One Year In

I just received the email informing me that it is time to renew my domain registration for my blog’s web site. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a full year of writing and trying to lose weight, and even harder to believe how far I’ve gotten. It’s never easy to talk about a journey and only have good things to say. There are always unexpected detours and confusing sections where you might lose your way and have to figure out how to get back on track. I have been seriously committed to trying to lose weight and get in shape for almost one year now. It has been an interesting year and so much has changed. There have definitely been some highs and lows over the last year and a few extremely frustrating periods. I am stuck in one of those right now so it might be good that we are approaching the one year anniversary. It is a good time frame to be able to gain some perspective.

One year ago I weighed 365 pounds. I was always eating junk. I knew it was bad for me, but I did it anyway. I had quit smoking a couple of years before after 21 years of multiple packs a day, and like many other ex-smokers I replaced the cigarettes with food. I was constantly snacking on something. Sometimes I would eat healthier, but still eat constantly. I was far less physically active than I had ever been as well, which only compounded the issue. I had gone from doing physical work in my mid-twenties to working at a desk by my mid-thirties. One year ago it was even worse as I started a 30 day layoff that would become permanent. So, on top of always eating, I wasn’t burning off any of the food I was consuming.

One year ago I was sure that I was going to be fat forever. I had started riding my bike a year before and I had hoped for some life changing event that seemed to happen to everyone that started riding, at least according to what I had read. It seemed to me that all you had to do was jump on a bike and ride and the weight would fall off. To be fair, it did start to come off but I managed to out eat the weight loss. I would ride 20 miles and use that as an excuse to eat even more. This reinforced the mindset that some people would just always be fat, and I was one of them. I would get angry at myself every time I went clothes shopping because I was stuck looking for clothes with more Xs in them than a red light district but then I would go home and eat even more food. I don’t know if I was comfort eating, or just eating out of habit. Much like smoking, eating became something to do when I was bored not when I was hungry. I distinctly remember not being hungry at all. I never had the chance. That was one of the first things I relearned when I started to lose weight, what hungry actually felt like.

One year ago I didn’t like where I was, and I didn’t like where I was heading. I was looking for inspiration and I found it in a book by Mike Magnuson. Heft on Wheels came to me at exactly the right time in my life. While we didn’t share every problem, Magnuson and I shared the issue of always weighing more than we wanted to but always thinking that we would fix it tomorrow. His tomorrow finally came and his story inspired me to find mine. Heft on Wheels was written in the exact language that I needed to get through to me. It was sarcastic, funny, and self-deprecating. At some point I began to think of it as a conversation with a great friend who was sharing his story of transformation and showing me that I could get there too if I worked hard enough. I also loved that Magnuson kept stressing that how he changed his life wasn’t vetted by doctors or his suggestion on how anyone else do it, it was just what worked for him.

I decided that it was worth another shot. This time I wanted to accomplish my goal instead of just hanging onto the idea that I was going to lose weight eventually. Eventually never has a timeline. It just hangs out in the future comfortably distant and never holding you accountable. This time I was going to create some accountability. I was going to put all of this on line for people to see. I started my blog as a way to report back to the interwebs on what progress I was making. There are other goals to the blog, but knowing that I have to let people know how I am doing in good times and bad kept me focused. I also decided that it was time to set some challenges as another way to force accountability. I signed up for group rides and this September I am going to run my first Rugged Maniac. I am also going to do my first metric century charity ride, the very next weekend. The fear is a great motivator.

So, after a year, where am I? Well, I am a little better. I lost the first 88 pounds. In the first six months of the year I have doubled my total cycling mileage from the previous full year. I am eating healthier and sticking to my exercise program. I failed to complete the hilliest 60 mile ride that I attempted, but I learned from that experience and I am training harder to make sure that I succeed when I ride my metric century on Martha’s Vineyard later this year. I have also learned the pain of a plateau. That’s a big part of the reason why I am still down 88 pounds instead of the 100 I want to lose by the end of the cycling season. I have also learned that old habits die hard and that you can quickly fall back into bad habits. I have lost some of the headway I gained when I fell back into poor eating habits. A small dinner is fine, a small desert if fine as well. A large dinner and two deserts is not fine. It’s particularly not fine if you don’t exercise that day, or the next day.

The most important part of this last year is coming to the realization that falling back is okay. It’s not a good thing, but it’s not the worst that could happen either because I know that I am still working on this lifestyle change. I started a year ago thinking that I would give it six months to see how everything went. I fully expected to fail, or lose some weight and then gain it back as soon as I stopped. Four months in things were going so well that I decided to keep the blog going and to up the ante on the writing end and started the 52 Posts in 52 Weeks Challenge. Now I am coming up on the one year anniversary of the blog and I realize that I don’t want to stop moving forward. I will fall back from time to time, but I don’t want to stop and I don’t want to lose ground. I feel better than I ever have even when I hit a plateau or fall back into bad habits. I still want to lose the 100 pounds and cross that goal off of the list, but I really don’t want to stop there. I want to add goals of my first century ride, my first challenge century, my next 50 pounds lost, and so much more. I want my son to think that dad was always fit and active and I want him to grow up thinking that is the way normal people act.

So, who’s up for another year?

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8 Responses to One Year In

  1. DianeDiane says:

    Congratulations on one year anniversary of blog and achieving such significant changes in your life. Sounds like you’re on your way to permanent weight loss (with a few natural fall backs along the way). All the best for year two 🙂

  2. Dad says:

    Son u have made me so proud I know it wasn’t easy for you in your earlier years. I also know I wasn’t around much as I was always working 2 jobs to give you what I thought was important in your growing up but I was wrong and watching you and your son together I realize that being together is the most important thing.

  3. yceblu says:

    Terrific job, congratulations on your one year anniversary of your blog! What a difference a year makes. Keep up the good work. Wishing you all the best for year two.

  4. Heidi says:

    Thanks Joe for your blog. I’m going through the same thing right now and trying to find the balance is very hard. Setting goals are good things too. Old habits are hard to break, I quit smoking in 05 and I did loose 60lbs but have been at a stale mate for a bit. For me it’s been to much work and not enough me time. Well see what happens this year, hopefully it all falls into place. Keep up the great work….:)

    • Joe Johnson says:

      Quitting smoking and losing 60 pounds is awesome! Congrats! Sometimes I think a big challenge works better for me than smaller goals. I think that’s why I signed up for the Rugged Maniac race. The sheer terror of being unprepared will force me to train.

  5. Joe, congrats on the one year of blogging and, more importantly, the excellent gains in fitness and weight loss. Believe it or not, you are an inspiration to me and many others. The setbacks only prove that you are human. Push through and keep going. Confidence will get you through, but I know that is easier said than done sometimes.

    My focus on training goals, like signing up for a century, has helped me keep working towards weight loss goals, etc. Keep pushing and you’ll get through it.

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