May Is National Bike Month

May is a great month, the month I was born but it’s also National Bike Month! This is the month to grab your friends, get on your bicycles and celebrate everything about bicycles. Become a bicycle ambassador. There’s a lot to feel good about!

Become a bicycle ambassador for your area. Spread the word!

May is a wonderful month to start cycling if you’re not already enjoying this popular sport. It gets you outside, it’s fun and it gets you fit. You will see people of all ages on bikes with smiles on their faces. The smiles and good feelings are genuine.

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Proud to be a Bicycle Ambassador for the Bay Trail. Be the best cyclist you can!

There is a movement for bike riders of all backgrounds to become more of a cohesive community following similar beliefs by banding together. Urban cyclists and the racing world combined. I consider myself a Bicycle Ambassador of the Bay Trail loosely following rules set by other communities being formed all over the world.

One of these in Portland Oregon, 21st Avenue Bicycles (a shop), launched The 21 Ambassadors program, to directly support the urban cyclist. They believe:

“To ride a bicycle is to be part of a community, to share a common experience, as much as it is about good health and helping the environment […] We believe that as a community we should support each other in bad times as well as good. We, the 21 Ambassadors are here to help you. When tires flat and spokes break, when chains fail and gears groan, when you need a hand, we hope to be there to assist.”

I believe we can all become Bicycle Ambassadors simply by riding mindfully and stopping to help others. I’m not much help mechanically when someone has a flat, or a broken spoke but I do have my phone, some cash, a first-aid kit, protein bars and can direct you on the trail. I have (what I call) “can do.” We can all do our part.

  • stop and offer assistance to fellow cyclists
  • use hand-signals and follow all rules of the road
  • set the standard for exemplary riding
  • be polite and helpful-some people may decline your help

It makes this urban cyclist feel good to say I’m a Bicycle Ambassador! A great way to participate in National Bike Month. Be the best cyclist you can!

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If you don’t ride daily May is a great month to start! Riding your bike 3 to 4 times a week will reward you with better health, weight loss, a stronger core, quality sleep at night and make your real-age lower than your birth age by as much as 10 years! All good reasons to ride your bicycle daily.

Consistency is your secreat weapon! Use it liberally. 

Consistency is a useful tool when trying to make a lifestyle change. For some people, working out at the same time each day helps but others benefit from just linking exercise to some other event during the day. People who do this and make it a habit find it’s easier to maintain.

This is something I take advantage of. I have breakfast at the same time every day and after doing dishes I get dressed to ride. I am fueled for my morning while getting out early for a ride before coming home to a clean kitchen. It works!

National Ride To Work Day During Bike Month

If you ride to work, first of all, I want to say you are awesome! That is a lot of miles to and fro every week navigating commuter hours. I salute you! Ride To Work Day is the day your place of employment may have some surprises just for you. (More about that soon.)

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Bike Month has all kinds of unexpected perks and ways to celebrate it. Perhaps a group you didn’t know about is having a group ride? Maybe there’s someone you’ve been wanting to ride with but haven’t asked? A new route you wanted to try? This is the time to do it. Meeting others who ride and learning from them is a huge plus.

In the coming months I’ll be posting on some of these subjects:

  • health benefits
  • ride safety
  • helpful gear
  • free applications for tracking rides
  • food choices/recipes
  • bikes
  • sleep

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I’m going to start sharing my rides here so will be writing more often. I meant to do so at the beginning of Bike With Bekkie but got caught up with sharing my weight-loss and health improvements because I wanted to tell everyone what I discovered. I was a hot mess and I knew if I could lose weight and get healthy so could others.

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Kids love to ride their bikes too! Take them out for National Bike Month!

Cyclists banding and sharing together for the future. Power in numbers!

Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change-Logging Your Food

I could rattle off statistics and facts about why food logging makes losing weight more successful but I’d rather get on with it and have you thank me later. By logging your food you’ll become an expert on what you eat and how nutritious it is becoming more aware of what you put into your body. That’s what this lifestyle change is about.

MyFitnessPal is the most popular calorie counter and for good reason. It’s free and simple to use giving us real insight into our nutrition and calories burned during the day. It works!

