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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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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I Needed a Break


Hi, remember me?

I haven’t posted in 12 days.

I needed a break.

From everything.

I couldn’t do that so I took an unannounced break from writing the blog. I hope I didn’t disappoint anyone or lose to many followers.

I have to admit I am a bit worn down.

Work, work, family, stress….

Just tired.

So I put the blog aside for a couple of weeks and now I am feeling a little more energetic and ready to write again.

I really enjoy writing this blog but I wonder sometimes if I actually have anything to say.

Well, I will keep writing anyway. I write for me. I have always liked to sound of my voice….

Something I wrote

I wrote this a couple of months ago. A little poem in shadows and dreams:

Autumn..

11/19/2013

It was the breeze, the rustle of leaves. A hint of winter in the air, hiding under the warmth of the late Autumn sun. Low angled light passing through trees, long shadows along the path, the quiet crunch of steps on the dry leaves.

It was the view, the far off mountains. A hint of color left on distant trees, the river below framed by the bridge, the sound of the train heading north. A distant horn, a hawk circling above. It was the winding path through open fields and dense woods.

It was the whisper, the murmur of a soft voice. A hint of laughter in the voice. A soft giggle and a shy look. It was soft hair hanging in bangs across the eyes and a slight blush. It was a soft touch, lightly with gentle finger tips.

It was the kiss, lips lightly touching, softly brushing. A hint of quivering in the touch. A deep breath and a stiffened back, and arms held at length. It was a moment, sweet and passing, eyes meeting eyes and tears met with tears.

It was the coffee, warming cold hands, giving cover for the quiet. A hint of confusion, small talk, hesitant words. It was promises made and meant to be kept. Sad goodbyes, warmth inside and plans to meet again.

Winter

We have been dealing with a nasty winter here. Cold. Snow. When it isn’t cold it rains. When it is cold it snows. Riding my bike has not been an option. Walking has been difficult. I have been riding the bike on the rollers and the trainer but it isn’t the same and when I get home at night in the cold and dark I just have little motivation.

I look forward to the weekends but the weather has been awful.

Maybe next weekend…. Forecast is for mid thirties. We can but hope.

The winter I started this Journey the weather was good. Very little snow. Warmer than normal temperatures most days. I was able to get out and walk most days. I wonder if I had started this Journey during a winter like this one if I would have had the success I have enjoyed.

I wish I could at least get out and cross-country ski but my schedule just does not allow it. This past weekend I was down with a cold so nothing was happening for me. Love cross-country skiing. I am really bad at it. I love it anyway.

Remembering Mom

Surrounded by family... Mom in her glory

Surrounded by family… Mom in her glory

This past Thursday was my Mother’s 75th birthday. Well, it would have been. Mom has been gone more than 20 years. She was 54 years old when cancer took her from us. I am still shocked. She was a force of nature. Tall, attractive, strong, brassy, loving, hard, compassionate, tender, quick to anger, quick to love. She could have dominated a convention at Madison Square Garden. People were drawn to her. She was drawn to people.

Each of her four children can remember tough times with Mom. She was demanding. She was unforgiving. She formed opinions and it could be nearly impossible to move her.

Each of her four children can also remember wonderful times with Mom. Moments when her softer side would pour out to us. Moments of deep compassion and love.

Mom was capable of incredible love and kindness. She was the friend who would never leave your side when you needed a friend most.

I remember when Mom became friends with June. My folks had joined a community club and had met a husband and wife. June and my mother hit it off right away. What Mom didn’t know when she met June was that June had cancer. As June became more and more ill my mother became the friend who sat with her late in to the evening, reading to her, mopping her brow, feeding her ice chips. June’s other friends had run. Seeing a friend dying is hard and they couldn’t take it. Mom took it. She didn’t have to. She was the new friend. No one would have thought anything about it if Mom had simply drifted away. That wasn’t Mom. She was never one to drift away. Mom was with June as she began to fade the last time. Her husband, her daughter and son sat at her side and as Mom quietly left the room they called her back in and asked her to stay with them, asked her to share the last moments with their wife and mother.

