Smoke On The Water

In 2017 there were terrible forest fires in northern California but the air quality didn’t suffer for most of the state. The weather was clearing out the bad air and no one needed masks unless they were sick.

Then this fall, another fire started up north (only 100 miles away) and near LA at the same time. Now there were fires above and below the Bay Area. A windless, rainless front dropped into the area and would not move. Our air quality was stagnant with smoke and haze for weeks making history. Even now I wait for the air to clear which is supposed to happen tomorrow when we finally get some rain-if we do get some rain.

Screenshot_20181109-085043_WeatherBugDon’t go outside! This was not the worst air day it got much worse. I couldn’t ride my bike for over a week until I bought N95 masks.

People not living here wonder how this could happen. For decades we had a horrible drought that killed trees, brush, and dried out our forests. When this second fire started the high winds scattered the fire with plenty of fuel to burn. Perfect fire weather.

Although we had a year in between of rain that restored lakes, rivers, and creeks in the state it didn’t stay green for long. Just as we were hoping the drought was over we had another dry year. After weeks of historically bad air quality, closures and warnings we’re told it might clear up the end of this week. Only then can we begin to figure out what happened and rebuild.

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Me biking last Thursday. Behind me isn’t fog or cloudy, the air is that thick with smoke and bad chemicals. The sun was out you just can’t see it.

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Wearing the masks made me happy for the first few rides. After I found out how irritating they are to wear I only rode 3 times with them on (meaning I only rode 3 times in weeks.) I had to keep stopping to wipe the sweat off of my face and dry off the inside of the mask. My sunglasses would fog at the worst times and be hard to wear. Drops of sweat would hang on the tip of my nose under the mask and at times felt itchy.  My nose would run. I saw only one other cyclist with a mask on-no wonder!

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The windbag at Windsurfer’s Beach hangs limp for weeks. Coyote Point is the mass of trees to the right in the background. Further down the peninsula, the landmarks like San Francisco and the airport are lost in the smoke and bad air.

This week is Thanksgiving. I last rode my bike on Saturday and should have ridden yesterday but I couldn’t put the mask on. The landscape on these masked rides hasn’t been that pretty and I feel for the animals trying to go about their lives in this soup. Everything looks unfocused, the light is strange, colors not sharp and everything smells like smoke. I did see some of the regulars who ride the Bay Trail but were surprised to see them not wearing masks. The masks truly are hard to wear exercising but to me health is everything!

Even in our homes, our air is bad there’s no getting away from it. I wear masks everywhere I go even in my car but I don’t wear one at home. Having my bedroom window open all year helps me sleep better but all windows are shut tight until this is over. Anything you run in the home isn’t safe unless it’s on a closed loop. All one can do is wait and get through it.

This is the first time that I’ve missed weeks of biking. I’ve biked every other day 20-30 miles for almost 3 years and although I’m not in training, it’s like a training schedule. I like to stay in tip-top shape. Biking helps my depression and mood swings so it’s been difficult coping without it. I’m especially thankful that I didn’t lose everything in these terrible fires.

We have a few Spare The Air Days during the year but nothing like this. I hope the news is right and the weather does change tomorrow so all of us can have a good Thanksgiving and be thankful for the clean air and peace it brings.

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Have you ever worn a mask exercising or lost time biking due to circumstances beyond your control? How frustrated were you?

Enjoy what you do have, count your blessings and be thankful!

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Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change-Sleep and Exercise

If you’re logging your food, cutting calories and eating healthier congratulations, by summer you’ll be looking and feeling marvelous! Just a few more tweaks and you too will find the Fountain Of Youth that being in good health offers us.

Although they stand on their own, if you missed the first parts of the Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change you’ll want to read these for the full plan as this is the 3rd part.

  1. Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change-Food
  2. Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change-Logging Your Food

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Now that we covered food logging and healthy eating it’s time to talk about the most important thing you can do for your health and that’s getting enough sleep. All sleep, however, is not created equally when you have a good nights sleep you can feel it the next day. You have more energy, find yourself in a better mood and perform better but there’s more to sleep than meets the eye (sheets.) By introducing exercise into your routine while practicing good nutrition you’ll sleep like a baby reaping all the benefits of a balanced healthy life. (See graph above.)

What do you like to do for exercise?

Weight loss alone can be done by limiting calories without exercise but there’s a good chance you will gain it back within the first year sometimes gaining back more than you lost. The good news is there are so many ways to exercise these days that you’ll be able to pick something you can manage and if you get bored with it there’s more to try. There really is something for everyone.

I want you to consider bike riding, not just because I love it but because it works for people of all ages. Bike riding daily (outside with 2 wheels not spinning) gives you the benefits of aerobic exercise without weight or strain on the joints. It strengthens your core and gives you nice legs while enjoying nature and getting sunshine. Best of all, it burns crazy calories.