What It Can Do For You

  • It tracks your weight and calculates a recommended daily calorie intake. It also contains a well-designed food diary and an exercise log.
  • The homepage provides a clear picture of how many calories you’ve consumed during the day. It also shows how much of your recommended intake remains, as well as how many calories you’ve burned by exercising.
  • If you’re using a fitness tracking device, MyFitnessPal can likely connect and sync with it and then include the data in the exercise log.
  • The app tracks your progress towards your goals and offers chat forums with fellow users. These include conversations, recipes, tips and personal success stories.
  • MyFitnessPal’s nutrition database is huge, containing over five million foods. You can also create custom foods and dishes, or download recipes from the internet.
  • It even saves your favorite meals so you can log those quickly.
  • Additionally, the MyFitnessPal app has a barcode scanner, so you can instantly enter the nutrition information of some packaged foods. (I love this!)
  • Each day is presented as a pie chart, showing your macros (the breakdown of carbs, protein and fat.) You can also write a note for the day, such as how the day went or how you were feeling.

Let’s Begin!

I want you to go get the MyFitnessPal application and put it on your cell phone (so you always have it with you.) Then, under Settings set up your Profile and Goals. Be honest because what you put down will be used to calculate how many calories a day you should eat to get to your goal weight.

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Under Settings is where you’ll put your personal info and preferences. Click on Profile to start.

Once your Profile is done, click on My Goals. What you put here will determine how many calories you can eat each day, and how the app will figure out those calories.

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These examples are from my account, yours will be different. The lock icons are for the premium (paying) part of the app so ignore them. I use the free version but if you want to have more control over your nutrition, or have a medical condition you might want to try the paid version.

While setting your Goals decide how fast you want to lose weight under Weekly Goal and pick an Activity Level. If you’re just starting to log food it’s a good idea to pick Not Very Active. (I have Lightly Active picked because I’m in maintenance but at first I used Not Very Active.) Ignore the Nutrition Goals you don’t need to change them.

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The Home tab of MyFitnessPal.

When you’re finished with your Goals look at the top of the Home tab. Under Goal, it will tell you how many calories a day you need to eat to get to your desired weight. MyFitnessPal will never go below 1,200 calories a day it’s the lowest you can go without a doctor’s orders.

The Home tab will tell you at a glance where you’re at in your day and if you have a tracker or count steps it will show you how many steps.

I’m maintaining my weight now but when I started I was at 1,200 calories a day. It took me about a year to take off almost 60 pounds. The first 30 pounds came off without aerobic exercise (riding my bicycle) but when I started to exercise with my new diet the weight came off faster without having to target any areas of my body.

MyFitnessPal connects to many apps and devices listed under My Apps And Devices. I’ve used it with my Jawbone UP3 and my Fitbit Charge 2 band. If you don’t have a tracker no worries you don’t need one to use MyFitnessPal.

Let’s Log A Food

The first time you log a food either use the barcode reader or look it up using search. The next time it’ll be there for you to pick under one of the convenient tabs or you can Multi-Add your foods.

MyFitnessPal’s nutrition database is huge, containing over five million foods. You can also create custom foods and dishes, or download recipes from the internet. Resturant food and brand names are included.

Let’s log peanut butter. If you know the brand you can add it for a more detailed search result. Look for the one that matches and add it to your Lunch.

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Each food has their own category. Here we do a search for peanut butter.

The database is good but pick carefully and pay attention to quantities. If you pick the first entry and only had 1 tbsp. you can change it after logging that food and it will reflect that change in your entries portion and calories. Don’t forget to log your drinks and snacks.

A green check means the food item was checked and is correct. Many foods won’t have one but no worries the majority of the data is correct without the green check. I think it’s the best database I’ve ever used they all have some mistakes and I’ve tried a lot of them in the past.

Logging A Meal

Let’s start with Breakfast it’s the most important meal of the day that sets you up for the whole day. If you eat a healthy breakfast it will give you energy throughout the morning without hunger pains.

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I eat oatmeal with fresh blueberries and chia seeds every day for breakfast it sticks with me and gives me plenty of energy towards my morning bike ride.

This is what a logged meal looks like. Tomorrow when I go to log Breakfast again I can load it separately or as a meal depending on my settings. Foods already logged will show up in the Recent, Frequent, etc. tabs for each meal.

Complete Your Diary, Snyc Your Apps And Check Your Progress

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After exercise and steps are logged (and synced) they’ll be added to your calories for each day. (Later we’ll talk about using MapMyFitness to log exercise.)

You can manually log any exercise (including steps) with MyFitnessPal each day so it can be added to your daily burn. If you have a tracker connected (under My Apps And Devices) the data will be shared between apps and show up like my data above.

