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Posts Tagged ‘Adventures in Fitness’

bilbl_superOn Sunday, June 14th my sister, 3 friends, and I got up super early and drove up to San Francisco’s Presidio area to participate in the inaugural Mermaid Series Tour de San Francisco bike ride.  I was so excited to take part in this ride because I’ve participated in Mermaid Series events a few times in the past, and appreciated how organized and fun they are. Plus, I love riding my bike, and who better to do it with than my sister and my 3 BFFs?  Not to mention, I’ve never ridden my bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, so that would be exciting, too.

We’d signed up for the 7-mile ride, choosing the more conservative mileage since this was our first attempt.  I kept thinking we should’ve signed up for the 13-miler, but once I saw the hills involved in that leg of the ride, I’m so glad we stuck with the shorter distance.

Since it was 6:30am when we left my house, the ride up to the City was smooth and easy.  Hardly any other crazies on the road at that time of the morning on a Sunday.  We even found a primo parking area, which made the start of the race really nice.

Of course we had to stop and take some pre-race photos to capture the moment.

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Geared up and ready to ride!

Geared up and ready to ride!

It was a foggy morning, which is usual at Crissy Field in the morning, but it was the perfect temperature for the bike ride.  As we made our approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, we all took photos to capture the beauty all around us.

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As we turned that corner, we realized what they meant by a “medium-sized hill.”  I guess the Mermaid Series is all about the art of understatement, because the hill was quite steep.  I rode it almost all the way to the top, but eventually had to get off my bike and walk.  One of my goals for next year’s ride (because my friends and I all plan on doing this ride again next year) is to make it up the hill all the way without getting off to walk.

Once we hit a really scenic area right before we’d get on the Bridge, we all stopped to take photos again.

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I love this pic of my sister and me and our

I love this pic of my sister and me and our “dueling” bikes.

Now it was time to get on the Bridge and ride. The wind was blowing, the fog was rolling, the cars were speeding by, and other bikers kept saying, “on your left,” but despite these obstacles, I was truly awed at the fact that I was riding my bike on this magnificent bridge.  There really is nothing else like it anywhere.

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The journey toward Sausalito was tough – my legs were pumping and we were fighting the elements, including that brutal wind, which offered a ton of resistance.  There was also a very steady incline the entire time.  All of this didn’t phase me, though, because if I have one thing going for me with these big thighs it’s that they’re strong and powerful.

We made it to the Sausalito side and found another opportunity to take a water break and snap a few more photos.

My sis and I, happy that we made it across.

My sis and I

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you're only 5'3

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you’re only 5’3″, taking a selfie is tough business.

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Luckily, we found two nice sisters who were willing to take a proper group photo for us. I love this photo so much, and have made it my cover photo on FB.

Inspired that we’d made it halfway across the Bridge, we knew heading back to the end would be much easier. Not only was the wind on our side this way, but we also had a steady decline on the way back, too.  I had my bike on the highest gear and my had on the break almost the entire way back.  The only harrowing part was the cross traffic of bikers, and the “expert” riders who were also trying to pass in a very narrow space.  Since this wasn’t a race, but just a ride, I’m not sure what the need was to pass with so little room.  Not to mention that most of these people weren’t even taking part in the ride.  I guess people like speed.  I’m not one to talk – I’m highly competitive and prefer going as fast as possible, most of the time.

I got away from most of the “traffic” so that I could take a few more action shots and a quick video.

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The entire time I was riding to the finish line, I just kept thinking about how happy I was to share this experience with these awesome ladies.  And about how far I’d come – at my heaviest weight I might have been able to make the 7-miles, but I know I would’ve been so much slower and very sore for days afterward.  And I would have been ultra concerned with how my big butt looked on that cruiser.  I can honestly say this thought didn’t even cross my mind once during the ride.  I know I still have a big booty, but I’m proud of it, and all of my curves.  Doing these kinds of events always solidifies for me how much I’ve accomplished in my weight loss and fitness goals.

Once we hit the finish line, which we crossed as a 5-pack, we triumphed over our achievement.  You can’t miss those huge smiles on our faces at a job well done.

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I cannot say enough about what a great time we had on this ride.  It was scenic, challenging, and so much fun.  If you have the chance to do a Mermaid Series race, ride, or swim, I highly recommend it.  My sister, friends, and I all said we’re looking forward to making this an annual adventure. Can’t wait!

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bilbl_superThis week, I was determined to start strength training, no matter what.  I’m not going to lie, I was really intimidated by the thought of working out at the gym using the machines or the free weights.  And did I really need to do that type of training, anyway?  The more I’ve been reading on the different fitness blogs, the more I see that the trend that seems to work well for the goals I have in mind is using my own body weight resistance along with dumbbells and kettlebells.  After looking at so many great, free sites, I settled on Tone It Up because I remember reading their fitness tips in Self Magazine in the past. When I researched their website, I really liked the fitness community that Karena and Katrina have built. Plus, I saw their new show, Toned Up, on Bravo and thought they had cute, quirky personalities.  And I mean, look at them – they’re gorgeous!

