Nerd Alert!

December 17, 2012

NEWS FLASH! I’m a nerd. A great, big, Urkel-sized nerd. Well, thanks to my weight loss, I’m not as big a nerd as I used to be, but I’m still a nerd, and I’m proud of it. I don’t consider ‘nerd’ to be a derogatory term – I just think it means that I know what I like and am not afraid to express it, embrace it, learn every little thing I can about it, and share it with others.

Long-time readers know one of the things I nerd out about: charts, graphs and statistics. This weight loss journey I’ve been on has been well documented by all of these things: I have a weight loss chart that I update once a month. I have a running chart (more on this later). I track StairMaster workouts with a chart that I call my Skyscraper Collection (more on this later, too!). Even though I haven’t blogged about it lately, I keep statistics on my workouts in the form of Monthly Progress Reports. Long story short (or is it too late for that?), if I can monitor what I’m doing and how I’m doing it in a fun, interesting way, than I’m all for it.

I find all these charts incredibly beneficial. They provide concrete evidence of my improvement in areas like running and stair climbing, both of which are still rather new to me. They allow easy ways for me to look back at where I’ve been, and help me project where I can go in the future. They assist in the setting of both short-term and long-term goals, whether it’s training for a big race or event, or helping me plan my week so I get in enough workouts. They give me a reason to pause, smile and congratulate myself on a great week or a great workout, and offer the opportunity to immortalize that feeling of pride and accomplishment by creating a permanent record of it. They fuel me. They push me.

There’s a new chart in my life, and I’ve kept it a secret from you for months. I keep it on the wall in my office, and it occurred to me the other day that there’s no reason for it to be a secret anymore. Here’s the story behind this new chart, which I’m going to unveil today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Breakfast Fail

July 25, 2012

I tried something new as part of my breakfast today, and it was disgusting. This may look like oatmeal, but it’s not just oatmeal:

Read the rest of this entry »

3,200 Yards + 555 Feet

July 6, 2012

I got home from the pool a little while ago, and I’m exhausted. I reek of chlorine. I think there’s still a little water trapped somewhere in my ear.

But I had a great workout!

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday Potpourri

June 6, 2012

I’ve been a fan of “Jeopardy!” for as long as I can remember. I’ve even taken the test to be a contestant three times (but never passed it – it’s hard!). I learned the word “potpourri” from “Jeopardy!” I knew it as a word that means ‘a little of this and that’ (it’s the catch-all category on “Jeopardy!” that features questions answers on anything and everything) long before I knew it was a collection of dried flowers, fruits, and twigs that grandmothers put in their bathrooms so they smell nice.

I got a bunch of topics to cover in this post, so welcome to Wednesday Potpourri! Let’s get started, shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

Back on the StairMaster

June 5, 2012

Happy Anniversary to me! It was one month ago today that I stepped on a StairMaster, fired it up, and climbed 163 stories without stopping – the equivalent of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. There’s a wonderful little 3-minute video documenting my achievement that I’ll never get tired of sharing, so, in case you missed it the first time around, check it out:

You can also see pictures and read about the climb here.

After reaching my goal, I vowed to stay off the StairMaster for a good long time. I was sick of it. I didn’t even want to look at it!

Yesterday, I used the StairMaster for the first time. A month seemed like a good answer to the question “how long is a ‘good long time?'”

Read the rest of this entry »

Today’s the Big Day!

May 5, 2012

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I don’t have plans to celebrate the Mexican army’s defeat of the French in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. Instead, I’ll be spending my morning finally completing my 163-story stair climb fundraiser challenge! I feel like it’s taken forever for this day to get here, but, in actuality, it was only two months ago when I announced that I’d be climbing the equivalent of the Burj Khaifa (the world’s tallest building) on the StairMaster without stopping. I’ve done a lot of training since then, including an actual skyscraper climb in downtown Los Angeles, then had a setback and postponement when I fucked up my foot.

But now I’m ready. And if you’re reading this after 11am PST on Saturday, then chances are I’ll have completed my stair climb.And I’ll have rocked it!

