Chart Update and Crockpot Update

November 29, 2011

I didn’t weigh myself last week, because last Tuesday was the day I left for Colorado, and in the commotion of packing and prepping, I simply forgot. Today is also Tuesday, so this morning, after an out-of-the-ordinary night (more on this later), I stepped on the scale and updated my chart. Here’s the outcome:

I stayed even! I’m wonderfully happy with these results, because these two weeks were trying. Firstly, I was sick for a lot of it, including a 3-day stretch where all I wanted to do was sleep (and, for the most part, that’s all I did) – meaning much less exercise than normal. Secondly, last week was Thanksgiving. I had a game plan, and did wonderfully on Thanksgiving day, but it’s always more difficult to stay on program when you’re out of town, no matter if you’re staying with supportive and understanding family.

Here’s another angle of my newly-updated chart:

And if you look the other way, you see this:

GASP! It’s the end of my NINTH page! In case you’re new to Keep It Up, David, my weight loss chart hangs on the wall of the walk-in closet in my bedroom. The chart, in it’s nine pages of glory, now measures 89″ long – that’s almost seven and a half feet! The end of the wall is just out of frame, and due to the design of the closet, there’s no room, in the chart’s current configuration, for a tenth page. The last time I faced this dilemma, I chose to wrap the chart around the corner (see how that worked here), but that’s not an option this time, because there’s a doorway on the next wall.

I have a solution. I thought it up a while back, but haven’t implemented it yet, as I haven’t needed to. Now I need to. This week, I will. When you come back for next week’s chart update, you’ll see a whole new chart configuration! I know the anticipation will be killing you – I hope you’ll be able to sleep ’til then!

Speaking of sleep, yesterday I threw my sleep cycle completely out of whack. It began two nights ago in Colorado, where, instead of sharing a big bed with my 5-year-old nephew, I fell asleep on the couch watching Food Network. I somehow managed to turn off the TV, and I slept there the entire night. The next morning I was off to the airport, and by 2pm or so, I was back home in Los Angeles, where I spent the afternoon doing laundry, sorting through a week’s worth of mail, paying bills, and other around-the-house chores. Then, around 7pm, I got really tired, so I thought I’d take a little nap.

Can anyone guess what happened next?

If you guessed that I slept until 2am, then DING DING DING! You win! I woke up hungry (dinner had been planned for after the power nap), so I ate an apple and some oatmeal and watched some TV. Then I decided, as it was past 3am and I wasn’t tired at all, that I would do some cooking. I had, in my fridge, some random veggies that I wanted to use up (including the excess cabbage that I had bought for my Cabbage-Apple Slaw). So I pulled out the crockpot and decided to make soup. I didn’t follow or even consult any recipes – I winged it. The cabbage went in, as did some parsnips, garlic, onion, and a few other things that I don’t even remember. I added low sodium veggie stock and probably half a dozen items from the spice rack, set the crock to high, and returned to bed, where I dozed in and out for a few more hours.

I checked the crockpot mid-morning, and the lid broke in my hand. The handle broke off. Here it is after cleaning everything:

I have a strong epoxy that may work to fix it. Well, I know for sure it’ll fix it, I just need to look into whether or not it should be used around food-related items. The break is on the outside of the lid, so there’s no real way the epoxy would ever come in direct contact with food, but better safe than sorry.

The soup, meanwhile, wasn’t very good. That’s why I’m not sharing pictures or the recipe. Crockpots tend to leech flavor out of things, and when your main ingredients don’t have any flavor to begin with (like cabbage and parnsip)… well, it’s hard to recover from that.

But it made for a healthy, if not spectacular lunch, and I didn’t make tons of it, so there’s no leftovers. After finishing lunch, I hit the gym for about an hour. I spent 10 minutes on a stationary bike, flipping through an old issue of In Touch that had three or four pictures of Olivia Palermo, and I felt old and out-of-touch because I have no idea who that is (and still don’t), and I’m usually pretty savvy about pop culture bullshit. Most of the rest of the time was focused on strength training and toning.

Keep it up, David!


