Friday, February 12, 2016

Starting is the hardest part

Finally got my butt back on the bike today and 3 things were immediately obvious to me:

1.  Not riding a bike for 8 months greatly reduces one's capacity to participate in this activity.

2.  There are no flat roads in my neighborhood.

3.  Riding my bike is fun and I need to do more of it.

Now the first point was actually something I knew intellectually.  It was the wheezing, lung burning, struggle to move that brought the true reality of this statement home.  I survived the ride but it was more work than it should have been.

The second point I sort of knew from driving through the area, but when experienced from the seat of a bike it is much more readily apparent.  Now Strava and Garmin say I only experienced 71 and 72 feet of elevation gain respectively over the ride, but it certainly felt like a whole lot more!

The last point is one I know and one I am reminded of every time I swing my leg over the bike and propel myself along.  I've said it before and I will certainly say it again - I would rather bike 5 times a distance than walk any day.

One other thing I noted on the ride, as I was huffing and puffing my way uphill on Gowan, was that there are other cyclists in the area.  I call them cyclists because they were decked out in matching jersey and riding not inexpensive bikes.  2 of the 3 riders, however were just.  Not a 'hello' or 'on you left' as they rode by me.  Sure I was on my hybrid, in jersey shorts and a t-shirt and I even went heltmetless, but I said hi to them between gasps as they passed.

Anyway this was my first ride of many to come and I enjoyed it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Paleo Diet Food List

I was doing some research online about what I can and cannot eat as I am trying to follow a Paleo diet. I came across this list as part of a post over on

Paleo Diet Food List

  • Protein

    • Red Meat and PorkBeef, veal, lamb, bison, ostrich, sheep, caribou, goat, venison (deer), pork. Try to get grass-fed and organic if possible.
    • Cage-free Poultry: Chicken, duck, quail, goose, pheasant, pigeon, eggs from any of the birds just mentioned.
    • Wild Fish and Seafood: Salmon, tunatilapia, anchovy, herring, yellowtail, mahi-mahi (dorado), trout, bass, halibut, sole, haddock, turbot, walleye, cod, flatfish, grouper, mackerel, white fish, shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels, sea urchin, lobster, scallops, crab.
    • Nuts: Cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (Pepita), pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, chestnuts, cashews, almonds, coconuts. Note: Peanut is not a nut, it’s a legume, thus it isn’t allowed on the Paleo diet.
  • Fat

    • Cooking Oil
      • Extra-virgin coconut oil: You never want to burn your oil when you cook and since coconut oil has a high heat index (making it harder to burn), it is the oil I recommend for cooking for most meals.
      • Bacon Fat (lard): Bacon fat can be used as a cooking oil. It’s delicious (who doesn’t bacon?) and can be easily harvested from the grease of rendered bacon fat.
      • Beef TallowTallow, much like bacon fat, is a rendered form of beef fat. I usually get my beef tallow from the fat that floats on top of my beef bone broth which I make once a week.
    • Salad Oil
      • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO): This is my oil of choice for most of my salads. EVOO is high in polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) so it’s very unstable under high heat and sun light, so I don’t recommend cooking with it and don’t leave it in direct sun light or storing it in a clear bottle. Keep it in a dark place and use a bottle that is tinted (similar to red wine bottles).
      • Sesame seed oil: Adds a great Asian flavor to any salad, I recommend only a teaspoon per salad.
    • Food with Good Fat: Avocados, butter (if you can eat diary), ghee (clarified butter), pork, beef, duck, veal, lamb, cold water fishes (sardines, mackerel, salmon, anchovies), walnuts, pistachios, pecans, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (Pepita), pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, chestnuts, chia seeds, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, coconuts.
  • Carbohydrates

    • Starchy Roots: Sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, potatoes, purple yams, sweet yams.
    • Nuts: Cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (Pepita), pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, chestnuts, cashews, almonds, coconuts. Note: Peanut is not a nut, it’s a legume, thus it isn’t allowed on the Paleo diet.
  • Sugars

