Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Years!

Today marks two years of blogging about my journey to become healthier and fitter. Time for some ruminations!

1.     I am strong. Stronger than I ever thought I was. Strong to stay the course for two years. Strong to make exercise a part of my daily life. Strong to find a form of exercise that I really like. Strong to take care of myself, finally.   
2.     I know what it takes for me to get healthy. At the center of my blogging is the adage from Marion Nestle: eat less, move more, eat plenety of fruits and vegetables and go easy on the junk food. I followed those 17 simple words for 2 years and you know what: it works! Eat less, move more. No tricks, no special diet. It works.
3.     My relationship with food has changed. I understand now that food is just food.  I love food and of course I enjoy eating a great deal. I also love cooking food. But food itself is not the end all event in my life. It is just food. I enjoy the foods I eat more than ever before because I enjoy the foods in the company of others. It is the company that I have with others, or even with myself if I am dining alone, that is the event, not the food.
4.     I am not on a diet rather I am making permanent lifestyle changes each and every day that I stay the course. My lifestyle changes are for life: my life. Eating less, moving more is part of who I am now. I choose to be healthier and to enjoy increasing fitness.
5.     I was able to keep up my healthy lifestyle changes after I returned to my academic work after my sabbatical. I did this by making time to exercise, even getting up at 5am many mornings to ride that trainer last winter. I made my lunch every day, too. I have a very full and often quite intense professional life just like many of you reading today. I learned that even with that professional life I can and did make continued forward progress.
6.     I accept the fact that for my body and age I will not lose weight quickly. Before I had my basal metabolism calibrated I knew in my heart that my caloric limit was going to be low. It is. In years past, I used to think that after I lost xxxnumber of pounds that I would be able to go back to my old way of eating.  What was I thinking? Denial that is what it was.
7.     I have faced my obesity head on. I do not shy away from talking about it, nor using it in my teaching or with people I care about. I am out of the closet and it is about time.
8.     Because I am becoming fitter and healthy, I am able to enjoy things that were hard for me to do before: like gardening, walking, hiking and paddling.
9.     It takes time, determination and patience with ourselves to finally do this. Finally healthier. In my case, it took me over 20 years to be at my highest weight (213). After that many years of being overweight it is a journey of a lifetime to change. I know now that it will be another 2 years before I reach my goal weight. I can do it. 
10.  The key to my success is logging my food. There is nothing that spells the T-R-U-T-H better than your own food log.
11.  Another important key to my success is planning. Just like you there are special occasions in my life every week whether they be a birthday, a family get together, a sporting event, a concert or whatever. Every event involves food and eating. I have learned to plan for the food that I anticipate will be at the event by taking along items that I can eat and sharing those foods with the others (like salads or fruit plates), or even eating before I go.
12.  Another way I plan for special occasions, including potentially high calorie treats,  is by increasing my exercise. I biked 24 miles on my sons’ birthdays last Saturday so that I could enjoy a nice piece of my favorite carrot cake. 24 miles on the bike equals 1200 calories burned for me which is more than double the calories of a piece of carrot cake. No guilt associated with even one bite of that delicious carrot cake for me!
13.  Blogging has been an incredible tool for me. It keeps me honest and focused for one. But, even more importantly it allows me to be part of a community of people who are trying to do the same thing I am: taking care of our selves. We each have our own way of doing just that. What we all share in common is how we support and encourage each other. No one knows more about what it means to be overweight and obese then those who have walked in the overweight/obese footsteps. Each and every one of you reading this blog has been an encourager and spirited supporter to me along my way. I have made many new friends through blogging scattered all around the US and Western Europe.  As I have said before: I never feel alone in my journey with all of you!
14.  There are times when this weight loss journey sucks. Yep. I said that. Even with all I wrote above, there are times when the long and slow sojourn to good health is frustrating. Which brings me to my last rumination:
15.  I am doing this for me. It is about time. Like many of you I used to think that I would start that diet on Monday, after my birthday or the holidays. But no more. No more excuses. It is my time now. I am doing it. My friends, you can do it, too. Yes, you can. It is not rocket science. Eat less, move more, eat plenety of fruits and vegetables and go easy on the junk foods. Take care of yourself. You are worth it. I am worth it. The people who love and care for you are worth your efforts, too. We can and will do it. Now.

Thank-you for being with me for two-years.

Thank-you for sharing a part of your day by reading my blog.

Thank-you for your suggestions, your advice, your humor and being who you are. 

Thank-you for commenting on my blog.

Thank-you for getting to know me and allowing me to know you.

