Weighty Matters

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Slightly Damaged but Undeterred

It was bound to happen. Sooner or later I was going to take a spill off the bike. That happened this morning.

I’m not seriously hurt, thank goodness. Here’s what happened. I was on the bike by 6:15 this morning, merrily pedaling away on one of my favorite routes down the boulevard to the beach. According to the tracker on MapMyFitness, it is exactly four miles from my house to the end of the beach. I reached the circle/rotary at the end of the road, cycled round and, since I was now heading into the slight wind, pumped the pedals even harder to work up the cardio.

I veered up a driveway to go back onto the bike path but I was going a little too fast to straighten my direction enough. I tried to brake and veer but I had too much momentum. With a strong mental “Uh Oh”, I ran right off the path, through some ornamental tall grasses and then the bike and I tumbled off kilter down a three foot embankment onto someone’s lawn. (Someone who must be a snowbird because their hurricane shutters were still installed and no cars or grills were outside, thank goodness.)

For about 30 seconds, I just lay there on top of my bike waiting to feel any sharp, acute pain. When none stabbed me anywhere on my body, I untangled myself and stood up. Nope, no blood. Another good sign. I had plenty of sticky seed pods stuck on my clothes and sneaks. I picked up the bike and checked it out. Aside from my pretty white metal basket no longer being perfectly straight on all sides, my ride was okay too. I drank some water, took a deep breath, walked the bike back up the embankment and started riding again. I’ll admit I was a little shaken up, so I didn’t push the speed for the four miles home. I felt soreness in my right shoulder, stiffness in my left shoulder blade and a few assorted aches but, all in all, it could have been a helluva lot worse.

Got home and walked the dogs, feeling a bit proud of myself that even with the spill I logged my eight mile morning ride. I then walked in the door, swallowed the prescription-strength equivalent of ibuprofen and decided to spend a little longer amount of time under a hot shower.

I anticipated that I would grow more sore throughout the day. Thankfully, it wasn’t as extreme as I feared, but when I got home I stiffened up. I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner, but once I got home, I dreaded going out again. I took another dose of pain relievers and texted my friend. She completely understood, thank goodness. I hate when practicing self-care disappoints a friend. Still, I was a little down in the dumps. That’s dangerous because when I’m down, junk carbs begin speaking to me. “It won’t hurt. Come on. We’ll make you feel better. Eat us. You’ll be happy.”

Junk carbs lie. Even knowing this doesn’t mean I can always resist the lure.

Then I checked my FitBit and saw that I was only at 8300 steps for the day. It was rainy out and I was stiff and sore, all of which gave me more than enough justifiable reason to call it quits for the day. Darn it all, I wanted my 10,000 steps! Now I was in a full fledged whinefest. (Pity party of one, your table is ready.)

Luckily the rain stopped and I just couldn’t accept not making my step goal for the day so I put on the sneaks, ignoring a few remaining sticky seed pods, leashed the dogs and went out for a short walk before it began to storm again. Now up to 9500 steps, I was sooo close to the goal. I popped in the in-home walking program DVD for the one mile routine. That extra 15 minutes of exercise benefitted me mentally as well as physically. I went over 11,000 steps and, best of all, calmed the carb craving.

Now I’m going to soak in the tub before bed. Since tomorrow is Saturday, I don’t have to get up before dawn to log in my 45 minutes. I can do it any time. If the weather’s okay, I’ll ride my bike to Tai Chi class in the morning and ride around taking care of some other errands. I’ve booked a session with the massage therapist for the afternoon too. I’ll get in my cardio and my 10,000 plus steps before the end of the day and I pledge to stay on my food plan.

I am slightly damaged but definitely undeterred!

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Fat Days

Ever hear someone talk about feeling fat on a particular day? I used to hear this lament from friends, usually when they were approaching their period and experiencing water weight gain and bloating. It wasn’t an occurrence that I experienced because, to be honest, I felt fat every single day. Because I was.

Since I’ve lost 170 pounds, even though I still have around 50 to go, I don’t often think of myself the same way that I did. I mean, I know I’m still overweight, but I honestly don’t go around thinking, “Ugh, I’m still so fat.”

Today, I get it. I’m having a fat day. I’m pretty sure this is an emotional residual from the physical eating of yesterday. Is it possible to have a truffle hangover? Anyway, this morning it felt like shirts just didn’t fit right. If the shirt fit, then I decided that all of my clothes were showing the still existing rolls and bulges of my body — particularly in the belly and hip areas. I tried on three shirts that I only bought a few weeks ago. I know damn well they fit because I tried them all on in the store. Today, in my fat mode, I was overly critical of how everything looked and felt on my body.

