Merry Christmas!

It’s Christmas Eve and most of us are not thinking of biking at this time of year. Never mind the snow and cold covering most of the country right now, this is Christmas. Here are some ways to get through it with the greatest of ease.

That said, how can we survive the holidays this year?

  • Relax, you’ve earned a rest.

You’ve been cycling more than ever this year, so why not put the bike away and have some time off? Your legs and family might thank you for it. Your body can use the break while mentally you can reflect on your past year. Sharing memories at this time is year makes us happy. What things did you learn in 2018 that might help you in the new year? It’s a good time to plan some resolutions, challenges, rides or sportives that you want to do next year.

  • Enjoy the holiday treats but don’t go crazy.

Christmas can be challenging for the waistline, with plentiful food and temptations wherever you turn. It’s so easy to overindulge at Christmas you can easily put on a couple of pounds and if you go crazy it’s going to take a lot of cycling to burn off the calories in the New Year. Limit the damage by making smarter food choices, watching your portions and staying away from alcohol. Remember that moderation is the word to bear in mind over the holiday season. You’ll thank yourself this spring if you don’t overdo it.

  • Have a cycling challenge or ride during Christmas.

Many cyclists look forward to Christmas as the holiday can provide some time off meaning extra riding time. If you find yourself with extra time on your hands why not set yourself a riding challenge over Christmas? Ride with others or alone breaking personal challenges. There are loads already available that you can join or maybe that Fitbit (or wearable tracker) has some goals to break? The more cyclists involved the merrier.

  • Get on the indoor trainer or take a spin class.

The weather isn’t typically great at this time of year (depending on where you live) if you are determined to keep cycling through Christmas, don’t discount the value of a trainer (a device you put your bike into, to ride it indoors) or spin classes. Instead of trying to replicate a long steady ride on the trainers do a short interval session. Instead of duration, aim for a high-intensity session. Spin classes usually offer fun holiday theme rides this time of the year. They are flexible and the workouts can be on and off the bikes. This is wonderful if you can’t get outside to ride.

  • Be flexible with your riding time.

With parties, social gatherings, family events and work commitments over Christmas, it can be tricky to stick to your regular riding schedule and many people might give up trying to get out on the bike altogether. Change your morning ride to afternoon if you must, be willing to change your rides around Christmas plans you’ll still find the time. Flexibility is key, use what available time you do have to get a ride in. Don’t worry that you can’t do your regular ride just do the best you can.

  • Try something else to keep moving, get everyone involved.

If you really don’t have time to ride your bike due to social commitments, try taking a walk. Long country walks are popular at this time of year and a brisk walk is a really good exercise. Walking keeps you active and provides some fresh air and sunshine. Go for a run if you can. Even a 20 minute run around the block will get you breaking into a sweat and burn a load of calories. Grab some friends or family to go with you and make it a group affair. Dancing is another great way to burn calories while socializing. Sitting in front of screens is bad for us it’s the new smoking so let’s keep moving.

  • Grab a read.

If you can’t fit a bike ride in, why not pick up a book instead? With all the downtime at Christmas, it’s an ideal time to get around to reading that book you’ve waited to read or learn something new. I like to read about bicycling and nothing helps the winter biking blues like reading a good book or looking at my favorite bicycle magazines. Get the real thing, it’s still nice to hold and look at a real magazine. Brush up on your biking skills and more by checking in with your favorite websites like Bike With Bekkie.

  • Give in and get into it

Socialize, smile and laugh, enjoy the in-your-face moments with family and friends. Time spent like this is really healthy for us relieving hormones in the bloodstream that cause stress. Even those office parties can be fun just don’t over-do it or drink too much. Use cell phones for pictures only put them away at the party or restaurant. No matter how you celebrate the holiday season or what your beliefs are we need to step back, slow down, learn from our mistakes, rejuvenate, and heal so we can face 2018 the best that we can be and in good health no matter what age. We have a lot to deal with next year.

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Look at what my Tshirt says! My site’s motto.

