Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 59: sweat it out

Today I decided to go to the gym and mix up my routine a little bit.

I started off doing weight machines for arms and then legs (the gym got two new machines! a leg extension and a leg curl, which were both cool). Then I did the couch to 5 k plan on the treadmill: walk for 5 minutes, run for 1.5, walk for 2 etc for 20 minutes.

I have come to the conclusion that I really strongly dislike running. My calves hate it. And I don't think I have good form, but I'm not sure how to change it or what it is I might be doing wrong. I wish I liked it more, though, because it's a damn good work out!

It was really humid in the gym and I was sweating profusely by the time I finished the treadmill. I then did one mile on the elliptical.

Then I went on the upright bike and did 1 mile in under 5 minutes and then went on the reclining bike and did another mile in under 5 minutes.

I finished off the workout with a 15 pound weight side-abs exercise that Addie taught me earlier this summer.

I left the gym feeling super sweaty and good about myself. A nice workout! I definitely need to add the gym back into my weekly routine. Unfortunately, they're cutting the hours until July 9. LAME.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 58: Can't you feel the beat

On Sunday morning, Becca, Kat, Natalia & I were all supposed to bike the Holyoke Reservoir together. Due to a complication of plans, it ended up just being Becca & myself and we had a great time!

I brought my ipod, which has an external speaker, and put on my mix entitled "Sex" - which is mostly pop music & techno remixes (the one I normally listen to for long car rides & any kind of exercise. My feel-good music). I hooked it onto my pants and off we went!

It was gorgeous out! A bit on the muggy side, but that's standard this summer, it seems. The res was quite active with joggers and bikers and walkers. We did one half loop around it and stopped at the rocks to look for snakes. We saw one big black one sunning itself on the rocks and one piece of shed skin. Then we did the rest of the loop and passed by a TON of geese. It seems like only yesterday they were little puffy babies and now they are full grown!

After finishing that loop, we decided to go around again. I probably could have gone around again and again and again because I was enjoying myself so much. The terrain was mildly flat and I was feeling really energetic and really happy. Becca and I had a conversation going as we biked around. And I have to say that this was the easiest res bike ride I have ever gone on.

We ended up doing a total of 7-8 miles before heading home to get ready for the rest of the day. I look forward to doing more rides there with her in the future!

Day 57: blargh

I was super pumped to bring my bike home this weekend. As soon as I got to my parents' house, I made my whole family try it so they could stew in jealousy over my sweet ride.

The ride itself, however, did not end up being so sweet.

On Saturday morning my sister, dad, Kat & I went for a mysterious bike ride down a path that my dad wanted to check out.

I was feeling optimistic (yet cautious, being with so many athletic people!) when I made it up the hill on Prospect Hill that I hadn't been able to get up last time I was home.

We ended up going through Bear Hole, which is an unpaved foresty kind of place. There were many rocks and the ride was bumpy. We reached a blocked off section in the path and had to walk our bikes around the barrier. We then rode down a road that was paved, albeit poorly. It was even bumpier and rockier than the unpaved trail! We followed that road to the end and then were on some real pavement, which felt heavenly compared to the last surface.

We then decided to check out the Bear Hole reservoir, which is not nearly as awesome as the Holyoke reservoir. We went down a realllly steep hill and then had to go around a fence and that was about it. We hopped off our bikes and peered over the bridge into the water and then turned around to go back.

Needless to say, I did not make it back up the realllly steep hill. Becca & Kat did, those little athletic bitches. Dad & I walked our bikes up the hill.

We couldn't figure out how to get out of the reservoir because a gate had been open when we went in and was closed when we tried to leave. My dad tried to map out an alternate path and as he did so, I ended up catching my tire on some loose gravel in a small ditch annnnnd my bicycle pwned me. It took me out. I toppled over and it toppled over on top of me. How rude.

My knee was all cut up and bloody and my spirits were pretty low by this point. I was tired of feeling tired. Annoyed that bike rides are still so tiring for me and not as easy as I want them to be. And there go Becca & Kat, who bike ride about 1/20 the amount of time I do coasting along with barely any effort. It just isn't fair!

We made it up to the country store and stopped so they could get some freeze pops. I examined my bloody knee, which had dripped down to my sock. I also had a nice black and blue mark forming. My knee was sore and I just wanted the trip to be over with already, but we still had quite a ways ahead of us.

We went up and down and up and down and finally made it back to Prospect (coming from the opposite direction...we had done a loop). I could not make it up that hill for the life of me. I was so beat. I ended up hopping off and walking it up. Once I re-mounted, I felt as tired and weak as if I had actually biked up the damn thing. Fail.

I biked really slowly the rest of the way back home and, of course, walked my bike up the driveway.

Too much walking, not enough attacking. A disheartening day, indeed.

When we got home, I[ed] our route, and we found out that we'd done a total of 7-8 miles.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 56: good bye, bicycle

Today, I went for another double ringer, beginning again with the right. This time, I wove through Chestnut and Maple Ridge. I must say that this trek is getting decidedly easier. It's about time.

I was feeling really lethargic by the time I finished that lap, though. I was really set on making it around the ring another time, but by the time I reached Aspen, I wasn't sure I would be able to do it. Which is pathetic. This should not be so hard.

