Monday, April 5, 2010

The John Nelson Weight Loss Challenge: Week 10

Did John break the 300 barrier? Find out in this week's post...

In last week’s blog, I talked about wanting to hit my goal for April on my birthday, while my mom was visiting. I even bet on it. This was taking a big risk and biting off a lot (pun intended) for a week where I needed to drop four and half pounds. I didn’t understand the relative difficulty of that until yesterday when I ran into a fellow fat guy. I found out what I have gotten myself into, as far a losing weight by May, and now understand what I have undertaken.

During the week, I was supposed to follow my plan to workout four or five days and continue to reduce caloric intake. I would not measure the amount of food, exactly. But I would lessen the portions and eat only things that are good for me to eat in order to lose weight. That was the plan. The rest of the world doesn’t care about my plan. For example, working late was mandatory. My boss has decided to move to another job, so we threw a party for him and had lunch at Clyde’s downtown. The party included more cake and pastries than an office could handle, so it sat with us for days, taunting me from a refrigerator 12 feet from me. The week also held me in the clutches of a flu, but didn’t allow me to rest and get over it. Yes, the devils of fate knew nothing of my plan, but knew full well how to disrupt anything I was going to do this last week. Still, I ate no cake and did not touch a pastry.

So after all of the trials and tribulations of parties, pastries and pleasantries with the boss… after working out once on Tuesday morning and never seeing exercise again until yesterday… and having birthday cake ready for me on Sunday, I was not hopeful to reach four pounds. I was in fact worried that I was going to gain. So, on my birthday, feeling unwell, and tired, I coaxed myself onto the bike to get some extra calories off before the Monday weigh-in. I tried to drop what I thought I had gained. For the most part, I wanted to get rid of the guilt I felt for not sticking to the mini-plan I had for the week.

At the top of the hill that begins the Custis Trail a slow rider blocked my way up. When another rider passed in the opposite direction, I decided to pass. Snap! My chain broke. The plan to ride for a long day (and burn 10 billion calories if I could) suddenly snapped with a grinding noise, and my legs spinning in useless circles. This left me coasting down to Roosevelt Island to wait for my wife to pick me up (again). But, you never know where inspiration will come, and the reason why misfortune happens.

Sitting in the sun, waiting for transportation, watching runners go by, I noticed a rather large figure puffing up the pathway. He was decked in shorts, a t-shirt drenched with sweat, a headband, and wrist bands, uselessly wiping perspiration from his face. His puffing sounds became louder and louder as he came closer and closer, finally coming to a stop just feet from me. He bent over, out of breath, and sighed. I asked how he was, concerned for his well being, and a little afraid my CPR training would be needed. He stammered that he was ok. ‘Just trying to do what the doctors tell me I need to do.” He said. I told him, I’m doing the same. He smiled and walked over. Then, he began to explain his recent life story. Apparently, this fat guy was fatter.

He had lost 35 pounds and now weighed 250; Two hundred and forty eight to be exact. Yet he, at 250, was larger than me. Not taller. Flabby was the word that came to mind. He couldn’t run far. In fact, he just came from the middle of Roosevelt Island (“the short route”) and that’s as far as he was going today. Maybe a mile. His face was flushed. His heart seemed to be beating a mile a minute. He was drenched in sweat and he looked… unhealthy. “This is ten times better than I was before I lost all this weight”, he said. Ten times?! “I thought to myself, what was he like before this?” What is worse than this? Then, the revelation hit me. “I’ve been on a doctor’s prescribed diet for the last seven months.” Zoinks!!!

I’ve come to take for granted the extraordinary measures it takes to lose weight. In the last two months, I’ve just thought that I could control where and when I could lose weight. Not knowing the complexity of what it really takes. For this guy, moving a mile was a strenuous ordeal, encompassing all of his strength and will to drop gallons of sweat to lose a pound or two; To lose five pounds in a month for six or seven months. His doctors forced him to stay in a regimen that he seemingly cannot complete, nor can he sustain for a lifetime. For me, that seems simple. I can run a five kilometer race or ride 100 miles and pop off a few pounds. Or so I thought. In reality, what I have done so far is just a beginning. I have to realize that dropping 30 pounds in two months is an achievement, but won’t come easy to drop just 10 more. This was hard. This was extraordinarily hard.

Therefore, reaching for my goal of 300 by April, and then betting on it, was irresponsible to say the least. It was disrespectful to my sweaty, out of breath friend, and a callous way to show my ego. “Oh, I can drop five pounds a week”, I said. No problem. Well, my lesson is learned. My overweight jogger, 50 pounds less than I am taught me to appreciate the ability I have, but not take for granted what it takes to be on this diet. And also appreciate why it should mean so much to me.

Sure it will help me climb the hills in California in two months. Sure it will allow my clothes to fit adequately for a change. And sure I might look a little better, and not grab attention when I walk in the room, or allow people to sit beside me comfortably on the Metro; but the point here is to endeavor to make myself better, every day and in every way. Or, succumb to the reality of being over-weighed with a flabby body, incapable of moving a mile without collapsing at a strangers feet, encouraging sympathy. Being on this diet is supposed to bring me back to the reality that health is important, and being able to ride my bike anywhere and anytime should not be taken for granted. A few pounds here and there mean the difference between fat and skinny. But a few pound here an there also means the difference between healthy and unhealthy. That is what is important. Not the weight, stupid… The health benefit!

At 250 pounds, this guy is skinnier than me. At 250 pounds, this guy is likely to die before me. That!... I will bet on. No long will I arrogantly bet that I can drop 5 pounds when I want to. In fact, the next five maybe the hardest I come across. I can’t afford to be betting my life just to prove that I can drop 5 pounds. Too bad though. Because as of Sunday night, after saying good bye to the fat jogger and being picked up by my wife, I went to the scale to see what I didn’t lose since I didn’t complete the workout. It showed 300. This morning, it showed 298. Damn, I would have won that bet.

My next goal, is 290 by May. Then to be relatively healthy for the rest of my life.


Calvini said...

Quit putting out 500 watts all the time and you'll stop breaking chains. Ya' meathead.

Pretty. Damn. Inspiring. Keep it up, man!

qualia said...

Most insightful post yet. As a sometime blogger, I just got dropped.

"the point here is to endeavor to make myself better, every day and in every way"

Amen, brother.

Happy birthday and congrats.

Tim Rugg said...

Happy Birthday and well done! hope to run into you at the point soon.

Andy said...

Welcome back to this side of 300, John! Well done! Can't wait to ride with you in May!