“…and I hope I never do.” So sings Bono in an impromptu lyric change for a live performance of the well-known u2 song. This phrase “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…and I hope I never do” is a very interesting one to me, with myriad layers of meaning- one of which, I can overlay on the quest to get into better shape.

Sorry in advance for the self-centered musing and internal talk. A part of the reason for this blog is to capture things for myself for future reference, and also potentially, in some way, to influence others. This post will accomplish at least one, maybe both.

Like almost everyone who is trying to lose large amounts of weight, I have a real love-hate relationship with the scale.

On the one hand, it’s easily the most objective + accessible means to gauge progress in fitness. Note the word “fitness”. Those who are trying simply to “lose weight” have it wrong, in my view. The goal is to get into better SHAPE – to improve FITNESS – to promote LONGEVITY – and to adopt a permanently healthy lifestyle. Again, though, to that end, the number on the scale is the quickest, easiest objective report card available.

On the other, though, focus on the scale introduces a variety of complications in your mission. Simplest is, in fact, that watching the scale does risk putting the emphasis on watching that number move – not on the proper things, i.e. fitness, health. Other complicating factors can arise tied to quirks in one’s own personality.

For me personally, I SOMETIMES feel almost like scale-watching is a lose-lose proposition. Let’s say I weigh in and am down what I hoped or even further. Great!, you say. Yes, great – but now, I tend to feel like I’ve earned a “reward”. “Rewards” can easily become a slippery slope to lower vigilance. Also a tendency to think, “Ok, great, I got this in the bag” – and to, even entirely subconsciously, take your foot off the accelerator a little. Become a little cavalier. Become less driven, less motivated. Say instead that I weigh in and am not down what I hoped – maybe I miss it big, in fact. This is even worse. Now there’s a big risk of a tailspin of despair. “Man, I worked my BUTT off the last X days since last weigh-in. And all it got me was THIS?!” I begin to doubt my system. I begin to doubt myself. Demons of doubt creep in: “Maybe I can’t do this.” Nothing is more toxic, truly.

In my roughly 5-year journey since I started losing weight (which has decidedly not been a straight line, as several of my friends who have been there to encourage me will attest), I have suffered both of these effects, more than a couple times.

All of this has been on my mind the last couple days as I approach my next weigh-in. Readers may recall that I last weighed in 2 weeks ago, at which point I was down big – some 4.3 pounds in 2 weeks. The plan then became to weigh in every other Wednesday.

Fast forward the intervening two weeks. I’ve been doing great, and I mean GREAT. I have not been THIS dialed in, with all aspects of my fitness, for over a year – probably 14 months. I am seeing progress in so many ways – on the bike, with the fit of clothes, with the face in the mirror, with my day-to-day feeling, etc. There’s really no question at all that I am moving in the right direction, and rapidly.

That then begs the question: Why weigh in this Wednesday? If the goal is improved fitness, and weight loss as a consequence of that – and it surely seems both are coming along fine – then what is to be gained by stepping on a scale? I already KNOW I’m doing well. I don’t need a scale to tell me that. The scale can only complicate things. I can either be as far along or farther, than I think, which can introduce some slothfulness; or I can be well less far along, which can only generate confusion.

I have been thinking to myself recently that if I hit X weight this Wednesday, I’d give myself a little reward. What reward? I didn’t yet decide. But the point here is, in my internal dialog about whether to weigh in or not, I find that this reward is a factor. “I WANT to weigh in, because I feel confident the number will be good, and thus I’ll get a little treat”. But at the same time I recognize that this is risky, for all the reasons given above.

The last day or two, the thought occurred to me to not weigh in at all until X date – something several weeks off. I like this idea in principle, although I find that it will test my willpower and my curiousity to know just what I’ve accomplished. This, then, ultimately became THE deciding factor. I turned the question around on myself this morning. “Which path do I WANT to take, in the sense of it being the easiest? Which is the path of less resistance?” The answer was clear. Weighing in this week will be, in a way, bailing out on myself. One trait that I have – a gift – is that when I dedicate to something, I become very hungry and drive very hard. But this drive, applied to fitness, risks being dulled by objective confirmation of success. It’s hard to stay hungry (for me it is) when I feel like I have a little bit less to prove. I thrive on feeling like I have something to prove. And so, I think I am better served by keeping myself pushing hard, not allowing myself the simple pat on the back. I want to stay hungry to continue with my good habits, and deferring weighing in till a date certain, well into the future, is a good way for me to do that. Different folks tick in different ways. This is how I tick.

