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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 is bananas for me at school – busy days, and a few events in the evening, too.  Which means several more days waking up at 4:00am to make sure I can fit these workouts in.  It hasn’t been easy waking up that early, but I’ve been doing a decent job of it these past two weeks.

Here’s my workout plan for this week:
Sunday:  20-mile bike ride with a friend
Monday: stair workout (6 rounds up & down of 225 stairs) + 2.41-mile walk in 37:19 w/ mom + swimming/playing in the pool with nieces & sis.
Tuesday: Rest Day
**Wednesday: TIU: Making Waves Routine (elliptical) + TIU: Sunrise Routine (Beach Babe DVD) / PM workout: Sunset Routine
**Thursday: C25K: Week 4, Day 2 + TIU: Ab Workout Playlist + Bikini Booty
Friday: TIU: Biker Babes + TIU: Take Me to the Sea
Saturday: TIU: Pura Vida + long walk with Sofi

**4:15am workouts

I’m going to try to walk Sofi on Wednesday – Friday in addition to these workouts, but it will just depend how the days go.

I’m excited about this workout plan because it’s challenging, yet also doable. I like the variety in my cardio because I think it’s really important, and the TIU toning is really showing up.  In fact, my friend Di said that I look really toned when she saw me on Sunday.  Which means that even though my weight has remained the same, I think I’m losing inches and firming up. Plus, I have a lot of fun creating the photo collages and checking in on Instagram with the TIU community.

This week’s C25K comes with 5 minutes of straight jogging, which is daunting, but I’m going to remember to s-l-o-w it down and just push through.  My legs are never the issue; it’s my breathing that become difficult, so I know that slowing down will really help.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my goal in beginning C25K again is to be able to wog/jog/run the MOOnlight 5K on July 12. Not run/walk, but to run it (however slowly) all the way through.

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I had the most amazing day in recent memory today! I spent the day riding my bike in Half Moon Bay with my friend Ani.  The forecast was crisp (54 degrees), but sunny, so I knew it would be a perfect day at the beach.  It was such a simple yet delightful day, and I wanted to make sure to document it and share some beautiful photos I snapped.

(I know my iPhone camera is no DSLR, but I am pretty impressed with how well these shots turned out).

As we were riding our bikes down to the bike path by the beach, we passed the strangest sight…

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This furry fellow was just hanging out, eating the grass behind an old fence in the middle of a neighborhood.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen an alpaca in person, but he seemed to enjoy hamming it up for the camera.

There were lots of other beautiful images that I captured, all before I ever reached the beach.

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Before we road along the beach, Ani and I decided to stop and have our lunches.  To make sure I stayed on track, I packed myself a little picnic to enjoy on one of the benches that overlook the ocean.

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aniAni’s been getting into taking film photography, and she spent the afternoon taking many of the same photos that I did, only on black and white film, paying attention to the proper F/stops.  I can’t wait to see how her shots turn out, since she’s going to experiment with a new way to develop them, using tea instead of chemicals.  And yes, she did read about it on Pinterest.

I like to think I have a fairly good eye, and learning how to take better pictures would be something I’m very interested in, although I see myself as someone who would invest in a decent DSLR camera rather than film.  Digital is more forgiving.  Imagine what kinds of pictures I could get with a nice camera…

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meonlola Although I’m sure I’ll look at this shot later as one of many “before” photos, I love it because it captures how much fun I was having riding my bike in the sun, the beach to my right, wind whipping all around me.  The wind was super strong!!  The only thing that kept me going as I was pushing myself against the brutal wind was the thought of the great resistance workout it was providing.  Riding my beach cruiser at the beach has to be one of the most simple pleasures I can think of.  Not only does it allow me to exercise – we biked for an hour and 20 minutes and I burned 1065 calories – but it makes me feel free.

Now for my favorite beach shot of the day.  And yes, it’s now my FB cover photo:

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Since we were only about 20 minutes away from the nearest David’s Tea, and since Ani is now even more obsessed with their loose leaf tea as I am (coffee will always be my #1), we decided to make a pitstop.

