A Balancing Act You Can Do

Since October of 2015 I’ve lost over 56 pounds and in August of this year was thrilled to hit my target weight of 145, even going a little below. I didn’t time it that way, it’s just the way I lost weight. Everything I did was a balancing act, do a little of this, a little of that and practice leads to good health. If I can do it anyone can.

The time it takes to lose weight is not divided into weeks or months. I wanted to lose it as fast as possible but my body had it’s own ideas. I had a plateau around 180 pounds (and later at 165) where I thought I’d NEVER budge, the gaining back of weight (many times without over eating) and more. I just stuck to my plan of logging my food and bike riding. It was a balancing act that, along with my body, I found I could do!

Along the way, I learned oodles about myself and my body that I use today to keep my hard-earned figure.

A Little Of This

Water is my “go to” drink now. It’s all I drink and when I get tired of it I add fruit. I bought a water container that has a ball in it that crushes the fruit when I shake it and it works well! I put raspberries, blueberries, any fruit I want in it and take it with me. Just make sure to empty the old fruit/seeds out if you don’t use them all before you refill.

I quit most sugary snacks and soda. At first I wondered how I’d do this but now I don’t even notice it’s gone! My biggest problem is fat but it makes things taste good and I use the better fats versus the bad.

Of course, I’ll have an occasional soda or even an alcoholic drink. I log it and start again the next day. This is not repeated every day. Lol!

A Little Of That

I bought a Jawbone UP3 health band I’ve been wearing since October of 2015. I used it to learn how to improve my sleep by changing my bedroom and sleeping habits. I use it to monitor my REM and deep sleep.

I was an insomniac but now I sleep like a baby and make sure I get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. The recommended is 7 1/2 to 8 hours a night.

New studies say sleep is important for weight-loss and good health. It will make you live longer. Sleep is something we all take for granted but if you get enough for a period of time you will notice the difference.

A Little More Of This

I’ve been on a 1,200 calorie diet since October of 2015 and eat more healthy foods. At first I walked (I’m disabled can’t do much other) and watched steps to lose weight. In February I started riding my bicycle (one thing I can do) every other day and what a difference! It’s changed my whole body! One thing about regular exercise, you will gain a little weight in muscle but muscle burns fat so in no time you will start losing again.

I wanted to lose as fast as possible but I still took days off and went over my calories for the day. I just made sure not to lose my head about it and go hog wild with the food and drink. In August I hit my target weight.

Some More Of That

I have to exercise if I want to lose weight and I love my bike riding and walking. It’s not easy to motivate every other day and I do miss a day sometimes but it works for me and keeps me going. If I can’t bike I’ll go take a 2-4 mile walk.

I urge you to get back on a bike or find something you like to do. We must do aerobics and weight bearing exercises to stay fit into old age. Picture yourself at 70 or 80, do you want to do things for yourself? Someone told me to peek into an old folks home for motivation. It works!

A Bit Of This

Because I’m happy with my diet (what I’ve been eating this last year or so) I still eat those foods. I still log my food and stick to a set amount of calories while I ride my bike every other day. My weight has been stable around 142 and my health is wonderful. I’ve been extremely happy although my life is still the same. When I ride my bike life is good.

This balancing act you can do! Each of our roads getting there is a little different but it is possible for all of us to look better, feel better, be stronger, be better.

Just do it-you’ll see!

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.

Still Alive And Biking

As you can see from the date of my last post that I’ve been too busy to get a new post up. Shame on me! It’s not because I’ve quit biking, in fact, I’ve been enjoying my rides very much. Life just happens and I’d like to touch bases before I get on with my normal posts.

What’s Happening?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in the past but I write poetry. Every week I write with at least 4 different groups of poets and I enjoy it very much but it takes up a lot of my writing time. I’ve been doing this for years now. I often write about photographs I take on my bike rides and make my own animations. Come visit and read my poetry at Capricious Poet.

I have been blogging since around 2008 that’s a long time! I have more blogs than I have time for but I don’t write as much on the older ones. The writer resides deep within my soul and my muse never takes a break only when life interferes.

Deep Sadness

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My beloved cat and 8-year companion Boo had to be put to sleep on May 6th. He was hit with Lymphoma and a bad liver, a double whammy that took him down very fast. It broke my heart in many places and my apartment is so empty without him. He was a very good boy, a lover and a clown that made me laugh and filled my life with smiles.