I decided to meander down to the Dell for some more flat terrain. I coasted down the hill and did a lap between the Dells and then twisted and turned through the sidewalks between the buildings, which was nice. I contemplated going through the woods for my nature ride, because I haven't taken my new bike there yet, but a cop was perched on the side of the road near the entrance to the woods and I didn't want him to yell at me and/or think I was sketchy.

Once I finished the Dell, I told myself that I needed to go around the ring another time. The hill on the left really really took my breath away. I was huffing and puffing my little heart out. I felt lame. By the time I reached the entrance to campus, I felt totally fine and energetic again. I went down and around behind the freshmen dorms again and then down and around behind the gym before deciding to retire for the day.

I kind of wanted to keep going, but I have developed a new and strange sensation: sometimes, my leg will start to hurt, as though it is falling asleep (even though it's not). And then my butt will start to hurt, as well. Not in the "my seat sucks" way (because my seat is awesome) but in the "something is wrong" way. I'm not sure if my circulation is being cut off or what, but it isn't pleasant. I tried shifting my weight several times, standing up to alleviate the pressure, stretching my legs and alternating which foot is extended when I coast, but the phantom pain still remains. It's not unbearable by any means, but it is uncomfortable and worrisome. I may have to look into it if it occurs again.


Today I said a final farewell to my original bicycle - the one I've had for years and years. Goodbye and Godspeed, Roadmaster. You served me well, but I'm on to bigger and better things. Adieu!

Day 55: the long and short of it

This evening, Kate and I went around Ring Road twice. I've been having issues with wearing shorts while biking. I've had so many trial & error episodes with shorts and working out. They always seem to either ride up, slide up, or not be long enough. I thought I had finally found the solution with a pair of long-ish basketball shorts. I was pretty excited to try and get my leg tan on. My arms and shoulders are already nice and bronzed from biking, and in contrast, my legs are pale and sad. Also, it's been really hot over the last few days and both of my yoga pants were dirty, so this seemed the perfect opportunity to break them out.

Things started off alright, but within .2 of a mile, they had ridden up (of course) and the seat began to chafe my legs. Great. I made several attempts to half-stand and yank them down or shift or slide to try to maneuver the shorts down. At one point, I got off, pulled the legs of the shorts down and tried to sneakily slide myself back onto the seat without the shorts moving at all. But they caught on. As soon as I started pedaling, they slid back into prime chafing position. Awesome.

The ride itself was mild (weather wise). Since I figured out that going to the right is harder, I decided we should do that first while I had the energy. It was fairly easy. The second time around (going to the left) was still a bitch, though. I don't know if I was just tired from a long day or what. In any event, I made it around twice, but not as easily as I would like to. It's pretty frustrating. I'm going to give myself credit for being able to conquer smaller hills, though. For instance, the hill behind the gym used to be a bit challenging for me. Now I can make it up just fine without shifting gears and with little effort.

I guess it's just the slow inclines that really kill me. They're not hills. They are far worse. They are just going up and up and there seems to be no end to them. They aren't like a tangible: "Okay, we're almost there!" kind of hill. They're more like "Wtf, when is this gonna get easier?" kind of incline. And I, for one, am not a fan.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Days 53 & 54: summer sun

On Monday, Kate came to entertain me during my boring desk shift and we decided to go for a walk around Ring Road once I was relieved. Let me just tell you that this was the most torturous ring walk I have EVER taken. It was blazing hot. So hot that the air felt heavy, made it hard to breathe. My feet were burning. My everything was sweating. The two miles felt like days. I couldn't wait for it to be over. But Kate convinced me that it was good for me, sweating out pounds of water weight. So I'm over it.

On Tuesday, I broke out my beloved bicycle.
Today's challenge: to bike around Ring Road 3 times.
Today's results: Conquered

My muscles felt really tired when I set out today, so I wasn't sure if I would be able to reach my goal. I started off going to the left from my apartment. Going this way, the road takes a slow but steady incline to the main entrance. I was surprisingly able to do this stretch with much ease. I then wove down around behind the freshmen dorms, around Maple Ridge Circle and then Roberts Circle, then down around the rest of the ring to the gym, where I biked behind and around it so I could go around the Ring in the opposite direction.

Going to the right is much more difficult than going to the left, I've decided. Once you get past the police station, there is a sizable stretch of incline that feels like it's never going to end. When I made it past there, I went down behind Roberts and through the parking lots. This is where I struggled. That road is also a sizable stretch of incline. I ended up circling through a parking lot and back behind Maple Ridge to alleviate the pain of climbing the hill. I made it back around to the gym with no issues and began my final circle around the Ring.

It was pretty tough for me to climb the hill to the left this time. I had maintained a 4 / 5/ 6 gear for my entire ride, but on this climb, I had to shift down to 3. I really pushed myself and made it to the top, after which, the rest of the Ring felt comparatively easy. I wanted to round off my ride, so I headed down to the Dell and did one lap between West & South before finally retiring.

I then planned to go to the gym, but when I entered my apartment, I realized that I'd been out for an hour and a half and didn't really have time. Lame.

Total mileage = 8 mi

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 52: Miss Fitness USA

Yesterday, when I was over-zealously pedalling, Retha jokingly referred to me as "Miss Fitness USA." And while I absolutely don't look like I am, today, I felt like I was.

