What’s In The Crockpot? Part Four

October 31, 2011

We haven’t played “What’s In The Crockpot?” since February – where has the time gone?  That doesn’t mean my crockpot has gone unused – I’ve used it a few times, for dishes that turned out wonderfully (like this one) and for dishes that could… um… use a little work (like this one).

I pulled out the crockpot again over the weekend, to make something for the Halloween potluck party I was invited to, and the results were devilishly delicious. Monstrously magnificent. Bloodcurdlingly beyond compare.

OK, enough with the Halloween talk.

Never played “What’s In The Crockpot?” before? Don’t fret. You’ll pick it up as we go along – although, if you’d like some practice, check out these three posts first.

All set? Wonderful. Put on your reflective clothing and wear a jacket if it’s chilly, because it’s time to play!



*not really

It couldn’t have been easier to make, either.  First ingredient? Carrots:

You need 5 cups worth. I used regular carrots, which I peeled and cut on the bias, which is a fancy way of saying that I cut diagonally, for pretty presentation reasons. You could save yourself some trouble and use baby carrots, which are already peeled and washed and ready to go, but I don’t like cooking with baby carrots. I think it looks lazy. And if you happen to think that that rationale is snobby, consider this: regular carrots are way cheaper than baby carrots. I can find regular carrots for 50 cents a pound, whereas baby carrots are $1.50 a pound.

Ingredient #2: Parsnips!

Parsnips are relatively new to me – I don’t think I’d ever had one until a few years ago. They’re kinda like a cross between a carrot and a potato: similar in shape and texture to a carrot, but similar in taste to a potato. Meaning, of course, that they taste like nothing and are disgusting raw. But, like potatoes, they take on flavors well, and so I added some to this recipe (3 cups worth) just to mix it up.

So, to recap, that’s 5 cups of carrots and 3 cups of parsnips in the crockpot:

If you don’t like parsnips, leave ’em out. If you love parsnips, add more! Aim for around 8 cups of veggies, and you’ll be fine.

Now for the glaze. I started with 1 cup of orange juice, and to that I added 3 tablespoons of honey:

Here’s a tip: if you spritz your tablespoon with Pam before measuring out the honey, the honey won’t stick to the spoon, and all of it will end up in your recipe.

Next, I grated some fresh ginger – about a teaspoon’s worth (although I didn’t measure it, so I can’t be absolutely sure):

I also added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper:

I gave it a stir and poured it over the veggies in the crockpot:

I set the crockpot for 4 hours on High, and that’s it! They’re done! Because crockpots leech the liquid out of everything, the glaze was a little thinner than it would have been had you made this same recipe in your oven, but give the dish a good stir before serving and it’s fine.

I made a display card for the potluck:

A day later my cousin had the wonderful idea that I could have actually included eyeballs in the recipe had I thrown in some pearl onions. Dammit – why didn’t I think of that? I was able to put the calories and fat on the card because I had figured it out using an online recipe calculator. The full details:

Tomorrow, I’m sharing picture of my Halloween costume (it’s a good one!). And now, I’m off to the gym!

Keep it up, David!


We Have A Winner!

October 29, 2011

A week ago, in celebration of my 400th post, I announced a contest to win a $20 iTunes gift card. The deadline for entering was last night, so now it’s time to pick a winner!

I went to random.org, which has a random number generator, and hit the “generate” number.

May I have a one-handed drum roll, please?

And the winner is…

Lucky number 13!

The 13th comment belonged to Joanne Greenecongratulations!  Joanne, you have 48 hours to email me at keepitupdavid@gmail.com to claim your gift card, and if you don’t, I’ll pick another number. I’m posting this at 1am on Saturday, so your deadline is 1am on Monday!

Thank you to everyone that entered for helping spread the word about Keep It Up, David! And before I forget, thanks to everyone that reached out the other day after I fessed up about my binge. I got a lot of wonderfully supportive comments, emails, tweets, and it meant a lot.

I’ve been going strong since then with my food and exercise – no veggie sausage relapses – and today I’m up to 27 burpees in the No Excuses 30-Day Burpee Challenge.

Keep it up, David!

I Signed Up For My First 10K!

October 28, 2011

Yep, it’s true. I entered a race!

