A Fat Man's Journey (Working my way back…)

An Attempt to Journey from Fat to Fit in a Lifetime. Eat right, Eat less, Move more


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The Monday after a Really Good Weekend


A Week can Change so much

A week ago, I was counting the wounds, measuring the damage and thanking the fates that the crash was not worse.

On the scale of bike crashes, mine was quite minor. I had road rash, a broken helmet and some sore spots. Overall, I was lucky. The was nothing broken and nothing requiring surgery to put right.

This weekend I returned to riding. I have never been the sort to be afraid to do something that got me hurt previously. If I were, I never would have fallen in love a second time. There was no hesitation to getting back on the bike. I never worried about it, never questioned anything once on the bike.

Saturday was the day of the most important ride on my calendar. The Ride for Autism. I first did the ride in 2012. Now it is my annual focal point. So appropriate that the ride would fall on the Older One’s 23rd birthday.  He was very excited that I was riding for him on his birthday.

It was also my first ride since the crash. My only concern was the ability of my body to rise to the occasion, past the bumps and bruises, past the lack of conditioning. There was no fear.

I love riding. No crash was going to change that.

My annual picture at the first rest area of the ride for Autism.  Missing NI

My annual picture at the first rest area of the ride for Autism. Missing NI

The ride was WONDERFUL! Sixty-two miles through the New Jersey countryside, past horse farms and cornfields, through small towns and along country lanes and orchards, rolling hills and long flat sections. It was a blast.

I was tired and sore at the end of the ride. The body was not quite ready but we managed, my body and mind, to get the full distance in. I might have been able to do the 100 miles. I am glad I did the 62 instead.

Overjoyed? The first time I did the ride it was the furthest I had ridden in 20 years. It was a slog. My good and true friend, NI, pushed me up hills. Exhorted me to push myself, nearly dragged me across the finish…. Last year I was very strong and we rode together well. This year I rode with a group from the cycling club as NI was unable to make it. WE had a good time. They rode better than I did but we finished close together and enjoyed lunch at the end of the ride as a team.

Yes, I was Overjoyed.

Saturday night I sent a text to my friend and co-worker asking him to lead the Sunday ride. My legs were tired and sore and tight. I didn’t think I would be able to ride on Sunday morning.

Sunday I awoke feeling strong and rested with no tiredness or soreness in my legs.

I lead the ride on Sunday. We rode Twenty-five and a half miles. There was one good hill and it let me know the legs were tired. On the downside, I blasted. I went in to the highest gear and spun like mad. I hit 40+ miles per hour and felt no fear at all. Only exhilaration.

Feeling Right

I am feeling “right”. I like the way I eat, I like the activity level, I like the way I look. Most importantly I like the way I feel about ME. The inside ME. I feel so right within my skin.

Yes, this is because of the weight loss. It is more because of the changes I need to bring about for the weight loss to happen.

Introspection, deep-diving one’s brains….

Has its place.

Just thought I would mention it.

The Sunday Ride

So, as mentioned above, I rode on Sunday. I led the Sunday ride with the able co-leadership of JS, one of the people I work with at the shop. I took lead, he was the sweep. The sweep is the fellow who ride along at the back of the ride to make sure we don’t lose a rider off the back…

We had nine other riders along yesterday. Nearly perfect weather for eleven riders to explore northern NJ.

What a fine ride. I think the good weather put everyone, riders and drivers alike, in good moods. We had none of the typical close encounters with drivers. No nasty long and loud honks of the horn, no close buzzes…. Several times the drivers stopped to allow us to cross a street or hung back until there was a good and safe place to pass. I cannot tell you how much that was appreciated.

Getting in the 25.5 miles on Sunday told me so much about myself as a person and a rider. I was sore from Saturday. Not painfully so, not “DON’T RIDE” sore, but the kind of sore I might have used in years past as an excuse to chill in the morning, have a lazy morning… I rode. I knew I could work the kinks out. I knew I WANTED to ride.

Felt great. Felt truly great.

Rides like this remind me why I love to ride. I am not a racer. I never was particularly fast. I can hammer it on the flats when the spirit moves me, but I was never a racer. I have never competed on the bike…

I love to ride to the best of my abilities, get out on a beautiful day, feel the road roll under the wheels, the bike banking in to a turn, the satisfaction of getting to the top of that brutal hill, enjoying the thrill of the fast downhill and enjoying the properly sore muscles at the end of a good brisk ride.

