I Cancelled My Gym Membership and Here’s Why.

October 17, 2016

It’s the end of a chapter in my life: I’ve cancelled my gym membership at Crunch, after four and a half years.

final-day-at-crunch

Crunch is a great gym, but it’s time to move on. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Dick In Burbank

October 13, 2014

I went for a great run over the weekend. And I had an awesome running partner:

David-Luna-Park

I actually had two running partners: Read the rest of this entry »


Six Days Until the BolderBOULDER!

May 22, 2012

My next fitness challenge is only six days away. Next Monday (Memorial Day!), I’ll be in Boulder, Colorado, running with my sister Sarah in the BolderBOULDER, a ginormous 10K race that attracts runners from all over the world.

Because of my back-to-back stair climb challenges, I wasn’t able to start focusing on 10K training until about two weeks ago, after finishing my 163-Story Burj Khalifa Challenge. When the time came to step away from the StairMaster (finally), and get into a running mood, I wasn’t very excited. I hadn’t run in a couple months, and, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it.

Then I had a couple really wonderful runs in New York City last weekend (including one across the Queensboro Bridge and back), and since getting back from the Big Apple, I’ve had a couple more really wonderful runs.

In total, I’ve run four times in the eight days since getting back from New York:

Read the rest of this entry »


Costco

May 4, 2012

The title of this post sorta blows any shot I have of building tension, but I’ll try anyway.

Guess where I went for the first time the other night?

COSTCO!

That above sentence needs some clarification. I’ve been in Costco before. My parents are Costco shoppers, and I’ve gone with my mom to her local Costco in Michigan on numerous occasions. But I’ve never been to Costco on my own, as an adult living in California, to shop for things for my own home. Until the other night.

My reasons for not being a Costco shopper are pretty simple: I live alone, and I can rarely justify shopping in bulk. I don’t need 96 rolls of toilet paper, nor do I have the space to store it. My kitchen is tiny, and while their canned tuna (which I do consume) is very well priced, if I put 18 cans in my cupboard, I’d literally have room for nothing else.

I know I could easily become a Costco shopper if I wanted to. I’ve lived, for the past 9 years, within 10 minutes of the Burbank Costco pictured above. And who knows, maybe down the line at some point my life circumstances will change, and a Costco membership will make sense for me. But for right now, I’m happy not having a membership.

Plus, I have my friend Tiffany. I learned towards the end of last year that Tiffany (who planned last summer’s awesome kayaking excursion and invited me to my first-ever paintball outing) was an avid Costco shopper, and she invited me along to join her at some point.

So the other night we met up, grabbed a cart, and headed inside. Turns out the Burbank Costco is a lot like the one in Michigan I’ve been to: huge.

And it was laid out exactly the same, too. I kinda already knew where we were headed, despite having never stepped foot in the store before.

I had a shopping list in my head: I wanted to load up my freezer with protein options, and I wanted berries and grapes. I love berries and grapes, but they add up so quickly at the regular grocery store, so I thought Costco might be a nice alternative. I wasn’t afraid of buying these types of fruits in bulk – they freeze nicely, so I can load up a Tupperware if I couldn’t finish them before they went bad.

Also on my shopping list: some jewelry, a mattress, 600 pounds of dog food, 15 pounds of mini Snickers bars, a Blu-Ray player, and a tombstone.

Kidding. But all available at Costco.

I also had a price limit: $100. That figure is what Tiffany owed me for selling her a vacuum a few months ago, so if I stayed under $100 (or as close to $100 as I could get), I wouldn’t have to open my wallet at all, and Tiffany could pick up the entire tab.

We focused mostly in the food section, including a lengthy stay in my favorite part of any Costco: the walk-in refrigerator produce room:

I found lots of items that amused me, like the largest can of tuna I’ve ever seen. Here’s Tiffany modeling it, The Price Is Right style:

But I stuck to my list, despite temptations like bathtub-sized amounts of Cheez-Its and 10 pounds of lobster tails for only $171.20.

Wanna see what I got?

Here’s my Costco Produce Haul:

Top row: 1 lb of blackberries ($5), 4 lbs of strawberries ($6). Second row: 1 lb of blueberries ($7), 1 lb of raspberries ($4.50), 4 pounds of frozen peach slices ($7).

The grapes weren’t sweet, and they weren’t, per pound, much cheaper than a regular grocery store (which isn’t surprising, as they’re not in season in the US), so I didn’t buy any. That’s why I bought the peaches. I love peaches! And those berry prices are fantastic.

Now, for the first time ever in Keep It Up, David history, a PROTEIN HAUL!