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Right now Tone It Up has a series they’re calling #LoveYourBody, which I think is so empowering.  When I signed up for the newsletter, which gives me free access to the #TIU community, daily workout routines, inspirational quotes, and some recipes, I loved their message about what I could do with the 4 weeks until Valentine’s Day:

Remember there are 4 FULL WEEKS left of the Love Your Body Series~ just in time for Valentine’s Day.  You have a HOT DATE with yourself!  Take a look at your calendar- commit to yourself and your goals.  In 4 weeks anything is possible…

♥ If you run/jog or walk 2 miles a day… that’s 2 MARATHONS you’ll complete by Valentine’s Day 

♥ Is weight loss your goal?  With the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan, you could lose 8-10 pounds in a healthy way

♥ Is toning your goal too?  You will see a major difference in muscle tone with the workouts below

♥ If you compliment 1 woman a day from now until Valentine’s Day… that’s 26 women who won’t forget how you made them feel beautiful.

♥ Connect with a new team member in the community each day… that’s 26 new TIU girlfriends 🙂

♥ 4 weeks doesn’t seem like much… but you can achieve a lot between now until then! ” ~ToneItUp

I was totally inspired by this!  I really like that they take a whole body/mind approach – not just working out and eating clean, but connecting with other people, too.  I feel like supporting each other is so important.

So when I got the weekly schedule in my inbox on Sunday, I new I was going to start on Monday after work.  I love that the schedule has video links, pdf downloads, and a Pinterest-ready photo of each workout, as well.  I also REALLY love that the whole thing is themed – each of the workouts are named with Valentine’s Day in mind.  So cute!

  • Monday: My mom and I had taken a quick-paced mid-morning walk as my “cupid cardio” and then I came home and did the #LoveYourAbs workout 3 times, which took me about 30 minutes.
  • Tuesday: I went to the gym and did the run/walk intervals on the treadmill for cardio and I did #LoveYourBodywithKettlebells for my toning.  This workout was killer, and even though it was only 19 minutes (I only did one set) I’m still feeling it!
  • Wednesday: rest day. I was starting to feel sick, and since I’d worked all day, I decided to take a break today.
  • Thursday: Despite having a pretty bad cold, woke up and did 18 minutes on the stationary bike followed by 1 round of #LoveYourArms&Abs (15 minutes).  If I wasn’t feeling sick, I definitely would’ve done the recommended 2 rounds.
  • Friday: I took another sick day, but still woke up and did 18 minutes on the recumbent bike, followed by 3 rounds of #LoveYourBooty, and I know I’ll be feeling that workout for a few days.
  • Saturday: I’m going to rest on the cardio, but I’ll complete the week’s plan by doing two sets of #LoveYourWholeBody2 (35 minutes).

I have really liked these workouts because they don’t require a lot of equipment.  I have everything I need – a kettlebell, some hand weights, and a yoga mat.  It doesn’t get simpler than that.  I can feel the workouts working by how sore my muscles are each day, but the thing I’m enjoying about these workouts is that I can do them.  Some of the moves (like the side plank) are out of reach for me, but I can find easy ways to modify them.  I feel so good when I’m finished with each round of toning, and I really like that none of the workouts take that much time.  I can easily fit in 30 minutes a day.  I like checking in on FB and Twitter, and getting support from the @ToneItUp girls every time I use the #TIU hashtag.

Another fun thing about these workouts is that Sofi really gets into them.  She thinks it’s playtime every time I hit the mat to do crunches, booty bridges, etc.  It’s impossible not to start laughing every time she licks my face when I’m trying to do leg lifts or is right underneath me as I’m doing kettlebell swings.  So, we’ve made a deal – she get get a few kisses and licks in and then she has to let me get my toning in, and afterward we’ll fit in a play session on the ground.  How can I resist – how cute is this?

2014-01-24 12.14.22A huge thank you to Karena and Katrina for making such a fun, easy-to-follow, FREE program.  I know I can keep this up!  I can’t wait to see how my body changes in the next four weeks!!

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bilbl_super This morning FaveCousin, KE, and I woke up before dawn in order to participate in the SF Hot Chocolate 5K, benefiting Ronald McDonald House.  I’d first heard about the Hot Chocolate 5K back when I went to the SJ RocknRoll expo. The name sounded so fun, and I knew it would be a great way to start off the new year.  I was so happy that FaveCousin wanted to do it with me and said I could stay overnight with her.  She and I had a good time at the Mermaid, and this time KE (FaveCousin’s cousin’s wife (in Italian families things can get complicated)) was going to do it with us, adding to the fun.

This race was early – a 6:15am call time for a 7:30 start time.  Luckily, FaveCousin suggested we get there a bit later so that we had more time to sleep in and less time just waiting around.  Still, we had plenty of time for a few photos:

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It was freezing this morning in Golden Gate Park, but after yesterday’s drizzly weather, we were glad that it was clear.  I am so glad that I had the wherewithal to bring my earmuff headband (is that what you call it?), because it helped keep me a bit warmer.

