Getty Center “Before” and “Current” Photos

January 31, 2012

I’ve posted “Before” and “Current” photos before (including an awesome pair about a month ago, and check out the Photo Gallery to see all of them), but the ones I’m sharing today are definitely some of my favorites. I can’t wait for you to see them! I’ll get to them in a little bit, but let me share some other pictures first.

On Saturday, I met up with my friend Paul and his husband Court. Paul and I met when we were students in the theatre department at the University of Michigan, and after graduating, I headed to L.A., and Paul headed to New York City. I’m totally envious of Paul’s job – he’s a technical director for the Metropolitan Opera – and I’m envious of Court’s career too, for that matter – he’s a scenery and costume designer who works throughout the U.S. and Europe. I studied theatre design in college (and have the degree to prove it), but before graduating I decided I wasn’t cut out for it professionally. I’m thankful to have a handful of good friends from that program who have forged wonderful theatre careers (Paul being one of them), because whenever I hang out with them, I can live vicariously through their stories and imagine my life in an alternate universe. For the record, I don’t regret not pursuing theatre design as a career – I love theatre, but I’m happier being an educated audience member.

Enough back story. Paul and Court swung through Los Angeles on their way to Hawaii, and I met up with them at the Getty Center, a giant art museum on top of a hill in Los Angeles. Here we are (Court on the left, Paul on the right) in the gardens:

The Getty Center is an impressive place. Designed by architect Richard Meier, it opened about 15 years ago, and cost $1.3 billion. The artwork is displayed in five two-story buildings arranged around a center courtyard. Other buildings house offices, a restaurant, an auditorium, and a research facility. This is basically the same photo as above, but without anyone blocking the view:

People (including me) come to the Getty Center for the architecture, gardens, and views as much as they do for the art. This was my fourth or fifth visit, and I’ll never get tired of walking around that campus. The landscaping is full of colorful and exciting plants…

…and the view is second-to-none. It spans from the ocean to beyond downtown L.A., and we were there on as an extremely clear day:

The skyscrapers in the distance are downtown L.A., and the closer ones are Century City and Westwood.

It was fantastic catching up with Paul and Court as we wandered through the galleries. They were also more than happy to help me with my little project. And that brings us to…

…Some AWESOME “Before” and “Current” photos!

I know I said no more back story earlier, but I lied. There’s a little more back story, and here it is:

The last time I was at the Getty Center was in the summer of 2009, when I came with Tavi (my aerialist/dancer friend that gets mentioned way too frequently on this blog) and a friend of his. Here’s a picture from that outing showing how big I was at the time:

What we’re doing is recreating the sculpture on the left that we had just seen in one of the galleries, of the Greek god Cronus (the Romans changed his name to Saturn) devouring one of his children. The sculpture had been the basis of a funny conversation – basically, Tavi thought it was sweet that it showed an old man kissing a baby, but when I looked closer, I saw that the baby’s hand was completely inside the old man’s mouth, and it was clear he certainly was not showing affection.

By the way, I had forgotten how disgusting and disturbing Greek mythology can be. Not only did Saturn eat five of his own children, but he also castrated his own father, and tossed his testicles into the sea (Fun fact: the testicles created a white foam in the ocean, from which the Goddess Aphrodite emerged!). Saturn’s sixth child, Zeus, was hidden from him, raised by a goat, and returned as a grown-up to overthrow him. Zeus, using a potion, also forced Saturn to barf up all the siblings he had eaten, and they all survived.

The sculpture is really quite stunning – much more appealing to look at than Francisco Goya’s painting of the same event. There was a print of this painting hanging in my grandparents’ house when I was a kid (I think it was my uncle’s), and it gave me nightmares. Literally. (Fun fact: Goya painted this directly on the wall of his own dining room – can you imagine looking at that every time you sat down for a meal? It’s now in the Prado Museum in Madrid).

OKAY, OKAY, enough with the mythology lesson. Get on with the pictures!

In addition to staging photos where it looks like we’re eating each other, Tavi and I also took photos in the garden, and because I hadn’t been back to the Getty since losing over 165 pounds, I thought it’d be fun to recreate two of the photos as closely as I could. Paul and Court have great eyes for detail, so they helped figure out the angles and get me into position.

So without any further ago (I swear), I present:



Holy Crap, what a difference two and a half years makes! These pictures make me so happy – you have no idea. And doesn’t that statue have a nice rack?

