Monday, August 30, 2010

Trashing a Convent

I was there watching as they ripped the porch off the building. As it tore off there was that sick sound of splintering wood.

What you are seeing is a building that formerly housed Nuns that taught at the Catholic school next to it. The Church (as I understand it) felt that it was too expensive to keep up on the building repairs, perhaps in light of its current usefulness. Nuns don’t live there now. Actually no one could live there now.

I think it’s going to be converted to a playground for the school.

Time is constantly moving forward. Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted but in the background time passing can not be denied. Change too… seems to be such a constant. Sometimes change can be good, while other times I struggle with it.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how even if we make no choice time will ultimately make a choice for us. This fitness thing really confounds me at times. Naturally it’s important to set specific goals then work toward them (else it’s so easy to drift aimlessly)

OK here’s the current paradox for me. Am I still me after loosing 50 pounds and more? I’m different. I can run, I do a lot more… I’m thinking I even think differently. What about when I was much heavier? I always thought people were shallow if they “Judged a book by it’s cover” and wanted them to like me for me, what ever I weighed.

If you see just about any movie (or even commercial) I can’t help but think how shallow it is… You see models, you don’t really see leading actors that are obese (with very few exceptions and many of them are the target for cruel humor) Physically fit people are there for a reason… they have some attraction, else they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t sell cars or movies. In the past it always bothered me thinking about how shallow it was.

Yet now I wonder something else. These changes of getting more fit are deep and seem to impact many areas. If a person cares about their body, themselves… are they placing more value in themselves, thus naturally generating more confidence?… more MoJo?

I can’t help but think about that old line that women say, “I want you to respect me for my mind.” I wonder if the mind body health connection is far stronger than I once believed. When people comment about how others have “really let themselves go.” I’m starting to have trouble with the blurred line of what is healthy and what is shallow.

If you don’t care about you and don’t value yourself (including your physical health)… maybe isn’t it harder for people to care too? I’m not sure what to do with it. I hope I can see the “real” person, whoever they are. But at the same time I have some magnetic pull toward the fitness too. Getting back to those pictures… Is it just a building? Is it a Nun’s home and a piece of history that bothered me so seeing it ripped apart? Can it be both?

Of course most of you that have read the blog for any time at all know that a little bit of arrogance is the Foolsfitness way. - Alan

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Over 50 Pounds off and Control

What if I said to you I hit my 50 pounds off mark? Well, Foolsfitness just hit the 53 pounds off mark, just to show off!!!

The picture you see above is a switch panel at the Belnap Mill, that was a water powered sewing mill that made clothing, and in the early twenties it also supplied some power to the town.

I’ve been thinking about control. I just snapped the stem on my only Pipe this morning by accident. The pipe was a treasured gift. The stem had been chipped for about a month but today was the day when it broke. (Some of you may know I smoke Captain Black Royal Pipe tobacco.) I was kind of crushed by it. I don’t consider myself a rabid smoker and could easily go a few days without it but I hate to buy another pipe that will not be from “that” person. I have trouble even thinking about throwing the pipe away.

So many things are out of our control. We can influence things but accidents, illness, even how others choose to think of us we have somewhat limited control (sometimes no control) over. Even at that mill, at times of low water in the river those wheels would slow down or even come to a stop.

Of the few things we do have a lot of control over I’ve come to think about lately is what and how much we eat. We have the power to be aware, to choose… or give that power away. While that power isn’t available to us always… it may be there much more than we think. We may not notice that switch we are able to pull if we are not looking.

As I hit the 50 pounds (and more!) mark I didn’t have the confusion I had at hitting the 200’s. I noticed the more control I have gained, realizing that control I had the power to use, if I so chose. I thought about what “treat reward” I should give myself and oddly the food reward thing wasn’t high on the list. I think it’s because in this journey it’s become not about banning any food really, just learning the power of the choices. I still eat some pizza or ice cream or such… just not all at once and in more controlled portions.

Also it’s become less about the food as time has gone on. It’s more about the whys, and then the food thing seems to fall into place better. I think it’s like digging closer to the roots rather than focusing on the branches, and how the leaves take care of themselves.