Mom was slow to get over the loss of June, Just as she had been slow to get over the loss of other friends for whom she had been there. Mom knew she would be hurt. She also knew that her friend needed someone and that she had the strength to be that someone.

When Mom was diagnosed with cancer I cried like a young child. I thought she would win. Mom always won. I was scared for her, for me, for the family and so I cried but I thought she would win. Even when I came to understand that it was a cancer no one beats. I thought Mom would be the one.

I was thirty-one but I had the hope of a child.

When Mom lost the fight eleven months later I sat in my car and I wailed. It was a sound I didn’t know could come from me. Pure grief expressed.

Twenty and a half years later I am still in pain. I still miss my Mom. I am the most like her of her four children I think. I am quick to temper, quick to love. I take things to heart, I am the friend who will be there when you dearly need a friend.

I express love the same way my Mom did. I cook for you. I visit you, I invite you in to my home. I share my life with you. That was Mom.

I tell my children about her. Danny knew her but he doesn’t remember her. He was only two when she left us. We named Kyle for her. His Hebrew name, Chaim, is the masculine form of my mother’s Hebrew name, Chaia. The name means Life. Somehow fitting for a woman who had four children. Even more fitting given her inner force.

I miss Mom. I always will.

Peace


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Two years in to the Journey


In The Begining

I have written about this many times in the last two years. December 27, 2011, my date of awakening. No, I don’t think that is overly dramatic. It was in every sense an awakening. It has been in the last two years in every sense a Journey of discovery, of awakening to possibilities.

I had been depressed in the few days leading to the 27th. I had seen how I was. I had seen my reflection and it shocked and saddened me to see what I had become. I realized I was fat. I don’t know the mechanisms of the mind and how it can make you not see reality but it had cast me blind to the reality that I was a massively large man, more than 100 pounds overweight. This realization took an already dark mood and turned it in to a very deep depression.

Then

Then

On the morning of December 27th, a Tuesday off from work, I awoke and as I sat on the edge of the bed, taking my blood pressure meds before getting up to shower and start the day, I stared at the floor. Trying to gather the strength to power myself to the standing position, I could feel my mood slipping deeper in to the hole.

I have no idea why it clicked but it did. I don’t know to this day what it was that about that moment but something happened. I turned to Missus and I told her “today, I am starting today”. She asked what it was I was starting and I told her I was going to lose the weight and I was starting that day right then.

And so it began. The Journey.

Last year I wrote perhaps my longest post to mark the first anniversary of the Journey. Don’t know if this post will be anywhere near as long but I have much to say today.

Obsession

The Journey quickly became my central focus. Some called it an obsession and other worried about my mental state. I was never so concerned. I knew what I was doing was saving my life. I

The Fitbit. It is a little over 2 inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide. I clip it to my pants pocket or my shirt collar when I am wearing my sweatpants. You can toss it in your pocket... I am told that women often clip it to their bras.

The Fitbit. It is a little over 2 inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide. I clip it to my pants pocket or my shirt collar when I am wearing my sweatpants. You can toss it in your pocket… I am told that women often clip it to their bras.

started traveling with a scale so I could stay on top my recording my weight. I have recorded it nearly every day since I started that day in December.  I bought a FITBIT to record my activity level and to this day I wear one every day.

I Have stayed focused. Is this Journey an obsession? I guess. I would have to call it a healthy focus myself but you can call it what you want. I enjoy my foods. I still have to resist the temptations to overeat and indulge in sinful delights but I am able to resist. I need to. I know the risks.

Two years now…

After today's ride.  Getting there.....

Mid way on the Journey

I didn’t know it was going to work. When I started this. I was in such a bad place emotionally. I was fighting the Black Dog to begin with and then came that moment of start realization that I was FAT. If you haven’t been there you simply can’t understand. How could I have not known I was fat? It seemed obvious to everyone around me but I didn’t realize it. Not the way others did. I would joke about being fat. People would say that I wasn’t really THAT big. And that was what I heard. That I wasn’t really big… I was just large, a little overweight..

