Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Weekly Meeting Topic: Activity!

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I never thought the day would come where I was excited to talk about activity, but I also never thought I would be the person I am today.

I still get a lot of emails and comments asking me how I started exercising and what motivates me. I've covered this many times before and I'll try to recap it here:

I was initially motivated by extreme desperation - I wanted so badly to lose weight and feel less huge and uncomfortable. I *hated* exercise or any movement. I hated sweating. And I hated being seen in less than my usual fancy attire. But my desire to change was stronger than all of those fears and I just started very, very slowly - like 5 minutes on the eliptical slowly. Over time I did a little more, tried new things, challenged myself. That's how it happens. I didn't become the person I am overnight, and I think it helped that I didn't have any expectations.

Now that I've been active for over 3 and a half years, my reasons for working out are completely different - I want the benefits. I want the amazing feeling that comes from activity. I want to see and be proud of my body.

If you are still reluctant to start, remember: I went from despising the simplest movement (walking, taking stairs, getting off the couch or out of my car) to LOVING and looking forward to physical activity - every aspect of it (well, except running, I'm still getting there) - I love walking, jumping rope,  climbing the stairs, cycling, using weights - I've gone from a very lazy couch potato to a fitness enthusiast and it's one of the things I'm most proud of in my whole life. I can't even believe how I changed or who I have become as a result of activity. And you can change your life too. You just need to start.

Here are just some of the benefits I've had as a result of working out:
  • Mood: My moods are better and far more stable than they used to be. (Anyone who has known me over 4 years will tell you that I was negative, moody, bitchy and kind of mean. A co-worker recently told me that she was afraid of me back then and can't believe how happy and positive I am now.)
  • Confidence: I've impressed myself more times than I can count with what I realized I am physically capable of. And I intend to continue to do so. You can't buy confidence, you can only earn it, and the feeling is priceless.
  • Self Esteem: I suffered from extremely low self esteem and depression for most of my life. Activity has changed my life in that I finally realized I am worth something. I matter. I am important. And you know what? I am pretty effing awesome.
  • Energy: It may sound counter intuitive, but I assure you - energy breeds energy. I never feel run down or sluggish anymore. And I actually sleep less and sleep better, too. My whole body operates more efficiently now.
  • PMS: I don't get cramps, wild mood swings or crazy cravings like I used to (I noticed the cramps disappeared after working out for about three months, but I attribute some of the cravings disappearing after I cut out artificial ingredients)
  • Physical Appearance: I'm almost 39 and I have literally never looked this good in my life. I honestly am blown away by what I look like right now. Here I am this weekend - I weighed 141 and I think I look amazing:
  • Saturday afternoon for the Punk Rope games:
    I'm not going to be modest. I looked amazing yesterday.
    Saturday night:
    Damn I looked good that night
    Sunday brunch:
    Sunday brunch outfit
    Monday night's bike ride:
    Bike outfit
I'm sure there are other benefits, but those are just some of the positive effects activity has had in my life. I love activity!!

We ended our meeting with a quote from a Weight Watchers scientist "When all else fails, anything is better than nothing" - and this is something I told a blog reader just this week: Any activity is better than no activity. Don't say you "only" did whatever (walked a mile, climbed a flight of stairs, etc). Say it proudly - you walked a mile! You climbed a flight of stairs! If that's not something you normally do, it's a huge accomplishment. Don't compare your activity to someone else's - compare it to your own - if it's more than you normally do or something you thought you would never try, that is an accomplishment! Remember, it's you vs YOU. Not you vs anyone else.

Activity will give you the confidence to believe in yourself, the desire to challenge yourself, the feeling of pride and accomplishment. Those will all happen pretty immediately. And if you continue to do those things, you will even eventually see significant changes in your body and your mood. And at that point, I assure you, you will be hooked and want to do more. That's exactly how it happened for me. And it can happen for you too. But you have to start somewhere - wherever you are right now - just challenge yourself to do a little more tomorrow than you did today. And let it build from there. It really is that simple.

Last week's accomplishments and great moments:
  • In eTools, I changed the daily points back to reflect my current weight. I currently get 19 per day. I am mentioning this because I had set them artificially high when I was binging, hoping that maybe seeing a higher number (24) would get me to track and get back in control. It didn't, but it was worth a shot. 
  • That brings us to tracking. I tracked every day again! - even the tons of alcohol I drank this weekend (that explains the big numbers on Friday and Saturday)
Food Journal week ending 20100525
  • I had a lot of social events since last week's post - I went out with friends Thursday night (Amy, drinks), Friday night (Jaci, drinks), Saturday day (Punk Rope games and after party), Saturday night (birthday celebration at a bar in Manhattan) and Sunday (brunch at a friend's house). That's a LOT of socializing - way more than I'm used to - and I handled all the situations as I had planned. It went very well!
  • I took my vitamins 6 out of 7 days, which is great. (Note: I get many helpful comments regarding my vitamin intake so let me address them here - I *do* have a daily vitamin organizer. That's not the issue. It's when I don't eat a conventional dinner that I forget to take them. And I can't take them in the morning because they make me very nauseous on an empty stomach.)
  • I mentioned that last Friday was "Bike to Work Day" and I had my biking/commuting adventure. (You can see and read about it here.) I burned close to 1000 extra calories that day because of my biking.
  • I worked out every day! Here's my activity spreadsheet:
Weekly Activity ending 20100525
  • On Saturday, I missed my Total Body Conditioning class because of the Punk Rope games. (I love that class!) But since I missed it, I hit the treadmill for the first time in over a month (I still hate running!). The thing I look forward to most when I'm running is, well, stopping. But the second thing I look forward to is coming home and plugging in my iPod where it broadcasts to the world my stats. I always look forward to showing the world: Look! I actually ran!
  • I like to take my measurements monthly but I hadn't done it in months - since before my mac crashed and I lost all my data. I *finally* pulled out my tape measure and took them last week. Measurements 38-26. 5-39, thigh = 24 That's the smallest I have ever been since keeping my measurements! (Note: My largest measurements ever were 46-35-48, thigh = 32". I was a size 16 in skirts.)
  • I stopped eating dinner on Wednesday night when i realized I was no longer hungry. That was pretty significant. And the best part is the half I didn't eat became dinner on Thursday.
  • I had a little contest with William last week - It was beautiful out and I wanted to walk to the gym (it's 3/4 mile from the office). Of course he won't walk (and he can't walk as fast as me anyway), so he drove. We left at the same time and I wore my heart rate monitor to time us. I actually beat him by 30 seconds. Woo hoo!
  • In last week's pilates class, my instructor challenged us to a 90 second plank - and I did it!
  • I realized that I started using the word 'awesome' again - for the last month or so, when people asked me how I was, I noticed the word "excellent" was popping out of my mouth. I really wasn't feeling awesome like I used to. And just this weekend when someone asked me, and the word 'awesome' escaped my lips, I thought "I DO feel awesome again!" It was great to realize that!
  • As I mentioned last week, I really did work on my empowering beliefs (and positive self talk) - I can do it, I'm worth it, I deserve to be happy and loved.
Here's what I want to work towards this week:
  • Plan for the weekend - it's Memorial Day! Again, I have a lot of social activities and want to make sure I have a strategy for each.
  • Continue to track my food and take my vitamins - going for 3 weeks in a row.
  • Keep up with my activity, of course, including a very rare bike adventure with a friend - Lainy! I can hardly wait to see her!
  • Keep up with the empowering beliefs and positive self talk. They've been helping me all week.

