Tuesday Trippin’ September 20-27

The cold moved in to Dr visit territory for both of us. The riding has been light, but not non-existent. The antibiotics are doing their work. I can’t tell that the steroids are, but there was that time in my childhood when I told my mother that the medicine she gave me wasn’t helping. She told me that I didn’t know how I’d feel without it. It was one of those formative comments and I think a little harder when I’m feeling like anything, medication, effort or even my own existence didn’t matter. I suspect I’d have been down for the count without the meds.

It was a good week to film some video. With our gimbal mounted set up for the intro video we never ride at full speed while filming, so light rides fit our health status as well as the desire to get more video. The new video will be built on a new audio, and I need my voice back to do that.

I am seriously frustrated with how long it is taking for me to get back to 100%. I’ve ridden for the last 3 days, but not full rides. Today after my ride, I still had plenty of energy, so I should be able to push harder tomorrow. I’ve been chiding myself for not moving into the guest room when Russ started with the constant Kleenex and the heavy coughing. We have one again now. I should remember that and use it if necessary, but as I rode by the construction signs noting sewer work this week I thought about how often the area floods and questioned the intelligence of riding in as much drenching rain as I did just days before Russ, then I got sick. It occurred to me that maybe not all of the water dripping from my nose while I was breathing deep was rainwater. I might have been spraying myself with something growing in dirt that never dried out since the last flood and it just took a little longer to explode in my sinuses. I’ll probably avoid riding in that much rain in that location in the future. I mean, pets and wild animals poop on all trails, but sewer lines that occasionally overflow and cause health warnings in an area that stays damp through most normal seasons is an added risk, no matter how much I feel like riding right through it.

Moving Forward

The new GoPros are out, so I’ll be digesting what that will means to the project. Initially it looks like pretty good news, but I haven’t read in depth technical info yet. I’ve been reviewing all of my equipment choices. I have been pretty sure about which recumbents are the best for the project, but haven’t been completely decided about anything except using GoPros, and even that could change if it turned out that there was a better choice (which I don’t expect).

Things are looking up, and next week we should be more likely to see you on the trail than we were last week! Have a glorious day!

Tuesday Trippin’ September 6-13

The Rides

The first week I had a ride so wet it degreased my bike chain. That was Friday at Big Creek Greenway. I thought the weather was going to clear shortly after we started, but about 3 quarters of the ride, including the entire return, was in pouring rain. Russ wasn’t feeling it and turned back way early. He didn’t know he was sick, but was testing for Covid two days later, so it was a good decision.

I felt like going ahead. When the weather is going to be bad for a few days, missing rides adds up. The stream and sewers were not flooded, so the water spray from my wheels was relatively clean. I rode a little slow. Falls = bad, and I take longer to recoup from them than I do from a few days of rain.

I got a little chilly at the start, then warmed up, and was coldish again by the end. It really wasn’t a bad experience at all, but Labor Day Weekend got rainier as it went on, and I didn’t choose to repeat the experience again right away. There were enough clear times and the clouds were really pretty. I never had a ride gap of more than a day for the week. This week I’m the one taking the Covid test though, neither of us tested positive, but I think that last pound I lost was fueling the fever.

The Bars

I’ve been relying on the Protein One bar heavily lately, sometimes having two in a day. The label wasn’t as scary to me as some, and where else can you get 10 grams of protein for 90 calories? I prefer whole foods, but when you want big increases in protein while also making big decreases in calories, protein bars and shakes are the easy way to get there.

Sitting on the picnic table eating the bar last week, I was re-reading the label and decided to look up chicory root extract. So, chicory root is 68% inulin by dry weight. I’m guessing “extract” is around 100%. Inulin has all kinds of benefits and some side effects. I laughed when I read the appetite suppressant part. Side effects were things like gas. I’ve had some really noisy gas, which is tolerable if you’re not around people, but I am, pretty constantly. And, it’s been out there in the range of drawing comments, funny expressions and jokes.

So I decided to stop eating the bars to test and the gas went away quickly, almost as quickly as my appetite spiked. That happens to me in the fall, right about the time evolution is telling my body to pack it on for the winter and the candy corn hits the grocery shelves. But, this was correlated perfectly with discontinuing the bar that is supposed to reduce appetite.

I waited a few days, had another and repeated. Yep, it’s the bars, for a few symptoms. Finding a substitute will be a little easier since I’m no longer trying to keep the carbs down as low as Keto lovers like to, but I bought so many of those bars when they were BOGO and I’m still struggling with the goal to increase protein and limit calories. I’ll probably have 1 or 2 per week rather than 1 or 2 per daily ride until I decide they’re too old, unless Russ snaps them up.

Last Week

I’ve been trying to get well without the antibiotics since last Thursday when I felt the current illness coming on during my ride. There are times when I’m afraid a sinus infection is coming on when I’d ride hard and hot to try to get my body temp up and maybe head things off at the pass, but the weather on Thursday wasn’t really that warm and and it didn’t feel like the right choice to make. As soon as I realized that what I needed to do was to cut the ride short, I did. I’ll be going to the Dr tomorrow. This wasn’t the sickness to tough it out on.

Until next time, have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ August 29

Today’s Ride

I was riding just after sunrise and expected I might get some good fresh material for the remake of our campaign video. I made an attempt at mounting the gimbal for an old cell phone. My phone is too wide to fit in the holder with its case and I just can’t risk a newish glass sided phone on a bike ride without a case. If I did, that would for sure be the day I crash. I’m that economics based late adopter who hangs on to tech as long as it still works.