At the end of each day click on Complete Diary to see how you did. It will tell you how much you’d weigh if every day was like today, in 5 weeks time giving you a snapshot of how you’re doing. There’s more!

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At any time of the day, you can check your Calories, Nutrients and Macros to make sure you’re on track. Your Macro percentages are already set up for you.

What Are Macros?

Macronutrients or Macros are the building blocks of nutrition. You probably know them better as carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Macros are the nutrients you need in large amounts, as they provide your body with the calories it needs to function.

Carbohydrate + Protein + Fat = Total Calories

Carbohydrate: Provides fuel, the energy for your body and brain. It’s found in all plant foods, like grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and also milk and yogurt.

Protein: Helps to build and repair your muscles, organs, skin, blood, and different chemicals, like hormones, in your body. It’s found in large amounts in meat, poultry, fish, legumes, dairy, tofu, and eggs, and in smaller amounts in nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

FatInsulates and protects your bones and organs, acts as backup fuel for energy and helps in brain development. Healthy, unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Unhealthy saturated fats are found in high-fat beef, pork, butter, full-fat dairy, and processed foods, like cookies and donuts.

Balancing your Macros is an easy way to watch calories since together they equal your total calories per day. By eating the right percentage of each you’re making better choices with your food. giving your body what it needs each day.

Can I Trust The Calories Listed For Each Food?

Finding out the correct calories in a serving of a food isn’t easy. Do a search and you’ll find a different number of calories for the same food. It makes it hard to count calories and be consistent. This can set you up for failure when losing weight.

Logging food daily with the same database and reusing these foods under your profile ensures that you use the same number of calories for the same foods each time. MyFitnessPal works to be accurate checking its food database for mistakes when possible and removing them. You can trust the numbers and this application to help you lose weight even if the numbers aren’t perfect because of how it works.

Be consistent in your logging, stay within the recommended calories per day, use the same entry for the foods you eat daily and be patient. You will start seeing the weight come off.

MyFitnessPal Worked For Me

I can’t say enough about how much MyFitnessPal helped me lose weight and eat better. I had no idea how many calories to eat, I tried many different apps failing miserably and learning nothing. I was getting heavier and more depressed.

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal for over 2 years now. After the first year, I really didn’t need to log anymore but it was so easy I just kept it up. By doing so, I’ve kept within 4 pounds of my target weight because I see what I’m doing wrong before it gets out of control. It’s a great feeling to have a normal BMI and I work to keep it that way.

When you start using MyFitnessPal daily to log your food you’ll find more to love about it. You’ll be reversing your Real Age and losing weight in no time.

We started out lazy, got fat, and then it drove us crazy but we can regain sanity by logging our meals. I got you!

Health Is The Way To Happiness

When was the last time you felt truly happy and what is it that made you happy? The answer will be different every time it’s asked but there is one answer that will consistently bring you happiness and that is the benefits of good health.

Happy people have younger hearts, younger arteries, and a better outlook on life. Happy people recover more quickly from surgery, cope better with pain, have lower blood pressure, and have longer life expectancy than unhappy people.

Studies also suggest that happy people may have stronger immune systems and are less likely to get colds and flu viruses. If they do get sick it’s not as serious and they get better faster.

Not surprisingly, happy people are better at looking after their health, too. When people’s happiness levels improve, so do their health behaviors. They exercise more, get enough sleep, take better care of their teeth, wear sunscreen, and go for regular checkups.

What else determines happiness?

Genes play a part in your happiness just as they play a part in your general health. Some researchers estimate that as much as 40% to 50% of a person’s capacity for happiness may be genetically predetermined but that doesn’t guarantee a person will live a charmed life.

If you ask someone what makes them happy the answers will be as varied as the people you ask. Winning the lottery, being successful, finding that special person, world peace, and losing weight would be some easy guesses. How long would that keep them happy before they wanted something else?

Everyone wants to be happy and the benefits are clearly plentiful but people aren’t always great at predicting what will make them happy.  Left to our own devices, we tend to focus our energies on things that will give us the greatest instant pleasure. Even when we know better we will ignore the one thing that will bring us lasting happiness because it takes time and personal effort.

Even the gloomiest of us can learn to be happier and good health is the lasting way to happiness. Studies show that a person’s health is one of the strongest predictors of happiness. But the link between health and happiness is complex.

What makes us unhappy?

