My Incredible Shrinking Clothes – Casual Pants Edition

January 19, 2012

Come see me speak at Whole Foods Pasadena in two weeks! I’ll be there on February 2nd. Click here for details, and tell all your friends in southern California!

Gather ’round, because I have an epic tale involving a pair of pants. This is a post I’ve wanted to write for five months, but there have been delays, due to events both good and not-so-good, my own procrastination, and a good solid stretch where I forgot about this idea completely.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Part 1 – Finding the Pants (Early Sept, 2011). At the end of August, I flew to Michigan for a couple weeks, and on one of my very first days there, I went shopping with my mom at Macy’s. We entered on the opposite side of the store from the Men’s Department, and as we approached, the very first thing I see is a display featuring an awesome pair of pants. I had a feeling this would be fortuitous, so I snapped a crappy picture on my cell phone:

They’re the pants on the mannequin in the front. I made a beeline for them. They were awesome. My mom liked them too. I grabbed a pair in my size. When I got to the dressing room, with an armful of options, I tried on these pants first. Something didn’t seem right, so I went out and showed my mom, who said something that I’ll never tire of hearing: “Well, you’ll just have to see if they have them one size smaller!”

I found them in the smaller size (more on that size later), and they fit. Perfectly. So I took them home with me, along with a pair of jeans I also ended up blogging about.

Part 2 – Wearing the Pants (September 10, 2011). I had the perfect occasion to break in my awesome new pants: Cedar Point. They were the most awesome pants to wear to the world’s most awesome amusement park. Before the big trip to Cedar Point, I called my sister Laura, who was going to come with me, and I said: “I found the best pair of Cedar Point pants ever.” Her reply: “Do they have zippered pockets or something?” Laura knows me pretty well! In addition to zippered pockets (which keep important items from flying out on crazy and super-fast roller coasters), they were lightweight and comfortable.

The first time I wore the pants was at Cedar Point, and, as I predicted, they were perfect. Here I am, in the pants, near the entrance to Millenium Force, Cedar Point’s 310-foot coaster:

The pants have eight pockets total (two on the butt, two on the side, two zipper pockets, and two flap pockets just above the knee), and I made good use of them at Cedar Point. Not ever did I lose my phone, wallet, camera, chapstick, gum, or the jerky that I carried around for 1/2 the day just in case I needed a quick protein fix. It was a long day: 10 hours in the park, and another 5 in the car, and by the end of it, I was more in love with my pants than ever. (You can read more about my Cedar Point adventures here – that day was 10 years in the making!)

The pants were worn frequently during the next few weeks… until disaster struck.

Part 3 – Demise of the Pants (October 2, 2011). This day was supposed to be celebratory, because the night before, at 9:15pm, I set out to accomplish a goal I had set a year earlier: to run past all six strip clubs in my neighborhood without stopping. I completed the run (6.4 miles), and, for this blog, wanted my picture in front of each strip club. So, on October 2, I drove around to all the establishments I ran past the night before, and photographed myself. You can see the photos and read about the run here.

I wore the pants. I was kinda in a rush, because I had a dinner party to go to that night, but I stopped in front of every strip club and snapped away. At about the fourth strip club, as I was getting out of my car, I heard the rip.

I’m very familiar with the sound of pants splitting up the backside. I split more than my fair share of pants when I was heavier (and always pairs that I really liked), and when I heard that sound, I knew exactly what had happened. I reached around and felt, and sure enough, there was a tear. A big tear. CRAP.

There were two more strip clubs to photograph, which I did with ripped pants, and then I went home and changed before the dinner party. Once the pants were off my body, I was able to confirm what I already knew: the rip was bad.

At least the rip wasn’t right up the ass. It was a little off-center, and up the side of the back pocket.

Part 4 – Forgetting About The Pants (October-January). The ripped pants stayed out in the open for about a week, with the intention that I would try to fix them, or have them fixed for me, but that didn’t happen, and soon, they were tossed in the deepest, darkest corner of my closet, where I forgot about them.

Part 5 – Finding The Pants, Again. (January 18, 2012). Yesterday, while rooting through my closet, I found the pants. I held them up, and my fond memories of loving the pants came back. Then I turned them around, saw the rip, and those memories came back. I decided on the spot that it was time to fix the pants.

I wouldn’t say I’m a whiz with a needle and thread, but I know enough to make some simple repairs, like reattaching buttons or stitching up a tear. This was a big tear, too – I had forgotten how big. I could fit my hand through it:

So I got out my sewing supplies.

I picked a brown thread, because I didn’t think I had enough black. It took over an hour, but I was satisfied with my work. It was a two-part process: first, stitching together the base fabric that covers the butt, and then reattaching the pocket. Check this out – you can hardly tell it had ripped! The tear originally extended the entire length of this photograph, but you can only really see the mismatched thread where the pocket ends:

And you can’t see any evidence of my work at all when the pocket flap is down!

Nice work, David!

