Saturday, April 26, 2008

Who Is That Girl?

The sun was already shining when I got up this morning. I hustled around and packed up all my stuff for today's ride. So much stuff. Anyway, I decided to take the BMW because the weather was going to be gorgeous and I was driving alone so I could crank up the music.

We met up at 10am at Spoke Folk Cyclery in Healdsburg.

I had to take a picture of my road bike before we took off.

After some chatting and whatnot we were on our way by 11am. We rode through town and were soon out on a typical Sonoma County two-lane road. We rode a couple miles to our first stop, Simi Winery. Perfect. We tasted some whites and reds and generally laughed about the combo of physical exertion and alcohol. Here I am with the two other women on the ride. When I saw this pic on my camera I was shocked at my own appearance. Is that me? My head is so small. My arm is fat though so I'm reassured it's me.....hey, these habits die hard, give me a break :) Anyway, the roads were perfect for me, generally flat with the occasional string of gentle sloping hills.

We leave Simi and head toward Jimtown Store, about four miles ahead, to pick up sandwiches. Being the faithful Weight Watcher that I am I packed my own lunch so I would know what I was eating. A turkey sandwich with light swiss cheese on Flax seed bread piled high with spring greens, and an orange. We take our lunches a few miles down the road to Robert Young Winery. They have a very small wine tasting room so when we walked in we got some attention. Wow, I'm one of those bike riding people. Weird. This is a pic of the patio area at Robert Young.

We ride off to another winery. In all we went to five. The ones noted above plus Clos du Bois, Ridge and Rosso & Bianco. I'm a little loose on the order even though I tasted at only 2 wineries. Here I am riding away from Clos du Bois.

As we were readying to leave the last winery our fearless leader Tom starts talking, "Well, there's a hill coming up that I kind of forgot about." Yes, I panicked. A hill?! Bigger than the rolling hills we've already done? A real hill? So Katie gives me a pep talk. Her advice? Don't look up at the hill while climbing it, just look a few feet ahead. Pick a spot about 10' feet ahead and ride to that. Repeat. Stay in your baby gear. Take your time, conserve energy. You'll make it.

I followed her advice exactly and she was right, I made it. It really wasn't that bad (I say sitting on my couch the next day). Turns out there was another hill after this one. Mind you, we've already ridden over 20 miles at this point so it's not like my legs are fresh. Katie stays with me on this second hill to coach me through it ("shift... don't pedal so hard... relax") and thank God she did, my chain came off. If I had been alone I would have panicked but she hopped off her bike, fixed it up and away we went. Thank you to anyone who has ever helped out a newbie. It means so much.

Below is a map of the ride we did today. The site,, is awesome!

We got back to the cars, parked our bikes and headed for some much deserved ice cream. Yummmm. I had a small vanilla caramel praline. It was so goood. It was a pretty warm day and I was beat. My dinner plans fell through so all of a sudden I was free for the evening. I decided to drive out to the coast where some of the people on the ride were camping. I drove out and enjoyed the top down on the car and the warm air changing slowly to cool air as we neared the coast. I hung out for a bit at their campsite and then headed home. Of course, I had to take a picture of my bike and car by the ocean.

I had saved all these Points for my dinner plans and since they fell through the world was my oyster in terms of dining. Well, I've been craving KFC for a while so now seemed like the time to do it. I picked up some chicken and headed home. But man, I can't tell you how exhausted I was when I got home. I ate dinner and reviewed our route on a map. All in all we rode about 26 miles with about 1000' in elevation changes. I wondered how Miguel would feel when he came home to a trail of bike accessories and clothing from the garage all the way to my bed with a plastic KFC dinner container next to the couch. As an aside, the chicken was a little dry which was a little disappointing given I wait about 3 months in between having it. Oh well, didn't stop me from enjoying it :) Between the wine, the ice cream, and the KFC my Points were wiped out. I even used 4 Activity Points from the cycling. I'm going to have to eat very clean the rest of the week.

This morning I woke up to a sore body. I've been taking Ibuprofen all day. Usually the day after the day after is the worst in terms of pain so tomorrow I'll be hobbling. But I'm still mobile and could pick something up off the floor, albeit slowly, if I had to.

I don't know if I mentioned this before but I signed up for a bicycle maintenance class. It's two Sundays in a row, this and next, for four hours. Today we took off our tires, patched holes, put our tires back on, trued our rims, spiffied up and adjusted our brakes. Next Sunday we are doing all the chain and rear derailleur stuff. Since I had never so much as fixed a flat before this I was always nervous when riding on my own around town. Now I'm going to feel confident I can fix things, within reason, while on the road.

