Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting my move on - 6 days till RAGBRAI

I know it won't make any sense to you but I was actually afraid to share my weight loss with everyone. It embarrasses me that I was ever that large and when I think about how I felt then, I can't believe I didn't take action to change my life sooner.

Instead of pride I felt shame.

I waited till I was well into my 40's to make a change and by then, revving up my fat burning engine was next to impossible. I honestly had to change EVERYTHING to make myself healthier.

When you are carrying the weight equivalent of a grown adult on your body, you begin to do things in a different way. You find more efficient ways of doing things because the mere act of performing some tasks is absolutely exhausting. Even making the bed is abbreviated. Now, when I make the bed, I may scuttle around the bed four or five times, adjusting the sheets till there isn't a wrinkle in them. The old "Plus Size Liz" had a thick comforter for the bed and I could make it from one side... tugging the sheet up and then smoothing the comforter over the whole mess.

I can remember struggling with any and all physical activity. Even when I was cleaning the house I would take breaks between rooms to get my breath back and cool down. My ankles, knees, hips and back hurt constantly...even when I was lying in bed doing nothing.

I had a treadmill slash clothes hanger in my basement when I decided to start all this. I tried to use this device of torture but I was bored out of my mind. I didn't even have the drive or desire to get on it at all.

When the treadmill didn't work, I started walking outside. I was seeing results and able to add some time and distance to my walks. Winter was making it difficult to stay on a schedule so I decided to buy an XBOX 360 with Kinnect and give Zumba a try. At first, I thought I'd lost my mind and wasted a huge amount of money since I could barely lift my arms above my head and throwing my body weight around the way I was caused so much pain and discomfort that it didn't seem worth the effort.

I continued none the less and eventually became  pretty good at the routines. I'd skimmed off about 20 lbs which was making walking easier and more painless. I did Zumba on bad weather days and I walked outside on good weather days.

Eventually (a year or two later) I started cycling. My first bicycle (a gift from my son) was a fixed speed Next LaJolla which is a story unto itself I will share with you sometime. I was so large that my weight actually bent the peddles down and they had to be replaced. That is another embarrassing admission but this bike was a life changer. It would lead to my life's passion which is cycling.

You don't see me ON the bike because overweight people are masters of hiding from the camera and I don't like body photos so I'm obviously hiding behind my car as much as possible. As you can see, even at that weight, I was a total goof ball.

It wasn't long before I outgrew that bike. I wanted to do more than peddle around on a cruiser so I started riding my son's Mongoose Mountain Bike. It looked cool but it burned my knees. It was too big for me and it was a monster but I figured it could handle my weight...and it did but I was in fear that I would quit riding.

I went on a few bike rides with my brother and his wife and eventually they let me ride her fitness level bike. I was in love and I knew I had to find a similar bike if I was going to continue to ride.

When I bought that Trek FX 7.5 off my sister-in-law (bless her heart), I could not get enough of it. I bought a bike computer and started monitoring my speed and distance and was constantly challenging myself. I would set a goal, reach it and set another goal. I bought gear so I could ride in the cold and I bought accessories and gadgets to make my rides more fun and comfortable so I wouldn't lose interest.
This is a picture of the day I got the bike. It was October of 2011 and I was thrilled. This bike would eventually train me and take me across the state of IOWA in 2012 for my first RAGBRAI. I rode 471.1 miles in 7 days and it wasn't easy on that kind of bike so looking back, I feel an even greater sense of accomplishment.

I actually didn't lose much weight that year but my body changed substantially. I was still learning how to tweak my diet to have enough fuel to perform without over fueling so the scale wasn't too kind to me but my clothes were definitely fitting different. I never lost focus of my goals and I never got discouraged no matter what the scale said.

In June 2013, one month before my second RAGBRAI, I would meet and fall in love with my Specialized (MIDGE). I knew I wanted to buy a different bike and I was putting in the miles to justify the purchase but a good rode bike costs more than my car is worth. (actually that's not saying much, my car isn't worth much) It was still a MAJOR purchase and thanks to my cycling friend Mike, I committed to it.
Me with "MIDGE" shortly after I bought her
You can see in this picture taken in June 2013 that my body has changed a lot. I rode 104 miles the day this picture was taken which was my first "century". Every year on RAGBRAI they have one day where they add a thing called the KARRAS LOOP which makes the day 100+ miles. In 2013, I rode the Karras Loop for the first time on this bike and ended the day with 112.75 miles. It remains my longest distance for one day and I'm not going to kid you, it was a long day.

I joined Team Pez that year and rode a total of 444.12 miles in the 2013 RAGBRAI. I feel so blessed to have joined such an outstanding bunch of riders. I love them all.

In 6 days, I will leave for northern Iowa with Team Pez to do another RAGBRAI and I can hardly wait. At a projected 445 miles and being a northern route, it's the second flattest and third shortest route in RAGBRAI history which is a bit of a disappointment but I'm still excited to get out there and ride.

I encourage you to cross train but for me, cycling has become my passion. It took a long time but I found a physical activity that brings me to life. I run, do core exercises, kickboxing, swimming, mud runs, etc. but I simply don't enjoy them like I do cycling.

I challenge you to go out there and try lots of different activities and work through the pain till you realize that it's not pain you're feeling, it's progress.

I hope you find an activity that you love as much as I love cycling.

Love and Peace,

"It's not pain, it's progress"

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