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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Ramapo Rally, Cycling and Reasons


It started with an injury

It is well-known that I love to ride my bike. I take every reasonable opportunity to jump on the bike and ride. I take the long way from A-B so I can spend more time on the bike.

So why would I give up a perfectly good Sunday to work the rest area of a large ride rather than ride in it myself?

It started with an injury.

In the early summer of 2012 I signed up to do the Ramapo Rally in New Jersey. I had heard great things about the ride: well run, well supported, challenging and beautiful routes. I heard the rest areas were well stocked, the volunteers were fun and enthusiastic and that a good time was had by one and by all. As I was just getting in to good shape and had just missed out on doing the Five Boro Bike tour (sold out before I registered), I was looking for a challenge and I figured the 50-mile route would be JUST the ticket.

June 22, 2012 is the date I registered for the ride.

June 23, 2012 is the day I went on a Club Ride.

Twenty-five miles or so in to the ride I dropped my chain, spun out and tore the meniscus in my right knee.

The ride was out.

The club was fantastic and refunded my registration fee. That is unusual. Most rides will not refund money and for good reason. The money goes towards planning and if everyone who had second thoughts about a ride got the money back it would be impossible to plan accurately.

Seeing as I had the injury and had JUST registered… They were very kind.

Now the thing to know is that I was able to walk, climb stairs, stand… All without pain. Cycling hurt like crazy.

So I offered to volunteer and I was assigned to a rest area. We worked like crazy that day. And I loved it.

Last year I did it again and I supplied 14 dozen of Missus’ home-baked chocolate chip cookies and three of my wonderful apple cakes (recipe below). It was a fantastic time. So, this year I did it again and supplied the same fresh-baked goods.

At the Ramapo Rally Rest Area

At the Ramapo Rally Rest Area

Yes, most times I would rather ride. Most times I would rather feel the road under my wheels. Once a year, for this ride, I love to give my time and encourage the other riders. I do a number of organized rides each year. Most years I try to do the Five-Boro Bike Tour, The Ride for Autism, The NYC Century, Hub on Wheels and The Turkey Ride. The friendly faces at the rest areas, the tech support from the local bike shops, the banana, the cookie and the refill of the water bottles are very welcome. They add to the experience in a very positive way when done well. They are usually done well. On my first Ride for Autism I was pretty shot when I rolled in to the rest area at the 40-mile mark. I had ten miles to go, had become separated from my friend, and was really wondering if I should take the SAG (Support And Gear) wagon the rest of the way. After stopping at the rest area, getting the enthusiastic greeting, getting some encouragement and a quick bite, I felt revived and was back on the road, found my friend and finished the ride with him. Sometimes the rest area volunteers are the difference in finishing the ride on the bike or finishing in the SAG wagon.

So my knee injury turned me in to a volunteer this one ride per year. It was the best thing to come out of that injury.

Sticking to it

I looked back at the blog post I wrote about the knee injury. I realized I am still doing so much of what I was doing then. Eating right, eating less, moving more. Yes, I have gained a few pounds back, I am over the goal weight I had set of 210 pounds. I am not thrilled with this but I am OK with it for now. The weight will go up and go down. I understand that. I just have to stick to the plan which has worked so well.

I find that looking back at the posts helps me. It reminds me of the steps I have taken and the steps I need to keep taking. I will never give up this way of life. I am not going back to eating indiscriminately. I am not going back to being a couch potato.

I am sticking to it and I am enjoying the life I have now.

Yesterday at the rest area I so enjoyed being a part of the cycling community. I know so many of the riders and I have even sold a few of them bikes. They recognized me and I recognized them and we got to chat, we got to laugh and we shared that thing that cyclists share. The love of riding.

So I stick to it because I love it. I know what I was. I know what I am now.

This is why I do it.

Saturday Mornings

If I leave my house early enough, 6:30 AM or around there, I can get in a nice long ride before I need to be at the Cycle Shop for the day. If I plan it right , I get to SmartWorld Coffee at a little after 7:00 to 7:15 and I have time for a good cup of coffee and a whole wheat muffin, a few minutes of relaxation and then I get back on and ride another 25-30 miles to the shop.

This Saturday past was just such a day. On the road by 6:40, at the coffee shop by 7:15, coffee and a muffin, a little chit-chat with a fellow sitting outside at the sidewalk tables and then off on my ride. 2 hours and 51 minutes of riding got me to the shop on time and I had 40 miles under my wheels.

A muffin, a coffee and a bike.... Life is good....

A muffin, a coffee and a bike…. Life is good….

It was exactly the type of ride that I love most. A solo ride at my pace, my challenge and a little break to refresh the body and the soul.

