Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Weight Loss, and Why I Blog Here

A Taste For The Woods isn't going to be a weight loss blog, but I thought I should touch on the subject and my personal weight loss history.

In brief, for most of my adult life I was completely sedentary, and in the final years of my fourth decade I was  400 pounds or more. In December 2005 I had a trip to the emergency room at the local hospital and after a night in the cardiac ward I decided I had to change my life. I'd lost 115 pounds ten months later, and reached 160 pounds of loss in July 2007. I maintained within a few pounds of that weight for a couple of years, but my knees, already severely compromised from a valgus deformity, began to give way and as my activity level dropped my weight increased.

I underwent a successful bilateral knee replacement in 2012, but the long stretch of being unable to walk both before and after surgery took its toll on my weight, and I soared to approximately 350 pounds. I'm now at 310 and dropping. From time to time I'll post about my weight, but its not the primary focus of my writing. Not that its not important, but focusing on weight loss puts the cart before the horse.

For a few years I posted to a bicycle message board. They had a subforum for bike riders who were bigger, taller, and fatter than what many people think of as a cyclist. It was filled with comments along the lines of "I'm getting a bike so I can lose weight." And again and again I felt like shouting "No, no, no! That's not what a bike is made for! Don't mix up your goal with your means. You are getting a bike because you want to ride. You are losing weight to make the riding possible, or better." Getting a bike because you want to lose weight is like taking up chess playing because you want to improve your pattern recognition skills.

I fell into that trap at times during my previous weight loss, although not with a bike. I'd tell myself I needed to hike or lift because I needed to exercise. I should have told myself I was going on a hike or to the gym because hiking and lifting is fun. Weight loss isn't about denying yourself things, its about giving them to yourself. Its about finding joy. I've never been happier than when I am outdoors and active. My weight loss follows, it doesn't lead.

And that's the reason for A Taste For The Woods. The title comes from a letter 19th century historian Francis Parkman wrote to a friend. Parkman was asked why he'd chosen the French settlement of Canada as the subject of one of his books, and for him the answer was simple. "From boyhood we had a taste for the woods......"  A later historian, Barbara Tuchman, wrote that the hero of Parkman's books was the forest. Likewise the hero of this blog is the outdoors. I won't claim to be in Parkman's class as a writer, but I trust my writing is good enough to do justice to the wonderful world outside my door - and outside yours as well.



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A Taste For The Woods: Weight Loss, and Why I Blog Here

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Weight Loss, and Why I Blog Here