I started this Journey in a very deep and dark depression. Maybe that is why it clicked. Maybe that is why I was able to grab on to the so tightly. I needed something to pull me up.

I don’t know and I suspect I will never know what made it work and why it started that day two years ago today. I only know that something clicked.

It took me 8 months to drop 95 pounds. Another couple of months to get to 105 pounds. I have maintained my weight below 210 pounds since August 8th 2012 with only a small handful of days above 210. I am 209 as I write this.

Two years now. I am at this for two years. Two out of what I hope will be another 30.

2013 was a year of learning to maintain. Maintain my weight of course. Maintain my fitness. Maintain the activity, the focus, the drive. 2013 was learning to be a lean person. 2013 has been about learning my capabilities even as those capabilities increase.

I didn’t know I was a good rider. I have learned that at the boot of NP, CB and BP and many others at the shop who have encouraged me and lit a fire under me and kicked me hard when I have needed it. CB has told me to shut up about riding badly more than once.

At the Start Line at 6:40 AM and ready to ride. Trim. Fit. Ready

At the Start Line at 6:40 AM and ready to ride.
Trim. Fit. Ready

2014 will be, I hope, a year of expanding my capabilities, improving on the distance I have come thus far. I am committed to never being obese again. I am also committed to worrying about a pound or two weight gain less because I know how to keep it in check. A pound up should not be cause for panic as long as it is followed by a pound down soon thereafter.

Two years in to the Journey. I am still learning a great deal about myself. I am learning more about the issues and emotions that drove the eating that created the weight gain.

What I have learned so far is more than enough to fill a book, or a blog for that matter. I and certainly a happier person. I am certainly “better adjusted” now that I have come to understand so much about myself. I am enjoying things on face value now, no longer so suspicious so suspicious of the motives of others.

I am learning that good things can happen for good people and I am learning that maybe I am one of those good people.

My Loves

I love cycling. I have made that plain. I ride whenever I can and where ever I can and with whomever will ride with me. I Love hiking but I don’t get to do it nearly as often as I would like. Life gets in the way. Part time and

full-time jobs get in the way. I can cycle to the Bike Shop and I ride with the folks at the shop. Hiking does not have those opportunities attached to it for me.

A Place Along the Journey

A Place Along the Journey

I love my walks. Those are easier to get in then the hikes but I only really walk when cycling is not available for some reason.

I love Cross country Skiing and I got back to it this past winter for the first time in 10 or 12 years.  It was a blast!

I am as happy as the picture would seem to indicate.

I am as happy as the picture would seem to indicate.

I love writing this blog. I hope it has not grown tedious for everyone to read but I still enjoy writing it.

I love cooking. The way I cook now, lighter fare, is enjoyable for me. I love the way we eat now. Not quite a vegetarian, I do eat 90% vegetables, grains and fruits and

Kabocha, Baked Salmon, Mixed Grain Rice with Black beans....a the way I eat

Kabocha, Baked Salmon, Mixed Grain Rice with Black beans….a
the way I eat

about 10% dairy and fish or poultry. Poultry is actually very rare….

I love the way I feel and, yes, the way I look. I no longer expect to see a fat man when I look in the mirror. I am growing accustomed to seeing the me I am not. I am less surprised when I don’t see the old me.

I love my family and it is a joy to be able to enjoy them more. I can go for walks with the Younger One, I can goof around with the Older One and I can walk with Missus. I can enjoy their company because I am not always exhausted.

I love the feeling that I may actually stick around for a while and not die suddenly of a heart attack… This is a good feeling.

Goals

On the left: Last year Ride for Autism On the right: This years Ride for Autism.  Even 30 pounds make quite a difference.

On the left: Last year Ride for Autism
On the right: This years Ride for Autism. Even 30 pounds make quite a difference.

AS I enter my third year on this Journey I have goals I need still to reach. I want to get to and stay under 200 pounds. I want ride a Century. I am aiming for 4000 miles in 2014.

I want the visits from the Black Dog to become much fewer and farther apart. I would like the duration of the visits to shorten as well.

I am thinking of going vegetarian but I am not sure I am ready for that.

