If You Fall, Get Up: The 5 Boro Bike Tour

imageBoom! I crashed. I fell off my bike in the middle of the rain soaked 59th street Queensboro Ed Koch whatever name it has this week bridge…..but before that, let’s go back to the beginning.

imageAbout 4 months or so ago a friend of mine who actually deserves a lot of credit for this journey let’s just call him “Juice” because that’s his nickname says to us all excited. “Yo, any of you guys want to do the 5 Boro bike tour this year?” There was initial laughter followed by “Nah man no way” and “f@$( that, I haven’t ridden a bike since I was 12” from other people we work with. Me, on the other hand, I had this weird moment. I remembered back in time like it was the “enchantment under the sea dance” riding my bike with my brother a few years back, how much weight we lost and how much I loved it, and before I could really think about it I said something like, “yeah man, I’ll do it with you”. Now everyone laughed harder, they thought I was joking, which if you know anything about me, made me want it even more. I wanted to do it so bad I signed up and paid not two minutes later, even Juice was surprised. image
I immediately knew I was in trouble, but I knew I had to drastically make a change. This was my motivation to start. I had already been eating good for about a week or two, but not super into it and definitely not working out. This became my new goal. I remembered that the wife and I had bought a new exercise bike (Schwinn 170 upright) which of course she was motivated to use and I wasn’t. Side note: she’s killing it too btw looking and feeling great. I immediately started riding that day, after telling the universe I signed up for this thing of course.
To be honest, when I got on the bike it was a reality check. I was way more out of shape than I thought. I was sweating and heavy breathing after about 45 seconds.
The next thing I did was go out and order a bike. I looked up things that were important to heavier riders, double walled rims, at least 24 spokes etc. I settled on a Trek 29 inch mountain bike called the Marlin 7 in black and blue from Brands Cycle and Fitness in Wantagh. imageBought a comfy seat for my big posterior, and a helmet. The next step was to start riding to the LIRR and then from the LIRR to work and then the same on the way home. The total round trip was about 10 miles. One of the best decisions I have ever made.
The first day riding to work, it was hell. I couldn’t wait to get to the train. Then on the way home my first day on a bike in 10 years, I got a flat tire. I didn’t have a repair kit because I’m an idiot and walked to the train, took the train home and had to have my wife pick me up. I was defeated. The next day I got new tubes, tire protectors, a repair kit, some tools, a pump etc just so this wouldn’t happen again. The next day I started crushing it.image
Every day I would ride to work if I could. The days I didn’t ride, where my wife was at work and I had to get our daughter or other circumstances, I usually drove. On those days when I got home I would ride hard for an hour on the indoor bike and watch some tv, because if you read my last blog post it was great advice from my HS gym teacher that I never took.
I left my mountain bike knobby tires on the bike, which people told me to remove. I bought a pair of road tires for the 5 boro bike tour but if I was going to train, I was going to train hard. This was one of the best decisions I made, besides the comfy seat. I rode so much on these slow knobby tires that when it came to the tour, and I replaced the tires with road tires, it was stupid easy in comparison.
So Saturday comes, the night before the bike tour comes and I would be exaggerating if I told you that I got an hour of sleep that night. All I could think about was failing and even worse dying. All I could think about was having a heart attack and some a**hole like I used to be saying something obnoxious like, “see, this is why I don’t work out”. I also thought about the weather forecast, rainy, cold and windy….and it was.image
The morning comes and at 5:30 I load up my bike on to my car and drive to Manhattan. I met up with Juice, his cousin and another one of his friends. It was time to do this. We lined up in the first wave and Mr. G the weatherman gave his forecast, think Family Guy, “it’s gon’ rain”. We waited a while and then we were off pedaling. All my nerves went away, immediately. As soon as I felt those new road tires I knew I was going to crush this thing. We rode all the way up into Central Park then up through Harlem and then over the Madison Ave bridge into the Bronx, I was killing it. I honestly was shocked at how well I was doing. I was also proud of myself.image
We then came upon the dreaded Queensboro Ed Koch 59th street bridge climb, which I have heard and read from everybody that this was the second worst part, the worst being the Verrazano climb. I get nervous again and just think to myself, “Aaron, do not get off of this f#<king bike, you can do this” and I did. I crushed it. I was blowing past people who were wearing spandex and bike shorts (when I was wearing a hoodie and camo shorts freezing) who I easily outweighed by over 150 pounds that had expensive bikes and that were in shape. Some of these people had to get off of their bikes and walk. They couldn’t handle it, which is fine, everyone works at their own pace and has their own limits and I’m proud of anyone that made it and is making the effort to be active, I am just excited about my individual progress thus far. My legs burned a little and my breath was heavy but it was nothing like that first day I started riding again. I knew with certainty I was going to kill this thing…..and then I crashed. My shoes were already filled with what felt like lakes of water so to say the roads were slick is an understatement. I was on the 59th street bridge descent after feeling amazing having climbed it with ease. I was braking trying to not go too fast and then BOOM! Out of nowhere my bike and I went hitting the pavement at about 20mph sliding at least 50 feet. It was in slow motion and I didn’t even know what happened. Thankfully Juice’s cousin stopped the other cyclists from running me over. I thought it was over….. F^*K THAT! I’m no quitter. I pop up, dust myself off and see what happened. Some a%%hole was eating an energy bar and threw the wrapper on the ground instead of pocketing it. My bike while braking slid on it causing the crash. Thankfully me and my bike were ok. I got up, poured some water on my bloody ankle and kept going….because that’s what you do.
We made it to the bottom of the bridge and rode through Queens where there were two highlights. One was all of the love I got from my friends and my co-workers who were on the route, seriously your support meant the world to me. Second was this awesome kid somewhere in Astoria sitting outside in the rain couldn’t have been older that 8, blasting The Rocky Theme “Gonna Fly Now” cheering for us. Whoever that kid is, and whoever his parents are, Thank Youimage
We made our way through Queens, over the Pulaski bridge into Brooklyn and through Brooklyn’s waterfront which was amazing. Some of those views were seriously breathtaking, as goes for the entire tour itself. Simply Amazing. We made it onto the home stretch. The BQE, where the rain and wind treated us like we slept with it’s mother. It rained so much there the gears were slipping on my bike.
Then we saw the bridge. The dreaded Verrazano climb everyone was talking about. The mother of all mothers. I had the same goal. Do not get off the bike. You can do this, and I did. It was not easy, but without walking, without even shifting into super low gear, while Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” was being blasted from the speakers at the top, I didn’t stop Believin and I made it. I rode the decline down and rode right into victory lane and it was over. I high fived my riding buddies, and I immediately shoved an amazingly delicious (healthy of course) burrito into my face like a complete animal. Absolutely worth the 12 bucks. I would’ve paid 40.image