This Place is a Zoo

November 28, 2011

Yesterday was my last full day in Colorado. It was also a rest day – I had completed five great workouts in a row (including a 2700-yard swim and a 5K race), so I was due for one. Despite the absence of a dedicated workout, I wasn’t inactive. That’s because I went with my sister Sarah, her husband Justin, and their two kids, Sam (almost 6) and Allison (3), to…

…The Denver Zoo! It was probably the best day I’ve ever had at a zoo. The Denver Zoo is spacious and open but not overwhelmingly enormous, and there was great weather (sunny but not hot), small crowds, and most of the animals were out and about, as opposed to napping or hiding in the corners of their habitats. We accidentally stumbled upon 4 different animal feedings or demonstrations (without ever looking at a schedule), so we got to see zookeepers feed the tiger, the sea lions, the seals, and the African wild dogs. Very cool.

We saw a polar bear (one of my favorite animals)…

…and two snakes cuddling together on a tree branch…

…and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hippo before that wasn’t submerged in water:

We rode the carousel – I was on an ostrich, and Sam was on a cheetah (his favorite animal):

My niece Allison got face-to-face with a huge komodo dragon (don’t worry, there’s a piece of glass between them):

Here’s Sam, Allison and I with two big horn sheep way in the background:

In total, we were there almost 4 hours, so I’m sure we walked around 3 or 4 miles. I was certainly tired at the end of the day! But the fun didn’t stop there – we headed over to a nearby Bass Pro Shop, which had a whole Santa’s Workshop set up. Allison got a picture with Santa, and we rode another carousel – this one with reindeer. Two carousels in one day? I can cross that off the bucket list!

This is the second zoo I’ve been to since September (when I went to the L.A. Zoo with my friend Katherine and her two boys), and sorry L.A., but I like the Denver Zoo more. But I don’t need to go to another zoo any time soon – I’m all zoo’ed out!

I’ll wrap up this post with a video. I’ve posted a link to this video before, but I love it so much I’m gonna feature it again. It’s a commercial from the ’80s for the Detroit Zoo, and it’s one of my favorite commercials of all time. I used to have this commercial memorized when I was a kid. I hope you enjoy!

By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane back to California. It’s Monday, so I have another week ahead of me of eating well and exercising, so…

…Keep it up, David!

Thanksgiving 2011

November 27, 2011

In my last post, I wrote about my Thanksgiving Day exercise – the Louisville Turkey Trot 5K. In this post, I’m going to catch you all up on my Thanksgiving eating.

I established two rules to help guide me through the big Thanksgiving meal, because I was determined to not let the holiday be an excuse for reckless, uncontrolled eating. Like I mentioned in my Thanksgiving Day post, those two rules were:

  1. NO SECONDS. I will indulge in a reasonable portion of whatever food I want, but I will not go back for more.
  2. I WILL PHOTOGRAPH EVERYTHING I EAT DURING THANKSGIVING DINNER. Those pictures will end up on this blog. This means that you all are going to help me maintain accountability.

How did I do? Well, I technically broke both rules in minor ways, but I’m very proud of my eating. Here are the pictures that I took, in accordance with Rule #2.

First Course – Oyster Soup:

My brother-in-law Justin did the lion’s share of the Thanksgiving cooking, as Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday. It’s a tradition in his family to start Thanksgiving with oyster soup, and now it’s my tradition, too, since I’ve been eating Justin’s Thanksgiving meals for 7 or 8 years now. The soup is not healthy, in any way, shape, or form – it’s basically butter, cream, oysters, and seasoning. It’s really good (with those ingredients, how could it not be?), and I asked for a mini-portion, and only ate about two-thirds of it. Bread was passed around for dunking purposes, but I didn’t take any. Oh, and the nametag leaf was a joint project between me, my sister Laura, and our 3-year-old niece (and goddaughter) Allison. Cute, right?

