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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Bored in the Middle of Lake Michigan

Take a look at your calendar, and you’ll see that summer is half over. Unless you live in Canada. Summer’s already over up there. I wonder if it’s already over in Chicago. We’ve had some cool, rainy weather recently, which makes my pool quite chilly and my motivation low to swim in a frigid pool. Today is just such a day. My toes are turning blue at the thought of a pool swim today. Regardless, here we are, halfway through calendric summer, and I’m halfway across Lake Michigan at just over 11 miles into the swim.

I can’t get too bored and stop swimming. I’m figuratively in the middle of the lake. If I stop, I’ll figuratively drown! So, on I swim. But I have to spice things up. I think I need to take this swimapalooza on the road. Sure, I swam in hotel pools the past two weekends in Nebraska and Minnesota. Pardon me while I yawn. I yearn for open water. I feel the need to get some mileage in Lake Michigan itself. I will let you know if I muster the motivation to head to the greatest of the Great Lakes and actually swim in it.


If you have to deal with cool, rainy weather, what better way is there than to curl up with a good book? If you don’t have one, I suggest you settle for my well-reviewed, crappy book.

Click here to order from Amazon for under a buck!

I Made a Friend at the Hotel Pool

As we traveled last weekend, I made sure I got my laps in at the hotel pool, because as readers know, I am swimming across Lake Michigan. One added benefit is that I made a new friend at the pool. I do consider myself America’s friend and sweetheart. He was an older gentlemen, and we were alone in the pool area, ostensibly to swim laps. But he confronted me with, “Can I ask about your weight?” Uh-oh. I looked for the closest exit in case his next question was an invitation to join him in the hot tub. But it wasn’t. He just had a question about my weight. Then my mind flashed to this tweet I had seen and wondered if his question might go this way.

But our conversation didn’t go that route. I told him that he could ask away, and he asked me this legitimate question.

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I’m in the Middle of Lake Michigan

I announced earlier this month that I’m swimming 22 miles across Lake Michigan this summer in the safety of my pool and hotel pools, despite their confusing pool rules. So, where am I at the end of June? Just over 7 miles in as shown by the red line.

I’m on schedule considering I missed a couple days at the beginning of June as I tried every gasket and washer in my cache of plumbing supplies to eventually successfully stop a leak in one of the pool connections. 22 miles is still possible if I average a quarter mile each day for July and August.

I know what you’re asking. Am I scared being in the middle of Lake Michigan? Sure, I’m terrified, but that’s normal for me every day after I wake up. And if you look at the map, you can see there’s land close by as I’m near that big peninsula jutting into the lake. That peninsula has a piece of Jim Flanigan history linked to it which I will explain.

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Pool Rules Confuse

Although I was on a short business trip this week, I continued my swim across Lake Michigan by using the hotel pools, despite their confusing rules. For example, there was disinfectant spray all over the place in the workout areas. I get it. I support it. Until everyone gets vaccinated (get vaccinated!), we need to continue to take precautions. But what was I going to do with this spray in the pool area?

There really wasn’t anything for me to wipe down by the pool, but after some thought, I knew just what to do. I dumped the bottle into the pool. It seemed like the only logical thing to do.

The second pool had me confused as soon as I walked in and went to take a towel.

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I’m Swimming Across Lake Michigan

Well, not literally, but also not figuratively or metaphorically since I will actually be swimming. Maybe cumulatively is a better term. I should explain first about Lake Michigan for non-Midwestern United Staters.

Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes.

What makes them so great? Well, they contain 21% of the world’s fresh water, duh! You can swim, surf, boat, fish, and not worry about jellyfish or shark attacks.

Except land sharks. They’re all over. Big nuisance.

I have personally enjoyed 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, so here’s my Great Lakes Ranking with reasons.

  • #5 Lake Erie – Too close to Cleveland and it has snakes in it.
  • #4 Lake Ontario – Too close to New York.
  • #3 Lake Superior – Gorgeous but very chilly.
  • #2 Lake Huron – Gorgeous and slightly less chilly than Lake Superior.
  • #1 Lake Michigan – The only Great Lake that the US doesn’t have to share with Canada. Also, some gorgeous beaches, especially on the Michigan side. And the way that Lake Michigan is situated north-south makes for great sunrises seen from the western shore and great sunsets seen from the eastern shore. It’s also the warmest Great Lake, especially around Chicago.

And so, I have decided to swim across Lake Michigan this summer. Here’s how I’m going to do it.

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Weighting Out Winter

The last time I updated you on my efforts to reach my weight loss goal of 20 pounds (for those of you still living in medieval times, that comes out to 1.43 stones), I had fallen short in September. I was stuck at 17 pounds at the end of September after really working out hard that month. With cooler weather coming, I faced the prospect of no more swimming workouts in the convenience of our backyard pool. I am simply not up for a nice winter swim as some are.

Canadians, eh? And I cannot handle this exercise below freezing …

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My Winter Weather Weight War

One week ago, I was on the brink of having lost 19 pounds toward my goal of 20. And then, the weather turned ugly along with my disposition. Unseasonably cooler temperatures moved in along with rain every single day of the week. Literally overnight, I gained 2 pounds. My body reacts to the cold by packing on winter weight, possibly so I can live off my blubber in case I am ever lost in the Arctic or Chicago in January. I’m not sure which is colder. I fought back by getting depressed and eating everything in sight. Turns out, that didn’t help. I gained another pound.

