Wednesday, January 28, 2015

So Far So Good

It's been just over a week now since I started refocusing on my health and weight loss and really watching what I've been eating.  I have gone back to low carb eating and it has made a difference.  I posted last week that my weight was 463.  This morning it was 455.  8 pounds down.  I am very happy about this and it's a great motivator to see that things are moving in the right direction.  Of course I expected this.  I always lose a good amount the first and second week of switching to a low carb following the Atkins diet.

It's 3 and 4 weeks in that I really start struggling. I start struggling because that's when my food cravings kick into high gear.  I want the fruit and the grains at this point.  This time will be different.  I am going to stay strong and stay focused on my goals. I know I can do this.  I have to look both at doing the right next thing as well as at the long term goals.

That said, I need to start working on the second part of the attack on getting healthy which is to get moving. I've set a bunch of goals for the year and so far I haven't started working towards those goals.  I plan on starting to do that this weekend. Even if the weather is as wet as they are forecasting, I can still get my butt moving.

Join me out there - Get On Your Bikes and RIDE!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Miss my FitBit

As I've written before I own a FitBit Ultra which served me faithfully for almost 2 years before I ran into issues where I could no longer charge/synch it because the docking station/receiver that plugs into my computer broke.  This wasn't a poor design, rather an unfortunately accident.  I have been without its daily prodding to achieve more for over 6 months now.

I miss my FitBit.

Now I have been looking at the new models of FitBit that you wear on your wrist, the Surge, The Charge HR and the Charge, but I'm reluctant to pull the trigger on one.

I preferred carrying the FitBit on my belt or in my pocket and that worked very well for me.  Sure these new ones introduce additional features like Heart Rate monitoring (The Surge and the Charge HR) and even GPS (The Surge) but Something about wearing it on my wrist 24/7 just bothers me for some reason.  Since they've discontinued my Ultra over a year ago, I need to get one of these newer models but still, I miss my Ultra.

Looking at the three models above, I am leaning towards either the Charge HR or the Surge.  I think the heart rate tracking would be helpful and I like the idea of the GPS, thus being able to replace my Garmin, but there are a few issues that FitBit needs to address.  The major one is that it doesn't seem to have a specific Cycling mode for the GPS.  Second, I wonder about compatibility with sites like Strava and Map My Ride.

Until I see some updates to the Surge, I am really leaning towards the Charge HR.  It tracks activity (steps, floors, active/ very active minutes), heart rate and sleep.  This will give me a better understanding of how much I am burning on a daily basis and more importantly I hope, motivate me to do more and increase my numbers across the board.  I know the Ultra did that.

So, the only thing left to do is work on my budget to free up the funds to pick on up for myself. Of course there appears to be no hurry as the FitBit site says if I order now (Charge HR - Size XL) its a preorder and will ship in 8-10 weeks.  Gives me time to free up the needed funds. :)

In the meantime I need to work on my goals for the year by getting out of my recliner and getting in some walks and rides or I'll never meet my goals.

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm back and getting fit

Last week my wife and I spent a wonderful 7 nights cruising from Long Beach down to the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Miracle.  We stopped at the three ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. We loved it!  I highly recommend it!

That's not to say there aren't some things to watch out for on a cruise, when one is trying to get their body into a healthier shape.  The two biggest threats to progress in this direction are food and drink.

OK, I know that these are daily obstacles and challenges one must contend with when on a journey to a healthier lifestyle, but let's just say they are magnified in the microcosm that is a cruise. Take Food, for example.

When you are home you can exert a pretty high degree of control over the food that you eat, primarily by limiting availability within your household pantry, or mostly by cost when you go out to eat. Not to mention that if you eat at home, there likely isn't a huge variety nor quantity. Not true on a cruise.  Let's look at all of the food options while on a ship:

First and foremost there is the dining room. Its pretty straight forward with set times and menus to choose from.  You have either Breakfast or Brunch, and then dinner. Where at home most people don't usually have multiple courses, every meal in the dining room consists of Starters, Main Entrees and Dessert.  Add to that the fact that you can choose multiple items from each category if you so desire and you can see how this is a very dangerous place.

