Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Is It Biking Season Yet?

For some reason it feels like this winter was longer than last. Maybe it was the unending waves of snow followed up by several "Polar Vortexes"? I am anticipating this season even more than the last and well for me that's saying A-LOT!

New this winter was my butt on the bike on my trainer. My goal was 3x a week. I'm really proud that for all of January & February I made that happen. I also ran 2x a week and did at least two workouts a week with weights. Throw in some Yoga a few times weekly as well. I feel like I'm starting to really see the results of it all in my clothes and how I feel. I'm sad to say that the first week of March saw me with a bit of a nasty bug and I fell off my workout regime.  I managed to pick up a a run, a gym workout and 1 trainer ride. It's ok or at least I'm telling myself that because seriously I killed it for two months right? So this week I'm getting back on track!

If you're in Iowa you know that Mother Nature finally stopped being so moody and graced us with some beautiful weather! Saturday hit 35 degrees and found me & my girl Junebug out for the S.P.E.R.M. ride! (St. Patrick's Easy Ride In March) I'm sure you can tell there were some serious shenanigans going on!  Just awesome to be out, see all my biking friends, toss back a few beverages in the sunshine and talk bikes, bike rides and more bike stuff all day long. Insert dramatic sigh of happiness here!

So after Saturday's shenanigans I got a bit of a late start to Sunday but finally the draw of sunshine and chirping birds found me venturing outside to be greeted with 50 degree weather! I really did do a happy dance on the porch steps! Unfortunately I realized very quickly I had two choices. Ditch all the day's responsibilities and bike OR get them done so during the week with more foretasted nice weather I could ride several days. OK FINE! I got my chores done and I really glad because Monday brought 65 degrees and I finally released the Pink Princess from the basement trainer!

I started the day thinking I would take a quick 10-15 around the south end of town past the Iowa Speedway and out towards Reasnor. A great county road out there that doesn't have alot of traffic and several nice rolling hills.  That was until I got a message on the Velorosa team board about a 25mi training ride! Well that put the hustle in me as in I grabbed my girl Pink geared up and pedaled up to Mojo to hope our FAVORITE bike shop guy Joe would squeeze us in for a quick tune!

(Up on the bike stand geting cleaned up & tuned up!)

Thankfully he did! Or maybe he's thankful we stopped by since he finally talked me into ordering a new bike. More to come on that but hey a girl can't have too many bikes. They're like shoes. You have different shoes for different occasions right? Well....I have different bikes for different rides! Junebug is my town girl & commuter. We bike to work, the store, errands.  Pink has been my adventure girl and road ride. She will always be! Do not doubt the bond between a girl and her bike. She's been my faithful friend for 5000 miles and two years. I will own her for the rest of my life I kid you not. But the next adventure outside my comfort zone will be on a full carbon with Shimano Ultegra components in hot pink, black & white. I've not named her yet but I'm sure that will come soon!

Hello beautiful! I definitely have a woman crush on this bike! 

So after our quick tune up I loaded up Pink and we took off for Des Moines and to meet the ladies of Velorosa Cycling. I joined this year to learn more, push my limits, challenge myself and well just become a bad @$$ bike babe in general ;-).  When it comes to cycling & racing in Iowa these ladies definitely have alot of skill & knowledge.  

So of course in honor of the occasion out came my fantastic Vanderkitten Vip kit! I wish I had remembered to snap a few pics but I was so focused on finding the meeting point, getting geared up, meeting everyone and riding.  It was a challenge! While I'm thankful I'm in alot better shape right now than I was this time last year it took a few miles to get warmed up again.   We started in right away with pace line drills and for the next 25 miles we definitely did work! I found myself feeling rather newbie all over again.  I mean really I've ridden pace lines on rides but this was different. The constant  rotating of position. Keeping it smooth, adjusting to the ever moving ebb and flow of the riders around you, staying smooth yourself and up to speed.  I didn't do as well as I had hoped to but better than I thought I would still.  I was ok for the first 22 miles but got dropped from the group the last 3 miles.  

I created a course on Map My Ride to track each time I ride the route going forward and to track my progress. Thought I'd share and if anyone else uses Map My Ride feel free to ride the course!

