Getting in Shape

I had my big toe fused in November. For the next few months I went back to the doctor who performed the surgery, and he would take x-rays to determine if my body was healing properly. This went on for about four months before he determined I could resume most physical activity.

The only activities I can’t do at this time are running, jogging and jumping. Sports like tennis and racquetball are out because I risk jamming my toe into the end of my shoe. But I can walk. I can ride my exercise bike. I can do floor exercises and work out with resistance bands.

I focus on what I can do instead of what I can’t.

At one of my last visits to the foot doctor I asked what I could do to accelerate my recovery. He said, “Drop some weight.” So I bought an Apple Watch for Christmas, but didn’t do much with it until the end of March. I almost returned the watch, but I’m glad I didn’t.

From around the first of April till today I’ve dropped just over 45 lbs. I thought I would share how I’ve done that and what I’ve learned about myself over the past few months. I’ll start with my least favorite part of the process: tracking calories.

I’ve tried to count calories in the past, but after a few days I’d give up. It’s just too hard to remember. But I knew monitoring what I was putting into my body would be as important as any new exercise routine. So I downloaded the Lose It! app on my iPhone and started. I still don’t enjoy it, but I’ve made a habit of tracking each item I eat. This one change has brought about big changes in how much I eat. I decided I wouldn’t deny myself most foods, but that I would monitor the amount of food and calories I was consuming each day. I quickly realized how many sweets I was eating each day, and began replacing them with fruits I enjoy like blueberries, strawberries and cantaloupe.

Selfies help track my progress – Nov 2020 till Aug 2021

The other big change I made was set a daily exercise goal on my Apple Watch. I started with 10 minutes and added another five minutes every other week until I’m now up to 50 minutes a day. I don’t stress about what type of exercise I will do, but I have a couple of favorites which include my exercise bike and walking around my neighborhood. One tip I have is to set small goals you can reach. It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see instant progress, so I decided to focus on tracking my calories and exercising a few minutes each day. I didn’t make drastic changes to my daily schedule, diet or daily routine. It was also important that I be able to put on my shorts and tennis shoes and start working out quickly instead of driving to the gym, and then figuring out what to do.

About 14 years ago I dropped 65 lbs on the Atkins Diet. But I found it really hard to keep the weight off because the diet wasn’t sustainable for me. I removed entire food groups, banned sugar and most carbs, and the weight came off fast. I was a miserable person to be around though.

But I’ve learned that losing weight fast isn’t the most sustainable method. I’m learning to cook healthy foods at home. I’m drinking a lot of water instead of fruit juices. I’m one of those dorks who carries around a 40 ounce Hydro Flask! I keep a drawer of healthy snacks like nuts and protein bars and string cheese so I’m not tempted to down a Snickers and bag of gummy bears. If I have a day where I go over my daily calorie allotment, I’ll try to spend extra time on my bike or walking the next day, but I don’t get down on myself. I also found inspiration for losing a lot of weight by watching Chris Terrell on TikTok.

I’m at the half-way point of my weight loss. I have just over 50 lbs to go to get to my weight goal, and I figure I’ll be able to meet that goal sometime in the first few months of 2022. Slow and steady.

Two Blocks

I hadn’t pedaled two blocks from home today when I began to wonder why I had decided to bike to work in such chilly weather. I’ve biked to work on a few colder days, but today I felt it through my whole body.

I haven’t pushed my body like this since I was in high school. Some days my body pushes back and I’ve learned it’s best to listen when that happens.

I’d rather bike when the sun is out and the roads are dry, neither of which come to mind when you think of Seattle.

But yet there’s a satisfaction in knowing I didn’t turn back.

Unforeseen Benefit of Biking

I’ve written a number of times on the health benefits of giving up my car for my bike. I’ve dropped a few pounds, sleep better, and feel more alert at work. I’m finally at the point where driving makes me feel lazy which is a great because it means I’ve developed a healthy habit.

But one of the best benefits had slipped my mind till today.

The last couple of weekends I’ve taken Lincoln with me on longer rides along the interurban trail that connects north and south King County. As we rode along the trail this afternoon I noticed a women picking blackberries.


Lincoln pulled up alongside me as we stopped to watch. The woman asked if we’d like to pick berries and offered us a plastic bag. We got off our bikes and began carefully plucking blackberries off the bushes lining the trail. If you’ve ever picked blueberries it’s similar except the blackberry bushes have sharp little teeth that latch on to your fingers, hands and arms when you get close. They really are nasty little buggers.

We didn’t fill our bag, but we had enough to show the girls what we’d accomplished which was our goal. We jumped back on our bikes and rode along the trail, stopping only take a few gulps of Gatorade.

Up until now, the strongest connection I’ve made with Lincoln came last spring when I taught him how to solve the Rubik’s Cube. I know he also enjoyed the time we spent preparing his pinewood derby. He’s not a demonstrative young man most of the time which makes it difficult to gauge his interest in my hobbies.

That’s changed this spring when I biking because it’s an activity we can do together a few times each week and for more than a few fleeting minutes.

As we rode through town I asked Lincoln if he’d like to take the longer but easier route or try the shorter but more difficult route up Lea Hill. The shorter route includes a tough right turn that requires some speed. The last two times have resulted in disappointment as he’s nearly fallen off his bike by taking the turn at too sharp of an angle.

As we got closer to deciding what route to take, I told Lincoln I was sure he could do it. I explained how I’d ride ahead of him. We’d make a wider turn than before giving us a few more feet to accelerate. He nodded without saying anything. 

He made it around the turn without a problem, and we continued up the hill together.

Normally, he doesn’t say much when we’re riding. I don’t either but that’s usually because I’m out of breath. But today he couldn’t stop talking about how great it felt to conquer the corner.  He couldn’t wait to tell his sisters and mom what he’d done.

Down the road I’m sure I’ll appreciate the health benefits I’m experiencing through cycling. But today what mattered most to me was connecting with my son while doing something he enjoyed.