Goji and Incan Berries

April 30, 2011

Since starting my job in mid-March, I’ve posted a couple pictures of office temptations, like this ginormous box of candy and these Oreos.  But the office also occasionally introduces me to new healthy foods, too, and that’s what this post is all about.

I work for a media company, and often, other companies send samples our way with the hope that we’ll love the product and feature them in our projects, which would provide them some national exposure.  I’m not going to say anything more about where I work, so don’t bother asking!  I’m not exactly sure who in my office received these samples, all I know is that they were set out in the office kitchen area for the entire staff to try.  They caught my eye.  I tried them.  And I liked them.  And they’re foods I’ve never tried before, which is a recurring element of this blog, so everybody wins!

The samples were of products made by a company called Sunfood, which is based in the San Diego area and, according to their website, is a “world renowned source of the highest quality raw foods and superfoods the planet has to offer.”  I tried two of their products – and both were types of dried berries.

Product #1: Goji Berries.

Goji berries, according the package, is a “nutritionally complete raw super fruit.”  I had heard of them before, and maybe even seen them at Whole Foods, but I’ve never tried them.

Goji berries, which are sometimes called wolfberries, are native to China, although they’ve also been grown in England for 300 years.  They are nutritional powerhouses:  they have more vitamin C per ounce than oranges, 18 different amino acids, which are building blocks of protein (including 8 essential ones), 20 additional trace minerals, and lots of antioxidants and fiber.  One ounce of goji berries (which is 1/2 of the bag pictured above) has 80 calories and is fat free.

There was a Chinese guy named Li Ching-Yuen who allegedly lived to be 256 years old (until he died in 1933), and one of his secrets to longevity was reportedly… you guessed it, goji berries.  I’m skeptical of this story, for the record, but saw it online and thought it’d be interesting to share.

And what did they taste like?  They’re good!  The texture and consistency was raisin-like, or maybe even a little more tender, but also slightly more tart and slightly more bold than a raisin.  And I love their shape – they have a more defined shape, like sunflower seeds, whereas raisins can be rather blob-like.

Product #2: Incan Berries.

What the hell is an Incan berry?  Not only have I never eaten one before, but I’ve never heard of them.  They’re called different things in different parts of the word, too, and none of these names are ringing any bells:  golden berry, cape gooseberry, giant ground cherry, Peruvian cherry, poha, ras bhari… seriously, what the hell are these things?

I did my online research, and it turns out they’re the berry of a plant native to mountainous regions in South America.  Each berry has a thin papery shell around it, like tomatillos, which they’re very closely related to.  They’re most closely related to tomatillos than they are to other berries, actually.  They’re high in vitamins A and C, and have anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids, which is a word that looks made up to me, but probably isn’t.  One ounce (1/2 the bag) has 80 calories and 1 gram of fat.

As for the taste, I’d say they remind me of dried cherries more than anything else, also there’s a nice sour, citrus-y kick, as if dried cherries have been spritzed with lemon juice.  The sweet and tart combo is pretty tasty!

Here’s where you can buy goji berries and Incan berries yourself.  Have you ever tried them before?  What do you think?

All told, throughout the course of the day, I ate half of each bag, and I’m staring at 2 half-empty bags as proof!  They made a great snack, and I look forward to using my remaining berries in other ways – maybe on salads, or mixed in with Greek yogurt.

Keep it up, David!


Return of the Carrots AND My Song

April 29, 2011

Had a particularly colorful and delicious snack yesterday…

…Rainbow Carrots!

It’s not the first time I’ve blogged about them (this blog has that honor) – and it probably won’t be the last time I blog about them, because they are tasty and different and I love them.  I look for them every time I’m at Whole Foods.

Like oddly-colored vegetables?  Check out this post, this post, and this post.