Geezus, having one these days sucks. No. Likey. I shared this with a friend who assured me that I did not look fat and, in fact, looked nice. She then told me that she was also having a fat day for different reasons. In my case it was the truffle hangover. For her, it’s because she hasn’t been able to workout for several days since she fell and hurt her knee. I think it’s interesting to see how we can experience something that honestly cannot immediately result in increases to our size or imperfections in our appearance (and who needs perfection anyway?), but we automatically go to that place of self-criticism. I was able to assure her in return and we both acknowledged that nothing can change our self-viewpoints unless we change them and let them go.

So, I’m trying to process it out and believe that tomorrow, when I get dressed, I’ll be able to see, recognize and celebrate the positive changes that have produced a much more attractive and, certainly healthier, physique.

Overall my food was better today. I’ve resisted the cupcakes. I also have been paying attention to my fitness. Yesterday, I almost made it to 10,000 steps. Technically, I think I actually did, but the FitBit doesn’t accurately track the amount of movement that I do with my in-home walking program DVD. Yesterday, I did the DVD’s One Mile Walk, but FitBit only counted some of the steps. I have to test it out and see if it only does front and back motion. If so, then I did not get credit for the side steps or kicks. This morning I woke up early and did the brisk paced 30-minute two mile routine. FitBit only counted it as .83 miles. It should have been two miles and at least 1600 steps.

Even though FitBit only has me at 8027 steps today, I’m positive I’m “owed” another 1500 steps at least. I guess I should stop focusing on the number so much, but I’m motivated to hit as close to 10,000 steps as I can every day. That’s why I not only did the two mile walk today, but I also walked the dogs in the morning and took them for an additional 1.5 mile walk this evening. I had a lot of desk work today, but I will do my best to add in some midday walks, even if they’re shorter. I will hit these goals.

For anyone who might have noticed that I haven’t spoken much about my bike riding, it’s been blowing the last several days. This morning the winds hit 30-35 mph! Even 15-20 mph winds make riding a big challenge down here, so I’m trying to compensate with more walking. I haven’t been to Zumba in a few weeks. Even though my legs are strong and powerful, I’m currently experiencing some significant pain/achiness in my left shoulder and some soreness in my right shoulder. Zumba might be all dance, but we do a lot of arm work too and I just didn’t feel up to it. Thank goodness for my feet.

So, how was your day? Do you experience Fat Days sometimes?

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Lapping the Couch

That post name reads funny, doesn’t it? I don’t mean I’m sitting here licking my sofa. The name was inspired by a captioned photo I saw on a friend’s Facebook page today. The picture was of an obese man jogging. Even in a still image, you could tell he was sort of shuffling along. The caption read: It doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping the person on the couch.

I think that’s a wonderful reminder for anybody who is out of shape and overweight but who wants to change. If you’re like I was before surgery, when walking more than a few blocks made me gasp, longer walks made me hurt, and I had to use the stair railing to help myself get up steps, it can be incredibly daunting to take even the first small steps toward exercise.

After my surgery, I didn’t have much energy. Because of the operation, I tired easily. However, the medical staff told me to get up and walk every day. Actually, I was up and walking with company down the hall of the hospital a couple of hours after I was in the room from recovery. That must have been quite the sight as I wheeled my IV pole along with me. At least it was a bariatric specialty floor so the hospital gown really did go all around my body to keep me from flashing anyone. Maybe I didn’t walk far the first couple of trips that day, but I walked. Each time, I walked a little further.

Same thing when I got home. Although I rested and recuperated a lot, I made sure to also walk a couple of times a day, each time going a little further.

As my body recovered and the weight dropped off, my strength, endurance and overall ability increased. You know the rest. Now I can do long bike rides or walks, an hour of Zumba, Tai Chi and pretty much anything else I want to try. It happens — but it all starts with the first few steps.

It doesn’t matter how fast you move as long as you move. Every step and moment of motion is an improvement over the minutes that we spend flopped in our chairs or on our couches. I find this enormously encouraging and motivating.

Sometimes the mental blocks are as hard, or harder, to overcome than the physical challenge. Every once in a while, my lazy brain wants to kick in again and give me reasons why I don’t have to exercise, why it would be too difficult or even why it’s okay to skip it. This morning, for example, the wind was blowing pretty hard. I knew that no matter what direction I went, at some point I’d have to pedal against a 15-20 mph wind. I could have stayed home but I’d committed to getting in a longer ride today. I decided to suck it up and go.

I rode east, into the wind when starting out, thinking it was better to do the harder part when my legs were their freshest. The first two miles were difficult, but I pumped along and got to the beach road where I turned south. That was an easier direction for the next two miles and a very pretty path with glimpses of sparkling water and a lovely sunshine but cooler temperatures. I reached the beach, stopped for a good guzzle of water, and then turned around. Whew boy, did the challenge ever begin as I headed right into the northeast wind!

