A Note From Fatty About a Friend’s Kickstarter: Jonny Hintze is the design guru over at ENVE, the designer of my 2015 FatCyclist kit, and is launching his own cool line of cycling accessories, under the SN?K brand. He’s launching a Kickstarter for the first couple of items he’s selling: a very nice under-saddle Cycling Vital Case:
And an ingenious all-in-one tire lever, which in addition to being good at being a tire lever, is also good for removing valve cores and opening bottles:
I’d like to see Jonny’s project succeed, and Jonny would like to give Friends of Fatty a little extra incentive to back his project. So: if you back him with a pledge of $90 or more and let him know I sent you, Jonny’s going to hook you up with with a cold-weather cycling cap Jonny designed (and sells for $62), free.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Make your pledge.
2. After pledging, click the “Contact me” link:
3. Send a message saying “Fatty sent me.” So you can redeem your cap.
New Can’t-Fail Diet Plan
It is a well-known fact that most diets fail for one simple — but incredibly difficult to surmount — reason:
They make you eat food you don’t like.
No, now that I think about it, there’s another reason diets fail:
They don’t let you eat enough food, so you’re always hungry and grumpy.
OK, I guess there’s actually a third reason:
They make you take forever to prepare your food.
And in short, diets make you take forever to prepare a tiny and unsatisfying portion of food you don’t even enjoy. Gee I wonder why they fail.
Fortunately for both you and me, I have a solution to this terrible problem, which I call:
The All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast Cereal Diet
It’s a little-known fact that breakfast cereal is really crunchy and delicious.
No, wait. Everyone knows that. Let me try again.
It’s a little-known fact that breakfast cereal comes in a wide variety of flavors, has an entire aisle dedicated to it in every grocery store in America, and is not very expensive.
I’m not doing very well at revealing little-known facts here, am I? Let me try once more.
It’s a little-known fact that I can stand around in the kitchen, trying to think of what my next paragraph should be, as I absently eat handful upon handful of breakfast cereal (generally, Oatmeal Squares or Honey Nut Cheerios), only realizing the trauma I have caused to my diet when I discover I am as full as after Thanksgiving dinner.
There, you didn’t know that, did you? (Though you probably could have guessed.)
But here’s my point: I really, really like breakfast cereal. Like, practically all breakfast cereal. But when I eat it, I always used to feel guilty, because I’d just sabotaged my diet.
That all changed, however, when I came up with The All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast Cereal Diet.
Here’s how it works: Whenever you want to eat something, have a bowl of cereal.
With milk, of course, because otherwise you’re obviously doing it wrong.
And here’s the cool thing: if you want to have a second bowl, do. And a third. Just keep on plowing through that cereal.
And here’s the good news: no matter how much you eat, you’re just not going to crush your calorie limit for the day:
See, a bowl of cereal with milk is just 250 calories. Which means that if you have a 2000 calorie per day diet, you can eat eight bowls of cereal per day.
And it’s not like I picked some gross low-calorie cereal here, either. This is Oatmeal Squares, which are widely regarded (at my house) as the best cereal currently on the planet. (Except of course for granola, which — no doubt about it — is totally going to make you fat.)
The fact is, if you burn spend a couple hours on the bike, thereby burning around 750 calories — and then eat eight bowls of cereal throughout the day, you’ll basically be so busy riding your bike and eating delicious cereal that you won’t have time to cheat on your diet. And meanwhile you’ll be netting around 1250 calories for the day.
Which means you’re going to lose weight. You just are. Even if you change from skim milk (which is only barely ok) to whole milk (which turns your breakfast cereal into the single best-tasting thing in the whole world, times ten).
Sure, I know: a few people are going to say that eight bowls of cereal per day is not enough. To you, I say: I totally agree, and think we should probably round up to ten, just because it’s an easier number to remember.
And there will be doubters who talk about gluten and sugar and carbohydrates and heart attacks.
To you I say nothing, because you obviously disagree with me, so why should I even pay attention to what you’re saying?
And of course, there will be the literalists among you who will say, “Have you ever actually tried pouring yourself a bowl of cereal that just had a cup of cereal in it, with half a cup of milk? It’s both tiny and has a completely weird cereal-milk imbalance.”
To you, I say: “Yeah, I know, but I’m trying to overlook that because it doesn’t serve my argument very well.”
Finally, most of you are going to say, “Yes, this is clearly a genius idea and quite likely the first diet I’ve ever heard of that I think I can actually get behind.”
To those of you who say this, I reply: “Let’s eat. We’ve got breakfast cereal — and lots of it — to consume.”
