Category Archives: weightloss

10 Things I love About Biking

16998800_10155899291145299_3988798436864895139_n

I have been wanting to write this post for a while, especially since I wrote the 10 Things I Hate About Biking. So here it is:

10 Things I Love About Biking:

  1. Biking is Challenging – I love a good challenge. I tend to be singular in what I challenge myself with. Mostly, the only challenge I really have is my work. Last year was particularly difficult and work took up a huge amount of my time and focus. Biking offered a counter balance to the work challenge. It was personally challenging for me to get on the bike. I forced myself push a little farther every day.
  2. Biking is Fun! – Honestly, it really is. I have said many times it was hard work, but the pay-off for that hard work is that I get to bike. I love the feel of the sun on my face, the wind in my hair. I love flying down hills, or the steady pedaling of riding on a flat trail. I feel free in a way that I do not feel walking or *gasp* running, or doing any other kind of exercise.
  3.  The “Biking Community” –  I am not sure if it is the same in every community, but in Arlington, there is a big informal, (and probably formal if I looked into it more), biking community. A lot of people bike here. There are bike trails everywhere and most of the streets are accommodating to bikers. And other bikers kind of look out for one another. This is something I was not really aware of. One day in August was particularly hot. I was thirsty and pulled off the trail for a moment to drink some water. I’m sure my face was red and I was very sweaty and panting. One girl slowly road by me and asked if I was OK. I assured her I was just thirsty and she pedaled on her way. Occasionally, you get the person who is aggressively concerned with your biking. Annoyingly so, in fact. “That bike is too small for you!” One such person yelled to me as I was slowly riding up hill. “You need to raise your seat! You’ll blow out your knees!” I had to stop and walk the bike up the hill and he came over to try to show me how to raise my seat. Dude! Seriously? At that point in my biking I was just a few days out and feeling very unstable on the bike. Raising my seat was not something I was quite comfortable with yet. I waved him off and told him I was OK, and he grumbled his disapproval and walked away. Creepy. Fortunately, my experiences with other bikers has been much more pleasant.
  4. Supportive Bikers – This is probably a sub-group of the biking community, but I have really come across so many bikers who have been very supportive of my efforts. There’s the girl who offered to fix my flat tire. The guy who stopped to see if he could fix my handle bars. And bikers who just acknowledge me with a polite nod as they pass. But my favorite person, I “met” on one of my first rides. I was re-entering the Four Mile Run trail from South Glebe. There is a slight incline as you enter the trail. I was really struggling to get up the teeny hill. I wanted to push myself to the top. I was traveling at a snail’s pace. A woman rides up behind me and announces she’s passing me on my left. I was literally about to give up and get off my bike when she said as she rode by, “Keep pushing! You got this!” Her words were just the impetus I needed. Two, maybe, three pedals later, I crested the hill and yelled out, “I did it!” She raised her fist in the air in solidarity and rode off.
  5. Being Outside – I could go to gym and ride the stationary bike or join a spin class, but that really never held any appeal for me. I love being outside. The feel of the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. Amazing. Plus I get to see all the beauty around me. Spring and fall are my two favorite seasons. I love the feeling of renewal in the spring air, the blooming of the cherry blossoms, azaleas, budding trees. And the last splash of color and cool air of autumn. And everything in between.
  6. Pushing Myself – I love pushing myself. This past year, I have ridden harder and farther than I ever thought I could. I love to see how far I can go. There have been times I have pushed too far, but I’ve always made it back home, even if I had to walk. The farthest I ever pushed myself to date is my ride from home to Chinatown in DC. It was much farther than I thought it was. Google Maps initially said it was only 6 miles from my house and would take an hour. Google lied. On the bike trail, it was probably 10 or 11 miles. And it took almost two hours. I do not regret doing this though. It was hard and a little scary, but I had a lot of fun.
  7. Riding Downhill – Need I say more? Yes, it is a little scary, but man is it ever fun! I push myself to ride a 4 miles on a slow steady incline on my regular ride. The reward is, I get to ride about 4 miles on a slow steady decline on the way home. The downhill part of the ride is what everyone who dreams of riding thinks biking is like, pedaling effortlessly down the trail and enjoying the ride. And that is what it is like sometimes. But you do not think of the long slog of pushing up hill to get there. The uphill is what makes the downhill really worth it though.
  8. It Is Hard – I like that biking is difficult. One of my favorite movie quotes is from A League of Her Own when the obnoxious Tom Hanks character says to star player who is walking away from the game, “It’s supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” Of course, in Northern Virginia, I think everyone does bike, but that’s not the point. The point is, that I have forced myself to do something that was difficult for me. And the rewards have been immeasurable.
  9. Being Present – There are numerous articles about the benefits of being present in your life, living in he moment, appreciating the here and now. So many of us just coast through our days. Or our schedules are so full, we are just racing to get to the end of the day so we can collapse on our beds for a few hours of respite before we begin again. I often say that when I’m at work, I feel like I’m wishing my life away 8 hours at a time. I’m never fully there. Always planning for the next thing. When I’m biking, I’m not doing that. I have to be focused and present all the time. There are so many things that can derail my ride, cars, traffic, pedestrians, obstacles on the trail errant two-year olds running in front of the bike. You have to pay attention if you want to be safe. Of course, my mind wanders and I think of other things while I’m biking. I think about writing, and all the things I have to do when I get home or get to work, but always, I’m paying attention to the trail, the bike, how I feel, am I hydrated, should I rest, how far I am from home. Biking is one of the few parts of my life where I’m not just waiting for the time to pass so I can get to the next part of my day. I am happy just to be in the moment biking and loving it.
  10. Overall Feeling of Well Being And Accomplishment – I feel better when I bike. My health is better. My breathing is better. I feel stronger and more confident because of biking. I know something about myself. I know that I can push myself physically to achieve a goal. This is something I have not always felt I could do. As someone who spent most of her adult life morbidly obese, the idea of excelling in any kind of physical activity was almost unthinkable. That is no longer the case.