Alright, whether you like it or not I'm going close with one more picture of my car by the ocean. In case you were wondering it's a 1989 325ic. Miguel and I have spent some energy fixing it up and it's now our weekend summer excursion car. I love it. Nothing like a speedy convertible.

Friday, April 25, 2008

On getting advice and then doing whatever I want anyway.

You've done that right? Listened politely as someone gave you advice knowing all the while you're not going to take it. So I met with a new trainer today, John, for my third and final pre-paid training session (the trainer I had for the previous two sessions quit my gym). John showed me a whole new batch of exercises, which I'll share in a moment...but first, John suggested I do 25 minutes of cardio, then weight training, then 25 minutes of cardio, then stretching. Nope. Ain't gonna happen.

You'll burn more calories that way.
Uh huh.
And it keeps you from getting bored too.
Uh huh.
I think it's the best way to go.

Sometimes burning more calories is not the be-all-end-all. Sometimes doing what you know you like to do is more important. So, 50 minutes of cardio, then weight training and core, then stretching.

So, what super-cool changes did John make to my weight training routine? First thing is he had me lower the weight and up the reps on most of my exercises. For lower body I'm doing 3 sets of 12 squats (3x12), 3x12 lunges, 3x12 side lunges, 3x15 seated hamstring curl, 3x30 standing calf raises. What Fun! (only 1/2 in jest).

Upper body consists of 3x15 dumbell fly, 3x12 modified pushups, 3x12 shoulder raises, 3x12 rope extension triceps, 3x15 each of bicep curls, lat pulldowns and rows. Damn.

The core work are obliques on this swinging machine thing, incline leg raises and 3 hover planks held for as long as I can - here's a pic of a woman doing a hover plank, I bet I look a lot like her when I do them :)

I know I'm going to miss good 'ol crunches so I'm going to keep doing 25 of those too.

I alternate lower and upper body and do core and stretching every time. In case you forgot (how could you?!) my gym days are Mon, Wed and Fri. This was another thing John was not thrilled with. I could see he thought I should be in the gym at least 5 days a week. If not 6. Uh huh.

I had already done my cardio before the session. Oh, and when I arrived at the gym I realized I didn't have my ipod. I hate that. But oh! Big news!!! I jogged for 20 minutes! There should have been confetti falling from the ceiling at the gym upon my completing this, and a band. Wow is all I can say. And you know what else? You're going to love this, it wasn't hard. No kidding, I wasn't gasping for breath or dying of leg pain or anything. Between you and me, I'm not convinced it actually happened. Wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to have been a dream. 20 whole, straight, 5mph, 1% incline minutes. So that was Day 3 of Week 5 of the c25k running plan. I think I'm going to do Week 5 one more time (if two is good, three is better?) before going to Week 6. I need to experience this 20 minute thing again.

So I'm a little nervous. I'm going on a road ride with a group tomorrow, Healdsburg to Alexander Valley Bike & Wine in the Sonoma County area. It was described to me as "about 20 miles with a few gentle grades." When I expressed my hesitancy and newbie-ness I was told, "don't worry, this ride is more about the socializing and winery visits anyway!". So I went for it. I sure hope I don't die. I sure hope I don't embarrass myself beyond belief. I sure hope I don't fall off my bike or have to turn back. Wish me luck.

So after my session with John I decided to do the lower body day, since today is a lower body gym day. I cut back on the sets though because I didn't want to kill my legs before the ride tomorrow. Those side lunges were tricky. Here's how they should look. Is it ok if I don't smile like that when I do them?

I wrapped up it all up by stretching and then riding home. Yep, riding. I rode my bike to the gym. I remember, not too long ago really, when making it the 2.5 miles to the gym on my bike was a challenge and a triumph. I don't want to say it's easy, but it sure isn't a challenge anymore. I'm keeping my old mountain bike as a ride-around-town bike.

Here's a picture of the old new-again Cannondale. Miguel previously gave me a big cushy seat, which is perfect for around town riding, and I added one of those racks things on the back to put stuff on, like a bag of groceries. I know you want to see pictures of them so...

Alright, maybe you didn't want to see pictures but I'm just a picture taking picture posting maniac sometimes so there you go. Speaking of that, Miguel's been getting into this bike riding thing right along with me. He even bought the clothes! He loves all the "stuff" that goes along with any activity. So Miguel went on a road ride this morning solo. He's got this ride he wants us to do together but I'm worried about the hills so he went on a recon mission to check it out. Here he is this morning getting ready to leave. He looked so darn cute I had to take his picture!