Check out the cool technical hoodie they gave us as a race shirt.  I'm so proud that I fit into a Women's XL.

Check out the cool technical hoodie they gave us as a race shirt. I’m so proud that I fit into a Women’s XL.

For me, the worst part of any 5K is waiting for the race to start.  To get myself in the right frame of mind and get past my nervousness about running more of the 5K than I ever have before, I got my playlist going.  Music is phenomenal for calming nerves isn’t it?

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The line of people waiting behind me to get this 5K started!

Soon enough, we were at the starting line.  The pic on the left is the one I took, the one on the right is the one from the 5K’s FB page.  For a small race that few people had heard of, there sure were a lot of us out there.

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The thing I didn’t really think about when planning my 5min run/3min walk intervals was the fact that this is SF, and even in Golden Gate Park, which is relatively flat compared to some streets in the city, it still has some steep inclines.  It became pretty clear to me that I was going to have to wing it – I ran as long as I could and walked when I needed to. I made sure that I was running at every down hill slope and I pushed myself to walk as fast and hard as I could during the inclines. In fact, I was walking fast enough that I was passing some of the slower joggers.  I know I’m going to feel some of that tomorrow.  So while I didn’t keep my intervals perfectly timed or regulated, I am proud of what I did out there today.

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Look at these beautiful views that I got to enjoy while I was out there today. San Francisco is such a gorgeous city!

I passed mile 1 pretty quickly and easily, and then it was a long haul.  Since the three of us had decided to each take the race at our own pace, I had my music to keep me going.  Well, that and a few other racers who I was pacing myself against.  At one point I was getting tired, but knew I needed to push on and Gotta Get Through This by Daniel Beddington came on my headphones.  Perfect timing! And then I almost started crying as I ran along when Ali in the Jungle by The Hours came on…listen to these lyrics:

I mean, c’mon: “It’s not where you are, but where you’re going.  It’s not about the things you’ve done, it’s what you’re doing now.”  These were the absolute perfect lyrics to keep my feet running even after my body told me I was getting tired.  I was completely inspired.  (Both songs are on the Wogging My World mix from RockMyRun, if you’re interested).

And just was the song was finishing, I saw the mile 3 marker and the Finish line in the distance.  I took knew I was going to run myself through that line no matter what.  Talk about a moment of pride!
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In fact, I was so overcome at the end of this race for all that I’d just done, that I got really emotional again.  Tears in the eyes and everything. I almost went into the ugly cry, but stopped myself.  It just hits me every time I run a new race about how far I’ve come, all that I’ve accomplished, and how grateful I am for this new life I’ve created for myself.

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I think you can see the tears in my eyes in this shot.

Soon after, I met up with FaveCousin and KE, and we all enjoyed our Finisher’s Mug of chocolate fondue, complete with the fixings – a mini rice krispie treat, a petite banana, some mini pretzels, and a marshmallow, along with a steaming mug of hot chocolate.  I allowed myself a bit of the fondue with the banana, rice krispy, and marshmallow, but skipped the hot chocolate and the pretzels.  So delicious!

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The entire race was so well run and organized that I’ll definitely do it again next year.  If it comes to a city near you, I highly recommend that you join in on all the fun.

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Oh, and the sweetest part?  I shaved 2 minutes and 50 seconds off of my Santa Run time, even with all the inclines in this race!!! I completed this one in 46 minutes, 8 seconds – a new PR!!

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bilbl_superToday’s Adventures in Fitness (AIF) is a twofer – I completed C25K Week 3, Day 1 while I participated in the Silicon Valley Santa Run.

I’d been looking forward to the Santa Run all month because it was going to be the first time I attempted any sort of run/walk while doing a 5K.  And, it was going to be the first time I did the 5K on my own, well, sort of.  Ani and Di both did it with me, but I’d told them upfront that I really wanted to continue my C25K program, so I’d be using my headphones and doing the walk/run.  They were both really cool about the fact that we wouldn’t be walking this 5K side by side as we had when we did the Color Me Rad.

Pre race, I had to get my selfies in:

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We wanted to get down to the race area early, so we’d have no problems with parking.  Since it was starting really late – at 3pm, we left around 12:30 and had lunch at Chipotle.  I had a steak burrito bowl, which was a great choice since I only eat 1/3 of it at a time and it fueled me perfectly.  We got down to the race area with over an hour to spare. So what do three girls who are excited about a 5K do? Take “groupies” of course:

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I’m so lucky that I did this 5K with these girls. We’ve been friends since our freshman year of high school. We’ve shared so much! Love them!

