Parking Lot Non-Scale Victory

March 1, 2012

Los Angeles is known for having horrible traffic and crazy drivers, and it’s a well-earned reputation. But here’s a little-known Los Angeles fact: It’s not just on the road that drivers in Los Angeles behave rudely and aggressively – it’s in the parking lots as well. People don’t know how to park around here.

California is a progressive and environmentally-aware state, and there have been initiatives to encourage people to drive less and drive smaller, more efficient cars. The smog laws are the most strict in the country. There are a lot of carpool lanes. When GM started manufacturing the EV1 electric car in the late ’90s, Los Angeles built charging stations all over the place, and gave them the best parking spots, right next to the handicap spots (although the charging stations are long gone, some of the signage pointing the way remains).

Then there’s the compact car parking spot. These spots are shorter and narrower than regular parking spots, and their smaller size allows for more cars to fit into a lot where land is at a premium, and, in more spacious venues, it subtly encourages compact car usage, as compact spaces are often closer.

When I’m making my way through a parking lot with lots of available spaces, I often have a laugh noting other drivers’ definition of ‘compact.’ It befuddles me that there are people who consider their giant SUV, dual cab pick-up or boat-sized sedan to be a compact car. But when I’m in a parking lot that’s nearly full, there’s no laughter. I get so annoyed when an oversized car is in a compact spot, because half the time, they encroach so much on the spots next to them, that they can’t be used at all. One dumbfuck illiterate driver can take up threeparking spots. It just ain’t right.

Worse yet are the times when I park my Ford Focus in a compact spot, next to another compact car, but when I return, that neighboring car is gone, and some tank is in its place. Sometimes, that car is precariously close to mine. Last May, I wrote a post about having to climb through my car, from the passenger side, because there was no room on the driver’s side. Click here to check it out – it’s a good read about a weight loss perk that I hadn’t even considered until I benefited from it.

The other day, the aforementioned scenario happened again. After Tavi brought me to my first-ever yoga class, we headed down the street and grabbed a post-workout snack at Jamba Juice (a 230-calorie berry-and-beet smoothie and a wheatgrass shot). When we returned to my car, another car had parked pretty damn close. It wasn’t close enough to warrant me climbing through from the passenger’s side, but getting into the driver’s seat without banging the door against the neighboring car would require some careful slinking and slithering on my part.

It looked much tighter in real life than it does in that photo!

Since Tavi was with me, I had him photograph my entry, because I knew this was something that I wouldn’t have been able to pull off when I was heavier.

Approaching the car. Have you ever read about how some animals, like rats and octopi, can fit their entire bodies through a hole no bigger than a quarter? That's what this feels like.

Right foot in. Turning sideways because my hips won't fit any other way.

Sliding forward, so both hips are inside the doorway, which will eventually allow me to start sitting.

Smile for the camera!

Starting to sit. My hand has to hold the door in place, so my left knee doesn't push it into the other car. I'm turning my head, so it clears the opening between the car door and the roof.

Once my head clears the roof, I can pivot, still holding onto the door, and start to bring my left leg inside the car.


The entire process took 12-13 minutes.

Kidding. The entire process took a matter of seconds. Once I was in, I actually got out (the same process, reversed) and did it again, to make sure that Tavi got all the photos. Yep, those are the lengths I’ll go to for the sake of a good blog post. Or this blog post.

It’s accomplishments like this one, that, in the grand scheme of things, are relatively minor parts of my day and my life, that often excite me the most. They show that the changes I’ve made are trickling down and affecting me in ways I can’t predict or anticipate. They show that every single moment – not just when I leave the gym or step on the scale – has been bettered by my weight loss. Best of all, they remind me, often at times when my weight is the last thing on my mind, of the magnitude of my accomplishments. Hell yeah, that deserves a…



August 1, 2011

I’m writing this post from beautiful and green Seattle, Washington.  I’m up here visiting a really great friend from college, and heading back home to Los Angeles tomorrow.  I’ll have some fun Seattle photos to share, but I’m currently 1 city behind – I haven’t really shared anything about Las Vegas yet!  So even though I’m more than 800 miles north, I’ll happily head back to Sin City so I can fill you in what went down.  You know the motto “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”?  Not for Keep It Up, David!

If you read my blog every day (and why wouldn’t you?), than you’ll know that I’ve now twice mentioned the fact (here and here) that I came to Las Vegas for a very specific reason, one that made me both terribly excited and nervous, which is why I didn’t share it on the blog before it happened.  But now that it’s over, I happy to report that I planned the whole trip so I could go and…

…audition for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!