Yesterday I went around my office, and offered the carrots to about 20 different people.  I thought it’d be nice to share.  I got a variety of reactions and responses, and here are some of them:

  • “Oh wow, this is good!  Tastes just like a carrot!”
  • Co-worker: “Why is this carrot purple?”  Me: “Who says all carrots have to be orange?”  Co-worker:  “I do.  It’s a carrot, and carrots are orange.  That’s why they’re carrots.”
  • “Hey thanks, I love them!  Have you ever had purple potatoes?”  Yep!
  • “Why are you giving this to me?  Is this some sort of set-up?”
  • “I like it!  It might be a touch more bitter than a regular carrot but if I had my eyes closed I wouldn’t know I’m not eating an orange carrot.”
  • “Those are the most beautiful carrots I’ve ever seen.”
  • What’s going on?  What are these?  Am I going to hallucinate or something after eating one?”

I’d say they were a hit.  And no one hallucinated.  As far as I know.

Moving on…

Remember, in March, when I shared that beautiful new song that was inspired by this very blog?  Click here to refresh your memory!  Last night, my friend Kristy Hanson (along with Mike Chiaburu and Tim Young) performed again in Hollywood, and once again, she performed my song.  Even though I have the song on my iPod, I haven’t listened to it in a couple weeks, and I didn’t know they were going to include it on their set list (they have a lot of songs), so it was a wonderful surprise to hear it live again.

Long story short:  Kristy and Mike did a side project called East Paris where they wrote songs inspired by writers, and they asked me if they could write something based on this blog.  Uh, yes, please!  So I sent them this post, and they came up with a song called “Today’s The Day”, which is about taking control and knowing that things are gonna change, and knowing that they’re gonna change because you’re going to change them.

The fact that the concert last night feel during a week where I’ve been struggling to stay on track and retain control didn’t go unnoticed in my own head.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO “TODAY’S THE DAY.”  While you’re on that page, check out that “Free Download” button!  They set it up special for all my readers – so take advantage, download it, and add it to your iPods and playlists!

Kristy played another song last night that really struck a chord with me.  It’s called “Crawl,” and even though I’ve heard it tons of times before, last night it resonated in a way it hasn’t before.  Kristy introduced it by saying (and I’m paraphrasing): “this next song is about how sometimes things don’t move along at the pace you’d like, but you just gotta keep going” and I thought, that’s the boat I’m in right now with this plateau!  Some of the lyrics:

It’s not what you hoped for

But who can trust hope

You plan and you daydream

Then you just cope

You flail and you flounder

Till you’re thrown a rope

And you crawl, and you crawl

and you crawl onto the shore

You can listen to “Crawl” on Kristy Hanson’s website (it’s track number 7 on her album Into the Quiet).

I’ll end with two questions that Kristy poses in “Crawl”:

Is it the dream you’re holding that keeps your pace from slowing?

Is it the hope for something, or the hope itself that keeps you going?

What do you think?

Keep it up, David!

Ah, Momentum

April 28, 2011

Another day, and I feel even better about getting myself back on the wagon.  It’s funny how, when I don’t have any momentum, I always conveniently forget about its exponential qualities.  Similarly, once I get a little momentum, I’m always pleasantly surprised at how it seems to grow, like a snowball rolling down a hill.

This week may have started out crappy, but now that I’ve had two good days in a row, I feel like I’m on a roll.  That, my friends, feels great.  How come I never remember how awesome having momentum feels?

My food today was pretty good.  There were tons of fruit and vegetables involved, a little oatmeal as part of my breakfast, good lean proteins (soy beans, garbanzo beans, and grilled chicken breast), and I even had a bagel as part of my lunch.  When I started feeling the urge to snack, mid-afternoon, I opened a Tupperware, and munched on more veggies.

This evening I had plans after work, and after that, I was gonna hit the gym.  I thought I’d only be busy for 60 or 90 minutes, providing ample gym time before it was time to hit the hay, but I ended up being occupied for a little over 3 hours.  So the gym didn’t happen.  I’m okay with it, too.  What I really should start doing is getting in the habit of going to the gym before going in to the office.  I gotta work on that.