It’s the developing Foolsfitness UN-Common Sense, Awareness. Power of the Plate, and what we Choose. - Alan

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Bicycle Race (Conclusion)

(This photo is thanks to A pic of me in the pit about 3/4 the way through the race and those guys in the background are still flying by so fast they are a blur!

(continued from last post) So I ripped and yanked at the bicycle to pry and wedge it out of the Jeep (thanks Brad for letting me use your Jeep!). I’m thinking 1994 Jeeps were not designed with the transport of 1984 10-speed bicycle hauling in mind.
Getting it out and onto the pit row area I slowly rode back and forth trying to test out gears and figure out which were the ones I wanted to use on the mile oval.

Everyone seemed to be going around the track with their bicycles warming up. Two things popped into my mind. One, these guys were going faster slowly warming up than I could go all out and two I couldn’t help but think if I do much more than a lap I won’t have any energy left to race. The race was officially for 30 miles for the A’s and I think 24 miles for B’s… I went around the track once and then tried to look nonchalantly inconspicuous sitting on my bicycle in pit row watching the racers zip by as I waited for the official to tell us all to line up in our groups for the race start.

My goal here was to show up and try to do 3-5 miles. Next years goal is to finish a race. Don’t forget I’m still a 290 something pound guy here! When I started this blog April 1st of last year I wouldn’t even fathom in my wildest dreams of trying putting a 10-speed under me on top of a NASCAR track that someone like Mark Martin races on. It wouldn’t even cross my mind… ever.

It’s been an incredible adventure since the start of this blog. Some of this stuff has been so mind boggling for me. The first time I really ran or I could pull myself out of a pool without the ladder steps. When I put on an XL shirt. When someone actually stopped me out of the blue and said, “Wow you’ve dropped some weight.” Playing volleyball. Not being a slave anymore to the All You Can Eat Chinese Food Buffet! Slipping on shorts that are 8 inches less than April of last year… I just don’t have a frame of reference to fully comprehend these totally new to me things.

The race began. First the A group, then each group started after a short pause. After C group I got ready. When I got my “Go” I cranked those gears and tried to catch up to the C group to draft. Drafting, if done well, can save about 30 percent of your peddling effort so it’s important stuff in bicycle racing. By the first turn they had near a ¼ mile on me. I pulled to the right and ran wide corners out of respect to just let the racers pass unhindered as I peddled. The basic difference in my speed would be as if walking as a jogger went by. After I had made 2 miles I think I was passed nearly twice by everyone. I knew deep down I didn’t have a chance at really “racing” while it did hurt a bit that I couldn’t even keep up for a single lap, I was still doing it, out there, not just being a spectator.

After 3 miles I slowed a lot. Then on the forth mile I rode into the pit and told the scorekeeper I was done. She smiled and told me that being the only one in the beginner class (D) if I could pull a couple of more laps I could rack up some reasonable points. I had a choice to make. I was tired but I decided I came to ride and that was what I was going to do and got back out on the race track.

Somehow the spectators watching got news of this whole thing playing out of this near 300 pound guy who had lost a lot of weight pouring his heart into his 1st race. I racked in 5 and 6 miles… then as I passed the start/finish line people started really cheering me, actually way more than the normal regular racers. My bike started squeaking and I searched for a gears I could work with… My head hung low mouth open and literally slobber flew out of my mouth. I cranked telling myself “Plod on. Just keep peddling” The bike wobbled as I rounded 7 and 8 laps! People started going crazy cheering as I rode by. I was so spent, but I decided I would make double digits… I rode 10 miles.

I don’t understand how the scoring works really, but I think I earned 18 points. Ironically while not finishing the race I still took my class (which is kind of obvious since I was the only one in it). I think? It doesn’t totally matter, I just did what I came to do.

Two things really threw me though. One was a couple of people asked me, “Did you have fun?” As strange as it sounds I stopped blank and honestly had no answer for them. I didn’t “not” have fun I guess. But it just wasn’t even in my frame of reference doing this. This journey is a ride for my life. This is the fight of my life. It’s not that I don’t have fun along the way but it’s being driven internally as I *have* to do this. It’s not “have to” as a punishment, but it has become part of my being that is unavoidable. It *IS* me.