And I am able to do this now. Not three years ago. I couldn’t do it. Three years ago, Summer of 2011, I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t ride. I could barely walk up stairs.

While riding yesterday I thought about this. I thought about riding 62+ on Saturday and another 25+ on Sunday. Not bad for a man who was close to 320 pounds three years earlier. I kind of smiled as I thought about it.

The Journey… 88+ miles of cycling this weekend. Another 6 miles of walking. All in all a busy weekend. I have done more miles in a weekend that is certain. But it doesn’t matter. What matter is I what I did this weekend. What I will do the next weekend. What I CAN do now. All this is what matters. I can play with my children, take walks with my sons, work in the yard, climb the stairs, take hikes with friends, ride…

I can do this now. The Journey has brought me here.

All it took was deciding to take the first step.

 

Peace.


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Family, Overindulgence, and a Ride with a Friend


Memorial Day Weekend with Family

Friday night was a visit to hell.

We drove from New Jersey to Virginia on the Friday night of a long weekend. Had to be done. No other option. It was hell.

The drive from Jersey to my brother’s home in Virginia is a five-hour affair on most occasions. For the annual Memorial Day weekend visit we typically leave at silly o’clock on Saturday morning, pull up to the hotel at 11:00 or so, rest up and then go to my brother’s home around 1:30 to visit a little before the festivities start at 2:00.

That would be normal.

This year was not normal.

This year we had a naming ceremony for the first member of the next generation, my nephew’s daughter, a two-month old bundle of love. This required arriving Friday night for the early Saturday service.

Six and a half hours of heavy traffic, much of it stop-and-go.

The Older Son does not deal well with this. I don’t deal well with this.

We survived.

Grand-Aunt Missus with Grandniece

Grand-Aunt Missus with Grandniece

The festivities on Saturday, both the naming ceremony and the cookout, were smashing successes. Visiting with my niece and my nephews, seeing my brother and his wife and all the friends I only see at the annual cookout, and meeting my Grand-Niece, all added up to pure joy.

The weekend was too short. I would have liked to stay longer on Sunday but obligations drew us home. We had to be back in time to pick up the dogs from the kennel. Other responsibilities had to be met.

But it was a joy.

Overindulgence

I thought about it carefully. Then I decided to allow it. I overindulged on Saturday. After a light breakfast, I allowed myself to eat and enjoy the foods at the cookout. Well, not all the foods. The stars of the menu are all red meat related. Ribs, Skirt Steak, Beef Chili, Burgers, Hot Dogs…

I brought a vat of Vegan Chili. It was very well received and went quickly. There were also homemade black bean veggie burgers made by AH, the partner of my Nephew G. They were delicious. And I had fruit, salads, brownies….

Oh yes, rum chocolate bon-bons…. OH MY they were good.

So I went way overboard.

And it is OK.

This morning I was actually down one pound from Friday.

Still heavier than I want to be and I am back on the plan and I am working it off.

But for one day…

It was OK.

A Ride with a Friend

I met ES when he and his wife AS started showing up last spring for the Sunday Shop Rides. A really nice couple. Pleasant to talk with, great to ride with. Bright, Enthusiastic and engaged in the rides.

Everything a Ride Leader could want from riders.

When they didn’t show up for the ride one summer Sunday I assumed that their children were home from camp and that was that.

It was more than that. ES had been involved in a bad bike crash. It took a great deal of focus and effort, I am sure, but he returned to cycling and it was my joy to be involved in helping him select his new bike.

ES and AS have rejoined the Sunday rides and it is once again a pleasure to ride with them. I didn’t lead the ride yesterday because I was heading back north from the family visit.

Riding Country Roads in New Jersey

Riding Country Roads in New Jersey

I had planned to do a 60 mile ride with the bike club in The Hudson Valley but I just could bear the thought of a 120-mile round trip in the car.

I was really pleased when ES told me he was available for a ride today.

So we met a the bike shop (a good midway point between our homes) and set out on what we originally planned as a 48 mile ride. Memorial Day Parades changed that to a 42.5-mile ride… It was Great.

I can’t speak for ES but for me… It was GREAT. We rode at a relaxed pace, took one long break and a couple of short breaks and chatted much of the ride when we could ride side by side. It was a ride with two personalities. The first half of the ride had nearly 2000 feet of climbing. The second half was flat to downhill…

I knew I would enjoy selling bikes.  I knew I would enjoy leading the Shop Rides.  I didn’t know that I would develop friendships with “customers”

Fun time. ES and I are well matched in our riding abilities. ES is MUCH better on the hills than I am but I am able to ride the rolling hills and the flat areas with him and he is patient about the long climbs.

