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!

Brussel Sprouts!

October 18, 2011

It’s Tuesday.  Looking for a weight loss chart update?  You’re gonna have to wait longer.

Full Disclosure Part One:  Although I didn’t put it up until Tuesday afternoon, I actually wrote this post on Monday evening, so it’s not weigh-in time yet.

Full Disclosure Part Two:  I haven’t decided if I’ll even weigh myself at all this week.  It’s been two weeks since a weigh-in (you can see my last weigh-in here), and, for the last week, I’ve felt pretty good about not needing validation from my scale.  It helps that my scale is currently off my bathroom floor and on the top shelf of my closet.  I put it there because I had a few weeks where I was becoming obsessed with the number on the scale, and was weighing myself daily (or more often than that), and I thought moving the scale out of sight would be a better option than getting tied into a straightjacket and being put in a padded room at the loony bin after going crazy.

So.  When will I weigh myself again?  Possibly tomorrow (which, as you know from Full Disclosure Part 1, will have already passed by the time you read this).  I’ll see how I feel in the morning.  If I’m chomping at the bit to see what I weigh, than I’ll bring down the scale and get to business.  If I don’t, I’ll probably keep the scale where it is, and continue on with my week.  I’ll start chomping at the bit eventually, I’m sure of it.  And when that happens, I’ll weight myself.  Makes sense to me!

Moving on… I have a recipe to share:  Dijon Brussel Sprouts!

I love brussel sprouts, but haven’t bought any in a while.  One time, I even had a brussel sprouts stalk as a roommate!

With a name like Dijon Brussel Sprouts, this may seem like a rerun from last week’s Dijon Green Beans post, but let me assure you, there are some big, major differences.  One, I doubled the recipe.  Two (and perhaps more obviously), I left out the green beans and added brussel sprouts.  Three, I added another ingredient.  Here, I’ll walk you through it:

I started with about three pounds of brussel sprouts.  I cut off the stems, and since they were pretty big, I quartered each one.  They all went onto a baking sheet, and I put them in my 400 degree oven for 40 minutes (per Barefoot Contessa’s suggestion, although I didn’t add oil, salt, or pepper).  I forgot to take a picture of the brussel sprouts pre-oven – oops!

While the brussel sprouts were roasting, I started on the other stuff.  First up, halving nearly 2 pints of cherry tomatoes.  I bought heirloom cherry tomatoes at Whole Foods – one pint all purple (although they showed up looking red in the pictures), and one pint a variety of colors.  I tried a tip from my friend Debbie on how to cut a pint of tomatoes in half in one fell swoop:  First, collect all the tomatoes on a Tupperware lid:

Then put a similarly sized lid on top (which I’m in the process of doing in that picture) to hold the tomatoes in place, and run your big, sharp knife between the two lids.  Voila!  All your tomatoes have been cut in half!

I did that with the multi-colored pint as well, and they all went into a bowl:

Then I thinly sliced an entire medium red onion:

Next up: the dressing.  I started with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar in a bowl:

I added 3-4 teaspoons of dijon mustard, some salt and pepper, a little garlic powder, and the new ingredient I mentioned above:  2 tablespoons soy bacon bits:

Bacon and brussel sprouts go great together, and these fake soy bacon bits are a wonderful alternative to the real thing.  A serving (which is 1.3 tablespoons) of the fake ones has 25 calories and 0.5 grams of fat.  Plus, they’re vegan, which makes this a great dish to serve to your vegan friends!

After whisking it all together, I got:

When the brussel sprouts came out of the oven, I added them to the bowl:

They were technically done, as they were tender all the way through, but when I make this recipe again, I’m going to let them go a little longer so they get a little more color.

Final step:  Toss it all together!  I also added another tablespoon or two of the fake bacon bits, because I thought the ones in the dressing might have gotten a little soggy.  The end result (it’s a weird picture because I tried to use the last lingering natural light coming in from my window):

I took this dish to a party I went to this past weekend, and they were a hit.  Lots of compliments.  So you should try it yourself!  It’s easy to cut in half if you aren’t cooking for 10-12 people, like I was, but I ended up taking the leftovers home, and eating them yesterday for lunch at my new job.

Keep it up, David!

A Day of Firsts

October 17, 2011

Happy Monday!  It’s been a day of firsts for me.

First #1 – New Job.  I got a new job.  “Job” might be overselling it just a little bit – I was asked to help out on a project for the next couple weeks.  So, I’m gainfully employed for the time being.  It happened very quickly:  I got the call at the end of the day on Friday, and my first day was today.

