Weigh-In Update and 20-Week Measurements

Hi y’all! Betcha thought I had forgotten about this blog, as it’s been A WHOLE WEEK since my last update. Too long. Lots has been going on so I’ll get right to it.

This Monday my trainer surprised me with my 20-week measurements. I never know when these assessments are going to happen (to the specific day, that is), so it’s always a sort of happy surprise. It eats into my cardio time, but whatevs.

Initial 5-week 10-week 15-week 20-week Total
Weight 266 lbs 255.2 lbs 237 lbs 227.6 lbs 218.6 lbs -47.4 lbs
Blood Pressure 126/82 114/68 112/64 118/74
Neck 16″ 14.5″ 14.25″ 14″ 14″ -2″
Chest 54.75″ 51.5″ 50″ 48.75″ 47.75″ -7″
Waist 51″ 44.25″ 43″ 41″ 40″ -11″
Hips 57.25″ 54.5″ 52.5″ 51.75″ 50″ -7.25″
Right Arm (Bicep) 19″ 17″ 16.5″ 16.5″ 15.5″ -3.5″
Right Leg (Thigh) 36″ 30″ 29.25″ 29.5″ 29″ -7″

If you add up all the inches lost, it comes to 37.75 inches. That’s over THREE FEET, people! Believe me, I quadruple-checked my math, because I’m crazy-bad at it, but the figure is correct. That’s… well… astounding.  I’m holding my hands three feet apart right now and GEEZ that’s a lot of space.

At some point I’m due to have my official Phase 1 completion assessment which includes a DEXA scan for body fat measurement, some blood work, a few strength and flexibility tests, and an updated progress photo. Not 100% sure when that will be happening, as I’ve been “gifted” 4 additional weeks of Phase 1 by the program management. So it could be soon, or next month sometime. I’m really eager to see how my body fat percentage has decreased. I really hope I’ve preserved (or gained) lean or muscle mass and have mainly lost fat pounds.

In other news, I had another weigh-in on Tuesday, but this one has a bit of a story wrapped around it, so bear with me while I explain. See, the weather on Tuesday was forecast to be beautiful. Here in Seattle the winter months, or really all the seasons except summer, are pretty depressing. Overcast, rainy – it leaves us starved of Vitamin D and kinda moody. This Southern California girl, especially. So when the sun peeks out from behind the clouds it’s always a festive occasion. It had been a few weeks since I’ve been able to get out on my bike, so I decided that Tuesday morning, before my weigh-in appointment, I would take advantage of the dry weather and get some saddle time.

The thing is, usually on my weigh-in days I participate in a bit of “intermittent fasting”. That’s my delicate way of saying I don’t eat or drink anything before my weigh-in. I’m not a proponent of this behavior, but that’s what I did to begin with, and it’s been a difficult mental hurdle to not continue. Eating beforehand would add a few pounds to the scale, and I’ve regretfully been enslaved to the desire to see LOSS at that official weigh-in. But my desire to ride on Tuesday, I’m very relieved to say, overrode that disordered thinking and I knew that if I wanted to ride with any gusto, I was going to need to fuel myself. I ate my eggs and toast and tea, and hydrated plentifully, knowing that I would likely not show a loss from last week, and likely a gain.

Scenes from my Tuesday morning ride

Scenes from my Tuesday morning ride (click image for detail shot)

The ride itself was, while not as great as my first trail ride, still a solid effort. It felt HARDER this time. My legs felt heavier, and I could feel a sense of fatigue much more strongly. I’m guessing I had A LOT of feel-good hormones happening on ride #1 that made things feel better overall. I decided to not push things too far and turned around at about 3.25 miles, giving me a total of 6.7 miles (see my ride report on Strava!). The ground was also still wet from recent rains, and I spent a lot of time peeling earthworm bits from my tires, brakes, and other components once I got home. GROSS! I think the worst part of the ride experience was that I LEFT MY FITBIT ON ITS CHARGER AT HOME!!!?!??  What. A. Tragedy! All those thousands of steps, never counting for anything 😛 All that aside, I’m still eager to ride more, and hope the weather decides to give us some nice days a few times each week.

