adventure, fitness and nutrition

I Hit the Road

For the first time in 2021 I hit the road for an 11 mile bike ride. Just me, the pavement, my trusty bike, a travel buddy, and some AirPods.

It was a spring day and the sun was beating strong. The breeze was just right when I went downhill. I took the scenic route on some roads that a small town noted as a great trek. I have no clue how many others take this trip but it was a fabulous ride today.

Good Hope, Georgia was the starting point. A postage stamp town of sorts. A gas station / general store and Dollar General were about the biggest storefronts I came across. That was fine by me today.

Instead of city life, I saw some chickens and lots of cows on the trek. I stumbled upon a historic landmark and breezed by what seemed liked a ton of cemeteries. Oddly enough the cemeteries were intriguing. Some had fresh flowers displayed and were well maintained while others were hidden gems in random spots where all else around them were either developed or forgotten areas. While riding my bike I very much enjoy seeing what is in plain sight. Some things we can easily miss when riding in a car rushing to our next destination.

The scents of the air were different with the passing miles. There was some fresh cut grass. There was the scent of animals lingering by the roadside. There were some nasty and foul stenches that smelled like the worst poop smell ever. Burning poop is all I could think of. I’m pretty sure some farmer was burning manure. The smell could cut straight through the best face coverings. Guess I know what to burn if I need to annoy my neighbors!  Onto more pleasant aromas. The floral smells definitely were more enjoyable as many flowers and trees were blooming around.

The sounds of the ride were also fun. Listening with one ear for approaching cars or trucks. Guessing what kind of vehicle will pass you as you feel the car approaching your rear. So many drivers are courteous to bikers enjoying the day however others could be annoyed and want to cut a little close to you. Listening to engines crank for tractors and lawn mowers. Hearing kids giggle when you pass a pool.

The cows were not only chatty with their moo moo here and there but also with their interest in humans. They rose from their naps, came close to the fence lines and just stopped chewing the grass to see what was passing by. It was definitely an experience. Take the back roads. You never know what you may see!

I guess you are living on the edge when sharing the road with cars while you are on two wheels. Similar to a motorcycle yet self-propelled. It’s great to explore new places, try new things and just escape the ordinary. That’s exactly what I did today.

Opt outside. Take a ride on a bike or maybe try skates. Just opt for active and enjoy the outdoors. I am sure I will write more about my cycling adventures in 2021 as I am opting to travel to new spots to see what adventures unfold for me.

Until next time. These two chicks will leave you with some stinky reminders of the burning poop field. The fact that we stopped to take a photo indicates we have issues. Just saying! 

Thanks to @waltonwellness for the shout out on Instagram and the great trail experience. Be sure to find your local Share the Road project.

challenges, family

Body Shaming

Where to start with this one? I’m confident in my body and its outward appearance to others. I may not be a size two with an hourglass figure but that’s okay. I wasn’t built with that frame.

I’m thicker. I have more padding. Some muscles. Some fat. For years I didn’t always make the best eating choices. Those minutes on the lips last a lifetime on the hips is a true statement. Since I can’t change history, I live in the skin I have. The weathered skin. The unbroken shell. The thick-by-design to ward off all those who try to poke at my body image.
This is me as an adult. Have I always been this strong? Probably not, but it’s where I am today. Now for a young impressionable girl, she may struggle with body image. Why? Because the digital world is an unforgiving place. Let me just share a few examples:

  • You are a female athlete. A boy can feel intimidated if your body is stronger than theirs. What do they do? Bash you online. Why? To feed their own ego or soothe their own inferiority complex.
  • You are a female with some meat on your bones. Thick thighs. Big booty. Full chest. Are you different from others your age? Maybe. Does that make you a target? It could. Others may feel the need to pass judgment on you only because they are not confident in themselves. This isn’t always a male. Sometimes females act negatively.

What is wrong with kids today that they think it’s okay to ridicule another female’s body? Body shaming they call it. When the girl cries herself to sleep at night or does not eat for a year, who wins? Nobody.

Words hurt. Pictures tell stories and mark journeys. They should not be used to target somebody’s ego in a negative manner online. Unfortunately shallow folks choose the latter. As sad as it sounds. It happens. 

I am a social person. I’m also an online presence. One can take my pictures and poke fun for them. I am okay with that as it takes all types to make up a world. However a young impressionable girl may not have the same mental strength to do the same when their photos are misused.

