Orange Flesh Melon

May 22, 2011

Last week I brought home a new item that I’ve never tried before from the produce section at Whole Foods: An orange flesh melon.  I mentioned its purchase in this blog post, and shortly thereafter, a buddy who posts comments under a pseudonym posted this comment:  “MMMMMM. Flesh Melons.”  His goal, when he comments, is to make me laugh, and this one did the trick (most of them do, actually).  Seventh-grade titty humor gets me every time!  Since then, every morning when I saw the orange flesh melon sitting on my counter (it needed to ripen), my mind went straight to the gutter, and I tried to come up with a stupid pun or double entendre, along the lines of “David got kicked out of Whole Foods for squeezing other customers’ flesh melons.”  Stupid dirty jokes aren’t a bad way to start the day.  You should try it sometime!

Yesterday, the flesh melon seemed plenty ripe – time to dig in!  Here’s the melon:

See? An orange flesh melon!

After I bought it, I did some research on the interwebs and learned that the orange flesh melon is a hybrid between a cantaloupe and a honeydew.  The orange flesh is (obviously) a trait inherited from the cantaloupe side of the family tree, while the taste and rind comes from the honeydew side.  It’s also smaller than both cantaloupes and honeydews… although I don’t know if that’s true of all orange flesh melons, or just the batch that were at Whole Foods when I was there shopping.

Time to crack this sucker open!

The suspense is killing me!  Is the flesh really going to be orange?

YES, IT IS!  I scooped out the seeds, and gave it a taste:

Delicious!  It’s kinda bizarre, actually – I’m so accustomed to orange melon tasting like cantaloupe, but the interwebs was accurate – this orange flesh melon tasted just like a honeydew.  It was sweet and perfectly ripe, and I felt like I was getting punked by some farmers somewhere with every bite.

It didn’t stop me from eating half of it in a matter of minutes, though:

The other half is sitting in my fridge – it’ll be part of my breakfast tomorrow!

One more double entendre:  “Joanie always felt a little insecure about the size of her flesh melons, but still liked showing them off in the checkout line.”

A couple links before I wrap this post up.

1) This morning, my mom emailed me to gave me a heads up that they were making kale chips on “Down Home with the Neelys” on Food Network.  Since my mom lives three times zones ahead of me, I was able to tune in a little while later and watch for myself.  It’s basically the same recipe that I used in my recent kale chips post, with one notable addition: Gina Neely sprinkled brown sugar on them after they came out of the oven.  She said they counterbalanced the kale, since kale is naturally a little bitter.  Brown sugar on kale doesn’t sound appealing to me at all – and, as my mom pointed out, it didn’t really stick to the kale anyway.  But if you’re looking for a way to sweeten up your kale chips, give it a whirl!  You can find the recipe here.

2) Do any of you read Jack Sh*t, Gettin’ Fit?  Jack is a really wonderful weight loss blogger who uses humor to motivate himself and others, and he’s really funny.  He does a really inspiring recurring post called W.I.D.T.H (Why I Do This Here), where other bloggers and readers share, via photograph, the reasons why losing weight and/or healthy living are so important to them.  Guess what?  Yours truly is featured in this week’s W.I.D.T.H. post!  You can check it out here, and, while you’re there, look around on Jack Sh*t’s site – I bet you’ll enjoy it!

Keep it up, David!

My Skyscraper Collection

May 20, 2011

Earlier this week, I was telling some co-workers about using the StairMaster.  Basically, I hate it.  I find it difficult, and it’s not fun.  I don’t use it very often (once every couple weeks or so), but I do make myself use it, even though it makes me wince.  Why?  Because I know I can burn a lot of calories in a little amount of time (I love being efficient), and because I’ve managed to create a motivating tool that excites me more than I hate the StairMaster.

All you regular readers may know what my motivating tool is – you’ve seen it in posts like this one and this one.  If you don’t, it’s really simple:  I create a visual representation of my time on the StairMaster by equating my workouts to various skyscrapers around the world.  I love architecture, and I love doing this.  It’s a post-workout highlight!  It’s easy:  After completing my StairMaster workout, and making sure to note how many floors I’ve climbed (the machine keeps track). I go home, do a little internet research, and find a building somewhere that’s the same number of floors, and find a photo of it.  Seeing these towers, and knowing that I just climbed to an equivalent height, feels great.  It may have felt terrible during the actual workout, but the sense of accomplishment after the fact is mind-blowing.

