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Using your unhealthy habits to improve, I think I'm proving it can be done.

 
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Final test run completed. Takes 45 mins to get there an there's one tiny stretch where I have to ride on the road, but during the real runs I'll be running opposite the flow of traffic. It was a little nerve wracking to have rush our traffic sharing the same lane with me this morning.

Something I didn't expect this early in the year, is how chilly the air felt when biking without the sun on me. I didn't use it today, but I'm very glad that one of the preparations I've made is buying a light weight white jacket. I suspect I'm going to be layering that with long sleeve shirts before too long.

Interesting thing when I got home, I had a very specific craving for a big bowl of oatmeal with raisins. I suspect a bowl of oatmeal and fruit is one of the healthiest foods out there. I could easily pack a streaming hot bowl of oatmeal in a travel mug and then be able to sit and eat after I arrive at work.
 
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Wow,you are really being thorough in setting yourself up to succeed.  I'm glad it is going so well.  You could take oatmeal and raisins with you, or what ever else you want to eat, and it is a good idea to have some food before your work shift.

I wonder how much you have looked in to metabolism, and the digestion of various kinds of foods.  All carbohydrates turn to sugars very quickly, giving a boost to the energy level, but then many people experience a mind numbing phase of low blood sugar, when they want again to eat some kind of carbohydrate.  It kind of depends on how things fit with your schedule.  I have difficulty sleeping, and one thing that helps is to eat carbohydrates before I go to bed.  In order to lose weight, I have had most luck with a VERY LOW carbohydrate intake.  The kind where I had to ration any carb intake, watch what time of day I ate it, and needing the vitamins and fiber, eat red ripe peppers and black and blue berries, as opposed to grains.  

Our bodies have the capability to use fat metabolism - and there are differing points of view on whether our bodies "need" any carbs at all, some say yes and some say no, and there are the in betweeners of course.  Some schools of thought (and this is what I believe) say eating carbs prevents us from burning our fat stores, and that eating carbs deposits fat.  As you make all these life changes, it is something to look in to for future health supporting (and possible weight loss) strategies.

I was an RN for eons, and have worked the night shift, (and thankfully NOT worked the night shift because there were others to do it).  It has an added load of health challenges brought on by working those hours and by making an individual an outsider to the dominant day worker culture.  It is a rare individual who can live with that schedule and those challenges, and rarer still, the individual who can also embark on and stay with a program such as you are laying out for yourself.  I salute you as one of those doubly rare individuals.

 
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Yay Cassie! You are doing GREAT!!! I dance for you!!


"I had a very specific craving for a big bowl of oatmeal with raisins."

 Try eating protein about 3-4 hours before you ride, changes how your body metabolizes energy. I agree with Thelka McDaniels, learn about metabolism, you are changing your habits quickly (YAY!) and that's changing your metabolism, and you are craving accordingly. Oatmeal and raisins is very good complex carbohydrates to crave, but craving carbs right after you ride means you burned a bit more than your body had right in easy reach, and it needed a fast top up of energy. Adding protein earlier, so it's digested and available when you need it in mid-ride might help you not bottom out and need the top up.

Body metabolism is VERY interesting and complex stuff to learn, maybe someone else would have a good link to read up on it, I don't off the top of my head. One of the things you are probably dealing with is your body is used to having a slosh of soda whenever your blood sugar gets a bit low, and it's not used to pulling out of your body's reserves, so it says "top up my sugars with carbs, please!!." And if you were drinking artificially sweetened soda, that does even stranger things to how your body metabolizes and copes with sugars, basically the sweet taste tells your body to expect a sugar hit and your body prepares for it, then doesn't get it, which leaves it "all revved up with no place to go" and that's a complex mess.

The upshot of this is I vote you learn more about metabolism, it's awesome interesting stuff, bodies are SUCH intricate systems, and the normal patterns of this society are to to just ignore them then be surprised when the body doesn't keep working as expected. It's a lot like the way monocrop farming is having weirder, farther reaching effects than expected, we all can't just ignore how bodies function and expect to have no surprises farther down the line.

Second take away is try eating a good solid dose of protein 3-4 hours before you ride, see if that changes anything. YMMV, but it's an experiment well worth trying. Very high odds you will notice more good solid energy and less crash and crave. Everyone's body is different, and as we all move through different stages of health and understanding we change what works for us. My guess is next step for you is the protein, rather than the oatmeal. Oatmeal IS the best of the carbs, but protein outranks any carb.

