Fast forwarding a several decades found me working for a large semiconductor company in Arizona (1995). It was fast paced work which consumed 12 hour days on a weekly basis leaving not much time for other things, or so I thought. Whenever a large project was completed we were treated to a big party with lots of food, music, dancing, games etc. One of the first things that would happen when you arrived at the party was a photo session with you and your significant other. The photo would arrive on your desk a couple of weeks later. After one of these parties in early 2000, the photo arrived and I recognized my wife but I did not recognize the guy beside her. I knew it was me but it didn’t look like me. What happened?!!! I had ballooned to 211 pounds from my 130 pounds when I was in my 20’s. My waist line had expanded to somewhere between 42” and 44” and was getting bigger by the month. For someone who is only 5’-6” tall, that’s a lot of weight.
What was I doing to cause the change? Well, just about everything that I shouldn’t have been doing. I was not exercising at all, even though we had a fully equipped exercise facility at work. I was eating very poorly. Ice Cream – 2 quarts a week, pizza, cake, canned foods, fudge, soda pop, potato chips, nachos, processed cheese, eating way too much at restaurants, etc., etc.
One day, shortly after the photo arrived on my desk and my wife had gone shopping, I went into the washroom and, looking into the mirror, had a little heart-to-heart conversation with myself. I asked “Is your life important to those you love and cherish?”, “Do you want to continue on the current path you have been following?”, “Do you like pain and suffering due to poor health?” My answers were YES, NO and HELL NO. I knew if I didn’t change, I’d be dead in a few years. Fortunately, I didn’t have any non-reversible medical issues so there was hope, if I started now.
My first decisions were around making a plan to get back to a healthy life style. Changes to my diet and determining which exercise activities would be most beneficial took a little time. I told my wife of my plans and enlisted her help in making the needed changes. We started by eliminating all of the soda pop, ice-cream and other unhealthy foods. We started cooking more of our own meals using organic foods and we made my lunches with healthy salads.
For exercise, I started a 5-day program in the fitness center at work doing weights, stretching, and some cardio on a stationary bicycle. This was helping and the weight dropped quickly at first but then plateaued after a few months. The diet changes were now routine but what to do to increase my fitness and continue dropping weight was the question. I didn’t like running, basketball, tennis or swimming. It was about this time that cycling was starting to get a lot of attention globally and I remembered how much I enjoyed it when a young boy.
I decided to start cycling again and bought a mountain bike at Costco. Fully loaded with water and food, it weighed about 35 pounds and made for a good workout. My first ride in over 30 years was a total of 12 miles on flat ground and I was pooped out when I finished. How do those Tour de France riders do it, I asked? Not to be discouraged, I kept at it and pretty soon was riding 40 or more miles each ride. A few more months and my mileage increased to 70 miles per ride and I kept increasing it from there. Meanwhile the weight kept dropping and my physical capabilities were greatly improved. In 2003 I rode that mountain bike over 10,000 miles and completely wore it out but I didn’t care, my weight was down into the 140’s and I was feeling good.
Over the next ten years or so saw the addition of three other bikes, all road bikes and continued fitness improvements. My weight is now down into the low 130’s, sometimes even into the 120’s, my annual cycling miles is over 11,000 miles and all my body chemistry markers are in the normal range.
On an annual basis I have my blood tested in 60+ categories. The report is organized by body organ and shows me my results plus the high and low values for each parameter. I then adjust the vitamins I take accordingly to keep everything normal. We purchase our supply of vitamins from Life Extension.
Rolled or steel cut oatmeal with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped walnuts, ground flax seeds, cranberries and 2% milk. I have one glass of orange juice (with extra pulp) or apple juice for additional nourishment. Sometimes I substitute strawberries for the other berries noted above. Another option is one organic sweet potato cut into cubes and cooked in a little olive oil. Add one egg and some salsa or green chilies and cook until all is ready to eat.