Just to illustrate my point, I'd like to share what I had on our first Formal Night of the cruise.  For starters I had the Beefsteak Tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella and then the wild mushroom soup.  My entree was the Prime rib of beef with baked potato and broccoli. Then there was dessert - Cherries Jubilee and date and fig cake.  What is important to understand is this was just a typical meal.

 Then there is the buffet which is open most of the day and evening.  There were stations with rotating cuisine like Chinese, Italian and Caribbean.  Then there were what I think of as the staples: hamburger, hot dogs, chicken finger and fries.  Let's not forget the deli with made to order sandwiches, either. Most of these were open from the morning until 9:00 at night.

Add to all that the 24/7 options of soft serve ice cream cones, pizza and room service where there is a wide selection of starters, entrees, sandwiches and breakfast.

As you can see, if you are hungry on a cruise its your own fault.

Then there are the drinks.  Everywhere you go on the ship there are bar waiters offering various mixed drinks or bear and wine.  Sure you have to pay for them, but they are such and integrated part of the cruise. On sea days, when we headed to the show room early, we would often get a double Bloody Mary. at meals we drank water or iced tea, but then in the evening it was usually couple of beers or mixed drinks.  Nothing excessive or out of the ordinary for a cruise, but it all definitely adds up.

All that being said the common belief is that people gain as much as 10 lbs. during a one week cruise.  That is a lit for such a short period of time, I know, but with all of the food and drinks that are consumed, not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

One way to combat that is to have a plan - decide ahead of time what you are going to eat and stick to the plan.  Every day you can go on your stateroom TV, or head by the dining room and see what the menu will be for dinner that evening.  Stick to the healthier choices, or if you must try all of the great food, split the meal with someone or limit yourself to just half of the dish.

Another way is to utilize the exercise room on board or just get out and walk!  The ship we were on is 959 feet long and 105 feet wide.  It has 12 decks and lots of stairs.  Just walking from end to end along one of the interior corridor would be about 900 feet.  With 5280 feet in a mile, if you walk it 6 times you've walked a mile.  If that isn't what you want to do, walk the stairs up and down from the lido deck (deck 9) to the restaurant/showroom on deck 2. Beyond that there is also a track you can walk or run up on deck 11.  All of this is available even on sea days while you are moving from port to port.

Then there are the ports themselves - great opportunities to get out and explore another country or world and many of them involve physical activity.  There is everything from snorkeling to horseback riding to a canopy adventure with a ropes course to just walking and sightseeing. Of course there are also the excursions where you ride a bus and drink tequila (mas tequila) which I have to say has been one of my favorites.

What I'm trying to say here is while a cruise for many (including me this time) can mean a bit of excess eating and drinking and lack of activity, it doesn't have to.  There are opportunities galore to enjoy yourself and also burn off many of those possibly excessive calories.


So, the cruise is behind us and all that's left are the memories and the few extra pounds.  Its now time to get my butt back to the task of getting myself in a better, healthier shape.  To that end I have been thinking about what I want to do this year and have come up with several goals to move me in the direction I want to go.

First and foremost I need to lose weight. that is a given because the extra weight is really starting to take its toll on me and I'm tired of it.  To this end I've adjusted my diet to a low-carb diet which I know will allow me to quickly get started on losing pounds.  My goal is to be at 360 lbs. on January 1, 2016.  I finally got the scale working this morning and it showed 463 lbs.  so, 103 lbs. to lose.

Second, I need to get more active. Obviously the more active I am, the more weight I can lose.  To this end I have established 4 goals. Two of the goals are for distance, two for frequency, Two for cycling, two for walking/running.

I plan on cycling at least 1500 miles this year in at least 300 rides with several key milestone rides mixed in: a 25 mile ride, a 50 kilometer ride, a 50 mile ride, a metric century and a century.

I plan on walking/running at least 300 miles this year in at least 180 walks/runs. I also have specific distances here: 5K, 10K and Half Marathon this year.

To keep track of all these goals and my progress towards them, I will be putting together a chart listing the goals and weekly progress and posting it in the right margin of this page.  I know I can do this.  I know I need to do this.  I will do this.

What are you doing to get healthy in 2015?

