Weight A Moment
As a more experienced cyclist totally smoked me this morning, disappearing into the distance, for the second day in a row, I've started to seriously think about weight. Why am I so exhausted when I ride? Why are my tyres, which are fully pumped, sagging on contact with the road?
I have to be real with myself and answer that it's to do with my weight. When I was at university, I used to play at least an hour of Ultimate Frisbee every evening out on the lawn in front of New Hall. I was stick thin. My teenage years were certainly a time when I was at a healthy weight. As a child, I was always fairly chubby, probably because we had "tuck" every day from the tuck shop and also if we behaved at home, we were allowed a piece of chocolate after dinner. Once I started training to be a Rabbi, some of the weight gain started and I remember that in my first 6 months of Rabbinic life, I gained a stone (14lbs) in weight. The heaviest I've ever been is 204 lbs, which is 14 1/2 stone.
Even though I now haven't eaten chocolate in many years, I've been overweight especially since Jenny became pregnant with Zafra. I comfort ate with her because it was convenient and I've never shed the many pounds I gained at that time. When she became pregnant with Asher, I did it again. Then moving to America two yeas ago, where so much has added sugar and where all the portions are much larger, resulted in around another significant weight gain. So, today I weigh 194 lbs, or 13 lbs 12 oz.
When I did my last large bike ride, I was around 20lbs lighter, and I notice it now when I'm out on the bike. Interestingly, when I trained for that last ride four years ago, I didn't lose a pound in weight, probably because I was converting fat to muscle. I'm fairly certain, though, that I should be able to do both now. My BMI is 27.1, which puts me right in the middle of the "overweight" category.
I know I'm overweight. I hide it well with loose clothing so many people don't realise, but I am. It's better than it has been in the past, which was apparently "borderline obese," but if I'm going to cycle 100 miles, I need to shed the pounds. The more I weigh, the harder it will be to cycle because more energy must be spent moving a larger mass. It really is that simple. And I know that the biggest part of losing weight is mental discipline, something which I really have lacked in the past when it comes to food. I acknowledge that this is an area I need to work on.
And the simplest first step is to make more sensible choices. As lovely as some foods may be, they are not my friends. Like Trader Joe's Vanilla Joe-Joes. They are really, ridiculously addictive, but they are not my friend. Even the humble bagel, slathered in cream cheese, is not an ideal companion on this journey. People often talk about "everything in moderation" but I know that I'm addicted to sugar. I thought I was addicted to chocolate, which is why I gave it up years ago, but in truth I'm addicted to sugar. And I'm not alone - millions of people worldwide are the same.... http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/sugar/cohen-text)
One of the things I remember from the last bike ride was that eggs fill me up. They are eggstremely healthy (sorry!) and low in sugar. I know that I need to eat more eggs. I love eggs. Just like Mr Strong here from my childhood, who apparently seems to be making an obscene gesture in this picture. Maybe he's staring obesity in the face and telling it what he thinks of it...
As I've said before, a lot of bicycle training is mental. I have to make more conscious food choices, including on Shabbat. I always used to joke that there are no calories on Shabbat but that's actually not funny. We're meant to enjoy ourselves on Shabbat but that's different to poisoning ourselves and I've definitely been doing that with all the sugary foods I've been known to eat on Shabbat. Thankfully, at Temple Beth Shalom the selection at our oneg has become healthier and healthier in recent months at my request, but when there's sugar on the table the temptation for "just a little one" is too high. Then I go back for a little more, and then a little more, until suddenly I realise (as I did last week) that I've eaten half a cheesecake.
So, my progress today isn't in cycling, but in mental attitude. I need to lose weight to make this bike ride much easier, and to do that I need to take control of what I eat. That is why, while typing out this blog entry, I munched on...