St. Andrews Stairway (x4) PLUS Weigh-In Update

February 6, 2013

My legs are still sore from last night’s workout. It was the best workout I’ve had in a while, partly because I pushed myself, and partly because it happened in a very cool new location. That location is called the St. Andrews Stairway, and it’s actually not very new at all.

Back in the 1920s, a public stairway was built up the side of the Hollywood Hills, to allow residents on higher streets an easy way to come down to catch the streetcars that used to zip around Los Angeles (hard to believe, but back in the day LA used to have one of the largest public transportation networks in the country). The stairway is cleverly called the St. Andrews Stairway, as it starts at the end of St. Andrews road. Despite it being there for nearly 100 years, I didn’t know it existed, even though last fall, I ran right past it during an evening run. It didn’t catch my eye during that run because it wasn’t lit at night, but that changed last month.

I read online a few weeks ago that some 8 or 9 decades after initial construction, the city of Los Angeles finally made good on their promise to install streetlights on the St. Andrews Stairway, and I realized that it was relatively close to my office. So last night, I laced up my running shoes and went for a run. And even though I’ve only been twice (once last night, and again today to take some photos to share here), I’ll come out and say it: I love the St. Andrews Stairway!

There are 153 stairs (I counted myself). That’s basically a 10-story building! Here’s what they look like from the bottom. The arrow is pointing to the wall at the very top of the stairs, all the way up on Tryon Drive.

Steps Arrow

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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…

KEEP IT UP, DAVID!


Saturday Hodge-Podge

December 17, 2011

A few eclectic thoughts for your Saturday (and mine):

1) Enlightened. I’ve been watching “Enlightened” on HBO, and I love it. Have you watched? I’m waaaay behind – they aired the finale last week, but I’ve been TiVo-ing and I just watched the fourth episode. The show, about a woman (Laura Dern) rebuilding her life after a nervous-breakdown-esque incident, is touching, honest and isn’t afraid of awkward or uncomfortable situations, which provide a good deal of the humor. (I know, I know, this review is coming weeks and weeks late, but if you subscribe to HBO, you can watch full episodes online here.)

In the episode I just watched, Amy realizes that her relationship with her ex-husband has forever changed, and the events that led to their splitting up can’t be undone. The episode ends with Amy summing up what she’s learned, in a voice-over:

“You can try to escape the story of your life, but you can’t. It happened… Mine isn’t the one I would have chosen in the beginning, but I’ll take it. It is my story. Only mine. And it’s not over. There’s time. There is time. There’s so much time.”

I disagree in the sense that I probably wouldn’t choose a different story of my life, but I connected to all the rest, especially the idea that the only direction worth facing is forward. Whether it’s a relatively small infraction, like eating too many cookies at a holiday party, or a major life decision that didn’t turn out the way you wanted, it’s in the past, and there is time (so much time!) to keep writing your story, adding pages and chapters that will get you closer to the ending that you want and deserve. I try not to live in the past (which is often easier said than done), and “Enlightened” helped remind me, tonight, to keep that up.

2) A Little Holiday Humor. Check out this music video for a song called “Drink My Way Through Christmas.” Karen Kilgariff, a friend that I used to work with a few years back, is the singer and songwriter, and the video looks awesome, and makes me laugh every time I watch it.

Hear more of Karen Kilgariff’s music here.

3) Encouragement. A few days ago marked the one-year anniversary of me reaching a major weight-related goal: weighing under 250 pounds for the first time in my adult life. What’s completely awesome is that I’ve kept off the 153 pounds that I lost to reach that goal, and since then, I’ve lost 13 more. I’m still 16 pounds away from my next weight-loss goal, but I’ll get there.

The blog post that I wrote about reaching that goal (which you can read here) ended up being one of my all-time favorites, and I just re-read it for the first time in months. What I love about that post is that is captures an enthusiasm and energy that, to be honest, has since fizzled. My pride hasn’t diminished – I’ll always be nothing but proud of my weight loss and all the related successes – but my enthusiasm about it has. The moments where I get lost in my own sense of accomplishment come less frequently now, and that should probably change, and that sensation has, in the past, been a huge motivator. Starting each day with, at minimum, a celebratory glance in the mirror and pat on the back would be a good thing.

Keep it up, David.


Happy Blogiversary To Me!

September 14, 2011

This has turned out to quite the week of celebrations.  On Saturday, I traveled back to Cedar Point for the first time in a decade.  Then, yesterday, I was able to update my weight loss chart for the first time in 3 weeks (and was quite happy with the results).  Plus, I’ve been plugging away trying to spread the word about my first-ever public speaking gig (It’s next week at a Whole Foods in LA – get info here).

In all the commotion, I completely forgot a big huge anniversary!  (I’m such a typical guy, forgetting an anniversary.)

Yesterday was the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of KEEP IT UP, DAVID!

On September 13, 2010, I published my very first post on Keep it up, David.  Like Monday’s post, it was all about roller coasters, although not the ones at Cedar Point, the ones at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

When I started this blog, I had already lost 131 pounds, and I weighed 271 pounds.  Now, I weigh 232.  That’s 39 pounds I’ve lost since I started Keep it up, David!