Before I go, here's a shot for those of you that think I don't sweat when I work out - this is after my 120 flights of stairs yesterday -

See! I sweat!

Have a *great* week and holiday weekend, everyone! xo

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Reader Question: What do you listen to when you workout?

    I've had this asked often enough that I thought I would take you on musical journey through my i-Workout playlist. These are the songs that power me through my solo workouts: when I run on the treadmill, use the cardio machines or walk my 100+ flights of stairs.

    I try to only listen to these songs when I'm working out because I like to associate them with activity (anchors!) and if I know I only get to hear these songs when I'm working out, I look forward to them more.

    Overall, I prefer songs that are well paced (on the fast side) with positive messages or good memories. This is the current set list. It has changed very little since I started working out 3.5 years ago-
    • "Perfect Day" Hoku
    You may know this song from the Legally Blonde movie. I *love* the message and lyrics in this song, especially these: "I'm in a race but I already won. And getting there can be half the fun. Don't stop me till I'm good and done. Don't you try to rain on my perfect day", "It's a perfect day, nothing's standing in my way... nothing can go wrong... nothing's gonna bring me down." What a great, positive message!
    I love the message in this song too, these lyrics specifically: "This is a brand new day. And it's getting better every single way." It reminds me that any day is a chance for a new beginning. A chance to start over. It's like I like to say/remind myself: Another day, another chance to be awesome!
    • "Beautiful Day", by Devo
    Another song that makes me happy to be alive. "It's a beautiful world we live in. A sweet romantic place. Beautiful people everywhere, the way they show they care. Makes me want to say: It's a beautiful world... It's a wonderful time to be here. It's nice to be alive. Wonderful people everywhere. The way they comb their hair. Makes me want to say: It's a wonderful place..." That song always puts a smile on my face.
    I love this song on its own but it has sentimental attachment too - I first heard it a few months after I moved to Brooklyn, in the spring. And I used to listen to it often when I'd walk to the L train, so I remember those times - walking along Bedford Ave in spring in Williamsburg, taking the subway and being in Brooklyn when it was still relatively new to me. But in addition to that, William loves this song and used to make me play it at work all the time, so it makes me think of him too. I have a lot of good memories associated with it.
    • "Shock of the Lightning" Oasis 
    I mentioned this song recently in a blog post about how much I hate running. This song is a great pace and has a wonderful droning quality I really like (and I love the organ part!). It not only motivates me to move, but makes me think of one of my blog readers, Suzi. Whether I am running, doing the stairs or a cardio machine, when this song comes on, it just refocuses my attention and makes me work harder. It's instant motivation and a great anchor.
    • "I Gotta Feeling" Black Eyed Peas 
    I have to admit, I am so embarrassed that I downloaded this song (and even more embarrassed that they used "gotta" wrong. It should be "got a" - "gotta" implies you 'have got to' do something, as opposed to "got a" which means you *have* something, but I digress...) I added it for a few reasons 1) The pace is perfect 2) It reminds me of William. Mostly because he hates it. But for a while it seemed to follow us wherever we went. 3) I love the lyrics 'tonight's going to be a good, good night'. It's positive and focuses on today. 4) I also have an unusual appreciation for songs that call out days of the week. I don't know why. But this song does that. And I always get excited when that part comes on. 5) The part "Let's do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it..." I get very excited about that too. Like Nike, it reminds me to JUST DO IT!
    • "Because I'm Awesome" The Dollyrots 
    I did a whole blog post on how much I love this song!
    • "Singin a Song About Today" by Mooney Suzuki
    This song is not for the faint of heart. It's a fast paced rock n roll extravaganza! I love this song! Not only does the pace make me move faster, but of course some of the lyrics get me extra pumped too. For one thing, the word "today" is peppered throughout the song. I love that word because it reminds me to think in the present. You may not have noticed, but many of my song choices have the word 'today', 'day', or 'night' as a common theme throughout them. It's for that same reason. It's about now. The present time. Making the most of this day or moment. And making that point abundantly clear is my favorite section of this song: "I'm not talking about tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come. I'm not talkin' about yesterday baby, yesterday is gone. Singin' a song about right now, singin' a song about today... Not tomorrow, not tomorrow, not tomorrow, not tomorrow, not tomorrow, not tomorrow, not tomorrow, not tomorrow. TODAY (not tomorrow) TODAY (not tomorrow) TODAY (not tomorrow) TODAY (not tomorrow) TODAY (not tomorrow) TODAY (not tomorrow) TODAY (not tomorrow, not tomorrow) TODAY!" Then the lyrics stop and there's this mini culmination of explosive guitars - sort of a rock n roll climax - it's A. MA. ZING! And I look forward to it every single time I hear that song. I can barely contain myself at that point in the song. Seriously. Go check it out and rock out with your bad self.
    This whole album is incredible, first of all. You may not know this but I love the hell out of Madonna. Love her! Ok, so this song, not only is it a perfect pace (most of Madonna's songs are) but I love the dreamy synthesizers and thoughts of 'getting together' with whomever I want to 'get together' with... if you know what i mean.
    I like this song again for its dreamy electronic sound and its beat. When I hear "Let it will be. Just let it be... Won't you let it be." I am not sure what she was thinking when she wrote this, but here is how I interpret it: I try to think of whatever I am having trouble accepting and reminding myself that I don't have control over everything and sometimes I have to let go and let things 'be'. Not easy for a self proclaimed control freak/perfectionist with OCD, I assure you...

