Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Our Weight Loss Progress

David and I have been super-focused on weight loss these days. I've been using MyFitnessPal online and recording everything I put in my mouth and everything I do for exercise. At the same time, we seem to have relapsed with the colds we've been coping with. I've been feeling run down, but still trying to ensure I workout in some manner two times a day.

I must admit to having a 3-day period of time when I put the diet on "pause". It was my daughter's 8th birthday last weekend, and I had a big day planned for her. I was bummed because it snowed ~ about 6 inches worth. Not only did that mean we were not going to be able to get our tandem on the road, but I was concerned that many of Katie's friends who RSVP-ed to attend, might not.

 As it turned out, we had five out of ten children who came in spite of the winter weather. We started the celebration at The Trampoline Place in Plainfield. We continued it as a sleepover at our home. I thought all that bouncing would tire them out, but... Wow! Even with only five girls, the stress of planning activities, keeping them on track, and hoping everything would go off smoothly had an effect on me! I ended up eating some of the food bought just for the kids ~ pizza, chips, cheese doodles and punch... and even cake!

It left me feeling disgusted with myself. The girls were active and chatty and awake until almost 1 am, and so not only was I disgusted about my eating, but exhausted that night AND the next day!

I can honestly say I was glad to have had this celebration for my daughter. She will cherish the childhood memories. But I absolutely needed a day of recovery (I did not exercise on the snow day or the following day.) to catch up on rest. I realized that I needed to better focus on my health, and get back on track with making efforts towards better eating.

Katie went to her father's house the following day, and I sent all of the leftover birthday cake with her. We got rid of the leftover pizza, punch, and chips too. And, both David and I saw the doctor this week to help us to shake the cough and fatigue.

Time off resulted in my gaining back the three pounds I had lost. (It came back on very quickly!) Now, even with three consecutive days of extra exercise and careful monitoring of my calorie and fat intake, the scale has not budged. I suppose it's not the best idea to be hopping on the scale every single day, but I would have been excited to see that my efforts were making even a slight difference.

On the other hand, David has been doing extremely well. He is steadily progressing in the right direction. He seriously has the desire to win The Biggest Loser Contest! He's committed, and he just might have a chance to beat out a lot of the competition! I am most certainly hopeful for myself, but I am wholeheartedly cheering him on!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Working Out Around Life

Our washing machine broke yesterday afternoon. First it made a strange noise during its spin cycle, and then when I opened the door to unload the clothes on the next load, it was smoking! And smelling of burnt rubber. It was upsetting for both David and me.

Yesterday's well laid out plans included trying out a new spin class. But with preparations David needed to attend to for his work last night, and me not feeling too great for most of the day, and then feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with mounting laundry and a smoking washer, we gave ourselves a downtime break -- once we caught up with those pressing issues.

Today is a new day, and I awoke feeling a lot better. I've been watching my six month old grandson for the past six weeks while my daughter was finishing her schooling. It was wonderful, but consuming. The normal rhythem of my old daily routine had escaped me.

Now I have open days ahead and much to catch up on. I had an appointment this morning to get my coumadin level checked (blood thinning drug I must take because of a clot discovered in my liver).  And, I am job hunting. (We need more income.) I have a household cleaning routine I had fallen back on... and, today I also needed to wait for the washing machine repair man to show up.

I did get in a little exercise yesterday -- a half hour on our elliptical machine. After that workout, I felt nauseated. But today since I am feeling better, I set out to make a sincere effort for more serious exercise.

I considered going to the gym. But then, realizing that I needed to be at home for whenever the repairman was going to show up, limitations are placed on my time. I then considered exercising outside. It is cold and windy, but the sun is shining. I couldn't let that be an easy excuse. After I was done with my blood testing, I decided to do a maximum effort walk outside from home.

Dave and I had recently purchased a new heart rate monitor. Our local Olympia Sports store was closing, and they had a great clearance sale going on. It was a great deal we might not have otherwise splurged on. While I routinely wear a heart rate monitor when cycling, I had never worn one before when walking. We have a new toy, so I thought I would see how effective walking can be as an exercise.

I was quite surprised! With a conscientious effort to move at a speedy pace for maximum results, I was able to attain a heart rate average of 132, which is only slightly lower than my average when cycling! Not too bad.

I have one more half hour workout on my to-do list for today -- on the elliptical machine. The purpose of that is to jump-start my metabolism two times each day AND to mix things up ~ as my doctor recommended. (I also saw that advice on a recent infomercial for P90X.) Let's hope it makes a difference!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Draft that Tandem!