I’ve been thinking about entering a 10k for a while now – ever since I accomplished my goal of running past all those strip clubs. A few weeks ago, I found a race that seemed perfect for me, but I could never quite bite the bullet and commit. Yesterday, I finally committed. I paid my registration fee, and signed myself up.

On Sunday, November 13, I’m running in the weSPARK 3rd Annual 10k Run and 5k Run/Walk!

I’m so excited because the course for this race couldn’t be cooler. It’s the reason I picked this particular 10k to be my first. It’s through all the backlots at Universal Studios! I’ll be running past the Bates Motel, the town from Back to the Future, Wisteria Lane, and the Jaws lagoon. It’s very cool, and very Hollywood.

There’s a charity component to the race as well – it benefits weSPARK, a local organization that provides support to cancer patients and their families. If you’re feeling charitable and want to support my run, you can check out my fundraising page. Learn more about weSPARK here.

The race is only a few weeks away, and I’m excited! I’m not at all worried about running 6.2 miles. My strip club run was slightly longer than that, and I just ran 5.7 miles yesterday. I can do it. What does give me pause is that there will probably be hills on the course. Universal Studios is built onto a hillside, and I’m pretty sure the course will have some ups and downs. My neighborhood is completely flat, so the only inclined running I’ve done is minimal stuff on the treadmill. I’ll have to schedule some practice runs in a hillier part of town (and believe me, there are plenty).

Keep it up, David!

Anatomy of a Bad Day (and a Chart Update)

October 27, 2011

You know how some days start out good, and end terribly? Tuesday was one of those days for me. I woke up ready to go – excited, even – because it was a weigh-in day. I hadn’t weighed myself in three weeks, and for most of those three weeks, I didn’t miss the scale. It was over the weekend that I started becoming really curious about my weight. Then, all of a sudden, Tuesday couldn’t come quick enough. It was joyful anticipation: overall, my three weeks had been good. I had exercised 17 out of the 21 days, and eaten well, too. I was expecting to lose the pound I’d gained since hitting my all-time low, and maybe even lose another pound on top of it.

I brought my scale out from hiding – it’s been living on the top shelf of my closet, where I didn’t have to look at it every day – and I weighed myself. Three times. And all three times I got the same result:

I gained 2 pounds.

What?!? It didn’t make much sense. My eating and exercise had been good. I hadn’t had any binges nor swung by any buffets. I had been pushing myself at the gym. I was in shock when I updated my chart:

Here’s a couple more pictures of the chart, since it’s been a while since I’ve posted any:

What’s interesting (and positive) was that my initial reaction wasn’t to beat myself up or curl up in the corner and cry. I was confused, but I wasn’t disappointed, and I wasn’t angry either. I decided I should go back to weighing myself weekly, but keeping the scale in the closet except for when I use it. Then I continued getting ready for work. In the car, I went back through the past three weeks in my mind, seeing if there was some big event that I wasn’t remembering, but there wasn’t. There were no late-night runs to Taco Bell. There were no pie-eating contests. There were no episodes where I ate an entire can of frosting with my fingers in front of the television. I couldn’t be mad at myself because I couldn’t identify what went wrong. As I pulled into the parking garage at work, I decided all I could do was continue making good choices. I just had to keep it up, and the weight would eventually come off.  As I settled at my desk and prepped for the work day, I felt proud, because I’d handled a weight gain better than I ever had before.

That was the morning. But the afternoon, my tune had changed.  Most of the work day went fine: I had brought all sorts of healthy foods – enough for lunch and dinner, so I could go straight from the office to the gym. Around 3:30, I was feeling really hungry – it had been a few hours since lunch, so I decided to eat part of my dinner. I ended up eating all of it. Around 5pm, I was filing up my water bottle, and I noticed I was hungry again. I was in the office kitchen, where there’s a whole wall of chips, granola bars and candy. A granola bar wouldn’t be the end of the world, I thought, and it would hold me over until after the gym. So I grabbed one. Well, I’ll grab two, since I’m here, and keep one in my desk for tomorrow.

Both granola bars were eaten within minutes. Then I noticed that the snack stash for the project I’m working on, located mere feet from my desk, had been replenished, and over the next hour, I wandered over there a few times for a handful of almonds or crackers. And two more granola bars. By quitting time, around 7pm, my brain was in full-on sabotage mode: You’ve already ruined the day, David. The ship has capsized and it’s sinking. There’s nothing you can do. Screw the gym, David – you won’t put a dent in the caloric damage that’s been done. You can get back on track tomorrow. Plus, what does it really matter? You gained weight even when you do everything right, so what’s the point of making good choices?