It’s been 2 days since I’ve been biking. I should have gone Saturday but didn’t because my roommate is here and I wanted him to go with me (he often does.) I should have gone today but it’s cloudy which is no reason not to go. I’m being lazy after he turned me down today I didn’t want to go alone and that’s unlike me. It is Christmas Eve.

It doesn’t keep me from making cool stuff digitally (as you can see from this post) but I’m not burning mad calories biking every other day right now. This is becoming an unplanned break that I think I needed. Without getting into “readiness scores” mine has been low for a few weeks. My RHR’s higher than my normal average and my sleep stages have changed. Subtle hints to take it easy for a day or so.

Since the late 90’s I’ve spent holidays alone or with my roommate (who has no family) but that doesn’t mean I don’t participate. Some years I cook a huge meal for 2 but I don’t decorate or have a tree anymore which I miss very much. I know I get stressed out at this time of year and try to keep moving even if I stray from my cycling schedule.

To remind you, I bike 20-30 miles every other day and on Feb. 20th, 2018 I’ll be doing this for 2 years. I’m 63 and not in training but I push myself some days and do splits trying to rank on MapMyRide. Every workout has been logged and my maps/stats are available on the MapMyRide website. I wear a Fitbit Charge 2 and just bought the newest version of the Aura Ring (available in April 2018.) I’m a big believer in body sensors and health monitoring. I’m in it to win it!

Me taking time off from my daily bike rides doesn’t happen often. At the most, I do a week every 4 months or longer when I go stay in Oakland. As I write this I plan to bike on Christmas. I don’t want to take too many days off just enough to bring my RHR down a few beats and keep an eye on my deep sleep.

My roommate finally said he’d ride with me on his mountain bike! I’m so happy it’s my Christmas wish come true. I really enjoy riding with James we are well matched to ride together I let him lead the way and I follow. We always have fun he’s such a goof.

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James (my roommate for many years) and I biking last month.

I’m sipping eggnog without dark rum which is unthinkable (but has to be done) and thinking about riding tomorrow. I know the regulars will be out and about like me, at least a few of them. I only wish I had an ugly Christmas sweater or festive decorations for my bicycle but I don’t. Maybe I can hunt something up before my Christmas ride. A Christmas ride just seems right I can’t wait and it’s supposed to be sunny I’m already excited.

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I wanted to leave you with Ninja and her ugly Christmas sweater.

Tonight it’s Christmas Eve so Merry Christmas readers! Together we’ll see what 2018 and Trump’s tax plan brings to the world. (A little levity never hurt.)

'Dear Santa, if you leave a new bike under the tree, I will give you the antidote to the poison I put in the milk.  Timmy.'

Cookies for Santa. Afterwards:

4.Pot-Cookie

Merry Christmas and happy biking!

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Health Is The Way To Happiness

When was the last time you felt truly happy and what is it that made you happy? The answer will be different every time it’s asked but there is one answer that will consistently bring you happiness and that is the benefits of good health.

Happy people have younger hearts, younger arteries, and a better outlook on life. Happy people recover more quickly from surgery, cope better with pain, have lower blood pressure, and have longer life expectancy than unhappy people.

Studies also suggest that happy people may have stronger immune systems and are less likely to get colds and flu viruses. If they do get sick it’s not as serious and they get better faster.

Not surprisingly, happy people are better at looking after their health, too. When people’s happiness levels improve, so do their health behaviors. They exercise more, get enough sleep, take better care of their teeth, wear sunscreen, and go for regular checkups.

What else determines happiness?

Genes play a part in your happiness just as they play a part in your general health. Some researchers estimate that as much as 40% to 50% of a person’s capacity for happiness may be genetically predetermined but that doesn’t guarantee a person will live a charmed life.

If you ask someone what makes them happy the answers will be as varied as the people you ask. Winning the lottery, being successful, finding that special person, world peace, and losing weight would be some easy guesses. How long would that keep them happy before they wanted something else?

