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 Cold of the Winter


Not a Fan

When I was a teen and then in to my early twenties I enjoyed the cold.  It rarely bothered me.  I would shovel the snow in a T-shirt.  I walked two miles after a blizzard to see my girlfriend when I was sixteen.  Winter was not a problem for me.

It is now.

I hate the cold.  Truly hate it.  I rarely ride in the winter.  I barely get out to hike.  I dream of a job transfer to the dessert southwest….

I haven’t cross-country skied this winter.  Not nearly enough snow most of the time and a little leery of it since my concussion last winter.

So I sit and wait for spring.

Winter?  Not a fan.

Plans for Spring

I have the usual bike ride planned this year.  I am doing the 5-Boro Bike tour again.  I went off the deep edge and paid for the VIP package so I can be sure to start near the front of the 32,000 riders.  Nuts?  Yes.

I am doing the Ride for Autism as I do every year.  It is the one ride it would hurt me to miss.  Eighteen people have signed up to ride as a member of the team.  I hope we get more before the ride in June.

I hope to lead the beginner/intermediate bike rides again for the shop.  If I don’t lead I will still partake.

I didn’t come anywhere close to my mileage goal last year.  I hope to get the miles in this year.  If all goes well I may be able to limit working at the shop to Sundays.  That would certainly make Saturday an easier day to get in the miles…  Maybe get some club rides in.  I haven’t ridden with the club in three years.  I pay dues…  I really should get out on a club ride or two.

Spring is only 6 weeks away, not matter what the forecasting rodent says….

Cooking

Udon and VEgetable Soup.  Perfect for this cold winter night

Udon and VEgetable Soup. Perfect for this cold winter night

This time of year there is a positive for me: I cook.  I make soups.  Pot upon pot of soup.  Today I made my “everything in the pot” veggie soup.  Whatever is in the fridge and the freezer and is considered a vegetable gets tossed in and I cook it until it is soup.  Today it was mushroom, onion, kale, corn, broccoli, sugar snap peas, tomato and tofu.  Cover with water, season, cook…

I served it with Udon noodles…  It made for a wonderful dinner.

Tomorrow I will roast some squash and make roasted squash soup…  Fill up the freezer, it is a long winter.

I also plan to bake some breads.  I am picking up a computer from a friend and I am going to bring him some breads to thank him for his help.  Good man.  Deserves some fresh-baked breads.

I love to cook.  I just wish I could get out of the house…  I need to hike… I need to bike…  Cooking will have to do.  And the treadmill….

My Weight

I am doing OK.  Not great.  OK.  I have put on a little weight, 10 pounds, this winter.  It is slowly coming down.  Lost 5 last week.  Want to lose 20 more by the end of March and then 20 more by June.

I sometimes stop fighting the fight.  I admit it is hard to always say no to pizza and cookies and donuts.  I do.  I still do.  But the fight is hard.

I have been fighting The Black Dog again.  It has had the upper hand recently but I can feel that I am pulling out of it.  Missus is so tolerant when I am in the cave.  She waits, knowing I will pull out of it somehow.

I have some very big decisions to make and I am struggling with the choices.  It isn’t always easy to know what to do with one’s life.  I am still trying to decide what to be when I grow up and here I am in my mid 50’s….

So eat right, eat less, move more….

It is always a struggle.  I will not be fat again.

A Little of my prose:

One advantage to being depressed is I write….

 

I wrote this last week.

The Photograph of the Moment

1/24/2015

 

Sitting on the hill, waiting to take photographs in old style with film, sitting on the ledge looking out to the valley with a camera ready in hand.  Looking for that moment when the light would be just right, the perfection realized, sitting still up on the hill waiting for the sun to set.

 

Sitting in the special quiet and looking out to the distance where a bird is gliding. Sitting waiting for that perfect moment in old style with film, when the moment would be just right, nearly perfect, sky and earth one.