    From there, it's more Madonna in order of my personal preference. Not so much about the content/message, just musical preference:
    That's about 50 minutes worth of music right there, so I rarely hear anything after that. But there you go - that's what I listen to when I work out. Those are the songs that inspire me and motivate me to move. Their messages help me think and focus. They are the songs I listened to as I went from this (10/04/2006 194 pounds):

    10/04/06 194 pounds

    to this (03/26/10, 142 pounds):

    Friday morning, after a 3 mile run

    Who can argue with those results? I love my playlist.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Thank you to the Chinese Lady

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    In September 2007, I wrote about an unlikely cheerleader who witnessed my weight loss journey:
    The Chinese Lady: I don't think anyone is more excited for me than the Chinese lady at my shoe repair shop. I kept meaning to mention her - I pass the shoe shop at least once a day. She calls me in to tell me how beautiful I look, and in broken English asks me "how much" (weight I took off), "how long" (have I been doing it) and "how often" (I work out). The thing that makes me laugh is she always asks me to turn around- so I do a full spin for her. And she always says "You so beautiful now- before- you so fat- but now- wow!" and she traces an hour glass shape in the air. If anyone else said that, I might smack them, but I realize her English isn't perfect and by the smile on her face, I can see she is genuinely happy for me, so I get a kick out of it.
    I wrote that nearly 3 years ago. I've seen her hundreds of times since and she's still happy to see me...

    Just tonight, I saw the Chinese Lady on my way home from the gym. And still, 3 years later, she has the same reaction when she sees me. The only thing that has changed are her questions. In broken English, she asks if I'm going to the gym (no, I just finished punk rope), and asks me if I'm "done" (losing weight), telling me "no more" (don't lose any more weight) and she still asks me to turn around so she can see my whole body. And every time I finish my spin, she puts her hands up to her cheeks like McCauley Caulkin in 'Home Alone' and says "Wow!". Then she compliments my skin, my face, trying to communicate how good it looks. And she always tells me I'm "beautiful" and always says "so healthy!".

    I love the Chinese Lady because she's always so happy to see me that it can't help but make me smile. I try to answer her questions in as few words as possible since her English is limited. But she has no idea how much her enthusiasm means to me.

    One day, I stopped in to say hi and her daughter happened to be in there. Her daughter was probably born here because she spoke English very well. When I came in, her mother said something to her daughter, and the daughter said to me "My Mom talks about you all the time. She says you look like Marilyn Monroe". We chatted a little - apparently the daughter knew I had lost weight because her mother told her. This woman was talking about me at home, how proud she was of me. Me. A total stranger. Just a customer.

    I was so glad to have the chance to talk to the daughter, since I can't communicate very well with her mother. I told the daughter that her mom is great. I hope she knows that. I told her the truth: Her mother is more proud of my transformation than my own mother. 

    You may have noticed I never talk about my Mom. It's because I'm not close with her. I never have been. And I rarely see her or talk to her. I did see her - about a year ago, right after the 5 Boro Bike Tour (which I'm sure most of you realize was a significant event in my life). She didn't know I was doing the tour ahead of time because we don't communicate. I don't tell her anything about my life. But since I saw her, and was still beaming with pride and excitement over the event, I very proudly told her I had done it - Ten hours. On a bike. In the rain. In the cold. 50 miles. All the hills. I was determined and I did it!

    I waited for the reaction. The "My god, Sheryl, really? That's amazing! I remember how lazy you were growing up - what a significant accomplishment! I'm so proud of you!"

    You know what I got? This was her response:

    "A guy that lives near me (upstate NY) bikes into Manhattan."

    It took a second for it to sink in, to realize that was her response. And I could feel my face go expressionless. I was speechless. But why should I have expected anything from her? Why should I expect her to acknowledge what a huge event this was for me? Why should I expect her to be proud of me or happy for me? She wasn't supportive or nurturing when I was growing up, why should she care now?

    It was at that moment that any guilty "I should really try to be nicer to my Mom and have a relationship with her" thoughts I may have had vanished. It was that moment I realized we would never be close. She would never be the parent I wanted or needed. She gave birth to me and that's it. I never felt a connection to her and I never will.

    A lot of people know this story, but I'm sure most of you don't. I wrote this on myspace April 20, 2005:
    For as long as I could remember I was really into being a girl and couldn't wait to grow up and be a 'beautiful woman'. Of course growing up is awkward, and at the very unattractive age of 9, some boy (another 9 year old) said to me "You're pretty.... PRETTY UGLY!" So I later work up the courage to go to my mom, and in a very vulnerable moment I ask her "Mom, am I pretty?" Her response: "Well, you're no Raquel Welch" Thanks Mom, you're the best.
    Seriously. My mother said that to me when I was nine. It baffled me at the time (who is Raquel Welch? I wondered) and it's hurt me since. I told her this story when I was in my 20's and she had no memory of it. But I remember it down to the bedspread on her bed (crushed red velvet) when I walked into her room and asked her that question.

    Who says that to a child? A child obviously vulnerable and looking for approval. Why wouldn't you point out that internal beauty is more important than external beauty? And then why wouldn't you finish by telling that child that yes, she's beautiful and oh by the way, you love her? Why wouldn't you do that?

    I considered writing about her on Mother's Day, since I was very aware of the day but didn't contact her. I wrestled with the idea but thought it might just look mean-spirited, so I didn't write about her. However, seeing the Chinese Lady tonight - seeing her face light up when she sees me, seeing how proud she is of me - just reminded me how different I wish my mother was. But wishing doesn't make it so. She'll never tell me I'm beautiful. She'll never be proud of me.

    And in case you're wondering, I don't need to worry about her seeing these words. She doesn't read my blog. In fact, she was the first "unsubscription" notice I received years ago. How's that for a slap in the face? She didn't even care enough to keep in touch with me via my blog - to see my progress or how I changed over these 3.5 years. She doesn't care. She never will.

    And you know what? I'm going to stop caring that she doesn't care. I don't need her or her approval.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Weekly Meeting Topic: Bravo for Breakfast (and a ton of personal celebrations!)

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    In tonight's meeting we discussed my favorite meal: Breakfast!