The simple fact is this: I work long hours at my full-time job and there is a good deal of pressure. The Sunday shop rides are wonderful and I love leading them. They are fun and I enjoy the groups and the individuals but the rides are not relaxing. I watch out for the new riders, try to remember the route, try not to lose focus watching out for the other riders and crash (did that, not fun) all the while watching the clock and making sure we are going to make it back to the shop on time.

It is the Saturday morning rides that refresh me, clear my mind, rejuvenate my spirit. When I am riding on Saturday mornings I am alone with my personal challenges. I am free to fight my way up the hills, blast down the other side, watch my cadence, keep the pace up, challenge myself to ride better, not just faster. I am free to clear out the cobwebs and fight my personal battles on my own terms. Flying along the roads of Morris County NJ I am able to focus sharply on the task at hand to the point that it is almost as if nothing but the bike and the road exist. I hear the cars, I see the animals along the roads, I feel the air and hear all the sounds around me but I am not thinking about work, or pressure, or deadlines or anything but the focus of the ride.

Alpacas and a Synapse....  The farmlands of New Jersey

Alpacas and a Synapse…. The farmlands of New Jersey

It is on these rides that I understand the adage that cycling is as close to flying as you can get and still be on the ground.

There are times I want company on these rides and I will ride with others if I come across them on the ride. I have a friend with whom I have done a Saturday morning ride and we had a great time.

Mostly though, Saturday Morning is my personal time. The time I get to be alone with my thoughts, my energy, my efforts and my needs. I can ride as fast as my legs will take me. I can attack a hill in my way, not worrying about keeping up or waiting up…

I can stop for the cup of coffee without concern for another rider and whether or not they like a coffee stop on a ride.

It is my most selfish time. On these rides I am accountable to no one but myself and the rules and laws of the road.

Soon enough I will pull in to the parking lot and it will be time to clean up and get to work. The Floor Manager of the Day will have tasks for me to do, there will be prep work for opening up, shelves to fill, floors to vacuum.

Soon the customers will come in and I get to talk about bikes all day and be paid for it. A great way to spend the day. There are joys in the job. Selling a youngster his or her first “good” bike, a man my age getting back into cycling and the smile on his face when he rides the bike in the lot, the husband who comes in with his wife to buy her a bike and buys one for himself as well after seeing how much she is enjoying the test ride… This is why I love selling bikes.

But it is the Saturday morning ride that reminds me why I love cycling.

Peace.


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I am doing Well


Hi ya

Hi ya

HI

I haven’t posted much recently. I have been working 10-12 hour days and I have been very tired but I am fine. Thanks for asking.

The weight is good. A little elevated but I am on top of it and the cycling is going very well. IT has just been hard to find the time to do much of anything other than work and get in a couple of rides on the weekend.

Today’s shop ride was called off due to the threat of rain and the wet roads from the overnight rain. So of course the weather cleared as soon as we called off the ride. The radar showed more rain coming…

Disappointed.

I did get in a good 32 mile ride yesterday so it is not a total loss.

Coming up to the Anniversary

On August 8, 2012 I made it to my goal weight of 210 pounds. The anniversary is coming up and though I am a few pounds above that weight right now I am still very pleased with where I am weight and health-wise and I will observe the date with a couple of slices of Reservoir Tavern pizza.

I am beating the odds. The averages say that I should have gained back at least 50% of the weight I lost by now. Some studies suggest that 80% of people who lose more than 1/3 of their body weight will regain 100% of that loss within two years. Those odds are terrible.

I have gained back 10 pounds. Not happy about that but I am not distressed over it either. I am working to bring it back down slowly and I will get there. The important thing is I am not eating the wrong foods nor am I snacking. My meals got a little too big. I recognize that and I have corrected it. The activity level is high. I just adjusted wrong…

So how have I managed so far to “beat the odds”? See above. I track it. I watch it. I adjust. I plan. I ride and I walk. I work at it. I look at before pictures. I look in the mirror and I tell myself NO. It will never stop being a THING for me. I will not relax, indulge, splurge or walk away from all that I worked so hard to accomplish.

The anniversary is coming up. This is a very important date for me. It marks the day when it all came true. The dream of no longer being a fat man. If I ever get a tattoo I think it will be a bicycle wheel with the date 8/8/2012 under it and the motto “Eat Right-Eat Less-Move More” above it.

So PGB, you up for some pizza in a couple of weeks?

Vegetarian

Not there yet. Not sure how to give up fish. I love lox and I love sushi and I just haven’t been able to bring myself to give them up entirely. I rarely eat poultry and I never eat red meat (defined as any meat from a mammal) but so far giving up fish has been harder than I am willing to deal with right now.