Laura and I got up at 8 a.m. to go for a lovely morning ride. Her bike has been giving her some issues, so after about 3 miles, she decided to turn back. I was just getting started. I felt renewed. Refreshed. Invigorated. Ready to take on the road!

I really don't know where this love of biking has come from. I found myself recycling phrases Kate had used to motivate me when I first began to bike and wanted to off myself. I have come to really believe that biking is so rewarding. And there is nothing nothing nothing like the feel of the wind in your face, lifting your hair off your shoulders, pushing against your momentum as you coast. Sometimes, I just want to close my eyes and open my mouth and drink in the pure joy of it. This would probably result in an accident, so I refrain.

I ended up biking past the airport we had made it to yesterday. I was planning on going forever and a day when I came to a huge (and I mean HUGE) hill. I sat at the top of it for a good five minutes debating whether or not I should try it. A crazy fit biker whooshed past me and took it on, and I watched how he glided up the other side of this nasty canyon with ease. Not fair. I decided to give it a go, and just as I began to descend the steep abyss, a woman came up from the other side, so I stopped and pulled over to give her room.

After that, the nerve was sucked out of me, so I turned around and biked back. This time, I took a fork in the road in a direction I had not yet travelled. I followed this road for a few miles, past the other side of the airport. To my delight, I got to watch 2 planes land! I kept on this road until I got to a crazy interesection with four forks. Not wanting to get lost, I opted to head back to Laura's. I had completed a whopping 10 miles.
When I returned, I mentioned the hill to Laura, and she said it was her summer goal. We vowed to conquer that hill upon my next return. I will return. Not only to visit Laura, but also to conquer that damn thing once and for all!

Fast forward to many hours later and my return to Dartmouth. As soon as I dropped my bags, I was out the door and ready to bike! Silly for me, I had forgotten to change my shoes and was still wearing flip flops. Lame. And probably not too safe, either. This coupled with the looming threat of a rainstorm at my back, I decided to forgo going around the ring and just headed down to the Dell to do some laps. I didn't realize how much I'd actually worked myself out over the past few days, but my muscles were a bit on the tired side as I cruised back and forth.

When I felt a raindrop, I decided to head back to my dorm and retire my bike for the day. Still no rain. But I'm glad I didn't push myself to the point of being over-tired.

Total mileage = 13

Day 51: Biking bliss

After a sedentary night spent watching a movie and laying low, I awoke with renewed vigor, ready to take on the day and break out my bicycle!

We decided to bike from where Laura lives (on the outskirts of Edgartown) into the downtown area. What I love about Martha's Vineyard is how bike friendly it is. There are long and winding bike paths all over the place, just begging to be cruised!

The trek was mild, with a few hills and a bunch of super-annoying stop sign intersections. Something I really need to work on is learning how to stop and start quickly. I normally have to readjust my pedals to the right place before I can resume biking, and it is quite frustrating for me and the people who are waiting for me to cross the road. I'm working on it!

We parked our bikes in the downtown area without locking them up. The entire time we were walking around, I felt nervous that someone was going to steal my bike. Of course, it was still there when I returned, but I'm not used to living in a place where people actually *gasp* respect your belongings.

We walked around for a mile or so, hung out at the beach (witnessed a beach wedding!), ate lunch, got ice cream and then decided to bike over to Oak Bluffs, where we had heard there was a festival going on.

Laura started to feel sunburned, so we decided to take the bus to Oak Bluffs, and it's a good thing we did, because the ride was much longer than we anticipated! We shopped around some more, each bought a bottle of wine, and headed back to our bikes for the trek home. I was feeling really energetic and kept getting ahead of them. At one point, I looked back and they were both sitting on the side of the road. Apparently, Retha hadn't been shifting gears at all! No wonder she was mad tired!

We headed back to the apartment, made dinner, and then Laura and I decided to go for a night bike ride, taking the same bike path in the opposite direction (toward West Tisbury).

I kid you not when I say this was a magical bike ride.

It was dusk and temperate. The path was a perfect mix of hill and coast. We pushed ourselves and made it to an airport, watching the lights twinkle and a plane land. On the way back, it was starting to grow dark, which made us a little nervous. But our spirits were very high. We were so happy to just be on that path, riding our little hearts out!

We were surrounded by a canopy of trees and shrubs, and on either side of us, dozens of fireflies twinkled and lit our way. We tackled a crazy hill and both realized that it wasn't hard at all, which made us super proud! By the time we returned to her apartment, we were both tired and happy.

Total mileage = 12

It was a great day!

DAY FIFTY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, yes, I have finally reached my fiftieth day! Which means I have been working out nearly every day for nearly two months.

The results? Well, I'm definitely more in shape. I am able to take on treks that I absolutely wouldn't even have begun to think about doing two months ago. I am feeling fit. I am (hopefully) looking better. My clothes still fit me the same, which is kind of a bummer, but I'm hoping that once another 50 days go by, I'll be looking as awesome as I feel about this whole thing.

Unfortunately, my day 50 was a very mild day compared to normal routine. At 11:30 am, I biked one mile to my work station for the day. Laura (lucky girl!) got to bike back to Mirasol's and enjoy coffee while I sat in the Chestnut lobby collecting keys from future Freshmen. Lame. At 2 pm, she came to retrieve me and we biked back to my building.