Main Course:

Most of your Thanksgiving standards: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (Justin added pork sausage and dried cranberries to it, and it was amazing), green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes (my sisters made it, and they cut about half the sugar from the recipe). My contribution to the meal was the asparagus, which I sauteed in a little salt, pepper, lemon, and PAM. I limited portions of everything to between around 1/2 – 3/4 cup, ate slowly, and enjoyed everything.

Then I broke Rule #1, and went back for more asparagus, but I’m okay with that, because it was the healthiest option on the table. Round #2 of asparagus:

Third Course – Dessert:

My mom, my sisters and I teamed up and made three pies: 1 apple, and 2 pumpkin. My contribution to the apple pie was carving a little turkey into the upper crust as a steam escape route, and I made the filling for the pumpkin pies. Despite the sweat equity, when we had dessert a few hours later, I decided to skip the pie and eat fruit instead: a banana and an apple. I did have one bite of my sister’s piece of pumpkin pie (and it was delicious), but I didn’t photograph it.

It was a guilt-free day, and thanks to my rules, it wasn’t a stressful one, either! And there was no food coma afterward, no loosening of the belt or struggling to get off the couch because of overwhelming fullness. A successful day!

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you keep your eating under control? Did you exercise?

I woke up on Friday jonesin’ for a workout, so I went for a run. I normally don’t like doing the same workout two days in a row (I had run the day prior in the Turkey Trot 5K), but since I was away from home and without my usual resources, running fit the bill. I ended up doing a big loop around my sister’s neighborhood. My route:

That’s 3.8 miles that I ran in 37.5 minutes, which works out to just a hair over 6 MPH. My quads were really sore towards the end, and it was chilly outside, but it was a good run, and I enjoyed the new scenery. Time to update my Running Chart!

Lastly, after over a week, I’ve think I’m finally at the tail end of whatever it was that caused my sore throat. It’s still itchy and a little painful when I swallow, but I feel 80-90% better and am looking forward to it not being an issue any more. There were a few days, early on, where I was too sick to work out, but my workouts over the past few days have been a huge help, because for those hours, I didn’t think about my throat at all. I only thought about pushing myself in other ways, and that shift in focus proved to be beneficial and a relief.

Keep it up, David!

5K Turkey Trot!

November 26, 2011

On Thanksgiving morning, I ran in the Louisville Colorado Turkey Trot 5K. It was my second race ever (after the 10K I ran at Universal Studios two weekends ago), and my first 5K. It wasn’t, however, my first Turkey Trot…

I used to run in Turkey Trot races each and every year in elementary school, and I hated it. With a passion. They were mandatory school-wide events on the last day before Thanksgiving break, organized by our gym teacher. Each grade competed amongst themselves, with prizes going to the fastest boy and fastest girl in each grade. In first grade, we ran one lap around the playground and baseball diamond (either 1/4 mile or 1/5 mile, I can’t remember), and each year, a lap was added, so by the time we hit 5th grade, were were running a full mile.

Here I am in 1988, nine years old – so probably 4th grade?

I was the chubby kid in my class, and I couldn’t run to save my life, so the Turkey Trot was dreadful. We would train during the month of November by running around the playground during gym class, and I remember praying for it to be over. The only gym class activity I hated more was climbing the rope, because that was a public display of my complete lack of physical abilities, with the rest of my class sitting in a circle, watching me not able to even hoist myself one foot off the ground. At least with running, less people noticed how slow I was, and how much panting was needed for me to move, because they were all running in front of me – figures getting smaller and smaller in the distance as the gap between me and nearly everyone else increased.

I do have good elementary school gym class memories, too – mainly ones involving games with a giant parachute, and the days when we played Pac-Man, a live-action version of the video game, set to what was, at the time, one of my favorite songs: Buckner & Garcia’s (no relation) “Pac-Man Fever.”

I digress. On the day of the Walnut Lake Elementary School Turkey Trot, I would always oscillate between feeling nervous and feeling terrified, with both feelings stemming from knowing that my finish would be downright embarrassing. I don’t recall actually being teased for being fat or slow, but I was mortified that it would happen. When I was in fourth and fifth grade, I used to hope that the fast kids would lap me early on, so the teachers and parent volunteers would lose track of how many laps I had run, and maybe, just maybe, I could squeak by running one less lap than I was supposed to.

