Category Archives: Fitness

The Dark is a great training buddy.

Published / by Tim

It is February. The annual Spring teaser is in full effect here in Oregon. It is wonderful being outside to work, play, train, write and enjoy the sun and its warmth. I feel that it’s time to start thinking seriously about the bike rides that I have planned.

It’s no big deal to jump on the bike and ride 20 miles. Almost anyone can do 20 miles. Besides being sore, they will probably manage to get out of bed the next day and not die. Running out and doing 60 miles (to me at least) is another story. Now that I have started the crazy talk about 100, or 130 or 170 mile rides, I think I better get serious about training.

I don’t see myself as an “athlete”. Bradley Wiggins is an athlete. Mark Cavendish is an athlete. I am a middle-aged dude who likes to ride his bike with his friends. Even though I’m not an “athlete” I’m a smart guy and from my experiences I’ve determined that this whole training thing is all about:

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I have been riding outside since the middle of January and many times I have been riding in the dark. I have noticed, riding up hills that usually pose a struggle in the daylight, tend to be easier in the dark. It seems that not “seeing” the hill, makes climbing the hill easier. I would not say that riding in the dark makes me faster. Rather, my mind is less able to mess with the rest of my body when it is blind to what’s up ahead.

The mind is a powerful persuader. When my mind has “visual” data to share with my heart, lungs and legs, it’s skilled at convincing them that they are supposed to be completely whipped at the slightest hint of a hill. If the brain can’t actually “see” the hill, the other parts have a much easier time ignoring it’s whining and moaning. The trick is to be able to simulate the dark in my mind even when the sun is shining. If I can convince my brain not to see hills, I think my overall riding can improve greatly. I have to convince my brain and the rest of my body, there is no hill. It’s all an issue of mind over matter.

That being said, the first battle to win is simply showing up. Having an event on the horizon is a great motivator. My first event ride is April 28. The ride is the Monster Cookie Metric, sponsored by the Salem Bicycle Club. This ride begins and ends at the State Capitol mall and takes cyclists out through the countryside to the north. The turnaround is Champoeg State park. It is, by all accounts, a lovely 62 mile ride. The motivation that drives me is not just finishing the ride, but having the fitness to ride it happily and without fear of failure. Training will get me there.

Getting a grip…

Published / by Tim / 3 Comments on Getting a grip…

This is a continuation of my last post, if you didn’t read the first post, you can go HERE to do so…

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TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIX point SIX POUNDS ???

Yeah! Holy crap! Right?

And so there I am, about to cry, craving a coke to make it all feel better and realizing I am in a sort of pickle. Gaining weight took NO effort. I ate. I sat around. I grew. I knew, however, based on everything I’d seen, heard, read and done… losing weight takes effort and lots of it. HOW DID MY LIFE COME TO THIS?

I always have this feeling that people are reading this and thinking, “This guy is such a pig. How does a human being do that?” or “Poor fat slob… deserves everything he gets.” or “256.6? EEEEwwww!!!” I have that feeling, because it’s what I thought. My perception was that I was this fat, flabby, piglike pile of lipids and goo with no friends and no life and no one liked me…. WHAAAAA!!!! I pouted.

Pouting didn’t help. A week went by and the scale didn’t budge an inch. I recall a Friday rolling around and it was clear, warm, pleasant. I’d been messing around with riding the bike, but I had never really gone very far, very fast or with any real purpose. I threw a leg over and took off. I rode 5.7 miles. The next day I did it again. Sunday I did it again and then I realized that when you don’t ride consistently, there are anatomical structures that need time to adjust to the curious demands of bicycling. I took a day off, but really missed being on the bike. So it became something I looked forward to.

I didn’t lose any weight though. I felt stronger. I could breathe easier but the weight just stayed. Exercise is frustrating when you don’t see any change. I did start to listen to people who were saying, “Have you lost weight?” I wasn’t but people thought I was. Weird. Then I realized I felt stronger… and it occurred to me that perhaps muscle was replacing fat… which isn’t a bad thing.

I kept riding and stopped watching the scale. One week. Two weeks. Then, one morning, I was standing there waiting for the shower to warm up and saw the scale. I stepped on. It flashed and flashed and then said…. 250.8. It was a good morning.

