Tag Archives: healthy lifestyle

10 Things I love About Biking

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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.
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What I Think About While I’m Biking (Hint: Not you!)

I have been biking quite a lot recently. I try to get out at least 3-5 times a week. I have even biked to work, although I do not do that often. I’m often hot and sweaty after I get there and the ride home, while primarily downhill, is mostly on city streets and is kind of brutal and scary.

A few months ago, a friend of mine, or maybe someone I know only slightly posted this meme oh Facebook:

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I think the person was trying to be encouraging by showing how judgy they are not by posting a meme on Facebook. I was slightly offended by it and became more so the more I thought about it. I’m not upset with the person, just the idea. The idea that there are good fat people, those who exercise or do something other people deem to be healthy. And bad fat people. To me, this is just another form of fat shaming.

The idea that my health, my appearance somehow belongs to other people is offensive to me. If I do what you think is the right thing, I’m worthy of praise, and if I do not, I deserve derision.

Now that I am biking myself, I’m here to tell you that while I’m biking, none of that matters. Here’s the secret. Fat people bike for the same reasons skinny people bike…because they love it. Yes, it is exercise and helps to build muscle mass and burn calories, but that is not my primary motivation.

So I thought I’d share some of the things I actually think about while I’m biking. (hint: those thoughts have nothing to do with you or what I think you think I look like!)

  1. Balance! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa Whoa! Don’t fall! Don’t fall!
  2. I put my feet not the pedals! Whoo hoo!
  3. OK, pedal, pedal! Don’t fall!
  4. I’m biking! I’m biking!
  5. OK get to bike trail…
  6. Big hill! It’s downhill, you can do this!
  7. Holy crap here comes a car! It’s OK! It’s OK! They’ll go around me.
  8. Whew, they went around me. Catastrophe averted.
  9. I made it to the bike trail! OMG, it’s uphill! At least it will be downhill on the way back.
  10. On the way back: How can the bike trail possibly be uphill in both directions?? Seriously? Who designed these trails?
  11. OMG, my legs.
  12. OMG, my butt hurts.
  13. OMG, I cannot breathe.
  14. Just breathe!
  15. OMG, I think a bug flew up my nose!
  16. Now my nose is itchy!
  17. Can’t take hands off handlebars to scratch nose.
  18. I have to scratch my nose.
  19. Scratches nose. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Don’t fall!
  20. Making bike trail part of the sidewalk…not a good idea!
  21. Case in point…who decided to put a lamppost in the middle of the bike trail/sidewalk? WTF? img_1858
  22. Bike around lamppost by railing and risk running into the railing and possibly tumbling down the embankment and into the creek? Or bike around lamppost street-side and risk tumbling into traffic? Nice.
  23. Preparing to bike up a short, but sharp hill. I can do this. I can do this. Uh oh, someone is coming downhill fast in my lane! He’s not looking up. Look up, look up look up! “Hey, look up! Coming towards you!”
  24. He moved, thank God.
  25. Lost momentum. Great, now I have to walk up the hill.
  26. OMG, I didn’t know I could sweat this much.
  27. Family with kids, “I’m on your left!” Please, God, don’t let the kids run out in front of me!
  28. Did the runner I just passed going downhill just pass me as we are going uphill? Holy crap, I’m slow!
  29. When does this get easier?
  30. Does it have to be so hot out?
  31. When does this hill end?
  32. Breathe! Just breathe!
  33. You can do this!
  34. Home at last!
  35. I so totally rock!

I do not think about what other people think I look like. Not at all. I think about safety and the other people I see on the trails. I do not want to put myself or anyone else at risk.

A friend of mine recently asked me that since I live in an urban area and I bike on the streets a lot if cars scare me. The answer is, they terrify me. I have a healthy fear of cars. Every time I have to cross a street or bike on the street, I’m terrified. I know most drivers are cautious and do not want to hit me, but in that moment, all I can think about is trying to avoid being hit. I yield to everyone.

But here’s another secret, I spend most of my time on my bike being terrified. Terrified I’ll fall. Terrified I’ll run into a pedestrian. Terrified of going uphill. Terrified of going down hill. Terrified of going too slow. And terrified of going too fast. Still, I get out there.

