“These are my CONFESSIONS!”

(If I’m gonna tell it, then I gotta tell it all

Damn near cried when I saw that scale tot-AL)

So, it’s time to come clean! After weighing myself after a 10 day vacation in the Virgin Islands (!!), I was confronted by some cold hard facts:

1) Island men are pretty, but I digress…

2) Not only have I not lost a single pound since taking on my summer job, but–after a week filled with red meat and mojitos–I managed to gain about 3 pounds.

3) I’m getting kind of out of shape. Not the same crying-desperate-tears-of-shame-at-the-top-of-the-second-flight-of-stairs out of shape I used to be, but still; I could be doing a lot better.

For instance, before I went on vacation, I went for two bike rides. And, man, it almost felt like I was riding for the first time again. Granted, my new path is much hillier and unpredictable than my old one, but there’s no excusing-away the serious huffing I was doing.

When it comes down to it, as proud of myself as I am for not going into a complete food-spiral, it’s time to put up or shut up. Ever since I met my birthday goal of 28 pounds on June 13th, I’ve pretty much been coasting.

And, while I’m really proud of myself for my new body, I know I have a LOT of work to do before I’m in good shape.

So, that being said, I have new goals (look forward to the new side-bar count down clocks!)

Goals

1) 29 by 29: (Creative, right! 😉 ). So, I need to lose about 30 pounds to be at my overall goal weight. While, it will take work, I think that if I stick to cycling, other work outs, and my healthy eating goals, it should be doable. If I achieve this weight, I’ll be lighter than I’ve been since probably high school.

2) Size 10 by ’14: I’ve been sitting on the edge of a size twelve now for about a month. I’d like to be able to park my ‘junk in the trunk’ in them without popping off a button (true story!) by January.

3) Sign Up for a Race and actually do it!: So, I’ve been procrastinating about this cycling race thing for far too long. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about a real race, just one of those fun rides or charity races, etc.

So, yeah, there it is. I actually feel very optimistic about them, because I love setting goals. Now…actually reaching them….? We’ll see.

Much love,

Big Girl

P.S. I promise that blog about beating two pre-teens on the basketball court will come out soon 😉 Prepare to be “impressed”.

“We’ve Come to the ENNND of the Road (Ride)”

(*Actual depiction of me crying to my bike after my first flat on Friday).

(**For those of you wondering if the endless onslaught of racing puns will ever end, I’ll answer with this:

“Why didn’t the bike cross the road? It was two-tired”

So, yeah, NO.)

The shop finally finished my bike the other day and, needless to say, I was thrilled!

I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to get something. And, I would have felt a little embarrassed about my raging, uncontainable euphoria enthusiasm if weren’t for the fact that I was out of my mind with happiness. To give myself some credit, I did calm down long enough to pretend to play hardball with shop. I was adamant that I would not pay for the bike until I test-rode it (I’d already ridden an older version previously). ‘Cause, you know, I’m so knowledgeable about bikes I would really be able to know if something were wrong.

image

So after acting like I had any real bike sense, I took it for a ride, wet myself a little with joy felt satisfied with the final product and took that baby home.

This is where things began to go downhill. But I’ll postpone the bike drama in favor of basking in the glory of my purchase.

First, as promised in my last post, I wanted to take some time to compare the “tiny” differences between my new bike (Trek Lexa SL) and my old bike (won’t embarrass the company by sharing the name).

Here’s a simple chart to sum up the main differences:

But, in case, that’s still not straightforward enough, I’ll explain them in more detail 😉

Frameset

Frame

  • Trek (Yet to be Named): 100 Series Alpaha Aluminum
  • Buffy: Amalgamation of old Pepsi cans and concrete.

Fork

  • Trek: Trek carbon road
  • Buffy: Spork molded out of solid lead

Drivetrain

Shifters

  • Trek: Shimano Tiagra STI, 10 speed
  • Buffy: -15 speed, with stem shifters.

Misc. Components

Saddle

  • Trek: Bontrager Affinity 1 WSD, steel rails
  • Buffy: Wooden seat covered with glass shards

Appearance

This section deserves it’s own mini-paragraph. Any woman who’s ever taken an interest in cycling can bemoan the dreadful–and, indeed, often, insulting–styles of women-specific bikes. I’m talking pink flowers and rainbows and unicorns. Or, perhaps even worse, if the company’s especially lazy, they’ll just take the super-cool looking male version of the bike and then strip it of all color/creativity and make a grey version. It drives me INSANE.

image

For instance, here was the standard version of the bike I got (no offense to those who like these types of bikes):

Observe all the pretty, pretty flowers! Oh, yeah, and the wonderful white seat and handlebars, because, OF COURSE, those are the perfect parts of a bike to be white.