The Getty Center also provided a nice bonus workout. I say ‘bonus’ because I had already taken Richard Simmons’ aerobics class before meeting up with Paul and Court. In addition to walking around the enormous campus for a few hours, I also walked up to the museum itself. While the museum is on top of a big hill, the parking garage is at the base of it, and there’s a tram that connect the two. I had no patience for the long tram line when I arrived, so I decided to walk up the hill. It’s not a long walk – 3/4 of a mile – but the whole way is up a steep grade. Here’s one the trams that passed by on my way up:

The three us also walked down when we left. An extra 1.5 miles of hill walking? Yes, please!

One final picture. We stayed at the Getty Center until after the sunset, when the sky turned all sorts of gorgeous colors.

I have a whole lifetime of sunsets like that to look forward to, and that’s just another reason to…



Easy Breakfast (with Shoots!)

January 30, 2012

Remember the popcorn shoots I brought home from the store the other day? I used ’em this weekend (well, some of them – I have some left) in an easy-peasy breakfast recipe, and they were delicious.

I picked the popcorn shoots up at Whole Foods, and was intrigued simply because I had never heard of them before.

They’re quite delicate and light, almost translucent, and a pretty yellow-green color.

For some reason, I thought I should weave them together like a laurel wreath and wear them on my head, like Julius Caesar, but I didn’t.

Maybe next time.

A did a little digging, and learned that popcorn shoots are indeed baby corn plants, grown from popcorn kernels. They’re so pale in color because they’re grown in greenhouses with black-out windows, so they don’t have any access to light. The lack of light prevents photosynthesis, which keeps them yellow. It also keeps them sweet, and boy, are they sweet! I tried a few straight from the container after I cracked it open, and they’re sweet, with a tart aftertaste. I’ve never tasted anything like it!

Popcorn shoots, nutritionally speaking, are high in vitamins A, B, C, and E and like most sprouts, have more protein than fully grown plants.

Now, the recipe!

I totally “borrowed” this idea from a web video my brother-in-law Justin sent me, where actress Judy Greer learns two simple breakfast ideas from a chef. Watch the video here. And, on a side note, I’m writing this post after coming home from seeing The Descendants, a movie that I liked – and Judy Greer was one of my reasons why. She’s fantastic!

Anyway – I may have borrowed the idea, but I altered it and made it my own, as I tend to do. It’s a quick breakfast burrito. I started by spritzing a skillet with cooking spray, and cooking 1/2 cup each of onion and red bell pepper over medium heat.

I should apologize now – my stove is in a dark corner of my house, so some of these photos aren’t very good.

After the veggies got soft (it only took a few minutes), I added three egg whites and let them cook.

I tried not to stir them too much, so it’d end up being more omelet-like than scrambled-eggs-like. When the eggs were about halfway done (which took 2 minutes, tops), I added a tortilla, right on top (this tip came straight from the web video, and I love it!).

You don’t need to cook the tortilla, you just want to warm it through, so it becomes soft and pliable. This will help keep your burrito together, and keep the temperature of the end result more consistent, so you’re not biting into warm eggs and a cold tortilla straight out of the fridge.

After a minute or so more, You can invert the tortilla and the eggs onto a plate. Hopefully, if the eggs are indeed more omelet-like, and the pan was well oiled and non-stick, they’ll all come out in one piece. It didn’t work out so perfectly for me, but it was no big deal.

I added a couple spoonfuls of salsa down the middle…

…and then I went outside, where they’re much better light, before adding a handful of the popcorn shoots:

Now that’s a food photo!

And that’s it! Voila! It’s done! All that’s left to do is roll it up and take a bite.

I took one bite, and about half of the contents exploded out the other end. I hate when that happens, but what are you gonna do?

It was a tasty breakfast – and with carbs, protein, and veggies, it’s pretty balanced, too. The popcorn shoots were crisp and crunchy and added freshness to the burrito. I had an apple, a ton of blueberries, and a handful of broccoli florets (although I didn’t eat those things together!) to round out my meal. This breakfast burrito idea is a good one, because it’s so flexible. Don’t have popcorn greens in your area? Use arugula (like they do in the video), or any other type of lettuce. Leave out the onion and pepper if you want, or replace them with mushrooms or zucchini. Throw in some black beans instead, or in addition to, the salsa. You can do whatever you want!

Keep it up, David!

First Class at My New Gym

January 29, 2012

Happy Sunday! I’m having a low-key day today, after having a fun and busy past couple days. I’m about to head out to the gym, then come back and make some lunch… but I wanted to share my first experiences at my new gym. As I mentioned a few days ago, I decided to take advantage of a good opportunity and try out a new gym. I’ve now been there twice.

The first time I went was at 9pm on Thursday night, and I put together a great workout: 5 minutes warm-up on a treadmill, then 35 minutes of weight training. They have every machine I could possibly ever want to use, plus many more machines I’ve never seen before. After I was done with the weights (focusing on upper body), I headed back to the cardio area and jumped on an adaptive motion trainer. This is one of my favorite cardio machines, and one I’ve only used at my sister’s gym in Colorado (I blogged about my first time using one, read it here), so I was excited to see them at my new gym. In fact, my new gym has all my favorite cardio machines, so bonus points for that!