Keep it up!! So happy for you!! It's awesome to see you changing your life like this, it will end up having much farther reaching implications than you initially expected. I also vote you keep telling us, because if nothing else, the information and inspiration in this thread may help other people out of THEIR ruts. Even MORE implications than you planned for!! Just like spreading permaculture ideas can start cascading changes in the world, spreading better understanding of health and inspiration for change are great world improvements
 
Casie Becker
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I'm never sure how to respond to such wonderful praise. Thank you everyone.

The final push that started me on this path was not being able to briskly hike up a mountain while I was on vacation. I actually made it to the top, but just about killed myself in the process and had a painfully hard time getting my breath back.

I'm enjoying watching the inches fall off and anticipate the weight loss. These are both easy to measure metrics that everyone can recognize, but it's my increasing stamina that I'm most excited about. It's a lot easier to say I went down a size or lost x number of pounds than it is to explain how much more I can do. When I started biking, less than mile would wipe me out. Today,  I finished off a ten mile bike ride and then went outside to move some brush, then I mowed the lawn and now I'm considering another bike ride to go out to lunch. Much bigger than just weight loss or being smaller, but much longer to explain also.
 
Casie Becker
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Okay, I've made it to the end of one week. I biked to work four days out of five, in two day sets. I did miss one day right in the middle when I wasn't able to get to bed at a reasonable time. I can tell both by my slowly improving speed and the increasing ease with which I take the hills, that this will only become easier with time.

Today I worked nine hours and then loaded my basket with two giant pumpkins and bottled waters. I definitely noticed the last three miles are all uphill, but I was able to maintain a steady pace and was still feeling pretty good when I got home. I might even make a point of loading up on heavy grocery items on the last day of the work week, just to take advantage of the extra muscle building potential.

I am still a long way from finding this whole ride to be a breeze. I think I'll consider myself to be officially 'in shape' when I can bike twenty miles without being wiped out afterwards. Right now I can do more than ten miles and have some energy left. But add in the eight hour (plus) work shift, and I think I'm gonna go take a nap.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Your story just gets better and better, doesn't it, Casie?  I think it is great that you took a day off in the middle of your work week.  To me that represents that you are not being rigid with your self, that your program is loose enough to take changing circumstances, and your own needs into account.  I've made the mistake of just pushing myself harder, when I might have had better results if I had taken a deserved break.
 
Casie Becker
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Okay, I've ridden to work three days in a row now. If you remember last week, two days was my limit. I cut a whole ten minutes off my 45 min ride into work last night. My blood pressure and active heart rate have started to go down, and I'm returning to my resting heart rate much faster than I used to. All my muscles are just a little sore but not agonizing so I haven't actually injured anything. I think I'm at a good point to take a rest day so tonight I drive.

I had to replace my bike lights for last nights ride. Considering what time I travel at, is there someone who was riding around for several hours in the dark before they stole my lights? I'll be disconnecting my new lights and carrying them inside with the rest of my personal belongings in the future. I've always locked the trike itself up, but I didn't think of people dismantling parts attached to it. Hopefully this remains an isolated incident.
 
Casie Becker
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Okay, I think I'm settling into what will be the long running pattern of three nights a week riding to work, and two resting. My body's becoming accustomed to the higher activity level, though.

I didn't ride in last night and then felt like I had too much excess energy after work today and so pulled out my hula hoop. Five years ago it was my preferred (and highly effective) aerobic exercise. Now I was able to do ten minutes, but can only keep the hoop up going one direction. I'm going to have to work up to half an hour again, and relearn how to circle clockwise.

Now I just need to rediscover some kind of shoulder/arm exercise and I'll have full body workout covered. I can still do push ups (two deserves an s, doesn't it) but I've found two types of child's play for fitness, surely there's one more to fill in the gap.
 
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You are doing great!  Such an inspiration!

You might try holding a couples cans or bottles of water [like dumbbells] while using your hula hoop.  Then try moving your arms up and down and out to the sides.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Casie, you are more than a month into this journey of yours.  Just look at you go!

As for upper body strength, have you thought of yoga?  Plank, side plank, sun salutations, warriors.  Done as designed these are no escape for the exercise avoider.  And a real, a required part of a yoga session is a brief deep relaxation.