Some associated firsts:

It was my first day in an office that was in a building I’ve never been in before.  The building is known around town for its biggest tenant, an entertainment company with a name that doesn’t mesh well with healthy eaters like me.  I’ll let the signage on the side of the building take it from here:

Yep, I work in the Cookie Jar building.  And guess what I saw in the Cookie Jar building?  COOKIES!

Take a close look – that’s four different types of Oreos on a shelf in the kitchen.  Three of those types I’ve never tried before.  One of those types has a name that I’ve only ever seen on toothpaste bottles before (Cool Mint, I’m talking about you).  I’m going to eat none of them.  One big reason is that I don’t want to.  Another big reason is because the people working on my project have been banned from the Oreo kitchen, as it’s only intended for staffers on another project, which happens to be a drama that airs on a major television network.  (We have our own kitchen, don’t you worry.  It’s Oreo-free, too.)

Today was also the first day that I brought my lunch with me to work:

That’s broccoli and cauliflower (raw) in the back, and that yogurt container is mostly empty, except for 6 or so ounces of yogurt, so I topped it off with strawberries and nectarine pieces.  I also brought a big container of leftovers from this weekend, but that’s purposefully left out of the picture because it’s a recipe that I intend to share on the blog, but I haven’t done it yet.  That’s right, I’m a tease.

First #2 – New Phone.  It’s my first full day with my new iPhone!  It’s my first iPhone – I used a Blackberry before this, until it died this weekend.  Dead.  Kaput.  I love my iPhone so far, and the camera is great – so much better than the Blackberry camera.  All the photos in this post are iPhone photos.  I can get used to not carrying around a camera and a phone – which is good, because in addition to my Blackberry, my camera also died.  I’m pretty sure it just needs a new battery.  I hope it just needs a new battery.

First #3 – The Insider.  It was my first time (in years) watching The Insider.  Like a mentioned a few days ago (and on Facebook and Twitter), there was a chance I might have been on TV, during a piece about Richard Simmons, but I was left on the editing room floor.  It’s no big whoop.  I suspected that might happen.  I’ve had my share of television appearances that I’m mighty proud about.

First #4 – Burpee Challenge.  You may recall Friday’s post about burpees – about how I hate them, and how Scott over at Your Inner Skinny was about to issue some sort of fitness challenge that would involve them.  Since I need to goose my workouts, I stepped up and started, on Thursday night, doing 15 burpees a day.  I did four days of this, and then, last night, Scott posted the actual challenge.  Turns out 15 burpees is only the schedule for the first day.  Every day after that, for 30 days straight, you’re supposed to add 1 burpee, meaning that by day 30, you’re doing 45 burpees!  FORTY-FIVE BURPEES!  The thought of that makes me want to lie down and never get up.  But I’m up for the challenge, sadistic as it is, so today marks the official first day of NO EXCUSES 30 DAY BURPEE CHALLENGE!

Want to join in?  A few of you have pledged to join in already – and I’m excited for that!  You don’t have to commit to starting with 15 burpees.  Check out this post on Scott’s blog – he offers variations on the challenge for people of all levels, so it doesn’t matter if you’ve worked out your whole life or are new to it, there’s a version for you.  Scott also made a great video – watch it here – where he demonstrates 5 different types of burpees, from beginner burpees to advanced burpees, so you can see exactly what a burpee is and how to do it correctly.  If you’re on Twitter, you can join in the Burpee conversation by using this hashtag: #noexcusesYIS

Day 1 of the Burpee Challenge is DONE.  That’s 15 burpees.  Tomorrow is 16 burpees.  I think I can manage that, too.

Keep it up, David!

Produce Plus Skyscraper

October 16, 2011

Two topics on this lovely Sunday afternoon:

1) Produce Haul.  Brought home a ton of produce from Whole Foods yesterday.  Some of these items were specifically for recipes that I’m going to share in the next couple days, but most are for my general consumption.  I didn’t look for produce that I’ve never tried before, but I ended up bringing home a couple items that I’ve tried (and blogged about) in the past, and haven’t bought since, for whatever reason.  Here’s everything:

I gotta figure out a new way to photograph mass amounts of produce.  This picture has too much glare for my liking!

Moving clockwise from top left, we have: parsley, a container of celery, scallions, 2 honeycrisp apples, 2 persimmons, 4 red bartlett pears, 4 zucchini, red grapes, French radishes (which I’ve carved bullets from before), brussel sprouts, carrots, a container of cauliflower and broccoli, a container of mini sweet bell peppers, cucumber, red onion, lime, 2 pints of heirloom cherry tomatoes, and 2 dragon fruit.