Adverse changes in health have a negative impact on happiness levels, at least temporarily. Poor health has the potential to significantly affect almost every aspect of your life so it’s no wonder when your health takes a hit so does your happiness. Once we adapt to those changes most people gravitate back to the level of happiness they enjoyed beforehand.

When the change in health status is severe, involving chronic pain or multiple disabilities, the impact on happiness can be long-lasting. And both physical health and emotional health influence happiness.

Mental health can make it hard to be happy or do what it takes to be healthy. If you think you may be living with a mood disorder get it treated. Mood disorders diminish the quality of life even more than chronic physical ailments, such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. Appropriate treatment can help reduce your symptoms, increase your sense of well-being, and get you back on track to a happy life.

If you look closely at unhappiness there will always be a reason for it that is linked to our health even if it’s not obvious. Always talk to a doctor for help if you feel that you can’t be happy they can help you find the answer.

What you can do to be healthy and happy?

Find something you like to do that will get you moving and preferably outdoors. Only 10 minutes of sunlight a day will boost your body’s natural response mechanisms to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to elevate the mood, and melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. It promotes healthier attitudes toward diet and exercise and gives us a dose of Vitamin D which can be hard to get from foods alone.

Exercise not only helps keep you healthy but also keeps you happy. In general, increasing the amount of physical activity in your life increases well-being, whether it’s yoga, weight training, or daily walks around the neighborhood. Studies show that people who are active daily usually stay active throughout the day and weigh less than their couch potato counterparts.

Be your healthiest and happiest by eating a balanced diet with lots of fruit and veggies, getting a good night’s sleep, keeping stress levels to a minimum, getting regular checkups, wearing sunscreen, laughing often, moderating alcohol intake, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking.

It may sound like a lot of rules but we have to do so many things in our lives that we have no control over so the good news is when it comes to our health and happiness we can totally do it. Once we learn how to accomplish it there’s nothing better than being healthy, happy and enjoying our lives to the fullest for as long as we can.

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Exercise is the gateway to good health and happiness.

Since I started riding my bike every other day I have been extremely happy and my life is anything but perfect but I’ve never been happier or healthier and it’s a great feeling! I look forward to my rides despite the weather I have more energy than ever before I just feel awesome!

I still need both knees replaced due to deformities and failure but by bike riding the Bay Trail every other day, I have improved my knees by a large percentage. My doctor says I’ve improved so much that I may be able to put off my surgery for good. The surrounding muscles and leg are much stronger now and I can walk 4 miles on a good day. I still have a lot of pain from inflammation but it’s manageable right now. As a side effect, daily exercise acts as a natural painkiller in the body and I can tell you it works.

I used to walk with a cane and my heart used to pound when I had an office visit with my doctor it got pretty bad. They would do EKGs on me constantly finding nothing. I was gaining weight, clinically depressed and totally lost on meds. One day I looked in the mirror felt sick at what I saw and decided to change it.

What helped me most was deciding to ride my bicycle every other day and sticking to it. Even if I only rode a few miles, as long as I moved and got outside in the sunshine it was good. The more I rode the better my riding and biking skills got. Once the discomfort of getting into shape was over I looked forward to my rides. My doctor now thinks I’m in amazing shape.

I urge you to try riding a bicycle if you’re not already doing so. For me, it didn’t take long to see results. People of all ages can ride and even adults can learn to ride if they don’t know how. Stick to it and give it time, it took me over a year but good things don’t come easy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I love burning up the calories on a good bike ride.

Bicycle riding is optimal because it’s an aerobic exercise that isn’t hard on the joints and takes your heart rate through the exercise zones needed to strengthen your heart. Riding a bike burns calories at a fast rate as it strengthens your core, improves your balance and sharpens your mind. Admission is only the cost of a good bicycle, some safety gear, and can bring back those feelings you had when you were a child. It can make you happy and can be addicting.

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Like I said before, good health is a balancing act of exercise, healthy eating, and enough quality sleep. Exercise, food, and sleep are like the Macros of balancing your health (instead of nutrients). Get it?

source: Some info and artwork were found using Google Search

The featured image is a photograph of mine I took 6/10/17 at Talbot’s in San Mateo, CA where I bought the bike I own now. They fixed my flat tire I found after I was done with coffee at the library. I checked my bike before taking off and discovered my back tire was flat as a pancake. Lucky I could call a taxi company with a minivan to get me and my bike to the shop.

Be healthy, be happy, just be!