Thankfully, the fast kids earned most of the attention after the Turkey Trot, as they should have, and in my grade, the Turkey Trot was dominated, year after year, by the same kids. My friend Bryce won every year for the boys, and my friend Ashlee won every year (except one) for the girls. The best part was their prize: every winner went home with a frozen turkey donated by the little independent grocery story across the street. I talked with my friend Sean (who was my next door neighbor and friend since we were in diapers) and he made a valid point: While a frozen turkey may be helpful for the winner’s family come Thanksgiving Day, couldn’t they have come up with a better prize to encourage 6-10 year olds? Why should an 8-year-old care about a frozen turkey?

Fast-forward more than 2 decades. I’m now 32 years old, and I actually enjoy running (sometimes). It’s been a stellar fall for my running career – At the beginning of October, I reached my own personal goal of running nonstop past all the strip clubs in my neighborhood, and two weeks ago I ran in my first sanctioned race, the 10K through the movie studio backlots. Both of those runs were over 6 miles, so when my sister Sarah asked if I wanted to run in her local Turkey Trot 5K when I came to visit for Thanksgiving, I said sure! 5K? Easy-peasy.

Because the Turkey Trot was happening about a mile from Sarah’s house, in a neighborhood without tons of parking, we decided to ride bikes down to the starting line. There were about 600 runners there, and we arrived nice and early, leaving lots of stretching time, and lots of chit-chat with a few of Sarah’s friends that were also running that morning. Here’s Sarah and I pre-race:

We claimed a spot in the crowd near the front of the pack – here’s everyone awaiting the starter pistol:

The course started on some residential streets, and then entered a big park, where the course narrowed from a full street to a narrow path. It was a beautiful park – lots of open space, and a trail that dodged and weaved alongside a creek, with the Rocky Mountains looming in the distance. At the halfway point, we turned around, and ran back along the same route to the finish line.

The weather was perfect, and despite not having run since the 10K two weeks ago (thanks, in part, to being sick for the past week), my running felt strong. The best part of the race was running it with Sarah. She’s so funny, smart and supportive, and it was really wonderful to be able to do something physical like this with her – the first non-swimming physical activity we’ve done together since… well, I don’t know when.

The worst part about the race was that it was crowded. We were on a narrow path for most of the run, and the path was divided down the center, to accommodate runners going in both directions, so passing other runners was very difficult. Sarah and I, as it turns out, are pretty well-matched in regards to our pace, and we stayed within a few yards of each other for most of the race, until I broke out in the lead at the very end.

Here we are a few minutes after completing the 5K:

Which brings me to…

David’s Official Results From the 1st Annual Louisville Turkey Trot 5K, 11/24/11:

  • Total Time: 26:57
  • Pace (my average time for each kilometer): 5.23
  • Pace (my average time for each mile): 8:39
  • Place: 147th out of 593 runners/walkers.
  • Place in my Age Group (Men 30-39): 40th out of 101 runners/walkers.
  • Number of other runners with the last name Garcia in the 5K, all of whom are unrelated to me: 3 (Sarah’s no longer a Garcia – her married name is Van Houten).

Some thoughts:

  • I’m getting faster! When I compare these results to my 10K results, my per-mile-pace dropped drastically, from 9:32 to 8:39. I know it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, since I paced myself differently for the 10K, and the 10K was on a much hillier course, but I’m still proud.
  • I finished in the top quarter of all the participants!

Keep it up, David!

MY NEXT POST: How I fared during Thanksgiving dinner.

Galette (Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!)

November 24, 2011

GOBBLE GOBBLE, Keep It Up, David readers! It’s Thanksgiving and I’m again writing from my sister’s house in Colorado, which is where I’ve been coming to celebrate turkey day for the past, oh I don’t know, 7 or 8 years.