When I started the blog last year I remember that moment. It was very late at night and I felt like a caged panther, internally pacing back and forth. I even woke up a friend that night and told them it was really important that I get a picture of myself right then. Those doe deer in the headlights eyes have been replaced, as you can see on the side panel in my emerging from the darkness pic. That picture too I remember, I had rounded the corner into my bathroom and saw something in those new eyes. It shocked me so much I had to take a dozen pictures to replicate it. I don’t think Fools Fitness is a joke, Maybe the first few days it seemed that way… and I am quick to poke fun still, but it’s become much more.

The 2nd thing that really threw me was getting home and the next morning. It would be easy to say I was sore, spent, and tired, but I really wasn’t. I wasn’t actually that sore…What I was I am not sure if I can explain. I have never experienced it. I was hollow. It was not like your really dim tired like a low battery but like the battery had been completely removed. I don’t know if it was that I had spent so much adreniline and energy for so long and experienced what bicyclists call a “bonk” which is like a diabetic shock with low glycemic sugar thing or what. I’ve heard that some astronauts experience heavy depression after returning to Earth, which makes some sense. How do you top that? What exactly do you do after seeing the edge?

I have a long way to go still, no delusions there. Yet this event was a climbing Mount Everest thing somehow. It’s going to take time to process. I don’t have a frame for the experience. I don’t mean it’s a bad thing, it’s just I can’t seem to understand it. The 7 time Tour De France Bicycle racing winner Lance Armstrong had a book titled, “It’s Not About the Bike” and I agree with that title. This wasn’t a bicycle race at all… it’s incredibly more than a bicycle. I can’t grasp it. Maybe in time I will understand it?

At Foolsfitness we are just speechless- Alan

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm a Bicycle Racer!!!

I went to race *my* Bicycle at NHIS NASCAR track in a certified NHCC (New Hampshire Cycling Club) for the 1st time last Thursday. I arrived 40 minutes early to wait at the gate with my bicycle in the back of a borrowed Jeep.

My bicycle is a yard sale bought, 26 year old, Sears, Roebuck and Co. 10-speed I’ve nicknamed “Shade” with balloon size tires, not the razor thin ones on the regular racers I chose for several reasons.

One, my huge tires support my weight. They create more friction and take more effort to pedal but none of that really was critical as I knew I wasn’t going to be a contender. This wasn’t a race for me it’s a journey. Actually my front tire leaks a bit of air too. I haven’t dared changing the tube as the tires are showing some dry rot and might crack if I start bending them around. I haven’t got a “real” air pump yet… I begged a guy to use his, most of them have nice vertical pogo stick/jack hammer kinds, but found out that many of them use special nozzles as well. With no luck I used my emergency pump, smaller than a paper towel tube, and cranked it about 50 times. I have no clue what pressure was in my tires… I just felt them, I haven’t invested in a tire gage either yet. If you haven’t picked up on part of the theme, that will continue by the way, this was a passionate but “no budget” endeavor.

Two, this bicycle it was what I could afford. Most of these guys (and a few gals) ride carbon fiber bicycles that can cost thousands of dollars (yes, that’s plural) and weight near half mine and are designed around aerodynamics as well. A seat on one of those bikes can cost more than my bicycle. I had the forethought of removing all the reflectors for a few ounces and perhaps should have removed the kick stand as well for the race but didn’t. I’m not sure if the kick stand bracket is holding the bottom of the frame together. At the end of my riding I started to get concerned as the bike started making a squeaking sound like an old rusted tricycle or red wagon that had been left out in the rain many nights.

I didn’t even have a 10-speed really. One low end rear wheel gear won’t grab on, thus I was sort of running a 8-speed. You may think I’m putting down my bicycle here while I’m just being a realist. Actually my bicycle Shade made me so proud in her running. The Bicycle shop guys I go to (M.C. Cycle and Sports) did wonders for her with what they had to work with here. That night I rode faster on level ground under my own power on a bicycle than I ever have. I even wonder if that bicycle has ever even seen that speed before. How fast you ask? No speedometer yet, remember poor boy here?! I didn’t even purchase a water bottle for it yet either.