We were planning on going to the Fairhaven bike path, which I was pretty excited about. I do really like it there, despite my lame first experience with my lame first bike. We realized we didn't have enough time to do the path, eat and shower before we were slated to leave for Martha's Vineyard for the weekend, so we opted not to go. After eating and showering, I biked a mile back to the campus center to take some money out of the atm, at which time I ran into Retha. She and I hoisted and maneuvered my bike into her car, collected Laura, and we were off!

Day 49: Breakin' it in

Today, as soon as I was relieved from work, I drove up to Quincy to pick up my long-time life partner, Laura. We headed down to Dartmouth and were soon mounted on our bicycles and ready to get our work-out on.

One of the places I always make people go when they come to visit me in Dartmouth for the first time is Mirasol's Cafe, a locally owned coffee shop. Visiting Mirasol's is like a rite of passage. Laura, being an alumni of UMD, had already had a taste of the deliciousness and we decided to journey to the cafe for some exercise, catching up and a side of coffee.

The ride there was super easy and downhill. I still get a bit nervous riding alongside road traffic, mostly because I'm used to driving around the ring. Whenever I venture off campus, I am normally following Kate, who is super competent at road biking, since a bike is her primary vehicle. However, we made it to the coffee shop with no problems whatsoever, and enjoyed our smoothies on the patios before trekking back.

The bike ride back was SO MUCH harder. The hills in Dartmouth tend to be sneaky - gradual and long. I've come to realize that UMD is like a plateau - the only flat plane in a hilly terrain. No matter what way you approach UMD, you are forced to tackle a nasty hill. Laura and I downshifted into 1 and 2 and huffed and puffed our way up the hill. I was laughing hysterically the entire time because I was so tired and so wanting to give up, but knew I could do it. We were also moving super slow but pedalling super fast because we were in such low gears. I knew it was ridiculous.

Once we conquered the hill and reached the top, we decided to do another 2 mile run around the ring for good measure. We went past the police station, which, much like the hill near the library, is entirely exhausting. It is slow and gradual and painful.

But we felt great after and ate a hearty meal of Veggie Burgers and mushroom rice and fruit salad for dinner.

Total mileage = 5

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 48: Oh beauteous bicycle!

Alright people. This is for real.

The old bicycle is no longer. I disowned her and she stubbornly (after much annoyance and effort) was returned to the place from whence she came.

I went back to Dick's with Kate and the same guy who had looked at my original bike was working. He was fabulous and very helpful. I tried out a few bikes, but was hooked on my first ride: the Diamondback Serene.
Here's what I like about it:
- super comfortable seat with suspension underneath it
- low step through
- space for a water bottle
- 21 gears
- hybrid mountain bike/road tires
- high handle bars (no need to hunch over! dad, i hope you're super jealous!)
- it's mad cute. It is a light metallic blue with orange and tan circles scattered across it (like freckles)
- it is one bitchin' ride
Here's what I don't like about it:
- the price
But honestly, it's worth it. It felt like a million bucks to ride!
Once we got back to UMD, Kate and I took off for a bike riding mini (for her, anyway) adventure!
We took a left out of UMD and went down Old Westport Rd to Drift Rd, half way up Drift Rd and then back down to Old Westport, a left onto Reed Rd and all the way down that road to a left onto Beeden, which rejoins with Old Westport and back to campus. Total mileage = 10.
Some of the hills were a little rough for me. I tend to slow down when I get to a hard part in the hill, which makes it all the harder for me to pedal my way through it. I start thinking "Okay, this isn't going to work. I should just hop off and walk my bike up." But I pushed through it both times that I had this inner dialogue. My determination coupled with Kate's enthusiastic motivational cheers really forced me through the ride and I conquered those hills!
Later in the evening (around 11 pm) we decided to go for another bike ride. I'm not joking when I say that I love my new bike. It's perfect. I couldn't wait to ride it again. This time, it was raining. But I was really pumped and feeling energetic and couldn't wait to get back on the road! We circled Ring Road twice and went down to the Dell and did a side path. The total ride was around 5 miles. Making the day's total a whopping 15 miles.
I would say that's a success! I'm really looking forward to riding again today! And the next day and the next...
This is what bike riding should feel like.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 47: Bicycling disaster

So the title pretty much sums it up. In the words of Kate, "F*** this bike."

Last night, we went and filled up my tires and decided to go to Fairhaven on the bike path. I was super pumped for the adventure. And the bike path itself is fantastic. My new bike, however, is not. In fact, it sucks. In fact, it sucks so much that I am going to return it tomorrow.

Here's the deal: I already mentioned that the bike seat propels me forward. Still doing that today. The handlebars aren't terribly comfortable because they have a lot of grooves in them, and the fact that I'm resting on them (due to the propelling of the seat) puts grooves in my hands. Also, the bike won't shift properly. Kate and I stopped several times and experimented with the chain. It went something like this:

Me: Ok, I'm in 7th gear but it hasn't shifted.
Kate: Yeah, you're in 4th gear... let me put the chain on the the 7th gear
Me: Okay [rides two feet] [bike automatically shifts back to 4th]
Kate: [tries moving chain again] [bike automatically shifts back to 4th]
Me: Let me try putting it IN 4th gear. [nothing]
Kate: Try shifting through all of the gears? [gears 1 - 4 kind of work. other gears do not] [Kate fiddles some more with it. Cannot figure it out]

We continued on our merry way and I soon started cursing the damn bicycle and how uncomfortable it was and how it was making a weird clinking noise and how I couldn't be in the gear I wanted to be in and how the bike sucks and how I hated it, which turned into a discussion of how all of the investments I have made in my life have turned against me and nothing ever works the way it's supposed to. Damn.

