Video Update: Mood Disturbance, Crazy Feet, and #wycwyc

In this installment, I share commentary about a recent run-in with my bipolar mood disorder, chat about my recent visit to a podiatrist (my feet are hilarious, y’all!), and mention the #wycwyc community chat on Twitter!

TL;DW:

  • After last week’s high, I definitely had a slumped mood earlier in the week, but was able to nip it in the bud and am back to feeling good!
  • just kidding

    4D xray of my left foot!

    In other news, my feet are riddled with bone spurs (especially on top – looks like a velociraptor!) SEE SIDE IMAGE —>

  • Caffeine is good for you (in small, well-timed doses).
  • Lastly, I am clearly not among the Twitter-elite but that didn’t stop me from taking part in the #wycwyc (What You Can, When You Can) community Twitter Chat this morning, like a total dork. See all my blabber here!

Links to some additional mentions:
Quad Lock Mounting System – the iPhone mount system I’ll be using in my car and on my bike
Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea – currently in the tie position for my fave tea

UPDATE: I’ve included an x-ray image here. Check out my awesome claw weapon in the making!

My First Cycling Lesson

When buying my bicycle, I knew I was going to need some professional guidance on riding. Sure, as a youth I rode bikes a lot, but that was a long, long time ago. It’s been at least 15 years since I’ve even been on a bike and I’m not eager to get off on the wrong foot. And even though there are some great bicycling forums available online, I’m a kinesthetic learner, and need to be out doing what I’m being taught.

Fortunately, I live in the Seattle area – one of the best places in the country to live for cycling. It’s the home base for the Cascade Bicycle Club, one of the premier non-profit community bicycling clubs in the United States. It hosts major cycling events as well as group rides of all difficulties numerous times every month, and is heavily into advocacy, lobbying local government on issues pertaining to the cycling community. They’ve been key in developing the greenways, bike lanes, and rails-to-trails paths that make the area so great for cyclists. But they also feature training programs for total beginners, those just getting back on a bike, and people looking to get more comfortable riding in an urban environment. It was the second set (those just getting back on a bike), that I found myself in, and while they didn’t have any of the 6-hour Back to Basics classes available for a couple months, they offered private education that could get me rolling sooner. It was a no-brainer to sign up.

This past Sunday I had my session with William Gerdes, a trainer for the club over at their Magnuson Park headquarters. I got lucky, as the weather was beautiful in Seattle this weekend. With the help of my boyfriend, I took the wheels off Gertie (my ridiculous anthropomorphic name for my new bike) and packed her into the back of my MINI. I must continue to practice this, as when I got over to the location I spent entirely too much time looking like a complete idiot while not being able to get my rear wheel re-seated. Fortunately, William was there to assist and I got some extra practice in.

After the wheel replacement, introductions, and a quick once-over of both my bike and my helmet, he asked me to mount the bike and do a little riding along one of the park streets so he could watch me ride a bit. The verdict? The seat looked a little high for me, and boy, was I fast! He said he was used to new students getting on a bike slowly, starting slow, and staying slow. But after a clumsy mount, I took off and was (relatively) blazing up the street. It felt good knowing that I had a little power under the hood to work with, at least comparatively!

The lesson covered many basics like how to properly mount and dismount my bike, braking techniques, and a little bit about gearing and cadence. I definitely have some work to do on those last two. Gearing is still a bit of a mystery, as I need to develop a feel of what gear I’m in, and what gear I should be in. What I gained most from this lesson was confidence. We rode around the park streets a bit, along with car traffic – something I’m terrified of, and being able to follow and emulate someone else while riding was a big boost to feeling comfortable about what I was doing (riding in comfort is another story – more on that in a future post, I promise!!). We even tackled a small hill, and on the way down I tucked into the drops for the first time. I’m a little fearful of taking downhills at speed but with the benefit of a little training, it was a lot easier to have fun with it.