We met Chris Gazzola at Midtown Fitness where he leads a spin class designed especially for cyclists. He invited Dave and I to join a group ride last Saturday with the Quinebaug Valley Velo Club. With temperatures in the low 30's for the projected high, we bundled up and left home on our tandem a bit after 9 am. We rode 8 miles to the starting point. It was surprising to see that there were over 20 riders gathered in front of Simon's Bike and Brew waiting for the start of the ride!

We chatted with fellow cyclists as we departed, and pretty much all along the way. Some of the others on this ride are racers -- that's a class of bicyclists we don't often hang out with!

The route consisted of mostly rolling hills through Plainfield and Canterbury. At times the climbs were challenging for us on the tandem, but for the most part we were able to maintain a good pace within the group. There were a few stops along the way too, which allowed us short breaks. At one stop, there was an alpaca farm and the animals came up to the fence to greet us. I was delighted and snapped a couple of pictures.  As the route progressed, we actually passed other riders -- nine times out of ten, going downhill!

Every now and then, someone would shout out, "Draft that tandem!" as we passed. We get that a lot, and we certainly don't mind if anyone wants to hang onto our wheel.

Wrapping up the ride back at Simon's Bike and Brew, hot coffee was served. We had a chance to talk at length with more folks from the group. We were invited to join next Saturday's ride, but it's my daughter's birthday -- and it looks like snow or rain could be in the forecast. This was a great ride, and we are definitely planning to join up with this great cycling group again soon!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Karate for Kids / Spin Classes for Adults!

Both Dave and I both signed up for Midtown Fitness' Biggest Loser Contest on Thursday. We are number 66 and 67 of over 100 participants! Dave ate up all afternoon to start off at his maximum weight for the week. I had already been monitoring my food and activity, so my attitude was, 'I weigh whatever I weigh'... I did not want an extra pound on me -- not even to have any kind of an edge for a contest.

After our registration and weigh-in, we hurried over to another gym in the area that put out a great offer. My daughter, Katie, who is 7 years old, has expressed an interest in taking karate classes. The gym we checked out offers karate classes for kids and allows parents to workout while the kids are in class. I love that idea! I have spent countless hours waiting for my kids in their activities, and if I could make that into productive time for me -- what a fantastic way to multitask!

However, the gym atmosphere there was not what we expected. It was in an old farm building and... well, you can let your imagination run with it, and you'd probably be pretty close to reality. The karate class with the nifty introductory offer had only two other students that evening -- and there weren't any other kids in the class. We watched Katie interact with the instructer for a while. After seeing that she was doing well, Dave and I hopped onto a couple of treadmills for a quick workout.

Afterwards, in the car, Dave suggested that we return to the Midtown Fitness facility. When we were signing up for the contest earlier, we saw that they had a very busy martial arts class going on. We also saw a flyer there about a spin class specifically designed for cyclists. That was intriguing.

Upon our return, we had an opportunity to speak with the karate instructor at length, and we also met up with the instructor for the specialized spin class. Both impressed us!

The philosophy of the martial arts classes there is based upon respect, and the methods utilized are designed to instill not just smarts about self-defense, but confidence. Katie was signed up, and she had her first introductory class for karate scheduled for the following day.

Dave and I were given a look at the spin room and the bikes. We were also invited to join a Saturday group ride on the road that wasn't too far from our home.

What a great group of people! It was very much worth our time to check out Midtown Fitness further.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Setting Goals

Today I will join the local Biggest Loser Contest. It's weigh-in time.

However, it was last week when I set it in my mind that I was going to commit myself to losing weight. As of today, I'm down 3 pounds since last week, so those three pounds won't be reflected on my starting point for the contest. But it's not about the contest, it's about attaining my goal. Being involved in the contest is simply to keep me motivated.

Second item on my list to keep me motivated is recording my food intake and exercise. I'm doing this through My Fitness Pal online. I highly recommend this site to anyone on a mission to lose weight. If you are using the site and you would like to friend me for mutual support, go to Find Members and my username is KMEtchells. I need all the support I can get!

Lastly, David and I are going to schedule out spin classes and important cycling events on a calendar. I'm looking into taking group fitness classes during the week, maybe zumba or yoga. David is interested in participating in a few road races this year. Together on the tandem, we will decide upon a century (or two!) and possibly a couple of fundraiser rides. If I am able to increase my fitness level as much as I hope, there could also be a 5K road race in the mix! (That is a highly optimistic goal for me!)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting Serious About Weight Loss

This weekend has been another two wonderful days! It's January and yesterday's temperatures reached into the mid-50's. Today was 40-something. Both days bathed us with glorious sunshine.

Yesterday we joined a group ride and it was amazing to see 18 riders show up -- including one other tandem! The ride was 30 miles with a lot of climbing. Today, Dave and I rode on our own for 41 miles.We have done 98 miles in a week!

