2012 was a year of new beginnings in my life. Both private and public doors closed and opened. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been fruitful. Specifically, 2012 brought Jordyn and i two baby boys. What a BEGINNING!
As with most beginnings, the euphoria begins to wear down eventually and you begin to settle into TCOB (taking care of business) mode and then it becomes part of what you do. And so had been becoming a father and husband to a mother…it’s what i do.
But those new beginnings also bring with them a level of commitment which once determined cannot be struck-through…they must be stuck-to. The commitments of a father are many as are those of a husband. Notice I haven’t even mentioned friends yet…but they’re in there too (somewhere).
Believe it or not, one of the toughest commitments i have had to undertake and stick-to has not been what you may think. Committing to the boys is easy…they need us. We want to be there for them. Committing to my wife is easy…i need her . i also want to her to know i am here to serve her. And i feel the same about my close friends. No sir, one of the toughest committments i have had to stick-to and make part of my TCOB Mode (my SOP if you will), was a commitment to myself. As many parents, husbands, and wives can nod their heads in agreement, keeping yourself through all of it is hard– VERY HARD. Whether you need to make money, family decisions on how to spend time, adjusting to new eating and sleeping schedules, and planning for the future, maintaining yourself comes at a price of sacrifice and commitment that is much easier to just forget about than pay.
Those that know me well know that i have spent time trying to find myself or make myself into what i wanted to be. i’ve started businesses, joined others, ventured out into the woods, and hurled myself across and down mountains all in the name of fulfilling myself before God and before others. But as my boys were born, i was forced to ask myself what i thought they might be asked of me sometime down the road…”Who’s your daddy?” (and it’s okay to say that in a Barry White kind of voice…i know i always do). i didn’t know, or remember, the response.
What i did know was that i was claiming or doing all of the following: New Dad, Husband, Son, Cousin, Nephew, Friend, Teacher, Car Detailer, Bike Shop Owner, Web Designer, Outdoorsman, Christian, Writer, Artist, and Reluctant Bike Rider. i also knew that this list didn’t stop here, but it was all i could think of and it needed reshuffled, trimmed down, and then reshuffled and trimmed some more. i needed to find myself…and quick. Because i knew that my new SOP would soon overcome my ability to do what so badly needed to be done…find who and what is in my core and live that way every day. One facet of that core is what this post is actually about.
On May 4th, as i said, our boys were born. On May 5th, while they were undergoing a “Circummm-Elective” procedure, my father-in-law had the idea to go mow our lawn. It was an inviting Spring day, so i decided to go with him and go for a bike ride. i was numbingly tired and thought some lung and leg burn would help me feel alive.
i did a short ride i’ve done a hundred times before…a 20 mile jaunt from my house to Leola and back. When i got back, my legs burned, i was sweaty, and i wanted more. i definitely remembered at that moment part of my core…i am a bike rider. It is part of who i am and who i’ve always been. But that dude had been neglected and ignored in pursuit of other passions or dreams. i wanted that part back. i was willing to commit to reigniting that fire and becoming that dude again. But i also realized that i weighed 235lbs, just had twins, had a buzillion directions i was being pulled into, and a a wife that need attention and love. i knew that if i was going to commit to this, it was going to take more than just a desire, it was going to take dedication from my, my wife, my family, and my friends. So that day, i wasn’t ready to make it public. i kept it to myself. But i knew i had already made my decision. i didn’t know exactly what i wanted to achieve, but i knew that by doing so, i would end up in a better place.
SO that week i did my thing as a dad and as a husband and by the end of the week, i spilled the beans to my wife. i knew what i wanted and i was ready to let her know. To ask for her blessing. To ask for her support.
On that day i committed “semi-privately” to living a life as a healthy dude. i committed to being a role model of good choice to my sons. i committed to becoming the rider i was once before. More importantly and specifically, i committed to getting fit and to riding my bike at least 2 hours everyday (6 days a week). i knew this is what i wanted, and with Jordyn’s blessing and support, i knew it was up to me to make it happen.
For a long time, i kept my goals semi-private, but i publicly posted rides on Facebook. While i did this to kind of let others know what i was doing, i felt it helped me stay accountable. i felt satisfaction in seeing my rides logged online. i felt like i was accomplishing and working towards something. But that was something I was still struggling with in my heart. What exactly did i want out of this? What did “fit” mean? What was the deal with 2 hours? How did this new ideal, this new era of commitment fit into my new life?
Sometime around the end of June, as Jordyn made her way back to work, i had clarity. i was forced into it. One way or another, Jordyn’s shift back to work would mean my ride time would become less flexible and becoming fit was something i would have to do on my own while tending to infant boys. So i sat and thought about what I really wanted. Did i just want to be a fit bike-dude-dad or something more specific? It was definitely something more sepcific. Again, i sat to talk it over with Jordyn, and she supported.
i specifically wanted to get back into racing my bike, but not this year. i wanted to start back up with a solid base-season. Lots of miles, lots of terrain, no fixed regiment. i also decided that getting fit to me really meant getting “to fit in” to old clothes. It also meant committing to not fitting all i wanted into my diet, but what i knew would fuel me right. It was time to live right again and make tough choices.
