Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Neil Armstrong, Halfway There


Today is one of those big days for me.

You know the ones I mean.

This is one of those days when something monumental has happened.  I'm not talking about getting a package you've been waiting on, or your favorite show is back on the air after a long hiatus. I'm talking about one of those days that's going to stick with you for the rest of your life because it represents something huge and noteworthy in your personal story.

This morning, I stepped on the scale and it read 350.

As of this morning, I have lost 125 pounds from my highest weight.

As of this morning, I am now halfway to my goal weight of 225.

I was so thrilled when I saw the scale settle exactly on 350.0, because I knew this was going to be a great day. I told H and I did the truffle shuffle all over the kitchen out of giddy, stompy joy.  It's been so long, and I'm getting so tired.. but I'm halfway there.  I know it's going to get hard now, and it's going to test me SO MUCH more than it has already before it's over...

 ... but I'm halfway there.

I came to work, bouncing in my shoes, itching to share my good news. I practically ran to the offices when I heard the voice of one of my friends in the hallway so I could tell her the news.

She couldn't have cared less.

No one cared, actually. People are sick of hearing about it. I tried to tell coworkers and based on their reactions, I shut the door to my office and buried myself in work.

I was hurt. My god, I was hurt.

I know the world isn't all about me. I know I'm not the center. But I just wanted my friends and coworkers to share in My Day. This is like a graduation, or closing on your home, or any number of huge adult achievements we all share from time to time. We share those experiences with our friends so they can leap for joy with us.

Here's the kicker.  They're sick of hearing about it.  I agree with them.  I'm sick of it too. I'm tired of the journey. I'm tired of putting my head down and forcing out another 10 pounds; another 10 minutes on the elliptical, another 10 miles on the bike.

Neil Armstrong  was the first human to set foot on the moon.

When he got there and took that first step, his journey was only halfway over... just like mine. Like me, I'll bet he was tired, scared, euphoric, and dying for someone to share the experience with.

The hardest part of the journey was over; now it was time to take in the view and pause for some reflection. He still had to get home alive, but at that moment, I doubt he was worrying about that very much. 
I don't expect the world to celebrate my accomplishment like it did his, but I'm not going to let the fact that the world doesn't give a damn about one fat man's halfway point diminish my sense of accomplishment at what I've managed to do, because I didn't do it for the world.

I did it for H4rpy, and I did it for me.

To my friends who know and DO care: I love you. I really do, and you know it.

To my friends who don't care: I'm not stopping. I get that it's an uncomfortable subject, and I will stop talking about it with you, because I DO respect you and I love you as well. I'm just sad that you're not coming with me anymore.

I'm sad I'm going to have to leave some people behind with the other 125 pounds of junk weight as I blast off from the moon and head home. There's still danger and my mission can still fail, but in a way, the hardest part is over. Even if I crash and burn, I'll still land.

I may not have walked on the moon, but for a little while today, I felt like I could have. I'm never going to let myself forget that feeling.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Motivation, Will, and a Little NSV

I'm coming up on one of my milestone goals.
I arbitrarily set them every 25lbs, so I'd have 10 "Milestones" on my total journey from 475 to 225. I'm getting close to 350, which is the halfway point. I guess that makes this a MILESTONE GOAL instead of a milestone goal.
I'd been told, have read, and heard many times that this is where things will start to get hard.  That's accurate.  It IS starting to get hard. The aches and pains are becoming a little more pronounced at times. That nagging feeling in my lumbar nags a little louder than before. Some gym days are exercises in pure willpower to get dressed after work and go to the gym when I really don't want to.
It's not because I'm tired. I'm not.

