Friday, July 22, 2011

Biking away, STS and WI!

Happy Friday to All of You!
I had to bring Millie (above, my road bike) in for her first check up today. Since I bought her in early June, I logged 479 miles. I ride my other bikes, too, but Millie is my main exercise vehicle. I was out on a twenty-mile ride on Thursday. The entire ride was on a bike trail or path except for the mile or so to the trail where I ride through my neighborhood. Like many cycling days, I do a warm up ride for a few miles, this time I warmed up by going along the Minnehaha Trail to the falls. You have seen this picture before!
What you have not seen is that if I get back on the trail it continues on and joins another trail that takes me across the Mississippi River. Here I am on the Ford Bridge crossing the Mississippi.
I then pick up a trail on the East Mississippi River Road that takes me about 4 miles north. I then start to cycle east along another bike trail. Below you can see the biking trail and how it follows the light rail tracks.
Below is a view of the biking bridge that I take over the light rail line.
I continue East along trails that look like the one below and are known locally as the Midtown Greenway.
I once again arrive at the chain of lakes that makes SW Minneapolis so famous. This is Lake of the Isles and Grand Round trail system. The fun part of cycling in a mecca of biking trails like this is that I do not make any decision about where I will go until I am actually on my bike.
You cannot see the trail below, but it winds around the tunnel and edge of the lake.

I think most of you know that I have made it a habit to stop at a flight of stairs along one of the lakes as I am out riding. I take those stairs almost every time I am out now. But, I started thinking about what else I might begin to incorporate in my workouts and happened upon this little gem of a playground.

Did you ever climb monkey bars? I did when I was a kid and I loved it. Plus, I was agile back then and of course not overweight. So, I thought: "why not give it a try?" I really need to work on my upper arm strength anyway, so why not? Well, I tried it and guess what? I could not swing myself at all. As a matter of fact, I could only hold on for a few seconds. So, I am going to start bar swinging (not that kind!) as part of my fitness regime. I am not setting any goals. But, boy do I feel it when I hang for a bit.

Challenge updates. I am down to just one. This one:
For me, the Slimmer this Summer (STS) challenge continues to go GREAT!!
Weight loss:
That number might not mean much to any of you, but it reflects a 2.5 pound loss over the past 3 weeks and a 4 pound loss all together for STS! In 7 weeks I have lost 4 pounds. Not much, but it is the first downward slope I have had in over 5 months. I have lost a total of 31 pounds since I started this journey last year. Need-less-to-say, I am happy with the results.

Tracking food: Food was spot on again. I am proud of the fact that I have logged all of my food for 8 weeks now! I also came in at 10,100 calories! So, a good week here, too!

Move more: Well, you can see by my side bar that I will end this week at 48 miles, so short of my 85 targeted miles per week. I climbed the stairs 4 times, plus, you already know I started the monkey bars

Blogger love: Yes, I have spread the bloggy love.

Weekend: we leave tomorrow, Saturday, for Seattle and the Puget Sound and our son's wedding. I am so excited! We will spend 4 days first in Olympic National Park near Lake Crescent doing some day hikes. One of our other son's and his family will accompany us to the Park. The wedding of my son is on Saturday, July 30th. Pre-wedding activities begin next Wednesday!!!! Expect lots of pictures when I return.

I am going to go electronic free, except for a camera, while I am away. No computer and no (not sure if I can do this!) iPhone. I believe it is important to take an electronic vacation from time to time. So, I will catch up with all of you upon my return on August 3.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Have a great weekend and back on August 3! TTFN, Michele

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Alert, Alert! Huge Milestone for Another Blogger!!

