…Because Second Tallest Is No Longer Good Enough!

July 30, 2013

I’m writing this post from an entirely new-to-me location – the Los Angeles Central Library! I jumped on the Metro this morning and headed downtown for a change of scenery, and ended up here, in a building that dates back almost 90 years.


I could hang out all afternoon in the rotunda (except there’s no seating in there):


To get to the library, I walked past a building that’s very familiar to me. Do you recognize it? Read the rest of this entry »


Double Lemon Vegetable Barley Salad

July 29, 2013

My goodness…It has been a long time since I’ve posted a recipe! The last recipe I shared featured my cousin Macrae’s spaghetti sauce, and that was two months ago. (I’m still getting compliments about that sauce, by the way, so you should definitely try it if you haven’t already!)

Over the weekend I was invited to a potluck pool party, and because I knew there would be grilling going on, I decided to contribute a healthy and fresh salad. I looked up a bunch of recipes online, and pulled elements from a couple of them, and ended up creating my Double Lemon Vegetable Barley Salad. It got lots of compliments, so try it!

The star of the salad is barley, primarily because I had a lot of in the house. Barley is a grain that needs to be cooked, much like rice or quinoa, and it’s a healthy little bugger. Studies have shown that it can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and, because it contains a slower-to-digest fiber, it can keep you fuller for longer, thus leading to the consumption of fewer calories during the course of the day.

You can get quick-cooking barley, which takes 10 minutes on the stove, but I wanted to use up some regular pearled barley, which takes 45 minutes of low simmering. Because it takes so long, I cooked 1 cup of dry barley the night before, using the instructions on the package. Instead of water, I used low-sodium vegetable stock. After letting it cool, I stuck the whole pot in the fridge. In the morning, it was ready to use!


But first, I went nutso Read the rest of this entry »

An Epiphany In The Shower

July 25, 2013

I have one more quick story from Catalina that I didn’t work into the Catalina-centric post I published earlier this week. I mentioned in that post that we stayed in a very basic, no-frills hotel, but I didn’t get into specifics. My roommate Brendan and I were in the smallest hotel room I had ever seen. It was maybe 10’x10′, with double beds in two of the corners. There was a narrow aisle between the beds, about 2 feet of space at the ends of the beds, a tiny sink in the third corner, the door to the hall, a closet barely wide enough to hold a backpack, and that was it.

I’m not complaining – the hotel served my needs just fine, seeing as how I slept there and that’s about it. I’m just setting the scene. Next to the tiny sink was Read the rest of this entry »


July 23, 2013



Earning my certification was the high point of a wonderful weekend on Catalina, an island off the southern California coast. As I mentioned in my previous scuba post (which chronicled the classroom and pool portion of the certification process), I had never been to Catalina before, and didn’t really have Read the rest of this entry »

CARDIO TO VEGAS Update: Hello, Victorville!

July 19, 2013

NERD ALERT! I’ve been scouring the internet doing loads of research, and that means it’s time… for a CARDIO TO VEGAS UPDATE! If you’re late to the party, no worries. Grab a chair and get comfy, and let me tell you all about it. Cardio to Vegas is my current cardio workout challenge. I’m logging the miles that I complete during each and every cardio workout, no matter what type, with the goal of amassing 274 miles – equivalent to the distance between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

I’m plotting my progress on a map, and every time I update that map, I look for fun, interesting, bizarre, or intriguing facts and stories about the city or town that I’ve reached. It’s the ultimate nerd endeavor, as it combines my love of trivia with my love of tracking my exercise efforts, so, really, I’m in hog heaven. I love putting these posts together, and I hope you get a kick out of reading them!

Where did my cardio journey take me this time? Read on! Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures With My Heart Rate Monitor

July 18, 2013

I mentioned at the end of a recent post that, at the suggestion of my new trainer Mo, I bought a heart rate monitor. It’s been a fun addition to my workouts. I bought one made by Bowflex ($130 marked down to $30 at Big 5 Sporting Goods!) that features a chest belt that contains the actual monitor, and a wristwatch that displays all the info you need.


You can buy heart rate monitors that don’t have a chest belt, but this one was such a great price, I couldn’t resist. The chest belt goes around your chest so the monitor is sitting in the center of your chest, just below your tits. It was a little awkward the first time I used it, but since then I’ve mostly forgotten it was there.

I’ve never really monitored my heart rate during my workouts before. When I was growing up, my swim coaches would have us check our pulses during practices, but I never really focused on reaching certain levels. Mo wants me doing cardio workouts in a very specific range – he’s calculated that my training heart rate needs to be Read the rest of this entry »

Halfway To My Scuba Certification

July 16, 2013

I’m in the process of getting my scuba certification! Scuba diving has always looked exciting to me. I got to try it once, as a kid. My uncle Philip, who has been diving for decades, once brought over a couple scuba tanks when I was about 10 or so, and my brother and I went diving for a few minutes in our backyard pool. There wasn’t much to see, but it was a totally cool experience to be able to breathe underwater.

As an extremely heavy adult, scuba diving was one of those things that I had written off as something that just wasn’t possible. Now that I’ve lost around 160 pounds, it’s very much possible, and I started to get the itch a couple years ago, when I saw my sister Laura scuba diving in some awesome underwater caverns in Mexico. I snorkeled in them (see the cool pics here), but it wasn’t the same. You can only get so deep on one breath, and you can only stay under for so long, but with a scuba tank, you have so much more freedom to explore.

I don’t know why I waited a year and a half after that trip to start the certification process. The kicker is that I totally have a scuba hook-up: my friend Stu is a scuba instructor who teaches a course every couple months or so with an outfit called PCH Scuba. Over the weekend, I started Stu’s class. Read the rest of this entry »

Me? A Music Video Star? Yup. That Happened.

July 12, 2013

If, at any point in my life, you had ever told me that one day I’d be a dancer in a music video, I’d laugh and laugh and write you off a complete and utter whackjob. But that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday – a music video was shot, and I was a one of the dancers! Who’s the whackjob now?

I got a picture of me and the music video’s star during a break:



Here’s the backstory: Read the rest of this entry »

CARDIO TO VEGAS Update: Welcome to Phelan!

July 11, 2013

I’m in full-on nerd mode right now, which means this is gonna be a really good post. The last time I was nerding out to this degree, I ended up introducing my new workout goal, which is called Cardio to Vegas. Simply put, I’m logging all the miles I complete during any sort of cardio workout, with the goal of getting myself, hypothetically, from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. You can read more about the challenge right here.

Time for my first update! Las Vegas is 274 miles away, and I had already gone 57.85 miles. Let’s see how many new miles I’ve gone since then! Read the rest of this entry »

My First Session With a Personal Trainer

July 9, 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve lifted weights. And by a while, I mean months. I just flipped through my workout log, and the last time I had a workout with a significant weightlifting component was on Friday, February 8th. Almost 5 months ago to the day! This is mostly due to laziness on my part – it’s so much easier for me to get on an elliptical or go for a run, where I basically don’t have to think, than it is to lift weights, which requires constant focus on form and posture.

I’ve wanted to get back into lifting for some time now. When I was laid up and unable to exercise after my surgery, one of the things I looked forward to was lifting weights. But I never started lifting again, because Read the rest of this entry »