Bonjour France, J’ai Un Blaireau Dans Mon Pantalon

For you unsophisticated readers, I believe that title translates to “Hello France, I have finished my Channel swim,” but I could be mistaken and it may mean “Hello France, I have a badger in my pants.” I’m hoping for the former as I have figuratively arrived in France after my swim across the English Channel this summer. The French were quite excited for my arrival earlier this week.

You can see my route from the beach at Dover in England to just southwest of Calais per this map.

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The English Channel is a Cold, Lonely Place

I’m getting close to finishing my swim across the English Channel this summer. More importantly, I’m confused as to how I should refer to the swim. It’s not a literal swim across the Channel, but it’s also not figurative. I am literally swimming 21 miles, just not actually in the Channel. Maybe a combination of literal & figurative? Liturative? Figeral? Regardless, you get the idea. I’m swimming a lot this summer. But maybe not enough. I’m still 5 miles away from France’s shores, and summer is quickly slipping away.

I am close enough to almost smell the French fries fying, see the French rolls rolling, and hear the French champagne corks popping. Just a couple weeks ago, I almost threw in the towel, although not lituratively or figerally. My pool succumbed to mustard algae again and turned this lovely color.

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Halfway to France

Well, I’ve made it over halfway to France as I attempt to swim the equivalent distance of the English Channel this summer.

If I flounder now, it’s on France’s shoulders to come rescue me. Who knows what my French rescuers may throw to me as floatation devices in case I am in distress? Maybe empty champagne bottles and merveilleux fromage français (or wonderful French cheese for our English-speaking readers). The French have so much cheese that they use for so many things that I just assume that they also use it for water rescues. But will it float? Fortunately, we have an expert on the buoyancy of cheese (good name for an album) standing by who can answer that question.

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Channeling

A while back, I foolishly proclaimed in a blog post that I would be swimming the equivalent of 21 miles across the English Channel this summer. With the calendric summer half over, let’s take a look at where I’m at.

Well, that’s not far enough. At this rate, I will be at just under 17 miles out by the end of August. I will be too far from Dover for the British to mount an ocean rescue, and the French simply won’t care.

The reality is that crappy weather got me off to a late start swimming this summer, and I strained a knee ligament during my first open water swim which has slowed me a bit. Oh, and I also injured my butt when I had the “brilliant” idea to try jumping part of the way across the Channel.

I’ve been trying to split my swims between pools and open water. At this point, I have 5 miles of pool swims in with 3.4 miles in open water. Getting in the open water swims has not been as easy as I expected.

I had hopes of cycling through fields of Purple Coneflowers and Black-Eyed Susans to get to a secluded, illegal swimming hole, which is typically the best kind. Well, the flowers didn’t disappoint.

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My Apple Watch Review

If you recall, I got a totally free Apple Watch that I must wear in exchange for a company using the data from the watch to study my brain. Yep, you read that correctly – my brain. I absolutely got the better end of that deal.

It’s worked out okay so far. I had no idea how many people wear Apple Watches until I started wearing one and noticing others wearing the same. I feel like I’m sort of in a club now, like a biker gang. You know how bikers signal each other when they pass?

Well. I’ve started signaling to other Apple Watch wearers. I think this signal is subtle, but effective. Take a look.

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In Over My Head

I kicked off my summer swimming season when I was on my recent trip with my daughter. I swam indoors over 3 mornings and totaled 1 mile. It felt good getting back in the pool, but I yearned for open water swimming. Today was the day. The only thing keeping me from a 7:30AM swim in a deep water quarry with 66 degree F/19 degree C water when the air temp was 62F/17C was common sense. Well, that has never been much of a deterrent to me in life. I would definitely literally be in over my head today in the water.

I was also figuratively in over my head today. I pulled in as another swimmer was having his wife (assuming they were married because who else would be crazy enough to be out there with him?) help him prepare for his swim with wetsuit, goggles, swim cap, emergency inflatable, amphetamines, swim diaper, etc. He and many others present were serious swimmers training for triathlons. Don’t believe me? Take a look at his car.

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My March to Weight Loss

I need to focus on March for weight loss, because February was a disaster. I gained a pound. On second thought, considering world events, the added pound in February probably doesn’t really qualify as a disaster.

It wasn’t for lack of effort that I gained weight. My steps/cycles remained consistent.

Negating those consistent steps was my love for chocolate and Valentine’s Day intersecting. It would help if my wife bought me chocolate from the dollar store rather than from the fancy-schmancy chocolatier in town. Maybe she loves me so much that she wants there to be more of me to love. Well, in February, she got her wish.

But Valentine’s Day was just one day. That can’t be the whole reason for my weight gain. I think I know what the real reason is though.

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Whither Goest Me?

