Your Questions, Answered

January 29, 2011

I’ve gotten tons of new readers over the past few weeks, thanks to the exposure from appearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, and I’m thankful that each and every one of you has checked out the blog, and I also love that so many of you feel compelled by what you’re seeing and reading to leave notes in the comments section.

Due to the number of new comments and because I ended up going out of town for a while right after the show aired, I haven’t been able to respond to many of them, although I have read each and every single one.  I thought I’d dedicate a post to answering a few of the questions you’ve been leaving in the comments section.  If this goes well, maybe it’ll become something I do on a regular basis!

Before the questions, though, I want to clear up a little kerfuffle from a couple weeks ago.  That’s right, I just used the word kerfuffle (and had to look up the correct spelling).  I got a lot of comments on my post where I shared the first mean comment that I’ve gotten (read the post here).  One of the comments was an apology from ‘Mike Hunt,’ the guy who left the mean comment in the first place.  Except, though, that it wasn’t.  I have a good friend who anonymously leaves comments every once and a while with the goal of trying to make me laugh (he’s not anonymous to me – I know which comments are his, even though he uses a fake name).  The apology came from him, with the thought that it might make me smile, which it did.  What I didn’t expect was that other people would then contact me, saying ‘Oh my god, that guy apologized!  I’ve never seen that before!  What are you gonna do?’  Um, I’m gonna do nothing.  ‘Mike Hunt’ is still at large, and he did not apologize, nor do I expect him to.  Case closed.

OK – here are some questions:

Mindy wrote:

Edgar Sawtelle is a fabulous book. Have you read Water for Elephants? That’s a good one too.

I finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a few days ago and absolutely loved it.  And yep, I read Water for Elephants and really enjoyed it, too.  Have you seen the trailer for the movie version with Reese Witherspoon?  Watch it here.  Gonna need to find a new book –   suggestions, anyone?

Zach wrote:

I need help. I just need ideas for what to eat, and how much to eat. Life is going nowhere right now, and I am a depressed eater. I eat whatever I want and in huge quanities. At this rate I am going to hurt myself. I weight 358.4 lbs, at age 25, standing right at 6 foot tall. All of my weight, ALL OF IT, is in my belly. My back hurts, shoulders, I am starting to have a hard time running short distances. I just woke up the other day and decided I need to stop wearing 4X polos. So do you have any tips to get started?

Hey Zach!  What I would recommend is to identify one thing you can do, starting tomorrow, to be healthier, and then do it.  Can you take the stairs to get to your office instead of the elevator?  Can you replace a couple sodas and drink water instead?  Can you pack your lunch instead of eating out?  Start small, and do one new thing for a few days.  Then, add a second new thing, and, a week later, a third, and so on.  I’ve been in your shoes, and I know how daunting it can seem, but one small change isn’t daunting at all, and you’ll find that once you start making those changes, you’ll gain some momentum, and see that those small changes, added up, can make a big difference!

Shelby wrote:

What do you do to stop cravings, also are you just doing exercise from the Richard Simmons videos? I have some health problems like asthma and bad knees and wonder if the video workouts are hard.  Good luck with the rest of your weight loss.

Hi Shelby!  Ugh – cravings are hard!  I can watch a commercial for Oreos and by the time those 30 seconds are over, I want some!  But here’s what’s been working for me lately:  I refuse to let myself act impulsively.  I identify a craving specifically – so, instead of thinking ‘I really want something sweet,’ I narrow it down to exactly what I’m craving: ‘I really want a Butterfinger Blizzard from Dairy Queen.’  Then, I sleep on it.  Many times, I wake up, and the craving is gone.  Sometimes, I still have it, and it’s stronger.  Then I start figuring out what I can eat that will satisfy the craving without making me feel guilty.  I’ve found that if I don’t satisfy the craving at all than it just gets stronger and stronger and I’ll end up making some really poor choices or binging.  For the Dairy Queen craving, I ended up, after a few days, going to Baskin Robbins and getting 300 calories worth of sherbet.  You can read more about that craving battle here.

Oh wait – Shelby’s question is a two-parter!  As for the exercise, I’m currently up to 5-6 workouts a week, and I switch them up – I take classes at Slimmons, do cardio and toning at the gym, and go running, too.  You mentioned having bad knees – have you tried doing a chair workout?  I haven’t done this myself, but Richard has a DVD called “Sit Tight” that’s a complete workout without any stress on your knees.  Check it out here.  I’ve done Richard’s “Sweatin’ to the Oldies 5” – and the good thing about it is that you can only do what you can.  Who’s gonna know?  If you can only make it through 1/2, than do 1/2.  Maybe the next time you can do a few minutes more.  That’s how you’ll get stronger!

Thanks for the questions, everyone, and, more importantly, thanks for reading the blog.  If you have a question for me, leave it in a comments section.  I read every comment – every one of ’em!

Keep it up, David!

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January 21 Adventures – Part 1

January 22, 2011

Midnight. “I’m going to have you step out of the car,” the officer said to me, the light from his flashlight partially blinding me.  I unbuckled my seatbelt, opened the door, and stepped out onto the two-lane country road.  I had glanced at the thermometer in the car moments earlier – it was 2 degrees outside.  2 degrees.  The night air gnawed at my fingers and ears – why did I leave my hat and gloves in the car?  The officer had me join him in the shoulder of the road between my parked car and his cruiser, brightly lit by the cruiser’s headlights, and within seconds my teeth were chattering.  “Please put your glasses right here,” the officer said, pointing to the trunk of my car.  I did as I was asked, and stood there, unable to see anything beyond a few feet, watching the heat from my own breath spiral upwards, like cigarette smoke.  The officer continued: “I’m going to have you do a couple field sobriety tests.”

