Monday, July 26, 2010

The Fall of Man...and other weighty topics

Please forgive the attempt at a clever title, but it so perfectly fit my feelings for today.  This goes a bit long here, my friends.  If you have been struggling lately with your motivation or mistakes, this might be helpful.  Here goes.

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 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") 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.

Big Clyde


Thomas said...

I'm with you. Even the best/elite athletes are allowed to deviate from their training plans. And many choose to because, hey, it's called life ;)

Miz said...

for me my life is the journey and the process and I want to enjoy it along the proverbial way.
for me there really is NO end goal (beyond living longer so I can have a longer process :)) and Ive deviated from my path myriad times.

all I ever want is to be sure to get back on so that my process and journey can be as long as possible.

as thomas said--its all about life and finding what works for US individually.


William Hanson said...

I'm one that definitely doesn't have 'near-perfect discipline'. I've been trying to generate some new healthy habits recently, but it's very easy to fall back into my old unhealthy habits. But I'll dust myself off again today and get back on track. It's all I can do I guess.

My goals for this week are to eat good, avoid the junk food and get three workouts in throughout the week. I'll keep an eye on your blog as well to see how you're doing. Good luck.

Kim Ayres said...

I think the problem is, if you start thinking "It doesn't matter if I go off the rails sometimes" then at the times of stress when the food starts calling, it's much easier to justify to yourself that it's OK to give in to it.

So first of all, I think we do need discipline.

However, if we have lapsed, then there is no point in beating ourselves up about it. When we feel guilty and really bad about ourselves, most of us with eating problems, turn to food as a form of self-medication, in much the same way alcholics will "drown" their pain.

So making ourselves feel bad about over eating, usually has the effect of making us eat more and getting into a spiral of self loathing and over eating - the very thing we are trying to break free from.

Luke said...

This level of deepness was a change and a treat to read. I deviate alot myself, I have a long history of falling off my bike and just like when i fall down on the trails, I dust myself off and get back on. By the way I though of you this weekend when I was at a biek shop that had a large selection of electra bikes.

Raegun said...

Thanks for sharing this post. I tend to have an "all or nothing" approach to diet and exercise. And you know what? It hasn't served me very well! I'm going to give myself a gentle reminder to get back on the proverbial bike. Hopefully the number of times I have to do that diminish over time. ;)

On a side note, I know what it's like to fall off the bike literally as well. A few years ago I fell off my bike in front of about 30 people at a busy downtown intersection when I was first learning to use toe clips. Embarrassing!!!

spunkysuzi said...

My journey has definitely not been a smooth ride. But i have learned a lot and i'm proud of getting back on the horse!
I remember when i first started blogging i was reading a post from someone (can't remember who) who stated that in her entire weight loss (and she'd lost quite a bit) not once had she ever had a gain!! That really hit me as strange because i know of no one who doesn't have a gain now and then. After that i just couldn't relate to her blog at all!

Kovas Palubinskas said...

I wish I was strong enough to not deviate, but instead I have to be strong enough to get back up after the fall. Thoughtful post, thanks.

Christine said...

Great post today, Clyde! I love you using "The Fall of Man" as a metaphor for the various aspects of your life, both big and small. This is insightful and revealing. A wonderful introspective look. Keep this up -- the self-analysis from the inside-out is what will make you successful in the long-term.

KJ said...

Wonderful post, just what I needed today. I haven't been very consistent with my workouts lately and have been feeling very guilty about it. I have set some goals for myself and I feel like I'm going backwards everytime I "fall off the bike" (which I did a few weeks ago trying to avoid riding into my own car - go figure). I'm typically very hard on myself and have found that sometimes I beat myself up so badly that I make myself feel like my workouts aren't worth anything so I become a lump of inactive flesh. I always imagine that everyone else is doing just fine and getting on with things, which makes me feel worse. It was good to read your post today and reassure myself that falling off happens and is ok, as long as I get back on.

Thank you!

Kimberley said...

Very interesting read Clyde. Hope you aren't too sore from your fall.