    Breakfast has always been my favorite meal and since I've always been more of a carb/sweets person, breakfast foods have always appealed to me. I could eat them all day (and sometimes I did). But long ago I learned that what I eat for breakfast has a huge impact on what I eat the rest of the day. For instance, cereal not only didn't satisfy me, but it made me crave carbs and sugar all day (in retrospect, I think this is because I ate pretty unhealthy cereals, but I still avoid cold cereal in the morning). I also learned that if I don't have some protein in the morning, I get hungry very quickly. So now I make sure the breakfast grain products I buy have at least 6 g of protein per serving. That seems to be the magic number to hold me. I also noticed the sooner I start drinking water, the better I feel. And to satisfy my sweet-tooth as well as get my produce servings in, I have fruit. Every morning. I'm a huge fan of fruit!

    We discussed what we eat for breakfast and shared ideas so that we might be inspired to think about breakfast differently and try something new or, potentially, more satisfying.

    This is how I handle breakfast - My typical workday breakfast is 4-5 points:
    • 6:00am Coffee with Silk Vanilla Light Soy Milk (1/4 cup) .5 points
    • 8:30am Coffee with Soy Milk (1/4 cup) .5 points
    • 9:00-10:00 I have a serving of fruit. Recently it was a grapefruit every day. But it varies depending on what's in season or what I'm in the mood for. Right now it's berries, peaches, plums - whatever (1-2 points). And I have two points worth of a warm, high fiber whole grain (oat bran, Bob's High Fiber cereal, steel cut oats, etc). I often add canned pumpkin (1/2 cup) for zero points. It adds flavor, fiber and volume to the meal.
    That 4 point breakfast spread out over 4 hours actually holds me quite a while. If I really pay attention to my comfort zone, I rarely get hungry before noon. In fact, I go to the gym or do my stair workout after eating only that food (and drinking about 6 glasses of water). I prefer to eat lunch after I workout (That's another thing I learned about myself: I noticed if I eat before working out, I get cramps and/or it slows me down.)

    My weekend breakfast is pretty consistent too - When I wake up I have 2 servings of coffee with soy milk (1 point). Since I go to the gym at 11 on Saturday and Sunday, I usually don't consume anything else before that time (except water). When I come home I have fruit (1-2 points) and make pancakes (5-6 points, including syrup).

    Another breakfast I used to make often (and still have occasionally as breakfast or any other time) is one of my absolute favorite meals: a bean burrito. (as shown in that link, it's only 3 points, but if I swap a small tortilla for a large tortilla, or add vegan sour cream, or vegan cheese, I can increase the bulk and the points for a more substantial meal).

    So in a nutshell, this is the way I think of and arrange my breakfast:
    • Coffee (a vice and a must!)
    • Soy milk (for the coffee, but also helps with protein and calcium requirements)
    • Water (I love water and crave it! Also, one of the WW Good Health Guidelines)
    • Fruit (OMG I love fruit! Another WW Good Health Guideline)
    • Grains (from either the oat bran/steel cut oats, high fiber pancake mix or whole wheat tortilla. Another WW Good Health Guideline)
    • Protein (comes from the soy milk, beans, grains and/or pancake mix)
    I hope that gives you some ideas for your own breakfasts. Maybe you'll pay attention to what you usually eat for breakfast and how it affects the rest of your day; perhaps even reconsidering what you eat or what you consider breakfast foods.

    And now, here are my accomplishments since last Tuesday night's post!
    • I have been dutifully weighing myself everyday (this may not be a good idea for everyone, but I know it helps me. I also realize that number on the scale can fluctuate pretty wildly from day to day so I never put that much stock in it, but just getting on that scale makes me feel accountable, so I do it.)
    • I've resumed my daily workout routine and did a ton of activity this week: 
    Weekly Activity ending 20100518
    • I actually (drumroll please...) TRACKED ALL WEEK for the first time in months! (applause!)
    Weekly Food Journal ending 20100518
    • I remembered to take my vitamins 4 days (that's up from zero the previous week)
    • I was finally able to set up my new bike cyclometer with the help from my favorite guys at B's Bikes. Now I can keep track of how many miles I am biking again (you have no idea how much I missed that!)
    • This weekend while biking around Manhattan I tried something I haven't attempted in a while - pedaling while standing up (as opposed to just standing on the pedals and coasting, which I am also a big fan of). And by golly, I did it! I was so excited about this that I tweeted it. Since then, I've done it a bunch more times. I can't believe I am strong enough and my balance is good enough to do that now! It feels amazing!
    • I registered for another bike tour, the Tour de Brooklyn. That's just a tiny 18 mile run but it's through the borough of Kings, which I am lucky enough to call home. I'm looking forward to it!
    • I inflated and am sitting on my giant pink medicine ball right now. It's challenging but fun, and I get to have a mini core workout while I use the computer. Score.
    • Today I attempted a new (distance) record on the stairs: 120 flights (or 15 consecutive sets of 8 flights up and down) and I did that too - *with* weights (for an extra arm workout/challenge). My heart rate hit the highest ever since I've been using a HRM: 187. And I was sweating more than I ever have from any other workout in my life, but otherwise, I was fine and recovered in less than a minute after I stopped.
    Here I am before:

    Before attempting my new record

    41 minutes and 13 seconds later:

    After 120 flights

    New Record! 120 flights! (with weights!)

    • I signed up for two vegan cooking classes @ Brooklyn Kitchen: Pizzettes and Appetizers. Sure, I have never entertained in my home, but it can't hurt to learn delicious new vegan recipes. Besides, maybe one day I will be slightly less terrified of having people in my apartment who might touch my vintage furniture. (Brooklyn Kitchen June calendar of classes here)
    And this is what I will focus on this week:
    • Continue tracking my food and activity.
    • Focus on my Empowering Beliefs
    • Tap into all my own personal experience and visit the WW Tools for Living to prepare for a few event's this weekend: 1) I'm going out with a friend Friday night for drinks 2) Saturday morning and afternoon, I have the Punk Rope games and after party 3) Saturday night I am attending a friend's party in Brooklyn 4) Sunday I am attending a brunch at a friend's apartment. That's a lot of events in a short period. I can certainly do all of those things while on plan, I just need to think about how I am going to handle them. But it can be done.
    • You may not know this, but this Friday May 21 is Bike to Work Day!
    Bike to Work Day - May 21st

    and I intend to do that... sort of. Since my job is 28 miles away, I am going to bike what I can: to Grand Central Terminal that morning, ride my usual commuter train with my bike, and then bike to work from the station. The reason I am not biking the whole thing is because of the time it would take, not the distance that it is. So basically I am replacing the bus, subway and walking portion of my commute with my bike. I'm so excited for the cruiser to meet William and see White Plains. She's never been up there! It should be quite an adventure. (I'm going to document and post it in my commuting blog, but I'll link to it from here when it's up)

    I have to say - although I was faced with a very difficult personal situation last week (one that I was not expecting nor happy with) and then dealing with all of the emotions as a result - it was a great week on plan and I have a lot to be proud of. It's been a long time since I had such a successful week. I almost forgot how good it feels. And it just makes me want to feel it again. That's my goal for the upcoming week: To continue that cycle of doing great and as a result, feeling great. 

