I tried something new as part of my breakfast today, and it was disgusting. This may look like oatmeal, but it’s not just oatmeal:
I had to buy a new iPod. I last wrote about my iPod in March, when I dropped it on cement and cracked the glass. My iPod rebounded from that trauma, and the cracked screen proved not to be a fatal wound, just an unsightly cosmetic one. What did my iPod in was some sort of faulty, damaged battery. I didn’t get the specifics, nor did I care – what was important was that I got a new iPod, and, once again, all is well in my mobile music world.
The iPod wasn’t the only thing that came home with me from the mall. That’s because the Apple store I frequent, at the Glendale Galleria, is right next door to one of my favorite stores in the entire world: a store that whisks me immediately back to my childhood and fires up every creative and design-related synapse in my brain…
…The Lego Store!
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
I don’t have plans to celebrate the Mexican army’s defeat of the French in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. Instead, I’ll be spending my morning finally completing my 163-story stair climb fundraiser challenge! I feel like it’s taken forever for this day to get here, but, in actuality, it was only two months ago when I announced that I’d be climbing the equivalent of the Burj Khaifa (the world’s tallest building) on the StairMaster without stopping. I’ve done a lot of training since then, including an actual skyscraper climb in downtown Los Angeles, then had a setback and postponement when I fucked up my foot.
But now I’m ready. And if you’re reading this after 11am PST on Saturday, then chances are I’ll have completed my stair climb.And I’ll have rocked it!
If you’re looking for a recap, than you’ll have to come back Monday, because I’m actually writing this Friday evening, and I can’t predict the future!
What I can do is share my final two training sessions. I used the StairMaster on both Monday and Wednesday, and both were great workouts. On Monday I climbed 116 stories in 30 minutes, and on Wednesday, I climbed 140 stories in 37 minutes – a new personal best!
That’s two skyscrapers I can add to my Skyscraper Collection! The problem is that I’ve already exhausted most of the buildings on the planet that are over 100 stories, so this time I’m going to do something a little different. I’m adding more than one tower for each climb!
I met my friend Steve in 6th grade at West Maple Middle School, and now here in California, not that far from me. I’ve always known Steve to be smart and talented, but last week, after I shared my glowing-yellow-wall “Before” and “Current” pictures and the cool silhouette photo, Steve shot me the following email:
“Your new photos inspired me to Photoshop your new silhouette onto your ‘before’ picture. I tried to line up your ears and elbows to keep the two pictures proportional, and I think it turned out pretty well!”
And this was attached:
I absolutely LOVE it – it’s so unbelievably cool! No need for “Before” AND “Current” pictures… Steve combined them into one! This is going immediately into the Photo Gallery. Thanks, Steve!
Did you have a good weekend? Mine was quite nice, except for the jarring realization on Saturday that my 163-story stair climb fundraiser challenge is only one week away. If you’re struck with a sense of deja vu, it’s because I already wrote a post about the stair climb being one week away, but that was before I injured my foot and postponed the climb for two weeks.
Now my foot feels a whole lot better – I’ve been gradually putting more pressure and weight on it during my workouts over the past few days, and there’s been no flare-ups or pain whatsoever. On Saturday, when the one-week-away realization hit me like a truck, I decided to ramp my StairMaster training back into high gear. After all, thanks to the injury, I’ve only been on the StairMaster once in the past two weeks.
I ended up spending 21 minutes on the StairMaster, and climbed 84 stories, burning 318 calories. Not bad at all. It’s only half of the 163 stories I’ll be climbing this Saturday, but I hope to get one or two more training sessions in before the big day. I’ll be ready.
And I get to add a new tower to my Skyscraper Collection! I plan on taking a little (or big) break from the StairMaster after my challenge, so I thought I’d add another landmark to my collection while I still could.
You know it, you love it… the latest addition to my collection is…
It’s 77 stories tall, and I’ve wanted to add this guy to my collection for a while now.
My favorite thing about the Chrysler Building was how Walter Chrysler and architect Willam Van Alen, during the building’s construction in 1929, kept the now-famous 7-story, 185-foot spire a complete secret. No one in the press knew it existed, and it was constructed within the lower part of the building, so no one could see it taking shape. Then one day, to everyone’s surprise, it was hoisted and bolted into place in just 90 minutes. Just like that, the Chrysler Building became the tallest building in the world, edging out 40 Wall Street, another building under construction at the same time. The Chrysler Building only had the world-tallest-building title for 11 short months, though… then the Empire State Building came along.
And here’s something I just learned while researching this post: The Chrysler Building has never been owned by the Chrysler Corporation, nor did the Chrysler Corporation pay for its construction, even though their headquarters were there from 1930 through the ’50s. Walter Chrysler paid for it himself, so that it could be passed down to his children.
FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I’m almost there! I’ve raised $1,555 dollars, which means I’m 95% of the way towards my $1,630 goal. Only $75 short! Can you help me with those final few bucks? Click here to read about the stair climb, and CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION. Thanks!