I actually have two other bicycles… a currier bicycle, “Boba”, equipped with a water bottle, speedometer, and more… but it’s a workhorse to deliver packages and is a hybrid. The third bicycle, the 74 Raleigh GT grand prix mark 5, “the Green Lady“, is a project for the winter I hope to make my racer for next year… but right now you can‘t even ride it. (that was unearthed for 35 dollars and I plan to raise it from the dead.)

But back to waiting at the gate to get in and get warmed up to race. I was one of the very first there. All the way driving to the speedway in the Jeep I felt like I was in an aerobic workout. The thing was is was a nervous thing at all. If you ever see a freshly caged wolf or panther at a zoo they are constantly pacing their cage emanating with potential energy. I think it was more adrenaline than fear.

I paid my entry to the speed way fee, then my race fee to the NHCC lady. I’ve come to watch a few races but this was my first participation, my first ME actually racing *IN* it. No longer on the sidelines of life folks! There are division classes people race in. A’s are the ninja racers, B’s a bit slower… down to D’s and finally Junior’s. I got a D… for beginning racer. She actually seemed to want to put me in C group first, while that might seem like a big compliment the truth is there were no racers in D group. I politely begged for a D. I was a beginner and this was my first race. I can’t help but wonder if the D in D group secretly stands for “Dead” as in this is how fast dead people can pedal.

She was even kind enough to grant me a number choice of 42, which is about symbolic of the weight I have dropped in the last year. (I hung it on a bookcase at my house after the race!) Actually in my nervousness I miscalculated and should have asked for number 48... But 42 is a great number, just read the book “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and you will find out that 42 is actually the answer to “life, the universe, and everything” anyways… I sheepishly asked another rider to help pin it on me. They have to go on sideways on your left kidney area so when you are leaned down on the bike and pass the finish line your number can be easily read to be recorded.

So I was *finally* after all this, now about ready to get my bicycle to the track and to the pit row area then race. Gee… this post is getting kind of long…

AM I GOING TO LEAVE YOU WITH A CLIFFHANGER TO THE END OF THIS STORY UNTIL NEXT POST?! Can I possibly be that evil by not telling you how I faired in the race until next time? Yup. Next post… story continues, Coming soon…

At Foolsfitness sometimes we can be cruel- Alan

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rocket Fuel

(Movie Announcer’s deep voice) Against all odds… He was determined to bicycle race. It didn’t matter he was riding a yard sale 10-speed, or that the aforementioned bicycle had a slowly leaking air front tire or even that the bicycle would be the oldest and heaviest on the track. His own weight twice that of other racers would not deter him from his vision! It didn’t matter that his own car was in the shop, as he begged a friend for use of another to transport the bike and himself to the race. It didn’t matter he worked all day or had little rest due to people fixing his roof and constantly banging on his ceiling for the last two weeks. He would not be denied. Not as those storm clouds loomed over ominously did it deter him.

Oh he knew he had no chance of finishing the races distance. Yet he would do whatever it takes within his power to fight, to show up, and to ride… be it 2 laps or 5. He wasn’t racing any other bicyclist on that track. This was only a war between he and himself. Two months of training and nearly fifty pounds lighter than less than a year and a half ago… He suited up… packed the bicycle in the borrowed Jeep and headed toward his destiny.

(TUNE IN NEXT TIME …-Monday afternoon eastern standard USA- if I can I'll post the results of this wild journey, to find out the conclusion)

The picture above is Rocket fuel. I have no real idea what to eat to prepare for this but I figure some hydration… sugar, long term fat, and some protein… I got red drinks because they are like FIRE and it’s launch time baby!!! I’ve got my panther like muscles ready to spring, pounce, and sprint… ready… Go!

At Foolsfitness it’s really about T-minus 2 hours until track time so we got to sign off- Alan

Monday, August 9, 2010

Zero Calorie Sundae!

