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!


Michael Douglas AND New Skyscraper

August 20, 2011

I picked up my new glasses yesterday, and I love them!  A lot of you like them, too, as they came in second place in my poll, but ever since I picked them up, I’ve been thinking about one of the comments that was left on my post where I shared the four finalists.  My friend “Pat” left this comment (“Pat” is in quotes because it’s a pseudonym, but I know who it really is):

I also heard that my father didn’t vote for #3, because the frames reminded him of “Falling Down,” and Michael Douglas is “so unlikable in that movie.”  I’m not sure if my father saw Pat’s comment, or if he remembered the glasses from that movie on his own.  I know he’s seen “Falling Down” – we had it on VHS and I remember watching it as a family. 

If you’re not familiar with “Falling Down,” it’s a 1993 movie where Michael Douglas goes on a rampage across Los Angeles.  I don’t remember many of the details, since it’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve seen it, but he gets laid off, and is having issues with his ex-wife and daughter, and after having a bad day, he goes bat-shit crazy.  I remember a scene where he destroys a mini-mart with a crowbar (or a baseball bat?), and another scene where he shoots up a fast-food restaurant because they wouldn’t serve him breakfast two minutes after they started serving lunch.

Apparently, Michael Douglas’s glasses in that movie look a lot like mine.  After picking up my glasses, I was away from home for another 7 hours (I had a busy day!), but as soon as I walked in the door, I started looking for pictures of Michael Douglas in that movie, because I couldn’t remember his glasses at all.  Turns out that Pat and my father were right – our glasses are eerily similar.  Take a look for yourself:

(I’m the one on the right.  Duh.)

Good memory, Pat!  (And possibly my father too!)  Tomorrow I’m going to shatter my right lens to see how similar they look then.  Kidding.  Oh, and for the record, this similarity doesn’t change my opinion of my glasses at all.  I’m still in love!

Moving on…

After leaving the eyeglass store yesterday, I headed over to West Hollywood for a session with my trainer, Craig Ramsay.  I’ve mentioned before that Craig was the assistant trainer on Bravo’s show Thintervention, and he’s also been in Broadway shows and done other TV stuff, too – and today I really enjoyed when Craig said this to me, when we were chit-chatting about health-related stuff:

“I’m not a doctor… although I was a doctor when I was on All My Children… and they let me keep my last name!  I was Dr. Ramsay!”

That may have been the best thing I heard all day.

The workout, like always, was brutal.  Intervals on the bike where I alternated between levels 12 and 24, more walking lunges than I can count, 40 pull-ups, tons of various chest, shoulder, and arm exercises with 15-pound weights in each hand, and, mixed in there somewhere was 11 1/2 minutes on the StairMaster.  I started at level 5, and every repeatedly upped the level, eventually getting to 12.  According to the machine, I burned 198 calories in those 11 1/2 minutes, but what I’m more excited about is that I climbed 56 floors.  That means I can add a skyscraper to my collection!

Today’s skyscraper is in honor of my friend Jen (you all know Jen – she’s popped up on the blog again and again).  In a few months, Jen is moving all the way to Germany to go back to school, so I thought I’d pick a skyscraper in Germany.  Jen will be in Berlin, but the tallest building is Berlin is only 32 floors, so that doesn’t do me any good.  Frankfurt, however, is home to the second-tallest building in all of Europe, and it just happens to be 56 floors!  Say hello to the Commerzbank Tower:

Yep.  I climbed it!

The Commerzbank Tower actually sounds pretty cool – there’s a triangular atrium that runs up and down the center of it, and on 9 different floors, it connects to the exterior of the building, creating sky gardens that have trees and plants and shrubbery.

Let’s add it to my collection:

  • Aon Center, Chicago, IL (83 floors, climbed 8/5/11)
  • CITIC Plaza, Guangzhou, China (80 floors, climbed 12/1/10)
  • JPMorgan Chase Tower, Houston, TX (75 floors, climbed 3/9/11)
  • Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI (73 floors, climbed 6/19/11)
  • The Sail @ Marina Bay, Singapore (70 floors, cilmbed 11/9/10)
  • Yokohama Landmark Tower, Yokohama, Japan (70 floors, climbed 4/11/11)
  • 900 North Michigan, Chicago, IL (66 floors, climbed 4/1/11)
  • Vista Tower, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (62 floors, climbed 7/2/11)
  • > > Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt, Germany (56 floors, climbed 8/19/11)
  • 1000 de la Gauchetiere, Montreal, Canada (51 floors, climbed 11/3/10)
  • Hotel Arts, Barcelona, Spain (44 floors, climbed 8/12/11)
  • Ernst & Young Bldg, Los Angeles, CA (41 floors, climbed 10/3/10)
  • City Place I, Hartford, CT (38 floors, climbed 5/11/11)
  • Ocean Towers, South Padre Island, TX (31 floors, climbed 1/20/11)

Keep it up, David!


Chart Update and Old/New Injuries

August 17, 2011

Three health-related topics today.  For more on my health, check out the fantastic results of the blood tests I had last week!