A homemade salad consisting of red or green kale, tomato, celery, carrots, radish, olives, sardines or salmon, walnuts, cranberries, oregano, sweet basil, spinach, dates, and homemade salad dressing. Salad Dressing – olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, sweet basil, coriander, and oregano. Sometimes chicken or turkey breast is substituted for the salmon or sardines.
All dinner ingredients are organic, where it is possible to obtain them, and cooked fresh at home. A typical dinner is fresh Alaskan salmon and veggies cooked in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil, fennel seeds, spinach, green chilies (from Hatch, NM), oregano, sweet basil, coriander, cumin, turmeric and coriander. The veggies consist of potato, carrots, green beans, peas in the pod, red and green peppers, spinach and green chilies. To provide a variety, we substitute the salmon with skinless chicken breast cut in strips, cod, haddock or lean organic raised beef.
On Sundays we usually make a large pot (8 quart) of Lentil soup with organic ingredients (see recipe attached), eat some and place the remainder in re-sealable glass jars, storing them in the refrigerator until we want to have some. Some Sundays, we make a large pot (8 quart) of home-made baked beans, again storing the excess in containers in the freezer until we are ready to have some.
Dessert is usually non-fat yogurt with fresh berries (blue, black and rasp), cranberries, strawberries or applesauce (homemade).
Some Additional Notes From Ron:
I gave up watching TV at least six years ago. For the most part I found that there is very little of value in the programming and I could get more news on the Internet in a few moments rather than having to sit while some talking head read the news. To get the programming that I liked, I had to purchase the basic package and two or three upgrades that came with a large increase in monthly cost as well. It just wasn’t worth it to me. As a result, I have lots of free time to focus on the things in my life that really matter and I have extra money in my account to do other things that are more important. I’ve replaced the time that I use to spend watching TV with other more productive and healthy activities.
You will notice that I have not mentioned any cross-training above. That’s because I’ve been a bad boy and not spent any time in our fitness center for the last year. I plan to rectify that in 2014 by including at least two days a week working on cross-training – weights, stretching and dynamic moves, in addition to the ice skating.
Was it hard to learn how to cook our meals with fresh ingredients? In a word NO. I like cooking and experimenting with different foods and spices to create interesting and healthy meals. It also provides an opportunity for my wife and I to spend time together, multi-tasking so to speak.
Is it hard getting up early to exercise? In a word NO. Going to bed early (around 9:00 PM) and getting a good seven hours of sleep does wonders for the body. After a few weeks of the change in routine, it becomes normal and my body is expecting to get up at 04:15 to exercise and start my day.
Was it hard to learn to bicycle again? Not really but it was hard to learn to do it correctly as I had to un-learn all the things learned when young. Things like only pushing on the down stroke. I had train my legs to apply power around as much of the circle as possible and evenly with each leg. Learning to peddle like this spreads the work load over all of your leg muscles and prevents muscle imbalance. It also engages other body muscles like your core, arms and upper body.
Do I track any personal data like weight and bicycle ride data? Yes, I weigh myself when I get up in the morning before I eat anything and again after I exercise, recording both and charting the Get Up and After Exercise weight along with the difference and the pounds/inch of height. Tracking the difference in weight keeps me focused on staying properly hydrated and fueled while cycling. The pounds/inch of height provides an indicator of how I compare with other cyclists. A value of 2.1 or less is good. As for cycling data, for each ride I track the distance traveled, the time it took to do it, the pace/mile (minutes/mile), information about the ride itself like Tempo, Endurance or Sprint focused, calories consumed to do it, calories from fat, average HR, maximum HR, calories burned per minute and calories burned per mile. Charting some of this data provides an indication that my training routines are making improvements.
What are my short and long term plans? Short term, this year or next, I want to move from a Category 5 to a Category 4 cyclists. I also want to maintain my 10,000+ miles per year on the bicycle. Long term, I want to set the world record for the distance traveled by a cyclist over 103 years of age. Some guy in France currently holds the record. I do not plan to change my diet or my exercise routines as they have worked very well for me.