Halfway through the 10 mile trek, I just couldn't take it anymore. I felt absolutely miserable. But I didn't want to end our exploration! Kate being the noble gal that she is ended up trading bikes with me. Hers is a delicious (and very expensive) road bike. It felt like riding a cloud. While I continued on, yelling "This is what a bike ride should feel like!" she trailed behind, yelking "F*** this bike!"

So it's decided. The bike is going back where it belongs and I am going to continue my quest to find a bike that's worth it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 46: Flat

Today, I went to the gym when I got out of work. I did extra work on my arms and tried to figure out how to use all of the weight machines. After that, I was going to go on the rowing machine, but someone was on it, so I did a few abs things and then did 1 mile on the elliptical.

I considered doing the treadmill or going back for more arms, but it was actually starting to get sunny out, so I ditched the indoors and headed back for my bike.

My first ride only ended up being 1.4 miles. I'm pretty disappointed. I was so eager to get on it and have a go, but was having a really difficult time with the ride. My muscles were killing me and I couldn't figure out why the ride was so tough, especially because I was in a low gear. I also haven't biked in a few days, so I thought that might be it.

As I rounded the corner, I hopped off and examined the bike and realized that my front tire was really low on air and my back tire could use some filling, too. Duh. I didn't even think to examine them before I went out for a ride. But I think that definitely accounts for my struggle. At least I hope so. I am going to go fill up the tires later this evening and I hope that tomorrow's ride is much more pleasant.

A few other things: I am having a hard time shifting into the higher gears. I went through a parking lot and slowly shifted over through all of the gears. 1-4 were perfectly fine. 5,6,7 were a bit on the fuzzy side. I would shift the gear and not feel a change at all. After a minute or so, the bike would kind of shift. I couldn't get it into 7 at all. I'm not sure if I just need to get a better feel for it or what. I might have Kate take it for a spin later tonight and let me know what she thinks.

The final disappointment has to do with the seat. It is really comfortable and squishy and has springs beneath it so I can hardly feel the road, but at the same time, I always feel like I am sliding down the damn seat. I need to figure out how to tilt it up a little bit so I don't constantly have to stand up and sit back at the highest point of the seat. It's quite agitating.

So anyway, that is my lame bike ride of the day. Let's hope tomorrow is better!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day X

Okay, so I'll admit that I took a 2 day hiatus from my regularly scheduled program. As the gym wasn't open yesterday or today and my bike was acting wonky AND I was super busy hanging out with awesome friends and doing awesome things, I'll mention that while I was certainly active, I didn't work up a sweat.

The reason for this post is to report on the newest addition to my household: one Next Avalon Cruiser.

Yes, it's true. We picked her up this evening in Fairhaven and brought her back to my humble abode. With Kate's help, she is fully assembled and tightened and proudly sporting her odometer.

She is absolutely perfect but for one minor flaw (no holes for a waterbottle mount. Drat). The wheels are a perfect hybrid between street / mountain. The seat is really comfortable and the handlebars are at the perfect height.

I can't wait to take her out for a nice long spin tomorrow. I shall report on my activity then!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 45: gym mouse

A rather temperate day today. I, yet again, wasn't unhappy to go to the gym. I started off the same as always - with 20 pound weights (4 different weight machines). I then did 15 pounds for the lower ab workout that Addie showed me how to do yesterday. After that, I did 2000m on the rowing machine (some day I will have the motivation to look up what that means), 1 mile on the bike, 1 mile on the treadmill, and only .5 miles on the elliptical. I wanted to do more, but the gym closes at 5 on Friday, so I ended up running out of time. Bummer.

I had a super fat day today. It's strange how up and down my feelings about my body can be. I have a stubborn patch of back fat (in a strange place - in between where my bra ends and my hips begin). When I stand with my shoulders back, the fat is very prominent. It's like a roll. But on my back. I hate it. When I see it, I immediately change shirts into something looser that will camouflage it.

Something I have learned is that I look much better from the front than the back. I set up my mirror on the bathroom door so that I can move the door and see my reflection in the mirror over the bathroom sink. It's really nice to be able to see what my clothes actually look like from behind. I wish I had one of those mirror set ups when I was at my heaviest... I could have avoided so much unpleasantness in my dress. Not that anyone has ever said anything to me about not dressing in a flattering way. But still. It bothers ME and that's enough.

After hiding my back fat with a cardigan, I headed to Target to kill some time before the bike specialist would be back on at Dick's. During that time, I tried on quite a few shirts and dresses and I just felt AWFUL. None of the shirts fit correctly. The dresses would look really cute from the front but hideous from the back. One dress in particular that I tried on: I LOVED it. It had a gorgeous pattern and it was strapless. Unfortunately, the back was composed of ties rather than an actual back. Needless to say, my eyes were riveted to the back fat. It looked so good from the front. Womp womp.

I'm not sure why I keep having these strange fat days. I mean, I'm on day 45 already and the scale hasn't moved. What gives? I'm eating better, I'm exercising about a thousand times more than I did before, I'm on my second month of consistent exercise and diet. And nothing. Nothing.