This self-sabotage is nothing new. I’ve experienced it on every diet I’ve ever been on. I’ve gone long stretches in the past couple years where I’ve warded it off, thanks to careful food planning, but I obviously haven’t beaten it completely. Yesterday, it really grabbed hold, and tight.

When I left the office, I didn’t go to the gym. I went to the store. At the store, I bought a package of 4 veggie sausages, since I was really craving a hot dog. I also bought a package of 8 rolls. I also bought a bag of potato chips. It wasn’t a gigantic family-size bag, but it definitely wasn’t a single serving, either. Then I went home, where I ate all of it. All of it. Then I felt ashamed. And depressed. And pathetic. Like a failure.

I didn’t want to exercise. I didn’t want to write a blog post. I didn’t want to do my burpees. I just wanted to sleep. So I went to bed.

When I first woke up on Wednesday, I didn’t remember the prior night’s activities until I went into my kitchen and saw the dirty dishes. I decided then and there that today had to be different. This bullshit couldn’t happen again. I packed food for the day, and at work, I ate it. It turns out I didn’t bring enough, so I supplemented it with a salad from a nearby restaurant. It was a long day at the office – I was there until 8:30pm or so – but I came home, and even though I was tired, I did my burpees, all 47 of them – the 23 that I skipped the day before, and the 24 for today. Then, I went for a run. My goal was to run for 35 minutes, and walk for 5 minutes before and after, for a 45-minute workout. I ended up running for 58 minutes, and with the walking warm-up and cool down, I was gone for 68 minutes. My route was too boring to show on a map: I picked a nearby major street, and ran down it for about a half hour, then turned around and run home. I ended up running 5.7 miles, at 5.6 mph. I’ll take it.

Tomorrow, I gotta do the same thing: eat well, and exercise. On Friday, the same thing. Same goes for the weekend. My goal is clear: I gotta…

…Keep it up, David.

TOMORROW: A big announcement.

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW: I announce the winner of my $20 iTunes giftcard giveaway! If you haven’t entered, click here!

My Old Roommate is BAAAAAACK!

October 25, 2011

I’ll start with a few quickie updates:

1) Guest Post. I wrote a guest post for my friend Kenlie at All The Weigh that she published today. Click here to see the post, which is my recipe for healthy crab and shrimp cakes. Then, stay and poke around Kenlie’s site – she’s a great writer and has lost a ton of weight, and I have a hunch you might find her inspiring.

2) Burpees. Last week, I committed myself to completing Your Inner Skinny’s No Excuses 30-Day Burpee Challenge. I started with 15 burpees the first day, and will add 1 additional burpee each day for a month. Burpees are terrible. They’re a hellish combination of push-ups and vertical jumps, and I hate them, which is why I’m doing the challenge – to push myself at something I normally wouldn’t do. Tuesday marks Day 9 of the Challenge – I’m almost one-third of the way done! – and later today I’ll be doing 23 burpees. That means I’ve already completed 8 days of burpees, which add up to a total of 148 burpees! Here’s what really freaks me out: by the time this challenge is all over, I’ll have completed an astounding 930 burpees. HOLY SHIT! (Pardon my french.)

OKAY – with the updates out of the way, let’s move on… I’m back on a brussel sprouts kick. It had been a long time since I had eaten brussel sprouts, but when I made the dijon brussel sprouts not too long ago, I remembered how much I love them. So, some sauteed brussel sprouts (with a balsamic dressing glaze) will be part of my lunch today, and I also have a new roommate.

I had a roommate around this time last fall – it was a delightful brussel sprouts stalk. It was the first time I’d ever seen a brussel sprouts stalk in person, and I fell in love instantly at the store, and brought one home to live with me. The stalk proved to be a valuable addition to my household (it sorted coupons and helped with the laundry), even though the living arrangement didn’t last long, as the brussel sprouts ultimately ended up in my stomach.

A few days ago, I saw brussel sprout stalks at the store, and fell in love all over again. Time to bring another one home! Look, my new roommate:

I don’t know why I think these are one of the coolest things in the world, but I do!

