Bike Shorts are a Girl’s Best Friend

A large bug hit me square in the face while I was cycling yesterday. This isn’t what my post is about, but I found myself so utterly taken aback by the experience, I had to write about it. That is all.

So the other day I did that thing that I’m always making fun of Super Fit people for doing: I went grocery shopping in my workout apparel. Even worse, I strutted around  the health food aisles in my ‘ever-so-flattering-bike shorts’ and felt self-important. You know, the usual.

After I stopped laughing at myself about this, something occurred to me: I haven’t touched upon the subject of Bike “fashion” yet. (Astute readers will notice that I put fashion in quotation marks, because biking apparel is ridiculous, expensive, and did I mention ridiculous? But, to other cyclists you will seem super kewl!)

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The Bike Itself

Go on to any cycling forum and you’ll find what I refer to as “Bike Porn”. Literally pages and pages of pictures of road bikes. Road bikes leaning against a shed. Road bikes leaning against an apartment wall. Road bikes sending you ‘come-hither’ looks as they lean against a rack.

You know, really titillating stuff.

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The thing is cyclists love drooling over bikes. It’s almost as fun (and pretentious!) as riding your $10,000 roadie down the street. Seriously, sometimes I literally just stare at by bike leaning against the wall for a few minutes. This is a thing that I actually do.

Head-ware

Protecting one’s skull has never been sexier! I never realized how intricate helmets could get until I entered my local bike shop (LBS). Back in the olden days, when I rode my bike as a child, you just sort of grabbed a slab of plastic and crammed it on your head. And, that’s if you even wore a helmet at all.

Now they’ve got super-duper vents! Aerodynamic designs! Plastic cranks to adjust the fit!

Even weirder, is that–unlike in pretty much every other sphere of society–it’s actually COOL to wear a helmet. Mind-blowing, really.

Shirts, Jerseys, and Bibs, oh my!

Perhaps the most hilarious thing about cyclists is that we don’t seem to realize how ridiculous we look. Like at all. While normal homo sapiens people see a cacophony of bright colors, Cat Woman-esque spandex, and probably way more of our derrieres than they’d ever desire, we see pure fashion.

I mean, sure, technically the bright colors prevent us from becoming road kill and bike shorts keep our buttocks from permanently callousing, but let’s be real: It’s kind of fun to be so goofy and self-important at once. Do I really need to wear a professional cycling jersey and biker-gloves on my recovery ride? Probably not. But, then how would every one be able to gawk at me admire my sense of style?

Bottoms

Although I touched a bit on this already, bike shorts really do deserve their own section. First, in our defense, let me reiterate again, how awesomely effective they are. They’re super comfortable and help avoid chaffing in places that you never, ever want to chafe. Further, anyone who’s ridden on those skinny, hard bicycle saddles for more than ten milliseconds would be willing to throw her wallet at them. Trust me.

But….yeah, that’s about as much as I can defend these things.

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I mean, they’re essentially the equivalent of wearing Spanx or super-long boxer briefs out in public. Even more, the padding leaves this really ‘sexy’ diaper-like shape on your backside.

The Gear

(A cyclist’s response to whether he has purchased everything necessary to ride)

Cyclists are essentially scrawnier, tackier versions of Batman. They run around in uber-expensive, skin tight apparel, and yield flashy gadgets. And, sure, Batman saves lives or whatever, but does he get to wear cleats?

Seriously, it is a-mazing the amount of gadgetry you can amass in cycling. Considering that I am both a beginner and a quasi-broke graduate student, my arsenal is a bit thin. But, there is an endless series of gear you can buy. Bike computers, tool kits, overly complex watches and heart-rate monitors, hydration packs…the list goes on.

And, to top it all off, you get wear super-trendy shades. (No, really, wear shades, because bugs can and will hit you in the face).

So, the next time you see a cyclist’s rearend as he’s spinning down the road, remember: We only look ridiculous to 99 percent of the world. The rest of mankind thinks we look pretty snazzy 😉

Much love,

Big Girl

“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”.

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:

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(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!

Don’t Call it a Comeback (No, Seriously, Don’t)

This was a bizarre week. It was awful on most discernible levels and, yet, at the end of it, I’ve lost a couple of pounds.

THE BAD (AND–WHY THE HECK NOT?–THE UGLY)

(See how I like to start things out positively?)

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“Allergies”

I am one of those people with chronic allergies. You know, the ones who never know (read: accept) when they are actually sick and not just suffering from seasonal allergies? Hence, I’d been strolling about (coughing, sneezing, fatigued), late last week, claiming, “Oh, no, I’m fine. Don’t move away. Just allergies, you know.”

This continued up until Monday afternoon, when my coworkers and boss basically told me in the kindest way possible to “GTFO” before I infected them with whatever plague I was carrying.

It was an awful, weird feeling. (And I’m still not completely sure what I had, since, due to it ‘only be allergies’ and believing I ‘just needed to sleep it off’, I never went to the doctor). I felt like I was simultaneous high and sick at the same time. Just yucky and darn, darn tired. I’m pretty sure I slept for 28 hours on Tuesday. Yes, you read correctly: my fatigue defied the laws of time and physics.