Leaving On A Jet Plane…

Tomorrow I am going to Dallas for training.  I’m not very excited about this.  I do not like to flying.  Plus, I’m going to a training class, so it’s not like it will be a fun trip.

I am hoping to connect with a friend while I’m there, so I hope to have some fun.  She was in my writer’s group here in DC and has recently moved back to Texas.  I am hoping to do some shopping while I’m there, too.

I may not be able to blog every day.  Or if I do get a chance to blog, my posts will occur at odd hours.  The good news is  my frequent flyer status was recently upgraded to “gold” which means I was able to get some pretty good seats on the plane.

I am a bit stressed out about food and this trip.  I have to take my vitamins and some protein supplements.  I bought some protein bars, which I am going to pack in the bag I am checking.  I am worried about waiting too long to eat because I may not be able to eat on the plane.  Generally, the airlines do not feed people any more.  Since I have a pretty tight schedule that I have to follow, this concerns me.  I probably won’t be able to get my protein bars and vitamins beyond the security people and I do not know if I will be able to get any food that I can take onto  the plane beyond that.  I am going to try to see what I can do, though.

While I’m in Dallas, I should be OK.  The hotel has a breakfast buffet.  I can generally have eggs and some kind of fruit without problem.  There’s a pretty good cafeteria at the training center.  And I can just get room service for dinner.

If I am unable to post Monday through Thursday of next week, I hope to have a good post up by Friday with all of my updates!

Shoe Frustration At DSW

So, I almost bitch-slapped the sales person at DSW Pentagon Row today.  First let’s start with the fact that all of the parking at Pentagon Row is metered.  It is also dreadfully difficult to find an open spot.  The only other alternative is to park in the garage and pay an a lot to park.  That already has me a little hot.

Then I spent about 20 minutes wandering around their store for shoes in my size.  As I have discussed in a previous post, I have wide feet.  I have always had wide feet, even as a child.  So, shopping for shoes is really a horrible experience for me.  I do not like to buy shoes online because they never fit.  I always end up sending them back.  I much prefer to go into the store and try them on.

Well, apparently, only girls with normal sized feet have that privilege at DSW.

After driving around looking for metered parking and then paying $2.00 to park in the garage, I get to DSW to have the snooty sales rep make a disgusted face at me and say, “Oh we only sell THOSE shoes online.”  And the look he had on his face made it seem as if I was asking for something so distasteful as to activate his gag reflex.