I want to see my friends more often, read more books, sleep better at night

I want to be sitting here in one year writing about the third anniversary.

The Coming Year

As I stated above, I am looking to improve on all things in 2014.

I also have some plans.

I have several rides planned for the coming year. Most of them are Charity Rides. None of those are the kind where you have to solicit donations.

On the Queensboro Bridge, May, 2013

On the Queensboro Bridge, May, 2013

Here is my list of planned rides:

  • Five-Boro Bike Tour, 40 miles
  • Ride of Silence (a memorial ride to honor cyclists killed by motor vehicles)
  • RIDE FOR AUTISM, 100 miles (Lincroft, NJ)
  • Discover Hartford, 40 miles
  • Hub On Wheels, 50 miles (Boston)
  • NYC Century, 100 miles
  • Tour of Bergen County, 50 miles(Bergen County, NJ)
  • Ashford Century, 100 miles (Rural Ct.)
  • Fall Foliage, 50 miles (Rural NJ)
  • Turkey Bike, 25 miles (North Jersey)

That’s the plan… There may be others. I may not do one or two of these but that is the plan.

I have started a team for the Ride for Autism.  It is called “Danny’s Team for the Ride For Autism” and it is named for my Older One.  The link will take you to the Facebook page and I hope you will LIKE the page.  You don’t have to ride and you don’t have to donate.  Just knowing you are supporting the team and encouraging the team is more than enough.  Our goal is to get as many people to ride as Danny’s Team as possible and to raise as much money in entry fees as we can.

I also have a dream of raiding from New York City to Miami Florida to raise money for Fragile X and Autism Research.  That will be harder to pull off but I am working at it.  Just not sure how I would get the time off work or pay the bills while I am riding to Miami……

Giving back to the sport I love for all that it has given me.

Peace


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Looking Back, Looking Forward and the Right Decision


Eight Days

I know where I was two years ago.

I was here. In Jersey. I was working at a plastic compounding plant as the Plant Manager. I was not overly fond of the job but it paid and I was optimistic that I would grow to like the place. I was 310 pounds or somewhere around that.

I was trying to figure out the holiday schedule and I was trying to figure out if I had any nice clothes that fit so I would have something to wear to our friend’s Christmas Eve party in five days.

I was not thinking that in eight days I would finally reach that place where I would finally do something about my weight and my lack of fitness.

I didn’t know that in eight days I would start the Journey.

I am thinking about this a great deal this week. I am counting down in my head to the two-year mark. Two years from the day that I woke up and told Missus “I am starting today”.

I will write more about my thoughts as I approach that day.

Goals

Last night at the Bike Shop Holiday Party the shop owner, BP, asked us to share our cycling goals for the coming year. He told us they had to be Specific and Measurable. Each of us had something we wanted to do. Return to racing, compete in a triathlon…. KF had the best one. She simply wants to ride again. She had a serious accident and returning to the bike is a worthy goal and one none of us is foolish enough to think is out of reach for the woman we call Fury.

As the question worked its way around the table I had plenty of time to contemplate my answer. I had goals in mind. I know what I want to accomplish in the coming cycling season. How to put it to words…

Because I was sitting just two places from BP and the question started in the other direction, I had plenty of time to think, as I would answer next to last. When it came to me I made one little joke and then I stated my goals. Thirty-five hundred miles and at least one Century.

Those are my goals.

My cycling goals.

On the grander scale my goals are to get to and maintain 195 pounds. I want to see two years at or below my goal weight in August 2014.

In business we say goals have to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.

I think mine are all that.

There is one other goal. It isn’t really Specific and I am not sure how I would measure it. I certainly hope it is achievable. I know it is relevant and I hope it will be timely. I want to be more comfortable being me.

That is my life goal.

The Right Decision

I started working at the bike shop in late May of this year. I needed a second job and the income that would come with it. The owner and manager at the shop both thought I would be a good fit. I love bikes. I am personable. I have a good story to tell. Everything else would come, they assured me.