So, why do I do it? I do it because I have to. Not because I’m required to, or that the doctor told me I must. I do it because I love it. When I’m on my bike I’m not concerned about what I look like or what anyone else thinks of me. It is the only time I feel free from the judgment of other people; free to just live in the moment. I think that more than anything gets me out there on the trails as often as possible.

I see people of all sizes on the bike trails. Some a much smaller than me, some much bigger. One girl in particular stands out. I saw her this weekend and I think she was biking with her boyfriend. She looked like she was struggling. Still, she was faster than me. The two of them whizzed by me without a problem. I later caught up with them as they had stopped for water. She saw me coming and smiled. She looked just as hot and sweaty as I felt. I smiled back and gave her the biker nod – the nod many bikers have given me. A nod of recognition; of camaraderie; a welcome to the club. I hope she sticks with it and loves it as much as I do.

Approaching Three Months

I can hardly believe that it has been nearly three months since my gastric by-pass surgery.  To date, I have lost 69 pounds.  One pound away from 70.

I am amazed by how much weight I’ve lost.  I feel a little like I’m moving backwards in time as I am able to fit back into clothes that I have not worn in years.  It is kind of strange.

I am slowly working my way up to about 1200-1400 calories per day.  I am supposed to be in that range at about the six month mark.  Right now, I am up to around 900 calories per day.  I have a calorie tracker.  I put in all of the food I eat including my protein shakes.   I noticed this week I have been a little bit hungrier than normal…well normal being redefined in recent months as not really hungry at all.  That is probably why I’m up to 900 calories per day.  I thought that by increasing my caloric intake from 400-600 calories per day over the first few weeks to 600-800 after that and now to 900 would have slowed down my weight-loss, but that has not happened.  I am still steadily losing weight.  I am still taking in well under the normal, healthy intake of calories, which is around 1200-1400 per day.  Not to mention that 1200-1400 calories per day is waaaay less than what I was eating before the surgery.

The calorie counter that I have on my iphone tells me that for healthy weight-loss that I should be taking in over 1700 calories per day.  Yeah right.  There’s no way I could eat that right now.  I may never be able to eat that many calories in one day again.  Of course, the calorie counter has no idea I had gastric by-pass surgery.  I am just using it to keep track of what I am eating and to count the calories that I am taking in.

I have moved onto the re-introduction of solid foods phase of my diet. Hoo-freaking-ray!  The pureed food phase was really horrible. The soft food phase much better, but still not quite fine eating.  Real food.  I am excited.

I still have some restrictions.  No read meat, starchy foods, or fruits with a skin for three more months.  I can have fruits with a skin, I just have to peel them first.  It’s the skin I cannot have.

I am not a big red meat eater, so I am not too stressed out about not having beef.  I can manage just fine with turkey burgers or turkey meatballs, etc.  But the starches…omg.  I have been craving bread and potatoes for the past couple of weeks.  Well, bread, potatoes, and pizza.

I love pizza.  I could probably eat it for every meal. Not the healthiest diet I know, but I could…thus the reason I had to have gastric by-pass surgery.  It doesn’t help that I haven’t been able to eat pizza for years.  In fact, that has probably made it worse.  Combined with the no bread for six months surgery I just had, I’m totally fixated.

I have dreams that when I am finally able to eat bread products that I will be able to reintroduce pizza into my diet.  I doubt that I will be able to, but still, I dream about it.  I would be fine with vegetables on it.  A thin crust, obviously.  Just one slice, I promise!

A good friend of mine teases me because I’ve apparently taken to talking about pizza quite a bit.  Every time we are together, in fact.  We laugh about it a lot.

Now that I am onto the solid food phase, I have been experimenting a little bit.  I’ve eaten at a few restaurants too.  I went to a mediterranean restaurant.  I had half a lamb burger and asparagus spears instead of fries.  The burger was a bit heavy and I had some constipation afterwards.  I may hold off on lamb for a few more months.  A little too rich, I think.  I went to a mexican restaurant and had chicken with a tomatillo sauce, refried beans, and steamed vegetables.  Clearly, I took most of it home, but I didn’t suffer any ill effects.  I’ve also tried chinese food, kung pao chicken, no peanuts, Szechuan green beans, no rice.  I did OK with that.  I’m still only eating a very, very small portion, but it’s nice to have somewhat normal food again.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful President’s Day weekend.  I might try to go hit some sales to see if I can get a new shelf.  I was also thinking of making my way to downtown DC on the Mall for the Inauguration on Monday, but it depends on the weather.  It’s supposed to be 39 degrees and I’m not sure if I can handle that.  It also depends on what time I drag my lazy butt out of bed.  The swearing-in begins at 11:30am, but one must arrive there several hours in advance.  It’s not supposed to be as crowded as 4 years ago, but I still think it would be cool to go.  We shall see.