Here is to my next two years!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer, early morning biking and week 3 Summer Sizzle

Happy Summer! 
Today marks 37 years of being a parent for me. I started out with a splash by having twins. Identical. Nothing quite like parenting twins. We are lucky to live nearby most of our adult children. Birthday boy, Jacob, surprised me by coming over about 6am for a birthday ride (on a Saturday!). He rode with me on my BD last month, so why not ride with him. We started out on my signature bike trail to Minnehaha Falls. Here are our two bikes at the Falls!

Jacob and I, June 23, 2012
Another view of the top of the roaring falls. 
We had several inches of rain last week so the water is moving strong. 

Jacob left after 11 miles to go home to his family and I continued on for another 13. I am proud to say those boys are great human beings. Really cool to be part of their lives as adults especially watching them parent. Good stuff. We celebrated the BD by going to a Lynx game (what else but sports!). Not the clearest picture, but you get the idea of the fun we had.
And in case you are wondering the 2011 WNBA champs 
are are 12 and 1 with that one loss to Seattle, Alan! 

Week three of the Summer Sizzle challenge is now behind me! Rochelle challenged us to try a new piece of exercise equipment or new exercise. My personal trainer recommended that I get an exercise ball, which I purchased last week. She showed me how to use the ball to do squats with the ball.  It sounds kind of strange: I place the ball on a wall and lean into it backwards with my butt.  I can tell you they are hard! I can feel my gluts, hamstrings and quads each and every time I do it. The ball came with a DVD of other exercises to do, too. I am guessing there are many more stretching and strengthening activities that I can do with it. So, Rochelle, I made this mini-challenge! 

 How about the rest of my goals?

1. Weigh loss: Weigh in is On July 1 so nothing to report here. 

2. Cycling: I completed 86 miles of cycling as of Saturday June 23. I will probably get in another 12 on Sunday, which will put me just under 100 miles for last week. Pretty good. Cross training: I did my core exercises 4/7 times, walked up my favorite set of stairs twice (at 200 steps) and walked 2 miles. 

3. Nutrition and health counseling: I met with a wellness coach last week. Molly and I talked about my wellness vision, my strengths and resources, my values, possible challenges and strategies for overcoming the strategies. I set some goals, too. Overall, I am well on my way to be “well!!” For the next two months I am concentrating on losing another 5-6 pounds and of course training for the Venus at the end of August. She sees me as a very highly motivated person, which is probably not too big of a surprise to anyone of you reading this blog. I waited too long to become well and I am doing it! 

So, how about you: are you doing it? 

Thanks for stopping by. 

Thanks for your support. 

Have a great week everyone! 

Stay strong! TTFN, Michele

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Natural wonders and second week of Summer Sizzle

Happy Father’s Day to all readers who are fathers! 


Today I begin with a couple pictures of the rich natural diversity that exists in NW Wisconsin where our family has a cabin. Can you guess the name of the first butterfly? How about the name of the second?
No, that first butterfly is not a monarch. See that black line on the lower (hind) wings: That butterfly is a Viceroy,  a cleaver mimic of the monarch. The Viceroy is not poisonous like the monarch is to small birds and mammals or other invertebrates. We believe they co-evolved together.

The other picture is a male Automeris io or the Io giant silk moth who lives in woodland areas.They are both just a small sample of the magnificent diversity we witness every day here in NI WI.

My second week of the Summer Sizzle Slimdown challenge was great!! Our second weekly challenge was to get in over 6 hours of exercise. I am so far at 8 hours (6 biking and 1 walking and 1 hour cumulative core strengthening exercises). So, I did real well here. How did I do on my other goals?? 

1. Weight loss: Won’t weigh in for another two weeks so nothing to report here. 

2. Cycling: I began my training for the Venus de Miles this week. I rode 5/7days with one very good day of hills. There are hills in almost every ride I do, but when I do a “hill” ride it mean for me that there are hills throughout the ride. Yesterday I did a 22 mile ride of hills that was 1500 feet up and 1500 feet down over that 22 miles. This route that I do is near our cabin and crisscrosses through wonderful scenery including 7 lakes. I had my best time yesterday, too, coming in with the 22 miles under 2 hours and beating my last time by 7 minutes! 

3. Cross training: I did my core exercises 4/7 times, walked two miles and went swimming twice. 

4. Nutrition and health counseling: I completed my first nutrition part of the Live-Well Fitness last week. To begin the nutrition portion I had my resting metabolic rate (RMR) measured using this fun little gadget called the “Body Gem.” Here is what that gadget looks like:
Your RMR is the number of calories your body burns each day with little or no activity and accounts for a majority of the calories that your body burns. My RMR is 1070 calories. That means without doing anything physical my body burns 1070 calories a day just to maintain homeostasis. My nutritionist took into account my exercise (mainly cycling) to determine that to lose .25 to .50 pounds a week my caloric budget is 1500, again with an hour a day on average of cycling. This 1500 is not really a surprise. Over the last few months I have budgeted about 1500 calories/day and began to lose weight again. 