Waiting for the race was the most difficult part, partly because I’m just so impatient and partly because I had so much anticipation going into it, because I was going to do Day 1 of Week 3 of C25K, which is fairly intimidating:

5:00 warm up
Jog: 1:30
Walk 1:30
Jog: 3:00 (yes, that’s 3 entire minutes of jogging at once)
Walk: 3:00
Jog: 1:30
Walk: 1:30
Jog: 3:00
Walk: 3:00
5:00 cool down

2013-12-15 14.59.45 And just like that, I was off and walking at a brisk pace (Endomondo clocked me at 4.0mph).  At the first jogging section, I knew I started running too  quickly – all the adrenaline hit me, and my competitive streak definitely kicked in, too.  Because I’d started running at was was surely a 5.0 mph, I barely made it to the end of the first section, but I did.  And I definitely used the 1:30 walk time to catch my breath.  When it came time to run for 3:00 run, I have to be honest and say that I stopped running with about a minute to go.  I couldn’t seem to regulate my pace.  I was either going as fast as I could, or I was walking.  By the time it got to the next running section, I realized I needed to slow it down if I was going to make it through, which is what I did.  I was still going at a good pace, about 4.5mph, which is faster than my usual treadmill runs.  By the time I was hitting the second and final 3:00 run, I am so proud to say I made it all the way through.  I took it slow, but I did it.  28 minutes of the C25K was done, but I still had more of this 5K to go.

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The sea of Santas running in front of me – we all looked so cool out there! It was such a fun thing to be a part of.  Definitely on my Must Do list for next year, too.

I’d thought I was going to complete the remainder of the race walking, but I felt so guilty about giving up a minute early on that one section of running, that I continued to do a run/walk style for the rest of the race.  Nothing evenly timed, mind you.  I’d just walk for a bit and then tell myself to run from those palm trees to that street sign, and so on.  I did that at least 4 times.

rocky_balboa_runningThe proudest of those times was when the course was getting to a fairly steep incline, and I decided to “get all Rocky” on that incline and run up it. And I didn’t stop at the top of that incline, but kept running to the next intersection.  When I finished, I felt like this:

imagesI kept doing these periodic run/walk intervals for the rest of the race.  I was listening to my Madonna RockMyRun playlist, and felt incredibly invigorated.  I did end the 5K walking, but I was walking strong, and proud.  I felt so good!

2013-12-15 15.52.09 As I crossed the finish line, I got completely overwhelmed.  Tears welled up in my eyes, and I had to hold myself back from the brink of the ugly cry, because I was on the edge of it.  I was so emotional because the realization hit me – I had just done a 5K where I was running for 1/3 of it!  (Carina, my math may not be right – I don’t think I did a full 1/2, so my English-teacher brain goes to the next “measuring cup portion” I can think of). I’d also just PR’d! (More on that in a second).  As of today I have lost 112 pounds, and I am doing things I only dreamed of.  Actually, I guess I’m living my dreams.  So you can see why I was so emotional.  This experience meant the world to me.

2013-12-15 17.19.25When I got this notification that I’d completed the 5K in 48:56, I was ecstatic!  I can actually say I’d PR’d!!  By about 8 minutes, which is awesome! I can’t explain the feeling of pride that I had at that moment.  Just so happy about my life and all that I’ve done to change it.  Incredible!

2013-12-15 15.52.20 The Santa Run ended at Christmas in the Park, and this tree was the first thing I saw as I finished.  I was still trying to get ahold of my emotions, and seeing this majestic tree really hit home for me.  In those post-race minutes when I was taking it all in, this tree symbolized everything I had just accomplished.  I know that may sound corny or silly, but it’s 100% true.

It didn’t take long for Di to finish next and then Ani was shortly behind her.  We’d all finished the 5K in under an hour, and were feeling really good.  As we walked back to the car, we happened upon one last photo op:

2013-12-15-16-09-57It was the perfect spot to take a post-race pic. Such a beautiful setting, and I was feeling just this beautiful inside and out.

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reverb13-blog-button Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb13: Reverb is a way to reflect on the past year and project into the next year with a prompt a day for 31 days.  December is the perfect time to reflect on 2013 and start to create intentions for 2014.

Day 11: Fail
What just didn’t work out this year?  Is that okay with you?  Or are you going to try, try again?

The first thing that comes to mind when I read this prompt is my experience trying SUP.  I originally wrote this on September 27, 2013…

bilbl_superToday’s edition in Adventures in Fitness is just that – the story of a crazy adventure I had while attempting some water fun.

Over the summer I bought an Amazon Local deal for stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). Several of my friends on FB had posted pictures of themselves giving SUP a go at Lake Tahoe and various other locations around CA. I’m always up for a new fitness adventure, especially when it involves water sports. So, I purchased the $15 deal.

Ani and I arrived at HMB Kayak, and I was surprised to see that it was basically a tent on the beach. (I’d expected more of a proper storefront, I guess). We decided to forgo true wetsuits (there was no way I was going to try to squeeze into one of those) in favor of our dri-wik yoga pants and wetsuit jackets. One of the employees gave us a very brief (and I mean very brief) basic intro on how to paddle, and we were on our way.

How many of you are thinking that I should’ve chosen a tamer waterway for my first SUP experience, rather than Half Moon Bay, open ocean, on a windy day? Oh, and it was also high tide. Yeah, hindsight.