I wanted to put up a little post before I went to bed on Thanksgiving Eve, mainly to share my Thanksgiving Day game plan. There will be a lot of food, and a lot of temptation, but I will not overeat. It won’t happen. My strategy is two-fold:

  1. NO SECONDS. I will indulge in a reasonable portion of whatever food I want, but I will not go back for more.
  2. I WILL PHOTOGRAPH EVERYTHING I EAT DURING THANKSGIVING DINNER. Those pictures will end up on this blog. This means that you all are going to help me maintain accountability.

If you have any other tips or ideas to get yourself through a food-based holiday like Thanksgiving without ending up in a food coma, share them in the comments section!

Now it’s time for a couple pictures and a recap of my Wednesday!

My sister Sarah and I had a great workout in the morning, at the amazing pool at her local rec center. Check this place out:

That’s a six-lane lap pool in the foreground, a water slide in the back (surrounded by a lazy river), and not pictured is the kiddie pool with slide and water features, the hot tub, and the sauna. Sarah and I did a sprint-based workout, and swam 2700 yards total (my first swimming workout since my last trip to Colorado, at a pool that had a high-dive). It totally kicked my ass, but I told myself that if I pushed myself, I could take a trip down the water slide. I ended up going down the water slide once twice thrice. And it was fantastic.

Later that day, I made dinner for everyone, including my folks, who arrived in the late afternoon. Sarah was dying to try a recipe that was recommended to her, so I made it, and it was a pain in the ass. It’s the Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette from Smitten Kitchen, and it only took me 5 hours to make (although there some breaks in there while components chilled in the fridge and freezer). I’ve never made pastry dough before from scratch, so there was that, plus roasting butternut squash and caramelizing onions, and then you gotta put it all together and bake it as a galette (which is a free-form French tart).

I will say this, though: it was totally worth it! Absolutely delicious. Here’s the galette before it went in the oven:

And the finished product:

I already provided the link above to get the recipe. I won’t endorse it as a recipe to help you eat healthier – the crust uses an entire stick of butter – but if you’re looking for something for a special occasion, then check it out.

Because of the butter, I kept the rest of the meal really clean and healthy: a big green salad, loaded with tons of veggies, and a little lite dressing; and some baked salmon and steelhead trout, seasoned with only salt, pepper, lemon, and dill.

Have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving everyone! My next post (going up maybe on Friday?) will be a recap of my second-ever race – the Louisville, Colorado Turkey Trot 5K!

Keep It Up, David!

Pippin Apples

November 22, 2011

I’m writing this blog post from a whole different state than usual – Colorado! After waiting around the Burbank airport thanks to a 2-hour delay, I finally boarded a tiny little 45-seater regional jet, which didn’t afford enough headroom for me to stand up straight in the aisle. No place to put my head except to tilt it to the side:

There was a perk to the whole situation, though: the delay forced whoever was seated next to me to rebook their travel, so… empty seat!

When you’re 6’4″ and on a regional jet (or any type of aircraft, for that matter), you’ll gladly take any extra elbow room you can get! Since I’m on the subject, if you’ve never read my post “How A 400-Pound Man Flies,” take a few minutes and read it. It’s about the misery of flying when you’re as heavy as I was, and even though it’s a year old, it’s still one of the posts I get the most feedback about. CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT.

My brother-in-law Justin picked me up at the airport, and there was a surprise when we got back to the house:

A 12-pound turkey! I won’t bore you with the specifics, but Justin accidentally ended up in a situation where he had a cook a bird today, in addition to the bird he’ll cook for Thanksgiving. I’m not complaining – Justin loves Thanksgiving and is great in the kitchen, and this bird was incredibly delicious. I picked off a few pieces before Justin carved it up. Between this trial-run turkey and the Thanksgiving turkey, there will be 24 pounds of turkey this year, and, um, 8 of us (I think) at Thanksgiving dinner – and two of them are 5 or under. Tis the season!

My other eating today was good. Due to the flight delay, I ended up getting a salad at the airport, and earlier in the day I had a healthy breakfast and lunch that were based around consuming some of the produce I had in the house before splitting town for 6 days. One of the items I ate was…

…a Pippin apple!

