As far as fitness goes, it was a fantastic weekend, probably one of the more active ones that I’ve had in a long time.  Independence Day — a hot and steamy day for sure — gave up a near thirty mile ride through Northeast Minneapolis down to one of my favorite breweries of all time, Dangerous Man Brewing Company. It was a steamy 13-mile ride through the Mississippi River trail system down to NE Mpls and was met with a very excellent pale ale and house IPA, and a pulled pork sandwich from Lulu’s Street Food that was worth saluting. The pork practically melted in your mouth, the BBQ sauce was the prime definition of savory, and the beer altogether praiseworthy. The pairing of Dangerous Man and Lulu’s made for a most righteous stop in my day.

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I briefly entertained the idea of making a pit stop at Indeed Brewing Company for their sour beer Wood No. 2 — a sour beer that will rival any others out there.  But given that it was to reach about 90ºF that day plus high humidity and little relief by way of wind, I decided that it’d be better to just get home at a reasonable hour.

It was actually a good decision to just head home, since riding almost thirty miles in high heat and humidity with a mountain bike, I was pretty much toast by the time I got home. By all accounts, I pretty much racked up an available 1700 calories towards my calorie “bank” for the day, and actually resisted the temptation to drink all 1700 calories that evening in beer.

Trail running

coffeeThis morning I got up early and ran with some very good friends of mine up at Elm Creek Park, which has a really great trail system there — something for everyone. Today we ran a 3.1-ish single-track shared by runners and mountain bikers alike. And although the trail thoroughly kicked my ass this morning (after riding 27.3 miles the day before — yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment), it was worth the effort.

The mental game was a bit more than I bargained for with personal issues colliding with my plans for a nice morning trail run — and who hasn’t had this happen when they go to run, bike, or perform some other physical activity.  I want so much to view this morning as an opportunity to test my mental fortitude, but it still sucked with personal issues weighing heavily on me as I’m slugging my way through over three miles of switchbacks, moguls, and other obstacles clearly designed for mountain bikes.

It did help — a little — to console myself in a four-shot espresso and a double-chocolate doughnut afterwards, but I’m afraid I was still mentally spent afterwards. The only benefit I saw afterwards was a clear colon.  (TMI)

Building a fantastic me

I really did have a great weekend, despite the mental game that I endured this morning. I’m on my way to building a better me — stronger, healthier, happier. I’m finally starting to notice definition in areas that previously were made up with sags of body fat, and that feels fantastic.

I hope to post about my journey thus far later this week, and give a much better picture about where I’ve come from and where I hope to be later this summer. I’ve some pretty specific goals in mind that I’m holding close to my chest and sharing with only two or three people — I don’t want the gratification of having shared my goals and need the continued motivation to work towards what would seem impossible for me right now. With a lot of hard work and dedication, I just might be able to achieve them.

With where I’ve come from over this past winter, my sails are set for a new destination and I’m motivated to take full control over certain variables in my life and try and make it the best possible life that I can.

Controlling the variables

1. Fitness. I can control my level of physical fitness, and it has amazing benefits — not limited to, but certainly including, a huge endorphin boost. When I run and ride, I feel so much better about myself, about what I’m able to achieve, and about the possibilities in the future. It’s one of the few things that has sustained me through difficult situations and keeps me motivated to improve myself. I notice that if I go too long without running or riding, it becomes all too easy to fall into a depressed slump for one reason or another. A rigorous run or an enjoyable ride has this innate ability to lift me up out of my funk and start thinking level-headed about things, even dreaming about the possibilities and potential.

2. Food. Food — especially beer, chips, and other munchies — has been my downfall. If I don’t count calories and exercise, I’m doomed. I am a prime case for emotional eating and drinking; and if left to my own devices, I will consume more calories than is healthy for my body (even if I really enjoy that excess). This is the reason that I peaked at 225 pounds — over 50 pounds beyond what is healthy for me. So by counting calories and watching what I eat carefully, I’m able to see progress in the area of weight loss.  So far, I’ve lost over 20 pounds in the past three months; and that feels fantastic.

Life and beer are very similar, chill for best results.
Life and beer are very similar, chill for best results.

3. Attitude. This one is just as hard as food, if not, harder. But I’ve found that focusing on my goals for a fitter and healthier me, it’s helped tremendously with my attitude. While I gravitate towards being a pretty negative, realist personality, I have made some strides towards positivity. There was a phrase that I saw in Canal Park Brewing’s tap room that resonated with me — “Life and beer are very similar — chill for best results.” And that’s what I’ve tried to do as of late, take things a lot less seriously, give up my petty concerns for the little things, try to find the best in other people, and try to make the most of the life that I have available to me. It’s not easy, and I fuck it up often, but I keep trying to be better with my attitude and just chill. The small stuff just isn’t worthy sweating.

There’s other things that I am working hard to control, but those are the big ones — fitness, food, and attitude. I’m sure that as I work to improve those three areas, other things will follow suit.

What’s on the docket for this week?

Tomorrow I’m declaring a rest day — I worked my ass off over the three-day weekend and deserve to sleep in a little. I do have some intervals due for Tuesday, #BEERandBIKES on Wednesday at Fair State Brewing, and some more running on Thursday and Sunday (possibly some more trail running with friends), and some more biking if I can squeeze it in.  I’m feeling a really long ride to Fulton if time permits. But I may even just call it a day and head to Northgate, too.  I won’t be disappointed if I do.

Any way you look at it, I’m earning my beer one mile at a time.  And it feels really good.

I hope to post later on this week about my story about where I’ve come from and where I’m headed in terms of physical fitness and living a more healthy life.

Have a great and healthy week! Cheers!