I’m an Irishman who lives in Canada but wish I lived in Tuscany (with my amazing wife and four wonderful kids)… where the culture, terrain, food and wine appear so fitting to such a romantic, sophisticated and virile European ex-patriot as myself.
My body aches from multiple injuries over the years, and I’m getting noticeably slow at bending down, or getting out of bed. But despite the pains and funny noises when I move, I’ve never felt fitter or better in my life.
This strikes me as being kinda ironic considering I’m more active and health conscious than I’ve ever been in my life, however don’t let that discourage you from getting your Jillian Michaels on, cuz it’s worth it. Even though I may be too sore to walk, I seem to be able to run and bike and do real push-ups. I’m not a psycho-health-nut either… I can eat and drink like a fiend… but I’ve learned to moderate my food and activity to achieve a balanced and healthy net result. Btw that’s a savvy way of saying I compensate for guilty binges with salad and tortuous bike-rides up mountains. The only thing I tend to abstain from is processed foods, preferring to make meals from scratch.
So in summary I think it would be fair to say that I’m really just an ordinary, average guy… except that I’m probably a little more rugged… and stinkingly Euro-cool : )
For the record, I’m an ex-smoker and I was up to 101kg (223 lbs) at my heaviest. Now I’m around 78kg (171 lbs) and fit enough to make most of Bob Harper’s back-up jocks look like they need the workout more than I do : )
When you are middle aged and love to eat, you need to be active to avoid gaining weight. Two times in my life I came to a point where I realized that I needed to lose some weight or buy bigger clothes. The first time I dieted and lost almost 30 kgs (65 lbs). I was hungry for a year and a half, but I was skinny again. However, it didn’t last… slowly I gained just over half of it back. And the truth is, I missed the food. This time I tried a different approach… exercise. Actually, regular exercise to be more specific. Previously I played hockey once a week and walked the dog every now and then… that was it. Then I started by riding my bike about 16km a day. Next, I was doing Jillian Michaels 20 minute workouts. After a year, I was doing Bob Harper’s 60 minute workouts and I had upgraded my commuter style bicycle for a racing style road bike. The workouts weren’t exactly fun, they were more of a necessary discipline… the price I had to pay in order to enjoy good food with wine and beer. But I was able to stay committed and actually reach a point in time when it is somewhat enjoyable.
But the biking was different… it became great! It’s hard to describe because it’s not exactly fun. It’s more gratifying. Almost compulsive. It just feels good to ride… to ride hard… to go far… to go fast… to be challenged. When I got my road bike I decided to set a goal to aspire to. I signed up to participate in a cycling event where you could race or just ride for the challenge. There was an option for 80km or 160km and I chose the 80km. It was a tough ride (for this part of the world), in our local skiing area with long hills to climb. I finished in about 2 hrs 45 minutes and although it felt good, like I’d accomplished a goal, I also found it hard and I felt like I never wanted to do it again. This was September 2011. In the spring of 2012 I completed my first century (160km), joined a cycling club and began to ‘compete’ (against myself) in whatever events I could find.
I am no pro cyclist, and I don’t have any aspirations to become one… I just wanna ride. In 2013 I plan on getting a race license and competing in Ontario Cup events against other cyclists at my level. I’m pretty competitive, but it’s not about winning… I just want to experience more biking. But with a little motivation : )
Anyway, in addition to discovering the joy of biking, I’ve realized that physical activity is necessary and quite gratifying. It just feels good to be fit. That’s why I decided to start this blog… so I can document this phase in my life, look back at the journey, and see how it affects where I end up. I really hope that something here might even inspire somebody else to achieve a healthy balance in their lifestyle.