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I was struck by how immaculate the store was, and now knowledgeable and friendly the staff was.  I’ll definitely be back to their retail stores, especially now that I know they’re opening up a third San Francisco location.

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In case you were wondering, I got a fresh-brewed cup of pumpkin chai – yum!

All in all, yesterday was one of those picture-perfect days that come along every so often.  It’s definitely one that I hope becomes the norm during my summer vacation.

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Happy Friday!!! On the heels of a long weekend, today’s bound to be a fantastic day.

1. I completed my project revamping the school website, and everyone is really pleased.  It always feels good to be recognized for a job well done, especially with something that was so time consuming.

14212954_1208060030002. Tuesday evening my sister had asked me to watch my 5-year-old niece for a couple of hours, and my first thought was, let’s play Just Dance 4! I’d given it to my nieces for Christmas, but none of us had a chance to check it out yet.  So we popped it into the player and we boogied for 45 minutes!  My niece’s favorite songs were Call Me Maybe (hey, she’s five) and You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful (One Direction). She was jumping around so much that my sister said her feet hurt for two days afterward.  Poor baby!  That just shows how much we were getting into it.  I liked the new songs, and I can’t wait to try it again.

3. Goal #9 for my 13 in 13 is to do fun things with other people (i.e. get more social).  So far, I’ve been doing really well on this goal.  Last Sunday, I went over Tinkerbell and her hubby’s house to watch the Patriots’ game.  It was fun meeting new people, and getting out of the house for a couple of hours. This weekend I have plans to go on a bike ride with Tink and have dinner with my sister and parents (I’m bringing my food to eat so that I can stay on track) on Saturday, and then on Sunday after the 49ers game, go to coffee with Di, one of my best friends since high school.  I’ve made plans with Ani, too.  We’re going yoga at Lululemon on Sunday morning and then a combo puppy play date/ bike ride on Monday. I am loving getting back to my extroverted, social self.

4. I’ve been reading The Paris Wife, and I really enjoy it.  So far this year I haven’t followed my plan of carving out an hour each Saturday and Sunday to read, so this weekend I’m going to rectify that.  The weather is supposed to warm up this weekend, so I’m heading to my backyard to read in the fresh air.

5. I found this right before the new year on Pinterest, and so far, it has been completely true:

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Since I didn’t officially finish this post until Saturday morning, I figured I’d throw in one more to make it a Saturday Six, or should I say, a Quest for Six:

Who's got it better than us? NO ONE!!!

Who’s got it better than us? NO ONE!!!

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A few weeks ago I wrote that I was going to take the beach cruiser out for a few bike rides, and that didn’t happen. Sure, I was doing other activities, like Bikram yoga, swimming and Zumba, but that’s not the reason I didn’t go for a bike ride. Here’s where I can get a bit honest – I’ve been avoiding taking the beach cruiser out because it’s gotten increasingly difficult for me to get on and off the bike because of my weight.

Since it’s been some time since my last bike ride (I seriously can’t remember when I last rode it, maybe 4 months?  Maybe 6?), my tires need to get inflated quite a bit.  I haven’t wanted to ride it the half mile to the gas station to fill the tires with air because I’m really afraid of falling off the bike as I’m trying to get off of it, and I just don’t want to look stupid in such a public place. To be clear, I’m not worried at all about hurting myself, because I know I could take that part, but the bruise to my ego/self-esteem is probably too much. Ridiculous, I know. But it’s true.

So I asked my parents to get me an electric air pump for my birthday so that I could just pump the tires up at home. That way I can pump up the tires whenever and then head in any direction I want, not always stopping at the gas station first. I know that if I can easily keep the tires filled with air, I’ll go on bike rides much more often.When I filled the tires with air today, they were down to 20psi, instead of the 45-65psi they should be.  It was really easy to use and took less than 10 minutes.  Easy!