    Have a great week, everyone! And thank you all again for your support. It's meant so much to me. xo

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    I made the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette!

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    A blog reader named Shan read this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette regarding the NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour, and emailed me that they wrote about seeing me on the tour! She told me she wouldn't even have read the article, but since she knew I did the bike tour, she figured she'd see if I was mentioned. And I was - Look at this!
    "And then there was the petite posture-perfect young woman on the pink bicycle with pink handlebar streamers. She wore a pink helmet, the green vest that identified her as a tour member, a short black skirt, black stockings and black stiletto heels.
    "I was riveted by the heels," said Lisa Grandstaff, 46, of McCandless, one of the 30-some Venture Outdoors riders. "How on Earth could she pedal with those on?""
    Wow!!! How cool is that?! Let me just respond by saying:
    1. Petite?!
    2. Posture perfect?!
    3. Young?!???
    Mr Lawrence Walsh, I don't know who you are but I can't thank you for enough for that beautiful description. If you're trying to get on my good side, you have done so, sir!

    And since, when I'm out riding around, everyone asks me "How do you bike in those shoes?" I will tell you what I tell them since I'm not sure I ever addressed it here: It's easy. You pedal with the front of your foot, not the heel part. So the shoe you wear doesn't matter. What *is* tricky, however, is the mount and dismount. That being said, if you are not used to wearing heels and do not have terrific balance, I do not recommend biking in heels.

    Thank you so much, Shannon, for passing this along. You really brightened my morning with that news! Oh, and before I go, since it's bike related (but completely gratuitous), I have to show off this photo since I love it and it got buried in my Flickr. This is a few weeks ago in my apartment. (Note: In case there was any doubt, this is not an actual bike riding outfit.)

    Note: This is not an actual bike riding outfit...


    Friday, May 14, 2010

    I can feel again. And I hate it.

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    With decades of food abuse under my belt, I now know that one of the reasons I initially turned to food - one of the things that began my lifelong struggle - was using food for consolation and love. I had no love from family or anyone around me growing up and I didn't have any friends. Food was my 'friend'. It was there when I needed it, more than happy to be used at my whim. It was there to make me feel better, if only temporarily.

    I remember in junior high, spending all of my lunch money on food - or more accurately, candy - often before I even got to school. And even further back, as an 8 year old, I remember hiding 'emergency' food (candy, again) in my bedroom so it was ready when I 'needed' it. In 6th grade, I remember saving my nickels so I could buy as many swedish fish as possible after school (they were 3 for a nickel back in 1982) and I remember watching the Korean grocer counting them out into a little brown paper bag and I remember enjoying every last one of them. I remember at the house I grew up in, in Yonkers, an entire drawer - a huge drawer - filled with candy. Good candy too - kit kats, (literally) pounds of gummy candies, etc. - that my Dad brought home from work, and that I consumed with reckless abandon. On top of that drawer was more deliciousness in the form of baked goods - Entenmann's cakes or other baked treats - often with a knife in the box for quick and easy servings on the go. I remember looking forward to school bake sales the way other kids might anticipate summer vacation - trying to figure out how I could buy the most amount of baked goods for my small amount of cash. And don't even get me started on how much I loved Halloween. I don't think my trick or treat winnings ever lasted longer than a day, I consumed it with such a veracity.

    When I was growing up, candy and sweets were my outlet. They were the only thing that made me feel good. I had nothing else. They were my solace, my distraction, my escape. And looking back now, I realize that was only the beginning. From that point forward, I remember turning to food, especially sweet stuff, when times were tough. When I needed comfort. When I desperately yearned for love and acceptance, approval and support.

    Considering all of that, what surprises me more than anything is that I don't turn to it now. The very crutch I relied on when I desperately needed comfort and love has disappeared. Not because I no longer enjoy those things (I do, I still crave it and indulge in it. But usually not when times are tough, and I avoid the fake foods like candy) but because now, when I desperately need comfort and love, I get nauseous. The very thought of food - any food - repulses me.

    I'm not sure how or when that switched; when I no longer desired food during times I needed consolation, love, acceptance, and comfort. While it's great that I no longer physically stuff myself with empty calories in those situations, the problem is that - quite frankly - I now have no idea what to do. I now am stuck feeling these intense, sad, lonely feelings with no outlet. And you know what? It sucks. It effing sucks. And I hate it. And I hate feeling things. That's why I suppressed it for years. And I would do anything to make it go away. But I don't know what to do, how to make it go away, how to suppress those feelings anymore. Am I forced to just feel them?!

    I spent so many years stuffing myself with food - empty meaningless calories. And in an unsurprising parallel universe, I also spent many of my adult years stuffing myself with men - empty meaningless men that I barely tolerated, let alone cared for. Why? The same reason I consumed the food: They were a distraction. Momentary pleasure. An escape. From them, if I was lucky, I achieved the same solace and acceptance I sought as an eight year old hiding candy in her closet. If only for a short moment.

    But as a 38 year old, I no longer yearn for food in these situations. Or meaningless sex. But now I have nothing: No escape. No outlet. No distraction. I'm left here, alone, to feel these devastating and painful things, just wanting so badly for them to end, to go away. Desperately wanting it to get better. Wanting to be strong. Wanting to put it behind me. Wanting to move on. But it feels impossible. And I don't know how to deal with it.

    At least I'm not turning to food anymore... But I hate it. I really hate being able to feel things again. I hate it and wish I could make it stop. It hurts so much.

    And for those of you that know what and who this is about, please don't tell me 'I told you so'. Don't judge me. That's the last thing I need right now...

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    5 Boro Bike Tour Follow Up (with new photos!)