I bring all this up now because, on Tuesday, I StairMastered for 10 minutes as part of my workout (along with 10 minutes on the elliptical and 35 minutes of weightlifting, focusing on arms, chest, and shoulders), and, gasp! I forgot to note how many floors I climbed!  At the time, I was focused on the calorie count – I managed to burn 200 calories in 10 minutes – and I didn’t realize I forgot about the floor count until I was in my car on the way home.  It made me curse out loud.

Because I couldn’t find a building of equivalent height, I decided I’d instead compile all the buildings I’ve climbed since I started keeping track last October.  Want to see them?  Here they are!

I’ve arranged them in order from left to right, based on the number of floors.  The buildings are:

  • CITIC Plaza, Guangzhou, China (80 floors, climbed 12/1/10)
  • JPMorgan Chase Tower, Houston, TX (75 floors, climbed 3/9/11)
  • The Sail @ Marina Bay, Singapore (70 floors, cilmbed 11/9/10)
  • Yokohama Landmark Tower, Yokohama, Japan (70 floors, 4/11/11)
  • 900 North Michigan, Chicago, IL (66 floors, 4/1/11)
  • 1000 de la Gauchetiere, Montreal, Canada (51 floors, climbed 11/3/10)
  • Ernst & Young Bldg, Los Angeles, CA (41 floors, climbed 10/3/10)
  • City Place I, Hartford, CT (38 floors, climbed 5/11/11)

Back in January, I climbed 31 floors, and, just to switch it up, instead of posting a picture of a building, I posted a YouTube of a 31-story building (Ocean Towers, in South Padre Island, TX) that got imploded.  I love demolition videos!

When I first started StairMastering in the fall, I set a goal – to be able to climb 73 floors without stopping.  I picked 73 floors because that’s how many stories are in the Renaissance Center in Detroit, and the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles (they’re the tallest buildings in their respective cities).  Neither of them are in the collage above, though, because the workout where I reached that goal ended with me climbing a total of 80 floors (which is instead represented by the CITIC Plaza).  I ended up sharing a great meal with my dad at the top of the Renaissance Center after reaching that goal, which you can read about here.

Maybe it’s time I start thinking about a new StairMaster/Skyscraper goal… I have a couple ideas in mind already… What do you think my next goal should be?  And do you have any motivational tools to help you get through workouts you don’t particularly enjoy?

While you ponder that, I’ll leave you with one final fact:  I just added up all the floors in all those buildings, and, in total, I have climbed… 522 floors!

Keep it up, David!

Today Show

May 19, 2011

I was on the Today show yesterday!

Oh golly.  You may not know it, but I’m totally stealing someone else’s thunder.  And that someone else is my friend, Kenlie.  Let me catch you up (this is old news for anyone that follows Kenlie’s wonderful blog, All The Weigh):

A few weeks ago, Kenlie had a terrible experience with Southwest Airlines, where she was humiliated in front of a plane-full of people because of her size.  Kenlie blogged about what happened, which caught the attention of Southwest higher-ups at their corporate headquarters.  They provided Kenlie with some free flight vouchers as part of their apology, and Kenlie decided to take a negative and turn it into a positive by using the vouchers to come to Los Angeles and meet and work out with one of her idols, Richard Simmons.

I got to hang out with Kenlie when she was in LA last week (and had a ball), and on Saturday, we were both at Slimmons for Richard’s classes (see pictures here).  By then, her story had become news across the country, thanks to some major news outlets writing about it, and the Today show booked her to be a guest.  They sent a camera crew to Slimmons to film her working out with Richard, and they also conducted an interview with her in the Slimmons lobby (which she handled stupendously).

So, yesterday morning, Kenlie was interviewed live by Ann Curry on the Today show, and they aired a tape package that told her story and incorporated a lot of the Slimmons footage.  You can Kenlie on the Today show here.

Even if you look closely, frame by frame, you won’t see me in the video.  But, about 10 minutes before the interview, when Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry were billboarding what stories were coming up that half-hour, they used a shot from Slimmons that I am in!  It was for all of 4 seconds, if that, but still!  I was on TV again!  I paused it, and took a picture as proof:

That’s me in red, Kenlie to my left, Heidi on the other side of Kenlie, and to Heidi’s left is her hubby, Tom, although you can’t see much of Tom.

If you haven’t clicked that bolded link a few paragraphs above, to watch Kenlie on TV, you definitely should.  Kenlie is one impressive woman.  She took a crappy situation, and instead of positioning herself as a victim, she’s positioned herself as an advocate, standing up for equal rights and arguing that no one, regardless of size, should be treated with the lack of respect the way she was.  I’m so proud (and in awe) of the way Kenlie has conducted herself – she’s remained eloquent and dignified and has kept her cool and her wits about her.