As for the main problem – getting on and off the bike, I know that as I lose weight it will become easier for me to position my leg through the space in the front of the bike. I usually try to lift my leg up and through the space between the seat and the handlebars of the bike in front, no easy task for someone with short, fat legs that aren’t easily maneuverable. And because of that, I’ve been avoiding riding my bike, even when my sister asks me to go on one with her, and it kills me because I love to ride bikes around our neighborhood together.

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Then my sister suggested that instead of putting my legs through the space in the front, I should swing my leg over the back of the bike.  I’d never thought of it before!  I’ve always gotten on the bike going through the space in the front, and I guess old habits die hard.  I tried it, and it was SO much easier for me!!  Not only is it a smoother position, but I can also use the handlebars for support.  I am thrilled that getting on and off the bike is so much easier and more stable for me now.  It goes to show that sometimes you just need to look at a situation from a  completely different perspective in order to solve the problem.  It also helps that I’m completely comfortable with my sister, so explaining an embarrassing situation isn’t a big deal.  If I wouldn’t have shared this with her, I’d never have fixed the problem, and would have missed out on a lot more bike rides.

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Sitting on Lola, my beach cruiser, ready to ride! Today was the perfect day for a jaunt around the neighborhood!

It’s a warm day, and nothing feels better than going out on the bike with the sun shining and the wind giving a nice breeze to keep you cool.  We went out for an hour and had the BEST time; burning 823 calories wasn’t bad, either.  Now that I’m much more mobile, I plan on taking the bike out for rides all the time. Besides my neighborhood, which has wide streets filled with great houses and beautiful landscaping, there are a couple of walk/run/bike paths nearby that are great for longer rides.  But a new goal before the end of the summer is to go to Half Moon Bay with my sister and ride bikes again near the beach.

I’ve also decided that once I reach 100 lbs lost, I’m going to buy myself the red beach cruiser that I’ve always wanted.  The Nirve peach-colored bike I have is fine, but I’ve always regretted not getting the red bike.  I feel like my clothes and style go so much better with red than with a pastel bike.  I’m more of a classic, primary color girl anyway.  I like cleaner, simplistic, more retro looking lines in everything, including my bikes.  And I can’t think of a better reward for losing 100 lbs.

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Now if you’re dying to know how the bike got named Lola, you can read this post.

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I keep hearing the No Excuses message lately, and since I believe everything happens for a reason, I know I must need to hear it.

Biggest Loser this season is all about No Excuses, and each week they’re tackling a different excuse that people try to give for why diet/exercise is too difficult. This season has some contestants that I love (Emily, Chism, Mark, Daphne) and those that I love to hate (Conda (and Kim, lately). Bob is getting a bit more competitive with Dolvett this season, and we’re seeing a whole different side to him (and not a good side, in my opinion). The show is my Tuesday night tradition, and I’m enjoying seeing them show that each excuse is easily overcome.

Have you guys watched The Revolution? I’d heard about it briefly, and then BeautyJunkie824 recommended it to me, and I’ve been DVR’ing it ever since. The format is a daily “magazine-style,” with different segments all relating to a certain theme. They have 5 experts: Ty Pennington (design), Tim Gunn (fashion), Dr. Jennifer Ashton (medical), Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry (therapist), and Harley Pasternak (trainer). Each week they follow a new “hero” who needs to revolutionize her life through health. Each day off that hero’s week shows her progress in the different areas, and a month has elapsed between video clips. So over the course of the 5 days, the audience has seen several months of the hero’s progress toward her goal. I really like the five-pronged approach, and I look forward to watching it. This Friday when I got home I was exhausted, and I decided to watch The Revolution, and I’m so glad that I did. The message that Harley shared with the hero was exactly what I needed to hear:

Just remember why you’re doing this and all the excuses will just fall away.” ~Harley Pasternak, trainer on The Revolution.

Truer words were never spoken. I’m going to print this out and post it around the house for myself so that I can keep it in the forefront of my mind.