Finally… I went to the pool yesterday for my second swim in a week (read about the other swim here). My friend Emily came along, and the pool was very crowded and it was hot. I got in 2,100 yards before calling it a day, and then Emily and I walked across the park to a… carnival!
I love a good rickety carny-operated ride, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any cash money on me, and the ticket booth didn’t accept credit cards. I did take this picture with the Ferris Wheel:
I took the exact same picture at Disney California Adventure with Mickey’s Fun Wheel (see it here). I guess it’s my thing with Ferris Wheels. Yep, me and Ferris Wheels have a thing. Jealous?
Even though Emily and I didn’t ride any rides, we did buy a snack (er… Emily bought us a snack, to be specific). There were a lot of options: Funnel Cakes. Cotton Candy. Nachos. Corn Dogs. So what did we decide on?
Roasted Corn on a Stick!
There was a row of Food Trucks, and this came from the Corn Heaven truck.
I got mine with lemon juice, and added some Cajun seasoning. Might have been the best corn I’ve ever had! I definitely wanted to go back and buy 4 more ears, although that’s where the lack of funds became an issue.
Eating veggies at a carnival?
Keep it up, David!
Do you follow me on Facebook? Click here to go to my Facebook page – it’s a great way to learn about new blog posts. You can also leave comments there, and I always read them. I love hearing from my readers!
Today I wanted to share two comments that I’ve gotten recently on Facebook – one is a question I’ll try my best to answer, and the other… well, you’ll see. First, the question, which came from a reader named Lois:
I have such a hard time staying focused. Since august of 2011, I have lost 34 lbs. When I focus I can eat all my healthy low cal foods, then somedays I’m just soooo hungry. It’s as if nothing fills me up and my stomach is just screaming for some food. So then I eat a burrito or an In n Out burger, which are delicious, but then the next day I am 4lbs heavier and feel like crap. Do you ever have these hungry days and what do you do?
In another comment to another post, Lois talked about having a bad week, and ended with the question:
Why am I soooooo hungry?????
First of all, Lois, I hope you’re eating! You can’t lose weight without eating throughout the day, and giving your body energy and calories. But I’ve definitely had days where I’ve had three square meals, but my stomach doesn’t stop growling and grumbling. So I know the feeling.
To answer your main question, you’re so hungry because you’re eating less calories than your body is used to. That’s how you’ve lost 34 pounds (congratulations on that!), and that’s how you’ll lose however many you still want to lose. So one way of looking at it is to consider your hunger as a good thing. But that won’t make it any easier to deal with, so here are some other strategies:
- Have plenty of guilt-free snacks around. If I’ve eaten my meal and am still hungry, I’ll pull out some vegetables and eat those. A few weeks ago I ate a 2-pound bag of carrots over the course of a couple hours, without an ounce of regret.
- Keep your mind (and hands) occupied. I focus on my hunger, and am more inclined to act on it, when I’m sitting around watching TV or putzing on the computer. I get my mind off my hunger by being more productive. I like to draw, so I’ll pull out some paper and create something. I’ve gone for a walk to distract myself from the kitchen (and I leave my wallet at home, so I don’t end up at the 7-11 down the street). You could clean out that junk drawer that’s been bothering you or call up a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.You could take up knitting, or building ships-in-bottles!
- Brush and floss your teeth. This works for me – I never want to eat after cleaning my teeth!
Anyone else with tips or ideas, please leave them in the comments sections!
The other Facebook comment I want to talk about came from a reader named Scott, who wrote:
david i read u post so you are doing this to get attention that sad i lost 220 in ten months and i am not craving attention
I don’t get many negative comments, and while I’d prefer to not let this one bother me, I must admit I’ve been thinking about it for the past few days. So, I just want to clear up, for Scott and for anyone else that’s curious: I’m not losing weight to get attention. I can think up a bunch of ways to draw attention to myself that’d be a helluva lot easier than losing 165 pounds! I’m trying to lose weight to improve my health, and so I can live a longer, better life, and so I can feel better about myself. Congratulations on your 220 pound loss, Scott – that’s truly extraordinary. Why did you do it?
Last item on the agenda today is… a skyscraper! This morning at the gym, I made the impromptu decision to start my workout on the StairMaster. I set the clock for 20 minutes, covered the display with my towel, and climbed. Twenty minutes later, I felt ready to keel over, and that’s because I burned 345 calories and climbed…
…98 stories! A NEW RECORD!
I’m not crazy about the skyscraper I’m adding to my collection today – I actually think it’s pretty ugly, but it’s exactly 98 stories high, so it’s a perfect fit. Say hello to the Trump International Hotel and Tower:
At 1,389 feet, Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago is the second tallest building in the country, after Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower). It’s the 12th tallest building in the world. The tower was originally planned to be the tallest building in the world, but after the 9/11 attacks, plans were scaled back. Parts of the building opened in 2008, although the entire building wasn’t completed until 2009.
