Riding the Mendoza Line

Mario Mendoza was the classic good field/no hit baseball player. He became famous for his struggles to keep his batting average above .200. His name became synonymous with batting futility. .200 became known as the Mendoza line. Although I once batted 0 for August in a grad school softball league, I have a Mendoza line of my own and it has nothing to do with a bat and a ball.

My weight and I have been having a knock down, drag out battle since I was in fourth grade. By the time I entered my sophomore year of college I was 245 pounds of round. I had a BMI of OMG. And I smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes to boot. It wasn’t pretty. If I appeared in public without a shirt, I feared I would be arrested for indecent exposure. My skin was so white, a childhood friend called me Boo Radley.

Over the course of the next 10 years I quite smoking and started exercising.  I learned that running was a very effective way to lose weight because, no matter what I did, I couldn’t run a mile with food in my stomach. I lost nearly 90 pounds and managed to run a 3:04:29 marathon. By the time I was 29, I had re-invention fatigue. My weight started creeping up. Then my left knee went POP during a volleyball game and the running came to an end.

I started cycling with great reluctance. (I still long for a 15-mile run on a cool new England evening.) Then I became a father. Then I became a father again. Let’s just say that over time, the pounds slowly crept back on. I think I peaked several times, most recently last summer, at around 230, give or take a couple of pounds. Oof!

Given the fact that I’m riding a bike about 160 miles per week, you’d think I’d be skinny. Here’s some news for you: when it comes to bicycling and weight loss, it ain’t what you put out, it’s what you put in.

Last summer I launched my SEC diet. SEC stands for stop eating crap. And I did. No more “refueling” on chips and salsa and cookies and such. And to kick things off I stopped eating bread for a few weeks. After a couple of weeks, I started feeling better. I lost my appetite for crap. Riding my bike became a little easier. So did going up the stairs. The exercises I do for my back every morning became easier and easier. I noticed that my thighs didn’t touch when I did my shoulder stands. And I could do leg lifts for the first time since high school.

Suspiciously, my clothes started to grow.I keep a suit at the office for the occasional meeting. I don’t wear it very often. The last time I did, I used a book in the small of my back to shim my waistline. For Christmas I got a new belt. My first 38 inch belt in over decade. And speaking of holidays, I managed to get through them this year without adding ten pounds.

I don’t make it a habit of weighing myself. Today, on a whim, I stepped on the scale in the locker room at my office. The needle struggled and struggled and stopped…just a tad below 200.

Call me Mario.

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