An Accountability Note from Fatty: Today I weigh 168.0 pounds, so I’m down three pounds since I started the accountability project. Yay! Also, yesterday The Hammer had the day off work and I had a busy morning, so instead of any TrainerRoad, we did an awesome mountain bike ride in Corner Canyon.
New FattyCast Podcast: Phil Gaimon - Pro Cyclist, Author, Straight Shooter, Man About Town
Here’s something fun you can do this weekend: listen to The FattyCast, featuring Phil Gaimon.
Phil’s a cyclist with the Cannondale pro cycling team. He’s also the author of my favorite book about being a pro cyclist: Pro Cycling on $10 a Day.
But we don’t talk much about that book in this podcast. That book is old news. But we do talk about his next book, and where the stories come from and how he remembers them.
We talk about toxicity in pro cycling. And safety. And cheater fatigue. And how pro cycling can be both exciting and safe.
We talk about his own podcast – Real Talent, With Phil Gaimon.
We talk Jon Vaughters…and begrudgingly acknowledge that Vaughters may know what he’s doing.
We talk about phil’s eponymous gran fondo, which is called the “Gran Cookie Dough,” and I ask him what the deal is with cookies anyway.
And we talk about other stuff too. You’re going to really like this conversation.
I swear it.
Links You Can Use
In this FattyCast, we refer to a number of sites, all of which you should probably visit or at least know about:
How To Listen
OK, I don’t actually have any guidance to offer on how you should listen to things. If you don’t know how to listen, that’s a problem you need to address, but it’s out of scope for this blog.
However. I am totally prepared to offer you all the information you could ever possibly need for downloading and listening to this episode of the FattyCast:
Depression has been on my mind a lot lately, for three reasons.
First, it’s been on my mind because I went to a funeral on Monday for one of the nicest, friendliest, most gifted people I have ever known. He took his life; I hadn’t even known what he was going through. At all. I don’t think many people did, and I have to believe that nobody knew how badly he was suffering.
And it breaks my heart, because I would have considered it a privilege to help him or be there in some way for him. People shouldn’t feel like they should have to hide or be ashamed of depression.
Second, I recorded a podcast with a professional mountain bike racer (Erica Tingey) today, and we talked about her ongoing battle with depression.
The thing is, she and I had recorded a conversation for my podcast earlier this year — in which she hadn’t really talked about depression — but the file had been truncated for some reason and I had to call and beg her to re-record with me.
Meanwhile, she had listened to my conversation with Paul Guyot, and had decided that if he could be open and honest about tough times in life, she could too.
And that made me think: part of making anything accepted in the world is to talk about it without embarrassment, and to listen to others as they tell their stories.
So, today, I’m sharing a little about one of the less-known parts of Susan’s battle with cancer, because it’s one of the places where I feel like I fell down: helping her with the depression that came after the chemo.
“Going Dark:” — an Excerpt from Fight Like Susan
There are a lot of things about how I took care of Susan for which I am truly proud. I took care of her, I loved her, I went to the doctor with her. In many ways, I was my very best self when Susan needed me to be.
But there are two things I just did wrong. Things I really regret, to this day.
First, after getting through chemo the first time, there were certain meds (I’m not going to list them, because I’m not interested in an argument about what she should and should not have been taking) that Susan was supposed to take, from that point forward.
One of them she did not like taking. It made her gain weight, and she already felt incredibly self-conscious, thanks to her hair loss and missing breast.
So she refused to take it. And I didn’t press the issue.
Sure, I told her she should, and told her it was important for her to do what the doctor said…but I didn’t go to the mat on it.
Years later, I talked with an oncologist about this, and was told this very likely didn’t have anything to do with Susan’s cancer coming back. But for years I felt like in this thing I had let Susan down, and wondered if her cancer recurrence were my fault, because I hadn’t taken a tougher stance.
So that’s one thing I regret.
The other thing…well, I feel even lot worse about it. Because I could have — should have — helped, and I didn’t. Because I didn’t understand, and didn’t realize there was something I could have done.
I didn’t get Susan the help she needed when she battled post-chemo depression.
Something a lot of people don’t know — I didn’t know — is that a lot of people become clinically depressed once they finish chemo. (The American Cancer Society says 25% do .)
Susan certainly did.
It makes perfect sense, really. When you’re undergoing chemo, you have a mission: get through it. Fight cancer by taking chemo. And people tend to rally around you as you do this. But then, once you’re finished with chemo, you’re hit with a perfect storm of depression-causing factors. People ease up on reaching out to you. You’re even more fatigued and sick than you were when you taking chemo. And you have an enormous question mark in your life: did it even work?
In our case, this depression was augmented by factors Susan and I had innocently brought into our life.