Some of those tough choices meant getting a sitter some days for 3 hours so i could ride my bike. Sometimes they would say they could stay for 4 hours and i would stay out longer. Sometimes it meant figuring out difficult schedules and bike transport logistics to ensure i would ride on days i had schedule to do so. As the school year began, it meant once again figuring out how to commute efficiently and learning how to extend my commute to include it as a workout by learning to wake up at 4:15am so i can get 20-30 miles in on my way to work. It also meant planning school clothes and 1 car trip a week to swap out clothes and such. When you commit to life on a bike in an automotive world, life becomes inherently difficult at first, but then it becomes SOP and you no longer think about the difficulties…you just TCOB! In fact, thanks to my schedule as a teacher, my summer job became scheduling my day around riding. There were days when it was a task, a chore, a bother. Kitting up, pulling on sweaty gloves, and sliding my rear on the saddle as i glided out of the driveway. Other days it was like taking flight!
Aside from dialing in our schedules and prioritizing wants, needs, and passionate pursuits, i also had to dial in the diet. Anyone who knows me knows i am a “foody”. i like food, drink, and anything in between. But those that know me well, may also remember a 139lb college kid who was a strict vegetarian turned vegan. i knew what i had to do, i had just chosen to ignore that knowledge for way too long. i started by consuming lots of green smoothies. Later i cut-out refined foods. Throughout i removed land animals from my food source. i felt a difference…i was hungry again! i fed that hunger with what i determined to be clean foods. It wasn’t as hard as i thought it would be, but there were definitely days where i struggled.
There was an entire stretch of time where nothing was happening though i was feeling awesome. And while i was feeling awesome, i knew i was at times putting a strain on us as a family in terms of time, my obsessive tendencies, and more. But this is where the support and parallel commitment of your wife, your friends, and your family really make a difference. Everyone was on the same page (those that knew) and we understood the challenge would be met and produce a positive overall result. Yes, these were hard moments; but i and we persevered, and soon, once again, everything was back on track.
i also decided somewhere along the line that i was going to be more open about my goals. My commitment was solid. My choices were made. And I was living it out every day. It was time to let others know about what I wanted. SO again, I had to ask myself, specifically, what do i want?
I wanted to weigh 175lbs by Thanksgiving Day and enter Two Mountain bike races to test my legs.
i knew that now i had a goal others could visualize and present me with their opinions and support (or not-support). This was late August. Riding was now inherent. Eating right was something i just did (although there were still moments of weakness).
My biggest hurdles were that finishing up August i weighed in at 204. Also, by the time i decided to specify my goals to others,iI had two weeks until the 1st MTB race and i hadn’t ridden a mountain bike in 4 years. That was a lot of weight to lose (almost the same amount i had already lost) and not a lot of time before the 1st race.
Time came for the race and i had a fever and was sick. i struggled with racing or not. i decided i wouldn’t really be racing that day, just paying a race coordinator to ride my bike on their course. i stood no chance at competition. So i bagged it. Although i felt a little defeated inside, i knew i had made the right choice. i actually took 2 days off the bike, ate normally and ended up feeling like a new man by mid-week. That day instead of racing i was a family man and enjoyed time with the boys and my wife. i knew i needed more of that. i recognized that as one of the things i need to keep in my core…another commitment. One that i work on everyday and i will work on everyday.
Another month passed and the second race came up. i was super nervous. i hadn’t ridden mountain, much less raced it in 4 years. What was i doing? What if i had ridden all this time and lost all of this weight and I come in last or DNF? Would it all be wasted time? That would be a crushing blow.
But that didn’t happen. Though i waited until the last minute to enter the race, i had a good race. In fact a really good race. i felt strong, capable, and like my summer long commitment was worth the effort.
So now…for the weight.
Today is November 8th 2012. i’ve become that biker dude again. i’ve become that eat-right dude again. i’ve maintained the daddy-dude throughout. i’ve ridden 2,562 miles since May 5th and this morning i weighed in at 185.2. 50lbs down and 10 to go!
With only 3 weeks to go, i am a little apprehensive about meeting my goal weight. However, i am also excited and amped-up for the challenge.
At this point i am willing to accept the numbers whatever they might be on Thanksgiving Day (well almost any numbers). i know that I have begun the process of “refinding myself” and learning what is in within me that I wish to maintain. I know that my commitment is strong and my family and friend support is there, and that regardless of what happens i’ll be at that better place. i also know that i have begun the process of not only redefining who and what i am at my core, but also living that out every day. In so doing, i also know that i will be a better role model for my boys and a better husband to my wife and a better son and friend and teacher. i finally, also know that i’ve finally learned the difference between hard work and working hard. The latter is what you do when you take on too much stuff without focus…the former is what you do when you want to achieve something “that is NOT easy.”