What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name? Perhaps everything.


Those of you that have been reading along for a while may recall my propensity for naming my machines…my belief…or suspicion at least…that as they are designed, maintained, and fitted to be an extension of our will…a manifestation of our desires…that they take on a bit of life…or soul themselves.

Besides…I’ve a long habit of talking…and listening…to my machines. It has…not to put too fine a point on it…saved my bacon on more than one occasion…and names make those discussions somewhat easier.

Those names aren’t always easy to come by though…often taking quite some time spent operating or maintaining the particular machine before their personality begins to come through.

This can take months.

***

Last November I acquired a second Valkyrie…same year as The Dragon…but with 10% of the mileage. It’s been handy…when needing to take one or the other down for some maintenance…to have a second one.

“The Second One” seems totally inadaquete for a name though…but she was slow at presenting herself a new one.

***

Slamming gears and dodging errant cagers…the big machine and I were making time through the freeways of the metroplex when she finally made herself known…

Ahem…
“Hey babe! It’s about time.”
Sorry boss. I wasn’t…well…here…before?

I suppose that’s true…with so few miles before I acquired her to have developed personality. It’s the curse of many machines…to spend much of their time ignored. It’s the majority of the fleet actually. I’ve never understood it…though I’ve often been grateful. The tendency for folks to buy iron horses and then ignore them has provided me several outstanding (and cheap) rides over the years. I tend to call those machines “Butt Jewelry”.

I dodged a particularly persistent…and stupid…cager…dropped her a couple gears and slammed the throttle to its stop.

We all but flew. You’d better know what you’re about…if you order up flank speed on a Valkyrie.

“Well, welcome!”
Gotta have a name boss.
“Yeah, I’ve a thought or two about that.”
Yeah?
“I’m thinking, ‘Déjà vu ‘…”
Wow. Just like the last time.
“What?”
Nothing boss. You were saying?

I gritted my teeth and changed lanes. A pickup…hauling a flatbed trailer…with a load of dry sand…and NO tarp…was busily losing its load grain by grain. Stupid. And dangerous. Not to mention quite painful to the nearby motorcyclist.

Déjà vu was not an idle choice…though it was a round-about-one. I wasn’t really sure about it though. The new(ish) Valkyrie had suffered a few glitches on our first rides…notably…in our first ten minutes…tossing the rather infamous “starter switch” problem at me. Only slightly later was the “bad ground cable connection at the frame” thing.

…and I had just watched a favorite movie…The Matrix. Glitches. Déjà vu. Yeah, I know. I’m a geek.

“Déjà vu…Glitch…something like that.”
Oooooo…I like that boss. ‘Stitch’ it is then!
“Wait what? ‘Stitch’?” That’s another favorite movie.
Yeah boss! ‘Stitch’!
“But…you’re female…” (bikes…in my view…are inherently female…draw what conclusions you’d like from that)
So I am. Very much so. Your point?
“Ur.”

Meet Stitch

Flying through the city…totally in sync…we’d developed a rhythm now…and it was quite decidedly mischievous. It suited her…and me. It also worked well with this traffic.

A rhythm is necessary…at least…if you’re a rider and survival is on your list of priorities.

“Do you have a thing for left shoes?”
Uh…what boss?
“Never mind babe. Stitch it is!”
Let’s fly boss!

Miles to go. Roads to run. Stitch and The Dragon to help me fly.

That’s…what’s in a name.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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*blinks*

Zen Pencils “Couldn’t Be Done” (click for full comic)

Yeah, I know the numbers. Intimately. But still…every now and then they jump out at ya in some new manner.

Realized today…over the last couple years I’ve lost more than 40% of my peak body weight.

…and still working hard.

Tell me again how it “can’t be done”…and let me know how that works for ya.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Dedication?

I think I’ve mentioned that it’s hard to come to terms with just how much of this fitness thing is actually a head game…

It seems the universe conspires to help your brain make excuses to NOT go do the things you must. We’re wired that way…to find external forces acting on us and use them as reasons for the things we do…or do not do

These are nothing but excuses.

