The clothes don’t fit and becoming a new person

This could be another post about mountain biking and how I really did well today while I was riding, hitting hills faster and harder than ever. How I rode two loops in a park for an hour and a half and by the time I finished felt like I could do more.

But it’s not about that.

Today, I hit another stepping stone. What this post is about is a trip to the store. Something routine and mundane. But this post is about what I found there.

My clothes have been droopy and baggy for some weeks. I look like I’m wearing my daddy’s clothing most of the time. So we went to a clothing store today. I’ve worn a mixture of extra large and large shirts for awhile that are button up. So, I went and started picking up large sizes from the racks. I thought a size down would be good.

I was wrong. They didn’t fit. I immediately told Lisa to pick out some mediums. They fit perfectly.

In a matter of months, I have went two sizes down on shirts. Tomorrow is my official weigh-in day. I suspect I should be around 182. I’m closing in on 180, a weight I was at when I was in the Army. In just a month to two months, I could be at 170 a weight I was at when I finished basic training and went to jump school.

There’s a part of me that can’t believe my weight loss is happening so quickly. There’s a part of me that’s even a bit scared by it. I am slowly, or quickly, transforming into a person I haven’t seen in 16 years. Trying out some shirts today that were just a tad tight, Lisa said, “You’ll grow into it.” I joked with her a bit that I don’t want to “grow” and she said, “You’ll lose more weight.”

I love that she has that much confidence in me. Sometimes, though, I don’t have confidence in myself. I see so many people talk about hitting plateaus, yet I have yet to hit one. There’s sometimes a part of me that asks, wow, what if I start binging on food all of a sudden? Then I stop myself and tell myself I’d catch that before it happens because you don’t gain 40 pounds of fat overnight.

But I still can’t help looking in the mirror and thinking that guy 40 pounds ago is still looking at me. I know he’s not. I can see it in my neck that looks scrawny to me all of a sudden. I can see it looking at my biceps and seeing muscles there I haven’t seen in years.

Now I guess it’s time to grow into those shirts just a tad bit too small. It’s also time for something else. Cleaning out the drawers and the closet. There’s a lot of clothes in there that don’t fit anymore. Some will go in the garbage, some will go to Goodwill, some will be shipped into a box to someone else who might be able to use them.

I’ve hung onto those big clothes for too long. It’s time to get rid of them.

And never wear them again.

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It’s hot outside, what to do now?

I stepped outside today after work and it hit me smack in the face. And the arms. The legs. Every part of my body.

It is suddenly scorching hot. And not just hot, but humid and it drenches you in sweat in a matter of minutes. I discovered that tonight as I rode my bicycle around the neighborhood practicing coming in and out of my clipless pedals and doing trackstands.

Within 10 minutes, I found myself drenched and had to take a shower.

In this heat, the outdoors is unbearable. It makes you want to crawl inside in the air conditioning and do your exercise on the treadmill.

But I have discovered an alternative.

Run at night.

Oh, yeah, I could go down to the local park with the lamps and run. But I don’t know, I hear stories about the creeps hiding out there. Something may happen to me.

I hear you. I wouldn’t want to go to some creepy park in the middle of the night either. But I am different. I’m of a different breed. I’m not suggesting this to anyone. But I’ve figured out one thing I’m going to do this week. I don’t know when, but I will do it. I’ve got a headlamp in my drawer for hiking. I’ve got my trail shoes. And I’ve got a little bit of crazy.

I’m going to go down to the woods and run through them in the dark. I’m going to beat the heat and I’m going to experience something different that not a lot of people can say they have experienced. I’ve hiked through the woods at night. I can run in them.

I’ll be careful. I don’t want to sprain an ankle or tear a ligament half a mile out in the woods. But I want to feel a certain kind of rush doing it. Right now the sun is going down at my house. I hear the hum of the cicadas and tree frogs outside.

I can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

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It’s okay… We’ve been here before…

I gained 2.5 pounds this week. After weeks of losing consistently, I woke up this morning and saw the scale had went the other way.

But it’s okay. I’ve been here before. Just a month ago after Memorial Day I stepped on the scale and saw some weight gain. The next few weeks I lost 10 pounds.

The fact is, weight loss and maintaining weight is a marathon, not a sprint. That’s my motto and I’ve said that over and over again. I’m not trying to lose weight as fast as possible. I’m trying to make sure once I get it off it never comes back.

Going from 184 to 186 doesn’t make me fat. It doesn’t mean I’ve jumped off the wagon and am now doing the things I used to do like sneak McDonald’s cheeseburgers when I was hungry.

The only thing it means is that I enjoyed my week-long vacation, took some time off for a little bit from tracking calories and workouts and just took some time off from the whole thing.

Only once during the week did I eat “bad.” But I did learn some lessons from what I did do. I exercised a lot this week. I went mountain biking almost everyday and burned calories. But I also put some bad foods in the system, didn’t eat breakfast a few times, left out some snacks and then drank some of my calories in beer during the week.

The lesson to be learned is that just because you workout a lot it does not equal, “I can eat whatever I want.”

I gained 2 pounds. But I also gained some memories this week. The pounds don’t matter when I look back on my vacation week and see the accomplishments I did make. I made my first long bike climb, I rode a trail I always had problems with for the first time with no problems and, most importantly, I enjoyed some time with my family.

By my next vacation, I plan to be 15 pounds lighter. I may gain two pounds on that vacation.

But it will be okay. Because I’d still 50 pounds lighter than I was before, just like I’m still 35 pounds lighter today than what I was before.

It can be slow, but I’ll win the race.

I’m now on the 18th mile of the marathon and had to stop for a water break.