I mentioned this guy in my last Produce Haul post – there was a stack of them at Whole Foods, and I had never heard of Pippin apples before, so I bought a couple to give them a whirl (as I’m prone to do).

Before digging in, I looked around online, and got a little history lesson on the Pippin. It originates from France, and has been around for centuries. Shakespeare references a Pippin apple in Henry IV, and they were very popular in colonial America. They were actually were the first variety of apple to be exported in bulk back to England, after gaining popularity there due to Benjamin Franklin sharing samples on one of his trips across the pond. Pippin were also one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apples, which doesn’t surprise me in the least – I learned from Bill Bryson’s excellent “At Home” that Jefferson knew his stuff and had a garden of over 250 types of produce (read more about that here).

And yet, despite their storied history, you don’t see them that often in the stores anymore. At least I don’t. They supposedly are still plentiful and well-known in parts of Virginia (can any Virginian readers vouch for that?), although most are grown in the Pacific northwest.

This was my very first Pippin apple. It seems strange to take photographs of an apple like it’s some sort of bewildering delicacy, but since I do it for all the other new types of produce I try, I might as well do it with the Pippin:

Looks like… an apple. And guess what? It tastes like one, too. It’s on the tart side (which makes sense, because a few different websites referred to it being ideal for pies and desserts), and I don’t mind tart. But I didn’t care for the texture. It was a little on the grainy, mealy side. I don’t know if that’s indicative of Pippins in general or the Pippin I ended up with, but it’s not an apple I’ll be rushing out to buy again. Especially if there’s Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples nearby.

I’ll finish up with a health update: I’m not 100% better yet (ugh), but I’m feeling pretty good. I’m taking antibiotics for my throat (in case it is/was strep), and it’s still sore, although much more manageable. I’ve discovered Cepacol lozenges, which numb the throat, and they’re a huge help. Today was the first day in a few where I’ve actually had energy, and didn’t want to sleep all day long. So… things are improving.

Oh, and I worked out today for the first time since Saturday! I didn’t push myself – just 46 minutes on a recumbent bike, but it felt great! I had to do something… I’m signed up for a 5K on Thanksgiving Day!

Keep it up, David!


November 21, 2011

If I had to choose a theme for last night, it would have to be flight. Despite feeling under the weather (still), I rallied, headed downtown, and met up with my aunt and uncle at the Ahmanson Theatre, where we saw “Bring It On: The Musical,” a new show based on the Kirsten Dunst movie from about 10 years ago. “Based on” is being generous – the musical has an entirely new set of characters and a new plot, and the only resemblance it bears to the film is that they’re both about rival high school cheerleading squads. But I digress – “Bring It On” is an incredibly enthusiastic, high-energy show, and boy, do those actors fly! The show is heavy on dance, and in all the big numbers, people are tumbling and flipping and sent twirling 20 feet in the air. Here’s the commercial that’s been airing in LA:

I can’t imagine how many calories those performers burn during each performance! Los Angeles is the first stop of a coast-to-coast tour – you can find if it’s coming to your town on the website. It’s a really fun show: big, colorful, and at times, clever. Don’t expect intricate characters, nuance, or subtle storytelling – every element in this show is as simple and in-your-face as it can be.

After watching cheerleaders take flight for two and a half hours, I headed to the subway station to catch a train home (Yep, L.A. has a subway – it’s called the Metro). The Civic Center station, the closest one to the theater, has an art installation that I’ve never much paid attention to before – a series of life-sized figures flying above the platform:

According to the information I found on the Metro’s website, the figures are “an interpretation of the artist’s [Jonathan Borofsky] dreams of soaring above ground:

“I’ve had quite a few flying dreams in my lifetime. Many other people I’ve spoken to have had similar dreams. Sometimes I fly above it all, serene and rather enlightened…other times my flying dreams seem more like an escape from earthly concerns.”

I’ve had flying dreams before. I had one a couple weeks ago, in fact. I can’t remember many of the details now, except for that it was cloudy, and I was up amongst those clouds, and every time the clouds parted, I could see some place from my past: my back patio at my grandparents’ house, the little lake where we used to have a motorboat when I was a kid, the stoop of the building where I had a majority of my college classes. There were other people in the dream, but I can’t recall who, or what the tone of our interactions were.