I had some technical difficulties and just rode. I would have worried more with getting proficient for when Russ isn’t with me if this were the project equipment, but it’s just the equipment we were willing to buy to make a campaign video. It’s not practical to do the project with a gimbal that can’t be dropped or get wet.

I was right about the opportunity though. I scared an barred owl off its perch on a bridge and saw a dozen other things that would have been useful clips for one thing or another. A stag ran beside me for a moment. I heard his hooves pound first, then saw the tan color and thought of a cougar or dog that might be about to intercept me. I saw the antlers just he turned abruptly to make sure he didn’t. If it had actually been a predator, I’d have never heard him coming.

I stopped and caught about half of the deer crossing the path in one spot with a still in the photo below.

Deer at Big Creek Greenway crossing the path from a retainment pond moving toward the stream in low light.

Weather

There was a yellow dot in my notifications. It had been so long since I had seen it that it took me a minute to realize it was the sunshine symbol from my weather app. And, it was fleeting, half a day was all it lasted. I keep planning to wash my bike, and then riding on wet trails again. Still, the weather is warm enough that wet is fine.

School is back in session and the seasonal change is very apparent. In truth, the length of day never changes by more than 2 or 3 minutes per day here, but those minutes are a bigger piece of the time before and after work or school when people feel them add up the most, and we’re in that sweet spot where the temperatures are inviting, but the days are shorter and there is less time to enjoy the weather. It’s so easy to lament the end of summer.

Roller Coaster

It’s been a roller coaster lately. Last week I was car dancing. It was the first time I remember catching myself doing that since those trips out to open trails early in the pandemic. Those drives were long, but very comfortable. The rural setting was like my childhood in South Alabama (except that the area where I grew up was much poorer). When I made those trips alone on pandemic empty country roads I’d blast my tunes, that made it feel somewhat like my teen aged years in the backwoods.

The road we took out there is being widened and I can feel all the land use converting from cattle and corn to Mc Mansions, so it was always a bittersweet drive. I remember writing about breaking out in tears over hearing “Big Old Jet Air Liner” one one of those solo drives.

I broke out in tears at the trail solo today. It’s been a long time coming and I wasn’t even sure that I could cry. Having a flat was the 5th trigger but not the cause. Once the faucets turned on I had a jumble of emotions all at once. I was embarrassed to think someone might see me crying in public, it good to realize my dry eye was under control enough to actually produce the tears, and then there was the act of crying itself, needing the release of emotion. Oh, and I had to get off the phone to do my blubbering in the first place.

Give me another couple of years and I’ll probably fit an ugly cry in somewhere. It may not take that long if I’m in a private place and I can cry in empathy rather than for anything that’s going on in my own life. I did that with The Color Purple in the late 80s. I hadn’t cried in several years when I rented the tape, and I think I literally did go through an entire box of tissues before it was over. That’s when I realized how much I needed the release and stopped trying not to cry if I needed to.

Health

My blood pressure and heart rate have dropped down to where they were 15 and 40 years ago. Those markers recently started to creep up into areas where a doctor wants to do something about them, and now they are down near the opposite limit where medical articles say “We don’t usually worry about low blood pressure unless in goes much below…”

I had hibiscus tea in my collection, and knowing that it can make blood pressure drop, I gave it away. I don’t actually want a drop in blood pressure right now. In fact, I reviewed all my herbal teas and supplements. News reports of a death that may or may not have been due to use of white mulberry probably helped motivate me to make sure I’m not unintentionally self medicating badly.

I also wondered if I was having those hot flashes that I never got back when everyone else did. Turns out the air conditioner was broken instead. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to look at the thermostat if someone else hadn’t.

Diet

I’ve broken through the half way to goal point, barely. The weight loss is still slowed a bit, but that’s because I haven’t recorded anything to keep up with it since my MacBookPro died. I could get things into a spreadsheet on the loaner, but there’s a lot going on and I’ve been satisfied with the slow around my halfway point for a bit.

It’s time to change that though. I want to be at my target weight and consolidating my miles to fewer days and longer rides before we submit the campaign video in November. The daily exercise has been good in a lot of ways, but time traveling to a trail has been tedious and expensive and the extra time plus being tired has kept me from getting other things done. I’m still leaving the door open to loose a bit more weight than the original target, but in November I want endurance rather than weight loss to be the priority and refocusing on the weight loss now will make me healthier and better suited to make that push.

That’s it for this week. See you on the trails and have a glorious day!

Tuesday Trippin’ August 22

Russ likes the new vintage bike and has ordered parts and tools to repair the old one. The rain has been constant. The other night thunder roared so loud it sounded like it was inside the house. We woke up and started talking about whether or not we should move out of the bedroom by the tall trees and into the guest room, but never did. We’ve found gaps in the weather for rides. It’s always nicer to be surprised by gettin to ride than getting surprised by not getting to.

We’ve decided to make some changes. We’ve had a lot to deal with and the tax impact for the project makes it important for most of the expenses to happen in the same calendar year as the funding. With some projects that’s fairly easy late in the year, but for this project, travel expenses will be significant and those will last as long as the project.