There’s one other piece of information about these pants that I had forgotten about until I had them inside out yesterday. They’re a size medium. MEDIUM. The first pair I tried on at Macy’s (the pair that was too big) were a size large. When I ran to grab a medium pair, it occurred to me: I had never fit into medium pants before. This was a new experience.

Here’s a photograph to show how far I’ve come in pant sizes:

I lined up these two pairs of pants, so the seam on the right for both pairs are on top of one another. The khaki pair on the bottom are a size 3x. I wore these when I was at my heaviest. I wore pants with drawstrings almost exclusively when I was heavy – they were more forgiving. Not having to worry about buttons was a good thing. I wore these pants most recently as part of my Halloween costume last year – I dressed as Jared, the Subway guy (see pictures here).

From 3x to medium – that’s freakin’ impressive! Now I just gotta prove that I can still wear these pants without ripping them again! I’m a little hesitant to wear them out, so I think I have a dry run where I wear them around my house for an afternoon, and if that goes well, I’ll venture out in public. I’d hate for my pants to split when I’m around other people, but I do love these pants! And I did wear them successfully on many days before they ripped the first time, so I’m confident they’ll continue to serve me well.

Keep it up, David!

Check out the other seven posts in the My Incredible Shrinking Clothes series by clicking on “My Favorite Posts”!


Chart Update 1/17

January 18, 2012

I’ve decided on a weigh-in rhythm that I’d like to try for the next couple of months. I’ve found, in the past, that I can get obsessed over the numbers on the scale, which leads me to do things like keep my scale in the trunk of my car. But if I go too long without weighing myself, I start getting really antsy, and begin fixating on when I’ll weigh myself next.

So, I’m gonna start weighing myself once every two weeks, and see how that goes. Starting… NOW.

Tuesday is my regular weigh-in day, and it’s gonna stay that way. Yesterday, I weighed myself, for the first time since I weighed myself on January 3rd. The results:

I gained a pound.

I’m happy with the two weeks that I had – I ate well and had great workouts – but sometimes, these things happen. And I’m not going to freak out. Those two weeks are over, and all I need to do now is keep moving forward. Keep eating well, and keep exercising.

In fact, I’m off to the gym as soon as I get this post published. I haven’t worked out for the past 2 days: Monday was a planned rest day (after 6 great workouts in a row), and Tuesday was an unplanned rest day. For the past few days I’ve been fighting the beginnings of a cold, and yesterday, I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon and now I feel a whole lot better. Hopefully the cold has run its course. I’ve already had two bad flus/colds this winter, and I don’t want a third.

My current weight is 236 pounds, which is a weight loss of 166 pounds!

With this one-pound gain, I’m back to what I weighed at the beginning of December:

Even though I’d still like to be losing weight, I’m pretty impressed with my consistency!

Keep it up, David!


A Tale of Two Gyms

January 17, 2012

I visit two different locations of my gym. I’ll call one “Closer,” and the other “Farther,” although both are convenient: Closer is less than 10 minutes away, and Farther is only 15-20 minutes, tops.

Each gym has it’s own pros and cons, and I’ve grown to appreciate their differences. Aside from being closer, Closer has easy parking, lots of natural light, and high ceilings. Most of their cardio equipment faces big windows, which I like. Closer has an assisted chin-up machine and a back machine that I enjoy using.

A big pro for Farther is that it’s bigger, with equipment on multiple levels. There are classrooms, although I’ve only taken spin classes there (and I haven’t done that in a long time). There’s a great corner that’s usually empty that’s perfect for planks, sit-ups, and mat work, and a perfect area for me to do walking lunges with having to dodge equipment or other customers. Farther has fun crunch machines that I occasionally use to switch up how I work my abs. Farther also has Arc Trainers, my favorite piece of cardio equipment.

A big con for Farther is that parking on the weekends can be a bitch – the garage across the street serves all the businesses in that area, including a 16-screen movie theater, and it will fill up completely. Ceilings are low in some rooms – there’s one spot where I can actually hit my head if I’m not careful. Meanwhile, the cons for Closer include a locker room and bathroom that I like less, and a shortage of open space for sit-ups and such.

I know each gym backward and forward, and I tailor my workouts to their strengths. But last week my two gyms threw me a curveball. And it’s gonna change the way I think.

One of the other differences between Closer and Farther is that Farther is the only location that has StairMasters. Well, to be specific, it’s the only location that has the kind of StairMaster that I like: the ones that look like mini-escalators that you continually climb. Closer has the StairMasters with pedals that you push up and down (actually, both locations have them), but I hate that machine, and won’t use it – it shouldn’t be called a StairMaster if it doesn’t feel like you’re going up stairs.

All of my StairMaster workouts that resulted in a new addition to my skyscraper collection happened at Farther. I would plan workouts with the StairMaster into my schedule, and those helped dictate which days I worked out at Closer and which days I worked at Farther. It was a system that I liked, and it worked.

