. There’s an album that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with over the past few weeks – and “in love” might be an understatement: I’ve listened to it nearly nonstop since I bought it in mid-November. You know how iTunes counts how many times you listen to songs? Well, I’ve listened to a couple songs on this album over 60 times already. It’s ridiculous how much I love this album.

The album is called Tiger Suit, and it’s by KT Tunstall, a Scottish singer-songwriter. Perhaps you’re familiar with her: she had a big hit in 2005 with her Grammy-nominated song “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” and in 2006, her hit “Suddenly I See” was the girl power anthem of the year, appearing in The Devil Wears Prada, the very first episode of Ugly Betty, and, two years later, during events for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

I’ve been a KT fan since the beginning. I own her first two albums, but for some reason, it took me over a whole year to purchase Tiger Suit, which originally came out in September 2010. I finally downloaded it last month and started listening incessantly, and the first track to stick in my head was the third one on the album. I listened to it a number of times, and found it to be a great workout song – it has a great driving beat and a positive message about staying positive. After a few listens, I was certain the song was called “Push That Thought Away” – and the title and lyric resonated. I can be really good at harboring negative thoughts, and no one is as hard on me as I am on myself (two things I’m trying to change), and the idea that you can just push that thought away… well, it’s a simple thought, but a powerful one, and one that I’ve found helpful to reinforce during my workouts.

Except… that’s not the lyric. I heard wrong. The song is called “Push That Knot Away.” The positive message of the song isn’t affected, but the word “thought” is now burned in my head. Listen for yourself. Doesn’t it sound like she’s saying “thought” half the time? Here’s the music video:

The whole album is wonderful, but there’s a few other songs that have wormed their way onto my workout playlist: “Uummannaq Song” (about a town in Greenland, watch her perform it with a looper and a two-string guitar here); “Fade Like a Shadow” (which she performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show), and “Come On, Get In” (which also has a positive message; listen to it here).

You can purchase Tiger Suit on Amazon or iTunes.

What songs help you power through your workouts? Share in the comments section – I’m always on the prowl for new music. You can also read this post about “Open Your Eyes” – another song that I play during my workouts that really hits home.

I haven’t figured out what my weekend workouts will be quite yet – but the plan is to exercise on both Saturday and Sunday. You should too!

Keep it up, David!

An Exhausting New Skyscraper

December 8, 2011

It seems like forever since I’ve added to my skyscraper collection, but in actuality, it’s only been two months since I conquered the tallest building in Des Moines, Iowa.

For any Keep It Up, David newcomers, I created a skyscraper collection to help motivate me through StairMaster workouts, which are kick-ass workouts that I don’t really like very much. Basically, after every workout, I find a skyscraper somewhere around the world equivalent to the number of floors that I climbed, and add it to my collection! Have a look-see at my entire collection, which features 17 skyscrapers from 8 countries and 7 U.S. states, by clicking here (and if you haven’t been to that page in a while, go back and check it out – I just added a few fun cumulative stats at the bottom!).

Time for Skyscraper #18. I went to the gym this evening specifically with the goal of hopping on the StairMaster, and when I parked, I realized that while I had my iPod, I had forgotten my earbuds. Crap. An iPod isn’t much use when you can’t listen to it, and music is an essential part of my workouts! I didn’t want to go all the way home, so I headed in, hoping that the gym music would suffice. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t.)

I warmed up on the treadmill for 5 minutes, then hit the weights for 35 minutes. I started with a long series of what Craig, the trainer I worked with over the summer, calls “Up up down downs”: where you start in plank position, then push yourself up into push-up position, then lower back into plank position, and repeat. They get me quickly sweating every time, and I did 4 sets of 10, alternating with 4 sets of squats. Then some walking lunges holding 15 pound weights, some flies, biceps, triceps, a few types of shoulders, and a lot of crunches.

StairMaster time! This is when I really wanted some music, because the StairMasters at the gym are pretty far from any speakers, and the machine is noisy enough to drown out whatever music you can here. I set the timer for 15 minutes, watched some dumb informercial on CNBC on mute, and pushed myself. It was brutal – without music, the time seems to go by slower than ever – but I kept upping the speed, starting at level 7, and getting all the way up to level 12 for a couple minutes. For about 10 minutes, I was taking the stairs two at a time, which I really felt in my quads. After the longest 15 minutes ever, I happily powered down the machine, after taking note of some important stats:

  • Why I Love the StairMaster, Part 1: Because I can burn a TON of calories in a short amount of time. In those 15 minutes, I burned 270 calories.
  • Why I Love the StairMaster, Part 2: Because I climbed 76 stories in those 15 minutes. WOO-HOO! That’s a tall fucking building!