The interesting thing I find is that people assume that it has something to do with animal rights and cruelty and so forth. While I deplore cruelty towards animals (including the human animal) I have no real issue with animals as food for humans and I am by no means an animal rights activist.

For me it is purely a health issue. The research is overwhelming that people whose diets are high in red meats have a significantly higher rate of cardiovascular disease and live shorter lives. That was the drive behind giving up the red meat. Giving up poultry was a simple and easy next step towards a healthier diet. Next would be fish but I just can’t get there. Yet.

Thoughts

When I started this Journey fear was a big part of my life. I was afraid of dying. I was afraid of failing. I was afraid of the Journey itself and what I would learn about myself.

I am not afraid so much anymore. I am comfortable with who I am and what I have learned. I am healthy now. No more BP meds, no more “pre-diabetic condition”, health at rest heart rate, healthy weight. Blood numbers are all good.

I am much more comfortable with being me. I am not as easily angered as I was. I am pleased with me.

And this is what I tell people who ask me about losing weight: Eat Right-Eat Less-Move More and get to know who you are. If I had not explored me, primarily though the exercise of writing this blog, I would never have gotten here. I would not be just a couple of weeks away from two years reaching my goal weight still lean and healthy. I Would have been another who didn’t maintain it. I would have been another who gained it back. The battle is not won. It will never be won. I am still the person who weighed 320 pounds. The ghosts are still lurking. I know them now. I understand them better. I can keep the demons at bay now. I can because I confronted them.

If all I did was Diet I would be fat again.

I know this as an unquestionable truth.

I never Dieted. I am still not Dieting.

Eat Right-Eat Less-Move More and get to know yourself.

Peace


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Perceptions


This confuses me

It is almost as if people want to diminish the accomplishments of others. I will see if I can make this make sense.

First: I know everyone is unique. No two people, even twins, are exactly alike. Our life experiences shape us and even raised in the same household by the same parents at the same time and sharing identical genetics will still result in two unique individuals.

That said…

I lost weight because I ate less and I moved more and I stuck to it. I didn’t follow a DIET. I didn’t get on a program. I just reduced my intake, watched the nutrition, walked, then hiked, then rode my bike. I am keeping the weight off by doing the same things…

And it was never as easy as it looked.

Never

If it had been easy I would never have started this blog to keep the momentum going. I would not have needed this outlet if it was easy.

I was fat for so long that I had come to accept that it was my lot in life, that being fat was who I was. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t, to deal with my failures and my insecurities and the emotional train wreck that had helped fuel the weight gain and my perception of myself as that fat guy.

So when you see me and remark on my weight loss and then tell me who you just cannot lose weight… Well, it almost feels as if you are diminishing what I and other who have lost weight have done and continue to fight to do.

I cannot think that this is how it is meant but it is a thought that tickles at the back of my mind and it bothers me.

PGB is an example of misperception. I am sure he weighs within a few pounds of his High School weight. My mindset was that he was one of those lucky people who simply didn’t gain weight. Somehow, magically, he was able to eat JUST the right amount to stay at a set weight range.

I am sure he would beg to differ on that point. He works at it. He watches his weight, adjusts his activity level and food intake to pull the weight down when it creeps up and makes sure that he stays in the range he has set for himself.

My typical dinner

My typical dinner

It isn’t easy. It takes focus and discipline.

When someone tells me how hard it is for them… Well, it feels like they are saying it was easy for me. It wasn’t and it isn’t.

I watch everything I eat and I try to keep the weight down. It creeps up and I get on top of it. Right now I am about 6-7 pounds higher than I want to be. I want to stay between 205 and 210. I am at 216 right now. I am adjusting. I am bringing it down. It isn’t easy. It will never be easy.

It has nothing to do with looks

“You Look Great”.

I like hearing it. I am human and I have my vanities..

It isn’t about looks. I was never particularly handsome and being lean doesn’t change that. My ears and nose look huge now than there isn’t a fat face to hide them. Nothing is going to change that this side of plastic surgery and I am just not that interested….

It isn’t about looks.

The young lady who grew up across the street, and went on national TV to lose weight, looks wonderful. She was always pretty. Now her beauty shine through. Ask her and I suspect that she will tell you she is happy about her looks but even happier about the improvement in her physical and emotional health. I haven’t spoken to her. This is purely assumption on my part.

It really isn’t about looks.

I think the people who lose weight and keep it off, the people who really adjust their life style and their habits, are the people who realize they HAVE to do it for their health. Not just say it but KNOW IT. Know deep inside that is they don’t change, don’t adjust, don’t take of the weight then they are on a quick slide down.