Your job, or family obligations, or other “can’t do without” things are not so difficult…but when half your psyche is screaming that this fitness thing…this time…this effort…the resources…expended directly on YOU and you alone…are selfish…well…the brain looks, and finds, reasons to avoid the work.

It’s pretty damn good at it.

***

So…Monday morning…after a terrible, long, hot, work-filled weekend, the only time I had to workout came WAYYY too early.

I started awake to my alarm…at 4:20am…and quickly reached over and shut it off. I seldom use “snooze”…it just puts off the inevitable…

Click…I turn on my bedside lamp and blink.

Damn…I don’t want to do this today…

This is the point where the wife…that cute little short gal that for some reason shares her life with me…rolls over on my chest and grabs me in a hug.

All those curves…

As the goosebumps travel up my spine she sleepily mumbles “Don’t go!” into my ear.

Shit…

“Got to babe.”

“Noooo…stay!”

Did I mention she was naked? I wanted nothing more in the world than to stay where I was and exploer the…ur…situation.

What’s a man supposed to do?

Yeah, well…that’s a key question isn’t it. What’s a MAN supposed to do?

That answer never changes…a man’s supposed to do what he must…regardless of feelings or personal cost.

I gently disengaged myself, showered, and dragged my ass to my workout.

Is that dedication? Or something else entirely?

Head games.

I’d tell you I’m winning…but it doesn’t always feel like I am…

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Shout it from the rooftops! The math works!

Math and dieting…

Diet and exercise. Tracking what I eat. Limiting calories. Burning more at the gym…generally 5 times a week. Cardio. Weight training so I don’t lose muscle.

77 pounds. 222 days.

Doesn’t sound like much…for all that work. But if it was easy…well…everybody’d be doing it…

Given the “state of the industry” in weight-loss marketing…you’d imagine there’s some horrible mystery…magic bullet…complex formula…and some ritual you must perform just to lose weight. “Blood of virgins” and all that…which…come to think of it…there’s few virgins today…so that *would* explain why so many of us are fat…

But no.

There’s a reason for this belief (the complexity, not the virgin thing)…two actually…
1) “The Industry”…makes billions off ya if you believe you need the latest diet craze, pill, book, or “delivered to your door” meal plan.
2) Nobody wants to believe the actual answer. “Magic bullets” are EVER so much easier than hard work.

What’s the answer? The one nobody wants to believe?

Simple math…more or less. Well, simple math and some damn hard work.

So…let’s do some math.

A pound of fat in the human body contains between 3500 and 3800 calories (Kcals), depending on who ya ask…and what (if any) actual science they’ve perused. We’ll use 3600 for our examples…

In order to lose weight, the math is brutally simple. You have to burn more calories than you consume. 3600 calories for each pound. If ya burn 3600 more calories than you consume, you lose a pound. If you consume 3600 calories more than ya burn, well, ya gain a pound. Now…there’s all kinds of short term loss/gains possible due to water/dehydration and other stuff…but real, sustained weight loss is that plain and simple formula.

Tada! The secret! Now ya know. Be careful…the diet industry may be even now sending out spies and assassins to get ya. There’s billions of dollars at stake! 🙂

Heh…nah…they won’t come after you…you can shout this stuff from the rooftops and folks won’t believe you. They’re looking for the easy way…and there’s not one.

Anyway…math. Here we go.
77 pounds lost X 3600 Kcals/pound = 277,200 MORE calories burned than I consumed…

277,200 calorie deficit…divided by 222 days = 1250 (rounded) calorie per DAY deficit.

This means I burned, on average, 1250 MORE calories each day, than I consumed.

This result…1250 calorie/day deficit is the measured numbers based on my actual weight loss.

Diet and exercise…and math. Yep, that’s the ticket.

And we thought we’d never need math after high-school.

So, how did I figure out the number to limit my diet to?