Today’s skyscraper is a record holder. It’s the Columbia Center in Seattle, Washington. It is precisely 76 stories tall – perfect for today’s workout! Check it out – I climbed this!

Some fun facts at the Columbia Center:

  • It’s the tallest building in Seattle and Washington state. Contrary to popular belief, the Space Needle isn’t the tallest structure in Seattle, and it hasn’t been since 1969 – there are now five buildings that are taller.
  • It was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River from 1985-89, until the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles opened (which is already in my skyscraper collection). Despite being 50 feet shorter than the US Bank Tower, Columbia Center has 3 more floors, making it the building with the most floors west of the Mississippi.
  • Columbia Center was originally planned to be about 30 feet taller than it actually is, but FAA regulations squashed the original plans – it’s too close to Sea-Tac Airport.
  • All this research has me reminiscing about the great weekend I spent in Seattle in July – read about it here and here.

Gears are turning in my head for a possible StairMaster-related goal for 2012. A couple friends have already issued a challenge, with a charitable component, so that’s something I need to think about (and talk to them about). I also want to look into tower climbs in my area – actual races up skyscrapers (read an article about them here), because it would be fun to actually climb a skyscraper for reals, yo. Lastly, I want to look into if any local stadiums are ever open to the public, so I could do a stairs workout in a facility that has tons of actual stairs. The closest stadium to me is the Rose Bowl – does anyone know if you can ever just show up and run some stairs? Lots of research to be done…

Keep it up, David!

Weight Loss Chart, Version 2.0

December 7, 2011

Have you been visiting Keep It Up, David every day hoping for a blog post with an extraordinarily large amount of photos of my weight loss chart? If that’s the case, you should drop everything and go buy a lotto ticket, because day is your lucky day!

Today is the day I unveil my Weight Loss Chart, Version 2.0!

Before I get into how my chart has evolved, I should start by saying that I weighed myself yesterday, so in addition to reconfiguring the chart, I’ve also added to it. Here’s the latest update:

I stayed even. My weight of 236 equals a weight loss of 166 pounds. I’m not surprised at the results of this week’s weigh-in, and I’ll explain why a little later in this post.

Now, back to the chart reconfiguration! I wrote last week about how my weight loss chart was in a bit of a pickle: I was approaching the end of my ninth page, and there was simply no room for the tenth. Something had to be done. My 89″ weight loss chart already dominated an entire wall, and even wrapped around the corner. Here’s what it looked like when I added the ninth page a few months ago:

Now that ninth page is filled up. Here’s what I did to rectify the space problem.

Step One: I removed the first five pages of the chart. Those five pages show my progress from January 2010, when I started losing weight, through January 2011 – the first year of this journey. The four pages that remained, which show my progress (and a lot of plateaus) from January 2011 through the present, were moved to the left.

Here’s those 4 pages:

Which means I now have room for Page Ten!

There’s also room for Page Eleven, which means this set-up will last me for another 4-5 months.

Step Two: I remade the chart showing my first year of weight loss, and condensed it from five pages to two. I did that by shortening the X axis: Instead of every vertical line on the graph paper representing 1 day, I made every 5 lines represent 1 month. By doing this, I could fit an entire year of weight loss onto two pages, oriented vertically. Take a look:

This new Year 1 chart starts at my heaviest weight, 402 pounds…

…and ends one year later, when I weighed 243 pounds:

Yep, I lost 159 pounds in one year, and when you show it like this on a chart, it looks even more radical that it actually was!

This Year 1 chart got hung above Pages 6-10, and the end result is a weight loss chart that looks like this:

In about six months, when I finish with Page 11, and I again have nowhere to go, I’ll simply remove the pages that show Year 2, condense them like I did for Year 1, and hang them next to Year 1. This system works! (The pages I removed, by the way, are in a safe place.)

