The UnFatted Calf…

Another week has past and it was another week that included another client arriving for her workout in tears because somebody had just casually commented about her body weight. It was clear to me immediately that her tears were born less of hurt and more of shame.

She was ashamed to have body fat.

And of course the punchline to the joke, which isn’t the least bit funny, is that she probably has less body fat than I do.  Soon we were both crying.

In case you’re not aware of this, having any noticeable body fat is something we should all be ashamed of. At least that’s how it seems.

If there’s one ideal I wish people could get beyond, it’s the idea that having any amount of body fat is a shameful thing.  At least I wish I could get beyond it. More so, that the idea of not having any body fat is a golden calf to be worshiped and danced around.

Most cultures, going back thousands of years, have done everything in their power to glorify those who possess low body fat. In doing so, that way of thinking has woven an unspoken disdain for even an average amount of body fat into our cultural DNA.  It’s not always unspoken though.

Whether we admit it or not, we dislike excess body fat — on everyone, our own selves included. Yet most everyone reading this, including the guy writing it, has more body fat than the Greek or Roman ideal. To have any more body fat than that, all these years later, is considered aesthetically unpleasing within our cultural norms.

Shame on every god damned one of us.

In my own case, I’ll confess that having visible excess fat on my belly, on my hips, and around my face, has presented me with the single biggest source of shame and anxiety I’ve ever known. Nothing has come close. I can’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t feel some amount of shame for how poorly I think I look in the eyes of others — due to my excess body fat. The only exception to this has been in those times when my focus has been on bodybuilding and my dieting was so strict and so severe that I was able to get to an aesthetically pleasing level of low body fat. Those times though never lasted, weren’t sustainable for the long-term, and getting there was the Siberia of eating.

Consider that — consider that I’m a guy who’s spent much of my adult life teaching exercise and the practice of making sound nutritional decisions. It’s my livelihood. Peripheral to that have been the countless hours I’ve spent in the weight room, running, trail hiking, and cycling.

I should be the leanest guy on earth, right…?

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But I’m not. I look okay in clothing, but I’ve declined a half-dozen invitations to pool parties this summer for a fear of taking my shirt off in front of others. I always joke when declining such invitations that I probably wouldn’t come close to people’s expectations of me in a swimsuit, and that it wouldn’t be a sight for kids.

Translation: I’m ashamed of my body, despite how hard I work at it. So ashamed, that I feel like a bad person just for my level of body fat.  So ashamed that it influences my social life.  So ashamed that it causes me anxiety.  So shamed that it causes me to hate myself.

So it’s never that far from my mind, that as a guy who bicycles between 170-190 miles every week, and who spends 6 hours or so in the weight room each week, who walks 2-miles every morning, and after all of that I hate what I look like. This keeps very cognizant of how others, who don’t work at it as hard as I do, might feel about their own bodies.

I often joke that the only people who wake up in the morning, run to the mirror scream….

Yeeeeeeeee Haw — look at me…!

are college football defensive backs and Navy pilots. The rest of us get to look in the mirror each day and wish we weren’t alive. Or at least that’s how I feel.

Some people might look at this and think I’m actually fishing for compliments. Others might admire that I’ve been so open about my inner feelings, while others still might call it brave. There might be a little truth in all of that. The main reason I’m sharing this though, is because I want most of the people reading it to know they are not alone.

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And the thing is, despite that I’ve thrown it all out there today and spilled my guts, I know I’ll still wake up tomorrow morning, look in the mirror, and hate what I see. And I will feel very bad for being that guy in the mirror.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 5
187 miles
7,200’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,000 calories

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from The Cardigans. Enjoy…

Best. Job. Ever.

Early in my adult life, a mentor said to me…

“The best job you’ll ever have is the one you just left or the one you’re going to next. Never is it the one you’re in right now…“

I can’t overstate how many times that has been true for so many people I have known. For me though, the best job of my life will always be my first job — sandwich maker and deli clerk.

It was the first weekend after I turned 15 years old — the legal age to work in Colorado at the time. My father directed me to put on a nice shirt, a nice pair of pants, tuck in the shirt, and to ride my bike up to the Bagel Deli, roughly a 1-1/2 miles up the street. My bike, was actually hand-me-down from my brother — a green Columbia 5-speed touring bike.

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Paul Weiner, the Bagel’s owner, would be waiting for me, My dad explained. My father, having dined there earlier that morning, had prearranged the meeting with Mr. Weiner after seeing a Help Wanted sign in the window. I would be applying for a part-time dishwasher position.

