Day 365: Woo hoo! I survived 365 days!

3 01 2011

This time last year I embarked on a project I wasn’t sure I could finish. I started this blog 365 days ago. The original intention of the daily project was to share my thoughts about cycling and my attempts at weight loss. I had success with some things … other things, not so much. I plan to continue the blog posts, although it will probably be on a weekly rather than daily basis.

Looking back over the past year, this blog project has been a learning experience which enabled me to meet quite a few fellow cyclists (both in person and in the online world). While I may not have accomplished everything I originally set out to do, here are some of the things I learned from the project:

  • A 365-day commitment is much more time-consuming than I expected. Silly me. I figured each day’s post would only take a few minutes. Most of them took close to an hour, depending on the post’s topic. Some needed a bit of research, which took more time. Other posts just took a while to write because I’m not terribly comfortable writing. Getting past the initial stage of staring at the blank computer screen took me some getting used to.
  • Carrick has the patience of a saint (see previous item above). I’m not sure which one of us is happier that the daily posts are ending and life will return to normal. She’s been very patient with me through the project and is always very encouraging, which was a huge help. Thank you, Carrick.
  • I lack willpower for dieting. My original intention when I started this blog was to learn better eating habits and lose 20-30 pounds. I enrolled in Weight Watchers in July and have since lost 11 pounds. Not as close to my goal weight as I wanted to be by the end of the year, but I’m trying to not beat myself up about it. I’m learning to view my food choices as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. It’s been a slow and sometimes frustrating process, but I’m getting there. And I’m not giving up.
  • Life sometimes gets in the way of plans. Work, after-work commitments and daily blog posts sucked up much more time than I anticipated, cutting into my cycling time (not to mention my neglect of my photoblog). I’ve now learned I need to allow for time in my schedule to enjoy regular bike outings, whether those are regular rides with Carrick, group rides or solo rides. By not planning in advance, I often let the opportunity slip by.
  • I learned to fix a bike. Not a big deal to most people, but if you knew how mechanically uninclined I really am, you would understand how pleased I am that Carrick and I went a little out of our comfort zone and took the Park Tool School classes to learn maintenance and repairs.
  • Louisville is a pretty awesome bike-friendly city. In fact, it’s #21 on Bicycling Magazine’s list of America’s Top 50 Bike Friendly Cities.
  • My “rides wish list” keeps growing. Each time I hear about an interesting ride, I add it to the list. In 2011, I plan to make a more concerted effort to do some of the rides. I’m particularly interested in trying to do some long-distance overnight touring with panniers, tent, and other necessary equipment. The only thing I lack is a touring bike. Maybe that’s the next big thing to save money for.
  • I had a lot of fun rides. I may not have racked up a few thousand miles on the bike this year, like several commuters I know, but I still had a blast. Some of my favorite rides this year included (in no particular order): The Indy N.I.T.E. Ride; Lexington’s Legacy Trail; Back Bay Nature Preserve in Virginia Beach; McAlpine Locks and Dam; the Louisville Loop; and the annual Hike & Bike event.
  • I can do anything I put my mind to. Actually, I knew this before I started the blog. As I get older, I realize that really the only thing preventing me from achieving my goals is myself and I need to work on that. I intended to ride my first century ride this year, but I didn’t make it. I did, however, ride a half century during our Louisville Loop to Farnsley-Moreman ride this summer (and 50 miles of the 100 Miles of Nowhere ride back in May). Small victories, but ones I’m excited about. I learned how rewarding it can be to push myself past my comfort level at times. The sense of accomplishment inspires me to keep trying and keep pushing myself.

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog this year and for leaving comments, tips, suggestions and encouragement. I greatly appreciate your support and I hope you’ll continue to follow the blog even though the posts will be weekly instead of daily. Probably a relief to everyone. 🙂

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 361: My New Year’s Resolutions

30 12 2010

I can’t believe another year has already come and gone. And again, it’s that time of year to make New Year’s Resolutions. Normally, I make a resolution (or several), stick to it for a few weeks, then not really make much effort after that. But this year I owe it to myself to change those bad habits. I don’t really have much right to bitch about things if I’m not willing to put forth the effort to change. One of my favorite sayings is, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” I’m ready to make the change.

This is my plan:

  • Recommit to Weight Watchers – I had hoped to be much closer to my goal weight by now since joining WW a few months ago. Really, it’s no one’s fault but mine that I’m not closer to my goal. The past several weeks I lost my focus and quit tracking my food. As of today’s weigh-in though, I’ve lost 11 pounds total. Not as much as I wanted by now, but at least it’s something. I’ve still got another 15 or so I’d like to lose.
  • Stop dining out – Eating dinner out every night is getting old. And expensive. Neither one of us particularly enjoys cooking, so we prefer to just stop at one of the local restaurants on our way home from work instead. We avoid fast food chains, but we’re still eating larger-than-normal portions and not knowing the calorie and fat content of foods makes it difficult to stick to a diet (such as Weight Watchers). Starting Jan. 1 we cook dinner at home and eat out for special occasions.
  • Cycle more – I need to set a weekly mileage goal and stick to it. Otherwise, I let other daily tasks take priority and before I realize it, another day has passed and I’ve not developed a regular exercise routine. My plan is to schedule time in my day to work out in the mornings before I go to work. Or ride my bike to work which would be much more fun than dealing with rush hour traffic on the interstate.
  • Reduce use of car for short errands – I need to use my bike for short errands around town (particularly those that are close to home). I need the exercise and saving on gas money certainly can’t hurt either. 

