Summertime Blues

The summer riding season has flown by so fast! Where does the time go? I had the best intentions to write about biking and health but ended up just enjoying myself. I have a good reason though, let me explain.

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It was a wonderful summer riding the Bay Trail here in San Mateo, CA. From Coyote Point Harbor you can see San Francisco down the peninsula.

I’ve had bad knees for decades starting with a motorcycle accident in the early ’70s that caused me to have surgery on my right knee. Now that I’m 65 that surgery has grown old making that knee unstable while the strain on my left knee (the good knee) caused it to fail and become crooked. This took years to happen, years where I was fine to outdoor roller skate, jog, play sports, and pretty much do anything I wanted. Now I’m paying the price.

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I am going to miss riding my bicycle! In most pictures, I try to hide my knees or I stand to the side so it’s harder to see. One knee is bigger than the other because of scar tissue.

If you read my blog you’ll know my history, if not you can read about it here. I was overweight, depressed, walking with a cane and in bad shape until I decided to exercise regularly by riding my bicycle every other day. Now, almost 4 years later I’m in great shape and my knees are the best they can be. Unfortunately, the best is far from functional. Losing the extra weight and riding my bicycle made my knees stronger and less painful but the damage was done.

I put off doing something about them for far too long but on May 10th something shifted in my left knee and I could barely walk. After seeing my doctor we decided enough was enough. On the 26th (this Monday) I’m having both of them replaced at the same time. They’re also going to straighten my left leg. It’s going to be a long recovery and hard work but I look forward to the end result. Not only that, but my doctor chose my case to use robotics which is going to be awesome.

I will be in the hospital for 2 days and in an acute rehab facility for 1 to 2 weeks so I’m going to be busy. In the rehab facility, they will make sure I’m comfortable and know how to deal when I get home. They will be teaching me how to walk all over again with straight legs. I don’t like to admit it but when I walk now I have a side to side movement and people can clearly notice my bent leg.

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This is how you keep your bicycle from being ripped off.

I’ll be so glad to get rid of these knees. They click, move on me, give out on me, I can’t do stairs, and cause me a lot of pain. I fall way too much when I stop my bike because putting a leg down doesn’t always mean that leg is going to hold. I fell just last Sunday which I shouldn’t be doing with my surgery is coming up.

Despite all of this I’m very nervous and not sure how long it will take for me to recover fully and get back on my bike which are my main objectives. I’m in good shape because of my bike riding so my doctor says I should recover fast.

I’ll be off my bike for at least 6 weeks and will have to start all over again. It makes me sad when I think about how much work and time it took for me to get into this top physical condition. As long as I come out better and stronger it will be worth it.

I’m not sure how I’ll feel about blogging while this is going on so I won’t make any promises I can’t keep. We’ll see how I feel. I look forward to getting this over with and getting back to the things I love.

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Hoping for the best on Monday and looking forward to better knees, better health and being a better bike rider!

Take care and stay healthy. You can do it! Keep riding your bicycle and eating your spinach. You’ll be hearing from me soon, I still have a lot to share.

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett

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!

My Story Can Be Yours, By Summer

My Story Can Be Yours was the first post I wrote for this site on March 21st, 2016. Re-reading it I’m amazed at the strength I found at a very low time, one of the lowest, in my life. It was a dark cell padded with my own body fat that I encased myself in caused by events that can still haunt me if I let them. The fight was bloody hard but worth it!

It took time to work and many times I wanted to quit. I had pain, falls off my bike, cold wet weather that I wanted to avoid and that was just while riding my bicycle. My knees hurt so bad. Coming off of the anti-depressants and sleeping meds was added icing on the bad news cake. Withdrawal added to my eating and sleeping problems.  I was tired of being tired, watching what I ate, waking up sore, and was a moody mess.

From hard times comes real strengths. The kind that stay with you for life.

I’m not here to tell you I have a miracle diet that’s going to make you lose that stubborn weight and keep it off this time. I’m not here to tell you that riding your bicycle is the only thing you’ll need to do to be in shape. There’s no fasting, smoothie drink, pills or treatment that will give you the health you seek. I am here to tell you that once your mind is made up and your body follows it becomes a way of life that will transform you into the best you can be, turning your real age backward.

On February 20th I hit a milestone. My anniversary of biking every other day for 2 years! What I learned in that first year saved my life and sanity. By continuing what I learned through maintenance I became good at it and have kept my weight within 4 pounds of my target weight continuing my healthy journey.

I sleep like a baby, have energy to spare, my memories good, my hair, teeth, and skin are great, my BMI is normal, and I’m limber and strong for my age of 63. In my case, I’ve found the fountain of youth, the missing piece to everyone’s weight-loss puzzle but completing the puzzle is only the start. My life itself hasn’t changed much but my outlook has and that’s made all of the difference.

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This was me in 2016, I had already lost 30 pounds through dieting alone but it wasn’t enough. I was around 170 and you can see the fat on my body.

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Me on my anniversary ride yesterday at 138 pounds. Both my bicycle and I have gone through many changes. Even with my jacket on you can see my bicycle legs and checking out my featured image you can see the fat is gone! Even my workout clothes are smaller and I can wear what I want.

Now that I’ve done it I’d like to help you do it. That’s why I’ve come up with, The Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change. Once you make these changes in your life I guarantee that you will lose weight, feel better and be in better shape no matter what age you are. My story could be yours by this summer and we have a 3-month start.

The Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change is a 3 part system that addresses more than your diet. We will look at how you eat, how you sleep and rework how you feel about exercise. It is a lifestyle change that will stay with you, meaning once you drop the weight you’ll keep it off. There is nothing fast or easy about doing this, work in equals work out but you will be the best you can be and it gets easier as you go.

Bicycling is a great exercise choice for people of all ages. As long as you have your doctor’s ok it’s actually an aerobic exercise you can do while sitting on a seat. The bicycle isn’t just for the city streets anymore they take you on nature trails and more. There are all kinds of bicycles including recumbent bikes (where you have 3 wheels and lay back) so there really is a bike for everyone. Riding a bicycle isn’t rocket science almost anyone can learn and get comfortable within 6 months. There are also stationary bikes at the local gym.

I think America has a health crisis. Children are fat because they have fat lazy parents. More American’s are overweight than ever and have all of the health problems that come with that choice. I think America has become lazy, fat and crazy. (I used to be all 3.)

Not making fun of anyone.

This lifestyle change wasn’t meant to shame or make fun of anyone’s weight problems it was designed to gently take you on a journey towards better health that will change your life. Here’s the equation:

Good healthy food.
Daily exercise (walk or bike.) <—–Equals Good Health
Quality sleep.

I was depressed, which made me house-bound and lazy, causing me to gain weight, get fat and feel crazy. It’s easy to see me today and wonder who I am to talk about these problems. But I do understand because I was there.

There are many ways to be lazy in life. The worst thing one can do is finding excuses for not getting enough exercise in your daily life. The truth is, if you are working out daily you’ll be fit and able to do more and burn/eat more calories. You’ll need better food and will sleep better.

You will also benefit from the hormonal/other chemical changes that will make you feel better. Depression, sickness and other problems requiring medications will get improve maybe even disappearing like they did for me. Many illnesses can be avoided just by losing weight.

My next post will introduce my Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change and how we can start to bring about those changes that will help you eat right, sleep well, lose weight and keep it off. This will be the last time you ever have to diet.

Repeat after me, “I will lose weight and be healthier starting this summer!”