Therefore, I’ve decided. My birthday is exactly 100 days from today (counting today). In addition to the 12 days since I last weighed in, this gets us to 16 weeks. A nice round number; essentially (although not exactly) 4 months, etc. By that time, I expect to have blasted through my best-ever weight of 184. I anticipate being anywhere from 16-32 pounds down by then; 18 would find me back at 184. So, the plan is set. I’ll defer weighing in again – even once, even “just for a little sneak preview” – till my birthday, at which point I expect I’ll be in the best shape I’ve been in in many, many, many years. Till then, I will stay hungry and in the hunt.

Another update 100 days away……

I bicycle commute to work basically every day now. Well, sorta commute – I actually live a good 45+ miles from work. To commute that would take a few hours in the morning and then again in the evening. If I commuted THAT I’d be doing nothing but working plus riding to and from.

Instead, I drive in part way, park the car, and ride in. TYPICALLY the ride is 11 miles, but I vary it up. Some mornings it’s 8, some mornings 15, some 20.

I hadn’t previously mentioned this commuting on this blog mostly due to my dead silence for some 4 months, recently broken ūüôā I’ve been commuting in this manner to some extent for a couple months, but VERY regularly for the past few weeks.

Anyway – sadly, June 21 (longest day of year) has come and long gone. Days are getting shorter and shorter. My preferred morning commute start time is already too dark to ride on the paved trail that I commonly take, which has forced me to either start later, start on the road for a few miles & transition to trail, or just go all-road. This, plus the fact that I intend to ride as much as I can in winter (when there’s darn-near no serviceable daylight on weekdays), and also resume randonneuring very shortly (which will entail some evening riding), means that it was time to bite the bullet & get a better bike headlight.

What I had previously is scarcely worth mentioning. Bike headlights serve one or both of two purposes: See, and be seen. What I had previously was fine for the latter, but for the former, it left much to be desired. I could safely see ahead of me, but peripheral visibility was very poor.

So, I sprang for a nicer light. There are oodles of choices out there; I put a premium, for now, on something low maintenance, low barrier to entry (easy to get up & running) and easily rechargeable. What I settled on among these considerations, plus price and quality of light, was Busch & Muller’s Ixon Core. Lithium Ion integrated battery, rechargeable via USB.

I ordered mine from Peter White Cycles in the US.

Here’s a side shot of the Core:

Core_side

It arrived a week ago or so. Very simple to use. Two intensities. 3 hours on high power, 15 hours on low. High power mode kicks out 50 Lux.  Intuitive-to-understand flashing of lighted top button conveys how much battery life remains.

Super simple to attach to bike. Came with two sizes of included rubber straps, which stay mounted to handlebar. The light itself is easily enough removed from and clicked back into this strap. The light can pivot slightly from side to side, and while the band is firm and holds its position on the bar, you can easily enough pivot the light forward or back to direct the light more down or up.

Below, looking directly at the light.

Core_front

Finally I got the opportunity late last week to use it on the paved trail in truly dark conditions. The local system of paved trails, a wonderful commuters’ resource, is however darn-near pitch black until the sky is fairly light. Patches of it, of course, run along decently-lit streets; but there are stretches of it that are basically pitch black. Great testing ground.

Verdict: I was underwhelmed for specifically pre-dawn trail riding. Make no mistake – the light is great in its own right, as a directional light. Light is focused on the road ahead, with not much spillover on the sides. This has its place; but on a pitch black trail that curves, dips, dives and climbs, being able to get a full sense of what is ahead of you is very important. I have ridden this trail now dozens of times, and am quite familiar with it; yet, what is familiar in the light looks totally alien in the dark, and even as familiar as I was with the terrain, I found myself wondering exactly where the next bend was coming up or going. If I were unfamiliar with the trail, or if I needed to do some technical descending – I do not feel like this light alone is sufficient.

Beam picture of the light on high in darkened room:

Core_light

Again, for road riding it is a very good light. I have ridden a few times with it now on the road, neither time in absolute darkness, but each case was WELL before sunrise. The road ahead is lit up very well, cars certainly see you so the safety factor is fine, and visibility is generally good. I have yet to take it on pitch-black country roads and am guessing it’ll light up the road ahead just fine; but, if there is need to see street signs off to the side, I suspect it will be lacking.