Because we expect to be making video for more than a year with the fill ins for any unridable weeks as well as the unexpected, there will be travel expenses that we will have to pay income tax on anyway. We want those to be as few as possible. I know some people would say “Just put it in the budget”. Well, we do have an allowance for tax burden in the budget, but we’d like for it to be sufficient rather than having to increase it. Taxes are a fact of life as much as any other expense, but this is the biggest expense we can control, and timing the project to coincide with a calendar year is the way to do it.

So, now we’re looking to go live with the project in the official fundraising sense around the middle of November. In some ways that’s pretty disappointing. I need to do this (that would be awesome) or move on something else (that could be awesome too, but I’d rather move on to something else awesome after this). In other ways it’s a relief. Given our latest technical, equipment and family set backs, it’s the right decision.

From now until November, we will keep training, planning, reworking the video and posting updates. I may pull back to every other week on the Tuesday Updates. We’ll see. It will likely depend on whether or not I have something to say and whether or not it fits in that space.

Until next time, Have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ August 16

The Ride Temps

The heat has calmed down enough to comfortably ride a little later and I can time most of my rides so that my turning point rest and snack is at or after when I should break my fast. I like that. Resting and eating the mid ride protein may or may not be needed at this level, but having it before it’s time is definitely breaking the fast early. These last couple of days I didn’t guzzle all of my water fast either, in fact there was a little left after the ride.

I’m still growing the post hair donation cut out. It wasn’t such a bad cut considering what I had left to work with, but the barber kind of scared me when I heard and felt the electric clippers hit the back of my neck. I hadn’t intended to get the “Karen” bob either, but Russ likes it so, there’s that. The hair has been doing a Midge flip when I get drenched in sweat, and it doesn’t even matter whether you’re talking about Mrs. Maisel or Barbie’s best friend, except that it looked utterly ridiculous on me. That’s calming down in the cooler temps too.

The Diet

Over the last couple of weeks, I maintained the fast pretty well, but wasn’t really counting anything. My spread sheet is in the computer that died and things have been fast paced and stressful, so I was just trying to get enough protein. My current thought on protein is that I’m not trying to build muscle to match my current weight. I’m trying to reduce my current weight. So, while I wasn’t getting enough protein by most standards before, I’m still not trying to get as much as some sources recommend. It was such a challenge to get the higher amount without eating mostly meat and processed proteins. That’s not balanced or whole food and this is a long term diet for significant weight loss.

I’m a pound above the half way point on the way to goal. I was quoting tenths of pounds earlier because that’s what the display shows, but I’m dropping that. The margin of error for the scale is in pounds. To report a number with finer resolution than the margin of error gives a false sense of the level of accuracy. That’s not opinion. It’s training.

That’s all for this Tuesday’s update. I have a couple of other things I’ll post soon, and I’m going to start posting some things on thrifting and textiles. That won’t be for everyone, but nothing is.

Tuesday Trippin’ Aug 9

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Last time I wrote, I said the week had been tough. I posted it early and said there was more to come about Saturday. Saturday I thought the project was over and I thought that was the message I had to post next. It’s been a rough two weeks, and this post is late because it was hard to write.

In the back of my head, there’s a part of me that still thinks, maybe the project should be cancelled and I just refuse to see it. The odds of making our financial goals are long because we don’t have a following. That makes our slim advertising budget a more decisive part of the picture, and from what I’ve experienced, most advertising is directed at getting clicks that produce advertising revenue rather that the clicks that potentially lead to sales.

What do I mean by that? I follow the National Park Service. The other day I logged on to FB and there were over 20 different ads for the same NPS event lined up consecutively in my feed. I went away and came back three times before that stopped happening. Maybe it was a glitch, but I’m sure every one of those ads counted as a view or impression, and while I am an interested potential customer, showing me the event 60 times is not going to make me able to cross 4 states to be there. I’m more than a little worried that I could blow through what is a lot of money to me and have my advertisements dispersed just as uselessly. Our budget doesn’t have that space in it. Or worse, they could focus on sending ads to my friends on FB. My FB friends are friends, they aren’t a following, and while I will post about the project and appreciate any support they give, how would they feel about me if running FB ads puts me in front of them the way they put the Park Service in front of me?

On top of that, the job market is still hiring big time and I’ve been out of work on family leave far too long. Unless we more than beat the odds and are hugely overfunded, this project isn’t going to be a paying gig for me. When I first planned it and started writing here, I expected to be done before now, and before I felt the level of pressure to earn income that I now have. But that isn’t what my body and life were up to. It took longer for me to be ready to make it a success.

The computer breaking was a last straw. I’m not sure I even mentioned that the crank on Russ’s bike finally gave it up. We bought a refurbed vintage Schwinn last night for Russ to ride while he teaches himself to rebuild his Giant (incidentally we learned last night that Giant built the Schwinn too, just before going out on their own to become the worlds largest maker of bicycles). We were inching toward needing to update/re-script the video before all of this happened, these things happening all together got us there.

I got a bit of a reset when I went in to have the computer looked at. The date of a warranty repair made me realize I hadn’t been working this as long as it felt. I’ve worked at this harder than was practical to the rest of my life for almost two years now, but the Blitzkrieg of personal, national and world level events really stretched the sense of time and it felt like so much longer. Instead of the old normal “OMG I can’t believe that was ten years ago, it feels like yesterday!” the new norm is “That was last year? It feels like a lifetime ago.”