Seriously?

So, I said, “That’s discriminatory. What, you don’t think fat chicks wear shoes?”  I turned on my heel and walked right out of the store.

I am furious.  When I’m done blogging, I am going to their website and lodging a complaint.  I know it will get me nowhere, but still.  I am doing it.  I am so offended.  So, because I have wide feet, I have to pay for their shoes first and have them shipped to me before I try them on?  And if they don’t fit?  Do I then have to pay to ship them back to you and wait for you to give me my money back?

You know, I went out today with the intent to spend my money to do my share to keep the economy rolling.  If my money isn’t good enough to keep my size shoe in your store, I will shop somewhere else and keep that store in business. F#%k DSW.  Seriously.

I am tired of going to stores and finding either no plus sized clothing or one wall sparsely covered with the ugliest clothes I’ve ever seen.

I’m overweight, yes, but I still like to look nice.

I know I won’t be a plus size for very much longer, but I will still continue to be outraged by the sub par treatment larger women receive from clothing and shoes retailers.

Days Like These

I sure have been writing all of wonderfully positive posts recently.  Maybe the rain in DC today has me feeling kind of glum, but I feel the need to write a counter post of sorts.

I do not want to imply that everything I have experienced these past few months has been  unbelievably positive.  It is true that I feel great.  I have lost 88 pounds.  I fit into a size 20, which is down quite a bit from the 26-32 range I was originally.  I look better.  My blood pressure is controlled without meds.  I can breathe. I can walk.  I can breathe and walk at the same time!  Life is good and I feel good.

Part of why I started this blog was to give a realistic picture of what losing weight by having a gastric by-pass is really like.  There are a lot of great things happening that I love.  I do not have to stress about eating too much.  That pretty much takes care of itself.  I am losing weight pretty much effortlessly.  There are also some things that are a struggle, however.

HAIR

Over the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that I am shedding a lot of hair.  I am starting to freak out.  I know that many people who have had a gastric by-pass suffer tremendous hair loss and start showing bald spots.  I have been very worried about this.  I am diligent about my protein intake and my vitamins.  I though that I had managed to stave off any significant hair loss.  It could just be now that spring is coming, I am just doing some natural shedding in preparation for warmer weather, but I am very worried.

I made a few changes over the past month in how I get my protein and vitamins, which could be part of the problem.  I have been eating more protein bars instead of drinking shakes.  Pure Protein makes several very good protein bars.  I sometimes like eating them for two reasons.  One, less cans.  I hate drinking stuff out of a can.  Such a waste.  Yes, I recycle them, but still.  Two because they help in staving off hunger sometimes.  They are a little lower in protein, but not significantly.  I also changed my b-12 vitamin.  I was doing the melt-aways, but I got a good deal on the chewable kind.  Turns out, that may not have been a good idea.  Apparently,  you do not absorb as much of the b-12 in a chewable form.  I also ran out of the biotin shampoo and have been using regular shampoo and the biotin conditioner.

I have given up the protein bars and returned to the Pure Protein shakes.  I am heartened by the fact that I can by a large tub of Pure Protein powder at a store called Wegman’s.  Yeah, it’s a high-end fru-fru type grocery store, but a 16oz tub of the Pure Protein powder is only $9.99, which is much cheaper than buying it in can form anyway.  I also bought some more Unjury chicken broth protein.

In addition, I went back to the melt-away form of b-12.  The b-12 I bought also has folic acid and biotin.  I still need to buy more biotin shampoo, but I think I have enough conditioner to see me through until I get online and order some.

Constipation

I am still suffering through bouts of constipation.  I have been taking a stool softener sometimes and for emergencies, I do take Dulcolax suppositories.  I hate taking the Ducolax.  I have to be at home when I take that, which means if I have constipation during the day, I have to suffer until I get home.  Constipation is quite painful and even using the suppositories are painful.  Once I am done, however, I feel so much better.

I just do  not know why I keep getting constipation.  Maybe I am not getting enough fiber or liquid.  Who knows.

I suggested to a friend that maybe I was eating too much meat.  She immediately replied, “Yes, you are.”

I came back with, “But you do not see what I eat, how would you know?”