I think about all the times that I’ve flown when I weighed around 400 pounds (something I write about in detail here), and I’m so thankful I was never treated the way Kenlie was treated – first off, because no one should be, and secondly, because I would have been a sobbing mess who’d be solely focused on getting away from the situation and slinking off to a corner or a restroom, which probably means the last thing I’d have done was continue to draw attention to myself by standing up for my rights.

So I’m giving a standing ovation to Kenlie.  Keep it up, Kenlie – you’re an inspiration to many, including me, for both your weight loss (127 pounds and counting), and as an example on how to conduct and carry yourself in this world.

As for me, well, my face was seen by millions of people this morning, and, if I do say so myself, I looked good.  Ha!

Keep it up, David!

Chart Update and Collage

May 18, 2011

I was very excited to step on the scale this morning.  I had worked my ass off, exercise-wise, over the past week, and eaten really well, too.

Last week, I weighed 239 pounds.  Yesterday, when I got on the scale, I weighed…

…drum roll, please

…238 pounds!  WOO-HOO!  Down one pound.  Fantastic news!  All you regular readers know that for the past few months, I’ve had my rough patches, whether it’s hanging on for dear life, so I don’t fall off the wagon, or confronting the terrible voices in my own head after a gain.  I don’t think I’m done with the plateau, which I’ve basically been on for a few months now (more on this later), but it does feel good to work hard and stay focused, and see that resolve reflected on the scale.  There have been weeks over the past few months where I feel like I’ve done everything right, but haven’t seen the number change – that’s the joy of a plateau, and it’s completely frustrating.  But that didn’t happen this week, and that’s fucking amazing.  Pardon my French.

So – time to update the ol’ weight loss chart!

Look at that!  I’ve lost two pounds over the past two weeks – the same two pounds that I gained during the two weeks that ended two weeks ago.  Ya follow?  I sure do like that the line is heading downwards.  Down is good.

If I were to sum up my weight loss progress over the past few months, I could basically say that I plateaued in February, dropped a few pounds in March, plateaued again in April, and since then fluctuated up and down a few pounds.  But when I look at my chart during that time (and I spent a good long time looking at my chart today), basically what I’m realizing is that it’s been one big long plateau pretty much since the end of January.

To illustrate that point, I took a few more pics of the chart, and assembled them together in a fun little collage.  Take a look:

Hmmm – you may not be able to read the numbers in the collage – they’re pretty small, so I’ll walk you through it.  The left-most number is 242, which is from my January 29 weigh-in.  I lost another pound a week later, and plateaued at 241 until the beginning of March.  Throughout the first half of March, I dropped 4 pounds – this is where I hit 238, my current weight, for the first time (on March 11).  I got to my all-time low, 237 pounds, but gained a pound back, and stayed at 238 from March 29 – April 19, and then I gained two more pounds, which I’ve since lost, which brings us to the present, where I’m back to weighing 238.

All that is a lot of jibber-jabber that can be boiled down to the simple fact that in the past 3.5 months, I’ve stayed within a five-pound range.  That’s one long plateau!  On one hand, it’s a little frustrating, because generally speaking, I’m busting my balls to lose weight, and I’m not really doing it.  But on the flipside, Holy Shit!  I haven’t succumbed to the difficulties and given up, or taken a few days or weeks off and seen my weight shoot up 10 pounds.  That’s something to be proud of, and I’m very proud of that.  There’s that saying: When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.

This bodes well for whenever I reach my goal weight, whatever that may be (it’s still TBD), because then I have to transition from weight loss to weight maintenance, and winter/spring 2011 has shown me that I’m capable of weight maintenance.  These 3.5 months have been good practice for the rest of my life.

I’m ready to keep losing – I’m 18 pounds away from my next (but possibly not final) goal weight, and these past two weeks, where I’ve posted losses, is a good foundation to build on.  And you know what?  I’ll say it.  I’m proud of this post, which marks a shift in thinking about my plateau.  And for those two reasons, I say…

…Keep it up, David.

Kale Chips

May 17, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my friend and office-mate Maggie bringing in some homemade kale chips.  Maggie was inspired by watching Gwyneth Paltrow talk about them on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (watch the segment here; she also makes a vegan paella), and I, in turn, was inspired by Maggie.  So I made kale chips a few days ago, and I documented the process with my handy-dandy camera.

The first step?  Buying kale.  I recently bought kale for the very first time.  See?