I think that we all have to find our own way in the weight loss world and that what works for someone else is not necessarily going to work for you.

I used to have a really hard time with moderation and thinking that if I "fell", I might as well just stay down there. That didn't work for me at all and resulted in regaining the 136 pounds I lost, plus a few more.

Doing "your" thing is where it is at! Whether that is never straying, straying occasionally or eating anything you like as long as you eat a certain number of calories. Whatever works baby!

Barbara said...

Wonderful post. Very insightful. I agree with you. When I started this journey, I wanted to change my lifestyle, but I didn't want to do it in a way that was all or nothing because I knew I couldn't live that way my whole life. I think you are so right on about how other things in life sometimes take precedence over our "plan". Holidays happen, vacations happen, work happens, birthdays happen, life happens...etc. Sometimes I get frustrated when the weight seems to be coming off SLOWLY, but then I remind myself that this is life and I am living in a way that I can live for the rest of my life so who cares if it comes off slowly.

Big Clyde said...

A quick apology to any of you who might have seen the just removed comment about the Adam & Eve issue. It was not related to my theme and I felt it was inappropriate for this site.

Robert - I don't know you, but I'm sure you meant no harm in your comment. Respectfully, those comments aren't welcome here.

Big Clyde

Debby said...


guinnemick said...

I don't think you should censure your blog. So, only people that agree with your thoughts and theory's are allowed to post a comment???? I don't agree with everything you say, yet we are good friends.. I didn't get to read what he wrote, but I don't agree with erasing it. You put your life and beliefs out there for everyone to see, why can't you accept other people's beliefs, ideology's, and their comments on your thoughts... I am just saying...

Okay, back to your post.. I am just going to remind you what a 2 famous people once said

"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."
Vince Lombardi


The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you!
Rocky Balboa

Big Clyde said...

GuinneMick - The guy wrote about something that I wouldn't want my kids or parents or friends to read about on this blog. If he wants his free speech, he can have it...just not here. I'll always accept contradicting or challenging points of view (it happens all the time), but I reserve the right to bounce something that is offensive. He can tell his story on his blog, not here.

As for the other quotes, I do like them. But I am not whining about hitting tough times. In reality, I'm really happy and am enjoying the results of my hard work. When I climb hills on the bike, there are times when I pause and catch my breath and look how far I've climbed...I get to enjoy it. Then, I climb again. This is what I was trying to say.

Thanks for your friendship, buddy. Now, help me out on Sunnyside alright?!

Alan said...

I hesitate to jump in after Vince Lombardi and Rocky! But one thing I liked is how you mentioned how athletes respond to disappointment. It's so true. They often talk about "having no memory". Losses I'd obsess over they just let go and hop back in the game the next day. So many of the weight loss bloggers say that the transformation they are most amazed by is that they have become athletes. There's a correlation between exercise and maintaining weight loss. Your post, and my reflection on it, and the sage words of Mr. Balboa, lead me to think maybe it's not just the exercise, but the mental attitude of the athlete that helps people maintain their loss.

Thanks for taking time to write such a thoughtful and introspective post.

fatty blogsticks said...

yikes, reading through these comments was a bumpy ride in itself :-)

i feel like i'm one of those people you're talking about (ever-so-slightly-lacking-discipline) and i am always greatly encouraged by your words. for me, my blog is so much more than a weight-loss tracker. it's about having an outlet in the pursuit of health and happiness. they go hand in hand, and both take a tumble regularly. i think you're right - the pace/the style/the motive/the belief is irrelevant. it's all about keeping on.

bbubblyb said...

I really believe if we go through life enjoying the little things and not sweating the small stuff and yes getting back on that bike again and again when we fall we will get to where we want to be and we will be happy. I think weight is just a by product of other things not balanced in our life. So if we can find our balance the weight will come off. Of course for some it's a quick journey and for others a slow one. I took the slow road myself and though there were bumps and pot holes I still enjoyed the ride. What a good post. I look forward to reading more from you.