Thursday, November 14, 2013

Losing or Gaining Weight... One Choice At A Time.

The kids lining up for a ride!
"Pick me! Pick me!"

In the few weeks since my last post, I have done one thing in particular... ride my bike.  I have ridden a lot.  Not always a lot on one day, but often.  I have gotten back into the habit and tonight when I decided I would err on the side of caution and take a rest day, I felt like I had forgotten to brush my teeth.  Something was missing.  I wasn't freaking out or jonesin' to ride, just that I hadn't done something that is a part of my normal daily routine.

I've been thinking about this and how, after a while, things become a lifestyle.  It becomes part of your identity.  People who have known me for a long time remember when this wasn't a lifestyle.  Some remember the shift in focus, the often turbulent change that took place in my (very thick) skull.  But most?  Most can't even imagine me any other way.  They identify me as a small person, fit, feisty, and active.  For me, the transformation has not been nearly so complete... or has it.
This picture was taken in Michigan while braiding.
Here I was roughly 215 lbs, 20 less than my lifetime high weight.
I am not tall (see photo below for evidence of shortness).  That weight on my was crushing.
I was miserable, felt like hell, and avoided mirrors like the plague.
Nobody should ever choose to stay this unhappy.

I still see myself as the fat one.  I still look at every picture and expect to be unhappy with what is there.  I check every mirror, every window that throws off a reflection, even at my shadow, always expecting to discover that I am suddenly fat again.  But fat doesn't just happen.  It's isn't something that you wake up and find like a wart.  It is a state of mind and a state of life.  You don't put on a 100 lbs at once nor do you take it off that way.  You take it off one choice at a time.  Each good choice changes the way you see yourself a little bit each time. However, you put it back on the same way you take it off: one choice at a time.  You put it back on by failing to identify with yourself as a fit person living a healthy lifestyle.

Why is it so easy for some people to make the right choices and not for others?  Well, I don't really know... but I'll venture a guess.  People tend to make choices in accordance with how they see themselves.  Anyone can make the easy choices (I think I'll ride my bike on this beautiful day when I have nothing else to do), but you make the hard ones (riding in the weather, working on your weaknesses, or choosing not to indulge every last craving your body throws your way), based on your perception of yourself and how that person would choose.  Foodies will choose to spend more for organic or gourmet items.  Athletes will choose to follow a strict diet regimen and train through adverse conditions.  Animal lovers will choose to stop the car to rescue a turtle.  Hipsters will choose to challenge the laws of physics to wedge themselves into a pair of skinny jeans.  Do people who don't identify with an archetype make those choices as well?  Of course.  But making them a lifestyle without that perception is very, very difficult.  Someone is not a hipster may turn themselves into a denim sausage a couple of times, but sooner or later, that person will most likely choose circulation over fashion.

Over the last few months, I have been stuck in idle.  My training has been on pause.  I have ridden but not trained.  My perception of myself as an athlete who is willing to go the extra mile for fitness and performance has waned.  My connection to why I make certain choices, particularly the hard food choices that usually only come when I am locked on a race target, has weakened.  And all of this is evident in some of the tragic food choices I have been making, particularly in the last few weeks, and the most recent 5 lbs (above the acceptable off-season gain) that have taken up residence on me arse.  I haven't been drinking enough water either, and my performance has suffered... but then, if I am not an athlete, who cares?  If I am not an athlete, I can settle into a steady weight 10-20 lbs higher, still fall into acceptable ranges for good health, and still be attractive (because really no matter what your weight, you will be just perfect for someone).

In the last couple of weeks, Coach Brain and I have exchanged a series of email sporting content volume that would make "War and Peace" seem like a little light reading by comparison.  We have agreed it's time to push forward, though there is still some question on the best way.  One thing is certain, I have a very narrow margin for error.  I am going to support my body with proper nutrition and care if I am going to get even marginal performances out of it.  The choices that I struggle the most with, the ones that I usually leave until I am fully absorbed in training with impending competitive goals sharpening my focus... those will have to come first.  If I hope to train "for real" or ever find a starting line...much less the finish... or podium... again, I will need to make these choices and changes first.

Yep, I do like that spot!
I hope to return regardless of whether it is triathlon or cycling.
The sport is merely the tool used to create change.

At work last night, as I was walking by a trash can, I reached in my pocket where several Snicker's minis had taken up residence and evicted the little goal-wrecking bastards.  That was the line in the sand.  I am not who I once was.  I am the product of my better choices and who I will be a year... five years... ten years down the road will be the product of the choices I make from here.  I am actively choosing to reconnect with this identity and re-immerse myself in the mindset.

Here I am still roughly 15-20 lbs over my eventual goal weight for racing but I am healthy.
In the end, it's about taking control of your life, your health, your happiness.

I am an athlete and choose to remain an athlete and that will only happen if I train, eat, and live AS AN ATHLETE.  

1 comment:

  1. The whole thing, that you do, is awesome. I beat my body up when I was in the Marines, so physical training could possible do more harm than good to my knees. I minimize intake, do a lot of walking, and take deep breaths... that works for me.