I was super excited to buy this kale, and I bought these two bunches knowing that they were destined to be turned into chips, and yet they sat in my fridge, untouched, but about a week.  Kale is a hearty green, however, and so when the time came for the kale to meet its destiny, it was still in good shape.

I got out my cutting board, and laid out the two bunches of kale:

Each kale leaf has a thick stem going down the center that you don’t want to eat – so you gotta cut them out, one by one.  It’s easy to do:

After depositing the stems in the trash, rip up the leaves into chip-sized pieces.  No need to be scientific or exact – just rip big pieces in several smaller ones.  Then, you give the kale a good wash.  My kale was kinda gritty – so I piled all my kale pieces into a colander, and rinsed it all under the faucet.  If you have a salad spinner, use it!  I don’t have one (and don’t want one, either – just another kitchen device that I don’t have room to store), so I got out a clean kitchen towel, and rolled the kale up, and gave it a good squeeze, and than seemed to work pretty well.

Here’s the dry kale, in my new orange bowl that I got about a month ago:

I drizzled 1 teaspoon of olive oil into the bowl.  I have this basil-infused oil, and I actually don’t remember exactly where it came from… it was either given to me as a gift, or I may have won it in a foodie-related package at a silent auction a few years back.  Either way, I like it, and thought it’d work well here:

Most kale chips recipes also call for salt, but I try to cut out salt wherever I can, so instead, I tossed in some Mrs. Dash (table blend) and cumin, because I love cumin and thought adding a little smokiness might be fun.

One you have your kale oiled and seasoned how you want them, lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet.  I sprayed my sheet with a light coat of Pam, just to be safe:

Into the oven they go!  350 degrees, for 20-30 minutes.  You want the kale to be crispy all the way through, but they’ll go from crispy to scorched quickly, so you gotta watch them near the end.  I pulled out mine out after 25 minutes, and about half of them were perfect, and half of them were a little too brown.  Not inedible, but not perfect, either.  Those not-perfect ones, interestingly enough, taste really similarly to scorched microwave popcorn; whereas the good chips taste so much like potato chips, you can hardly believe it.  They’re crispy, light, subtle, and delicious.

That’s the finished product in a Tupperware-type container.  I divided the chips between two of those containers, with the idea that I’d eat one over the course of the day, and take the other to share at the office the next day, but guess what happened?  I ate both containers, completely, before bedtime.  All gone.  And they were good.  And so guilt-free it’s ridiculous!  Oh, and I haven’t mentioned that kale is a superfood – a great source in vitamins A & C, copper, manganese, calcium, and a bunch of compounds that may help prevent cancer.  I’m going to keep making kale chips – are you gonna give them a try?

Keep it up, David!

Piles of Produce and My Week in Workouts

May 16, 2011

1) Piles of Produce.  How sad is this fridge?

You don’t get much more bare than this!  A trip to Whole Foods rectified the situation.  I stocked up on a lot of basics, and check out all this produce!

Starting in the back left, and moving clockwise, we have:

An orange flesh melon (more on this below), celery, a mini-watermelon, a bag of kale salad, asparagus, baby carrots, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, sweet mini bell peppers, green peppers, yellow squash, roma tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, bartlett pears, and fuji apples.

My new-to-me item of the week is the orange flesh melon.  Here’s a close-up picture:

According to the interwebs, an orange flesh melon is a hybrid between a honeydew and a cantaloupe.  It’s supposed to taste like a honeydew, but be orange like a cantaloupe.  We’ll see about that!  Stay tuned to the blog for pictures after I take a cleaver and hack it open.

2) My Week in Workouts.  It’s the start of a new work week, so I thought I’d look back at my last week in workouts.  I’m very proud of my exercise this past week.  I decided to really devote a lot of time to weight training.  For the past few months, I’ve been hearing left and right that the key to continued weight loss, at this point in the game, is weights.  By building up my muscle mass, I’ll burn more calories throughout the day, and I’ll also burn more calories when I do do cardio. (tee hee, do do!)

Despite hearing this, from a variety of reputable sources, I hadn’t, before this past week, overhauled my workouts to include more weightlifting.  My workouts haven’t been weight-free – though he’s currently out of town, the boot camp classes I’ve been taking with Craig are almost exclusively weight-based, and Richard Simmons’ classes have some toning in them (though not much).  It’s not that I don’t want to increase my muscle mass, or that I don’t like weights – neither is true.  The reason why I haven’t adapted a more weight-intensive workout regimen is mainly because weight-training requires so much more thought.

