At this moment in time, I am very angry at physics.
I have been having a remarkably difficult time sticking to good eating habits lately. This has to do with the perfect storm of me having more time to eat, and having the kitchen about six feet from where I write, and having the terrible habit of eating whenever I’m working on writing something difficult.
And pretty much every single paragraph of Fight Like Susan is difficult.
And in short, I haven’t weighed myself in several days because I am confident it will not be good news. And as someone who’s dealt with plenty of bad news lately, I’ve taken to avoiding bad news (e.g., the scale) whenever I can.
Yesterday, The Hammer went on a pre-birthday run with her friend Lynette, and then to see her mom, and then to a work-related dinner.
Which meant I would be exercising by myself. A rare thing. But also an interesting opportunity, because I had this terrific plan I was excited to execute:
Find out how fast I am.
It was a good plan, because I hadn’t had time during the day to ride, and I was running out of daylight. With the short hour of time I had for exercise (Note to self: write a post about how cycling is the only sport where an hour is a short workout), I could attack a couple of climbs and figure out how I’m doing.
So that’s what I did.
I suited up, got on the Felt FReD 9, and took off, with the intention of giving it all I’ve got in two climbs in Lambert Park: Spring, and then Up Rodeo to Middle Spring. See if I could really push myself. See if I could maybe set a new PR.
And I did push myself. I put in a truly big effort, went as hard as I could go. Suffered intensely and thoroughly.
After knocking myself out for two very intense — but let’s face it, short — climbs, I lazed about on trails for a few more minutes and then rode home, immediately uploading to Strava.
I was not happy with what Strava had to say to me. On Spring, the 0.7-mile, 309’ climb, I was hoping for a PR trophy. Or at least a 2nd-best or (worst-case scenario) a 3rd-best ribbon.
Here is, in fact, where yesterday’s full-blown Spring climb effort lies in terms of my attempts:
Well, for one thing it’s interesting to note that I’ve gone up this climb 54 times since I’ve started using Strava. But I haven’t tried to go my fastest up this climb many times at all.
Yesterday, I got up there in my fourth-best time. Fourth. Which wouldn’t bother me so much if that weren’t almost forty seconds slower than my fastest time.
Forty seconds slower than my best, in a five-minute climb.
Next, I checked my time up Rodeo Up – Middle Spring. Now, I didn’t really expect a new PR on this climb, because for some reason I actually own the KOM for this climb, nailing this twisty one-mile, 293’ climb in a miraculous 6:11 I never expect to replicate.
However, I did hope to get close. You know, some time in the sixes.
8:14 was my time yesterday. More than two minutes slower than my best. I added a full third to my best time.
I stared at the screen, Surprised and saddened. Dumbfounded and dismayed. Ambivalent and alliterative, apparently.
How? How could this be happening? How is it I did my best, but managed to be slower?
Then The Hammer got home and asked if I had succeeded in my mission to be King of Lambert Park, giving me cause to sulk even more.
Of course, the truly amazing thing is not that I’m slower on climbs. No indeed. What in fact is truly amazing is that I somehow thought that I would magically be faster on these climbs, simply by applying grit and a winning attitude.
As it turns out, physics are a real thing. Which means that even though my power is up, my weight is up too. Disproportionately so.
In short, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, but I’ve got more pudge to carry up the mountains.
Which, to my astonishing astonishment (by which I mean it’s astonishing that I was astonished), is not exactly a formula for KOM success.
Which further means that I need, beginning right this second, to prepare myself for the absolute certainty that I am going to suck when I race at the 6 Hours in Frog Hollow this weekend.
Or, to elaborate further for the sake of clarity: I am going to suck, and suck bad.
Because there’s a lot of climbing. And I’m ten pounds heavier than the last time I did this race. For climber types like me, power is nice, but power-to-weight is much more important. And I’ve got some work to do, weight-wise.
Wake Up Call
I have three races coming up that matter to me. Rockwell Relay. Crusher in the Tushars. Leadville MTB 100. All three of these races are custom-made for climbers.
But even more importantly, I’m going to be going somewhere as a guest of my friends at DNA Cycling, one month from yesterday. Somewhere where it would be really good for me to be really strong and light. Because there are mountains in this some place. And I’m going to be photographed.
So. Ten pounds. in one month. It’s going to happen.
Because I don’t exactly want to be fat when I tackle the mountains of Italy.
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.
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