Turns out this brussel sprout stalk couldn’t be more different than its predecessor. Whereas my first brussel sprout stalk roommate was helpful and considerate, this one is a big pain in the ass. It borrows my shoes without asking…

…is always pestering me to go swimming….

…and beats me at Scrabble every single time!

My patience is already wearing thin for this brussel sprout stalk. Methinks it might meet its destiny (in my digestive tract) sooner rather than later!

Before I go, I just wanna give a heads up: Tomorrow, I’m going to weigh myself for the first time in three weeks. I moved my scale from the bathroom floor to the top shelf of my closet after my last weigh-in, as I was beginning to obsess over numbers, but now I’m really antsy to see what how I’ve been doing. At the last weigh-in, I was still up 1 pound from my all-time low, and during these three weeks, I’ve been eating well and exercising, so I’m hoping that pound will be gone, and possibly another pound on top of it. I’ll share the news in my next post.

Keep it up, David!


October 24, 2011

Saturday was a beautiful day in Los Angeles. The sun was shining, and the mercury hit 82 degrees – it was perfect weather to get a group of people together and spent all day aiming guns at each other with the hope of splattering them with paint.

I was invited on a paintball excursion by my friend Tiffany – who also planned the wonderful kayaking trip in August. I’d never played paintball before and, frankly, I’d never even considered playing it before, but I’m always up for something new. It sounded like fun. I turned out to be an OK shot with a pistol when I went to the firing range in February, so who knows? Maybe I’d be a decent paintball player, too.

BEFORE I FORGET: Have you entered my giveaway yet? If you haven’t, click here to see how you can win a $20 iTunes giftcard!

We met at the paintball park bright and early on Saturday morning. It was in Castaic, 25 minutes away, in the mountains just outside Los Angeles. Once you get off the freeway, you head down a canyon road lined with barbed wire. Maybe it’s to keep people out, or maybe it’s to keep people in:

There’s a couple spots where the road was washed away by rain, but I finally reached the parking lot, in a valley between two ridges. It’s beautiful up there:

Having never played paintball before, I had no idea what to expect. Tiffany’s boyfriend, Manny, is a paintball veteran, so I got some tips and warnings earlier in the week, when Tiffany and Manny had a dinner party with many of the paintball participants. Wear clothes you don’t care about. Bring a change of clothes for afterward. Bring plenty of water. Wear a cup. Manny warned that getting hit by paintballs can sting and cause bruises, and also mentioned, a couple times, getting scars a few years ago that still haven’t gone away. Good times.

Here’s something else to expect at a paintball park: lots of camouflage. Camouflage everywhere. Camouflage tents, camouflage buildings, camouflage clothing. Some people are really into paintball: there was some sort of tournament happening while we were there, and there were teams with matching camouflage uniforms, people decked out in all sorts of padding and armor, people with military-style vests covered in pockets filled with paintball-related accessories. There’s definitely some good people-watching at the paintball park!

Our group was large – about 20 people, most of whom were friends of friends or connected somehow to Manny’s office – his friend and coworker, Hai, planned the trip. We picked up our rental guns and suited up. Ready for battle:

Paintballs are the size of grapes, roughly, and come in all sorts of bright colors. These paintballs are loaded in the hopper on my gun and ready to get shot at unsuspecting opponents:

After all the guns were tested and adjusted for speed (guns that fire too quickly can really injure someone, and if they fire too slowly, the paintball won’t explode on impact), we split into two teams. The rules of paintball are easy: each team starts at opposite ends of a field. If you get hit, you’re out. The team that lasts the longest wins. When only one team is left, the game is over, and you play again.

The paintball park we went to, called California Paintball Park, had 8 or 9 different fields to play on, all of them covered in obstacles, barricades, and things to hid behind: piles of tires, a bunch of old cars, RVs, and boats, giant spools and sandbags and half-destroyed sheds. A couple pictures from the park’s website:

Our group was large enough to warrant having our own referee, a park employee named Alex. He was a nice guy that had worked there for two years, and had a way of casually issuing warnings that made me laugh:

  • “This field has a couple RVs. Don’t go inside the RVs, because we once had an accident, and it was pretty gross, and I’ll leave it at that.”
  • “You’ll see tubes on the field. Don’t go in the tubes, because I don’t know what’s living in them and I don’t know the last time they were cleaned.”