The Bagel was a regional institution — a place were Rocky Mountain Jews regularly met to eat good food, speak fractured Yiddish, and play the game of suburban oneupsmanship over lox and creamed herring on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

After completing my application and turning it in to Mr. Weiner, he gave me 5 minutes. During those 5 minutes he didn’t ask me a single question.  I’m not sure I even spoke except to say things like, uh-huh.  Mr. Weiner simply told me what he expected of me and as importantly, what he didn’t want to see from me. My first official offer of employment would be Mr. Weiner telling me I would be starting the following Tuesday at 3 PM.

Scared shitless, I got on my bike and rode home — this time, with my shirt untucked.

For the next 3 weeks I was the apprentice dishwasher. Paul referred to me as “apprentice” as often as he could, to employees and customers alike. He smirked every time he said the word apprentice in his thick Austrian accent. I must have done a fair job too, because after 3 weeks I was promoted to sandwich maker and counter clerk.

I got to use the meat slicers.

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The other deli clerk‘s were much older than me. Rick Cornblatt, the deli manager, was in his mid-20s with a wife and a small child. Craig Walker was in his late 30s, and when he wasn’t slinging corned beef, he was a bassoon player for the Denver Symphony Orchestra.

I was just 15 years old, and I got to use a meat slicer and hang out with these guys. Not only that, but Mr. Weiner had a very liberal employee benefits program — we could eat as much as we wanted to during our shifts, so long as nothing went home with us at night. Having already discovered the weight room at age 15, all the protein I could eat for 5 hours a night would surely be the down payment for my ever-growing guns.

The Bagel Deli was built around its regulars. Of course strangers and first-timers came in every day, but within a month of working there, I knew who all the regulars were, and they paid the rent. The regulars were like a continually visiting Board of Directors, checking in on me and the others, and making sure we were doing a good job. If  we weren’t doing a good job, they would tell us about it.

The most notable regular though, was legendary concert promoter Barry Fey. Fey, who I would go on to work for in a separate incarnation of my young adult life, rarely just walked in. He often called ahead requesting preferential treatment for the guests he’d bring. Fey often brought the managers of bands who were passing through town such as the Rolling Stones, the Jefferson Starship, and even Bob Dylan’s manager. On rare occasions Fey would bring musicians such as Ian McLagan, Craig Chacuico, and John Sebastian to name a few. I made sandwiches for all of them.

Another deli clerk and coworker was Paul Gordon, a washed-up talk radio host who was the first openly gay man I ever met. We called Paul Gordon “PG” so not to get confused with Paul the owner of the deli.

One evening, while working alongside PG and while slicing roast beef, I cut the tips off of the index and middle fingers of my right hand. I never felt a thing, but I quit slicing when I felt the blade grinding into the bones of those 2 fingers.

I hadn’t been using the finger guard.

PG packed my fingers in a cup of ice and drove me to the emergency room. Stopped at an intersection enroute to the hospital, and along side an older couple in a long Buick, I pulled my fingertips from the cup of ice and showed the couple in the Buick the flow of blood pouring pouring from my fingertips. I don’t think they were impressed. The emergency room doctor took a skin graft from the side of my hand, and the 2 fingertips were stitched and sealed closed. I returned to work within several days.

Working at the Bagel Deli was, hands-down, the best job of my life. There’s hardly been a day go by that I haven’t reflected on it with fond memories and wishes that I  still worked there. Rick Cornblatt, who was my first boss, never left. It’s the only job he ever had. Craig Walker, the other full-time clerk and bassoon player, continued to work there until he was in his 60s.

I have no negative memories of that job, none.

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Of my favorite memories at the Bagel, and the one I reflect on most, is of entering the walk-in refrigerator on hot summer days, cutting open 5-gallon buckets of dill pickles, and eating 3 or 4 of them at a time.  As the customers would say, delish…!

Of course the job I have now is amazing. I work in bare feet, my commute involves stepping over my dog on the way into my studio each day, and I get to enjoy conversations with interesting people all day long. If a genie showed up tomorrow though, and gave me a chance to start over again at age 15 and make a career of working at the deli, I’m sure I’d think twice about it.

I worked at the Bagel on and off for nearly 3 years. In the 40 years since I clocked out for the final time, I’m not sure a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about that job and wished I was still there.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 6
184 miles
7,800’ climbing
15.4 mph avg
11,000 calories

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Army Navy. Enjoy…

Pollyanna Crash…

Pollyanna Crash…

All is not lost, or so they say. More recently though, I’ve been feeling some of my values — those beliefs and character traits that define me, slipping away. Most notably, my sense of humor and my relentless optimism.

