Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Weight of the Team

This afternoon I was at the Team house waiting for lunch.  While waiting I hear Zulu barking in the back of the yard and Damascene our guard, saying "Zu, Zu, Zu, Zu".  After the 30th "Zu", I went outside to see what the beast was up to.  As I'm standing there watching him pee down every inch of shrubbery in the back yard I hear Kiki say, "Hey, mucyecuru, do you add more kilos?"  

First of all I like to think of the term "mucyecuru" as a term of respect, perhaps endearment.  It means "old lady (with respect)" in Kinyarwanda.  However, in this phraseology spoken by Kiki all I heard was, 

"Hey Old Lady are you getting fat?"  I glared at him with the eyes which could burn through him and cause his tiny 120 pound body to spontaneous burst into flames.

I know, you thought this blog was going to be about something heavy, serious, substantial about the team.  A weighty issue.  Something about the struggles we live through, the rising from nothing of these riders, the weight of the responsibility on our shoulders.  

Nope, it's about how heavy I am on any given day!

I am not writing this blog begging for a little passive aggressive complimenting. It's a fact, we are the fat police at Team Rwanda.  Actually, the riders are the gestapo of fat, particularly my fat.

It all started in April 2009 when I first arrived.  Jock, Mr. Five Pounds Heavier than my Tour de France Race Weight, Boyer made a comment to the team about my backside.  At the time I had been working part time as a personal trainer, working out, riding my bike 100-150 miles a week.  I have always been a healthy eater, alcohol aside.  I was 145 pounds.

I am 5'8" and definitely not a "small frame" kind of gal.  My hands are bigger than most of the team's (not man hands however, much more delicate looking, just super long fingers).  I wear the same size shoe as Jock, Max, Adrien and half the team.  Plus I was solid, I had Michelle Obama arms.  No chicken skin flap under my arms!

According to the weight charts appearing on Google, I was well within the healthy range.  

One chart had the caveat, "Weighing conducted with 1" heels and 3 pounds of clothing".  Ok, here's my question, who has EVER weighed themselves with all that gear on?!  I am buck naked, after my morning "biz", and always after not eating dinner the night before.  That's how I weigh myself!  

Weight Watchers had my range between 132 - 164 which would technically put me very close to "underweight" but I'll get back to that.  164?  Really?  That's what I weighed in college after a year of Big Macs and way too much beer!  I was scary!

The University of Chicago Medical Center seems more in line.  The range for someone 5'8" is 126 - 154.  I can live with that.

But back to the Gestapo Team.....

After a year or so in Rwanda, Nicodem looks at me after a ride and says, "Kim, when you came here your butt, it was this big (note his arms spread wide like an eagle in flight), and today, your butt, it is this big (a markedly reduced wing span, more like a sparrow in flight).  Jock starts laughing.  Seriously, the whole team has been watching my ass for the last year checking for shrinkage?

Mind you, the entire team gets weighed every week when camp starts.  They have to, it's their job to maintain their race weight.  Some struggle more than others.  Extra weight to a professional cyclist is a ticket to amateur cycling at your local crit night.  Gasore has needed to loose 10 pounds since day one.  It is not that he is fat, he just spent too many years hauling potatoes.  His upper body is way too massive.  A couple of weeks before the Tour of Rwanda, he drinks a little bad water, a little projectile vomiting and boom 5 pounds gone, he flies like the wind.  Now, I would never advocate giardia, however, those 5 pounds shaved off could save him 22 seconds and put him 118 meters ahead of where he would have been with the extra weight on a 5km hill with an average 5% grade (this is pretty much every climb in Rwanda).  The same analysis of my weight loss on the same ride would be 50 seconds and 292 meters.  Perhaps I should start racing?!

I am a 46 year old recreational cyclist, team manager and will probably never race.  Do I need this scrutiny?  

Today I am 133 pounds.  I never set out to lose weight.  I just did.  In Rwanda every thing needs to be made from scratch and frankly it's easier to not eat some meals.  It can be a hassle to eat.  There is no fast food, no snacky food, hmmm....maybe America and the rest of the world for that matter should take a clue.  

I told Kiki I was wearing two shirts because I was cold maybe that's why I looked bigger...all I got was an unconvinced, "hmm...ok".

I went home and weighed myself....naked....after a long pee....133.  

I live in the team of the tiny butt.  Every one of these guys has the smallest behind I have ever seen.  One of our new riders is Patrick, 5'10" and 123 pounds.  I think I need to go ride some more today.

Here's the deal.  Every year before I came here my New Year's resolution was lose 10 pounds.  I never did.  I was always between 142-145.  When I moved to Rwanda I did away with two things, New Year's resolutions, they suck, they just set you up for failure and two, the weight.  I never even tried.

I think, based on Facebook posts, people put too much focus on weight and watching their weight and losing the weight.  There are some friends I read their posts and just want to tell them to stop it!  If my every waking moment consisted on what food I put in my mouth and how many calories it was and the portion size and the...and the...and the...I'd SCREAM!

Here's my secret for weight loss.  Find something you love, you are totally passionate about which can consume pretty much every waking moment.  Today I am an hour into a ride, just climbed over 1,500' and all of a sudden I am feeling funky.  I look at my watch, it's 11:30am.  I forgot to eat breakfast.  I had a piece of toast and that was all.  Last night I had a glass of wine and four chocolates (hey, they were from France).  I often times am so busy I forget to eat.  It happens.  

Second, move to a third world country, and finally, move yourself, your body.  Seriously, enjoy the food, a little bit of it and get on your bike, walk, hike and stop stressing about it.  Oh, and if you can hire a team of 15 or so skinny butt African cyclists to watch your ass for a few months, you're golden!

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