Sure, my muscles are getting bigger. But nothing is getting smaller.

It's depressing. And not very motivating. Throw me a bone here, body! Not that I'm going to stop working out. At the same time, I would like to just shed a few pounds and see a tangible difference when I step on the scale. And I swear on my life that those back love handles will be gone by the end of the summer. They make me hate myself.

On to a less depressing topic.

I had my bike checked out. The guy rode it around the store and then brought it outside. He couldn't figure out what was wrong with it, but COULD feel what I was describing. He ended up putting it on a bike jack and examining everything and determined that I would need a new de-railer (which will cost $40 at the least) and that the gears are starting to round off with age. He also told me that I will most likely have to start shelling out some $$$ to keep it on the road if I continue to ride it as often as I have. And he mentioned that I am doing myself a disservice by using a mountain bike primarily for road biking because mountain bikes are heavier and harder to maneuver. I already knew this and had begun researching hybrids and road bikes earlier in the day. They are way out of my price range. I am looking to spend about $100 on a bike, and hybrids begin at more than double that price. Lame.

I found one bike that seems pretty promising. It isn't a mountain bike but also isn't a road bike, though it says under the specs that it has "street tires." It has an adjustable alloy stem, which means I can adjust where the handlebars fall, which ultimately means that I can have them up high so I can sit up straight and take some of the pressure off of my shoulders and neck, which is a definite plus. It weighs 36 lbs (mine weighs about 44 lbs) and costs $99. Perfect.

So. Here it is. My future bike: Avalon 26" Cruiser

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 44: gym rat part 2

Today is another drizzly and grey day. I was joined by Addie in my gym quest! When we entered the facilities, we were delighted to see that we were the only ones there.

We started off with weights - the usual arms and legs. I watched Addie work on abs while I did 2000m on the rowing machine. She also did lunges, which I will have to try. She took a 25 pound weight and moved side to side to work her lower abs, which I tried with her guidance. The 25 pounds is a little much for me, but I definitely felt the muscles working. I think I will try this again with a lower weight - maybe 15 or 20 pounds.

After the rowing machine, I did 2 miles on the bike whilst chatting and then did 1 mile on the treadmill and then did 1 mile on the elliptical before calling it a day.

I didn't feel as energetic today as I did yesterday. But I did feel super sweaty, which I suppose is a good thing. There was also a really attractive & irritatingly skinny girl exercising near me. My jealousy fueled me to work harder. Not that I will EVER be able to look like her. But the thought of my inner thighs not touching is enough to keep me going...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 43: gym rat

Today is the perfect day to have my bike out of commission. It was cold and rainy and just generally unpleasant. If it had been gorgeous out, I would have mourned the condition of my bike, but I didn't have to! Instead, I opted for a full gym work out.

I started off with arm weights and leg weights. I then did 2000m on the rowing machine, 1 mile on the bike, 1 mile on the treadmill and 1 mile on the elliptical.

I must say that I felt really good today! I felt very energetic and very FIT. I checked myself out in the mirror and noticed that my arms are starting to gain some definition. The reps are getting easier and I may have to up the poundage (not that I'm lifting much - 20 pounds for my arms and 50 for my legs). But it's a start.

I also noticed that the fupa I had created - the very same one that used to haunt me when I worked on the rowing machine or the bike - has, in fact, shrunk. It's still there. I'm not saying that this is a total transformation or anything. My fat girl clothes are still wearable (though they ARE sagging around the ass / waist. Score). I have my skinny girl skirt tucked up in my closet waiting for me to wear it. I will reach my goal. I will reach my goal! So motivational.

No, but really. I feel good. Exercising is getting easier for me, and that was one of my primary goals. Weight loss aside, I really just wanted to feel healthy. I think the combination of having a kitchen and being able to really monitor what goes into my body in addition to the amount of exercise I have been doing are starting to catch up with my body and show it who's boss. Revelation: I am. I am the boss of my body. And it will be 20 pounds thinner and leaner and fitter by the time RA starts in mid-August. I hope.

I ended up going to Super Walmart with Kate later this evening and purchased an odometer for my bike ($10) and a water bottle rack (which came with a bottle, in case mine doesn't fit) $7. I am taking my bike in to the shop tomorrow to get it looked at. Kate convinced me to check out my other options just in case the repair is more costly than the worth. I found a pretty awesome bike for $98 and it was Kate-approved (which is important, since she's so bike-savvy!). So. If my bike ends up needing a significant investment to save its life, we are going to have to part ways. That's not a threat, but I hope the bike is listening.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 42: back on track

Today I felt really energetic! I went around Ring Road three times, circled the gym, went down to the Dell and did laps. Although I felt really tired my third time around the ring, by the time I was back near Aspen, I legitimately didn't want to stop riding. I would have kept going, perhaps back down to the Dell for more laps, but my phantom gear shift problem has really gotten worse. Now, it doesn't matter what gear I'm in...the pedal keeps kicking back every couple of seconds.

While I was in the Dell, I pulled over and inspected the chain. I was worried that it might've rusted or broken in some way - I mean, I've had the bike since I was 15, so it's been around the block. I didn't see anything that was noticeably broken or screwed up. I tried fiddling with the shifter, going from 1 to 5 and then going from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5, but no matter what pattern I shifted, the bike wasn't cooperating.

