Previously Fat Guy Story
Growing up, I was a Starvin’ Marvin. Very tall, skronny lanky looking thing. I was so skinny and had such a dark tan that I closely resembled the poor kids in Ethiopia, it was that bad. I quit school to race mountain bikes. I spent a couple years pro and had Toronto won the Olympic bid I can assure you my life would have turned out much differently. Instead, I took the safer road and went back to school as I told myself ‘I can always come back to cycling later’.
WHERE DOES THE TIME GO…. ?
Years went by, you know woman, school, work, life, the usual suspects and no return to cycling. I distinctly remember the first time I noticed something was wrong. I didn’t ride much so while I was out on my road bike on a hot summer’s day I sweated profusely. My jersey was a bit big for me and it soaked up my sweat and got heavy and baggy. While in the drop/aero bars my knees kept coming up and hitting the drooping jersey. A constant ‘thwack thwack thwack’ as I turned the pedals. Eventually I got annoyed and went to tuck my jersey into my shorts, except there was just one problem. It wasn’t the jersey. WHERE. THE. F*CK. DID. THAT. COME. FROM!? I was kneeing myself in the now beer gut, not the jersey. Damn.
OUT OF CONTROL
My eating habits were horrific at best, and without exercising it was a steady gain over the years. Eventually I ran into an old highschool buddy and the first thing out of his mouth was ‘whoa buddy, you are huge!’. I loved it. No really, he meant that I looked ‘strong’ not fat. See, growing up I was a twig and hated it so FINALLY I have some bulk. My body hid the weight well and I was enjoying the ‘strong tall’ look. It was great, except there was nothing strong about me. I continued to eat myself into oblivion, I ate nothing healthy whatsoever.
|Fran was shorter and|
greener back then.
Being a tall guy there’s only a few stores that sell clothing that fits me so it was normal to shop at Big & Tall type stores. Except I used to only fit one of those two categories. I remember finally breaking into the Size 40 pants and that hurt. It bothered me in the back of my mind for the rest of that year and eventually I mustered up the courage to try to ride again.
So I did what I normally did ‘back in the day’. I signed up for a mountain bike race. I showed up the race thinking I would crush it. Not even 5 minutes into the race and I was done. My mind was still in race-mode saying ‘GO GO GO’ but my has-been overweight body had different plans. Remember the last time I was on a bike I was top of my game, winning all my races so this was a cold hard dose of reality. I came to terms with my phatness and vowed to get back to it in the spring.
RETURN OF THE JEDI
I committed to mountain biking. I trained with the local race teams and it hurt immensely. I could barely hang on to their pace but I sucked it up and kept at it. It was a painful summer but by the end I was holding my own and 30lbs lighter. I looked forward to racing for fun the next year.
I take a lot more risks than the average person. I jump my bike off drops, skinnys, logs, jagged rock and crazy speeds. I have a ton of experience so I rarely crash. I’m comfortable taking the risks. Recreational Volleyball on the other hand, thats a whole other story. With all the risks I take I never expected to injure myself playing volleyball. I jumped sideways and heard a ‘pop’ in my knee. The surgeon delivered the bad news – my knees are “loosey-goosey” and I fully tore my ACL. I’ll never run, I shouldn’t cycle and if I want to be able to walk I need to baby my knees until I’m 55 so I can get knee replacement surgery. They are that bad. After the surgery I had a very difficult time with recovery. It took me at least 4 times longer to recover than most other people. For every bike the rode by I ate a bag of chips. For every bright sunny day that I couldnt ride I drink beer and ceasars and enjoyed my comfort foods. Depression. Don’t take your ability to walk for granted. Sure enough I gained back ALL my weight, plus interest. Eventually a year of physio later I was able to almost exercise like a normal person.
TAKE TWO – The Low Point
I was determined to ride again. I’ve been here before, overweight, out of shape so all I have to do is ride my brains out and work hard and I’ll be back where I started. Except this time I was heavier, had a bummed knee and my muscles atrophied to the point where all I got is skin and bone literally.
I tried to ride with the local groups again anyways. Impossible. I repeatedly got dropped early in the rides and I didn’t have the strength to push the big gears. I remember how hard it was to lose the weight the first time, but now it seemed impossible. I could barely ride on my own, everything was beyond my fitness level. I got down on myself, frustrated, furious, I quit.
Then Rob happened. Here’s a guy that broke his back on a routine mountain bike ride. Parapalegic, never to walk again. Damn, who am I to complain? Imagine the challenges him and his family face, but they do it. They do it with a smile to boot, a beautiful family. This brings me back to my depression while recovering from surgery – I recall the million ‘If-Only’ things I promised myself. If Only my leg worked, I would do this and that and never complain again! Time to renew those promises to myself.
FAT AND THE FURIOUS
I joined in the fundraiser at a 24hr Mountain Bike Race to raise money for Rob and the Canadian Parapalegic Association. Here is where we formed a friendly rivalry and clydesdale race team determined to lose weight and set a BHAG (Big Hairy Ass Goal) to win the next 24hr race. I regained just enough fitness to join back with some of my old riding clubs. We took 2nd place and we all dropped a ton of weight. Surrounding myself with other Fat-Bastards(Race Team Name) and drawing from each others experience and some friendly rivalry was just what I needed to help motivate me back to shape.
|Riding with the Brace|
The next big thing. A BHAG to take me out of the clydesdale category for good. Having never seen a triathlon in my life, not knowing the distances, never run in my life, haven`t swam in 15 years, we signed up anyways. Now 60lbs lighter and healthier than I have ever been in my life, I survived Ironman Muskoka 70.3 The next year it was only natural to up the ante, so here I am training for
Ironman Lake Placid.
Arguably the toughest thing I’ve trained for my entire life.
Commit or die tryin.
|IM Muskoka 70.3|
|My Pit Crew and my loving wife|
who makes me the happiest PFG EVAR!!