Archive for the ‘on being fitter’ Category
Around July 2009, I got a new job that was far enough from my home that I decided to start taking the train to get there. There were handy shuttle buses, but if the train was late for some reason or I missed my usual train altogether, I would miss the shuttle bus and end up having to wait up to 40 minutes for the next one. Of course, this was convenient, but also inflexible since I absolutely had to make it to the shuttle bus in order to get to and from work on time.
Then I decided to start taking my bike on the train with me. The main reason was because I didn’t like being a slave to the shuttle buses, but the secondary reason was that I didn’t like sitting at my desk for 8 hours a day and then being too tired to get a run in when I got home. Sure, I could have gotten up really early and gone running, but let’s face it, I was just going to make excuses and get lazy when the short days of winter arrived. Biking to work seemed like a much better solution, and it was a lot faster getting to/from the train station at home since I no longer had to walk the 1.5 miles.
When I started another job in a different town, I also decided to get to/from work by bike. I think it was at this point that I realised that I would be a serious cranky-pants if I didn’t get my daily exercise in, so I pretty much had to bike to work. Instead of taking the train to the stop that is 2 miles from work, I get off 4.5 miles away and bike a longer, safer route through a quiet residential area.
One of my co-workers then told me that he had been thinking about starting to bike commute, so to encourage this, we met at the train station closest to his house in the mornings and biked 4 miles together, doing the same thing at the end of the day too. After a couple of weeks, I set him loose to see if he would keep doing it on his own. I felt that if I was always picking him up in the mornings, it might become a dependent relationship; he needed to get his own butt in gear in order to stick with it.
A week or two passed and suddenly something magical happened: he started liking it.
It’s been a couple months now since he started biking on his own to work and he has since bought a bike that properly fit him and outfitted it with useful commuter gear like a rack and fenders. We occasionally discuss bikey gear and lament the rainy weather and aggressive drivers together. Biking brings people together, I tell ya.
Today he announced to me that he has officially lost 5 pounds since cycling and this made me feel really proud of him. I know 5 pounds really isn’t much weight when you think about it, but it’s a big deal when you think that this could be the start of a healthier lifestyle. Baby steps, people. He does have some health issues that could possibly disappear if he kept up the weight loss and healthy habits, so it would be pretty awesome if biking was how he got healthy.
Bikes can change lives. If you are a member of the Cult of Bike, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
Ok, so I keep thinking that I’m going to stop blogging about my newfound love for All Things Bikey, but it’s not going to happen, and if you have a problem with that then you can go ahead and not read this Yet Another Bikey Blog Entry.
This weekend, I had so much fun it’s unbelievable. After another lovely week of bike commuting to work, I got it in my pretty little head to bring Dennis up to town on the CalTrain so I could fulfill my dream of acting like one of those silly bike-renting tourists who ride around on Embarcadero. Yeah. I don’t know why I wanted to do it, but I did!
So early on Sunday morning, Darren came down to SJ with his bike, and we went over to Diridon and got on a train that took almost 2 hours to get us up to 4th and King. We rode over to the REI on Brannan so I could exchange my U-lock, then we hit up Patisserie Philippe for some tasty macarons.
It turned out that they were shut, but they let us in anyway to sell us a couple boxes of macarons. The kind man even gave us each one to nibble on while he was packing up the boxes, and then slipped us a crinkly cellophane bag of beautiful meringues for Bastille Day. So very nice of him!
After we slipped our precious boxes of macarons into out messenger bags, we hopped back on our bikes to head to the Embarcardero and I finally got to ride along the water on my bike! I was in heaven. It was so gorgeous and wonderful out too, and I had this big silly smile slapped on my face the entire time.
Yeah. One more wish fulfilled.
And on the way home, we found some beautiful shadows and light at the train station. So gorgeous.
Bikey life makes me pretty happy. I love seeing people riding them around and I love checking them out at the bike racks. So pretty. Round, and straight, and round all over again. So nice.