If you have a son, raise them right. Teach them to respect women/females. If you have a female teach them that they should lift up other females not degrade them. Neither action is progress. Don’t allow your kids the ability to body shame anyone. It’s not right. It’s hurtful.

Every parent has the responsibility to talk to teens as they approach teen hood to young adults and let them know how the internet can be a tool as well as a weapon. Without that conversation they may not realize how their keystrokes can be damaging.

The repeat convo over and over is the next step. Teens need constant reminders from adults. Their brains are still developing. They may not understand that their actions have consequences. 

If this message reaches you, do your part if you are a parent and have the difficult conversation. If you are in the teen to young adult age group. Read and reread this post as many times as you need to. If you are not in either age group, pass in on or share the overall knowledge. 

challenges, fitness and nutrition

Duathlon DIY-Style, and 2021’s OLW

One of my goals last year was to challenge myself to a duathlon. I ended up registering for a summer triathlon which was pushed back until next year.

I had all but given up on this goal at the end of the summer. After the race was postponed, I lost my excitement and drive to train and learn for the event. It wasn’t until a friend rallied a group of gym women around an engine building cardio challenge that I found the will to run and bike again with any kind of regularity.

I knew I wouldn’t tri this year, but a duathlon wasn’t out of the question. I decided not to register for an official race at year end. But I wanted to at least complete a “ceremonial” sprint duathlon to have a benchmark and a check mark. So I went for it one frigid December morning just after sunrise. Just me, my playlist, my essentials and my mileage counters. On my mark, get set, go.

3.1 mile run. The mist was rising off the lake. Bridges were still slippery from the chill and the dew. Three loops, making my way along. Not too fast, but not too bad

Transition to the bike. Fleece hat off, helmet on. Legs adjusting to the pedals. Skittering along. Ups, downs, loops. The sting of the cold on my face. Losing feeling in my hands as I watch the miles tick, tick, tick away. Singing along while avoiding potholes and traffic. I finally found a quarter mile loop for a soccer field off the beaten path. Rode it again and again and again for about 8 miles. Only a quick stop for a carb boost in the middle. Then back to dancing on the pedals. Saddle soreness set in at mile 8. Toe cramps began at 10. I held on to finish the 12.4 mile stretch. Ended this leg averaging 10.9 mph which is actually a decent pace. If I had been on flats the whole time it would have been quicker. Lifting and loading my bike with frozen hands was a challenge all its own.

Then the final crunch. The one you train for. The one that hurts. Off the bike and into the last run. When I trained for the tri early this year, I read about this transition and how brutal it is. The quick pace of the bike makes that last mile grueling at best. I started pretty well then it quickly deteriorated. As the mile wore on, I just willed myself forward. I passed a committee of vultures. Keep singing. Dodged piles of goose poop on the path. Keep moving. Step after step. One at a time. No stopping. Knees hurting. No breaks. Just all ahead as much as I can.

I finished. No crowds no medals no beers or cokes. No parades or high fives. No banana no T-shirt. But I checked it off. I don’t need festivities to know what I have done. Didn’t quite make it under my two hour goal, but sometimes completion is the victory in that moment. I will get that goal next time. I’ll take my imaginary participation ribbon thankyouverymuch.

A DIY-duathlon gives you a lot of time to think. My mind couldn’t help but wander as I looped around and around. As much discomfort as I felt, I thanked my body for carrying me through those 17-plus miles. My mental and physical stamina made it a successful effort. A year like this one makes me realize all the more how much these different types of health are worth.

I’ve shared many times how much I love words and wordplay here on the blog. In those bike miles, I found my mind playing with the word duathlon. I bet many people didn’t even know that was a word. Then I broke it into do-athlon. Which led to a good long think about the word “DO.” I am such a thinker, often an overthinker, and not always such a do-er. I decided in those miles that my word of 2021 will be DO. It will be my year to jump in and get things done. I’m still settling into this word and what it will mean for me. I hope you’ll read along wherever the path leads.

health

Keeping Afloat

Today’s world is a bit crazy at times. 7-8 months into Corona and something new comes up each day it seems.

Focusing on your physical and mental health is extremely important during this time. Getting a flu shot may be one way to combat today’s issues. Seeking help for depression or anxiety could be another.