Well, the weather is going to be gorgeous this weekend! It's Friday. Yay!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I've Lost a 7-Year Old Child!

Yay! I lost 3.2 pounds this week. That's a total loss of 61.2 pounds. In-cred-ible.

So I went out for Happy Hour with co-workers after the meeting. I shared my success of going over 60 pounds lost and a co-worker pointed out that this is like losing a small child. I looked up weight charts and 60 pounds is the average weight of a 7-year old child. Can you imagine? I've lost a 7-year old child. No wonder I was so tired all the time, carrying that around.

So at Happy Hour at Chili's I had two vodka sodas and their Guiltless Grilled Salmon. The drinks were 4 Points and the meal was 10. Getting out of there for 14 Points is a victory. Let me tell you, I was so tempted to order some fried appetizer.

Anyway, 27.6 pounds to go. To be honest this is when things start getting surreal. I was trying on clothes the other day and when I was getting into some size 10's, and even needed an 8 in this one pair of jeans, I started in with the "wow, clothes are really cut big these days". It's just impossible for me to believe I'm getting smaller, let alone small. Correction, I struggle with it but it's not impossible. I have to believe that my mind will one day catch up with my body. Otherwise I'll never appreciate what I have and that will wear on me and lead to relapse.

I need to end on a positive. Thank you to all who stop by and comment. The support is so meaningful to me. Oh, and did I mention I weigh 172.6 pounds? Like I said, INCREDIBLE!

It's Weigh-In Thursday!

Happy happy. Well, I haven't weighed in yet so it's easy to be optimistic :) Let's hope I don't see another gain this week. I stayed within my Points and did most of my planned exercise so we'll see.

I found a Point! I eat a 2 point cereal breakfast and 2 points worth of FF vanilla coffee creamer in the morning. I've been eying those coffee creamer points for a few weeks. I decided to try fat free half-and-half with sugar free Torani vanilla syrup. That combo is only 1 point. I tried it this morning and it's not bad. A daily Point recovered! Yeah! That's an apple, or some Pringles, or a string-cheese. I will relish that extra point.

I did Day 2 Week 5 of C25k yesterday at the gym. That means I did two 8-minute jogs. Me, Michelle, who weighed 233.8 pounds at the start of 2007. Wow. Anyway, I'm still debating on whether I'll do Day 3 of Week 5 tomorrow, which is a 20 minute run (!!!) or do another Day 2. I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Evolution of a Plan

So Kristy left me a comment that got me to remembering why things are the way they are.

I started out with the idea that I need to workout 5 days a week. I was doing 45 minutes of cardio followed by weight training, core work and then stretches. I was tired. Someone suggested I either go down to 4 days a week or cut the cardio to 30 minutes. I decided to lower it to 4 days a week. Fine. Then I decided that all this outdoor activity should count for something. So I decided that if I got "exercise" on the weekend in the form of a bike ride or hike then 3 days that week at the gym was fine.

So now I'm in the position of, at least for last week and this week, only getting to the gym twice during the week. Not fine. What am I not going to do? Punish myself and make myself go consecutive days this week to make up for it. What am I going to do? Make damn sure I get to the gym three times next week so I can feel on top of my plan again.

I tell you, today at work, I could feel the stress in my body. I could feel myself all tightened up and tense. I swear that's from no gym on Monday. I need that exercise to make my world work better.

Alright, I think I just needed to say all that to remind myself. Guess where I'm headed? Yep, the gym.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hunger, Clothes and Recovery

I noticed I've been getting hungry before lunch lately. My typical (like, 99% of the time) breakfast is 1 serving of Special K Protein Plus cereal with a 1/2 serving of Fiber One cereal w/ milk. The Special K has 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber and usually holds me until lunch. Don't know why I'm getting hungry these days. Probably due to more activity and lower Points allotment than in the past.

Anyway, I was trying to hold on until lunch today and then remembered water. I started drinking some water and that helped. Then a co-worker offered me a square of Ghirardelli chocolate with Caramel in the middle. Yes!

Anyway, so I bought some pants at Old Navy a little while back, size 12. Man, their pants run big! I already have to wear a belt with them. Most other brands I'm still fine in a 12. I was feeling grouchy about this until I realized that this is the type of problem one wants to have. Pants too big? Great!