I have one more thing I gotta do before I turn in for the night – and that’s to pack tomorrow’s lunch.  Gotta keep this momentum going!

Keep it up, David!

Pulling Myself Back On The Wagon

April 27, 2011

So.  Just to catch everyone up… yesterday, I felt like I was getting dragged behind my wagon, nearly ready to fall off the wagon altogether.

Today, I feel like I have two firm grips on the wagon, and I’m in a great position to continue pulling myself up and out the dirt and dust.

Yes, that’s an improvement!

I’d say today was a successful day.  More successful than the past few days.  Here’s why:

  • I went to the gym after work, and did the exercise I was planning on doing.  Almost exactly.  The intended workout was going to be 30 minutes of weights, then 30 minutes of arc trainer, and then abs.  I ended up doing 25 minutes of weights before jumping on the arc trainer (because one opened up, and I had to claim it before someone else did).  I burned well over 600 calories on the arc trainer, then did my sit-ups (about 100 of them), and walked out of the gym feeling good.  I take that back – I felt great.
  • I ate much better.  I ate all the veggies I brought along for the day (the uneaten broccoli and cauliflower from the day before, bell pepper, and yellow squash), and supplemented it with proteins (beans, tofu, a little grilled chicken) from the salad bar at the cafeteria near my office.
  • Snacking was curtailed.  I didn’t go completely snack free – I had 8 saltine crackers mid-afternoon, and a few pieces of candy, too.  A big improvement over Monday.

Oh, and there another small morning snack that made its way into my mouth.  “Snack” might be too generous a word – it was a sample.  My new friend Maggie, with whom I share an office, made…

…Kale chips!  I tried a couple (for the first time ever):

Basically, you can take kale, which is a dark leafy green, rip it up in pieces, drizzle them with a little olive oil and salt, and bake ’em for about a half-hour, and they crisp up and taste like potato chips, except for that they’re not potatoes, they’re kale (which is a nutritional powerhouse)!

Maggie was inspired to make kale chips by Gwyneth Paltrow, who was recently on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and showed Ellen how to make them:

I’ve eaten kale before, at restaurants and such, but I’ve never bought it before.  I think I’ll have to pick some up next time I’m at the store!

Before I wrap this up, I just want to thank all of you that posted such wonderful, supportive comments yesterday.  My tendency, despite knowing better, is to gravitate towards thinking that I’m on this road to health all by myself, so thank you for reminding me, for the 10,000th time, that I’m not.  Keep it up, readers, and…

…keep it up, David!

I Gotta Madmartigan Myself Back On The Wagon

April 26, 2011

I wouldn’t say I’ve fallen off the wagon during the past week, but I would say that right now, at this moment, I’m getting dragged behind the wagon, but still holding on.  I’m like Madmartigan, the Daikini warrior in the 1988 film “Willow” (played by Val Kilmer) during the runaway wagon chase scene, except I’m not fighting off Bavmorda’s henchmen at the same time.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Check out this clip on YouTube – Madmartigan starts getting dragged by the wagon about 2:39 in.  “Willow” is one of those movies that I grew up watching.  It’s not a great film, but it’s special to me, and it has trolls and spells and little people and a love potion and a two-headed dragon and magic acorns and fairies and swordfighting and and an old lady that gets turned into a goat.  If you haven’t seen it, watch it.  If you haven’t seen it lately, watch it again.  Lucky for all of us, someone was so kind as to put the entire movie on YouTube.

But I digress.  This isn’t supposed to be a post about “Willow”.  It’s supposed to be a post about me.  I kinda wish it really was a post about “Willow” – that post would be a whole lot easier to write.

