That is how long I have been off the bike.
I have done the math, and of those 22 days there were 15 days I was literally (due to work, weather, travel, family) unable to ride.
That leaves 7 days where I could have ridden. Maybe for only an hour or so, maybe even for only 20 minutes. But I COULD have ridden, and I did not. I had good excuses, but that’s all they were – excuses.
I started off the month on such a high – I rode the 80-mile Pedal The Cause in record time (for me), and with Indian Summer hitting St. Louis, I was eyeing a 400-mile October. Then a couple of days where I was planning on riding got messed up, then an unexpected work trip happened, then depression and frustration, and bang — 22 days off the bike.
As I write this it is 34 degrees out. Certainly not fun cycling weather, but I COULD ride… except that I am sitting here waiting for a plumber to arrive at our home. This is why you MUST ride when you have the chance. Because if you put it off thinking that you’ll ride later or tomorrow or the next day, something else always comes up.
I have a trainer in our basement. Here is how many times I have been on that trainer since returning from Cycling Mecca…
It takes about a 40-second search on the Internet to find all the theories about how long it takes for something to become a “habit” for your body and mind. Mostly it averages out to about three weeks. 21 days.
It takes roughly (arguably) 21 days to form a habit — meaning, if you do something for 21 days straight it will become a habit and then you will no longer have to force yourself to do it. That happened to me with cycling. I did it often enough that my body and mind got used to it, expected it, WANTED it.
And I could literally feel that desire fading away in my physiological makeup over the past 22 days… after 4 or 5 days off the bike I was going crazy. I was like a heroin addict without his works. My body was begging for me to ride. Every day I would get up and my body was expecting to be on The Goat within an hour or so, and when that didn’t happen, my body didn’t know how to react.
My mind was in the same predicament. As each day went on, I found myself getting more frustrated with little things; my temper shortening; my creative juices jammed up. My body and mind were telling me what I needed… and I ignored them.
Around day 12 or 13 off the bike I hit depression. Major depression. I could almost bring myself to tears when thinking about riding. I would see a cyclist on the road and want to curl up like a baby and suck my thumb.
And then… about day 15 or 16… the habit I had worked so hard to create was gone. I woke up and my body had no thought of the bike. My mind was more interested in what soccer match was on TV rather than if I could venture outside and ride.
Instead of the energy I had at night – the energy that kept me alert and drinking tea instead of consuming chips – was gone. At night, I just wanted to sit and eat. I was a sloth.
And the very worst part is, I could have done something about it. My body and mind were certainly doing their best to give me Red Alert warning signs. But I ignored them. And paid the price.
You may recall a recent post where my weight – dropping under that magical 200 – had jumped back up a few pounds and I was upset. I decided to stop the weekly weigh-ins and do my own work. Manage my self, and weigh-in every few weeks for a more accurate accounting.
That didn’t go well.
As of this writing I am at 207.5 pounds. Once again, all the work of August and September out the window. The yo-yo effect in full glory.
22 days off the bike combined with eating well during maybe eight or ten of those days… leads to 207. Point 5.
I have realized that I am one of those really annoying people who can tell everyone else exactly how to lose weight and get fit, all the while not doing it for myself. Don’t you hate those people? I know I do.
So what to do? What do we do when we have fallen off the proverbial wagon? When we have let ourselves down? When we have done the very thing we set out not to do? What do we do?
1. We LEARN from it.
Take an honest, pragmatic look at where we went wrong. The key word there is HONEST. Break it down, figure it out point by self-loathing point, and then…
2. Start over.
Back to square one and the drawing board and all the other cliches. START OVER. One day at a time. One step at a time. One pedal stroke at a time. One bite at a time.
I started over last night. I downloaded the pithy MY FITNESS PAL app, and began to keep a calorie diary. It is by no means completely accurate but it makes you accountable if you’re being honest. You login your age, size, other logistics, and your weight-loss goal, and then the app “tells” you how many calories a day you should intake based on your activity level to lose that amount of weight. Again, none of it works unless you are HONEST.
This little app is in no way a savior of any kind. It is simply a device to help make me accountable and get me back on track in these days where winter is approaching faster than Thor Hushovd on a descent, and thus, my chances of 3 and 4 hour Rapha rides diminishing.
To recap… I suck. But I take full responsibility for it and will (once again) start over. I will do my best to push myself to ride even if only for 20 minutes; even if it’s incredibly uncomfortable and my toes freeze; even if it’s on the basement trainer. I must ride when I don’t want to ride. And I must eat like an athlete again. Not like a fan.
Eat like an athlete, not a fan.
I should tattoo that on my forehead.
And I must start over. And the most important part of starting over is to let the past go. Yes, suckage ensued, but it’s over now. Forget it and start over. Day One. Baby Steps. All that.
I appreciate the few readers I have, and appreciate that you stop by here to help keep me focused and accountable. I appreciate my fellow bloggers out there, all battling your own demons, all fighting the good fight of a healthy life. We will prevail.
Eat like an athlete, not a fan.
Ride your bike. Even when it sucks to do so.
Never ever ever abandon the fight.
You’re very good, you are, you are