David Clark is a former 320 lb. alcoholic who found the determination to transform himself into a monster endurance athlete and aspiring MMA fighter.

David has been featured all over the media, including Runner’s World, CBS, ESPN, NBC, and The Rich Roll Show.

This is one our most dynamic, fun, and inspiring guests. You don’t want to miss his unique insights on recovery, running, and his journey from obese drunk to kick-ass superman!

CLEAN DATE: AUG 5TH, 2005

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Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the Podcast now!

David’s Daily Recovery Routine
David makes sure happiness is on the top of his list. It’s the ultimate goal and the reason why he’s pursues anything else in his life. Recovery is the absolute north star of his journey. He has nothing without that and so he makes it his first priority. Without recovery, being sober is only abstinence. Not drinking doesn’t do anything for him if he’s not doing what he needs to be happy. He says sobriety eliminates some of the drama, but does not fulfill his purpose.

When applied correctly you could take the word sobriety and replace it with the word happiness.

David meditates every day, not only in the conventional sense, but intermittently throughout the to create gaps in whatever he is doing. David says that we tend to make our day one burst of activity. All our tasks become one. To break his day up, he eats breakfast and takes five deep breaths to reset his mind between activities.

Everything he approaches during the day he asks himself how can I be happy in this? David believes that trying to find what you love to do first and going from there is bullshit because anything you love to do at one moment can turn into something you hate. It can turn into a job. David finds happiness first, no matter what he’s doing.

If I can be happy doing anything and then choose what I’m passionate about, I have the keys to the kingdom.

Spiritual Practice
David Clark’s has incorporated Buddhism into his 12 Step work and his journey to being balanced person. He follows the 4 Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path. At the same time, David is a heavy metal fan and an MMA fighter who says ‘f**k’ a lot. He is realistic about who he is and accepts it fully.

The First Time
When David was thirteen, he went to a party with his seventeen-year-old bother. He was afraid to try alcohol and walked around with a prop cup pretending to be drinking. After spending the whole night sober, he grabbed a bunch of bottles on his way out and took them with him so he could drink by himself. He didn’t really get drunk, but about a week or two later he went to another party and didn’t use a prop cup. He got plastered.

The Battle, Wreckage, Rock Bottom, and Recovery
After his first experience, he didn’t drink again for several years. Throughout his teens he could take alcohol or leave it, but he felt disconnected from society as a youth and drugs and alcohol were always looming in the distance.

Then he moved to LA in late teens and David jumped in to partying full force. He prided himself on not doing any “mind-altering substances” refusing to include alcohol as a mind-altering substance. He says he must have turned down cocaine more than a hundred times, until one night, he didn’t. That one ‘yes’ to coke set a chain of events into a motion. David barely slept for six months doing coke and meth and living out a Jim Morrison fantasy playing music.

Finally, it all crashed down on him. His body gave out. He got pneumonia and was bedridden for two months. That was the first alarm bell that maybe he had a problem.

He got sober, quit smoking, and for the first time he tried to integrate fitness. He got healthy and found abstinence but he didn’t find recovery.

I walked out of that room that I was locked in, but I never locked the door behind me. I left it open.

Eventually, he moved to Colorado. He got a GED and worked his way through college selling mattresses. It turned out he was so good at the mattress business that he purchased chain of stores and became hugely successful.

He acquired all the things he felt he needed to validate his existence. At twenty-nine years old, he was doing 8 million in sales a year. He had a wife and two kids. He just kept getting more and more lost in it. He felt life the world had aligned for him to be happy, but Something was wrong. Each night he got drunk and staggered around the house, cursing his neighbors for knowing the secret to the happiness that eluded him.

David didn’t make a dramatic downfall to rock bottom. His rock bottom day was every day for five years. One morning he woke up and he knew it was either change or die, and he wasn’t sure which choice he wanted to make.

Then he thought of his kids. If he could get better, he could show them what a comeback looks like. That was enough light in that dark place that he started to crawl out. He went to AA, but he added a second ingredient to his recovery. He started running, and the running became an affirmation. If he could run every day, it proved to himself that he was serious.

Nobody believed I was going to get clean, Why would they? I didn’t believe me.

What kept David from getting clean

David was struggling with the concept of labels. He didn’t want to call himself and alcoholic because it made him feel weak.

The moment I accepted it was the strongest moment of my entire life.

Spiritual Awakening

David remembers lying on his bathroom floor after having just vomited blood and bile. He looked up and said “help me” out loud.

I wasn’t sure who I was saying it to, but that’s when I realized that this is too big for me.

Favorite book

Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives

I wish had been ready to read this book 15 years before I got sober.

Best Suggestion

David participated in a 135 mile race across Death Valley. It took place in the summer when it was 130 degrees. It was the first time he considered that he might actually die running the race, but his friend looked across from him and said:

This isn’t the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

David realized that nothing was more difficult than getting sober and that after conquering addiction, he could accomplish anything.

For the Newcomer

David says that moving away from the addiction is much more important than worrying about where you are headed

Don’t try to figure it out, don’t try to break it down and compartmentalize it. Take the first step forward.

We SHAIR our stories every Tuesday so subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio!

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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.