 

Sitting, now watching as the sun begins to set, sitting on that ledge, sitting as the slight chill sends a shudder along the arms.  Sitting on that ledge as the sky begins to glow a softer light, nearly perfect, nearly right.  Sitting on that hill with the old camera in hand, film is wound and shutter cocked and the light is nearly there.

 

Sitting on the hill with the camera at the ready, sitting watching for that moment coming soon, with the sky now orange and the clouds now fringed with light, sitting on the ledge, feet near the edge, watching for that perfect moment, that perfect light. The sun now setting in amber, the sky now perfect, the moment is now and then nothing.

 

Sitting on the hill, the moment passes, camera hanging from the hand, the sky was perfect, too perfect to photograph in old style on film.  The moment committed to memory where it will stay in perfect light. Now standing, now walking away from the ledge.  

 

 

Peace


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Time, Life, Moving along, a Reminder of the circle of life and Hikes and My Annual Maudlin List of Thanks


Time

I have been a busy fellow.

I have been working 11-12 hours per day at my regular job.  Many reasons.  We have much to do and the goals are high.  We have all been pushing to improve operations and we are making headway but it makes for long, long days.  I have stopped working at the bike shop for now.  I need the time off to rest on weekends.  The shop owner has been very good about giving me this time off.  I have been off from my regular job the last five days.  I burned off my last vacation day for the year on Wednesday and the plant has been closed since Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

This adds up to five much-needed days of rest.

Now I have the energy and the time to sit and write  blog post.  See how neatly this all fits?

Life gets in the way

I have been trying to get the time to work on this blog.  I know I haven’t posted in a long while.  Really I have been just too tired and too wrapped up in my day-to-day to sit and put my mind at rest enough to write.  It’s a shame because I love writing this blog and it just hasn’t been in me to write.

I have also gotten careless and lazy.  I haven’t been recording my weight or what I have been eating and the result is that I gained back 20 pounds.  I am very unhappy about this but I am working hard to take it back off and get focused back on the plan and the goal.  There  are a great many reasons and excuses for this.  The truth is I simply lost focus.  Life got in the way.  Work at both jobs, stress, a battle with the Black Dog…  I lost focus.  I am getting back to the focus now.

Moving Along

A co-worker at the bike shop, the fellow who brought me in to the shop as an employee, the fellow who sold me my Trek Madone two years ago, is moving along.  He has been at the shop two or three years and he has decided it is time to move on.  He has taken a “dream job” with a bicycle company and will be moving to the Midwest.  NP has been a source of support, information and inspiration for the last two plus years and I have enjoyed working with him the last year plus.

Missus and I met with NP and his Missus this morning at a mutually favorite place for breakfast.  It is actually the first time we have gotten together socially.  It was enjoyable.  We chatted about the shop, about his new job, the move to the new area, the adventures he and his Missus have in front of them.  We laughed a good deal, Missus and I enjoyed their company a great deal and we wished them the very best and asked them to stay in touch.  Missus sent them off with a couple dozen of her famous chocolate chip cookies.

We all meet people in our lives who in a quiet way help you move along.  NP was one of those people for me.  Though a far more skilled and faster rider than I am, NP never declined an opportunity to ride with me, never showed impatience with my struggles up hills, never failed to listen attentively to my dumbest questions.  He helped me a good deal to move along in my cycling life and along my Journey.

Now he is moving along to a great adventure and opportunity.

I hope we do stay in touch.

The Circle of Life

Wally and I met the first week or so of our freshman year of high school.  He introduced himself to me by saying (in a deep bass voice no 14-year old should have) “HI, I’m Big Wally”.  I responded “yes, yes you are” and a friendship was born.  We would remain friends for the next 35 years.

Thanksgiving Day would have been Wally’s 54th birthday.  He died in 2010.  It was a tough Thanksgiving for me in any case.  No friends or family for Thanksgiving dinner, nowhere to go for the holiday.  Just a quiet day with Missus and the boys.  That it was also Wally’s birthday made the day darker and harder.