She answered, “You’re eating meat.  I’m sure it’s too much.  You should have more lentils and spinach.”

Now how could I argue with that.  She’s not a vegetarian, but she fully believes in the curative properties of vegetables, so I shall defer to her expertise and eat more lentils and spinach along with drinking luke-warm water and massaging my belly,  (her other suggestions for dealing with constipation).

I am really getting tired of dealing with this.  I was pretty sick and uncomfortable this week because of it, which is why I have not been up to blogging much.  I am doing better now, but  am still in a little bit of pain.  My stomach is a little bit sore even and I find I am not that hungry at all.  I really have to force myself to eat.  It’s kind of irritating.

I am also getting a little bit worried about having to use a supplement to go regularly.  I do not want to become dependent on them.  Plus, the pain and discomfort is so horrible, I can kind of understand how someone can develop a dependency on that feeling of release when you finally do clear up the problem.  It is such a relief and I feel so cleansed afterwards.  I can almost understand how someone with bulimia can become addicted to that feeling.  I would hate to go through all of this only to replace one eating disorder with another.  I have an appointment with the surgeon next month.  I am going to discuss it with him.

Coordination

I was never one anybody in their right mind would ever call graceful.  My mother used to joke when I was younger that after all, she did not name me Grace.  But as I am losing weight, I find that I have become even more clumsy than before knocking everything over, bumping into stuff, and dropping things.

The other day, I was walking to the Metro station after work, trotting along at a pretty good pace, feeling pretty good that I can walk to / from the Metro station every day and not get out of breath at all.  I went to step up on a curb after crossing the street, and BAM!  I was face down on the pavement.  I smacked the crap out of my knee and the laptop that I was carrying cross-body fashion hit me in the back of the head.  Fortunately, it did not hit me hard, but still.

I wish I could say my pride was hurt more than anything else, but I was really afraid I had done some serious damage to my knee.  A nice gentleman helped me up off of the ground and offered to call an ambulance.  I declined the offer, but he insisted on at least a cab.  I declined that as well, but came to my senses a few minutes later and hailed one myself.

Fortunately, my knee is fine.  Just slightly bruised.  My shin is a little sore and pretty scraped up.  And my head is fine, well at least as fine as it was before the fall.  It is my hope that after I reach a somewhat normal weight, I will get used to how I feel inside my own body and will be slightly less of a klutz.

Clothes

I am getting kind of tired of the whole clothes situation.  Most of my clothes are too big for me.  I did purge my wardrobe of anything larger than a size 24.  Now I am going to get rid of the 24s as well.  That will leave me with just clothes int he 20-22 range.  And I will be down to one pair of jeans and two pairs of yoga pants.  Not good.

I feel like I am at a crossroads.  I do not have enough clothes that fit me, and I do not want to spend any more money on clothes that I will only be able to wear for a few months at most.  I have decided that I will buy a few outfits.  I am not happy about it, but I am going to do it.  I need new pants and skirts to get me through the next few months.  And I need some new blouses and tops.

My sister gave me a gift card for my birthday and I bought a cute dress and a cardigan sweater.  I need sweaters these days.  Soon, it will be too warm for a jacket and I feel I need a sweater to get me through from spring to summer.

OK, I think that will be enough whining for now.  I did have a fairly rough week, which I think has really left me feeling exhausted.  I am looking forward to a good weekend, though.  St. Patrick’s Day is Sunday.  I love St. Patty’s Day.  There will be no green beer on the menu, which s good because I never could stomach green beer, but I will wear green and a button that says, “Kiss Me I’m Irish”.  Who knows, maybe somebody will.

I will be celebrating my sister’s birthday with the family tonight.  I am picking up her gluten-free vegan chocolate birthday cake, which I cannot eat, and we have having dinner at Carabbas, my sister’s favorite restaurant.  They actually have a gluten-free menu.  Her favorite dish, the Chicken Bryan, is on that menu.  She will have a very good night.  I have not had the Chicken Bryan in years, and now that I can eat cheese, I may have it too.

Happy St. Patty’s Day everyone!

My Expanding World

Now that I am getting smaller my world is getting bigger.  The one thing about my being obese is that it was very hard for me to move around.  Walking to shop area of my neighborhood was out of the question.  Between back pain and asthma, I could barely walk to the lobby of my building.  It was horrible.

