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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Considering it all.


The Blog Turns Two

I have been writing this blog just a few days more than two years now. I have written about the pain, the confusion, the joy, the fear, the conquests, the failure, and the pleasures of this Journey.

I am so glad that I have done so. I the two years of writing this blog I have “met” so many wonderful people who have shared with me their Journey, who have encouraged me and consoled me.

I don’t write as often now. There is less to write about. I am in maintenance mode now. No longer fighting to take the weight off. The weight is gone. Now I fight to keep it off. I am holding steady in the fight. I have good weeks and bad (this past week was not so good) and the weight swing a few pounds up and a few pounds down. I am 209.6 as I write this today. I lost my streak of days under 210 when I hit 211 and then climbed all the way to 215 a week ago. Fighting the good fight, it is coming back down. I got careless around the holidays, went out to lunch and dinner a few times more than was prudent.

I could blame the weather. It has been nasty cold here and walking has been hard, riding has been (for me) impossible. Blaming the weather is the easy way out and it is also inaccurate. It still comes down to calories in versus calories out. I had to many come in for the amount that was going out.

Fixed that.

Back on Plan

Stay focused.

Fat is something I will not allow myself to be.

Thank you for reading this blog the last two years. I hope the blog will be worthy of your continued attention.

Dinner with Friends

On 7 January I went to dinner with “the guys”. PB, MT, TM, ND, SA and me. Italian restaurant. The same one where I eat my once a year pizza. I had a stuffed eggplant appetizer as my main dish and a vegetable soup.

Very good.

No dessert. Just coffee.

Good conversation.

I was quieter than usual I think. I listened much more than I spoke.

I was thinking about how difficult it is for us to all get together. We are busy with work and families. ND moved to Taiwan. Where once there were nine of us there are now six.

I was thinking about the friends who were not there. Joe was the first to leave us. We were closest of friends at the time he died. I am still trying to move on from losing him though it has been four and a half years. Wally was my closest friend for many years. He was the next to leave the party too soon. He left us less than a year after Joe. Then Chris left. Just this past year. I am still resisting the urge to pick up the phone and call him when we plan these dinners.

So I was quieter than usual for me. I listened to my friends and I interjected a bit here and there.

I really was just trying to absorb the evening.

Something I care about

Twenty-two and a half years ago my older son was born. First born child to Missus and me. A Boy!! Cute. All the right parts in all the tight places.

Big Ears

Danny and Daddy.  Danny is about 2 months old

Danny and Daddy. Danny is about 2 months old

Blue eyes

Lusty cry

Daniel

He was six months old when we first really became concerned but it was earlier that we sensed something wasn’t quite right.

He cried and screamed violently if Mommy wasn’t near. And he would cry that way for hours until Mommy was back. Friends who had so enthusiastically offered to baby sit now begged off because no one can really handle a baby who cries like that.

He didn’t sit up. He didn’t engage with toys. He became animated only when Mommy and Daddy were with him.

Eventually there would be a diagnoses though it took a long time to come.

Fragile X Syndrome.

From the moment of conception our sweet little boy was destined to have significant mental delay and behaviors in the Autistic Spectrum.

Danny about 9 years old.  He still has a wonderful smile

Danny about 9 years old. He still has a wonderful smile

For 22 and half years we have raised and loved this child. We have lost friends who didn’t understand. We have become estranged from family who wouldn’t understand. And we love our son. We often feel isolated. We often feel alone. Though we have loving friends and family who are wonderful with Danny and patient with the difficulties we face, it is not always easy. It is rarely easy.

In 2012 I saw a poster or flier or something that directed me to the Ride For Autism. I really no longer remember how I found out about the ride. My friends KG and NI agreed to ride it with me and as I had just started the Journey it became my focal point for my training.

I did the 50-mile ride. I struggled. But I finished and in so doing I formed a bond with this ride. It is now my most important ride each year.

It seems fitting (to me anyway) that the ride is June 7 this year. Danny’s 23rd birthday.

My inspiration, my light, my love. Danny

My inspiration, my light, my love. Danny

This year I am aiming to do the 100 mile distance. A Century in cyclist speak.  There are shorter distances and anyone can pick any distance.

The notion of doing it 2 years ago was laughable. I know I can do it this year. Build the base miles. Work on the weight and the fitness and the endurance. Do the ride.

There is no fund-raising required for this ride, just the entrance fee. Last year I thought I would try to raise additional funds and I asked people for donations. To my amazement, $1450.00 was donated by my friends and families and by some of the readers of this blog. I am profoundly and eternally grateful.