I lost two pounds overnight from Saturday's ride. Dave and I are still not quite over the nasty virus that's been going around, and I was feeling slightly nauseous. David was still suffering with a terrible cough. In spite of that, we rode strong. But we chose not to eat at the rest stop. (That is unusual for us.) Afterwards, we split a Subway sandwich. A small dinner of leftovers, and that was it for the day.

I want to get serious about my weight loss. Today, I decided to join My Fitness Pal online. I know that keeping track of what I eat and my exercise level will help.  My progress will be posted on this blog in the sidebar on the right.

I also decided to go ahead with the local Biggest Loser Contest. Even though the first weigh-in isn't until January 12th, I am getting serious with my journey now.

David has been encouraging, and he is trying to convince me that I can eventually run with him. I want to, but I have doubts about my abilities. I'm a fast walker (a skill acquired years ago when I used to be a City Letter Carrier with the USPS), but I quickly get breathless when I attempt to run. I need to keep in mind that when I first tried bicycling on the roads of Eastern Connecticut, the hills killed me, and I whined about it because I wasn't able to breathe. I can now. We both believe incorporating running into our activities will shed the pounds.

David is looking great, but he has a desire to lose more weight because he is hoping to race on his bicycle again. I know how good it feels to weigh less, and I want to be truly healthy. I know we can do this, and of course, I know we will support each other!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sick Days... and Feeling Fat

Ugh. I've been sick.

Yesterday was the worst. I was achy and congested, with a sinus headache and sore joints. David has been up all night coughing for days in a row. Even though I'm not coughing, when he gets up with the hacking in the middle of the night, it wakes me up. That makes us both sleep deprived too.

Today has been better than yesterday. Not that I've felt well by any means, but better. Now I'm also feeling sluggish from a lack of exercise for past three days. As I was paging through an issue of an advertising publication that arrived in our mailbox this week, I noticed that there are lots of ads for town recreational programs and gyms -- obviously targeted to all of us with New Years resolutions.

We have a gym membership that is expiring this month. The gym is close to my former place of employment, and that is 45 minutes west of our home. With the relatively mild winter (so far) and facing a good amount of driving, we've cycled or walked outside and haven't taken full advantage of that membership in a while.

So, I've been considering options for winter exercise closer to home. Costs, scheduling, etc.

There's something else I'm considering too. One of the gyms closer to where we live is offering a Biggest Loser Contest. There is an entry fee and weigh-ins, but you don't need to be a gym member to participate. Half of the entry fee will be divided between the winners, and the other half will be donated to two local charities. The contest also awards prizes provided by local sponsors to the man or woman who loses the greatest percentage of body weight.

The first year I started cycling seriously with David, I lost about 40 pounds. But then, I had a health crisis and got a desk job, and much of the weight returned. I figured if I rode enough miles, it would naturally go down again, but it hasn't happened. My doctor says I'm getting older, and that it will be harder to come off. Another bit of advice from another doctor was that I should mix it up -- that my body is used to the movement of cycling and it needs new challenges.

So maybe, now is as good a time as any to act seriously about shedding the extra weight. And maybe anticipated weigh-ins and the lure of prize money can entice me to stay on board with a program.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years Day

Yesterday was New Years Day and unbelievably, we had a choice of different group ride routes and miles! Temperatures topped at 53 degrees, and the sun was shining. There were two rides posted that we were considering. One was 54 miles and a good portion of those miles was up hill. Dave's been sick with a lot of congestion and a cough with a sore throat, so when we saw another ride posted by the "C" riders from the Thread City Cyclists for 38 miles, we thought it would be a better option.

The TCC "C" Riders took a quick break along the way.

We met at a school parking lot and there were 12 of us in all. We started out at 11 a.m. I was surprised to find as we went along the route, that much of this ride was up hill too! With all that climbing, Dave and I were peeling off the layers. One thing that's evident on a sunny and unusually warm day in January, is that no one was quite sure how to dress appropriately. Dave was actually down to wearing just a jersey by the midpoint of the ride!

We stopped for lunch at a cafe-general store, Coriander Cafe, in the small town of Eastford, CT. By that time, many of us had felt the effects of the climbing, and we lingered inside, relaxing a little longer than usual. By the time we were back outside (I was putting my outer layer back on!) we suddenly realized that we had only about an hour of daylight left!

We ended up splitting into two groups for the race back to the parking lot before dark. Dave and I made it back at the front of the pack, and feeling glad to have had the opportunity to enjoy such a day at this time of year!

Here I am, smiling at a point when we took a break from climbing!