I am working hard to be ready for the Ride for Autism. A ride like this is good prep….

Thanks ES.

My Attention

I have not been tending to this blog much recently. My efforts have been directed towards WORK and the Ride for Autism.

This ride is very important to me. Raising funds, getting people to join the team… So far the Team has raised $2,600.00. A wonderful thing. Wonderful and generous people have donated whatever they could and I appreciate it more than words can express.

It will be a fun ride. Some are doing the Century. Some are riding shorter distances. It is all good. The important thing is to show up. To engage. To make the effort. I appreciate it all.

So that is where my attention has been. Diverted from this important part of my life to another.

Today I rode 42+ miles. I am preparing to ride 100 in June 7th. I am doing this because The Older One cannot. I am doing this because I want other parents to have the resources available to them that were not available to us 20+ years ago.

To all who are supporting the team or have joined the team I offer you my deepest thanks.

Today’s Ride was beautiful.

June 7th the ride will be meaningful.Dannys team 2

 

Peace.


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Turns


Life

I was sick two weeks ago. I wrote about it. Just feeling normal again now.

Life has been interesting recently. I would like life to be a bit less interesting.

I love being who I am now. I have to tell you that.

I was never all that much a fan of me over the years. I have battled depression, fought off per self-image. I have been shocked when I was complimented on anything. I have been riddled with doubt.

I caved in to the negatives and I made them self-fulfilling.

I just don’t do that now.

And I like this about me.

Yesterday I led the shop ride and had a really good time of it. A group of seven of us left the shop at 8:30 in the morning and we did a 25 mile ride over the roads of Northern New Jersey. It wasn’t a fast ride but it isn’t intended to be a fast ride. It is a beginner/intermediate ride and we try to keep a moderate pace. Yesterday we averaged about 13 miles an hour while moving. And that is just fine. The important thing is we had a good time.

Living is what you decide it will be. I have decided life will be fun.

I am not going to live the rest of my life the way I lived the first 50+ years.

That Said…

I have been dealing with The Black Dog recently. I think the flu had something to do with it. Also stress at work. My “real Job”, not the bike shop job. The only stress there is I don’t get to work there often enough. Like Every Day…..

The shop can induce some stress. Trying to keep several customers happy at once when the store is very busy… But there are rewards. Making friends out of customers. Seeing a customer get on a bike after years of not riding and seeing the joy on their face as they test ride a bike. A customer recovering from an accident getting the bike of their dreams…

There are the rewards of working with really fine people. People who are passionate about bikes. Passionate about customers. Passion is something missing from my “real Job”. No one there has it. They go through the motions. They get the job done.

The Black Dog tends to hide after a couple of days with me at the shop. He can’t keep up with me. If I didn’t work at the shop I would surely go insane.

Recovery

This past winter was hell. Truly hell. I was depressed much of the winter. The cold kept me from riding. The ice, the snow, the rains, the grey… I gained a few pounds. Nothing terrible. I expected it but I did gain a few more than I thought I would. That gain is mostly gone now. I am riding. Eating right. I am doing the things I know will help me stay in the range.

I am recovering. Slowly.

My head concussion symptoms are fading. I do still have some trouble putting a sentence together once every so often. The owner of the shop asked me a question and I had trouble answering. He said for a moment he thought I was having a seizure. I think it scared him a slight bit. Just the way my mind works now. Sometimes the words get stuck on my tongue.

I am told by people with MD after their name that this is normal and it will pass. I didn’t do what the Doctor told me to do when I got the concussion. I didn’t stay in bed for a week with not TV, no computer, no books. I took two days off and I went to work. Why? Because I was afraid of losing my job. Because my company has an immature approach to illness and injury. Such is life.

The effects of the flu lingered longer than I expected. Two weeks later and I am finally feeling myself….

This is good.

So I can ride. I can eat right. I can work at the shop and I can save my sanity by doing so.

I am recovering from a lifetime of issues. These latest are just minor bumps in the road.

Rides

Ride season is here.

Next Sunday I will take part in the TD Five Boro Bike Tour

Me and 32,000 of my closest friends…

It will be insane but I am looking forward to it. There is only one reason I am looking forward to it. The opportunity to ride with my friend NI. We met through this ride and we have now been friends since 2010. I list him high on my list of good people and I only wish we lived closer together so we could ride together more often.