Birthday Girl

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May 11th was my 62nd birthday and I spent that week with my best friends in Oakland, CA. Here I am at Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkely where we went to eat that day. (My Jawbone UP3 is on my wrist quietly monitoring.)

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These 2 are my most favorite people in the world. I had a really good time that week going to 2 movies and taking long walks with Marguerite (on the left) and the dogs. Staying at their house in the Oakland Hills is a real pleasure and break from my small apartment and helped lighten my load. It has been years since I had such a wonderful birthday!

As a side note, CA (on the right) belongs to the famous Oakland Yellow Jackets a biking group that rides all over the Bay Area. Check them out, anyone can join them for rides of all types from beginners to expert.

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This is the view I had waking up each morning from the Hinton’s living room. The fog would go away by 10 am leaving beautiful and sunny weather all week.

Back Home And Biking

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It had to happen, all good times must come to an end. Lol! Just look at this view from my ride yesterday! I saw the most beautiful clouds ever on one side of the trail.

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Only to turn around and see this on the other side. It never did rain and despite the heavy winds we’ve been having I managed to ride 19 miles of blue sky and cloud bliss.

Things are pretty much back to normal and I have a lot more to say about biking and health. What it’s done for me has been amazing and I have a real need to pass it on to you. I’ve not only lost more weight being closer to my goal set last September but I am so much stronger. I joke with people that I just can’t seem to get depressed or run out of energy. The old me would have still been sitting on my ass all day crying and feeling sorry for myself. Different as night and day.

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Check back for more and if you have a blog about biking I’d love to hear about it and visit. Just leave me a link in comments telling me about it.

My bike is my antidepressant, take one with plenty of water and fresh air.

I’m A Jawbone Ambassador

I have worn a Jawbone UP3 health band since Oct. 11th, 2015, (see my wrist) and lost (as of now) 40 pounds. They had a contest to tell your story about how owning a Jawbone band has improved your health and I entered. I was thrilled at the beginning of the year when Shannon Sweetser called and told me I was picked!

Jawbone’s main office is in San Francisco so most of us picked already live in the Bay Area. We were invited to come in for a photoshoot, get videotaped, lunch, a tour and more. I was so nervous!

This was before I started biking I lost the first 30 pounds by logging my food every day, staying on 1,200 calories and counting my steps. I am disabled so walking was my “go to” exercise. I needed a stronger heart, I was a fat ass that had insomnia, depression and was always feeling sorry for myself. It had to stop!

I wasn’t always like this before my knees were bad I jogged and did a lot of sports including outdoor roller skating. I was living in Madison, Wisconsin when outdoor skating (showing my age) became popular. Before these new skates for outdoors it was rink skating indoors and there were no inline skates invented yet. I remember as a kid I had “steelies” those metal skates with metal wheels that you clamped on your feet with a skate key. Not the same experience at all!

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My now X husband bought us the skates on my birthday and because there weren’t many people out using them yet the newspapers got interested in us one day when we were skating through the zoo. It was pretty cool.

Of course around 1990 I had to give up skating and my options for exercise were few by 2015. I decided a health overhaul was the answer so I bought my UP3 to help me track. I picked the UP3 because it does heart rate, monitors sleep, steps, exercise, weight, food and more. The smart coach crunches numbers and gives me an overview of how I’m doing along with suggestions/articles that were a big help. When I turned in my application to be a Jawbone Ambassador and told them my story they liked it enough to use me.

When I got to Jawbone’s office in San Francisco they directed us (I brought along a friend) upstairs where a makeup artist/hair stylist was waiting for me. We had a whole floor for this day. It was so awesome the woman was very reassuring and made me look amazing!

Next, I was taken to wardrobe where they picked 2 outfits for me to wear adding a UP3 band. I was ready for my interview and photoshoot. At the interview, Shannon asked me a series of questions about how I use my UP3 and I felt stupid answering them. Let me say here that I never did anything like this before and had stage fright. The guys doing the videotaping were very sweet and made me feel at home telling me not to worry they can make me look great in the final take.

It was time for lunch so I sat down with some Jawbone employees and we talked. Everyone at Jawbone I had contact with was supportive and I had a good time with them. We talked about social networking and all kinds of things. We watched another ambassador having her photoshoot (we could see the output on a screen) it was good to see what to expect. Soon it was my turn.