Living in the DC area is kind of cool when you can go to events like this.

Happy President’s Day!

 

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Other Noticeable Changes

Just a quick post today as I am getting ready to run out the door to go to an art thingy with a friend of mine.

I’ve written about changes that I have noticed in how I look, thinner face, fitting into booths at restaurants, and walking, but there are many other changes that I have noticed since my remarkable 60 pound weight loss.

1. Putting on my shoes – I have noticed that I putting on my shoes and socks is much easier.  I can now put my left foot up onto my right knee while sitting in a chair.  I could not do that before.  I would have to sit on the bed so that I had room to spread out just to put on my shoes and socks.  I am much more flexible now.

2. Pain – The back pain I suffered from is nearly completely gone.  I still have some pain now and then, but the excruciating back pain from just standing or walking is gone.  My feet also do not hurt as much.

3. Sleep – I am sleeping much more soundly, but I am still using the c-pap machine.

4. Movement – All movement is much easier.  Bending over is easier.  Getting up and down from the floor when I’m playing games with my niece.  Getting in and out of the shower.  Going up and down stairs is much easier.

Overall, I just feel so much better.  Other people have commented that I seem happier, bubblier than before.  I have more energy than before and I really do enjoy getting out of the house to do things.  I am definitely happy that I have made this change in my life even though sometimes it has been difficult.

Continuing Weight Loss

First, I’d like to begin by dedicating this post to my friend Joanna who when I told her I had lost 58 pounds earlier this week, said to me, “Oh come on give me 60 at least!”  She was joking of course, but now I get to poke some fun right back at her.

I weighed myself this am.  I am down to 238 pounds.  That is a total of 60 pounds lost since October 24, 2012.  So, there you go, Joanna, 60 pounds!  🙂

I have to tell you.  I am amazed.  It is hard sometimes for me to believe that I have lost this much weight.  I do see the difference when I look in the mirror and when I look at pictures of myself from before the surgery.  So, I do actually believe it, but I am still sometimes surprised when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or put on clothes that just a few months ago were far too small or me.

Today I went to see a movie with my friend Sushmita and then we went to lunch.  The restaurant we went to had booths.  Normally, I prefer tables because I do not fit well in booths.  I could have asked for a table, but I decided to be brave and test out the booths now that I’ve lost so much weight.

Good news too!  I fit very comfortably in the booth with room to spare!  I was so happy.  Eating there was pretty easy too.  I had a lamb burger, with no bun and instead of a side of fries, I had a side of grilled asparagus.  Gotta love mediterranean restaurants.  So, I had half the burger and three spears of asparagus.  I did bring the rest o the burger home to have for either dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow.  I have not decided which.

I have had some problems this week.  I have been suffering constipation off and on.  I’ve been trying to follow my doctor’s advise when this happens.  Drink a lot of water.  Do not skimp.  Make sure I get 64 oz in no matter how difficult.  I can take some chewable fiber pills, but if I do that, I absolutely have to make sure I meet my water requirements.  Also, when I suffer constipation, I am not allowed to push at all.  I know it’s kind of gross to think about, but I just cannot put that kind of pressure on my stomach.  So, I have been in a bit of pain this week.  Good news is, I was finally able to go.  Now I am feeling really good.

I am including a photo of me sitting in the booth at the restaurant.  Excuse my hair.  I did not have time to do anything with it this am, so I just pulled it back in a pony-tail.

 

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A Revolutionary Idea For Resolutions: Not Just For New Year’s Only

In my opinion, resolutions do not work.  Don’t you just hate New Year’s Resolutions?  I do.  They are so ephemeral.  Fleeting.  Useless.  Everybody makes them.  Nobody keeps them.

I do like the idea of a New Year, however.  I love the idea of starting over and getting a fresh start to life.  I really feel that I have been given that fresh start this year in so many ways.  I have made the decision to avoid making resolutions, however.