1) Chart Update.  It’s Wednesday.  Which of course means that yesterday was Tuesday.  Which is my weekly weigh-in day.  Here’s the outcome when I stepped on the scale:

I stayed the same.  And I’m fine with that.  I can’t complain: prior to this week, I had three straight weeks of losses in a row, so I’m sure my body is just catching up.  I ate well, worked out 6 of the 7 days (the most notable workout being my Sunday kayak adventure), and felt good all week.

My current weight of 235 pounds represents a weight loss of 167 pounds.  I’m fifteen pounds away from my next goal, which is to hit 220 pounds.

Another shot of the weight chart:

2) Old Injury.  In June 2010, three months before I started this blog, my sister Sarah and nephew Sam came to town for a long weekend.  At the time, I had lost 80 pounds, and had never told Sarah ever that I was losing weight.  That created a fun surprise when I picked them up at the airport, because when Sarah saw me for the first time, her jaw hit the sidewalk and she said, “Hellllllo, Skinny!”  Here’s the three of us from that weekend – we’re on the ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier:

We spent one day at Legoland, the Lego theme park outside of San Diego.  It was really fun – Sam loves Legos, and the park is built for kids his age, and we spent the whole day riding rides and walking around.  It was a lot of walking for Sam, so for a little while, he sat on my shoulders and I carried him around that way.  I didn’t think anything of it – I’ve been carrying Sam on my shoulders for a couple years now, and, during that time, Sam has grown.  Considerably.  As all little kids do.

I ended up injuring my rotator cuff when I was lifting Sam off my shoulders to put him back on the ground.  By the end of the day my whole shoulder was throbbing and I could barely lift my arm.  The next two days were agonizing, but then the pain subsided, and things returned to normal.  Except for that every 3 to 4 weeks, like clockwork, my rotator cuff would flare up, and I’d have shooting pains in my shoulder and upper arm that would keep me up at night and make basic activities, like driving, more difficult.

Everyone I talked to about it, including my doctor, my father (who’s a doctor), and my brother (also a doctor, in the middle of his residency), said pretty much the same thing:  There’s not much you can do.  You have to rest it when it’s painful, and try to strengthen it when there’s no pain.  I got tips from two trainers about great stretches and exercises I could do when it wasn’t flaring up, and I did them.

The flare-ups continued for a good, solid 8 months.  But lastweekend, as I was doing various shoulder exercises at the gym, it occurred to me to that I couldn’t remember the last time my shoulder flared up.  I vaguely remember telling Craig, my trainer, about a flare-up at one of the very first boot camp classes I took, so that would have been February, about 6 months ago.

I don’t think my shoulder has acted up since February.  That’s HUGE.  My rotator cuff must be healed!

I’m not completely injury-free, though, and that leads us to…

3) New Injury.  About a week ago, I learned a new exercise from Craig.  He calls them Up Up Down Downs, and basically, you transition back and forth from a plank position to a push-up position (this website explains it better, and has a video showing what I’m talking about).  Monday, at the gym, I challenged myself to do 40 of them (4 sets of 10, which I alternated with a couple other exercises).  But I made a big mistake:  I did them on the gym floor, without using a mat, which would have provided some cushion.  And I scraped up my elbows in the process:

I didn’t realize what I had done until after the fact.  I was doing bench presses when I started realizing that my elbows were stinging.  And then I noticed how completely raw my elbows were, and how the top layer of skin was missing.  Gone.

Lesson learned.  USE A MAT!

I’m writing this post a few hours after getting home from another boot camp class, and it was tough.  Craig set up nine stations that we rotated through, doing everything from walking lunges to burpees to jumping rope, and, as is the usual after boot camp, I was exhausted, sweaty, and sore.  My blogger friend Kelly requested a post-workout picture, so here it is – I’m too tired to even smile:

Tomorrow, it’s back to the gym.  I don’t know yet what I’m going to do there – I’ll figure it out tomorrow after I wake up and see which parts of my body are the most sore.  Then I’ll work out different body parts!

Keep it up, David!


Yamashiro and New Skyscraper

August 13, 2011

I’m writing this post after completing a session with Craig, my trainer, and everything aches.  He pushed me today: he had me haul 60 pounds up and down flights of stairs, doing shrugs and pull-outs on the landings; he had me do squats with a 95 pound barbell, he had me do intervals on a recumbent bike…  I’m getting exhausted all over again just remembering it.  That workout ended with 9.5 minutes of intervals on the StairMaster, which means I have a new skyscraper to add to my collection, and I’ll get to that… but first…

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

On Thursday night, I did something I haven’t done in a loooong time: I went to a farmers market.  I used to be a regular at a couple different farmers’ markets – the one in Burbank on Saturday mornings, and the one in Beverly Hills on Sunday mornings.  I stopped going in January, when I received a very generous gift card to Whole Foods that makes it silly for me to shop anywhere else.