This year I am doing the ride again. I have put together “Danny’s Team”. So far there is one other rider  who has signed up as a member of Danny’s Team and there are several others who have told me they will.

I hope we put together 10 or so riders and that each of the riders is able to raise a few dollars from friends and family and that we, as a team, can raise $5000.00.

The purpose of the ride

  • To raise funds to be distributed to other tax exempt organizations that serve individuals with autism and their families
  • To raise awareness about autism in the community
  • To provide and opportunity for individuals with autism and their families to engage is recreation and socialization.

Seems like a good thing to me.

So here are the links if you are interested in knowing more. If you cycle and you are in the area I hope you will consider doing the ride and if you do I hope you will consider doing it as part of Danny’s Team

Ride For Autism

Danny’s Team Page

Danny’s Team Facebook Page

If you don’t cycle and you care to contribute I can only offer you my heartfelt gratitude and the assurance that the money is going to a worthy cause.

If you don’t wish to contribute or can’t, I understand and I  thank you for your friendship on this blog.  The friendship has encouraged me and inspired me and that has allowed me to get to this point in my Journey.

Peace


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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


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Growing, Learning


I learned a little about myself

This weekend was interesting for me. On Saturday I rode in to the shop and set new personal records for segments on the ride and completed the 18 miles faster than I have ever done so before. I rode very strongly. I rode very comfortably. I felt so comfortable on my bike… That is how I always WANT to feel on the bike. I don’t always. There are days when it seems every hill is up and every breeze is a stiff headwind.

Cheese Cake  Just before the ride started.

Cheese Cake Just before the ride started. photo by CS

Sunday I took part in an organized fund-raising ride of 50 miles. A large group from the shop took part and we all lined up at the front of the ride for the start. NP, KE and I rode out strong and I soon took the lead. It is called a “pull” in cycling-speak. With NP and KE right behind me I “pulled” the three of us along. At 23-26 miles per hour we flew along the road in the heavy, damp air and pounded down the first 3-4 miles.

The Friday before the ride I got my first look at the course and it scared the hell out of me. I was so ready to not ride. I saw the four class-4 climbs. I saw the mile upon mile of climbing. I was so upset. I KNEW I couldn’t do the ride. I was certain that I would end up on the SAG wagon. I told Missus that I was thinking of not doing it at all. I could feel the old doubts and old fears building in me. I felt the urge to run and hide from this. Come up with an excuse for not riding. Figure out a graceful exit.

Saturday I rode well in beautiful weather and I felt better about the Sunday ride but the hill still had me frightened. Not worried. FRIGHTENED.

I went. I rode. The rain didn’t scare me off but it would have served as a good excuse. I didn’t take it. I went and I rode. I was so concerned about talking myself out of the ride that I arrived at the ride site and hour and a half before the ride start and I was the first person to sign in. Slowly my coworkers arrived and the friendship, the camaraderie, the little digs, the laughter, all served to ease my fears.

Soon the start of the ride…

The Start of the Ride.....

The Start of the Ride….. photo by CS

I knew I would not be able to stay with NP and KE once we hit the hills. One: I am a bad hill-climber. 2) These guys are REALLY good. KE is 25 or so and fast, Very fast. NP is around 32 and as fast if not faster than KE. They both climb hills like mountain goats. Very fast mountain goats…. I wanted to ride with them for at least that first part. I had told them to not worry about dropping me once the going got fast and hilly and I am glad they didn’t. Once the hills showed up, and along with the heavy mist and foggy conditions, the wet roads and the wet leaves on the wet roads…. Well, let’s just say I went a great deal slower than they did.

About 5 miles in I started to drop back. I large group of riders over took me and I would not see NP and KE again until the first rest area. I took a very short break and rode out of the rest area with them but they and the pack soon disappeared down the road. I was soon riding alone. I like riding alone and I soon found my rhythm and settled in at a fair pace on the flats and moderate downhill runs.

Then I came to the first truly difficult hill. It was at about the 14 mile mark that the hills started to get me. I rode them. I rode them slowly. But I made it. I could feel frustration and fear building in me. I was riding alone. I was riding on wet roads. I was riding in a heavy mist and I had to take off my glasses to see at all. Not having sharp vision made it even more frightening. I saw the turn for the 30 mile route but I went straight. I kept going.

