Living this way.
If you read this blog with regularity, you know the date. December 27, 2011. That was the day I began the Journey. I wanted to lose 75 pounds. I weighed 306 pounds and I figured losing 75 pounds would be a heck of a good thing. That would bring me down to 231-230.
I revised that quickly. A few weeks in to the Journey I decided that 210 was a better weight and that became my target. I wanted to lose 96 pounds.
I really didn’t know what I was doing. I started this blog so I could keep a diary of the trip and to keep me motivated.
On August 8, 2012 I reached 210 pounds. I have been below that weight for much of the journey since and I have learned to love the way I live.
I am so far from that person. The FAT person. The man in the pictures, hiding behind everyone else, trying to not look so large. I was “The Great Carnivore”. My diet was heavy on meat. Also heavy on Peanut Butter and Jelly. And White Bread.t
And I was fat.
Now? I have not had red meat since March of 2012. I rarely have poultry. I sometimes eat fish. I haven’t had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in more than two years. I will have a piece of whole wheat bread with a light spread of peanut butter about once every two months.
I was sedentary. Sitting on the sofa and watching TV was my evening, my weekend day, my activity of choice for times away from work.
I ride my bike now. I lead rides. I often do 40-mile rides. 60 miles? 75? Yes. I rode 3000 miles last year.
I eat right. I eat less. I ride my bike.
I am living this way. I am not afraid of regaining the weight. I know I have to watch it. I know I have to be careful. I can’t get careless but I know I have the plan, the knowledge and the habits developed to stay in my weight range.
This is how I live. It is not a fad, a DIET, a “program”. It is my life.
I understood right from the beginning that this had to become life. Diets are designed to end. They are designed to fail. “Programs” end. Programs Fail.
I had to make this the way I live. For the rest of my life.
It is a matter of perspective.
I love to ride. I am good on the flat roads, the rolling roads and the down hills (I LOVE DOWN HILLS) but I am not good on the hills.
Now BP, my boss at the bike shop, says I lack perspective. We are all bad at hills if we compare ourselves to others. And there is a good point there.
Here is my point: I am a weak hill climber. I climb them anyway. I am better than I was two years ago. I am better than I was last year. I may never be a really good hill climber but I am getting better. My point is that I am doing it. Despite how much I hate the hills, I am doing them. Despite how much I struggle, I am doing them. I am in the game. I am fighting my way up the hills.
Bad at running? Run anyway. Bad at hill climbs? Climb them anyway. Get in the game.
One the first shop ride I went on in early 2013 I had to walk a couple of hills. The group had to wait for me. I was the slow rider in the back.
I stayed in the game.
By July I was leading the ride.
I am not good on hills. I climb them anyway.
I am better at climbing hills than everyone who doesn’t try.
All a matter of perspective.
The Man in the Mirror.
I cried. I stood there and cried. I was seeing me, it seemed, for the first time. I cried.
I was in my late forties. 48, on the cusp of 49 I think. I was looking in the mirror and for some reason I realized just how big I was. I cannot tell you why. I think I have written about this before. I still have no answer.
I was around 320 pounds. Looking in the mirror that day I saw the roundness of my face, the second and third chin and the sheer size of ME.
And I cried. For a moment. I stood there and I cried.
It was the second time that I realized just how very large I was. The first was a picture taken at a family celebration a few years earlier.
This time… Looking in the mirror. Not able to blame the ten pounds a camera puts on.
This weekend I looked in the mirror. I was getting ready for my Saturday morning ride (more on that later) and I saw a different me and I have to tell ya… I didn’t cry.
I saw the lean face. I saw the lean neck and shoulders. I saw a me that is very far from the person I was 5 years ago, 3 years ago, even two years ago.
Thought I would mention it.
The Saturday Ride
I have not been getting the miles I want on the bike.
The irony of working part-time in a bike shop is how little time I have to ride. I work my regular job Monday through Friday and I work the shop on weekends. This leaves precious little time to ride.
The nice weather helps on Saturdays and I lead the shop ride on Sundays.
Saturday is my solo time. It is the ride where I push myself and challenge my abilities. I ride as hard as I can for as long as I can within the 18 miles or so on the route to the shop.
This weekend I changed the routine. I changed my course.
I left earlier and I plotted out a course to take me about 29 miles with a little treat at the halfway mark.
At a little after 7:00 AM I mounted up and set out.
Now to really appreciate this ride I need you to remember what I said about climbing hills..
The first quarter of a mile of any ride from my home is downhill. If I turn right at the bottom of the hill I can stay on a generally downhill course with only a couple of climbs all the way to the shop over the course of about 18 miles. If I go straight I have a nearly two-mile climb. The first part is relatively steep. The rest is just long.
I went straight. I had my third best time climbing that hill. Proud of that.
Then I continued on past some beautiful farm fields, winding roads through wooded areas, a couple of nice climbs and then a ride through one of the underappreciated towns in New Jersey, Denville. A quick stop for a small coffee at Smart World and back to the ride.
Some rolling hills and a couple of short climbs, a wrong turn or two and I saw a friend from the shop cycling in the other direction. I waved, he waved and I rode on. A few minutes later JS rode up to me, deciding that riding with a friend was worth diverting from his planned route. We rode the remaining eight miles together, a little chatting but mostly just two well matched riders enjoying a roll through the towns along the route. JS could easily ride away from me if he wanted to but we ride well together. It was fun.
At the end I had 29 miles in and a new route to follow on my way to the shop.
It was joy. Challenging myself, picking the harder, longer route. And to ride it so well.
Yes BP, you are right. It is a matter of perspective.