I have ridden, gotten lazy, lifted weights, gotten lazy, taken long breaks, ridden some more and I’m losing weight slowly but surely. So there are some things I’ve learned.

Weight is one of those things that can be all-consuming and it shouldn’t be. I have the most success when I am riding regularly and not stressing about how I look or what the scale says. It really boils down to being sensible.

I’ve learned that consistency is a key. Consistently riding (or just being active), eating and resting make the most difference over time.

Ultimately the greatest things I have learned is that if I can set my mind to something I can accomplish the thing i set my mind to. Where there is a will, there is a way. And I have really great friends who love and respect who I am no matter what I look like. That’s pretty important as the story continues to unfold. More on that another time.

Health and fitness?

Published / by Tim / 1 Comment on Health and fitness?

When everything you think you should write about scares you to write about, what should you write about? Yes, that’s what has been banging around in my brainpan this week. I have all these ideas, but they require vulnerability and a willingness to reveal some weakness I have. This week, being “open” doesn’t really set well with me.

So after a lengthy internal debate, I’ve decided I will begin to tell you about my exercise and fitness… struggles… adventures…. dilemmas… whatever you want to call them. I’m not “excited” to share this, but I think the story is getting better. So, here we go…

When I was in high school (every fitness story seems to start in high school) I was a soccer player. My high school was small. To field a team we needed 11 boys. We had 11. This meant that we all ran our guts out almost all of the time, whether we were practicing or playing a game. I was probably in the best shape of my life at that time. I have always been heavy framed. Which is not to say fat, but even when I was very lean, I was not “skinny”. I weighed 175 lbs and was in good health. I drank too much coke.

College rolled around and I got married. My wife is a good cook. I ate well and stayed around 180 lbs. I walked or bicycled all over the place in college so I got enough exercise to keep my soda pop habit from taking over my midsection. I remained in decent shape through college.

I graduated and got a job teaching and started making a good living wage. We did not have children and we were pretty active. Having a good job meant that we could buy “better” groceries, Tillamook ice cream, and real Coca-cola. It was at this time in my life that I really started gaining weight. Teaching, while keeping me mentally challenged, had me slowing way down. Even when I was moving around the classroom, it was not strenuous. I didn’t walk as much and I never rode my bike any more. 4 years in I weighed 220 lbs. Then we had kids.

It’s a strange thing that happens when people decide to have children. Eating is important for the mother. My wife is a healthy eater. She eats veggies, salads, lean meats and she is skinny. I ate more too. Sympathy? I don’t know. but I gained a few more pounds and the baby arrived. I was still teaching all day and sitting grading 8th grade essays in the evenings. Between the sitting and snacking while I was grading, I grew to 235 lbs. I knew I was getting fat at that time and it was frustrating… but not enough to move me to action.

Me (256 lbs)

Me in white @ 256 lbs.

I taught for several more years. We had a second child and I got a master’s degree. Going back to school kind of did me in. I was either reading, writing or grading papers during most of my free time.  With the reading, writing and grading came glasses of soda and cookies or other munchies. I knew I needed to be more active so I tried golf, but it was frustrating. My bike sat in the garage unused and deteriorating. I was plumping up. And then I took an office job.

The office job meant that I switched to drinking coffee as it was in good supply at work. Drinking coffee, in and of itself, isn’t horrible. The problematic part is, the perfect complement to coffee is a pastry. Sweet pastries and doughnuts seemed to show up in the office with some regularity. A coffee and a maple bar were a great way to start a fun-filled day of meetings and paperwork. It was during this time that I also discovered beer.

One thing led to another, I became a school principal and one day I woke up feeling horrible, looked in the mirror and I was horrified. There was a fat old man looking back at me. I decided to get out the scale and see what the damage was. The scale broke which was a bad omen. I purchased a new scale and it revealed that I weighed 256 lbs. (the heaviest I have ever been) It was a sad and sobering moment. I was sick, tired, fat, and unhealthy. I had all sorts of bad eating habits and I didn’t really feel like being active. I stood there with tears streaming and a craving a coke. I knew something had to change. That was 18 months ago.

To be continued—