So, because we’ve worked long and hard, but have not yet put this out in front of people to promote it in any way other than just writing the blog we decided not to just end the project before it got it’s chance. We’re going to rework the video as soon as one of us has a computer that will do the job and actually see if we can make this happen. Reworking the video will go faster on this side of the learning curve with more of the images sorted out and the end result will be better. I feel a lot of pressure to get this out there and move forward, but many of the delays have improved our ability to run the project well and produce a better result.

Training

It was a terrible training week. There were weather and other problems. That “other” category is taking time off the back end of our lives. It’s been pilling up higher and deeper for some time. Occasionally, I allude to a problem that I don’t explain. I never know how to handle that here. This is where I talk about project progress and challenges. There is a big problem presenting challenges that impact every week, and I say little or nothing about it. I don’t want to miss a target without saying why. I don’t want to be mysterious or vague book it and I don’t want to go too far down the “TMI” road either. So, I wrote a bit about how that problem effected us this week with the intent of making it a one time event. It took 13 paragraphs without mentioning any feelings.

And then I deleted it.

A neighbor I had in my 20s went to marriage counseling and said that they told her that the grass always does look greener… but, if all the problems that existed were clipped to a rope like laundry and people could choose which problems would be their own, everyone would run for the problems they already had because those were the ones they had learned to deal with. That’s really been helpful for me to think about through the years. I’m not so sure it’s true about the current problem though. I don’t know that we’ve learned to deal with this or that there is any good solution. I’ve always found it easier, emotionally, to deal with acts of chance than with some acts of human nature. I think what I can say is this. Single working Moms need help when they find themselves on the other end of an acrimonious litigious custody arrangement with someone who relentlessly stretches personal and parental rights so far that they harm the child and her family.

So, we’re just going to keep trying to learn to deal with this and rise above as best we can.

Until next time, we’ll see you on the trail, and have a glorious day!

Tuesday Trippin’ Aug 2

It’s been a tough week, triple tough, training, technology and personal problems were the trifecta.

Training/The Rides

I’ve been dragging this week. Don’t know if it’s the heat, the diet, the combo, or everything all together.

Thursday was the “I showed up, what more do you want?” ride. I took it easy and it was a little short. After some time, I felt like I had more in me, but my knee has been bothering me lately, in that way that gets better quick if you use the extension strength training machine.

That my knee might benefit from some weight training dawned on me just after I cancelled my membership to the Y. I’ve been a member at the Y under one name or another for over 30 years. I always felt good about my membership with a gym that subsidizes memberships for people who wouldn’t have one without the support. Canceling felt a little like a break up, but the people most comfortable with a lot of exertion and heavy breathing in a closed building are largely the same people comfortable remaining unvaccinated and going without masks. I’ve scarcely been since the pandemic. I’ve been doing pretty well with simple equipment at home. Don’t get me wrong. If I’d won that billion dollar prize, I’d have a fully equipped home gym in my off-grid dream farm.

The Friday ride was ok, but I cleared the path of large limbs and saw some riders take a curve fast and wide causing a woman to fall. It was, in part, because the walker was taking up too much space with dogs on retractable leashes. But, that happens on this trail, and it’s better to stop when that happens than to run someone off the trail and onto the ground.

Saturday, well I’m going to post this early and move on to a second post all its own about Saturday.

Technology

My laptop fizzled. I don’t know if it’s a screen problem or a dead computer problem. I have my tech guy working on it. I don’t have a budget for a replacement. The plan was for it to last another year and get a year end clearance in the second year of a new model, best laid plans.

I don’t change computer habits quickly. There are less expensive options, both in brand and features than what I’m using, but ever since the work in GIS, I’ve had powerful machines and we need power for video and photo work for the project. Switching OS would make me need to do some relearning at a time when I’m ultra busy and learning new software too.

The big owie is that we were in the push to get this **** project out the door and in front of people. Not getting it out this weekend pushes it until later in August and I wanted to be actively organizing our first weeks before September. That really hurts.

The Personal Stuff

I had unpleasant interactions with three different people who are pretty important to me and they left me feeling not at all important to them. It happens, but three time inside a week was defeating. Yesterday I thought about binge eating, but it was just a thought. I didn’t actually have the impulse. Realizing that I didn’t even want to binge may have been the single bright point in the week.

I thought about going to the mountains alone and hiking as many miles as I could, but it is so very hot and buggy. I wouldn’t have lasted through the catharsis that I needed. I thought about trying to find a get away where I could hide from everyone and work on that novel I’ve been editing in my head for almost my whole life, but there’s no budget for that either.

And, while I really wanted to be alone to lick my wounds, at the same time, there’s never really a time that I want to be without Russ for any length of time. So, I guess the option I’m left with is to suck it up and carry on. It would be nice to feel better while I’m doing it though.

Tuesday Trippin’ July 26

A Google notification told me I rode 200 miles at 10 miles an hour last month. I was shocked. I remembered leaving my phone at least once, and that was the month I started my diet. I did cut back a lot, but had a hard time believing it was that much. The phone/Google has told me I was in places hundreds or thousands of miles from anywhere I had actually been, but that was years ago.

I couldn’t remember it being grossly wrong recently, but I haven’t logged those ride stats, so I had nothing to check it against. People with road racer bodies and a few other people pass me, but most of those people are exceeding the 15 MPH Greenway speed limit when they do. I wondered if the 10 MPH figure counted the break that I now take to eat a protein bar before turning around. I’m doing 147 miles a week this month, and it wasn’t such a jump. I’m pushing hard, but most of that is due to the calorie deficit.

