Biking Birthday

Does time ever fly! On Presidents Day, (Monday the 20th,) I’ll be biking every other day for one year! I am both excited and shocked at what I pulled off. I didn’t miss many days and I never felt like quitting but there were some very low points where I didn’t want to bike.

Looking back there was so much blood, sweat, and tears. I fell more than once getting bumps and terrible bruises. I not only hated hills but had to walk my bike up some of them. My face would be so red when I got home and looked in the mirror I used to look like a heart attack walking. I would collapse on my bed until I recovered.

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When I started riding my bike I had already lost 30 pounds but I was still plenty chubby and out of shape. You can see it best in this picture. I was on a diet of 1,200 calories which helped get me to where I am today. My bike, however, was like new then without the battle scars of today.

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Above, you now see a healthy woman at her target weight since last August. A woman who didn’t gain weight through the holidays or down times. A woman who’s in, and stays in shape. It’s certainly something to celebrate!!

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I feel like a movie star and so can you! I’m a real person who’s done this without any expensive diets, fads or help. You just need to do it, don’t give up, and don’t give up.

There are a few things I couldn’t have done without:

  • Myfitnesspal is an application that will help you keep track of your food calorie intake and nutrition needs. You fill out a profile and it uses your info to help you know how to eat. It’s easy to use, has all the foods, a bar code reader and you can enter your own meals. It also connects to various health bands, and exercise apps reporting your meals (calories) to them. It will also import caloric burn from other apps (including Mapmyfitness) and add it to your day’s calories.
  • Mapmyfitness is an application with GPS that keeps track of calories burned during various different exercises. I use it for my biking and it maps my ride keeping track of everything. I enter my type of bike, wheel size and profile info so it’s pretty accurate. It gives me my average speed, fastest speed, time biked, calories burned, time of day, altitude and much more. It compares my rides with other members in my area which is very interesting. It works with your phone, shoes, or fitness band including Myfitnesspal. It’s a free bike computer that’s easy to use and will announce your stats to you out loud while riding.
  • Jawbone’s UP3 is a fitness band that measures sleep cycles, steps, exercise activities, resting heart rate, food intake, and more. I’ve been wearing one since Oct. 2015 and found it has many features that are very helpful. It features a digital coach that crunches your data and gives you personal help and great articles to read. I’ve become addicted to monitoring my sleep, having this helped me with my insomnia to become a champion sleeper. It connects to Myfitnesspal and Mapmyfitness trading food, caloric and other info.

I use these apps for free with plenty of features that helped me out. Connecting applications together is easy, all these applications talk to each other which makes logging and keeping track a snap.

There are wonderful tools to use when improving your health but it’s really up to you. If you don’t take the first step you won’t get in shape. If you’re in bad health most of the time you will be obese and feel unhappy. Lose the weight and some of those medical problems will disappear. Add biking to that and soon you might be celebrating your own Bike Birthday and living a longer life.

You just need to do it, don’t give up, and don’t give up.

Duck Feathers

After I got over the initial pain of being a beginner and settled into my workouts I found that biking was making me feel amazing. I was in the best health ever and things that normally would have thrown me into a funk during my day just weren’t happening. I found myself not sweating the small things. I told my best friend there was no way that I could be depressed while riding my bike and surprised myself when I said it.

Just a year ago I was a dark cloud raining on everything that came my way. I couldn’t see past my various moods they colored even my best days. I was addicted to foods that didn’t nourish my body and spent all my time sitting on my kiester stuffing my face. It was a terrible way to react to the world and treat myself. As I increased my health through my bike rides I found the clouds parting and the weather clearing. Now it’s darn right sunny even on the rainiest days. I never imagined how well exercise worked as an antidepressant.

Now I feel immune to things that would have brought me crashing down in the past. I have found what I affectionately call, “my duck feathers.” Anything that threatens to bring me down just repels off of me like water off a duck. My problems haven’t gone away, I’m still the same person making the same mistakes I’ve always made, but now I have an inner happiness that keeps me going on a positive note.

The health benefits of exercising eating right and good sleep are astounding. My body is slowly changing for the better I can see and feel it. I have a waist and my stomach hasn’t been this flat in decades. My skin has cleared up, my hair is soft and shiny and my energy level is through the roof. My bad knees are so much stronger I don’t need my cane anymore. Overall, my legs and core feel strong. All the hours of riding have improved my heart and my doctor tells me with vitals like mine I’m going to live a long time. After only a year of working out, that’s music to my  62-year-old ears and I’m not stopping anytime soon.