Despite what inner turmoil I have lived with, and there’s been a heap, I’ve always met it head on with humor and optimism. Combined, the two make great weapons when confronting adversity. I think I’ve been successful at this, if not masterful.

With all that’s been taking place in the world, as our national mood has soured, as society has bubbled at the surface with a greater intensity, and as the behaviors of many who I’ve believed in have disappointed me more with each passing meme, insult, or comment thread, I’m noticing my sense of humor and my optimism are fading.

I find it harder to incorporate humor into conversations these days, and less receptive to humor when it’s offered to me. It’s as though I now see humor as an illicit drug — intriguing, but it feels cheap I feel I’d be better off without it. It’s not gone completely, it’s just that I feel guilty laughing or attempting to make others laugh while our nation is hurting.

I often wonder if we joked less and laughed less, and if we took what ails us more seriously while making a greater effort toward resolving it, maybe we could earn our way out of all of this. I sincerely wonder if there’s some truth in that.

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I remember how stunned I was to hear George W Bush speaking, just days after 9/11…

“Go to Disney World. Go shopping…”

It’s my own opinion that President Bush should’ve suggested we take a few weeks and refrain from Disney World or shopping, and to look inside ourselves with honest self-appraisal, look at each other with candor and attempt to communicate and unify.

Imagine after the attack on Pearl Harbor, if President Roosevelt had said go to Disney World and go shopping…

With regard to my optimism, for many years I’ve held close to a belief system sponsored by public intellectuals such as George Ellis, Robert Wright, Steven Pinker, Francis Fukuyama, and a handful of others, who’ve demonstrated in their research and their writings that the world, over time, has become and continues to be a more cooperative and better place.

It’s easy to be optimistic when my optimism is rooted in the hundreds of data citations contained within dozens of books written by these men. My optimism though, like my humor, its beginning to fade.

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Our national soul is crying, and we’re binge-watching mindless crap on Netflix with one screen, while we simultaneously argue with friends, cut off relationships over glib comments, and insult people we’ve never met on another screen.

I have begun to wonder who I would become if my optimism and humor disappeared from me completely. I try not to wonder about that, but a part of honest self-appraisal is just that, examining one’s self being honest about what is found.

I don’t think I’d like the me who lacks humor and optimism. I just be another grumpy old man, selfish and not contributing to the whole society. The God I believe in doesn’t want me living off the grid and shaking my fist at passersby. He wants me to engage.

I guess in all of this, the best thing I can do is to keep trying. However, seeing friend vs friend and politician vs politician behaving like children in the scope of ugly verbal exchanges, knocks the wind out of my Pollyanna disposition, every single time.

Excuse me now, while I place a slice of bologna and each of my shoes and get ready to begin my day.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…
Bike: Tang
26 miles
1,200’ climbing
15.7 mph avg
1,400 calories

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Dale Watson. Enjoy…

People Are The Crack…

In the 1980s, crack-cocaine propagated faster and with more disastrous results than any drug in history. In addition to the damage it would do to the lives, the families, and the businesses it disrupted, it became most used metaphor for addiction ever.

Not a day goes by that I don’t read something about our addiction to smartphones — always followed by a comparison to crack. Every time I touch my phone these days I feel guilty, if not ashamed because smartphones have been compared to crack so often.

Not so fast…

This image we have of addicts like me, in zombie-like postures, walking into stop signs, stepping into potholes, and otherwise ignoring the person standing right next to them because they are staring into their 7-inch vortex of intellectual displacement, is not where the story ends — not for me anyway. It’s easy to pass that kind of judgment, but look a little harder.

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This zombie might be paying a bill with my phone. I might be transferring money to my daughter’s bank account so she could go out to eat with her partner later that evening. I might be involved in a serious discussion with a friend on the other side of the world. I might be consulting with a client, either verbally or with text. I might be FaceTiming a friend in Mexico. I might be submitting an application for a small business loan. I might be reading Steven Pinker’s latest book or a relevant essay by William Buckley. Of course there are infinite positive things I might be doing with my smartphone while I’m in that zombie-like posture. And yes, there are infinite ridiculous things I might also be doing.

According to critical thinkers in technology, we are less than two generations away from smartphones, in much smaller sizes, actually being embedded under our skin. For more on that, I’ll suggest reading Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari. Of course, when and if that happens, by definition we will no longer be Homo sapiens.