My time on the train was spent thinking about what I would need to take flight. I’d need the ability to fly, obviously, but what else? I’d need courage. There’d be many inherent dangers, so courage would definitely be needed. I’d also need determination. It wouldn’t be easy to fly (I presume), but if I were determined, than I could brush off any trials and attempts as part of the process. Lastly, I’d need momentum. Even at my greatly-reduced weight of 236 pounds, it’d take some propulsion and thrust to get my body airborne. There’s a reason why runways are a mile long (and, no, I’m not comparing myself to an airplane).

Courage. Determination. Momentum.

The keys to so many things, aren’t they? None of them are easy to come by, and all of them can be even harder to hold on to. I wrote those three words on a post-it, and that post-it is now stuck on my bathroom mirror, where I’ll see it every morning. It’ll be a daily reminder that if I work on building and harnessing those three attributes, what I think is impossible may soon come within reach.

Keep it up, David.

Sick. Plus, Best of the Web!

November 19, 2011

Not feeling the greatest today. I have a headache and a killer sore throat. It hurts to swallow. This is day 2 of not feeling well – I made yesterday a rest day (exercise-wise) and took the term “rest day” to heart, taking a nice long mid-day nap. I’m loaded up on Zicam (generic) and Naproxen (name-brand) and I don’t feel much like blogging. So I’m not going to.

BUT, check this out! Keep It Up, David has been named Best of the Web!, an online shopping website, has a weekly round-up of the best sites out there, and this week, I’m on the list. Woo-hoo! Check it out here. Also check out their sporting goods blog, Be In The Game. Thanks for the honor, folks at!

Hope all of you have a great weekend – and hope you’re feeling better than I am! It’s hard when I’m sick, but I still gotta…

…Keep it up, David!

Fancy-Pants Slaw

November 17, 2011

This may be hard to believe, since I’ve written so much about it over the past few days, but that 10K I ran on Sunday morning wasn’t my only weekend activity. On Saturday night (the night before the big race), I was invited to a potluck, and you know me… I love an excuse to try out or create a new recipe.

I decided to bring a salad. I’m good at salads, and my Saturday before the potluck was kinda packed, so it was something that could come together relatively quickly, and I wouldn’t have to worry about it staying hot. I found an idea for a dressing and another element that sounded good in The Farm to Table Cookbook (which I modified, naturally), but the salad they recommended serving it on sounded kinda blah. And since cole slaw seems like a very potlucky-type dish, I decided that was the way to go.

This dish has a really long name. Are you ready? Here’s how I made my…

Cabbage & Apple Slaw, with Balsamic-Soaked Currants, Toasted Pecans, and Sweet Ginger Curry Dressing.

Whew, that title is a mouthful!  This recipe makes a lot of salad, so you may want to consider halving it before you commit to buying ingredients.

Preparations began on Friday night. First thing on the to-do list: Balsamic-Soaked Currants. Currants are a variety of small raisins that date back to ancient Greece. They look like raisins and taste like raisins, but they’re called currants so stores can charge more for them (just a guess). I’ve had currants in scones and granola and other baked goods, but this may have been the first time I’ve bought them:

See? I told you they look like raisins. I put about a cup of them in an airtight container, and added enough balsamic vinegar until they were covered:

I let them sit in the fridge overnight, but all they really need is an hour or to. There! Balsamic-soaked currants… done.

I also made the dressing on Friday night. I pulled out my blender, and started with the first ingredient: a Granny Smith apple:

Hmmm… maybe I should peel, core, and chop that apple, huh?

Much better. That’s two cups of apple, which actually turned out to be one and a half Granny Smiths. Then I added all sorts of good stuff:

  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar would be good too)

The Farm to Table recipe called for 1/2 cup of oil, but there’s no way I was adding that much oil, so I modified it, and added 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 more tablespoons vinegar, and 1/4 water. Blend it until it’s smooth, and you end up with:

It’s the curry that gives it the fantastic color!