So imagine my surprise when, a few days ago, I showed up at Closer and saw these:

Now both gyms have StairMasters! You’d think I’d be ecstatic, but I’m not. And it’s because, when it comes down to it, I don’t like the StairMaster. It’s torturous. The whole reason I created my Skyscraper Collection is because it was the only way I could motivate myself to use one. And I force myself to use one, roughly once a month, because the results are fantastic: I can burn 200+ calories in a matter of minutes, and get a great leg workout in the process.

To be honest, I liked that Farther was the only location with StairMasters. It meant that I could, during all my workouts at Closer, not even consider using the StairMaster that day – it wasn’t an option.

Now, it’s an option. Now, I’ll have to see those bad boys no matter where I workout. Now, I’ll have to incorporate the StairMaster more often into my workouts, because I tend to rotate through the machines. I’ll benefit from this – like I said, the StairMaster provides an awesome workout – but it’s gonna take some getting used to. And I’ll be grumbling until that happens.

The other day, when I saw the new StairMasters for the first time, my heart sank a little, while I simultaneously feigned excitement to the gym employee at the front desk. But I figured since it was my first day at the gym since they arrived, I should go over and introduce myself. I took the same posture as when I meet a new dog: stand firm, with a position of authority, and make clear that I’m the alpha being, and one that’s not frightened of them.

After a warm-up and a good long session using weights, it was time for the introduction. I sauntered over to one of the StairMaster, hopped on, and set the timer for 20 minutes. It’s been a month since I last used a StairMaster, and I could feel it. I didn’t push myself as hard as I have in the past, but I got my heart rate up, and I started sweating. After 10 minutes, I was exhausted, so, feeling satisfied in the entirety of my workout, I stopped.

Even a new StairMaster in a new setting doesn’t change how I feel about StairMasters:  I still don’t like them. But hey – I climbed 51 floors and burned 175 calories in those 10 minutes, and that is nothing to sneeze at!

Plus, I get to add a new skyscraper to my collection!

This addition brings my skyscraper collection to a whole new continent. I’ve already have towers in North America, Europe, and Asia, and now, I’m adding a fourth continent. One of the stops on the cruise I recently took was Aruba, an island that’s only about 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela (see pictures of me horseback riding in Aruba at the end of this post). I had never, in my life, been so close to South America, so in honor of that, I’m adding a South American skyscraper to my collection.

This, ladies and gentleman, is the Mirante do Vale building in Sao Paulo, Brazil:

At 51 stories, it perfectly reflects my StairMaster workout. Some fun facts about the Mirante do Vale:

  • It’s the tallest building in Brazil, and it has been for over 50 years, since it was completed in 1960.
  • The name means, roughly, “viewpoint of the valley” in Portuguese, and it’s a condo building.
  • It’s not well-known, even among Brazilians, that this is the tallest building in their country, and that’s because other buildings, built on higher pieces of land, appear taller in the Sao Paulo skyline. You can look down at the Mirante do Vale from the top floors of other buildings that were built on hills.
  • While it’s the tallest building in Brazil, there are 13 taller building in South America – all located in Chile, Columbia, Argentina and Venezuela.

And here’s what’s most interesting to me about the Mirante do Vale – it’s the tallest building in the world with an external fire escape that runs the entire height of the building. You can see the fire escape in the photo, going up the side of the building on the right. I just read about the history of fire escapes, and I was enthralled – and since I liked it, I think you might, too. This is boiled down from historian Sara Wermeil’s 2003 paper “No Exit: The Rise and Demise of the Outdoor Fire Escape,” which was published in the journal Technology and Culture:

Fire escapes came to be in the late 19th century, as buildings were growing taller, but before elevators were commonplace. After catastrophic fires started destroying those buildings in the 1870s, state legislatures finally enacted laws requiring means for getting people out. This meant new technology, and some creative solutions were devised. Elementary: equip each upper room with a long rope. Fantastic: a hat-like parachute, anchored under the chin, and boots with highly elastic soles. Practical: canvas escape chutes, like those used on jet airplanes today. Rube Goldberg: a rope and pulley system that let a person lower themself in a canvas seat.

The familiar fire escape finally emerged as the solution that worked best, but even they have huge shortcomings, namely, exposure to fires on lower floors and ladders, raised above street-level to thwart thieves, that frequently jammed. The beginning of the end for the fire escape was New York’s terrible Triangle Shirtwaist fire, where 145 garment workers died in 1911 as their ten-story factory building burned. Many died on fire escapes as flames billowed up from the windows below them. Fire escapes melted and buckled, dropping people to their deaths. Today’s solution is the closed, insulated stairwell, protected by fire doors that keep smoke from getting in, and that’s a still-evolving technology.

You learn something new every day, huh? I wouldn’t have learned any of this had I not stepped on that StairMaster.

Keep it up, David!

PS: Be sure to check out all the buildings in my Skyscraper Collection by clicking here!


The Fat-Burning Man AND New Song

January 15, 2012

Stop what you’re doing right now, and go check me out on the Fat-Burning Man! The Fat-Burning Man is Abel James’ website. Abel is an Austin-based author, fat loss coach, and health crusader.