Here are some more fun facts about this blog in the past year:

  • I’ve published 369 posts in the past year, including this one.
  • There have been over 2,600 comments.
  • I averaged 69 hits a day in September 2010.  So far in September 2011, I’ve averaged 360.
  • In total, Keep it up, David has had over 110,000 hits in the past year!

I started Keep it up, David as a way to keep myself motivated.  Before this, I’ve never kept a journal or a diary, or shared so much about myself on a regular basis.  As a motivational tool, blogging works!

Above and beyond that, though, is appears as though this blog has become a resource for so many other people who are at various points in their own weight loss journeys, and that’s something I never expected, and something that astounds me on a near-daily basis.  The messages I get from all of you make me think, make me smile, make me laugh, and warm my heart, and I value them.  More than all that, they help keep me going.  At the end of the day, it will always be me who will make the choices every time I pick up a fork or tie on my gym shoes, but knowing there are people all over the world (literally) who are rooting for me, cheering me on, and who will be there to listen and provide support…  well, I’m a lucky guy.  A really lucky guy.  Thank you.

WELCOME TO YEAR TWO OF KEEP IT UP, DAVID!

So, um…

Keep it up, David!


One Year Ago Today

January 23, 2011

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the start of my weight loss journey.  On January 23, 2010, I met with Richard Simmons, who planted the seed in my mind that I could make a change in my life, and had, a few weeks earlier, generously offered to help me.  One year ago today, I began.  I began writing down everything that I ate in a food log.  I began working out more.  I began changing my diet – cutting out soda; cutting back on processed foods; eating more fruits and vegetables, and eating more of them raw.

One year ago today, I stepped on the scale, and held my breath for the few seconds it took before a number appeared.  The number was 402.  One year ago today, I weighed 402 pounds.

One year ago today, I was skeptical.  Maybe all my thoughts from the past couple of years were true: that I was always going to be obese, that I would have to find a way to continue living with this body, that I should continue being resigned to the idea that I would be unhappy, for the most part, for my rest of my life.  One year ago today, I started thinking, well, I can give this whole diet thing a whirl, but don’t get any hopes up.

One year ago today, I started working hard.  Really hard.  I decided I would need to exercise 4 or 5 times a week.  I decided I would need to start planning what I was going to eat that day, where that food would come from, and when I would fit in my exercise.  One year ago today, I decided it was worth the effort.  I was worth the effort.

One year ago today, I knew I was ready.  I knew I had an opportunity, wearing a crystal-studded tank top and short shorts, sitting (and dancing, and singing, and laughing) right next to me.  One year ago today, I knew I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by.

One year ago today seems like an eternity ago.  One year ago today I weighed 159 pounds more than I do now.  That man, one year ago today, seems like a different person, who walked differently, ate differently, moved differently, dressed differently, saw differently, thought differently, felt different, was a different person.

One year ago today, I rarely felt proud of myself.  I allowed my shame to collect and build up around me, clouding my vision, affecting my decisions.  One year ago today, I didn’t like myself very much.

What a difference one year makes.

Keep it up, David!


Happy Monthiversary!

October 13, 2010

It’s the one month anniversary of Keep It Up, David!  My very first post (and still one of my favorites) went up just after midnight on September 13, 2010.  Oh, how things were different back then…  Let’s take a trip down memory lane…

On September 13, 2010, Rafael Nadal won his 9th Grand Slam title when he beat Novak Djokovic at the U.S. Open.  People across the country were gathering at water coolers everywhere to discuss Lady Gaga’s various outfits from the VMAs the night before, and when they weren’t looking at her meat dress, their eyes were glued on the Atlantic Ocean, where Hurricane Igor was whipping itself up into a Category 5 storm.  I remember it all like it happened a few weeks ago…  which, of course, it did.

In more exciting news (to me, at least), during the 31 days that passed since my very first post, I’ve worked out 25 times and have lost 11 pounds.  I’ve written 49 blog posts (including this one) and have amassed a small but loyal following that is growing a little bit with each passing day.  There are times when I get perplexed that anyone would care a rat’s ass about what I have to say about anything, and yet, you keep coming back.  You leave amazing messages in the comments section.  You post kind things about me on Facebook, or tweet them to your followers.  Those of you that I know say things in person, in emails, over the phone, or over IM that fill me with such pride that it’s like a wave has come and practically swept me from my shoes.

The original idea behind this blog was that I could motivate myself to keep it up if I start keeping better track of my progress, struggles, and successes.  I decided to put it out there in the world-wide-interweb as a way to legitimize the process.  I knew some people close to me would enjoy reading it, and thought it would be a fantastic side effect if I inspired any of them.  But now, with very minimal promotion on my part, I’m gaining readers that I don’t even know – complete strangers! – and they seem to be spreading the word and coming back!  Watching that happen is been such a thrill – nearly as exciting as the roller coasters I wrote about back in that very first post (but not quite).

I’ll end this post with what I hope comes off as a very genuine and heartfelt thank you to all of you, my readers.  I’m elated that I have found a way to inspire you with humor and dignity, and I’m thankful that you keep coming back, and reading what I have to share, because that is a huge inspiration to me.

Okay – I’m done being mushy.  How about I celebrate my monthiversary with a ‘Before’ and ‘Current’ photo comparison?  ‘Before’ was taken 12/31/09, on a hike in Los Angeles when my sister Laura was in town.  ‘Current’ was two weekends ago, and 142 pounds lighter.

Keep it up, David!


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