I sold a bike my first day. I sold three the next. I have sold many bikes since. Customers come in looking for me. I enjoy the interaction. I love putting someone on a new bike and seeing the smile on their face as they roll it out the door and take it home.

It goes well beyond that. It is the group of people I work with. At the Shop Holiday Party last night I realized just how much I enjoy the company of the people I work with at the shop. The diverse personalities united in a shared love of cycling and all things bicycles. The easy humor. The laughter. The conversations. About Bikes. About Cars. About plans and rides and goals.

It is the shared enjoyment of seeing a coworker take his new bike out for the first time. It is, for me, almost a sense of family.

I take an odd pleasure at being the “old man” of the shop (though the owner is only a few months younger than I am). I enjoy the “kids”. I learn from them every day that I work and every ride I am on with them.

Today I was the coworker taking home his new bike. The grin on my face was matched only by the smiles on the faces of my friends and coworkers at the shop.

BP made this happen for me. He worked with me and made this bike a reality for me.

Much more than the bike.

I have not always made great decisions. We all make mistakes in our lives. I look back at the decision to leave the plastics compounding plant and I know I made a mistake. I thought I was doing the right thing. It didn’t work out.

Synapse Hi-MOD 2

Synapse Hi-MOD 2

I know I made the right decision when I asked BP and NP if they would be interested in hiring me for weekends at the shop.

I know that a good portion of why I have stayed fit and kept the weight off is the shop rides and more than that, the encouragement from the people at the shop. From the occasional kick in the head from CB for my occasional self-doubt, to the critical bits of advice from BP as we ride, to the challenge from KE, JS and NP to ride harder, rider further and rider faster…. This has been the right decision.

Peace.


3 Comments

Scared Myself


Weight Gain and Fear

I know, always have known, that my weight will vary. Swings up and down are normal and expected and I don’t have any issues when my weight goes up a pound or two and I don’t celebrate a pound or two down…

This is my greatest fear

This is my greatest fear

The last week or so I drifted. I am not sure why but I drifted from the plan. No excuses. I simply was overeating. I was still eating the same; no red meats, little fish, no poultry, plenty of vegetables. Just more than I had been eating.

Suddenly the weight jumped. I saw the wrong side of 209 pounds. I hit 210 even.

I cannot say I handled this very well from the emotional side of me. I could suddenly imagine myself fat again. I could suddenly see a path back to obesity. I could picture slipping back to the bad habits, the uncontrolled eating, the snacking, the large meals, and the fat me coming back to life.

My gut reaction was to scale the eating back to bare minimum, 1200 calories a day or less. I knew that was not the way to go about it. I had to stop and think about this. I had to understand why this was happening.

I looked at the things going on in my life.

My primary job has been stress filled the last two weeks at a level far greater than typical. Getting out of the office for a little bit at lunch time has been a welcomed respite from the stress. Of course that doesn’t mean I had to eat large lunches but that is what I was doing. I was slipping back to the habit of feeding the stress. Chinese buffet. Indian Buffet….

I had disciplined myself to eat lightly in the morning and then at dinner if I was going to eat a larger than typical lunch. I fell away from that discipline.

The weight was coming back. First two pounds and then three, soon four and there it was on the scale one morning: 210.0.

My chart showed the gain. The slow climb as the weight went up from 203 pounds to 210. I had a gain of seven pounds in a little more than two weeks.

Discipline. Deal with the stress. Understand the motivations. Get back to the plan.

I got back to the smart breakfast of 1 cup of fruit, one cup of cereal, half a cup of low-fat milk. I got back to the pouch f tuna for lunch and the light dinner of vegetables followed by a light snack. I got back to the 1500-1800 calories a day.

The weight is coming back down.

I was 204.0 this morning. Six pounds came back off. I am not going to allow myself to stray from the plan. The indulgences I allowed myself in recent weeks are not allowed. The cold weather is here. Cycling is winding down and I cannot count on that large a calorie burn to keep the weight in check. Walking, hiking and riding the rollers will not replace it.

I slipped. I allowed myself to stray from the plan that has worked so well for me.

This is who I am and who I will stay

This is who I am and who I will stay

I am back under 205.