Everyone wants to be happy and the benefits are clearly plentiful but people aren’t always great at predicting what will make them happy.  Left to our own devices, we tend to focus our energies on things that will give us the greatest instant pleasure. Even when we know better we will ignore the one thing that will bring us lasting happiness because it takes time and personal effort.

Even the gloomiest of us can learn to be happier and good health is the lasting way to happiness. Studies show that a person’s health is one of the strongest predictors of happiness. But the link between health and happiness is complex.

What makes us unhappy?

Adverse changes in health have a negative impact on happiness levels, at least temporarily. Poor health has the potential to significantly affect almost every aspect of your life so it’s no wonder when your health takes a hit so does your happiness. Once we adapt to those changes most people gravitate back to the level of happiness they enjoyed beforehand.

When the change in health status is severe, involving chronic pain or multiple disabilities, the impact on happiness can be long-lasting. And both physical health and emotional health influence happiness.

Mental health can make it hard to be happy or do what it takes to be healthy. If you think you may be living with a mood disorder get it treated. Mood disorders diminish the quality of life even more than chronic physical ailments, such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. Appropriate treatment can help reduce your symptoms, increase your sense of well-being, and get you back on track to a happy life.

If you look closely at unhappiness there will always be a reason for it that is linked to our health even if it’s not obvious. Always talk to a doctor for help if you feel that you can’t be happy they can help you find the answer.

What you can do to be healthy and happy?

Find something you like to do that will get you moving and preferably outdoors. Only 10 minutes of sunlight a day will boost your body’s natural response mechanisms to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter which helps to elevate the mood, and melatonin, a hormone which promotes sleep. It promotes healthier attitudes toward diet and exercise and gives us a dose of Vitamin D which can be hard to get from foods alone.

Exercise not only helps keep you healthy but also keeps you happy. In general, increasing the amount of physical activity in your life increases well-being, whether it’s yoga, weight training, or daily walks around the neighborhood. Studies show that people who are active daily usually stay active throughout the day and weigh less than their couch potato counterparts.

Be your healthiest and happiest by eating a balanced diet with lots of fruit and veggies, getting a good night’s sleep, keeping stress levels to a minimum, getting regular checkups, wearing sunscreen, laughing often, moderating alcohol intake, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking.

It may sound like a lot of rules but we have to do so many things in our lives that we have no control over so the good news is when it comes to our health and happiness we can totally do it. Once we learn how to accomplish it there’s nothing better than being healthy, happy and enjoying our lives to the fullest for as long as we can.

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Exercise is the gateway to good health and happiness.

Since I started riding my bike every other day I have been extremely happy and my life is anything but perfect but I’ve never been happier or healthier and it’s a great feeling! I look forward to my rides despite the weather I have more energy than ever before I just feel awesome!

I still need both knees replaced due to deformities and failure but by bike riding the Bay Trail every other day, I have improved my knees by a large percentage. My doctor says I’ve improved so much that I may be able to put off my surgery for good. The surrounding muscles and leg are much stronger now and I can walk 4 miles on a good day. I still have a lot of pain from inflammation but it’s manageable right now. As a side effect, daily exercise acts as a natural painkiller in the body and I can tell you it works.

I used to walk with a cane and my heart used to pound when I had an office visit with my doctor it got pretty bad. They would do EKG’s on me constantly finding nothing. I was gaining weight, clinically depressed and totally lost on meds. One day I looked in the mirror felt sick at what I saw and decided to change it.

What helped me most was deciding to ride my bicycle every other day and sticking to it. Even if I only rode a few miles, as long as I moved and got outside in the sunshine it was good. The more I rode the better my riding and biking skills got. Once the discomfort of getting into shape was over I looked forward to my rides. My doctor now thinks I’m in amazing shape.

I urge you to try riding a bicycle if you’re not already doing so. For me, it didn’t take long to see results. People of all ages can ride and even adults can learn to ride if they don’t know how. Stick to it and give it time, it took me over a year but good things don’t come easy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I love burning up the calories on a good bike ride.

