Monday evening, I finally had my first real bike ride of the year. I was cleared to ride by doctors and physical therapists about six weeks ago, so why the delay?
Laziness, self-pity, and fear. The first two are self-explanatory, but the third may not be what you'd expect. I wasn't afraid of further injury or pain or my ability to deal with traffic or anything like that. No, I was afraid of knowledge. I kinda didn't want to know how far I'd fallen.
Two and a half years ago, I weighed 300 pounds and had very low physical fitness. Somehow, during the summer of 2005 I managed to change my lifestyle. I rode my bike hard four to six times a week, I ate healthy foods only and in smallish portions. I lost 55 pounds, I could ride my bicycle as hard or as far as I wanted to. I was faster, stronger, and felt better than I had ever done in my entire life and I was 33 years old.
Last year, I kept the activity level up pretty well, but my diet began to slide a little. A little more cheese, a little more red meat, the occasional soda. I gained 5 pounds back. This spring, I ruptured my achilles tendon while enjoying my newfound fitness on the basketball court. I was unable to use my left leg for two months. I was depressed, irritable, and pretty much a mess. I turned, as I often do, to food for solace. I ate like I used to. I did very little physical activity, and the predictable things happened. I gained 20 more pounds back, my left leg shriveled to nearly nothing, and my cardio fitness is mostly gone. So, here I am, nearly 36, and weighing 270 pounds.
I don't know how I got to that place two years ago, the place where I looked forward to my daily bike ride, where a single black bean burger, a baked potato and some salsa was all I needed to feel like I'd had a good dinner. I'm hungry all the fucking time now. I can't say no to food. If I've already had lunch and the office buys pizza, well I'll just have to eat a few pieces, now, won't I? It's just a second piece of cake and I've already ruined myself; what more damage could it do?
I want to be 33-year-old me. I don't want to be the me I've been all the other times of my life, and I just don't know how to get back there.
So, yeah, I didn't really want to know how bad it was. Ignorance is bliss, right? Well, I had a crazy day at work and I needed to do something when I got home, so I suggested we get the bikes out. I finally brought them out of the basement, looked 'em over, filled the tires, and we set off.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn't immediately exhausted and that my legs didn't protest too much. I managed to get in 8.3 miles at 11.5 MPH; I didn't need to walk the bike at all. I got up the Aurora Road hill that gave me so much trouble when I first started, most of it under full power. So, yay. Either I didn't lose as much as I'd feared or the physical therapy actually did more than I'd imagined in terms of restoring some level of fitness.
Now, if I can just translate that into some kind of on-going program.