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!

Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change-Food

Food glorious food! Unlike drugs or alcohol food is easy to get and with a fast-food place on every corner just waiting for us to slip. It’s intoxicating, mood altering and delicious. It whispers to us in the dark, it smells heavenly and fills our every needy need. For many of us, it’s our bestest buddy and we have hard-wired memories of it growing up.

Addiction to food is one of the most difficult things to break because our bodies need food and we can’t simply quit eating it. With practice, we can develop a healthy attitude about food and learn how to eat right. With a new relationship toward food, we can nourish our bodies and still celebrate good food without the negative side effects we get locked into.

The good news is it’s totally doable but it takes practice, motivation and time. It took you time to put the weight on and it takes time to take it back off. It took me a year to take off 60 unhealthy pounds eating 1,200 calories a day but it came off and has stayed off for 2 years now.

For the past year, I’ve been on maintenance eating 1,500 calories a day. I don’t have to log my calories anymore, can eyeball my food portions and by exercising daily I enjoy great health benefits without gaining the weight back. Like me, in the first year, you will learn what and how to eat for the rest of your life.

We are already lazy, that’s how we came to the “fat” part and now that we’re crazy about it we have to make a lifestyle change. If you follow my lead you will be losing weight in no time. Remember to check with your doctor before starting this lifestyle change. My doctor has never been happier with me.

I believe in watching portions and counting calories because I’ve seen it work but there’s no need to weigh your food or follow a specific diet. I don’t believe in diets, fads, smoothies, powders or free days. In this case, simplicity is our friend.

We will be logging our food with a free tool that will make this easier. You will fill out a profile that will tell you how many calories a day to eat. You enter how many pounds you want to lose, etc. Anything lower than 1,200 calories isn’t recommended.  I’ll cover this and logging in the next post but here are a few things to start now.

Cut Back On Sugar And Starches

Removing sugars and starches (carbs) from your diet will lower your insulin levels, kill your appetite and make you lose weight without hunger.

You will want to stop drinking soda (even diet soda), fruit juices (except OJ), and alcoholic drinks. Black coffee, tea or water (plain or bubbly) is fine. Drink 8, eight-ounce glasses or more a day.

This is extremely important as these types of drinks have plenty of sugar and calories. We’ll talk more about drinks and what carbs to avoid when we cover food logging.

Eat Protein, Healthy Fats And Vegetables

The more healthy fats, fresh fruits, whole foods and vegetables we eat the better. We will be concentrating on calories, nutrients and the macros in our diet.

Macros are the nutrients you need in large amounts, as they provide your body with the calories it needs to function. Watching these numbers are a kind of short-hand when it comes to weight loss making calorie counting much easier.

Our macros will be 50% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 20% protein per day but no worries as logging will keep track of these numbers for you.

High protein diets can also reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, reduce the desire for late-night snacking by half, and makes you feel full longer. Peanut butter is great after a long bike ride.

We’ll be learning to eat good food and log it in my next post. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek into other things we’ll be doing to get healthier. I know I’m excited and hope you are. I’ll be doing this alongside you maintaining my weight.

Exercise 3 To 4 Days A Week

By exercising, you will burn more calories and prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight. You’ll also experience those feel-good endorphins (runner’s high), ditch your depression and sleep better at night.

I would prefer you ride a bicycle or take a spin class but any cardio like running, jogging, swimming or walking will suffice. Or join a gym and lift weights they have stationary bikes. You must pick something and stick to it.

You will learn to log your exercise which will automatically be added or subtracted from your calories for the day using the tools I’ll be introducing in the next post.

I can’t make you exercise but if you’ve become that lazy and crazy enough to keep yourself unhealthy there’s nothing I can say that will change that but please keep an open mind!

7 1/2 to 8 Hours A Night Of Quality Sleep

Sleep is very important and if the quality of your sleep suffers so do you during the daytime hours. We go through different stages of sleep during the night. There are simple things you can do to make sure you get enough of all 3.

If you’re a maniac like me you may want to track your sleep scientifically. There are many kinds of trackers for sale from rings to bands that track sleep in detail and more. I use a Charge 2, Fitbit and will have the new Oura Ring in April. (I provided links to sales of both products with specs if you’re interested.)

You don’t need a tracker to get the best nights sleep. I’d like you to read my post about sleep below. It has tips for a better nights sleep, scientific information on sleep, and I guarantee it will have something to help you get started on your way to a quality night’s sleep. Soon you’ll feel the difference.

More About Sleep Read Sleep 101

I’ll cover more about sleep soon.  You can start practicing good sleep hygiene today.

Here are 10 tips to quick-start your weightloss:

  1. Eat a high-protein breakfast. Eating a high-protein breakfast has been shown to reduce cravings and calorie intake throughout the day. Oatmeal with fruit is great. Breakfast should never be avoided and is the most important meal of the day.
  2. Avoid sugary drinks and fruit juice. These are the most fattening things you can put into your body, and avoiding them can help you lose weight.
  3. Drink water a half hour before meals. One study showed that drinking water a half hour before meals increased weight loss. Drink 8 glasses or more.
  4. Choose weight loss-friendly foods (see list). Certain foods are very useful for losing fat. Walnuts and pears are my gotos.
  5. Eat soluble fiber. Studies show that soluble fibers may reduce fat, especially in the belly area.
  6. Drink coffee or tea. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, then drink as much as you want as the caffeine in them can boost your metabolism. However, no caffeine after 3 pm as it might interfere with sleep.
  7. Eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Base most of your diet on whole foods. They are healthier, more filling and much less likely to cause overeating.
  8. Eat your food slowly. Fast eaters gain more weight over time. Eating slowly makes you feel more full and boosts weight-reducing hormones.
  9. Use smaller plates. Studies show that people automatically eat less when they use smaller plates. Strange, but it works.
  10. Get a good night’s sleep, every night. Poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for weight gain, so taking care of your sleep is important.

Eating healthy starts here.

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My next post will give you the links to the applications that we’ll be using and no worries it will be a piece of cake whether you have Android or iPhone.

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Get your vitamin’s here! Eat all of the colors of the rainbow and fill your plate 2/3rds full of veggies.

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A clever way to eyeball your food portions. Watch yours!

I think this is a good start my aim was to outline things and get us started in a good direction. Food was our main goal and soon we’ll be logging our meals with the application doing all of the calorie watching for us.

Next-Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change-Logging Your Food and More