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    In case you somehow missed it, last Sunday I rode in the NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour - 42 miles of adventure! (Well, over 50 for me since I have to get to and from the finish line). While it was an amazing day and experience, it didn't mean nearly as much to me as last year's tour - my first tour. At the time, it was the most riding I had done in a single day and unfortunately, it was in the worst weather I had ever rode in too. But I did not let that stop me or get to me. I didn't care how cold, wet, sore or tired I was when I finished. All that mattered to me was that I finished. And I did. It was after that experience that I realized I was capable of so much more than I ever thought possible. I am not exaggerating when I say that bike tour changed me, and my life.

    Even though this tour wasn't nearly the personal triumph it was last year, it was still fantastic and I'm sure I'll participate every year for the rest of my life - or for as long as my body is physically able. The advantage this year was that I knew what to expect: I knew I could easily ride 50 miles. I knew the route. I knew what to bring. And I knew if I finished it in the cold, awful rain last year, I could do it regardless of weather. It just so happens we were just super lucky as far as the weather. I blogged about the tour when I got home that night, but I have new pictures to share!

    First, there's one that a blog reader/Facebook friend, Diana, snapped of me in Manhattan! I love this picture so much. People were photographing me all day, but I don't remember this moment. I wasn't aware I was being photographed, yet I am smiling. I look so happy. And Diana pointed out something I didn't even realize - not only am I smiling while I push my big, heavy cruiser up an incline, but the guys around me in their fancy bike clothes on 'real' bikes don't look like they're having nearly as much fun. It just goes to prove it's not about finishing fastest or finishing first. It's about doing what you set out to do - and having a good time doing it! (Thank you, Diana!)

    a blog reader caught me in action on the tour!

    Another candid shot was taken in Staten Island. This was after the festival, so I had taken off my vest and was making my way to the ferry. I had already rode at least 40 miles but look how happy I am! That is pure, sheer joy. What an amazing shot, and I love what he did with the colors. Thank you to the photographer!

    Finally, these are shots I purchased. They were taken during the tour. They have cameras set up a few places along the route. And when I would notice them, I tried to wave or acknowledge them. These were my favorite moments they captured:

    Wave to the camera!

    Leaving the Astoria rest stop

    coming down on the Queens side of the 59th St Bridge

    In the middle of the 59th St Bridge

    I have no idea where I am but I'm super cute!

    Having a great time. Obviously.

    So long, Astoria

    It was one thing to complete the tour but I had no idea I looked so cute and happy during it. I love those pictures!

    I want to leave with a quote I received from a blog reader, Melanie, in an email today. This just made my day!
    "I have referred mentally to your bike ride all week - when something is overwhelming me, I ask myself: If BitchCakes can ride through NY on a heavy pink bike in heels and lipstick - and still smile - I can do ANYTHING."
    You're right Melanie, you *can* do anything. We all can. We just need to believe in ourselves and keep striving for what we want. Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

    And thank you all for reading. Good night! :)

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Weekly Meeting Topic: Support

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    Let me first apologize for not recapping last week's meeting, but we talked about Dining Out again - a topic we covered not long ago. I wanted to write about something else, but was tired and went to bed early. The rest of the week was full of other plans and that brings us to today...

    In tonight's meeting we discussed the people that support us and the people that are... less than  supportive.

    You can likely think of people in your life that fall into each category:
    • The Supportive: These are the friends/family/co-workers that, whether or not they have their own journey or weight issues, understand what you are doing and respect your decision to get healthier and take better care of yourself. They adapt to the new you and are genuinely happy for you, doing whatever they can to help. They listen to and respect your wishes when you tell them what you need.
    • The Unsupportive: These are the people that, despite your emphatic pleas, might do things like push food on you, or tell you not to lose weight. For whatever reason (their own insecurity and fear of you changing?), they try to keep the old you they were used to and comfortable with. 
    If you're surrounded by all supportive people, that's great - good for you. But if you have some unsupportive types, it can be tricky to deal with them. For one thing, I think the more assertive you are in your requests from them, the better. You need to show them you are serious about what you are doing and what you need from them. Sometimes they get on board, sometimes they don't. And if they don't, it's very possible the dynamic of your relationship with that person may change as a result.

    That's unfortunate, but what you would you prefer: Doing what you know is right for you, adding years to your life and giving yourself a better quality of life but being less close with those people? Or keeping the relationship in tact at the expense of your mental and physical health?

    I think the choice there is pretty obvious. You have to do what's right for you. If someone chooses to treat you differently (negatively) as a result of that, I'd suggest trying to figure out why they were doing that and then doing what you could to make an effort to get them on your side. But for me personally, if that still didn't work and they continued to be unsupportive, I'd spend less and less time with them.

    I think I am pretty lucky in that I am surrounded by people that support me, including all of you guys and I thank you for that. But as we discussed this tonight, I thought of who is the most supportive of me in my journey. I immediately thought of these people:
    1. My co-worker, William - Believe it or not, Sour Balls actually had to talk me into going to the gym yesterday. I was so tired and kept saying I wasn't going to go, but he insisted. I said "Fine, I'll just go and have a crappy workout" but about ten minutes into it, I hit my stride and ended up having a great workout. I was really thankful that he pushed me to go. And that wasn't the first time. So thank you, William!
    2. My leader, Melanie - She's a perfect leader: charismatic, energetic and so inspiring (at goal for 4 years, in amazing shape and just ran her 5th marathon!). In addition, she really listens to us, knows us, cares about us and celebrates with us. In the time she's been my leader, I've been through a lot personally and emotionally and whenever I had a rough week, I got hugs in the meeting room and postcards at home. It makes me tear up just thinking about it. I hated losing Karen but am so thankful we were lucky enough to get another spectacular leader with Melanie. Brava and thank you, my good lady!
    3. Another friend - He asks how I'm doing all the time, challenges my thinking, questions me, helps me put things in perspective and has made me see things I never noticed about myself - inside and out. Thank you.
    Now for my weekly questions-

    I have to admit, as far as being "on plan", I can't think of anything I did well last week - I missed 3 work outs, I didn't journal, I ate too much and drank too much. I didn't take my vitamins, I didn't drink enough water and I didn't sleep enough. All that aside, it was one of the best weeks of my life so I wouldn't change a thing!
    Descending the Met Life escalators

    missgrandcentral 023
      That's quite a week of personal spectacularness, so I'm not gonna beat myself up about not being on plan. However, I will refocus this week! In fact, I started today. I actually *gasp* journaled, drank all my water and had my vitamins. I even walked my usual 112 flights of stairs! See for yourself -