My friend Maggie has been talking up the Yamashiro Farmers Market for months now.  She loves it.  It’s right near her house.  It’s amazing.  We should go some time.  She thinks I’d love it.  It’s fantastic.  Sheesh, Maggie, I get it!  So, on Thursday, we went.  Our friend Joe came too.

The Yamashiro Farmers Market is held on Thursday nights in the parking lot of Yamashiro, a Japanese restaurant perched on a ridge in the Hollywood Hills that has great sweeping views of the city below.  Here’s the farmer’s market:

And here’s another shot of the view, with their Pagoda Bar and garden in the foreground, and way off on the horizon is downtown LA:

A little collage of photos of Joe, Maggie, and me:

As farmers markets go, this one is pretty light on produce, and pretty heavy on prepared and specialty foods.  There are about 3 produce vendors, but lots of specialty booths selling nuts, candy, kettle corn, hummus, and more, and also a bunch of fancy-pants food trucks, including Yamashiro’s own taco stand, which had the longest lines of any of them and featured duck confit and braised short rub tacos on the menu.  I had a big late lunch, so I wasn’t very hungry, but Maggie braved the long line and got her favorite item, their black cod taco, and some chips and guacamole:

The cod is kinda buried under the cabbage, but it’s there.  Joe got a beef and pork jalapeno bratwurst with sauerkraut from the Best of the Wurst booth, and he loved it:

I picked up some items from the produce stalls:

From one vendor I picked up 3 plouts (lower right) and 2 nectarines (lower left)  – $4.50 for all of them.  From another vendor, I picked up all the rest: some multi-colored bell peppers, a bag of mixed greens, and some brussel sprouts – all of it for $5.  I love brussel sprouts, and it’s the first time I’ve bought them in months and months.  I’m rarely impressed with the brussel sprouts I see at grocery stores.  They’re either in a bulk bin and look like they’ve been trampled on by a herd of buffalo, or they’re giant, tennis-ball-sized brussel sprouts.  I once read a good brussel sprout rule that I stick to: the smaller the brussel sprout, the better the brussel sprout (they’re less bitter, or so I remember).  The last time I bought fantastic brussel sprouts from a store is when I picked up an entire brussel sprouts stalk at Trader Joe’s and it ended up becoming my roommate for a few days.

The other item I purchased was a big jar of pickled Hungarian peppers from the Gunnar and Jake’s Gourmet Food stand:

They have all sorts of fun pickled products, like turnips, green beans, and stuffed jalapenos, but I went with the Hungarian peppers because – surprise, surprise – I’ve never heard of them before, and I’m a sucker for trying new things.  The guy gave me a sample, and it was delicious, and had a good spicy kick.  I’m not sure when I’ll crack this jar open, but you can bet I’ll blog about it.

One of my favorite parts about the Yamashiro Farmers Market was that there was no mistaking we were in Hollywood.  First, it’s the only farmers market I’ve been to that has valet parking.  There’s no parking on-site (as the restaurant’s parking lot is the site of the farmers market), so they have a parking lot down the hill, with valet, and a shuttle that takes you up and down to the market.  Second, there were celebrities there!  We spotted one of the supporting actors on Mad Men and one of the detectives from Law & Order.  It was a fun evening, and the three of us will probably go back soon.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Ok.  Back to the skyscraper.  I spent 9.5 grueling minutes on the StairMaster just a little while ago.  Craig had me do intervals, so I would go for 30 seconds at Level 5, then 30 seconds at Level 10.  I’d repeat that, but every time I had to up the Level, so by the end, I was going between Level 5 and Level 16.  And this was at the end of an intense hour-long workout.

I was ready to fall over when I finished, but not before I saw the display for how many floors I climbed: 45!  In 9.5 minutes!  Fantastic.

For today’s skyscraper, we’re heading across the Atlantic to Spain, the country where my father was born.  This is the Hotel Arts, in Barcelona:

It’s the tallest building in Barcelona.  Well, it’s one of the tallest buildings in Barcelona – the neighboring tower, Torre Mapfre, is the exact same height (505 feet), so they get to share the title of tallest building in town.  I like the design of the Hotel Arts much more than the Torre Mapfre, which is why it’s the one I’m featuring on the blog.  The Hotel Arts is 44 floors – one less than I climbed today, but close enough!

Let’s add it to the chart:

  • Aon Center, Chicago, IL (83 floors, climbed 8/5/11)
  • CITIC Plaza, Guangzhou, China (80 floors, climbed 12/1/10)
  • JPMorgan Chase Tower, Houston, TX (75 floors, climbed 3/9/11)
  • Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI (73 floors, climbed 6/19/11)
  • The Sail @ Marina Bay, Singapore (70 floors, cilmbed 11/9/10)
  • Yokohama Landmark Tower, Yokohama, Japan (70 floors, climbed 4/11/11)
  • 900 North Michigan, Chicago, IL (66 floors, climbed 4/1/11)
  • Vista Tower, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (62 floors, climbed 7/2/11)
  • 1000 de la Gauchetiere, Montreal, Canada (51 floors, climbed 11/3/10)
  • >> Hotel Arts, Barcelona, Spain (44 floors, climbed 8/12/11)
  • Ernst & Young Bldg, Los Angeles, CA (41 floors, climbed 10/3/10)
  • City Place I, Hartford, CT (38 floors, climbed 5/11/11)
  • Ocean Towers, South Padre Island, TX (31 floors, climbed 1/20/11)

Another skyscraper conquered!