Honestly, even though I’ve been back at work part time since yesterday, I’m still a bit weak. So, needless to say, I haven’t exactly been ‘killing it’ at the gym/bike path this week. It’s left me with an odd sense of loss. I actually miss working out.

Yeah, I know, don’t look at me like that.

I did not intend on becoming one of those obnoxious Work Out people, but I feel it slowly coming on. I’ve been trying to walk every other day, just to keep my body from atrophying under tissues and bed sheets. And, on Wednesday night, in probably an ill advised move, I got on my bike for a leisurely (is there another way to emphasize the word ‘leisurely’) ride around the neighborhood. It was exhilarating, to be honest. I missed my bike, whom I’ve affectionately named “Buffy”, after my favorite childhood character. I missed the feel of wind blowing across me.I missed breaking a sweat–that wasn’t due to odd body temperature shifts.

Of course, while I felt excited after returning, I did feel week the next day. So, I’ve been forcing myself to keep it easy. (Weight lifting? What is weight lifting?!)

“Health Screening”

They say that you’re only as old as you feel. That’s actually false. According to the health specialists I saw yesterday, you’re actually only as young as your crippling health conditions dictate. Yay!

So, as you may have guessed by ‘cleverly though-out-‘ subheading, there was a free health screening at my job yesterday. After putting it off for as long as possible (literally, I was the last person to enter the bus before my office closed down), I entered. I don’t hate doctors or anything, I just hate that shame feeling of going to doctor. You know, when they give you that utterly patronizing look, sigh, and explain to you how you need to lose weight and lower, well, everything?

I was, however, feeling somewhat confident in the fact that I’ve lost considerable weight since my last physical. So, I figured, how bad could it be? Well, bad, apparently!

At the ‘ripe, old age’ of 27, I have a body age of 55.

Yeah, take a moment to let that sink it.

The health aid, whom I had been chatting amicably with before getting my results, seemed to backtrack at my (understandably) startled reaction. “Oh, well, it’s not scientific, exactly, it’s just, you know, to kind of, you know, scare people into being healthier.”

Riiight.

In all seriousness, I kind of laughed it off. Honestly, when you’ve lost 25 plus pounds (to be discussed later!) and changed your life around, you can’t really sweat those things. I mean, I guess my body age would have been about 101 a few months ago! On the somewhat brighter side, my cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure were all significantly down. Which really encouraged my elderly self me.

THE GOOD

See, I’m not a complete pessimist. Probably in large part to being sick as a dog–and probably about as attractive as one!–this week, I still managed to lose weight despite not exercising. That in of itself is not that exciting–most people lose a little weight when they are sick. But, I realized in getting those freebie pounds, that I’d reached a significant milestone! I’ve crossed past the 200 pound threshold into the glorious 100s and am less than three pounds away from my birthday goal weight!

In case you suffer from temporary blindness upon entering my blog hadn’t noticed the glaring Countdown bar on my sidebar, I’ve been hoping to have lost 28 pounds total by my 28th / 56th (depending on the health specialist!) birthday on June 13th. I was also hoping to be in a size 14 by then. But, as you may have read in a previous post (::crickets::), I’m already wearing a size 14 and now am extremely close to my goal weight! I would say I’m sorry for all the exclamations points….! Or the ungodly length of this post….! But that would be a lie! I’m excited! ::insert more exclamation points!::

…And, yet still exhausted. But, hey, don’t worry, the fatigue’s probably just from my “allergies” 😉

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!

Big Girls Do Cry

So today I, a grown woman, cried in a clothing store changing room. But, not for the reasons you may be expecting. As many Big People can relate to, trying on clothing when you are overweight can be a painful experience. My mother has always accused me of hating shopping. Yet, really, what I truly hated was that feeling of pain and shame and embarrassment of watching my clothing size go ‘Up, Up, and Away‘.

Today, for the first time in years, I was positively jazzed to try on clothes. Instead of the haunting dread that used to follow me about the clothing aisles, I felt hope. I was praying that I might be able to perhaps squeeze into that size fourteen I’ve been aiming to wear by my birthday (June 13th). Not only could I squeeze into the jeans, some of them were even too large!

This may be dramatic, this may be crazy; but, I literally fell to my knees and cried. Yes, real, big tears…of JOY.

These past few years have been incredibly trying–and often incredibly dark. I’ve suffered through weight gain, depression, anxiety, sleepless nights, and having to make a huge, unexpected career change. There were times over the last year or so, where I’d truly given up on life.

It’ll will always be this way, I thought, You’ll always be fat and worthless and depressed.

Yeah, you can imagine what a ‘joy’ I was to be around!

In that moment, standing in a size fourteen for the first time in over three years, I just felt this huge burst of relief. And gratefulness. And joy. When you’ve gone through truly dark times, you can really appreciate the light when it returns to your life.

So to the store clerks outside (and my mother, in whose lap I was crying!), it probably did seem melodramatic–maybe even a little crazy. Yet, for me, it was a moment of pure liberation.

I still have a while to go before I reach all my goals. But, to even have made it this far, is a triumph.

 

 

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