Referees like Alex don’t play – they’re bystanders – but that doesn’t mean they can’t get accidentally hit by stray paintballs. Alex, it seems, was in the midst of some bad luck:

  • “I’ve been getting hit in the nipple for two months straight.”

Sure enough, by the end of the day, he had a new nipple hit to add to his list.

At the first field, I headed with my team towards our starting positions. I’ll fess up and admit that while I was in my car driving up, I had a little fantasy that, despite having never played before, I’d be some sort of whiz with a paintball gun and spent all day leaping around, ducking and dodging incoming paintballs, like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, while picking off my opponents, one by one.

Here’s what really went down: Alex started the first game, and within seconds it was like the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, with paintballs flying everywhere, from every direction. I barely fired a few rounds before BAM! I felt a sting on my arm and looked down and see paint running down my shirt.

In the second game, I took a paintball to the back of my head. The yellow paint ran down to my neck, but the casing actually got stuck in my hair:

I did get better as the day went on, lasting longer and longer in the games, although I did tend to get hit in the head a lot. You can see three different colors of paint on my face in this picture (although I’m pretty sure two of them were splatter from paint hitting things around me):

As the day went on, I got more and more into what I was doing, and I improved. I’m a warrior!

There were two times that I ended up being the last member of my team alive, squaring off against two or three members of the opposite team. My friend Stephanie captured one of those moments on film. Here I am, peeking out from behind a boat, trying to locate the enemy…

…and not noticing the guy sneaking up behind me:

That second photo is just after I got hit – when you get hit, you throw your hands up so they stop firing at you.

We played from around 10am until 3pm or so, although there were a lot of breaks, while we waited for fields to become available, and because we needed to continually reload our ammunition and add pressurized air to our guns.

This photo is from the end of the day – that’s Tiffany on the left, then Stephanie, my friend Donovan, and me. I don’t know why I’m not smiling. Probably because I’m trying to act tough:

The very last game of the day ended with a spectacular hit: someone got me right in my forehead. I showered when I got home, but it left a mark that will stay with me for a few days:

That scrape at the base of my ring and pinky fingers was also the result of a paintball, and during one game, I slid and fell while running, doing this to my knee and hand:

That’s a minor cut on my hand, but it’s super annoying because it’s on the thickest part of my hand, which means I’ll be feeling it every time I pick up a weight at the gym, like I did on Sunday morning. I’m proud of my injuries, because they’re the result of embracing something new and giving 100%, and it turned out to be a really fun day. I can’t remember the last time I’ve done anything so down and dirty, and I’d play paintball again in the future.

OH! The fields at the paintball park are separated from the parking lot by a short but steep hill. It’s exactly the sort of hill that would’ve had me completely winded when I was at my heaviest, but on Saturday, I ran up it every chance I could, and it felt great. Then, after I got home and cleaned up my wounds, I headed out to the gym, spent 45 minutes on an elliptical, and did my burpees for the day. Paintball is definitely a very active and physical activity, but because of the frequent breaks, I didn’t feel I could count it as a dedicated workout.

Keep it up, David!

What’s In The Coffee Cup?

October 23, 2011

There is something drinkable in this coffee cup.  What do you think it is?

I’ll gave you a couple hints:

  1. It’s not coffee.
  2. It’s not a hot beverage of any kind.
  3. It’s the juice of a fruit that is rare in this country.

Any guesses?

If you guessed dragon fruit juice, you’re right!  Ding ding ding!  It was the contents of this bottle:

Pitaya is another name for dragon fruit.  I bought a dragon fruit for the first time recently, and on this blog I said that it “may be the most beautiful piece of fruit EVER” (read that post, with lots of dragon fruit photos, here).  The folks over at Bing might have thought similarly, because the very same day my dragon fruit post went up, they used this great dragon fruit picture on their home page (thanks to observant reader Dacia for pointing it out):

That day turned out to be all about dragon fruit, because I also got a great email from Pitaya Plus in which they offered to send me some free juice.  Yes, please!  And that is how the bottle pictured above ended up in my hot little hands.

Since I’m not terribly familiar with the taste of dragon fruit (I’ve only had it once, after all), I bought a couple more dragon fruit after the juice arrived.  A few days ago, I cut one up to enjoy with the Pitaya Plus.  It was a very dragon-fruit-centric lunch!

