The Fall of Man, version #1 (the literal version): I fell today while strapped into my pedals on my bike. I fell hard! I was coming to a stop and could not get my foot free in time. The skin came off just below my knee and I'll have decent bruises on my elbows (the bike is fine). Cuppa Joe was with me and saw that falling off a bike can hurt, but is not fatal and we just have to get back up and ride. My fall did not mean I am a bad cyclist or a failure. It was just a simple fall, nothing more...I am not going to have to "start over" as a cyclist. EVERY cyclist falls sometimes, then they get back up. (Hint: Do you see how this is building to a larger message here?).
("Will this apple exceed your daily calorie count?")
The Fall of Man, version #2 (from The Bible and Wikipedia): The Fall of Man or simply the Fall refers in Christian doctrine to the transition of the first humans from a state of innocent obedience to God, to a state of guilty disobedience to God. After doing so they become ashamed... I am a Christian guy, which means that I believe that Adam and Eve really were the first humans and I also see that they could not stick to a prescribed eating plan, just like me. Were they disobedient to God? Definitely! Did He give up on them, or tell them that they were no longer loved? No. Adam and Eve were basically told that they were going to have to work a bit harder in life now. Their work, including gathering food to eat, would now be more difficult for them. Just like we tell our kids...you were disobedient. But I still love you. Try to do better from now on. God is all about forgiveness and moving forward. (That's another hint.)
The Fall of Man, version #3 (the Lance Armstrong version): The Tour de France ended today and Lance Armstrong did not win...exactly. One could argue that he had nothing to prove, given that he had already one this race 7 times AFTER surviving cancer. If you have won the race more times than anyone else, I think you are classified as a winner. But he fell during this year's Tour de France and he struggled and finished 23rd, far below the expectations of his fans. I bet he'll be upset for a little while, but not long. No one likes losing, but Lance is more than a 2010 TdF cyclist. He is a record-breaker, he is a father, he is a living example of winning the fight against cancer. Amidst all of these things, will his standing in this one race really get him down? I doubt it.
Where is all of this going? I am coming to terms with my own successes and challenges in my efforts to lose weight and become more healthy. I started this blog because I am somewhat expressive and wanted to voice what I was going through. I also wanted to learn and be encouraged by others (and encourage them in return).
Some of you have had tremendous success stories with amazing perserverance and obedience to your plan. I admire your discipline and celebrate your success. There are even times, when I am a bit envious.
All of our stories are different and I can tell you that I am very pleased with my results so far, but I am not nearly done. And yet, I have other things in life that I hold higher than The Clydesdale Project. I am a father, a husband, an employee, a volunteer, etc. If my poor health were about to kill me, then yes, counting calories and dropping pounds each week would likely be my highest priority...but I am healthy, (Thank You God). I have lost over 10% of my weight in the past few months and my health metrics are excellent. My clothes are loose, I am aware of my goals and of what I need to keep doing to become even more healthy. I am confident.
This weight loss/exercise thing is mostly a mental game and this is where non-athletes get very easily defeated. If we fall or stumble, then we can quickly tell ourselves that we "just aren't good at this" or "have no discipline", so we limp off the race course and crawl back to the couch and our old bad habits.
Or maybe, we sign up for "the race" again and tell ourselves that we are "starting over", hoping that "this time, things are going to be different". Cyclists never do that. When they fall, they don't sit and pout and they absolutely don't walk their bike back to the starting line to "start over". They get up, dust themselves off, and get back to it, even if their friends are now much further ahead. The crowd cheers only for those who don't give up.
A fellow blogger (someone I consider a friend and mentor) recently responded to my question where I asked if he ever went days or weeks off his plan. His response was that he didn't allow that to happen. He wrote "The attitude of "Oh well---I'll do better tomorrow, or next week, or soon" is exactly the kind of excuses and rationalizations I write so much about....they're deadly."
Now, feel free to take these next words with a grain of salt, but I think his philosophy on that is not for everyone. True, he has achieved amazing results and therefore, we should all learn from his dedication. But for some of us, a more moderate approach might not be deadly at all. It might actually be a better plan for some of us. Falling off the bike is not deadly, if you are the type of person who knows that you will get back on. Falling is not the failure (even if you stop for a "break")...you only fail at your goals when you choose to give up entirely.
I guess I am writing this to myself (as usual) and also to some of you out there that DO NOT have near-perfect discipline. Don't feel like a failure if you stop for awhile along your journey, or if you aren't showing any progress. Seek advice from others if that is helpful to you, there are plenty of wise people out there who can help. But if work, relationships, stresses or even happiness(!) comes along and becomes more important than posting a number at your weekly weigh-in, then so be it. If you ever feel like you are becoming a slave to your own plans, then you are doing it wrong, in my opinion.
One final note, I won't reference my blogger friend here, because he has done so well for himself and helped so many people that I would not want anyone to think this is a battle between me and him. It is not that way at all. I am just coming around to my own perspective, which I think is different from his. If you know who he is, then feel free to disregard my opinion and follow his advice. After all, his weight loss results are tremendous.
As always, I welcome any feedback you might have. Thanks.