NI and I do five rides together. The TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour, The Ride For Autism, The NYC Century, The Discover Hartford Ride and, Boston Hub on Wheels (the best of the bunch in terms of quality of the ride). I would do Montreal as well but it is out of the scope of my budget….

I cannot tell you how enjoyable rides like this can be when you ride with a friend and you can share the accomplishment.

Fun time.

I am a little discouraged with the fund-raising efforts for the Ride for Autism and Danny’s Team. I had hoped we would raise more than last year. I raised $1495 last year. This year we are at $1,118. Maybe more will come in. It is for such a good cause….

We do have 8 or 9 members of Danny’s Team now. This makes me very happy. That is a few more people who signed up for the ride and that is the primary fund-raising means for the ride anyway.

I hope to find a few more rides to do this year with NI.

Join us!

 

 

Peace


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Six-thousand Two-hundred and Forty-one days


March 6, 1997

I remember the day because it is the birthday of my college roommate and so the date imprinted on my mind.

I was just shy of my 36th birthday and I was in the hospital with chest pain. It felt like a fist was being pushed in to my ribs from the inside. It had started on a Sunday. I had gone to my father’s house to move some boxes of books from the house to the shed as he prepared to put the house on the market. I was young. I was big. I was strong. I carried two of the storage boxes at a time. 40-50 pounds? Something like that. Carried them across the back yard. One-hundred plus feet from the back door of the house to the shed. I made the trip 10 times or so.

Later that evening the discomfort started. Monday it was pain. I went to the Doctor and he sent me for an EKG and stress test. By the evening on Monday I was admitted. The EKG was “abnormal”. My Blood Pressure was high. The Doctor decided not to give me the stress test. In his words “this would be a bad thing to do”. Now I was frightened. When he told me not to worry, they would take very good care of me, I nearly started to cry.

That was March 3, 1997.

On Tuesday they transferred me to the hospital with the better cardiology unit. Morristown Memorial Hospital. They scheduled me for a cardiac catheterization and on Wednesday, March 5th I had the procedure done. I was pretty certain I would be having surgery by the end of the day.

I was wrong.

My arteries were fine. “Wide open” in the words of the cardiologist. No sign of any blockages.

The pain? The result of a spasming esophagus. The cause? High blood pressure.

On March 6, 1997 I started taking blood pressure medication.

Today I stopped.

The doctor said it was OK. My health and fitness are such that I no longer have high blood pressure. I no longer need the medication.

Six-thousand Two-hundred and Forty-one days after I started, I have stopped.

I wish I could tell you that the scare I had that week somehow transformed me then. It didn’t. I didn’t lose weight. I didn’t go on a fitness kick. I continued to gain weight. I continued my sedentary ways…

It would be 15 plus years before I started to really change. It would take until December 27, 2011 before I would start this journey. Thousands of pills later.

After I started the Journey and after I had lost 75 pounds or so, I asked my Doctor if there was any chance I would get off the blood pressure medications. He replied that I might and we would see. When I went to him at 204 pounds, when he checked my BP and found it to be 116 over 62, when he found my resting heart rate to be 62 beats per minute he took me off one of the pills.

At my last check up, with my weight still under control, with my BP at 118 over 65 he said I could stop the last pill.

Yesterday morning I took the last pill.

Doc told me to watch my BP carefully and if it goes back up I am to refill the prescription and go back on.

I will do exactly as he said.

I hope, of course, that I do not need to go back on.

Six-thousand Two-hundred and Forty-one days

I am happy about this. It means so much more than simply not having to take a pill.

Back on the bike

The weather is slowly improving. It was very ride-able weather this weekend. Yes, a bit on the chilly side at the early hours I ride but it was very enjoyable.

I rode 17.5 miles on Saturday morning. Twenty-two and half on Sunday on the shop ride. A 40-mile weekend.

Nice start.

The long-range forecast is very good. Next weekend should be in the 50’s at ride time. I can see a 75-mile weekend ahead. At least that is the thinking today.

There is so much joy in me when I ride. Even the flat tire on Sunday did not dampen the spirits. I am pretty good at changing flats so it was only a few minutes lost. NP rode up and quipped “road-side flat tire clinic”. I smiled. It was fun. It is a part of riding.