I didn’t take my own picture of the adaptive motion trainer, but here’s one I found on the interwebs:

It has pedals like an elliptical, but you can do a whole wide range of motions on them, from nearly vertical (like you’re climbing stairs), to big bounding leaps, like a gazelle bolting from a cheetah. I did a 3-minute pattern: 2 minutes of big bounding leaps, then 1 minute of stairs. I did that pattern 5 times, plus a minute of cool-down, for a total of 16 minutes.

On Friday, I went back and took my first class. The gym is known for their classes – they offer 15-20 a day. The class I chose was called Killer X Training, and it was a high-intensity, high-energy, high-impact cardio class. The instructor, Mike, described the class before we started: The first 45 minutes were going to be non-stop, so drink water when needed, and take breaks when needed.  The default activity was a brisk jog, and then we did all sorts of other exercises: mountain climbers, burpees, more types of squats and lunges that I can remember. We had steps, so we jumped on and off the step, adding arm movements. And Mike wasn’t lying about the non-stop part! After 45 minutes, we added dumbbells, and did sets that combined, for example, bicep curls and squats. The whole class was an hour, and it was quite possibly one of the toughest classes I’ve ever taken. But I kept up, kept moving, pushed myself, and finished strong, and it felt great.

Until I got home, about 45 minutes after the class ended, and I was so sore it was hard getting out my car. Sore, though, it good. I like sore. It means I did something right. And sore always goes away.

Keep it up, David!

Time to Focus

January 27, 2012

I need to buckle down on my eating. For most of the month, I haven’t been as diligent and focused as I could be. I wouldn’t say that I’m completely off my game – I’ve just been lazy. Portion sizes have gotten larger. My emphasis on planning has wained. I’ve indulged my cravings much sooner than usual, and without consideration on how those calories would impact the rest of my day.

I’ve gone through periods like this before – it starts to happen whenever I plateau or repeatedly gain and lose the same couple of pounds. I begin thinking, “Why not eat foods X, Y, and Z – I’m not losing weight anyway.” In the past few weeks, I’ve bought a candy bar (or two) at gas stations, a pint of ice cream (which was polished off much sooner than it should have been), and I’ve been really craving 7-11 corn dogs, so I’ve gotten a couple of those, too (I know, I know, they technically don’t quality as ‘food’ – more like ‘food-like substances’).

None of that is the end of the world, and I’m not beating myself up over any of it. It’s the behavior behind that bothering me and needs to change. All of those purchases were impulsive. I wanted junk food, so I bought junk food, and ate it immediately (usually, in my car, except for the ice cream). The most caloric impulse purchase was a slice of Sbarro pizza at the food court in the mall. It was the worst kind of eating: I was at the mall, I hadn’t eaten in a while, and I was a little hungry, but not achingly so. I walked past the Sbarro, and I wasn’t even craving pizza, but I thought, ‘Oh, that looks good, I haven’t eaten that in a while’ – and without a second thought, I bought a piece. I wish I had registered that I was hungry, taken stock of all the options in the food court, figured out if there was anything at all I wanted to get there, and made a more conscious, informed, intelligent decision. But I didn’t. I went for what was right in front of me. And it was greasy. And it was good, but it wasn’t the best.

Again, the pizza isn’t the end of the world, and I’m gonna gain dozens of pounds because of it. But the thinking (or lack thereof) is what I need to squash. I need to get back to the place where I think about my days, think about the food in my fridge, and the exciting ways I’m going to eat it, and then stick to those plans. When I do that, I alleviate a lot of temptation, and which temptations do strike, I can better fend them off, without giving into them mere moments after they appear.

Another reason why I’ve given in to poor food choices is because my cupboards are a little bare. My grocery shopping game, at the moment, is off – I have healthy food around, but not enough choices, and when I don’t have enough choices in my kitchen, I start not wanting to eat it. I had a container of pre-washed mixed baby salad greens in my fridge – you know the kind, every grocery store sells them. But because I didn’t many other good salad things to add to it, I never wanted to eat it. I stared at it every day for a week, maybe longer. I should have gone and picked up some salad ingredients that excite me, but I didn’t. And it sat there, and sat there, and sat there, and then yesterday I picked it up and realized it had long since expired. I opened the container, and sure enough, it smelled like a compost heap and every leaf was slimy. I don’t like wasting food, and that pissed me off.