So, needless to say, I was jazzed to move up from Buffy, which basically looked like a pink and white toddler’s bicycle with drop-style handlebars, to my new bike. (The darn handlebar tape is still white though!)

Now on to the not-so-great news: Literally within five blocks of gliding blissfully on my new bike, I got a flat!

It actually took me about ten seconds to register this–I think I was in denial.

Surely, surely, I’m just cycling over a rough patch. Because, god knows this brand new bike I just spent all my money on doesn’t ALREADY have a flat!

image

So, yes, after having ridden my old, crappy bike countless times with no flats or any problems, I only made it about two seconds into my new bike before the tire blew out. This totally makes sense. Totally.

image

Sigh. Anyway, after overcoming my frustrations, I went back to the shop to get it repaired. On the plus side, everyone was super friendly and the mechanic even let me watch over him so I could get a tutorial on fixing a flat (something I should have probably known to do before anyway!)

This is post is already gigantic, so I’ll end here and give you all an update my more successful rides later 🙂

Much love,

Big Girl

Next Up:

More Biking Misadventures

How Fitness Has Changed My Life AKA Beating Tween Boys on the Basketball Court and other Victories

Heeeeeeereeeeee’s Big Girl

(Gif may or may not accurately represent me after being rudely awakened in the morning!)

So, yeah….its been a while. I probably should have called. Or you know, at least texted.

The truth is, the last two months of my life have been hellacious. I took on this summer job which I thought would be the best thing ever. Yet, instead, I found myself saying…

The only bright spots I can take away from this stress-inducing summer are:

1) I survived:

In the words of Antwone Fisher in that Denzel movie, “I’m still here; I’m still standing!” ::cries emotionally whilst huddled in a corner::

2) I maintained my weight loss (-30 pounds). Of course, by now I was hoping to look like this:

But, I’m actually proud of myself for not letting this deeply draining and stressful period send me into a food spiral. (That’s been the pattern in the past). While, of course, I wish I’d spent more time on the bike–and blogging–it’s still progress.

3) And, most freakin’ importantly. I’m getting a new bike! So apparently WORKING does have it’s benefits, even if your job is a moderately decorated hell-hole! I saved up enough pennies money to buy an actual, legitimate road bike. (Well, legitimate for ME, not for those who are used to riding gold-encrusted, carbon helicopters 😉 )). Those who read my blog back when, you know, I was actually still updating, are familiar with my not-so-subtle jabs at my bike’s suckiness. But, hey “Buffy” did the trick. It introduced me to cycling and got me into relative shape. Now, I’m excited to waste my hard-earned cash buy this pretty thing:

1490

(Trek Lexa SL)

Sure, I may starve from poverty, but at least that should increase my race time!

I’ll post more later about the bike specs compared to Buffy (prepare the lols) as well as my first official ride on this beaut once it’s finished being built.

Much love to you all and sorry for the long hiatus!

Big Girl

P.S. Any name suggestions for the bike? I’m trying to avoid Buffy 2.0, but will go there if necessary!

Big Girl’s Guide to Useful (and Useless) Workout Gear

Part of the fun (or futility) of a more active lifestyle is the gear. Even before I began working out, I remember looking longingly at those Super Fit people strolling about. You know, the ones that are so fit and important that they don’t even have time to change from their exercise clothes before going to the grocery store, bank, etc. (You can usually find the biggest culprits in the sports nutrition aisle of the grocery store, staring scientifically at exercise bars). I promised myself a while back while looking at one such Super Fit person at Whole Foods, that I, too, would be super obvious about my fitness one day. Maybe even on days I wasn’t working out, I’d still just strut around in spandex and stare at PowerBars in the grocery store.

All this goes to say that I really like fitness gear of all types (e.g. clothing, gadgets, stretchy band-like concoctions with no discernible purposes). Accordingly, this quasi-useful post will center around my misadventures with exercise gear.

CLOTHING

All Big People know the frustration of trying to find workout apparel that fits you. Especially, when I first began working out, I often felt like this when I tried to squeeze slip into trendy outfits I saw other exercisers wearing:

And don’t even get me started on the perils of finding cycling apparel for Big People! (Seriously, don’t, I hadn’t planned on going into detail about that in this particular post).