I wanted to lose the maximum sustainable safe rate of weight loss…depending on who you ask, this is about 2 pounds a week…

(Calories per pound) X (weight loss desired) / 7
3600 X 2 / 7 = 1,030 calorie deficit/day.

There’s a formula to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)…based on your age, sex, weight, height. This number is the amount of calories you burn per day just existing…there are calculators on-line (one here) if you would like to know yours.

Mine started around 2600 and has dropped to about 2200 as my weight has dropped.

So… working out a few days a week I figured I could easily burn an average of 400 extra calories/day…(that’s a good hour of moderate work, so frankly, I figured 7-8 hours/week in the gym…a number I’ve held up pretty well)

(BMR) + exercise – (desired deficit) = (target diet calories)
2600 + 400 – 1,030 = 1970

So, if I exercised to the average, I could eat 1970 calories/day and lose 2 pounds/week.

I figured I’d hit it just a little harder though…just to make up for those days I didn’t exercise enough…or those inevitable days I blew my diet (faceplant into the brisket!), and to also make up for the fact that my BMR would drop as I lost weight.

Oh…yeah…and to makeup for those damn almond cookies at the Chinese Buffet….

Based on a number of factors…some research, reading, looking at my diet, advice from my trainers…I figured I could successfully limit my diet to 1800 calories/day. More on how to succeed at this in a future post. It’s not a huge secret…but folks won’t like that answer either.

So…that’s what I did. 1800 calories/day. Workout a lot (figuring 400 cals/day average).

How does it add up?
(desired deficit) + (difference in target diet vs actual) = (actual deficit)
1,030 + 170 = 1200 calorie/day deficit.

The actual number based on my weight loss we figured above was 1250…

I would say, “Holy shit! The math works!”

More?

Well actual:
222 days…call it 32 weeks…77 pounds, that’s 2.4 pounds/week.

And theoretical:
1200 calorie/day target deficit X 7 days = 8400 calorie/week deficit…
8400 deficit/3600 calories per pound = 2.33 pounds per week lost…

2.4 pounds actual vs 2.33 pounds theoretical…I’d say that’s pretty damn close.

Despite all the averaging and daily struggles…

The math works!

But that’s the engineer in me. I LIKE IT when the math works.

For all TWO of you that managed to read this far…you’re probably asking, “Do ya need all the math?”

Hell no. Told ya. I’m an engineer. Math turns me on…this causes my wife to look at me oddly at times…

[texts the wife] “Hey babe…what’re you wearing?” [/text]

Ur…um…sorry…

Here’s what YOU need…

Go find your BMR. Eat less calories/day than that…say, 500 or 1000 calories less…and add some exercise. No magic. Just math. And hard work. You’ll need that.

And you’ll lose weight…even without the blood of virgins.

Now…dear reader…”It’s as easy as all that?”

Oh. Hell. No.

At least, not if you need to lose 10% or more of your body weight.

It’s hard. A pure head game. Pressures, society, time, marketing, resources…even your own body will fight you…you’d be WISE to get some training/coaching. The numbers work…but ADHERING to them is a bitch. I’ll talk about that more (probably endlessly) in other posts…

But it CAN be done…and the math works…and I like it when the math works.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Countdown…

-77 today. That’s -177 from my peak weight.

But it’s getting harder.

I dunno…can ya turn it up to twelve?

edit:
So…a great weigh in…ya feel like a reward is an order..

And then my company pulls a Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream truck into our parking lot…handing out free ice cream to employees.

The universe is just plain fucking with me now…

(and no, I didn’t have any)

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Forgive the somewhat narcissistic selfie…

I’m still trying to come to terms with just how much of this fitness thing…is a head game.

Hard work I can handle…but the mind is a horrific and absolutely ruthless combatant…fighting…excusing…justifying…It’s not really on your side either…

…and that’s before actual physical limitations make themselves known. Old injuries. Years of hard work. Abuse. Neglect. Those things accumulate slowly…and one day they are suddenly a burden.