Now that I have lost 86 pounds, I feel so much better.  I am walking a lot more and that is such a liberating feeling.  I am walking a lot every day now and I love it.

Yesterday, WordPress sent me an email from the Daily Post called Phoneography Challenge in which they instructed their bloggers to take their cell phones and hit the streets in their neighborhood, take pictures, and write about it.  I really wanted to do this yesterday, but I did not get a chance yesterday because of work and the general exhaustion that followed.

Today is such a beautiful day here in Northern Virginia.  The sun is shining.  The birds are singing.  Everyone is out walking their dogs, (big thing in my neighborhood).  I just could not sit still inside my apartment in this weather, especially after the horrible cold, windy non-snow storm we had earlier in the week.  I had to get out.

I left my apartment armed with my iPhone and laptop and marched myself down the hill to Shirlington Village to get some pictures, have some decaf cappuccino in my favorite café, and write a blog post with pictures.

I love the area of Arlington where I live.  There are quite a few restaurants, some specialty stores, a grocery store, a library with a theater inside of it, a movie theater where the independent movies are run, and lots of places where you can sit and read, or socialize.  It is a walking village, so there are people walking all of the time, especially with their dogs.  There are even bowls of water on the sidewalk, which there were none out today unfortunately, in case your dog gets thirsty.  Humans have to pay for their drinks.

The first thing I saw was this is the tree outside of my apartment building.

tree

 

So, here are the pictures I took today on my trek through Shirlington.  This first one is of a shop that sells locally made olive oils and vinegars.  I love this shop.

ahlove

 

Busboys & Poets is my favorite restaurant.  It is named after Langston Hughes who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s.  He literally went from busboy to poet.  They have good food and provide a great space in the community for art, culture, and politics.  Love this place.

 

busboys

 

 

Someone knitted a cozy for the bus stop sign.  I thought that was cute. busstop

 

Cakelove is a locally owned business.  The cakes here are awesome.  They do sell cupcakes, which works very well for this community as people can grab a yummy cupcake while walking their dog.  They also have cakes.  I ordered one today for my sister’s birthday.  The best part about their cakes is that they make gluten-free and vegan cakes and cupcakes.  Probably the best cake I’ve ever had.

cakelove

Cheesetique is a locally owned shop that sells, well cheese.  They also have a restaurant side which serves the best mac&cheese in the country.  Don’t take my word for it,  Food & Wine thinks so too.cheese

 

How nice they provide doggie-doo-doo bags. dog

 

You have no idea how hard it was to get a photo of this fountain when there are no people sitting all around it.  To the right there is a small boy and his mother.  You do not see them here because I really tried to get the picture with no one in it.

fountain

 

This is the Shirlington Library.  It is the only library I know that has a theater included.  There are plays there all the time.

library

 

Cool street lamps and my thumb. light

 

 

I got a salad at Medi, which, as you can plainly read on the napkin, is a Mediterranean restaurant.  I had not been there before today.  A friend of mine goes there quite frequently and raves about it.  It kind of works like Chipotle.   You decide if you want a pita wrap, a salad or a rice dish, choose your meat which are chicken, steak, lamb, or veggies, then choose toppings which are a combo of sauces, veggies, and cheese.  I chose chicken because as my friend Bobby reminded me through peels of laughter, that lamb is red meat.  I still cannot have red meat just yet.  The food here is delicious.medi

 

Cool sign. sign

 

Thai Shirlington restaurant where I got sick from dumping syndrome after having the soup.  My own fault, really.   I had the soup about a month after my surgery.  Nonetheless, their food is delicious.thai

 

 

 

The movie theater where the independent movies are shown.

theatre

I enjoyed my walk, coffee, and lunch today.  It was great to get out of the apartment and walk around.  I will have to do this more as the weather improves.

village

 

 

Thank you for visiting Shirlington!

 

Being Prepared: It Is Not As Easy As It Looks

Now that I am working at an office again, I have to spend a lot of time preparing and being ready for my day as far as food and vitamins go.  Staying on schedule as far as food/drink/protein/vitamins is very important post surgery. 