Here are some useful and useless tips I’ve picked up:

Oversized Larger Clothing

Perhaps one of most important things about working out when you’re a Big Person is finding clothing that makes you comfortable. This is huge, because if you feel overly self-conscious, you are not likely to leave your front door, let alone jog or bike in front of others. You will probably have to get a little creative with your options if you–like I did–have a lot of weight to shed at first.

For instance, I remember strutting into the women’s fitness section in Target and staring glassily into the sea of booty shorts workout shorts and tanks. It doesn’t matter how many “XXs” are in front of the label when the shorts only come down to your hip bone–you won’t be comfortable! I finally sucked up my pride and ventured into the men’s fitness section. (You can pretend you’re shopping for your fabulous, Shemar-Moore-shaped hubby, if that makes you feel better  ;)). They may not have been the most fashionable, but they were functional.

One of my favorite options are the oversized tanks that somehow manage to swallow me whole and yet still be somewhat indecent at the same time!

oversizedtank

(More astute readers will notice my toe, another gradual clue to my super-secret identity, in the bottom corner).

DIY (Destroy it Yourself)  

Of course, you can always get even more creative and spruce up your own apparel. For example, instead of the odd-fitting tanks, I tried to just cut out the sleeves on a tee that I found generally comfortable:

destroyityourselftee

(The shredded remains of a former workout tee after I ‘fixed’ it)

Needless to say, ‘results may vary’ at first; but keep at it. With some patience and cheap tees, you can find fun ways to make yourself feel cuter in workout clothes.

GADGETS

I love gadgets. Which is a bit unfortunate since I’m not currently fit enough to justify purchasing some of those ridiculous, over-priced ones on the market (e.g. the invisible, underwater, gold-encrusted heart rate monitors). In the mean time, I entertain myself with cheap to mid-range gadgets that both amuse and/or help me out.

ipodmini

(I-pod mini shuffle–perpetually tangled headphones not included)

You can get one of these for less than 40 bucks a pop and they’re super convenient. Just clip it to your over sized tank and go for a jog.

hitechwaterbottle
(‘Super Hi-tech’ Water Bottle that may or may not Filter Water for You)
 

kidbikebell

(Child Bike Bell)

To be honest, I’ve still yet to determine how useful these are, as they seem to either shock or mystify pedestrians on bike trails. But, at least it makes my bike look ‘super kewt’.

NUTRITION

gatorade prime

(Tasty, but probably unnecessary ‘fuel’ for a leisurely 10 minute stroll and then nap)

I’ll go into this more in a later post, but to suffice to say there are TONS of delightful ways to waste money (and calories!) on super-scientific sports supplements. Maybe it’s just me, but, for some reason, when I started working out, I assumed I should suddenly start eating like an elite athlete. You know, all the trendy sports gels and bars without giving up the french fries, etc.

What I’ve learned, however, is that unless you are working out for hours or doing some serious weight training, there’s really no need for anything besides a bottle of water and a light, healthy, snack afterwards. Even now, after a really tough (for me!) workout session at the gym, I’ll just grab 8 ounces of chocolate milk and some fruit afterwards. No need to get fancy…yet.

Maybe one day, after I really am Super Fit and running marathons (psyche!) or something I’ll update this with actual hi-tech gadgets, etc. But, for the Average Jo/anna, all you really need is a smile and/or grimace, some water, and some determination to make it through.

Happy Trekking!

Dream a Little Dream

As a Big Girl, it’s important to lose weight–obviously. The “Oh, it must be muscle weight” arguments can only get you so far.

Yet, at the same time, there are going to be times in your fitness journey when you won’t lose weight. Eating four slices of pizza (read: me), plateaus, or, indeed, sometimes actually muscle weight can slow down the progress on the scale. And, as many of you know, there are few things more frustrating than following your weight loss plan, exercising frequently, and then seeing the same weight at the end of the week.

This was the case for me this previous week, when I strongly suspect that the new introduction of weightlifting in addition to a fun visit from (cover your eyes, males!) Aunt Flow kept my weight exactly the same. I was pretty bummed, to say the least. For a moment, I was downright discouraged. But a little pep talk from my big sister helped me view things in a new light. It was from this moment of temporary discouragement that this post topic was born: “Other Ways to Measure Progress besides the Scale.”

1) Measurements / Clothes Size

This is somewhat obvious, and yet at the same time, often overshadowed by scale-obsession. I am friends with a fitness instructor, for instance, who weighs about fifteen pounds more than her friends who look the same size as her. I was honestly shocked when she told me her weight, because she looks so fit. But, that’s the point. In her words, “I’d pick being lean and fit over the smaller weight any day.”

