It is no secret looking at my Dad bod that fitness has never really been a strong point for me. I am 1) short, 2) weak, 3) unathletic, 4) uncoordinated, and 5) generally a mess in the genetically gifted department. On top of having all this going for me (?!?) add in the fact that I’ve 1) pretty much worked in a job where I sit at a desk all day for 25+ years, 2) ate really tasty but really horrible food for 25+ years, 3) didn’t really do much exercise because I was “too busy” for 25+ years. That is a recipe for Deano being not only short but also fat. In high school, I was a small guy, but I lifted weights and was not in horrible shape. In college I continued doing this AND loaded trucks for UPS at night AND valet parked cars at a very busy Nashville lunch spot. No number of calories could keep weight on me at this point as I was burning them off faster than I could eat them. I was walking around soaking wet at around 120 pounds and wearing 27-inch waist pants. I was a twig…literally “working my ass off”!
This was the mid 1990s and I was about 20. Now fast forward with me to August 2011…fat boy was 38 years old and the situation had deteriorated dramatically. 38-year-old working father of 4 now weighed in at 191 (yikes…I’m 5’ 8”) and had developed a severe case of Dunlaps Disease (my belly done lapped over my belt). A piece of string wrapped around the fattest part of my mid-section these days was stretched to a very tight 42 inches. My pants waist size was about to graduate from the 35 size to the 37. Oh. My. WORD! My weight should be between 125 and 163 in order to fit nicely inside some official table from some official group that tracks that sort of thing. My belly, however, is the leading indicator I was worried most about. It obviously doesn’t look too nice hanging there, but it also indicated that I was about 5x more likely to develop diabetes. I was on a bad path no doubt!
I had excuses too:
- I’m Too Busy – All these kids, these demanding jobs, having friends, sleeping, hobbies, etc. How am I going to have any time to work out? I haven’t…obviously…so how now?
- I Love This Bad Food – I go to lunch every day with the boys and eat way too much. I eat portions that are way too big (and way too good). I have a very, very solid addiction to sugary drinks. Coke just as well have cocaine in it because that is how it feels for me.
- It Hurts When I Work Out – I’d do some kind of workout and then for the next 5 days I couldn’t walk (or work out) because I’m a wimp. Muscles hurt. Joints hurt. Ligaments hurt. Lungs hurt. This made it easy for me to say, “this working out ain’t for me”.
Regardless, I decided it was time to put the excuses aside and start moving this ship in a new direction. Knowing that I like metrics and data and spreadsheets I bought a Garmin GPS / Heartrate monitor watch. I got Emily’s high school mountain bike out and in August 2011 I started riding. My first rides were on Belle Meade Boulevard making a loop and were 30 minutes. Over time I worked my way up to hour-long rides and rode from my home into town a bit to I-440 on West End. I was onto something. This biking thing might be the ticket. I mean you don’t ever see an obese Tour De France cyclist. Right?! I’ll roll my way out of this problem…DeanoRolls!
I rode a couple hundred miles in 2011. Then in 2012, I rode 1,000 miles. I lost some weight. Then in 2013-2014 I started up with excuses again and didn’t do much. This time I used the old tried and true ‘career/job change’ excuse. In late 2015 I got to riding again regularly. In 2016 something clicked, and I hit it hard. I watched the Tour De France that year for motivation. I set a goal. My goal was to ride the distance of the Tour De France (2,000+ miles) over the course of the summer. I capped off that goal in the Fall by riding my first ‘century ride’ (100-mile bike ride) down the Natchez Trace Parkway. I also lost about 6 inches from around the old gut along all those miles.
Since then I’ve been active but pretty much offset anything I was doing from exercise in the kitchen because I love to eat. I don’t really eat unhealthy too often, but I do consistently overeat. During this time, I felt great and don’t really have any huge health/fitness concerns, but I am still overweight. This is not ideal.
One thing I learned over the years by tracking my rides (and other workouts) and calories burned AND sporadically tracking my calories eaten in MyFitnessPal was that nothing else matters except the calorie deficit. If you burn more calories than you consume your weight will go down (and vice versa). There is pretty much nothing else that matters related to that cycle too much. I decided in early 2019 that it was silly for me to be working out and then overeating to top everything back off (and then some). I had gotten my gut in better shape (with more to go) but I wanted to get my weight down to where I knew it needed to be.
You are what you consistently do! I had also learned that I would go from periods of wild activity to sedentary periods (mainly during Winters when I just hated being cold). I had to get more consistent and stop being so erratic. I decided I am going for a 160-pound target weight and I am going to do it with consistency. I’m going to do some form of ‘sweating’ almost every day. I’m also going to monitor my food intake to stay on a target there as well. I am not going to overdo it on the workouts to the point where I must miss days because I’m sore/hurt. I’m not going to eat mindlessly without any regard for how many calories I’m consuming. I’ll miss days working out, and I’ll have days where I overeat…but those will not be the norm. I will consistently be on the plan. Over time if I maintain this lifestyle (and that is what it must be) my meat suit will morph into what it should be. I won’t be walking down any beaches kicking sand in other dude’s faces, but I should be healthy on a variety of measures. This should be beneficial in all kinds of areas.
So far 20+ weeks in I haven’t really made drastic lifestyle changes and I haven’t really done anything that feels too hard and it is working. Emily and I have been doing a lot of walking/hiking (on the hills in the park). I also bike often and sometimes lift weights (should do this more). I do bodyweight exercises almost daily in the absence of lifting. I’m not on track from my original goal/timeline because I haven’t been completely consistent. But I’ve been more consistent than not, and I have lost weight. My gut is as small as it has been since peaking out many years ago. I am almost back to my lowest weight since my peak many years ago and everything is pretty much tracking the math of calories in vs calories out. I should hit 160 in another few months. At that point I’ll just keep on doing it…forever.
If you want to follow along and give me crap if I take a few days off in a row let’s link up on Strava (https://www.strava.com/athletes/19668663). If it ain’t on Strava it didn’t happen!