Yes, I know the phrase is “New Years Resolution” but this is not a resolution, this is a revolution.
Resolution: a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner.
Revolution: a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.
I have done the resolution thing before. Many times before. It hasn’t worked. A resolution, to me, is a decision, a proposal, a plan. And at the end of the day, it is most importantly just a thought.
What I need is a revolution. Something real. Something tangible. Something that has some meat on its bones. Something that has action attached.
There is a GOAL. A series of goals actually. There are several that involve fine-tuning various parts of my life, like attention to family and study. But these are just subtle changes to areas that are already mostly under control.
The most important one is where the revolution comes in. I have passively contemplated my declining fitness for the best part of 17 years. Now I want to make a dramatic change. I want to become a bike rider again rather than just a bike owner. With that in mind the big goal is to race the track season that starts in October 2006. That requires a certain level of performance on the bike, which in turn generates a need for weight loss and improved fitness. I was struggling with how to quantify these goals; weight loss speaks for itself, but fitness is a little more subjective. Then just this week Al Maviva came into conflict with Rocky over their relative fitness levels. With vastly different starting points and expected finishing points they hatched a plan that allowed a fair comparison of their different selves.
I have deemed their formula a worthy guide to self-improvement and made it my own. So some time tomorrow I will measure myself in many different ways… and let the games begin.
The weight loss goal is easy. Starting at about 124 kilograms (273 lb) I have set a goal of losing one kilogram (2.2 lb) per week for the first six months, three quarters of a kilogram (1.65 lb) per week for the next three months, and half a kilogram (1.1 lb) per week for the final 3 months of the year. This puts me at 87.25 kilograms (192 lb) at the start of October and 80.75 kilograms (178 lb) at the end of the year. That puts me 9 kilograms (20 lb) above my 1988 racing weight. I am confident of this being do-able at the age of 38.
This time trial measurement will be a telling tale. We did five and ten kilometre (3 & 6 mile) time trials almost weekly when I was racing. I suspect that tomorrow I will return about a nine and a half to ten and a half minute five kilometre time. I expect that by years end I will be travelling at about the eight minute mark.
So if all goals are achieved I should hit a score of 120% on the Al/Rocky self-improvement meter™.
There is a PLAN. I won’t bother you with the details of the plan for family and study. I have already endured more than enough messages indicating significant levels of jealousy with respect to these parts of my life. While I see things as normal and ordinary, to the outside world looking in on me, I am apparently living a postcard existence.
Just a little aside before I lay out the plan. While riding my road bike one day this week I was struggling into a headwind. The standard remedy for bike riders in this situation is to put your hands in the drops (curved part of the handlebars) and bend your elbows. Bending the elbows until the forearms are horizontal is about as low as you can go and still pedal, a bit lower is possible if you are not pedalling; such as when completely “tucked” descending a steep hill. To give perspective to my weight, here is what happened when I used the drops. With my arms dead straight, I immediately felt restricted in my breathing. Any further lowering of the shoulders removed more diaphragm travel and was therefore next to impossible. I pondered on this for the entire ride and when I got home I inspected the handlebar tape for any wearing in the drops. My memory told my they had never been used (this bike is 4 years old) and the inspection confirmed it. It has nothing to do with flexibility; with my feet shoulder width apart I can easily do the touch your toes thing. In fact I can put my fists on the floor. But my stomach gets in the way of pedalling while tucked down on a road bike. Hmmm…
My bike and my belly are therefore the focus of the revolution.
The bike plan. Everyone knows that you lose a lot of weight early in any diet, but I am also in need of leg strength for the bike so I anticipate that some of the initial weight loss will be offset by muscle gain. That is the reason for setting a one kilogram per week initial goal. Maybe I will be truly losing 2.5 kilograms (5.5 lb) of fat each week; but some significant aspects of my training will be focused on improving leg power and therefore muscle bulk so a kilogram a week should be reasonable. If I get too far ahead of the goal curve I will revise it to suit. I have set myself a 30 kilometre (20 mile) per day minimum with no days off. Two days each week will be designated rest days and will just be a smooth roll. Two days each week (most likely weekends) will be 50-80 kilometres (30-50 miles). The strength component will come from short (initially) efforts. 52×17 on the road bike – I will coast down to 20 kph (12mph) then accelerate hard to over 45 kph (28mph). I have already done some of these and it equates to accelerating from 50 rpm to 110 rpm in 7-8 seconds. The gearing, maximum speed and duration will all change as strength and fitness improves. That’s the bike.
The belly plan. I have been taking notice of my dietary habits for several weeks without any conscious effort to make judgements or changes. Just basically spying on myself. The aspects that I have identified as problem areas are soft drink and junk/fast food (hands up if you are shocked by this – I didn’t think so) as well as night snacks.
Junk food, in my world, is an indicator of poor organisation and laziness. I currently work hard during the day and have to leave home early. It is easier to throw cash at a drive-through than to prepare sandwiches and store them for 5 hours on the road. Plus drive-throughs in the main give better deals if there is a drink involved. Putting petrol in the car forces me to walk past the biggest, coldest (on a hot day) drink fridges in the galaxy. Why not? On any given work day junk/fast food and soft drinks are responsible for between 1500 and 3000 calories. The plan involves ham sandwiches and fruit.
I define night snacks as anything ingested after the dishes are washed from the evening meal. Some nights this is not an issue. Some nights this is a 1000 calorie blow out. To get up early for training, I will have to go to bed earlier. This will remove about 3 hours per day of exposure to the temptations of the fridge and pantry.
Between these two dietary weaknesses I should be able to cut out a minimum of 15000 calories per week. That should make a difference.
There is ACTION. There is not much that can be said here. I have a goal. I have a plan. I need to itemise that plan into daily chunks and see it through. I have to get out of bed. Then I have to get out the door. And I have to stay out of the fridge. I actually started most of this a week ago. I didn’t want to hit the first of January standing flat footed.
I don’t think I’ve ever laid my soul bare like this. Not to my wife. Not to my mother. Not to my best friends. I feel liberated. But more importantly, I feel committed.
Happy New Year.
Welcome to my REVOLUTION.
My permanent post script
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