Reflection?

I celebrated a birthday yesterday. It marks an interesting day…as 5 years ago my health was such that there was no way I was going to make it to this day.

I changed that.

The passing of time…usually marked by things like a New Year, Christmas, or birthdays, inevitably leads to reflection, and often to evaluation.

So many view that year gone by…as a step closer to the end…or away from things “they could” and the like…and it colors not only their reflections of the present, but their view of the future.

As a young man from my position and background…with my future prospects…I would have bet I wouldn’t make 30.

I just passed my 55th birthday. Is that too late? Is my life over? Have I peaked? Physically? Mentally? In my enjoyment of life? Experience make me jaded? Grumpy (as it seems to do to so many). Weary of the world? Is THAT my topic of reflection?

I’ve always tried to make my way…but mostly…for my first 5 decades, I went were the winds blew…yes, I worked hard…but really I coasted down the easy or expected paths. It took me to a “not good” place. Was that my lot? Was that all I could expect?

Hell. To. The. Nope. Not reflecting on that.

So what ARE we supposed to reflect upon?

Shit, I don’t know…but I do know this…the future…tomorrow, next week, next year…are what we CAN exert influence on…what we can steer or lead…and as long as we’re breathing it’s not too late.

I *know* this. I’ve done it. Am I another year…or decade older? Sure as hell am…and I’m better than I’ve been in decades…physically, mentally, financially.

It didn’t “just happen”. It was not luck. It was a choice, followed by learning what it would take, and most importantly, by DOING those things.

Ten years difference in the photo below. I was even heavier after that 1st photo…and didn’t really start on this endeavor until I hit 50. On the right…I’ve lost more weight then I weigh today. 222 pounds down. Added muscle too. Beat high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a host of other things that were adding up to take me before 55.

And I’ve not peaked. Not even close.

If experience has made you weary…it’s time to take a different road. There’s more to see…do…experience…than can be done in a dozen lifetimes.

It’s nothing more…or less…than a choice.

Get on it.

I’ll see you on the road.

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Mostly Human

Sitting here in my recliner…casting music vids at the “wall ‘O boob tube”…taking a much needed rest day. Sleep is still tough…work has been at its most challenging, and recovery from this surgery takes a LOT out of you.

I had the shakes this morning. They were, at least, somewhat less than yesterday.

Yeah, I went back to work too soon. Can’t be helped. I am what I am…I do what I do. I’ve made my way in this world on my will and ethics…work and otherwise…despite some bad hands dealt. I come from a *long* way down and am constantly aware that because of what and who I am, there’s no safety net.

One or two missed steps and I’d be back in the mire I fought my way out of years ago.

I am unlikely to change “what brung me” to any serious degree.

I’ve time to reflect today…the human organism is a fantastic thing, at least if you give it half a chance. The sheer severity of the punishment you can inflict on the human body…that it can and will recover from, all the while permitting you to be as functional as is possible, is truly amazing.

But the mind must be involved. Resilience, it turns out, is an act of sheer will. The hard work is the easy part. If I regret anything of the past…it’s that it took me so long to understand that.

This isn’t just about the recent surgery…it covers near 5 decades of bad choices, overwork, self-neglect, and injuries.

And despite it all…today, finally, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. I did the work. I paid the price…and the interest.

The “tearing me down” phase is over. It’s time to remake the man.

So yeah, I need this break…and a few more. I still feel guilty about it…but my focus is changing.

I stared at the man in the mirror for a long while this morning. I STILL don’t recognize him…but…at least now I can see he’s on his way to becoming the man I always thought I was.

…or perhaps dreamed I could be.

It’s a high bar I’ve set…but I’ve already decided that I’ll clear it.

Whatever it takes.

I’ll see you on the road.

I still don't recognize the man in the mirror.

Me at 205. That’s 222 pounds down and I’m still puffy/swollen from the surgery.

“Break me down and build me up
Whatever it takes
‘Cause I love the adrenaline in my veins
I do whatever it takes
‘Cause I love how it feels when I break the chains
Whatever it takes…”

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Viking Cycle-Sport/Street Medium Backpack Review

This spring Viking Cycle provided me with a couple of products to review.

I reviewed a pair of gloves from them here. Yep, I’m still using them.

Next up up is a backpack. Now, i’m normally NOT a backpack kind of guy…as a distance rider one of my secret weapons is a backrest on my cruiser and that’s not normally compatible with a backpack.