Abel asked if I’d be down with talking about my story and answering some questions about my weight loss. Um, sure! Last week we had a wonderful phone conversation that Abel recorded and put up on his website. What I didn’t know at the time was that Abel’s planning on featuring a whole series of inspiring people on his website over the course of this year, and he picked me to be the first. Very cool.

I had a great time chatting with Abel, and he posted the entirety of our talk, which clocks in around 35 minutes. CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT.

Abel also made an abridged version with a photo slideshow. It runs about 15 minutes – WATCH IT HERE.

I’ve been reading Abel’s blog on his website for a few months now, and, over the holidays, I also had the pleasure of reading Abel’s book, also called The Fat-Burning Man, in which Abel outlines his LeanBody program, which can help you lose fat and build muscle. The book is fantastic – it’s thoroughly researched, and Abel has an ease with turning lots of information into accessible and understandable points, and with a sense of humor, too. Learn more about The Fat-Burning Man here (and ladies, don’t feel left out – Abel has also written The Fat-Burning Woman, but I haven’t read it, and I probably won’t).

MOVING ON…

My workout music is constantly evolving. I’m the sort that finds a song that I love, and then I listen to it over and over and over and over again until I get sick of it. I’ve blogged about these songs before – in the past few months both “Open Your Eyes” and “Push That Knot Away” have seen more than enough face time on my iPod – and now I wanna share another song that’s been on heavy rotation.

It’s called “Now You See It,” and it’s by Honorebel featuring Pitbull and Jump Smokers. It’s a fast-paced hip-hop dance song, and it gets me moving every time I hear it. Lately, I’ve been playing it at the beginning of my workouts, and again, a second time, near the end when I want to push through and finish strong.

The annoying thing about the song is they’re a bunch of different versions of it, and I couldn’t find a shareable version of the exact version that I like. Because it’s a dance song, there are a bunch of remixes out there. The song was featured on the compilation albums Just Dance 2 and Ultra Dance 11, but I became exposed to the song because it was featured on the soundtrack to Piranha 3D.

I loved Piranha 3D! It’s a really funny, clever, disgusting horror movie about a bunch of beautiful people that gather at a lake during Spring Break, where a school of vicious fish kill them in increasingly gruesome ways. I don’t remember when “Now You See It” played during the movie: I don’t think it was when that one girl’s face got ripped off by a boat propeller, and I don’t think it was when the topless parasailing girl got her legs, from the thighs down, munched off by the fish. And I’m fairly certain it wasn’t when the porn star got devoured completely, except for her breast implants, which bobbed to the surface. In 3D. Seriously, do you need any more reasons to rent this movie? And I didn’t even mention the fate of that one dude’s severed penis!

Anyhoo – when I saw the movie (in the theater, in 3D – naturally), I remembered thinking that the soundtrack had some songs that would be great for my workouts, so I bought it. And I’m glad I did. “Now You See It” is the 4th song from that album that’s gone into heavy rotation on my workout playlist.

Here’s the official music video for “Now You See It” – but this isn’t the same version that’s on the Piranha 3D soundtrack. You should know that the phrase “shake that ass for me” is featured prominently throughout the song, so it may not be work appropriate.

Today, “Now You See It” came in handy when I wanted to power through my bench press sets. And I did. And I was happy. And I wanted to dance, right there in the gym. But I didn’t. Maybe next time.

Keep it up, David!


What’s In The RediSetGo? Part Twenty-One

January 14, 2012

Can you feel that magic something-something in the air? It’s because this is the first RediSetGo post of 2012! It’s been about three months since our last game of What’s In The RediSetGo, so we’re due. Don’t worry if this is your first time playing – you’ll pick it up in a flash. It’s a easy-sneezy game, you’ll see. But, if you’d like some practice (or some other ideas for how to use your own RediSetGo), then click on My Favorite Posts – all twenty prior editions of What’s In The RediSetGo are archived there, and I think you’ll find every single one is better than the last!

So what are we waiting for? Grab your helmet and smear some eye-black under your peepers, it’s time to play…

WHAT’S IN THE REDISETGO?

GRAPEFRUIT CHICKEN is in the RediSetGo!

This really couldn’t have been easier. I started with 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, and marinated them for about 20 minutes in the juice of half a grapefruit. I also added in a few tablespoons of nonfat balsamic vinaigrette. I stabbed each breast a few times with a fork so the marinade would get all through the meat.

Yep, those are a few grapefruit seeds on top that my juicer didn’t catch. I made sure the chicken breasts were seed-free when I placed them in the RediSetGo’s divider pan (and they fit perfectly!)

Meanwhile, we got to work on a side dish. Oh – I never said who was helping! My friend Susan came over for dinner and some TV (we watched this week’s Top Chef and the premiere of 30 Rock). When we made the plans earlier in the week, Susan said to me, “Are you going to blog about our dinner? I really want to be on the blog. I want to be famous.” That’s a direct quote. I’ll see what I can do, Susan!