I could no longer get in a daily swim since the pool was overflowing with cold water. I could no longer get in a daily bike ride due to all the rain. I changed my tack and established an indoor routine of daily walking on the treadmill, elliptical work, and some interval training including crunches (not Nestle’s, although that would be my preference), push-ups, and light weight work.

Success! I’ve banished 1 of the 3 pounds I added. I was even able to get back in the pool yesterday as warmer temps have returned for a few days. We’ll see how sunny and warm these next couple days get as we are now experiencing a smoky haze from the west coast of the USA that is burning out of control. I always thought California would fall into the Pacific due to an earthquake. I never expected it would burn into oblivion.

The bottom line for me is that we are halfway through the month, and I still have 3 pounds to lose to reach 20. I am not confident, but I will try like hell to get there by the end of September. I know October will bring colder weather and that means a fatter, but not jollier, Jim.

The Big Chill

I was happy to return home last night after a quick business trip involving driving 600+ miles and staying overnight in a place where someone hung themselves. More on that tomorrow. I was eager to jump into our little pool and cool off a bit. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. Instead, I jumped onto our couch for some TV watching.

But this morning, oh, that was going to be a different story. I was up early and ready to swim. I love those cool late summer mornings when steam rises from warmer lakes, ponds, and pools.

pool steam

The air was a crisp 62F (16.7C) this morning, so I found it odd that I didn’t see that steam rising from our little pool. I wasn’t sure why … until I got in.

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My Pool, Me, & OCD

I am of the belief that we all have some mental illness of some sort. Think about it. What mental illness affects you? Depression? Mood swings? An unhealthy obsession with the lady next door that looks like a young Audrey Hepburn?

For me, it’s OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’ve never blogged about it. I am only starting to discuss it with family and friends, because it turns out they find it charming, quirky, and fascinating. Okay, so they also find it somewhat disturbing. But I can live with that as long as it makes me appear more interesting. Hmm, I may need to add narcissism to my list.

My OCD really came into focus when I messed up my pool liner order, and had to reduce my pool from 16 feet across to 15.

Pool 15 foot

I guess the picture doesn’t really help you understand my OCD. I’ll try to explain.

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Ranking the Friendliness of My Fellow Exercisers

Ever since I hung up my running shoes earlier this year and settled on walking and biking (once I fixed my bike) as my exercises for the future, I have noticed my fellow exercisers more. I no longer have to try and avoid people as I run so they don’t see my jiggling fat. I walk. I wave. I engage them in conversation … well, some of them. Here’s how I rank them from unfriendly to the friendliest.

#10 – Serious Cyclists

They are the absolute worst, wearing their fancy cycling clothes and teardrop-shaped aerodynamic bike helmets. There’s me with my teardrop-shaped body trying to give them a wave or nod, but they are always too busy going 100 miles per hour to acknowledge me back. Oh, was that a tree branch I accidentally left on the path?

Bike Flip

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Hard Water

I retired our pool liner last year. It had gotten brittle over several seasons of use (I can relate) and had started springing leaks (I can also relate) that I was patching. I figured there would be no problem purchasing a replacement liner for a 4 year old pool. Boy, was I wrong (I relate too often).

Apparently, my old pool liner was a death trap because of only 1 filter intake line. That design was deemed unsafe for some reason, discontinued, and replaced with a dual filter intake line. So, I couldn’t get the replacement liner I needed. The simple solution seemed to be to just buy a complete new pool. Nope, that was also not an option.

Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, pools are in short supply. And when I found one like my old $350 pool, they were priced over $1000. A discount grocery store near us advertised a reasonably-priced pool, and people were lined-up at 6AM waiting for the store to open at 9AM to get a pool. Back to the replacement liner option for me.

By studying replacement part lists for the various styles of pools from the manufacturer, I decided that by enlarging holes using the precision of a brain surgeon (I cannot relate) and slapping a patch on another hole, I could make a current model pool liner fit the hardware from our old pool and make the filter system a death trap again. Except … pool liners are in short supply. I calculated that by adding cable ties and duct tape, I may be able to make a random liner from another model of pool fit the hardware from our old pool. That was a sketchy plan at best, especially when I accidentally ordered a 15 foot liner rather than the 16 footer that I needed.

I could sense something was wrong as I was assembling the pool. It didn’t seem quite right (I can relate). I got to almost the end, there were leftover parts, and the pool hardware wouldn’t fit. I cut down and drilled one of the metal parts, and voilà …

Pool 15 foot

Not only do I have a 15 foot pool, but it seems sturdier than the original 16 footer. As a bonus, I did not have to use duct tape and now have a couple spare metal parts.

It looked great. I was ready to enjoy it and get some exercise. Only 352 laps to a mile! But then, the weather got chilly. Oh, and I got cancer. I’ll explain … about the cancer part. You should be able to figure out the chilly weather part yourself.

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