Wordless Wednesday: Ready to Ride

Wordless Wednesday: Biking in Berkley

Wordless Wednesday: Bicycle Crash

bike crash

Biking Across the Golden Gate Bridge

gastric bypass dischargeLast week, I visited the Bay Area for the first time. I’ve been to southern California many times, but never north of Fresno. When I had travel plans to go to San Jose for SMX West, I decided to go to San Francisco for 2 days of sightseeing. I did tons of walking, and saw all the sites possible. I did a double-decker bus tour of the city, and noticed all of the bikes around. I saw the signs to ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, and I immediately knew that I wanted to do it.

As I looked into the various bike tours, I realized that it wasn’t just riding a bike 1.7 across the bridge. It was going to be a significant physical event. I ate a very yummy lunch at the pub at Ghiradelli Square (eggs Benedict with brisket on homemade cornbread) and got enough protein and carbs to last me for a couple hours. I packed some snacks…some jerky for protein and peanut butter M&Ms for some quick sugar.

I rented my bike from Blazing Saddles, and picked it up near Fisherman’s Wharf. They offer rentals by the hour, or for a full day. It was $27 for a 24-hour rental, and they gave me the map to get to Sausalito. Everyone gave a little different account of how hard it would be…and how many miles I’d be riding, so I just geared up for a very long 9+ mile ride.

I rode along the bike trail along the Presidio, through the wetlands at Chrissy Field, and enjoyed a gorgeous, sunny day in San Francisco. While I was attempting awkward selfies with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, I met a girl named Cat who was also trying to do the same. We took pictures for each other, including the picture above. We hit it off immediately, and decided we’d ride the bridge together. There were some pretty wicked hills to get up to the bridge itself, and I had to walk a fair amount of the hills. Once we were on top we were ready to ride across one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States.
golden gate bridge biking collage
It was such a sensory experience to ride the bridge. First off, I was sore from the 4+ miles of bike riding I’d already done at this point, and was surprised that it was actually an incline for the first third of the bridge. We were on the far left of the bridge, riding in a narrow lane that also had bikers coming from the opposite direction. So I was sandwiched between other bikers, and oncoming vehicle traffic coming on the right (only separated by an inadequate fence). I had to concentrate to keep up my speed, avoid running into other bikers, but still enjoying the gorgeous view of the bay. It was emotional to see the pure beauty of the misty bay, with my heart racing from the physical exertion, and realize I was in the process of doing one of the most exhilarating things of my life.

Once at the opposite end of the bridge, Cat and I took pictures together. We were so happy to enjoy the experience together. She was on time restrictions, so we parted ways after our pictures. She rode back across the bridge toward Fisherman’s Wharf, and I continued on to do the ride into Sausalito.

When I picked up my bike, the people there said “And then it’s just a 3 mile easy ride down to Sausalito.” Oh, how wrong they were! I was not downhill like I expected.There was a steep and curvy portion to get down underneath the bridge, and it was flat to drive into Fort Point. But then the next 3+ miles were on an incline. And some pretty steep inclines. I found this course on MapMyRide, and as you can see…the elevation rises were pretty significant. Had I known that I’d be doing such tough biking, I would have thought twice about the full ride. And against doing so much additional riding around before I crossed the Golden Gate.

Once I finally got into Sausalito, I was TIRED. And hungry. I just barely missed the ferry back to Pier 39, so I decided to get some dinner and catch the next ferry. I found the bike parking near the ferry, and walked around to find a place to eat. I misread the ferry schedule and missed it by about 2 minutes, which meant I had to wait another 75 minutes to catch the last ferry. Even though my legs were on fire, I walked around Sausalito more until it was time to board the ferry.

The ferry ride was 30 minutes, and I was so worn out I dozed for a lot of the ride. We passed Alcatraz and watched the LED light show on the Bay Bridge. As we were docking, I realized that we weren’t going  to Pier 39 like I thought, but all the way over to the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero. That meant I had an additional mile-plus ride to get back to the bike shop. At that point, my legs were so rubbery and tired I could hardly ride. Especially in the hillier portions of the city. By the time I dropped off my bike, it was after 8 pm, which meant I’d been on a bike or walking for over 7 hours. I returned my gear, hopped the trolley, and got back to my room as quickly as possible. I was totally asleep within 10 minutes of hitting the sack.

Like learning how to ski, riding this course was something I never would have attempted before losing weight. It felt so awesome to be able to enjoy such a physically-taxing activity. My butt and legs were sore for days (even to the point it was hard to stay seated at SMX), but it was so worth it.