He recommended I come back for the formal 6-hour course. Even though I would be a bit more advanced than the average participant he thought I could still gain some helpful insight into some topics I’m a little uneasy with at this stage. We talked about some of my shorter and longer term goals. I casually dropped the STP (Seattle to Portland 200-mile event ride which takes place every summer) as a pie-in-the-sky goal several years down the road, and he guesstimated that I would be able to tackle it in 2015. !!!! If I were to be able to do something like that I would be so, so insanely proud of myself! For now, I’m going to focus on maintaining my motivation to learn and continue to get out for short rides whenever the weather cooperates!

Week 15 Measurements

Got my 15-week measurements done last Friday! Below are the results. Brackets show total loss since September of 2013.

Weight: 227.6 lbs [-38.2 lbs]
Neck: 14″ [-2]
Chest: 48.75″ [-6]
Waist: 41″ [-10]
Hip: 51.75″ [-5.5]
Bicep: 16.5″ [-2.5]
Thigh: 29.5″ [-6.5]

That’s a total of 32.5 inches down from those 6 areas! I’m a whopping 10 (T-E-N!) INCHES DOWN from my waist alone. Holy crap, that’s nearly a foot! Now, if you were to look at my Week 10 measurement results, you would see some weirdness with the bicep and thigh measurements, but my trainer assured me that those will be different based on who is doing the measuring (they are supposed to measure the length of each segment and use the circumference of the exact middle, but placement differs based on the measurer, I guess??), and not to be discouraged. Okay, then!

I’ll be meeting with my program physician tomorrow for him to review the results with me, and I expect more back-patting and aggrandizement. I haven’t had any physical setbacks this period, though I should probably mention that I’m getting into cycling and having all sorts of weird pains pop up. Overall a good show so far.

Weekly Update: Too Much About Bikes?

I recorded a video yesterday with my update information, but it ended up being about 40 minutes long. For the sake of posterity and full-disclosure (even though the video makes me cringe) I’ll post it anyways but figured I’d try to pare down the chat with a more succinctly-written (added later: ha ha, yeah right) post.

Tuesday was my weigh-in, and while Monday I posted about my victimization from the scale I got lucky and recorded a 1.2 lbs loss. Sweet, sweet luck! My mood had been soured on Monday, and could have very-well lasted longer into the week, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t buoyed by that weigh-in. It’s ridiculous, but it’s the truth. The only fact I can draw from this is that WHAT I AM DOING IS WORKING and I need to not sweat the little bumps here and there. And try to not get on the scale at home.

As a probable method of self-soothing, Monday evening – while I was still a sour-puss from the scale – I started giving some more thought to buying a bicycle. I’ve been contemplating a bike purchase since before I started on 20/20 (in the video I figure out the exact moment the idea seeds itself), so it wasn’t a random thought or anything. I’ve had my eye on a certain bike for a little while now, but apart from having  conversation with a guy at a bike shop back in October and hours and hours (and HOURS) of researching all aspects of overweight cycling, I hadn’t taken the steps of actually getting on any bikes. So I decided that I’d take a few hours between appointments on Tuesday to drop into a LBS (local bike shop) to have a look-see.

The shop unfortunately didn’t have any new models in my size to try. More than a bit of a bummer, but I did get a chance to ride around on a 3-year-old hybrid that they kept in their rental fleet. A little note about bikes: there are many types of cycles out there: from leisure-type cruisers, to rugged mountain bikes, to ultra-lightweight racing bikes. For me, the two types I’d been looking at were classic road bikes (with dropbar handles), and hybrids (sporty cycles that typically have flatbar handles). In my mind, I favored the hybrid model as the flatbar handles seemed like they would be easier to command and more comfortable. More on that to come.

One word really sums up that first ride experience: OUCH! Sure, it was great feeling the wind on my face and getting up a speed greater than I can move on my own two feet. It was wonderful. Glorious, even! But I had a literal pain in my ass that was more than I could bear. My sit-bones (ischial tuberosity, if you wanna get all medical-jargonney) just could not handle the pressure.

I thanked the bike shop guy for all his help and drove back to the gym for my final support group meeting and vowed to give another LBS a shot on Wednesday, after my racquetball session. Let’s switch to that for a bit. Racquetball! So much fun. It really doesn’t seem like a workout when you’re running around after a little ball for an hour and laughing from the inevitable comically-missed swings. But I really worked up a sweat, and I’m pretty sure my heart rate got up to the anaerobic levels throughout, even though my monitor was being a little b*tch and not working half the time.

