Being fit and averaging just over 600 miles a month throughout the in-season – or being a cardio junkie, in other words – has its rewards. Lean, strong body, reduced stress and the need to replace burned calories. Last year I thought I was handling my weight well. To start the year I was about ten pounds over where I wanted to be mid-season. By April (a 501 mile month) I was already within my target weight. In May (606 Miles) I started to drop below that. In June (634 Miles) I was in trouble – I was too skinny and something needed to be done… I needed to eat, and eat I did. July was a vacation month so I missed a few days between driving and trying to figure out where I’d ride while on vacation (only 513 Miles). Also, being on vacation always means lots of food, so my weight stayed where it should have been. In August things took a turn though… August was an amazing month for me – 684 glorious miles. Unfortunately, with those miles my weight took a serious dip. By the middle of August I was five pounds under my ideal weight and still dropping – great if you’re a climber in the Tour de France but not so much if you’re not being paid to ride a bike. I knew one thing for sure: Riding less was not an option.
I turned to food – and not the foo-foo food either – I turned to the good stuff. Put simply, you burn upwards of 5,500 calories on a 100 mile ride. Then you’ve got after-burn (studies show that you burn calories at almost the same rate for an hour or more after a decent workout – there are competing studies that negate this but those studies were conducted under faulty conditions). Add to that my normal daily required calories (2,400) and you’re upwards of 8,000 calories that have to come from somewhere. Now trying to eat 8,000 calories in a day would be crazy, but I found that as long as I spread that out over the week I was good. Where that gets interesting is trying to figure out where I had to be with the other five or six riding days in the week. Sorry to say, but you’re not going to maintain your weight on chia pets and seaweed when you’re putting in miles like that. No, I opted for something a little closer to the famous Michael Phelps diet. By the time I rolled through September (674 Miles) I was back on track and maintaining my weight within a few tenths of a pound of my estimation of “perfect”.
So, in that light, I would like to pass along the Xtreme Eating Awards for 2013. The menu items on the list are obviously given in a negative light, but if you happen to be active like me, the menu is more like a “to-do list”. Dig in. WOOHOO!
An absolute definition of the word “bottom” for an alcoholic is not possible unless it is kept so simple it would lose meaning. The reason for this is that it moves. It’s different from one drunk to the next. By my estimation of the definition, I thought I had a pretty high bottom but then I heard a guy describe drinking five or six beers as “alcoholic”. That was breakfast, so maybe I was a little farther down the scale than I thought.
One possible explanation of “bottom” is this: It’s the wonderful place where you don’t know how you can continue living with alcohol but you’re certain you can’t live without it. That fits me pretty well actually. I sobered up long enough ago that my State actually paid for my treatment but budget cuts and abuse of the system relegated that to the way of the dinosaur years ago. To describe this so that a normal person can understand what the drunk goes though is extremely difficult because it’s tough to get the “feeling” right on paper. Giving it the proper “weight” is the difficulty. In some literature it’s described as Incomprehensible Demoralization – and that description gives you, the normal person, the key: You can’t comprehend the demoralization if you don’t live through it – it is that bad. I’ve heard people describe it as losing a best friend or an appendage, in fact I’ve described it like that, but that doesn’t go far enough because it’s not the losing that hurts – it’s having to figure out how to walk away from the one thing that made you OK, even if it stopped doing so years before. In terms of appendages, it was more like trying to figure out how to chew my arm off and walk away from it.
I’ve heard one aspect described this way: “When I started, drinking it was all fun. Then it was fun with problems. Then it was all trouble”.
Now add to that the need to get back to where it was all fun again but still drink to oblivion every day and you can start getting a grasp of just how desperate those last years, months and days are. We drunks are quite literally stuck between two boulders with no knife.
There is hope though, because as real as those thoughts seem, the hopelessness of walking from a lopped off appendage is entirely false. Of course, when you’re sitting in the middle of it, it’s almost impossible to see that it’s more like walking away from an abusive relationship. If you hang on long enough and get help, you can quickly come to see the freedom, joy and happiness that you get back. I realized that I gave them up for a bottle. There are dozens of benefits to the alcoholic who chooses recovery – spirituality, health, more money (or better use of those funds at least)… Freedom, joy and happiness are among the most amazing.
Sure, if you do it right you’ll probably wind up sounding a little odd to normal folks (I can at times). Some may even accuse you of being “cult-ish”. In the end, you can’t please everyone so you may as well please yourself.