I’m a game show junkie.  Always have been.  My family can vouch that I was solving the puzzles of Wheel of Fortune ever since I learned how to read, and in my adult life, I’ve gone to auditions for six game shows, and appeared as a contestant on two.  You can watch my appearance on Merv Griffin’s Crosswords here, and I’m going to post video from my other game show later this summer (it’s goooood, so come bak for that!).

This year I’ve really been enjoying the syndicated daytime version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, hosted by Meredith Vieira, so when I saw on the show’s website that they were going to be conducting auditions in Las Vegas, I immediately marked it on my calendar.  The auditions were Friday morning, so I arrived on Thursday afternoon, with a cooler bag of healthy foods in tow, and checked into a room at Gold Coast hotel and casino.

There are a gazillion hotels in Vegas, and I picked Gold Coast because that’s where the auditions were being held.  I was gonna have to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn for the audition, so it was easiest to stay on-site.  Gold Coast is a off-strip property that’s next to Rio (as you can see in the picture) and across the street from the Palms.  Price-wise, it wasn’t the cheapest option, but it was at the lower end of the range, which I appreciated.  I don’t know if I would recommend Gold Coast, but it was fine for my purposes, and the staff was friendly and helpful.

The auditions started at 7am, and the website said that they couldn’t line up before 6am, so, after a semi-restless night (thank you, nerves), I was dressed and primped and downstairs at 5:30am with a book (in case I had to wait for hours) and the application form I had previously downloaded and filled out.  The auditions were being held in one of the hotel’s big ballrooms, and the escalators to the ballroom were blocked off by velvet ropes when I got there, but I was 12th in line!  FANTASTIC!  A constant stream of people arrived and got in line behind me over the next hour, and soon, the line snaked through the casino and went out the door (or so I heard, the line grew so long I couldn’t actually see the end).  Around 6am or so, I learned that there were already dozens and dozens of people in line at the top of the escalator, so I wasn’t actually 12th in line, I was more in the 90s.

At 6:30 or so, they started moving us into the ballroom, which was set up with rows upon rows of tables, filling the whole room.  It could accommodate 500 people in total, and the room ended up getting filled completely with applicants.  A casting producer went over what was about to go down:  We were all going to take a test, and those of us who passed the test would get an interview.  If we didn’t pass the test, well, thanks for coming, and please exit quickly.

Tests were then passed out, and we were assigned numbers.  The test questions were on a sheet inside a manila folder, and we marked our answers on Scantron forms.  We were also given t-shirts and magnets as gifts, and the Millionaire pencil we used to take the test was ours to keep as well.

After explaining the directions, the test began.  It was timed – 10 minutes to answer 30 questions.  The questions were multiple choice, just like the ones on the show, and they ranged in difficulty from easy to really difficult.  Since it worked out to 20 seconds per question, I went through and answered all the ones I knew off the top of my head, and then came back to the ones that I wanted to think about a little more.

The questions ranged in topic from history to science to literature to pop culture to current/recent events, so you really had to know your stuff, and be able to recall it quickly in order to do well.  I used every second of the 10 minutes, which flew by.  I answered all 30 questions, but didn’t have time to go back and double-check anything, which I would have liked to have done.  When the 10 minutes were up, we passed the test to the ends of our rows, and sat around and waited while the Scantron machine scored them.

There are two big mysteries surrounding the tests: the Millionaire folks don’t say how well you have to do to pass, nor do you find out what how you score.  I heard people around me saying that you need to get 27 out of 30 right to be granted an interview, but that was never officially said (at the audition or anywhere on the wesbsite), so who knows if it’s true.

I felt pretty good about how I performed on the test.  I knew a majority of the answers with certainty.  There were two questions I knew I got wrong, because I looked them up afterward on my phone, and two or three more that I remember taking educated guesses on, but couldn’t look up afterward, because I forgot what they were.

After 10 or 15 minutes, the casting producer came back with the big announcement: the assigned numbers of the people that passed the test!  The room got very quiet, and she started reading the numbers.  The list was long – around 70 people out the 500 in the room passed!

Did I pass? CLIFFHANGER! Come back tomorrow and find out!

Just kidding!  I’ll tell you right now.

I… didn’t pass.  I thought I had done well, but obviously not well enough!  I shuffled out of the room, along with the other 430 applicants that didn’t pass, and by 7:45am I was back in my room.