The next morning I learned that old friends of ours were presented with their second Grandchild.  On Thanksgiving Day.  On Wally’s birthday.

My mood lifted.  I now have a happy thought to go with November 27.  I will always think of Wally on that day.  Now I will also think about my friends and their second Grandchild.

You can always find a happier memory to soften the harsh memories.

The circle of life.

Hiking

??????????MT and PGB and I went for a hike today.  Seven or so miles, some climbing, on snowy, slushy, sloppy, and sometimes icy trails.  It was chilly but not COLD and it was a good brisk hike that soon had us opening our jackets and taking off our gloves.

??????????

Though it was a gray day, it was not a bad day for a hike.  There were a great number of people on the trails with us today and everyone seemed to be enjoying the day.  I think everyone was also surprised as we were at the number of people out and about.

??????????

The hike was fun, pure and simple.  MT and PGB are intelligent and knowledgeable on a range of topics so the conversation is good.  The park we went to, Harriman State Park in New York State, is not all that far from us and it presents some challenging trails and some easy trails and some of the views are spectacular.  The three of us have hiked it together several times and PGB and I have hiked it together a few times as well.  I always enjoy the hikes.

??????????

Today was not a difficult hike but it was a hike that demanded our attention.  The trail was slippery from the recent snow and the warming temperatures had turned some areas to slush and some areas wore a thin layer of ice.  Concentration and attention to the trail was important today.  At the end of the hike I was tired.  I also felt great!

??????????

Cycling has become painful for me due to some issues with my right shoulder so I need hiking to tide me over while I allow the shoulder to heal (or not).  Last time I went on a hike with PGB and MT, about three weeks ago, I had some problems with an erratic heartbeat.  I have had the issue for years and it is not anything that I worry about.  It just flares up and saps my energy when it does.  That hike was difficult.  I was very tired and the climbs were difficult due to the heartbeat thing.  As suddenly as the flare-ups occur is how suddenly they stop and the next day I was fine.

The heartbeat thing hasn’t reared up since that day and it left me alone today.  I was able to climb and hike strongly and I felt good throughout.  So yes, I was tired but I felt strong and I came out of the woods energized.

My Annual Maudlin List of Thanks, 2014 Edition

I am thankful for my boys.

The Younger One is growing in to a pleasant young man who has a level of kindness and patience in him that he certainly did not inherit from me.

The Older One is loving, sweet and funny.  The last year has been difficult but he has settled down a little bit as the new medications have helped.  He still will always face challenges and life will always be shaped by his needs but the love we get from him and the beauty he brings to our lives is immeasurable.

I am thankful that Missus and I are still together after 26 years.  No marriage lasts this long without some major bumps in the road.  I am glad that we always seem to find a way to smooth them over.

I am thankful for my siblings. PCG, BMS, and PCS are good, caring and loving people.  It is an unfortunate fact that we are scattered across the country and we do not see each other as often as we would like.

I am thankful for my siblings-in-law. KBS, who has been in a part of my life for longer than nearly anyone I am not a blood relation to (except for JKN and KEB), and who is much more a sister than a sister-in-law, CBS, whose company I truly enjoy and who I wish we could see more often (if she wants to bring my brother along that is ok), and GG, with whom I know I would be close friends if he didn’t live 3000 miles away.

I am thankful for my nephews and my niece.  MS, GS, and NS are wonderful people.  Caring, intelligent, loving and committed.  They are proof that involved and loving parents raise good children.  I am proud to be their Uncle and thankful that they seem to enjoy spending some time with me.

I am thankful they have J, A and H in their lives.  I adore J and A and I am truly happy that MS and GS have such wonderful ladies in their lives.  I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know H but I look forward to it.

I am thankful for my Grand-Niece.  She is a real cutie and I am excited by the opportunity to watch her grow.