I started out on my knees, keeping balance pretty well. A few moments later, Ani had dropped into the water, and was having some difficulty getting back up onto the board. So much so that she needed the employees to come out and help her. All the while, I was still floating along, balancing on my knees. I was having a good time, amazed at my balance. I’d been out there for about 15 minutes. So when I was feeling super confident, I decided it was time to try to stand up.

Not a good move. I fell off right off the paddle board. After failing to pull myself out of the water and back onto the board, the way the guy had told me, I decided it was time to make my way back to shore and switch to kayaking. As I mentioned, wind was really strong, and it was high tide, so I’d gotten pretty far out in the 15 minutes I’d been floating on my knees. To get back to shore, I had to swim for 20 minutes, against the current, lugging the paddle board behind me (attached to my ankle). That same employee came out to check on me, and I assured him I was a strong swimmer, and didn’t need any help. Which was true – I swam back to shore without too much trouble, but I have to admit, I was very tired by the time I’d hit land.

So, I decided to try kayaking. Again, after very minimal instruction, I was out and trying to get myself into the boat, balance, and get out on the water. I fell out of the kayak a bunch of times close to the shore, but finally righted myself and found my groove.

I kayaked for about 25 minutes, and was really enjoying myself. I got pretty far out, was enjoying the sunshine, the ocean, the boats, the harbor, the sea lions. Feeling so proud of myself and lucky at the life that let me enjoy an afternoon of fun at the ocean on a Friday afternoon. Just as I was finding my zen… the kayak flipped over!

The current was so strong, and I was so exhausted from falling all the other times, as well as the huge swim, and I couldn’t even turn the boat right side up, let alone entertain the thought of pulling myself back into it. I had the oar in one hand, and was trying to keep a hold of the kayak with the other, while staying afloat. (I did have a lifevest on, thank goodness).

At this point, I knew I was too far out to get myself back to the shore. I wasn’t pancking, but I was a bit worried about how cold the water was, how close the sea lions were, and how far I was from where the employees of HMB Kayak could see me. Then the current started to really pick up, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back.

Just then, some women who were walking along the pier saw me, started yelling, and tried to get help for me. I told them I was fine, and that there was no emergency, but they said to hang on and that help would be there soon. I was feeling utterly embarrassed that I had to be saved, but I realized that it was true, I needed some help.

Luckily for me, a wizened, old fisherman with a small motor boat came to my rescue. When he pulled up, I told him I was too heavy for him to lift up, but he assured me that he could get me out. He pulled me out of the water, and I was angled directly into his lap. Awkward! But I wasn’t worried about it at a time like that. He got me into his boat, made sure I was ok, which I was, and brought me back. When I told him how embarrassed I was, he said that on the open ocean, things can go from “fine” to “bad” in no time. And I know he’s right.

Ani saw what was going on and grabbed my iPhone to capture the rescue.  LOL.

Ani saw what was going on and grabbed my iPhone to capture the rescue. LOL.

I was just grateful to have his assistance, and to make it back to shore safely.

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All in all, I am glad I tried it, but my adventure helped me realize a few things:

  1. I need to do more research about the company I use. HMB Kayak was terrible. They gave little instruction, sent me out ill-prepared, and I’ll never use them again.
  2. My next SUP/Kayak will be done on a lake or smaller body of water. The ocean is way too rough for a beginner.
  3. I am strong. I have come so far, and I have so much to be proud of. When I look at myself in this photo, I notice significant changes in my body. I have a ways to go, but I am happy with the way I look now.

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The following quote is one that I hold dear.  I first heard it in 1997, my first year of teaching.  I used it as a prompt/quickwrite for my students to start to write about their dreams.  It made such an impact that one of them gave the saying to me on a paperweight that I still keep on my teacher’s desk today.

Fear of failure stops people from attempting to do so many things; I’m happy to say that I don’t let it prevent me from doing anything, because every “fail” comes with a lesson that teaches something new.

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reverb13-blog-button Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb13: Reverb is a way to reflect on the past year and project into the next year with a prompt a day for 31 days.  December is the perfect time to reflect on 2013 and start to create intentions for 2014.

Day 8: Adventure
Did you go on an adventure in 2013?  What sort?

As much as I enjoy traveling to new places, trying new things, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures, I am sorry to say that 2013 did not take me away on any vacations.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t embark on any adventures.  I just did them closer to home.  This year, especially since the summer, I’ve been on quite a few Adventures in Fitness (AIF).

  • 2013-09-27 16.01.00 By far, the most memorable and dangerous AIF was when I attempted StandUp Paddleboarding in Half Moon Bay.  I won’t rehash the whole thing now, but let’s just say my adventure involved getting saved by a wizened, old fisherman.
  • 2013-10-03 11.01.21 For the first time ever, I participated on the faculty powderpuff team during homecoming.  The shots of me bent over into position as a center weren’t flattering, but I had the best time.  And I’m determined to be a receiver next year, especially if I keep up with my run/walk program.
  • Speaking of run/walk, I’ve mentioned before that I’m doing C25K, and this time, my third attempt, I’m really enjoying myself.  Each new workout leaves me proud of what I’ve accomplished, but also amazed at what my body is capable of.  It’s really cool!
  • I have lots more adventures on my Fitness Bucket List, and I look forward to crossing them off, one by one.