It's not because I'm hurting. I've dealt with pain for much of my life, I'm used to it and don't let it dictate what I can and can't do.
It's worse.
It's because... it's working. I know that doesn't make sense.. let me try to explain.
When I started work at my current job two and a half years ago, I bought some new clothes. I had worked in an industrial office environment and now was working in a more formal office environment. I bought slacks, shoes, shirts.. you name it.  The shirts were 4XLT (4x Extra Large, Tall) shirts. I'm NOT tall but I needed the extra length so the shirt was long enough to tuck into my pants after making the Magellanic circumnavigation around my enormous gut.
They're great shirts- they were priced well, look good, and have held up to daily use for 30+ months.
... but they don't fit anymore. I've lost almost 125 pounds since I bought them, and they fit me like a 55 gallon Hefty garbage bag fits a kitchen trash can. So at H4rpy's prodding, I bought a pair of new shirts.  I had been waiting, because I wanted to get two sizes down- I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on 3x shirts that hopefully won't fit for more than a few months.
But 2X? The last time I wore 2X shirts, I was in pretty good shape from a muscular standpoint, I was 26 years old instead of 36, and I weighed 260 instead of 360. "There's no way," I thought. 
 H4rpy insisted I should get them, because if they don't fit perfectly now, they will soon, and I'll get years of use out of them. She was quite right, so I ordered two shirts to test.
They fit.
I don't mean I could squeeze into them and they're strained. I mean they fit. They fit properly.
I weigh 360 pounds and have a gut the size of the Death Star, but I've managed to burn off enough fat and add enough muscle to my body that I fit into a 2XL (note: NOT a 2XL Tall- just plain old 2XL) shirt and have it look right.
Do you know what this means? 

I can go clothes shopping in normal stores again.


 This is a huge victory. This is one of those life moments where it all starts to pay off, and you see the results becoming real for the first time.
It's the perfect time for the voice of Self Sabotage to speak up from the shadows of my psyche, needling me just when I'm feeling good, when I'm at my most vulnerable, when I think I really CAN do this, reminding me that I really SHOUDLN'T feel good.

"You've made it, big guy... so take it easy! Slow down, you've beaten me.. I yield! You don't need to keep doing this to yourself! Take a day off, rest a bit.. hell, have a treat! You know you've earned it, right?"


 My response is thus:

&@#% the voice in my head, and !#@% 2XL shirts.


I'm done when I say I'm done, not when my insecurities tell me "It's Good Enough."
The voice in my head can piss off, because I've got lifting to do and miles to ride before this is over, and I'm the one who decides when the train stops.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Birthdays and Bicycles - Part 2

There was a little more of a gap between Part One and Part Two than I would have liked.
 As I mentioned in Part One, I was concerned about going into a local bike shop and being told (politely or not) that they wouldn't be able to help me. I'm still a magnificently fat bastard, after all- 365 pounds is nothing to sneeze at, even if it IS a hundred+ less than my peak weight. That overwhelming fear of rejection and ridicule drove so much of my day that it was kind of shocking to have it rear its head so strongly again. It DOES still influence me deeply, and honestly, I am quite sure it always will. There will always be a little voice that says "You're the picture people see when they think "Well at least I'm not as bad as THAT ONE GUY." You're the Worst Case Scenario." That's better than it was (seriously; I leave the house willingly now. I go shopping and walk the streets without prodding or bribery from H4rpy), but I have a lot of work to do still.

 Anyway.


I was being a complete dumbass. 365 pounds of pure, Grade AAA, All American, Corn-Fed DumbAss. I knew I was. H knew I was. You ALL knew I was. So I told The Little Voice that I was going to sack up and do this, and if he didn't like it, he could suck on a teabag.
We made the drive to Oklahoma City and were at the bike shop for all of 30 seconds before the owner we were supposed to meet came right out and greeted us. It was probably all of 120 seconds later (after a few questions to make sure he had his numbers right) that he led us over to a couple of bikes that he thought would do the job. I gravitated strongly towards one in particular, largely because of some options it had that I knew I wanted in my next bike (disc brakes and lever shifters, plus a better gearing ratio. I knew I wanted a hybrid because I was going to be mostly on the road, but I can't handle the riding posture of a true road bike yet.)
He talked with us about the bike (a 2014 Giant Roam 2) for another 10 minutes or so while his crew got one ready for me to test ride (the one on the floor was a large frame, and he thought I would benefit from a medium frame since I have short legs but a very long torso.)(He was quite right.) I knew as soon as I saw it that it was the one- the price was right, the size was right, and it was a huge upgrade over what I had, but not a jump all the way to top-of-the-line (with the price jump that would entail.)
Once the bike was ready, we took it outside and I hopped on for a test ride. H saw the smile on my face and that was it- we knew we were coming home with it.
 photo 2013-09-21150008.jpg
So for the last week I've been an insatiable monster, wanting to ride the new bike everywhere. No matter how much my ass screams about the tiny new seat, I scream back louder: "YOU WILL GET USED TO IT, ASS." I feel like I'm cheating, because it's so easy to ride and I can go so much faster than I could on my Schwinn (better gearing and larger tires.)
 After having it for a week, I decided it was time to give the Schwinn an overhaul.
 photo 2010-07-19154001.jpg
The Blue Bomber (and its sister, pictured above shortly after we bought them) has a fair number of miles on it, badly out of adjustment brakes, a broken spoke, an out of round rear wheel, and generally just needed a lot of love. So I spent most of this last Saturday working on it. I taught myself how to disassemble the rear freewheel, remove the cassette, install and properly tighten a new spoke, retrue wheels, etc etc etc. After I was all done, it was time to go for a test ride to make sure I didn't ruin anything.