I was hurting. My right calf was hurting. I first tore the muscle in that leg 13 years ago. I tripped over my father’s dog. I landed awkwardly and something in the leg POPPED. It swelled up. It turned pretty colors that legs are not supposed to turn. It took a year to feel anything close to normal and even now, 13 years later; it will send me messages to let me know that it still is not healthy, not right. Yesterday it began to hurt on one of the hills. There it was: My Excuse, My Out. I could take a short cut back or wait for the SAG and I would be done with the vertical hell.

I kept riding. I kept going up the hills.

The wet roads and the wet leaves on the wet roads kept me from really enjoying the downhill runs. I didn’t even get the payback for the slog up the hills: the high-speed runs down the hills.

But I kept going.

At some point a young woman I have ridden with before and who decided to do this ride at my urging, rode up and called out asking if it was me. I waved her on and we rode the rest of the ride together. We did two of the class-4 climbs together. She rode them better than I did. I finally gave in and walked two short sections of the last climb. I gave in to the fear that I would blow up my calf.

Finally the hills were behind us and I was able to let it go. I could still crank on the flats. I could still hit 20+ miles per hour on the level roads towards the end. The last 7 miles or so flew by as I could finally find a rhythm again.

I rode in to the parking lot at the park and most of the group from the Shop had finished and left. BP, CB, and NP were still there. They cheered me on as I rode in. The insecure part of me at first thought it was a teasing sort of cheer, a little mocking at my slow time. Then I realized it was not. It was a genuine “job well done”. I had done the ride at 15.9 miles per hour average. I had struggled on the hills but I had finished. I didn’t make a big deal about my sore calf. I just admitted the hills had the best of me. I found out that KE had crashed hard but would be ok. He hit a fist sized rock on a descent. His helmet died a hero doing its job and KE will be riding again soon. It put my struggles in to perspective.

BP owns the shop. He is a good rider, my age, and he is a good guy. When I expressed disappointment at how poorly I ride the hills he reminded me in no uncertain terms of how the hills owned me in the early spring. How I couldn’t make it halfway up Two Bridges Road before I had to dismount and walk. He reminded me that the hills I rode that day were nearly as steep and a good deal longer. He reminded me that a 25 mile ride used to exhaust me.

Looking back at the ride I see that NP cooked me on the hills, riding each segment an average of 5 or 6 miles per hour faster than I did, but I was there with him on the flats even at the end. On the last four segments that I recorded (batteries died) I averaged 19.25 miles per hour and NP averaged 20.65 miles per hour. Not bad. I think I could have stayed with him if we were riding together.

I learned a little about myself this weekend.

I learned I am better at riding than I my emotions think I am. I learned I need to trust myself and my skills a little more. I learned that I can overcome my self-imposed limitations if I get my mind in the right place.

I learned that even in the rain. Even on the hills, even when the conditions are horrible and the ride is very hard. I learned that I would rather be on my bike, the person I am now, the person I am becoming, then ever give up, ever surrender to the fear and the insecurities.

I will probably have to relearn this lesson many times but it will be easier each time because I learned a little about myself this weekend.

Back to eating right…

Not that I stopped eating right but my calories climbed a bit recently and a few extra pounds have come to visit. They won’t get to stay…

I love the way we eat

I love the way we eat

With the winter months coming I have to make sure my discipline stays sharp. I cannot let the guard down.

Tonight I had a light dinner to go with a light lunch and light breakfast. I will have a nice snack later to tide me over through the night. More of the same tomorrow.

Staying focused on the goal.

Doubts

Back to something I touch on above.

Insecurity.

I often feel like the outsider looking in. Yesterday I allowed that to enter my mind.

The feeling that I am not good enough, not IN enough, not part of the core.

The doubts can be difficult to overcome. I am so far from it.

I have written before about the refuge I found in being fat. Able to stay on the sidelines rather than having to take part. The fat offered the excuse I needed to avoid, to evade, to run away from the things that scared me.

It all comes back to self-doubt. Insecurity.

The self-deprecating humor, the self-deprecation in general, still referring to myself as fat.

All fueled by this nagging sense that I am not equal to, or up to, the skills, intelligence, knowledge of those around me.

The lessons I learned yesterday, the lesson plan of yesterday, taught me to trust my skills, my abilities, my knowledge.

Today I had another lesson. Less involved than yesterdays but a lesson all the same.

I was asked by my manager to put together some data and put it together in a graph to see if the work I have been doing with the teams I have put together is showing the hoped for improvements.

They are. Dramatically so.

The key performance indicators for the two areas I have been working on have all improved by not less than 40%.