Back to zombies…

Even if I am a zombie and I stare at my phone for up to 8-hours a day — which I don’t, but for the sake of argument let’s imagine that I do, what keeps me coming back to it is what’s at the center of everyone’s smartphone experience — the people.

The people are the crack.

Whether it’s conversations, songs, videos, or classic books, the people are the crack.

I find it nothing less than miraculous that I can have a conversation about mindfulness with a friend in Australia, or a conversation about dogs with a friend in Virginia just moments apart. I’ve been helping another friend in Northern England, via my smartphone, with his fitness objectives for over a year now. And all of this I do from my zombie-like posture.

Back to crack…

Once you ingest a drug, you have to take the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all until it wears off. You smoke crack and you get high, but you also get the withdrawal and all the physical manifestations that come with it, none of which you can shed instantly.

But with smartphones, the people are the high, but we don’t have to take all the negative side effects that goes with it. We can scroll past them — we can put the phones down and be active, if only for a while. We don’t have to accept any of the negative consequences that come with looking down. Unlike the crack, we have the option of looking away or turning it off altogether.

Ultimately, smartphones are about interconnecting people in a way that is an outright miracle in our lifetime. It is relationships, above all things, that we are here for call me and this handheld technology can foster new relationships and enhance old ones.

I’m Not A Zombie…

I have little doubt that I check my phone as much as anyone this. I scroll as much, I post as much, read as much, and I hold on to this little electronic rectangle — scarcely larger than a bar of soap, as much as anyone I know. But I also know went to put it down, turn it off, walk away from it, or not bring it with me.

I am not a zombie.

I don’t use an app to track my screen time. I can’t tell you how many times per day I check notifications. My smartphone spends much of my day in my left hand, but it spends more time turned upside down on a table or otherwise out of reach.

When it is in my hand though, my phone is a lens, a mirror, and a reflector. It helps me see myself better and helps me see others more clearly — a good reminder of who I am and who I don’t wish to be.

Despite that my phone is often near me or in my left hand, I accomplish as much in the course of the day without using it has anyone I know. I ride my bike daily, I walk daily, I take my mother out daily, and I spend time with my dog and cat daily. I work in my yard, I volunteered my community, I spend time with friends, and I also work. Sometimes these things involve my smartphone and sometimes they don’t.

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There’s no guarantee of Monday, from a Sunday point of view. From the moment I get out of bed each morning until I put my head on my pillow at night, I attempted to live my life to the fullest. Whether my phone is beside me or not is irrelevant.

If I attempt to live my life to the fullest, in no way can I be classified as a zombie. Just a guy attempting to leave a digital record that I was here, that I mattered, and that those I’m connected with matter too.

Last night I went to dinner with my mother and a couple of friends.  At the end of the evening I commented that we were the only people in the restaurant that had never had our phones out. There’s a time and place for everything, or not.

I am not a zombie…!

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 4
195 miles
9,200’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,100 calories
12 hours 45 minutes in the saddle

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from The Billy Nayer Show (Corey McAbee). Enjoy…

We Can Do Better…

The repugnant nature of man is clearly visible on days when people express joy over the suicide of another, even if the other has committed unthinkable crimes.

I don’t care what transgressions were alleged or committed, and I don’t care how horrible someone might have been to the core, the celebration and rejoicing of a suicide in prison is an unsavory if not shameful act. As a species, we should carry ourselves better than that.

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I found it painful the other day, when an acquaintance boasted of a “spring” in his step and a “smile” on his face when learning of the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein. What made it painful was that this is someone who claims to be opposed to the death penalty, and actively posts about it.

Perhaps the death penalty should be allowed after all, but only when it’s self-imposed and self-administered. I dunno…

That was not an isolated case. Over the last few days I’ve seen a slew of posts and memes mocking the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, often with gratitude for the act. They have made my skin crawl.

I think we can do better than this. Even if we feel some sense of relief or even satisfaction when a criminal he takes his own life, how hard is it to just keep that kind of joy to one’s self…? I’m not really sure if my acquaintance’s words qualify as ignorance, contempt, or general dipshittery, but I do know the public celebration of anyone’s suicide is unnecessary.

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People are listening and watching, all the time and in greater numbers than ever, especially our children. Bad ideas spread fast, take root easily, and can have the ability to choke out goodness and decorum like crabgrass to a fine lawn.

Demonstrating decorum takes effort, but it’s a practice worth learning, even if it doesn’t draw too much attention to one’s self or satisfy one’s need for a cheap chuckle. Sometimes, not making a noise is the best way to be.

