Are you ready for this?
When I moved back out to Los Angeles from Ohio I was homeless.
This wasn't a case of crashing on friends' couches and the like. I lived in my car for the better part of eight months. In this post I'll talk about some of the many adventures this period took me on as well as how I got by. Hopefully this will stand as motivation to those of you out there that are trying to accomplish goals against the odds. Whether you're trying to lose 200 pounds or 20, looking to learn a new skills, or pushing yourself to new heights this will show you that it will happen if you really dedicate yourself to it.
The week in Glendale was cool. Chris was also looking for a job so the days were spent job searching. By the time the week was up Chris had found a job. He was also working online for ChaCha answering questions and pulling in a hot $10 a day. This was enough to cover meals and gas while he started making money. Unfortunately my savings were completely depleted by that week's end so we took the car and moved to the Venice area.
I would spend my afternoons at the library scouring the internet for jobs. I would send between 15-20 resumes a day ranging from customer service jobs to factory work. Anything entry level. My resume was poorly done and so I didn't get any responses... Chris worked from 10-6 at a vegan bakery so he'd bring muffins, cookies, and those sort of things. Lunch for me was lunch meat or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We'd go places for dinner. Pizza, Chinese and Mexican food, McDonalds, Subway. At this point I was eating as I wished and had no discipline. To stay sane we'd go out places and did things all the time. Mostly drinking at bars and singing karaoke. We'd meet friends out and watched the NBA playoffs or go see movies. The McDonalds by where we camped out had outlets and free wifi so if we didn't go out then we'd go there and charge up laptops, phones, and wasted the night away. The same people were always there charging their various electronic devices and drinking soda from the fountains. We kept to ourselves and the others respected that. Whether we were going out or chilling at Mickey-D's, we did anything not to just sit in the car. That's honestly the way we stayed sane. Each night when 11-midnight rolled around we'd drive to places that were darker, around neighborhoods that had high fences, or that were spaced out and we'd go to sleep. This was made difficult by all the stuff in the car that would keep us from reclining. I'd wake up between 5-6 in the morning and drive to a park so people wouldn't wake up and see us.
Homelessness in Los Angeles is an epidemic. On top of that, people take issue with others that lived in their cars. Over the eight month period I had four confrontations with either people that took issue with us or the cops themselves. Luckily none of them were ever escalated. The first one was on day two. Chris had gone to work and I was just sitting in my car reading a book. After an hour or so the police walked up to my car and asked me to step out of the vehicle. They asked me for my id and while the one officer was running my information I chatted with the other. He asked me what I was doing, and I told him I just moved out here from Ohio. I explained that the only reason I'm doing this is because I'm looking for a job so that I can get a place to live, etc. He told me that someone called them and said that I was causing a public disturbance and when they pulled up they knew exactly what was going on. He went on to say that the police completely understand that people have started living in their cars because of the economy and the state of the state. They could tell that I'm not out to create a disturbance and the officer I was chatting with gave me advice about living in the car. He said to just keep moving. The police will not bother anyone that they see sleeping in their car unless someone calls the police about it. At that point all they'll do is write a report of what was said and tell you to move along. But don't sleep in the same area twice or late into the day.
The other three occasions were all just "Get out of here" speeches that lasted less than a minute. Nobody ever got angry or confrontational.
Living in the car was an interesting time. Mom didn't approve, but what's she going to do besides make offers to take me back in if I wanted to come back to Ohio. I had many offers to pay for tickets and chip in to get me home but I denied them all. I came out here to do something and I refused to leave until I was satisfied with my efforts. We ate recklessly and would scout out a sleeping spot by the bars that we would go to then drink and have fun. We'd take morning naps at the park and watched Netflix at night at wifi hotspots. After a month we got a storage space and thank the heavens we could recline our seats back when we slept! Soon after that I had my incident on Cinco De Mayo that opened my eyes and got me to change my ways.
From that point I started this blog and I learned to scale things back. From June until December I lost almost 50 pounds. Towards the end of June I got a job so I was able to budget things for myself instead of mooching off of Chris. The weight I lost was accomplished without having a kitchen to cook for myself in. Breakfast was fruit and sometimes a cliff bar. Lunch remained light, usually a sandwich or two with some fruit or chips. Dinner would still be fast food but I did it responsibly. I made sure that the food that I would end the day with would be within a certain calorie range. And if I knew that I was going to go out somewhere and have a few drinks or eat something more calorically expensive, I'd budget my earlier meals accordingly. I was making the best of what I had when I had no other resources to eat healthy.
Also I was exercising a lot. The gym membership was huge for me turning the corner. Not just at the gym either. I would walk everywhere and took time to get out and about. The gym was great because it meant that I would have to take sink showers. On top of that I was turning my life around and getting interested in activities that challenged me. The next thing you know I was training on the elliptical for the Frank to 5k challenge and working towards running a race in the real world. The weight dropped off faster than I could have imagined! Each week I'd sneak a scale into the gym and giggle in the bathroom as I saw the results of another week's work. Things were going great!
Football season slowed progress down to a crawl. Since we didn't have a home, I'd go to the bar to watch the games. And going to the bar means drinking. I kept to a budget each week for alcohol but as the drinks kept coming on game day, the discipline would erode away. October and November I pretty much plateaued with my progress. I lost my job but bounced back in a fraction of the time from my previous bout with unemployment. This job was steadier and the income increased immensely. With that we upgraded from car to hotel room.
And here we are today. I use an electric wok and crock pot to prepare all of my meals that require cooking. I take showers 1-2 times a day. Since we came here I have not stepped foot into a gym but I've gotten out and walking every day to the store and other places. Life has improved since the days of car sleeping by leaps and bounds but I'm still not happy with where things are.
The goal is August to have enough saved up to get into an apartment. At that point I think I will lay down and cry. These past fourteen months have been rough but it has done nothing but make me a stronger person. Physically, emotionally, and mentally I have grown and realized that if you put your mind to it, it will happen. As of today I am 316 pounds. I've dropped 75 pounds in that time PLUS MORE. So if you have a few pounds that you're trying to shed, or you're in a situation like myself and you're considered obese/morbidly obese, or even if you're trying to do something outside of losing weight then I'm going to challenge you. I'm calling you out right now. The excuses stop here. Look at yourself/your situation and ask yourself "Why not?" Because if I could successfully lose weight while having no access to a stove, oven, refrigerator, or even an electrical outlet, all while eating nothing but fast food, produce, and sandwiches then why can't you. I've learned that the first step to making yourself better is identifying the obstacles in your way and destroying them.
I'm working on another entry updating life after the juice fast. My goal is by December to be at my initial goal weight of 250 pounds. I know I have what it takes to lose 66 pounds in 6 months. I want to fly home for Christmas without the aid of a seat belt extender on the airplane. I want to go to Disneyland and ride roller coasters. I'm ready to start the steps to actively pursue the goals I walked away from everything for. I'm gonna get selfish and do things that I want to do.You're going to see more activity on here as writing inspires me as much as it inspires you. I hope you all enjoy what's left of your Sunday and I'll see you all soon!
Until the next episode!