While I'd like to think a couple things were working against me like my right clete being slightly twisted and tweaking my knee causing a cramp in my quad periodically that I refused to admit or acknowledge (because I was sooo dang sure I had them adjusted last week and so maybe I hadn't remembered to tighten the right one back up) or maybe the week off the trainer in addition to my last few trainer rides taking it a bit easy on myself.  How about we just have an honest little moment here, get humble and say....I have alot of room to improve and grow. I have alot to learn but I've started and so that was the hard part.  Facing down the nerves, the fear of not being as good as I want to be, yet.  I'm not there YET. 

 Here's what else I learned.   I hate Winter. If I had taken that ride following Ragbrai or TOMRV I would have killed it.  I hate that Winter sapped my stamina and strength. I rolled bigger longer hills faster last year.  I hate being the weakest hill climber. I am kinda mad at myself for not pushing myself harder in my own training.  But I can change that. It's the second week of March.  There is time and well I am definitely motivated. YUP! MOTIVATED!  So I'm going to pat myself on the back for the fact that I could not have done that ride last year as well and I would have not survived the first five miles two years ago but this time next year I won't get dropped again.  Oh and 88 days on TOMRV 2014 I won't be 5 min behind the group. I won't be the slowest hill climber. I will be AWESOME!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Live Like You Were Dying.

That's a thought provoking title. What it means to each person is probably different things. If you were Tim McGraw it would mean sky diving, rocky mountain climbing and going 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu. He talks about loving deeper, speaking sweeter, and giving forgiveness.   That song has always stuck with me. First because Tim Mc Graw is a damn stud and sexy as heck bald man. I may be partial to those. Throw in he wears a pair of jeans and a cowboy hat you're gonna have to wipe the drool off my chin. ANY WAY...got distracted there.

Recently a little article popped up on my facebook feed about 37 that people who are dying say they regret.  I'd encourage everyone to read it. What I found most thought provoking was these were alot of regrets I was having entering my early 30's.  I didn't quite know it at the time but I was very dissatisfied with who I was, how I was living, what I was doing in many ways.  Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of wonderful things happening in my life then as well. I had two happy, healthy beautiful children. I was a coach for a thriving cheer leading competition program. I had a wonderful career and worked with people who really motivated and inspired me.  It was those ladies who really opened my eyes to many things and really taught me some wonderful life lessons, but there were still things I wasn't doing in my life and I felt like I was missing some things.

While I had done and was doing some things on that list. I had traveled, I quit a terrible job and was pursuing a career I enjoyed and I was learning to stand up for myself, there were still many things that I wasn't doing. It's actually very ironic the things the article talks about as it really hits the nail on the head of many things that were missing in my life.

I was staying in bad relationships, letting fear paralyze me, not making physical fitness & my health a priority. I definitely cared too much what others thought of me. Not what I thought of me and certainly I cared too much about what the wrong people thought of me. Those toxic, self serving, self absorbed people who weren't really there for me but I was serving a purpose for them. By  keeping me down I made them feel better about themselves or justified their poor behaviors. While I supported the dreams of many I often put my own on hold or let them go entirely. I procrastinated terribly in some decisions. Often hoping by not making one it would work itself out in some way shape or form. I was afraid of making the wrong ones. Which it does, but it was never the way it could have been if I had taken action on it.  I was always too busy surviving one moment to the next to appreciate alot of good things around me. I started things that never got finished. I worried constantly, got swept up in needless dramas of friends & family and I failed to be grateful not just for what I had but to those in my life who meant something to me.

It's actually rather frightening looking back on it. Who really sets a course in life to live like that? No one. No one intentionally sets out to live their life that way. It's a series of decisions you make that while you're making them you think you're doing the right thing at that time. That pretty much sums it up. I thought by staying in a relationship where I was not valued as a person I was doing the right thing for my children. That "making it work" was a good thing. In some cases it is. That's only if the other person in the relationship gives two hoots about you as a person though and also puts in their 50%.  If they don't then you're staying in a bad relationship.  Learn to understand and know the difference.

 I thought by putting aside my dreams and passions and supporting everyone else's I was being selfless and I would somehow be rewarded or recognized for my sacrifices.  No one appreciates a "martyr" except another martyr so don't go there. Seriously. If someone truly is a good person and cares about you the right way they will NOT want you to live a life of martyrdom.  A person who truly cares about you will encourage you to live your dreams, explore your passions. They will do so with you and support you every step of the way.