Resolutions do not work in my opinion. I think everyone has good intentions at the start, but life and complacency often get in the way of the best intentions and resolutions usually go by the wayside by February.

I have found that what does work is setting realistic goals.  I’m not just talking about a name change from “resolution” to “goal” either.  I’m talking about real goal setting.  Every successful person does this.  Here is what real goal setting looks like.

1. Decide what you want to achieve.

2. Set a realistic goal.

3. Develop a plan to achieve that goal.

4. Follow plan.

5. Periodically check the plan to make sure you’re on track.

6. Make adjustments to plan as necessary to keep you on track.

6. Stay focused and persistent.  Achieving a goal is a marathon, not a sprint.  Don’t stop. Keep moving forward.

If you follow these steps, you should be successful. You may not achieve your goal completely, but you will be a lot closer than if you did nothing.  Or announced a resolution on New Year’s Eve and then quit in February.

We set goals in my writer’s group every year.  We try to set specific, realistic, achievable goals.  They can be big goals or small goals, but we try to do something.  Setting a goal of “writing more” is vague and not really measurable.  We push people to be more specific than that.  One short story? Two?  Will you try to get it published?  You get the idea.

I set goals for my health last year…do something about my weight and overall health by exploring WLS.  I did it.  I had the surgery and I’ve lost 57 pounds.  In addition, the steps I took to improve my heath before the surgery were crucial changes as well.  It was a big goal that brought on big changes in my life.

So, what are my health goals for 2013?

1.  Continue with the diet plan set by my doctor to achieve my weight loss goal.  I also need to tweak that diet a little to kick up my calorie intake so that I reach 1200 by the six month mark.

2. Kick up my exercising.  Exercising is a requirement for the health plan set forth in the guidelines of the bariatric surgery.  I exercise already by walking or riding the bike in my exercise room.  I have been doing pretty good, but I feel like I’m not doing enough.  I am going to join a gym and work with a personal trainer.  This was always my plan, but I needed to wait until the surgeon gave me the clearance to begin some mild strength training.  I have that clearance, so I am going to join Gold’s Gym and work with a personal trainer.

3. Get caught up on all of my medical tests and get started on some dental work.  My teeth need some work and I need to get things like a mammogram done.

4. I also have more plans or this blog.  I want to add a page with food ideas and recipes.  Many of the recipes are tailored for food allergies and are gluten-free.

So there you have it.  Health goals.  Blog goals.  Simple.  Achievable.  Already part of a plan I’m working on now, but expanded a little bit to achieve my overall goal of better health.

What are your goals or 2013?

Happy New Year!!  May 2013 be your best year yet!

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Four

Four days until the surgery.  I cannot believe how quickly this is coming up on me.  For so long, it felt so far away.  Now it feels like it is happening way too soon. 

Today’s projects:

  • Finish organizing closet.
  • Mop kitchen and bathroom.
  • vacuum entire apartment including couch.
  • Clean work mailbox so that my Outlook doesn’t crash while I’m on leave.
  • Finish packing up final bag o’ stuff to take to my sister’s place on Tuesday.

Mom arrives on Tuesday.  My sister is picking both of us up at my place sometime on Tuesday.  Then my mom is going to a hotel near the hospital.  She’s so smart.  It is probably the only time she has had all to herself in years.  Don’t get me wrong, her husband is awesome and treats her very well.  But he’s retired and is home all day.  The only time she has away from him is while she’s at her part-time job.  Not exactly a get-away.  Visiting me at the hospital isn’t exactly a get-away either, but at least she’ll have a place to go back to and rest quietly without distraction.

This afternoon, I am having lunch with a friend.  We are going to an Indian restaurant.  I love Indian food.  I love food with strong spice and flavor.  I will eventually be able to eat some Indian food eventually after the surgery, but it will be a while.  My favorite is the chicken saag, which is chicken and spinach.  I’m a huge fan of spinach. 

They say your taste change after surgery sometimes.  I really hope I do not lose my taste for Indian food.  I can give up a lot of stuff.  I haven’t had pizza in eight years.  I would even begrudgingly give up chocolate, but only if I absolutely had to.  Take away my taste for curry, palaak, and somosas…that’s a step too far.

Come to think of it, no I probably would not give up chocolate either.