It was intimidating but the photographer was very good at her job telling me how beautiful I looked, talking me up and even playing music that I picked out. Once I relaxed it was fun. I could see my photos on a screen and some of the faces I made were really bad. I was embarrassed but the crew made me feel like a million bucks and it started to show. I looked like a movie star! They took a lot of photos.

They gave my friend and I brand new UP bands of our choice and the day was over. I was told the promotion would last a month and it would come out in March. Shannon Sweetser, heading up the promotion said that there would be a main story and maybe soundbites and quotes later on the Jawbone site and social networks. It was an amazing, positive experience and I’m so glad I was one of the people they choose to use.

Shannon emailed me in March telling me my story would come out in April and that it was such a good experience for Jawbone that the promotion was extended for more time, maybe permanently. I’m going to include my story here but if you want to read it and the other Jawbone Ambassador’s stories on the site here’s the link: #GetUPTogether.

Here’s my story:

REBECCA FINDS HER STRIDE WITH UP3™

Rebecca Sanchez

UP3 Silver Cross

I’m disabled, and it’s very important for me to stay active. I don’t have much of a medical support system—that’s why the UP means so much to me. The UP is my doctor.

“I don’t think I could have lost 30 lbs this quickly, and I am still losing weight,” says 61-year-old Rebecca Sanchez, a writer and UP3™ wearer since October of 2015. She finishes her thought with a smile, “As a matter of fact, I just lost about 3 more pounds recently. I couldn’t have done it without the UP. It just gives me the information I need.”

Living with a bone and joint disability commonly referred to as windswept knees, Rebecca was crestfallen to give up her favorite outdoor activity: rollerskating. Fortunately, she’s found a new way to fill the void and stay healthy. She’s been using UP® to track her steps. “Because of my disability, I walk a lot,” she says with emphasis. “That’s my best work out. Every day I get up and go out somewhere really pretty to walk and just be at one with nature, I love nature.”

With her positive outlook, Rebecca has lost 30 lbs, and doesn’t plan on stopping there. “Now that I have lost 30 lbs, what a difference. I can move better, I have more energy, I feel better—there’s not one negative thing about it,” she says laughing, “The fact that I haven’t gained anything back and I am still losing—it keeps me hopeful for the future.”

As a writer and avid reader, Rebecca was immediately drawn to the data-inspired health tips Smart Coach gave her in the UP® App. “I had such bad problems with sleep and insomnia,” she explains. “But, by going to bed at the same time every night, and doing things that I learned from reading all the great links [in the UP App], my sleep has improved so much. I get enough deep sleep that repairs the body, and I get enough REM sleep that repairs the mind. I just can’t believe it—UP tells me how much time it takes to fall asleep now, and it takes no time whatsoever. I’m out like a light.”

It’s all a journey, and Rebecca acknowledges the ups and downs, “Failures are hard to bounce back from,” but her positivity always triumphs, “I say, ‘Well, I failed on this day, but tomorrow I don’t have to fail. Tomorrow I can correct it.’”

Want to become a Jawbone Ambassador? You can share your own story just follow the link for mine and you’ll see the offer on the same page along with all kinds of info about the different UP bands, what they do and the Jawbone company in general.

I hate talking about my age but now I’m rather proud of looking and feeling so good at 61. I tell my friends 60 is the new 50, maybe even a little younger. Good health is the key. I answered a group of questions that tell you your real age and mine was 59.7.  I’ll be 62 May 11th, so I’ll take all the help I can get.

My biking has done nothing but put icing on the health cake and besides being totally enjoyable, aerobically it’s a really good way to lose weight and tone the whole body. Even my waistline has shrunk it’s not true that it only helps the legs but you will get stunning legs in the deal.

No matter what tools you use to help you in your quest for better health and fitness you must want it bad enough for it to work. Wearing a health band is not magical, you have to put in the effort, log in results daily, and do the exercise! No excuses, you will fuck up but when you do, you start again and do it right the next time. It will add up to sweet success.

Enough rights will overcome any wrong.

Dealing With Sickness

The trail ahead finally came to an end as the sign clearly said, “No Bikes” causing me to turn around and head home.

Little did I know that when I biked this new trail on March 29th going 23 miles round trip, that the very next day I would become deathly ill with the creeping crud that’s going around. My roommate was already complaining about coming down with it from his work-mates, but since he wasn’t staying home from work or acting very sick I just ignored his warnings. I’d had my flu shot like I get every year and I never get sick! Famous last words.

