Two Decembers ago, just before 2005 landed, I stepped on a scale and whopped out at 260. I’d been in that neighborhood weight for the better part of a year, having climbed there after peaking at 229 following the conclusion of the 475-mile bike ride I did from San Francisco to Santa Clarita in October of 2003.

I’ve hated every minute of it. But I haven’t hated it enough to do anything about it other than take short-term steps to increasing my physical activity. I’d certainly done far less to regulate my eating.

I’ve never fallen for diets or weight-loss programs. Certainly they are an option and are very productive to many of the people who participate, but other than a gym membership I can’t see paying a company money to tell me what essentially boils down to what we all know: Eat Right & Exercise.

Long story short, I followed my wife Susan’s lead and signed-up for a free account on Fitday.com. She had begun her program right after 2006 began and about a week before I did. I was so impressed by her motivation (her goal is to lose 30 pounds by July 1 when we will be going on a roadtrip up through several national parks (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, others) on the way to Montana to visit her grandma and uncle.

In this the twelth day of my regimen, I’m feeling really good. I’ve been averaging about 2,000 calories a day and though I’m matching up my newly found eating habits with the regular physical routine I want to do I have been walking the dog these last three days far beyond the five-minute, end-of-the-block-and-back routine upwards of two a mile. Why today, we did that mile and then detoured a couple blocks over and up the landmark Music Box Steps (all 133 of them) made famous by the Laurel & Hardy film “The Music Box,” over to Micheltorena and down those 200-plus steps to Sunset and then back home… probably around two miles in total.

Anyway, so far so good. Even though I stepped on the scale last Sunday and had only dropped a solitary pound, there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides, I’m just getting started. According to my long-term goal (the same as Susan’s; to ditch 30 by July 1) I should only be dropping about 1.25 pounds per week so hopefully by this coming Sunday another one will bite the dust.

And now a word about my motivation. I was thinking about the almost two years that I’ve been bummed about my weight (especially after have acheived a sub-230 level… something I hadn’t seen in the 10 previous years) and despite the many protestations I made I just wasn’t able to take any really dedicated steps. Well, I figured it out. I do best after my complacency gets rattled. There are several examples:

  • After losing my position as a Sparkletts Man in 1991 and being a very fit 220-pounds in the best shape and conditioning of my life (that job is practically eight hours or more of strenuous activity per day), I wallowed for awhile packing the pounds back on until I made the snap decision to joing the Navy and get the hell out of Dodge. Within a few months I was back to my fighting weight.
  • After injuries in a traffic accident that occurred during my farewell party about a week prior to my shipping out to basic training in San Diego, I responded during the delay by getting all the way down to 216 pounds, something I hadn’t been since my late teens. I hadn’t felt so good about my body ever.
  • Of course, a few months after still with lingering injuries, the navy decided they didn’t want me anymore and discharged me having ever having served a day. I was depressed, out of work (save for some temp stuff in Glendale as a freakin’ file clerk) and living with my mother and I started stacking it back on again.
  • A few mild fluctuations in my weight followed during the next few years, but it was after I was back on my feet and working again following my 1994 motorcycle accident that I got moving towards controlling my weight again. My drive this time was to counter the frustrations I had with the disfigurement to my face by feeling better about my body. And by 1995 my sihouette was tight to the point of me wearing old jeans I’d long sense put into the back of the closet.
  • I changed jobs after that and then came a four-month period of unemployment before I landed at the Pasadena Weekly, where I ate pizza for lunch and pastrami sandwishes for dinner and worked horrendous hours and had little time to do anything healthy or physical.
  • I carried most of that weight with me over to my next job at the L.A. zoo and kept packing it on until late in 2000 my daughter told me she didn’t want to see me anymore. Again there was some wallowing with that shock, but less than six months later in 2001 I finally said enough was enough and began a simple regimen that limited my intake of food and maximized my physical activity. it worked like a charm and in a few months I was down to my 230s.
  • From there I maintained my weight in my 240s until the decision to do the bike ride in 2003 and I kicked up the training to the point of where I was doing 60-80 mile rides practically every weekend. By the time the ride itself was done I was very happy not only with what I’d accomplished, but how I looked.

And now we’re back at the end of this two-year-long summit at 260, which began with the defeat I felt at being rejected by Karen Poly a couple months after that epic bike ride, and continues with my being rejected by the zoo two months ago for — of all things — posting my feelings and opinions about Karen on this blog (or last year’s version of it).

I’m not trying to neglect the fantastic marvelousness that has found me: my wife Susan, the repairing of the breaks between my daughter and I… all those are phenomenal blessings. All I’m trying to say in all that is that some of my highest accomplishments are born of my deepest defeats. And this latest reawakening of my long dormant drive for conditioning and fitness has left me very hungry to give myself a positive to help eliminate the negative. It’s worked in the past and it’ll work now and it’ll work in the future, too.

I know I have a long way to go, but I also know for the first time since the end of 2003, I am capable of doing it. And I’ll get to my first destination of 230 pounds by the time we leave for Montana — if not sooner.