Next I want to get under 200.

Most of all I want to stay on the plan. It got me where I want to be. Leaving it will risk me going where I don’t want to be. FAT. Not going there again.

Put a good scare in myself. I have done this a few times since I hit my goal weight. This was the worst.

The Truth is…

This will never be easy… Easier.. Perhaps. Never easy.

I have 50+ years of bad habits, genetic programming, and emotional scars that I have to overcome each and every day.

I win the fight most days and I have been winning the fight most days for 675 days and counting.

I know I will stumble and fall. The past week or so I did my share of stumbling and falling. Today was tough. A pressure filled day and one of my favorite foods in abundance at that office.

I was good. It was a fight. It is always a fight. That is the truth. It will always be a fight.

Today is Halloween. Candy everywhere. Tomorrow there will be candy at the office as people bring in the leftovers from the Trick-or-Treaters. It will be a fight.

I have a lunch appointment tomorrow. Selecting the right food to eat and the right amount will be a fight.

This is the truth. This is life.

I know this. I know that keeping the weight off is making good decisions one decision at a time day after day..

I had a decision to make and I did. I decided to reshape myself and to get fit. I have made that decision nearly every day since and I will fail from time to time.

The setbacks don’t really matter unless I fail to keep moving forward.

I stumbled. I fell. I got back up. I got back on the plan.

I may not win every battle. Fact is I know I will not will every battle. But I am winning the war because I get back up each time I fall

The truth is this is all that really matters.

Last Ride

I think Sunday may be the last shop ride for the year. The cold and the dark is starting to make the ride harder to do. I hope it continues but the attendance is dropping and it isn’t a shop ride if I am doing it alone….

It isn’t my call. I leave that decision to the Managers and Owners of the shop. I will keep showing up to ride until they tell me otherwise.

I will keep riding myself until the winter weather prevents it.

Then I will hike.

Winter will not be an excuse.

I love doing the Sunday rides. There is something affirming in these rides for me. There is a joy in doing what I could not do, what I was afraid to do.

I am proud of what I have accomplished. Able to ride hills I could not ride before. Able to ride distances I used to consider a long DRIVE.

I remind myself of these things when I slip. I remember what I couldn’t do. I remember who and what I was. I get it back in gear.

SO if the last ride is coming soon I at least know it is not my last ride. I have many more in me. I have more miles. I have more turns of the pedals. I have them because when I fall I get up.

Peace


2 Comments

The Season Begins to Fade


Reflecting

The cycling season is winding down. Not done, not yet, never truly DONE but it is winding down.  It is getting to the time of year when it will be dark when I leave for work and dark when I leave work for home.  I will ride the rollers and I will try to get in rides on weekends until it gets too cold but the rides will get further apart and fewer in number until a few weeks go by and I will not have ridden.

I am looking back now at the season gone by and I am in awe of the year.

I have 2300+ miles on the bike this year.  This is far and away the most miles I have ridden in a year in at least 18 years, probably more……

On an early season Club Ride

On an early season Club Ride

I started riding with the shop on Sunday mornings in late March or early April.  It was chilly and I was out of shape but I pushed myself to keep up even if Two Bridges Road tortured me.  I think I was often the slowest rider on the “no-drop” rides but I pushed on and I got better.  BP and CB encouraged me and challenged me and I was riding better and better as the season warmed and my conditioning improved.

The 25 mile distance seemed so hard, so far, such a challenge at first.  Soon it became easier and then it became easy.  Soon my speed picked up and soon the less challenging hills became no challenge at all.

Rolling down the FDR Drive on the Five-Boro Bike Tour

Rolling down the FDR Drive on the Five-Boro Bike Tour

By May I had really improved my riding and my fitness and I rode in the Five-Boro Bike Tour.  Forty miles through the streets of New York City.  It was easy.  There is a video of me accelerating away from my friend NI as we attacked a climb on a bridge approach.  I never could have done that last year.

I continued riding as often as I could.  Nights after work, weekends…  Whenever I could find time.

