My Heart Will (Probably) Go On…

For a Phat cyclist, cardiovascular exercise can be a foreign experience–like learning a new language, or walking on your hands instead of your feet. So, needless to say, my heart has often been none too pleased to get a decent cardio workout. I envision its reaction as being akin to this:

But, I can’t really blame it, considering that I’ve let it grow lazy and ornery for so long.

Now that I’ve started cycling, however, things have begun to change . Of course, I’m still out of shape; but I actually feel GOOD after workouts. Not only that, but I’ve begun to crave it more and more.  I know it may sound crazy, but I feel great after giving my heart a little workout. It’s invigorating and, in my opinion, better than a cup of coffee.

::waits patiently for coffee lovers to spurn me::

Good, now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, I’ll move on.

So, the other fun thing that happened to me today occurred on my way back upstairs in the elevator. One of my neighbors, seeing me in my low quality cycling gear, mistook me for a Fit Person. (Shocking, I know?) They invited me to some fun run/bike thing they host every Saturday morning. Naturally, my first self-deprecating reaction was to inform them that I was, in fact, not a Fit Person–that there had been some horrible mistake:

But then, after some more awkward rambling, I realized that there was no point in arguing it. As they say: ‘fake it ’til you make it’. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the ride.

Temptation, thy Name is PIZZA

Eating pizza is my birthright.

(Alright, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic; but I’m a dramatic person, okay?)

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I was born in New York; and part of being born in New York is having a near-obsessive love of pizza, bagels, and Chinese food. Growing up, I saw nothing wrong with this passionate fixation preference. But, now as I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle, it’s been tough, to say the least.

Anyway, this weekend, I gave in and ate pizza. So, you may be thinking, no big deal. Correction: it would be ‘no big deal’ if I hadn’t ate four slices.

Yup, you read that right: Four slices.

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So anyway, the natural step after such a (not-so-uncommon-relapse) would be the shame spiral. You know, the one where you berate yourself, pout, and then eat even more because-what’s-the-point-god-darnit).

Well, I’m proud to say I did NOT spiral. (Sure, it would have been better if I hadn’t quasi-gorged myself on pizza in the first place, but small steps. Small steps.)

Now on to exercise. (Yes, I actually did workout this weekend). It was raining pretty heavily, so I forgo-ed cycling) and hit the gym. I’m happy to say that even though my arms are still strengthless noodles I can already see a difference! I’ve increased the weights on pretty much every machine I use. And, even my free-weight time was less agonizing than usual.

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Just in case I was feeling too good about myself, I humbled myself by attempting some situps.

Yeah, so…

Small steps.

Did Halloween Come Early…? No, I just Lack Fashion Sense

So, I wore this today:

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While, at first, it seemed like a perfectly sufficient cycling top, about five minutes into my ride I  suddenly realized that I looked eerily similar to a pumpkin riding a bicycle. Or perhaps, to be more accurate, a person who had been swallowed by a pumpkin whilst riding a bicycle. Either way, it made me silently cry inside chuckle.

(But, hey, at least my socks were mismatched again; so I had some ‘street cred’).

Now back to actual cycling. I’m still pretty slow and out of shape. My goal for the moment is just to ride about twenty minutes at a time and try not to topple over. Ambitious, I know! But, as someone who has tried and failed at many exercises in the past, I’ve learned something: If my workout is not fun, I will not keep it up.

(Genius concept, huh?)

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This is the reason that my attempts at running and elliptical workouts have failed me. I simply do not have the willpower to persist in exercises that I find to be agonizing. So I’m taking a slow, fun approach to cycling, so that every time I go out I feel accomplished, yet also entertained. It’s not too hard, since cycling is an inherently fun sport (think back to your childhood!).

Also, for anyone interested…[crickets], here’s the beginner cycling plan I’m following. (I doubt I’ll actually be cycling an hour to an hour and a half anytime soon, though): http://www.zest.co.uk/cycling/20-week-cycle-training-plan/2771.html

Strike (an awkward) Pose

Once in a blue a moon, everyone has one of those days. You know, the ones where you get a ton of compliments on your appearance? (No? Yeah, well it’s been a while for me, too!)

For whatever reasons yesterday–though, I suspect that it was due in large part to finally finding a pair of jeans that actually still fit me–a lot of people commented on my weight loss. Of course, being the polite, faux-haumble person that I am, I casually brushed off their comments. Yet, in my mind, I was definitely doing this as I walked off:

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When you’re a Phat person, you’ve got to seize the moment 😉

So on to actual exercise. Since I’ve gained a shred wealth of knowledge in my few weeks of being physically active, I thought I’d share a couple of things I’ve learned. I’ll entitle this segment, Words of (Limited) Wisdom:

1) Always check the forecast: Even if you live in Memphis and it was beautiful outside yesterday, there’s still a chance that you’ll face near-glacier winds when  you stroll out of your apartment in shorts and a tee shirt.