If you’re looking for a recap, than you’ll have to come back Monday, because I’m actually writing this Friday evening, and I can’t predict the future!

What I can do is share my final two training sessions. I used the StairMaster on both Monday and Wednesday, and both were great workouts. On Monday I climbed 116 stories in 30 minutes, and on Wednesday, I climbed 140 stories in 37 minutes – a new personal best!

That’s two skyscrapers I can add to my Skyscraper Collection! The problem is that I’ve already exhausted most of the buildings on the planet that are over 100 stories, so this time I’m going to do something a little different. I’m adding more than one tower for each climb!

Read the rest of this entry »

“Before” and “Current” Photo OVERLAY!

April 30, 2012

I met my friend Steve in 6th grade at West Maple Middle School, and now here in California, not that far from me. I’ve always known Steve to be smart and talented, but last week, after I shared my glowing-yellow-wall “Before” and “Current” pictures and the cool silhouette photo, Steve shot me the following email:

“Your new photos inspired me to Photoshop your new silhouette onto your ‘before’ picture. I tried to line up your ears and elbows to keep the two pictures proportional, and I think it turned out pretty well!”

And this was attached:

I absolutely LOVE it – it’s so unbelievably cool! No need for “Before” AND “Current” pictures… Steve combined them into one! This is going immediately into the Photo Gallery. Thanks, Steve!

Movin’ on…

Did you have a good weekend? Mine was quite nice, except for the jarring realization on Saturday that my 163-story stair climb fundraiser challenge is only one week away. If you’re struck with a sense of deja vu, it’s because I already wrote a post about the stair climb being one week away, but that was before I injured my foot and postponed the climb for two weeks.

Now my foot feels a whole lot better – I’ve been gradually putting more pressure and weight on it during my workouts over the past few days, and there’s been no flare-ups or pain whatsoever. On Saturday, when the one-week-away realization hit me like a truck, I decided to ramp my StairMaster training back into high gear. After all, thanks to the injury, I’ve only been on the StairMaster once in the past two weeks.

I ended up spending 21 minutes on the StairMaster, and climbed 84 stories, burning 318 calories. Not bad at all. It’s only half of the 163 stories I’ll be climbing this Saturday, but I hope to get one or two more training sessions in before the big day. I’ll be ready.

And I get to add a new tower to my Skyscraper Collection!  I plan on taking a little (or big) break from the StairMaster after my challenge, so I thought I’d add another landmark to my collection while I still could.

You know it, you love it… the latest addition to my collection is…


It’s 77 stories tall, and I’ve wanted to add this guy to my collection for a while now.

My favorite thing about the Chrysler Building was how Walter Chrysler and architect Willam Van Alen, during the building’s construction in 1929, kept the now-famous 7-story, 185-foot spire a complete secret. No one in the press knew it existed, and it was constructed within the lower part of the building, so no one could see it taking shape. Then one day, to everyone’s surprise, it was hoisted and bolted into place in just 90 minutes. Just like that, the Chrysler Building became the tallest building in the world, edging out 40 Wall Street, another building under construction at the same time. The Chrysler Building only had the world-tallest-building title for 11 short months, though… then the Empire State Building came along.

And here’s something I just learned while researching this post: The Chrysler Building has never been owned by the Chrysler Corporation, nor did the Chrysler Corporation pay for its construction, even though their headquarters were there from 1930 through the ’50s. Walter Chrysler paid for it himself, so that it could be passed down to his children.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I’m almost there! I’ve raised $1,555 dollars, which means I’m 95% of the way towards my $1,630 goal. Only $75 short! Can you help me with those final few bucks? Click here to read about the stair climb, and CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION. Thanks!

Finally… I went to the pool yesterday for my second swim in a week (read about the other swim here). My friend Emily came along, and the pool was very crowded and it was hot. I got in 2,100 yards before calling it a day, and then Emily and I walked across the park to a… carnival!