Keep it up, David!


Two-A-Day

July 28, 2011

BREAKING NEWS!  Later this morning I’m heading out of town for a few days, to Las Vegas and then Seattle.  I’ll be back next week, but don’t you worry – the blog ain’t shutting down. I have new posts planned and in the works (I’m bringing my computer with me), so keep comin’ back for fresh content.  The Vegas part of my trip is for an event that I’m incredibly excited for.  I’m so excited that I don’t wanna to jinx it by telling you what it is!  You’ll hear about it soon enough, right here, on this blog.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

= = = = =

On Tuesday, I did something that I haven’t done in a loooong time: a Two-A-Day.

Two-a-Days are what sports teams call days where they have two practices.  When I was the swim and water polo teams in high school, we would have two-a-days all the time (although I don’t remember calling them that – the term might be used more by football teams).  We would have morning practice before school, from 5:30 until 7am (not 5:30 arrival, that’s 5:30 in the pool), and practice after school, from 2:30 until 5pm.  That’s 4 hours of practice a day, and we would have Saturday practices as well!

I’m not on a sports team now, but it seems like a most fitting word for Tuesday’s accomplishment: two separate killer workouts in one day.  I’ve had particularly active days before, where I would have a dedicated workout, and then, later, end up having a good long walk with a friend or something, but I can’t remember ever, in this weight loss process, have two workouts as tough as these on the same day.  Oh, and not only on the same day, only 3.5 hours apart!

First Workout: 2pm.  I had a session with my personal trainer, Craig (check out his website and his Facebook page).  It’s been almost a month since my last Craig post, but I’ve been going every week and working with Craig, who’s been teaching me tons about weight-lifting form, technique, how to use various machines, how to goose my cardio, and so on.  They’re hour-long sessions, and Craig pushes me to try and do things I don’t think I’m capable of doing, and every session leaves me exhausted, sore, educated, and proud.

This time, Craig had me warm-up a little on the bike, and then by taking a run around the block (which I just calculated to be 1/2 mile) with 3-pound weights in each hand.  Then he had me do a ton of burpee-like things where I held a wooden box, jumped as far as could with it, then put it down and either did a couple push-ups on it, or a couple mountain climbers.  Ugh, tough.  That was followed by a ton of walking lunges, with me holding a 10-pound weight over my head, and that was followed by 6 minutes of very brisk, steep inclined walking on the treadmill.

I was ready to fall over at this point, but we weren’t done yet.  Craig handed me the 3-pound weights again, and I took off for another 1/2 mile run around the block.  After that, Craig taught me a couple different types of lateral pull-downs (for the back), and then I jumped back on the bike, where I did intervals of military presses while pedaling away for 10 minutes.  We finished with 60 tricep dips, which I learned to do for the first time.  I didn’t think I’d be able to do them, but I proved myself wrong!

When I left the gym all I wanted to do was lie down, and not get up for a while.

Second Workout: 6:30pm.  Richard Simmons’ class at Slimmons!  Richard was wearing a kilt (he has them in 5 different colors, naturally), and part of our warm-up was to bagpipe music.  Always something different at Slimmons!  Here’s the video from Tuesday’s class – I’m the one wearing all-black, with the white bandanna around my forehead:

Richard class was, like they always are, really fun and high energy.  I was wondering before class if I’d be able to make it through, given the workout I’d already completed, and I did.  For most of it, actually, I felt really great – like this was the day’s first and only workout – but by the time the toning part of the class came around, my arms felt ready to fall off.  Richard’s classes don’t have tons of toning – about 10 minutes, really – but tonight those 10 minutes were tough.

Here’s a picture of me after class – it’s not a great picture, as I took it myself in my car, but this is me after 2.5 combined hours of vigorous exercise:

You can’t tell that my black shirt is completely drenched.

About the bandanna:  I was digging through my closet a few days ago, and found a stash of bandannas I forgot I had.  Lately, I’ve been annoyed at how my glasses slip down my sweaty nose when I’m exercising, so I just starting wearing the bandannas as a sweat-absorber.  Tuesday was the first day I’ve worn a bandanna to Slimmons, or to a session with Craig, and I got comments at both gyms:  Nina, another of Craig’s clients, said that with my all-black clothes and my white bandanna, I looked like a ninja, and Richard, when he first saw me before class, said “Look at that bandanna!  You look like the Karate Kid, I like it!”  He proceeded to call me ‘Karate Kid’ all through the class.

A bandanna as a sweat absorber works, by the way.  After I snapped the above picture, I took the bandanna off, opened my car door, and wrung a remarkable amount of my sweat from the fabric:

See all that wet asphalt?  That’s my sweat.

