So it’s been awhile, right? – Well, as Mark Twain once famously said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
I’m not a big fan of “Christmas letters”, on the other hand, I DO see the usefulness of them; so I’ll bring you up to date a bit. It all started back in 1945, ‘just joking’, I wanted to see if I could make you groan. But seriously, I REALLY DID make some major changes this past year; the biggest one is… I actually gave up sugar back in the middle of last May. I mean like an alcoholic gives up wine, I gave up sugar… AND… it’s related gateway-drugs: ‘fast-food’, ‘processed-food’, and ‘industrialized-food’ (wieners, bologna, cold-cuts, etc.) — l’ll say this, “Giving up sugar ain’t easy to do”, but… it’s also NOT the most difficult thing in the world, either.
My sugar intake was out of control, I mean, like I would intentionally go to Winchell’s and get a ‘baker’s dozen’ of doughnuts, (because you get 13)… AND, I’d eat ‘em in the car so I wouldn’t have to share them with anyone. I consumed, pies / cakes / jam / jellies / torts / ’P&B’ sandwiches / DQ / Baskin-Robbins / Breyer’s / you-name-it… on a regular basis, VERY regular. By the way, BECAUSE of the sugar over-consumption, I also went to Burger King, In-n-Out, Dominoes, Taco Hell, and Wienerschnitzel’s on a regular basis. The result of all that was that I ballooned up to 256 pounds.
So what happened, right?? I don’t know for sure, I had… kinda like… and ‘epiphany’ back on May 18th… I’ll tell you what it was; it’s actually hard to believe. The 18th was on a Saturday, and I had just returned from the hardest exercise class I do, “BodyCombat”; it wipes me out. Period. That afternoon, I had a flare up of diverticulosis (VERY painful), WHILE AT THE SAME TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!; I had a mild recurrence of the pneumonia I had earlier in the spring. That’s hard to believe, right??? Well, I was miserable, for sure… and somehow or other I associated my ‘trifecta-of-discomfort’ to the consumption of sugar. Now, I don’t think there’s a literal “cause ‘n effect”, at all… it was either my mind putting it together… OR… perhaps I was being influenced by an outside force… Hmmmm…
Hey, I have ZERO ‘will-power’; if you think my ‘force-of-will’, or innate ‘character’ had anything to do with it, you’re VERY mistaken. I have come to believe we ALL have some sort of mystical relationship with our… “guardian angels” (for lack of better words). How many times have you been ‘close’ to a car accident, and somehow or other, it didn’t happen; what about falling down some stairs, or tripping at a precarious place… and yet YOU DIDN’T. How does that work?
In October, about a year ago, (2018)… I was going home from the gym on my motorcycle… I was turning left, legally, on a green arrow; slowly following the car in front of me… and a guy RAN the red-light and came within six inches of hitting me… HE WAS TEXTING, for crissakes… he looked up at the last possible second and swerved around me, even rocking his car a bit from the abrupt changeof motion… I thought I was a goner, for sure. It scared me so bad, that as I finished getting around the turn, and went a half block; I actually wet my pants. My wife was two cars behind where I turned, and she was actually crying when we both pulled up into our driveway… Her first words were, “I thought you were going to be killed.”
So again, I ask… how does that work? Was I ‘lucky’? – OR… did my ‘guardian angels’ steer ME and THE CAR that was aimed directly at me? I don’t know… but I DO KNOW that ‘something’ interfered with me (and maybe the other guy) that afternoon. It sort of changed my life. I didn’t get back on my bike for a month or so… even then, I was a little ‘shaky’ when I started riding it.
So my question is… “could it be” that we all are influenced by… “forces unknown”? I’m thinking, “Maybe that’s true”… how does one account for the triple threat of BodyCombat / Diverticulosis / and Pneumonia… ALL in the same afternoon… and relating that to a sugar-addiction?? – To me, it was conclusive evidence that ‘somebody’, or some ‘thing’ was screaming at me, trying to tell me something. Sooooo… it got my attention (it takes a lot, I ain’t the smartest guy in the world.)
So what happened, right? Well, I literally gave up sugar on May 18th and began the withdrawal process. It took seven to ten days to get over the cravings and the shakes (small trembles, no joke)… but after two weeks, max… the craving for sugar, and the associations with fast-foods and processed-foods were gone.
Today is my 240th day without sugar; to be honest; it’s been ‘easy-peasy’. I’m down to 200 pounds (from 256), and I have no intention of ‘going back’ to my old way of life. I don’t actually have a goal-weight in mind. If you do some easy math on my ‘rate-of-loss’, it looks like I lose about a quarter of a pound a day… Well, in 365 days that will put me at: 171 pounds… 85 pounds down, just because I gave up sugar.
