Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Things I Have Learned About Cycling

This morning I went for my first ride since May. As the old saying goes, "it's as easy as riding a bike." And, well, riding a bike is easy. It's just not easy to be good at it.

Many of you remember the Bush-Straddling Incident of 2007, and there are a few who might recall the Stop-Sign-and-Car-Denting Debacle of 1980-ish. As much as I have ridden my bike over the years, I'm just not a great cyclist. My center of gravity isn't, well...centered. I lean forward too much, I slow down excessively for turns, and I have as much grace as a tutu-wearing hippo dancing on a circus ball. Rather than just wearing a helmet, I'm pretty sure I should wear full body armor.

2007 MS Ride, Joe taking a picture of me during a most flattering moment. Good thing I'm way in the distance.

I'm not a dancer, I don't roller blade or ski (those were both extremely awkward and painful experiments), but I do enjoy cycling. I'm just extremely awkward at it.

As I was riding down the Greenbelt this morning, surrounded by all the serious cycling commuters, with their reflective vests and backpacks of work clothes, it occurred to me that - even though I'm not a strong cyclist - I can still get from Point A to Point B without killing myself or harming others. At least most of the time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stuff I No Longer Carry - #2

It's been a while since my last update, and my reasons are rather personal. I have, however, continued to focus on my health - in many ways more than ever. Additionally, my family came to visit for a few weeks in late May / early June, and there are few things as wonderful as laughing with those you love.

At my three-month mark, I'm proud to say that I no longer carry the following:

Two rather large, lazy, marmalade kitties.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Baby Steps

I've always been big. I come from a long line of women with "child-bearing" hips. Add to that my 5'10" height in 7th grade - along with glasses and braces, no less - and I was one popular chica. I wasn't so much fat as I was big. It's just what I was. But at the age of 13, that's tough to take. In my mind, I was fat and ugly.

When I was a Sophomore / Junior in high school, I started running. For no reason. I remember the very night it started. I was walking around our 2.2-mile block with my family, and I had headphones on. They were the size of ear muffs, and the radio and headphones were all one piece. Some Whitney Houston song came on (lame, I know), but it was just the right tempo to make me want to move faster. The next thing I knew, I was running the "big loop" of our neighborhood (appx 5 mi) with those darned headphones bobbing on my head. For one entire summer I got up early to run. There was no stopping me.

I completed my first 5K my senior year. My body image was so horrible at that point, I swore I was just too fat.

My hips will never be size zero. But one day I will have those legs again. This morning, I ramped up my workout to include some running. It's going to take some time, but I'll get there. This morning, I felt the freedom of healthy lungs and working leg muscles. I tasted the sweat and felt the pain. And it was glorious to be there again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Boise Greenbelt

...or, Why We Chose This House

Joe and I first flew out to Boise in May 2010 for his interview. Joe arrived mid-week, and I came out for the weekend, just to see if this city had what we wanted.

It was such a clear, beautiful weekend. There was still snow on the distant mountains, but the valley was vibrant and warm, with just a hint of crispness in the air. While Joe was in his final round of interviews, I arrived at the hotel then ventured out to do some yarn shopping. We met up for dinner later that night and were both amazed at how many NICE people there were.

The next morning, we decided to take a walk down to the Boise River - just a few blocks from the hotel.
Several things overwhelmed and amazed us:
- The path along the river (aka The Greenbelt) was so very clean. There were trash bins and doggy poop stations that people actually used.
- Even with a number of runners/walkers/cyclists and folks setting up for a local race, it was very quiet.
- Walking along the path brought us not only to the river's edge, but also took us through a couple of beautiful areas - Julia Davis Park and the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.
- The river was crystal clear.

We looked at maybe a dozen houses with a realtor that day, and Joe returned in June to look at some more. We kept coming back to the first house we saw: it was very dated (think early 80s with shaggy brown carpet and exposed beams and stone), but it was big enough for us and our hobbies. The clincher, to me, was that it was barely a half-mile from a Greenbelt micropath. We could walk or ride our bikes through our neighborhood (and not on main roads) to get to the river, then we could go anywhere - our favorite restaurants, the public market on 8th Street, or even a Broncos or Hawks game.

Since I moved here in November, there wasn't a lot of fun to be had in walking the Greenbelt. Even though it doesn't snow a lot in Boise, it gets cold enough to where recreational walking isn't a lot of fun after about 15 minutes. Now that spring is *almost* here, we've been venturing out more and more.
Last weekend we dusted off the bikes. I haven't ridden my bike since the 30-mi MS ride I did in...maybe 2007? Yeah - it's been a while. But the Greenbelt (much like rail-trails in NY) is mostly well-paved, and there are very few hills. We took the bikes down to a favorite haunt - The Dutch Goose - and had a lovely lunch before heading back.