…and then others throw their own munitions into the melee. My doc actually told me I should, “Set a more realistic goal.” I had just told him I was going to lose 50 pounds. He suggested 20. I’ve now lost around 170…on the other end my employer sets a goal that is impossible…and actually unhealthy. One day I’ll probably write a post about the pressure from the media…and society in general.

Oh, and let’s not forget work…and well…life. All demands more time, effort, and resources than you have to give…and the only place to make up the shortfall is to take them from yourself.

None of that stuff allows for this sort of achievement…but how do you stop? There are very real, serious consequences to your relationships, career, etc when you have to “take back”…

A total head game…and that’s the hardest and most dangerous game to play.

Left: 427 pounds. Right: 172 pounds lighter.

I’d claim I’m winning…but I do not recognize either of the men in this picture.

…and I’m not being flippant about it…it’s a complete mind-fuck…both ends of it…how I got there…and how I’m getting here.

It’s heartbreaking…How did I get there? Fracken HOW? I really don’t know…I was just working hard and struggling through life…do people seriously think I chose that?

As for goals…yeah…those things. Baby steps? Shoot for the moon? Reasonable? Aim for the stars? Doesn’t matter…they’re all the same…an endless battle with yourself, with uncounted sides in the melee…and none of the motivations exactly clear. Mind fuck. Of. The. Highest. Order.

You learn a lot about yourself in those battles…but it never gets easier. Each day is a fresh start. Same battles. Same lessons. Same doubts. Same struggles. This is not a good thing.

I’m not done yet. Roughly 30 pounds to go to reach 15% body fat…that’s “athletic”…muscle and blood. Best shape in my life…if I do it right that is…

I’ll see you on the road…but I feel I’ll still be wondering…is that me I see in the mirror?

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Attitudes….

“You can’t be here…” says the pimply-faced kid disguised as a store clerk.

I was sitting cross-legged on the burning-hot concrete in one of “his” parking places, digging chunks of brown glass out of the tires on my machine with a pocket-knife…and wasn’t in the mood for any crap.

I looked up and wiped the sweat out of my eyes, “Yet, here I am…”

“We don’t allow loitering. See! There’s even a sign!” his voice jumped up a couple octaves on that last bit…

I ignored him a moment and grimaced as I popped another large piece of beer bottle out of my front tire. I breathed a sigh of relief when I didn’t hear a telltale ‘hiss’ of a leak. Just to be sure I spit on my fingers and wiped it on the scar in the tire, looking for bubbles.

Seeing none, I turned my attention back to the kid, and fell back on my usual statement in this sort of situation, “Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t ask your permission then, ain’t it?” I tossed him a “not so friendly” grin by way of dismissal.

As he backed away he took on that tone that you might hear out of a five-year old threatening to tell on his brother, “I’m gonna get my manager.”

I continued to ignore him. I didn’t care what he did. If I was lucky I really only needed five more minutes at most.

***

I wasn’t in the mood for his attitude…simply because I already had one of my own…one that was thrown at me on the road…the very same one that was responsible for me plunking my fat butt on the hot concrete and digging around in my machine’s nethers with a knife.

A passing cage…in the opposite direction…had apparently felt it was appropriate to throw a half full beer bottle at me. Multi-lane surface streets, our delta was probably around 80mph, and there was traffic, and this idiot thought it would be…what? Fun? Neat? A thrill? to toss a bottle at the motorcycle rider. He was, unfortunately, deadly accurate.

Maybe he just really hates motorcycles.

I saw the flying bottle at the last second…and having no place to dodge on such short notice, I grabbed the binders hard. This helped. Instead of hitting my windshield or worse, me, the bottle impacted low on my front tire and shattered on its way under…also to be crunched even further by the back tire.

Car-dude hadn’t just thrown a bottle…he’d also thrown an attitude…one that hit me right between the eyes. My day was instantly headed down hill.

