Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ready for summer challenge

It was a great weather week in Minnesota last week. I was able to get in over 20 miles of outdoor biking, plus about 10 miles on my trainer. I will take my road bike off my trainer this week and get it serviced for the season including new tires. I have not yet been on it outside instead riding my Dutch bike around town. My 10 week training for my first bike event on June 2, Diabetes Tour de Cure, starts on March 31. To celebrate my official training, I decided to take part in a challenge hosted by Maren (Thank-you Maren!) aptly named:
This challenge will go for 10 weeks, which is exactly the time that I will spend, training for my first bike event. Here are my goals:

1. Weight loss: My weight loss goals for this year are to get out of the obese category. I am now 14 pounds away from that goal at 174 pounds. 160 is the “overweight” category for my height. It would be foolish for me to think that I can lose 14 pounds in 10 weeks. My body does not respond that way. However, I believe it is realistic to work on half, or 7 pounds. So my weight loss goal is SEVEN pounds off.

2. NSV (Non-Scale Victory): To me the nonscale victory will be riding that 60 mile event in about 4 hours. I will get there by:

3. Exercise: I am coming off winter in better cycling shape overall. However, I know from my visit to the ortho that I need to improve my strength and stamina. I will be seeing a physical therapist to help me set targets for my deficits. I know that part of what I will be doing are core exercises including lunges and squats, to name just a couple. My first goal is to make these strengthening exercises part of my overall fitness regime and to build my stamina in doing sets of them. My second goal is to work on my cycling distance. I am following the Tour De Cure guidelines of increasing my mileage 20% each week. A big part of this second goal is to be a steady paced rider. Third: I would like to increase my speed in cycling. Currently I am about 12MPH on average, including hills. I want to increase my speed to 15 PMH on average, including hills. Fourth: Every week I want to cross train in something other than cycling. More than likely this will be walking and once a week stair climbing.

4. Nutrition: 1500 calories has been my target now for 21 months. Now that I will increase my cycling, I want to be sure that I am getting enough nutrition, especially protein to fuel my cycling. I am in the process of re-reading one of my favorite books on nutrition, What to Eat by Marion Nestle. I will continue logging my food.

What about you? What will you do to increase your health and fitness for summer??

Have a great week! Thanks for reading and TTFN,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Early spring in MN and proactive ortho visit

We are just ending the most unusual and warm March weekend ever. Our temps topped off at 80 degrees both on Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday, biking around one of the area lakes revealed a thin layer of ice covering the entire lake. Today, biking around the same length found no ice at all. The lake is entirely opened up. Unbelievable. I took advantage of the greet temps and rode a combined total of 37 miles over two days on my bike outside (!!). Here is Lake Harriett with probably the earliest ice out in recorded history.
I was not the only one outside enjoying the weather!
Over the past few weeks I have developed some knee soreness after cycling. With my cycling aspirations, I did not want to risk an injury, so this past week I decided to check in with a sports medicine orthopedist. I selected one that is herself an avid triathloner and amateur cyclist. I already know it will be one of the best proactive moves I made as an aspiring cyclist. My x-rays revealed that my cartilage (both knees) is thinner than would be expected, but otherwise nothing remarkable. My thinning cartilage is more than likely a result of years of obesity and the wear and tear on my joints. The best part was talking with her about my aspirations (two 60 mile bike events) in the coming months. She pointed out that where as my level of fitness is improving, I lag behind in my overall strength of many muscle groups including my core, back, and certain muscles in my legs. Strengthening all of these muscles groups will support my knees and overall help me to be stronger. I will begin working with a physical therapist and trainer to help me to learn how to strengthen those muscles so that I can cycle at elevation, something that is especially important for the Boulder ride. They are also going to fit me with a new set of pedals and shoes that will be the best for my biking form (my knees tend to point out). I will train on these under the tutelage of my trainer, too. We also talked a bit about my trainer (the one I hook my bike to): it is my ortho’s position that I need to continue using my trainer throughout the biking season, simply because the resistance that it offers will also contribute to my cycling fitness. So an hour spent at my new ortho was illuminating and definitely worthwhile. I have to wait a couple of weeks to begin my new regime with my physical therapist, but I know I will be ready.

Two years ago, I would NEVER have dreamed that I would be calling a “sports medicine orthopedist” about any part of my body. But not any more. I aspire to make my body as strong and fit as I can at my age. I welcome the expertise that such a professional can share with me to improve my fitness. It is not a game anymore;  it is my health and well being we are talking about.

Finally, I just would like to once again thank-you for all your kind words about my recent health news (good lab results). I feel you all, my blogger friends, standing right behind me in this journey to become healthier. We do this together!  Stays strong, my friends, and TTFN! Michele

Monday, March 12, 2012

Health News

On June 26, 2010 I began my lifestyle changes for once and for all. I am following the sound advice of nutritionist Marion Nestle to eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and veggies and go easy on the junk food. Last week I had my annual physical. I am thrilled to share with you some of my results.