Here’s another interesting little tidbit; the average male in America consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. If you do some more easy math, I HAVN’T HAD about 220 pounds of sugar since I started this. It’s NO WONDER the weight practically fell off… WHO in the world could sit down in their living room, and look at a 200lb bag of sugar, and decide to eat it? And yet, (collectively) we all do to some degree.
There’s another side-benefit… I feel REALLY good. – I’ll be 75 on January 30th, and… because of the weight loss, and the sugar abstinence, I feel… what?? Maybe ‘young again’; not 16 or 26… but definitely in my 40s or 50s. In fact, I feel so good that I signed up for “Ragbrai” (the bicycle ride across Iowa) for this summer. It’s +/- 500 miles long, and is held in the last week in July (hot and humid)… Will I be the only 75 year old out there? Probably not… But, I’ll definitely be one of the few.
This longish ‘update’ actually brings me back to the title of my post, “What if…” – I have ‘come to believe…’, ‘concluded…’, ‘am convinced that…’ – ‘MAYBE…’ just MAYBE we don’t have to get progressively old. Before you call the cops and have me locked up, hear me out. Suppose, we all had wholesomely nutritious nourishment; / suppose we combined that with an ‘authoritative’ exercise plan; / THEN, suppose we combined those two elements with THE OUTLOOK that “old” isn’t in the 70s, it’s in the 100s’… What would happen to us?
Suppose we got off the couch, quit watching daytime television and just went outside, maybe for a walk, a hike, or (wait for it…) maybe a bicycle ride. What if we rode our bikes in Ragbrai every year, or maybe the Nebraska ride, the Georgia ride… the Natchez Trace, the Blue Ridge Parkway…
I’m just wondering, “What if…” — ‘What if’ we put aside the “old-rules” of what it means to be old. What if we picked out an age in our past, (say 43), and pretended we really ARE 43, and we acted that way? Do you think our life would change? Do you think we would be healthier, and have a more positive outlook? – Do you think being healthier, more energetic, more ‘positive’ toward life-extension would have the effect of actually achieving it?
Naturally, I don’t know, no one knows. But what we all DO KNOW is that ‘sugar’ (et al) / ‘inactivity’ / negative ‘life-views’ / accepting ‘the inevitable’… will literally lead one to unhappiness and an early grave.
So, I decided to “s**t-can” all that negative junk and focus on the good side of life and living longer and happier. My new goal is to live deeply into the 90s, maybe into my 100s. So what if I don’t? What if I’m wrong?; – what if my ‘theory’ is wrong? – I DON’T CARE. – Even if I only live to my mid-90s, and I have to give up bike riding when I’m 92… I STILL won. I was 74 this past year, so (after giving up sugar) I got into ‘Kayaking’; I seemed to be the only 74 year old guy on the river… on another front, I PLAN to hike/climb Mt. Charleston (here in Nevada) this spring, (that’s 12,000 feet, little mister…) I’m going to kayak the Salmon River up in Idaho, the ‘Big Blackfoot’ river in Montana… Crater Lake, and Lake Tahoe. (And… I’m gonna take my bike with me too.)
So “What if…” – — ‘What if’ I’m right? – Well the point is… it ain’t just me who can win here… WE ALL can do “What if” experiments on ourselves too… What if, we all gave up sugar?, what if we all went to the gym?, what if we all rode our bikes?… What if we literally focused our mind on the magical year where we were in our ‘prime’? — Do you think our life would change? Mine did/does…. I bet you anything, yours will too.
I recently told a friend of mine, “Buy a bike and start riding it; it will change your life.” / “Buy a kayak and learn how to stay upright in it.” / “Get some hiking shoes and climb the highest mountain you can find” — “It will change your life”. — Btw, if any of you decide to take me up on my suggestions, I’d be interested in hearing about it. Here’s my email address – email@example.com –
So, Enjoy ‘2020’…
I plan to post updates on my Ragbrai prep / plans / and the actual event itself via my blog. Here’s the riding group I plan to ride with (http://lfadventures.com/) — They aren’t just a ‘riding-group’, they are ALSO the charter-company that provides transportation TO the beginning of the ride / then, they take our camping gear up-ahead to each successive riding-day’s camp-site / then, they bring us back to Omaha when the ride is over.
Also, here’s the web-link to the bike-ride itself: (https://ragbrai.com) / – Take a look at some of the pages and peeps there… it’s kinda interesting. — Plus, Iowa has a ‘corn-cam’ (so you can watch the corn grow, doncha know); be careful here, don’t get too excited… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouoho7exRVg