Yesterday afternoon, I rectified my lack of healthy options problem with a big trip to Whole Foods. Here’s the entirety of my fresh produce before the trip:

Two sweet potatoes, two apples, an onion, a lemon and a head of garlic.

And here’s what I picked up at Whole Foods:

Top half, L-R: 3 red pears, 4 zucchini, 4 tomatoes, 5 satsuma tangerines, a cucumber, 2 pints blueberries, baby carrots, red bell peppers. Bottom half, L-R: celery, strawberries, bananas, pre-washed kale (and yes, I will eat it before it goes bad), 4 (more) apples, broccoli.

I also picked up a new-to-me produce item that I’ve never seen before, because I haven’t done that in a while (not since I sampled a calamondin in Michigan). Check these out – they’re popcorn shoots!

They were in the sprouts and sprouted bean section, and I presume they’re baby corn plants. They seem really thin and delicate, and although you may not be able to tell in these pictures, they’re almost translucent, which I think is really cool.

I have my research to do, but I already have an idea for how to use them as part of a breakfast dish. Look for that post this weekend!

In the meantime, I have my work cut out for me: Eat better. Plan more. Consider cravings and see if they subside instead of immediately caving into them. Oh, and you wanna know how you can help? If you’re a regular blog reader, pay attention. There’s a sure-fire sign that I’m not eating as well as I could be, and it’s that I simply don’t write about food. Since I’ve returned from my holiday travels, I’ve only written one food-based post (What’s In The RediSetGo? Part Twenty-One). If you see me go for a stretch without any mention of food, call me out on it, either in the comments section or through the Contact page!

OK – I’m off to my new gym (while my eating has suffered lately, my exercise has been pretty stellar), and I already know what I’m making for lunch when I get back – I’m getting back on the salad train with that kale, one of those tomatoes, and one of those peppers. I’ll post a picture on my Facebook page later today as proof!

Keep it up, David!

UPDATE (3pm): The salad photo is up on my Facebook page, as promised! Check it out here.

Double Skyscraper AND The Big Gym Decision

January 26, 2012

WHOA! My gig at Whole Foods Pasadena is only one week away! Call your buddies and come hear me talk about weight loss and how anyone can start getting healthy. All the details are here.

Well, I’ve blogged about it, and blogged about it some more, and I’ve finally made a decision about my big gym dilemma. Today, I went back and bit the bullet: I signed up to join Crunch. I considered a lot of things (including many of the excellent points you all raised in the comments section), but ultimately, I was won over by my own enthusiasm. The thought of all the new options that a bigger, better-equipped gym can provide excites me. I like trying new things! That they were offering a great deal was a bonus, and I made sure I was crystal clear on their billing and cancellation policies before signing on the dotted line. The contract is month-to-month, and if I don’t like it, I can cancel. And they gave me a new gym bag as a signing present:

Onto the main event!

Last week, I wrote about how my current gym now has StairMasters at both locations, which means I probably should use them more often than once a month. On Monday, I made good on that promise, and stepped on a StairMaster. And before I did, I thought long and hard: I don’t care for the StairMaster, so if I’m going to use it more regularly, I need to make some changes so it’s less of a miserable experience. I decided on two things:

  1. I would begin my workout on the StairMaster. Usually I do some cardio after an intense weightlifting session, but maybe I’d like the StairMaster more if I was using it while fresh, and not counting the minutes until I could leave the gym.
  2. I’d cover the StairMaster display with a magazine or towel, so I couldn’t see the time. I already employ this tactic on stationary bikes and treadmills, and I don’t know why I’ve never done it on the StairMaster. Time seems to move slower when you’re staring at the seconds tick by, so out of sight, out of mind!

With those two things implemented, I powered up the StairMaster and started climbing. You know what? Both my strategies worked! I stayed on the StairMaster for 20 minutes, which is a good 5-10 minutes longer than I can normally muster, and it really seemed to fly by! I burned 325 calories, and climbed 92 stories. NINETY-TWO STORIES! That’s a new record!

I was geeked to find a new tower to add to my Skyscraper Collection. The problem, though, is that when you get above 90 the options drastically decrease. There are only about a dozen buildings on the planet that reach higher than 90 stories, and none of them have exactly 92. So I decided to go with an iconic skyscraper that has 88 stories. It’s a skyscraper that held the record for the tallest building in the world from 1998-2004… a skyscraper that’s become a symbol for Kuala Lumpur, the city it’s located in, and all of Malaysia… any guesses?

I’m talking about the Petronas Towers!


I climbed that!

But here’s the problem. As you can see, there’s two of them. And it would bug me to no end if I had twin towers in my Skyscraper Collection but had only climbed one of them. So, I issued myself a challenge, right then and there: I gotta climb the second tower, and quickly.