Bicycle riding is optimal because it’s an aerobic exercise that isn’t hard on the joints and takes your heart rate through the exercise zones needed to strengthen your heart. Riding a bike burns calories at a fast rate as it strengthens your core, improves your balance and sharpens your mind. Admission is only the cost of a good bicycle, some safety gear, and can bring back those feelings you had when you were a child. It can make you happy and can be addicting.

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Like I said before, good health is a balancing act of exercise, healthy eating, and enough quality sleep. Exercise, food, and sleep are like the Macros of balancing your health (instead of nutrients). Get it?

source: Some info and artwork were found using Google Search

The featured image is a photograph of mine I took 6/10/17 at Talbot’s in San Mateo, CA where I bought the bike I own now. They fixed my flat tire I found after I was done with coffee at the library. I checked my bike before taking off and discovered my back tire was flat as a pancake. Lucky I could call a taxi company with a minivan to get me and my bike to the shop.

Be healthy, be happy, just be!

Signs You Might Be A Cyclist

You’ve seen “them” riding on their fast bicycles hunched over, no fenders, wearing colorful stretchy biking outfits and zooming by you barely managing a nod. Cyclists!

I swore this would not happen to me as I turned up my nose while riding (sitting up) on my vintage touring style bicycle on the Bay Trail. Of course, in no time I was wearing colorful stretchy biking outfits while zooming by people…and nodding.

~gasp~

I was one of “them”!

There are many kinds of bikes to choose from sporting all types of riders but there is a common thread throughout that bonds us together as cyclists. The rituals and quirks that rub off on us as we navigate our lives around our bicycles are all signs that we are becoming cyclists. Isn’t it good to belong?

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Photo from MapMyFitness

Signs You Might Be A Cyclist

  • You can’t recognize your biking friends when they aren’t wearing colorful stretchy biking outfits.
  • The “check engine” light in your car has been on for months, but the most minor mechanical issue on your bike is fixed first.
  • You have at least one social network profile shot of you posing on or next to your bike with a gorgeous landscape behind you.
  • Your bike has a nickname.
  • You also know what it’s like to use choice words when a vehicle cuts you off or a hater honks and nearly startles you off your bike.
  • You run errands after your bike rides while wearing your colorful stretchy biking outfits.
  • You spend more time biking spending weekends and planning vacations around bike rides and rides with groups.
  • Stripes on your thighs and ankles, cut-out shapes on the tops of your hands, your colorful stretchy bike outfits tan lines will incite laughter at the beach and pool.
  • You ride to and from work because it’s the fastest way, and you’ve become a pro at changing in the office bathroom.
  • You don’t notice the grease on your clothes or tear in your pants until you’re at that meeting.
  • If you’re a woman, you take better care of your favorite bike clothes than your finest lingerie.
  • If you’re a man, you have smoother legs than your woman.
  • You embrace fluorescent jackets, vests, and shirts. The brighter, the better.
  • You know what it means to do time in the saddle.
  • You’ve felt the shame of having to walk your bike up a hill and the pride of conquering that climb on your bike after a few weeks’ of riding.
  • You have more colorful stretchy biking pants (or shorts) in your laundry basket than jeans.
  • You’re baffled when your roommate or partner doesn’t understand why your bike can’t be stored outside.
  • Some of your hardest falls have happened when you’ve stopped or slowed to a crawl, which doesn’t make sense but happens none-the-less.
  • You take a bad fall with bloody hands and knees, but your first question is whether or not your bike survived.
  • You look and feel better than you have in some time, can’t stop smiling, and have oodles of extra energy.

~large smile~

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For me, dressing to bike is part of the fun. I buy from Fabletics, Under Armor and Ross. Those pants were on sale and made my roommate snicker when he saw them.

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You may not have fallen prey to all of the signs yet but I predict you will. If you fall in love with cycling you’ll enrich your health and life becoming stronger with more energy. Welcome to the club!

You’re a cyclist! One of us, one of us, we accept you, we accept you!