I fear I may have bored you all to death with all this chart talk, and if that’s the case, I apologize. If you’re a fan of charts and graphs, like I am, and are super intrigued by all this, than take a look at this post, which shows you how to start a weight loss chart of your very own!

Moving on…

I mentioned earlier that my lack of any weight loss this week wasn’t a surprise. In fact, I’m a touch surprised I didn’t gain. The reason for this is that a few days ago, I lost control and had a little binge. And by “little,” I mean “large.” It consisted of: 1 bag of gummi bears, 1 bag of banana chips, 1 bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms, 1/2 bag of orange slices (those jelly candies that are like gumdrops but shaped like orange slices), and one package of 12 smallish cupcakes. In the name of honesty and full disclosure, all of those candy bags were larger than single-serving packages.

That’s the nuts and bolts of the binge. As for the why… well, simply put, I was feeling shitty about myself. I was feeling lonely and depressed, for specific reasons that I’m not going to share, and those negative feelings blossomed and grew and wrapped around me, clinging like ivy, and eventually, they consumed me, and I turned to food. It was a mistake, and the food didn’t make me feel better, but what makes me the most annoyed about the whole episode is that I didn’t take my own advice. I wrote a blog last week called “Walk into the Fire,” about facing fears and having the courage to stand up for myself, and in my first big challenge since that epiphany, I failed. I didn’t stand up for myself, and when I started craving junk food and those cravings grew to be larger and stronger than I could handle, I didn’t turn to friends and family and ask for help. I caved. That, more than the thousands of empty calories I consumed, is what made me the most ashamed.

I’m not ashamed anymore. I fell asleep that night feeling pretty low, but the next morning, I shook it off, and decided to not dwell on it. I needed to move on. It was a new day. Since then, my eating has been healthy and in control, and my exercise has been strong and focused. That’s reason enough to say…

…Keep it up, David.

My Grandmother’s Bribe

December 6, 2011

What were you doing in the fall of 1997? Maybe you were watching the final season of Seinfeld, or listening to Jewel’s “Foolish Games” on your Discman? Maybe you felt empowered by Demi Moore’s performance in G.I. Jane, or were eagerly awaiting a little movie coming out soon about the Titanic.

I moved out of the house in the fall of 1997, and, for the first time ever, I was living on my own – in a dorm room on the University of Michigan campus. I had scored a single room (woohoo – no randomly assigned roommate!) on the 5th floor of Couzens Hall. There were Bjork and Tori Amos posters on the wall, and the obligatory dorm room appliance tower: a TV/VCR combo unit stacked on a microwave stacked on a mini-fridge. I was happy to be starting a new chapter, forging my way.

When I moved into my dorm, I decided I would try to lose some weight. I had spent the summer listening to jokes (and cracking my own) about the dreaded “Freshman 15″ – but as I started wandering my new college, finding my textbooks at the campus bookstores, learning where my classes would be held – I decided that I would buck the trend. I wasn’t going to let my new freedom result in weight gain. In fact, I would do the opposite – I would lose weight, and make this new environment benefit my health. The situation was ideal for weight loss: I was walking everywhere (a big change from high school in the suburbs, where everything was 20-minutes by car), and I could easily find healthy food options in the cafeteria: every dorm had a salad bar, and I started learning the secrets – like how the Betsy Barbour Dining Hall always had hard-boiled eggs, but you had to ask for them.

Both my older brother and sister were also students at the University of Michigan when I enrolled as a freshman, and my brother Steven and his friend/roommate Roger invited me to exercise with them on a regular basis. We would meet at the CCRB (Central Campus Recreation Building) a couple times a week, and spend an hour doing a little basic weight-lifting, and a lot of cardio: It was here that I first stepped foot on an elliptical and a stairmaster.

I bought a scale for my room, and, as the weeks progressed during my first fall semester, I started losing weight. Ten pounds, then fifteen, then twenty. I kept the weight loss a secret – I just wanted to see if I could do it for myself. Since I had a lot of weight to lose, it was easy to keep quiet, as ten or fifteen pounds is hard to notice on a guy that’s as big as I was.