Something unexpected happened.

I fell in love with the Schwin again.


Don't get me wrong. The Giant stays, and it will indeed get the lion's share of my Ass->Seat time. But riding the Schwinn after riding the Giant for a week made the differences between the two immediately, SCREAMINGLY apparent. The Schwinn is indeed a comfort bike. It rides like a cloud, soaks up every bump, goes slow, handles like a tank, and is perfect for a leisurely cruise to the store to get some milk, or for a jaunt with H. It felt good to ride the Schwinn again- the Giant made me appreciate all the things that felt the same between them, all the things that were RIGHT about my Blue Bomber, and now I realize I didn't just get a new bike for my birthday.
H got me two new bikes- the one I always had and had forgotten about, and the new one from the store. I love them both and I'm going to use them both.

In the next 12-24 months, those two bikes are going to take me down to 200 pounds.

That's what H gave me for my birthday, and I love her for it. 


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Birthdays and Bicycles - Part 1

There are two things I wanted to write a bit about this week, and they're kind of related. My beloved H4rpy (I know it's weird to say that someone you call "Harpy" is beloved, but that's another blog) is participating in a 6 week challenge where you set your own goals and win warm fuzzies for completing them. One of her goals is to ride 60 miles over the course of that 6 weeks. That's not a huge distance for experienced riders, but H is just gearing up to get serious about it now.

That challenge started this week, so we've been going on medium distance rides (7-8 miles) out to the edge of town and back. She's learning about gearing and how to tackle inclines and how to share the road with not-always-observant drivers. It's amazing what just a couple of extra 1 hour bike sessions a week do for you (and TO you), both physically and mentally. The whoops of joy as she found top gear and pushed down the road at a maintained 18mph for a mile long stretch was music to my ears and made the pain of the ride back (20 mph cold headwind, and even 100lbs down, I'm still more like a sail than a beanpole, so ANY wind causes me to have to work a lot harder) so very much worth it.
So H is riding now and we're both loving it. We do pretty much everything together, but this was one fitness activity that we'd kind of grown apart on, and for us to both be doing it feels very right.
 Our bikes are nothing special- they're nicely built Schwinn Link series comfort bikes picked up at The Great Blue Satan (aka WalMart) back in 2010. We got them somewhat on a lark:
I had come home from a trip to Colorado where my mother had passed away. As my stepfather, my sister, and I were going through things he mentioned that her bikes would need to find a new home. She and he were avid riders and had very nice equipment. At the time I hadn't ridden in years, and I had no way of getting her road and mountain bikes home. I couldn't use them, and I wasn't sure H would want them, so I declined. I kick myself about that to this day- not because of the quality equipment, but because they were hers. Grief makes people do stupid things!
So I came home with things and started learning how to live again.
A month later, H and I were shopping at the aforementioned Satan and I saw all the bikes at the store. I mentioned how I could have brought my mother's home for her and she lit up happily at the idea. We kicked around the idea a bit and the next thing you know, we bought a pair right there, took them home, and rode for the first time in years... in the middle of one of the worst summers in Oklahoma in the last 50 years, in the middle of the day, in the middle of July. We didn't make it very far!
 Anyway, the point of all this is that our bikes were chosen on a whim based on what we thought would work. At the time I wasn't yet at my heaviest weight, and H was carrying more than now as well. It amazes me that the poor thing could even hold me up without breaking spokes- we got lucky and actually picked one that could hold me without knowing any better.
So the years and the miles began tacking on. The particular bike I had chosen was not assembled with great care, so it had some problems at the start. Never one to be afraid of disassembling things I know nothing about, I wrenched in and did my best to repair everything, with general success. Then I had my first run-in with a texting driver, and I ended up in a ditch with a banged up bike and blood all over me. I managed to make it home and patched my bike and myself up and resumed riding a few days later, only to find that there was actual serious damage to my bike (the crankshaft sheared into 2 pieces), so we had to take it to the nearest LBS (Local Bike Shop), which is 40 miles away and is so busy they need a week or more to fix even small problems.
 Over the course of the 3 years I've had my Blue Bomber, I've had 3 accidents (2 due to texting drivers, 1 due to malfunction) but none have been especially serious after the first. The bike has held up well, but I can tell the miles and the strain of carrying 470lbs, then 400lbs, now 365lbs on a bike designed to carry no more than 300 or so is adding up. I intend to ride it until the frame starts to split, but here's where the wrinkle comes in...
...my birthday is coming and H wants to do something nice for me.
She wants to get me a new bike so I have two in case one goes out of action for a while, and so I have a fancier, shinier one than my Blue Bomber.
I'm more than a little freaked out at entering an actual bike shop to buy a new one, especially one run by a pro rider, when I have heard and read so many horror stories about people being told to leave and "come back when you weigh 200lbs." She has a contact who we've been assured is wonderful and kind and won't do that at all, but I still freak a bit a the thought of being told "Nope, sorry mate, you're just too damn fat. We don't have anything that can hold you." (Having to drive an hour and a half to Oklahoma City to be told that, then coming home empty handed, would be further sauce for the goose.)
So, we will see how that plays out- we might go up today, or perhaps Monday. More to come on that front.
So there's part 1 of the bicycle chapter. Part 2 and the birthday chapter will come soon.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