On Wednesday morning I could barely pull myself out of bed, I was so sore.  But after breakfast (an english muffin with jam, and some juice I made from 3 my free tomatoes, 2 oranges, and an apple) and some chores around the house, I pulled on my swimsuit for the first time since May 15th, and went to swim some laps.  It felt great to be in the pool again, and although I didn’t push myself very hard, I managed to crank out 2000 yards before hitting the showers.  The breakdown:

  • 1000 warm-up (200 free, 200 IM, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 IM)
  • 500 free (at about 70% exertion)
  • 300 free (at about 85% exertion)
  • 200 cool-down

So.  That’s three workouts in about 24 hours.  Holy crap.

Keep it up, David!


Two Reasons To Celebrate

July 6, 2011

With a title like that, I better not waste any time!  Yesterday was a gooood day, for two reasons.  Here they are:

1) Chart Update.  It was Tuesday, which is weigh-in day.  I normally don’t take pictures of what the scale says, because I don’t keep my camera handy in the bathroom, and it’s also hard to weigh myself and then get a good shot of the read-out in the 4 seconds before the display disappears.

But I was so excited by the display today that I immediately weighed myself 4 more times just to get the god-damn photograph!  Here it is:

TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY SIX POUNDS!  It’s the lowest I’ve ever weighed in my adult life.  It’s the number I’ve been trying to get to for the past three months.  It was a welcome sight!

That number represents a loss of 1 pound for the week, and a total weight loss of 166 pounds!  (And if you’re wondering about that .2, know that I disregard tenths, as a preventative measure to keep myself from obsessing over numbers, even though this post may suggest otherwise.)

Time to update the chart!

Ooh, adding that downward line felt really good.  Now I’m only 16 pounds away from my next goal!

I mentioned above that I’ve been trying to get to 236 for the past three months – what I mean is that I first hit 237 pounds on my March 17, 2011 weigh-in (my post for that day also features my rationale for not drinking diet soda, which you can read here) and I’ve been ping-ponging up and down between 237 and 240 pounds ever since.  Here’s what my chart has looked like since I first was able to write “237″ on it:

And, what the hell – here’s the whole chart:

I’m not gonna go making any bold announcements about this being the end of the plateau I’ve been on, but I am gonna sleep well tonight knowing I’m another step closer to my next goal, and I am gonna take pride in knowing that the 1 pound that’s gone is a direct result of a really good week of food choices and killer workouts (like this one).

But I’m not done celebrating… 

2) Blog Milestone.  You all know I’m a big ol’ nerd for facts and figures, whether it’s my weight chart, my skyscraper collection, my running chart, or the fun posts I put together where I compare my weight loss to Butterfinger bars and cinder blocks.

Normally I’m pretty on top of all things facts and figures, but last week I was completely oblivious and totally missed acknowledging my milestone THREE-HUNDREDTH BLOG POST!  My 300th was actually my post all about fresh figs, which makes this post my 304th.

I can’t believe I’ve written 300 of these suckers.  More importantly, I can’t believe that there are people out there who have read all 300 of them, and keep coming back for more.  Whether you’re reading your first post, or your 304th, I give you a great big thank you for coming here, giving a damn about me, lending your support, and giving me a boost when I most need it.  First and foremost, this blog is a tool to keep myself motivated, and that so many of you come by and visit for a daily dose of motivation or inspiration means so much to me.

I mostly write this blog at night, as a way to unwind and take stock of my day, and earlier tonight, I went to my boot camp class, where Craig had us focus on upper body drop sets.  A drop set is when you do an exercise until you reach muscle exhaustion, then switch to lighter weights and continue doing it.  The class was tough, and I know I’ll be sore in the morning, and I was drenched with sweat.  By the time I got to my car, lifting my arms to the top of the steering wheel was tough.  But, in the spirit of my blogger buddy Kelly, who photographs herself after every workout (check out her blog here), I turned my camera phone on myself, and snapped a post-boot camp pic, and that’s what I’ll end this post with today:

Keep it up, David!


Vista Tower

July 2, 2011

It’s the long holiday weekend, and I think this will be my one and only post until the week officially starts on Tuesday.  (And be sure to come back to my blog next week – I have a couple awesome things planned, including the sharing of a video that I just KNOW you’ll love…)

It won’t be news, if you’ve been a reader for a while, that I’ve been attending boot camp classes for a few months now (I went to two in the month of June, as my June Progress Report showed).  They’re led by Craig Ramsay, who was featured on Bravo’s Thintervention last fall, and he’s a fantastic trainer, a really wonderful guy, and a friend (see a picture of me and Craig here).  Recently, Craig started offering a new service – sessions where he pairs up two of his boot camp clients, and works with them on the gym floor (his boot camps, on the other hand, are held in a classroom).