I’m in a bit of a funk.  I didn’t write about it last week, because I didn’t fully realize it I was in one, but I know now that I am, and I’m pretty sure it can be traced to last week’s weigh-in, where I stayed even.  I really thought that I had had a stellar week going into that weigh-in, and yet, the numbers on the scale didn’t decrease.  Later that week, I fell ill – something I ate didn’t agree to me, and my stomach was vocal on the matter.  It wasn’t completely debilitating – I went to work and all that, but I didn’t workout for two days – Thursday and Friday – in fact, my Friday night involved around 11 hours of sleep (which was fantastic!).

After exercising on Saturday and Sunday (Slimmons on Saturday, and a run on Sunday), I felt ready to tackle the new week.  Today, though, I found my mind wandering towards “what’s the point” territory.  I push myself, and work my ass off, but I haven’t dropped a pound a weeks.  I look back at my workout calendar, which shows that I’ve only exercised 4 out of the last 7 days, and think, “it’s so much easier to not work out than it is to work out.”  And then, as I leave work this evening, I knowingly take a route home that bypasses the gym.  And I’m okay with it.  Guess that makes it 4 workouts out of the past 8 days.  I’m slacking.  You can’t let this slacking take hold, David.

Food-wise, I’m getting lazy.  When I get lazy, I start snacking.  Excessively snacking.  That’s bad for me, because I can absentmindedly graze all day, to the point where I’m not exactly sure of everything that I’ve consumed.  Thinking back on today, I know I didn’t eat some of the healthy food I brought from home – broccoli and cauliflower florets, a banana – but I did eat a ton of other stuff, including crackers, 2 granola bars, 2 Reese peanut butter cups, part of this strange chocolate bar that had chai tea in it, and a lot of pretzel crisps.  There was probably more, too, but I can’t remember.  You can’t let this take hold either, David.

If I’m Madmartigan, dangling off the back of a wagon, then I need to do what Madmartigan does, and pull myself back up on the wagon, and maybe smack a bad guy with his own mace or something (which happens at 3:58 in that above cart chase clip).

So tonight, after vegging on the couch and watching yet another dumb episode of Desperate Housewives (Susan is seriously having sex dreams about Paul?  Barf), I decided to set myself up for success for the rest of this week.  And that involved four steps:

Step One:  Own my shortcomings.  That’s what I’m doing in this very blog post.  A good confession is quite cleansing.  It feels good.  I feel good sharing what I’ve shared so far, in large part because I know I’m not alone, and I know I’m not feeling anything that any of you who struggle with weight haven’t felt before.

Step Two:  Do some heavy duty mise en place.  Mise en place (pronounced ‘mees ahn plahs’) is a French phrase that literally translates as “putting in place,” and it’s a fancy-pants restaurant term for prepping your ingredients, so everything is ready to go for when you start cooking.  I have a ton of produce that I’m not eating, because I haven’t washed and prepped it.  So tonight, I spent an hour washing, peeling, slicing, and chopping fruits and vegetables so I had a ton of grab-and-go options for the rest of my lunches this week.  In total, I processed 1 mini-watermelon, 1 honeydew, 2 pounds of strawberries, 2 mangos, 1 papaya, 3 celery hearts, 3 yellow squash, 2 bell peppers, over a pound of rainbow carrots, and a cucumber into 12 containers of various sizes that will be ready for me to toss in my lunch bag:

Step Three: Plan Tomorrow’s Workout.  I’m going to the gym, and I’m gonna do thirty minutes on the Arc Trainer and 30 minutes of weight lifting, and finish it up with some ab work.

Step Four: Forget About The Numbers.  Tomorrow would normally be a weigh-in day, but I’m going to let another week go by before getting on the scale again, so I can remain focused on the process, and not get distracted by the numbers.  I can easily start obsessing about pounds and facts and figures, and I don’t need that this week.

I’m excited to share how tomorrow goes, because it’s going to go well.  I’m holding myself accountable again.  Soon, I won’t be dragging behind that runaway wagon from “Willow” – I’ll be firmly planted in the wagon, with Willow and Elora Danan and the two Brownies, helping to find the sorceress Fin Raziel.  Are you tired of all the “Willow” references yet?  I’m not.