I was so pumped and people think I’m lying when I say this, but I could have taken the ferry back and ridden the route again. I can’t wait to do it again next year and hopefully if you’re reading this you do it too. The views are awesome and it’s a great experience a great motivator to start a fitness journey and I will try and do it every year from here on out, except next year and the year after will be a little different….The Huge Fat Loser Mafia is looking for riders for next year. Ride With Me.

Face it. You’re an Addict.

I’m going to lay some truth down here because I’m a fat guy so I can. Overweight people like myself don’t like to hear the truth sometimes because it hurts especially from skinny in shape people so here it is from a fat guy in recovery. Stop making excuses. You are an addict.

Just like in any recovery programs, dieting and changing your lifestyle is no different. The first step to change is admitting you have a problem and something tells me that if you’re overweight you probably do. The first thing you have to admit to yourself is that you are an addict. You’re addicted to sugar, you’re addicted to fat, and you’re addicted to salt. image

If you don’t believe me go on a diet for a week to 10 days just to start. Those feelings of moodiness and hunger and tiredness in the first week those are called withdrawals. Your body is withdrawing from fat and sugar and salt and whatever other bad things you were putting in it. After your first week or 10 days is up, have a cheat day and see how you feel. You’ll feel almost high and at the same time almost sick because your body is getting these bad things back. That sickness you feel, you were feeling like that every day and didn’t realize it!!