“Shit!” I was already back hard on the throttle to avoid getting flattened by the traffic behind me. Back at speed, I signaled, changed over three lanes, and pulled into the gas station to check for damage…and perhaps utter a few more choice swear words. It’s a station I frequent, a busy convenience store sort of place, so I really didn’t expect an issue.

Crushed glass isn’t particularly dangerous to tires…but crushing glass with tires can easily result in cuts and large chunks of embedded glass. The embedded glass must be removed even if it didn’t penetrate the liner as it will remain in the tread and work its way inward in short order.

So…attitude…I had PLENTY of it for the day and any more brought to the table was NOT going to be productive.

After somebody tries to kill me I’m not above folding folks in half if they overly annoy me…

***

I had cleared the front tire, finished a first pass on the back, and breathed a sigh of relief. No leaks. I’d lucked out.

I started a second pass on the back tire, just to be sure. The deep tread of the Darkside tire is certainly more robust, but it can also hide more debris or damage.

That’s when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the manager arrived on the scene. I continued my work, hoping to get out of here before things got worse.

Attitudes. They’re important. They’re also contagious, and can be destructive.

I’d had one…a good one…when I left the house this morning. “Car-dude” had destroyed it…throwing a new and intensely negative one my way. “Clerk-spud” had added to the strife…and the frown…and the “people REALLY suck” feeling boiling in the pit of my stomach.

And now manager was here. He watched me working for a moment, sized up the situation, took a couple steps closer, and threw me some attitude of his own.

“Sir, are you okay? Do you need some help?” there was no annoyance in his voice at all. It was a genuine, concerned question.

Finished with the pass, I blinked some more sweat out of my eyes, stood up, showed him the handful of glass fragments I’d recovered, and explained what I was doing.

“Man! That sucks! You need a ride somewhere? Or a wrecker? There’s a tire place just across the street too that might be able to help.”

My day was getting better.

“Thanks, I appreciate it. But I lucked out…I think. No leaks.”

“Good deal. Man, it’s hot out here. You want a fountain drink or something? On the house!”

And just like that…all the bad attitudes I’d gathered for the day were gone.

Shortly I was standing in the air-conditioning, sipping a soft drink and chatting with the manager. At one point he indicated “Clerk-spud” and said, “Don’t mind him. He’s new. We’re working on him.”

Attitudes. They’re important. They’re also contagious. They don’t have to be destructive.

It turns out…they’re also choices.

Food for thought.

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

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Progress…

Doc visit yesterday…

Just this year…

Lost 63 pounds. Ate better. Worked hard. Gained strength. Dropped 2-1/2 prescriptions. Misplaced 10 inches off my waist. Normalized my blood sugar. Threw out all my jeans. Bought some more at the thrift store.

Everything hurts and I’m dying 🙂

Initial goal was to drop 100 pounds this year. 37 more to go.

Doc said…and I’m quoting (sort of)…”Holy &*^%$”

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Those Moments…

It starts as *that trip*…that most of us middle aged males are intimately familiar with…taken just after waking deep in the night to that somehow surprising but rather fundamental realization that there is only so long a man can go without taking a piss. It’s a trip that this night…sends me down a rabbit hole.

Padding silently across the carpet, eyes well adjusted to the night, I catch a glimpse of motion and turn to face it. A most dangerous thing stands there facing me. THE most dangerous thing in fact. The only thing I’ve faced that has the power to ultimately destroy me and everything I’ve worked for. And it can do it so easily that it’s frightening to ponder.

What I face is me, reflected in the full-length mirror. Starkly and harshly revealed by the shadows of the night.

And I’m in a mood. I learned long ago my particular demons hunt me in the night…they are strongest there. Usually it’s not enough. I shrug them off and do what I do.

But this night…I’m not sure. I don’t recognize this man in the mirror. He is not the man I was in my youth. Worse, he is not the man I thought I was…or even the one I’d dreamed I would become.