“Study to be quiet…” Isaak Walton

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Eleventeen Cupcake
27 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
1,500 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: I’m Still Free, by Spain

 

My Absentee Presence…

My heads spins. It spins and spins and spins, all day long. Not on the outside — the structure of my neck and head are no different than yours, with roughly 180 degrees of movement to the left and to the right. Inside though, in that space between the ears, my thoughts swirl around like a storm on Jupiter. The reasons why my head spins aren’t important, and I’m not sure they could ever be truly known. I just know that at a given moment, I’m loosely focused on many things, and directly focused on none.

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When I should be focusing on what’s in front of me, I’m more likely thinking about what I just did, what comes next, what’s beside me, what’s above me, friends that I need to get back to you, work that still needs to be done, unfinished chores, the care of my pets and my mother, my next ride or workout, and in-between all of those thoughts, I’m constantly conjuring up memories from the past for no apparent reason other than to enjoy them, regret them, or come to terms with them.

How’s that for a run-on sentence…?

I guess if there’s a point to it, it’s that I have a hard time being present and in the moment. On the flipside, I’d make an excellent gibbon or a fantastic crow.

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Yesterday I had lunch with a friend. We hadn’t seen each other in a while so there was lots to catch up on. She wanted to know about my daughter, my mother, and my business. I wanted to know about her kids, her life, and her job search. I had so many questions for her, but I didn’t know which one to ask first. After each question I asked, I feared that I asked the wrong one. And as she answered each question, rather than listening to her answers, I kept finding myself thinking about the next question to ask in hopes it would be a better question than the previous one.

In the meantime, she was asking me questions and I was having to think about and come up with answers. I attempted to offer her well-thought answers, but with all that was going on in my head, I’m certain the answers I was giving to her questions were just as bad as the questions I was asking of her. Rarely did I just look her in the eye, listen, and attempt to understand exactly what she was asking or saying.

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All the while, people were coming in and out of the restaurant and I had to turn my head with each one to see who they were. I just had to. I also had to look out the window frequently to see which cars were driving by. Cars. Shiny shiny cars. At some point, from the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a C5A military transport preparing to land at Camp Pendleton just a few miles away. Airplanes are cool. It’s very stressful to maintain eye contact with a friend, while simultaneously checking out the great big airplane in the sky, but I did it.

When meeting up with friends, I’m very cognizant of keeping my phone turned face-down on the table or in my pocket so it’s not a distraction. Yesterday though, because I was concerned about my mother, I kept my phone face-up on the table. It was hard resisting all the texts and notifications which I could see lighting up my phone from my peripheral vision as I was talking to my friend. As hard as it was though, I didn’t touch my phone once. My only victory of the day.

My friend and I enjoyed lunch together, got as caught up as we could despite my distractions, parted with a nice hug and an agreement to get together again on the sooner side. However, as soon as I got in my car I felt as though I had failed in being a good friend due to my absentee presence.

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This lunch scene represents my state of being most of the time. Whether I am face-to-face with a client, at lunch with my mother or a friend, talking on the phone with my daughter, or participating in a community event, whenever I am anywhere, I am always somewhere else. And most often, I am in multiple somewhere elses. I call that place, The Elsewheriverse.

 

For all I have read, heard, and attempted to understand about the value of living in the moment, the only time I do this successfully is when my body is in motion and I am independent of other people. When I walk, when I strength train, when I write, and when I ride my bike — these are when time slows down for me and even stands still. When I am alone and in motion, I am in the moment.

This is what I think about when I ride…. Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers. Today’s ride not has not taken place yet, but the week should come out as follows…

Bikes Ridden: 5
190 miles
8,800’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
10,800 calories

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Matthew Sweet. Enjoy…

Real Democracies Have Curves…

I want to say from the onset, that a person’s value in society should be judged only by their intentions, their contributions to their families, their communities, and their workplace. That beyond those things, little else matters in assessing a person‘s character.

And nobody, nobody should be judged by their physical appearance, for any reason, ever.

Still, it’s kind of what we excel at — judging people based on what they look like. It’s our national hobby.

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For much of my adult life, I’ve made my living attempting to help people improve their physical appearance, as well as their physical abilities, and physical autonomy. The latter — physical abilities and autonomy are the things that interest me most now as I go about earning a living.

That said, there are still people who utilize my services, primarily as a means of improving their physical appearance. If I’m being honest, I dedicate a portion of each day of my life, as well as direct most of my eating behaviors toward having a socially acceptable physical appearance. How I look in shorts and a t-shirt though, has nothing to do with who I am.