Exercise is your friend and path to good health.

If you haven’t exercised for awhile, any type of physical activity will be new, so it almost doesn’t matter what you do for the first several weeks whatever it is will do wonders on its own. Walk, hike, cycle, row, jog, dance, swim, repeat.

Be patient with yourself, you didn’t gain all that weight in a day. When it gets easy for you then do more. Keep it up!

You will be tired, sore, you will sweat and struggle but stick with it because it will get better. One immediate and positive side effect of exercise is that you’ll start sleeping better after wearing yourself out.

Once you get started your priority should be taking your chosen exercise and establishing it into a routine habit. For that, more frequent workouts and a daily routine are best.

How often should I exercise?

Since 250 minutes per week of exercise is recommended, you might think that you have to work out every day to lose weight. Instead, you can exercise every other day or even every third day and still lose weight effectively.

If you prefer shorter workouts, then daily exercise is probably best for you. If you work out for 20-35 minutes every day, you’ll meet the expert recommendations for weight loss. Exercising every day will also help you to build a regular and healthy habit of physical activity.

Sometimes daily workouts aren’t realistic on your schedule.

If your work week is hectic, you might choose to work out every other day. But if you exercise fewer days during the week, each workout needs to be longer.

For example, if you do one 60-75 minute workout on the weekend and four 35-40 minute workouts during the week, you can skip a few days of exercise and still meet the guidelines for weight loss exercise.

If you have to skip several days during the week, you can still exercise to lose weight, but each session will have to be longer to meet your goal. It’s also hard to build an exercise habit if you don’t exercise very often.

I bike ride every other day. That gives me 4 workouts a week, a day of rest in between each ride and it works out to be a different day of the week each week which gives me variation. If something comes up I skip a workout and just start again on the next day. The important thing is if I have to take off a week or so here and there that it doesn’t stop my routine for good.

A Balancing Act You Can Do

Exercise is part of a balancing act important to our bodies and the way they function. Without it, eating healthy foods and getting quality sleep isn’t possible which is why so many of us fail without it.

Are you an insomniac? Eating poorly yet exercising and still overweight? Depressed? Do you wake up feeling lousy after a good nights sleep? Or maybe you aren’t overweight but don’t have energy?

You need to Eat-Move-Sleep every day.

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An example of what it takes to balance our bodies and be truly healthy.

Get moving and improve your sleep!

Want to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling refreshed? As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, (such as walking or cycling,) can dramatically improve the quality of your nighttime sleep when done on a regular basis. What’s more, exercisers may reduce their risk for developing troublesome sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.

The sleep/exercise connection.

Physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. It reduces stress and tires you out. Early morning and afternoon exercise may also help reset the sleep-wake cycle by raising body temperature slightly, then allowing it to drop and trigger sleepiness a few hours later. It can be especially helpful if you are able to exercise outdoors and let your body absorb natural sunlight during the daytime hours.

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Tips for a good nights sleep.

  • Get daily exercise. One 10 minute walk a day can improve your sleep.
  • Make a daily bedtime routine brushing your teeth, etc. before bed.
  • Have a bedtime and stick to it even on weekends.
  • Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet and dark. Blackout curtains can help.
  • Block blue light (with apps, glasses or filters) on your devices 2 hours before bed.
  • Avoid spending time awake or working in bed. The bed is for sleeping and sex.
  • Expose yourself to at least 10 minutes of sunlight in the morning.
  • Ignore stressors before bed save your worries for the daytime. Try deep breathing or meditation to relax.
  • A warm bath, reading a book, or listen to calming nature sounds before bed works wonders.
  • Get a full 7 1/2 to 8 hours sleep or more a night.

De-stressing is the one thing we all need to do these days so I suggest taking a good (solid) hour before laying your head on the pillow to calm down. Push the negative out and bring in the positive, whatever that may be to you. It’s so easy to fall into bed with a head full of the day’s activities only to have it keep you awake.

Good sleep planning sets you up for quality sleep and you once you get it you’ll know it. When I have a solid chunk of Deep Sleep I feel so refreshed and rightly so.

Sleep stages and benefits.

There are 3 kinds of stages our bodies go through during sleep. Light Sleep, Deep Sleep, and REM. Inbetween them we have Wake Cycles, times we wake up at night. Each person’s sleep cycles are unique to the individual but with trackers like Fitbit, it’s easy to see the trends of age groups and study how our stages of sleep affect us.

Each stage does something different while we sleep so if we miss out on a full nights sleep we’re messing with one or more stages of sleep our bodies need. Our bodies detect that and try to make up for it in other, sometimes more unhealthy, ways. This is why not sleeping enough hurts our general health.

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Sleep 101 will help you learn more about sleep and how to get a good nights sleep.