He’s also not the man I was just a few months ago. This is probably a good thing…I’ve lost 60 pounds this year…160 since my peak…but again, tonight I’m not so sure. The effort this transformation takes is beyond description…it is…by far…the single hardest thing I’ve ever attempted…and I’ve been through some shit. I wonder if it’s worth it…if it will make any difference…if, in the long run, it matters to anyone at all…even to the man in the mirror.

The man in the mirror glares and gives no answer. The state of my mood is such that I can’t tell if that reflection of myself…has no answers or is just refusing to give them up.

I realize shortly that answers wouldn’t be enough. Hell. I don’t even have all the questions.

At that…the reflection may have shown a trace of a sardonic grin…but he still simply continued to stare.

I stare back and wonder just who the hell he is.

Questions…they are ugly leading things…in the deep of the night.

The career, which once accomplished important things, has shifted it’s purpose. What I do no longer seems to help the world. It doesn’t…really…seem to do anything. Work. Intricate, complex things…with little purpose. Just making a living. That I suppose, is a kind of a purpose…and describes much of the world…but it was never enough for me.

The art. The projects. The writing. All get pushed to the bottom of the list to make room for…what? The job? Did it help? Was it worth the cost?

And the body…hell! I got old. And fat. Just when did that happen? Nothing but muscle and blood in high-school…but, along the way, bit by bit, through injuries, overwork, and ignoring my basic needs I sold my health to the jobs. I let them demand pieces of my soul. And I gave them up for more…pay? Seniority? Accomplishment? I went to sleep as it were…banking on “someday” to make it right. To pay off. Someday never came…and standing here…I wonder if it’s too late.

At that thought mortality comes crashing down. Harshly revealed in the reflection.

The scars. The burns. The loose skin. Damage. Age. Pain. So much can’t be fixed. Too late. Far, far too late.

They tell you that you can’t remember pain…”they”…are full of shit. Time flashes back. Injuries are experienced again. Failures are relived. Fire and blood. Suffocation. Pain floods back…along with the helplessness…and the deep analysis of every failure…every mistake…EVERY shortcoming…that has brought me to this point.

It’s a crushing load.

These are the moments you learn what you are made of.

Thing is…I learned what I’m made of long ago. Forged in the Texas heat…tested by the very things that gave me all of those scars. I AM the man I am because of the path that brought me here. “What if” I had done this or that is a pointless exercise in wishful thinking and unproductive self pity.

I see motion in the mirror…behind the specter staring back…and that cute little short gal that for some reason shares her life with me appears behind me. Wraps her arms around me. It startles me to realize she couldn’t have reached around me mere months ago. She squeezes and stays silent, somehow knowing I’m working through a crises.

No…I’m not where…or who…I expected to be…but I’m me, nevertheless. I simply don’t know how to be anything else. I’ve also fought that man in the mirror before…and I know his secrets and his weaknesses even as he knows mine…

So I stare. And I grin. And he grins back. No…I don’t recognize the man in the mirror. I’m not even sure who he is or who he will become. But rather than despair, this realization breeds anticipation. Excitement.

No, I don’t know who he is…but it’s time I went and found out.

That cute little short gal…who somehow seems to know a turning point has been reached…and at least basically what passed between me and the man in the mirror…stretches up to her very tip-toes and presses her body into my back, raising goosebumps all down my bare spine, and whispers roughly in my ear, “Don’t ya know? Chicks dig scars. Come to bed with me.”

Ahh. Affirmation. Exactly the right kind. They are magic…those cute little short gals.

Life. Love. Lust. All intertwined in everything I do. As I turn away I catch a last glimpse of the man in the mirror. He’s smiling too.

Perhaps I know him better than I think.

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

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Disconnect…

Me, in the foreground…teaching a seminar at this year’s “Inzane” (the Valkyrie Riders’ Rally).

-60.

I do not recognize myself in this picture….

60 pounds gone…or 160 off my peak.

Picture courtesy of my friend Serk…whom I blatantly stole it from. 🙂

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