Once again, I am changing course. I had become resigned to sliding ignominiously into retirement over the course of this year as my German product supplier for my small business pulled their product from sales in the US due to some EU regulatory issues. But now, it appears that I have inexplicably brokered a deal to have the German product assembled in the US by a 60 million dollar company located not 30 minutes from my house. Weird. In addition, my small business should still have access to the product to sell. So, I’m back in business, at least for a while. It’s probably for the best as the WordPress WordAds revenue from this blog continues to deteriorate.

Advertisers must be taking the time to read this nonsense. And two other possible sources of income have also dried up.

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Waitlisted for Weight Loss

Every winter for me it is the same. I gain weight. I planned to allow myself 5 pounds of weight gain this winter. However, I never expected I would hit my 5 pound “goal” by the end of December, but there I was, staring at the scale in disbelief at the beginning of 2022. Just a tip for those of you trying to lose weight, sucking in your gut while standing on the scale and staring in disbelief does not reduce your weight.

I delayed writing this until I was sure that the weight gain was a just temporary upward blip. Instead, as I write this, I am certain that my 5 pound weight loss visitor is here for an extended stay. But the good news is that I’m holding steady there and we are over half the way through calendric winter. And instead of thinking that I have gained back 25% of the weight I lost, it helps for me to think that I have gained back 1/16th of the weight I lost 4 times. Seems less to me.

One problem could be my steps took a literal step back in December. Take a look.

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Don’t Look Up & Definitely Don’t Exercise

I watched that new movie Don’t Look Up. I didn’t think it was the greatest film ever made, but liked parts of it. Well, so much for the movie review portion of this blog post. One part I found totally unbelievable was when they showed people exercising while watching the news of a giant comet coming to destroy the planet.

If I knew a planet-killing comet was on the way, I would immediately cease all forms of exercise and healthy eating. I would eat myself into a chocolate coma (good name for a band) and await the inevitable destruction. Of course, that would be after I took care of my family by telling them to take shelter in the basement and to keep their grubby mitts off my chocolate.

My Weight Loss Waterloo

I took a couple weeks after November ended to determine if I had lost a weight loss battle or the entire war. The month of November was certainly my weight loss Waterloo, and I don’t mean the city of Waterloo in Iowa, home of the Sistene Chapel reproduced in spray paint on the walls and ceiling of a warehouse turned into a restaurant that is now closed. Thanks, Covid.

No, I’m talking about Napoleon’s Waterloo where he lost his final battle while also gaining 5 pounds thanks to a cheesecake binge. I lost a major weight loss battle in November. Fat cells are now occupying my liver, and they are threatening to invade my pancreas unless their demands for sugared sodas and cake are met. However, I may not have lost the war. Signs in December are positive about returning to or close to my goal weight I met over the summer.

I can break November into 2 distinct halves. The first half of November was characterized by 4 things:

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Sorry to Make You Weight

My exercise, health, and weight loss posts are generally my most viewed posts, so why would I wait until the middle of November to report on how I did in October? I guess it’s basically because I don’t care that much about what happened. There, I said it, and it feels good. I made my goal weight over the summer. When I sit in those special chairs at the pharmacy that take my pulse, measure my blood pressure, weigh me, and check my Body Mass Index, I no longer get the flashing warning to stand up before I break the chair. I’m now in maintenance mode.

Maintenance mode is not very exciting, and I don’t have much to report. I may have been able to lose more weight in early October as the weather was quite good to start the month. I probably could have left my pool up and swam until mid-October, but I didn’t. I walked and biked as usual, but my steps do show a slight seasonal reduction.

And that is because good mental health is key to good physical health. In the middle of October, the weather took a nasty turn for the worse, as did my mental health. I deal with SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, so I had to adjust my supplements and start doing this a lot.

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Riding the Weight Loss Rollercoaster

I’m very late reporting on my weight loss trials and travails for September. I shouldn’t be late with these weight loss posts as they are my most popular posts on this blog. I think it’s because despite differences in politics, religion, etc., we all share the same struggle with weight control, except for those naturally skinny people with self control who never have to exercise. Oh, I hate them so much. Anyway, here we go, better late than never.

When I last posted about weight, I was 3 lbs below my goal weight at the end of August. Success, right? Well, not exactly. September turned cool, my swimming stopped, and my body started to get ready for a winter hibernation by eating everything in sight. I immediately re-reached my goal weight from the opposite direction and shot up above it by several pounds. That’s just how my body works. It doesn’t matter that my steps were strong again in September.

Geez, wouldn’t you think I would make a little extra effort to average 10K steps? Anyway, my body’s metabolism just slows down in cooler weather, maybe to get ready for my winter hibernation? I would be willing to give hibernation a try as I like long naps. Fortunately, the weather warmed again and some of the weight came off. Right at the end of September, my weight had come down to below my goal weight again, but seemed to be heading up. I waited to see what would happen. Well, here’s what happened.