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While all these things are wonderful side effects of an aerobic exercise like bike riding, the thing that surprised me the most is the good mood that won’t go away. A good mood that didn’t require drugs just riding my bicycle regularly. With so many people having problems with depression, syndromes, and unhappiness I would think exercise would be worth trying.

Discovering “my duck feathers” is something I’m thankful for this year, that, and the fact that I found a good reason for riding my 30-year-old bicycle. Getting this twice as old woman functioning, healthy and moving again!

Join me! If you’re lucky enough to be able to ride your bike year round do it and feel thankful for it.

Earth Day

As bike riders, we have seen pollution first hand, up close and personal. If you ride in the city it’s in the gutters of the bike lanes, in the parks (despite the many garbage cans) you see bottles and trash all over the ground. I always ask myself, “What’s wrong with people?” But there is no answer.

Riding in the country is no picnic either. Dumping is done anywhere and everywhere. There can’t be trash cans placed all over the earth and it’s really not that hard to carry your trash back home. Then why can’t people do it?

There are recycling centers and places to dump any kind of garbage you can produce and yet people just don’t have the time or inclination to do it. I’ve seen every type of person out there chuck garbage. Parents littering with their children are teaching another generation not to respect our planet. I hate to say this but people are just that selfish.

We are creatures that want fulfillment instantly. If we don’t feel it’s going to benefit us immediately we’re probably not going to do it. We are a short-sighted race with limited intelligence for all of our so-called smarts. I notice many people can look at a nature area covered in litter and not even see it. That kind of thing chills me to the bone.

To me, there’s nothing worse then riding the beautiful Bay Trail and seeing the trash and dumping that’s still going on. There are trash cans all along the trail and sometimes there’s trash on the ground right by the can taking laziness to new heights.

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Looking towards San Francisco during low tide you can pick out all kinds of trash in the mud including a whole bicycle that’s been out there since I’ve been riding. Tires are numerous and I’ve seen shopping carts. I’m not surprised by anything anymore.

I try not to include the trash in my daily photos of the Bay Area but the birds pick at cigarette butts, the fish are swimming in god knows what and it makes me sick. One part of the trail has a large tidal pond where I take pictures of white herons, ducks and other large waterbirds feeding when the tide is low and there are tied bags of trash floating amongst them. San Mateo residents should be ashamed.

There’s not much that can be done about controlling other people’s littering. Shaming doesn’t work and education is falling short of making a difference. I’m usually a positive person seeking answers but each year when Earth Day comes around I find myself a little sadder. Talking about it once a year is not enough when it’s a daily problem.

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Make A Difference-Don’t Add To The Problem

We can make a difference by making sure we don’t add to the problem. I will even pick up other people’s trash if I find a plastic bottle or yogurt container at my favorite bench and have a place to carry it. There’s always a trash can ahead or at home. In our own lives, we must be proactive and pick up our messes. By doing so we are helping the planet by being responsible and it adds up.

When we control our own trash it never turns into a problem for someone else to handle. We can be proud that we are doing the right thing keeping the earth clean and our trash away from wildlife. They don’t know any better but we do!

If You Have To Smoke-Take Your Butts With You

Both of my parents smoked around me growing up, I was lucky enough to be turned off by it and never start. I know people who religiously pick up their litter but never think about what they do with their spent cigarettes. They don’t disintegrate or go away and the filters last forever. I see them everywhere on the bike trails it’s a disgusting habit. Hurt your own health but don’t ruin my view!  Please don’t empty ashtrays on the ground near your vehicle either take it back home.

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I’m a poet and can’t let Earth Day go by without writing about it. Hope you like it.

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Believe

Believe in a better tomorrow
believe that the air is pristine
believe that there’s nothing endangered
the future remains to be seen.

Believe in a world that is caring
believe that the oceans are clean
believe companies are recycling
the future remains to be seen.

Believe in a healthier planet
believe if together we lean
believe we can all do what’s needed
the future deserves to be green.

© Rebecca Sanchez 2016

Artwork: Earth Day by Dana Gray

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Have a great Earth Day! When you ride your bike pick up your litter!

Earth Day is every day-your actions make the difference!