Your bed counts, what you put on it and what you wear:

  • Sleep naked. It’s been shown that it helps keep the body temperature even.
  • Buy a new mattress, get a new one every 10 years (think of the dust mites.) There’s something for everyone.
  • Re-evaluate your pillow. There are so many new kinds to choose from.
  • Get good bedding. Whether bamboo or microfiber, there are so many choices! You’ll want something that is soft and breaths.
  • Sleep under a heavy blanket. This is the time to have a favorite blanket on your bed and if it’s heavy it will help you sleep better. The weight of the blanket on your body has something to do with it.
  • Get a body pillow for support. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs keeps your back straight. A body pillow supports your whole body. It promotes great sleep. Get a good one.
  • Cool your body. If you get too warm at night and can’t sleep invest in a cooling pad. People who use them swear by them.

Oversleeping The Effects Health Risks Of Sleeping Too Much

Sleep has superpowers.

There are new studies coming out all of the time about the powers of sleep. It’s been proven that getting enough sleep makes you live longer. People who get enough sleep actually eat 300 fewer calories a day when they were well rested. Sleep brightens your mood for the day. People who get enough sleep don’t get sick as much. Your blood pressure goes down when you sleep giving your heart a break. Sleep helps you make better decisions and boosts your creativity. It also gives you more energy. They are finding out new things about how sleep helps us all of the time.

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Balancing Sleep, Exercise and Nutrition is the secrect to good health and long life.

Invest in a tracker to monitor your lifestyle changes they’re fun and simple to use. You buy the tracker, put it on, download the free app on your phone and pair it with Bluetooth. You’re good to go.

I have had a Jawbone UP3 and now have a Fitbit, Charge 2, and am awaiting my new Aura Ring. They measure, sleep, activity, exercise, heart rate and more. At any time I can see my live stats and it gives me something to work towards when I make my steps.

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16 country comparison from 2016

  • China leads this trends, standing at 45 percent of its online population.
  • Brazil and the USA come next, but significantly lower, at 29 percent each, closely followed by Germany (28 percent) and France (26 percent).
  • China, Russia, France, Australia and Canada are the only countries surveyed that have more women than men tracking their health or fitness.

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There are many things to consider when we think about the whole picture of our health and fitness.

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Recovery is important when exercising that’s why it’s important not to go overboard. Moderation is the word. Always take off a day of rest after each day of exercise and if you have a fever don’t exercise sick. Always get your doctors ok before starting any exercising program.

I’ll be posting more to the Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change until summer but you have everything you need to follow in my footsteps. If you do, I guarantee you’ll lose weight (inches all over) and make your goal weight in a year keeping it off. Your stomach will be flat, you’ll feel great and depression will be a thing of the past. Eat-Move-Sleep my friends!

More on the Eat-Move-Sleep Movement—-Coming Soon

There have been many new studies about sitting and what it’s really doing to us. Experts are saying that sitting all day is the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes (maybe worse!) Also, I have more to say about our diets. I think we should eat what we want in moderation if we are exercising regularly. I don’t believe in fads, or diets just good food. And of course, I’ll be writing about biking and showing off my photography. Group hug!

Let me hear about how you’re doing! Got any questions or can I help you in any way? I know I’m getting readers but you are very quiet. Lol! I wish you the best this isn’t easy I’ve been there.

Eat-Move-Sleep it’s a good anthem for the Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change!

You Are Never Too Old To Ride

I’ve heard a lot of excuses when I ask people why they don’t try cycling for exercise but a big excuse is age. People think they’re too old to bike and that’s just sad. I see people biking who are much older than me (I’m 63) and they swear by it. Once more, they’re healthier than their non-biking counterparts still getting aerobic exercise well into their 80’s and keeping their cores strong.

That handsome fellow in the featured image next to me is Dave, he’s 83 and still going strong. We’ve been biking together occasionally for the last 2 years after meeting on the trail. After seeing me this year me he told me he was impressed with how I look and how my biking has improved since last year. Music to my ears I worked hard for it.

I have a good friend in Oakland, CA whose approaching 70 and he’s been riding for decades. He belongs to the Oakland Yellow Jackets who host rides and more. If you go to the website you’ll see photos of him. He keeps up with the younger riders and is an impressive hill climber.

These are but a few people enjoying the benefits of cycling into old age. Biking has kept us all looking good, moving well and thinking fast. Depending on your comfort level and skill set there is a bike out there that will fit you, personality and all. So what’s stopping you?

Your health is everything!

Most older Americans fear:

  • dementia
  • diabetes
  • heart problems
  • hormones
  • stroke/blood clots
  • heart attacks
  • high blood pressure
  • bad joints/wear and tear
  • falls/bad balance
  • loss of bone density/breaking bones
  • being overweight

If you haven’t figured it out already most of these (if not genetic) are caused by being overweight and spending hours sitting. New studies show that sitting for hours on end is as bad as smoking cigarettes and even modest exercise may not be good enough to combat it. And that’s not all!

