Well folks, the way I see it I’m finally getting up into the “crazy miles” category. Sure if I were retired already I could be doing a lot more but I faced the fact long ago that God simply doesn’t want me to have that much money – it just is what it is. Last week was my best week ever between riding a bike and running. In fact, the week of my last century was my previous best at 179 miles in seven days…and I beat that by 33 miles. Also, with ten days left in the month I should be close to challenging my best month total of 634 miles.
To put that in perspective, my best month last year (and my first year cycling) was only 384 miles. In fact, by next month I’ll have doubled my total all-purpose mileage from 2011. I’m so much happier for it too. Even if I were to discount all of the good times I’ve had riding with my wife, and all of friendships I’ve made over the last year, and all of the good times I’ve had riding with the guys in the cycling club, I’m a lot better just for the miles. Life hasn’t gotten any easier in since either, but I’m handling the adversity a lot better. I’m not claiming to be perfect, but some of the things I’m handling today would have really thrown me for a loop last year.
I’ve written about this before in a post about depression in my “Maladies” series, and I’m here to tell you, I don’t know what I’d have done without cycling over the last year. It’s been a blessing indeed.
One of my favorite on-liner comments is that you can’t outrun a bad diet. While there is truth in that statement, it’s also a little deceptive because “bad” is highly subjective. Although I am not exactly what you would call a word-smith, I make the attempt because one way or another (and whether I like it or not) words do matter.
Let’s look at the low hanging fruit first; define bad diet for me. On the extremes you’d have some form of candy or sugary snack every night before bed, lots of cookies, cake, ice cream and so forth, in addition to too many calories for lunch and dinner… You’ve got your own visions of the amounts though. Surely if I eat three Oreos and a glass of milk a time or two a week, that can’t be bad can it? How about a handful of Hot Tamales (one of my favorites), literally like eight pieces of the candy – maybe 20-30 calories at best? Surely that can’t be all that bad, can it? How about meat? Some vegetarians and vegans are convinced eating meat is bad and therefore you wouldn’t be able to “outrun” the fact that you have a burger for dinner. The problem here is that people define “bad” differently. I’m certain I have a diet that would make many people on the extreme end of the spectrum gasp in horror. I don’t shy away from a Coke every now and again, especially after (or during) a large ride. Last night was Taco Tuesday at Thompson Creek Turkey – I ate five in the space of ten minutes, and these aren’t your little dinky Taco Bell tacos… The horror! Of course, when we take into account that I normally burn between 7,000 and 11,000 calories a week riding a bike or running, five tacos isn’t such a big deal – especially when I’m already a few pounds underweight and have a hard time keeping my weight up. Why do I have a tough time keeping my weight up? Why can I eat meat and stay svelte at 42 when most men are whining about their age when they talk about their dickie-do? Because I outrun (or outride, currently) my diet.
This wasn’t always the case of course. When I was running twice a week and drinking 4 or 5 two liters of cola a week, I had a hard time with a gut and keeping my weight below 170 (I’m currently at 154.5) – I was on the wrong end of both extremes. Sure I ran a couple of times a week but I was drinking 4-5,000 empty calories in that week. I couldn’t even burn off the empty calories from the soda let alone anything else I ate… But there’s that definition of bad. Most of us should be able to agree that 4-5 two liter bottles of soda is bad. Also, while running 10-13 miles a week isn’t bad, it’s not enough. That’s the low-end of the spectrum, but I wasn’t willing to put more into it than that because my body couldn’t recover fast enough – I was walking around in a consistent state of discomfort. With the addition of riding, that whole problem has gone out the window… I can’t outrun and outride an extremely negligent diet, but daddy needs a lot of food to keep on truckin’.
Now, there is a secondary meaning to “you can’t outrun a bad diet” that carries with it a little more weight, but only slightly. The implication is that if you eat foods that are difficult for your body to process, meat not being one of them, then you can’t outrun/outride the deleterious effects that food has on the body. The problem with this is the science. It was once known and widely reported that white bread was bad for you – that it acted like a paste, or Elmer’s glue, in your gut. This has since been discredited and now it simply is neutral. It isn’t good, but it isn’t bad either. Therein lies the rub. There is so much bad and misinformation out there the scientists can’t even figure it out so where does that leave us? Common sense has to be king here folks because contrary to popular reporting, scientists are working for a living too… They cook the books with their experiments just as much as any demonized Wall Street bank to get more and bigger grants. It’s just part of the game. Global Warming is my absolute favorite example. Most kids don’t know that the best scientists in the world predicted that we would be living through an Ice Age right now. They were certain of it. Had we listened to them, we’d have stockpiled, rationed food and sterilized women so they couldn’t have children and all forms of ridiculousness. Put that way, which isn’t fudging what was actually proposed in any way, you’d guess that these predictions were made sometime in the mid to late 1800’s. You would be wrong. These prognostications were made in my lifetime and I’m only 42. I was between two and seven at the height of the scare. Now it’s too warm according to the best we know. Forgive me if I’m skeptical, but these yahoos have been wailing about the end of the world since Jesus died more than 2,000 years ago.
The point is, a great portion of that which we know to be true about our diet will change within five to ten years – it’s almost guaranteed. Take the idea that too much salt is bad, none less than the dopey Mayor of New York wants to ban salt in restaurants… New studies show that too little salt is worse for you than too much (or moderate amounts as some say not to upset the apple cart). What a surprise that is. What I’ve pointed out, however true, won’t help anyone to shed an inordinately large buttocks. What I’ve done is muddied the already murky water. The truth is there are three ways to drop that poundage. Exercise alone with no dietary change, dietary change only, or a mixture of the two. There is a fourth of course, taking a pill whose main fine print claim is “results not typical”, but we’ll just let that lie. The first two work, but only moderately so. The third is where the rewards are at and what works for me, so I stick with that one… Because I outride my diet on daily basis. Good or bad.
I believe it’s fairer to say that you can’t outrun and extreme diet – but that doesn’t exactly sell diet books now does it?
Just a thought. I reserve the right to be wrong.