There are times when I'm counting down the days until we can replace the shag carpet / stuccoed walls / dark colors of our new home. But it's a good home, and those things can wait. I can sit in my office and see the snow-capped mountains, and I can walk right out the door and find rejuvenation among the sounds of the rushing water, crisp breeze, and chirping birds of the Boise River.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Stuff I No Longer Carry - #1

I thought it would be fun to keep track of my progress visually. So instead of announcing to the world (or at least my little corner of it) how much weight I've lost, I'm going to show pictures of ordinary (or maybe not-so-ordinary) objects that weigh approximately what I've lost so far. Basically, a picture of what my body no longer has to carry.

There probably won't be any regular updates - I'll post on this topic when it moves me and when the weight in question yields an interesting photographic subject. It'll also be cumulative, so it'll keep me focused on what I've done in total - and how much closer I am to my goals.

And now I give you: Stuff I No Longer Carry...

Otis wonders why I don't carry him more often

A geriatric cat.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Step 1: Overhauling My Eating Habits and Figuring Out What *I* Want

I'm reading a few books to help me figure out and focus on my goals. More than just "I want to lose weight" or "I want to be healthy" - WHY do I want to do those things? Do I want to run a 5K when I turn 40? Do I want to limit my reliance on a car and depend on my bike more for local transportation? Do I want to get more involved in community activities that might require physical effort? Do I want to take advantage of this recent geographical transition and start working towards a new career?

It's going to take me a while before I get to the core of what I really want, but it's definitely some combination of the above. In the meantime, I want to start working on things RIGHT NOW (being March first and all), and the best start is an overhaul of my eating habits.

I work well with lists. Ask my husband (or my similarly off-kilter brother) about the lists I make for packing, for grocery shopping, or for leaving the house on a long trip. When I can compartmentalize tasks and check them off, it appeals to my sense of organization. I'm really *not* an organized person, but I try to be. Hence the lists.

In one of my books, I came across a two-day meal plan. It's certainly not meant to be something you stick to every day, just an example of the right combination of proteins, produce, and grains. But because I need some rigid structure in these first few days/weeks of meal planning, I figured I'd just go with it. I used the plan as a grocery list, and I'm going to stick to it verbatim for at least 4, maybe 6 days. There's nothing offensive on it (I hate it when meal plans say to eat fish - I know it's good for me, but goddammit I hate fish), it's relatively simple, and it'll keep me on track for coming to terms with (1) how much good stuff I need to eat and (2) how much bad stuff I need to avoid.

When Joe and I lost weight before our wedding (almost fifteen years ago now), the key for us was measuring. It was easy to "eyeball" portions of chicken or rice - easy enough to get wrong. So we measured everything from peanut butter to salsa, and it really worked for us. Of course, going to the gym did a lot too, but that's another step in this process.

First and foremost, I need to be able to wake up and feel great in the morning. I need to know what I'm working for every day. I need to know that I'm moving towards something amazing, and it'll take some time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Operation FUF

I have been keeping up with a few friends, via multiple social networks, who are working out with specific fitness programs. C25K is a popular program to get folks used to running and working towards a successful 5K completion. Various Boot Camp programs guide participants through four weeks of daily as-the-sun-rises exercises while encouraging success at any fitness level. Some folks are long-distance "diet partners" who share victories and help each other recover after small setbacks.

I've battled my weight my entire life, and the only time I've been successful with any long-term lifestyle change: put together a program, and do it. Just freaking do it. Log your miles, record your calories, know what you can and cannot allow in your daily routine.

This is where Operation FUF comes into play. Certain hoar friends will know the true meaning of that acronym, but let's just call it "Fit Under Forty" or something more clever. After all, in a mere twelve months (and five days), I'll be hitting that four-oh milestone. If I continue indulging in my current lifestyle, there won't be much to celebrate.

At 29, I played competitive tennis 3-5 times per week. I even ran (for fun!) occasionally.

Years 30-38, not so much. Joe and I did complete a 30mi fundraiser bike ride, but that's about it. I blame it on New York. Limited tennis, crappy winters, and a dozen restaurants mere blocks from the house. Nah...as much as I would love to blame NY, it's all on me.

At 39, this girl is going to get busy. Boise is the fifth most active city in the U.S. There is so much to do, the weather is awesome most of the time, and I live a half mile from a 23-mile walk/run/bike heaven known as The Greenbelt. There are winter and summer activities a-plenty, so there are NO EXCUSES for this fluffy gal.

Stay tuned. It all starts with a single step.