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. I never felt like quitting but there were some very low times where I kind of wanted to slack off.

Looking back there was so much blood, sweat, and tears. I had falls, (lucky this over 60-year-old didn’t break bones,) bumps, and terrible bruises. I not only hated hills but had to walk my bike up some of them at first. 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.

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My hair is not the only thing that changed this year. If you compare the pictures you now see a healthy woman with a better (although a little beat up) bike. A woman at her target weight since last August. A woman who didn’t gain weight back through the holidays while drinking eggnog and a little dark rum. 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 but if you pay monthly they have some great features worth paying for. Connecting applications to each other isn’t new but I don’t think people realize how useful it is and how much you can get done using less.

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. 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.

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!

Sleep 101

If you’re going to bike or do any kind of exercise sleep is something you’ll want to get enough of. Without sleep, you won’t have the energy or concentration needed for your day or ride. There are things your body needs to do that it can only do while you sleep. Many people have trouble sleeping or take sleep for granted but it’s one of the most important things you can do for your body and future health.

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This is a screenshot from my Jawbone UP3 showing a typical night of sleep for me. Let’s see what we can learn from it. As you can see there are 3 kinds of sleep cycles during the night.

Sleep cycles are important.

Not everyone gets the same amount of REM, deep or light sleep a night. It depends on age, the individual and quality of sleep but everyone has these cycles of sleep during the night.

When we are in REM our bodies are paralyzed and we dream. This is why our bodies don’t try to run when we dream about running. REM is not only for dreaming it’s when the mind does it’s sorting of what’s happened during the day. Whether you remember your dreams or not everyone has deep sleep. Our mind needs REM, it makes up sharp and helps us to learn complex things.

For more information on REM sleep: http://www.howsleepworks.com/types_rem.html

Deep sleep helps our bodies repair themselves. During deep sleep, our bodies chemically do all the good things we’ll need for the daylight hours. There are functions our bodies can only do at night while in deep sleep. Cells repair themselves and hormones are released. Deep sleep restores us physically and mentally. Deep sleep heals the daytime wear and tear on our bodies.

For more information on deep sleep: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleepless-in-america/201010/the-mysterious-benefits-deep-sleep

Light sleep makes sleep cycles possible. During light sleep our bodies transition between deep and REM sleep. The body rests during light sleep and we can wake up easily.

For more information on light sleep: http://www.sleepdex.org/light.htm

For all of this to happen, we need to get enough sleep each night. We need a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Finding the time for this in our busy lives isn’t easy but if you want the benefits that sleep offers you’ll have to make the time. It takes good sleep planning.

Bedtime is not just for children. 

Give up the late TV shows, get off of the computer and if you go out, plan to get home early. Pick a bedtime you can do every night and stick to it. Set an alarm so you can get ready for bed and be in bed when it’s time to go to sleep. Now that we have On Demand TV it’s not important to stay up for TV shows or movies. Life has its ways of getting in the way be firm about your bedtime.

Before bedtime read or meditate in the dark. 

Some people have problems quieting their minds before sleep. To make sure you’re relaxed enough to sleep after getting ready for bed meditate or read a book for a 1/2 hour or more before your bedtime. Turning the lights out in your bedroom ahead of time and lying in the dark can help bring on a good night’s sleep. Drinking alcohol can help you get to sleep but will play havoc with your sleep cycles giving you a bad night’s sleep.

Here is a good article with tips for better sleep. It states that you shouldn’t read before bed but new studies have found that it can actually help. I read before bed and it puts me right to sleep. It still gives a lot of good information: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20011004/12-tips-better-sleep-troubled-times

Set up your bedroom for sleep.

The bedroom should be as cool and dark as possible. Keep your blinds or curtains shut. I have a window open even in the winter, a stuffy hot room will not help you sleep well. It’s good to keep your bedroom around 50 degrees. I love being warm under a big blanket in a cold room, makes me sleep like a baby.

I make sure all electronic devices with LED’s are off or I put tape over the LED’s so I can’t see them. Blue LED’s or TV/stereo box lights can keep you awake by stimulating your mind just by looking at them in the dark. The darker the room the better.

Make sure your bed is comfortable. Dress in something loose and cool you want to be as comfortable as possible.

If you still need help getting to sleep.

Scent can help you sleep. Lavender is wonderful for sleep I have a spray I can spray on my pillowcase and it puts me right to sleep. Before you go to bed you can take a hot bath and put lavender in it. Either way, it’s heavenly.

Nature sounds of any kind are very relaxing and playing them while you go to sleep can help. There are many applications for cell phones that include timers so you don’t have to turn them off after you fall asleep. This is good if you can’t relax, or if your bedroom tends to be noisy. Do not play music it will keep you and your mind awake.

Make sure you get enough sleep.

I like to get 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night including weekends. The recommended amount is a full 7 to 8 hours a night. I set my alarms so I go to sleep at 10:05 and get up at 7 am. That leaves me about 9 hours leeway and most of the time I can sleep 8 hours or more. Part of that time is spent reading. I used to be an insomniac now I sleep like a baby but it didn’t happen overnight it took some time and planning.

It’s up to you!

You need to find what is right for you and stick with it. It might take you as long as a few months to get settled into it. Sleeping well is hard work for us folks that have trouble sleeping. It will happen! Things will come up that mess with your sleep plans but the next day get right back at it. As long as you leave time to get ready for bed and have your bedroom set up for sleep you’ll be doing awesome in no time.

Sleep has super powers.

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 less 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.

Let me know how you’re doing or if you have any questions about sleeping better.

Now, get some sleep!

Links from howsleepworks.com, psychologytoday.com, sleepdex.org, and webmd.com.

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.

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!