Yesterday, I had my first session.  My friend Kristy, the super-talented singer-songwriter, had one of these sessions last Friday, and told me she was sore for nearly a week.  Craig’s boot camps are brutal, so I knew I’d be in for something tough…

…Here’s what went down.  Craig started me on an exercise bike.  After a good warm-up (about 10 minutes or so), he brought over two 10-pound weights, and had me, while pedaling, do a series of five different shoulder and bicep exercises, for 30 seconds each.  Not easy.  Especially not easy when, after I finished the first set, Craig came by and replaced my 10-pound weights with 15-pound weights!  I did two more complete sets, and the bike portion of the workout was completed.  I had to then pick my arms up off the floor and snap them back into their sockets, like they were Lego pieces.

Next was the bench press, where Craig emphasized proper form (I benched 65 pounds), followed by another type of standing chest exercise using dual pulleys that worked a different part of the chest.

Craig then said the StairMaster was next.  Ugh – StairMaster.  I’ll come back to the StairMaster in the next paragraph.  Following that was two different types of pull-ups, which I hate because I can’t do them very well at all, and the final exercise took place in the parking lot, where Craig put 20-pounds weights in each of my hands, and I climbed a 2-story staircase carrying them, going 2 steps at a time, for a total of 4 times.   I. Was. Ready. To. Collapse.   It took me a while to get home (Friday evening rush-hour traffic), but when I finally pulled into my garage, I didn’t want to leave my car – I was too comfortable, and all my muscles were sore!

OK – back to StairMaster.  I don’t like the StairMaster, but I do it every once in a while, because it’s such a great workout, and I can burn lots of calories, and fast.  My dislike of the StairMaster led me to create my favorite motivational exercise tool, which is to track the number of stories I climb when I’m on the machine, then, afterward, find a skyscraper somewhere on the planet of an equivalent height.  Most recently, I added the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit to my skyscraper collection (you can see the rest of my skyscraper collection here).

When Craig told me to get on the StairMaster during our session yesterday, I wasn’t surprised, as Nina, the other client I was paired with, had already spent some time on it.  But I was dreading it more than usual, because the session had been so taxing so far – I usually start workouts on the StairMaster, when I’m fresh, and yesterday when I got the machine up and running, I was already rather tired.  After a few minutes at level 5, Craig had me jump up to level 8, and then, every minute, go up one level, until I hit 12.  After a minute on 12, I returned to 8, and started the process again.  Craig also taught me another trick to mix things up on the StairMaster – pointing my feet towards one of the corners of the stairs, so I was walking at an angle, which works different muscles (or different parts of the same muscles… or whatever).

All told, I was on the StairMaster for 13 minutes, and I climbed 62 stories.  Time for a new skyscraper!

This time, I’m heading overseas, all the way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – home to the Vista Tower, which, at 62 stories, is the fifth-tallest building in the country:

Yep.  I climbed that.

Even though the building has “The Intermark” written on it, it’s called Vista Tower – The Intermark refers to the development as a whole, which includes the DoubleTree Hotel on the right, a shopping center, and a 39-story office tower that’s under construction.

A month ago, I lamented about how not working out on the first day of a new month can be such a bummer – and, guess what!  Having such a great workout on the first day of a new month feels wonderful (duh)!

I have my next floor session with Craig scheduled for next Friday.  As for today… time to throw on some clothes and head to the gym!

Keep it up, David!


Chart Update: Easy Come, Easy Go

June 15, 2011

Tuesday was weigh-in day.  Wanna know what happened?

This happened:

A couple things to note:

  1. I haven’t fixed my chart from last week, when I messed it up by putting the dot in the wrong place.  Twice.
  2. I gained a pound.

I’m not happy about the pound, but I’m not surprised either.  As I mentioned the other day, I missed some workouts last week.  I missed another workout last night, because of my dinner plans with Heather (which was fantastic – read about it here).

So that’s three workouts that I skipped – and all three happened after my planned rest day, which means a total of 4 days in the last week were exercise-free.  No bueno.

In addition, I wasn’t great with my food.  I wasn’t horrible, either, but I was a little slack about portions, and ate a few things I normally would have skipped (including some fudge that was delivered to my office).  I’ve been keeping a food log, but I didn’t log any of my food last week.

So.  I’m not surprised I gained that pound.

Here’s a look at my whole chart.  Lately, it’s been zig-zagging back and forth between the same few pounds:

I have a whole week until I weight myself again.  And the first day of that week was fantastic.  I started logging my food again, and tonight, for the first time since April 19, I went to a boot camp class!  The class I go to is led by Craig Ramsay, and it’s really fun and really tough.  Craig has been out of town a lot in the past two months, which is why he hasn’t been teaching, and I’m glad he’s back, because his class was just what I needed to get this week off to a good start.

Tonight’s class involved a lot of super-sets, which involves doing 20 reps of bicep curls, flys, push-ups, or something like that, and then immediately go into walking lunges or squats, going across the room and back, and then immediately repeating the first exercise, and so on.  I did the entire workout with a 10-pound weight in each hand, and by the end I was ready to fling them through a window, except for that I don’t think I had the strength.  I was ready to collapse.  I noticed my legs quaking and trembling just standing in the parking lot afterwards.  I’m gonna be sore tomorrow!