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Another day on the bike

I got on a spin bike this morning at the Y and something occurred to me. It bored me. I wanted to be outside, not stuck inside and looking at a pool. So, I went home, took my daughter out for a picnic and bike riding and then went out myself for a mountain bike ride.

I decided to go to Booker T. Washington State Park. I had been there several times before. It beat me up. If the massive roots across the trail didn’t get me, it was usually the climbs laid throughout. Especially a steep one at the end.

But I had more confidence when I tackled that trail today. I ran through the roots, except once when I got too cocky, laid up for a bunnyhop and didn’t clear.

But you live and you learn.

I kept going. Finally, I found myself at the steep hill three quarters of the way through. I started up it, fumbled a few feet up when I hit a deep root.

I looked up the hill. Every other time, I hiked the bike up it. I got back on, kept going and got about three-quarters the way up the hill and got tripped by another root. I hopped over it. Kept on going. In a few minutes, I was at the top. Yes, I fell off twice. But I made it longer and farther than I ever had before.

I got through the ride in about an hour. It has taken me an hour and a half to do that course. This time last year I rode it and felt like I was about to collapse at the end.

This time, it was different.

This time, I felt alive.

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The climb

It just occurred to me that I did something this last weekend of some significance beyond even what I thought. While I was doing, it was just something I was doing. No big deal. A mode of transportation.

What I am talking about is “the climb.”

I went mountain biking this weekend, and stayed at a mountain biking resort in the North Georgia mountains. Again and again, I had heard about the climb you have to make to get to the trailheads. It worried me. I had never did much climbing on a bike. But to hear or read about this climb was much different than when I got there.

My family and I pulled into the campground. A friend came in just a few minutes later. We talked about heading to the trails. How far is it to the trailhead? I asked.

About five miles, he said.

A four to five mile climb up a mountain. Not a hill. A mountain.

We started out and I led the way. We got to a gradual part, I started losing my breathe. My friend gave me a tip. Put it in your easiest gear and go slow. It’s not a race. I did, I caught my breath, up and up and up we went. Slowly. We climbed and we climbed.

Then we got to the top. What was waiting on us was a view of the Cohutta mountains in North Georgia. One of the most amazing overlooks I’ve seen in those mountains. The mountains shimmered blue in the distance. We rode about a hundred feet up the mountain until we got to the trailhead. Then we started flying down Bear Creek Trail, pushing 25 to 30 mph in parts. We ran through mountain streams and saw a deer prance across the trail.

I had made the climb.

It didn’t seem much that day, but it seems like a lot now. Today I have lost 36 pounds. Sitting that night next to the campfire, my friend asked me if I’d been able to make that climb 36 pounds ago. No, I told him.

And it hit me today. The climb represents something more than just a climb.

It represents me climbing out of who I was before. The guy I was 36 pounds ago.

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The guy in the mirror

Just the other day, Lisa looked at me while I was getting my work clothes on.

“You look anorexic,” she said.

She also had some other things to say such as, “You look like your wearing your daddy’s clothes” and “I’m not used to Skinny Cliff.”

Over the past few days, I’ve heard a couple of references to “Skinny Cliff.” A couple of days ago, me and some co-workers were talking about a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at work. A friend joked that I was more desirable as a player when I was “Big Cliff” because I could be put in the middle and shove people around. Now, he said, he’d be worried they’d shove me around.

The only problem is I still don’t see “Skinny Cliff” in the mirror. I just see a thinner version of Big Cliff most of the time. I had this happen one time before. I went to basic training at 195, I came out at 167. I hadn’t realized how much weight I had lost, mainly because they don’t provide scales. I didn’t realize I had lost that much weight until the end when I went into supply, got some new BDU pants and ended up tearing the cinches on the sides because I couldn’t cinch them up enough and had to get a size smaller pants.

When I do look in the mirror now, I do wonder to myself when am I going to see Skinny Cliff?

I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know the answer to another question.

I really don’t ever want to see “Big Cliff” again.

Big Cliff was moody, had acid reflux problems and would sometimes be up all night with insomnia. Sometimes he drank too much, wouldn’t know how to say no and stop at eating or drinking and he found himself too tired sometimes to play with his kids.

Skinny Cliff is not that guy anymore.

He’s a better person and feels better. I kind of like Skinny Cliff. A lot.

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A weekend I hope to remember

This weekend marks some milestones for me.

The first is that it is the first time I’m taking my family camping. Just a few hours ago as I was putting my daughter Carolina to bed she looks at me and says, “One more sleep after this and we go camping!” A few minutes earlier she told me she wanted to make puppets in the tent with the flashlight on. I smiled and told her yes, we’d do it.

The second milestone is that it is my first let’s say “outdoor adventure” trip. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things I’ve done that I would say is outdoor adventure. Arguably, climbing up to Spencefield five months ago in snowshoes through a foot of snow could qualify as my first outdoor adventure trip.

But I’ll say this is different in the sense it is the first time I’ve been to a place that caters to a specific adventure sport. We are going to a “mountain biking resort.”

I’ve spent countless nights this week thinking of those trails. A part of me worries. I’ve lost a bunch of weight, but I think to myself, have I lost enough? Will I bonk out midway on the trail have no energy and have to turn back?

The fact is, I know none of those things matter. I need to ride my own ride, go as far as I can, turn back when I feel I need to and just enjoy the experience of being in the mountains with friends and family.

There’s a time coming soon, I know, when those questions won’t be there. Everyday I’m getting stronger and faster.

And I won’t worry. In just 36 hours I’ll be out on the trail. And all those questions will fade away…

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