Quick Update: Weigh-In, Steps-a-palooza, and Pricey Sports Bras

Good day, folks! Thought I’d pop in to give you the 4-1-1 on my latest weigh-in results. Yesterday I weighed in at 213.8, down 0.8 lbs from last week. To be perfectly honest I was a tad bit “down” about it for a little while, considering the massive fitness endeavors I’ve been making, but I should know by now that my body doesn’t depart with the pounds in a reasonable way every week. That eight-tenths of a pound is honorable and I’m satisfied that I’m still edging ever-closer to Onederland!

On the subject of fitness endeavors, I’m tired! Last Friday my trainer informed me that 5,000 steps per day no longer held the challenge they wanted for me, so I was to increase that to 10,000 steps per day (above my formal workouts). And dag-nabbit, I’m nothing if not motivated to succeed! Who knew my motto would become that old cliché, “How high? 10k steps is no walk in the park. Well, to be fair, it IS technically a walk in the park, but a DAMN LONG ONE! My poor feet have been grumbling since Friday. Deservedly so, as according to Fitbit’s tracking I’ve logged 28 miles since then.

Maintaining these step levels is going to require constant vigilance. Yesterday, in addition to my 33 minutes on the Adaptive Motion Trainer at the gym (where steps didn’t count, grumble grumble), I also spent about 40 minutes on the treadmill, just trying to get my steps reasonably high. Then I still had about 3,000 more to do at home, where I spent a good deal of time walking in place while watching my stories on the teevee. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

Now that I’m throwing in some running along with my many walks, I’m finding my sports bras to be – shall we say – inadequate. I found a local store that sells the Enell brand so hurried over before my weigh-in yesterday to try some on. The Enell Sport was the clear winner among all the rest, but I walked out with a debt increase of $75 – FOR ONE BRA. Holy yikes. That’s a lot of green for some adequate chest compression! But I was able to jump without, well, I was able to JUMP – so there’s that. Hopefully the quality is true to advertising and it lasts – until I shrink out of it, that is!

Oh geez it’s nearly 10AM and I have a training appointment in an hour that I’m running late for!! Better motor. Thanks for reading!

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Adventures in Hiking: Saint Edward State Park

This morning I woke up feeling kinda blah, so I immediately set some goals to work on in order to make the day interesting.

My training went well. My trainer put me on the Woodway Treadmill and hiked the speed up to 3.2 mph. After a minute she noticed I couldn’t keep up (I believe she compared me to a small dog who had to run fast every few paces to keep up with her owner) and lowered the speed to 3.0 mph. A small reprieve. After a few minutes she asked, “You ready?”, and I should’ve known that she would make me run, as the incline was at zero. She bumped the speed up to 5.6 mph and off I went. I’m kinda sorta maybe working on being able to run a 5K (instead of merely walking with occasional bursts of running), so I’m happy for any opportunity to practice.

3_21_workout

Just LOOK at all them spikes! Afterwards, we did some “floor work” which consisted of some core exercises, including planks. I mentioned that I wanted to eventually get to one full minute. Maybe it was a good thing, but I didn’t try to keep mental count when I started and let her time it. When I fell onto the floor again, she commended me for getting up to 49.35 seconds. A personal best! I’d say that hour met all the qualifications for achieving Goal #1. I’m pretty sure I crushed it.

discovery_passOn the way home from the gym I stopped by a local shop to pick up a Washington State Parks pass, called a Discover Pass. Goal #3, achieved! I purchased it so I could scope out a local state park – Saint Edward State Park – that’s within walking distance of my house. 2.4 miles, to be exact. A little too distant to walk when I’d like to make an afternoon of hiking onsite, but I’ll work up to it eventually!

After lunch I laced up my dusty old hiking boots, packed up a backpack and my Boston Terrier, Benny, and we took a short drive to the park. The weather was perfect. 50 degrees Fahrenheit (on the cool side), but just as sunny as could be. The park is the site of a defunct Catholic seminary and Bastyr University. It’s 316-acres of both manicured grounds and wild forest butting up to the north-east coast of Lake Washington. I familiarized myself with the trail map available onsite and decided to take the Seminary Trail down to the waterfront.