      Before (wearing the cutest t-shirt ever - Hello Kitty as the Statue of Liberty! I bought this in the Sanrio store in Times Square last week):

      This might be the greatest t-shirt in the history of the world

      After (less than 38 minutes later):

      sweaty and out of breath after 112 flights

      What I want to work towards next week:
      • I will weigh myself every day.
      • I will take and record my measurements in my spreadsheet (I have been putting this off for my months, I've been so afraid to see those numbers. I need to face them)
      • I will journal! (So help me!)
      If you have my cell phone number feel free to text me and check up on me. The rest of you can harass me on Twitter or Facebook. You have my permission. ;)

      Have a super week, everyone! xo

      Monday, May 03, 2010

      The 5 Boro Bike Tour Wrap Up 2010

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      Yesterday was a day I had been waiting for all year: The 5 Boro Bike Tour! The weather was great - 88 degrees? Hazy? Hot? Humid? I'll take it! Anything is better than the cold wet miserable rain of last year!

      I was sooooo ready! I couldn't even sleep. I woke up at 4:30 instead of 5:00. Here are my photos!

      Official 5 Boro Bike Tour 2010 Outfit:
      • Same bustier as yesterday from Orchard Corset Shop in Manhattan ($40ish)
      • Skirt from Target, $15
      • Fishnets from Target $7?
      • Open toe slingbacks from Payless $20ish
      Leaving the apartment for the bike tour

      Biking on Driggs shortly after 6am, I saw that "pink" graffiti and had to pull over to get a shot of my bike in front of it. (That's the L Train @ North 7th)


      If you recall from my last post, the theme was "One Weekend, 5 Bridges" make that: "One Weekend, 5 Bridges and 5 Boros. In 4 inch heels". And here is Bridge #3: The Brooklyn Bridge (which connects Brooklyn & Manhattan)

      Bridge #3: The Brooklyn

      Headed to Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge around 6:30am:

      Me on the Brooklyn Bridge

      The scene in lower Manhattan when I arrived. I was not alone-

      Cyclists waiting to begin

      where I waited for the start of the tour

      Here I am, about an hour before the start -

      Me! waiting to start

      I hung out with these guys while I waited-

      My new friends, Eric & Rob

      The guy on the right (above) took this shot for me-

      my new pal, Rob, took this artsy shot

      Boro #1: Manhattan
      Finally!! At the starting line in Manhattan!

      Boro #1: Manhattan

      From there, we rode north on 6th Ave. I loved passing by Radio City Music Hall-

      Riding up 6th Ave, passing Radio City Music Hall

      We made our way into Central Park and this was one of the most frustrating parts of the day. We did more walking than biking in the park. The only good thing was that I ran into a friend (Suhair)-

      I ran into my friend, Suhair, in Central Park

      After leaving Central Park, we continued uptown. Here I am waiting for a light in Harlem-

      Waiting for one of the few lights they made us stop for

      Boro #2: The Bronx
      Approaching the Bronx from Manhattan via the Madison Ave Bridge:

      Boro #2: approaching the Bronx!

      (We don't spend long in the Bronx...)

      Leaving the Bronx and headed onto the FDR (one of my favorite parts of the tour!) via the Third Ave Bridge, back to Manhattan:

      Leaving the Bronx

      On the FDR/East River Drive (I've driven on this road more times than I can count)

      riding on the FDR

      Cyclists on the FDR South
      the enclosed area of the FDR south

      Under the 59th St Bridge sign on the FDR south (I took a photo by this sign last year, too)

      Me in front of the huge Queensboro Bridge sign on the FDR

      Bridge #2, revisited. Remember how I purposely rode 2 miles out of my way on Saturday so I could cross the 59th St Bridge? Yeah, well I didn't need to do that. I forgot we cross it on the bike tour. Duh! This is definitely the steepest climb on the whole tour.
      Heading up the 59th St Bridge from the Manhattan side

      This really is as steep as it looks.

      I have always loved the 59th Street (aka Queensboro) Bridge. (This bridge connects Queens and Manhattan over the East River) And the bike tour is the only time we get to ride in the car section (the wrong way, too! Woo hoo!)

      the AMAZING Queensboro/59th St Bridge

      Self portrait riding over the 59th St Bridge (Manhattan behind me)

      Me, crossing the 59th St Bridge

      Boro #3: Queens
      On the 59th St Bridge-

      back of the Silvercup Studio sign

      Look at this handsome young man - he approached me at the FDR rest stop earlier in the day and told me he was a blog reader (my commuting blog, not this one)! I was eating at the time, so I didn't take a pic with him then. I was excited to find him on the 59th St Bridge and get this shot:

      I met a blog reader, Alex!

      Oh the 59th St Bridge - I was still on the ramp headed Queens bound but had a great view of the middle of the span-

      I love the 59th St Bridge!

      View of the Silvercup Studio sign from the 59th St Bridge (They film a ton of shows there including 30 Rock and formerly The Sopranos)

      Silvercup Studio sign in Long Island City

      Leaving the Astoria (Queens) rest stop, I stopped to pose with the beautiful Triboro Bridge (connects Queens, Brooklyn & Manhattan three boros. Get it? Triboro! We do not ride over this bridge. Also, note: I refuse to EVER call it the 'RFK')

      Me & the Triboro

      Somewhere in Queens. I love this shot!

      Leaving Long Island City - (on the right is my bus stop where I wait for the B62 at night)

      You may recognize the background - that's the view of the Manhattan skyline I photograph (and show here) pretty often. It's the view of midtown from the Pulaski Bridge (connects Queens and Brooklyn)

      View of the skyline from the Pulaski Bridge

      Boro #4: Brooklyn!
      The Pulaski Bridge, approaching from the Queens side - something I do almost daily; but usually on a bus.

      "Welcome to Brooklyn! Like no other place in the world!" That's for sure! And the boro I am proud to call home!

      The Pulaski! Entering Brooklyn (from Queens)

      Riding on Franklin by Greenpoint Ave (the only shot I took in my neighborhood of Greenpoint)-

      The only shot I got of us in my beloved neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn

      After leaving my neighborhood, we traveled on Kent through Williamsburg - something I've done hundreds of times before. But I've never taken a photo of the Domino Sugar Building. This is a great one!