I retired my bike for the evening and decided to head over to the gym. I am absolutely going to get the bike checked out when I have a free afternoon. Hopefully the fix won't be too costly, because I'm not sure it's worth investing in. If it's over $50, it might be worth it to just get a new bike, even though I would miss this one :(

Anyway, I headed over to the gym and did four different weight machines before 2000m on the rowing machine (whatever that means) and 1 mile on the elliptical.

I am now ending my active day by sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and the final season of Daria. A good day, indeed!

Day 41: frisbike part 2

I had a very productive day on Sunday and spent most of the morning out with my mom running errands. Becca was taking her LSATs that day and wasn't home, so Hozay and I decided to go throw the frisbee. Unfortunately, it was super buggy out - which is strange, since it was a perfectly clear day. We finally grew frustrated of the swarm of gnats surrounding us and decided to go for a bike ride.

On Saturday, I felt really lethargic during our bike ride and couldn't make it up any of the hills. Hozay suggested that I try downshifting to 1 or 2 while going up a hill and mentioned that I need to approach hills with more speed. We went four times around Christopher Terrace going down hill and then shifted gears and went around four times going up the hill. I tested out the whole downshifting thing and it really did make a huge difference! I don't know why I kept resisting going into the lower gears in the first place. I was under the impression that the lower the gear, the more work my legs have to do for less results. In the case of going uphill, this actually works out.

While on our ride, I noticed that my bike isn't shifting properly. It had agitated me a little bit on Saturday, but was more prominent on Sunday. To explain: whenever I shift gears, the gear doesn't shift completely. While the tension changes, sometimes while pedaling, the gear will FEEL like it's shifting again - even when I'm not shifting the gears. The pedal will jerk and the resistance will change for a second. It really throws off my biking and makes me a bit nervous. I'm definitely going to keep my eye out for it.

Day 40: frisbike

This weekend, I headed back to West Springfield to spend some quality time with the family.

On average, I have bicicyling about 5 miles a day in addition to going to the gym, and this weekend definitely threw a curve into my typical routine. Not only did I find myself eating more over the weekend, I also found myself exercising much less.

On Saturday, my dad, Becca, Hozay and I hit the street to play a bit of Frisbee. At first, we weren't meshing well, but we kept mixing up the order of who threw to who, and eventually established a pretty decent pattern that brought us to 20 frisbee throws. I'm a consistent thrower, my dad is an enthusiastic catcher, Hozay always catches & throws well and Becca is also pretty consistent. My dad isn't the best thrower and I'm not the best catcher, so when he was throwing to me, it didn't work out well!

Becca, Hozay and I also ventured out on the bikes, and it didn't end well. The day was very overcast and storms were predicted, but we took our chances because we wanted to be outside. We went around the terrace then down to Quarry and up Prospect. We were just heading into the woods when it started pouring. As soon as we turned around to bike back, the rain stopped, but we headed home anyway. The rest of the afternoon, it was pouring on and off, so that was the end of our exercise, unfortunately.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 39: double ring

This summer, I made a list of goals (as I do pretty much every summer. And the same items pretty much always appear on every list). The two major goals I have for this summer are to a) lose 20 lbs and b) do something active every day.

The doing something active has so far worked out well for me. On average, I've been working out around 75 minutes a day - between going to the gym, going for walks and bike riding. I've been feeling really good and really fit recently, but I still haven't physically seen any results. Granted, I'm now able to zip up some pants that didn't fit me at the end of the school year, but they still don't look good. And I still don't feel good. I really want to start off the next school year feeling super confident and receiving many compliments of "Wow! You look great! Did you lose weight?" (which sometimes may seem like a backhanded compliment, implying that you didn't look good before. In my case, I really didn't look good before, so it's excused).

The point of all this is that yesterday, Kate said "Hmm I think your butt got smaller," which may not sound like a compliment to you, but knowing her bluntness, was damn good to hear on my end. I also went to visit my teachers from DHS whom I worked with last spring. I weighed less last spring, but as soon as I walked through the door, one of them said "Wow, you look really good!" to which I proudly responded that I've been biking a lot. Before we parted ways, she said "Keep biking. You look really good," again.

It felt nice to feel nice. What I'm trying to say is that honest compliments are good enough to keep me motivated, even if I don't personally feel any better about my body.

On to today's work out: I went for a 75 minute bike ride (of course) around Ring Road, first going to the left and then looping back around to the right, completing 2 full rings. Then I trailed down to the Dell and did 4 laps between the two ends. I decided to push myself and do a third ring around the road, but once I got to Lot 14, I realized I was riding super slow and the pain might not be worth the gain, so I headed back home. All in all, I probably did around 6 miles today.

I'm heading home tomorrow with bike in tow. Can't wait to go around the reservoir and hike Mt. Tom!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 38: I'm Phillin' it

This morning, Addie and I went for a walk in the Dell fields. She took me down to the pit where people normally have bonfires and it was SO nice there. Then we hiked through some back woods and found an abandoned bus and later, a partially collapsed building. I tried to make my way into the building through the back, but the whole roof was crushing the back of the house, so I definitely plan on going back there - equipped with long pants and a long sleeve shirt in order to cut through the crazy brush protecting the house - and explore it. I love that kind of stuff.