The trail down was gorgeous. I started crossing the grassy grounds of the seminary into a wide, well-maintained (though occasionally muddy) forest canopy-shaded trail, heading about a mile down to a private shore on Lake Washington, accessible only by the park’s trail system. I spent about ten minutes just watching the water, feeling so happy I had ventured down. I’d been to the park a few times before but never got up the nerve to try one of the unpaved trails. I had no idea it was so beautiful and afforded such a pleasantly-peaceful experience.

I knew there were several loops available in the trail system, so decided to find one instead of double-backing on the trail I came up. After making a wrong turn that put me on some very wild trail for about an eighth of a mile, I doubled-back and found two offshoots. One marked as “More Difficult”, and the other marked as “Most Difficult”. As the trail I began on was designated as “More Difficult”, I figured I’d have an okay time with the former. The problem is that the trail, if I had remembered from the MAP, was marked as “Most Difficult” in spots. Awesome! But I was committed by the time I figured out that the path was more challenging, and Benny was a slave-driver an enormous help in getting me up the steep and scary path.

By the time we got back to the car I was well and truly DONE with the hike. It was a little over 2 miles round trip, and that was a perfect length for me considering the elevation gains and difficulty. I decided to give the RunKeeper app a try instead of my normal tracker, Digifit. I was excited to see the option to take photos during the walk, but afterwards found out that my heartrate monitor’s signal dropped early on. Not sure if my HRM’s battery is just wonky or if taking photos makes the signal drop (like it does with Digifit). I’m sure I’ll get around to featuring them both in a future “Appsperience” post, so I’ll troubleshoot that further before making any pronouncements. RunKeeper sure is prettier than Digifit, from someone interested in design elements. I digress…

So Goal #4 can be officially put to bed at this point. And a quick check of my Fitbit confirms that Goal #2 has been smashed as well, as I’m up to over 13,000 steps! My steps will likely be increasing over the next few weeks, as today I was informed that the head honchos of the 20/20 Lifestyles program talked about me during their “grand rounds” meeting yesterday and requested I push my daily step counts up from 5000 steps to 10000 steps (and that’s, ideally, above and beyond any I get during my “official” workouts). For an extra challenge, I guess. Because 5000 steps is too easy for me now, I GUESS. It’s a tall order, but I’m up for at least giving it a shot.

And with this post, I’ve completed Goal #5! I’ve made the most of my day and I’m mighty proud. Now to feed myself plenty, as I blogged right through my snack – whoops!

Video Update: My First 5K!!! And, a Career Epiphany?

In this installment I gush about my first 5K fun run experience, and delve rather deeply into some career-trajectory thoughts. Have I found my calling?

For those who don’t want to watch right now, but are curious none the less, you’ll find my written comments below.

 

A lot of exciting things have been happening lately, and I highlight a few of them in the video above. These include MY VERY FIRST 5K FUN RUN! This is a big deal for me. A few weeks ago my trainer mentioned the possibility of the two of us participating in the event (the 3rd annual Kirkland Shamrock Run) together, but she had to work and wasn’t going to be able to make it. I wasn’t in the mood to let that stop me, so I gently persuaded my boyfriend to register with me instead.

My plan was to walk most of it, but to jog whenever I could. A few weekends ago I took a 3.2-mile walk which included brief bursts of speed, and my mile-time was approximately 17min:45sec, so I set a conservative goal of getting below 18:00 for this. The route is known to be hilly for the majority of the way (though fortunately it was all at the beginning, giving some reprieve towards the end), so I didn’t want to push my goal into impossible territory.

Finishing results, my first bib, and a smiley post-race selfie with the boyfriend.

Finishing results, my first bib, and a smiley post-race selfie with the boyfriend.