  • Alcohols

    • None
  • Vegetables

    • Lettuce, butter lettuce, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, radish, artichokes, arugula, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, watercrest, onions, shallots, button mushroom, portabello, oyster mushroom, shiitake. Pretty much any green leafy vegetable. I also included mushrooms under vegetables even though it’s classified as a fungus, but most people usually cook mushrooms as if they were vegetables.
  • Spices and Herbs

    • Onions, garlic, parsley, cilantro (coriander), thyme, lavender, mint, basil, rosemary, chives, tarragon, oregano, sage, dill, bay leaves, curry powder, all spice, five spice, paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon, vanilla extract (make sure it’s 100% pure), cloves, nutmeg, star anise, mustard seeds, cumin.
  • Fruit

    • Apples, grapefruit, pomelos, oranges, pear, acorn squash, buttercup squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, yellow summer squash, zucchini,bananas, strawberries, raspberries, goji, cocoa, lemon, lime, tangerines, lychee, rumbatan, mangoes, grapes, papaya, plums, peaches, nectarines, blackberries, pineapples, pomegranates, cantaloupes, cherries, apricots, watermelon, honeydew.

Part of the list that felt even more important than what I can't eat, is what I can't eat.  It is a much shorter list and easier to remember, I think:

Food NOT allowed on the Paleo Diet

  • Refined carbohydrates: White bread, white flour
  • Grains: Wheat, oat, rye
  • Refined sugars: White table sugar, candy of all types,
  • Legumes: Soybean, pinto beans, peas, fava beans, black eyed peas, lima beans, peanuts.
  • Dairy: This is a point of controversy, as some people will say dairy is OK on the Paleo diet, while Paleo diet purist will argue otherwise. I say if you’re not lactose intolerant then eat dairy. But if you’re strict Paleo then stay away from the stuff! Dairy products: Cheese, milk, yogurt, butter, milk chocolate. Note: Ghee, clarified butter does not contain lactose nor casein, the proteins in dairy that causes harm to people who are intolerant to dairy. So enjoy ghee if you can afford it.
  • Processed food: Anything that is in a can or bag and doesn’t spoil for months or years. You can bet it contains preservatives.
  • All junk food: Chips, sweets, candy
  • Hydrogenated Oils and Trans Fat: Vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, hydrogenated soybean oil, hydrogenated corn oil, margarine, shortening.
  • Excitotoxins: Mono sodium-glutemate

Monday, February 8, 2016

Too much time gone by - time to start again...

I have been hemming and hawing around about what to post on here for quite some time.  This is, after all, supposed to be a blog about my journey to getting fit and healthy.  Unfortunately that has not been where I have been heading over the past several months Actually closer to a year.

When I finished the Biggest Winner competition last May, my ending weight was 423 lbs. As I stated then, that was a 28 lb. loss for the competition and should have been the beginning of a continued weight loss.  Well that didn't happen and by the end of August I was up to 455 lbs.  The next time I weighed in towards the middle of September I was up another 3 lbs. to 458.  I didn't step on the scale again until a couple of weeks ago when I was at 455 again.

The reason I bring this up is that I need to get my weight under control and I know the largest component of that is to watch my eating.  I need to stop just eating everything in sight and not eat for enjoyment.  I need to understand, fundamentally that fuel is fuel for my body and I only need a certain amount for it, not to over fuel it because that excess needs to go somewhere and it is going to fat.  I need to really get a handle on my eating.  If I do this, then I know I can get to where I need to be, where I can do the things I want to do and my weight is not holding me back.

My wife and daughter watch a TV show called My 600 lb. life.  It follows individuals who go to talk with a doctor in Texas and have gastric bypass surgery.  It shows their transformation over the course of a year or so.  These people are losing a good deal of weight.  I would say that on average about 200 lbs. over that year.  They have both been saying that I need to get that surgery.

This has been an eye opener for me - they are worried about me and are pushing me to get surgery because of their worry.  While I don't doubt that the surgery is an effective way to lose weight, I have seen the stories where over time, people who have ad the surgery have managed to expand their new, small stomachs and have gained back the weight in 3 to 5 years after losing it.  What I see is that there needs to be a fundamental shift in their relationship with food in order to become healthy and maintain the weight loss.