When I worked from home, it was pretty much a no-brainer.  I could cook when I want.  Take my vitamins and drink my protein as necessary.  Everything was right there with me.  It was easy.

Now I have to make sure that I have two protein supplements, all of my vitamins for the day, my lunch for the day, and money to purchase food in case I forgot something.  Not to mention, I have to factor in a 30 minute breakfast window into my morning routine.  I normally just barely have time to shower, dry my hair, style my hair, get dressed – keeping in mind that he getting dressed portion of my routine includes squeezing myself into some Spanx – find everything I need to take with me and dash out the door in time to catch the bus to the metro.  Now I have to take 30 minutes to have breakfast?  What a P.I.T.A.

I tried eating breakfast while I dry my hair and get dressed, but that has not been working out too well.  I start eating and then forget I was eating and end up throwing it away.  Or I eat too fast and get a stomach ache.  Not good.

I could wait to get to work to have breakfast.  If I do that, I have to carry one additional meal with me on the Metro.  Plus that puts my breakfast too close to lunch.  So, I either put off lunch until later in the day, have my meals too close together, don’t get enough water in, skip a protein supplement so that I’m not too full for lunch, or some combination of the aforementioned.  It just throws my whole schedule off if I wait. 

It has been a struggle to get the combination right, but I think I have a good system going.  I have also done some things to help me streamline the morning process.  I pick out my clothes the night before.  I prepare at least 3-4 days of breakfast and set it aside in refrigerator to only be used for breakfast.  I make 3-4 hard-boiled eggs, small pot of oatmeal, and some kind of fruit.  I also keep extra non-fat plain greek yogurts handy just in case.  I make my lunches ahead of time too.  Then I pack up everything I think I might need; laptop, keys, vitamins, protein supplements, etc.   In the am there is less gathering and less prep work.

Here was my am schedule last week:

  1. 6:30am  – wake up and shower
  2. 6:50am  – dry hair
  3. 7:10am – get dressed
  4. 7:20am – gather everything I need
  5. 7:30am – dash out door

Here is my new and improved schedule for this week:

  1. 6:00am – eat breakfast
  2. 6:30am – shower
  3. 6:50am – dry hair
  4. 7:10am – get dressed
  5. 7:20am – gather everything I need
  6. 7:30am – dash out door

In between all of this in my crazy morning routine, my sister calls me nearly every day.  We have our daily sister-chat in the morning otherwise we would never have time to fit in a good gossip.  Some times we talk for a full 30 minutes, but most days, we barely have 5-10 minutes to talk.  It’s quality not quantity that counts right?

I hate getting up at 6:00am.  It is so early, but I found I had to make starting my eating schedule off properly a priority.  Some days this may shift a bit as I have some flexibility with my starting time.  And days like yesterday where the government was closed, I can work from home which helps. 

I just cannot afford to lose focus just because I am working in an actual office now.  Staying on the proper food/water/protein/vitamin schedule is too important if I want to continue successfully losing weight.

 

Halfsies

When I first started this process, I set a goal for myself.  I wanted to have a go weight so that I knew where I wanted to stop and how much weight I wanted to lose.  When I was in high school, I weighed between 125-135.  I know that the average weight for a woman my height can range from 106-140 depending upon the size of her frame.  I believe I have a medium frame.  The average weight for a woman who is 5’1″ with an average frame is 115-129.

height weight chart

 

I would love to be in that range, 115-129.  That would be perfect.  But, I am not too concerned with perfection.  I am very concerned about my health.  If I end up in the 125-135 range, but I’m in good health, I will be happy.  Heck, I’d even go up to 145 as long as I am healthy and can do everything I want to do and can fit into cute clothes.  I would just be tickled pink.

That said, I do have a goal weight.  My goal weight is 125.  I do not know if I will ever get there, but that’s it.  To reach 125, I have to lose 173 pounds off of my original weight.

Well, today I am proud to announces that I have reached the half-way point.  I weigh 212 pounds.  That means that I have lost 86 pounds, 86.5 being half of 175, so roughly estimated, I have lost half of the weight I need to reach my goal weight.

That is all I have to report today.  I just had to blog to say, “Yay me!”

tumblr_mg0t67GOEV1rjsbhwo1_500