WGOM Fitness: Progress, but at a cost

As I've mentioned before I both refurbished my bike and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Both events lit the proverbial fire under me in terms of getting the exercise I just hadn't been getting enough of.  Overall, its been a great success! I was in pretty bad shape as of 2-3 years ago and had plateaued after only losing about ten pounds. This summer, though, I've pushed that weight loss to over 50 pounds and am on the verge of dropping below 200 lbs for the first time in over a decade. I look and feel pretty amazing. I've been working up my riding to where I am doing about 80-100 miles per week, or so, although I feel a bit like I've plateaued on gainz there, the weight is still coming off. As a result, I am already off of insulin and I'll find out in a couple weeks how my A1C is doing. In short, biking rules.

My second reason for writing this, though, is something of a warning. Shortly after I got out of the hospital, the ring and pinkie finger on my left hand stopped working like they are supposed to. I basically can't move them towards the rest of my fingers. It makes doing simple things like tying my shoes difficult. At first I figured it might be related to the diabetes, but since it was only in my left hand was told that was not the case. I didn't immediately make the connection to the increased amount of cycling I'd been doing. Seems I've come down with a case of cyclsists palsy. I am almost certain I've been putting too much weight on my hands while I ride, so I am starting to look into getting a professional fit done to see if I can alleviate that. (and spreading copious amounts of NSAID gel on my arm). One of the hospitals in Madison does it, so I'm hoping it can be covered by the insurance.

Anyway, moral of the story is, biking rules but do it wisely. Building your own bike from scratch also rules, but you gotta be very cognizant of where you locate everything. Hopefully the damage to my nerve is not permanent, but take a lesson from me here.

(but also, seriously and holy crap, I've lost over 50 lbs and am working on getting to 60. I'm very impressed with myself, ngl.)

28 thoughts on “WGOM Fitness: Progress, but at a cost”

  1. Congrats CH, that's great news.

    I haven't been biking as much lately as I've hiked more, and especially this summer I've been doing a lot of walking to prep for my upcoming Peru trip.

    However, I am already planning 2022 to be a big year to get back into biking. In fact I'm planning to completely replace both my bikes over the winter. I'd love to refurbish a bike like you did but don't have all the skills, tools, and patience to do so.

    As for your hands, you could also look at adding more padding to your handle bars (I assume that's your bike in the above photo). Also look at different gloves and see if you can find some with padding at your pressure points. Having a bike that fits your body helps too. I am tempted to buy a bike on-line as they have really good deals on nice, well-review bikes but I am going to my local bike shop, one to support them, but also to make sure I get a bike that fits my body shape and they way I ride.

    Hopefully this time next year I am posting about how much weight I lost while biking. Bookmark this comment!

    1. Well, the tools are the easy part. I had zero skills so I was learning as I went, which was fun. Park Tool has some terrific videos on youtube. I do recommend watching their videos on adjusting your derailleurs because that's a very useful thing to know.

      I do have some concern that a bike fitter will tell me the frame isn't right for me, but its a 56 cm frame (that is, indeed, my bike above) and I'm 6'0" so I think it is an ok size. I didn't notice any numbness yesterday when I went out so I do think a lot of it had to do with just having a lot of extra weight in my upper body that I don't have anymore. I am probably going to try new gloves (I have these now), but I'm also trying to use the drops more, which helps, especially in a headwind. At the same time, my biggest problem is my ulnar nerve which I don't think gloves can help with. My other problem is that I love cycling. If I had to run for cardio I wouldn't have lost all the weight because running sucks.

      Hiking in Peru sounds fun and awesome. Raise some Pisco for the WGOM! And good luck with getting back into cycling next year.

      1. See, my ankles still suck so I can't run. I should really start biking, but I'm just not that into biking. I haven't really tried it a whole lot, but I love being able just to run without lugging a big machine around. I do have a nicer bike now though, so I should give it a shot.

        1. Biking saved me after college. I had had two scopes on my left knee and was in pretty bad shape. I couldn't walk for more than about 15 minutes at a time and regularly got bruising from sleeping on my sides.

          When I started grad school, my parents gave me a bike. It was a heavy dinosaur, but I rode it to campus every day (~3 miles with some elevation changes). Within six months, I was back to playing basketball a couple times per week and could walk pretty much unimpeded, thanks to the restoration of my quad muscles.

      2. I hate to say it but 56 cm may be on the short side for a six footer. Of course it depends on how long your legs (actually inseam) versus your torso is too.

        1. It could be, although I am very proportionate between my upper and lower body lengths. I've also had this bike for almost twenty years, and the hand thing just cropped up for the first time this summer so I think its more just a matter of getting everything in the right spot.

        2. depends on the manufacturer and where they're measuring the frame dims from. My surly is a 56 but my torker was a 60. The handsome I just bought is a 58, but the frame dims match up along the same lines as my other two bikes.

  2. Last fall I started having pain in my back, later diagnosed as bulging discs. In addition to some meds for the initial pain, I was given a bunch of exercises to do to strengthen my back. It turns out that, to strengthen your back, you also do exercises to strengthen your stomach, your legs, and your upper body, because it's all connected. Avoiding pain is a pretty good incentive to exercise, so I've been pretty faithful about doing the exercises. As a result, I'm in noticeably better shape than I was a year ago. I didn't lose any weight--I actually gained a little--but the weight is better distributed than it was. I'm certainly not any muscle man, and I could still stand to lose ten pounds or so, but I'm definitely better off than I was.