Hi Bloggers!
Mallwalker over at Getting Healthy has just reached the phenomenal milestone of 100 pounds off. Stop on over at her blog and spread some bloggy love! Have a great and strong day everyone! Michele

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cruise control, part 2

Last night the Minnesota Twins were down 0-1 until the bottom of the ninth. They rallied and fought back with two runs to win the game! On Sunday, I was watching the Tour de France. Did you see that finish? Wow! Talk about exciting!! There was a trio of leaders ahead of the Peloton for most of the race, up until the last 4 minutes or so, when it became a sprint to the finish with Michael Cavendish from the UK coming in with the same time as the USA’s Tyler Farrar!! A marvelous finish to an over 4.5 hours ride.
I am in no way close to a finish, but I am closing in on my official weigh in on July 23. I am aiming for a WIN!!! I worked really hard these past few weeks and am hoping that I will finally break through and have an actual weight loss. In the meantime, there are tangible ways that I can see results of my good habits whether or not I see a scale difference on Saturday. Here are some of my other wins:

1. My clothes are loser and in the case of some: downright baggy. I can bunch up a ball of lose fabric in my summer Capri pants especially at my waist and around my upper thighs. I am in no hurry to trade these lose clothes in either. Everyday I wear them is a reminder to me of how far I have come. Which leads me to...

2. I wear my clothes with more confidence, even my swimming suit. No buttons are about to pop off or fail to stay closed, either!

3. I wear sleeve less shirts now. Well, it is summer, so even in Minnesota it is hot. I NEVER wore sleeveless before. Now, I do and with confidence.

4. 10 miles on my bike is almost a “warm up” now. Now remember I live in Minneapolis so there are not too many hills, but I easily complete 10 miles and do almost every day.

5. Because I have ridden so many of the trails and bike paths around Minneapolis and St. Paul I have learned better ways of getting around all together, whether by bike or by car. Today, I finished a meeting in St. Paul and took the Minnehaha Parkway home (by car). Nice.

6. Speaking of that meeting: I make a lunch just about every time I go to a meeting. Most of the organizations where I meet provide a lunch that is catered or ordered out, rarely are any of the lunch fixings appropriate for me and my calorie budget. I do let the folks in charge of the meeting know that I will bring my own, too. I do not want them to order something for me and then it goes to waste. I have no problem eating my lunch, either, with everyone else. Honestly most people do not even notice.

7. I can walk a good clip up that flight of 48 stairs, near my bike trail. I would not say that I am sprinting, but, I definitely have some skip in my step. Thanks Alan for planting that seed.

8. I drink a tall glass of water before I have my morning coffee and all day long I pour refills. It is a habit.

9. I am not afraid to go out to eat or to a birthday party or whatever. I do not let the occasion be a reason for me to eat more than I should or foods that I shouldn’t. Last Sunday was my DIL birthday. I knew (since I bought it) there would be a Dairy Queen ice cream cake, one of my favorites. I budgeted 300 calories for a small sliver of that cake. It was fantastic and I enjoyed EVERY bite.

10. When I go out to eat I can find a salad on any menu that will work for me and I do and regularly.

11. Most of the time, I can have one bite, one taste or one sip of something that I should not have. And most of the time one bite, taste or sip is enough.

12. I have become a super tracker of my food. I just completed 7 full weeks of doing it every single day. No matter what I ate. No matter how high or low the calories.

13. My shoe size is smaller. Okay, this might be to aging, too. But, I was an 8 and now I am a 7.5. For real. Check out my new size 7.5 sparkly shoes for the wedding!

14. I am so excited for my son’s wedding on July 30th! Of course I love his future wife and it will be a GREAT celebration with my family and extended family, but, I love what I will be wearing to all the festivities, including this dress below that is a size 16 (I have not been in that size for over 15 years!).

15.I am NOT afraid to speak out about making the decision to take care of myself or for all of you: yourselves (some of you have received comments from me about just this on your blog). This getting healthy and fit lifestyle is the most important gift you give to yourself and your family. Take yourself and your own worth seriously and just DO IT!! You all know that I waited way too long, 57 years. Time to make THIS time count, like I am and stop being wishy-washy about it. It is hard. But, it can be done. Just do it. Get ‘er done!

16. Okay this one is personal, but here goes: I can use a regular bath towel to wrap me up when I am done. Enough said, but wow is that something!

17. I am looking forward to doing new or near new physical activities: like paddling (thanks, Julie!), hiking, and playing tennis.

18. Mostly what I want to tell you is how terrific I feel about myself. I know I have made progress in getting healthier and fitter. I am taking care of myself. I feel it in my stamina, I see it in my clothes, and I feel it in how well I sleep.

All together, lots of wins for me! So, how about you, where are you winning your own race lately?