This was in the back of my mind when we rode together Saturday morning. It was the first time I had been able to ride early while it was cool in several days and I was just relaxing an enjoying the ride. We stopped for a bathroom break and I asked Russ what our speed was. He said “7 MPH” I thought he was joking, but with my Google shock on the brain, I had to confirm. He said “probably” then he actually checked. We were going 14.7 MPH and now Russ was shocked. He had been beating himself up about not getting out with me as much as he wanted and had no idea he was doing that well.

We will plan things differently on the project rides, but when we are on trails or sections that I would ride alone, Russ has blanket approval to take off and leave me. He’s stronger. He needs a good work out too. He usually asks before he does. Russ was so excited to see that he was riding a respectable speed that I actually had to work to keep up with him when he got back on the bike. The next day he was still pumped and riding well too. There’s no telling what he could accomplish with a sports psychologist, me too for that matter. And a life coach, we’d do even more. But, for now, on our own, it’s time to think about going back out to the Silver Comet and ride sections without a speed limit.

Until next week, have a glorious day and we’ll see you on the trail.

Hydration, Nutrition, Weight Woes

I’ve been working on this piece since I posted in the cycling group asking for advice on weight loss. Crowd sourcing a health issue is not really like me, but In spite of all the training I reached within 10 pounds of my lifetime high in weight and it wasn’t good for me or the project. This was a group of people who are doing the sport I do at the age I am (and older). I got tons of advice and plenty to research and find out more about. Like my weight loss experience, this post is a work in progress.

Hydration

I’m really good about hydration. I usually drink a glass of water when I get up in the morning. I drink water or unsweet tea frequently throughout the day, and a bottle of water as I drive out to the trail. I take hydration seriously while exercising, and drink another glass of water before bed. I’ve done the bedtime drink ever since I read an article years ago linking stroke to overnight dehydration. Who knows where that original article might be found, but here’s one on the link between stroke and dehydration in general. There are so many things that go wrong when you don’t get properly hydrated, and now I’m paying more attention to electrolytes as well.

Nutrition

Americans are, as a whole, poorly informed about nutrition and our food labeling is a byproduct of lobbying and compromise, not good science or good health communication. My former FIL was a MD and he would be the first to tell you that they don’t teach nutrition in medical school either. But, he and his wife paid attention. Every meal I ever had at their house was balanced. Every. One. What that means has been tweaked over the years. Here’s what Harvard says now about what a balanced diet looks like.

Doc also had a theory that there might be important undiscovered micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals), and that by eating a balanced variety of foods you might be doing yourself a big favor. His later years were better for longer with fewer medical bills than most people. Having that influence in my life, I thought I knew more than I actually did. But, a fear of kidney disease has kept me incurious about keto diets for some time, and I was also unaware of what ketosis actually is. I love my carbs too. That didn’t help. In fact I’m kind of addicted to processed sugar. Seriously. I’ve been on a blood sugar roller coaster since before my due date.

They Used to Feed Karo to Newborns

I was one of them. My sister was born in the 1950s when “fat babies” were “healthy babies”. At that time, breast feeding was not popular and mothers put Karo syrup in babies’ bottles with evaporated cow milk. It was marketing and Dr approved. That’s a teaspoon of sugar in a quarter cup (4 oz) bottle of evaporated milk.

The only thing more surprising than this weird bit of history (a Dr approved fad) is that when I was looking up a link to share, I found current serious minded pre-current formula shortage instructions for how to make it now (not sharing that link). Mom wasn’t so bad about the fat baby thing, but she was still on the Karo plan when I came along, and, brought it up as a viable solution to the recent formula crisis. I was an induced baby, two weeks early. So, beginning two weeks before I was supposed to be born, my blood sugar highs were unnaturally high.

I’ve given up processed sugar 6 times in my life, the first time was for a year during and after my first pregnancy. There were no complications. It wasn’t prescribed. I just wanted to be healthy and have a healthy child. My son’s father didn’t like that because I wasn’t cooking with sugar in food for both of us anymore. So, when I gave it up during the second pregnancy, it was for a shorter time.

Then I gave up processed sugar a third time when I did a Dr supervised protein shake diet in my late 20s. The 4th and 5th times were when I gave up all white sugar, white processed flour and fried foods for Lent twice. I’m not Catholic, but most religions have at least one good idea. On those occasions, I still used small amounts of brown sugar, honey and maple syrup.

The most recent time is, of course, now. The exceptions to my recent hiatus have been when I was inattentive at label reading on protein bars.

Maybe Giving up the Sugar Should be Mostly Permanent

For a few years now, I’ve cut the stuff with ultra high glycemic indexes almost completely out. I make candy for the people who love it every winter, and I scarcely eat a piece any more. Then, a few months ago I noticed reactions like blurry eyes after large meals (like an after the ride burger with fries and a soda). I started looking things up and decided it was time to start counting my sugar intake. I took added sugar down to levels recommended for diabetics, ate fewer after the ride calories and started having a cool down at the end with walking for a few minutes after the ride so the finish is easier on the endocrine system because of what it says after the “5” here.

While I’ve never been diagnosed as diabetic, I was having issues that show up across that literature and there is no down side to taking the first steps that a Dr would prescribe first to see if it helps. Then if you need the Dr, you have more data to give him and can maybe move on to step 2 on that first visit.