Do NOT procrastinate. You will blink and realize life passed you by because you waited too long. Decisions you do not make will take you for a joy ride often to places that were worse than the decision you were going to make.  Don't be afraid to make a decision because it might be the wrong one. Guess what if it is you can make a change, make another one or do something about it.  That's the beauty of it. When you make the decisions and choices they are yours and you are in control of them.  Do not be afraid of the consequences of your actions. We are all here to live life, make mistakes and LEARN from them. Every decision I have made good or bad has ALWAYS turned out better than any decision I never made. When I let life or those around me make them.

Put down your phone. Shut off the television, get off the computer (yes even get off reading this but only after you finish reading of course!) look around you and BE IN THE MOMENT.  This moment will be gone in another moment. You will NEVER get it back. Think on that. Are you going to miss your child's big play on the soccer field because you were scrolling through the aimless dribble on facebook every 5 seconds? Are you going to miss seeing the sunset because you could NOT miss an episode of your favorite show about fake people living fake lives doing fake things instead of being a real person, living a real life doing real things? REALLY ARE YOU?!?

And for god sakes be grateful. The thing that really drives me crazy about life today and the people in it is this conception of entitlement. I am this. I should get that. You owe me....Your company better give this to me because I deserve it....I got this so I should get that. NEWS FLASH here but to each of us is owed NOTHING! I don't care who you are, where you are in life, what you did before or after this moment but life, society and the world doesn't owe you shit unless you went out there and worked for it. If you've done nothing but be a demanding self serving whining brat I sincerely hope life takes a big old reality check dump on you. What's more I sincerely enjoy when it does because it means you have been given the opportunity to learn the lesson about being grateful. Be grateful for the life you have.  Why? Because you are ALIVE. Period. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my refrigerator, family, friends and I am alive. Oh and a bike of course! So everyday I thank God for all of it and I'm grateful. Because I learned that lesson,  I've never felt more satisfied with who I am and where I'm at or what I have.

I find it ironic that at 37 I can say I am living these 37 things. While I don't have them all mastered by any means there really is no better feeling than looking at myself in the mirror today and living with alot less regrets. I am often asked why the hell am I so positive, happy and just so damn annoyingly perky? (Yes I secretly enjoy my perkiness annoys your grumpy asses!)  Read the article. I am living my life to the best of my ability without 37 regrets. I look at things in terms of if I was dying how would I look back on this?  I've worked to eliminate the negativity, the toxic things and people and I focus my time, energy and activities on those that are positive, fulfilling and make me happy.  EVERYDAY I CHOOSE TO GET UP AND FIND SOMETHING TO APPRECIATE AND BE HAPPY ABOUT.

Everyone has a choice they can make to live this way. They're not easy choices but you do have a choice so, when you choose not to just know that's your choice too. Maybe not a good one but by accepting less than what you could or should or making no choice to change is also a choice you've made. The best thing about life is everyday you wake up alive you have another day to make new choices! Choose wisely! Maybe choose to live like you were dying....Food for thought...we all are.

Just Keep Pedaling!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

One Normal Woman's Journey From Fluffy To Fit!

The last couple of days I've really enjoyed reading all my friends and families 2013 reviews and 2014 goals. Setting goals and planning out my coming year is one of my favorite things to do. I actually started back in September and wrapped it up last night I think. I continually add or subtract things but I definitely think I'm ready to take on the year!

There is one goal that is missing from my list this year that has been on there for years and years. And I see of course it's a goal many of you have on yours. It's the "Lose Weight" goal.   It's not on my list. I'm sure there were a few eye rolls at that statement. That's ok though because I have reached my healthy body weight that I am happy with. As I look around and in the groups I participate in for health and fitness I see some of you doing wonderful as well with your weight loss challenges and fitness goals.   I'm so excited for you!! Its a good feeling every step of the way. I've never regretted starting this journey.