Yesterday, two days after my first fake Petronas Tower climb, I returned to the gym, covered the display with my towel, and started climbing again. It seemed a little easier this time around, and maybe that’s because I knew exactly what was needed to complete my goal. I set the timer for 20 minutes, stayed in the same speed range as last time (between 7 and 9), turned on my iPod, and climbed. In those twenty minutes, I climbed 94 stories (!) and burned 330 calories (!). SUCCESS! I conquered both Petronas Towers!

I climbed both of them! Here’s your debriefing on the Petronas Towers:

  • They’re currently tied, with each other, as the 6th tallest buildings in the world.
  • They’re the tallest twin towers in the world. (They’re about 100 feet taller than the World Trade Center was).
  • They’re linked by a skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors. At 558 feet above the ground, the skybridge is the tallest 2-story bridge in the world.
  • Most of the elevators are double-decker, with the lower deck stopping only at odd-numbered floors, and the upper deck stopping only at even-numbered floors.
  • The complex at the base of the towers includes a 6-story mall, an aquarium, and a concert hall that’s home to the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • The Petronas Towers went Hollywood quickly after opening. They’re featured prominently in the 1999 hit art-heist movie Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, including an action sequence where the two stars dangle precariously from the skybridge. You can see a few shots of this in the film’s trailer.

The Petronas Towers are now at the top of my Skyscraper Collection. Together, they’re 176 stories high!

Keep it up, David!

I’m a Dancing Machine

January 25, 2012

Last weekend, I got a call from my friend Tavi, inviting me to go dancing. I haven’t been dancing in years – I probably haven’t gone dancing since I moved to Los Angeles, and that was nearly ten years ago!

In college, I went out dancing all the time – almost every week. There’s a nightclub in Ann Arbor, Michigan (where I went to school) called Nectarine, and Friday nights were (and I presume still are) gay nights. The first few times I went, I was painfully self-conscious and uncomfortable. I felt that, as one of the biggest people in the room (if not the biggest), all eyes were on me, and not in a good way. But I kept going, always with good friends, and slowly the self-consciousness subsided and I started having a really good time. Nectarine is where I saw my first drag show – and my second, third, fourth, and so on, because they would host one every month.

When I moved out to Los Angeles, my interest in dancing waned significantly. I was intimidated – it may sound silly, but I thought there was a big difference between big city nightclubs and the one in my college town, and I didn’t think I was ready. It took me a little while to settle into Los Angeles, generally speaking – learning the landscape, finding a job, making friends, and all while staying with my aunt and uncle 45 minutes outside of town until I got my feet planted. I started establishing my life without going out to nightclubs, and I didn’t miss it. I certainly didn’t miss the self-consciousness that would have gone along with stepping into a new club scene.

So when Tavi called with the nightclub invitation, I was excited to go. I knew I wouldn’t feel self-conscious, and the good Nectarine memories far outweighed the bad. That night, I met up with Tavi, his boyfriend Antonio, and Antonio’s roommate, Brian, and we headed out.

The club we were headed to was called Club Mayan, and the evening was built around the fact that Antonio was working there that night as a go-go dancer. Club Mayan is housed within a huge old gutted theater in downtown Los Angeles that is fabulously and elaborately decorated in the style of a Mayan temple. We wandered in, and all I could think about was how fun this place would have been in its heyday, before they ripped out all the seats and slapped slapped multiple coats of paint on every surface. I snapped a couple pictures – the first is the exterior, the second is the lobby, but they don’t do the place justice:

I looked up the history of the Mayan, and, like a lot of old theaters, it has a long and fascinating history. It opened in 1927 as a Broadway-style venue for musical comedies, and then it became a movie theater. In the ’40, it was a burlesque house (it’s rumored that Marilyn Monroe performed there), and in the ’50 and ’60s, it showed Mexican and Latin American films. Then, in the ’70s, new owners turned it into an adult film theater (they even filmed some of the porno scenes in the basement), and in the late ’70s, the space was subdivided into three adult film theaters. In 1990, it was converted back into one big space and transformed into a nightclub.

It was a fun evening – except for the part where they didn’t think Tavi was wearing nice enough shoes and wouldn’t let him in (it was bullshit), so he and I had to go all the way back to Tavi’s house to grab a new pair. I wouldn’t say that the Club Mayan was my scene (but I probably can’t claim to have a scene, as I haven’t been dancing in 10 years, right?), but anything is fun when you’re with good friends. Antonio was one of five go-go dancers that rotated between a couple elevated platforms, and holy crap, Antonio is jacked. He could be covered in gray paint and stuck in the antiquities wing of any museum alongside the other Greek God sculptures. Seriously. His muscles have muscles.