See the Incredible Shrinking Man!

Below is a cut and paste of my first forum post on MFP, made as I approached my 6 month mark with the site and community. I have come to realize that while I may well be able to do this on my own (with H's support, of course), why should I? We don't live in bubbles- our lives create ripples that shape and guide those around us, as we are shaped and guided by them.

So I decided to post and see if I could make some ripples.

I  then decided this morning that a proper narrative to keep track of my progress would be useful later, even if only to remember the journey when I look back. I wish I'd noted things down earlier, but we're still early enough on that not too much has been lost.

I can't promise it will be entertaining, or frankly, even worth your time.. but it feels important for me to do it, so I am going to.

When I'm at goal and feel like a new man, I don't ever want to lose sight the man who started the journey.
[BEGIN FORUM POST] 
Hello, fellow MFP'ers! 

I began my journey to get down to a healthy weight a couple of years ago. I was kind of watching what I ate, but that time was really about starting the long process of becoming mentally ready to REALLY change my life. My wife was going through the process with me. She really is the driving force behind a lot of this, and she's a MFP'er as well (H4rpy.) 

Well, after a while, I'd lost about 50 pounds, going from a monolithic 475 pounds down to 425, but I was stuck there and going nowhere fast. H was also stalled out, and one morning, we were both ready to get serious. We joined MFP in March '13 and never looked back. We got used to measuring our portions, and controlling what we ate instead of it controlling us, and 3 months later (now June '13,) we joined a gym. 

I'd spent a fair amount of time in weight training in college, so as we got used to going to the gym together, we ended up on a lifting program that we both like and works well with our schedule. 

I was hopeful I'd be able to say I'd lost a hundred pounds by my birthday (Sept 22nd), and much to my surprise, I blew through that goal about two weeks ago. I'm elated about that, but also very aware of the fact that I still have somewhere around 150-175 pounds still to go, and that it's going to get harder with each pound lost. That's where the MFP community comes in! 

I like to think I have good willpower and I won't falter between now and when I get to my goal. I know my wife will do everything she can to keep me motivated and encouraged, just like I will to her. 

I want insurance! I want some more MFP friends to keep me honest and keep me on track as these coming weeks turn to months, and the months to year(s) to get me to my goal, and then to maintain it once I get there. 

So if you want a MFP friend to share in your victories and help lift you through your setbacks, or if you just want to watch and see if a quarter-ton man can become a 200lb man the long, hard, slow way... send a request! I'd love to hear from you all. :)