My journey began in 2010. I was complaining how I had become rather curvy and even went as far as to say I was looking rather chubby.  A little self demeaning comment but my daughter who was with me immediately hugged me, smiled up at me and said I wasn't chubby I was just nice and soft and fluffy. Fluffy? She meant it as a compliment. That she loved me just the way I was and wanted to give comfort to me of course but something just stuck with me from that. I didn't want my daughter to see my negative self image and I sure didn't want the word "fluffy" be the adjective that she used to describe me. I wanted her to use words like healthy, fit, FABULOUS!

So I decided to change. I like lots of women looked at pills to help control your appetite, thought about hours of exercise, quick weight loss diets, the latest fads to lose weight. I even got a copy of P90X. After watching those damn info-mercials I was sure that was what would whip me into shape.  But let's be honest here. At that time in my life I was a single mom with two busy active children working two jobs to make ends meet. Where could I find the time to dedicate to making it work not to mention the first one I tried I couldn't make more than 10 minutes in without wanting to fall over and cry.  I wanted a quick fix with minimal effort. I'm sure it sounds familar to anyone who reads this, we've all thought that right? Here is an honest life truth, the best things in life require effort.  Think on it. When someone hands you something you didn't have to work for it's pretty cool and there is a feeling of brief happiness.  But it fades. It loses value overtime. While you may momentarily appreciate it, you don't value it the way you do something you had to work for. Nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction when you've reached a goal or gotten something you worked hard for.

So I re-evaluated and I came to a realization after reading and researching weight loss and fitness.  There is no quick fix.  Any diet where you lose 20lbs in a month means you can just as easily yo yo back into that 20lbs in a month.  I wasn't Wonder Woman yet and I couldn't kill  myself daily as I had alot on my plate.  And there it was...I had alot on my plate. Not just in life but literally in front of me there was a damn lot of food I was shoveling in my mouth.  Insert ah-ha moment here. I was not going to lose 45lbs in 30 days like those people on the P90x Dvd.  Did you hear that noise? That was the sound of my enthusiasm deflating like a balloon making that weird farting noise and it deflates and flies around the room uncontrollably.

I couldn't workout because I was too out of shape. I was too out of shape because I ate too much. I ate too much because well food tastes good? Hell I don't know why. I just like food. I still like food. Alot. Make no mistake I will not tell you I don't eat sweets and carbs because I do. I will not tell you not to have some cake, cookies, or cheesecake. Seriously I have a big thing for cheesecake. I have hamburgers, pizza, occasionally ice cream.  Fudge. Oh boy peanut butter fudge is yummy. Know what else I like? Vegetables, fruits, chicken, beef, pork. Did I miss something? Oh wait I like milk, sour cream, CHEESE! Oh boy I can kill a block of pepper jack cheese in the blink of an eye. There you go I'm normal. Completely normal. I LIKE FOOD.  So I sure as heck wasn't going to deprive myself of food in anyway shape or form.

So at this point I decided I'm going to have to learn some portion control and what are the healthy dietary eating habits I should have.  I really thought I knew, I mean we all think we know how to eat healthy but you know what,  you don't. Neither did I.   Face that fact. If you're overweight you don't REALLY know how to eat healthy. Eating healthy is NOT all salads and carrots and raw vegetables.  While some people can flip that switch and do that I'm not one of them. I think most of you out there are not either.  So I needed to learn how to eat again. What was the right portion sizes for things, what does that portion really look like and how to keep myself moving along on the right path.  I could do that. A girls gotta eat and I obviously had time to eat so I would start with eating healthy the right way.  Understanding what was going in my body and why.  Now I could start hours of research or I could just join Weight Watchers. I work smart people in addition to working hard. I joined WW.

Remember I said I had already been reading, checking out diets, fitness etc. Well I had checked our WW.  It wasn't glamorous. There were no fads. NO pills, no drops, no magic eat this for 10 days. It was here is food. Here are the correct portions your body needs. Eat within these guidelines any food you want.  By switching out low calorie but filling foods instead of high calorie non filling foods you will feel fuller longer but have eaten less.  Eat less calories, feel fuller but still lose weight. It's so damn simple it's absolutely brilliant. Seriously. Go ahead and try to argue that logic because millions of women across the world have already proved it's success. Not only that WW has the highest success rate for women to keep that weight off.  You know why. Eating right is not a fad. It's fueling your body to work at it's maximum performance while allowing you to feel satisfied. You are still in control of what you eat.  Weight Watchers is the most simple, effective life style change you can make. It's NOT A DIET.  You slowly learn how to eat right, have little splurges, understand what good portions are and I NEVER once felt deprived or hungry. I still don't.  Three years later I still count, I don't necessarily track my food anymore but I count points everyday. Not because I have to, because I want to. It makes me feel satisfied and good when I do because everyday I meet a small goal I am successful. Those small daily goals being met added up to the weight loss I wanted and every week when I stepped on the scale I was proud to see it go down!