First, we were far away from family and most of our friends. I didn’t notice this as much, because I was busy at work and quickly had come to feel comfortable with the people I worked with; the friends I made at Microsoft were truly generous, kind, and supportive. Susan, meanwhile, was at home with the kids…and too tired to go out and do anything.
Second, this beautiful neighborhood we had moved into — Tree Farm — had a problem that never occurred to us while we were house shopping: all these gorgeous trees so thickly crowding our house and yard (I tried several times to count the number of trees on our property and never got the same number twice; there were that many) meant that we never got direct sunlight.
For me, that meant glorious shade and a beautiful view whenever I stepped onto our porch. For Susan, it meant she rarely saw sunlight. When combined with the dark wood and deep colors we painted the inside of our house with, Susan was enveloped in a dark place. Figuratively and literally.
She combatted this, to a degree, with near-constant fires in our fireplaces (our house had two). Not for heat, but for a warm light. She went on short walks on the wooded paths outside our house.
But of course, that didn’t help. Not really.
And worse, I didn’t help. Because I didn’t understand her depression, really. From my perspective, we should both be so happy. Susan had gotten through surgery. She had gotten through chemo. I had a great job. We had a nice house in a beautiful neighborhood.
And of course, I told her all these things, over and over, and she agreed, and felt worse about not being happy with me. She felt ungrateful and tried to cover it up, to feign happiness as I tried to cheer her up and convince her how good we had it.
I feel rotten just thinking about it.
Now, though, I at least sort of understand my huge mistake. And I think I would be better now at helping a spouse (or child or friend) at working with depression. Because now — having learned at least a little from my son — I know at least a few of the basics of having a loved one with depression.
I know, first of all, that as someone lucky enough to have never had a problem with serious depression, that I can’t truly understand or comprehend what it’s like. Just like I can’t comprehend what it’s like to have a broken femur or to have Parkinsons or a host of other things. But I can love and respect people who for whatever reason are living with depression, and I can be supportive and helpful in whatever way they need.
I know it’s not my job to diagnose or “solve” or “cure” someone’s depression, just like it’s not my job to diagnose or cure any other medical issue.
I know that there are professionals who can help better than I can, and that helping find a good professional might be the best way I can help someone I care about.
Mostly, though, I know that there is a ton about depression that I don’t know, and that the right thing for me to do is to listen and learn.
I am a big fan of Kathryn Bertine: her writing style, her friendliness, her passion for making a difference for good in the world.
So I’m very upset to hear she was seriously injured in a big finish-line pileup in the Vuelta Feminil Internacional.
You can read the report of what happened — and what little we so far know — in the VeloNews report here.
What I’d like Friends of Fatty to do today is use my comments area as a big Get-Well Card for Kathryn. Let her know you care about her, admire her, and are thinking about her.
PS: If you aren’t familiar with Kathryn, let me recommend my recent post about her and FattyCast with her.
An Accountability Note from Fatty: Today I weigh 170, which is up a pound from my last weigh-in. The reason why? Because when I worry and stress, I tend to eat, almost out of weird kind of spitefulness toward my better instincts. And right now, as I work on this very difficult writing project, I am reliving a pretty remarkable worrisome and stressful time. Which is compounding with the stressful and worrisome time I’m having in the present.
That’s all just excuses, though. It’s still me making the decision to buy myself a Dunford Donut Milkshake at Arctic Circle. So. I’m going to be better. I promise.
I am doing well on my exercise commitments, though. yesterday, I did a particularly brutal TrainerRoad workout: Lamarck. Forty minutes of this one-hour workout are spent at your FTP, giving this workout an intensity factor of 0.91. I have to say: I’m pretty proud to have completed it. I need to do a new FTP test soon; I hope and suspect that it will be going up.
The book…well, I haven’t written as much as I would have liked to. This is partly because I’m also chasing down job leads, and that takes time (and has to be a priority).
And sometimes, it’s just very difficult to go back in time. There’s a lot of pain there still, and while it’s worth writing about, it’s not easy.
So, for this excerpt, I decided to give myself a break: talk about something that is very much a positive memory: searching for and buying our house in Washington.
Tree Farm: An Excerpt from Fight Like Susan
Here’s a practical tip I hope you never find need to use: don’t go house hunting while you’re undergoing chemo. It’s not fun, and it’s not practical, and your real estate agent is unlikely to be enthused at all the vomit you leave in the backseat of her car.
But Microsoft had given us this rental house for just a few months. We needed to find a place to live, and we needed to close on it before Susan even finished chemo.
And so my friend David Lazar — another Microsoft guy and cyclist —recommended a real estate agent to us, and we started shopping. Driving around neighborhoods in Sammamish, looking at houses we could afford.
