A couple of years ago, out of shape and depressed, I started riding my mountain bike and was startled to realize how much I enjoyed the experience. I was 306 pounds at the time and started with a leisurely 1 mile journey to work every morning. It wasn’t long until I was bombing up and down local skidder trails and logging roads and after four months, or so I had reduced my weight by almost 50 pounds. I was happy, in good enough shape to backpack (my favorite activity) and suffering fewer of the aches and pains that come with aging (I’m 44 now). We had a mild winter that year, and my biking daily began in January and lasted until almost June. By June I was riding 8 miles to work (I had developed a “course” through town), and up to 23 miles on other outings, but it had started getting too warm and I was a swampy mess when I would get to work. I started to scale back my morning workout and, because I don’t tolerate the heat very well, I chose not to torture myself under the oppressing afternoon sun. While I still rode my bike every day, I wasn’t pushing myself to stay in shape.
In July my wife and I discovered that we were expecting. We had been trying to conceive for a couple of years and I had given up hope that we would get pregnant. I was making the case to adopt. Having been adopted myself, I felt like I had a unique perspective on the mind of the adoptee and that my experience could be a great be benefit the psychological growth of an adopted son/daughter. My wife’s pregnancy put an end to the adoption talk.
I spent time researching what to expect with a pregnant wife and how to handle being a first time parent. I had an idea of what was coming, but the truth is – nothing can prepare you for pregnancy or fatherhood other than the experience itself. Even though my wife doesn’t read this blog, I endeavor to be as delicate as possible when broaching this subject because it’s always easiest to place blame on the other when you are in a relationship. I had difficulty dealing with the changes that were happening with my wife during and after the pregnancy. I won’t go into details, but simply acknowledge that I often struggled to find a good balance of nurturing her growing needs and giving her space to grow with the changes in our life. I think I tended towards “hovering,” because I wanted to be near her and supportive at all times. I sacrificed myself in many ways when it wasn’t called for and I let myself go in the process. Over the last 21 months I stopped riding and began eating in excess to deal with stress of life. While basking in the glory of bringing a beautiful new life into the world, I was also falling into a darkness and finding myself overwhelmed with family matters that were out of my control. I knew I had gained most of my weight back, if not more but was afraid to step on the scale to see.
It has been a long winter, and I had been mentally preparing myself to begin the painful journey of getting into shape again. The first break in the weather came a couple of weeks ago, so I hopped on my 2004 Diamondback XSL Trail and started pedaling myself to work with the idea that I would commute to work in the morning and take a longer trip after work. Unfortunately, 1000 feet from my house, I heard a “pop” and my tire started rubbing against the frame. I hopped off the bike to inspect and found my frame fractured in two locations. The bike had died on pavement at 6 miles an hour. I was slightly dejected, but felt fortunate that the frame didn’t break while flying down a hill on an isolated forest road. A wreck at 30 miles an hour could have been horrific.
Fast forward a couple of weeks: I have purchased a new mountain bike. This one is a Trek X-Caliber 7. It’s not full suspension, which is hard on the tail (my butt hurts a little), but it has bigger tires than a standard bike and the larger surface area allows the bike to naturally absorb some of the bumps on trail. I am really out of shape. I weighed myself on Saturday: 320 pounds. It’s Wednesday and I am already down to 307.2. I carry my weight well at 6 foot five inches, but my ideal weight is about 220. So, that’s my goal. I don’t care how long it takes to get me there. A year, or two would be fine. My goal is to finish my life with good health. I want to see my son through his 30’s if possible and help him succeed when life gets difficult. It’s going to take a concerted effort to push through summers (when I usually get lazy) and to motivate myself through the winter months (gym time when I can’t ride a bike). My diet usually falls in line with my physical activity. I eat less when I am happy and working out releases endorphins that keep me happy.
I use the strava app on my phone to track distance and time. I live quite close to work (about 1/3 of a mile) and have difficulty getting out early, as I am always running behind in the morning. I ride my bike to work, but only have enough time to get ½ a mile to a mile in. I have given myself a half an hour ride after work. This allows me a decent chance at some cardiovascular activity and I am home early enough to get my son out of Marie’s hair while she finishes making dinner. Monday I was able to go 3.7 miles and yesterday I did 4.4 miles.
Even though I have dead legs, I am very much looking forward to my post-work ride this evening…