I don’t exactly remember how much I had lost when my grandma Dorothy came for a visit. It was probably later in the fall, as I remember her wearing a big puffy jacket, and she came with my parents. My folks had seen my dorm room before (they had helped me move in), but Dorothy hadn’t, so I gave her the tour of my 8′ x 12′ room, which took all of 30 seconds, and I filled her in on my classes, how I was doing, and so on. I didn’t mention my weight loss, and if she (or my parents) noticed, they didn’t say anything. When it was time for them to leave, I hugged my folks first, who then stepped into the hall. Then I wrapped my arms around Dorothy, and when we were cheek to cheek, she whispered something in my ear:

“If you lose fifty pounds, and keep it off for one year, I’ll give you one thousand dollars.”

Our embrace ended, and without another word, she turned, walked out the door, and headed down the hall towards the elevator with my folks.

After they turned the corner, I shut the door and sat on my bed. A thousand dollars is a lot of money, especially for a college student, and my first thought was “Hot damn! She doesn’t know that I’ve already started!” I decided not to get all tangled up in the semantics – if the weight that I’d lost so far counted towards the 50 or not – and instead, I decided to focus on continuing to drop the pounds. I wouldn’t bring the matter up again until I had good news to report.

Me and Grandma Dorothy in 2007.

As the weeks progressed, the pounds continued to come off. I made it to 35 pounds before beginning to stumble and falter. I plateaued, and that lack of movement soon gave way to a lack of motivation. The weather grew colder, and I stopped meeting my brother at the gym. I discovered that the convenience store across the street sold Faygo Peach, a regional soda that quickly became my favorite beverage. I’d buy a bottle or three nearly every day (they didn’t make a diet version), usually along with some Pringles or candy. On the weekends, I’d ask my older friends to buy me Peach Schnapps, and I’d drink a third of a bottle of soda, refill it with the Schnapps, and drink it as I walked with friends to Nectarine, a local dance club that had a gay night on Fridays.

My grandma Dorothy lived on the other side of the state, which limited the times I saw her, mostly to major holidays. She never mentioned her offer again, or asked for any weight updates – not at our home at Christmas, and not at her home at Easter. By summer, all the weight that I had lost that freshman fall had returned, and I tried to forget that Dorothy ever made the offer to begin with. It was just another failure, another opportunity that I had blown.

In about a month, it will be the 4th anniversary of Dorothy’s passing. She lived a good, long life, and was independent up until the end, when she suffered a major stroke that she couldn’t recover from. During her last year, I began calling once a week, on Tuesday mornings, as I drove to work. She was still sharp as a tack, but her memory was starting to fail her, and often times, our conversations were repetitious. She’d reminisce about living in California as a girl – about 15 minutes from where I live now – and I’d give her the latest on my work, my apartment, my life.

Dorothy passed two years before I started this current weight loss adventure, and I’ve more than met the criteria to get that one thousand dollars: I’m down 166 pounds, and most of it I lost in the first year, meaning I’ve kept about 150 of it off for the required twelve months.

Do I want the money anymore? No. But I’d give anything for one more Tuesday morning phone call, one more chance to hear her voice and her laugh, while imagining her sitting in her favorite chair, with the newspaper at her side, opened to the business section. How I wish I had another opportunity to share the great things I’ve been doing, and the success I’ve had, and tell her that I love her.

Keep it up, David.

Another New Roommate

December 5, 2011

Why is it so easy for me to open my door and welcome new roommates into my home, time and time again? A few days ago, at the store, I saw a pile of brussel sprouts stalks, and, for the third time, I picked one up in my arms, and brought it home with me like it was a stray puppy, and now it’s living with me.

These brussel sprouts stalk roommate living situations never end well for the brussel sprouts stalk, as eventually I will dismember them, chop them up, and eat them, but there’s always hope that, for a few days, we’ll be the bestest of friends and inseparable companions. My first brussel sprouts stalk roommate contributed mightily around the house – with cleaning and organizing – before meeting the entirety of my digestive track. That stalk set a high bar that my next brussel sprouts stalk roommate didn’t even try to match – it preferred stealing my clothes and crushing my spirit to helping with housework.

I wasn’t completely soured to the idea of having another brussel sprouts stalk roommate, though, and that’s why I brought a third one home with me the other day. In the check-out line, I thought about how wonderful it would be if this stalk was more similar to my first stalk roommate than my second, but by the time I got home I knew that would not be the case. My new brussel sprouts stalk roommate spent the entire drive home escaping from the bag and rolling around my trunk. My new pineapple got free, too, and I’m not completely certain that wasn’t the brussel sprouts stalk’s doing.