Oh, and we danced! We were on the dance floor for well over an hour. The music was pretty good, and I definitely broke a sweat. I slept well that night, and I’m glad I did, because less than 12 hours after leaving the club, I was dancing again…

…in Richard Simmons’ aerobics class. The theme for that class was country music, and Richard was wearing a tank top and shorts fashioned entirely out of bandannas. Wanna see? Here’s the video from that day’s class. Keep a look out for me – I’m not sure there’s anyone lingering footage of me, but I only half paid attention while watching:

Richard’s class is around 90 minutes long, and I’d guess I danced for that long at Club Mayan… so 3 hours of dancing in a 12-hour period?

Keep it up, David!

Gym Update and Poster

January 24, 2012
Something’s up with WordPress and the formatting of my paragraphs is all kinds of wonky, but I’m tired of messing with it. Please forgive the spacing problems and enjoy my post!
Let’s start with some gratitude. A big thanks to everyone that has reached out in the past couple days. The comments and messages I’ve gotten because of yesterday’s anniversary post put an enormous spring in my step, so thank you. Tons of you shared it, via Twitter and Facebook, with your friends, and I appreciate that, too – my blog hits yesterday were through the roof, making that spring in my step even more enormouser.
Then, there were all the people that weighed in on my gym dilemma – what a thoughtful and insightful bunch of comments those were! You all gave me a lot to consider and think about, and I’m still not 100% sure what I’m gonna do, but I do have more information to share. Here’s a speedy recap if you need one:
Spike has been forcing his wife Jessica to prostitute herself, and he’s been drugging her and convincing her that she’s the one that’s killed all those dead johns that she keeps waking up next to. Jessica finally gathers the strength to leave Spike and move back into her dad’s house, but soon thereafter, she realizes she’s pregnant with his child. A bitter Spike retaliates by kidnapping Jessica and burying her and their unborn child in the woods, where they both die from a lack of oxygen. Jessica’s sister, Kay, finds them a little too late, but thanks to a magical group prayer, their spirits return to their bodies and they come back to life.
Sorry – that was a recap of a Passions storyline from 2006-2007. Here’s what you really need to know:
A big, fancy new gym is opening nearby in a couple months, and they have a great deal if you sign up early. My membership at my current, no-frills gym is almost up, and there are pros and cons to both staying where I am and switching to the new gym.
You can read about all those pros and cons (and see my readers’ reactions) by reading my original post.
So here’s some new information: Yesterday I talked with the manager at my current gym. He confirmed that my membership expires on February 19th, and that I could renew for another year at my current rate ($199 for 12 months, paid upfront, which works out to $16.58 a month). I also inquired about a monthly rate, because I may want to extend my membership by a month or two until I see how things pan out at the new gym. Buying a month at my current gym would cost $35 (it’s more expensive, as gyms reward longer contracts with cheaper prices) but that’s actually a discounted price – I guess the manager likes me (which is fantastic, because I like him).
Later today, I’m going back to the new gym’s membership center and confirming a few things with them, and I’m taking my sister’s advice and reading the fine print about cancelling a membership.
At this point, I’m leaning towards trying out the new gym. Change is good. As far as money is concerned, the eventual increase in my monthly gym expenditures won’t be the end of the world, and any investment in my health is a good investment. Like many of you pointed out, I can always go back to my old gym, and I don’t see leaving my gym as a sign that I’m somehow a back-stabber or a traitor. More news to come.
Before I wrap this up, I wanted to share a fun graphic – it’s the poster that Whole Foods Pasadena created to promote my upcoming speaking engagement! Check this out:
Cool, huh? I love it. Am I gonna see you there? Are you going to bring all your friends? Gee, I hope so!
Keep it up, David!

Year Three

January 23, 2012

This post completely snuck up on me. For some reason, I had it set in my head that I would be writing this post later in the week. And then yesterday, I realized that it was January 22nd. Which means that today is January 23rd. Today is my anniversary.

Two years ago, on January 23rd, 2010, I met with Richard Simmons, who offered to help me lose weight. He had me start keeping a food log that he looked over every week, keeping me accountable for what I put in my mouth. It was the beginning of my effort to lose weight.

January 23rd, 2010 marks a number of of other important beginnings: the beginning of my friendship with Richard, the beginning of a focus on health and wellness unparalleled by any other period in my life, the beginning of an attitude shift towards confidence and self-appreciation. I can see this date whenever I want, because it’s at the start of my weight loss chart – the very chart that shows that since January 23rd, 2010, I have lost 166 pounds.

I was recently thinking about some big hypothetical what ifs. What if I hadn’t taken Richard Simmons up on his offer? What if I had continued to believe that my body was never going to change? What if I hadn’t challenged my own engrained notions that I could never successfully lose weight?