In late May or early June I started working for the bike shop.  I was nervous at first, not feeling knowledgeable enough, afraid of making a mistake and driving a customer away.  I sold a bike my first day, three my second day. I have learned a great deal and I keep reading up on what we sell and I hope I know a little more.  Now some customers come in and ask for me.  Last weekend a customer that I worked with a month ago came in and bought a bike from our store.  She told me that we were the most patient and helpful of all the stores she had gone to.  You have to feel good when a customer tells you that.

I rode some of the Sunday rides with NP and others from the shop and they challenged me to keep up, develop, push myself further and harder.

I kept riding solo Saturdays and I continued to join the Sunday rides.  Then one Sunday I was asked if I would mind leading the Sunday Ride Beginners/Intermediate ride.  Imagine.  Me.  Leading a ride.

In June I rode the Ride 4 Autism in Central Jersey and had no trouble with the 50+ miles.  I did the Bergen County Bike Tour in North Jersey the weekend before that with my friend SA.  That was 45 miles.  I tried to get in at least 50 miles every weekend and 75 miles most….

At the first rest area on the Ride 4 Autism

At the first rest area on the Ride 4 Autism

I went to Hartford for the Discover Hartford Tour (40 miles) and the next day I rode 50 miles in Boston.  Then a few weekends later I rode the Fall Foliage Classic here in New Jersey.  I also did club rides, shop rides, solo rides…

And though I haven’t gotten strong on hills yet, I have gotten better.

On the Streets of Lower Manhattan  on the NYC Century Ride

On the Streets of Lower Manhattan on the NYC Century Ride

I find that I rarely stop peddling.  That is, I don’t coast on the flats, take the little rest… I pedal.  I pedal at a good cadence and I have learned to maintain the cadence.  I remember the surprise in the eyes of one of the young men at the shop on a shop ride that I was riding at 20+ miles per hour on a flat section of road in the small front ring.  Not bad for an old guy.

I am becoming a more skilled and knowledgeable rider.  My handling skills, always good, have gotten better.  I also don’t drift left that way I used to.  That should make NI happy.

So here I am.  2300+ miles in to the season…  Fit.  Happy.  Enjoying the bike in ways I have not in years.

When the cold weather and the dark mornings put an end to the Sunday Shop Rides for the season I look forward to hiking and walking and maintaining the weight loss and the fitness riding the rollers.

Come spring I look forward to riding the Shop Rides again.  Maybe leading them, maybe just riding them.  I look forward to the start of a new season, odometer set at zero waiting for me to start to build the miles.  I will set the miles goal higher.  I will set the distance goals higher.  I never did get the Century in this year.  One wrong turn and several missed opportunities.  There is still a chance I will get it in this year but I am thinking next year is more likely.  I have no doubt that I am capable.  Now I just want to do it.

Returning the old bike to the road.....

Returning the old bike to the road…..

I am getting my old road bike back in shape to ride again.  I hope to put some miles on it before the winter comes.  The feel of steel…  I loved riding that bike and now that I am fit again and in better shape than when the bike was built for me 21+ years ago I am looking forward to putting some serious riding in on it.

All of this.  This is all because I can do it again.  And I am not ever going to let myself get to where I cannot.  This is too much fun, too important, too central to who I am, to ever let it fade to gray again.

Feeding

I overate today. BIG TIME. I had breakfast. I had some apple cake. I had lunch. I had dinner out with Missus. I am feeling FAT AND BLOATED. I know it is OK. I know for absolute certain fact that I will be solidly back on plan tomorrow. I know I will not gain weight from this one excursion off the path I have chosen to take.

I would not have felt this way just a few months ago but I trust myself more now. I understand that I made the conscious decision to enjoy this special day. (25th anniversary) and that tomorrow I will be back to plan, back on the path, continuing on the Journey. I know I prepared for today. I was extra careful that last few days. I was 203.6 pounds this morning. I knew that today would be a day of over doing it.

Tomorrow I am back to plan.

Today I allowed myself some room to enjoy.

Trusting myself has rarely come easy when it comes to food.

Tomorrow I will earn today’s trust.

Peace