I woke up the next day with a small cough. I keep a glass of water by the bed because I get a dry mouth at night so that’s what I was thinking that morning as I gulped some water. I felt fine and was proud of my 23-mile ride, even bragging about it to my best friend.

I bike every other day come rain or shine and today was an off day so I planned to get some steps in between my writing and bragging. As the day went on I felt bad and it overcame me so fast that by nightfall I had a fever of 101.5, a headache that wouldn’t go away and was coughing so hard I thought my head would explode. I actually saw lights inside my head and immediately all my new-found energy was gone. For the first time in years, I was sick and all I could do was crawl into bed.

I felt betrayed by my body, after all, everything I’d read told me that people who sleep right, eat right and exercise don’t get sick as often as the average person. In fact, I read that a healthy person only gets sick half as much as the rest of the population. I was angry that I couldn’t get on my bike and felt that all of my hard work of the last 6 months was being lost. I was angry and felt depressed for the first time in ages.

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After a few days of this negative thinking while laying in bed it came to me. I had become part of the problem. There was nothing I could do about getting sick, I had done everything right and still caught the bug. All I was doing with my bad attitude was making things worse for myself. I stopped my complaining and refocused on taking care of myself.

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Just as I’d learned how to be healthy again after decades of bad habits I relearned the importance of  patience and acceptance. Once I did, my week of sick time passed, my fever broke and I felt ready to get back on my bike.

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On Tuesday, April 5th, I got dressed to go biking for the first time since being sick. It was a sunny, windy day nothing unusual for the Bay Area in the springtime. I was weak but feeling happy.

The first thing I noticed was the wind gusts hurting my ears which never happened before. I pulled over and used my ear buds without plugging them in which happened to work. I was puzzled since I had no ear aches and on the way home I was able to remove them with no further problems.

After the first half of my ride, I noticed a lack in stamina and my back was hurting. My endorphins never kicked in and I wasn’t enjoying my ride. I still had plenty of strength for hills but wasn’t feeling it. I had to bike against the wind gusts on the way home and as soon as I got in the door I peeled my clothes off and fell back into bed.

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After sleeping a few hours I got up had something to eat and started hydrating myself. I’m not young anymore and had a private laugh at how silly I was expecting to just fall back into my biking routine after being so sick. Instead of getting upset this time, I made sure my choices the next day were well balanced towards good health hoping to have a better outcome.

On Thursday, it was a gorgeous day with high temps, low wind gusts and sun. I did my normal route this time, it was much better and more enjoyable. I finally felt that it was all coming together again.

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Yesterday it was lightly raining when I went out and the weather report said rain so I expected it but by the time I got to the San Mateo Bridge it was pouring and I was soaked. I usually go under and past this bridge but I had 4 and 1/2 miles to ride to get home so I headed back rather than take a chance on catching cold. There were no wind gusts so I made good time.

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Before I got back home I stopped to photograph 2 jackrabbits that were chasing each other in the rain oblivious to me. This is the best picture I got of them and all you can see are the ears sticking up on one and the head on another. Bad weather brings the animals out they feel safe because people aren’t out in the rain. I see more animals during bad weather it doesn’t keep me from biking.

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When I got sick last week I felt that my body betrayed me, that all of my hard work biking was lost and that I’d have to start over again. Then I rediscovered what I already learned, that balance is the key to good health, mental and physical, and the weakness was in my mind not my body.

With the right balance of sleep, healthy food, exercise, and water, with a little fun thrown in, you won’t have time for depression or unhappiness. We all get sick but the better you treat your body the more resources it will have to protect you and your mind in times of stress.

Treat your body well and your mind will follow.

My Story Can Be Yours

Biking on the Bay Trail every other day I never know what to expect when I look across the water to San Francisco. Every day is different. Depending on the weather or smog it can be so clear that I can see people waving at me from Fisherman’s Wharf, or it can disappear completely. Yesterday, as you can see by my photo it was a crystal clear day.

The first day of spring is today, it’s raining and for me an off day. Spring showers bring May flowers and I’m not complaining California is still recovering from a harsh drought. We need it and there’s a good chance tomorrow the sun will be out.

I’ve only been biking again since February 20th. I used to bike in 2013 but I let life get in the way like it’s prone to do sinking into depression and my living room chair. I gained more weight and almost hit 200 pounds. Every time I went to the doctor my heart rate would hit the hundreds and my blood pressure was terrible. I wasn’t on any medications yet but that was only pure luck. I looked and felt awful.