2) New Skyscraper.  I had a great day at the gym yesterday.  I started with the 15 burpees I’m doing every day this month (3 days down, 27 to go!), then 30 minutes of weightlifting, followed by some cardio.  I decided to get on the StairMaster, and I set the clock for 15 minutes, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I thought I could power through all 15 minutes, but I couldn’t.  I lasted a solid 8 minutes – burning 150 calories and climbing 45 floors – but I was glad to get off.  I finished up my workout with 17 minutes on the elliptical.

But 45 floors is nothing to sneeze at – especially if you’re a resident of Iowa, where the latest skyscraper in my skyscraper collection is located.  This is the 801 Grand building, in Des Moines, Iowa:

There are lots of 45-floor buildings around the world, but I picked the 801 Grand for a few reasons:

  • It’s the tallest building in Iowa.
  • Iowa is (and will continue to be) topical right now, since we’re only a few months away from the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
  • The 801 Grand is home to 801 Chophouse, a fancy-pants steakhouse that offers, on their menu, an item called ‘The Carnivore,” which is a 40-oz bone-in delmonico.  That steak is over three pounds!  The menu specifies that it’s intended for two people, but still – that’s 20 ounces per person!  My stomach hurts just thinking about it.  It comes with a bone morrow butter bath (don’t know what that is), roasted marrow bones, shallot confit, and baguette toasts.  The price tag? $101.95.

But what really sold me on the 801 Grand is that, in addition to all that, I found not one, but two models of it made out of Legos.  I love Legos, and used to have a whole Lego city in the basement when I was a kid.  I once designed and built a Lego stadium and entered it in a Lego contest (I didn’t win).  I would play with Legos all day every day if I could!  This Lego model of 801 Grand uses over 40,000 Legos:


This model is a lot smaller – only about 19 inches high – but equally impressive:


See how the 801 Grand stacks up (get it? Lego humor!) to the other skyscrapers in my collection on my Skyscraper Collection Page!

And now I’m off to the gym again.

Keep it up, David!


October 15, 2011

Happy Saturday!  How is your weekend so far?  I had a lovely evening last night with a bunch of friends, nearly all of whom I’ve mentioned or talked about on this blog at some point.  Robyn was there, as was Lisa, and so was Joe and Giana.  In fact, the only person in attendance that I haven’t ever mentioned before was my friend Blair, who I haven’t seen in a few years.  So congrats on your first blog mention, Blair!

We met at a restaurant/bar in Burbank called Michael’s.  I’ve been to Michael’s many times before, but not in a few years.  Michael’s calls itself a “Mardi Gras Steak and Seafood House.”  I opted to eat dinner beforehand so I didn’t even have to crack the menu open.

While I enjoyed a few bottles of sparkling water, my companions ordered food, and, a little while later, the food arrived.  The waiter started setting down plates, and said, “OK, who ordered the gator?”  There were some quizzical looks, because no one had ordered the gator.  “Oh, that was my mistake,” said the waiter.  “I’m sorry about that.  Would anyone like to try the gator?  It’s on the house.”  I was curious – I don’t think I’ve ever had gator before – and some others were curious, too, so the gator stayed.

According to the menu, the Fried Gator was “Gator nuggets tossed in a light breading and fried crispy.  Served with our Cajun dipping sauce.”  I wasn’t interested in the breading, which also had a buffalo-like sauce on it, so I took a few pieces of gator and peeled the breading off.  It was dark, and I didn’t have my camera, but a got a picture with my cell phone:

That’s Blair’s fork on the right, with a breaded gator nugget.   My fork is on the left, with a de-breaded gator nugget.

So how was the gator?  It wasn’t bad!  A touch on the chewy side.  As the picture shows, it kinda looks like chicken, but it’s denser than chicken.  The texture is more steak-like, and it wasn’t nearly as gamey as I thought it might be.  I don’t think I’d go out of my way to find or eat gator again, but since gator isn’t really on menus very often (at least outside of Louisiana), that probably means it will be a long time before I eat it again, if ever.  I’m glad I tried it… you know me, always willing to try something new!

Because I was curious, I just looked up some nutritional information.  Per serving, gator is higher in calories than chicken – almost twice as many calories.  But gator is also a protein powerhouse, with 46g per serving (over twice as much protein as chicken), so that explains the calorie count (46g, by the way, is almost all your protein needs for the entire day).  Gator is also very lean, with about the same amount of fat as chicken, and because it’s free of cholesterol and saturated fat, gator is considered a heart-healthy protein source.

Until you bread and fry it.  Which is why I’m glad I peeled the breading off.

Have you ever eaten gator?  Have you ever cooked it?  Do you like it?  Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Keep it up, David!