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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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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A Weekend in New England


Hartford

My good friend NI has been after me to ride with him in the Hub on Wheels ride in Boston for several years now. He is a Boston native and justifiably proud of his city and “The Hub” ride. I was signed up to do it last year but the knee injury put the stop to that.

After I signed up this year, NI said “well seeing as you are driving up this way anyway why not sign up for the Discover Hartford Ride held the day before “the Hub”?”

So I did.

The “Discover Hartford” ride is 40 miles through the streets and parks of Hartford. I would guess at about 1000 riders take part.

I know very little about Hartford other than my friends MK and LS and their twin sons live in the area. I have only been to Hartford once or twice and those were brief visits.

It amazed me to see how beautiful the city is. The parks are wonderful and all over the place. The bike paths trace the rivers and hills and the city seems very bike friendly.

Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT. The start of the Discover Hartford Bike Ride

Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT.
The start of the Discover Hartford Bike Ride

The ride was wonderful. The weather was perfect. My single quibble is the rest areas were not well stocked. Bananas and water. That was it. No “rest facilities” except at one stop where the bakery in the strip mall allowed riders to use the one bathroom. I hope that as the ride grows the rest areas will improve. Otherwise the ride was fantastic.

Until the last one and a half miles

No matter the distance of the ride, when I get within a couple of miles of the end I get a burst of energy. I start riding faster and my aches go away and I am flying. It was under this scenario that NI and I started our two mile run to the finish. We started riding faster, letting it all go, and not saving anything. We came around the bend with about a mile and a half to go and at about 20 miles per hour I hit a small, sharp rock with my rear tire.  Just as I thought “I hope I didn’t damage the brand new tire” I heard and felt the BANG. The tire and tube had exploded. And yes, I mean exploded. We were in an underpass and the bang was dramatic with the echo. I had no problem bring the bike to a quick and controlled halt and was never close to crashing but with the tire totally deflated in an instant and the rim hit the street and was badly damaged.

Death of a Tire and a Wheel. The tire had 38 miles on it when it was dealt a dastardly death

Death of a Tire and a Wheel.
The tire had 38 miles on it when it was dealt a dastardly death

With no repair possible (the tire had an 8 inch rip in the side wall) I had to carry the bike the last mile and a half of the ride.

For some reason, while not thrilled by this development, I had fun with it. I carried the bike, NI rode VERY slowly alongside me under his “no Cyclist Left behind” policy (a good policy by the way) as I walked , and we enjoyed the rest of the ride-walk. It is surprising to me how I now take some things in stride that at one time would have ruined my day.

Across the Park in Hartford

Across the Park in Hartford

A view of the City Skyline on a Beautiful Morning in Hartford

A view of the City Skyline on a Beautiful Morning in Hartford

The Registration Tent for the Hartford Ride

The Registration Tent for the Hartford Ride

The afternoon was spent finding a local bike shop (Center Wheel in West Hartford) and having lunch with MK, LS and their twins while we waited for the bike to be repaired. So glad my friends were patient and flexible. It was a great time eating and chatting with them.

I was lucky (?) that the shop had a used rear wheel in reasonable condition with a tire and tube also in reasonable condition and for a reasonable price they switched over the rear cassette (gears) and mounted it on my bike. If not for that I would have had to forego the Boston ride for the second year in a row.

I have to say I had a great time. I had a wonderful 38 mile ride, a 1.5 mile walk, lunch with wonderful people, and I have a great story to tell.

I will put Hartford on my Annual Ride list along with the NYC Five Boro Bike Tour, the Ride for Autism, the NYC Century and Hub on Wheels.

Boston

The Hub on Wheels ride is better than the Five Boro Bike Tour.

There I said it and I mean it.

It is more fun. It is easier to ride. It is MUCH less crowded.

The ride is fun. The city of Boston is beautiful. The route is enjoyable and varied some of the views are incredible. Part of the route takes you through one of the most beautiful, picturesque, and quaint cemeteries you will ever see. That one of the rest stops is in the cemetery is somehow fitting and odd at the same time. I can only say that this is one rest area you really want to stay for only a short time…

A side Street in Boston on a Beautiful Saturday evening

A side Street in Boston on a Beautiful Saturday evening

Looking down the side street.  It was beautiful evening

Looking down the side street. It was beautiful evening

Wonderful little restaurant in Boston's north end.

Wonderful little restaurant in Boston’s north end.

The ride started in a driving rain but about a half an hour after the ride started the rain stopped and soon the roads began to dry. For a long while it was simply a gray sky and then, with about a third of the ride left, the sun came out and we were treated to clear blue skies and some beautiful views. The last rest area was along the shore and it was magnificent.

Views along the water front as we approach the last rest area.

Views along the water front as we approach the last rest area.

The skies cleared and gave us beautiful blue skies as we finished the last third of the ride.

The skies cleared and gave us beautiful blue skies as we finished the last third of the ride.