My father smoked and had adult onset Diabetes which runs in my family. He was a champion wrestler in his time but that didn’t help him in his late 50’s he was fat and depressed. My mother was an alcoholic and chain smoker that kept her thin and never worked out. They both were on meds (my father shot insulin) before their time and my mom had several bouts of cancer and illness. I’m sad to say they have both passed away earlier than they had to only because they didn’t care about their health and got sick.

Because of my parents habits when I lived at home I never put a cigarette in my mouth or had a thought to do so it’s a dirty habit. I was a moderate drinker of alcohol and never overweight. We walked to and from school as kids and grew up in a different time. I liked activities like horseback riding, hiking, outdoor roller skating, and was active throughout my life. I think these things helped me until my knees failed me.

Around 2005, an old knee surgery finally came back to haunt me so badly that even my good knee finally gave up. I was diagnosed with windswept knees and my right knee hurt so bad I was put on powerful pain killers. I had no idea! Muscle relaxers came next and before long I was hooked. I could walk with a cane but it didn’t feel good anymore so I avoided it. I ate junk food if I ate at all and was too thin. I was unhealthy, drugged up and not happy. Something had to give and it did.

One day in 2010, I got up and told my friend I was tired and going back to bed. He was going to work and decided to change his shoes. He came into the bedroom to change them and found me on my back with vomit coming out of my mouth. He checked my pulse and couldn’t find one. It had only been minutes.

Long story short they shocked me back to life on the way to the ER and put a central line in me. My lungs were full of vomit and one of them collapsed. I was in a drug induced coma for 2 days and 3 days later I woke up not remembering a thing. It wasn’t an overdose and they never found out why it happened. It should have been a wake-up call.

I finally started gaining weight. I wasn’t doing anything with my life and felt like a loser. Late in 2013, I decided to go into the drug clinic and pare down the huge dose of drugs I was still on. I stopped the muscle relaxers completely and got weaned down to a tiny dose of pain meds. I was functioning again and started writing daily. I dragged out my 30-year old bicycle which had been in storage and started riding it on the Bay Trail. I started feeling pretty good and began to have hope that I’d lose some weight.

I still wasn’t doing the right things so it didn’t work and I lost faith. I still felt my life sucked and ballooned up to almost 200 pounds. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror and developed vertigo. My depression was so bad I got put on antidepressants. I was still a mess lost interest in everything and my bike gathered dust.

The summer of 2015, I was so tired of the psych meds I stopped taking them. I put a Sky Swing on my patio and I enjoyed swinging on it. I would kick my feet and swing on it like a regular swing and I noticed my waist got a little smaller. I was intrigued and using the foot rest that came with it made up some exercises. I used weights in my hands and it would swing me like a pendulum. I was feeling much better.

October 11th I bought a Jawbone UP3 health band. I went on a health kick connecting it to MyFitnessPal and started a 1,200 calorie a day diet. I started losing weight. I have always loved vegetables, fruits and good food so it was no problem to start eating them again. My goals were to move 3,500 steps a day and to sleep 7 and 1/2 hours a night. Even though I was in pain I made a point to walk every aisle at the grocery store and to move more. My insomnia went away with a normal bedtime and sleep tips like keeping the room cool and dark. I read before I go to sleep and sleep like a baby. It was all starting to come together the weight was pouring off.

February 20th, (2016) I got my bike out and using MapMyFitness made a goal to ride it every other day. The first day I rode it 5.96 miles! I always enjoyed riding my bike on the Bay Trail and I was ready for it. I am totally addicted to it now and if the weather is bad I still go as long as it’s not pouring. I have been baptized by rain on the trail already and I felt energized by the experience. Each day I just get stronger and go further.

The first day of spring is here, I’ve lost over 35 pounds and still have 20 pounds to go but I know I can do it. My applications are connected I log my meals and workouts and they do the rest. My UP3 band gives me my heart rate and sleep info and I have never felt better emotionally or physically. I can even walk better. I write poetry again and look forward to my life. I enjoy my diet and never feel hungry. I still need knee replacement but I’m ready for that too.

Now I want to share this with you! I am going to have all kinds of bike and health related articles, recipes of mine and share my photographs I take while biking the trail. I hope to hear your stories and maybe together we can make things happen for you too. I did it alone but you don’t have to.

Without effort, there is no reward!