Thanks for stopping by. Stay cool and stay strong everyone! Michele

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More to meeting another blogger

Julie and I met up on Saturday afternoon!!! It was fun and definitely a little adventure. She lives about 2.5 hours from Minneapolis in Northern Minnesota, a wonderful mix of lake country with mixed forest. It was just a magnificent day, getting to know someone in "real” time and learning about her neck of the woods to boot. First we strolled through her acreage: the near forty, the middle forty and the back forty (of her 120 acres!!). For me it was a biologist/naturalists’ heaven of plants and small invertebrates. Her acreage is no longer farmed and is now a beautiful mix of open prairies and meadows amidst rolling hills with hardwood and coniferous trees. Every corner we turned we were greeted with the sound of the woods and open fields, including the quaking aspens that stir and quake with harmony as the breeze moves their leaves. I don’t think Julie has ever conveyed what a beautiful slice of this planet she lives on in her own blog. Take my word for it, it is lovely. Just lovely. There were hairstreak, fritillary, monarch and cooper butterflies flying all around, with at least a dozen different types of damsel and dragonflies, soaring, too. Of course there were plenty of other insects and birds, but it is the diversity of butterfliies and dragonflies that captured my attention the most.

Our state is one of the best-kept secrets in our country. We have majestic prairies, small, but ragged mountains, and fabulous hardwoods and coniferous forests. You also know about our lakes, right? Well, Julie has a small puddle (beautiful small spring fed lake on her property) and right down the road, not even a mile way is another beautiful lake where you can motorboat. The area where she lives is known as lake country throughout our state. I can see why.
So, you get it, the natural world around Aitkin, Minnesota is fabulous. But the best part, was strolling along with Julie. Having quiet conversation and getting to know each other. Julie is gracious, kind, and compassionate which make for easy and free flowing conversation as we walked and talked. After our stroll we had lunch together. I had brought along some of my favorite salad fixings including a couple of different salad greens, some beans, beets, shredded carrots and a favorite raspberry vinaigrette, plus some Joseph’s pitas and fruit.

As promised Julie took me out to her small lake to paddle. Truth be told, I have always been afraid of canoeing, because I felt that if I ever tipped over, I would never be able to get back in, you know the obesity actor. I wanted in the worst way to get past this fear and Julie was there to show me the way. Julie is a great and gentle teacher, instructing me to keep my back straight and not wiggle from the waist up. We stayed upright just fine. After a circle around the lake and a few back and froths, she asked “are you ready” and then capsized us. It was at that moment in the cool water that I had to face my fear and risk humiliation by getting back into the canoe on my own accord. Boy, was that hard. Julie coached me. Michael, her son, used his long arms to keep the canoe from flipping over as I tried to get in, and after about what seemed like 20 tries I finally made it in. I know I could not have done it without them. I know, too, that I need to work on my upper arm strength. But, the best past is that I left that lake feeling like I had FINALLY done something that I had put off for so long because of my girth and low fitness level. Now, that my girth is decreasing and my strength is increasing, and a good new friend at my side, I tried something I never thought I would do: paddling and getting back in a canoe. I am guessing there will be many more paddle days in my future.
We finished the afternoon touring around the countryside in her car, including Serpent Lake in Crosby, Minnesota. There are actually several lakes here that were created when the old Cuyuna Iron Range open mine pits stopped operation. According to the Cuyuna Lakes website once the pumping stopped, the excavated mine sites turned from scarred earth to a new wonderland reclaimed by nature. We finished our day by meeting one of Julie’s friends for dinner at a local restaurant, who, although not a blogger, has lost 50 pounds. Together the three of us had lost a total of 140 pounds! Pretty cool to be amongst big losers like the two of them! As I drove home, my mind was swirling with ruminations.

If you are reading this post today you are more than likely a weight loss blogger like me. Each of us have our own reasons why we chose blogging as a way to document our getting healthier journeys. Each of us has also discovered that the weight loss blogging community is supportive and encouraging and for many of us, myself included, help us keep accountable and moving forward. We are all moving forward in varied ways. Many of you like me (and Julie!) are simply eating less and moving more. We are learning that there are no magic or easy steps to weight loss and getting fit. It is hard work. It takes commitment, determination and at times sheer grit. But, we are not alone because we are members of this blogging community. We talk about and process our day-to-day efforts and struggles, our triumphs, and our frustrations regarding our own personal journey to get fit every time we post.