The weather was PERFECT for my first event. It was a bit chilly, and it started to lightly drizzle for a few moments, but I’m very happy I didn’t pick a hot summer day to try jogging on the asphalt for five kilometers! I have, like, zero articles of running-appropriate clothing, and sported a fleece-lined jacket at the beginning of the race. When I finally heated up, my awesome boyfriend was willing to hold it for me until we neared the finish.

finish_line_pics

I found the above two photos of me finishing online amongst thousands of others!

Not only was the boyfriend a helpful valet for my things, but he was the official pace-keeper, and he kept me aware of how my mile-time was averaging. I think the worst part of the whole thing was I started to feel pain in my right hip area that prevented me from running as long as I wanted to. For the rest of the day it was sore, but today it’s much better. 

I finished in time to blow my goal time outta the water, at an official pace of 17:07, and a finish time of 53:04. 9th in my age bracket, lol!

The imperfect Digifit app results. Thinking of using RunKeeper next time, but hadn't tested it prior.

The imperfect Digifit app results. Thinking of using RunKeeper next time, but hadn’t tested it prior.

Afterwards, we stumbled into the nearby neighborhood Irish pub for post-race festivities (including a performance by the Eastside Firefights Pipes and Drums band), where the boyfriend enjoyed a Guinness and I recorded an Instagram video of the band. As you can see from the selfie above, I was very, very happy. I wasn’t prepared for the fun to end, in fact. I wanted to walk/run some more! When’s the next 5K?!? My boyfriend joked that there was a 4-mile run the following day, and I half considered it!

The other thing I find myself excited about has to do with some career thoughts I’ve been having. I left my position as a Project Manager for a medical training company almost a year ago to work on my issues with depression, anxiety, and (later, once I was feeling better) to kickstart my weight loss/lifestyle change. I don’t intend to be living this life of leisure forever, however, so I’ve been starting to put some thought into what it is I wanna DO with my life. I wasn’t happy in my last position, and frankly I haven’t truly enjoyed what I do for a living in a long, long time. And this seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect and ponder and put energy into pursuing a new path.

It’s been difficult. I have interests and proficiencies, but it hasn’t necessarily felt like I wanted to turn those into a career. I love web stuff, and graphic design, but the idea of doing it for a living seems like it wouldn’t be so fun (plus I don’t think I have the artistic chops to pursue it). I am attracted to audio and production- I even went to school back in the mid-90’s and finished a certificate program in audio engineering to work in post production for television and film, but my career never progressed past the stage of assistant, and I ended up being pushed into administrative roles. I excelled in them, and that’s how I worked up to project management, but it wasn’t what I ever dreamed of doing.

I’ve thought about medical imaging, psychology, audio production and editing, UI/UX, psychology, writing, psychology… wait. Are you seeing a trend? For many many years, the thought of becoming a counselor, or involved in the field of psychology has been of interest. Yesterday I had a bit of an epiphany when I was contemplating potential careers. What am I currently MOST passionate about? The lifestyle changes I’m working on to lose weight and learn to live a happy, healthy life. And I feel drawn to talk about my experiences here on this blog, with other weight loss bloggers, and really, to anyone who will listen. I love hearing people’s stories, and I try to absorb as much information on the topic of weight-related health, fitness, and behavioral research.

And of course I’ve had experience with counseling (on the receiving side) since I was a kid. Experiences both good and bad, to be frank, but I find it oddly compelling as a career choice. So I just started thinking that: how awesome would it be to turn this passion for helping myself into a career in helping others work through their own unique issues by providing support and behavioral/emotional resources!?! I start with what I’m closest to, and that’s the 20/20 Lifestyles program, and the counselor I’m working with there. I would love to provide the service she’s providing to me. And a casual web search illuminated other avenues for trained professionals to provide similar support, and I just got really, really energized.