Then this morning, I was watching YouTube videos, and I saw that BeautyJunkie824 had entered LosingitwithRebecca’s Challenge. I’ve never entered a video challenge before, and I thought to myself, “why not?” This weekly challenge might be just what I need to get myself to that next step – making my pre-surgery goal. The challenge itself is going until March 29th – for 8 weeks – and I can do a lot in that time. I’ve never made joined a challenge, heck, I’ve never even made weekly videos on YouTube before, but I think this might be just what I need to keep myself accountable. Plus, I’m sure to meet a lot of great new friends.

Here’s my intro video that I made to join the challenge – most of you know all of this already, but I thought that maybe some of the newer readers might like to know more about me:

Each week I’ll post my challenge video on this blog, too. I really don’t care if I win the prize at the end or not – I’m really doing this so that I can stay on track. Of course, if I do win some fabulous prize, all the better!!

Weekend Update

Yesterday was a beautiful day – sunny, high 60s – perfect. So after LC and I dropped the dogs off at the groomer’s, she and I headed out for a bike ride around our neighborhood. Of course it’s been about several months since I last rode my bike, so my back tire was all but flat. Luckily there’s a gas station about 1/2 a mile from our house, so off we rode. LC told me that she was afraid the tire was going to pop completely – that’s how low it was. Luckily we got there in time. I have really strong legs and I just powered through, even though it was really hard and I was huffing and puffing the whole way there. Once we filled the tires with air, we were off. I had originally wanted to take a different route, but that would involve crossing a busy street with the traffic light, and for some reason that sort of freaked me out yesterday. I think because it was 11am, and lots of drivers were out doing their Saturday errands, and I wasn’t confident that they’d be patient enough for me to gear up after waiting at a light. Next time. As it was, we had a fantastic ride and wove in and out of our neighborhood for an hour. It was so much fun, and this morning I was reminded what good exercise biking is. Not only did my butt and thighs feel it, but my arms, too. My arms? Not sure exactly why, but hey, I like it.

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11 months old and cute as a button!

After the ride I relaxed, read more of Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2), and just enjoyed the day. Later in the afternoon we picked the pooches up (who looked gorgeous, by the way, as you can tell from Sofi’s photo), and took them for a long walk in a new neighborhood. I love seeing how much Sofi enjoys exploring new territory, and I want to make it a habit to find new places to walk at least once a month (weather permitting). Then I made myself a great dinner (see MyFitnessPal for a peek) and my sister and I hung out and did our taxes. Not a glamorous way to spend a Saturday night, but hey, it had to be done sooner or later. I wasn’t happy with the results, but then again, I never am (I’m in that weird segment of the population who gets hit hardest with taxes because I have noting to claim – no children, no house, and I’m single). It is what it is, and I just accept it and move on, right?

Today has been a bit of a lazy day, too. I did clean/do laundry/change the sheets, but I’ve also spent lots of time online and reading. Sofi and I took a nice walk.  You’ll notice not much mention of the Super Bowl – that’s because I really didn’t care. Once my 9ers were out of it and both teams playing have won many, many times, I was over it. I had it on in the background, but it wasn’t anything important to my day. At all.

One thing that was important for me to do was to get all my food ready for the week. I chopped, cut, assembled and organized until I was left with this…

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Salad ingredients, prepped and ready to assemble.

And this…

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Green Monster fixings. Bananas will go into the freezer; spinach into the fridge.

And this…

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Chopped red & green bell peppers and cucumbers all ready for snacking.

And this…

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My week's worth of salads - all set and ready to go into my lunchbag.

And even this…

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I had a few items leftover, so I quicky whipped up my salad for tonight's dinner.

I can’t tell you how much I love getting everything organized on Sunday afternoon so that I can go into the week with everything set and ready to go.  Now all that’s left to do is to figure out what my workouts will be.  I didn’t make it to yoga at all last week, but I’m absolutely going this week because I missed going, especially to the hot yoga.  This weekend I also got a Yelp deal on doggie daycare for Sofi ($15/day for up to 5!), so I’m planning on taking her once a week for the 5 weeks, which makes me feel less guilty about going to a long workout after she’s been “cooped up” all day.  When she goes to doggie daycare I know she’ll be so tired that she’ll gladly spend an hour or two sleeping.  Can’t wait.

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