For so many years my own obesity and lack of fitness was something that I never talked about with anyone. No one. Of course everyone knew what I did not: I was overweight and obese. It was a major turn for me when I came out with this blog and started to really tackle my obesity and all the other life style and emotional habits that got me here in the first place. As much as blogging has been a great support network, the downside to it is that it is virtual. Real people post on their blogs, but our relationships are virtual. For me there is now one blogger whom I have an emerging real time friendship that began with one of the most personal journeys I have ever undertaken. There is a trust and honesty already present that will serve as roots for a friendship to grow in ways I do not know. My own life will be richer and expanded because of it. That I am certain.
So, my weight loss blogger friends, do you ever think about meeting another blogger?

Have a strong start to your week and TTFN,

Friday, July 15, 2011

STS and other challenge updates

Happy Weekend, Bloggers!
We are already midway through July! Summer is so short here in Minnesota that I just want to make every day count. Like most of the country Minnesota is in for some very HOT weather this weekend! I will try to get out on my bike early each morning. Speaking of bikes and cycling, this will go down as one of my lowest mileage weeks of the summer. I taught all week at the U of Mn. Summer teaching is always very intense. I worked long, long days. Like many of you have blogged about, getting out early to exercise (like before 6am) was just not realistic. Several evenings I had meetings, too. So, thus, low mileage. I will get another 10-mile ride in Saturday morning.

Challenge updates!

My target for week 5 (July 10-July 16) for Small Change Challenge was to target experimenting with some "core" exercises this week. Well, I did not do any of those core exercises. So, guess what my small change goal is next week: yep, core exercises!

For me, the Slimmer this Summer (STS) challenge is going GREAT!!
Weight loss:I will not weigh in until July 23. So, no news here.

Tracking food: Food was spot on. I am particularly proud of the fact that I packed a lunch each and every day that I was teaching. You see they provide the most delicious lunches for the teachers. Delicious. The teachers rave about them. But for someone that is watching what they eat and calories: a no go. I did not have one bite of that food; nor one single bite of all the candy that was up for grabs either.

Move more: Well, you already know I did not make my 85 mile goal. I will add another 10 miles on Satirday for about 35 for the week. I did do stairs twice for 300 steps.

Blogger love: Yes, I have spread the bloggy love. I can see that the linky list on Deb's blog is smaller. I hope folks are not dropping out. I can not tell you how many times I dropped off of working on my weight and fitness. It is hard, and almost every day hard. But, you know, this is my life and I want nothing more right now then to be healthy and fit. If you are reading this and you are thinking about letting yet another weight loss journey go, think again. You are doing this for YOU! But you are also doing it for the people that LOVE you! Get your fitness together well before I did! Please!!

Finally, this weekend will be another first for bloggy love for me. Julie and I will be meeting for the first time in person!! I am so excited! Many of you already know that she is a Minnesota blogger, too, from Up North! I am betting that we will hit it off just great. As a matter of fact, we already share a common bond: weight loss blogging. We are a special breed, us weight loss bloggers. We know each other's stories at least parts of them because we live and have lived them. So already many shared commonalities. Julie is going to help me become a paddler! Well, at least learn the basics...

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Have a great weekend! TTFN, Michele

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Finishing a strong week and challenge updates

Happy Weekend, Bloggers!

It has been a really strong week for me! I continue to learn more about my own body and its response to both increasing exercise and calorie intake. I tracked my food carefully and came in at about 1300 calories on three days. Most of you know that last week I started including protein powder in my food program as a way to mediate my light-headedness. Because of the heat and humidity this week, I did most of my cycling early in the morning. This made a huge difference for me in terms of my calorie intake. I was able to get in three 1300 or less calories a day with a full week of good exercise. I know that I will actually lose weight if and only if I can get my calories to about 1200. I do not weight in until July 23, so hoping that I will record a loss with this new regime.

