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.

Signs You Might Be A Cyclist

You’ve seen “them” riding on their 10 speeds, hunched over, no fenders, wearing colorful stretchy biking outfits and zooming by you barely managing a nod. Cyclists!

I swore this would not happen to me as I turned up my nose while riding (sitting up) on my 31-year-old dutch style bicycle on the Bay Trail. Of course, in no time I was wearing colorful stretchy (in my case Yoga) outfits zooming by people…and nodding.

~gasp~

I was “one of them”!

There are all kinds of bikes to choose from sporting all types of riders but there is a common thread throughout that bonds us together as cyclists. The rituals and quirks that rub off on us all as we navigate our lives around our bicycles. Isn’t it good to belong?

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Photo from MapMyFitness

Signs You Might Be A Cyclist 

  • You can’t recognize your biking friends when they aren’t wearing colorful stretchy biking outfits.
  • The “check engine” light in your car has been on for months, but the most minor mechanical issue on your bike is fixed first.
  • You have at least one Facebook profile shot of you posing on or next to your bike with a gorgeous landscape behind you.
  • Your bike has a nickname.
  • When your driving you watch out for other riders, you slow down to a near crawl and give them plenty of room. You know what it means to be in that bike lane.
  • You also know what it’s like to use choice words when a vehicle cuts you off or a hater honks and nearly startles you off your bike. (They are out there.)
  • You run errands after your bike rides while wearing your colorful stretchy biking outfits. (Don’t forget to take the helmet off!)
  • You spend more time biking spending weekends and planning vacations around bike rides and rides with groups.
  • Stripes on your thighs and ankles, cut-out shapes on the tops of your hands, your colorful stretchy bike outfits tan lines will incite laughter at the beach and pool.
  • You ride to and from work because it’s the fastest way, and you’ve become a pro at changing in the office bathroom.
  • You don’t notice the grease on your clothes or tear in your pants until you’re at that meeting.
  • If you’re a woman, you take better care of your favorite bike clothes than your finest lingerie. (They can be expensive.)
  • If you’re a man, you have smoother legs than your wife or girlfriend.
  • You embrace fluorescent jackets, vests, and shirts. The brighter, the better.
  • You know what it means to do time in the saddle.
  • You’ve felt the shame of having to walk your bike up a hill and the pride of conquering that climb on your bike after a few weeks’ of riding.
  • You have more colorful stretchy biking pants (or shorts) in your laundry basket than jeans.
  • You’re baffled when your roommate or partner doesn’t understand why your bike can’t be stored outside.
  • Some of your hardest falls have happened when you’ve stopped or slowed to a crawl, which doesn’t make sense but happens none-the-less.
  • You take a bad fall with bloody hands and knees, but your first question is whether or not your bike survived.
  • You look and feel better than you have in some time, can’t stop smiling, and have oodles of extra energy.

~large smile~

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My bicycle photo made into a GIF using Masterpiece Art Filters from PhotoLab Pro and LunaPic.

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 Rules 2 Remember While Riding

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Use Your Hand Signals

You may not have fallen prey to all of the signs yet but I predict you will. If you fall in love with cycling you’ll enrich your health and life becoming stronger with more energy. You can do it.

You’re a cyclist! One of us, one of us, we accept you, we accept you!

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!