As a fellow American, I think we should be ashamed because we are fat when compared to other countries. Roughly two-thirds of adults, nearly 30% of children are overweight or obese.  The numbers continue to rise despite interests in eating better, diet and exercise fads.

Not everyone who has these serious health problems is overweight but the majority are. Even a few extra pounds tipping the scale can be the culprit that’s making you sick. Being overweight could “turn on” your uncle’s bad genes you’re worried about having.

Being fat causes illness.

Being heavy can affect many things you don’t think about:

  • the way you move
  • the way you dress
  • mood/depression
  • skin and hair
  • your back and joints
  • your pain level
  • quality of sleep
  • energy level
  • self-worth
  • relationships

 

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Me in 2015.

In 2015 at 198 pounds and terribly depressed I finally got fed up with myself starting a diet of 1,200 calories a day. I needed both knees replaced and they always hurt. I was having some problems with vertigo, I walked with a cane and couldn’t walk very far. I had a lot of falls.

When I look at this photo it’s still a little painful, I was overweight and covered in fat. I thought I was doing well at this time and only fooling myself. When I went to the doctor my heart would be racing and I had to have EKGs. Heart problems were around the corner and my father had adult-onset diabetes.

I needed to lose weight and I had some hard places to lose it in, like my arms, waist and thighs. I could hold my stomach in both hands, I had back fat that looked terrible in a bra and I was desperate to get rid of it.

That’s when I dragged out my old Schwinn and decided to ride it every other day. It was the hardest thing I ever did-not riding the bike-but making myself do it.

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Me in 2017.

Almost 2 years after “getting serious” I’m proud of myself. My hard work paid off and the changes are remarkable. My doctor just told me I don’t necessarily need knee replacement now because it might be a tendon problem (being treated.) I am strong and so is my heart. The only medicine I take is for my thyroid and sometimes a pain pill. My pain and mood have been much better.

I realized that if I could do this by myself that anyone could. I did it by eating good food, working on getting a better nights sleep and riding my bike regularly. I followed my diet and rode my bike every other day increasing my miles per ride. Soon I could ride up hills, go further and with my experience came confidence. It feels great!

You are never too old to ride a bicycle.

During my rides, I meet and see lots of older people on bicycles. Some of them look comfortable but I still see beginners and reflect back on my first months of riding after years of neglect. I may not know them but feel proud of them for being brave and tough enough to get out there and do it.

Always check with your doctor first, but riding a bike is the best way to get in shape especially for older people. It’s the easiest aerobic exercise you can do (sitting on a saddle and moving your legs up and down) and there’s no need to target any body part because it works on your core taking fat off just about everywhere. It’s one of the top calorie burning exercises, you’re playing outside and if done regularly you won’t have to diet again.

A word to all of you not lucky enough to be able to ride year round or afraid to ride a traditional bicycle outside there are spin classes (riding a stationary bicycle) offered everywhere. There are many kinds of classes to choose from like Soul Cycle and you can find stationary bikes at the gym. Most have recumbent and regular style bikes.

Take your time and start slow.

Remember, I have very bad knees and all it did was make them much better. I can walk 4 miles easy and no more cane or falls. I had problems with my back and once I learned to relax in the saddle that went away too. My heart is strong and my doctors are patting me on the back. I have a new body and attitude.

Don’t be afraid of falling your confidence level will grow and being nervous doesn’t help anything. Take your time and start slow, it took you time to get out of shape and it will take time to get back in shape. You will need to work on your balance, be patient with yourself.

Rest on your days off that’s what they’re for. Eat healthy foods and get 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night. The calorie burn and weight-loss start immediately!

Riding outside is much healthier than spinning getting sunshine is an important source of vitamin D for our bodies and balancing a bicycle while riding is a core strengthening exercise. Avoiding bumps and maneuvering a bike around is an important core exercise that includes strengthening the arms. You have to steer a bicycle that helps the arms and overall our whole bodies get into the act.

My rides differ from day to day and I will ride outside even in the rain but if it got too cold for me I’d consider spinning. It’s the next best thing. If you wanted to try spinning before biking outside I’d advise you to get a bike and ride outside first anyway. I know you’ll fall in love especially after seeing the effects it has on you after 6 months. I’ve found it to be a fountain of youth and so amazing which is why I do this website, I want others to feel this great.

If I could I’d get everyone on a bicycle. You don’t have to hunch over the handlebars or get an expensive bike either. Make sure and get the right bicycle for you and it will be the last weight-loss equipment you’ll ever buy. No matter what age you are. You are never too old to ride a bicycle and it’s never too late to get healthy!

Thinner, taller, faster, stronger!