I roped in my friend Lisa, the gifted graphic designer, to sample both with me.  She had never heard of dragon fruit, so it was all new to her.  We tried the fruit first.  She was as impressed by its appearance as I was, and she was also a little let down by its flavor, like I was.  “It’s not bad, but it doesn’t taste like anything,” she said.  It does have a very mild flavor.

Next we tried the juice, which looks like this:

The juice also has a mild flavor.  It doesn’t actually taste like juice at all!  I don’t normally drink much juice because it’s sweet and delicious and I always end up drinking way too much.  In the past two years, most of the juice I’ve consumed was stuff I’ve juiced myself, where I can monitor how much fruit I use.  Were I to buy a 2 quart bottle of juice, the whole thing would be gone in 36 hours.  And that’s over 1,000 calories in my system.

Pitaya Plus is nowhere as sweet as other juices.  I didn’t finish the juice and immediately want more.  I drank it, enjoyed it, considered myself satisfied, and moved on with my day.  The juice was thin, like watermelon juice is, and the flavor is watermelon-ish and kiwi-ish.  Like the dragon fruit itself, the contents of a Pitaya Plus bottle isn’t nearly as vibrant as the packaging!  But I’d drink it again.  I’d actually like it after a workout, I think.

Dragon fruit juice has significantly fewer calories than other juices.  A serving of Pitaya Plus has 70 calories, compared to 112 calories for orange juice, 128 calories for apple juice, and 140 calories for grape juice.  Which brings me to my little pet peeve about Pitaya Plus:  A serving of it (like most juices) is 8 ounces.  So guess how many ounces are in the bottle?  10.5!  Ugh – I’m not a fan of busting out the calculator to figure out calorie counts, but I did it, because I was curious.  Since 8 ounces is 70 calories, the entire 10.5 ounce bottle is 92.  You’re welcome.

To find more info on Pitaya Plus, check out their website.

I gotta get going… to do burpees!  This is Day 7 for me of the No Excuses 30-Day Burpee Challenge, which means today I’m doing 21 of them.  Since I calculator was already out, I punched the numbers: during Days 1-6 of the Challenge, I did 105 burpees!  WHOA.

Keep it up, David!

Enter My 400th Post GIVEAWAY!

October 21, 2011

Yes, this is technically my 401st post.  But I’m still celebrating my 400th, which you can read here, and you can’t stop me!

It’s been forever since I’ve done a giveaway, and an occasion like reaching my 400th post is too good to let pass without doing something to acknowledge and thank all my lovely, supportive, insightful, and terrific readers.

Here’s what I’m giving away:

An iTunes gift card worth $20!  Winner takes all.  You can spend it on music for your workouts, healthy living apps for your iPhone or iPad, or buy an the entire 4th season of Jersey Shore (and still have a penny left over) – do whatever you want with it!

Like I mentioned yesterday, I’m honored that so many people have been stopping by and (hopefully) enjoying Keep It Up, David lately, and I come to you for help in spreading the word further.  Simply put, I want your help promoting my blog.

Here’s how this’ll work:

Go tell someone about Keep It Up, David.  How you do it doesn’t matter.  Pick up the phone, send an email, text, or tweet, post a link on your Facebook or Google+ wall, have a singing telegram delivered, approach a total stranger in the sidewalk… you know how to reach the people in your life better than I do!

What you tell them is also none of my business.  I hope you’ll share your honest opinion, even if that means directing people here because you think it’s the worst blog ever.  Simple things to do might include providing a link to www.keepitupdavid.com, or recommending my pages on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.  You might point out that a simple way to see what I’m all about is by visiting my The Story So Far… and My Favorite Posts pages.  Again, it’s up to you.

Once you somehow spread the word, come back to THIS POST (entries submitted any other way, like via Twitter or Facebook, won’t be in the running) and leave a comment, telling me about it.  You can be as brief as you’d like.  I don’t need links or proof.  I believe in your honesty, so you’re on the honor system.  You’re honest and honorable, right?

If you choose to go nuts and use multiple forms of communication to tell everyone you know, than that’s wonderful, but I’m gonna limit entries per person to THREE.