Yes, I understand that this can be a trigger to make the changes one needs to become healthy, but I think if I can make the changes myself, then I will be in a better position and not have to risk going through surgery.  Let's face it, while it is a lot safer than it used to be, anytime someone is put under anesthetic and surgery is performed there is risk.  That risk is increased for someone of my size.

So, what I have proposed to Michele, is that I will take the next 6 months to get my mind right and get moving towards a healthier, lighter me.  I have pledged that if I do not lose at least 80 lbs. over the next 6 months, then I will call the doctor and make an appointment to talk about the surgery. Towards that end, I got on the scale last night and it read 458 lbs.  That means by August 7 I need to weigh less than 378.  I know I can do this.  I need to focus on eating the right things in the right quantities and getting my butt moving more than it has been.

I plan on riding my bike and walking more than I have.  I plan on eating the right whole, natural foods, primarily following the Paleo Diet as it seems to be a good choice for me.  I will post updates of my progress at least weekly on here so that you can hold me accountable and follow my journey.

Here is to another new beginning, this time I am planning on making a significant, permanent change.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

To Paleo or not to Paleo....

Time certainly flies when one is busy with work and home life.  I can't believe I haven't posted in almost a month.  Time to address that.

I have been doing a good deal of reading and research on a new, old way of eating frequently referred to as the Paleo Diet.  The basic premise of this way of eating is that as homo sapiens, we evolved to process certain foods based upon what we were eating.  For thousands of years, what we had available for foods were lean proteins, fruits and nuts, and vegetables.  that's it.  There wasn't anything refined or ground or made into something else.

If you think about it, this means that to survive and thrive, our bodies adapted to these available foods and utilized them to the fullest.  Our complex system of energy production evolved to prefer these types of foods.  Obesity and type 2 diabetes were rare.  Of course the fact that there wasn't a lot of sitting around back then due to the needs of being hunter gatherers didn't hurt, either.

We even did fairly well with some refined foods for the last few thousand years because life still required a fair amount of physical labor.  then came the industrial and technological revolutions and suddenly we have people (like me) spending countless hours a day, basically immobile, doing very little physical movement.  Add to the refined foods and sugars in abundance and its no wonder we have an obesity epidemic in this country.

The anecdotal proof is hard to deny.  As the physical demands of life have decreased and the abundance of processed, sugary foods has increased, the obesity rate has gone through the roof. Not only in this country but other developed nations as well. To see this shift to not physical work and its effect on health, just look at China.  As their economy and lifestyles evolve to match those of the west, the incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes is skyrocketing.  Several articles have indicated that the rate of those with the disease has almost doubled in the last 10 years.

With all of this in mind, I am going to start following a Paleo approach to my eating.  I will focus on vegetables and fruits, eat lean protein, limit my dairy and cheese and virtually eliminate refined foods from my diet.  No more breads and pasta.  Much less regular potatoes.  No refined sugars.  I am also planning on moving more, getting up and walking at least once per hour.  I feel this will have a very positive impact on my health and my weight.

To monitor all of this I am making an appointment to see my doctor in a couple of weeks, during which I am sure he will be ordering blood work.  this will be a starting point for me and I hope that in 6 months, when he repeats the same blood work, it will show some significant improvements.

As of today, my current weight is 456 lbs.  That is up from this same time last year, but its not my highest weight.  that was about 2 years ago when I hit 480.  I don't plan on getting there, ever again. I don't have specific weight loss targets.  I am simply going to monitor my weight as an indicator as to how well my body is responding to the new eating and movement plan.

Along the way I am planning on getting back on my bike to add in more movement and exercise.  Its about time since its been several months since I last rode.

Get on your bike and ride!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gotta move...

Read an awesome article over at Nerd Fitness on getting ourselves moving:

I certainly agree that we are built to move and not to sito n our behinds in front of the computer, dining table or TV all day and night.

Now to just get myself moving more...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This is the new beginning

Its hard to believe I've been posting on here for as long as I have - since April of 2010 and I really have not posted a selfie.  As I am reading through many different blogs, books and other information on making life changes, I've come across the idea that you can't map out a course to where you want to be unless you know where you are starting from. This idea, which should be obvious, has struck me as an 'AHA' type moment.  With that in mind I have taken a couple of pictures of myself to post here as before pictures.

