Monday, January 21, 2013

Trainer time!

I started biking on my trainer today. I am pleased to report that it was not so bad! I only rode about 2 miles or for 10 minutes at a very lose tension, but it felt great. I simply despised getting on that trainer last winter. Given our milder winter in Minnesota overall, I was able to ride on one of my bikes through November. I also was able to ride a little less that 40 miles in the Netherlands. So, I know that my season for that trainer will be less than last year, which makes me very happy. I do know that riding on the trainer last winter helped improve my strength and stamina for when I finally was able to ride my bike outside. For one, I was able to pedal consistently without stopping. I am sure my miles on the trainer this winter will improve my readiness for the riding season!
I mentioned above that our winter has been mild so far in Minnesota. Mild except for the last two days. Today we will go down to about -25 F. Yep, that is cold. But, I welcome it. That is how we keep all the nasty critters at bay so we can enjoy the great outdoors. We call it winterkill! Before this cold snap hit, I was able to get in some more cross-country ski miles over the weekend (4 miles). It snowed a few inches, too, over the weekend as you can see in the pictures below.

Yesterday, my son and his three kids came up to the cabin. They had fun ice skating on the wind swept clear ice.
Below is my hubby with his new Dutch speed skates. 
Notice how long the blades are. They are especially made for “natural ice.”


I did pretty well last week with eating and getting back into a routine after the holidays and travel. I plan to stay between 1350-1500 calories a day. I was over a couple of times, but not by a lot.

Have a great start to your week! TTFN, Michele

Monday, January 14, 2013

Welcoming the New Year in the Netherlands


Yes, it is unusual for me post two days in a row. I am just back from a wonderful trip to my second home country, the Netherlands. My hubby hails from the Netherlands where most of his family lives, including an aging father and many siblings. Since 2009, we have made an effort to bring one grand baby with us. This time it was Owen's turn (he is 7 and a half). This trip was also unusual because for the first time in many years we did a great deal of traveling and sight seeing away from the beautiful home province of Noord Holland and especially West Friesland. Next year, my hubby and I will take a group of students to the Netherlands for an interdisciplinary study of water in the Netherlands. The study of water in the Netherlands will include water as engineered through the country’s vast network of canals, dijks, windmills and polders in Zeeland, West Friesland and Amsterdam; the exploration and exploitation made possible by water (Dutch East India Company); water in commerce; conservation efforts to restore wetlands; human expression of water through the visual arts and winter recreational use of water (ice skating).

You may not know that a great deal of land in the Netherlands, especially the west where my hubby is from, is land claimed from the sea. Over hundreds of years the Dutch have acquired land (called polders) through an ingenuous system of building dijks to isolate sea or lake segments, dredging canals to allow the water to flow and drain the land and then pumping the canal water back out to sea through the use of windmills. There is more to it, but that is the simple process.   

We welcomed the New Year in the Netherlands and spent our first few days with family in the northern province of Noord Holland specifically, West Friesland, an area well known for water recreation. Water is everywhere in North Holland including this canal right behind my hubby's birth home.

 Water is necessary for the growth of tulips destined to be shipped to the US.
Boats like this one were used by my father-in-law to 
get out to his flower fields to farm up to the early 1980s.
 Standing on a small bridge that spans a canal.

 Biking with Owen along a canal. 
The Netherlands is very flat making cycling feasible and accessible for transport for all.
Almost every road has dedicated bicycle paths along side.
 These windmills were used to pump water to drain the land for a polder.

 The Dutch Maritime Museum
 (above) focuses on many aspects of water in the Netherlands.
Below, Owen with his Opa (grandfather) and
 great grandfather (Opa Opa) checking out old Dutch speed skates for kids.

 Trying out speed skates on an outdoor rink in Amsterdam with Opa.


I was fascinated by the bike garages (above) that are found near many train stations like this one on the town of Enkhuizen. And of course I was enthralled with all sorts of lovely bikes in the Netherlands including these rental bikes:
Bicycles equipped with a front "bucket" for 
children where they are protected from the ever present rain.
 Lovely women's transport bikes..

 And my favorite from this trip (above). Can you see how easy it would be to
shop with a sturdy rack like that one?

So that is a little glimpse into the beautiful country of Holland 
where we spent the last 13 days. Have a great start to your week. TTFN, Michele

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Belated Happy New Year!


A belated Happy New year to all of you! Like many of you, a new year is an occasion to take stock on my journey to better health.

Last year I focused on three overall targets including downsizing and distance. While I did not hit my downsizing target of being out of the obese category, I did lose a few pounds (down to 171) and maintained my overall 44-pound weight loss for the year. I did pass my distance goal in cycling of 1850 miles by 767 miles for a total of 2567 miles with an average of 49 miles per week. I rode 62 miles in the Tour de Cure and 67 miles in the Venus de Miles.

I learned how to train for events that are physically taxing and how to eat to fuel long training rides. I completed the first phase of the Live Well Fitness program at a local hospital where I learned about my own basal metabolism rate and learned exercises to strengthen my core. With this program’s guidance I lost 2.2% of my body fat or 3.6 pounds of fat and increased my lean muscle mass by 4.4 pounds.

I have more stamina and strength than I did a year ago. This was very noticeable on our recent trip to the Netherlands (upcoming post) to see family and to scout out venues and sights for a January 2014 trip with students. All of that scouting involved a great deal of walking (several kilometers a day) and two long bike rides (totally 40 miles). I never felt that folks were waiting for me to catch up. Indeed I felt terrific getting all that exercise in while we scouted out museums, landmarks, and engineering projects that will be part of our trip next year.

Now for my goals for 2013:
Weight loss: My target this year is a 16-pound loss. I have just a little under 4 months until I begin my serious training for my first big charity ride on June 1, 2013. My plan is to focus hard on good eating and regular exercise during the pre-training months and hopefully come close to that 16-pound mark. I know from last year that once I start hard training it will be almost impossible for me to lose any more weight.

Cycling: Distance: I would like to increase my overall cycling miles to 3000 this year. Speed: I would like to increase my cycling speed to 15mph on average. Time: Finally, I am targeting less than 5 hours for both the 62 and 67-mile events. 

Balance: I finally discovered balance between my professional work/activities and personal life during my sabbatical of 2011. I maintained that balance during 2012 once I returned to my academic position at the college where I teach. For some one who truly enjoys the intense work that I do, that is no small feat. 2013 includes a number of professionally significant events, including an upcoming accreditation of our teacher education program, submission of more papers for publication and co-editing a book within my field of inclusive STEM education. With those activities/events on the horizon, I need to be more diligent than ever to maintain balance so that I can keep up my healthy life style. Life is far more than just work no matter how much I enjoy what I do. 

Now it is my turn to check in with all of you and find out what your own plans are for 2013!  Stay strong and TTFN,
Michele