Before I get to my challenge updates, a couple of items:
Are you a Tour de France affectionado? If you are, you might like to know there is a great link (passed onto me by my son) where you can watch it live via the web. Enjoy!

Next: wear sunscreen! Two members of my family recently had surgery on their nose and chins because of skin cancer. We are older than many of you, plus there was NO sunscreen in my youth and even my early adulthood, thus many of you "youngins" have less risk than we do. I make it a habit of putting some on my nose (especially!), my face and neck every day, whether I will be out in the sun or not. There is no reason anymore for any of us adults to get sun burned. So, protect your skin: use a good sunscreen this summer and every day.

Challenge updates!
My target for week 4 (July 2-July 9) for Small Change Challenge was to eat more protein calories at breakfast and lunch. This worked really well for me. I will keep it up.

Next small change goal (July 10 to July 16): I am going to target experimenting with some "core" exercises this week. Not sure what, but, know that this will be another step forward for me.
For me, the Slimmer this Summer (STS) challenge is going GREAT!!
Weight loss:
I will not weigh in until July 23. So, no news here.

Moving more: You can see by my mileage in the side bar that cycling was very strong again this week, too. 5/7 days I climbed the set of stairs I wrote about last week. Actually this stair climbing is becoming another habit at this point.

Tracking food: I target 1400-1500 a day. As you know from above, I made it under 1300 calories several days. I did go over one day, too. I did great tracking in both water and food every day.

Blogger love: Yes, I have spread the bloggy love. Many of you have had significant weight loss success.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Have a great weekend! TTFN, Michele

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cruise control

I am going to start this post by sending out a word (or a few) words of thanks for all the positive and encouraging comments I am receiving on this blog since I started the Slimmer This Summer and other challenges. It is not an easy trek to get fit and healthy but I never feel alone because of all of you. Thank-you for stopping by and spending part of your day with me.

I hope you all had a great Fourth of July! Several of our family members traveled by bike to several Minneapolis destinations include lunch, a swimming beach and fireworks over the Stone Arch Bridge. All together we did about 20 miles of leisurely bike riding with kids in tow. Eating was good, actually very good, including a few beers. My average calories for the three days were under 1600. With all my exercise I aim for 1500 a day, so 100 more, is pretty dang good for me for a holiday weekend with lots of family time.

I am working on adding more protein into my diet as a way to mediate my light-headedness when I am exercising. I bought some protein powder at Trader Joe’s this weekend. ½ scoop has 9 grams of protein and only 50 calories. I add it to milk for a combined total of 160 calories and 16 whopping grams of protein. I am trying to take this milk in about an hour or so before I start a ride. Worked well the last three days.

Speaking of riding, I am moving into cruise control, so to speak. My favorite bike ride right now is three loops around Lake Harriett for 10 miles. The trail is even and in excellent condition, which means I can ride about 15-16 MPH with ease. I am working on my “form” right now and my pace. Trying to keep my knees in, back straighter and my pace even. I challenge myself by trying to keep at a steady pace, say 14mph for as long as I can. Plus, I am working on my time for those 10 miles. On hot days I am doing it in about 50 minutes, today cooler, I did it in 44. Another thing is that I am making it a habit to climb those stairs almost every ride. Today I did three times up and down.

So, both my eating and my exercise are in cruise control. I am moving forward with what works for me. I have decided that I am not going to step on the scale until July 23 (the day I leave for Port Townsend, WA and my son’s wedding). As a matter of fact, I think I will only weigh in once a month from now on. It is just too frustrating. I know I am doing really well in both exercise and eating. Sure, I can do better, but I have never done as well as I am right now. The scale simply does not reflect my efforts. I do not want the scale to define my progress, but rather, my continuing stamina and the fact that my clothes fit better and loser. So, I am in cruise mode for now. Hopefully unexpected bumps in the rode will be minimal.

Thanks for reading. Have a great start to your short week. TTFN and stay strong, Michele

Friday, July 1, 2011

Embracing sweat, baseball and challenge updates!

Happy Fourth of July Weekend to all USA Bloggers!
After a very rainy and dreary June, Minnesota has finally welcomed summer, meaning warm temperatures and even a HEAT advisory! For me this means that I am getting out early for my bike rides. I can't remember ever sweating so much as I have in the last week. But, I know that it also means that I am exercising hard and really working out and outdoors! So, I am embracing my sweat as yet another indicator of my improving health and fitness levels!!