Deadline for entries is Friday, October 28th at 12:01am, Pacific Standard Time.  On Friday, I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner and announce it on the blog.  The winner will have 48 hours to email me with their mailing address at keepitupdavid@gmail.com to claim their prize.  If they don’t email in time, I’ll draw another winner, and reset the clock at 48 hour, and so on.

Questions?  Comments?  GOOD LUCK!

Oh – I should mention that I’m not in cahoots with iTunes.  I purchased the gift card myself.

Before I sign off, I just want to mention how happy I am that it’s Friday!  I determined earlier this week that Friday would be a rest day, and tonight I had a great workout, for the sixth day in a row.  I did 5 minutes of warm-up on the treadmill, then 40 minutes with weights (and I threw in my 18 burpees, too), and then 12 minutes of brisk and steep inclined walking on the treadmill.  I am exhausted.

Keep it up, David!

400TH POST! Plus, Other Reasons I’m in a Good Mood.

October 20, 2011

I’ve been in a really good mood the past couple days, for a variety of reasons.  Wanna hear ’em?

1) 400th Post!  No typo there – this is my 400th post!  Keep it up, David!  This blog has become a very important part of my life.  First and foremost, it’s become a great tool to keep myself on track and accountable, but it also provides a therapeutic way to process my feelings, figure out solutions, and track my progress.  The fact that it’s become a daily destination for so many people looking for a little inspiration, honesty, laughter, or whatever…  well, it astounds me.  It’s a great source of pride.  Thanks to this blog, I’ve been able to connect with and learn from so many wonderful people all over the planet, and that astounds me too!

In honor of my 400th Post, I’m hosting a giveaway… that I’ll announce tomorrow!  Sorry to be such a tease, but you should definitely come back tomorrow and enter.  It’s gonna be good!

2) Produce Truck!  A few days ago, I saw a produce truck in my neighborhood.  I’ve never seen before, although they’re catching on in cities across the country.  I read an article about one in Detroit a few years back, and thought it was a great idea.  Basically, vendors sell produce out of the back of a truck (like ice cream), driving around neighborhoods where residents don’t have easy access to fresh, healthy food, usually due of a lack of grocery stores.  My neighborhood isn’t lacking in supermarkets (there are three within walking distance of my place, and two of them have low produce prices), but it’s a concept that I think is wonderful, so when I saw the truck a few days ago, I decided to stop and buy something from it the next time I saw it.

Tonight, I saw it again, and I had time to stop, so I did.  It’s a nondescript truck (a little signage or artwork would go a long way, in my opinion!):

The back slid up like a garage door, and inside were boxes and shelves of produce and goods.  You don’t really wander through it, you tell the guy what you’re looking for, and he brings it to you.  There were boxes and bins of fruit and veggies, and other staple foods like milk, eggs, and juice, and there was also some junk food (like Cheetos and soda), which, to be honest, bummed me out.  Some of the fruit:

I tried to ask the guy a few questions, like where the fruit came from, but there was a language barrier – my Spanish wasn’t good enough, nor was his English.  I brought home three bananas and three peaches:

Total price? $1.60 – not too shabby!  I was reminded of my challenge last fall to buy as much fruit as I could for $2.

3) Celebrity Tweet!  I got a tweet from a celebrity!  Any Top Chef fans out there?  Fabio Viviani competed in two seasons:  He came in 4th (and was voted fan favorite) in Season 5, and came back for the All-Stars season, where he came in 8th.  A couple years ago he opened a restaurant, Firenze Osteria, in my neck of the woods, and I’ve been three times and had a great meal during each visit.  Oh, and you can currently see Fabio in Domino’s commercials.

I started following Fabio on Twitter a while ago, mainly because he occasionally offers cooking classes at his restaurant (which I thought might be fun to go to… but I haven’t gone yet).  Yesterday, he sent me a tweet!

Very exciting.  It seems like he’s writing in response to something, but I can’t figure out what.  I tweeted him back, saying “Thanks! Have any healthy recommendations? You’re the chef!”  No response yet, but will keep you posted if I get one!

4) Gym!  I had another great night at the gym.  It was Day 3 of the Burpees Challenge, so I did my 17 burpees, before moving on and spending 35 minutes lifting weights, and 10 more minutes on the recumbent bike.

Keep it up, David!