This would be a good place to end this post with the four words I end every post with, but before I do, I wanted to include one final picture:  It’s me, wearing the new Gap zip-up long-sleeve top that I bought the other day for roughly 70% off.  It’s kinda like a hoodie, except for that there’s no hood.  I told my mom I’d take a picture of it, so why not share it with all you?

Ok, now it’s time…

Keep it up, David!

Easter, Slimmons-style

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I spent my Easter around the house (cleaning, laundry, organizing, a few small fix-it projects).  Yesterday, though, I went to Richard’s class at Slimmons.  The theme was all ’70s music, and because it was Easter, Richard was dressed as a chick.  Literally, a chick.  There were feathers everywhere.  I have a photo and a video to share – which shall I share first?

Let’s do the video – It’s Richard’s Easter message that he posted on YouTube.  This is the outfit that he taught class in:

And now for the photo:

Some friends came with me to class yesterday.  That’s me on the left, and next to me is Matthew, and then, in the yellow is Richard, and then Emily.  Matthew and Emily are brother and sister, and I’ve known them both since high school.  Emily and I were in the same class, and were in the school musicals together, and Matthew was two years ahead, and Matthew and I were on the swim team together (well, he was a diver and I was a swimmer, but it was all one big team).

I’ve blogged about Emily before – she’s a great friend and asked me to the Sadie Hawkins Dance once – you can read about it (and see a picture of me from high school) here.  Matthew’s great too – he’s smart, kind, and caring, and once, in high school, he recommended me to go on this weekend retreat that the experimental learning center at my school hosted that proved to be an eye-opening, wonderful experience.

They had a great time at Richard’s class.  Richard took a liking to Matthew – at first noticing, and poking fun of, Matthew’s, um, lack of coordination and/or rhythm, and then pulling him out of the crowd to dance in front of everyone.  For a hot second Richard, after noticing Matthew’s wedding ring, thought Matthew and Emily were married to each other, but that’s definitely not the case.

After class we went to lunch at a nearby deli in Beverly Hills (Matt’s wife Darcie and adorable daughter Charlotte, age 1.5, joined us), where I had an egg white omelet with scallions and mushrooms, tomato slices on the side, a couple pickle spears, and a dry english muffin.  Then we wandered over to the Gap, which was having a 1-day sale where everything was 40% off.  I found a zip-up top dealie that was $45, marked down to $21.99 (on clearance), so with the 40% off, it cost me $13.19 and tax.

I told my mom I would take a picture of myself in it, so I gotta do that, and just post it on the blog for everyone to enjoy.

Keep it up, David!

“Crosswords”: Behind-the-Scenes

April 22, 2011

Yesterday, I posted the videos of me as a contestant on “Merv Griffin’s Crosswords” a few years ago.  That episode aired in April 2008, and I don’t think I’ve watched it since then.  Granted, I watched it a bunch of times in the month after it aired, with various friends who wanted to watch with me.

I couldn’t even watch all of it yesterday, as I was assembling that blog post.  I watched the first part of the first segment, and I had to turn it off.  I just had to.  It’s really tough for me to watch myself on video, and it always has been.  I think there are two reasons for this:

  • It’s hard for me to see myself at that weight (probably just under 400 pounds), because I’m reminded of all the unhappiness that accompanied it.  Everyone has good and bad times, but I see that video and think about how my weight probably (and frequently) was limiting in so many ways.  I know I’m more confident now than I was then.  I know my self-esteem is higher now that it was then.  I know that then, I had simply accepted some things as fact that certainly weren’t fact: that I was going to be obese for the rest of my life; that I’m incapable of improving my health; that I would probably go through life alone.  I’m not making the claim that my weight loss has resulted in all my issues and problems disappearing, because that’s not the case, and I still have good times and bad times, and that will never end, no matter what I weigh.  But now, at least, I feel a lot more in control of my health and well-being, and as a result, other elements of my life seem like they may be beginning to fall into place.
  • You know how when when you hear your own voice on your outgoing message or answering machine (if anyone still has one of those), it sounds totally different than what you think your own voice sounds like?  I feel the same way about video, ten-fold.  I look at it, and think, “Is that what I look like?  Is that how I move, appear, smile, gesture?”  It’s different from how I perceive myself, and it makes me uncomfortable and self-conscious.  This, by the way, hasn’t changed since I began losing weight – I’m just as uncomfortable watching my recent appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” as I am watching on “Crosswords.”  And yet, it hasn’t stopped me from pursuing television opportunities – I’ve been on national TV 5 times in my life, and the thought of opportunity #6, whatever that may be, doesn’t frighten me.  Johnny Depp, by the way, doesn’t like watching himself either.  So I’m in good company!