For the side dish, we decided on a quick and simple veggie stir-fry. Susan did all the chopping, and there was a lot of chopping. The veggies before:

And the veggies after:

There’s Susan! She’s a star! I hope this doesn’t go to her head, because what Los Angeles doesn’t need is another celebrity that’s always wearing sunglasses indoors and only drinking certain brands of water.

Enough about Susan, more about those veggies: that bowl has cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, green bell pepper, mini yellow and red bell peppers, eggplant, and mushrooms. Susan also chopped up some scallions and garlic, but we kept them seperate.

The garlic and scallions went into my big skillet first, after we coated it with some cooking spray, and then we added all the veggies.  When they were most of the way cooked (about 15 minutes – it was a lot of veggies), we added some sauce:

This coconut curry simmer sauce (which I found at Whole Foods) has only 50 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per serving. We made a ton of veggies (so I could leftovers), so we added most of the jar. Oh, and here’s a fun fact about turmeric, one of the standard spices in most curries: it’s been linked to preventing and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric also aids digestion, and has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A wonder spice!

Here’s our pan full o’ veggies ‘n’ sauce:

Once our chicken was cooked (which took about 13 minutes – they were thick) and our veggies were sauced, it was time to eat! The end result was delicious:

The chicken was tender and very grapefruity, and the veggies were flavorful. The coconut curry sauce was spicy, but not hot. Here’s Susan enjoying her dinner:

And one more picture, because I couldn’t not share it:

This was Susan’s first time eating curry (she loved it), and the first time for both of us eating grapefruit chicken (and we both loved it), and soon, Susan’s gonna experience her first class at Slimmons. She’s gonna really love that.

Oh, and by the way, the veggies were just as good the second time around. They made for a fantastic lunch!

Keep it up, David!


Come See Me LIVE in Pasadena!

January 12, 2012

I promised a big, exciting announcement, and I have a big, exciting announcement. Can I get a drum roll, please?

I’M SPEAKING AT WHOLE FOODS MARKET IN PASADENA IN A FEW WEEKS!I’m very excited. I made my debut as a motivational speaker in the fall, and it went really, really well, and I’m excited to share my story in Pasadena! Here’s all the details so you can clear your calendar and gather each and every one of your friends:

  • When: Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 6:30pm
  • Where: Whole Foods Market, Pasadena. Address is 3751 E. Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107.  (At the corner of Foothill and Rosemead, just north of the 210 freeway. It’s in the shopping center with Vroman’s and Chuck E Cheese’s, right next to Sears.)
  • RSVP: Space is limited, so please RSVP! You can sign up at the customer service booth in the store, or contact a Marketing Team Member at (626)351-5994, or email sp.pas.marketing@wholefoods.com . You can also sign up through the Meetup Group by clicking here.

Tell your family, tell your friends! Here’s the official blurb about what the event will be, taken from the Whole Foods Website:

David Garcia has lost over 165 pounds through diet, exercise, and help from his mentor, celebrity fitness guru, Richard Simmons. David’s story aired on “Ellen” and countless fans have been with him on his journey every step of the way.

Join us for a very special evening with this inspiring young man, and sample delicious Health Starts Here dishes and enter to win a special raffle.

That’s right, I’m young. And there’s a raffle! I’ll be talking about my history with obesity, how I’ve lost the weight, and the simple things anyone can do to start their own journey towards healthier living. I’ll lead a question and answer session, too! And there’s a raffle!

I love how my readers are scattered across the country and even on other continents – so if Pasadena isn’t quite your neck of the woods, could you do me a solid and tell your friends? I want a packed house! Here’s a little something you can post on Twitter:

Go see @keepitupdavid speak about weight loss on 2/2 at 6:30pm at @WFMPasadena! More info: http://tinyurl.com/7ve3382

Or you can post a link to this very page on Facebook or Google+, or email to everyone you know!

I hope you can make it. It’s going to be fun, (hopefully) educational, and definitely tasty evening (thanks to some food samples from Whole Foods). And there’s a raffle!

Before I wrap it up, I just want to thank everyone for the thoughtful, honest, and provocative comments on yesterday’s post. A lot of opinions were shared, and it’s given me quite a lot to think about. A number of them came from readers commenting for the very first time, and I love that you felt comfortable enough and compelled enough to speak up! At this point, I don’t know what I would do if I were faced with the same situation tomorrow, but I think one thing is clear: there is no right or wrong answer. Whether or not I share my story with strangers is something I’ll need to figure out in the moment, on a case-by-case basis. There are plenty of reasons to not speak up, but should I feel comfortable speaking up, you all provided plenty of suggestions on how to do it. Thank you. You guys rock! Keep it up, readers! And…

Keep it up, David!

In my next post, you’re gonna find out what’s attached to the other end of this cord. Any guesses?


Flight Advice

January 11, 2012

Check this out – I’m the first ever Weight Loss Success Story at DietingSmarter.com! Click here to read the article about me!