I DO commute though, and nearly always have some sort of bag with me. Laptop, chargers, lunch, workout clothes, whatnot…all travel to work with me nearly daily. I’ve been using a duffel tied down on the back seat for the task. Once at my destination, I have to toss it over my shoulder for the trek up and down at least a half dozen floors of stairs, crossing the world’s most dangerous street, and so on, so a backpack wouldn’t be out of place.

Viking provided their Medium Black Street-Sportbike Backpack for review so I gave it a go.

The backpack turned out to work as well as the duffel for me, as the backpack has plenty of straps and loops etc to be able to strap it down as easily as the duffel when I’m on the bike with the backrest. When I’m on the other machine, the backpack wears comfortably and has a good arrangement of straps and adjustments so it stays in place and isn’t distracting.

It’s semi-rigid, has compartments that easily hold my laptop and junk, and the medium will accommodate my “commute load”. It would not be big enough for overnight.

The backpack has good quality, durable zippers and it looks like quality stitching and construction. I’m happy with it.

The Viking medium Sport/Street backpack

The strap arrangement is comprehensive and effective

Suitable compartment for laptop/tablet

Viking also markets in the UK and “Down Under” so if you’re there, hit up your local sites:

Motorcyclehouse AU
Motorcyclehouse UK

Full disclaimer: Viking provided this bag free of charge for me for review.
Full full disclaimer: If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t say I do…and I DO like it.

I’ll see you on the road,
CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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My current look….

The pain, the recovery, the interruption of my routine, work, and other aspects of my life, the expense, and the feelings of weakness or “inability” all add up.

What does it mean?

Meh. Not much. I’ve got this…

But there are the nightmares to go along with it.

What bothers the self-made man that preaches resilience? What phases the man that’s seen the things I’ve seen?

Probably NOT the usual. Monsters and demons don’t phase me the least as I’ve faced worse in real life than my brain can ever cook up. Sometimes won, sometimes not. Ironically, Due to the very surgery causing me the pain, I no longer bear the external scars from most of that stuff LOL! All got taken off in favor of some brand new ones.

As always…there’s enough of a seed of truth to make the thing legit…at least in the dark of night…in this case…my ability to protect and provide and face off the dark things in the world and hold on to the light things I’ve built my life around.

When ya think, “I’ve got this…” and then your brain spends an eternity in the night replaying every failure, every bad decision, every serious pain…and telling ya, “You think so?”

Heh…yeah. Subtle. I’d have slapped it with a margarita but I’m not all that much of a drinker and it would interfere with the healing anyway….

This too shall pass.

I’ll see you on the road…soon enough anyway.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Groan….

So, just over a week ago I had skin removal surgery.

Hard work can only do so much…and I did it.

Having lost 210+ pounds, achieved sub 15% body fat, added some muscle, beat diabetes, tuned up my cardio-vascular system to better than it’s been since I was a teen, has put me literally, in the best shape of my life.

Almost.

See, the extra skin does’t go away. There’s no cream, magic cure, exercise, miracle laser, etc that will do anything for it.

It has to be cut off. A lesser weight loss and many will not need it done. For me it became functional, inhibiting movement and causing injury if I did was “aggressively mobile”.

This is not a decision I made lightly. It’s a serious surgery.

Turns out I’m also recovering from hernia surgery…

Ah, so THAT’S why THAT particular pain seems so familiar. Ugh.

So, y’all have heard the term “tummy tuck”? Sounds innocuous right? That’s ONE of the procedures that was part of my surgery last week.

Thing is…tummy tuck is a nice, innocent sounding name for a HELL of an intrusive procedure.

They actually cut along the bikini/pubic line, peel the entire skin layer (and any fat) off CLEAR above your naval, then chop, stretch, sew, fit etc. to remove the extra and make everything fit nicely.

Google/youtube it if you still think “tummy tuck” (also known as abdominoplasty) sounds like a minor thing.

IF YOU ARE NOT the queasy type, here’s a picture of some of what they removed from me. That’s a 12″ ruler in the center of it.. linky linky to graphic pic

But there’s something else…since the abdominal muscles are completely exposed at this point, any and all muscle damage (common from pregnancy in women, hernias/strains in men, etc) is repaired. Obesity by itself causes muscle separation here as well.

I had a pretty severe hernia repaired via lathroscopy and mesh about 5 years ago. As good as my surgeon was at that time, these are patch jobs, done to repair the acute problem with as minimal intrusion as possible.