I love a good rickety carny-operated ride, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any cash money on me, and the ticket booth didn’t accept credit cards. I did take this picture with the Ferris Wheel:

I took the exact same picture at Disney California Adventure with Mickey’s Fun Wheel (see it here). I guess it’s my thing with Ferris Wheels. Yep, me and Ferris Wheels have a thing. Jealous?

Even though Emily and I didn’t ride any rides, we did buy a snack (er… Emily bought us a snack, to be specific). There were a lot of options: Funnel Cakes. Cotton Candy. Nachos. Corn Dogs. So what did we decide on?

Roasted Corn on a Stick!

There was a row of Food Trucks, and this came from the Corn Heaven truck.

I got mine with lemon juice, and added some Cajun seasoning. Might have been the best corn I’ve ever had! I definitely wanted to go back and buy 4 more ears, although that’s where the lack of funds became an issue.

Eating veggies at a carnival?

Keep it up, David!

Holy Sh*t, It’s One Week Away!

April 15, 2012

My title says is all. My big stair climb is next Saturday and I’m terribly excited, for a couple reasons:

  1. So far, I’ve raised over $1,200 for an amazing cause, Whaley Children’s Center in Flint, Michigan. This is way more than I was ever expecting, and I’m blown away by the generosity of my readers, family, and friends. Your incredible donations spurred me to raise my goal on three separate occasions, and there’s still time to donate! Learn about my stair climb challenge and help me reach my ultimate goal – I’m $360 short – by clicking here!
  2. I’m ready for a little break from the StairMaster! My stair challenges have been ridiculously motivating, and all my time on the StairMaster certainly has made me feel prepared for them. But twice a week on a StairMaster, for two months, trying to outdo myself on every occasion… It’s exhausting.Exhausting in a good way, but still exhausting. I can’t wait to conquer next weekend’s stair challenge so I can give the StairMaster a rest for a little while!

I only have a week left to prepare for my second stair challenge, so yesterday I hopped on the StairMaster and had a great training session… and broke all my previous records, which were just a few weeks old!

  • DURATION: 36 minutes (previous best = 28 minutes)
  • CALORIES: 494 burned (previous best = 485)
  • FLOORS: 132 (previous best = 131)

This workout confirmed what I had already been thinking: If I’m going to make it 163 stories without stopping, I’m going to have to take is slow and steady. You’ll note that I only beat my floor record by 1 floor, but I stayed on the machine for 8 additional minutes, and that’s because I slowed down the speed and focused on endurance. After 36 minutes, I felt tired, but not collapse-to-the-floor tired (like I usually do), and that’s what I was shooting for.

And I get to add a new building to my Skyscraper Collection! Today’s tower is the fifth tallest building in the world, and in a country full of skyscrapers, but has yet to be represented in my collection. Say hello to the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong!

With 118 stories, the International Commerce Centre is the tallest building in Hong Kong. Most of the building is office space, but the top 15 stories are occupied by a super-swanky Ritz Carlton hotel. The 117th floor has their Presidential Suite, which is 4,000 square feet and comes with a personal butler. The 118th floor features the world’s highest bar (cheekily called Ozone), and the world’s highest swimming pool. I’d take a dip in this, wouldn’t you?

After finishing on the StairMaster, I spent another 30 minutes lifting weights, so it was a fantastic day at the gym.

I’m continuing to stay on track with my eating this week as well – the little pep talk I gave myself a few days ago seems to be working. And I got some lean protein from an unexpected source – free in the mail!

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about trying salmon jerky for the first time, and because I enjoyed it, I mentioned how I wanted to try ahi tuna jerky, which I had seen at the store by hadn’t purchased. Last week, the Itsumo Ahi Jerky company reached out and offered to send me some ahi tuna jerky samples! Hells yeah! 

This stuff is good! It’s smoky and flavorful but not overly fishy-tasting. Check out their website – they were kind enough to set up a coupon code for my readers, so if you wanna buy some, plug in KEEPITUPDAVID during checkout, and you’ll get 10% off!

Guess what else I had in my kitchen for the first time? Chard!