Upon our return, we decided to be good and go to the gym. I did arm weights first because there were only 2 people in the gym and I wanted to make sure to get them in today. Then I did 10 minutes of rowing and 1 mile on the elliptical.

When Addie left, I decided to go for a bike ride. It's a very hazy and humid day and my muscles were feeling a little tired, probably because I'd already worked them a bit. I decided to listen to Phil Collins' greatest hits and ride for the entire cd (18 tracks). I went the same way I had gone yesterday, taking a left out of Aspen and through the freshmen quad parking lots and around the gym and down to the Dell. I did 6 laps back and forth between one end of the Dell and the other and took a small detour back into the Dell woods, where I did a loop. By the time I was done riding, my back was hurting and I was super hungry (I hadn't eaten since breakfast), so I headed back home.

I'm really thinking I might want to obtain an odometer for my bike. I'm not sure why, but I'm really obsessed with knowing mileage. Whenever I walk somewhere, I want to know how far it is. And lately, whenever I bike somewhere, I want to know how far I've gone as well. Definitely something to look into. Hopefully they aren't very expensive.

I believe Kate and I are going to go for a walk later this evening. Let's hope the rain holds out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 37: a revelation

This morning, I started my day off right with apple juice, homemade blueberry muffins (yes, I cook, too!), grapes & a nectarine.

Once breakfast was over, I was absolutely itching to get outside and get my bike on. I left around 2 p.m. and decided to go the opposite way around Ring Road, to catch a different level of terrain. From the library on, you can't tell when driving, but there is a steady incline and, quite frankly, it's a bitch. I can't wait till the day that I am so in shape that I can bike the Ring one hundred times and not have to exert any effort.

Anyway, I have to say that this was the MOST fantastic bike ride I have ever taken. I looped around and snaked through and went up and down and down to the Dell and did laps back and forth and then decided to be adventurous and do a bit of off roading. At first, I was nervous about the rocky terrain, but my mountain bike handled it like a champ. It felt really strange to ride through the grass and dirt and rocks. At one point, I got lost and had no clue where I was, so I turned back around and went up a different path. There was one really steep & especially rocky hill in my way, so I hopped off and walked it up. As I crested the hill, to my delight, I came face to face with a wild turkey! I stood completely still and just watched it and thought "Wow. I love summer. I love biking. I LOVE LIFE." And I don't even like birds. So it must have been the remnants of a biking high.

After that, I did a few more loops around the Dell. Now, earlier in my travelers, I had run into a few friends who riding around on a golf cart pretending to do work. Our paths crossed again in the Dell, where they proceeded to pretend to run into me. Then I caught up with them again during my next loop, and they took the golf cart right into the wooded path I had earlier traversed. Finally, I ran into them again up near the Woodland Commons. Stalkers. But it made me feel proud that I had been biking for as long as they were out. In total, I biked for nearly two hours today and probably went about 7 miles. I am also planning on going to the gym this evening and doing the rowing machine, elliptical and weights.

Oh! And for lunch (because I think food is important in the scheme of healthy things. My number one summer goal is to lose 20 pounds, and I think it is totally doable. I have already lost 5 since summer started, so just 15 more to go!): half of a grilled cheese with tomato, cucumber & tomato slices, a handful of goldfish.

Life is good. So so good. I am going to be sorely disappointed when I have to go back to dorm living and people start living here again.

Day 36: afro biking

Today, I went for a leisurely 5 mile bike ride around UMD. This time, I ventured to take my ipod with me for encouragement and entertainment. Good decision.

I put Afro Celt Soundsystem on shuffle and made my way around Ring Road, through the freshmen quad and lots, around the gym, up the academic quad and around the Dell (where I spent the most time, as per usual).

On my way bike, I ended up literally bumping into Kate, who had just returned from a 2 hr bike ride while I was at work, and we went upstairs and feasted on pretzels & grapes (a delicious combination!) until she had to leave.

After she peaced, I headed over to the gym to work on the rest of my bod. I started off with doing 5 minutes on the rowing machine, then doing the bike for a mile, then doing the elliptical for a mile & then doing the rowing machine for another 5 minutes. I was going to do some weight machines, but by that time, most people had been let out of work and were huffing and puffing away in the weight area, so I decided to duck out.

When I returned home, I prepared myself a delicious (and strange) salad consisting of: avocado, radish, soy beans, tomato, scallions, parsley, cucumber, mozzarella, sunflower seeds, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. SO good.

Also, do you remember my quest for the perfect water bottle? I ended up ordering the Klean Kanteen pop cap : and liked it, but for one thing - it leaked. Profusely. See, underneath that little cover is a tab that pops up for drinking and down for resting. For some reason, when the cover is connected to the tab and shifts, it opens the tab, causing water to leak. So I've relinquished that waterbottle to the cup holder in my car and started my search all over again. In one of my journeys to Dick's Sporting Goods, I stumbled across a Nathan stainless steel 700 mL flip straw bottle and fell. in. love. , proceeding to order one from

This is it, ladies & gentlemen, THE perfect waterbottle. Behold:
Admire its perfect size and shape, the securely fastened cover, the built in carabiner, the straw (that folds over, thus cutting off water from leaking out of it) when not in use. Yes, this is truly a thing of beauty. I don't even use normal glasses anymore. Why would I when I can drink water from this glorious invention?
The short of it: I definitely recommend this bottle to anyone and everyone who likes water & traveling with it.