As always, Get on your bikes and ride!!!!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Holding pattern

Ok, I know its not much of an excuse but I know me so it's pretty valid.  I'm holding off starting any real plans for getting healthy and losing weight this year until after my cruise next week.  Yes, I said my cruise next week.

The wife and I are heading out of town on a big boat full of lots of enticing food for a 7 day holiday in celebration of our 20 years of marriage.  I could spout off how I'm planning on watching what I eat and limiting my intake over those seven days but I would just be setting myself up for disappointment, having been on several cruises in the past.  I know the siren song of the buffets and the ice cream and the wonderful foods at dinner will be hard to resist and I will fail to resist.

Instead of making promises to myself and to you that I know I won't keep, let's just say I will limit myself to not eating myself into a stupor and look to get at least some exercise every day while on vacation. That is something I can do. Then, when we get back it will be time to start seriously taking care of business in terms of getting healthy and losing weight.

Part of this cruise will be to relax and refocus myself on what needs to be done.  I will be formulating a plan and posting the details of my goals for this year when I get home. I do know that 2015 will see me getting much healthier and more fit, no exceptions.

I hope you will also set and meet your goals for the new year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Where has it gone?

"Where has what gone?" you might be wondering. Or not. Where has the year gone, has my motivation gone, and my fitness gone? Would be the correct answer. Of course I know where it has gone - right out the window.

First went the motivation.  For some reason, once I met my personal goal of riding for 180 in a row, I just didn't have much more motivation to ride.  In fact I haven't been on the bike since I finished that personal challenge. This is terrible.  This is what has contributed to my overall lack of fitness (not that I had much to begin with).  Let's face it, as we age we are either actively working to maintain or possibly improve our fitness or are losing it. Since I haven't been riding I have been heading down the losing fitness road fairly quickly.

Along with the lack of exercise, we have come through the holiday season which is notorious for overeating and I have been keeping true to form in that arena as well.  Combine these 2 facts and obviously my weight has been on the increase instead of the decrease.  Time to wake up and face reality, I cannot afford to not work out.  My metabolism and eating habits just don't allow it.

This time of year is notorious for making resolutions to do whatever and unfortunately most of those resolutions rarely make it past the end of January.  That's why this is not a resolution but a commitment.  I will eat healthier and be more active starting today.  No sense waiting for the new year, for next week or until after my cruise in less than 2 weeks.  I have to start today and keep with it every single day.

I have been avoiding the scale like the plague because I know that it will not have any good news for me. I will get on the scale and note the number that it shows.  I will use this as my new beginning and move on from there. I am not happy with my current state of affairs, I have no one to blame but myself and no one can change it but me and that starts today.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and am looking forward to a happier and healthier new Year for us all!

Now, get on your bike and ride!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Personal Challenge Completed

6 months ago I decided to challenge myself.  I decided that I wanted to ride my bike for 180 days in a row. It was tough staying motivated to do something every day for 180 days, but I made it. Its been an interesting ride.

Some days I rode longer than others, but I rode at least a mile every single day. The biggest challenge wasn't getting out and riding in the high heat of summer, but towards the end when the lower temperatures of fall arrived. I've proven to myself that I can set a goal and achieve it over a fairly long time period.

Here are some statistics from the last 180 days:

Total rides: 180
Total distance: 368.7 miles
Total Time: 29.75 hours
Total Burned: 44021 calories

My grandson asked me yesterday when I didn't ride if I was going to do it again.  The answer is yeas.  I am taking a short break but I will start a new 180 day challenge in the next few days and I hop to greatly improve upon those statistics.  This one will be a real challenge with the cold windy days ahead, but I will do it.

What challenge will you give yourself?

Get on your bike and ride!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Time for an update

I realize I have been fairly quiet on here of late and I am hoping to address that with some more frequents posts, but I have a feeling I may be absent from this space for most of the month of November.  There are a couple of reasons for this and the biggest is that November is the National Novel Writing Month.  I am one again in the process of creating a novel of at least 50,000 words during the 30 days which is November.

On top of that my parents are coming to vist for 10 days at the end of the month. I haven't seen them since last year when they visited in September so that my dad and I could ride the Viva Bike Vegas ride together (Read about it here: Part 1 and Part 2). Obviously while they are here writing time is goingot be very limited.