These what ifs led to a depressing series of visions: me, heavier than ever, sitting around, surrounded by junk food wrappers. Me, walking into a big & tall store for the umpteenth time, seeing all the same clothes over and over again, knowing exactly what I’ve already tried on. Me, continuing to slowly isolate myself from the people that love me, continuing to convince myself that I wasn’t worthy of their attention.

But you know what? They’re just visions. There is no alternate universe where I’m lounging on the couch, chocolate smeared on my face, screening my calls. And you know why? Because I took those first steps, on January 23rd, 2010, and it was hard and I was scared, but I kept looking forward. I kept moving forward, finding new ways to be healthier and implementing them, continuing to exercise and push myself like I’ve never done before.

And look where I am now. It’s the beginning of my third year on this track, and I look and feel like a completely different person. One of the things I’ve heard on multiple occasions, from the people in my life that have known me for years and years, is that they don’t recognize me in old photos anymore. They don’t remember the 400-pound body I used to have.

What I find exciting is that the same thing is beginning to happen to me. That guy, in those photos, is starting to seem foreign. The memories of struggling to get in and out of a low-riding car or feeling winded after walking up a hill are fainter, and evaporating more and more each month. It’s exhilarating, because it means that all this effort and determination is really sticking. I’m proving to myself, with every passing day, that this isn’t some fluke or some miraculous spurt of good health. It’s evidence that I’ve changed my life.

That change began on one day: January 23rd, 2010. Today is January 23rd, 2012, and I challenge you to make today a new beginning. It doesn’t matter if this is Year 1 of trying to lose weight, or Year 3, or Year 33 – take this opportunity to start making changes. They can be small at first, or you can dive right in – but either way, make a change. You deserve more.

We’re only three weeks into this new year, but it doesn’t need to be January 1st to make a resolution. My resolution, that I reaffirm on every post of this blog all year long, is to keep it up.  I need to keep it up, because I love shopping for new clothes in increasingly smaller sizes. I need to keep it up, because I want as much time with my family and friends as I can get. I need to keep it up, because I know that the love of my life is out there somewhere, and I won’t find him if I’m holed up in my room feeling sorry for myself. I need to keep it up, because my life depends on it.

So that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. What about you?

Happy Anniversary, David. And…


Is It Time For a New Gym?

January 22, 2012

OK readers – I’m contemplating switching gyms and I want your thoughts.

My current gym membership expires in a little over a month. I like my gym. I’ve been a member for about 4 years, and have written about it many times before, including just the other day. There are two locations, it’s clean, it’s rarely so crowded that I can’t use the equipment I want to use, and parking is generally easy. It’s a simple, no-frills gym – no fancy decor, no juice bar, no hot tub or sauna, and on location doesn’t have towel service. And it’s cheap. When I first enrolled 4 years ago, I was paying around $24 a month, but I renewed last year while they were having a special, so right now I’m paying $16 a month (!), and I’ve never paid sign-up, processing, or any other additional fees.

But there’s a big, new fancy gym comin’ to town, and it has caught my eye.

Are you familiar with Crunch Gym? It’s a very fancy, very pricey, high-end company with about 30 locations across the country (mostly in big cities on the east and west coasts). If you watched Will & Grace, than maybe you’ll remember their logo – the characters on that show worked out at Crunch in multiple episodes.

The only Crunch in Los Angeles right now is in West Hollywood (about 30 minutes away). But they’re in the process of building a second location, in Burbank, a few blocks from my current gym. It’s going to be big. It’s going into a retail space that was formerly a CompUSA, and it’s going to be 26,000 square feet. Construction is currently on-track for a mid- to late-March opening. Crunch set up a membership center near their new location, and on Friday, after my workout, I went over to check it out.

This new Crunch facility sounds like it’s going to be awesome. They’re planning on offering 70 classes a week, and stocking the gym with all new, state of the art equipment of all kinds. The woman I was talking to kept peppering our conversation with mentions of types of training and machines that I’ve never heard of before, and it sounds very exciting. Plus, there was a big floor plan of the space on the wall, and I’m a sucker for a floor plan.

And, of course, Crunch has a membership special that’s running right now. Here it is in a nutshell: A full-price membership to Crunch runs $75 a month. I can enroll right now and get access to both the Burbank and West Hollywood locations for $49 a month, plus a one-time $20 processing fee. The monthly billing wouldn’t start until April 1st, which means I’d get access to the West Hollywood location for free for the months of February and March. There also isn’t a contractual length of time: I could hypothetically cancel my membership in May, and they’d stop charging me.