I also thought I’d share a little bit of what the whole experience was like.

The Audition.  I had read that Merv Griffin was creating a new crossword-based game show, and since Merv’s other shows, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, were so good, I thought this one would be good, too.  I also thought there’d be the potential to win a lot of money, which is always a perk.  After some digging on the interwebs, I found audition information, and called and made an appointment.  My audition was set for July 26, 2007.

The audition was held at the studios where they were going to tape the show.  About 60-70 people piled into a big tent set up in the parking lot, and we got an application to fill out.  In addition to contact info and questions about our occupation, age, and so on, there was also a questionnaire about crossword puzzles.  Now, I’m not a regular crossword puzzle solver, and never have been.  I like word puzzles, but I’ve never been into crosswords.  There was questions about how often we did crosswords, and what crosswords we did, and I remember seeing the guy next to me writing about how he did the New York Times puzzle every single day, including the Sunday one, plus he bought crossword books all the time.  I decided to be honest, so I wrote I did a crossword maybe twice a year, and it was the one in TV Guide magazine, where the clues are like “Last name of Canadian singer Celine” and the answer has 4 letters.

Then came the test.  We had to answer about 40 crossword-based questions, with only about 20 seconds to answer each one.  It was hard, but I felt pretty good about it.  We turned in our tests and applications, and waited for 20 minutes while they graded the tests.  They didn’t say how well we had to do, but when they announced the 15 or so people that passed the test, they called my name!  Everyone else was thanked for coming, and the 15 of us were invited into an office, where we had to do an on-camera interview.  The interview was short and sweet: what’s your name, where are you from, tell us something we wouldn’t know by looking at you (I told a story about how I once mooned a theater full of people).  Basically, they wanted to make sure we didn’t freeze up on camera, that the host would be able to interact with us, and that we had some semblance of a personality.

A few days later, I got the call: they wanted to book me as a contestant!  Woo-hoo!  At this point, I still didn’t know exactly what the show was.  It had yet to air, so I didn’t know how the game was played, how much I could win, none of it (the show ended up premiering 1 week before my taping, so I eventually was able to see a few episodes before my taping).  I read in a press release that the show had hired the guy who edits the USA Today crossword puzzles to produce all the puzzles used on the show, so I started doing the USA Today puzzles every day to practice, and learn crossword clue lingo.  I arranged to take the day off of work, and on September 17, 2007, I drove to the studio for the taping.

The Taping.  Like most game shows, “Crosswords” taped 5 episodes in one day.  Since each episode has 5 contestants, they had to book 25 contestants for each tape day, plus a few alternates, in case people get sick, have car troubles, family emergencies, or whatever.  We were all crammed in one big room, where they set up a few curtained off areas as ‘dressing rooms.’  They had asked all of us to bring 3 suitable outfits, so everyone had options, and so the 5 contestants on any given show wouldn’t all be wearing the same color.

The day started with a few long presentations by various producers.  They went over the releases we had to sign, which basically said that consent to be on TV, won’t sue as a result of the taping, and that they can use this footage and our likeness in any way they want, “throughout the universe in all media now known or hereafter devised in perpetuity” – so, really, they hold all the cards.  Then there was an extensive explanation of the rules, which, if you watched the show, gets really confusing, with the spoilers and all.