There’s been something that’s been weighing on my mind since last week, when I flew back to Los Angeles from San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was a long travel day – my first flight, from San Juan to Charlotte, North Carolina, was 3.5 hours, and after a two-hour layover in Charlotte, I boarded my second flight, bound for Los Angeles, which took 5.5 hours.

It wasn’t a fun or easy travel day. The Charlotte-to-Los Angeles leg seemed unending, but the San Juan-to-Charlotte leg… well, it was thought-provoking. And I’m curious for your opinion. My readers are a vocal bunch – so keep reading, and then share what’s on your mind in the comments section, if you would!

I’ve written about air travel on this blog before – specifically, how much less stressful flying has become now that I’ve lost a significant amount of weight. I no longer worry about my excess pounds spilling over the armrests and invading the personal space of the passenger next to me. I can use my tray table as much as I want without my belly getting in the way, and I have no trouble returning it to its original upright and locked position. And I no longer need to use a seat belt extender – the seat belt fits comfortable around my waist, thank you very much!

The post where I discuss all these changes, called “How a 400-Pound Man Flies,” has proven to be one of the most popular posts in the history of this blog, and I just read it again myself (you can read it here). I was prompted to write that post in the first place because I was seated across the aisle from a man who reminded me of my former self. Seeing him gingerly make his way down the aisle brought back years of memories of me doing the same thing – trying my best not to bump into other passengers, and seeing others look away, certain they were praying that I didn’t have the seat next to them.

On that flight, I was seated across the aisle from my former self. On my San Juan-to-Charlotte flight, I was seated next to my former self.

The plane was a Boeing 767, outfitted with a 2-3-2 seat configuration, and the other guy (I don’t know his name, so let’s call him Al) had the window seat, and I had the aisle. There was no middle seat. Al was already seated by the time I made it to our row, and I saw him make the subtle shift that I was oh-so-familiar with: a slight adjustment so he was leaning more towards the wall of the plane, with a second slight adjustment so his left arm and shoulder would be a little more out of my space and in his. It didn’t do much good, because Al was a big guy. I don’t know how much he weighed, especially since Al was probably 8 or so inches shorter than me, but his excess weight protruded up and over the armrests.

Even with my weight loss, I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable on planes – I’m taller than the seats, so there’s no place to put my head or my legs, and my shoulders are as broad as the seat, so I fill my space nicely. I still appreciate when I end up sitting next to smaller or shorter people, but when I saw I had the seat next to Al, I wasn’t bummed, and I wasn’t pissed. I immediately smiled at him. I knew flying must be difficult and annoying for him, and I was glad, for his sake, that he was seated next to someone who wasn’t going to a big deal, or a little deal, or any kind of deal over sitting next to him.

Oh my. I fear those last couple sentences may come off as self-righteous, and that’s not my intent. I only mean to say that I’ve had my share of flights where I’ve sat next to people who see me and roll their eyes, deliberately sigh, and make all kinds of other passive or subtle indications of their disappointment or disgust. I’d wager that Al has, too. And I’m not, and never will be, one of those eye-rollers, because I’ve been at the other end, and it feels awful. There’s nothing worse that having the thing you’re most self-conscious about pointed out or referred to in an uncomfortable setting.

Al and I didn’t talk the whole flight, save for a few words at the beginning, when he asked me to get up so he could retrieve something from his bag. For most of the flight, we both had our headphones in, and I turned my attention to my book. I spent a majority of the flight leaning into the aisle a little, to give Al some notion of space, and, all told, it wasn’t a terrible flight (not nearly as bad as the excruciatingly long Charlotte-to-Los Angeles flight).

This is where you come in:  For a long time, ever since I began building an audience of readers with this blog, I’ve occasionally gotten comments or suggestions that I should approach people and let them know about it. After I published “How a 400-Man Flies,” a number of people suggested I pass out cards at the airport, encouraging people to read my blog. The whole idea irks me a little bit, because 1) I’m not a natural schmoozer, and 2) If someone approached me at the airport about anything regarding my weight, I’d be mortified.

Here’s my question for you: Is there anything I could have said to Al to let him know that, in a way, I’m a kindred spirit who understands what he might be feeling? How could I broach the subject? 

The truth is that what I know about Al is astronomically less than what I don’t know about Al. He might already be on his own weight loss journey. He might have already lost a significant amount of weight. I don’t know. This might be his first time on an airplane. I don’t know. Maybe he’s been an airplanes tons of times, and maybe he has no feelings of shame, like I did. I don’t know.

I could have nonchalantly passed him my blog business card at the end of the flight, but I didn’t have any business cards on me (I brought a nice stack with me on my travels, but had passed them all out to family and friends). Maybe I could have pulled out my laptop and shared some ‘Before and Current’ pictures with him. I suppose my goal could simply be to kindly let him know that I walked in his shoes for a long time, and that change is possible. And I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out if there’s a polite, respectful, kind way to do that.

What do you think?

Share your comments below. OH – and be sure to come back tomorrow, I have a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Keep it up, David!