Back to bike-shopping! After my workout session I couldn’t WAIT to get onto the task at hand so I toweled off, figured lunch could wait (as breakfast was ingested immediately before my workout – THANKS SNOOZE BUTTON!), and drove up to Woodinville Bicycle to look at their arsenal of bikes. They happen to carry the brand of bike I had been looking at (that fancy Specialized hybrid I link to above), and in fact had the exact model I wanted on the floor! But after lengthy conversation and all the research, and ultimately, a mind-opening test ride, I decided that a road bike might not be a closed-off option as I had previously suspected.

We had gone out and tested three bikes: a more entry-level hybrid, a mid-level aluminum road bike with the same frame geometry as the fancy-schmancy hybrid I had eyed, and a carbon version of the same road bike. First, the hybrid: ouch. Again! My sits were still sore from the previous day, but this more upright ride didn’t do my backside any favors. A few laps and I was ready to try anything else, even if it was a scary road bike! I’ve ridden dropbars before – back when I was in junior high! I didn’t think positioning like that would be at all good for my iffy lower back. But lo and behold, after nervously getting on the bike and starting to ride, the one overwhelming sense I had was: OMG MY BUTT DOESN’T HURT AS MUCH! I instantly felt better about riding and could focus, instead of on my ass, on more important things, like steering, and braking.

We then switched from the aluminum road bike (the Specialized Dolce Elite Compact) to the carbon Specialized Ruby, and I didn’t feel as much as a difference as I thought I would. The difference in weight is about a pound or two, according to the shop guy, but I couldn’t feel it. And the price difference was something on the order of $700. And the Dolce *was* in my favorite color. Hello! I’m lame like that – I ain’t to proud to admit that aesthetics have a lot to do with how much I like a bike. So I bit the bullet and walked out the door with a brand new road bicycle. I henceforth shall call her Gertie:

My bike!

Isn’t she pretty? I think so! To get her home we had to take off the quick release wheels to fit into the back of my MINI, and the shop guy gave me a rushed demo on removal and replacement. Though he didn’t demonstrate putting the rear wheel back on, which turns out is the most complicated part. So I spent roughly an hour at home trying to figure out how to get it back on the bike. I still don’t know how I managed to get it back on, but when I go back to have my rack fitted, I’ll make sure he runs me through the process until I’m 100%.

I’ve managed a couple rides at home so far, and while there was an initial comparative sense of comfort on the bike seat, I’ve since discovered that riding is still no walk in the park on my behind. My sit bones still aren’t happy and I’m finding I can’t get very far without feeling some real pain. I have to get that figured out, as while I feel like I have the strength to go additional miles, my derriere just can’t tolerate it. I’ve read that gets better with time and mileage, and the salesman told me to give it a little while to see if I get used to it, but so far it’s rather unpleasant. I still need to get the full-on customized bike fit the shop offers, and I’m making notes about what is and isn’t comfy on the bike, so perhaps that will help. Another help will be buying some padded cycling shorts. Not sure how much they’ll help, but I’ll take every little assistance I can get. Though I’ll likely be wearing them under my pants. You won’t see me sporting them by themselves any time soon, for the love of humanity!

As a final aside, the bike shop was a little understaffed on Wednesday, and during one of my wait breaks I perused the latest issue of Bicycling Magazine which was on display. The cover story just so happened to be about riding for weight loss, which I found to be very timely and inspiring. The mag offers many articles online about cycling-related nutrition and weight loss, with some great success stories. So serendipitous!

In a future post, I’ll talk more about my thoughts on bike riding for fitness, and my related goals. But I’m thrilled to have finally taken the step to buy a bike and hope to make a go of it! For the masochists out there, I’ve embedded the full-length video below.

Video Quickie: Daily Brief for Jan 17, 2014

Apparently I’m loving the camera so here’s a quick update on my day. Here’s a link to the article I briefly mention regarding the pros of merely planning. Hoping everyone has a spectacular weekend!