The best part of the class was that Craig noticed improvement on my part, and complimented me on my shoulders and arms…  looks like all the weights I’ve been doing lately have been paying off!

My fantastic Tuesday ended with a visit to Whole Foods – I arrived 20 minutes before they closed, so I kinda raced through and grabbed what I needed, without looking for any new types of produce, like I normally do.  I should’ve taken a picture of the produce I did buy for the blog, but I forgot, and it was late, and now it’s already all put away.  Oh wellYou all know what fruits and vegetables look like.

Keep it up, David!


My Week of Workouts AND Chart Update

April 20, 2011

I had a really good week of exercise last week.  The last time I wrote about my workouts, it was after a weekend that involved a visit to Slimmons, a hike, a run, and a StairMaster, so I’ll pick up where I left off.  Here’s the run-down:

Tuesday, April 12:  Boot Camp Class with Craig.  Craig set up a circuit that we rotated through, and introduced, for the first time since I started taking his classes a few months ago, a jump rope.  Two of the stations on the circuit involved jumping rope for one minute, and I hadn’t picked up a jump rope since my PE1 class in high school, like, 15 years ago.  I’ve never been good at jumping rope, and, to be honest, I wasn’t certain I could do it, but when it came time and I rotated to that station, I surprised myself, and was able to keep it up for most of the minute!  That was a pleasant little shock that got me through the rest of Craig’s tough class, which also featured a military crawl station, where you crawl across the floor, pulling yourself on your forearms, while your legs are straight balancing on the tips of your toes.  I can barely do it, and I wince just thinking about it.

Wednesday, April 13:  Swimming.  Tavi came along, too.  100 yards warm-up (200 free, 200 IM, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 IM), then I swam 1000 yards (40 lengths of the pool) without stopping (something I’ve yet to do), and then 300 yards cool-down.  2,300 yards total, in 1 hour.

Thursday, April 14:  I took my mom, who was visiting, to a class at Slimmons.  Richard Simmons taught it, and you can read about it, and see a picture, here.

Friday, April 15:  My mom and I each did 45 minutes on a recumbent bike at a gym.

Saturday, April 16:  Went for a run while hanging out with two of my cousins.  My cousin Aaron helped me improve my form, so that was great.  Read all about that run here.

Sunday, April 17:  A planned rest day.  Even though I didn’t have a dedicated workout, I still felt exhausted at the end of the day, because I spent probably a hour (maybe a little longer?) perched atop a stool, installing a new light fixture in my place:

In theory, it wasn’t supposed to be that difficult – I had all the pieces and tools (except for wire strippers, which I picked up at Sears for a few bucks), except for that I couldn’t get the damn thing to hang straight.  If I wanted it to hang crooked, like the whole room was on a leaning ship, I would have been done in 1/2 the time, but that wouldn’t cut it for me.  So that meant dismantling it a few times, re-aligning and fidgeting with various screws and nuts, my arms above my head the whole time, mumbling and cursing under my breath, occasionally holding myself back from chucking the whole fixture out the window.

The kicker is that I’ll need to go back up and fix it again this weekend.  It may be hard to tell in the picture, but the fixture isn’t flush against the ceiling, it hangs a millimeter or two down.  Not acceptable.  Which means I have to swap out two screws for slightly shorter screws, so it’ll fit properly.  Good times.

Monday, April 18.  Unplanned rest day.  I wanted to head to the gym, but I was exhausted after work.  It had been a busy weekend – my folks were in town, and we were on the move: we went to San Diego, we went out to the suburbs to visit other relatives, we went to a concert, we went shopping for light fixtures (see above).  Monday night I got home, pulled out some gym clothes, and thought ‘man oh man, I just wanna watch some TV first.’  Who has two thumbs and never got off the couch?  THIS GUY.

Which brings us to Tuesday, April 19 – time for a weigh-in.  I got up thinking I was sure to lose the pound that I gained a few weeks ago, that, so far, has refused to fall off my body again.  I had done a lot of exercise, as this blogs illustrates, and had eaten pretty well.  Which is why I was a little frustrated when I got on the scale, and it read:

238 POUNDS.  Same as last week.  Now, I have every reason to be happy, as I didn’t gain, and that’s a good thing, but I really want to lose that pound!   (Oh, and if you’re curious, I disregard the 10ths of the pound – I’m the sort that can easily start obsessing over the numbers, and focusing on what comes after the decimal point is a surefire way to drive me crazy, so I just don’t do it.)

I updated the chart and extended my plateau:

It really is good news that I’m down 164 pounds.  I try not to forget about that.  But what I found myself thinking, repeatedly throughout the day, were a bunch of If Onlys.  If only I had worked out last night.  If only I didn’t have that piece of cake that my aunt made on Saturday.  If only I had pushed myself a little bit harder.  If only.

But when I look back at the week, I’m happy with the choices and decisions that I made, and it was a pretty awesome and memorable week, so screw you, If Onlys.  Screw you.