I am good at what I do. At work and in my personal life.

Sometimes I need to see it in front of me in print, graphed and charted.

I have many lessons still to learn.

These lessons are a good start.

Peace


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Wednesday already?


Sometimes it just doesn’t work out

Weather is something I simply cannot control.

I had such plans for this weekend past.

None of them worked out….

Saturday I planned on a 30+ mile ride.  I got in 20.  I got started late as I was a little slow-moving that morning.  Then the weather grew threatening and I cut the ride a little short.

Sunday I got in the 18 miles to the shop and we STARTED the Sunday Morning Shop Ride but only two miles in the skies opened up and we retreated to the shop and ended up going for breakfast.  Twenty-two miles…

Monday, the day I had set aside for a long ride with the hope of getting 65-70 miles in was foggy all morning and then raining… Not a single mile on the bike on Monday.

My plans for a 150-mile weekend turned in to a 42-mile reality.

I have to accept it and make other plans for miles this week.

On Sunday, September 8, I am taking part in the NYC Century, One-Hundred miles through the streets of New York City.  I had hoped this weekend would serve as the base for that ride.  Understand that I know I am ready and it is not really a concern that the lack of riding the last three days will keep me from having the ability to ride the 100 next Sunday.  I simply wanted to continue to push my limits.  I have never ridden 150 miles in a three day stretch.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could and to have that bit of confidence going in to the century.

I hope it doesn’t rain next Sunday…

Overeating

It was not my best weekend for watching my intake.  Not sure why but I did overeat this weekend.  Part of it was the rain out on Sunday.  After the rain out we cleaned up and the shop owners and one other shop employee went to a favorite spot for breakfast.  Though I had already eaten my morning meal, I had a bagel with lox and cream cheese.  I called it lunch and it ALMOST fit in the plan but it was still more than I would have normally eaten and it stretched the calories.  I don’t know why I allowed myself to do that when I could have easily had a bowl of grits or oatmeal and saved myself 250 calories.

I have to watch that.  I allowed a social setting to dictate my eating and I know that this is a slippery slope for me.

My weight spiked this weekend at 208 pounds.  Not a good thing.  I know why.  I just don’t know why I allowed it.   Need to think about this but mostly I need to jump back on plan HARD.  Of course it was back down to 203.4 by last night.  Go figure….  Still up from where I want to be….

I can feel the weight on me.  Might be a psychological thing but I was feeling fat and sluggish yesterday.

Monday night’s dinner of smoked chicken with potato and Cole slaw was tasty and I stayed within the limits but it is not how my body is accustomed to eating and it contributed to the sluggish feeling yesterday.

I was back on plan yesterday: a light breakfast of cereal, grapes and milk.  I had a very light lunch and a nice dinner with plenty of vegetables followed by a light snack.  That kept me around 1800 calories for the day.  Get the body and mind pointed back in the right direction.

Evening Ride

I looked at the forecast and it looks like the weather may favor me with a window to get in an evening ride.  A quick 20 miles will help me feel like I have it all back together…

I am better to be around when I have gotten in my miles.  I feel better mentally and physically and that makes me a better father and husband and friend.  Today I feel just a bit grumpy and I think that has to do with not getting in the miles.  I think a quick ride tonight will do a world of good for all involved.

I will ride alone and I that will give me time to clear the mind.  By the time I get home from the ride I will have burned away the stresses of the day and be ready to enjoy the company of my family and ready to be with the human race again.

I am glad I returned to cycling.  It has helped me find my sanity.

A 5K

I have decided that I am going to run a 5K.  The legs may feel differently about it but I think I can do it.  I have the fitness for it.  The issue is that the legs have not done any running of note in ages and are used to pushing pedals not running down the street.

I picked out a local 5K run that is a fund-raiser for a local Fire Department.  It is a very flat route.  I want to do it just so I can say I did it.  It is one more step in the right direction from where I was.

I know I will not become a “runner” but it is something I can and want to check off the list of accomplishments.  Along with the 100 mile ride, it represents a distance traveled far beyond the geographic measurements.

As with the cycling, the walking, the hiking, running is one more thing I could not do.  Running a 5K will be one more thing I can now do that I could not.  It is another milestone, a landmark on the Journey.  It is a representation of the place I am now, so far from where I was then.

I hope KG can do the run with me.  I will need her telling me to SUCK IT UP to get through.