Then came the waiting.  They announced the five players for the first show they were taping, and I wasn’t one of them.  An hour later, they announced the second set of contestants, including me!  I started getting really nervous.  They put some make-up on me, and I met with a producer to quickly discuss what I should talk about when the host interviews me, and they took us down to the stage.

The stage was small.  I work in television, and it’s pretty much true that everything seems bigger on screen than it really is.  The studio was tiny.  There was no studio audience (so the applause you hear during the show is canned) – just the set, a bunch of cameras, and that’s about it.  We all had the chance to test out how the buzzers worked, and they had us rehearse how to move from podium to podium, so no one collided with anyone.  The spoilers had to practice their entrance down that plexiglass ramp.  They checked in with us, to see if we had any questions, and then the cameras started rolling.

The taping itself is a bit of a blur.  My nerves went away, though, as soon as the show started – that’s the thing with game shows, you really  have to focus and concentrate, because things happen quickly.  Before I knew it, I was being led away to the corner with the other 3 losers to watch the winner do the bonus round.  I’m a competitive person, and was annoyed and disappointed that I didn’t win, but I was also secretly happy that Mary didn’t win the bonus round.

Final Thoughts:  Here’s the thing: “Merv Griffin’s Crosswords” was a pretty dumb show.  I auditioned before I had ever seen it, which is a smart move, because I had a better chance of getting booked (once a show starts airing, the contestant department gets flooded with audition requests).  Had I seen an actual episode first, though, I wouldn’t have auditioned.  I don’t like that the game required obvious word and puzzle skills, but ultimately relies heavily on luck to win.  I was also hoping more money would be at stake.  Oh well.  It was a fun experience, and everyone there was really nice.  I didn’t get to meet Merv Griffin (he actually passed away a few weeks after my audition, before my tape day), but I did get to be a smarty-pants on TV.  So if I ever create a bucket list, I can add that to it, and cross it off.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!  This turned out to be pretty long post, but this is the sort of behind-the-scenes stuff I love reading about, so I though some of you might enjoy it too.  Time, though, to wrap it up!

Keep it up, David!

Footage From My Game Show Appearance!

April 21, 2011

Yesterday I stayed on program – I ate well, and had a great workout at the gym (30 minutes on the arc trainer, 30 minutes on the elliptical, over 950 calories burned between the two).  But I couldn’t stop thinking about that stupid pound that I’ve been unable to lose for a few weeks.

So, time to adjust my thinking.  Time to focus on what I’ve accomplished, instead of dwelling on what I haven’t.  And I have the perfect visual aid to help: video footage of myself, on national television, from when I was significantly heavier.  And that footage is from… WHEN I WAS ON A GAME SHOW!

It was “Merv Griffin’s Crosswords,” which aired for a year, starting in the fall 2007.  I taped my episode on September 17, 2007, and it first aired on April 4, 2008.

This was during a long period in my life where I didn’t own a scale and couldn’t even weigh myself at my doctor’s office, because her scale topped out at 350 pounds, and I weighed more than that.  I would guess that I weighed in the high 300’soh, and keep in mind that the camera adds 10 pounds – ha!

Now, I weigh 238 poundsFocus on what I’ve accomplished, instead of dwelling on what I haven’t.

Wanna watch?  Here are the videos.  It’s broken down into the four segments, and because these don’t have commercials or end credits, you’ll need about 20 minutes to watch all of it:





It’s not easy for me to watch these videos.  I’ll explain why, and share some behind-the-scenes scoop… in tomorrow’s post.

In the meantime, you can compare this to much more recent video footage, from when I was on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” a few months ago, which you can watch here.  Here’s side-by-side screen grabs from both shows:

My god, what a huge difference!

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!

Can You Guess What This Is?

April 19, 2011

Over the weekend, when my parents and I went to my aunt and uncle’s house for dinner, I brought along a food item to share.  Here’s a picture:

Can you guess what it is?