Beyond my fitness escapades, fashion has become a real adventure, in the best way.  Each new (smaller) size I fit into is like a medal marking how far I’ve come.  Something as simple as fitting into a new size of underwear is a thrill, especially now that I can buy them in regular stores.

Another major NSV that occurred without me even realizing it was that I can now cross my legs!  Only plus-sized girls can really understand the joy I felt the first time I looked down and realized that I had one leg crossed over the other.  It’s so comfortable!  Since my thighs are thick, I’m not quite ready to take a pic of this new NSV, but as the inches fall off, that will definitely be something I post.

This quote by Oprah is so true.  I’m living the life that I only dreamed about in the past, and I’m finding that reality is so much sweeter than I could have ever imagined.

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bilbl_superThis morning I woke up at the super-early hour of 5:30am in order to get ready to participate in this year’s Turkey Trot.  The last time I did this turkey trot was back in 2008, when I was experiencing the numbness in my feet and legs.  With all that I’ve accomplished in terms of weight loss and fitness in recent months, I knew that this year’s Turkey Trot would be a completely different experience.

This year I walked in the 5K with Ani, and it was fun to chat and catch up as we walked the flat, easy course.  This course was almost the same one that I did for the SJ Rock n Roll Mini Marathon just a month ago. It felt like there were a LOT more people in this one, maybe because there were fewer waves.  They said there were over 25,000 people participating today, which I think is awesome.  There were people of all ages and abilities out there this morning, which made me smile, thinking of all the people fitting in a bit of fitness before the big meals today.

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A quick shot of the crowd behind me (yes, that’s the top of my turkey headband behind me).

2013-11-28 07.00.10 Speaking of my headband, I’m so glad I wore it.  There were so many fun costumes out there today – from turkeys with tutus to hats with felt “cooked” turkeys and tribes wearing feather headdresses and everything in between.  So fun!

One thing I’ve been noticing in the 5Ks I’ve been participating in lately is that now that I’ve lost so much weight and gone down a lot of sizes in my pants, I have quite a bit more giggle in my thighs than I’d like.  Since none of my workout pants are the compression type that hold it all in, I decided to wear a shaper under my workout pants.  It worked perfectly, and gave me a lot more confidence than I’ve had.  In fact, I think I’m going to wear them when I start the C25K tomorrow (I know I was supposed to start Monday, but Sofi got sick (she’s fine now) so plans changed, but I WILL start in the morning).

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A few more pre-race pics we took to commemorate the occasion:

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The race was really fun, and although it took us about an hour (official time: 59:15.752) to walk it (which is slower than I’d hoped), I am really proud of myself.  I felt strong the entire time, and ended the walk feeling even better than I had when I started.

Who knows, maybe next year I’ll be running the 5K. Or maybe even the 10K!

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Every year during homecoming week, my school has a series of powder puff football games.  (Powder puff is when the girls play football, and the boys do the cheer/dance routines).  Day 1 the seniors play the freshmen (seniors usually win), Day 2 the sophomores play the juniors (juniors usually win), Day 3 the juniors play the seniors.  And of course, the seniors win, which means they play the faculty.

This year I decided that I’ve lost enough weight, gained enough confidence and cardio ability, that I was able to play on the faculty team this year.

pink_panther_big We decided that we were the Pink Panthers (our school mascot is the panthers, but a much more vicious, intimidating panther).  We held 4 after school practices to get ready for the game.  Our coach quickly decided that I’d be Center, which was fine with me.  It meant I didn’t have to memorize the different plays, could use my lower body strength to protect my quaterback, and that I didn’t have to run too much.  Those girls are fast!!

The practices were challenging, but I surprised myself a number of times by realizing that the fast runs didn’t leave me out of breath.  Because I only had to run in quick bursts,  I wasn’t getting winded.  What a dramatic change! I really enjoyed the camaraderie of working out after school with my colleagues, some of whom I don’t get much opportunity to really talk to, give our different departments and rooms on the other side of the campus.

Today was the day we’d been working for – the matchup versus the senior girls.  We’d heard how fast, how vicious, how tough these girls were.  And I’m not going to lie – as I took my place on the field, my heart was beating fast.  I was nervous, and I wanted to do my best.

Yes. that's me with my butt in the air.  Don't you love that form?

Yes. that’s me with my butt in the air. Don’t you love that form?

More than a few times, I hiked the ball way too hard, way too high, making it difficult for my poor quarterback to reach it.  Still, I did pretty well, considering we only practiced a few times.

I love this action shot of me running toward the ball (right side).

I love this action shot of me running toward the ball (right side).

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I think it’s hilarious that I have a smile on my face as I go to block the girl who is trying to get to my quarterback.