I named my bike Dennis. His frame says “Rock Hopper” so of course the first thing I thought of was Dennis Hopper, and hence Dennis. I’m even thinking of taking a piece of paper and taping over the “Rock” bit and writing “Dennis” on it. Yeah. That’s how much I love my bike. I will brave incredulous stares to do something funny.
Yesterday I did not bike to work. I was meeting a friend and the Mister was going to pick me up and take me to dinner. I would have ridden, but Dennis does not fit easily into the car. What can I say, he doesn’t want to be a drive-around-in-a-car bike. He wants to be an on-the-road-being-ridden bike, and he does not fit well in my puny car.
I thought I would feel really relaxed taking the shuttle to and from the CalTrain station, but you know what? I didn’t like it. Sure, it’s easy and I just have to sit down and do nothing while it takes me from point A to B, but I have to say that I really missed riding my bike!
This morning, with the wind whipping through my skirt, I rode from point A to B and then C to D with a big huge bikey smile plastered on my silly face.
Oh and that friend I met yesterday? Here he is in beautiful Fuji instafilm colour, courtesy of my lovely new camera, Geraldine (a Polaroid 195 Land Camera).
I’ve been really excited about riding my bike to work. Even though I don’t ride very far (1.8 miles in SJ and 2.2 in San Mateo each way, so about 8 miles round trip), I’ve been obsessively reading about All Thing Bikey. One of the things that I really worry about is fixing a flat. I have not had to ever fix a flat bike tire in my life (heck, I’ve never fixed a flat car tire myself either), so it actually scares me to death to think about getting a flat, possibly eating it while riding the bike, and then having to fix it on the side of the road (hopefully it won’t be a a very busy road).
While I was catching up on my internet alone time this morning after a morning run (finally!!), I was reading all about bicycle commuting on the Trek site. I first should tell you a little about my bike. It’s a Frankenstein bike, made by a friend out of parts that were going to be junked. (I’ve named my bike Dennis for no reason, other than I like saying that I went places wiht Dennis.) The frame is a sad looking blue Rock Hopper and all the other parts were taken off other old bikes. They’re good parts, just a bit old. Oh, and Dennis only has one gear, which makes him pretty light to take on and off the train.
As an aside, Dennis doesn’t look like he’s my bike apparently. On the CalTrain, the bike racks stack up to 4 bikes on top of each other. Hopefully, you have a destination tag so that you don’t get shut in behind a bike that’s going a few stops further than you. Dennis was already on the top of the rack, so I didn’t have to move any other bikes, but when I was moving him, a very nice rider asked me if I needed help moving that bike out of the way. (I guess Dennis is kinda ratty looking.) I told the guy that Dennis was my bike, and he looked a little surprised and chuckled. Maybe it doesn’t help that I was wearing my fancypants work clothes, so he thought I had the cruiser stacked under Dennis.
Oh wait, anyway…
The whole point of this post was to share the 1 World 2 Wheels site that I found that has a lot of neat little tips for people who want to start bike commuting. It’s a lot easier than you think and good for your body too. Plus, they have a video about learning how to change a flat, which is what I totally need to do!
So remember two posts ago when I discussed changing my eating habits? I went from 3 meals a day to 4 smaller meals of about 400-500 calories each. I’ve given myself a pretty strict schedule:
- Meal #1 around 9am. This usually consists of 1/2c oatmeal made with water, cup of coffee, piece of fruit like a banana or apple, and toast with peanut butter on it.
- Meal #2 around noon or 1pm. This might be leftover lasagna, tomato rice soup, or some kind of light sandwich.
- Meal #3 around 3-4pm. This is sometimes more of a snack like hummus with pita chips, a handful of carrots, and a piece of fruit.
- Meal #4 is dinner and is typically the last meal of the day at 8pm the latest.