Now these are not the usual, shirt off, wearing shorts, before pictures - I'm reserving those shot for a true before and after comparison, but these are shots showing where I am at right now. I didn't intentionally have the flash obscure me, but what the heck - it seems like a cool effect:


This is my starting point and I hope the last time I will ever be this big.

On a different note, it looks like I am going to get pretty decent at climbing on my bike.  It seems that the new area of the valley I moved to is not flat.  At all.  I was driving around the last few days noticing that there is literally no road within 3 or 4 miles that is not on a grade of 2% to 8%. Time to make sure the bike is shifting correctly and get out and use those gears!  Watch for some more posts showing the new riding area.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Little Decisions are the key

It's been a couple of months since I've posted anything and I apologize for that.  Seems like there hasn't been much to write about.  Hopefully today marks a change in that I am, once again, getting serious about getting healthy.  Seems like its time for a new beginning as we are moving in the next couple of days.  I see this as an opportunity for  new focus and a new beginning.

I find that I'm great at making big decisions.  I take my time, weigh out the pros and cons and eventually come up with what is usually the right decision.  Little decisions are my Achilles's heel. It seems the smaller the decision, the less likely I am to make a good one and this eventually affects everything else.

I can make a big decision to 'get healthier and lose weight.'  Simple, I know what I should do and can map out a plan for getting where I need to be. Then there comes the day to day, minute to minute execution of that plan. In general I am usually pretty good following a plan. OK, mostly. I tend to make a great start but my follow through suffers over time.  That's where those little decisions come in. Little decisions like, "should I eat one or two of these?" or "one more piece of ________ can't hurt, can it?"

Yes, it can hurt.  See once I give in to a temptation or mae the wrong decision, it just seems to snowball and spiral out of control.  Since I did X then Y won't matter. and the justifications begin and the plan is off the rails and out of control.

For me, I need to stay vigilant and on a strict regimen in order to stay on track. I am too easily side tracked when I allow myself too much choice - too much leeway.  Most books and articles I read say that in order to make lasting changes they should be done gradually and not be too drastic at any given pint, but that doesn't work for me.  It seems that if I make those small changes I lose focus and get off track.

So, starting today I'm getting my focus back and eating how I know I should - following what is essentially the Paleo Diet.  Ok, I hate the word diet but it allows me to stay focused and make better little choices in order to support the big changes I need to make in order to get healthy.

Part of my choice for the paleo diet is from a resource I found called Nerd Fitness. (

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Caution is the word of the day.

I have to say that the current rash of cycling accidents has given me pause.  I have been working on riding more consistently but I'm rethinking routes and timing again.  This is after multiple crashes here in the valley just last week.  By my count 3 cyclists were killed and 2 or 3 others seriously injured in less than a week.  and those are just the ones that made the news.

One of those injured was my next door neighbor who was riding his bike about a half mile from the house. I don't have all the details but it appears the car shot across a busy street right in front of him and he hit her car.  He spent a few day in the hospital with a concussion and is fortunately expected to make a full recovery.

All of these crashes once again have me thinking about the safety of riding on the roads in this area.  unfortunately there are not protected bike paths anywhere near my house. I know that if I had a nice path near the house I would definitely be inclined to bike more often as it would feel safer. I am hoping there will be more paths in the area to which we will be moving by the end of summer.

One of the contributing factors that make me less apt to ride with traffic are the speed limits around here. One of the roads I frequent, in fact the one on which my neighbor was hit, has a speed limit of 45 mph.  That means the cars are typically doing 55 to 60 mph.  This just isn't safe with the number of side streets into various subdivisions.  Everyone is in such a hurry and there are multiple crashes on this road each month.

So, my concerns with safety and my trip out of state have curtailed my recent riding adventures.  Next week it may be the heat keeping me to shorter rides as we are heading close to 110 by Monday and staying in the 100+ range for the foreseeable future.  I do want to and plan to ride, but I am being extra cognizant of what is happening all around me.