This weekend I had the pleasure of sharing a friends return to the road. This friend had suffered a bad crash last year. Many months of rehab and hard work. He picked up his new bike on Saturday and he rode with me on Sunday. In his eyes I saw what cycling can be about. It is Joy. It is exultation expressed on two wheels. I saw in his eyes what I feel every time I am on my bike.

My friend came back from terrible injuries inflicted by others.

I came back from obesity inflicted by myself.

Very different Journeys and one cannot be compared to the other.

I can tell you that the feeling is the same.

I saw it in his eyes. I saw it in his smile.

The joy of being back on the bike.

Danny’s Team

Dannys team 2The ride for Autism is two months from today.

I am building to it. I still plan to ride the 100 mile distance, The Century.

I had hoped to raise $5000 but we are still at $1000. We are up to 11 team members riding all different distance. That has me excited. Even if we don’t hit the $5000 goal at least with the registration fee the 10 people who would not be doing the ride otherwise have added over $500 to the cause.

My son will never be able to ride a bike. This saddens me because I would so love to share the joy of riding with him. So I ride for him. I ride the Ride for Autism for Danny. I do all my rides with him in my heart.

He is my heart and my soul.

If you would like to help the Ride for Autism here is the website: http://www.ride4autism.org

If you donate I would ask if you would donate in the name of Danny’s Team.

If you are in the area maybe you could sign up and ride along with us.

If you only cheer us on in your heart I still thank you from the bottom of mine.

 

Peace


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Monday Night by the desk lamp light


My mood is slowly lifting.

I can almost see daylight ahead.

This past week I decided to muscle my way past this sinus thing or whatever it is. I got on the trainer four times, Monday and Wednesday for 45 minutes each and Saturday and Sunday for 30 minutes.

I had to push myself to get on it. Pushing past The Black Dog is the harder than pushing past the sinus thing.

Once I got on and started to pedal I could feel the mood lifting. Something about pedaling…

I would prefer I was pedaling outside. Could have Friday night as the weather was favorable. The traffic in my area kept me inside. Friday night in North Jersey this time of year is not safe ride time. Many cars, a low angle to the sun, tired drivers trying to get home for the weekend… Well, it can get ugly.

So I rode this week inside. 45 minutes. Twice. Half an hour twice. Nothing to brag about but I am glad to have done it. It lifts my mood.

The weight is coming back down

My weight went up a bit during the winter months. All the excuses fit. Now it is coming back down. Three pounds in the last week. It feels good to know that I have started to reverse the trend.

It is not falling that is bad. It is failing to get back up.

I got back up.

The food consumption is back under control and I am ready to start the riding again and that will all add up to getting back below my goal weight (only 4 pounds away) and then to get down to 200 lbs again. I am sure of it. I KNOW it will happen.

This is the biggest change for me over the last year. I do not believe that a few pounds gained is failure but a warning. Something to act upon, not something that signals a return to obesity.

That will not happen. I will never again be obese.

The weight is coming back down. As it should.

Staying Not Fat.

This is my greatest fear

This is my greatest fear

I failed. Many times. In 1998. In 2002. In 2005. In 2010.

I failed. I lost weight and I gained it back. The pounds were so happy to be back that they invited ten or twenty more of their friends along each time.

I failed for a long list of reasons.

I think I know the leading reason.

I expected weight loss to be easy.

I wanted magic bullets, easy diet plans. I wanted to lose the weight and I didn’t want to work at it.

Eating right, changing food habits for the better, exercising to keep the metabolism high and improve the fitness level, is how to lose weight and keep it off.

I think the most commons sentence spoken by dieters goes something like this: “now that I am back on (weight-watchers, Jenny Craig etc.) I know I will get back to my goal weight”.

Just my point of view. Eat right, eat less, move more.

The High and the Low.

The high was Saturday night when I received a text message from my nephew that he and his lady had welcomed in to this world their first child, a daughter. My first-born nephew now had a first-born. The next generation has arrived. My brother is a Grandfather. I am a Grand-Uncle. I am overjoyed. If my nephew is as good a father to his daughter as my brother has been to his son, then my grand-niece will do alright in this world.

The low was the news earlier in the day that my Aunt, the sister of my father and the only Aunt I have, has cancer. It is treatable, not curable. My Aunt is otherwise a healthy person who takes care of herself and the doctors are optimistic that she will live a normal life expectancy with a good quality of life. Still…. This is my Aunt. I am quite fond of her and I am pained that she is dealing with this and I am pained that my cousins face all that the word “cancer” brings with it.