2011 Year-End Progress Report!

January 10, 2012

We’re already ten days into 2012, and I’m the idiot that’s still wishing people Happy New Year (I’ll probably give it a rest right around Easter). Because it’s a new month, I get to share my December Progress Report. And because it’s a brand-new year, I get to share my first-ever Year-End Progress Report!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, the December report. This may be repetitive for some of you, but in case you’ve never seen one of my Progress Report posts before, I’ll fill you in: I have a calendar in which I mark every one of my workouts, and write in a quick description of what I did. Each workout gets a dot, and each class I take with Richard Simmons at Slimmons gets a dot with a circle around it. Here’s what my calendar looks like for December:

December was a pretty good month. I was sick with a flu for a few days right smack in the middle of the month, but every other full week was spot-on, with me reaching my goal of 6 workouts in 7 days. That included workouts at the gym near my parents’ house in Michigan during the week leading up to Christmas, and a whole slew of workouts in the Caribbean when I was on the cruise. In total, I worked out 23 out of 31 days, a 74% success rate. Fifteen of those workouts had a heavy emphasis on weights – the highest number since August! – and I also took 5 classes at Slimmons. A pretty good month indeed!

OK, on to the main event…

The 2011 Year-End Progress Report!

Here are all twelve months of dotted calendar pages:

You may not be able to see all the dots in all those small pictures, but they all add up to a grand total of 284 workouts in the 365 days of 2011! Holy Crap! Wheeeeee!

Some additional facts and figures (because I love me some facts and figures!):

  • 284 workouts in 365 days equals a 78% success rate.
  • I took 52 classes with Richard Simmons at Slimmons (that averages nicely to once a week).
  • I took 17 boot camp classes with Craig Ramsay from February to August.
  • 108 of those workouts had a weightlifting focus (Its actually higher than this, but I only started noting weightlifting workouts in April).
  • My workouts average an hour or so, which means that I spent the equivalent of nearly 12 entire days straight working out in 2011. (!)

My goal for 2012? It’s simple: work out more than 284 times!

Here’s the 2011 month-by-month breakdown:

  • 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.
  • December 2011: Worked out 23 out of 31 days (74%), including 5 classes at Slimmons. 15 workouts had a weightlifting focus.

Whew – It’s tiring just looking at all those numbers! I can’t describe how incredibly proud I am of this post, and the work that it represents. Only one thing left to say…

…KEEP IT UP, DAVID!


First Chart Update of 2012!

January 9, 2012

I’m gonna try to keep this post short and sweet. They don’t always turn out that way, but I’m gonna try my damndest. My desire for brevity is two-fold: partly because it’s late and I still want need to work out tonight, and partly because those cruise recap posts took a lot out of me! Those four posts, combined, had over 6,100 words, 51 photographs, and 1 humiliating video of me on ice skates. That video, by the way, has 90 views! It’s gone viral! 

So this post will be brief. Exciting, but brief. Exciting because it’s the first chart update of 2012! I haven’t updated my weight loss chart since December 6th (see that update here). For two of those weeks, I was out of town, and for two of those weeks, I had banished my scale from my bathroom, because I was beginning to obsess over weighing myself, and stepping on the scale 3 or 4 times a day (or more) is not good. And that’s why I moved my scale to the trunk of my car.

I couldn’t wait to weigh myself when I got home from the cruise. My week in the Caribbean was super-healthy, and I knew the number would be a good one. This weigh-in is actually from January 3rd – I wanted to put up all my cruise posts before putting this post up.

It had been 28 days since my last weigh-in:

Here’s the result when I stepped on the scale:

DOWN ONE POUND! Woo-hoo! I’ll be honest and confess that I was secretly hoping it would be more, but I’ll take that one pound. In fact, I’m certain that I lost more than one pound on that cruise. My guess is that I lost three or four pounds – and I could feel it in my clothes by the end of that week – so what that means is that I must’ve gained a couple pounds in the weeks between my last weigh-in and the cruise. That’s understandable, it being the holidays and all.

I almost forgot to mention that my weight of 235 represents a weight loss of 167 pounds. I’m still three pounds away from my all-time low, but I’m getting there!

Here’s a picture of my entire weight loss chart:

I love Love LOVE that, all-told, I lost a pound during the holidays. It’s the second year in a row that I’ve lost weight during the holidays!

Keep it up, David!


CRUISE Part 4: Sights and Sounds (Mostly Sights)

January 8, 2012

I’ve already blogged about eating healthy on a cruise ship, exercising on a cruise ship, and trying a plethora of new things on a cruise ship. What’s left?

There are a few more photos and experiences I want to share, and since they didn’t quite fit in any of the above categories, I’m included them in this post, which is kind of a catch-all, et cetera, miscellaneous type dealie. There’s some good stuff in here, and I’m gonna start with one of my favorite moments of the whole week…

…getting up close and personal with SHARKS!