A view towards Boston

A view towards Boston

The used wheel on the back of the bike held up and the ride was un-dramatic.

The friendship and the banter and the pleasure of the ride could not be surpassed. In contrast to the New York ride, the Boston ride seemed much more “lighthearted”. People seemed to be having fun. It is a much more hilly ride than New York and, at fifty miles, it is ten miles longer than New York and yet at the end of the ride I felt less worn down.

Friends at the end of the ride.

Friends at the end of the ride.

I regretted that we had driven in to Boston instead of riding in because I would have enjoyed another ten miles on the bike. All in all I had one of the best riding experiences in a large organized ride that I have ever had.

I hope to make the Hub on Wheels an annual event. It was fun. Fun is good.

The Weekend Behind Me

When I got home yesterday I could look back at a very good weekend. I had good meals and kept my eating in check. I had good company and many laughs. I got in 88.5 miles of riding and 1.5 miles of walking with a bike on my shoulder. I visited my old college and had lunch with one of my old professors. I spent the evening before with one of my oldest friends (SS) and her boyfriend (HH) and we smiled, we laughed, we had new experiences and we enjoyed each other’s company.

It was a joy to walk in the door at home and have the dogs trample me; the Younger One hug me, the Older One yell down the stairs and welcome me home and the Missus give me a hug and a kiss.

It was the sort of weekend that recharges you even though you are exhausted when it is done.

I could not help but reflect on what this all represented to me. When SS hugged me and realized she could grasp her wrist while hugging me… When Doc (my Old Professor) saw me for the first time without the weight and congratulated me…. When I rode 50 miles the day after riding 40 miles….

It is an amazing thing to me. I know it is me, I know I did it… Still I am amazed. I am continuing to do it. I am still on the plan. I am able to do things I could only imagine doing just two years ago. I now know for certain fact that I could do High Point to Cape May in three 80 mile days. I doubted it. Now I know I can.

I have found life. I have found living. It is not a “me” held captive in a fat body, unable to do, to go, to see, to enjoy. I am doing the things that other wish they could do and I am doing it because I made a choice, a decision to change my life.

This weekend was everything I could have hoped it would be: A great time with great friends doing fun things.

The cold weather is coming. I will soon be riding less. The Sunday shop rides will soon stop for the year and I will ride only when the weather is favorable. Mostly I will hike and ride the trainer and the rollers. I need three hundred miles to get to 2500 for the year. Next year the goal is 3500.

This weekend was a weekend of renewal. It was a weekend to discover how far I have come. It was a weekend to be comfortable in my skin, in my new me. It was a weekend that proved to be affirmation of all that I have been working towards.

When MK saw me for the first time since I was 305 pounds he shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said “who are you and what have you done with the rest of Mark”. I got a good hearty laugh. It was a wonderful feeling.

This weekend was so affirming. It was so strong a weekend for me. I cannot find just the right words to express it. It was a wonderful weekend and everything I wanted it to be.

The Weekend Ahead of Me

I am lucky I suppose. I have a wheel-set that I bought for my old bike just a few weeks before I tore up my knee last year. I don’t think it has 300 miles on it. After I injured the knee I bought the new bike and the old bike was retired to the bike closet.

That wheel set is now on my new bike and I took it in to the bike shop tonight to make sure I had done everything right in switching over the gears and so forth. I did OK.

The positive here is the wheelset I had sitting on the bike in the closet is a little bit better than the set I just took off due to the damage to the rear wheel. All in all I am coming out of this OK.

The best part is it means I can ride more this coming weekend. I would like to get in 75 miles for the weekend. We will see.

The Journey

I am doing well. My mind is clearer than it has been in year. I am happier being me. The overeating that has defined so much of who I thought I was is under control. I still fight the urges and I do slip from time to time but never with the foods I shouldn’t eat. Maybe I have a bowl of cereal when a piece of fruit would have been a better choice but I don’t sit down to a tub of chocolate chip cookies.

I still have to remind myself to stay on course. I still have to push myself out of the chair and get outside. The reason I plan so many rides so far in advance is to make sure I stay motivated.

I will not be fat again.

I have to always tell myself this. I have to continually reinforce the mindset. Eye on the goal, follow the plan, continue the journey.  I never leave home without my Fitbit because I want to make sure I am not deluding myself about my activity level.  The Fitbit rode on my shoe for both rides this weekend as it does on every ride.

Visits from the Black Dog are further apart and are of shorter duration but they are not gone, perhaps they never will be. I understand it better. I know how to handle it better but the depression still hits.

I love the me I am now. This was not always the case.

I write about my cycling so much because it is the cycling that renews me. The successes and even the failures while riding are my energy. They build my confidence. The distances traveled. The hills climbed. All this is what adds to my ability to stay on the Journey, to follow the plan, to set and achieve the goals.

I will not be fat again

Peace