Over the last several years there has been an imbalance between the highs and the lows. More funerals, cancer battles, heart attacks, and health scares than warranted by the normal turn of the calendar pages, and not enough engagements, weddings, births, and graduations.

Maybe now, with the birth of my Grand-Niece and maybe some engagements and weddings on the horizon, maybe now, with the generation after mine starting to create lives of their own and a generation to follow them, maybe now life will find a balance.

Bikes

Riding my Synapse is good for my synapse.  Getting ready for this evening's ride

Riding my Synapse is good for my synapse. The day I turned 53

Cycling has added immeasurably to my life. The fitness? Yes. The fitness. The joy of being on the road? Yes, the joy of being on the road. More.

Friendships.

I am on Facebook as most of you must know. I am an administrator for two cycling themed pages on Facebook. Through these pages I have made a few friendships, notably NI, whom I count among my close friends. Well, as close as the 235 miles between our homes allows. Several others. DK, whom I have not actually met, but with whom I have chatted about bikes and I think my advice was helpful as she selected a new ride, and so on.

Closer to home, there are the friendships I have made at the bike shop, both with co-workers and customers.

There is this shared interest of course. The cycling. The bikes. There is more to it than that I think. There is something about bike people. There is the “come ride with me” approach to things. Even a solo rider, as I am most of the time, welcomes the rider who comes along and rides with them for a bit until they come to the fork in the road and one goes left and the other goes right and they part with a shared “enjoy your ride”.

Are there riders who are jerks? Of course there are and we have all ridden with one or two from time to time, but most are not. Most are earnest in their efforts, friendly in their demeanor and welcoming. I have rarely met the experienced rider who is not willing to share some advice, offer some encouragement or, literally, help push you up the hill.

I am an enthusiastic rider and I am knowledgeable to a degree. Still, I learn a great deal every time I ride with KE, NP, BP and CB and many others from the shop. I am inspired by their skills, energized by the challenge of riding well with them, educated by the experience.

I get to share my passion for the sport with my co-workers at the shop and with our customers and with my friends. When I am able to share some of my knowledge, share my enthusiasm, when I can see the light turn on for a beginning rider… Well, it makes it that much more fun for me. I started as the slowest rider on the Sunday morning rides at the shop and then I went to work for the shop and now I lead the Beginner-Intermediate rides. Giving back to the sport. I hope I help some of the riders grow and develop and then “graduate” from my ride to the faster/longer rides of the intermediate-expert ride.

My greatest joy is giving back to the sport. Working at the bike shop is part of that. I share the love of the sport.

I also ride charity rides. By giving a little money and riding in a ride to help a charity is a small way for me to give back. I volunteer to work support for one of the large local rides rather than ride myself. It is giving back to the cycling community.

If you don’t ride I recommend you give it a try.

My Bike

My Bike

If you do ride I hope we will ride together for a bit until we come to that fork in the road and you go right and I go left and we part with a shared “enjoy your ride”.

 

Peace.


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Today


March 11

I turned 50 on March 11, 2011. I weighed somewhere around 300 pounds and my weight was climbing. If asked, I would have told you that I doubted I would see 55. I also would have told you that while I wanted to lose weight, I didn’t expect I would. I wasn’t doing a damned thing to make it happen.

I had lost some weight in 2004. I gained it back. I had lost weight in 2010. I gained it back.

I would have to admit that by 2011 I had accepted that I was a fat man. I was going to stay a fat man. I would die a fat man.

Between March 11, 2011 and December 27, 2011 something in me changed. Something fundamental to who I am and who I wanted to be changed and I really don’t know what. Simply put it really doesn’t matter. What matters is it did change. I did change.

By March 11, 2012 I had dropped to the 268 pounds. I went for a walk with The Younger One and I took a bike ride. It was 62 degrees and I got in a ten-mile ride. It was slow and it was difficult but I did it.

March 11, 2013 I weighed in at 203 pounds. I had a head cold much as I have one today. I was able to get in a ride on the Sunday before my birthday but this time I rode 30 miles despite some cold weather and the head cold.

And today I turn 53.

I again have a March Head Cold.

Riding my Synapse is good for my synapse.  Getting ready for this evening's ride

Riding my Synapse is good for my synapse. Getting ready for this evening’s ride

Finally the weather is good. It was 62 degrees when I got home from work. I changed in to my gear and I went for a short ride. I went only 8 miles. Loaded with cold medications and my head all congested…. But I rode. That is what matters. When presented with ample and legitimate excuses to not ride I still rode. I got in my Birthday Ride.