Top row: 16 Veggie Burgers ($10 – usually this brand is about $5 for 4), 7 zucchini souffles (they may not be high in protein, but I’ve had them before, and enjoy them, and don’t see them that often in regular stores). Bottom row: 6.5 lbs of chicken breasts ($17), 2 lbs of shrimp ($13.79), 3 lbs of salmon ($20). The chicken breasts and the salmon fillets are individually wrapped – perfect for a single guy like me.

No need to break out your calculators. My grand total was: $103.20 – Almost exactly on target!

I’ve never seen my freezer so full before – and I haven’t frozen any of the berries yet! I love having so many healthy options.

Keep it up, David!

PS: What are your favorite healthy food purchases at Costco? What should I keep an eye out for if I go back with Tiffany?


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!


Wildlife! Plus: A New Variety of Apple?

November 11, 2011

Yesterday, I narrowly avoided being attacked by both a mountain lion and a bear.

OK, OK, I may be, um… stretching the truth a little bit, but lately, the Burbank hills are alive. And not just with the sound of music.

Yesterday’s post went into detail about my run through the foothills of Burbank, which was my old stomping ground before I moved to North Hollywood almost five years ago. It was a fantastic run. And, it turns out, I might not have been alone as I jogged those hillside streets. I heard on the radio a few hours after my run that 24 hours before I pounded the pavement, a mountain lion (!) was seen, in broad daylight, gallivanting across someone’s lawn mere blocks from where I ran. Mountain lions aren’t rare in southern California, but seeing one sauntering about in the middle of the afternoon is, since they’re nocturnal and tend to keep their distance from humans. Here’s an article about the lion’s midday stroll, which includes tips on how to avoid being a mountain lion’s lunch, like this one: “Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.” Gulp! Guilty as charged, Officer!

I’m not going to let one dumb mountain lion prevent me from training for my 10k on Sunday. If I stop running, than the mountain lion wins. Plus, I’ve already conquered mountain lions – check out this post that equates my weight loss to a mountain lion (and other random objects).

The mountain lion wasn’t the only massive mammal meandering for a meal yesterday. Roughly 12 hours after I completed my run, a 500-pound black bear was seen moseying through a neighborhood in neighboring Glendale. Read the article here, which includes a photo of the beast traipsing through someone’s garden!

What if I had run into both the black bear and the mountain lion, and they fought over which one got to kill and eat me? SyFy Channel, I think I just came up with your next original movie project! “Giant Bear Vs. Mega-Mountain Lion”! You’re welcome.

I’ve seen a few wild animals in my day. When I lived in Burbank, I saw, on two different occasions, coyotes in my neighborhood. The first time I saw one, I thought it was a stray dog, and spent 15 minutes following it, trying to coax it towards me, and got within 10 feet of it before realizing it probably wasn’t someone’s lost Fido. A year later, I saw a coyote on the other side of the street, and it knew pedestrian etiquette! It used the sidewalks, looked both ways at an intersection, and stayed in the crosswalk when it crossed. Smart coyote!

I’ve also come across a bear in the wild. Four years ago, my entire family took an Alaskan cruise, and at one of the ports, my siblings and I all went hiking around a glacier. While we were on the hike, we saw a baby bear up in a tree. It was probably 20-25 yards away, and our guide advised us to stay quiet, as the mama bear was probably nearby. I did snap this picture, although the bear’s head is obscured by some leaves:

 

Another quick memory: I remember being really nervous in the days leading up to the hike, worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete it. I was so much heavier back then, and not very active, and the brochure had described the hike as being “intermediate” in difficulty, and around 2 hours long. I had these thoughts that I’d be panting and wheezing, and holding up the group, but I made it, and it was really fun. Here’s what I looked like on that hike – I was in a head-shaving phase:

The paved sidewalk was only around the visitors’ center – the hike itself was on dirt trails that wound up the mountainside, with the occasional hop over a fallen tree.

MOVING ON…

Yesterday’s activities included a trip to the store, which resulted in me buying the following produce:

What do we have? From left to right: A pineapple, bananas, a red onion, apples, baby carrots, red peppers, grapes, cucumbers, pears, and celery.

I’m relatively knowledgeable about apples. I’m familiar with most of the varieties you see at stores, and know which ones I like most (honeycrisp and pink lady, I’m looking at you). But these apples are a variety I’ve never heard of before: they’re Pippin apples!

Before now, the only association I had with the word Pippin was that it’s the name of a fun musical from the ’70s that I saw in college. Apparently, it’s a type of apple, too! More Pippin info to come!

I also bought something else I’ve never seen before:

Pickled green tomatoes! I may have tried fried green tomatoes once at a restaurant, but I’ve never seen them, fresh or jarred, in a store before. Guess how many calories are in a serving of these pickled green tomatoes? Three. That’s got to be a typo, don’t you think? Maybe they meant 30? Oh, and if there’s any Southerners out there who have suggestions on how to eat these guys, speak up in the comments section! I haven’t cracked open the jar yet, and I’ll wait and see what ideas you guys send my way. Do I enjoy them straight out of the jar, like pickles? Put them in a sandwich? Cook with them?