I’m ready for a new year and new habits. It’s time for me to stop making excuses and start making changes.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 358: New Year’s Resolutions and the 50 fattiest foods in the States

27 12 2010

As many Americans (including me) prepare to start their New Year’s Resolutions of dieting, losing weight and getting in better shape, I thought I’d share a link to Health.com’s “50 Fattiest Foods in the States.” From Alabama’s bacon-wrapped meatloaf, Indiana’s fried-brain sandwich (ugh!), to lamb from Wyoming, it never ceases to amaze me what people will come up with next.

I can guarantee you I won’t eat any of the crap on this list. I am however, struggling with breaking my addiction to sugar and junk food. And doing a better job of tracking my Weight Watcher’s points. I’m ready for the New Year and new habits to begin!

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 357: Man eats entire artichoke, then sues restaurant

26 12 2010

Wow, there are some dumb people out there. And when those dumb people file dumb lawsuits, it’s a bit aggravating. Miami doctor Arturo Carvajal is suing a Houston’s Restaurant because they didn’t “teach” him the proper way to eat an artichoke. It seems that if you order something from the menu and don’t know how to eat it, then ask the waiter. Instead, Carvajal consumed the entire artichoke, leaves and all, which caused severe stomach pain and resulted in an exploratory surgery which revealed artichoke leaves lodged in his bowel. Now he’s suing the restaurant for “disability, disfigurement, mental anguish,” and “loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life”.

Whatever. When are people going to start taking responsibility for their own actions (no matter how stupid) instead of always trying to blame others?

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 351: Don’t drink the water

20 12 2010

I know this isn’t cycling related, but an article I read today on CNN was disturbing. According to a report released by the Environmental Working Group, a dangerous carcinogen called hexavalent chromium (or chromium-6) has been found in the drinking water of at least 31 U.S. cities. Normally, I’m not surprised when I hear about various hazardous substances showing up in our food or water. Disturbed, but not surprised. I think the U.S. government could do a lot more to regulate the safety of our food supply, but that’s a post for another time. I’m sure there are other substances more toxic than chromium-6. In fact, I had no idea what chromium-6 is, but this helped explain it:

“After chromium-6 was discovered in the water supply of Hinkley, California, [Erin] Brockovich helped bring about a lawsuit that ultimately ended in 1996 with the utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric, paying more than $330 million in damages.”

Apparently, exposure to chromium-6 results in an increased risk of stomach cancer and switching to bottled water isn’t the magic fix, since there’s no guarantee that chromium-6 isn’t in that water also. The article suggested buying an effective water filter. We always use one of the Brita filters, but who knows whether or not that gets rid of the substance.

Even more disturbing: Louisville ranked at #22 on the list of 35 cities studied in the report. Is your city on the list? Find out here. And if you want to watch an excellent documentary on how a small handful of major corporations are involved in the control of our nation’s food industry, be sure to watch Food, Inc.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 340: Weight Watchers’ PointsPlus system

9 12 2010

I have no more diet excuses. Today’s Weight Watchers meeting explained the new PointsPlus system — the first change in the points system in the past 13 years. As I understand it, points are calculated based on a food’s fat, fiber, carbs and protein content. (The previous system used calories, fat and fiber to calculate the points.) Now with the new plan, all fruits and most veggies are zero points. Foods with high starch content (for example, a potato) will have points even though it’s a vegetable. And “free” veggies include those that are steamed or raw, but a plate of collard greens cooked in fat would obviously not be zero points.

I’m still learning the details and I figure it might take me some time to get used to the changes, but overall I’m excited about the new program. And I’m happy to say that after three weeks of not weighing in and not tracking my foods, I ended up losing a pound. I’ve still got a long way to go and I’ve still got a lot of changes I need to make in my eating habits, but I think I’ve finally reached the point where I’m looking at this as a lifestyle change rather than constantly feeling like I’m on a “diet.”

Now if I can just lose another 7 pounds by Dec. 23, maybe I’ll end up winning some cool bike swag from Fat Cyclist.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.





Day 331: Fat Cyclist’s Weight-loss contest

30 11 2010

The past month I’ve been very frustrated with my weight-loss efforts (or lack thereof). I have no one to blame but myself. I don’t exercise as often as I should, I eat out for dinner most every night, I snack too much at work. Those are my main obstacles. Last night I signed up for a spin class this coming Saturday night. I have no idea what’s in store for me there, but I’ve been wanting to try a spin class for a while so I thought this would be a good opportunity. (I’ll write more about it later.)

I read yesterday that Fat Cyclist is having a contest to help provide extra motivation to lose weight before the Christmas holiday. The contest is simple: weigh in and post your weight in the comments section of his blog. Everyone who loses 10 pounds by the deadline of Dec. 23 will be entered into a random drawing to win some cool prizes: jerseys, water bottles, t-shirts, pedals, hats and various other items. Each Monday contestants have to weigh in (again by posting your weight for that week on his blog). Did I mention there’s no entry fee?

Carrick and I both signed up. I need all the motivation I can get. And if the possibility of winning free bike swag isn’t incentive enough for me, then I’m a pretty hopeless case.

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Strawberry, banana, peach smoothie = 5.5 points

Lunch:
— Jimmy John’s Slim Turkey sandwich = 8 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Dinner:
— Baked chicken breast with raspberry viniagrette, spinach salad and couscous = 8.5 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
— Skinny Cow ice cream cup = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride.

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.