I am thankful that I have the world’s best Mother-in-law.  She is a caring and wonderful lady.  She has never once interfered in our lives but has always been there for us. I am thankful that at Ninety she is still with us and still sharp.  NC is a pretty great sister-in-law.

I am thankful for SR.  She is a Grandmother to the boys and a friend and advisor to us.  She is involved, supportive and loving to all 5 of her “grandchildren” and we are all better for it. And I am grateful that I have formed such a good friendship with her son.

I am thankful for our group of friends.  The last few years have seen our group shrink for a variety of reasons but those remaining are dear to me and I am truly thankful to have them in my life.

I am thankful for the 39 years of friendship with the girl with the yellow rose.  Everyone should have in their life a friend who will embrace you when you are down, smack you out of it and hold you while you steady yourself.  We are that for each other.  I never doubt that when I need her she well be there.

I am thankful for the 41 years of friendship with The Little Girl Next Door. I have not been the friend to her that I should have been over the last year plus but she has understood and she has accepted.  I am thankful that she is finding her bearings again after her loss.

I am thankful for The Teacher.  She is a good friend and though we don’t see one another often, I know she is there and I am thankful that she will kick me when a kick is what I need.

I am thankful that SS has HH and I am thankful that I can call them both my friends.

I am thankful CRF has MF and that they are both my friends.

I am thankful for the friendship with NI.  He is a true friend and a great partner in cycling crime.  The good times and the laughter do not seem to have an end.

I am thankful for the friendship of The Friends.  My hikes with PGB and MT and our occasional dinners are a critical part of my journey.

I am Thankful that MTT found UJT and that they have committed to a life together.  Though MTT and I are not as close as we were years ago he is still my third brother and always will be.  His joy in his life is a joy I share.

I am thankful for and grateful to BP and CB.  Welcoming me in to the CC family and their support, patience and encouragement is deeply appreciated.  They have helped me on my Journey in more ways than I can list.

I am thankful that when the new ownership of my company “cleaned house” I was one of the few left standing.  I see good things ahead and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to “show my stuff”.  That is all anyone can ask for.

I am thankful that I have seen the age of 53 and will soon cross 54 in good health and fit and trim.  The Journey continues and despite some setbacks and stumbles, it moves along. I am thankful that I have a family that understands that I need to cycle and hike and they are patient and forgiving of my time away from them to do this.

I am thankful that I can laugh and love and write and talk and can be with friends and family.

I am especially thankful that my friends and family have made it through since last Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for life and the richer place that it is because of the people who are readings this.

Back on the Journey, back on the path, back towards the goal.

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.

Not my best day

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Not how I wanted the ride to go.

Sunday Morning, feeling ready to ride

Sunday Morning, feeling ready to ride

I lead the Sunday morning beginner/intermediate ride at the bike shop. It is one of those things I really enjoy and today promised to be a great ride. The weather was great, the attendance was excellent and I had a nice route planned for the group.

Two miles in to the ride things went bad.

I crashed. Hard.

I lost my focus for just a moment, took a wide line through a turn, clipped a curb….

Helmets work. They really do.

Big dent in the lid

Big dent in the lid

I came away from the crash with some nasty scrapes, bumps, cuts and bruises, a wrecked helmet, a mild headache (no concussion) and a major bruise to my ego.

The bike is fine. A couple of minor repairs and it will be as good as new.

I was able to ride back to the shop while the rest of the group rode on and enjoyed a really nice ride in the country side.

Cracks inside the helmet.  This one is no retired to my bike closet.  A reminder that hubris is a bad thing

Cracks inside the helmet. This one is now retired to my bike closet. A reminder that hubris is a bad thing

OUCH.  My right elbow.  My right side is scraped from knee to shoulder

OUCH. My right elbow. My right side is scraped from knee to shoulder

I keep a first aid kit in my car and was able to tend to my wounds and then I went over to the nearby pharmacy and picked up some more stuff. After the manager arrived at the shop I was able to go in and shower up, get the rest of the wounds cleaned and bandaged and then I worked the day at the shop. Sold a few bikes.