    1. You are absolutely right about everything being connected. It's pretty common for folks to be bothered by an irritated knee only to find out it's because they're compensating for hip or back problems. Really, if you've got a sound core, many ailments can be avoided.

    2. I've added planking to my weight routine and, I tell ya, side planks are a lot harder to do with a 60 lb golden retriever that insists on leaning against you while you do them.

  3. Congrats on the progress Cheap! That's great to hear.

    I've found myself in a bit of a downturn in my weightloss. I made it all the way down to 200, but then went on vacation. Vacation itself wasn't so bad, it's the insane amount of stuff we've had going on since we got back - all sorts of last summer stuff on the calendar before school, getting ready for school, work is insanely busy on top of needing to catch up from being gone, etc. And I know my stress levels are through the roof right now, which has led me to giving myself a longer break than I anticipated. I'm only up about 4 pounds from when we left 3 weeks ago, but I need to start going in the right direction again.

    I'm hoping that now all of the sodas have been finished off that I'll be able to resist buying more, buying fewer snacks, etc. Sometime after school starts I'm looking at trying a 30-day exercise routine or something too. Just around the corner...

    1. If there's one good thing I can say about getting diabetes, its that I am way more cognizant about my snack intake, which has been almost as big as the exercise in my progress.

      1. It's really always been about diet for me in terms of weight. Exercise makes me feel better, but doesn't necessarily make me look better. Though the little bit of weight-lifting I was doing before vacation was starting to pay off, hence the desire for a hit-it-hard stretch coming up.

  4. One other item occurs to me re: fitness - I need a new goal. At the start of the year I knew I was turning 40 in May, so I had a pretty big event to aim for. Then I knew in August I was going on a big trip, so that kept me going. I don't have anything like that hanging out there right now. I was thinking of Thanksgiving/Christmas, but they're not motivating in the same way those unique events are.

    Anyone else ever run into this? What can I put on my calendar to keep me going?

    1. For me, it is training for all event. I signed up for the TC 10 mile this fall. I've had some trouble getting runs in while traveling but I'm going to get up and go 8 tomorrow. No way I'd do that without that race coming up.

  5. Congrats on the weight loss, cheaptoy. According to the home scale, I was the heaviest I have been yesterday. While I had been doing a good amount of biking earlier this year, that mostly stopped this month due to some weekends traveling. Time to undo my stupid recent changes.

  6. Congrats cheaptoy on the progress. Last year, during the first shutdown, I lost 30+ pounds by using the Noom app and biking a lot. Last fall/winter I had gained about 20 pounds back on as I struggle with exercise, other than biking in nice weather. This summer, I am back down to my lowest weight in 15 years. The diet plan this time was working dang near every day with lots of time in a hot kitchen, plus never having time to eat. I am hoping to do some hiking out in Oregon in a few weeks when I got on vacation, and then will try to find time to hit the trail on my bicycle until the snow flies. I feel like I am decent shape physically and my work does help me get a crap load of steps in every day. However, I am thinking this winter I may try to see if my crappy knees can handle some old man basketball league. Back in the day, that was the one form of recreation I could really sweat off some pounds.

  7. Congrats, Cheap, that's all very impressive! And hopefully you can get your hand issue sorted out soon.

    I had surgery at the end of July and was limited in what I could do temporarily, but I'm finding out that being in shape and active is a big boon when it comes to recovery. My original instructions were to not lift more than 15 pounds for 4 weeks, but at my 2-week checkup with my surgeon, she said I could go back to any activity that felt all right, with the reminder to gradually increase intensity. I can already tell that my arms and abs are getting stronger again. (I've become a big fan of the strength and cardio exercises from this woman on YouTube--I really enjoy exercising, but I just want someone to tell me what to do rather than having to figure it out on my own.)

    I lost some range of motion in my right arm, but conveniently I'm enrolled in a study of something called axillary web syndrome that includes an intervention of 12 weeks of physical therapy via Zoom. I've never had PT before, but it's been amazing to see how quickly it has made a difference--within 4 days of starting, I had a huge increase in range of motion.

    To reduce chances of recurrence, my oncologist recommends 150 minutes of physical activity a week, which seems very doable. I've found that my best time of day to work out is often directly after dinner--the boys are both doing screen time, and Mr. NaCl spends some time relaxing and then washes the dishes. (I clear the table, sweep, put away leftovers, etc., and I used to feel like I should wash the dishes as well, but it's easier to let go of my guilt about that now that I have a doctor's orders to follow.)

  8. Way to go Cheaptoy. I wasn't aware of your diabetes diagnosis -- I don't stop by everyday. My battle with weight has been really tough over the last ten years. I've gained and lost about a ton (or so it seems). I have been walking pretty much every day (429,939 steps in August) and I'm on my way to losing all of my COVID weight (I was walking last year, too, until I broke my toe -- twice! -- and then started having back problems). I am resigned to the fact that I will struggle with this for the rest of my life, but my goal is to be in excellent shape on my 60th birthday, which is less than 3 1/2 years away. I know freealonzo would sooner die than live in my fair city (ha!), but we do have a lot of nice walking paths and I've enjoyed them a lot this summer. I have aches and pains, but they are decreasing and my resting pulse has dropped almost 10 beats a minute (down to 52). Fight the good fight!

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