Usually, I ride on the toughest gear, figuring that gives my legs the best workout. I have to admit that with the wind in my face, I needed to turn down a couple of notches so that I could maintain a decent pace. As I pumped and pedaled, wheeling along the beach rode, I realized that I was smiling. Sure, I’m never going to reach the speeds of the Tour de France, but it doesn’t matter. At least I’m pedaling on a regular basis.

The first weekend that I got the bike, I ran into some long distance bikers on my way home from my first ride. We chatted for a few minutes and I shared that I was only just starting out riding a bike after many years and I hoped it would aid me in my overall weight loss efforts.

The man told me that if I kept at it, I would succeed. He also said that the speed didn’t matter as much as the duration of my rides. After seeing the picture online today, I’m taking what he said to heart. Regardless of how fast, or how slow, I go, I’m still accomplishing more than I would by doing nothing.

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Wow, What a Week!

It’s Friday night and I haven’t posted in a couple of days. My apologies, but I will freely admit that by the time I finished work and other obligations every evening, I was physically fatigued and mentally wiped out. The fact that I was only physically fatigued is actually a very positive, huge NSV. Here’s why.

One of the things that I do in my job is coordinate media shoots. Production companies approach us, or I pitch them, about including our center in a television show, documentary, special series, etc. A lot goes into arranging details and scheduling the filming before the day of the shoot. (What they want/need to see has to be done within our normal daily activities.) When the day arrives, I’m out there with the crew all day long, keeping an eye on the schedule, supporting my co-workers who are working with the animals and being interviewed, dealing with potential glitches and many other details. Thank God that I now have an assistant because there’s more than enough for the two of us. Tuesday, we had an all day shoot. (Sorry, but I can’t tell you for what show or network until it’s actually scheduled to air which will be at least a year from now.) I got to work at 8 a.m. to check email. The production crew arrived at 8:30 a.m. We were on the job with very little down time for the rest of the day until we saved goodbye to them in our parking lot at 5 p.m.

Prior to my weight loss, it took everything I had to physically last through days like I just described. Then, when those days were over, I dragged myself home, gulped down 800 mgs of ibuprofen, broke out an ice pack for my knee and collapsed in my recliner whimpering in pain. My ankle and knee joints would throb for hours and my back and shoulders felt stiff as boards. It was hellish.

It was so, so different this past Tuesday. Sure, I was tired and, maybe, a little achy, but I wasn’t in pain. I didn’t come home and collapse in a chair with throbbing joints and tears in my eyes while I whined. In fact, I walked the dogs, ate dinner, watched some television and then soaked in a hot bath and went to bed. The next day, instead of stiff muscles and joints, I bounced into the day with no ill effects.

Yesterday, we had another shoot to do. This one “only” went from 8:30 in the morning to around 12:30. It’s rare for us to have two shoots in a week. I normally spend a lot of time in my office working on multiple projects. I always have multiple projects underway. This is brain intensive but not physically demanding. It can be stressful, depending on how many of those projects have strict deadlines and how many other, unexpected things pop up in any given week. (It happens all of the time.)

When today finally arrived, I was so happy. I knew that I could have a good productive day, including reaching completion on some of those projects I’d juggled. Originally, I had plans to go out to dinner but those plans changed. Honestly, this made me even happier. I wanted a free evening where I wasn’t physically and mentally tired and didn’t have to rush off anywhere.

I got home on time, fed the dogs, changed my clothes and set off for a good bike ride. Even though I’d kept up with my Tai Chi and dog walks, I didn’t make it to Zumba and had not been able to squeeze in a ride since Monday. Tonight, I rode up town and then down a long road to the beach before turning around and heading home. By my estimate, this ride measured between eight and nine miles and took me around 45 minutes. Just to round things off, and provide Nat and Pyxi with what they need, when I got home I took them out for a 20 minute walk.

Having the bike has really added a new dimension to my daily life. Looking ahead to tomorrow, I’m already planning to ride to Tai Chi class in the morning instead of driving my car. After Tai Chi, I’ll proceed up the road to the health food store for a protein smoothie for lunch. Then, I’m setting off for a few more miles to visit the animal shelter. After that trip, I’ll pedal all of the way back home. This will probably be a total round trip of nine or ten miles. I’m confident in my endurance. The rides I’ve taken in the last week have demonstrated to me that I’m strong and fit enough to challenge myself with several miles at a time.

So, it was definitely a very busy, wowza of a week, but it has now wound up on a great note. I’m happy, content with my work accomplishments and my attention to my physical exercise. I’m not in misery. Instead, I feel marvelous.

