Friday, July 11, 2014

The Go Forward Plan....and it wasn't the plan when we started...

....and so it begins, nothing like I expected
Today we leave after 5 days of cycling through the Tuscan countryside in Italy.  Any experience like this is both a privilege and an opportunity but when deciding to do it, both the privilege and opportunistic approaches are overlooked.  With both kids at summer camp Mrs. Moss and I just wanted to take two weeks and go away on vacation.  See parts of the world that we have not spent any (or enough) time in and get time together as I travel so much for work.  Little did we know that on April 18th our entire approach would change.  That was the night we met Andy Levine of DuVine Cycling+Adventures at a restaurant bar and thought "lets be a little more active on our trip and cycle through Tuscany for half of our trip".  I can't say that we thought it would be easy, but we sure didn't think it would be 'that' challenging.

As a person who travels a lot and loves to eat I tend to be larger than I need to be.  According to the Center for Disease Control, I should weigh between 120 and 151lbs and in their calculator for body mass index (BMI), I am defined as obese.  Stats like this are somewhat mind boggling and frustrating.  Looking in the mirror I feel overweight, but also don't think I am 50 lbs overweight.  So, I went to other resources like and they say I should weigh between 149 and 161lbs as they take into account body frame, and not just everyone...either way, the fact is that I have and have had work to do for the better part of my life, yet my goals are always to be 'aware' and do the best I can with the time I have.

Much of the weight loss and health approaches are driven by time, money and effort.
  • Time:  How many hours are in a day and what is the work that needs to be done to draw this out
  • Money:  Is there a cost to do things differently and what impact will that have
  • Effort:  Do you sit on your ass thinking about it or do you get up and do something about it
I tend to be the 'effort' guy.  I know that in order to lose weight, I must be active, and to be active I have to put forth the effort to do so.  When I run, getting winded tends to happen quickly and then the increased effort becomes more of an annoyance as that level of work isn't coming easy.  Once it doesn't come easy, I tend to question whether I am capable to do it and eventually go back to trying to eating less and working on, what I like to call 'the math problem':
The Math Problem:  When you assume that the average male burns 2000 calories just breathing and doing his normal activities and if you just eat less than 2000 calories you will lose weight.

The math problem has worked for me in losing weight and at times....many times, I will try and do some sort of active work to increase the daily or weekly burn rate of calories.  Trying to run a bit, doing a 5k or 10k (but sadly not doing my part to prepare properly) or some other activity.

The net net is that keeping off weight has always been a problem and if I don't get my shit together I could have a heart attack or worse.  

During our cycling adventure this past week I had the luxury to watch Mimi, my wife ride these hills...she would pedal with ease, go in the easiest gear on the most challenging terrain but her legs would never change speed.  For me, I could do the work, but effort was much much harder.  Since we both are 5'7" we had the same bike, which weighed the same amount.  If you look at my lower body, it is clear that I have the muscle mass and tone to pedal, but there was a major difference.  My heart rate was rising to 180bpm (beats per minute) on these hills and every rotation was harder and harder for me.  This has to do with the extensive difference in weight we were carrying amongst other things.  

Yesterday, Thursday, was our hardest day.  We had over 1000 feet of elevation incline over 22.5 miles and two of the hardest climbs of the week.  My heart rate got up to 185bpm, more than it had been all week and it was probably the hardest I had worked all week.  When we got to the top of the road in this small town within Chianti where our cycling time ended there was this sense of accomplishment that I haven't felt in my life.  I looked at my Garmin watch to see the calories burnt over the last 5 days and was amazed at what could be accomplished.  It was work, and I mean it was a shitload of work but the stats told a story that is now driving what I can do:

  • Calories Burnt - 7,410
  • Miles rode - 95.98 miles
  • Total elevation climbed - 8,688 feet
  • Max heart rate 185bpm

Mission Accomplished!
The funny thing was this....while in Barcelona 10+ days ago, I had realized that I weighed 207lbs.  That is out right FAT!  After 4 of our days cycling and eating the fantastic food of Italy, it was down to below 200lbs. 

The point is, I am not happy with my weight and the copout that I put on myself for why I don't do things....thinking back to my first blogpost when I came to Italy...writing about 'doing your best' and focusing on doing your best and not backing down....the last day really told the story for me.  We had one final hill it was the steepest point of the entire trip and our guide, Davide, told me that I could stop at the bottom and he would drive up...but he believed I could do it...for me, I never know what I can or can't do, but that last ride was the best moment of the trip.  There is no way to kid myself any longer, it may be work but it is work I can do and need to do to keep life going for my family, friends and myself.  

Today we leave for Paris, where I anticipate a long run with Mrs. Moss in the morning as I do what I can to better myself and continue down the road I ended with here in Tuscany.

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