Looking for a home in Chicago? Consider the 89th floor penthouse. Donald Trump planned on keeping the 14,260 square foot apartment for himself, but put it on the market in 2009. It has 7 bedrooms, 6 baths, 16-foot ceilings, and amazing views, which you can see here. It’s unfinished, which means whoever buys it will have to build out the bathrooms, kitchen, and install all the flooring and decor, but hey! If you got $30 million to spend on a home, surely you can rustle up another couple million for some faucets, Ikea bookcases, and a Frigidaire!
This picture makes me like the building a little more, and it certainly makes me appreciate what I accomplished in this morning’s workout!
I just added Trump International Hotel and Tower to my Skyscraper Collection, which you can check out here. At 98 stories, it’s the tallest building on the list… and I’m so close to breaking the 100-story threshold!
KEEP IT UP, DAVID!
WHOA! My gig at Whole Foods Pasadena is only one week away! Call your buddies and come hear me talk about weight loss and how anyone can start getting healthy. All the details are here.
Well, I’ve blogged about it, and blogged about it some more, and I’ve finally made a decision about my big gym dilemma. Today, I went back and bit the bullet: I signed up to join Crunch. I considered a lot of things (including many of the excellent points you all raised in the comments section), but ultimately, I was won over by my own enthusiasm. The thought of all the new options that a bigger, better-equipped gym can provide excites me. I like trying new things! That they were offering a great deal was a bonus, and I made sure I was crystal clear on their billing and cancellation policies before signing on the dotted line. The contract is month-to-month, and if I don’t like it, I can cancel. And they gave me a new gym bag as a signing present:
Onto the main event!
Last week, I wrote about how my current gym now has StairMasters at both locations, which means I probably should use them more often than once a month. On Monday, I made good on that promise, and stepped on a StairMaster. And before I did, I thought long and hard: I don’t care for the StairMaster, so if I’m going to use it more regularly, I need to make some changes so it’s less of a miserable experience. I decided on two things:
- I would begin my workout on the StairMaster. Usually I do some cardio after an intense weightlifting session, but maybe I’d like the StairMaster more if I was using it while fresh, and not counting the minutes until I could leave the gym.
- I’d cover the StairMaster display with a magazine or towel, so I couldn’t see the time. I already employ this tactic on stationary bikes and treadmills, and I don’t know why I’ve never done it on the StairMaster. Time seems to move slower when you’re staring at the seconds tick by, so out of sight, out of mind!
With those two things implemented, I powered up the StairMaster and started climbing. You know what? Both my strategies worked! I stayed on the StairMaster for 20 minutes, which is a good 5-10 minutes longer than I can normally muster, and it really seemed to fly by! I burned 325 calories, and climbed 92 stories. NINETY-TWO STORIES! That’s a new record!
I was geeked to find a new tower to add to my Skyscraper Collection. The problem, though, is that when you get above 90 the options drastically decrease. There are only about a dozen buildings on the planet that reach higher than 90 stories, and none of them have exactly 92. So I decided to go with an iconic skyscraper that has 88 stories. It’s a skyscraper that held the record for the tallest building in the world from 1998-2004… a skyscraper that’s become a symbol for Kuala Lumpur, the city it’s located in, and all of Malaysia… any guesses?
I’m talking about the Petronas Towers!
I climbed that!
But here’s the problem. As you can see, there’s two of them. And it would bug me to no end if I had twin towers in my Skyscraper Collection but had only climbed one of them. So, I issued myself a challenge, right then and there: I gotta climb the second tower, and quickly.
Yesterday, two days after my first fake Petronas Tower climb, I returned to the gym, covered the display with my towel, and started climbing again. It seemed a little easier this time around, and maybe that’s because I knew exactly what was needed to complete my goal. I set the timer for 20 minutes, stayed in the same speed range as last time (between 7 and 9), turned on my iPod, and climbed. In those twenty minutes, I climbed 94 stories (!) and burned 330 calories (!). SUCCESS! I conquered both Petronas Towers!
I climbed both of them! Here’s your debriefing on the Petronas Towers:
- They’re currently tied, with each other, as the 6th tallest buildings in the world.
- They’re the tallest twin towers in the world. (They’re about 100 feet taller than the World Trade Center was).
- They’re linked by a skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors. At 558 feet above the ground, the skybridge is the tallest 2-story bridge in the world.
- Most of the elevators are double-decker, with the lower deck stopping only at odd-numbered floors, and the upper deck stopping only at even-numbered floors.
- The complex at the base of the towers includes a 6-story mall, an aquarium, and a concert hall that’s home to the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.
- The Petronas Towers went Hollywood quickly after opening. They’re featured prominently in the 1999 hit art-heist movie Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, including an action sequence where the two stars dangle precariously from the skybridge. You can see a few shots of this in the film’s trailer.
The Petronas Towers are now at the top of my Skyscraper Collection. Together, they’re 176 stories high!
Keep it up, David!
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!