In a “tummy tuck”…with the abs exposed, they repair EVERYTHING…

So it turns out my old repair was reworked, and other defects corrected. I had a few. Lifetime of hard work and all that.

So yeah, all the pain of the massive incisions AND the hernia recovery as well.

In those moments when the pain from something over 70” of incisions isn’t at the forefront…I had that familiar ab agony…yep…I’m also recovering from a massive hernia repair.

Fun! 🙂

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A closet full of clothes and nothing to wear…

That moment when all your “way too small” clothes are suddenly too big…

Those are 35″ jeans btw…

Got nothing smaller to try on…for me a VERY surreal problem…

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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BooYEAH!

14.8% Body fat today. Another milestone made. Another wall smashed.

I’ve come a LONG way.

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Waffles of doom….

Notable at breakfast…an overly enthusiastic dude felt the need to get up from his meal, to come explain to me just how dangerous riding motorcycles is, and how it was gonna kill me someday…

Now…this is entirely possible…but despite the over-dramatic news stories and graphic pictures and videos folks seem almost desperate to share every time somebody, somewhere in the world manages to capture one, the statistics tell quite a different story.

Daily riding of my motorcycle, in the metro traffic, with NO GEAR AT ALL, doesn’t even make the possible top 25 causes of my “imminent demise”. With the gear and education and experience and other actions I take to moderate that risk it actually falls somewhere just slightly above getting struck by lightning. Twice.

Of course, you know what they say about statistics. Ask the motorcyclist that got struck by lightning while riding. Lightning AND motorcycling killed him. At the same time. Skewed the odds for the rest of us for decades I’d guess.

Don’t forget to add about 2 cups of syrup!

Anyway, there was some irony at play here…as “enthusiastic dude” was well over 400 pounds and his breakfast consisted of a VERY tall stack of full-sized waffles…I’d guess at least 8 of ’em…drowned in margarine and syrup. Conservatively there were around 5000 calories on that plate. Probably closer to 8000! 90% flash carbs, and the rest is saturated fats. One of those waffles a week could be a treat. He had a couple months worth.

I feel qualified to comment on both sides of this…as, yes, I DO ride (for those that haven’t been paying attention), and for decades if I walked into a room I was the fattest guy in there.

I also like waffles.

…and I know “denial” ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Motorcycling may get me someday…just like getting in my car…or walking across the street from my parking garage to work every day (the garage thing is marginally more dangerous than the motorcycle commute), but the dude preaching to me that I should quit it and “save my life”…is MUCH more assuredly killing himself.

His eating habits, size, associated insulin signatures and blood sugar levels, inflammation, and all the diseases they cause or worsen, will kill several hundred times more folks this year than motorcycling…and cars…and guns. Taken together, his lifestyle is the #1 cause of death in his age group. Taken separately, well, they are 4 of the top 5. Also 6, 7 , and 9…but it doesn’t seem productive to count that high for this.

He was preaching, not discussing, so the opportunity to point this out was lost, and had I forced the issue, would have been rejected and just made the day unpleasant.

Risk vs. Risk. When your level of risk has approached certainty, there’s little point in worrying about the minor ones.

Perspective matters…and it seems to be one of the things lost in the noise these days.

As in many things though…you’ve got to be ready to listen. I wasn’t…when I was the fattest guy in the room. I still don’t know why.

I’ll see you on the road.

…and very once and a while, I may even have a waffle!

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Motivation Won’t Do It…

“You are SO motivated!”

I was breathing hard and staring down that damn Smith machine when she said it. I broke my glare at the assembly of cables, pulleys, sliders, and chunks of heavy iron and turned toward her. The glare wasn’t working anyway.

Protip: You cannot intimidate heavy iron, especially by staring at it.

I smiled at the PYTtm (Pretty Young Thing), evaluated her for a half-second, and decided she was looking for a conversation, not just a nod or platitude. I’ve learned, that in the fitness game, many folks don’t really want answers when they make comments or indeed, ask direct questions. Especially if the answers aren’t what they want to hear.

“Sometimes,” I cocked my head, “not always.” I pondered a little more, “Occasionally I suppose I am. Why do you say that?”

She was taken aback, “Well, you’re here…” she indicated the little fitness center at work, “a lot. And you work hard at it. I can’t seem to keep going. I lose my motivation.”