It has nothing to do with looks.

But it’s ok to tell me I look good.

He doesn’t know it yet….

I am going to ask my friend NI if he would like to ride from point A to point B (A and B to be determined) on a week-long ride. I am not in to rough touring. I am thinking motel to motel over the course of a few hundred miles…

My Bike

My Bike

Next spring or summer.

For the hell of it.

If he is still reading my blog…. He knows now….

 

Peace


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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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The Black Dog Won


Not the Weekend I Wanted

This was the weekend of the Five-Boro Bike Tour.

I look forward to this ride for one reason: Riding with my friend NI.

The rest of it is OK.  Thirty-two thousand riders make for quite the spectacle.

The ride was Sunday.  I had a good time on Saturday.  I met up with NI and a friend of his and we traipsed around the city, had a good lunch, did the registration thing…

It was Sunday that The Black Dog took his bite and I couldn’t, or didn’t, fight back.

I awoke at 4:00 AM, got ready for the ride, loaded up the car and drove in the New York City.  By 5:30, I was approaching the area where I would meet NI.  Then it happened.  The stress?  A stomach bug?  I am not sure.  I pulled over to the curb on a side street in lower Manhattan.  There and then, I lost what little breakfast I had.

I contemplated this.  Thought about what it was all about.  What caused this?  I turned around, went home and went to sleep.  I didn’t do the ride.

I never really felt any better yesterday.  I thought I would ride in the afternoon if I did but I didn’t  I didn’t feel much better and I didn’t ride.  Riding might have been the best thing for me.  Doing the tour might have been the best thing for me.

I simply couldn’t fight The Black Dog.

I sat on the sofa speaking to no one, doing nothing.  I wanted to climb into a hole and pull the earth back over me.

I don’t like when this happens (no kidding, right?) and I am not sure why it does.  I wish I could understand what is happening in my head a little better.

If I did understand it better, then maybe this would have been the weekend I wanted.

Guilt

I am not living the life I imagined I would have when I was a teen and well in to my twenties and even my early thirties.

I didn’t expect to need two jobs.  I didn’t expect not to be able to afford a vacation once a year or to have the difficulties I have.  This is not what I expected at all.  I really don’t like my career.  I am good at it.  I just don’t like it.  I don’t have time to do the things I like.  I work seven days a week.  I take off a weekend and I feel guilty.  I am taking money out of the family pot and I am leaving the shop shorthanded.  I don’t get to do the activities I so enjoy: hiking, cycling, spending time with my family and friends.

It is the guilt that cripples me.  If I work all seven days, I feel guilty for taking time away from the family.  If I don’t work the weekend, I feel guilt over not making the money.

This is not a way to live.  This is a way to die.

At this time there is little I can do to change all this.  I have to keep pushing.  I am not sure where this pushing will get me but I have to.  There is no other choice.

So I deal with the guilt.

My weight

I am the heaviest I have been since the middle of the summer of 2012.  I am up to 217.  This is not a good thing.  I have no excuses.  I have given in to the depression and the stress and I have over-eaten.  I have not pushed past the depression to get on the bike.  I have walked.  HUGE amounts of walking.  I have set a course in the factory and I make sure I walk it throughout the day.  It is great for fitness.  I am fit.  But I have out-eaten the calories I am burning and that is no one’s fault or responsibility but my own.

217-pounds. Pants are getting a little snug.  T-shirts are getting a little tight.

I have to get back to what I know works and I need to stay there.  I have indulged.  Cookies.  Buffet.  Not what, who or where I want to be.

It will not stand.

Getting it back together

I will take some days off work in the next couple of weeks. Take a few vacation days.  I will get on my bike and ride.  I will get out and hike.  PGB is sometimes available mid-week.  Perhaps he will be able to join me for a hike in Harriman.

If I don’t get my mind cleared and my heart right I will surely end up either insane or fat.  Insane I can accept.  Fat I cannot.

I understand the expression “a life lived in quiet desperation” now.  I didn’t always.  I do now.

Things have to change.  I need to make them change.  I need to get my heart and mind back on the same page, focused on the same goals, the same life plan.

I cannot accept what I am doing to myself with food, with stress, with life in general.

Getting it back together is must happen.  It has to start happening now.

Is life a constant battle for everyone? So many people I see seem to have it together.  I sometimes feel I am a single step away from the abyss.  Stepping back from that fall is the hardest thing to do when the Black Dog seems to be standing behind me baring teeth and growling.

Cycling, and time with friends, has been my escape from The Black Dog.  This weekend I didn’t fight hard enough.  I let the Black Dog win.

I have to find a way to fight harder. Or maybe I just need to be smarter than The Black Dog…

 

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