Instead of feeling bad all the time about what was going in my body, I was feeling really good. Think about that. Feeling good about eating. Not guilty. Yes I had to make smarter choices. Yes I ate less of somethings, yes I had to turn down seconds or cookies. Work food days I brought things to share I knew would be good and good for me. I still sampled the other dishes but in much smaller portion sizes.  Every week I lost weight. Some weeks it was 1lb. Some weeks it was as much as 2.5lbs.  That's right it was slow. It's a medically proven fact weight loss that is slow over a period of time is more likely to stay off than large amounts lost very quickly. I wasn't losing this weight with the intention of finding it at some other time. I read a quote, ok I read alot of quotes, it said something like "Don't let the passage of time dissuade you from your goals, time will pass anyway." To me that meant it's going to take as long as it takes and I could pass the time working slowly little bit by bit on my health and eventually get there or I could quit because it was going to take a while and never be what I wanted to be. Either way life and time were going to march on. So yeah some weeks I was a little frustrated at how slow it was going, However I was in the drivers seat of this situation. I could speed it up a bit by swapping out a few of my favorite treats for a healthier snack or I could just keep on keepin on. Some weeks I had peanut butter cups. Some weeks I had an apple or yogurt. Ya know no biggie.

After 3 months I lost 20lbs. Did you know that about every 6-7lbs you lose you're also losing about one whole size? So at 6lbs my jeans started feeling like I could move in them again. At 12lbs they were pretty loose and I was wearing a belt.  At 20 I got new jeans, a whole 2 sizes smaller. I was pretty pleased. I felt better, accomplished, looking better in my clothes and learning that with time and work I could lose weight and reach my goals. Here's a secret, I lost that 20lbs and I didn't exercise once. NOT ONCE. You heard me. So I say, what's your excuse now about how hard it is to eat healthy and lose weight. I just told you I ate peanut butter cups and never felt hungry once in 3months and I lost 20lbs. I admittedly have good will power now. I did not then so seriously when people tell me they can't I don't believe them. It's that they don't WANT to make the effort. There's a HUGE difference. I'm sure that statement will really make some people mad. I know. I got mad too when my WW meeting leader said it to me too. As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure I mouthed the words "Shut up B!t@h" during the meeting.  I almost walked out but when someone is standing in front of you who lost 60lbs and kept it off for 10yrs it's kind of hard to argue.

So I hung out for about a month with my 20lb loss. My choice. I felt like I was pretty good for a mom in her 30's and remember I was still a busy one. I worked two jobs,  two kids in activities and I coached cheerleading/tumbling 6-8hrs a week.  Believe me when I laid down at night I was tired and slept hard!  But something in me wondered what would happen if I kept going? I just had my yearly health screening at work. It said I was still medically considered obese. That's a dirty word huh? I'm 5'2 and I weighed about 157. (I'm sure you can do the math, I started at 177). I would hardly say I was obese but sure I could lose 10lbs more and I would be just right for my height and body.  So I once again set my points for weight loss mode with WW and back to weekly meetings and weigh ins I went. You need those. You need to see people just like you doing it, being successful, celebrating a .5lb loss or encouraging you to keep going when you have a whole pound gain.  You need the education, the motivation, the tips to survive the holidays without sabotaging your hard work or get that amazing black bean brownie recipe that tastes so delicious but is only like 2pts for a big old bar!  So GO TO THE MEETINGS! Face the scale every week, it will keep you motivated.