9:30am (14 and a half hours earlier). The day started off like most days this week – at the gym.  I arrived at Bally’s, and quickly bolted from my car to the lobby.  I had made the decision at the house, before leaving, to wear my shorts and hoodie – it was going to be a long day, and I could save a few minutes if I didn’t have to change at the gym.  Sure, it was only 10 degrees outside, but I’d be fine wearing shorts for just the few seconds to get from my car into the building.  I ran a mile around the jogging track to warm up (in 10:45 seconds), then headed over to the stationary bikes.  The book I’m currently reading, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, had gone from really good to can’t-put-it-down, and I know I can get a great workout in on the bike and tackle a few more chapters in the process.  It total, I spent 42 minutes pedaling away.

11am. I pull in the driveway, open the ashtray in the car to grab for the garage door opener, and it’s not there.  Crap.  I check my pockets and the arm rest, knowing full well the garage door opener isn’t in those spots either, my mind is fixated on the dining room table, where I remember leaving the opener last night.  Crap – why did I bring it inside the house?  Dumb move, David.  Because now you’re locked out. I don’t have a key to my parents house, just the garage door opener to get in.  Crap.  I make a mad dash around back, silently cursing my decision to wear shorts on a January day in Michigan, to check if any other doors were accidentally left unlocked, which of course they weren’t, and then I’m back in the car.  Time to head to my father’s office to borrow his keys.

11:40am. Back home, for the second time, with his keys in hand.  I made a quick breakfast – 2/3 cup egg whites, scrambled in Pam, carrot and celery sticks.  Part 1 of my breakfast was a big bunch of grapes that I ate before going to the gym.  Then I jumped in the shower.  By half past noon I was back in the car, where I began the 45 minute drive to Ann Arbor.

Midnight. “I’m going to move my pen from side to side, and up and down, and I want you to follow it with your eyes.  Only your eyes.  I don’t want to see your head moving, just your eyes.  I’ll try not to blind you with my flashlight.  Do you understand what to do?”  “Yes, Officer.”  He positioned the pen 6 inches in front of my face, and slowly moved it from left to right.  I followed it with my eyes.  I could see, in the darkness beyond the pen, a second officer that watched from the far side of the cruiser, not moving, his features obscured by the night.  Soon the pen moved up and down.  I followed it more.  Then the officer stepped alongside his cruiser, and ushered me towards him with a wave of his hand.  “May I put my glasses back on, officer?”  “Yes.”  The fields around me came into focus when I slid my glasses back onto my nose, as did the officer, who was pointing at the asphalt beneath our feet.  “You see this tire track?  I’m going to test how you walk.”

1:15pm. I picked up my friend Jim outside his office in downtown Ann Arbor for lunch.  Jim and I became really good friends in college, in Ann Arbor, over 10 years ago, and stayed really good friends since then.  We headed to Pizza House, because it’s been years since I’ve had one of my favorite foods ever, a chipati.  Here’s Pizza House, on Church Street:

We both ordered chipatis, and here’s what mine looked like with it arrived:

It looks like a giant loaf of bread, but it’s not!  It’s actually a whole wheat pita, and when you peel back the top layer of pita, you see:

A salad! The one I ordered today was spinach, onion, mushroom, and tomatoes (it’s supposed to also have mozzarella, but I ordered it without).  The orange sauce on the side is Chipati Sauce, the dressing, which is delicious and somewhat mysterious, although according to a website I just found on the interwebs, it’s just a mix of ranch, Frank’s RedHot, and ketchup, which is disappointingly boring and pedestrian but probably true, for all I know.  I decided to only eat the top half of the pita, and used only a few teaspoons of Chipati Sauce, so it was a pretty healthy lunch.

After lunch, we walked around the corner to another one of my favorite Ann Arbor establishments:

THE ARCADE!  I used to come to Pinball Pete’s between classes to play Ms. Pac-Man, my all-time favorite arcade game.  I was so glad to see they still had it!  Here I am playing:

Jim, meanwhile, is a Dance Dance Revolution fan, so he played that (I played once with him too):

We made a stop at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, which, since I graduated, had built a new wing that has some of the coolest gallery and exhibit spaces I’ve ever seen.  It’s always been a nice museum, but now it’s stunning.  Go when you’re in town.

4:45pm. I dropped Jim back off at his office (I hope, Jim, that your boss doesn’t read this and learn about your nearly 3-hour-plus lunch!), and headed to North Campus.  This part of the University of Michigan is now home to the Theater Theatre Department, of which I’m a proud alum, with a degree in Theatre Design and Production.  Every year, the students’ work (costume renderings, intricate models of set designs, and the like) is put on display for about a week in a gallery open to the public, and they kick off the week with a reception, which was that afternoon.  Being at the reception brought back a tsunami of memories, and it was great to see and catch up with a bunch of former professors and friends, and meet some of the students currently making their way through the program.

6pm. Back in the car, merging onto highway 23, starting the hour-long drive up to Flint, Michigan.

Midnight. “I’m going to have you walk nine steps, heel-to-toe, along this tire track.  Then you’re going to turn to your left, and walk nine steps in that direction.  And this is what I mean by heel-to-toe…”  The officer demonstrates.  “You may want to take your hands out of your pockets for this,” the officer advises.  My hands were in my pockets because they were freezing, but I do as he suggests, and start walking the line.  I wonder how much I have to stumble to fail, but I walk the nine steps, turn, and walk back towards my car.  I stop after the nine steps, and stand still, facing away from the officers.  “There’s just one more thing…” the officer says.

UH-OH – WHAT ELSE DID THE OFFICER WANT?  There’s only one way to find out – and that’s to come back for Part 2 of “January 21 Adventures” – which I’ll post before going to bed tonight!  I just love a good blog cliff-hanger...