Susan was torn about whether she’d come along for each of these outings. On one hand, she really wanted to be involved in choosing the neighborhood and house. On the other hand, we’d be sitting in the back seat, getting tossed around as our agent drove us from house to house.
I would get queasy; Susan would get truly ill. To the point that sometimes when we did arrive at a house we wanted to walk through, Susan felt unable to get out of the car. So I’d go through the house while she rested, with the promise that if I found something I thought she’d really love, I’d come back and we’d re-walk it together.
I never saw one good enough to have her walk through. Not the house that smelled of dog urine. Not the house where the owner sulkily walked behind me the entire time. And not the house that was on a lake…but was three stories tall.
OK, actually I did have her come into the three-stories-tall house, because I just couldn’t help myself. “You’re not going to mind having to go up and down two flights of stairs whenever you want to get to the bedroom for the next three months, are you?” I asked.
“You’re funny,” Susan said. “So funny.”
We went to dozens of houses, most of which were beautiful and large and just a few years old (or sometimes brand new). But while they were nice inside, they felt so cramped outside. Which just felt wrong: to live in a beautiful green place like Washington, but have a house that was packed as close to other houses as the law would allow.
And then we visited Tree Farm.
Tree Farm is the neighborhood you expect all of Washington to be. Tall evergreens almost completely obscuring the sky. Blackberry bushes thickly covering any space they weren’t actively fought back. Windy narrow roads. Big yards, with enough trees between every house that you felt like your house was alone in the forest. A winding walking path through the extensive wooded that surrounded the neighborhood.
And a restrictive covenant for the whole area that guaranteed that all of this would remain just as it was.
“Here. I want to live here,” Susan said, before we even arrived at the house the agent was going to show us.
And I agreed.
The First House
There was a problem, though. We were not the only ones who had discovered Tree Farm. Houses that went up for sale there generally sold instantly. Unless they had a big problem. Like, if roof needed to be replaced. Or there were a crazy number of stairs. Or the wood was rotten. Or there were holes in the walls.
Which pretty much described the house we looked at — the only one for sale in Tree Farm. Nothing that couldn’t be addressed, except for the minor issues that Susan was dealing with chemo and recovering from her surgery. And I had a new job. And we had twin toddlers, both still in diapers. And our boys were reeling from being moved from the only home they had ever known.
There was just no way we could add a house restoration project to all that.
But we kept coming back to the house, parking close to it, and taking the kids on walks on the little one-mile wooded path that went through the neighborhood. The kids were amazed that they could just pick and eat blackberries right off the bushes. And there were frogs and fish in the pond. And we could watch as, over the course of a few days, a woodpecker completely decimated a dead tree.
We knew fixing up this house was beyond us. But we also knew this was neighborhood where we wanted to live.
So we stopped looking elsewhere, and I just took to driving through the Tree House neighborhood, road by road, every day as I rode my bike home from work.
The three months allotment Microsoft had given us in the rental house ended. I called the person who recruited me to the company and begged for another month in the house. She said yes, but just one.
I kept riding through Tree Farm every day.
The Second House
And…then I found it. It wasn’t a gloriously beautiful, big house. In fact, it was quite small. But there were four bedrooms: one for Susan and me, one for the twins, and one for each of the boys.
And it was all on one floor: no stairs for Susan.
There were quail and squirrels running along the backyard fence. Frogs on the deck. Raccoons in the trash cans.
And there were two fireplaces: one in the family room, one in the living room.
And there were more evergreen trees than you could possibly count, including one pair of trees right in the front that seemingly fused together, forming one massive canopy that covered the front yard and much of the roof.
The grass in the yard never had a chance against that kind of shade or that many pine needles.
It didn’t have air conditioning. It didn’t have an office space. It didn’t have much storage space. It didn’t have overhead lighting. We didn’t care; we’d figure out how to take care of or live without all of those things.
Within 48 hours, we had made an offer. Within two weeks, we began to move in. This would be the place Susan finished her chemo, and then we’d have the cancer behind us. I had a great job at a great company. We had a good house in a dream neighborhood. We planned to make Tree Farm home forever.
And you know, maybe it would have been, under different circumstances. Because there really were some wonderful, beautiful things about where we lived and the time we shared in Washington, in that house, and — especially — on the paths in the neighborhood woods of Tree Farm. This house, in fact, is where my best memories of our time in Washington are centered.
But there was also a lot I just didn’t understand about how chemo would affect Susan, and how this house would be part of that. A lot I didn’t — maybe couldn’t? — prepare for.
And to be honest, there was a lot I just simply did wrong.
PS: If you’re enjoying these excerpts and want to support me asI write this book, please pre-order a copy of the book and buy any of the very cool jerseys, shorts or bibs, socks, bottles, hoodies, or t-shirts that go with the book. Thanks!
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