You know it took me another damn 6 months to lose that 10lbs? It was like in .25 to .5lb increments sometimes lol... Some weeks I splurged more than others however I got there. Total loss of 30lbs.  Here it comes again. I lost 30lbs in a year and I didn't exercise once. I'm smiling at that because I love working out now. I love exercising. I love sweating my ass off and challenging myself until I'm out of breath and gasping. I only learned this through time though and I didn't always feel that way.  But even without the exercise I felt so much better 20 and thirty pounds lighter. Better about myself, how I looked and I really did have more energy.

Alot of changes took place that year for me. I got a great promotion and no longer needed to work two jobs. I had more free time finally to spend with my kids and improve my health and fitness.  I
had this crazy idea of maybe I could finally do my first Ragbrai? I took my Trek Hybrid out for a few short rides of a couple of miles. Something I hadn't done in several years.  I started thinking about exercising. I went to some Zumba classes with my daughter and friends. I even began doing some of the workouts with my cheerleaders at practice again.  Finally in the Spring of 2012 I decided after 10 years of coaching, motivating young girls, teaching them about setting goals, working for their dreams, and celebrating their successes it was time to hang up my poms, put away the shiny trophies and hand off to my assistant coach. I had reached all my goals with coaching for now and was ready for a new chapter in life.

So it began. If you know me you know my new passion became cycling.  I had reached my weight loss goal and I wanted to stay there but I had a lot of free time on my hands. I've never been good at sitting still so I began to think if I could reach that weight loss goal I could reach others.  The quest to ride my first Ragbrai began. While that could be a book unto itself and I'm sure I'll write about the adventures I had at some point, I finally added exercise to my life.   While I was 30lbs lighter I sure wasn't tone by any means. I was still petty jiggly. There's a word for ya! JIGGLY! I still could only ride for like 5 miles before I was exhausted and needed a nap.  Skinnier is NOT healthier.

Cycling is an amazing exercise. You're using your entire body when you ride. Seriously. Not just amazing cardio but you're building muscle too. It's an entire body work out. After I started riding more and more something happened, besides my butt going numb, I started losing more weight. I hadn't changed my eating habits. I still counted points and ate what I liked in reasonable portions but I began to lose weight, gain muscle, toning up more all over. I didn't lose alot just a couple of pounds honestly. Like 3 but I lost 2 more sizes in clothes and several inches all over my body. So here's something interesting, a pound of fat is the same weight as a pound of muscle.  C'mon who really believes that adage muscle weighs more than fat. A pound is a pound.  BUT.... a pound of muscle is half the size of a pound of fat. Not only that it looks ALOT nicer. ALOT! So I was converting fat to muscle and now losing inches.

I spent the summer riding my bike, I rode into the fall as well and finally when it was too cold to ride I decided I didn't want to lose the muscle and health I had discovered over the summer so I joined the gym.  Let me say something about gyms. They're kind of intimidating at first. Especially when you're new to fitness. All the machines and people so intense and focused. The muscle head types and the super skinny girls running on the treadmills like they're some sort of gazelle and you instantly dislike them because they look good doing it and make it look easy when you know damn well it's not.  But I did discover something that first day. I tried to run a mile. That same time last year I had tried to run a mile with a friend, before my summer of cycling, I couldn't make it .25 of a mile before my lungs were burning and a had a cramp in my side. I got on the eliptical, turned on the tv to distract myself from the utter torture I was sure it was going to be and I went to work. I had a new found determination, I wanted to start the next Spring in the same shape I was at the end of it because I wanted to ride more! Be faster, stronger and better.  I was willing to torture myself to do it and to me running of any sort was torture. I said loudly and clearly, " I AM NOT A RUNNER. I am a cyclist."  So guess what happened. I went for almost 3 miles before I started to tire. I didn't even notice because I had been chatting with the lady next to me. I looked down and almost fell off, I was that surprised.

Well from there I decided maybe I could run. A little. What's more it did alleviate my withdrawal from not getting any ride time in due to the cold weather. It wasn't the same but it helped.  So new challenge was to run a couple times a week to be able to comfortably do 5K. I also tried out all the scary fitness equipment. It's not that scary though and thankfully there were instructions on the machines for how to use them. When I wasn't sure I just asked. You know what, turns out every single one of those super fitness freaks that intimidated me was once someone just like me. They all were really nice and helped me understand a machine.  Sometimes I would just watch people use them while I ran so I could figure it out for myself.  Guess what happened. I kept slowly shrinking but that's not even the best part. I felt GREAT! Stronger, healthier and just damn good. That feeling is addicting. Sure some days I didn't want to go. Some days doing a workout or run was like the most difficult thing ever but even on the days I made myself I felt so much better afterwards. Not just physically but mentally.