So my legs are sore. I am hobbling around like I have a stick up my butt. I skipped the gym yesterday because of this and because my monthly Spanish conversation group met last night. We meet at Mexican food restaurants so I always have to be careful. Chips! I had a seafood burrito with black beans, no guac but with sour cream, on a whole wheat tortilla. It was ok but huge. I ate the second 1/2 for lunch today.

So I'll be back to the gym tomorrow but this will be another week in which I didn't get my 3 gym days in. Remember Michelle, flexibility, balance, don't get neurotic on me. Yes, I'm talking to myself :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two Big Rocks, One With a Lighthouse @ Moraga, Big Rock Ridge & Point Bonita

This weekend was jam packed full of activity. Miguel would say too much, and I might have agreed with him but after looking over my pictures this morning I have to say, nah, I'm glad I got out there as much as I did.

On Saturday we went on a road ride on the Lafayette Moraga Regional Trail. This was not really a "road" ride since we spent most of the time on a paved trail. It's an out and back trip (as opposed to a loop) and on the way back we went on the real road for quite a few miles. It was a lot more fun because we could go as fast as we wanted. This was a perfect first road ride for me because it was relatively flat and the time we spent on the road was good practice for getting used to cars whizzing by. It was a 15 mile trip with an elevation gain of 550 feet. Very manageable for me. My shoulders didn't really tighten up at all, although my left shoulder got a little sore, which I think is from looking over my shoulder while riding. Next road trip will have to be all on real road but still relatively flat while I build up leg muscle and endurance. I was too busy riding to take pictures :(

So on the whole ride I didn't take one sip of water. It just seemed like too much trouble to reach down and deal with the water bottle. This led to an after-trip purchase of a Camelbak (here's a pic of the one I purchased). Funny thing, when these first came out I was like, "Those are silly, I'll never get one of those." Yeah, well. They are ridiculously expensive though. Some are over $100! I found this one on sale at Performance Bikes for only $40. Miguel found one he liked on sale too. Yay!

So on Sunday I had a huge hike ahead of me. Do I have hiking boots? No. Did I need to buy some? Heck yeah! I found these at REI and they were only $99 so I went for it. They are comfy and cute and I hoped they would serve me well on Sunday. Did I mention before that my feet have shrunk? I'm wearing a half-size smaller now, an 8 down from 8.5. Weird. By the way, after all the spending on Saturday afternoon I put a moratorium on shopping until our coffers can be built back up again.

So on Sunday Miguel had a soccer game (he's on a local league team). I planned to go on a hike with a group. The hike was described to me as Strenuous at 11 miles with 1900' elevation gain. This would be my first BIG hike since this health/fitness/weight-loss journey started so I was a little nervous. Fittingly, the place we hiked is called Big Rock Ridge. We started with a steep incline and I was thinking to myself, "Oh crap, I bit off more than I can chew, this is going to kill me!". But, while things didn't exactly level off, the extreme steepness was only in the beginning.

Okay, enough yapping, here's some pictures...

This was probably at the 2.5 mile point, about 1/2 way to the top. You see that electrical tower on the right top of the picture? That's our destination. This is the second highest peak in Marin, after Mt. Tam.

A pic of a fellow hiker with what seems like the whole world in the vast space behind her.

Lots of wildflowers along the way. This is our state flower, the California Poppy.

This is the view from the top! I made it! Whew. My legs were sore and we still had the return trip to make. Since we were hiking on the ridgeline for a while the return trip had it's fair share of inclines too. And the steep declines made my knees sore, something that usually doesn't happen.

And finally, a picture of little ol' me next to some pretty wildflowers. I'm smiling because we're almost done and I'm still mobile.

Did I mention I burned 1800 calories on this hike? 1000 on the way up, 800 on the way down. So after the hike I took some Ibuprofen and headed home. The Camelbak was awesome! It holds 1.5 liters of water and I drank it all. I'm sure I drank more water than I normally would on a hike and that's a good thing. Can I wear this thing to work too? Anyway, I was home for about an hour before I had to head out to a sunset and full moon tour of one of our local treasures, Point Bonita Lighthouse.

We got a tour with some history and science information and then waited for the sun to set.

Isn't it gorgeous?

Oh, it was windy and freeeeezing and I had a ton of layers on to keep warm but it was so worth it. The sun is setting!

This is the little bridge you have to walk over to get to the actual lighthouse. Under the bridge are craggy rocks and crashing waves but one tries not to think about that (or earthquakes) while walking across.

A close-up of the lighthouse.

And finally, the full moon rise over The City.

What a weekend!