Learning How To Ski

park city mountain resortI’ve been embarrassed about something for many years. I’ve lived in Utah for half of my life, but never experienced “The Greatest Snow On Earth” on skis. This all changed last week when I learned how to ski at Park City Mountain Resort.

Now, in full disclosure, this was not my first time on skis. I went skiing, but did not learn to ski. Back in 1999, before I married my crazy ex-husband, he talked me into going night skiing in Idaho. There were a few problems with the situation:

  1. I did not know how to ski
  2. It was night skiing in Idaho, and it was -6 degrees
  3. The mountain wasn’t snow, it was ice
  4. I wasn’t wearing the right clothes
  5. My ex was not a good teacher, and thought that he’d just take me up the lift and teach me to ski at the top

Needless to say, it was an awful experience. I didn’t know the basics of how to actually keep myself upright on skis. I fell when getting off the lift. I fell trying to get to a place to learn the basics, and he still didn’t do a good job teaching me. As soon as I started to move down the hill, I always fell within 30 seconds. I fell and fell and fell. I didn’t know the proper way to take off my skis or get up after falling. I fell so much that Steve got bored and took off down the hill to have some “fun” before dealing with me again. I made it about halfway down the hill in 45 minutes, flagged down the ski patrol guy on a 4-wheeler, and asked to be driven down the hill. With an experience like that, and years of  poor health, I didn’t expect to ever actually learn to ski.

nicole on the slopesMy “learning to ski” outing was a part of a retreat for Social Media Club of Salt Lake City board members.  I said that I’d love to go skiing, but didn’t know how, so our fearless leader Krista set me up to take the Never Ever Half Day lesson. I came prepared, unlike my first time skiing. I had the proper layers, ski pants, socks, goggles, gloves, hat, and jacket.

I arrived at PCMR around noon, got set up with my rental for boots, skis, and poles. I hobbled outside in my boots, found the area with the instructors, and found my group. I learned to ski with a girl from northern California and 3 people from Chicago. I can’t lie…I felt a little embarrassed to be the only one living in Utah who had never  learned to ski.

We started out with “babysteps” – gliding around a flat area on one ski, figuring out how to turn around, and how to balance. Once the second ski was on, it started to feel like something I’d be able to do. We practiced maneuvers in an area that wasn’t too steep or busy, and hopped on these cool conveyor belts to take us back up to the top of the practice area. After about 90 minutes of instruction, we were finally able to hop on the ski lift!

park city never everAfter being on my feet for a while, it was nice to relax for a few minutes riding the lift. And of course, the view was amazing. I lucked out by going on a day with gorgeous blue skies and puffy white clouds. It was windy and cold, but not too cold.

At the top of the hill, I felt inspired to quote the ski scene from one of my favorite movies – Better off Dead.

“Go that way. Really fast. If something gets in your way, TURN.”

The group followed our instructor to a part of the hill that wasn’t too busy, and our first run went well. When I was at the bottom of the hill..I couldn’t believe that I made it down the hill without any epic crashing nor burning. I did it!

During the day, we made 5 runs down the mountain as a group. Surprisingly, I  wasn’t the worst skier in the group, and I was comfortable skiing faster by my third run. But because I was getting ahead of the group, I stopped for a moment to let people catch up. I was admiring the scenery, taking in the mountain air, and then suddenly I was on the ground. I lost focus just long enough for my skis to cross and fall over. It wasn’t easy on my pride to fall over, but at least I only fell once. And I knew the proper technique to take off my ski and get up on my feet.

Skiing is a lot more physically taxing than a regular workout. I typically work out 3-6 times a week at the gym, but skiing just trashes your muscles. Around the 3 hour mark, I was tired. And thirsty. And began feeling symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia. I had plenty of food and drinks in the car, but not with me on the slopes. I asked the group if anyone had food on them, and a girl dramatically whips out a banana and says “I’ve got a banana in my pocket!” I had a few nibbles, and took a break at the bottom of the hill. My instructor had some almonds, so the group took a breather and I gobbled down my snacks. Between the rest and food, I was feeling refreshed enough to do one last run.

At the top of the hill, I had to take a good photo of myself. Victories like this don’t happen everyday.

nicole bullock skiing

I’d like to say “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” But that’s not quite true. If you’re going to learn to ski, make sure that you’re in the habit of being physically active. If you’re fairly sedentary, you probably will get tired quickly and your body will hate you. I’m in the habit of frequent activity, and I was in AGONY for days. For the first two days, I did lots of stretching, loaded up on protein, and guzzled as much water as possible, but there was no way of getting around the pain. Especially because I can no longer take NSAIDs because of my gastric bypass. Tylenol only works so well on inflammatory muscle pain.