Ready for your introduction? Readers, meet my new roommate. New roommate, meet my readers:

And a close-up:

Turns out the friskiness in the trunk was just the beginning. This brussel sprouts stalk is the most uncontrollable of them all, and it’s wearing me out. Every time I turn around, it’s up to no good.

So far, it’s racked up monster phone-sex charges on my landline:

It keeps wasting my toilet paper dressing up like a mummy and trying to scare me:

(For the record, it only succeeded in scaring me three times.)

Worst of all, it climbs into my bed and eats crackers, getting crumbs EVERYWHERE!

I don’t even know where it got those Cheez-Its!

Right now, I’m biding my time, smiling at my roommate and trying to be pleasant while I put up with all these shenanigans. I’d much rather clean up a few cracker crumbs than get maimed and devoured, which will happen to my dear roommate, and soon. Whenever it’s out of the room, I’m flipping through cookbooks and searching the interwebs for healthy, interesting ways to eat my new roommate. Its days are numbered. Watch your back, roommate!

Keep it up, David!

November Progress Report

December 4, 2011

It is now the 12th and final month of the year. Can you believe it? Time to partake in my beginning-of-the-month ritual: tallying my exercise from the prior month! Gathering statistics and sliding beads on my abacus always makes me happy, and I make it easy on myself by tracking my exercise on a daily basis on my calendar. I’m old school – I use an actual calendar printed on real-life paper: no fancy-pants websites, gizmos, or apps for me! Here’s my November calendar:

It was a notable month, workout-wise. I ran in my first two races EVER – a 10K and a 5K (on Thanksgiving morning). I got back in the pool for my first swim in a few months. And I was also sick for a while, which resulted in a few more rest days than normal.

Each workout gets a dot on my calendar. Each class I take with Richard Simmons at Slimmons get a dot with a circle around it. If you break out all your fingers and all your toes and starting counting the November dots on them, you’ll end up with 23 (and if you have 23 fingers and toes, could you please send me a picture?). Twenty-three workouts during the month of November! Since November has 30 days, that’s a workout-success rate of 76%. Six of those workouts were at Slimmons, and nine of those workouts had a heavy emphasis on weights!

Let’s add it to my 2011 Progress Report Chart!

  • January 2011:  Worked out 27 out 0f 31 days (87%), including 6 classes at Slimmons.
  • February 2011:  Worked out 23 out of 28 days (82%), including 5 classes at Slimmons and 3 Boot Camp Classes.
  • March 2011:  Worked out 25 out of 31 days (81%), including 5 classes at Slimmons and 4 Boot Camp Classes.
  • April 2011:  Worked out 20 out of 30 days (66%), including 5 classes at Slimmons and 3 Boot Camp Classes. 4 workouts had a weightlifting focus.
  • May 2011:  Worked out 24 out of 31 days (77%), including 3 classes at Slimmons and 0 Boot Camp Classes. 13 workouts had a weightlifting focus.
  • June 2011:  Worked out 22 out of 30 days (73%), including 4 classes at Slimmons and 2 Boot Camp Classes. 10 workouts had a weightlighting focus.
  • July 2011:  Worked out 25 out of 31 days (80%), including 4 classes at Slimmons, 2 Boot Camp Classes and 5 training sessions. 20 workouts had a weightlifting focus.
  • August 2011:  Worked out 25 out of 31 days (80%), including 5 classes at Slimmons, 3 Boot Camp Classes and 4 training sessions. 15 workouts had a weightlifting focus.
  • September 2011:  Worked out 24 out of 30 days (80%), including 4 classes at Slimmons.  11 workouts had a weightlifting focus.
  • October 2011:  Worked out 23 out of 31 days (74%), including 3 classes at Slimmons. 11 workouts had a weightlifting focus.
  • November 2011: Worked out 23 out of 30 days (76%), including 6 classes at Slimmons. 9 workouts had a weightlifting focus.
  • TOTALS:  So far in 2011, I’ve worked out 261 out of 334 days (78.1%), including 47 classes at Slimmons and 17 Boot Camp Classes.

I’m excited because the next time I update this chart, it won’t be a monthly update – it will be a year-end update!

Keep it up, David!


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