I was hoping all of this would have weight loss as a side effect. No Joy. Some people loose weight when they make these changes. Some loose weight when they are as active as me. So far the art of shrinking was eluding me though. The challenge of loosing weight while maintaining the ability to ride seemed a unique problem, so I joined a cycling group and posted to ask. It’s a good group with a lot of positive people. I got a lot of great advice. A lot of it revolved around giving up more complex carbohydrates too. That was May 28.

Counting Macros

A lot of people said to count macros. I’ve counted calories and Weight Watchers points before, but never macros. I just relied on calories and the food pyramid. Back when the Keto diet hit big I did a little reading. Ketoacidosis, not cool. I pretty much ignored everything keto since.

I refocused on the word for burning fat “ketosis” when I read the answer to my post below and started looking at more and more information on protein in the diet. The part I missed when I stopped updating myself on all things keto is the current focus on protein for my age group. Perhaps I’d have missed that anyway. I mean protein drinks are for my Mom, right?

While there are many recommendations from/for different people, purposes and sources, the recommendation for adults over 50 is higher than USDA recommendations for the average adult. I thought a couple of eggs would cover my protein needs for a day. I mean it’s a neat little package that has everything needed to create a little avian life in there. It seems like that would be enough to keep a human going for a day. I was also surprised to note now little protein there is in so many “high protein” foods.

One of the important things here is that I didn’t just take the word of some guy on Facebook (and you shouldn’t just take mine). Look at these links, they’re good sources, but also find your own. There are so many different protein recommendations based on age, sex, goals and habits. You have to settle on the source you trust and an amount you can tolerate.

And, here’s what the guy had to say:

The best way to ‘hit the switch’ and get into fat-burning mode is to fast for a day. Start by eating dinner and then no more food until the second morning… 32 hours out. You can drink water or black coffee, and should take electrolytes (Nuun, Enduralyte, etc.) when you are thirsty (I like Nuun… easy and convenient).

“You will find that, rather than being weak, you will feel as if you are full of energy… clear-headed… even though you may have a slight headache from ‘carb withdrawal.’ When you wake up on that second morning you will feel really good, although maybe a little tired. This is when you start an intermittent fasting program… confine your eating to an 8-hour window so you have at least 16 hours from the last meal on one day to the first meal on the next day.

Remember, low (no more than 150 calories, or even less) carbs, 500 to 600 calories of protein, 500 to 600 calories of fat, and restrict your calories to no more than 1500, down to 1200 if possible.

Some people do this with two 500-calorie meals and then 200 to 300 for supper, some split it into five meals (300 cal breakfast, 200 cal snack, 300 cal lunch, 200 cal snack, 200 to 300 cal supper), and this is important… don’t go on 100 mile rides! You cannot ride 100 miles without eating unless you want to suffer miserably AND lose muscle mass because your body will start eating your muscles.

The body has two main ways to regulate weight that have evolved over 2 million years, via the use of insulin to store excess calories as fat, and via the use of cortisol to get excess fat and turn it into energy that your muscles can utilize. What switches you from one mode to the other is your blood sugar level. High blood sugar, what you get just after you eat and especially with carbs, results in the secretion of insulin to lower blood sugar levels by storing the glucose in fat cells. Low blood sugar, what you get hours after your last meal or after exercise, results in the secretion of cortisol, and results in the extraction of energy from fat cells which is converted from fatty acids to glucose. So, the key to weight loss is to keep your blood sugar levels low enough to invoke the secretion of cortisol which causes your body to burn fat for energy.

The best way to ‘hit the switch’ and get into fat-burning mode is to fast for a day. Start by eating dinner and then no more food until the second morning… 32 hours out. You can drink water or black coffee, and should take electrolytes (Nuun, Enduralyte, etc.) when you are thirsty (I like Nuun… easy and convenient).

You will find that, rather than being weak, you will feel as if you are full of energy… clear-headed… even though you may have a slight headache from ‘carb withdrawal.’ When you wake up on that second morning you will feel really good, although maybe a little tired. This is when you start an intermittent fasting program… confine your eating to an 8-hour window so you have at least 16 hours from the last meal on one day to the first meal on the next day.

Remember, low (no more than 150 calories, or even less) carbs, 500 to 600 calories of protein, 500 to 600 calories of fat, and restrict your calories to no more than 1500, down to 1200 if possible.

Some people do this with two 500-calorie meals and then 200 to 300 for supper, some split it into five meals (300 cal breakfast, 200 cal snack, 300 cal lunch, 200 cal snack, 200 to 300 cal supper), and this is important… don’t go on 100 mile rides! You cannot ride 100 miles without eating unless you want to suffer miserably AND lose muscle mass because your body will start eating your muscles.

Ride your bike daily for no more than 45 minutes. This will burn any carbs you’ve eaten without making you bonk or requiring you to eat more calories for the long ride… your body will store up to 1500 calories of glucose as it rebuilds its glucose stores. You might also want to start a light bodyweight program… women’s pushups (even if they’re while upright against a wall), bodyweight squats, calf raises, bent rows and shoulder presses with light dumbbells. The goal here is to stimulate your muscles enough so that the protein you eat is used to preserve muscle mass.

Most of us will burn 1500 to 2000 calories just to be awake and moving… the extra exercise will not only burn the necessary fat but will also burn extra fat as the body uses it for maintenance… and the body is not 100% efficient in turning fat into energy so there will be additional losses.

