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Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

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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Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend and were able to spend time with friends and family.  My weekend was a great mixture of walks, a BBQ, time relaxing and reading, and even going outside my comfort zone a bit by going to a Match.com Stir event on Friday night.  While I’m glad I had the experience, it was clear to me that I’ll never attend another one of those events.  The word I can use to describe it was awkward.  People were standing around not talking to each other, and when I tried to start conversations several times with “starters” (being the teacher that I am), people responded with one-word answers.  Yikes!  Plus, the people there just weren’t those I’d be interested in hanging out with.  I decided that I’d much rather take my chances going to a local restaurant or bar with girlfriends than attend another one of those painful events.  Still, I’m glad I tried it, otherwise I’d never know. But let’s get one with today’s FMM.

Sarah over at Losing Weight and Having Fun is hosting FMM for the time being, and I’m excited to discover her blog and meet a bunch of new bloggers.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: Losing Weight and Having Fun so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Let’s Get Sporty

1. Are you following the World Cup? If so which team are cheering on?

No.  I don’t watch soccer and haven’t caught any of it.  If pressed, I’d say that I’m glad the Italian team won against England (sorry Sarah), and of course I’ll cheer for Team USA.

2. What is your favorite sport to watch either on TV or in person?

I love baseball and football.  Baseball is definitely something I prefer to go and watch at the ballpark, but football is something I’ll watch any which way.

3. Which local team (regardless of sport) do you support?

I’ve been a huge fan of the SF Giants and SF 49ers since I was a young girl.  More recently I’ve really gotten into going to the local San Jose Giants games, too, because so many of the players end up heading up to the SF Giants.  Plus, the SJ Giants games are really inexpensive ($10 each), very family friendly, and you can often get free tickets from local stores.

4. What is your favorite sport to play?

I’ve never really played a sport, because growing up I wasn’t athletically inclined.  Now I love fitness, but still haven’t tried my hand at a group sport.  I’ve enjoyed playing badminton at family reunions, and I think volleyball is fun, too.

5. Were you ever in a sports team?

As I mentioned in #4, I’ve never played a sport.  One time in 5th or 6th grade I tried out for the volleyball team, but didn’t make it, and I guess I felt so discouraged that I never tried again.  Growing up I was much more into riding bikes than I was into group sports.

6. Have you ever traveled a long distance to see your team play?

I never have, but I would be willing to, especially to go to The Superbowl.

7. Do you have a favorite stadium/sports venue you have been to?

I absolutely love going to AT&T Park, where the SF Giants play. It’s a gorgeous stadium where there isn’t a bad seat in the house. I’m also really excited that the new Levi’s Stadium for the 49ers is going to be right in my backyard (about 20 minutes from home), in Santa Clara.

8. What is your favorite food you associate with sporting events?

The food at AT&T park is amazing, and like Sarah, I love the garlic fries.

9. Do you have a favorite sporting song?

Nothing comes to mind.  I think it’s fun that they play Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline at Boston Red Sox games, but since that’s really not my team, I’m not sure if that applies.

10. Is there a sporting event you would like to go to in another country?

I’d love to go to the Olympics someday.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Sarah’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

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Happy Monday! Today has actually been a pretty easy transition back to the “real world” after having the week off for spring break.  As much as I hate standardized testing, it’s come in handy that we started it this week in my English classes – it makes for a smoother entry into the work week.   Because I wasn’t ready to leave Hawaii behind just quite yet, I decided to go Aloha style for my OOTD (you might’ve seen this already on Instagram, if you follow me):
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For the months of March and April, FMM is moving locations.  Sarah over at Losing Weight and Having Fun is hosting FMM for the time being, and I’m excited to discover her blog and meet a bunch of new bloggers.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: Losing Weight and Having Fun so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Favorite things

1. Favorite color? (be specific… what shade of blue/green/red etc)

hot pink  As much as I’m drawn to dark colors, my absolute favorite color is hot pink.  I’d love to get my Beetle convertible painted this color someday.

2. Favorite piece of clothing you own? I’ve been loving skirts and dresses lately, because I can wear them a lot longer than I can pants as I lose weight.  I guess I’d say my Michael Kors skirt is my favorite, because it’s so versatile. I can wear it with sweaters, tshirts, or tanks and it can change the look completely.

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3. Favorite smartphone app? I’d have to say MyFitnessPal, because I love how easy it makes logging all my food, water, and exercise.  Plus, I get so much inspiration and support from all my friends on there – I go to it multiple times a day.  If you’re on MFP, too, send me a note and add me, if you’d like.

4. Favorite city? I’d have to say San Francisco.  There’s something for everyone there – the beach, art, shopping, amazing food, nightlife, and outdoors activities.  Plus, the city itself is just so beautiful.

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The Changing Light  by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (one of my favorite poets, one of the original Beat Poets, poet laureate of SF, and owner of City Lights Bookstore):

The changing light

            at San Francisco

    is none of your East Coast light

           none of your

                   pearly light of Paris

The light of San Francisco

             is a sea light

                       an island light

And the light of fog

        blanketing the hills

    drifting in at night

           through the Golden Gate

                      to lie on the city at dawn

And then the halcyon late mornings

    after the fog burns off

      and the sun paints white houses 

                     with the sea light of Greece

      with sharp clean shadows

       making the town look like

                             it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o’clock

                                    sweeping the hills


And then the veil of light of early evening


And then another scrim

           when the new night fog

                            floats in

And in that vale of light

                   the city drifts

                           anchorless upon the ocean

5. Favorite strength training exercise? I’ve mentioned it before, but since mid January I’ve been doing the Tone It Up exercises, and I absolutely love them.  They use your own body weight, along with small dumbbells or kettlebells to tone.  The difference I see in my body is noticeable.  Plus, the routines are so fun, and the community is really supportive.