I still say Get on your bikes and ride, but do it safely!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The wonders of technology

Technology is a wonderful thing. We have so many devices around us that work, essentially, flawlessly that we take them for granted.  Case in point. I have a Garmin Forerunner 305 that I purchased when I was training for my first ever triathlon back in 2010.  It is almost 5 years old at this point. Except for the one or two times I've screwed up hitting buttons incorrectly, it has performed essentially flawlessly for me.

It dutifully records my time, distance and actual track that I take when I do my rides.  I can then, through the wonders of that same technology we take for granted, upload and share that information with the world through sites like Daily Mile, Map My Ride and Strava.  I can also participate in a monumental group ride of sorts like the National Bike Challenge.

Now, like I said, this is something that we take for granted.  I put my Garmin in the cradle, plug it into my computer and magically it uploads the data for me.

This morning it has let me down.  I uploaded the data from my ride and while it does show the time and distance of my ride, that real wonder, the actual track of the ride is blank. No matter what I do it appears that the track file on the device has been corrupted and therefore is unusable for any of the applications that I link it with.

Now, I never believe that something isn't going to work the first time it doesn't.  I've tried deleting and re-importing the data from the device but to no avail.  I've tried loading it directly to various sites, including Garmin Connect, but again no luck.

This leaves me with what feels like an emptiness, a hole in my training.  Up to this point I had this nice, what I felt was essentially complete record of my rides and now it feels like its ruined.

OK, its not that bad.  When put in perspective it means nothing that I don't have the actual track I rode for a training ride around essentially the same course that I've ridden hundreds of time previously.

I do hope that this is but a singular glitch and will reset and clear out the Garmin in preparation for my next ride.

Get on your bike and ride!!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rolling right along

Got up at 4:00 am again this morning to get in another ride before work. It was ride number 11 for the National Bike challenge.  I've not gotten in as many rides as I had hoped so far this year, but I have increased the average distance of the rides.  So far this year my average is right at 5 miles per ride.  Not bad and not good.

Well, this morning's ride was challenging as the winds were out of the southwest at 17 gusting to 28 mph.  The direction meant that as I was going up the slight uphill I was not only fighting gravity but the wind too. I'm guessing based on my perceived effort that it cost me about 1 mph on the uphill. Of course you would hope that would mean an increase on the downhill, but it was more of a cross wind and blocked by houses and a wall. Here's the map from strava:

This morning's ride was also challenging due to an idiot in his little white car.  On my first lap, at the end of the block, on the short street (Mercer see the little bump in the lower left on the map above), I noticed a car in the driveway of a house with a woman leaning in through the open passenger door.  The car was running with the lights on.  No big deal.

After I made the 2 turns and headed up Quarterhorse towards Pebble, I heard an engine racing and the whit car came flying by doing about 60 in the 35 mph zone.  He passed me with a good bit of room so it was no big deal.  he got to the stop sign and merely slow as he took the corner.  When I finally made the corner and looked he was already approaching Durango (about 3/4 of a mile away) with his right signal on.  He must have been flying down Pebble which has a 45 mph speed limit.  I thought little more about it as I made my way around the rest of my loop.

As I got to the end of the block again, I saw the woman standing in the street looking away from me in the direction the car had traveled.  As I didn't want to startle her, I moved towards the center of the street. As I was passing her, I heard an engine and saw headlights turning onto Westchester and come flying around the corner.  I moved to the left side of the street, next to the parked cars and the car passed about a foot to my right.  He probably wasn't even paying attention to what was in front of him. I'm glad I was defensive and had moved to the right or he would have run me down.

I shouted that people shouldn't drive if they were idiots, or something to that effect and kept going on my way.  I had thought about stopping and letting the driver know just what an idiot he was, but figured he was likely drunk, it seeming like they were coming home from a late night since it was 4:20 in the morning. My common sense and discretion prevailed and I just kept riding, thinking to myself lots of nasty things I would like to say to the driver.

It figures that there were only 2 cars that passed me this morning on my ride and one of the two was a total idiot.  Anyway, when I next passed the house the car was gone and there was no one outside.  My guess was that they were dropping the woman off and needed to run to the store to get her something. Th irony is that I ride in the early morning to try and avoid the idiots on the road but it seems they still find a way to find me. :)

Other than that it was a good ride and I enjoyed myself.

So, get on your bike and ride!!!!!!!!