Lastly, my orange-peeling challenge continues. To recap, I’m trying to remove the entire peel of an orange in one piece (a skill my father excels at), and keep that peel as narrow as possible, and leave as little pith on the orange as possible, too. Here’s my most recent attempt:

Woo-hoo, that peel is in 1 piece! My most successful peel-job so far! I’m still gonna work on making the peel narrower and longer – I think I may have to sharpen my knife so there’s less sawing on my end.

Keep it up, David!


Open Your Eyes

November 10, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot about running this week. There’s no big mystery why – my first 10k race is this weekend, and I’m looking forward to it, and I want to make sure I’m prepared. I went to Universal Studios today to see the course, thanks to my friend Chris who works there and showed me around on a golf cart, and apart from some minor undulations, there’s only 1 big, notable hill that I’ll have to run up (and down).

I’m feeling prepared. Today, my workout started with 5 minutes of warm-up on the arc trainer, then 35 minutes of weightlifting, and I ended it by going for a run. Even though I had an exhausting run the other day, when I kept upping the incline on the treadmill, I wanted to make sure I had completed a practice run on actual hills. So I ran around my old neighborhood in Burbank, which is built on the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains.

My route included a 7-block run up Olive Avenue (my old street), which was uphill the entire time, with an incline that got steeper and steeper. Here’s a view from the top of it. It may look like the street is flat in the foreground and ascends a big hill in the distance, but it’s actually the other way around:

I made it up that 7-block hill. It was tough and I was huffing and puffing, but I did it. Then I wound my way back down, and ended up passing a house that I love and had forgotten about. The house is a great example of storybook architecture, a playful, exaggerated variation of Tudor design with the goal of making the structure look like it came out of a fairy tale (see more pics of storybook design here). It was popular in southern California in the ’20s (Charlie Chaplin was a fan), although I’m not sure when this house was built. It’s not the sort of house I would ever want to live in, as I prefer more modern, less fussy environments, but I love this house because it’s so thoroughly and meticulously designed and maintained. Check out the whimsical details: the walls that weave bricks through rocks, the stucco that looks like it’s applied over stones, and there’s a turret! It’s quite unique, and if I were a little kid and it were a little dilapidated, I’d have no trouble imagining it to be the home of a child-eating witch:

In total, I ran 2.9 miles, in 32 minutes, which averages out to a MPH of 5.4 – and that includes half a block of walking after reaching the top of the hill to catch my breath. Time to update my running chart! My route:

I have a new go-to song on my iPod when I’m running. It’s called “Open Your Eyes,” by Snow Patrol. I got the song off of Sean Willson’s playlist. Sean is a fellow weight loss blogger (check out his blog, Learn Fitness, here) who went from 450 pounds to 250 pounds – incredible! I saw this song on his list, and realized I already had it in my iTunes, but never listened to it, because I’m not a huge Snow Patrol fan. I gave it another listen, and immediately added it to my workout playlist. A big thank-you goes out to Sean.

The vocals aren’t especially uptempo, but it has a dramatic build that I enjoy, and a chord progression that makes me push myself. You may be familiar with it – it was played on a slew of TV shows in 2007 and 2008, including ER and Grey’s Anatomy, and was a campaign song for Barack Obama in 2008.

Here’s the music video. It’s footage from a short French film made in the ’70s, and it’s one singular shot of the streets of Paris taken from a camera mounted to the fender of a car. That the video looks like a runner’s perspective is another reason why I’ve latched onto this song as much as I have! Check it out:

The main chorus of the song is this lyric, which is sung over and over again:

“Tell me that you’ll open your eyes.”

There are plenty of other lyrics that I haven’t bothered to learn, mainly because those seven words have really resonated. I interpret them as a message to myself, a reminder to open my eyes to all the great things that I’ve accomplished. I have a tendency to compound my struggles – if I have a bad day, I start thinking about all the other times, throughout my life, that things haven’t gone my way. When that starts happening, it’s time to open my eyes. I need to remind myself of the positives, because I don’t do it enough. I need to open my eyes to the fact that I’m intelligent, talented, and funny. That what I’ve achieved with my weight loss is extraordinary and life-extending, and that I share it – all of it – on this blog shows courage. That my family and friends love me no matter my weight, and that I have the capacity to recognize and share this love with the people in my life. And, most importantly, I must open my eyes and remind myself that I’m worthy of all of this, and all the good things that will come.

There is so much to see, isn’t there? What is there for you to see? Tell me that you’ll your eyes. And I’ll tell you that I’ll open mine.

Keep it up, David.