With the smaller meals, I often feel much hugrier in the mornings, which was part of the plan. Before, I was eating dinner so late that I wasn’t even hungry for breakfast in the mornings, but now I wake up feeling hungry and breakfast tastes even better! I have a hard time keeping up with my eating schedule, and I sometimes end up eating when I’m not so hungry. I suppose that it goes against my idea to eat only when I feel hungry, but I’m already seeing results on the scale, so it must be something right. Plus, when I can keep to the schedule, I don’t feel too hungry during the day, and it keeps my mood buoyant.
Lunch today: Homemade lasagne with turkey, spinach, and mushrooms
The great thing about travelling sans computer is that I get to catch up on reading my magazines. I have free subscriptions to at least 5 at any given time thanks for my and Frank’s useless airline miles, and I always read them through from front to back. Yes, I read all the articles, look at all the new shades of makeup, study the newest fashion, and rip out pages with good recipes that I want to try. After reading through a number of random articles on fitness, fashion, and femininity, I decided on a few new goals in my life:
1. Eating 4 small meals a day
I try to eat a total of 1600-1800 calories a day and I’ll split that by 4 meals a day. The biggest changes will be increasing my breakfast amount and decreasing my supper choices. I was eating only about 200 calories for breakfast before, so I’ll add on a boiled egg or yoghurt and maybe a piece of toast. For supper, I was pretty much eating the majority of my daily calories, and that’s never a good thing before going to bed.
I’m hoping the change will let me have more of a stable eating schedule, which will help blood sugar levels and all that good stuff. I’m even thinking of doing a crappy-mobile-phone food blog on a separate account on Flickr so that I can have a visual cue of what I’m eating throughout the day. Maybe… I’m not so vigilent about taking photos of every meal, and that’s a lot of picture mail too!
2. Find that elusive special perfume
I’m going to start wearing perfume on a regular basis. I think it’s one of those things that makes me feel womanly and beautiful, and I’m always down for that! After having read a bit more on the topic, I think I’ll try to check out Elizabeth Arden’s Beautiful. When I do wear perfume, I wear YSL’s Opium, which is a bit heady and strong for most days. Maybe something lighter would be better for daily use. I also kind of want to have a scent that people smell when they get close to me.
3. More shooting with the Hassy
Ah, poor Vlady the Hasselblad, you haven’t gotten much use lately, but that’s going to change. I want to go out and shoot more medium format film, and it started with the trip to New Mexico with Cousin (all my cousins are referred to as simply “Cousin”). I brought the Hassy and shot 4 rolls over 2 days, and it made me so happy. I already dropped the rolls off at the lab yesterday when I got back and will pick them up today! The anticipation is just too much!
4. Exercise 30 minutes a day
I don’t mean that I’m going to run everyday now, but at least 30 minutes of brisk walking or some kind of exercise to get my blood pumping is a good idea. I even get free Exercise TV workouts through cable, so might as well do those when it rains outside. I do honestly believe that getting the blood pumping is the best way to clear out your body and make yourself feel good, so why not do it everyday, right? It doesn’t have to be very strenuous; just doing something is good for you to keep your muscles active. This is another reason why I would like to get a dog, so I can take it for long walks with me everyday (especially while I’m working from home).
These sites are probably useful for bikers too!
For mapping your route:
- GMap Pedometer: A neat little hack that uses Google Maps and can track your route along streets or freehand. Comes with calorie approximator and shows you mile markers. This is my most recent find and has been incredibly useful!
- GMaps, the original yo!: Before I found GMap Pedometer, I used good old GMaps to plot my route. It’s freehand and you can also save a series of maps for future reference. Super useful if you don’t follow streets during your route.
- MapMyRun: So I tried using this back in 2007 when I first started running (wow, has it been that long?), but the interface kinda sucked big time. They’ve had many improvements and it’s a good tool for looking at where other local runners go. Like GMaps, you can log in and save maps. The bonus is being able to search for other runners’ maps.
So you’re new and don’t know what to do:
- If you have no idea what you’re doing, check out the online sites for magazines like Runner’s World. They have sections specifically gears towards beginners and answer a lot of questions like, “How do I find shoes?” and “How fast can I increase my speed/mileage without hurting myself?”