1) SHARKS! We went to the Sea Aquarium in Curacao. All in all, it was an okay aquarium (I’ve been to better). They had an okay dolphin show, and the sea lion show got rained out. But they had some fun touch tanks – we had the chance to pet stingrays, and pick up sea cucumbers and starfish, like this one:

But the best touch tank of all was the one with nurse sharks. Five-foot NURSE SHARKS! Nurse sharks are predators that hang out in shallow reefs and sand bars and, thanks to their vacuum-like throat cavity, suck up their prey (fish, crustaceans, stingrays), chew it, and swallow it. Even though they can grow to be 14 feet long, they’re not considered a threat to humans, although there have been documented attacks (mostly sharks defending themselves after dum-dum divers and snorkelers provoke or poke them).

The aquarium had a bunch of nurse sharks, and with the help of a guide, we were allowed to touch them. Here’s Camille – you can see how big the sharks are:

Soon it was my turn: I got to pet one along its back (the skin was leathery and tough), feel the air come out of its gills, and feel its floppy dorsal fin.

You have no idea how much I loved touching that shark. I’ve loved sharks my whole life, and I’ll watch any shark movie that’s made, no matter how terrible and cheesy. You may laugh, but I’m looking forward to both Two-Headed Shark Attack and Jersey Shore Shark Attack.

My aunt Mary and I got to feed one of the sharks – we were given a metal ring with a fish on it, and we lowered it into the water until one of the sharks approached, and in a hot second, slurped up the fish and went on its way. The guide got it all on video on my uncle’s underwater camera, but I’ve been unable to upload the footage (and I’ve been trying for two days, which is why this post is so delayed). If I can get it to work, I’ll share it with you.

2) Maho Beach, St. Maarten. We went to one of the most entertaining beaches ever in St. Maarten. It was a beautiful beach – not too big, and not too crowded:

What was unique about the beach was its location. It was directly across the street from the end of the St. Maarten airport runway.

Which meant that we got to sit on the beach and watch planes land, up close and personal. These are all real photographs – nothing’s been photoshopped:

Here’s Camille, Isabel and a plane:

And me, Isabel, and Mary… and a plane:

Even better than the planes landing were the planes that took off. When big ol’ jets take off, their thrusters are so powerful and so close that they would kick up sand and blow people and things into the water. People come from all over to see this happen, and the beach even puts up warning signs:

We saw a couple jets take off, including one that kicked up quite a sandstorm, but I wasn’t able to document it – thankfully, YouTube is full of Maho Beach videos, like this one. Check this out!

3) El Yunque Rain Forest. On the final day of the trip, I booked a tour of the El Yunque rain forest in Puerto Rico. I went by myself, because my family’s flight took off four or five hours before mine. It was a pleasant tour through a beautiful forest. We stopped at a gorgeous waterfall (this picture doesn’t do it justice):

The guide found some wild ginger, and plucked one of the flowers. I didn’t know the ginger plant had flowers, did you? Guess what it smelled like. Cumin! Haha, only kidding. It smelled like garlic.

Kidding again. It smelled like ginger. Duh.

4) Shopping. I didn’t pick up much in terms of souvenirs. I bought a couple bottles of fun and different foodstuffs in St. Maarten, which I’m sure I’ll blog about soon, and I also did a little clothes shopping. Our cruise had two formal nights, which I was woefully unprepared for. I had a pair of pants that would work, but no jacket, no fancy shirt, no shoes. I had a nice sweater that wouldn’t make me stand out like a sore thumb, but I really needed a nice shirt. If I had a nice shirt, I could tie it all together.

We stopped in St. Thomas before our first formal night, so shopping for a shirt and shoes became a priority. The shoes turned out to be an easy find, because guess what was in walking distance of our dock? A Payless. I found a pair of black loafers that I actually really like, and they were $25. Sold.

The shirt was a little harder, because downtown St. Thomas has mostly jewelry and souvenir stores. If you’re ever dangerously low on shot glasses or tanzanite, than St. Thomas is the place to be! But we did find the one clothing store with a men’s department that had dress shirts, and I tried a bunch on. There were a couple that fit great, but I didn’t love the color or pattern, and then there was this one, which was a little on the big side, but in a color I love. Plus, it was 50% off. So I paid $35, and voila! Something for formal night!

It occurred to me while shopping that had I been in this situation two years ago, I would have been royally screwed. Up shit creek without a paddle. I wouldn’t have fit into anything that store sold. What would I have done?

I borrowed ties from my uncle (different ones for each formal night, so I wasn’t wearing exactly the same thing both times), and while I still felt a little underdressed, I didn’t sweat it. Here I am with my cousin Olivia on the first formal night:

And all six of us on the second formal night, which was New Year’s Eve:

And that wraps up my 2012 cruise coverage! It was a tremendous trip, and one that I’ll remember for a long, long time. I’m so thankful that Philip and Mary invited me to join their family for the week – I was a blast hanging out with them and my cousins, and seeing a part of the world I’ve never seen before.

I have one final picture to share, taken on a beach in Curacao. Enjoy!


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