For me I use personal fitness and a healthy eating regimen to keep me balanced. It works for me but that may not be feasible for you. You must invest in yourself to see how to battle today’s craziness.

Just this week I have seen folks self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to get by. I had experience with, one falling into depression. I even had an acquaintance deal with the emotions of a positive test and quarantine restrictions. This is just this week.

Check on your social network. Those working from home are feeling the pains of limited social outlets. Check on the elderly they are struggling with their own limitations. Lack of group services and connections in this age group can be devastating. Check on your kids. Whether digital learners or in-person they both have stress among each scenario.

Some folks are hungry despite food programs expanding. Some are losing housing now that extensions are no more. And we can’t forget our athletes. Whether amateur or professional, they have all had opportunities stripped from them in one way or another. Be compassionate.

This is time to look out for others. Help where you can. Offer resources or referrals in your area to anyone who might need it.

Keeping your mind and body healthy is very important these days. Wishing you the best from afar. Kindness does really matter.

fitness and nutrition

My Dumbbell Museum

A few days ago I shared about some “vintage” Easter treasures that have found new life in our home during the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s another area in our home that has found some new life as we have become more and more isolated.  All the members of my family have lost access to our gym and fitness facilities / practices, so our makeshift basement gym space has become a hub of activity on and off from 6:30 am (my exercise time) on throughout the day.

As with many things in this new “normal” we are making do with what we have. Stuff is coming out of corners, emerging from piles, being excavated after years of gathering dust.  Most of our gym stuff is old, inherited, or has other stories.  Here’s a glimpse of my fitness lives through my gallery of dumbbells.  And these are only the ones that I use(d)…those above 25 just aren’t on my radar at the moment.

Starting with the smallest:

Empower handweights: 2.5 lbs

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I used these when I was trying to walk my weight off.  Before running, before CrossFit, before any of it.  I would pump my arms up and down as I walked. Not sure how to use them in my current routines but anything is possible!

Reebok coated baby dumbbells: 5 lbs

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These are from my “aerobics in front of the TV while the kids are napping” phase.  Seems like not that long ago, but it really was.  I showed these to my son this week and he remembered watching me do my little routines with them from the stairs. Now they are paint-splattered and worn.  But, I remember holding the weights over my head and lowering them behind my head to feel my triceps burn. They work for T-raises and other isolated accessory movements.

Super Star Orbatrons: 11 lbs (yes, 11 pounds which makes them extra awesome!)

These babies, with their sand-filled copper sheen, date back to my childhood. They’re almost as big as my head! And I use them almost every day. I know, you’re jealous.  They’re fabulous. My dad would sit and do curls with these at the dinner table while he was reading the paper.  He was always fighting to retain any bit of strength he could on his ultra-arthritic arms. So these have sentimental value.  They are big and clunky. They are round, which adds a challenge when I am trying to balance on one in pushup position while picking up the other.  But they make me smile in all their 1980’s style glory.

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(Pause to note: I am reallllyyyyy missing 15-pounders right here. I often used those in weighted situps and some of the slower accessory movements.  I keep scanning the internet for used ones almost daily!)

Metal Hex Dumbbells (on bench): 20 lbs.

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These came from my in-laws. They at least have flat sides so they don’t roll around like the 10s do. These are my go-tos for overhead presses and many other movements.   Not much to say about them but they are durable and well used.

Rubber Hex Dumbbell: 25 lbs.

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Finally, the only “new” dumbbell in the bunch.  I bought this when I was at my first CrossFit gym.  That gym had nothing between 20 and 35 pounds, and that span was too big of a jump for me.  So, I bought myself *one* 25-pound dumbbell. I hid it in the ladies dressing area when I wasn’t using it.  It was not too long ago that picking this up was a feat!  I remember doing my first 25-pound single-arm snatch with it only a couple of years ago.  Now, I mainly use it for snatches.  Using it still gets me winded.

I don’t have 30-pounders which stinks.  We have 35s but they are metal.  I’m not especially confident (and I am truly clumsy) so I tend to leave everything over 25 alone, especially since I don’t have a coach watching these days.  But that’s ok.

I move every day, I lift weights, and I’m making do with what I have.  I guess that’s a motto for me at this point fitness-wise.  Making the best with what I have, and hoping for the best as time goes on. It’s not glossy or shiny or perfect or new, kinda like me. As with these dumbbells, there are many ages and pages to my fitness story.  This chapter will be a memorable one.

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