Wordless Wednesday: Ready to Ride

Wordless Wednesday: Bicycle Crash

bike crash

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: 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.

Reclaiming An Active Lifestyle

hiking in san dimas canyonA lot of people hate exercise. But I am not one of those people.

It might not make sense to some people that overweight and obese people love to be active. Despite my weight getting into the upper 300s, I wasn’t opposed to exercising just because it required effort. I didn’t exercise because I was good at hurting myself. When I start an exercise program, I am gung-ho at first – I feel motivated, I prioritize my time to make sure I fit it into my day, and end up with crazy insomnia from all the endorphins. But then I hurt myself, or over-exhaust myself, and it’s hard to start back up again when I’m able.

I’ve been conservative about exercise since surgery, until about 6 weeks ago. My body was losing weight rapidly solely from my food intake, and I was figuring out how much I needed to ingest for general survival. Because I have been so prone to exercise-related injuries, I wanted to wait for intense exercise until I knew I could do it without doing a number on my joints.

During the summer and fall, it was easy to get in some exercise by walking around my neighborhood or while shopping. I won a bike at a blog event in September, so I did quite a few rides on the Jordan River Parkway until the weather got too cold.

working out after gastric bypassWhen my family went to England last month, we did LOTS of walking. Some days, we walked around the city for up to 10 hours a day. I felt like I was in a good place with my body to ramp up the exercise. Doing workouts in the cold are aren’t good for my lungs (it’s a trigger for asthma and bronchospasms, especially when air quality is bad from an inversion). I looked into local gyms, and found out that the Lehi Legacy Center, was not only inexpensive (only $42 per month for a family membership), but there were lots of options to mix up my exercise routine. There’s a really nice pool, an indoor track, a large cardio area, and weight room. So far, I’ve been 11 times in 3 weeks.


When we went to California for Thanksgiving, Taylor and I decided to try to walk a 5k on Thanksgiving morning. All of my friends were doing Turkey Trots, and I know of any going on locally. My in-laws live near San Dimas Canyon, so my husband and I did a lengthy walk/hike of 4.2 miles (well beyond the 5k I’d planned on). I burned enough calories that I didn’t  worry too much about how many calories I ate for Thanksgiving dinner. I did have a reactive hypoglycemia episode after Thanksgiving dinner, but I’ll talk about that more in another blog post.

The next morning I was feeling motivated, so I took a walk up through the walking trail in Heritage Park. I was playing around with the Nike+ app, and wanted to see the differences in how many calories I could burn if I threw in a few bursts of jogging. I haven’t attempted ANY running since 2007, and that was after losing some weight and being on a consistent gym schedule. I was please to find out that I enjoyed it. I could only run 30-60 seconds at a time, but it was energizing. My only complaint was the shoes I was wearing, so I knew I shouldn’t run again until I bought some proper shoes.

New Balance shoes

I started looking at websites to see reviews for running shoes, and was blown away at how many preferences for shoes runners have. I wanted to make sure that I chose the perfect shoe if I was making an investment over $100. Unfortunately, I didn’t have $100 extra bucks in my budget for a pair of running shoes.

I lucked out while shopping at Nordstrom Rack for some Christmas gifts, and found this pair of New Balance running shoes for only $24. They are quite comfortable, and I like the colors. As silly as it sounds, I was already leaning toward a pair of New Balances because they have NB on the tongue (and NB could also stand for Nicole Bullock) 🙂

I’ve got a long way to go in my weight loss, but I’m so happy that my body is able to keep up with my spirit again. I am naturally a “go and do” kind of girl, and I like that I have the energy to get a lot more done. It’s amazing how much easier it is to get around with 123 pounds off my body.




Wordless Wednesday: Gym Date With My Husband


Color Me Rad 5k Day!

I’ve never been much of a runner, but I love to walk. A 5k has been out of the question for several years. I actually have done a 5k before, back in 2007 when I was in great shape. I was in the habit of multiple gym workouts a week, and I was able to run about half of it. I was about 80 pounds less than I am now when I did that.

When I found out that Color Me Rad was sponsoring the Breathing Space Blogger Retreat I’m on the council for, I looked at the website and thought “That’s really cool. I’ll bet that it would be a lot of fun to do.” But I wasn’t in the mindset of actually DOING a 5k. But peer pressure got the best of me, and I decided, by jove, I’d do it! And who better to accompany me, but my darling daughter and sidekick Rosie?!?

As part of the Breathing Space registration, I got free entry for the race. The Breathing Space ladies met up before and after the race to cheer each other on and take pictures. We met at Utah Valley University with clean hair and white shirts, and started going in the 9:15 wave of the run. The campus is fairly hilly, but I kept a pretty constant pace of about 3 MPH.

Everyone received a packet of colored cornstarch to throw on other people in the race, and there were 4 color stations spread through the course of the race. I knew I’d be getting colorful with the color powder, but what I didn’t expect was that they’d be spraying LIQUID color at the color stations. The first one was yellow, and they were pretty tame with their garden sprayer tanks. They splashed my shirt but mostly sprayed my arms so the powdered color would stick better. The next color station was crazy – dark green! And they didn’t just spray me with droplets of green, they totally soaked my shorts and part of my shirt. It was chilly outside (about 45 degrees and breezy) so walking in soaked shorts was NOT what I expected.

One of the funnest parts of the 5k was the people watching. Some were wearing long striped socks, others in wigs and tutus. There were moms pushing their kids in jogging strollers, and the kids were getting just as colored as their parents. The second color station was blood red, and we got pretty well soaked at that station too. The color was a little worrisome, because it actually looked like blood on the skin. If you didn’t know that it was part of the race, you would think that someone was bleeding pretty severely.  Station 4 was blue, and I think they sprayed me just the right amount…enough to have some blue stripes of color and fun droplets on my shirt. On the skin, the blue made us look like Smurfs or people from the Blue Man Group. We saw a guy who got soaked in the blue liquid, and he ended up looking like Tobias Funke from Arrested Development. Luckily he wasn’t a nevernude in cutoff shorts.

Finishing the race was such a thrill! I decided to run the last bit, and I was greeted with cheers and high-fives as I ran through the inflatable arch. I was literally covered in colors from the top of my head down to my toes. My running shoes are totally speckled…and I think I’ll keep them colorful to remind me of the day. Surprisingly, I wasn’t sore at all after finishing the race. Little did I know the pain would hit me later in the day with the force of a wrecking ball.

Color Me Rad

I’m so glad I had Rosie do the 5k with me. I know I did it a lot slower than most people (my time was about an hour and 5 minutes). But Rosie kept me going and we had fun laughing at all the funny colored people we saw. It’s funny who everyone looked different, but almost everyone had a smile on their face.

Color Me Rad UtahWill I do another 5k? I’m pretty sure I’ll do a few. It’s hard for me to imagine being fit enough to run a whole 3.2 miles. I’ve had a variety of health issues, and I struggle with frequent hip pain. When I asked my doctor about running, he said I should wait to do a lot of running until I’m closer to 250 (which will be in a few months, at the rate my weight loss is going). I’m planning to do the Dirty Dash in June (another sponsored perk for Breathing Space) and I’m hoping to feel up to running a little more.

Woo hoo! I did a 5k!

Color Me Rad Utah