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2) Even if you can only lift about ten pounds in free weights, don’t be discouraged. The important thing is how big the the end of the weights make your efforts appear to be. Exhibit A: The oversized  10 pound weights in my apartment’s gym:

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4) Never, I repeat, never match your socks. It’s much cooler to frantically sort together clean sports shocks three seconds before you leave your door:

Exhibit B: My workout socks for today (One of them is actually brand name!)

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4) Finally, have FUN. I know fun and exercise can seem to be oxymorons sometimes; but honestly, when you take it slow, you’ll be amazed how invigorating and encouraging it is. In reality, I may be doing this:

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But, in my mind, I’m doing this:

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(Minus the multicolored doo-rag)

And, at the end of the day, isn’t that all that really matters?

(Non)Blazing Saddles

Before I embarrass myself, let me start off with some good news (mostly):  None of my pants fit me.

Now, normally for a Phat* person that would be a  bad thing–and, indeed, for most of my life it has been. But, in this new phase of life, it’s actually pretty great. All my pants are too BIG. Too big for the Big Girl.

Yeah…take a while to let that sink in:

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So, yeah, I’m feeling pretty ‘rad’ right now (am I bringing ‘rad’ back?–I’m not sure; but I think I’m trying to bring that back.) The downside is that none of my pants fit me and I’m a quasi-broke graduate student.

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Still, a small price to pay for health, in my opinion.

[*I’ll write more about my use of Phat later. But suffice to say that it’s my positive way of looking at my weight loss journey]

Now, on to the less stellar part of this day. (But, just as with pants thing, it’s a double-edged sword). Bad news first this time: I could only cycle for 15 minutes today on my road bike. I know, I know, hold the applause.

Honestly getting used to the toe clips, raging saddle discomfort, and new riding position wears me out, too. But mostly it’s my lack of cardiovascular conditioning. But, here’s the thing. I don’t mind it. I mean, of course, it would be great to just jump on my bike and ride a century. But what would be the fun of being a Phat cyclist and tracking my weight loss testimony if I were already fit?

Confusing, right? I know.

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But it makes sense to me, so bygones.

Anyway, it will be fun to look back on these posts when I actually can ride for a decent amount of time!

As I Lay (Near) Dying

So, I tried to do a pushup today. That’s not a typo, by the way–I literally mean that I tried to do one pushup. Needless to say, the struggle is REAL.

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But, hey, when you’re a Big Girl, you’ve got to take little steps.

The rest of the morning was less demoralizing…well, kind of. I went for a walk on my beautiful River Walk path, and discovered some unexpected obstacles. Not metaphorical obstacles–literal obstacles…

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Anyway, after I discovered that (OBVIOUSLY) the park was being shut down for some amazing event which I had not been informed of/invited to, I headed in the opposite direction.

My good fried “LaToya” called me and we had a wonderful chat, as usual. Even better, I somewhat accidentally inspired her to take a walk. Look at me: an exercise evangelist…erm, not really; but it was fun.

Got in another weight lifting workout today, which was (painful) fun as usual. There were a bunch of other fit people working out so I felt really “hardcore.” Until I went to do free weights and literally used 10 and 5 pounds weights while the guy next to me was pretty much bench pressing school buses whilst whistling.

Small Steps.

Of Geese and Men

WOW. That’s all I can say. Spent a beautiful day at Shelby Farms enjoying a road bike and then a nice walk. I accidentally went on Earth Day; so there was more than a little traffic.

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But, all in all, it was a wonderful surprise.

It also made me think about how I had been spending Saturdays while I was depressed/anxious: locked up inside, sleeping most of the day away, and eating and feeling bad.

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Now, I woke up, drove 20+ mins away and exercised. I was able to appreciate my surroundings and discover some great facts at the Earth Day fair.

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Now, to the biking. It was SOOOOO fun. I have a pretty low-grade entry level road bike with 14 speed, stem shifters. But, even with the lack of technology it was a blast. The feel of the wind passing by me, my legs cycling in rhythm, the accomplishment of exercise.

It was also HARD. No wonder cyclists are so skinny and fit. I just cycled about 15 minutes, but the continuous cycling (with the toe clips), wore me out. Which is great–because I want the cardiovascular workout. Even more, I was surprised by the strain on my upper body. I’ll really need to ramp up my weight training for that area–and maybe actually focus on just upper body stuff primarily. So that being said, I think I’ll stick with the slower workout plan 🙂

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Anyway, back to exploring things I wouldn’t have before. Shelby Farms was BEAUTIFUL. Just epic and peaceful with a really gentle breeze. There were these beautiful geese like creatures grazing the area as well. (Even better, they did not attack me like I’ve experienced in the past!)

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Plus, it was cute to see all the families and kids playing on the earth day lot.

I also saw a couple of other Phat cyclists; and that made me smile 🙂

Here are some other pics:

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