Try this for 30 days and see if you don’t lose 12 to 15 pounds without a lot of discomfort. Once you get to your desired body weight, you can increase calories but keep to the 8 hour eating window… and yes, consume calories on long rides.”

So, what Did I Actually Do?

I got a lot of good answers to my question about what works for weight loss while trying to increase my miles. I joined every group anyone mentioned and have been following them all.

A lot of people said to do a 8/16 Intermittent Fast. The answer I quoted above included that and was a pretty complete plan, so I started there and I started researching high protein diets from science and medical sources.

I did not jump start with the 36 hour fast. I happen to know that if I don’t eat all day, I crash around 4:00 P.M. I didn’t have a day when I could afford to veg or nap or have my brain work badly at 4:00 P.M, and I wasn’t going to get one anytime soon. But, I didn’t want to wait either, so I started on the 8/16 intermittent fasting. Eating all my food inside 8 hours was not such a big change that I didn’t feel comfortable making it while I researched all my questions.

I converted the calorie recommendations to grams just to make it easier with food labels.

I have the most trouble getting protein at the level above while also limiting the carbs. I could have done that pretty easily in maintenance mode, but that’s not where I am.

If I get to choose when I ride, I ride fasted.

I reduced my miles as recommended, at first. Then I adjusted. The reduction in miles was fine through the adjustment, but too low afterward. The compromise was to be sure I had a protein bar in case I needed it, and rest for 15 minutes at the turn around spot.

There have been ups and downs, but doing all of my eating during the same eight hours every day has been the most scheduled and regular I’ve been in some time. That’s probably a good thing.

The First Three Weeks

I got knock you over with a feather Keto breath the first 10 days or so. My grand daughter who sometimes has boundary issues didn’t have any trouble staying out of my face. I got some headaches too, but no real carb withdrawal. Maybe because I had already cut the simple carbs so low months ago.

My weight dropped like it does at the beginning of a diet. I was really busy the first few days and helping out with a move. It was hard to be specialized in my intake and I had several days of taking in half the calories I was supposed to. It wasn’t intentional, I just didn’t realize it until I took a breath and started recording.

After that I had a lot of trouble conforming to the proportions of macro nutrients recommended above. The protein is hard to get while keeping the carbs low enough, and the fat isn’t really stressing me, but it’s usually over. My daily calorie intake has been between 600 and 1800. The 1800 was a Friday when I decided to eat a Jim and Nicks Brisket and Blue salad without dressing for supper.

It was really hard to gauge the progress at first. The weight loss after three weeks is exactly what I lost last time I tossed cookies for 3 days, but some clothes are definitely looser. I live life in yoga pants. I ride in bike tights. I have a few things that don’t stretch, but I hadn’t worn them in a while. My bras were getting looser. I noticed shirts that once rested on my hips were hanging free.

In a lot of ways I feel better. That’s a plus.

Measurements

I have Weight Watchers serving spoons. The measurement they hold is stamped right into the spoon handle and I level it with a knife instead of letting it heap. I even checked the 1/4 cup against other measuring cups because it looked pretty generous. Once I see about what a serving is, If something has 2 or 4 servings I’m willing to guess. As long as it lasts the appropriate number of servings, it will average out over the use of the container.

I’m not measuring me. It would be one way to gauge success, especially with the difficulty I was having telling how I was doing in the beginning, but I’m not Mrs. Maisel. I have enough to keep up with. I’m just going to keep working the plan, and tweaking as I need to, until I think I’m the right weight. I won’t be deciding what that is with a tape measure.

Mistakes

Not recording or getting enough calories or nutrients in the first days.

I kept looking for high protein vegetables instead of low carb vegetables. Before this diet (BTD), I’d often have a sack of “High protein” vegetables for supper, but those have more that a days allowance of carbs.

Stress eating

The Good Stuff I Was Already Doing

Eat most salads without dressing

Don’t use artificial sweeteners

I started this one recently. When Russ received a Garmin Watch as a gift, it was telling him when he needed to be active. I really wanted one too. So, what I did instead was to set alarms every hour to hour and a half. When the alarm goes off I get up from the computer, or stop whatever I’m doing and do the title of the alarm. I have alarms titled things like “sit-ups”, “plantar stretches” and “arms”.

The Bad Stuff I Was Doing Before

Occasionally Binging Carbs

Not realizing how much protein I need

Not realizing that the timing of calories and social late snacks were a significant problem

Joining in with someone who is stress eating

The Big Ugly Problem

Per my ophthalmologist, I take 100 calories worth of Omega 3 to help with Dry Eye. When he prescribed it I was thinking about that old saying “100 calories a day is 10 pounds a year” and really bummed on reading the label, but after a year, I was unable to tell it was causing me weight issues. Perhaps I adjusted my eating. I don’t know.

While the label only said “Take 2 per day”, I started by spreading the 2 capsules out as close to 12 hours apart as convenience allowed. When the intermittent fasting came into play, I took them during eating hours, but from reading what I could find, it wouldn’t have been “breaking the fast” to take them when ever I wanted.

Early in the diet my eyes went crazy. I was intensely aware of my blinks and using the lubricating drops the ophthalmologist also gave me every hour, maybe more. I was miserable and about to go back in to see the him when it eased. That was right about the time I started getting closer to the number of calories I was supposed to be having. I think my calorie intake, when it was very low, must have caused those Omega 3s not to be getting to my eyes.