Last night it was back to Craig’s boot camp class, and, in addition to a bunch of free weight moves I’m familiar with, Craig included another device I’ve never ever worked out on before: a trampoline.  What fun!  We would do a minute at a time running in place on a little trampoline, trying to get our knees as high as possible.  Exhausting, but fun.  The class was a great start to a new week.  Next Tuesday, I’ll lose that god-damn pound.  I hope.

Keep it up, David!


Reader Question, Office Temptation, Boot Camp

March 24, 2011

Three topics today.  Let’s get started!

1) Reader Question. I got a great question the other day in the comments section.  Lisa wrote:

I need to lose about 35 lbs. and am working with a trainer. The problem is I am an emotional eater. Before you started this journey, would you say you were an emotional eater? Do you think that’s how you gained the weight? I am talking to a therapist too about this, but I know the best advice comes from people who have experienced this firsthand. My problem is that I use anything “bad” that happens to me during the day as an excuse to emotionally eat. It sucks and I have to get myself out of this rut! I have lost 10 lbs. since Jan. 1st but gained some of it back, despite working out on a regular basis, because of the emotional binges. Anything you can share with me would be a tremendous help!

Ugh, emotional eating is such a hurdle, and I’m sure most of us deal with it in some way.  I wouldn’t say that I used to be an emotional eater, I’d say that I’M STILL an emotional eater, but I’ve developed some habits and techniques to combat tough times.  Food provided comfort in bad times, was a release in stressful times, and was a way of celebrate in good times.  There were very few emotions that I didn’t respond to by eating, so yeah, that’s pretty much the definition of emotional eating!

The good news, though, is that you can combat it, and it sounds like you’re on the right path, and I applaud you for working with a therapist.  Here’s what’s been working for me:  I took reward and celebratory foods off the table.  I used to treat myself:  if I was feeling great because of an accomplishment, than I told myself I could stop for ice cream, pick up a pizza, or load up on candy.  There have been times in my life when I was exercising, but eating poorly, and partly it’d be because I’d think, regularly, “yeah, I can have more fries and a shake – I had a good workout yesterday.”  Not anymore.

Focusing on changing my thought patterns during good times seemed like an easier challenge, because when I was really craving something as a celebratory treat, I could say ‘no’ to myself, and, instead, focus on whatever it was that provided me a reason to celebrate, and still feel great.  What I’ve found is that because I refuse to indulge in reward foods, I now have the great motivator to prevent binging in bad times:  After all, why should I console myself with crappy food when I won’t reward myself with it?  It’s a little mental game that works for me, and maybe it might work for you, too.  I hope this helps, Lisa, and KEEP IT UP!

Have any tips to battle emotional eating?  Share them in the comments section!

2) Office TemptationAs I mentioned yesterday, I recently started at a new job, and get to show up to an office every day for the first time in a few months.  That also means I get to, for the first time in a few months, deal with office temptation.  Here’s what tempted me yesterday:

Look! A fun-sized box of chocolate-covered raisins!

Did I say fun-sized? I meant a THREE-AND-A-HALF-POUND BOX.  Here it is next to my cup of tea:

It’s even bigger than my friend Jamie’s head, who has “a notoriously large head” (her words, not mine):

This beauty (by which I mean the candy, not Jamie, although Jamie is also definitely a beauty) was just sittin’ in the break room, left out for everyone to enjoy.  I don’t know where it came from, but there it was.  And I really wanted to have some… until I crunched some numbers.  Here’s the nutrition label:

There’s 30 chocolate-covered raisins in a serving, and 40 servings in the box, so that’s roughly 1,200 raisins total.  At 170 calories and 6 grams of fat a serving, that box contains 6,800 total calories and 240 total grams of fatGross.  Of course, a numbers for a single serving aren’t terrible, but I know that I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, eat just 30.  So I stayed away altogether.  Hopefully the box will be gone tomorrow!

3) Boot Camp. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I took, for the first time ever, two boot camp classes on two consecutive days, and man oh man, am I sore.  On Tuesday, I went to my now-regular boot camp class with Craig Ramsay.  He had us working with DynaBands, these latex stretchy bands that you can use to strengthen and tone your muscles.  It was my first time using a DynaBand, and it was fun, because it was new for me, but like every Craig Ramsay class, it was tough.  The exercises he taught us focused on specific muscles, but we would do them in lunge or squat positions, so other muscles would be utilized for stability and support.  Brutal.

If that wasn’t enough, on Wednesday, I went with my friend Chris (my most recent running buddy) to a boot camp class at his gym, where I had picked up a free 7-day pass so I could work out with him.  That class was taught by a nice woman named Kristy (Christy? Kristi? not sure of the spelling), and it involved free weights, a step, those giant balls, and a mat.  Thankfully not all at once, but I’m sure that day will come.  I’m tired just thinking about it!

This morning, I did cardio: 50 minutes on the elliptical; almost 550 calories burned.

Keep it up, David!


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