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Weighting for More

How many pounds of weight lost is too many? For me, I’m not sure that number exists. If you recall from my post about July weight loss, I had made my original weight loss goal. It took me over a year to lose 20 pounds. I still felt puffy, so I figured I would continue on. But continue what? I’m not on a diet. I just eat right. I had even cut back a bit on exercise from last year, although I still posted a respectable average daily step/bike crank total in August.

After swimming 9 miles in July, I scaled back to 7 miles in August. So how did I lose 3 more pounds in August? I don’t have COVID or any other deadly disease. I’m starting to think it may have to do with one of the two mystery supplements I started taking at the beginning of June. They weren’t a mystery to me, but I have been teasing them a bit in this blog. Well, it’s time for their big reveal.

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Waterblogged!

I have been blogging about swimming a lot recently, hence the title of this blog post. Clever, huh?

Editor’s Note: No.

Anyway, I have been blogging a lot about water since I have been swimming across Lake Michigan this summer in my backyard pool. After swimming more miles than expected in July, it became mathematically apparent that I would likely make my mileage goal by the end of summer. I started to think about finishing with a flourish or grand gesture, and I had one in mind.

I was aware of this event as I had considered competing in it in my younger days.

I certainly couldn’t finish the 5K (3.1 miles) unless I was being towed by a boat. But I had done a mile open water swim in July, so I am pretty sure I can slog slowly through the 2.5K (1.55 miles) course. Oh, you’re asking why it is called the Big Shoulders swim?

Editor’s Note: Nobody asked.

Well, Chicago was called the City of Big Shoulders by poet Carl Sandburg. Of course, he also called Chicago the Hog Butcher for the World. I think the swimming race organizers chose the better name.

And there’s another reason.

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Weight No More

July was a real up & down month weightwise for me. Up is not the direction I want to go, but 2 personal trips, 1 business trip, and a family birthday party throw my eating and exercise plans off a bit. I was up a couple pounds, down a couple, up, down, up, down, etc. But the final result for July was down 3 lbs, and I made my goal weight set at the beginning of the COVID lockdown.

It wasn’t because of my steps. They were down, under 10,000 per day, but purposely so.

I had my reasons for my reduction in steppage.

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Open Water Swimming Was Closed

As you must know by now (since I post constantly about it), I am swimming across Lake Michigan this summer, primarily via laps in our small backyard pool.

Out of sheer boredom, I have been trying to schedule some open water swimming. But Saturday, my attempt to actually swim across the actual Lake Michigan was actually rebuffed as Lake Michigan was actually closed! Actually! I took our youngest daughter to stay with our oldest daughter on Saturday for a sister-bonding sleepover, and we stopped at beautiful Montrose Beach in Chicago on the way for a quick swim.

Montrose is a beautiful urban beach, complete with sand dunes. But on Saturday, it was closed because of a brisk wind from the northeast creating some dangerous riptides. I still wanted to give it a try. Where were the “my body, my choice” anti-vaxxers when I needed them to back me up?

Anyway, we walked and relaxed a bit on the beach instead of swimming. I had already gotten some laps in my pool, and after a half mile on Sunday (that’s 175 laps!), I find myself here in Lake Michigan.

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Open Water Swimming Was Open – Part 2 – The Temptation

As I teased in my last post, I was tempted after my swim last Saturday. Being America’s Friend, I was speaking to a total stranger despite the stranger wearing very tight shorts and sporting a somewhat satanic beard.

I was also wearing very tight swim shorts, and they were quite wet. We were both standing just outside the women’s locker room. And then the stranger tempted me to do something I haven’t done in years. He slipped me his card with his contact info. If I gave in to the temptation, I would meet the stranger again on the 1st of August for a dalliance into what I can only describe for me as … forbidden fruit.

The stranger had tempted me with this irresistible offer.

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Open Water Swimming Was Open – Part 1

At my age, with a pandemic still raging all around, when there is something I want to do, I know I best do it quickly or maybe never have the chance. I mentioned in a recent post that I want to take my swim across Lake Michigan out of pools and into open water. I wasted no time and did just that this past Saturday.

I found a great lake to do an open water swim, but not a Great Lake. It wasn’t a good weekend to head to Lake Michigan (one of the 5 Great Lakes) to swim, because we are fostering 2 puppies. Who wants to see puppy pictures and video? Well, maybe if you’re nice and like this post, or better still, beg me, I’ll post some puppy stuff. Anyway, I found a great lake just about 40 minutes up the river from us that was hosting a morning open water swim in beautiful, crystal clear waters. Take a look …

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