I could be wrong. Well see if there are any more problems and if they coincide with ultra low caloric intake, but this is the hard fast limit. If severe dry eye is related to the diet and I can’t regulate it, things will seriously slow down. Taking care of my eyes will have to be the priority. My calorie deficit is still quite large right now, but my eyes are pretty important to me.

What’s Next?

I’m days away from the 60 day mark. I’ve lost 19 pounds. My original goal was 50 pounds of weight loss to reach 150 pounds. In the next two weeks I expect to reach half of that goal

This site says I’m burning 1300+ calories on my rides. I’m taking in around 1500 calories in food most days and around 120 calories in supplements, which I’m working to be sure not to forget because of the eye issues.

It’s a pretty stressful level of output. I’ve been thankful for a few rain days, and If I’m feeling drained, I give it a break, whether that’s an easy ride or a day off.

I haven’t actually recorded my food since the break I mentioned in one of my Tuesday posts, but I’m recording my weight most mornings.

I’ve shifted toward eating a few more vegetables, even when that means more carbs (think peas, not potatoes) I plan to keep on going the way I’m going as long as it works. I should reach 150 pounds before I’m trying to transform my current mileage into the number of days and length of ride that the project requires. I plan to pay attention to my energy levels and training intervals to make sure I don’t get stressed in any way that take a long recovery. I’m optimistic and fairly happy with how things are going.

Tuesday Trippin’ July 12 & 19

The Diet

I did the week of 21 miles per day as expected. I took a four day break after that, and also took a diet break. I got stressed about having said I’d do 21 miles a day for a week, and then remembered that the planned break didn’t start until after the week was over. It’s nice that some worries are dispensed with so quickly. The low calories and the strict everyday rides were adding up. I was ready for it.

In this case, a diet break, means that I ate more vegetables and didn’t actually write down my intake. That put me higher on carbs than the keto recommendations I’ve been following (the ones I was having a very hard time meeting in the first place). I still did the 8/16 IF (or something close to that) and believe that I had 1500 or fewer calories on those days. So, a break, but still restricted calories and I walked every day (to keep from experiencing an endorphin sink and enjoy nature).

The weight loss didn’t suffer as I was afraid it might, and I took one more day of break (food, not riding) to have a slice of pizza with a gift card I was given. I’m a little shocked. I was afraid that the weight loss was only happening when eating 1100 or fewer calories and that even then, it was waning. If that was the case, I didn’t really see how I could keep it up, and I think the weight loss is important to the project right now. In truth, I might not have averaged much more than 1100 calories per day while on break, but weight loss has been tough for me lately and paranoia is strong with this one. And the other thing is that once you take a break, you want to take 5 more of them.

The Heat

Heat tolerance is a big reason I’m working on weight loss right now. I see people my age and older in the biking groups that ride in much hotter conditions. Part of that is that they are riding in places where you don’t really need to take a wet bulb temperature to keep your athletes alive. Another part is that many of them were athletic since their 20s. I never expect to match the performance of many of them. I have Raynaud’s Syndrome and I suspect that poor response in microcirculation is part of why I am less tolerant.

My tolerance has slowly increased with time in the saddle though. Three years ago when my rides were short enough, I coped with summer heat by starting near dawn and finishing before temps got out of the 70s, and didn’t ride if I couldn’t keep most of my ride under 80 degrees. Then I shifted to being able to tollerate the 80s. Now I will ride in the low 90s, but I prefer not to. At that temp my face turns bright red and strangers will ask me if I’m alright. I have an absolute stop signal though. If I ever reach the point where my face feels like it is on fire, I’m at risk of a migraine or worse. Sometimes I don’t notice that I’m that hot until I stop riding and feel the absence of air flow.

Because I can control eating, but not the Raynaud’s, that’s where my next level focus is, and I’m comforted by the fact that I won’t have to do 100 mile rides in July until I’ve been doing them for 9 months. July is also one of the months when we have a break scheduled, so between weight loss, more time riding and having a break planned, I should be able to make it through next July, and fill in any gap with rides I take the following year while winding down gradually.

The Rides

Yesterday I rode in the rain and skipped the slippery boardwalks. There was still a lot of wetness, but I was careful and remembered every time I hit my brakes that my project bike will have disc brakes. I rode past a dozen deer, but once I got the camera out most were hiding in the twilight shadows and I didn’t even take the shot.

I prefer wet to hot, no surprise. My shoes filled with water the way a wet suit insulates you with a layer of water, except that this was a lot more water and my feet didn’t warm it up, Raynaud’s… I didn’t notice while riding, but the water balloons on my feet were unmissable when I started walking and my feet felt cold for most of the night,

Tonights’s ride was damp and cool too. There’s a man who swings a cane around in every direction. There may be a pattern to it. I haven’t noticed if there is. It has been a very long time since I’ve seen him, way pre-pandemic. My guess is that he’s protecting the full width of his lane, but once when I passed him, he swung toward me beyond the boundary of his lane. It has been so long since I’ve seen him, that I forgot about him. I’m sad and surprised that he’s still out there, or more correctly, that he’s still doing it. It seems like it’s risky enough that he would have had problems that got him in trouble between now and the last time I saw him.

Well, that’s it for the new, the old and the odd.

Happy trails!