Now back to my weigh-in. The scale registered at 217, up 0.4 lbs from last week’s weight. Not as bad as I expected, frankly. Before my dietitian had a chance to ask me too many questions (if I happen to have a slow loss week, she has a tendency to gently grill me for possible explanations, which is one of my few pet peeves about the program – but, ultimately, I get it), I proactively told her about my morning activities. It was still a bit of a mind-game for me. Maybe I wasn’t explaining to her, but I was trying to explain to ME. In any case, I congratulated myself on making a decision based in HEALTH vs. in a numerical dependency.

A few more wins from Tuesday and yesterday: after my weigh-in I had lunch, which was the 20/20 Chicken Vegetable Pizza from the Pro Sports Club bistro. Usually I eat the entire thing for a total of 490 calories, but I was pretty satisfied after half so I asked for a box and kept the remainder for my afternoon snack. Then I treated myself to an hour-long massage, which was even better because I had a gift certificate for it, so it was  FREE! I love massages. For years I denied myself the luxury because I was worried about exposing my body to someone, but I’m over it now. Wednesday it was again gorgeous outside, and I smiled all the way to my gym appointment, played some basketball with my trainer, and tried to figure out what I would do with the rest of my day. NO WAY was I going to spend it all indoors.

Juanita Beach Park from a stroll in 2010.

Juanita Beach Park from a stroll in 2010.

I settled on taking the dog for a walk at the recently-renovated Juanita Beach Park at the north-east end of Lake Washington. It’s a gorgeous little waterfront park with paved walkways and a wraparound wooden pier that lets you lap onto the lake over and over and over. I got up over 13k steps. Wanted to get to 20k, but by the time I made five revolutions or so both the pup and I had had enough and waddled our way back to the car.

It was a great couple of days, and I’m keeping my head and mood up as much as I can. Things are going great on this path to health and wellness and I’m really proud of myself. I even signed up for my first 5K run/walk this weekend: the Kirkland Shamrock Run. The plan is to mainly walk, but jog or run when I feel I can. My goal is to get an 18-minute mile. Nothing extravagant but still challenging for me. I’ll make sure to do a complete write-up once I’ve completed it.

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First 10-mile Trail Ride!

Yesterday I woke up to sun shining through open slats in the blinds, and a quick check of the weather app on my phone revealed clear skies forecast for the rest of the day. Tomorrow would bring rain and the possibility of light snow, so I knew I needed to seize the day. It’s been too long since I’ve been able to ride my new bike, and a day like this was the first good prospect for hitting the wonderful paved trails in the greater Seattle area.

Eager to get on my way, I reheated some grilled chicken breast for breakfast along with some caffeinated tea. I ate chicken and cinnamon almonds while looking at online maps of the regional trail system in my area and decided to make Wilmot Gateway Park in Woodinville my take-off spot. I had hoped to be able to make it from there southward as far down as the Red Hook Brewery – just to see if I could make it down that far. Silly me for not looking at actual mileage, but we’ll get to that later!

All loaded up

All loaded up

For me, anything longer that a mile of riding is considered a “serious ride”, so I pulled out my Pearl Izumi padded bike shorts. Luckily I can wear them under my yoga exercise pants, so no walking around in BICYCLE SHORTS for me just yet, lol! After loading the puppy up with his treat-filled Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug, I locked him in the bedroom and set on the task of loading my portable rack and bike onto the back of my MINI. This was my first time attaching the rack, so after the installation, loading the bike, and checking/re-checking all the straps, I said a silent prayer to the universe that the whole contraption wouldn’t fall off mid-drive.

The sun through the blinds did not lie: it was beautiful outside. 52˚F as I left the house, and not a cloud in the sky. The drive to the park was a quick 10 minutes and I could not get my bike rolling fast enough! I popped on my sunglasses, my helmet, my jacket, my full-length gloves, put the flashing USB red light on my seat bag, affixed my iPhone to the bike with the Quad Lock mount, fired up Strava, and away I went, southbound on the trail.

I was nervous, as this was my first public trail ride. As it was such a nice day, I feared there would be a zillion people that I’d need to navigate around and faster riders to avoid, but as it was Friday I lucked out and the trail was only populated-enough to make things interesting and educational, not dangerous. It’s a flat trail – wide, smooth, and well-paved – and follows the Sammamish River as it winds down the Eastside. It was not long before I was at a nice speed and about a mile in my heart rate was up in the 140’s and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

This. THIS is what I’ve longed for since thinking about getting a bike last summer!