- Check out the “Couch to 5K” training program from Cool Running. It’s one of the best programs for people who have seriously never run before in their lives. I can personally vouch for the usefulnes of this program (I started on it myself) and I know plenty of other people who have also used this with much success. It starts out nice and easy, but if week 1 is still too hard, you may want to just have a couple weeks of just walking to break yourself into it. I cannot endorse it enough!
- Get yourself some good shoes for god’s sake! When you start running, it’s a good idea to have a good foundation to help prevent injury and downtime, so check out some local running stores. Also remember that sometimes the shoes that are best for you aren’t necessarily the best looking and it’s better to feel good running than it is to look good. Yelp is a good tool, but if all else fails, look for a Fleet Feet shop. Also remember that if it seems expensive going to a store like that, you can always buy the replacement pair online for much cheaper.
To supplement your running:
- Since you’re healthy and taking your body out for a run every so often, it only makes sense to make sure that you’re eating healthy too. You don’t have to lay off the burgers completely, but maybe a few more vegetables and nutrients would be good to help your body run as well as it can! I kinda like going to Cooking Light and Spark Recipes to browse through and get some good ideas for meals.
- This link is a bit female-centric, but Self Magazine has a great site with tips for strength exercises and recipes too. If you subscribe the printed magazine, it’s a nice reminder to keep your body moving and it has lots of encouraging articles to help get you motivated.
- If running partners motivate you, check out Exercise Friends or a local running club for a running mate. If you know that someone else is counting on you to go running with them, it makes it harder to be lazy and blow off a workout!
I know it seems tough starting a brand new workout program. It’s tough keeping it up sometimes, just because you get bored and need constant stimulation. We’re people, not machines and we need a little variety in our lives, but you can totally do it if you keep at it. Keep up the good work!
It’s been a really interesting year, this 2008. It started off sucking pretty hard, but it’s turned into a lovely lovely friend and I’m almost sad to see it go! I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life in general, met a bunch of new people, let go of some old ones, and generally progressed forward with my life in a way that I find very agreeable.
I’m not going to go into all the details of what’s changed in my life, but the important parts are:
- Got more into photography, specifically film photography, but I think I’m returning to digital for a little bit at least
- My body has finally reached a happy stage where I’m happy with the way I look and feel and I don’t have to put too much effort into losing anymore, just maintaining
- I’m finally getting used to living in California, the so-called west-coast lifestyle
- We’ve met lots of new friends and reconnected with some old ones as well
- Knitting is awesome and I’ve found a new knitting group that looks really promising
Jeez, I’m really not sure what’s ahead next year, but I know it starts off with a friend’s wedding (congrats C+E!!) up in beautiful Seattle. I’ll be heading up with a friend instead of with Frank since the wedding is during the week and Frank can’t take time off then. It’s sure to be a fun time since my friend has also never been to Seattle, so I can almost feel like I’m showing him around since I’ve been there a grand total of once. Ha!
Hmm… what else? Oh right… about going back to digital photography for a little while… I think I need a stint where I can stop caring so much about it, because it’s been eating me up and I’ve been overly critical of my work. I don’t really know why, but I care more about my photography when I shoot film; it’s just inherent for me and I don’t really know why. When it comes to digital, I feel like the finished product is less important and that the process becomes more fun and free. Maybe I just need to go back to shooting on rangefinders instead; I’d headed back to my trusty SLR lately to have more control over the composition of my shots. Yeah… I’ve been incredibly unhappy with my photography lately, so I’m really hoping that a small trip over the dark side of digital will help revive my passion for it. I’ll probably start missing film as soon as I tell myself I need to shoot digital again.
Oh, and also on the knitting front! I managed to make gifts for a lot of people this year, and it’s been really relaxing and wonderful to create things with my hands again. I really enjoy the process of knitting or sewing something, and it’s nice giving people something that I spent time making. It’s like a litlte extra bonus love for them. Darren gave me a subscription to Make magazine, and I’m thinking of asking him to switch it to Craft since it has more sewing/knitting type stuff in it instead of cool geeky electronics stuff.