The best thing

I was asked what I think is “The Best Thing” thing about having lost the weight.  I don’t have an answer.  So many things come to mind.  There is the health thing of course.  How can one not be happy about the health improvements that came with the fitness gain and weight loss?  There is the looks thing.  It is nice to not stand out because of my size.  I love the “fit in to tight spots” thing as well.  The comfort thing is big with me.  Not being uncomfortable in chairs with arms.  Fitting in to airplane seats.

I love the buying clothes in the regular men’s department as well.  The 34 inch waist and the large size shirts.  My size in stock and on sale is wonderful.

I guess what I really like about the weight loss, I guess my favorite thing about it, is being “normal”.  Not being “fat”, not needing BIG sizes, being able to fit in booths, airplane seats, tight spaces.  Yeah, that’s it …

Nah, that is second best.

It is the health thing.  Improving the odds that I will see the younger one grow to adulthood….

Yeah, that is the best thing.

 

Peace


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Joy


The Truth is…

It is rarely easy for me to express in writing happiness as well as I express angst, depression and fear. This is true in my blog and in my verse. When I am truly depressed, going through a dark stretch with the Black Dog, I am a prolific writer of blank verse. Not always good mind you, but I write a great deal when depressed.

When I started this blog I very often had tough days, depressing days, stretches of uncertainty. I wrote every day at that time and I wrote a great many poems.

As I settled in to the Journey and passed milestones and landmarks, the tone of my writing started to shift and I started to not write every day. I also wrote less blank verse.

If you read this blog with any regularity you know that my moods swing like the doors to an old west saloon. But the truth is they don’t really. It is just that I tend to write from the darker side of my moods.

With all things measured out (and I am all about measuring) I am happier in my skin than I have ever been. I am moody. I always have been. This I cannot deny but the fact is I am not any more moody now than I ever was. I am, I believe, a happier and more content man then I have been in many years if ever. I am less at war with my internal self. More at peace with my world.

In cycling and fitness I have found the focus for my runaway energies. IN taking off the weight I am able now to focus more on the inner me. If I am obsessive about the weight and fitness it is because I ignored it so completely for so long. If I am taking a long time to adapt to the new reality of me it is because I spent so much time being the old me. I am still getting to know who I am.

I am not a person accustomed to reinvention. I have a friend, a very dear friend, who has reinvented herself a dozen times over. She has blossomed to greater beauty with each reinvention. I admire this (and many other aspects) about her.

I have never been good at reinvention. I have been a person who retreated back to the comfort of the familiar even if it was ultimately a negative. I tended to allow myself to be swept along with the current. Even my career was one I came to by default rather than design.

Now I have reinvented me and it has not been without fear, stress, and drama. I am fit. I am lean. I have taken my eating habits and turned them upside down. Where once I was an unapologetic carnivore I am now nearly a vegetarian. A former couch slug, I am now dedicated to cycling, hiking, walking…

As I learn to be me I have focused to a nearly compulsive degree on recording my foods, my weight, my activity. I use not one, not two, but THREE apps to track my cycling. ALL AT ONCE. And of course there is the cycling computer on the bike itself. I record my weight every day. I record everything I eat.

I do this to remain focused. When I lost focus in the past I gained the weight back. I won’t let that happen again.

Reinvention. Like all things new, I need some adjusting and fine tuning but that doesn’t mean I am broken. The truth is… Things have never been so right.

Peace


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Life is Settling In…


So this is the New Normal…

When I started this everything was exciting, scary, interesting, confusing, new…

Now… Not so much.

Eating right has become habit. Recording every bite, every drink is a habit, a ritual.

The way I eat now.  Sweet Potato, Fish, vegetables...

The way I eat now. Sweet Potato, Fish, vegetables…

Getting out and walking, riding the bike, hiking: all habits, all desires…

I am no longer so surprised when I see me in the mirror. I am almost accustomed to looking at the regular sizes when I am clothes shopping.

I am happy in my skin and I am growing accustomed to being in this skin.

I have held my weight below 210 pounds since last August 8th and below 205 for much of that time.

This is the new normal. I like it.

It was normal to be fat. Not normal to some I understand. Normal for me. I had been some degree of fat for so long. Now I am growing accustomed to this new normal.

One year is coming up and it is a strange feeling. One year out of the fifty plus.

The break down is something like this:

Ages 1-10: Husky, not fat, just bigger build…

Ages 11-14 normal weight for my height and age

15-18: thin to lean.

19-22: gaining weight but it still fit my frame

About 22, about 220

About 22, about 220

23-24: overweight

25-33: fit

34-50: overweight-very overweight-obese.

310

310

Now I am lean and fit.