Before I knew it my heart rate was in the 160’s, but I was still feeling great. I had a few tears stream down my face – I’m honestly not sure if it was the air in my face, the sunny skies, or the sheer emotion that caused them. At some point the thought occurred to me that for every mile I went down, I’d need to climb it back up to my car. When Strava showed that I had rode a little over 5 miles, I decided to hit up a kiosk, drink some water, and check to see where I was geographically. Good thing I did! I was at the turn off for the Power Line Trail in Redmond, WA, and realized I had flown past the Red Hook a few miles up. I went past it by 3.2 miles, in fact. I was a few blocks from downtown Redmond, which was MUCH farther that I had anticipated going. There’s always part of me that wants to push harder, go further. But I knew that my round trip mileage was going to hit 10 miles and that was enough to scare me into rationality.

I immediately regretted my error as I headed back northward. It was a mixture of it being slightly uphill to start, and the wind clearly being in my face. I hadn’t realized the wind at my back on the way down, nooooo! But it deafened me and slowed my speed on the way back up, and I realized this return five miles wasn’t going to be as much a walk in the park as on the way down. My jacket became an unwanted layer that I couldn’t remove, and the long gloves no longer seemed crucial. The thought: “What have I gotten myself into?” played in my head for a little while, but I took it easy when I needed to, and let myself have a couple of “photo stops” along the way.

The beautiful riverside trail, looking northward

The beautiful riverside trail, looking northward

As I approached the hour mark on my Strava timer, I started increasing my speed – I really wanted to get the route done in under an hour. I rounded a tree-lined curve and saw the park architecture up ahead. In my head I celebrated to myself, “I MADE IT! I DID IT!” and pedaled to the front gates. As I hopped off my bike I clicked “Finish” on Strava and set to work on rehydrating and some post-ride stretches. I remembered my intention to bring a banana along for the post ride and chided myself for forgetting, but my mood was still firmly set to ecstatic. I was only sad for having to pack my bike up and leave. It was still so beautiful out, but I knew I had spent enough time in the saddle for today.

As I drove home I spent more time in awe of the perfect sunny weather, and promised the day would not end here with me lounging on the couch for the remainder. I decided that, after lunch, I would head out with the puppy to have some more adventures. I came home, played with the puppy, and made myself a quick lunch of turkey jerky and greek yogurt. As I ate I reviewed my Strava upload and marveled at what a great workout it was.

Feb_28_Strava_Ride

Time was a-wastin’, and I couldn’t eat lunch fast enough to get out of the house again. After checking online maps again, I realized that another regional trail that linked up to the famous Marymoor Park was directly next to the pet store and froyo shop I intended to go to that afternoon, so I planned a 2-mile walk along the trail with the puppy into the park before enjoying some froyo with the puppy. It was a great walk, and got me up well-over 14,000 steps. I would hit 15k steps before the day was over!

Benny the Boston Terrier hanging on a Marymoor Park bench and enjoying (no, really!) our froyo time.

Benny the Boston Terrier hanging on a Marymoor Park bench and enjoying (no, really!) our froyo time.

This morning I woke up and discovered my behind was more than a little sore from the saddle. Funny how before my bike fit a few weeks ago I couldn’t be on the old saddle for ten minutes without aching, but yesterday everything felt so much better. I will deal with a little soreness from time to time if I can take more rides like that! This ride felt so good that I’m eager for the weather to comply to allow for more.

I’ve set a goal to be able to ride the Burke Gilman Trail (another in the regional trail system) which starts just a short drive north from my house and meanders up around Lake Washington into Seattle. My old workplace is 20.2 miles away on this route, or 40 miles round trip. A bigger ride than I can conceive of right now, but I hope that by the time the fall season hits it’s something I can tackle. My old workplace was staffed with young, athletic, adventurous sorts (mountain climbers, etc.) who regularly biked to work, and I was always the odd duck. I’ll be under 200 pounds by then, and to be able to show up there, ON A BIKE?!? It’ll feel good to blow their minds like that 🙂

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!

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.