Further Lessons from the Edge

It’s been a weird few weeks. As I posted last week, I completely failed a ride. That is the first time I have ever failed or given up on the bike. I had to bail out of a 62 mile ride and only ended up completing 35 miles. I have also had some very strange days at work, dealing with some more complex projects than I anticipated. It has been satisfying but also unexpected work that has taken a lot of my focus. I have also been spending a lot of time thinking about the blog; what it is and where it’s going. Coupled with the extra work and the obvious need for more training I have been thinking about what to do with it.

Most of the existential blog thoughts are based on the failed ride. I am not trying to dwell too much on the ride, but while I was out suffering I tried to think of something other than the heat and leg cramps to get through it. I chose the blog. It seemed fitting as I knew I was approaching the 26th update and that would mark my halfway point to 52 entries in 52 weeks. I still don’t know what I am really trying to accomplish here other than I want to tell my story. I want people to be able to follow along with me as I attempt to get in better shape and go on a few cycling adventures. I want to make a few people chuckle along the way. If you can’t laugh at yourself or make a few other people laugh, what’s the point? I also want to inspire a few people. I don’t know how inspiring my story is in a conventional sense, but I would like people to think that if I can do this, than they can too. I posted a quote picture on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/bigjoessoapbox) about that and it seemed pretty arrogant, but I don’t mean it that way.

Losing weight is a struggle, at least for me. I don’t think I have the same issues a lot of overweight people deal with. I don’t eat to make myself feel better. I might not like the way I look, but I have never eaten anything to help me feel better or distract myself from my self-esteem either. That’s not to say that I don’t have issues with self-esteem, I just deal with them differently. I feel like my real issue has always been portion control. I eat what I like; which isn’t often the healthiest option; and I eat as much as I want. That is often far too much of whatever I have in front of me. I think this goes back to middle school. I always played sports and worked physical jobs. I never had a big issue burning off calories so I ate whatever I wanted and never had an issue. After college I got better and better jobs that required less and less physical work. I expanded. I also stopped playing sports. I didn’t stop eating. I didn’t even slow down. Now I am spending a lot of time dealing with that habit.

I feel like changing my eating habits are as hard as quitting smoking. I really struggled to quit smoking for much of the same reasons I am struggling with losing weight. I loved to smoke cigarettes. I loved the taste and the physical act of smoking. I loved the way it gave me something to do with my hands when I was bored. I loved the way a cigarette could mark the passing of time. It took about 5 minutes to smoke a cigarette. I loved smoking outside on my deck; either with the day’s first coffee or the night’s last smoke. I loved watching the tip flare cherry red as I inhaled, listening to the crackle of paper as the flame moved of the cigarette. It was a tactile habit that scratched many itches, not just the nicotine addiction. Yes, it was bad for me. Yes, I could tell that it affected my breathing and general health. Unlike other smokers, I didn’t quit because I hated it, I quit because I didn’t want my son to see me smoking. I didn’t want him to think that it was something that I was telling him not to do even while I was doing it myself. That is never a good message. It was hard to put away a habit that I enjoyed, but it needed to be done. That is exactly how I feel about diet changes. I don’t want to change, but I have to.

That’s why I want to be an inspiration. I am going to fail again and again. I have failed at things I love like cycling; I know I am going to fail at something I don’t like. I will hit plateaus in my diet and I will gain weight from time to time. I will eat poorly. I will continue to tell you the good and bad that it happening as I try to lose weight. I want you to see that someone with questionable will power can succeed. I want you to see that you can do whatever you want to do, just like I am doing what I need to do. I don’t want anyone to think that my story should inspire them in any other way. I want them to think that they almost quit, but I didn’t so they didn’t quit either.

That is something that kept going through my head on my ride. I kept thinking that I was out there alone. I was sure that I was at the end of the line and that if I fell in the bushes no one would notice until the ride was over and I didn’t check in. It was a little depressing to think that no one noticed my effort even as it fell short of what I was hoping for in the outcome. All of a sudden a group of riders rode up behind me and asked how I was feeling. They were a group from the cycling club that organized the ride and they saw me struggling. They rode the last mile or so into the checkpoint with me to make sure I made it. I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was.

I think the same thing applies to this blog. For a while I have felt like I was writing for a few people and that most wouldn’t notice if the blog fell into the proverbial bushes. One look at the blog stats would show that I need help promoting the page if nothing else! My traffic would make a small town wonder if it overspent on the one stop light. Part of me was tempted to give up on the 52 Updates in 52 Weeks Challenge but I decided against it. A funny thing happened. All of a sudden people started “liking” my blog on WordPress. Not a lot, but enough to encourage me to keep writing. I am not as alone as I think there either.

Too that end, I would like to say that I don’t know how alone I have ever been when it comes to writing. My family has always supported me to the point of asking why I don’t write more. I have also made some great friends in the blogosphere including www.iwearspandex.com, www.cyclerecycleuk.com, Must Be The Moon, www.iloveyoumorethanicecream.wordpress.com and others. They are all extremely good writers and I am always grateful and humbled when they include me amongst their own ranks.

Maybe that is the lesson in the last few weeks. Keep going. Don’t quit because other people have been down before and they kept going. You really can’t do any different. More importantly, look around, you aren’t alone. People are watching you and they are interested in your journey. Finally, entertain them as best as you can.

See you next week with a wrap up of the first 26 plus posts and where we go from here.

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4 Responses to Further Lessons from the Edge

  1. yceblu says:

    You remind us of basic truths and always entertain us.

  2. Julia says:

    First, I haven’t yet read last week’s post and I am feeling like I neglected you as a friend and fellow writer, especially since last week’s post involved the desire to quit, which doesn’t ever feel good.

    I quit smoking for the same reason, because back in my 20’s, post Cabrini, I realized that I never wanted such an unhealthy habit around my child/ren.

    As usual, I relate to much of what you say here.

    Lastly, I am honored to be included among your great friends who are extremely good writers. I’ve always been extremely emotional, so this got to me. I, in turn feel grateful and humbled.

    • Joe Johnson says:

      Thanks! Don’t worry, it will only leave me completely crushed if you don’t read every blog post, so no pressure. 🙂 Really I am just happy if a few people read a week and if I can say something worth the reader’s time. I’m very glad you liked it!

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