Chard is a leafy green that I’ve had in restaurants, but had never bought before. There are a variety of colors of chard, and last time I was at the farmers’ market, I picked up some red chard. I thought it looked particularly beautiful:

Chard is a nutritional powerhouse, and a green that you don’t eat raw. I removed the thickest parts of the stems and tossed ’em out, and later read that they’re edible, they just need to be cooked for a longer amount of time. Oops, my bad.

After chopping off the thick stems, I cut all the leaves into ribbons:

And I also chopped up a red pepper and a couple tomatoes, because I had them lying around:

I slicked my big skillet with non-stick spray, tossed in some garlic, and added the tomatoes and peppers. After a few minutes, I added the chard. I added a bunch of purple kale that I also picked up at the farmers’ market, because I wanted to use it up. That, too, was cut into ribbons:

I let it all cook for about 4-5 minutes, and then added some non-fat, low-cal balsamic vinaigrette and popped the lid on the skillet, so it would steam a little bit. After a few minutes more, my meal was ready! (If you haven’t cooked greens before, get ready – they wilt down dramatically. What seems like a lot of greens on your cutting board doesn’t amount to nearly as much when it comes out of the pan.)

A healthy, easy, delicious side dish! I should cook greens more often – I’d forgotten how much I like them!

Keep it up, David!

A Game-Changing Workout

April 10, 2012

Yesterday, I blathered on and on about how much I love my new new gym. It’s completely awesome. Remember how I mentioned that it’s above a Barnes & Noble and a movie theater and across the street from Ikea? I forgot to mention another business that’s on the same block. I don’t quite know what to say about this particular establishment, except that it combines my two favorite things: mediocre chain restaurant food and girls with big fake tits:

I can’t wait to sweat my ass off and then head over for an order of “Lots-a-Tots.” (A pile of tater tots covered in bacon, cheese, sour cream, and chives. Yep, an actual menu item.)

Today, the general theme of “I love my new new gym” continues, because I used the StairMaster there for the first time, and it was a game-changing experience. It was my first time climbing stairs since my downtown skyscraper climb two weekends ago (see pictures from the roof of the 63-story Aon Center here). I’ve enjoyed my week-long break from stairs, but it was time to start climbing again – I gotta prepare for my next stair challenge, and it’s only 12 days away! I’ll be climbing, on the StairMaster, the equivalent of the world’s tallest building. It’s a fundraiser, so check out my donation page (CLICK HERE!) and throw a few dollars towards an amazing children’s charity in Michigan.A friendly reminder that there’s a bunch of you (I won’t name names) that have told me, either in person or in writing, that you’ll donate, but you haven’t yet! What are you waiting for?

I digress. My new new gym has brand-new, top-of-the-line StairMasters, and within seconds of getting on one, I knew I was on the perfect piece of exercise equipment for me. I was so excited I went and got my camera from my locker to take pictures! Here’s the welcome screen you see when you first step on… can you figure out why I got so excited?

Check out the middle option – Landmarks! I’ve spent the past year and a half conquering landmarks on the StairMaster, and now I’m on a machine that is programmed to help me conquer more! Awesome.

When you click on Landmarks, you get this screen:

Landmarks from around the world: Statue of Liberty, Great Pyramid of Giza, Eiffel Tower, and so on. Guess what the building is on the far right?It’s the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world!This is the building I’ll be hypothetically climbing in 12 days!

But, to quote Hamlet, “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” The StairMaster’s floor counts are all wrong. It says the Burj Khalifa is 255 stories, instead of 153; it says the Petronas Towers are 138 stories, instead of 88; it says the Empire State Building is 117 stories, instead of 102.

I pulled out my calculator, put on my Nancy Drew hat, and got to the bottom of this mystery. Turns out the StairMaster is listing the hypothetical number of floors needed to reach the very tips of the spires of these buildings. I figured out the StairMaster’s formula: It takes the total height of each building (2717 feet/828 meters in the case of Burj Khalifa) and divides it by what it considers to be the height of one floor (10.66 feet/3.25 meters). For the Burj Khalifa, the means the point of the spire is 255 “floors” up, even though the building only has 163 habitable floors (that’s a tall spire!). I tested my math across five of the featured building on the Landmarks page, and it’s true for all of them. And I finally learned what constitutes a floor on a StairMaster!