So… I probably won’t update again until next year when we part ways with 2008 and meet 2009 for the first time, so I’ll say “おめでとうございます!!” to you now and see you in the new year!!
Anyone who has gone through some kind of physical change can certainly agree: the residual mental self image you tote around in your head takes a while to change to match your physical appearance. Memory and mental image are strong forces that are difficult to change. The body is quite malleable and can adapt to new circumstances (like starting an exercise routine), while the mind is a whole other hurdle altogether.
One of my good friends has told me that I have really nice legs, but I have a hard time convincing myself that he’s right. It’s that pesky residual self image I have that tells me that I do not have nice legs and I should not be showing them off. Lately, it’s been getting a little easier to wear skirts that end above my knees simply because my friend’s compliments have given me the confidence to do it. It’s as if I depend on the fact that someone other than my brain has said that I look nice, so therefore, I must look nice. I could always argue with myself and tell myself that he’s simply confused and is seeing things, but I chose to take him at his word. Why else would he tell me that I have nice legs, unless I actually did?
I still find myself surprised at how I look in photos and even more surprised when people tell me I look good. I know that it’s only a matter of time before my mind catches up with my actual appearance, but I keep wanting to hurry up the process. Ha, I suppose that the nice compliments I get from time to time help a lot and keep my mind aware that it’s not entirely there yet. It’s not like I have low self-esteem or anything; in fact, it’s probably the opposite! Either way, it’s just nice to hear compliments from people on things that I never used to be complimented on.
Before the trip to NY and Boston, I took a bit of a break from running. I ran out of motivation, and I got really busy with other fun stuff that involved seeing friends and tasks for work. After we returned to the Bay Area, I decided to get back into running, especially after I noticed that my thighs were losing the muscle definition that I’d worked so hard for. And thus, I decided to rededicate myself to running on a regular basis. I set a schedule for myself, and I plotted out 2-3 different running routes so that I wouldn’t get bored. It’s amazing how different a running route feels even when you are running the same course but in reverse direction. It’s like a whole new route!
I’ve been running about 3 miles three times a week for 3 weeks now, and just last week I decided it was time to start increasing my mileage per run. Following the magic 10% increase rule (increase 10% of distance or time), I decided to add another 0.2-0.3 mile to my running route. Of course, this required plotting out more routes (thank you, Google maps) and soon I had another new route to test out.
Oh wait… a bit more background information before I continue…
My old running route used to be around campus. I would go twice around and that would be approximately 3 miles to and from my house. Needless to say, it got boring after a while, especially because I was going the same route all the time and I never even changed up the direction I ran. That’s probably why I got really bored with running outdoors. Anyway, when I first started running around the campus, I couldn’t go for more than a block or two without stopping for a break. I used to be really good on the treadmill, but it’s a lot harder to run the same distance outdoors!
My brand new running route has me doing a single loop around the campus before heading off into the residential neighbourhood for another large loop. What’s been really nice is that I can now run a lot further than I used to around the campus without taking a walk break! Ha… it’s funny because I never really noticed if I improved my running skills or not, but apparently things ARE getting better even if I’m not paying attention.
Now that I’ve gone for my 3.3 mile run, it’s time for some really tasty tamales from Lucy’s Tamale Factory. We tried them yesterday and they are AMAAAAAAAAZING. I think I’ll get the jalapeno & cheese and sweet corn tamales today. Well, maybe one of the chicken ones too. Maybe… God they’re so good…
One last thing… I dropped the Mister off at the airport early this morning for his business trip. Four days of me-time all to me-self! Yay… This probably means I’ll be eating a lot of the fruit I bought at the farmer’s market yesterday, and also having more tamales… Who knows, maybe I’ll try to perfect my pan-seared ahi tuna with curried quinoa recipe.