It is not a surprise to me either that my overall calorie numbers are fairly low. If I do not exercise much, I can only eat about 1200 calories a day. This number is way lower than what I was eating before I started this journey to get healthy and fit. I am estimating that for years I ate 400-500 or more calories extra a day. Those calories piled up into pounds that eventually put me squarely in the obese category.  But no more! Knowing my RMR is another important piece of information that will keep me moving forward in losing weight and becoming healthy. 

I leave you with a female painted turtle who laid her eggs in the gravel/sand of our driveway yesterday. The grandbabies are excited to see the baby turtles when they come out about August 7.

Thanks for reading! Have a great week!  TTFN, Michele

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Minnesota Lynx and first week of Sizzling Summer Challenge!

Greetings Bloggers!
A little Minnesota sports news to start today: Our Minnesota Lynx Women’s Basketball team remains undefeated at  9 and 0!  Ellery (7), Noah (2) and I attended a game last week, including a free ride to and from the game using Metro Transit!

Nice to live in a city with great public transportation. Those Lynx women remain, in my book, great role models, playing hard on the field and keeping out of trouble and involved in the community off the field.

My first week of the Summer Sizzle Slimdown challenge was great!!  Our first weekly challenge was to log all our food. I have been logging all my food for over a year so for me this was a cinch. I know that tracking each and every week has been one of the tools for my success in my health and fitness journey. I use a simple paper and pencil system that works great for me.

It folds easily and goes with me everywhere (can you see all the splotches on it??). I stayed at about 1500 calories on 5/7 days. One of my high calorie days was my 24.63 mile ride. 

How did I do on my other goals?
  1. Weight loss: Won’t weigh in for another three weeks so nothing to report here  
  2. Cycling: I allowed myself a little well needed rest this first week since I just completed the Tour de Cure. I did ride 5/7days for 64 miles, however, most of my rides were fairly slow. I did do hills twice though!
  3. Cross training: I did my core exercises 4/7 times, walked up my favorite set of stairs several times (at 300 steps) and went swimming three times   
  4. Nutrition and health counseling: I started The Live-Well Fitness program at one of our major local hospitals. There are three parts to this 14 week program of nutrition, fitness and wellness. I only completed one part of the initial screening, the fitness test and I am already learning a great deal about my body. First of all both my aerobic index and endurance are good (I had my first treadmill test). Where I need improvement is in my flexibility and strength (I could only do 4 push ups!!) as well as my body composition. For my height and age my body composition is 47.9 % fat. This is a much more accurate measure of an individual’s overall health then BMI according to my exercise physiologist. To measure my body’s percent fat, I climbed into a little chamber called the “BOD POD” where sophisticated technology calibrated air displacements around my body to determine my percentage of body fat. 

"The BOD POD uses whole body densitometry to determine body composition (fat vs. lean)" according to this link . "Similar in principle to underwater weighing, the BOD POD measures body mass (weight) using a very precise scale, and volume by sitting inside the BOD POD. Body density can then be calculated. "

My ideal percentage body fat is between 28-32. This means that I have a weight differential of 40 pounds, meaning I need to lose another 40 pounds or covert more of my body mass to lean muscle to be at a healthy and normal weight for my age and height. I also learned that my target heart rate is 126-142 to get the most out of my work outs and challenge my heart in the healthiest way. Next week I will meet for nutrition counseling and a few more tests. I can tell already that this program is a great fit for me. 

Looking forward to checking in on my fellow summer sizzle challengers! Have a great week moving forward in your own fitness and health journey. Thanks for stopping by and TTFN, Michele

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer Sizzle Slimdown!

One challenge finishes and another one begins. That is the power of the weight loss blogging community! Rochelle is hosting this new challenge for summer. To start this challenge, I need to post a few pictures. Ready??

Up close!
My biking splendor (note that great brilliant orange top!)
Side view
I also took my measurements, although I will not post those here. Rochelle has designed this challenge for 14 weeks (June 3 to September 2, 2012). Each week will feature a weekly challenge.

I have four goals for this challenge:

1.     Weight loss: I would like to lose 7 pounds. Across the 14 weeks of the challenge that is .5 pound per week. That is doable and realistic for me. I will weigh in and take my measurements on July 1, August 5 and September 2.
2.     Cycling: My last cycling event is the Venus de Miles in Boulder, Colorado on August 26. I am planning to ride the 67 miler route that features an elevation increase of 2500 feet. One of my goals for this challenge is to increase my stamina and strength for hills by doing at least two sets of hills per week. I plan to increase my mileage per ride, too, so that I average about 20 miles per ride (about 1.3 hours). Finally, I would like to increase my speed to 14.5 MPH.
3.     Cross training: In this goal I will target my core exercises, plus, I would like to begin using weights. I would like to take at least one longer walk (more than 2 miles), including stair work, at least once a week.
4.     Nutrition and health counseling: There is a program at one of our major local hospitals called the Live-Well Fitness program. This program features personal nutrition consultation, wellness coaching, personal trainer session, fitness evaluation and consultation and weekly education sessions. One of my goals for the summer is to begin this program (12 weeks).