Of course, when I saw that the Burj Khalifa had 255 stories, according to the StairMaster, my mind started racing. I’ve been planning to climb 163 stories for my upcoming stair challenge… does this mean I need to raise my goal to 255? I decided I would think about it during the course of my workout. In the meantime, I selected Taipei 101 from the Landmarks screen – as it was a building I had yet to add to my Skyscraper Collection, and I started climbing.

I love the display during the climb. There’s a little silhouette of Taipei 101, and as you climb, it shows, on the silhouette, what floor you’re on. It’s easy to track time, speed, and calories. Plus, you can plug in your iPod and control it through the display (and the iPod charges during the process, which my iPod desperately needed yesterday).

OH! A little while ago, I was lamenting that some StairMasters used a steps-per-minute (SPM) calculation to determine speed, and others assigned arbitrary levels. This duality frustrated me, because I didn’t know how the two systems related to each other. Well, this kick-ass StairMaster has both systems! I’ve finally learned what I’ve been dying to know: that, for example, Level 7 is 68 SPM, Level 8 is 75 SPM, and Level 9 is 82 SPM. Finally!

My StairMaster workout was solid. I kinda made it to the top of Taipei 101, and I kinda didn’t. I climbed 114 stories in 25 minutes (burning 405 calories) – and that 114 stories is more than the actual building has in real life (it tops off at 101 stories), but less than the StairMaster’s top-of-the-spire count of 157.

I decided then and there that I won’t be adjusting my upcoming Burj Khalifa challenge to reflect this StairMaster’s math. My reasons are two-fold:

  • 163 stories to 255 stories is a big leap. Climbing 163 stories is going to be hard enough as it is – I simply won’t have time to properly train if I add 92 stories to my goal. It’s like switching from running a 10k to a half-marathon, even though you’ve been prepping this whole time for the 10k. Maybe 255 stories will be a goal for another time.
  • No machine is going to tell me what to do. Screw you, machine – I’ll do what I want! You’re not the boss of me!

Because of that second bullet point, I’m adding Taipei 101 to my Skyscraper Collection. It’s 101 stories in real life, and I climbed 114 on the StairMaster, so I consider it conquered. Here is it, towering over its much shorter neighbors:

Taipei 101 is in Taipei, Taiwan, and it held the record of the world’s tallest building from its opening in 2004 until the Burj Khalifa took the title in 2010. There’s a 720-ton pendulum (!) that hangs in the center of the building from the 87th-92nd floor that sways to offset any movements that strong winds may cause. There are two observatories near the top of the building – one indoors and one outdoors. It’s rumored that the 101st floor is home to a top-secret VIP club called Summit 101, but no information about the club has ever been leaked to the press.

Yep… I climbed that! And after I was finished, I lifted weights for 40 minutes.

Keep it up, David!

I’m Feeling Ready.

March 29, 2012

Yesterday was wonderfully productive in a lot of ways. In regards to my health, I checked two big things off my to-do list: 1) a fantastic workout, and 2) a much-needed visit to the supermarket. Which do you wanna hear about first? I hope you said supermarket!

Check out all this produce that’s now in my refrigerator!

From left-to-right, top-to-bottom: One head of radicchio, 4 red bartlett pears, strawberries, 1 bag pre-washed and cubed butternut squash, 1 head garlic, 1 pineapple, radishes, mango, 3 red bell peppers, 1 container pre-washed broccoli florets, bananas, escarole, rainier apples, mushrooms, baby carrots, tomatoes, and 2 bags pre-trimmed green beans.

I could say that I don’t know what I’ll eat first, but that’d be a lie because all the broccoli is already gone, as is a banana.