I believe so strongly, with every fiber of my being, that successful, permanent weight management is not possible through diet and exercise alone: one needs to have the behaviors and mental tools to override our human instinct to eat fatty, junky foods and be comfortable (as in, not feeling the temporary pain of exercise). So many of us DON’T have these tools, and I want very much to be a provider in that way.

Of course this will likely involve schooling (I never finished my Bachelor’s, and most positions in the counseling field require at least a Master’s completion), and more critically, the finances and time for schooling, and that’s all really overwhelming to think about. But I’m going to take a careful, measured approach to this, talk to some people I know about the possibilities, and see what makes sense. It’s been so long since I’ve felt like something could be SO RIGHT for me, and I don’t want to chicken out because it feels like it might be too much.

*Whew*, that was a long post! Thanks so much for reading!

 

Weigh-In Update and Journey Into Jogging

I’ve a small loss to update you with here. Tuesday was my first day back to the 20/20 Lifestyles program after a brief medical hold (which had me skip two weeks of weigh-ins), and their scale showed me at 216.6, or a 0.6 lbs loss from last week’s home scale weigh-in. I’ll take it!

I’ve been feeling really good since last Friday’s bike ride. I was a little sore on Saturday, but by Sunday I was raring to go again and got myself out of the house for a 3-mile walk IN THE RAIN down in Redmond near Marymoor Park (view each leg here and here). It. Was. Awesome! It was only a little drizzly when I left the house, but driving over the rain turned heavier and more steady, but I wasn’t about to let my parade get… rained on?

Anyways, I had plotted a course before leaving that would take me to the 3-mile mark, round trip. I didn’t expect to make it all the way down in the rain, but the rain wasn’t really that bad. Sure, I got soaked, but I wasn’t too cold at the time – my jacket did an admirable job of keeping the wetness off my body. Listening to music definitely helped me keep up my energy. I picked a song (a particular fave of mine right now), and kept it on repeat the ENTIRE TIME. I think that means I’m a crazy person, but I’m okay with that. For those interested, it was “Paris is Burning” by Ladyhawke (embed below, at 2:26 is my FAVORITE PART – synth solo, so 80’s!).

Because the trail was pretty quiet and shielded from the public, I decided to push myself and try to increase my pace with some light jogging at intervals. I got to the point where every time the chorus came on I would trot into a jog for as long as it lasted. I would really love to be able to run at length, but I know now how big a challenge that’s going to be. I’m up for it, though!

Yesterday was my first day back with my trainer, and she put me on my favorite machine ever. Oh wait, scratch that, it’s maybe my second least favorite – the dreadmill. She started me off at an evil 3mph pace and an incline of 10. After a few minutes my heart rate still wasn’t in great territory, so she pumped me up to an incline of 15. It helped a little, but after a few minutes my HR was barely pushing into the 130’s. I decided to try some jogging, and started lowering the incline to 10. She asked if the 15 was too much for me, and I said, “No, but check THIS out”, and then I raised the speed to 4mph. I wanted to do 30 seconds at this speed. And it definitely worked at getting my heart rate up. Into the 160’s lickity-split!

After the 30 seconds was over I took a couple minutes to recover, then went at it again, increasing my pace to 4.5mph. I ended up doing a handful of these intervals, and by the end of my 35-minute workout I ran at 5mph for two minutes straight. That’s a personal record for me!!! At the lower speeds it felt like I was plodding along, holding myself back, and putting too much pressure on my lower legs. 5mph felt considerably better, with more of an even stride. I’m hooked! I’ll continue to push these times and see if I can’t get that to five minutes within the next few weeks. Or even a mile in one go!

During my workout my trainer brought up a local 5k that’s coming up next weekend, and asked if I’d like to participate in it with her – that we could walk, set a pace, and then jog for whenever I felt like I could. This got me super-excited. This would be my first 5k! This morning I received an email from her that she’d got the date wrong in her head and it turned out that she wouldn’t be able to make it after all. Now I’m bummed. Thinking about doing it by myself all the same. Or maybe I could convince my boyfriend to do it with me. Hmmmm.

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 🙂

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.