So, there you have it. I wish you all well in this new challenge. TTFN, Michele

Finisher of the Tour de Cure and last update RFS!!!

Finisher of my first metric CENTURY bike ride!!

I finished my 62 miles in 4 hours and 45 minutes with an average pace of 13mph! That is 100 kilometers which makes it a metric century ride. It was a magnificent day weather wise with start temps at about 55 and finish temps about 70, no wind, and beautiful sunshine.

Overall there were more than 2000 riders for this event, with several hundred opting for the longer rides, like mine. Each ride length had staggered start times beginning at 6 am. My start was at 7am. I do not know the final counts, but for my event length I am estimating about 300 strong. It was marvelous to see whole families out on the 7, 18 or 27 mile rides.

The Tour de Cure is a bike event that raises awareness and of course funds for diabetes research through the American Diabetes Association. Riders with diabetes were treated to special recognition and were asked to wear a red jersey on the day of the event and were known as “red riders.” There were people of all ages wearing red jerseys, including many young children.  Each distance route featured signs and arrows in a specific ride color. The 62 miler was green. I became familiar with most of the route via my training, but it helped to have those arrows, especially when there was a transition to a trail and or a road. It felt so good being out on a beautiful day, riding with so many other folks supporting an important organization’s work. Here are some pictures:

First my food supply!
I ate something every 30 minutes while riding.
Just about to begin at Minnehaha Falls and park (the event location)
Early morning light!
Stopping for a train!
Once over the Mississippi!
Over Mississippi again.
55 miles done and meet up with two of my cheerleaders (Hann and Ellery) 

We rode through Minneapolis via the Minnehaha bike trail and past two lakes (Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun) and on to the Midtown Greenway toward the town of Hopkins. From there we traveled northeast of Minneapolis toward the Mississippi river (which I crossed 5 times yesterday) into Saint Paul up the famous Summit Avenue, back toward the Mississippi River and around Fort Snelling and return to Minnehaha park for a great welcome back!

This ride is one way that I celebrate my own improving health. The National Diabetes Fact Sheet reports that 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes. It is a chronic and debilitating disease. I was at high risk for this disease before I began my own journey to lose weigh and become fit. I have lowered my own risk factors tremendously by losing weight and taking up exercise. My mother and my brother both were or are Type 2 diabetics. I have a nephew with Type 1. The American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure is a way for me to continue to challenge myself as a cyclist and to raise funds for an organization that supports education and research around diabetes.

Crossing through that finish line was an emotional experience. I have come a long way since June 26, 2010. Even two years ago, I would never have dreamed I would have the physical stamina, the fitness, and the perseverance to do something like this event. I am perhaps in the best shape of my life, even though I know I have a good 35 pounds more to lose. But the bottom line is: I did it and I am doing it. I will continue to progress toward my health and fitness goals. I will continue to stretch myself by doing other events that require physical endurance. And you know what: You can, too!

Now onto my last update for the Ready for Summer Challenge!

First of all, I would like to thank, Maren for hosting this challenge. She did a remarkable job of supporting and encouraging all of us challengers through out the last 10 weeks.

1. Weight loss: My goal was to lose seven pounds. I did not quite get there. I started the challenge at 177 and now weigh in at 171. That is a SIX pound weight loss! Overall, I am VERY happy that the scale is moving downward!

2. NSV (Non-Scale Victory): My goal here was to ride that 62-mile ride. I achieved this NSV!

3. Exercise: My three targets were:
  1. I definitely improving my strength and stamina: I regularly do hills now, even though they are not my favorites. I can tell my strength has really improved. 
  2. Cycling distance: My longest ride is now 62 miles with last week’s total of 119 miles! It is barely June and I already have over 1000 miles on my bikes.
  3. Increasing my speed: I boosted my average MPH to 13. 4. Cross training: I stopped my core exercises this last two weeks. I do not consider this a fail though, because my quads, gluts and legs really benefited from wall my core exercises and I could tell yesterday with than long ride 
  4. Nutrition: For the most part I stayed around 1500 calories which I know is why I actually lost weight! 
I am ready for summer!! Thanks, again, Maren. I look forward to checking in with all of you! Have a great and strong week! TTFN, Michele