      Domino Sugar Building in Williamsburg

      After leaving Williamsburg, we rode through DUMBO. I got SO lucky with this shot - taken while riding by. I think it looks like a movie lot of NYC:


      We passed through DUMBO, where I had been the day before. Here is my 'predictable' shot with with Manhattan Bridge in the background. But this time, with me and my bike!

      Me, in front of the Manhattan Bridge

      Riding on the BQE in Brooklyn. We were on a major NYC highway normally only open to car traffic:

      the BQE

      This was only the 2nd time I stopped during the tour - I have never been so thirsty in my life. It was a scary feeling. I downed several bottles of water and had a banana - something I'd been looking forward to all day. (I'm not kidding, I couldn't wait to eat a banana!) That's the Verrazano Bridge in the background, where we were headed next...

      Final rest stop - I was craving a banana all day!

      Bridge #4: The Verrazano Narrows (the longest suspension bridge in the US). It connects Brooklyn to the final boro of the tour, Staten Island. This is also the final bridge of the tour and though it's not the steepest (I'll give that honor to the 59th St Bridge climb), it is the longest. I am not going to sugar coat it: It's challenging! (We ride in the lower roadway, which is why it isn't that scenic)

      Bridge #4: The Verrazano Narrows

      This bridge is never open to cyclists normally, only on 5 Boro Bike Tour day. And at any point in the ride, this would be a tough portion of the route. But the fact that it's after 37+ miles seems somewhat cruel. Many cyclists drop off before this part and of those that push on to the end, a lot of cyclists get off and walk their bikes over this bridge. As I was slowly pushing myself one pedal at a time to make it across, I was looking at a woman walking, in shorts, and did start wishing I had her legs. And from somewhere inside me, I heard myself say "Look at what your legs are doing right now! Look at what they are capable of! They are strong enough to pedal this huge, heavy, one speed bike over this bridge! Give your legs some credit, they're amazing!" And I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I started to cry. I don't think I would have had that moment if I hadn't blogged about my legs the other day and had everyone's feedback, so thank you for reminding me of that and for helping me to reframe.

      Boro #5: Staten Island
      After making it over that bridge, there's a festival in Staten Island - vendors, food, all sorts of stuff. Random strangers congratulate each other (though technically, the tour isn't over. There are 3 or 4 more miles after this) and as happened all day - people asked me about my bike/footwear. After talking with this guy, he took a photo with me. So I made him take one with my camera too. I forget his name - I met so many people yesterday:

      Some guy who wanted a photo with me

      Also at the festival in Staten Island, I ran into my high school friend, Eila! Here we are:

      My friend, Eila (we went to high school together!)

      I think other than finishing, this next moment was the highlight of my day... While I was standing there waiting for the ferry (in the sun, feet killing me) this guy came over to talk to me and asked if I had biked the whole thing in heels. So many people had asked me this already and I was so exhausted, I barely looked up, but said that yes, I did. Then he said something like "You don't take the 7 Train anymore?" I looked at his face and realized it was my favorite subway conductor, Alex, who I haven't seen since the MTA changed my bus schedule this January! I was so happy to see him! I gave him a huge hug! Turns out that he did the tour too. Good for him. Congratulations, Alex!! Here we are together:

      this is my favorite conductor from the 7 Train, Alex!

      Finally we boarded the ferry. Here are some shots from on board the Staten Island Ferry (it felt GREAT to sit for a while - in a real chair, without having to move my legs!)

      My bike on the Staten Island Ferry

      I met these characters - tour veterans and marshalls. That's Frankie Hams, Anthony "Bike Fish Freak", Me and Iron Man Mike. Hi guys! Thanks for entertaining me on the way back to Manhattan *and* for the autographed souvenir t-shirt (Anthony gave me his official t-shirt he received for being a marshall. You can't buy those)!!

      Me with 3 Marshalls from the tour

      Now that I was pretty much where I started, lower Manhattan, I had to make my way home - back to Brooklyn. In fact, this is the exact spot I had stood 8 hours earlier, waiting for the tour to start. It was back to 'normal'-

      Where I started, 8 hours earlier.

      As I mentioned on Saturday, this weekend's theme was "One Weekend, Five Bridges" "One Weekend, 5 Bridges and 5 Boros. In 4 inch heels" And here's the last...

      Bridge #5: The Williamsburg (links Manhattan and Brooklyn):

      Bridge #5: The Williamsburg

      As I've done so many times before, I made my way over the Williamsburg Bridge and back to Greenpoint. I stopped at Habitat Bar on Manhattan Ave for a celebratory order of waffle fries and beer. Oh beer, I fantasized about you all day!

      Post bike tour ritual - meal of champions

      Finally, 10 hours later, back at home... I took this close up for those of you that tell me I don't look awful enough after my workouts. Enjoy - I look terrible!

      At home after the bike tour

      And in 'event tradition' - here I am with messy hair and make up, showing off my event t-shirt:

      Proudly showing off my 5 Boro Bike Tour t-shirt!

      Lastly, these are my stats for the day-

      Heart rate monitor stats:
      Tour from starting line to finish line (Note: I never stopped my HRM during the day, even when I had to walk or made my two rest stop breaks, so this includes everything that happened from mile 0 to mile 42):
      Total time: 6 hours, 10 minutes
      Time in Fat Burning zone: 47 minutes
      Time in Fitness zone: 5 hours, 22 minutes
      Average heart rate: 139
      High heart rate: 180
      Total Calories: 2,867

      I re-started my heart rate monitor when I got off the ferry since I had to ride from Manhattan back to Brooklyn. Here are those stats:
      Total Time: 47 minutes
      Time in Fat Burning zone: 0
      Time in Fitness zone: 47 minutes
      Average heart rate: 141
      Hight heart rate: 165
      Calories burned: 376

      So in total, I pretty much worked out 7 hours and burned over 3000 calories. No wonder I was so exhausted!!

      I don't have my total bike mileage because I couldn't get my new cyclometer set up correctly. But considering the tour was 42 miles (plus) my ride to the starting line and home from the finish (minus) the times I was walking my bike (not riding) through the bottleneck portions (equals) I think it's safe to say I biked somewhere between 50 and 55 miles.

      It was a terrific day and wonderful experience! I don't know what I ever did before my bike. I love her so much!

      (Note: All of today's photos are in this set on Flickr)