The last thing I did on Friday night was toast some pecans. I forgot to take pictures, but I threw about 2 cups of pecan halves in a 10″ skillet (no need for oil, butter, or spray of any kind), and put them on medium-low heat for about 5-7 minutes. You know they’re done when you can smell ’em! And they smell great!

On Saturday, all I had to do was assemble the salad, which involved a lot of chopping. First item on the cutting board: cabbage:

That’s a savoy cabbage, which has leaves that are more wrinkly than regular green cabbage. I removed and tossed the outer-most leaves, chopped it in half, cut out the thick core, and chopped it up:

The entire cabbage went in the bowl. I wanted a little color and variety, so I also added 1/2 of a red cabbage:

Then, about 6 or 7 stalks of celery, chopped:

And half of a red onion, sliced. A little onion goes a long way:

Next up, more apple. I wanted to buy Braeburn, because I’ve read that they’re the most resistant to browning, and I thought I bought Braeburn, but when I got home from the store, it turned out they were Honeycrisp. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the signs in the produce section. Or maybe they were mislabeled. Either way, Honeycrisps are great apples – firm and crunchy and sweet – so I chopped 5 of them. I left the skins on, to add color.

Time for the finishing touches! I pulled out the currants, which had been soaking up the balsamic all night, and started scooping them out with a slotted spoon:

These are pungent little fellows! Sweet, with a balsamic kick – very tasty. I put about half of them in the bowl, along with half of the pecans. I added the dressing…

…and tossed it all together. Then, I sprinkled the other half of the currants and pecans on top, to make it purdy. Wanna see the final result?


I added a sign so everyone knew what they were getting into:

That’s painters’ tape, so the bowl doesn’t get damaged.

The potluck was a lot of fun. I met a lot of new people, and I think the slaw was a hit. People seemed to be eating it!

I bought too much cabbage, though, and there’s still 1/2 of a red cabbage and an entire second savoy cabbage in my fridge. Another slaw may be in my future…

Keep it up, David!

Burpee Update, Chart Update

November 16, 2011

Two different updates today.

1) Burpees Update. Remember when I committed to the No Excuses 30-Day Burpees Challenge? It’s a workout challenge hatched by Scott over at Your Inner Skinny where you do burpees every single day for a month, adding one burpee each day. I was feeling a bit in a rut when the challenge began, and even though I hate burpees, I made the commitment as a way to push myself into doing something new.

Tomorrow would have been my 30th day, but I’ll cut to the chase: I abandoned the challenge a long time ago. I dropped it like a prom dress. In the end, my dislike of burpees won out, and after missing a couple days of burpees, I couldn’t rally to get back on the burpee train. The 10K didn’t help, either, as it was a workout goal that really excited me, so I had no problem focusing on that and letting the burpees slide.

I did complete 14 days of burpees before pulling the plug, and I had worked my way up to 28 burpees on that 14th day. Add in the 4 days of practice burpees before the challenge actually began, and I completed 361 burpees. I can be proud of that, and proud that I’m man enough to share my shortcomings, even if I’m not proud of my quitting.

I’m also a little worried that Scott, once he reads this, is gonna emerge from his northern Canadian igloo, strap on his snowshoes, and find his way down to Los Angeles to kick my ass. And he totally could – that guy is jacked. Better sleep with one eye open.

2) Chart Update. Stepped on the scale yesterday, and I liked what I saw. Here’s the update on my weight loss chart:

Down 1 pound! Not to sound like a snot, but I should hope so. I worked my ass off last week, pushing myself while training for my 10K, and then actually running that 10K. What I’m most happy about is that I’ve turned around my recent slow gain:

I’ve lost 1 of the 5 pounds I gained over the 6 weeks. Four more to go! A weight of 236 puts my total weight loss at 166 pounds. A couple more weight loss chart shots, because I know you love ’em (and so do I):

Keep it up, David!

TOMORROW: My recipe for a healthy, delicious fall salad!