I’ll admit I was crestfallen, but it wasn’t devastating.  I knew the test would be tough, and I knew the odds would probably be against me, and they were: 70 passers out of 500 applicants is just under a 15% success rate, and even then you’re a long way from being on the show: you don’t find out for a few weeks if you pass the interview part of the audition, and those who pass the interview get placed in a contestant pool, which means they may or may not get a phone call over the next 18 months inviting them to be a contestant on the show.  Add in that they did three rounds of auditions that day in Vegas, and three rounds of auditions in 6 or 7 other cities, plus auditions in New York (where the show is taped), and it all adds up to a lot of people vying to be on a show that features, on average, 1 or 2 contestants an episode.

But hey, you can’t be on the show at all if you don’t audition, and I’m glad I went.  I can audition again in the future, and who knows, I very well may.

In case you’re curious, when I got back to my room, I grabbed my computer and headed a few blocks to Starbucks to relax and use their wi-fi (as opposed to paying $13 a day for internet access at the hotel).  Then I went back to the hotel and hit their gym for an hour, spending 40 minutes with free weights and then 20 minutes on a cross-ramp elliptical.  After that, I ate some lunch and took a nap.

OH – and the t-shirt I got was a size Large, and it fit!

The only other Large t-shirts I have are my workout shirts (see a wonderful size comparison showing my weight loss in t-shirts here), so fitting into this shirt is definitely a non-scale victory!

Keep it up, David!

Parking Garage NSV

May 27, 2011

For anyone that’s unfamiliar, NSV stands for Non-Scale Victory.  The number on the scale is the most common way people recognize and quantify their weight loss, but a Non-Scale Victory can be anything else.  Although I haven’t labeled them as such, I’ve blogged about lots of things I can do now that I wasn’t able to do when I was at my heaviest – whether it’s ride roller coasters, sit in an airplane seat without a seat-belt extender, or said good-bye forever to my former favorite big & tall store because I no longer needed to shop there.  In fact, I’ve done a whole series of posts about fitting into smaller sizes of clothes (which you can see in my My Favorite Posts section of the blog) – and all of these things are Non-Scale Victories.

Twice in the past two weeks, I’ve experienced a new kind of Non-Scale Victory in the parking garage at work.  This parking garage has two types of spots: regular spots and compact spots.  I drive a Ford Focus, which is a smaller car, so most of the time, I park in one of the compact spots:

Every so often, some dummy parks their SUV or yacht-sized sedan in the compact spot next to mine, leaving hardly any space for me to open my car door to get in.  Twice, in the past two weeks, I’ve had to go around and enter my car through the passenger door, and climb through my car to get into the driver’s seat.

When I was heavier, doing that was awful.  Terrible.  When you’re 400 pounds, it’s a tight fit in most cars, including my Focus, and negotiating myself into the driver’s seat via the passenger seat wasn’t easy.  Some part of me was always pressed up against the steering wheel, or there wouldn’t be quite enough room to get a leg over the center console because my belly would be in the way.  I remember one time when I managed to get myself into the driver’s seat relatively quickly, only to realize my right leg was tucked up under me, and there just wasn’t the room to swing it out from under my butt so it could go where it needed to go – you know, to operate the pedals.  So I had to shimmy back into the passenger’s seat and basically start over.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to climb through my car, so when I was forced to climb through it two weeks ago, these memories came back, and I started dreading it.  It didn’t really click in my mind that it might be different now that I was 164 pounds lighter.  I may have even groaned.  Audibly.  And then I opened the passenger door, climbed in, and I’m not exactly sure what happened, but about five seconds later, I was in my driver’s seat.  Five seconds later.  Did that really just happen?  It was so easy, so effortless.  I didn’t feel like a contortionist trying to squeeze their way into a suitcase.

Then, when it happened again a couple nights ago, a smile crept across my face, and I actually thought: this is gonna be fun!  And you know what?  It was.

Doing things that I struggled to be able to do before is most definitely fun.  And being able to easily climb through my car is most definitely a Non-Scale Victory.

What’s Your Most Recent Non-Scale Victory?  Share in the comments section!

One more picture before I go:

Look!  The parking spot with the same number as the amount of weight that I’ve lost!

I wish everyone a fantastic long holiday weekend.  I planning on posting something at some point over the weekend, and you should definitely come back on Tuesday, because I have something really fun and special planned!  Don’t miss it!

Keep it up, David!