Today is more than a birthday.

Today is a good day for remembering and thinking and committing to continued progress.

My life has changed a great deal since December, 2011. Three birthdays now and I am a very different person. I am fit. I am lean. My mind is clearer and I am happier. I have kept this going since 2011. It is a part of me now.

There was a time in my life when I really would not have expected to make it to 53. So many of my friends did not. Here I am. Still riding. Still moving. Still on the Journey.

Birthday Cake

The Younger One begged and pleaded with Missus. He cajoled and he wheedled. He convinced Missus to make me a chocolate birthday cake.

How could I refuse a piece?

I didn’t. I have a nice sized piece and it was delicious.

Of course I ate a light dinner to prepare for the cake.

The Younger One had a piece as well. A nice thick piece. Just so I wouldn’t eat alone of course.

I have a very giving and caring son.

The Long Winter

I must be living right. Today was magnificent. In the mid-sixties and sunny even when I got home from work, It was perfect riding weather. It was exactly the sort of weather I love riding in. Nearly no wind and the temperature right in my comfort zone.

Tomorrow it will be cold and rainy. On Thursday there is a real possibility of snow and ice.

Somehow on my birthday we had beautiful weather.

It has been a long and unhappy winter. Today I rode 8 miles and they are the first miles I have put on my bike this year.

And the winter is not over yet.

But the signs are there. The sun is higher in the sky. The snow begins to melt. The cold spells are shorter.

Spring will be here and I will be healthy and I will ride.

And the Journey will continue.

I will get out and get in some hikes before working at the shop on weekends. I will get in early morning ride on the weekends and I will get in some evening rides during the week.

It is all this and more that fuels me. It is this that keeps me on my Journey. The plans and the goals. The memories to be made of standing on a bluff and looking over the Hudson, of flying along a country road on a solo ride, of sharing the companionship of good people as we pedal along in a group ride.

It is the view in the mirror when I see the me I am now. It is the disbelief when I look at pictures taken of me only three birthdays ago. It is the knowledge that while it is not always difficult it will ever be easy and I am good with that. I am ready.

When I was 50 years old and 300 plus pound I didn’t think I would make 53. I have no idea why I was OK with that.

Now I am 53 years old. I am a Father. I am a Husband. I am a Brother and an Uncle and a Cousin and a Friend.

It took me many years to understand the value in being all that. It took me many years to understand that I was the value in being all that.

Yes. Spring is coming. It has been a long winter.

Peace


3 Comments

OUCH


I Crashed HARD

In the words of my oldest brother, the one who played Rugby into his late forties despite being half the size and twice the age of the other players, “that good health stuff is going to kill you.”

I do try to stay active. Despite the snowy and cold winter to which we have been subjected, I have tried to keep moving. Not always have managed but I have tried.

I have not ridden a single foot outside on my bike this year. Too much snow, too narrow and icy roads….

I did, however, have an opportunity to get in some cross-country skiing.

The Monument in the distance from the Patio at the Lodge

The Monument in the distance from the Patio at the Lodge

High Point State Park is, as the name implies, the highest point in the state of New Jersey. A mere 1803 feet above sea-level, it does not impress people from New England and it is barely a foot hill to people from the west. It is ours and we love it. The state runs cross-country ski trails around the park when the snow fall will allow and this year the snow fall allows…

I asked the owner of the Bike shop if I could start and hour late on Sunday, he said yes and so early on Sunday morning I drove the 45 minutes from my home to High Point, paid my $18.00 for a trail pass (which is ridiculous…) and off I went.

I was the first person out on the trails! Fresh snow! I was having a blast! About 1 km from the lodge I had to cross an asphalt paved road. Now here is where we come to the part of the story where I say “I knew better” because I did. I do. I know and I knew better than to do what I did.

You see, though I have been cross-country skiing since 1990 (there was a ten-year period when I didn’t at all) I have never been “Good” at it. Truth be told I am pretty bad at it. I am clumsy, not at all smooth, never get in to that nice rhythm that “good” skiers get in to. I consider it a great day on the trails if I only fall 4 or 5 times. I know it will happen and so I have become quite good at falling. Despite this I really enjoy the skiing and I love the feel of the cold air and the special quiet of the woods after a snow fall.