“Ah.” I glanced back at the Smith machine. It’s a nemesis really. And a benefactor. At least 3 days a week, usually 4, I spend time on it rehabbing my shoulders. It tries to be a ‘jack of all trades’ so there’s a lot of things it’s not very good at…but its arrangement of cables and varying handles and finely adjustable weight-loads makes it ideal to work a maddening array of motions for my shoulder recovery. That’s AFTER some cardio and whatever else I subject myself to that day to try to whip the rest of me into some other shape than “round”.

EIGHTEEN months of it now on the shoulders…around three years on the overall quest. I wondered what she’d think if she knew the REST of my fitness schedule…which involves multiple “elsewhere” workouts, a professional trainer/coach at his studio, and a “big box” facility I spend time at multiple times a week.

“Thing is, it’s not motivation,” I struggled to articulate it, “I’m not motivated at all today. I’m discouraged and tired and pissed off and really disappointed with some folks and frankly feel like eating an entire pizza and spending the rest of the day in bed.” I smiled a bit to soften the statement. “NOBODY can stay motivated all the time.”

“How do you do it then?”

I almost said, “Habit.” but hesitated. No. It’s not habit. Habit is the easy way…most folks arrange their lives around habit, doing basically what they must…to the minimum standard required. The easiest way. The least responsibility required. I “must” go to work, so getting up is habit. Paying the bills is habit. Going through life dealing with the mundane is habit. It’s the default. The minimum. No thought required. No real decisions. The easiest way.

I know this. Regarding my physical condition I did it for decades. It almost killed me. THAT’S the legacy of habit.

…and that simply won’t do.

There’s nothing default, minimum, or easy about the transformation I’ve undertaken.

The answer was already there, and popped into my head…and I hesitated to tell her. See, it’s an unpalatable word, as it simply and directly sticks the responsibility for “doing the thing”, whatever that thing may be, right where it ultimately belongs…with and on each of us.

It’s the choices. What you require of yourself. A lot of folks don’t want that responsibility and don’t like to hear it. Especially as it regards fitness. Doesn’t matter…they’ve got it anyway.

So I said it, “It’s discipline. Nothing less will do. Ya gotta OWN it…and do everything you can do…every day.”

“Oh.” She seemed disappointed. Many are when I get into the “meat” of this quest…they’re looking for the magic bullet. The shortcut.

There ain’t one.

“I just don’t have that.”

I grinned at her, “Sure you do. Discipline’s a choice. No more, no less. So is a lack of it. Doesn’t mean it’s easy,” I shrugged, “ya just gotta choose. A coach can probably help with that. I sure wish I’d figured it out about 4 decades ago…” I winked and turned back to the Smith machine.

Damn iron wasn’t gonna move itself, even if I returned to glaring at it, and the shoulders weren’t near sore enough for today yet.

Like most of life…it can be tackled at any level. It’s not what you CAN do…it’s what you WILL do.

Decide.

I’ll see you on the road.

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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…and the bill comes due.

Of this fitness journey…back in 2017 I wrote this:

The real question is what it will cost me?

Even then I had the answer…

Whatever it takes.

…but as I sit here writing this…I’m wondering if it has cost me my 35-year career.

Scratch that. I’m not wondering. I’m convinced that it has…

***

When I started this transformation, and it became obvious I was serious about it, my trainers and other sources (reading of the very few others that succeed at this) warned me that the process, the time, and the dedication required to succeed would require significant, intrusive changes in my daily life and my interactions with others.

In short, I would have to “do” for me, rather than only for others. Time. Money. Effort. Redirecting some of them back to myself…a LOT of them back to myself…telling people “no”, would likely cost me some friends or family relationships.

I understood this…and my consensus was that any friends or family that didn’t support…or at least tolerate my efforts, were of the “toxic” sort and I was better off not surrounding myself with that anyway.

With this process, I was saving my life. It took me a long time to realize this. Nobody really has the right to ask me not to.

It took me a long time to realize that too.

So I learned to say, “No.” Not very well, but it’s a process anyway.

It HAS happened, toxic people surfacing, but has been blessedly little, and it turns out…I pretty much knew who they were anyway.

But then there’s my career.

From the get-go I’ve been careful not to “cross the streams” so to speak. I’ve managed for the most part to not allow my transformation quest to interfere with my career.

–I work out with my trainer at 0-stupid-30 so I don’t impact work hours.
–I’m a salaried employee with no set “9-5” type schedule so when I’ve had a doctor’s appointment or such, I’ve made up or exceeded the time it took.
–I do work out in the company’s little fitness room often during the workday, but it’s not on “their time”…I get lunches and breaks just like any employee and see the “salaried employee” thing above. I’m here early. I work late. And I’m often tasked to do things remotely (from home) for them and those are “my hours”.
–In TWO shoulder surgeries I only took a total of 5 days off and that was regular vacation hours scheduled well in advance.

