Monday, March 31, 2008

Enough with the fat already
Welcome back to another scintillating update about my adventures in cycling and raising funds to fight cancer. Over the past three years many of you have read my tales of cycling challenges and mishaps. Since many of the folks that read this update do not, will not, and never plan to get on a bicycle they can barely relate to the absurdity of the experiences. Well today I decided to write about an absurd experience that many, if not all of us, can relate to... dieting.

For the past three years I've always made it a challenge to lose weight to get in shape to do the Death Ride. You see it's a simple physical fact that the more you weigh, the more work you have to do to get your bulk over 5 mountains. I was always envious of the 150 pound guys that glided by to finish hours ahead of me. Sure I thought about pelting them with the Ding Dongs or Twinkies I happened to be eating at the time, but my mom taught me never to waste food. Heck, I was envious of the 190 pound guys.

Every year I would start my Death Ride preparation with the all important diet. My approach to dieting is very sophisticated - eat less, exercise more. I figure if I simply increased my expenditures and decreased my intake, that the balance would take care of itself. Unfortunately I applied this approach to my money management philosophy and had disastrous results. If such an approach worked on cash it could certainly work on fat. So I carefully measured out what I ate. I was a regular consumer of low fat salad dressing, diet sodas, fish, vegetables, etc. When that didn't yield the results I was looking for, I tried various published diets like Atkins, Fatkins, South Beach, North Beach, and China Beach and they all helped me reduce weight but they all had their limitations.

It seems there was a weight that I could not get beyond - 200 pounds (or as l like to think about it, one tenth of a ton) I would lose weight to get to 201 but it never seemed to last. I'd get close and a few weeks later I'd be back up to 208. Which reminds me, why is it so hard to lose weight when you can easily gain 2 or 3 pounds in a weekend. Clearly this is the dieter's curse. Anyway, I felt like Chuck Yeager trying to break the sound barrier, only it was my pound barrier. I wrote last year about my fancy scale that tells me how old I am based on my height, weight, and body fat percentage. It has never been a friendly scale. To refresh your memory, or to save you the time of looking it up, my scale would tell me that I was in my 50s when clearly my drivers license told me otherwise. So I never got much slimmer and I never got any younger.

This year I took a more reasonable approach, I asked for help. I was so determined to break the pound barrier that I hired a nutrition coach. My coach, Kim, is as fine an individual as you'll ever meet. Just don't be caught eating junk food around her, then you'll catch hell. Kim is a certified nutritionist and a coach for professional bike racers. Her specialty is helping brides-to-be lose weight to get into their wedding dresses. I figured she was perfect for me.

The first thing Kim did is she had me keep a diary of everything I ate and drank. (I was thankful she didn't do an analysis of my...ahem...leavings... that apparently costs a lot extra.) Then after a week of detailed food tracking she took the information, entered into some fancy analysis program and scheduled a review.

We met at a restaurant for lunch. I ordered my usual fare of a sandwich and an ice tea. Over lunch she proceeded to explain that I really shouldn't be eating the junk I ordered for lunch. I felt shame, so did the waitress. Kim's words are still ringing in my ears -- she said, "You are on what I call a high-calorie starvation diet." Pretty much everything I ate was wrong. I learned that my morning bagels, afternoon coffee, occasional energy drinks, diet sodas, dinners of pasta and various meats with occasional vegetables, were effectively a high-calorie melange of crap.

Then she told me the most unusual news. I needed to start eating like my ancestors. I don't mean eating outside in the dirt. That's probably going too far back in my lineage. Of course my mom will tell you that her ancestors never ate in the dirt...but I digress. What she meant was that I should stop eating processed food and poor quality meats. So my diet went from the supposedly healthy habits of eating diet this and low-cal that to eating natural things like food cooked with butter. I went from drinking non-fat cappuccinos to drinking them with whole milk. She even let me eat bacon! Wonderful bacon! The one thing she did have me eliminate was gluten. Gluten comes in all forms of wheat products like bread and pasta.

One would think that with a diet of natural fats, fresh vegetables, and meat without antibiotics that I wouldn't fare better than previous diets. I'm pleased to say that the coach knows what she's talking about. On March 22nd, much like Chuck Yeager, I broke the pound barrier and I'm finally below 200 pounds. I still have a way to go, but considering that a couple years ago I was at a whopping 230 pounds, I'm happy to be headed in the right direction. Want to know all about the diet? Drop me a line and I'll tell you everything I know and refer you to Kim if you're interested.

So check out the picture of my fancy scale. The number you see is the age that my scale says I am. Of course the first picture I took was taken from too high and you would see too much Steve and not enough scale. Here is the PG version of the picture. And I know, those are some good looking feet.

About those raffle tickets
I still have plenty of tickets available and we're getting new stuff in the raffle. Check out the awards at this link Of the many cool entries there is a priceless handmade quilt. So if you're interested in raffle tickets contact me at my gmail address. If you have an item to donate you can also drop me a line.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Back in the Game
Well it took me a while to get back on the bike, but with some trepidation and a significant outlay of cash I've completed two rides. I was off the bike for two weeks and wasn't in too much hurry to get back on. Fortunately my son, Rob, came to the rescue.

For his birthday he wanted to do something he'd never done before. This is a typical birthday request since the kids were young. Usually we go someplace to see something new. For this birthday he said he wanted to ride his bike to the top of Mt. Diablo with his ol' pop (i.e. me) Well this presented a bit of a dilemma since it was only a little over a week after the crash. Of course, I did the only responsible thing - I said "What time are we rolling?"

So two weeks after the crash, on a very cold and windy morning, I donned my trusty Cal cycling jersey, my son wore his Lucky Bicycles jersey, we started our assault on Mt. Diablo. I'm sure the emergency room doctor that treated me after the crash would have voiced a bit of displeasure. Nonetheless, family before fate, we clicked in and started our ride.

The first thing I realized was that I was hyper-aware of every pothole, crack, and bump in the road. I found that I was gripping the handlebars a little tighter than usual. Maybe the cars passing by would take my mind off of the expectation of crashing... nope that doesn't work either.

So the lad and I started talking about assorted topics from his ne'er-do-well friends, summer jobs, and cycling. Before long we were on the lower slopes of the mountain and we were joined by my friend Kim. Kim said my crash scars looked to be healing well and we talked about how well Rob was riding. Kim said that it looked like Rob could pretty much "clean my clock" on a climb. She said, I should be thankful he doesn't challenge me to race for another Xbox. (Rob beat me once up a hill by our house a couple years ago and I had to buy him an Xbox as a payoff to a boastful fatherly claim.)

Kim left us at the halfway point while Rob and I continued to the top. Along the steep upper mountain, I told Rob that you only need to focus on the next turn or waypoint. That way you don't get bogged down with thinking about the monumental task ahead of you. Before we knew it, we were cresting the summit of the mountain. My wife Sherri, our daughter Emily and Emily's boyfriend Jimmy met us at the top with a picnic lunch. As we sat in the chilly wind, I realized that all the trepidation I had was forgotten. So my son got his birthday wish and I was back in the saddle. That was a pretty good way to get back on top.

So How About Some Raffle Tickets?
As I mentioned in previous emails, I'm raising money for the team by selling raffle tickets. We're giving away some very cool prizes - handheld computers, dinners, bike paraphernalia, lubricant, and even meat! Check it out I'm not joking
If you'd like donate something or if you want to buy tickets drop me an email to this address .