This week, my favorite ball team, LA Dodgers, was in town for a three game series with the MN Twins. Neither team is remarkable this year and both teams are plagued with injuries and in the case of LA, precarious finances because of their owners. Despite their records and other things, I went to all three games. Twins took the series, 2-1, but I did not care. I actually like the Twins, but when my hometown team comes to play, I bleed blue, just like Tommy! My Dodger fan get-up was outnumbered at least a 1000-1 by the hometown team, again, no problem for me. The sense of camaraderie amongst us few fans was tremendous though with many of us stopping to share our own Dodger stories with each other at the concession stands or when we were standing around in back of the first tier of seats by home plate.

That was my first time to our new baseball stadium, Target Field. It is a beaut. Love, loved it. Of course, I love Dodger stadium, but this one is a close second. Basically any seat in the house is a good one. They planned well for the angle of the sun, so for any evening game, most all seats are shaded. One of the best parts was that I rode my bike to each of the games. I discovered after riding to the first two games, that one of the bike trails goes right under the stadium. I now know that I can ride from my house out to Minnehaha Trail (this is the one I usually bike on) and all the way to the stadium on designated bikeways. Here are a few pictures of the stadium and the trail.

The Grand Rounds Trail map
I live West of Lake Harriett. I ride 6 short blocks to get on the biking trail. I follow on the east side of L. Harriett to Lake Calhoun and then head a little NW to Cedar and Brownie Lakes. The Cedar trail way (a commuter bike route) intersects with the Lake trails (otherwise known as the Grand Rounds). I can follow this to the Target Stadium and come out only a block away. There are tens of bike parking areas, too, at the Stadium. All together, about a 7 mile ride each way. Believe me if you ever come to Minneapolis, you need to get a bike!!
Challenge updates!!

My goals are:
1. Exercise every day at least one hour, with twice a day for 3/7 days in a week. I did another 6/7 days of exercise this week. You can see by my mile ticker that I logged in 85 miles on my bike and it is only Friday!!! Overall, I exercised 27/30

2. Start stair climbing: I am really proud (Alan are you ready??) to report that I officially stair climbed this week!!! I ride by several really great outdoor stair steps on the Minnehaha Trail and it was this week that I actually thought: "Hmm, why don’t I give those a try." Truth is, I had stopped for a drink of water and looked up and was like: Wow! how could I have not thought about these before!!! Here they are:
They are steep set of stairs with small step and a short rise. 48 all together which make for great stairs for me. I climbed those stairs FOUR different times this week; twice I did the stair case twice, and the other two I did them thrice! It was hard, I was embracing my sweat, but doable. I finally feel like I am starting to train for our Olympic National Park hikes at the end of the month! The cool thing is these stairs are right off the trail where I bike. So, I can do a loop or two around one of the lakes, then get some cross training in by climbing stairs, then make another lake loop. The bike ride all together is about 10 miles. June Boom for Michele: a great success! Thanks Alan, for hosting this and all your encouragement. It was a great motivation for me to try something new!
My target for week 3 (June 26-July 1) for Small Change Challenge was to save more calories for the end of the day. I was able to save about 400 calories for the end of the day. However, because of the warm weather here in MN, I did my exercise early in the morning, so I did not need as many calories later in the day. It still was nice coming out with a few more at the end of the day.

Next small change goal (July 2 to July 9): Eat more protein calories at breakfast and lunch. On days that I eat more protein, I do not get light headed when I exercise hard. So, more good protein earlier in the day.
Weight loss:I am staying away from the scale for now. But I can feel a difference, in the way my clothes are fitting!

Moving more: This week I easily made my target of 85 miles. I will probably get close to 100!!

Tracking food: I targeting 1400-1500 a day. I made it under 1400-15500 calories every day but one. I did great tracking in both water and food every day. Every day!

Blogger love: Yes, I have spread the bloggy love. Keep strong everyone. Big weekend ahead!!

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Have a great weekend (Fourth of July!). TTFN, Michele