I find cardio to be very easy on my brain.  I can get on an elliptical, arc trainer or exercise bike and just go, pushing myself physically, while letting my mind wander, get wrapped up in music or TV, or (and this happens frequently) come up with sassy retorts that I wish I had said during conversations held earlier in the day, earlier in the week, or years ago.

Weights, however, require thought.  I gotta remember proper form, posture, and movement.  I like to have a game plan, so I know what machines I’m going to hit next, and I have to be able to be flexible and come up with alternatives when those machines aren’t available.  None of that stuff comes naturally to me, either, which makes it more difficult for me.  I know, I know, it’s just weight training, and not brain surgery or rocket science, but a lot of the time, at the end of a long day, the last thing I want to do when I arrive at the gym is think.  I just wanna move.  I just wanna sweat.  Which is why, more often than not, I gravitate towards cardio.

But not last week!  Check it out:

  • Monday, May 9:  5 minutes treadmill (warm-up).  30 minutes of weights.  18 minutes on elliptical.
  • Tuesday, May 10:  Rest day.
  • Wednesday, May 11:  25 minutes weights.  8 minutes stairmaster.  16 minutes arc trainer.
  • Thursday, May 12:  5 minutes treadmill (warm-up).  35 minutes weights.  10 minutes elliptical.
  • Friday, May 13:  30 minutes weights.  15 minutes arc trainer.

Note:  I varied the weights from day to day, so I was never focusing on the same body part or muscle group two days in a row.

  • Saturday, May 14:  Richard Simmons’ class at Slimmons.  Read more about it here.
  • Sunday, May 15:  My first swimming workout in just over a month.  I did 1,000 yards warm-up (200 free, 200 IM, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 IM); 1 x 400 free, 1 x 400 IM, 1 x 200 free.  2,000 yards total.

Those 4 workouts with an emphasis on weight training simply felt great.  I loved feeling a little sore every morning that week, and I did notice by the 4th workout that I wasn’t minding the added thought (or maybe it was just becoming more habit-like, therefore requiring less thought).

One more photo before I wrap this post up…  you’ll notice that my workout on Wednesday involved 8 minutes on the stairmaster (which I used while waiting for an arc trainer to open up).  I really pushed myself for those 8 minutes – taking the steps 2 at a time (except for the first minute), and upping the speed every two minutes.  As a result, I burned 135 calories (in 8 minutes!) and climbed 38 flights.  Y’all know how I love to compare my stairmaster accomplishments to skyscrapers around the world…

…so this time we’re heading across the county to Hartford, Connecticut, which is home to City Place I, a 38-floor tower that is the tallest building in the state.  This is what I climbed (and in 8 minutes!)

Keep it up, David!

Another Slimmons Saturday

May 15, 2011

I had a really fun morning at Slimmons yesterday.  Kenlie (of All The Weigh fame) was still in town, and Heidi (of Finishing the Hat fame) is a Slimmons regular like me, so we took a few more pictures of the three of us, like we did when we met for dinner earlier in the week.  Here’s a couple in the lobby of Slimmons:

The class was packed, but a good one.  Richard Simmons’ theme for the day was all music by either Michael Jackson or Pink, and he put together for an outfit that accommodated both.  His Michael Jackson look was a version of Michael’s red jacket with black trim from the Thriller video, and every time the music switched from a Michael song to a Pink one, the jacket came off, and underneath, Richard was wearing a red, sequined bustier.  Yep, Richard rocked a bustier.  Oh, and he also pinned a red flower in his hair to complete the Pink look!  Here’s Richard, Kenlie, Heidi and I after class (with Richard in the aforementioned bustier):

OH!  And don’t get jealous, my Australian readers, but yesterday, after class, I met a lovely woman who just happened to be an Australian celebrity! 

Her name is Ajay Rochester, and around 7 or 8 years ago, she lost well over 100 pounds, wrote a book about it, and ended up bring invited to host the Australian version of The Biggest Loser.  She hosted it for 4 seasons, published a few more books, and runs a couple websites: My Healthy Body Club, a few online club which provides support to people struggling with weight loss, and Chasing Oprah, her blog.  She a lovely, sweet, vibrant, and funny woman – it was a pleasure to get to talk with her for a little while.  Here’s Ajay and me (we’re both very sweaty!):

Ajay made the move from Australia to Los Angeles last year, and she told me that she saw Richard and me when we were guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show a few months ago, and she was so touched and inspired that she had just had to come to Slimmons and take a class herself.

Me? Inspiring people who themselves have inspired thousands of people?

Keep it up, David!