If you are a playful sort, or have young children, the monkey bars at playgrounds (if they still have them, it's like a horizontal ladder and you swing from one to the next, or every other one, or...) are also great arm strength, plus rhythm and coordination activities.

And if acrobatics appeal, the gymnast's even parallel bars challenge your upper body.  You could also install a climbing rope somewhere, and muster your upper body strength that way.  And there is always tree climbing.  
 
Casie Becker
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I'm probably going to go the route of holding something while I hula hoop in the future. Yoga is on the list of future possibilities, when I'm ready to start tackling my poor balance issues. That's at least another twenty or thirty pounds in the future.

I did do a lot of tree climbing as a child, so that is probably where I developed upper body strength at that time.

Definitely not the monkey bars, though. I had actual nightmares about being stuck on monkey bars. I woke up with my ribs feeling bruised from how hard I was struggling to escape in my dreams. It's funny looking back on it now, but not funny enough to make them sound fun.

I think everyone here can tell that I'm using this thread to keep track of my progress. Posting this publicly helps motivate me when I have a hard time getting out of bed early enough for the trip. Last night was one of those nights, but by ten minutes into the bike ride my body started to wake up and I felt so much better than if I'd stayed in bed longer and then drove.

I've reduced my traveling time both directions by 30% since I started this. I've been assured that the whole ride can eventually be reduced even further.

I'm going to start using one of my days off to either tackle some hills or take longer rides.  I've got one hill in particular that just about killed me the first time I took it. It's the route I'll take when looking for one more tail light for my wide rear end. That's the trike I'm talking about, not a personal description.

Last night on the way in, two small deer got trapped in the grass between me and a six foot privacy fence. For about two hundred feet we traveled side by side until there was an opening for them to flee into a vacant field.
 
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Sounds like you're on the right track! I have started drinking a chia drink in the morning .... The chia seeds are FULL of nutrition, filling & energizing, and many use this for weight loss. Even sweetened with sugar or honey it still might be a good substitute for the soda.
 
Casie Becker
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Okay, unhappy news. My tricycle was stolen from our yard, so until the police find it or I have enough excess funds to replace it this project is on hold. I really enjoyed it and it was very functional as a vehicle for nearly every situation, so I will definitely get another one (if the police don't stumble upon this one first).

We have extra cautious neighbors who actually caught the group of teenagers doing this on camera. They went up and down the street taking things out of unlocked cars the same night. I've been telling myself it was the sacrificial goat that saved other family members vehicles. Both of the other vehicles in the same driveway were unlocked with keys in the ignition and the boys didn't try either one after they seized on the trike.

I'll post here when the trike gets replaced.
 
Anne Miller
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I am so sorry to hear about your theft.  Better than taking the other vehicles for sure!  I hope the police can track those kids down and teach them a good lesson otherwise they will continue to have fun at other peoples expense.  
 
Casie Becker
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Having the first one stolen took a lot of the initial joy out of it. It's a huge splurge on my budget, but I quickly put on ten pounds and my feet returned to feeling like they were bruised all the time. I think I was a little afraid of attracting more thieves if I was seen riding it. I went out anyways and spent the money to replace my bike and accessories. I actually found a new set of bike lights that works even better than the old one. They fit securely on the thin wires of the back basket so I can put them on the outside corners instead of having to jury rig the attachment.

A couple of days ago I took it on the first daylight ride. This morning I took it on it's initial night ride where I circled the neighborhood and picked up a couple of bags of leaves. Out of everything in a suburban neighborhood, the creepiest thing is the random hovering light of a doorbell on an unlit porch. They're just the color of a flame, but aren't flickering and they're not round like most bulbs.

I've lost some of the muscle that had been developing, but I still think if I had to that I could make the ride to work. I'm going to have to regain confidence before that happens. Every time I lock my bike when I park it at home it is a unhappy reminder that it could be stolen again. For now I'm going to be using it for short range errands where it won't be left unattended for eight hours or more in a public space. Without the regular trips to work and back this will be a slower process. It will probably fit better with the original title of this thread. It may be solely in pursuit of junk food and soda, but I'm working towards better health.

I do still really enjoy riding it. My balance improved when I lost some weight, but it's still not all that great. Something that is nearly impossible to topple is wonderful for my confidence. I also love the basket on the back which meant when I stumbled across freshly bagged leaves, bringing them home was just a matter of throwing them in the back.

 
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