Therefore, after some more research and talking with a couple friends, I have ordered a second light – this time the Light & Motion Urban 550 light. 550 lumens (on high mode), more “side lighting” than the Core. Looks like similar mounting although most people seem a little dissatisfied with that aspect of the light. Also, its duration isn’t as good: 1.5 hours on high.

The plan is to run both lights as handlebar headlights when commuting on trail in dark. Turn both out to the sides about as far as they will go. This SHOULD provide me with a very big center swath of light plus plenty out to both sides.

For normal road riding after nightfall or pre-dawn — and that includes randonneuring¬†– I feel pretty good that EITHER of the two lights is sufficient. ¬†I will still go with both on bike, for a backup, but just run one or the other. ¬†In places where peripheral vision is key (searching for a road sign or just the correct turn in the dark), I’ll switch both on for short stretches. ¬†Should be more than sufficient.

The new¬†light should arrive later this week or so; I’ll try it out as soon as I get it and post a review after a couple uses.

So, my struggles with weight are only too-well-documented in the archives of this blog.

So too, though, are my successes. Longer-time readers will know that I successfully lost exactly 100 pounds from my heaviest (from 284 down to 184), but then lost the thread among a strange sort of alienation/meltdown from the bike and things which got me to that point. During that period I put back on, at the WORST point, fully 27 or 28 pounds (!). So about 211-212ish was the worst that I reached.

I then tried in fits and starts to get back to “the good times”, but not really with much duration. I’d lose a few lbs, gain a few, lose a few.

Now, I’m happy to report that I’m back into good habits and doing great. Feeling out of this world. For a little over 2 weeks now (yes, not a long stretch at all but relative to any period in the last 9ish months, this is very promising), I’ve been eating & drinking healthy, riding the bike quite a fair amount, hitting up gym 3 days per week.

I’m seeing the results in all kinds of ways. The scale tells some of the story although certainly not the full story. But, the scale is one of the easiest objective methods to measure progress, so – I’m happy to report that in 2 weeks I am down 4.3 pounds. I am back down to 202 and crumbs.

I’m planning to weigh in probably every 2 or so weeks, on Wednesdays (just like the old days, heh). By the time of the next measurement, then, I anticipate being – FINALLY – back in Onederland, i.e. under 200 pounds. This’ll be the first time for me in that range in quite some time. ¬† Months.

My long-term weight goal remains 169. At that weight, especially as both variables in the power-to-weight ratio keep improving thanks largely to gym, I will be in quite good shape and content. I expect that with healthy and active living, I’ll actually go below 169 – but, 169 is The Goal.

Again, I’m seeing the effects in all kinds of other ways too. It feels terrific, and as I told a friend the other day, it blows me completely away how great I feel, how strong and so forth, just after 2 weeks of living very healthily. I cannot wait to see what this is like 6 weeks from now, 3 months from now, 6 months from now. ¬†All those goals I have – some longer-held, some only recently-added (and a couple of which are too huge to have even aired on this blog yet!) – take on a new sheen of accessibility.

Till next time…see you out on the road…

BikeMSKansasCityRideWith my strange malaise from all things bike in the final few months of last year, I am not sure I even MENTIONED this on the blog; but, I rode last year in the KC BikeMS ride in mid-September. ¬† It was my first time doing this ride that I’d read about since I became interested in cycling. ¬†I had a really great time, and raised over $400 in sponsored dollars for this great cause.

This year I am returning to do the ride again.  It occurs over the weekend of September 13-14, and once again (as last year) starts at the Garmin HQ here in Olathe, with the overnight location in Lawrence.

Couple things will be different for me from last year:

Unlike last year, I’ll have a buddy along. ¬†My friend & cycling buddy, the irrepressible Mr. V, will be riding this year in his first-ever MS ride.

Also unlike last year, I am likely to camp in the overnight at Lawrence, as a large # of the riders do. ¬†Last year, since I live only several miles from Lawrence, I had friends Mr. and Mrs. O drive out, pick me up after Saturday’s ride, then drop me back off Sunday morning. ¬†Instead, this year, I am likely to camp, wake up on Sunday morning and get going!