So I came upon this asphalt paved road. Covered in snow. Sloping down across the level trail.

I knew better.

I knew I should take off my skis and walk across. It is exactly what I did when I skied the same trail last year.

I didn’t do that. I got stupid.

I tried to ski across the road.

If it had not been snow-covered I would have walked across because I would not have wanted to damage my skis on the road surface.

It was snow-covered.

I got stupid.

I tried to ski across.

Now to understand this you need to understand what I mentioned above. The trail was level. The road crossed it at 90 degrees and sloped down to the left.

If I had entered the road left ski first this probably would not have happened the way it did. I would have ended up sitting on my rump, questioning my sanity. I would have kicked the skis off, stood up, walked across the rest of the way and reminded myself to walk across on the way back. It would have been an amusing little story to tell on myself.

I entered right ski first.

There was ice under that snow.

The right ski slid left and before I could even think about the fact that I was falling I hit the road HARD. Damned HARD. Painfully hard.

I landed on my right side. My shoulder taking most of the impact. That drove my arm in to my ribs. My head snapped violently to the right and hit the road. I rolled on to my back and laid still for a moment, assessing the situation, hoping the stars would clear out of my eyes, trying to determine just how bad this fall was.

It was not good.

After a moment I figured out nothing was broken (as far as I could tell) and I could probably get up OK. I popped off the skis and I did get up just before the plow truck came through. Despite the ringing in my ears and the pain on my right side that started at my lower rib cage and continued unabated to the top of my right ear, I crossed the road and continued skiing. For about 200 yards. At that point the pain in my right side and the ringing in my head convinced me I should start back towards the lodge.

Here is the kicker: I was still having fun. I was hurting. I was hurting a great deal but I was enjoying being outside, skiing and feeling the cold and that special quiet after a new snow.

At some Point I noticed that I had broken my left ski pole and I was having trouble controlling the left ski due to problem with the binding. I actually skied past the lodge and went up a side trail when I finally gave in to the broken equipment and the aching body and I went home.

I showered and dressed and I drove to the bike shop to work, arriving on time for work despite it all.

All day long it sounded like I had my head in a bucket. I felt light-headed and I needed to sit down often. My neck was now tightening up and I was exhausted.

I went to work on Monday and after not sleeping well Sunday night I was really feeling it all over. I couldn’t turn my neck to the right, my shoulder wouldn’t let me lift my arm over my head and my head was still not feeling right.

Missus made an appointment with the Doctor for me and after the usual tests and such he declared that I had suffered a head concussion. He sent me for x-rays on my neck and told me to get a few days of bed rest and be prepared to not feel right for a week to ten days, go to the emergency room if I start to vomit or lose consciousness….

OUCH

OUCH

I rested all day yesterday. Really had no choice. I would not have been good behind the wheel of a car. I went to work today but came home early. Too light-headed and out of balance when I was standing. It is the tiredness that really bothers me. And the Nausea. Well Ok, most everything about this bothers me: neck pain, rib pain, arm pain, headache, dizziness… Crashing is not fun at all.

I have to work tomorrow and Friday. I am conducting the monthly safety training. The Topic is “Slips, Trips and Falls”. I couldn’t make this up.

I wish I could say I have learned some sort of lesson beyond “don’t try to cross a road on your skis”. I haven’t. At least none that comes to mind right now. I am only disappointed that I won’t be able to get out and ski again next weekend.

Maybe the lesson is to listen to the owner of the bike shop and take up snow shoeing.

The Journey and a Detour

I wish I could report that my weight has held steady and I have been keeping my eating in check as this cold winter has moved along. I can’t. I am over 215 pounds right now. I am not happy with myself at all. I can think of many excuses for this slip but they are just that, excuses. The simple fact is I have slipped. I have been eating more than I have been burning. I have been finding reasons to eat more than I have been and I am paying the price with a climb in my weight.

Today I got back to the plan: Light breakfast, light lunch, light afternoon snack (an orange today) and a good dinner. Later I will have a simple light snack of a slice of bread and a slice of cheese. This is what got me to 200 pounds. This is what will get me back there.

I will write daily again. Even if I think I have nothing to say. That focus of reporting on the Journey helped me get there. I slipped away from it and I have paid the price.

I suppose we all have slips and trips and falls.

The real problem isn’t that you slipped or tripped or fell on your Journey. The real problem is failing to get back up.

I am getting back up.

Peace.