If you’re in Utah and want to give skiing a try, I’d love to go with you. Now I feel like I have an essential Utah activity in my skill repertoire.

Now to try snowboarding…

Wordless Wednesday: Alone At The Gym

alone at the gym

Wordless Wednesday: Hiking In Oregon

Nicole Bullock oregon

Wordless Wednesday: Winter Shoe Switcheroo

switching shoes at the gym

Wordless Wednesday: Winter Morning Swim = Blow Drying At The Gym

#TmFit And The Walmart Workout

moving comfort workout hoodie

Happy New Year!

Today begins 2013, a year where I feel in control of my life. I feel in control of my body. I feel in control of my health. And I’m actually doing well with self-control and taking accountability for my actions. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying hard every day.

It’s been more difficult to blog here lately because my rapid weight loss has tapered off. I’ve been at a plateau for a few weeks, and I can’t get the scale to budge below 250.0 pounds. Granted, it’s not just about the scale…I’ve had many non-scale victories. One of the best ways to work yourself out of a plateau is just that: work. You can’t just rely on the food you eat to sustain your weight loss – you must be active. It’s necessary.

My friend Alex published a post on his blog called “Don’t Wait Until January” last week. Along with adopting a more healthy lifestyle for himself, he wants to help others get into a healthier lifestyle using public accountability on social media. In the post, he said

“If you are out of shape, for any reason, I think you should join me in the battle to be healthy again. And for me, it is a battle. A daily one. If you are reading this and you are overweight and out of shape, don’t make fun of it any longer. Don’t tease or joke about how you eat poorly and never exercise. I used to do the same. It’s a defense mechanism. We all want to live happy, fun and productive lives. So let’s help each other do that. I know I need your help and maybe you could use a bit of mine (or someone else’s). If even one of you join in, that would be great. If more of you join in, even better. There is strength in numbers!”

The terms of the challenge? It’s completely up to you. No “crazy pills or fad diets”. Make sustainable changes to your life by eating less (especially junk food) and moving more. And because you can’t improve on what you don’t measure, tracking is essental. I’m using the MyFitnessPal and Fitocracy apps to track myself, and I check in on Twitter (using team fit hashtag #TmFit) and checking in on our Facebook group. Posts are also being made on Instagram and Google+ with the #TmFit hashtag.

#tmfit fitness challenge
Even though I was up past midnight to ring in the new year, I was wide awake at 4:20 am. My gym is closed for the holiday, and I was trying to decide what to do. I didn’t want any excuses (like the 17 degree weather outside) deter me from getting in a workout, so I decided to innovate.

people of walmart workout

This morning I drove down the highway and did a workout at the 24-hour Walmart. I arrived before 5:30 am, and the only people in the store were employees. As they were stocking the shelves, I kicked my walking into high gear and zig-zagged the aisles. Back and forth through the store, with stops in the sporting goods section to do a few sets of arm exercises with 10 pound dumbbells and a 20 pound kettlebell. I checked my heartrate often to make sure I was always over 140 beats per minute, and I didn’t stop until after I’d hit the hour mark. I got plenty of funny looks from Walmart employees, and had people ask me “Is there anything I can help you find?” more times than I can count. Afterwards, I did some shopping in three different corners of the store (so I didn’t feel guilty for using the store for my personal purposes).

I didn’t use a pedometer, but I’m sure I walked somewhere around 2-3 miles, and my arms are feeling a good burn from the weights and kettlebell. I also don’t know how many calories I burned, but 60+ minutes of moderate exercise is nothing to scoff at. It was much better than risking an asthma attack taking a walk in the cold. Now to see if anyone submits a picture of me to People of Walmart.

My goals for the next 60 days of #TmFit:

  • Exercise at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week, but strive for more
  • Get below 240 pounds by the end of February
  • Track all of my exercise in MyFitnessPal (username: cuteculturechick)
  • Be honest with my reporting, even when I am feeling lazy or eating poorly

If you’re interested in joining me and Alex (and many other Utah social media friends) in Team Fit, send me a message on Facebook or a tweet to @cuteculturechic and @_alexlawrence with the #TmFit hashtag. Then leave a comment on Alex’s blog post, and you’ll get access to the Facebook group. We’d love to have you join us.