These are things that people don’t want to hear when they are overweight or they are trying the newest fad diet or latest weight loss surgery craze. If you don’t manage your addiction you will never be successful at losing weight. No surgery no supplement and especially no excuse is going to fix that. This is not my first time on this journey. I have lost 100 pounds before but gained it back again twice because I refused to look my addiction to food in the face.

Your body feeds off of sugar and fat because it’s what the body wants, which is why it is so delicious to us and when we have no control, we can’t get enough of it, but you have to admit to yourself that you have a problem if like me you are thinking about Taco Bell for dinner later while you’re at the drive through at In and Out for lunch or a mid day snack.

imageYou know exactly what I’m talking about too. You watch the Food Network like it’s a form of pornography salivating over what you can shove in your face next. You eat a whole box of doughnuts (see photo above) instead of just one as a treat, which is what it actually is.

imageThere’s reason that so many people who undergo weight loss surgery or take weight loss supplements are unsuccessful or are at first successful but then gain all the weight they lost back almost immediately. It’s because these are quick fixes to a serious problem. Weight loss surgery and supplements work, there’s no doubt, but they don’t do it on their own and most people use these as a substitute for hard work and look to these methods to “do the hard work for them”. With surgery it becomes, “well, if I eat something I’m not supposed to or eat too much I’ll get sick” and with supplements it becomes, “well supplement xyz says that it burns the bad food and turns it into magic dust.” Both of these are ways to avoid a difficult conversation with yourself.

If you want to do this I mean REALLY do it, have that conversation with yourself. Look in the mirror. As a matter of fact make it more dramatic take your shirt off or even naked and look at yourself. Seriously look at yourself and say to yourself “I am an addict”  You ARE an addict, and unless you can admit it to yourself and control your addiction you will never be successful at this in the long term. You can do it I believe in you, because I am doing it. It’s not easy but nothing good is easy and you will never be able to do it unless you have these hard conversations with yourself. My name is Aaron Lohman and I’m an addict. Join me on the path to recovery. We can do this together.

My Wife Made Me Do It. The Beginning of My Journey

At the end of December 2015 before I fell into the official “New Year, New Me” crowd I decided I needed to make a change. A friend of mine asked me to sign up for the TD 5 Boro Bike Tour. For those that don’t know it’s a 40 mile bike ride through all of the boroughs of New York City. I signed up. The only problem was that I weighed over 400 pounds at the time.

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I knew I had to make some changes or I would be seriously embarrassed come the day of the bicycle ride. They would be carrying me to the hospital. Not only that but I have a young daughter and I knew that if I kept up my lifestyle, I wouldn’t be around to dance with her at her wedding or play with my grandchildren.

On top of all of that I knew I had to make a change because of the line of work that I’m in, Law Enforcement, I knew that I was allowing the hustle of the job get in the way of my health in a career where your health is detrimentally important. Quite often, like in my case, we put the job first, then family and then ourselves often neglecting our own needs leading to weight gain and an unhealthy lifestyle. I graduated the academy at 250 pounds and got out of control to over 400 in only 9 years. I needed to change.

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So I started a diet using The Underarmour My Fitness Pal app. I stuck to it for a few months. Lost about 30 or so pounds. Then I bought an exercise bike for indoor exercising and I bought a Trek mountain bike to ride to the train and then ride from the train to my job and visa versa. As I am writing this I am now down 50 pounds and plan on losing 175 pounds total.

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The truth is I would never think about writing a blog or being a part of trying to inspire others through physical fitness, but my wife encouraged me to do it. My friends and family don’t even know I am making this blog although I’m sure they’ll find out and crush me relentlessly because this is the complete opposite of something I would do. I thought twice even 10 times about doing this, but my wife made me do it. She said what I’m doing can help others who are in the same situation, and you know what? She’s right. If I can help even one person live a longer more fulfilling life or help another cop live a longer retirement or survive a deadly encounter then it was worth the crushing I would get from my friends. I should have started this from the beginning of my journey to health, but here I am starting it a little late but still early enough to share my progress with all of you until I reach my goal and continue to be more fit and healthy. My Wife Made Me Do It, but I have no regrets. Let’s do this together. Join Me.

My wife and I in Aruba down 40 pounds.

My wife and I in Aruba down 40 pounds.