Labs: One of my initial motivational factors when I started my lifestyle changes was my acknowledgement that I was at high risk for diabetes. My mother and brother both are Type II. When I started to get healthy my blood sugar came in just at the top of normal. I am happy to report that my fasting blood glucose level is down 15 points. The good news does not stop there.  My lipid panel shows great improvement, too, with cholesterol levels down 23 points with my LDL (low density lipids) down 15 points, both back in the normal range including my LDL. My HDL (high density lipids) cholesterol is at 50. So nice improvement overall.

My test results are evidence that eating less and moving more are making the difference for me in both visible and invisible ways. I am a slow and steady loser. Overall I lost just under 40 pounds (that 3 pound gain from my three week break is now down to 1). Given that I started on June 26, 2010 (20 months ago) that makes an average of only 2 pounds a month. Not much by the month on the scale overall, but over time it has added up. I do nothing extraordinary except count calories, exercise and eat a ton of fruits and veggies. I have learned to plan for events in my life whether a birthday party, a concert, sporting events or just coffee with colleagues. I budget calories for that event or I bring my own food. This is my life. I chose to partake in all my normal life events and do not let the food control me.

Because I can: This year I will celebrate my new emerging health and fitness in two ways. Diabetes is quickly becoming our nation’s greatest health risk. Besides the two adults in my family with Type II, my godson has Type I. Because I believe that I have, for now, side stepped this chronic and  debilitating illness, I will continue to build awareness and raise money for research by participating in the Tour de Cure. This year I will ride in Minneapolis on June 2. I am planning a metric century ride of 100 kilometers or 62 miles. That ride will push my level of fitness. To date my longest ride is 32 miles. I start my official training program on March 31. I am sure that the trainer cycling and cross-country skiing are helping me to get ready for my official training. I hope to ride in the Venus de Mile in Boulder, Colorado at the end of August, too. It is a great fundraiser for greenhouse scholars. I am targeting either the 51 or the 67-mile ride. The Boulder ride will stretch me farther as a cyclist because this ride features elevation (1400 to 2600 feet depending on the ride). It is an all women’s ride and promises to be quite the event. Both event logos are found in the side bar. I welcome your generous support!

Two years ago, I could not have even dreamed that I would be fit enough to do things like those two rides. Now exercise is part of my everyday life and I target physical events as a way to challenge myself but, more importantly to raise money for causes that I believe in. Participating in these kind of events are a win for me and a win for the organization. To me getting healthy and working toward better fitness paid off in ways that I could never imagine. I am planning these two rides because I can. Now. 

What about you? How do you celebrate your emerging fitness?

Have a graet week! Thanks for reading. TTFN,

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Doable targets

Parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin experienced a late winter storm over the past week with areas in the north receiving record amounts of snow (22-26 inches). In Minneapolis we had about 4 inches of the fluffy stuff. A warm up is on the way though with 50 (!!) degrees in the forecast for the week. The mix of weather meant for me a mix in the kind of exercise I undertake and or where I did it. I biked 19 miles indoors using my trainer and five miles (!!) outdoors on my steady Dutch bike. I snowshoed .4 miles, cross-country skied for a total of 3.66 miles, and walked a mere 2 miles. Here are a few tracks of my snowshoes in northern Wisconsin (22 inches fell) and biking along one of the bike paths in Minneapolis.

Speaking of exercise there was an interesting article today in the Star Tribune about the importance of stretching and form while doing exercise and the necessity of mixing up the kind of exercise you do. I admit I have not been good about stretching especially with cycling. I am glad that on my own I have found out that cross training with other exercise activities is important, not just to get through winter, but in terms of using different muscle groups and avoiding repetitive inquiry syndrome. “Injuries tend to occur when monotony sets in” which is something I would like to avoid.

Doable target: I steadily make progress in exercise and eating each and every week. Even with my efforts, I am not really losing anything. As a matter of fact the three to four pounds that I gained during my three-week break are still with me. Today, I am setting a target for myself to get below 170 pounds before my birthday (May 22). Right now that is about 7 pounds. I know that is a doable goal for me. I plan to step up my exercise, especially cycling, now that the weather is starting to transition to spring. I believe my eating is good (about 1500 cals a day). Ramping up my exercise and being even more conscious of my calories will make the difference for me, I believe. 

One more thing: I think most of you know that I am a science and mathematics academic. This semester I am teaching a science course for non-science majors at my college for the second time. This time around I am teaching a unit on health and nutrition, including using one of Marion Nestle's books (What to eat) and a plethora of other materials from various credible resources. Part of my interest in this whole topic is my own journey to become healthier and I will even share my own story. But it is more than just about me.  I have found that health and nutrition are sadly absent in most general science courses at the college level as well as absent in the guidelines that are established for many states across the country called standards.  I will do my part to make these complex, interesting, political, and personal topics more visible from now on in my own teaching. 

Have a great week everyone! Stay strong in your lifestyle commitment. Thanks for reading. TTFN, Michele