Weighty Issues

First, call your mother. That’s always good advice. She loves hearing from you and you know you don’t talk to her nearly enough. Of all my failings, that’s the one that actually bothers me. If you checked out the comments from my last post, you’ll know that I didn’t call Mom after I had my bicycle wipeout a couple of weeks ago. Of course, I didn’t want her to worry, which she would have done if I had called, so I was trying to wait until I had healed up a bit. Plus, it was all over my Facebook page. However, she didn’t have her FB page bookmarked, so she hadn’t seen that. Anyway, if you’re lucky enough to have living parents, pick up the phone.

We all scream...

Now, the other thing. Back in July, we started a weight-loss contest at the office. Our bosses made arrangements for an ice cream truck to swing by the building just before the contest began.  It was a nice touch. I’ve been in a bunch of these contests over the years, which tells me that I do a lousy job of staying in shape. You could find that out by checking with my doctor, or looking at my midsection. Last year, I dropped 35 pounds in the contest, which was pretty good. By the time this year’s contest rolled around, I had picked up every one of those pounds and 5 more.

The author hovering in the 220s

Experience matters. Even though I apparently suck at keeping weight off, I can still lose it in the first place. I didn’t push quite as hard this time, and I lost a week of exercise after trying to become one with the pavement a couple of weeks ago – but over the course of this year’s effort, I’ve taken off 36.5 pounds – good enough for first prize in the total weight lost category. I came in second in the highest percentage of original weight lost (15.48%).

A little tight...

I made a move this year that I had wanted to make last year, in getting a pair of 5-finger shoes. They’re really light and are supposed to make running much easier. I waited until someone else in the office made that move first (he won the highest percentage lost this year – 17.02%). My first pair were too tight, but I still felt better running in them than in conventional running shoes, and my knee pain vanished.  I never thought that would happen. I’ve since gotten a second pair that fit much better, so I think I’ll be able to keep running.

Honestly, my shoulder is still jacked up from my bike accident, so I haven’t been back on it yet, although I did pick up a new helmet. My old one only has a couple of dents from the accident, but they say always replace a helmet that’s been in an accident, so okay. It’s getting a little chilly outside for biking anyway, so maybe I’ll wait ’til spring before doing the bike thing again.

Besides the exercise, I made some adjustments to the way I eat. Cut out most of the meat, no fried foods, had a lot of soup and salads for lunch and dinner. Very few sweets. For a gourmand, it’s a tough life. Still, I’ll have to be more careful about complete abandoning the diet now that the contest is over. It’s always tricky because these things tend to end right about the time it gets cold and going outside for exercise gets more difficult.

There’s a chance that we’ll have another one of these next year, but I’m going to do my best not to be involved. There is a spring follow-up, where the person who keeps the most off gets another prize… which is a good inducement. The best part about winning a prize in the contest right now is that it’ll give me a couple of bucks to buy some clothes that fit!

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Ouch!

I guess I’d been living on borrowed time, so to speak. One of the first things I did after moving to downtown Memphis was to buy a bicycle. Up until very recently, the only bike-related mishaps I’ve had was when I’d try to transport the bike inside my car, instead of using a bike rack. That led to me having to replace the rear window of the car twice (d’oh!).

Portrait of the Author - with Injury

Because of a weight loss contest at work, I’ve been riding a lot over the last few months. I have a 3-mile circuit that keeps me relatively close to the house (in case of accidents). My chief concern has been other traffic on the streets – sorry Memphis drivers – but generally speaking – you suck at safety. Fortunately though, except for the blonde in a BMW at the corner of Patterson and Tennessee, who was more interested in her cell phone conversation than in scanning for traffic, I haven’t had any really close calls with autos on the road. I did slip into the space between the trolley tracks and the streets very close to that same spot, which taught me to stay away from riding parallel to the tracks.

Faithful, until recently

Anyway, because of the contest, I have been adding distance to my ride. It’s a nice jaunt from south of South Main to Greenbelt Park on Mud Island. Coming down the bridge is a lot more fun than going up. I was out a couple of weekends ago, racking up the miles. I’d been through downtown, over to Mud Island, down to Tom Lee Park and over the Bluff Walk. I was coming up to my house, having covered 14.8 miles. Hmm, I thought, if I go around one more block, I can push the total up to 15 miles even.

Hubris. It’s always what gets us in the end. I passed the house, went up to Carolina and Kansas, turned right to Georgia, turned right again, and made a quick choice of whether to turn on Litty or go down to Tennessee.  Since the house is closer to Litty, that’s what I did – completely forgetting that the street there is closer to a gravel road than a paved city street. As soon as I started around the corner, my rear tire lost any grip it had on the road and flew (yes, flew) out from under me. I wasn’t going very fast – 5 miles an hour or so, but it happened so quickly, that I couldn’t react, except to tense up a bit.

As I came crashing down on my shoulder, I remember thinking – ‘oh boy, this really hurts. I hope I don’t hit my head – ow! I just hit my head!’ Thank God for bicycle helmets. If you ride without one, you’re a fool. Seriously. Once I regained my senses, I looked up, seeing my front door just a block away. Stupid, I thought. I could be home right now. I pulled myself out from under the bike and hopped around in genuine pain. A minivan drove by, which I guess means I didn’t look as injured as I really was (or people can be jerks when it comes to not wanting to get involved).

After hopping around for a while, I picked the bike up, gingerly, and made my way home. I saw that I had snapped the strap-on mirror off the left handlebar, which means it spun all the way around, since I hit on the right side. The back-up mirror on the left side of the helmet popped off too, which tells me my noggin bounced with some force.

Once I got inside, I began peeling off the various layers I’d been wearing to stay warm. My very nice CNN pullover now has a torn up right shoulder, but neither of the two layers under it were damaged. There is a wicked long bruise down the side of my right upper arm. I don’t remember having time to stick my hand out, but once I got my gloves off, I found that I had a dime-sized scrape on the base of my right hand. No damage to the glove. I could see my right knee was bleeding through my tights. Once I got them off, I thought how bad a brown knee looks when it’s mixed up with pink and red. Almost no damage to the tights.

My girlfriend came over to help out. I pretty much lived in a sling with ice packs and Advil for the next week. No, I haven’t been to a doctor. I’m holding onto the thought that I’ve got a deep muscle bruise, and I’m pretty much doing everything an orthopedist would tell me to do anyway. The pain lessens daily, and my range of motion is slowly returning.

Of course, I lost an entire week of the weight loss contest, unable to work out. My latest pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes arrived last week, so I have been able to start running again. But the contest ends Thursday (11/18). I’m wondering whether my main competition tossed sand and gravel at the corner of Litty Place and Georgia…