The game was sad – those girls had us in age, speed, and endurance, but I am proud that we were able to score once, and that we gave them a run for their money.  It was intense down on the field, but it was also so much fun.  And I think my students saw me in a different light, too.  So many of them came up to me afterward with compliments.  Even though I know I didn’t play very well, it was cool to try something new.  I’ll definitely be out there next year.

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This was my uniform.  To see the rest of my outfits for the each of the Dress Up Days of Homecoming, check out my Instagram.

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bilbl_superToday’s edition in Adventures in Fitness is just that – the story of a crazy adventure I had while attempting some water fun.

Over the summer I bought an Amazon Local deal for stand-up paddle boarding (SUP).  Several of my friends on FB had posted pictures of themselves giving SUP a go at Lake Tahoe and various other locations around CA.  I’m always up for a new fitness adventure, especially when it involves water sports.  So, I purchased the $15 deal.

Ani and I arrived at HMB Kayak, and I was surprised to see that it was basically a tent on the beach.  (I’d expected more of a proper storefront, I guess).  We decided to forgo true wetsuits (there was no way I was going to try to squeeze into one of those) in favor of our dri-wik yoga pants and wetsuit jackets.  One of the employees gave us a very brief (and I mean very brief) basic intro on how to paddle, and we were on our way.

How many of you are thinking that I should’ve chosen a tamer waterway for my first SUP experience, rather than Half Moon Bay, open ocean, on a windy day? Oh, and it was also high tide.  Yeah, hindsight.

I started out on my knees, keeping balance pretty well.  A few moments later, Ani had dropped into the water, and was having some difficulty getting back up onto the board.  So much so that she needed the employees to come out and help her.  All the while, I was still floating along, balancing on my knees.  I was having a good time, amazed at my balance. I’d been out there for about 15 minutes. So when I was feeling super confident, I decided it was time to try to stand up.

Not a good move. I fell off right off the paddle board. After failing to pull myself out of the water and back onto the board, the way the guy had told me, I decided it was time to make my way back to shore and switch to kayaking.  As I mentioned, wind was really strong, and it was high tide, so I’d gotten pretty far out in the 15 minutes I’d been floating on my knees.  To get back to shore, I had to swim for 20 minutes, against the current, lugging the paddle board behind me (attached to my ankle). That same employee came out to check on me, and I assured him I was a strong swimmer, and didn’t need any help.  Which was true – I swam back to shore without too much trouble, but I have to admit, I was very tired by the time I’d hit land.

So, I decided to try kayaking. Again, after very minimal instruction, I was out and trying to get myself into the boat, balance, and get out on the water.  I fell out of the kayak a bunch of times close to the shore, but finally righted myself and found my groove.

I kayaked for about 25 minutes, and was really enjoying myself. I got pretty far out, was enjoying the sunshine, the ocean, the boats, the harbor, the sea lions. Feeling so proud of myself and lucky at the life that let me enjoy an afternoon of fun at the ocean on a Friday afternoon.  Just as I was finding my zen…  the kayak flipped over!

The current was so strong, and I was so exhausted from falling all the other times, as well as the huge swim, and I couldn’t even turn the boat right side up, let alone entertain the thought of pulling myself  back into it. I had the oar in one hand, and was trying to keep a hold of the kayak with the other, while staying afloat. (I did have a lifevest on, thank goodness).

At this point, I knew I was too far out to get myself back to the shore.  I wasn’t pancking, but I was a bit worried about how cold the water was, how close the sea lions were, and how far I was from where the employees of HMB Kayak could see me.  Then the current started to really pick up, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back.

Just then, some women who were walking along the pier saw me, started yelling, and tried to get help for me.  I told them I was fine, and that there was no emergency, but they said to hang on and that help would be there soon.  I was feeling utterly embarrassed that I had to be saved, but I realized that it was true, I needed some help.

Luckily for me, a wizened, old fisherman with a small motor boat came to my rescue. When he pulled up, I told him I was too heavy for him to lift up, but he assured me that he could get me out.  He pulled me out of the water, and I was angled directly into his lap.  Awkward!  But I wasn’t worried about it at a time like that.  He got me into his boat, made sure I was ok, which I was, and brought me back. When I told him how embarrassed I was, he said that on the open ocean, things can go from “fine” to “bad” in no time.  And I know he’s right.

Ani saw what was going on and grabbed my iPhone to capture the rescue.  LOL.

Ani saw what was going on and grabbed my iPhone to capture the rescue. LOL.

I was just grateful to have his assistance, and to make it back to shore safely.

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All in all, I am glad I tried it, but my adventure helped me realize a few things:

  1. I need to do more research about the company I use.  HMB Kayak was terrible. They gave little instruction, sent me out ill-prepared, and I’ll never use them again.
  2. My next SUP/Kayak will be done on a lake or smaller body of water.  The ocean is way too rough for a beginner.
  3. I am strong.  I have come so far, and I have so much to be proud of.  When I look at myself in this photo, I notice significant changes in my body.  I have a ways to go, but I am happy with the way I look now.

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I am so excited to tell you about the new fitness class that I tried tonight – Hot Hula Fitness. Before I get into my own experience, check out this video:

Looks like a fun workout, right?