So, when you’re feeling a little discouraged about your weight on any particular week, try focusing on the old jeans that don’t fit anymore or the that ‘tight-fitting’ shirt that’s hanging off of you.Then, you can confidently strike a pose:

2) Fitness Tests/ Markers

There are two main points to be made here. One, fitness tests are another way, in addition to weight loss, to track improvement of your physical health. For instance, I can only do about three pushups now–but considering I could do exactly ZERO pushups a few weeks ago, I know my upper body strength is improving. Similarly, when I first got my road bike a couple of weeks ago, I could barely make it fifteen minutes on the bike before giving in. Today, I just road 40 minutes without feeling the same aches in my arms, bum, lungs, that I felt at first. These are important ways to stay encouraged and mark your progress.

Secondly, I find it really enjoyable to challenge myself during workouts. I compete against myself and plot throughout afternoon lulls ways that I can improve my next workout. It’s a really fun, healthy distraction that helps keep you from fixating on food.

3) General Health Improvements

One of the (read: many) red flags for me before I started my fitness program was the fact that walking a few flights of stairs would leave me winded. The other day, I realized that I could not remember the last time I felt worn out by the steps in my school, or even had given the walk a thought. What used to be an embarrassing obstacle for me is now nothing but an afterthought.

Also, as I mentioned in my last posts, I’ve seen improvements in my general mood and happiness. These changes would be worth the exercise on their own.

4) Personal Goals

Last, but not least, set goals for yourself. Small and Big. Here are some of my personal ones for example:

Short Term Goals

a) 28 for 28: I want to lose 28 pounds total (including what I’ve lost before, of course) before my 28th birthday in June and/or be in a size 14 again.

b) Riding my bike for an hour: I may actually accomplish this this weekend–we’ll see!

c) I’m currently searching for a (very short) fun ride for cycling to motivate me during workouts.

Longer Term Goals

a) I want to feel comfortable in a bathing suit for the first time in years.

b) I’d like to ride a century race (i.e. 100 miles)

Grander (Ridiculous) Goals

a) Have Shemar Moore and Justin Chambers duel for my love.

b) End World Hunger (have to throw in an altruistic one, I guess).

All I do is ‘Spin’

All is well in Big Girl land.

Yesterday, I discovered that there was an entrance to the Shelby Farms Greenline merely miles from my home. [For those of you who, like me, weren’t born in Memphis, the SFG is a wonderful multi-use path that spans six miles and then connects to the largest urban park in the country. So, yeah, it’s kind of a ‘thing’.]

In large part due to being a Memphis ‘noob’, I hadn’t realized that I could access the Greenline so easily. Accordingly, I had been planning on making the approximately 25/30 minute drive on the weekends to Shelby Farms, and then spending the rest of my cycling days playing a thrilling, yet somewhat horrifying, version of Frogger on the downtown Memphis roads.

Frogger

(actual footage of my past morning rides*)

(*okay, not really)

So, needless to say, I was a wee bit excited when I made this discovery. Exhibit A: I despise mornings–yet, I still only slightly grumbled bounced out of bed excited to go check out the path this morning.

It did not disappoint. I have to give a lot of credit to the Shelby Farms foundation, because they’ve done a wonderful job of putting together a beautiful path. It’s not just a basic slab of concrete haphazardly paved through a disaster area. Quite the opposite, the path is well-kept, spacious, surrounded by shade and sometimes breathtaking scenery. Further–as I hinted at before–it leads to the even more beautiful Shelby Farms park. And, of course, I totally rode the whole path and back*

(*Not an accurate depiction of the morning’s events)

Another fun part about riding the Greenline was seeing my fellow fitness comrades. Seeing the cyclists was, obviously, the best part. I finally got to do that ‘super cool’ mini hand wave to those riding in the opposite direction. And, when a super sporty racer blazed by me passed me, I got to exchange some awkward, quick small talk, too. Also, before he disappeared like lightning before my very eyes, I enjoyed pretending that I was not too far behind him.In all seriousness, it was nice to feel somewhat a part of a greater cycling community. I’m painfully far from being group ride ready, so, for now, it’s a nice treat.

Passing the joggers was also fun, but for different reasons. Let me qualify the following statements by clarifying that I have nothing against runners; I just don’t like running. I’m sure I’d love it if I were super fit already or something. But, I’m currently not a fan (unless I’m being chased by a demon from the pit of the Underworld. Or Jack Nicholson–he just creeps me out and I suspect I’d run from him if  ever our paths crossed).