There were no new-to-me produce items, like sumo tangerines, mini kiwis, or cara cara oranges that caught my eye this time around, but I did find a healthy, pre-made squid salad (!) in the seafood section that I’m excited to try. Something tells me that the idea of squid salad either excites you or grosses you out – there doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground when it comes to eating squid! I’m firmly on the “yes, please!” side of that fence.

Now, my workout! I had a great day at the gym. I started with the StairMaster, for the last time before my big 63-story charity stair climb on Saturday morning. I went for consistency – I set the machine at a good pace that would challenge but not kill me (70 steps per minute) and saw how long I could last. I lasted a pretty long time! All told, I spent 24 minutes on the StairMaster, burning 370 calories and climbing 100 stories – what a nice, round number!

Which means, of course, that I get to add another building to my Skyscraper Collection! There’s a 100-story building that I’ve had my eye on for a few months now, and I’m glad I can finally add it to my list, because it’s the tallest building in the world that I’ve been to the top of (in an elevator, not the stairs). It’s also a major landmark that you’ll probably recognize…

The John Hancock Center in Chicago! (It’s the tallest building in the photo.)

Of all the buildings in my Skyscraper Collection, this is the one I’m probably most familiar with. I already mentioned that I’ve been to the observation deck at the top (about 5 or 6 years ago – amazing views!), and I’ve also admired it from the street more times than I can count, because my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews used to live two blocks away. Quite literally in John Hancock’s shadow. It’s quite an impressive building – as it should be, given that the roof is over 1,100 feet off the ground – but the giant X-braces that criss-cross up the exterior, spanning dozens of floors, really add heft and make the building that much more imposing and dramatic.

There’s always something to learn, though – and here’s some John Hancock trivia that I just learned while researching this post:

  • Jerry Springer owns a condo on the 91st floor, and his neighbor used to be Chris Farley.
  • It was built on land that, prior to the 1870s, was part of Lake Michigan. After Chicago’s Great Fire in 1871, cleaning crews and builders began using Lake Michigan as a dump for all the rubble and debris the disaster created, eventually extending the edge of the city hundreds of feet into the lake.
  • John Hancock hosts an annual charity stair climb event, much like the one I’m doing in two days, at the end of every February, called “Hustle Up The Hancock.” This year’s fastest climber, a 24-year-old named Justin Stewart, made it to the top in 9 minutes, 44 seconds. HOLY CRAP, that’s fast!
  • The elevators that take people to the observation deck are the fastest in North America, making the 1,000 foot ascent in 40 seconds.

With this final preparatory StairMaster workout under my belt, I feel ready for Saturday’s stair climb up the 63-story Aon Center in downtown Los Angeles. And I won’t be resting before then – I may be done with my prep work on the StairMaster, but doesn’t mean that I’ll be sitting around twiddling my thumbs: I’ll have a full workout today, and a lighter workout on Friday that’s upper-body focused (I don’t want to wake up Saturday morning with sore, heavy legs).

I’m ecstatic about the fundraising I’ve done for the event’s organizer, the American Lung Association. After upping it numerous times based on the incredible response I received, I settled on a final goal of $630 – that’s $10 for every floor in the Aon Center. So far, you guys have driven me way past my goal – my current fundraising total is at $697.38. That’s so freakin’ awesome!

OH – I NEARLY FORGOT! You guys helped me win a prize! There was a fundraising contest – whoever raised the most money during the week of March 12-16 won a free $100 pair of shoes from a local running store. I heard about the contest but didn’t really do anything above and beyond what I was already doing. But you guys stepped up, and now I’m getting a free pair of shoes! I’ll be sure to share which pair I pick out – and thanks so much!

You still have until Saturday to donate – and please don’t let the fact that I’ve already reached my goal deter you! Click here to make a donation on my personal fundraising page. Or, if you’d prefer, I have a second stair climb event coming up in a few weeks, and I’m still a couple hundred dollars shy of that goal (which benefits the awesome Whaley Children’s Center in Flint, Michigan) – Click here and donate to help me reach that goal.

Between the two events (read about both of them here), I’ve already raised over $1,350 for charity. Wow! You guys are the best. Keep it up, readers! And…

Keep it up, David!