My immediate supervisor has been great about it anyway. We’re a 24/7 operation and as long as we’re putting in the hours and getting the job done, he’s been flexible. Still, I’ve been careful not to “inconvenience” my employer.

Dedicated to the job and all that. It’s what a man’s supposed to be. Right?

After all, that’s the way our world works…and there’s benefits to dedication.

…or there were supposed to be.

Men have long sold their health and their soul “to the job”…I am discovering just how expensive it is to buy it back.

I have reached a point in my transformation where hard work, discipline, and mindful eating just aren’t going to be enough for the next step.

In short, I’m within a point or two of my ideal body composition. But…and I mentioned before that I had debated posting about this, but the final step in my transformation is the removal of excess skin. See, not to be too delicate, but when your gut was well over 60″ around even at the “under the dunlop” part…and now it’s a 35 at the widest…well, there’s a lot of skin left over that isn’t going away. Surgical intervention is the only fix for this and depending on the severity of the problem, NOT doing it can be debilitating and cause long term problems (life-threatening infections for one).

But, medical insurance won’t cover the fix…considering it “cosmetic” or “quality of life” instead of “preventative” or “acute care”. It only becomes something insurance will help with AFTER you’ve been hospitalized for a related, life-threatening infection or problem. We are NOT going down that road.

I find this ironic…as they WOULD have paid for a gastric bypass or such. But doing it my way? You’re on your own.

So be it. Penance some would say.

So, just like in this entire endeavor, I made sacrifices, scraped together the resources and the time, and have arranged to “do the deed”.

The one thing I DID need, was my extended sick leave. It was supposed to work like this at my company…the first 5 days of any absence for a medical issue you must cover under your normal PTO time. After 5 days we have an earned benefit (I fully vested in this 35 years ago) that provides for 1000 hours at full pay should you be medically unable to report to work.

I need three weeks. My PTO covers the first, the extended is supposed to kick in for the other two.

They denied it. Doesn’t matter that I will be medically unable to work. Seems they don’t consider the REASON I’ll be medically unable to work noble or sufficient enough to merit paying me the benefit I’ve earned.

Denied.

This was done through a third-party company they’ve contracted to handle such things…precisely so they don’t have to make these sorts of “caring” decisions…see, policy and procedure…oh, and bureaucratic confusion, even though not aligned with the benefit I’ve earned, make the decisions. Out of our hands and all that.

Therefore…I’m doing it anyway.

In truth…in the back of my mind I must have been expecting just such a dick-head move…as I have hoarded my regular PTO this year and have enough to cover (barely) AND I’d already worked with my supervisor to get the needed time-slot approved before I did anything at all toward getting the surgery scheduled. I expected the extended leave to kick in and had not consciously hoarded the regular time…but there ya go.

My worry NOW is I’m in a shrinking industry…and the tech side of that industry as well…both of which have a history of laying off folks that are a pain or tap a benefit…and I had to waltz into my local HR office and dump this entire mess in their lap with an adamant, “This is NOT what I signed up for.”

They DID say they’d look into it…and perhaps they’ll even do the right thing.

But…

If I wasn’t ALREADY on it…I expect I’ve made somebody’s shit list. NOT a good thing to do in a shrinking industry.

Friends, family, and former colleagues have all asked me in no uncertain terms why, with my skills and dedication, am I still here?

Truth is I LIKE what I do, I’m passionate about it, I believe it’s important, and I’m very, very good at it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but as long as this company is in business…they don’t just need A butt in this chair…they need MY butt in this chair. The same is true for the rest of my team members. Talented, dedicated, passionate, innovative people are what’s required for a company to succeed and survive in a challenging environment.

I wish they still recognized that.

But this week had me as close as I’ve ever been to just smiling, sticking out my hand to shake, and saying, “Been nice. Thanks for the experience. Please DO call me when you’re serious about the business again.”

Not sure I’d answer the phone though.

Anyway…surgery scheduled. Money…LOTS of it, has changed hands. Unless a health or surgical scheduling issue comes up, the time off is happening. HOW it happens paperwork-wise is not my worry anymore.

Career-wise I’m sure something’s coming.

Whatever that may be, bring it on.

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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