I say often that the world has changed more in the last 5 years than in the previous 10. Of course I’ve been saying that for 30 years. What I mean by that, is that each passing year is increasingly complex. Social, economic, and technical advances are increasing at an exponential rate, the term exponential being literal in this case.

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New Bike: Eleventeen Cupcake…

Part of increasing complexity is accepting and hopefully adapting positively to the results and consequences of those social, economic, and technical advances. In a strange way, changing social trends which happen so rapidly, seem to occur gradually. They just sneak up on us. Obesity is a great example of this.

Several years ago I watched the movie Festival Express, a documentary about the Grateful Dead and other bands of the day, on a one week tour across northern Canada by train during the summer of 1970. In the course of the movie, there’s much footage focusing on the crowds at the concert stops. There were a lot of thin young people — the men often shirtless and looking like human xylophones with so many ribs exposed, and the women in sundresses with shoulder blades looking bony enough to cut a finger on.

After watching Festival Express that evening a few years back, I watched the concert DVD from Woodstock 1990. Among the mud and the mayhem, there were few examples of human xylophones and beveled shoulder blades. The attendees were noticeably heavier than the attendees of the Festival Express concerts.

That was the first time I had taken notice of the gradual yet rapid evolution of modern humans. It’s also the first time I remember asking myself if the increasing trend toward obesity would ever reverse.

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At the time, primary to my livelihood, was helping to guide people into better eating decisions in conjunction with the exercise that I facilitated on their behalf. On occasion I was successful in helping change eating habits, but most often I was not. That’s because despite my efforts to help people make better eating choices, the complexity of the food system, marketing system, and social eating norms were changing so rapidly yet so seamlessly, that most people didn’t realize what was happening to them or around them.

Marketing got more deceptive. Food composition changed — with a greater emphasis on highly refined carbohydrates, refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and obscene profit potential. Portion sizes, both in restaurants and at home blew up between 1970 and 2000. As this happened, social norms changed. And more to the point, it was a gradual enough process that most people couldn’t see it happening to them or around them. However, between 1970 and 2000 we gained roughly 20% in bodyweight as a nation. (See Greg Crister’s very important book, Fat Land, 2003.)

Through all those changes in dietary habits though, fitness culture increased also. New gyms and chains of gyms opened more frequently and were more accessible than ever. The 24-hour gym was born. Pilates and yoga studios increased in popularity. By 1990, the term cardio became a part of the popular vernacular, when it hadn’t even existed in 1980. And despite obesity levels rising, I put faith in my industry, that fitness would eventually gain traction and thwart the obesity epidemic.

Somehow though, that math never really added up. Despite being a more fitness conscious society, having better knowledge and greater resources to combat the epidemic, the evolution of the American body was more consistent with cheap and tasty foods than it was with yoga studios or a 24-hour gyms on every corner.

I’m not sure where I was or what I was doing the day that I gave up on the idea of obesity declining, but I have given up. I don’t know anybody, myself included, who doesn’t want to lose some weight, look a little better, and feel little bit better. And there are many who would like to lose a lot of weight, so they can feel and function better.

Through it all, if I’ve got anything right, it’s in honing my ability to see beyond the human form. A part of that, is my increasing belief that I will go on to live somewhere else beyond this life, and so too will everyone else.  Heaven perhaps, or possibly another universe, another dimension, or that we might come back as crawfish or woodchucks, but I don’t think the game ends here.

I confess that 20 years ago I was not that good at seeing beyond the human form. Today though, when I make eye contact with and interact with another person, it’s my highest priority to look beyond their shell — to see the essence of who they are  by observing their behaviors and listening to their words.

Yes, one can argue about health issues caused by obesity — that it’s a drain on the medical systems, insurance systems, the family, the workplace, and society in general, and I made that argument professionally for much of my adult life. I just don’t see it that way anymore. People are people, so let’s look ‘em in the eye and see them as we also hope to be seen. The complexities of society are going to take us where they’re going to take us, and thus far they’ve taken us to a more obese culture. In the process, we should simply try and be good people.

At the end of the day, if we can be good with weekly mass shootings, an overly racist president, and all people everywhere pointing fingers and calling names rather than seeking to understand, and if within all of that we can simply carry-on, then we can get good with the idea that real democracies have curves.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5
181 miles
8,200’ climbing
15.2 mph avg
10,200 calories

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from The Mooney Suzuki. Enjoy…