(How could this face not horrify you?)

So, that being said, I just love speeding past them and remembering how much more I enjoying cycling than trying to suffer through a jog. Plus, considering how slow I am at the moment, they are pretty much the only things I can speed past. Also, I got to try out my shiny, ‘high tec’ bike bell. (Although I’m still debating how useful this is. When I hit it, a few people just seemed slightly startled and/or confused, yet never looked back as if expecting a bike to come from behind them).

Finally, I was also reminded why I feel safer on a bike than jogging/walking on these bike paths. They are safe and well kept, but there are still stretches where conceivably someone could try to jump out and grab you, etc. I feel better knowing I’m moving fast enough to avoid some of that hazard. Also, I passed this crazy looking, wild cat from the forest and was incredibly glad I was spinning away on two wheels instead of jogging at the time.

Basically, it was just  a wonderful, breathtaking (in both senses of the word) experience. It made me even gladder that I chose to get a road bike. And, for some reason–probably because I got caught up in the fun of it all–I was able to ride longer than usual (a ‘whopping’ 30 mins!)

I know, I know, hold your applause! 😉

Here are some (low quality) pics:

shelbyfarmsgreenline2 shelbyfarmsgreenline1

Up Next: Why Big Girls Need to Measure Progress by More than just Weight

Progress, Sweet, Progress

One of the hardest parts about being a Big Person is that, at first, everything is so difficult for you. You can’t fit your clothes. You can’t run. You can’t lift a dumbbell if your very soul depended on it. That’s why, for me, the hardest part of my weight loss journey so far continues to be the first few weeks. While, yes, you may lose a few pounds to start off, it’s rarely quick enough. There’s very few workouts you can do for very long and often you feel self-conscious doing them in front of others. To top it all off, you’re hungry and therefore a raging lunatic a bit crabby.

Besides repeating cliche mantras like ‘One Step at a Time’ , it can be very hard to find the motivation to trek on. Especially since your main source of comfort (read: food) is being limited.

Inspired yet?

image

Well, keep reading; because it doesn’t all suck. It turns out that the cliches are true and if you somehow manage to keep your large feet moving one small step at a time, one day you’ll wake up and look in the mirror and go, “Woah!”

That’s my story, at least. I feel that it’s actually only been the last couple of weeks (since starting my weight loss journey around January) that I’ve seen these seemingly sudden and exciting signs of progress. All the months of small steps and small pounds and big, big weights are paying off. And, how dearly I wish I could go back and tell my former, much heftier self in January, “Thanks–keep going–it will be worth it!”

Unfortunately, time travel is still–as far as I’m aware–impossible. So, I’ll settle for trying to encourage others to keep on trekking, because all your work WILL pay off–even when you inevitably if you stumble a bit along the way.

Here are a few of my recent moments of pride from the last month or so:

1) I feel happy! I’ll write more about my previous state of depression/anxiety in another post, but suffice to say, a year ago I was in a dark place. I felt hopeless, plagued with fear and anxiety, like a failure. I used to sleep away days, just to distract myself from the pain I felt inside. Exercise–and, to be quite honest, therapy!–has really changed that for me. I feel energized, invigorated, alive, and happy. I feel like, for the first time in a long time, that I finally get the joy of life again.

2) Confidence: Despite the many few moments of being humbled (e.g. lifting only 10 pounds, failing to do a pushup), my confidence has sky rocketed. I feel good about myself, inside and out. I love weighing in (most weeks!) and I generally have a much sunnier disposition.

3) Weight loss (of course): This is what we’ve all come here for. Like I said, I’ve been losing weight slowly, probably a pound or two a week. So, often it can be hard to notice that I’m making any progress. But lately, I’ve been noticing the change–and so have others! People who haven’t seen me in months are shocked and congratulate me. Old business suits that I used to have to literally force myself into (sometimes with the help of someone else!) are now hanging off of me like sweat pants. It’s a wonderful feeling!

4) Strength and fitness: If you’ve been following my blog (crickets), you may be aware of my epically demoralizing struggles with pushups, dumbells, etc. But, I’ve been seeing progress in these areas as well recently, which is really, really encouraging. Even on my bike, my arms don’t hurt from the strain of supporting my body anymore. I’m breathing easier. And, perhaps most importantly, my bum has adjusted to the seat. (I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not–have some nerves in my rear end died? lol)

So, this post has gotten much longer than I intended it to be. But, honestly it’s a good day, I feel glad to be alive, and it’s nice to see the progress after months of work.