What kind of week did you have?

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Free Wheeling

Maybe I’m fresh in the honeymoon period with my new bike, but I couldn’t wait to go out for a ride this morning. I slept in a little, then needed to drink my morning protein shake, and then, to be fair to Nat and Pyxi, needed to get them out for a nice walk first. Once those things were accomplished, I strapped on my helmet, grabbed my phone and ID, and pedaled off. (I always take identification, just in case. I probably should also take my health insurance card, also just in case, but that seems like challenging fate or setting myself up for disaster.)

When I shared with some friends about buying a bike, one asked if I’d ridden the Old Seven Mile Bridge yet. Since I only got the bike yesterday I hadn’t yet had the chance, but the idea staying in my mind. That was today’s destination. Before you get totally wowed, no, I was not biking over seven miles of bridge. That would be the “new” Seven Mile Bridge, which was built in the early 1980s. It was built alongside the structure now known as Old Seven. Old Seven is more than 100 years old. It was built by entrepreneur/visionary/business magnate Henry Flagler. His original thought was to connect a railroad down the Keys. There’s a lot of history in that tale. Suffice it to say that the railway did not survive, but his visionary practices opened up the Florida Keys to the rest of the world. (Old Seven was a star of the movie True Lies. That whole chase scene near the movie’s end was filmed on this bridge.)

The old bridge is in a deplorable state of disrepair and everyone is in constant discussion on how to save it, what needs to be done, how many tens of millions of dollars it will cost and, above all, who is going to pay for it. I hope above all that these questions get answered and Old Seven is saved because I think it’s a Florida Keys treasure. It’s great for walking, biking, viewing sunsets and the water with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. For safety’s sake, the Dept. of Transportation closed it to vehicular traffic several years ago. We are concerned that they will close it to bikes and people soon, which will be a horrible shame.

Okay, that’s enough of the history, on to the bike ride. I live about a mile and a three quarters from Old Seven and there’s a bike/pedestrian path along the Overseas Highway. This is a good thing because people, mostly tourists, drive crazy in the Keys. I wouldn’t want to be on the actual road. I’m happy to say that already this morning, I’m a little steadier as my bike riding skills return. (Check the update note I tacked on to yesterday’s post about my close encounter with a hedge last night.) I felt more in control of my steering. That said, when I approach another cyclist moving in either direction, I’m quite happy to be the one to yield.

Once I reached the bridge, I knew I had approximately 2.2 miles to reach Pigeon Key, which is as far as one can go from this side. I haven’t done this ride in 20 years. I so enjoyed the warm stretching of my legs as I pedaled and the kiss of breeze on my skin. It was mostly overcast this morning, so I didn’t have the sun beating down on me, but it was warm and I worked up a sweat. Feeling strong and confident, I decided I’d go the distance, and go it I did!

When I reached the end, I stopped and chugged some water before turning around. That’s when the ride became more challenging. It requires significantly more effort to bike ride into the wind, which was blowing about 10 knots per hour in my face. There was a time when I would have internally whined about this, but this morning, I absolutely relished having to work harder, knowing that my body was up for the challenge. I’m pretty sure I broke out in a smile a time or two when I felt my cardio rate rise and my muscles respond!

When I made it back to the parking lot at the bridge’s beginning, I all but cried out, “Wheeeee!” as I allowed myself to coast for a dozen yards. In the grand scheme of biking, this success wasn’t exactly like finishing a segment of the Tour de France, but I was darned happy!

On the way home, I stopped at a little convenience store to pick up some milk and ran into a couple of serious cyclists. I could tell by their bikes and the way they were outfitted that they were putting in some mileage. It kind of surprised me when the man looked at me and said, “Nice bike.” “Thanks. It’s brand new,” I replied. “You picked a good one. I used to sell them,” he continued and then asked if his wife could take a picture of him posed with the bike that he could send his friends. I agreed and asked if they’d take a picture of me in return. We chatted for a few minutes and I found out that they were biking down to Key West (another 47 miles from where we were stopped) and that their journey had begun in Jacksonville! Holy wow. It takes me eight hours to drive to J’ville! I told you they were serious. I congratulated them on being so close to their destination and then sort of laughed. “It isn’t much in comparison, but this weekend is the first I’ve ridden a bike in about 20 years,” I told them and then explained about my weight loss and how getting a bike is another step in reclaiming my physical health and fitness.

The guy then said something really terrific. “Just keep riding and you’ll get there. You don’t have to go fast, you just have to keep pedaling.” I love hearing that. I don’t have to do this fast, I just have to keep doing it. That’s my new bike riding mantra.

Here’s the picture that the couple snapped of me. The shirt’s about two sizes too big, but loose and comfy felt good on the ride.

Bike

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