One thing I will post about will be the wrap up for my personal challenge of riding 180 days in a row (today I am on day 178).  I will also go into a bit more detail on some of the health information I've found out from my doctor and several tests that I have undergone over the last few weeks.

One thing I do want to point out is that I've re-challeged myself to lose weight between no and the end of the year. So far, over the last 2 weeks, I have lost 6 pounds. This is a good start on what I'm hoping to be a 20 to 30 lb. loss by the time we go on the cruise in January.  It will be tough with the usual gluttounous holidays focused on food coming up, but I plan on doing it.  No more excuses.

So, thinkif this post as a preview of coming attractions for other posts soon to come.

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inspiration from an unexpected source...

I was surfing the book of face today and found a picture with a quote from an actor and martial arts originator and it surprised me in that it was truly inspirational and struck a chord with me.  I have been thinking about it since I saw it and can't get it out of my head as it truly has affected me.  Here is the photo:

In case you can't read the text very easily on whatever device you may be perusing my blog on, it says:

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

This is a quote from Bruce Lee.  What resonates with me is that what we are truly capable of is beyond what our mind tells us we can do. Most of the limits people experience in life are limits they have self imposed because in their mind, that is all they can do. I don't care if we are talking about a physical act like lifting weights or running or cycling, or a mental one like solving a problem or being creative, our minds create limits for us and we live up to those limits.

I see this quite often when I am teaching.  Students have an idea that they can or can't do something in their minds before they even attempt to learn it and 99% of the time they are right, either way.  If they are sure they can learn it, they do.  If they are sure they can't do it, again they are usually right. What I have found is that it is very important to maintain an attitude that anything is possible and you will go so much further than you ever thought you could.  I have to remind myself of this every day.

What mental limitations have you placed on yourself that aren't true limitations?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Still here

I have been woefully negligent of this space for the last 3 weeks or so.  Most of the reason for that is little has happened in that time that is truly worth noting.  I am still riding everyday and have only 22 days left in my personal challenge.  unfortunately no progress has been made in the weight loss department and neither have I completed any rides or events of any note.

One thing that has been going on is an increased focus on my overall health via attending several doctor's appointment and having a variety of tests conducted on my body. No results have been revealed as yet due to one last test coming up this weekend. Once the testing is complete it will be time to sit with my doctor and discuss treatment options.  Nothing drastic is happening (that I know of) except for some resistant high blood pressure.  Let's hope the tests confirm this lack of other issues.

I do know that I need to get myself into better shape and will be starting to address this in the near future.  I mentioned my plan to lose weight through the fall and into winter and my doctor was skeptical due to the number of holidays frequently used as convenient excuses to overindulge in all things calorie rich.  I have hoped to prove him wrong, but so far he has been right.

Once I have a better idea of my medical status I will be making my plans to improve my overall heath and I will be posting it here, if for nothing more than public accountability.

I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy the glorious fall weather and...

Get On Your Bike and RIDE!!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

National Bike Challenge stats

Yesterday was the end of the National Bike Challenge.  The challenge ran from May 1st through September 30 and it was designed to promote cycling across the country.

I was a little late to the party and joined on May 12.  The challenge is the catalyst which spawned my personal challenge to ride 180 days in a row.  To date I have ridden 139 days consecutively.

What is really great about the challenge is how cyclists support and encourage others along the way.  I actually joined the challenge with 47 other riders from my work.  We had a pair of awesome organizers (thanks Keely and Eric) and everyone was motivated to ride.  What I like is that you could see how well you were doing not only on a national scale, but a state local and organizational scale as well.

Let's break down the statistics.

Above is my overall statistics.  I rode 336.5 miles in 140 rides over the course of the challenge.  That earned me 3,136 points which placed me #4,757 out of 47,087 riders nationally.

Locally I was number 23 out of 202 riders.

At my workplace I was #9 of 48 riders.  Not too bad at all!

What I liked about the challenge is that they gave 20 points for getting on the bike and riding at least a mile on a day.  They then awarded a point for each mile ridden. This rewards perseverance which I how I placed so high.

I am certainly glad I participated in the challenge and look forward to it again next year.

Get on your bikes and ride!