Somewhere in February I finally felt that elusive runner's high.  That was pretty cool and addicting! Cycling is still my favorite but I do like to run now.  When Spring came I did of course jump on my bike like she was my long lost best friend but  I kept up at the gym as well and discovered I like running outside too! I rode farther this year than even the year before. I completed my second Ragbrai, my first TOMRV and five century rides on top of countless night rides, weekend training rides and several party rides. It was an AWESOME cycling season! But cold weather came back and back to the gym I went. Something new this year though I added an indoor trainer. NO more bike withdrawal. I now balance my week with riding, running and weight lifting.  What's more I look forward to my workouts. They're stress relief, they're part of my life routines, they challenge me, change me and make me a healthier, happier person.

At the start of 2014 I am 135.  Hey there I said  my weight out loud and didn't cringe. Not only that I am healthy. I am fit. I am strong.  I like working out, eating healthy because it's delicous and I even like squats! I've learned to love the burn when I work out and I think sweat is body glitter and the sexiest thing I can wear!  I am the person I wanted to be when I started in 2010.  Dear gosh that's a pretty amazing feeling! But I'm not done. I still have goals for my health, fitness and life. I'm still growing and going.

Here's something I want to say and the point of all of this.  It didn't take 3 weeks, or 3 months. It took 3yrs. It wasnt' a fad, a fix, a diet or a magical secret.  I worked at it every damn day because I decided I was worth it and my health was my priority. I was more important than some passing fad or a triple layer chocolate cheesecake.

I recently saw a friend who I've watched on her journey for health the last year post her celebratory pictures. I've cheered for her every step of the way. She's fallen off the wagon and got back on several times. She's learned to eat healthy, she's discovered fitness and exercise and she's motivated herself and those around her to keep going and change their lives. I am so excited for her. Many days I didn't want to work out but she'd post and off to the gym I'd go. Her determination motivated me on days my motivation was taking a break. But I got REALLY mad when someone who was a friend of a friend posted a comment about what her "magical secret" was.  Of course as the new year starts I see people posting about these enormous fitness goals or saying that this or that about diets and fads and how they're going to finally lose that weight etc. I say good for you. I am glad you're making it part of your life and trying. I will cheer you on every step of the way. I will motivate you, encourage you, invite you for a bike ride, go to the gym with you and whatever else I can do to help you but I will not let you think it's going to happen over night. I will not tell you my magical secret or point you in the direction of Dr. Oz's current magic pill for weight loss because they are not the answers.  The answers are to change your lifestyle. Value your health more than some passing fad or that plate of nachos. Learn to eat correct healthy foods and portions. Introduce exercise to your life and make it something fun you enjoy doing everyday, whether it's a bike ride or taking your dog for a walk.  Set realistic goals. For times and fitness to happen and work into all of it slowly but steadily. Time will pass, that's inevitable but even if all you lose is one pound a week for the next 52 weeks you'll still have lost 52lbs. What's more that weight is alot more likely to stay off because you didn't starve yourself, deprive yourself or kill yourself to make that happen.  You are more likely to succeed and stick with the entire life style change if you go at it the right way.

I'm sure that what I've shared and some of my opinions will anger or annoy some. I get that. I was pretty pissed off too when I first heard that same advice. But I was also that person who looked for the easy way, did the fad diets, and yo you weight loss so I can tell you I know what I'm talking about too. Change your thoughts and you will change your world.  Change how you approach your health and fitness and not only will your body change but so will your life.

Just Keep Pedaling!

P.S. If you're looking for some good facebook pages to help keep you motivated or you're just a quote junky like me check out the ones I really enjoy below.

Motivated Hope & Strength 
The Sisterhoood Of The Shrinking Jeans
Women's Health 

Top Photo 2009 (Note the mom trying to hide behind the kids so you can't see the chubby so much! )
Bottom Photo 2013 (Nothing to hide & enjoying the day with my kids)