This is what I am growing accustomed to. Looking at me and seeing a fit and lean person. Not obese. Not Fat. Trim. Fit.

This is what I will fight to keep as the new normal.

If I could do it all over again.

Me and Missus, Spring 1988

Me and Missus, Spring 1988

I was so in love with cycling from my early 20’s to my early 30’s. Then I drifted away from it and nothing replaced it as an activity in my life. We moved back to New Jersey from western Pennsylvania when I was 33. The weight gain started when we got back to New Jersey. I was not as lean in my early 30’s as I am now but I was an avid cyclist and though I was in the 230 to 240 pound range I was fit. No high blood pressure. Good at rest heart rate…

Within two years of returning to New Jersey I had pushed past 250 pounds and I was in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat.

If I could turn back the clock….

I would have stayed on the bike. I would have eaten better, eaten less, taken care of myself.

I would never have allowed what I became.

I cannot turn the clock back of course. No one can. We can only think about the changes and the time lost, and deal with the regrets.

We can do something about the future.

Some time ago (and I have written this before) I developed a motto. I haven’t found it anywhere else so I assume it is mine. It goes like this:

Where you are is where you are meant to be. Everything you have done has brought you to this point at this time.

It is where you are going that you can change.

For too long I did nothing to change the course of my life. I was heading towards an early exit and I was doing nothing about it. Getting healthy has been but the first step in what I hope will be a long life’s exploration of possibilities.

If I could do it all over again I would have done it from the beginning. I would not have waited to get moving forward. I would not have accepted as inevitable the course of my life. I would have made sure I was aggressive in directing the path of my life …

It is about Me.

I have turned down several requests to “guest” on my blog. I get one request every couple of weeks or so. Mostly from commercial weight loss sites that are looking to leverage my efforts with their product. A couple have offered money. No specific amount is ever mentioned just promises that selling my blog space to them (they don’t call it hat but I do) will net me some green.

I ignore them. I simply do not respond and I delete the emails/comments.

A couple of the requests came from what appear to be legitimate bloggers, people like me, who simply want to share their perspective on their journey. I have been invited to write on a couple of other blogs…

But I don’t share my blog in that way. I invite people to comment and as long as the comments are neutral to positive, I approve them.

The reason I don’t share this blog with other writers is really fairly simple. This blog is about my Journey. It is about me. I don’t apologize for this.

This blog is one of the tools I have used to stay motivated and focused.

Rolling down the FDR Drive....

Rolling down the FDR Drive….

This has not been easy. Not one single day has been easy. Some have been harder than others to be sure but not one has been really easy. Not one day did I not have to count my calories. Not one day has gone by where I didn’t record everything I ate, record my weight, record my calories burned. Not one day.

I have been called narcissistic because of this blog and my focus on getting fit and healthy and writing about it so much.

Other than showing the ignorance and stupidity of the person who called me that, the comment shows a real failure to understand what is really at the root of my weight gain to begin with: a very poor sense of self, a poor self-image. At the root of the overeating was a very insecure person.

Through this blog I have been able to explore the reasons I overate. I was able to think about the roots of my constant hunger.

Some of it I understood early on. I understood that I ate because I deep within I thought it was a way to win the love of my mother and my Grandmothers. With both of my brothers being somewhat on the finicky side, I learned I could win praise and affection by eating whatever foods my mother and Grandmothers put in front of me and always “cleaning my plate”.

There are many other reasons. A search for a persona… I found mine in being the loud fat guy. I never have seen myself well. I never understood who I was, what I was like. I never was able to see the extremes in my personality. I never understood who I was at center.

I found comfort in food. Cooking for friends and family and consuming large portions of what I cooked… It was a way for me to buy the affection of family. It was a way for me to buy friends. Did I need to buy friendship? Probably not. When you are beset by self-doubt and a horrible self-image then you might very well believe that the only reason you have affection from family and friends is because you cook. Eating is the natural extension of this. Eating large becomes a part of the reach for affection. Reality has very little room here. It is emotions, not reality.

Exploring this on the blog has helped me deal with 50+ years of injuries and scars, mostly self-inflicted. I have been able to heal wounds decades old.

Missus will tell you I am still a difficult person but less so now than two years ago. I think she would tell you I am more at peace, less edgy, more comfortable to be around.

Without this blog and my willingness to expose the raw nerve endings I would not have come as far as I have. This has been better than a year on a therapists couch.

The blog is about me. Plain and simple.

I don’t make excuses for this.

Peace