Mostly I feel sore, stiff, and stupid.

I did what I always preach not to do. I allowed myself to become distracted and lost my focus. BOOM.

Don’t do that.

I am sure this is a lesson learned for me. Painfully, but learned.

Glad the bike will be OK.

To top it off, I broke a tooth tonight.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to get out of bed.

BUT this is where working at the shop pays off for me.

Today a young man of 9 or 10 came in with his Dad. He got his very first grownup bike and I had the privilege of setting him up and helping him select the bike. I had the pleasure of seeing the joy on his face as he test rode the bike. I saw his smile when Dad said “let’s get it”. Later in the day I helped a woman select her first road bike. She discovered riding a year ago. A woman in her forties, she hadn’t ridden since she was a child. Then she decided she wanted to get fit and a year ago she bought herself a Hybrid. A friend talked her in to training for triathlons’. Her Hybrid just wasn’t going to cut it. After having a professional fitting done I worked with her for a little more than an hour. She was a little confused by the range of available options and we worked through it until it became clearer for her. Then we went outside and she test rode a bike. We worked on the shifting, how the brakes work, the differences in the handling compared to the Hybrid. When it was all done, she had selected a bike, was comfortable with the selection, and was excited about getting out on the road on her new road bike.

These are the things that put a shine on the day.

There was also a some gentle, touching moments to the day.

A mother and father came in today looking for a used children’s bike for their son. A child of about 8, he appears to be non-verbal autistic. He loves to pedal a bike. I helped them select one of the used bikes, actually one I had taken in the day before. A bike with 20-inch wheels, with training wheels already on it and in nearly new condition. This little boy, alone in his world. He lit up when he sat on the bike.

The father, in labored English, explained to me “my boy is special needs”. I told him I understood. He thanked me and asked if I knew where they could find help for their son. I gave him the email address of Autism NJ, the organization that benefits from The Ride for Autism. He, his wife and his son left with smiles.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe today was a very good day.

 

Peace.


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Health


The Healthy Choice

I started losing weight because I was tired of being fat, out of shape, ugly (in my eyes) and embarrassed. I started losing weight because I was afraid of dying early. I started losing weight because it was the right time in my life to change.

From the beginning I understood that it would be about more than taking off the pounds.

It would be about understanding me.

It would be about getting fit.

It would be about staying lean and fit and getting healthy and staying there.

I knew from day one of my Journey that I would have to travel the path physically as well as emotionally. I understood that there would be much more to this than merely eating less and eating right. Moving more, moving right would be a part of it as well. A big part.

It is very possible to lose 100-plus pounds and not significantly improve one’s health. It is very possible to do so and injure one’s health.

I didn’t want to simply lose the pounds. I wanted to roll back the clock if I could. I wanted to be younger. I felt so old on the day I started the Journey.

It is Mid-April now. 2014. I am still 100+ pounds down from my peak. Still where I want to be with my weight. Still building the fitness, riding the bike, walking.

I made a healthy choice. I never have followed a diet. No WW, Jenny, Atkins, South Beach…. I have never followed an exercise plan. I eat right. I eat less. I move more. I didn’t start a diet. I didn’t start and exercise plan.

I started a new lifestyle. I change my life and I made the healthy choice.

The Healthy Choice does not mean illness always leave you alone…

I am getting over the flu right now. It is part of why I haven’t posted on my blog in a while. It really knocked me on my back. It came on last Saturday. I was feeling a little off on my bike ride in to the shop. I started strong but faded badly as I approached the shop. I showered up and started work but by mid day my head felt “off” and I was feeling congested. I thought it must be allergies. It was busy at the shop and I was running about but losing energy with each step. At some point CB, one of the shop owners, asked me if I was OK. I think I was coming across as “cross”. I told her I thought I was dealing with allergies…

By night fall I was sick.