All My Friends Move to Europe…

October 19, 2011

…and I’m sick of it!

First, two years ago, my friend Katherine up and moved to Sweden.  Now my friend Jen is moving to Germany – later this week!  What’s going on?  They both have positively revolting reasons for moving to the other side of the world:  Jen’s going to get her Master’s degree (gag), and Katherine moved because of love (barf).

One by one, my friends are abandoning me.  Just so they can be happier and lead more fulfilling lives.  Well, fuck ’em.  I hope they choke on a meatball (in Katherine’s case) or a bratwurst (in Jen’s case) and then have horrible hospital experiences because Sweden and Germany have terrible, appalling universal health care systems, according to conservatives.

OK, two things:  1) I’m totally kidding.  2) Did I just get political?

Anyhoo, tonight I hung out with Jen for the last time in a long while (which bummed me out).  Some of you long-time readers have heard me talk about Jen before:  She appeared in my very first post (about going to Magic Mountain), and has appeared many times since, during sad times and happier ones.  I’ve known Jen since college, and she’s been a great friend that whole time, and I will miss having her so close.

I picked Jen up tonight (since she sold her car yesterday), and she came bearing gifts!  Jumper cables, a roll of bubble wrap, and a pomegranate from the tree in her courtyard:

Although I’ve had pomegranate juice and pomegranate-flavored foods, I’ve never had an actual pomegranate in my house before, mainly because I’m not a fan of pomegranate seeds.  I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do with this sucker, but it might be destined for my juicer.

Jen and I headed out for dinner, and we ended up at Phil’s Diner, a little restaurant in our neighborhood that’s both new and very old.  The restaurant, which is inside a dining car, dates back to 1926, and served North Hollywood for decades and decades, in a few different locations.  Then, 12 years ago, it closed, until an enterprising couple bought it, restored it, and opened it up again in a new location about six months ago.

Here’s the exterior (my camera didn’t capture their neon sign):

And the interior, which was beautifully restored:

That’s Jen and I way in the back (our server, Malissa, who’s one of the owners, took the photo), and another patron sitting at the counter (we got there late, after the dinner crowd, which is why it’s so empty).  The first thing I noticed when we walked in is that place would have been really uncomfortable for me when I was at my heaviest.  I probably wouldn’t have fit at the counter (those chairs are bolted to the floor), and while the little tables on the right had stools, there just wasn’t a lot of room.  But none of that is an issue now!

Phil’s Diner gets MAJOR bonus points for having Etch-A-Sketches lying around for patrons to play with:

I talked with Malissa about healthy menu options, and took her suggestion and ordered the Tuna Salad:

Malissa described the tuna as not being “wet” – meaning it’s not loaded with mayo, and I had them hold the oil and vinegar that normally comes on the greens:

It was delicious.  The tuna was very flavorful – I really liked the pumpkin seeds in it, and the lemon-lime dijon dressing was great.  A 7-screen movie theater is under construction right next door, and I look forward, in the future, and enjoying dinner and a movie all on the same block!

Here’s the Etch-A-Sketch doodle I made in honor of Jen’s impending departure to Germany:

It was pretty late by the time I dropped Jen off, but not too late to exercise.  I’ve done three great weightlifting-based workouts in a row, so it was time for some cardio.  Due to the late hour, I thought a run would be best.  I threw on some workout clothes before dropping Jen off, and went for a run in her neighborhood, for a change of pace.  She lives close to Toluca Lake, a very affluent and fancy part of town that’s been home, at some point or another, to all sorts of famous people:  Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and Amelia Earhart all called it home, as have Miley Cyrus (and her family), the Jonas Brothers, Jason Priestley, Steve Carell and Eric McCormack.  It’s a beautiful part of town to run in, because of the lovely (and large) houses.  Here’s my route:

I ran for 45 minutes, and went 4.2 miles, which means I averaged a speed of 5.6 mph.  Not my fastest run, but still pretty good, especially considering it was at the end of a long day and it was kinda chilly outside.  Check out my Running Chart to see how this run compares to my other runs.

When I got home after the run, my workout wasn’t over.  I still had my burpees to do.  It’s Day 2, which means 16 burpees, and the lesson I learned today is that burpees after 45 minutes of running is exhausting!  I’m doing them first next time.  Definitely.

Keep it up, David!