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.

Another Year To Bike

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, it’s the first of January, and there’s a whole new empty slate in front of you. What will you do with it?bca4ded079550cbe706f2f062c1df9da

I don’t do resolutions anymore for the New Year, I refuse to do them! I don’t think one year ever went by where I did something that was on those lists. I just blundered through each year hanging on by my teeth anyway.

The thing to do is pick one thing, one important thing that you want more than anything, (this must be something doable, not a magical spell or witchcraft) and learn how to achieve it. Do research on it and practice it until perfect. Put the effort into it that will bring the results that make you happy.

If you want to outlive everyone, stick around for your kids, stay healthy and strong enough to enjoy the rest of your life independently then  I ask you to consider living healthier this year and riding a bicycle is something people of all ages can do.

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Last year was very good to me! After riding for months I finally felt comfortable enough to really enjoy my rides. I look forward to and get excited about them. It was not always that easy.

I rode bicycles growing up but now I was much older (old enough to break bones easily), I could barely make it up the easy hills and the wind worked against me. I had to get used to sharing the trail with critters, walkers, runners, families with kids, and other bikers.

I had some falls stopping or starting my bike (the hardest thing for me with my disability) but my balance got better. It was a good 5-7 months where I was shaky and uneasy on my bike. Now I feel great and want to share the side effects of bicycling with you!

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If you have bad knees, need joint replacement or have pain in your knees I urge you to try riding a bicycle this year to help strengthen and maybe relieve some of that pain.

My knees always hurt with swelling and I still need both knees replaced (I have windswept knees) but biking this last year has made them so much better it’s unbelievable. My knees are much stronger for walking and no more cane!

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This year I am continuing what I started in October of 2015:

  • keeping my weight regular by logging what I eat, 1500 calories/daily of good healthy food
  • no sodas or sugary drinks
  • watching my daily macros (carbs, fats, and proteins)
  • drinking 8 ounces or more of water daily
  • riding my bike every other day (that’s 4 times a week)
  • getting at least 7 1/2 hours of quality sleep a night
  • multivitamins daily

Soon, I will add weight training a few times a week. As I get older I want to keep the strength to lift things for myself and get around without needing help. There are many good articles about staying active and what to do to maintain your health and good looks for many years to come.

Staying strong is important. My one important thing (if you haven’t guessed) is my biking because without it I won’t be healthy and happy, ready to enjoy the rest of what this new year has to offer.

Let’s be harder, better, faster, stronger this year!

Happy New Year!

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.

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.