By the time I crawled into bed Saturday night I was running a fever of 101.1. Overnight the fever climbed and I was in hell by 3:00 AM when I sent a text to the bike shop boss that I would not be able to lead the Sunday ride nor would I be able to work. Sunday was hell. 103.4 fever. Joint aches. Violent shivering. Sweats.

Monday morning the Dr. confirmed it was the flu and ordered me to bed rest for the week. Anti-viral meds to fight the flu and antibiotics to prevent the secondary infections that often accompany the flu.

Here it is. Thursday. I am FINALLY starting to feel OK. The fever broke a couple of days ago but the joint aches and the general malaise that comes with the flu linger. Today is the best day so far.

The worst part for me was having to cancel the Father-Son vacation the Younger One and I had planned for this week. I was going to work Monday and Tuesday and then he and I would travel to New England Tuesday night to enjoy three days exploring.

I know it disappointed him but in classic form, he has handled it with grace and understanding.

I doubt I will be able to ride this weekend but I will keep the option open for Sunday. Monday I will return to my regular job healthy and strong. This was not how I wanted to get the rest I needed but at least I rested.

 

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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It has been rough


Misery

Shakespeare wrote of a “Winter of Discontent” being turned in to a “Glorious Summer”. It is a great metaphor for misery turning to joy.

This winter has been miserable. I am waiting for the joy that will come with summer. I am waiting for the pleasure of spring.

Between head colds, which I have had aplenty, head concussion (mercifully, just one), snow, ice and bitter and persistent cold temperatures, I have been miserable and, probably, miserable to deal with.

My weight has climbed. My fitness has dropped. My attitude is horrible. I still feel awful from the most recent head cold. This is not at all fun.

I am trying to look forward and it is difficult. Every weather forecast calls for more cold, more ice, and more snow. The long-range forecasts do not show the expected warming trends of mid-March.

I am less than two months from the first big ride of the year. Less than three months from my planned Century ride.

I have ridden eight miles this year. Eight. Miles. This is not what I had planned.

This winter has been the hardest since I began the Journey. Illness, weather, depression, injury.

I am fighting it. The fog from the concussion has cleared. I am left with the weather, depression and illness. I will go to the Doctor today if he is available. Get some idea why this cold lingers.

Makes it impossible to ride even on the wind trainer. Depression is not something that lifts from outside influences so much as from internal. That is the harder fight for me. I have to avoid the spiral down. Depression feeds inactivity and weight gain which feeds the depression. Fighting it.

Misery. I hate winter.

Fight it with Plans

So here it is. I am making plans.

I still have the goal of 4000 miles on the bike this year. It will be difficult but not impossible and I am going to try like hell to make it happen.

I have the rides planned:

  • Five-Boro Bike Tour
  • Ride for Autism
  • Hub on Wheels
  • Discover Hartford
  • Fall Foliage
  • Turkey-Bike VI

I plan to lead the Sunday Morning Shop Rides. If the weather cooperates I think we will get them going again soon. The snow has melted off some…

I am back to the good eating plan that got me to my goal weight and I am confident that I will get back to 200 pounds. I am at 216 right now. I am not happy about it at all but being unhappy doesn’t change anything. Set the goal. Work the plan.

The issue is the effect this miserable winter has had on my mind and body. I am just so unhappy. I want to ride. I want to hike. I want to get outside and burn some energy and, in so doing, energize.

That’s it, isn’t it? Getting outside and burning the energy actually energizes me. It gets the mind active. It gets the body moving. I may be tired after a long hike or a long ride but my SOUL is energized. The soul. That THING within that give us our self. That which we truly are.

I am not the grumpy, depressed and frustrated person this winter has made me out to be,

I am energetic, I am aggressive. I am a writer, I am a cook, I am a jokester, a prankster, a hiker, a walker, a cyclist… I am ready to kick winter right in the ass.

Peace