A Story of Two Forced Wins

September 16, 2012

I played chess avidly as a youngster.  Still enjoy playing recreationally.  Sometimes (in fact, in 100% of games that don’t end as draws) there arises a moment in the game when one side has a “forced win” – which means that the finish is clear, even if several moves away, and it cannot be derailed or averted by the opponent.  It’s another way of saying “the game is not yet over, but the path to victory is clear and certain.”  This writeup is about how I found my “forced win” for losing weight and escaping obesity – twice.

As described in this blog’s about post, I reached a top weight of 284 pounds (I am 5’6″ so this is extremely heavy) in 2009.  This was the “peak” (nadir, really) of a gradual increase in weight which had dogged me for about a decade.  I always knew I needed to shed some pounds, but nothing really stuck – primarily because my dedication wasn’t fully there.  I would eat healthy for a short time, but fall back.  I would go on walks or try jogging (“try” the key word) without big progress.  Now, somewhere in the back of my mind, for at least a few years I had the idea that I should buy a bike & ride it.  I remembered very fondly how much I loved riding the bike as a young man (16-20 years old) and I knew it would be a more enjoyable (for me – certainly not knocking walkers or joggers) method of cranking out weight loss.

But, like the hero in the story of my second “forced win moment”, I simply procrastinated for years.  I would allude to getting a bike but never took firm action.

Finally, in April 2011 – April 25, 2011 to be precise – I was ready to move forward. My buddy Mr. O dropped me off at Wal-Mart to pick up & ride home a bike I’d scouted out and decided to buy.  I picked her up, paid, and rode the bike home.  The ride home was only some 2.5 miles, but it was exhausting for me.  I had to stop at least once, and maybe twice.  This was the bike featured in the initial entries on this site, e.g. this one – which I realized only later was a girl’s bike!  I had no clue when I bought it.

I rode the bike somewhat regularly but always fairly short distances.  No more than a handful of miles at a time.  It was always hard work for me. I distinctly remember feeling a kind of elation when I was able to ride up to a local shopping center, circle its parking lot, and back home – a total distance of perhaps 2 miles – with ease and without stopping.

Fast forward some months.  Roughly summer / fall of 2011 (I don’t know the exact date) my weight loss had progressed albeit in several “two steps forward, one back” increments…with the most recent weeks being more steps back than forward.  Then, eating dinner at my favorite restaurant (Chipotle) I Googled “losing weight riding bike” or similar.  I clicked on the first interesting-looking result – a story about a man named Scott Cutshall.

Readers Digest version (although the full story is a very rewarding read) – Scott weighed 500 pounds – a quarter of a ton. He’d been given 6 months to live (at 38 years of age) and even if he opted for surgery, he had a 50% chance of dying on the table. He was a dead man. But then looking out the window he saw a man on a bike, “[weaving] through traffic as if he were a fish swimming up a stream, slipping past boulders and rocks with grace and ease.”

This touched off a flurry of activity as Scott researched what kind of bike to get.  Keeping the story brief, he did get one but procrastinated actually riding it, for varying reasons.  On Thanksgiving 2005, though, he had a kind of vision – a diet that would work for him in addition to riding the bike.

From that day forward he rode the bike nearly daily.  The first ride took 3 hours to go 1.9 miles.  He rode a month before he was able to go 3 miles at a stretch.  But he kept working – eating healthy and riding basically every day.  Over the course of three years he’d lost 320 pounds to a healthy 185.  He still rides all the time.

Reading this story was itself a kind of vision for me.  It was like a second “forced win”.  I realized that if I ate healthy and got on my bike to ride as often as I could, as much as I could, I basically couldn’t fail.  It was like a revelation – like a brilliant shaft of sunlight streaming across a path stretching to the horizon.

Losing weight isn’t easy – in fact it’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  So even since that “forced win” vision, I’ve taken several steps forward and some back.  But the vision provided the spark, and after recently re-remembering that day in Chipotle for a kind of “third awakening”, I try to keep the story foremost on my mind.  Healthy eating and big miles on the bike.  This is where I need to be.  This will get me where I need to be.


One Response to “A Story of Two Forced Wins”

  1. Dionne Morse said

    I loved reading this. You are an inspiration! Keep up the excellent hard work! 🙂 You’re looking good and so healthy! Dionne

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