That’s right folks I’ve found the zero calorie sundae. Actually it’s a six ounce strawberries and cream frozen yogurt that comes in at 160 calories and it’s only a dollar. (I won’t give a brand name because they don’t get free advertising from me!!!) It seems to work pretty well for my needs of an Ice Cream fix.

Why did I say it’s no calories you ask? Well, I decided to go for a long walk to the supermarket to get it. I just tracked it with my bicycle (for another one today) and it comes in at 6 miles. I’m thinking calories in and out must be pretty close to even? Moreover last night I got to enjoy a nice sunset and even found 2 pennies on the walk.

Today I hit the scales at work for an unbelievable 295… the lowest in the journey of the blog. I think I can now safely say I’m in the two hundred club!!! I’m not sure if you can actually loose weight off your wrists but I just had a link removed from my watch too!!! I know that my old college ring is way loose now. I’m thinking of thread wrapping it for the time being as resizing it now seems silly when I’m going to have to do it lower again soon.


1st I picked up new cables to install on the green lady (my 74 Irish Raleigh 10-speed bicycle restoration project) and am trying to figure out the old style tubeless tires, as they are going to need to be pulled off. They are so dry rotted they are like stone.

2nd Weekend number two of the roofers banging on my roof. I’m trying to channel the thing into positives, like forcing myself out for extended walks.

3rd My poor little car indeed needs a new head gasket. What can I say except big bucks ouches? But it needs to be done. What you going to do?

STRESS: I mentioned last post about stress. I’m trying to learn that the solace of a heap of Chinese Food or pint of ice cream seems like a quick temporary reprieve… but in the end it costs, a lot. I’m trying to see through the eyes that wolfing down all that stuff out of hand in reality ends up robbing me of a little bit of life for that fake momentary comfort.

So, things could be way smoother… but they could be worse. However I’m really thinking about how I’m starting to look at food in proper proportions, and while enjoying it not just eating as some kind of Olympic sport or hiding in the momentary comfort of it.

It still freaks people out when they hear that I still eat Funny Bone Cupcakes and Cookies, or donuts. It’s all in the fact that I don’t eat them all at once. It’s the Zen way of foolsfitness Awareness, mindfulness, the power of the plate…

Foolsfitness is not about the “Common sense” guru’s pill popping, exercise gismo, or the only fruit on Friday fad diets.

Foolsfitness is UN-Common Sense! - Alan

Thursday, August 5, 2010


It’s been one of those weeks where you end up on the couch in a fetal position wishing you never got up. Well, in honesty it could be worse but I don’t do the stress thing very well at all.

First the landlord is working on the roof. I live on the top floor and while I appreciate having a new roof trying to stay there during work… it’s like being in a drum. So I figure I’ll head to the beach and go for a swim. I get to the beach and there is a high bacteria warning… so I can’t swim and can’t relax in my house…

The next day I leave my house trying to do the beach thing again leaving before the banging starts and still there is the high bacteria thing going on and still can't swim. A friend gave me a ticket to go on a ship that goes around the lake. I finally get a bit of peace and quiet. However I seemed to time it all wrong as somehow I got back to my house just as the roofers came for the late afternoon work they decided to do.

So Monday rolls around and I’m pretty much drained not getting the rest I should, but I cheer myself up as I’ve been eyeing a new netbook… 5 hours later as I’m driving from work I’m pretty sure the head gasket in my car is shot (A pretty major repair) … so somehow in a mater of hours I went from going to look at and nearly ready to get a netbook I’d been eyeing for months to trying out how to balance the bills for the month and pay the car guy and rent at the same time, in the hole big time.

So thus ends the tale until next time… I’m waiting to see what the mechanic says after he’s able to look at the car.

So the picture is me over the weekend before the anvils started falling down around me. (I looked so happy) Somehow this morning work scale says 299. Not bad with a bit of stress eating. Maybe this is some weird chance to learn about functioning under pressure, testing my metal, resolve, and general invincibility...

But At Foolsfitness we have to admit we are tired.- Alan