I’m really tempted. Having access to the West Hollywood location for free for two months is exciting, although it’s a little far. The price is great, too – $49 is a good deal for a $75-per-month facility. Then again, $49 is significantly more than the $16 that I’m currently paying. Then again, that $49 will get me access to more machines, more types of exercise, more everthing. Then again, I’d like to think I’m going to love the Burbank location when it opens, but there’s always the chance that, for some reason, I’m going to hate it or it’s going to be ridiculously crowded. There’s lot of “then agains.”

Plus, there’s the matter of my current gym. I have yet to sit down with them to talk about renewing my membership, or what they can offer me, price-wise. I think I’d need to, at minimum, renew for a couple months even if I do sign up with Crunch, just so I have access until the Burbank location opens. Going to the West Hollywood Crunch will be nice, but I just don’t think I’ll be able to swing it into my schedule as often as I want to, and having my little gym 10 minutes away will be nice.

So, there are the facts. What should I do? What would you do? Please offer some input in the comments section!

Oh, and my Friday workout was fantastic – 40 minutes of weights, then 17 minutes of cardio, mostly on the the arc trainer.

Keep it up, David!

Pants Update AND Evening Run

January 20, 2012

A lot of you read my last post about my favorite pants – hopefully you liked it! I ended the post with a plan for my newly-mended pants: I would wear them around the house, and once confident they weren’t going to rip again, I would venture out of the house and wear them in public.

Last night, I tossed the plan out the window. Screw the plan! I wore the pants out of the house. Without a trial run. I went with my friend Kristy to a party. Kristy’s come up on this blog before – she’s one of my best friends, and an amazing singer/songwriter (check out her website) who has even written a song inspired by this blog. The party was for our friend Haviland’s birthday. Haviland is a really talented actress and singer – she’s been in a Lifetime movie and in big Broadway musicals, and she’s a sweetheart (check out her website).

The pants worked out great. They didn’t rip, they were comfy, it was awesome. Here I am, in the pants, with Kristy (on the left), and Haviland:

I think we’re each looking at something different! I’m also wearing a gingham shirt from H&M, the swazer I bought on my trip to Seattle last summer, and some new kickass shoes that were a Christmas present from my sister. I think I looked pretty good!


I decided to go for a run last night. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was in the mood for a run, because I don’t think that’s true. It was more like I realized that I hadn’t been running in a few weeks, so I should probably go running. Running isn’t my favorite form of exercise in the world (although my first 10K was a completely wonderful experience), but it’s a good form of exercise, and I like having it in my arsenal for days when I don’t feel like going to the gym, and when I’m places where I don’t have access to a gym.

It’s been a month since I’ve updated my Running Chart, although I have gone running once since then: it was on the final morning of my cruise, when I ran a 5K around the track on the ship. But that run was interrupted by a short but torrential downpour (during which I did lunges and jumping jacks under an overhang), and because of the interruption, I wasn’t able to gather all the stats I need for the Running Chart, so I couldn’t add it.

Last night’s run, however, has already been added to the Running Chart. It was a good run – I ran, without stopping, for 47 minutes, and went 4.4 miles during that time. I felt pretty strong, although a touch sluggish (which my average speed of 5.6 MPH confirmed), but that didn’t bother me.

My route:

I learned two new things about my neighborhood on this run:

  • Where the closest police station is located! I’ve lived in my place for over two years, and while I frequently see police cruisers patrolling the streets around me, it’s never occurred to me where the precinct was. Now I know! It’s only a couple miles away. The fire station, by the way, is about a block away, right on my street. So I feel pretty safe when I play with all those matches and greasy rags.
  • There’s a street I ran down that I never been on before – not on foot, and not even in my car. It seemed like a pleasant enough residential street, but I’m not going to run down it again at night, because there aren’t street lights, and I quickly grew paranoid that I was going to trip on a piece of sidewalk pushed up by tree roots, like I did that one time when I nearly died during a run.

My run was also notable because I jogged past a ton of fast food establishments. Wanna know how many? Me too. Let’s count.

  • Del Taco
  • Subway
  • Baskin Robbins
  • KFC
  • Donut shop (don’t know the name, but it might just be “Donuts” – or “Donuts & Croissants”)
  • Carl’s Jr.
  • Denny’s (I know, it’s a diner, not fast food, but I’m including it just because they once had, on their menu, a Mac ‘N Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt, which has 1,690 calories and 99 grams of fat)
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Taco Bell
  • another Subway
  • Yum Yum Donuts
  • Burger King
  • Yoshinoya
  • McDonald’s
  • El Pollo Loco (“The Crazy Chicken” if you no habla espanol)
  • Jack In The Box
  • Last but not least, three different 7-11s.

That’s an 19-item list right there. A lot of potential temptation! But not for me.

Keep it up, David!