Here’s some more information and hints:

  • I know if looks like cat food.  It is not cat food.  It is intended for human consumption.
  • I did not make it myself.  It was canned, and I opened the can, and inverted it onto a plate.
  • I picked it up when I was in Sweden last summer.

Any ideas?

Would another picture help?  Here’s a piece of it on a cracker.  My aunt Annie is the hand model.  Nicely done, Annie!

Any guesses?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

It’s Reindeer Pate.

Where else have I seen the word ‘Renpate’ before?  Oh yeah, it’s this woman’s name.  I wonder if Ren Pate has ever eaten Renpate.

I bought the Renpate at the airport in Stockholm as I was leaving the country, for two reasons:  1) I love trying new things, and 2) I wanted to spend the remaining krona (Swedish currency) I had in my wallet so I didn’t have to deal with exchanging it back into dollars.  I also bought a couple packages of jerky that was made from reindeer and elk, and I ate that soon after getting home, and apart from being incredibly salty, it tasted like other types of jerky, although perhaps a touch gamier.  That jerky was the first time ever I’ve eaten deer of any kind (although, since then, I’ve had venison at Coach Insignia, a great restaurant in Detroit)!

And now I can add reindeer pate to the list of things I’ve tried.  I only ate two pieces, each about the size of what Annie’s holding in the second picture, and, well, I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it, but I don’t need to eat it again.  I’m not much of a pate eater in general, so I can’t tell you if I didn’t like it because of how it was prepared, or if it was the reindeer, although I’m inclined to think that it wasn’t the reindeer, because gamier meats don’t turn me off.  My mom could definitely tell there was liver in the pate (we checked the ingredients list, and sure enough, reindeer liver was listed), so I was impressed with her palette, and my cousin thought it tasted just like Spam, which I’ve never tried before.  My only thoughts on the pate was that I had assumed that pates were a little smoother that this was – this was almost meat-loafy in texture, and wasn’t very spreadable, which is another characteristic I associate with pate.  It didn’t taste bad, but, again, I wasn’t ready to shout from the rooftops.

Since this is a health-focused blog, it would be great if I could share the nutritional value of the reindeer pate, but I can’t, as it wasn’t listed on the package.  They did have an ingredients list, though (in English as well as in Swedish), and the primary ingredients were reindeer, pork, and reindeer liver.

I don’t like leaving you all empty-handed, so I researched reindeer meet in general, and found it to be a pretty healthy red meat option.  Reindeer meat, when compared to beef, is low in fat and calories:  100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of reindeer has 107 calories and 2 grams of fat, whereas sirloin has 230 calories and 12 grams of fat.  A leaner cut of beef, like round tip, is still over 3 times fattier than reindeer – it has 186 calories and 7 grams of fat.

And here’s an interesting article tracing reindeer consumption in the U.S.  Did you know that reindeer aren’t native to North America, but were brought to Alaska from Russia in the 1800s as a source of red meat for Eskimos?  I had no idea.  The article also talks about how, in the late ’20s, reindeer was poised to become a major competitor to beef across the country, until the depression killed off all interest in anything even slightly more expensive than beef.  The reindeer market never recovered, because by the time the depression ended, the story of Rudolph had been introduced and taken off (pardon the pun), endearing reindeer in the hearts of children and families everywhere.

I don’t eat much red meat.  Before sampling the reindeer pate, it had probably been a few weeks, at least, since the last time I had some (I can’t even remember, to be honest).  But I’d be interested in trying reindeer again, although not in pate form.  You could give reindeer a try, too – check out these websites for reindeer sausage, jerky, or chops and steaks (although they’re currently sold out of everything).

I’m writing this just minutes before heading to bed… and in the morning, I’ll be having my weigh-in.  I hope to break this plateau and lose the pound that I gained a few weeks ago.  I’ve had a good week, so it may just happen!

Keep it up, David!