When I arrived to the classroom at the community center, I immediately heard music with a heavy drumbeat blasting as I entered, setting the tone for a high energy workout. I was greeted by Marie, the instructor for the class, who was the most friendly, welcoming person. Not to mention that she was in phenomenal shape. If her body is any indication of what Hot Hula can do, sign me up!

Would you ever guess that she is 47 years old? Look at those abs! Beyond her killer body, Marie was so supportive and encouraging. Since I was early, she spent time talking to me about my fitness background, which I appreciated. That would never happen at the gym, because I would’ve been waiting in line outside the group fitness studio and the teacher usually arrives 5 minutes prior to the beginning of class. Getting some individual attention ahead of time was so nice. Marie made it a point say that the class was meant to be taken at my pace. As long as I was moving and pushing myself to work hard, I was doing it correctly. Which is the same attitude that I use when I go to Zumba; I may not be perfect, but my moves are close approximations, and I’m definitely working just as hard (for my body and fitness level) as anyone else in the class.

Marie also clarified the name. I thought the class was hot, as in a heated room, like Bikram yoga, but Marie explained that that “hot” was “the way you look and feel doing hula fitness.” She assured me that I’d be sweating in no time and really understanding where the word “hot” came in.

20120801-232149.jpgI am so glad that I decided to bring and wear one of my sarongs to class, because it definitely got me into the mood for some hula. A side bonus was that in camouflaged my thighs. I wasn’t engaging in any negative self talk as I watched myself in the mirror, which is an important tool in seeing whether or not my form was correct with these moves.

There were only four students, including me, which meant we had plenty of room to move around, and got a clear view of ourselves in the mirror. The class itself was so much fun. Lots of hip swaying and sashaying to the beat of the music, which had rhythms from the islands, reggae beats, and even some hip hop influences. Very high energy. We’d learn the movement slowly at first, but then speed up our rotations to the point where it was quite some workout. The perspiration started immediately! I also really enjoyed learning the different steps, which are much less complicated than those found in Zumba, yet they still offer a challenge. There was one move, which Marie referred to as “the duck walk” that will be something I strive towards for the foreseeable future.

Look closely – she’s up on her tip toes as she’s scrunched down. This move is done while “duck walking” forward, all the while the hips are swaying from side to side in a figure eight pattern.

I looked most similar to the girl in the back in green in this photo, although I did remain on my tippy toes the entire time that Marie as duckwalking back and forth. Talk about screaming calf muscles! Hot Hula Fitness engages so many major muscle groups:

HOT HULA fitness® is a fun, new and exciting dance workout. It provides a “total body workout” in 6o minutes. HOT HULA fitness ® isolates your larger muscle groups, increasing strength and definition to your core with specific emphasis on the abs, glutes, quads and arms. Inspired by the dances of the Pacific Islands, HOT HULA fitness® incorporates easy to perform dance movements set to the sounds of traditional Polynesian drum beats fused with funky Reggae music, resulting in a modern, hip fitness workout. All ages and fitness levels will enjoy HOT HULA fitness®.” ~ From Anna-Rita Sloss’ website.

I felt good as I moved my body to the beat of the music, following the instructions that Marie was giving. She was incredibly motivating, telling us that we “had great hips,” and that we “looked awesome.” When we took a quick water break in between songs, she told two of us who were new that we caught on really quickly. That kind of positive feedback really pushed me to keep going throughout the class, even when I was tired or my muscles were burning. Dropping a pose or side stepping a movement never crossed my mind. I was having way too much fun not to give it my all. Even when one move, called “the box” gave me trouble, I didn’t get discouraged, I just kept going until I eventually got the hang of it. Oddly enough, it was easier for me once we sped up the movement.


This is the most fun I’ve spent in a fitness class in some time, which is saying something, because I enjoy all the classes I take.

I absolutely adored the class, and left feeling insanely exhilarated. My sister couldn’t believe how hopped up I was! She said my enthusiasm was so infectious that she’s going to join me for a class. Marie also teaches on Sundays at 2pm at a dance studio really close to our houses. And the prices are excellent – 6 classes for $50.

As I went on Marie’s FB page to leave her a note about how much I loved the class and how motivational she was to me, I was so happy to get her reply,”Mahalo Bella!! So much FUN having you in class .. you were awesome and you can shake it, Girl !! Looking forward to dancing with you again !!”

I can’t recommend Hot Hula Fitness highly enough. Definitely try a class out if they’re offered in your area. And if not, there is a DVDthat might be nice to add to your collection. I can’t wait for next Wednesday’s class. I’ll be the one with the flower in my hair working my hips off.

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Update: March 8 2013

In the 7 months since I took my first Hot Hula Fitness class, I can see significant changes, both in my appearance and in my ability to keep up with the moves.  I also noticed myself sweating a lot more in the class, but that might have been because there were about 30 people in the class (25 more than last time!).  I think it’s also because my body is working more efficiently now.  Either way, I was wearing more form-fitting clothes and I felt fantastic! See for yourself:

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