Looking forward to this year’s ride. ¬†This is an event I’m going to hope to do annually for some time to come. ¬†Great cause, great fun ride, fun event, win-win all around.

I’m not making this blog entry to attempt to recruit more donations; BUT, if anyone reading feels like sponsoring me for a few clams, I’d be very appreciative! ¬†Below is the link to do so…

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?px=12560860&pg=personal&fr_id=22790&et=nDiSLzV_0rAQrsqvQDZhiQ&s_tafId=344922

London Calling

August 10, 2014

…So, I will just resume posting to this blog as though I hadn’t been AWOL from it for four months ūüôā

Super quick updates:

  • The most awkward/uncomfortable one first. I STILL continued to struggle with my eating and fitness the past few months, and I’ve put on about 8 pounds versus where I was in the most recent (April 1) post. So I am about 23 pounds over my best weight (reached this time last year) However, as I’ve said several times to friends & family, and reassuringly to myself, the best & most important thing is that in the long term, I don’t give up. I am taking up the fight¬†again, and in the end, I will win this fight.
  • I have ridden the bike a lot more over the past 4 months than I had in the previous 4-6 months. Still not as much as I would like, but I am getting back there again. I’ve had to make peace with several aspects of my fitness, the hardest of which is, I simply cannot do (right now) on a bike what I could do 8, 9 months ago. I’ve come to accept that, and in a strange way embrace it, as I am looking forward to an “improvement curve” from here forward.
  • I have resumed going to the gym regularly. I owe my good friend Mr. V a debt of gratitude on this point, as without his help & support I probably wouldn’t have. I have experienced my best overall fitness and weight-loss results in the past during stretches of regularly attending gym, and it will once again be key for me now. I lift weights M-W-F mornings, and have been doing so for a couple months now. I am starting to very noticeably see & feel results. Once my body weight (read: fat loss) truly comes into its own, my efforts will become gradually¬†more visible, as an overall body transformation is occurring.
  • I’m going to turn again to running, although, as before, it will never be something I pursue as fondly (or enjoy nearly as much!) as cycling. I have intentions to run-walk perhaps 2-3 5k’s before the end of this running season. I haven’t yet began running training; intention is to lose weight & improve fitness for another few weeks and then start running training. My friend Mrs. K, with whom I completed my first (and thus far only) ever run-walk 5k (post here), has committed to doing one 5k with me over the next few months.
  • I’ve still not yet returned to consistent randoing. I DID get in one, single, rando ride since the last update – I rode the Old KC Road 100-km (62 mile) route in mid-May, finishing it with (for me) a pretty solid time of 5:40. As I noted in the April 1 post, though, I am deliberately not going to return to rando until I feel confident that I am ready to treat it with the seriousness and respect that it deserves. I’ve stayed in contact with my friend, Ron A, whom I view as my rando mentor, and have assured him I won’t return till I am ready to return. No more treating rando like a casual weekend ride, in which you can go however far you want, skip a ride if you want, etc. Once you commit to a ride, you finish the ride. And that’s where I will be again, in time. My current thinking is to resume (minimally at first, and with increasing intensity) RUSA riding either sometime this month (August) or next, September. I won’t (initially, at least) go nuts and want to do 400+ km per month (which I was aiming for pre my “alienation” from riding), but rather, I will content myself at least initially with a single 100-km ride per month, building toward a P-12 (again).

Which brings me to the next point. Yes, I realize that given my current situation, this goal seems almost laughable, but I am going to give everything I have to achieve it. I am going to ride the 2017 occurrence of London-Edinburgh-London.

For my non-cycling friends: London-Edinburgh-London (LEL) is one of the two biggest rando events in the world. It takes place in late July every 4 years, and is a 1400-km (~870 miles) bike ride from London, England, to Edinburgh, and back.

Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) is the “other” huge rando event (it’s quite a bit more well known, and has a bigger attendance), and is 1200 km (~745 miles). PBP also happens every 4 years.

However, with the next PBP being NEXT YEAR (i.e. one year off), and the next LEL being 3 years away, any wild dreams of my riding in PBP are completely unthinkable. Even LEL would be an incredible accomplishment for me, and it’s a full 3 years of work away.

With that bombshell of a goal announcement, I’m back to blogging, and will carry on as though the past year of backward progress had not even occurred.

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” – Erma Bombeck