6. Favorite vegetable?  This is like asking me my favorite book – I love so many that it’s difficult to choose just one.  Maybe zucchini because there’s so much you can do with them – make “zoodles,” stuff them, bake them, sauté  them, make zucchini fries, steam them, or have them raw with a crudité.

7. Favorite hair product? (shampoo, styling, conditioner etc) I’ve been using Pureology, and I love the way that it keeps my color fresh, but I’ve been noticing that my hair is drier since I’ve started using it.  I’ve been using Redken’s Smooth Lock, too, so I’m not sure if it’s the shampoo/conditioner or the styling product that is drying it out.  Either way, I think I need to make a change and see if it helps. On a recent trip to Dry  Bar to get my hair blown out, I was amazed at how shiny my hair looked.  I love how their products smell, so I’m thinking about trying their shampoo, conditioner, and styling products for a bit to see if they work better for me.

8. Favorite animal? Is there any question that I’m going to say dogs?

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9. Favorite superhero?  

bilbl_super Super Bellina 

Oh, did you mean a comic book superhero?   Then I’d have to say Wonder Woman, I guess.  🙂

10. Favorite recipe? (share the details with us)

A recipe I make again and again, in summer and winter is my version of Hungry Girl’s 10-Alarm Crockpot Turkey Chili.  It’s hearty, satisfying, delicious, easy to prepare, and has great nutritional stats.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Sarah’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

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Let’s start with my post on Facebook last night when I got home:

Tonight I went to SF to meet a fabulous NOLA girl turned YouTubelebrity (VsgTanya) whose journey I’ve followed for about 2 years now. Although I’d only known her from videos on YouTube and posts on FB, I just knew we’d hit it off, and we did. As a wonderful bonus, I met a bunch of other fabulous ladies who all live within an hour of me. Thank you, Tanya for coming to San Fran and bringing all the Bay Area peeps together. So fun!!”

Before I ever had the VSG surgery, I looked up other people’s WLS journeys on YouTube so that I could be really prepared for what I was about to experience.  VSGTanya was one of the first channels that popped up, and I felt an immediate kinship with this beautiful girl from New Orleans.  Maybe it was the eyebrows!  LOL.  She has this positive attitude and open demeanor that really helped me get ready for my own surgery. And in the time since, I’ve turned to her videos again and again for tips, advice, and information.  Tanya shares so much of herself in her videos that I felt like I knew her.  I told myself that when I make it to New Orleans, one of my bucket list destinations, I’ll definitely let Tanya know so we can meet up.

And then about a month ago, she posted that she was coming to San Fran for a work conference, and the next thing I know, there was a Bay Area WLS Peeps Meet Up set up and I was invited!  The cool thing was, not only would I get the chance to meet Tanya, but I’d also get a chance to meet several WLS people I’m FB friends with, but whom I’d never met, even though we live so close to each other.

I was looking forward to today all week, and I was absolutely thrilled to see what a gorgeous day it was.  As I made my way into SF, I was even happier that the weather held up!  Usually at this time of year, San Francisco is chilly and foggy, even when the weather in the south bay is warm and sunny.  But not today, today it was 79 degrees and sunny in SF!  The weather really couldn’t have been better for Tanya’s visit.

Since it was so nice, I thought I’d wear one of the sundresses I’d recently purchased:

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A few things to note about this outfit: The dress is from Target, and I love the way it fits! Since it was a nice day, I wanted to wear flip flops, but because the dress is a bit short, hitting me just above the knee, I wanted to wear tights.  Not having any footless tights, and having even less time to go buy some, I cut up a pair of regular tights, and as long as no one looked too closely, I think it worked great.  That purse that I’m wearing is a huge NSV for me.  It’s an Issac Mizrahi purse that I’d bought a couple of years ago from QVC.  It came as a 3-piece set: a wristlet, this crossbody, and a huge shopper.  Whenever I’d worn the crossbody in the past, it hit me right under my chest, and looked miniscule compared to my girth, so I put it on the shelf until today.  I’m so proud of how it looks now, and plan to make it a staple in my spring and summer wardrobe.  Oh, and how can we forget Miss Sofi there?  She’s freshly groomed and looking beautiful, sporting her strawberry dog collar.

We were meeting up near Tanya’s hotel in Union Square, which is the shopping district of SF.  I was waiting to cross the street as I saw Tanya, and the whole thing felt really surreal – I was about to meet this person that I’d looked up to for so long on YouTube!  We immediately hugged, and things were as easy between us as I’d hoped they would be.  I confessed right away that I felt like I was meeting a celebrity, and she laughed, but it’s true.  Tanya’s helped so many WLS people, and put herself out there to help others, and I was so glad to get the chance to meet her. Plus, she’s just a cool girl who like to have a good time.

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The girls had spent the day playing tourists around SF, and this was their time before dinner to fit in some shopping.  I told Tanya that I was glad she’d seen some of the prettier areas of the city, since Union Square is not very picturesque.  But it does have good shopping! While a few of the ladies were getting their makeup done at MAC, some of us hit Macy’s up to find some shoes.  For those who haven’t been, the Macy’s in Union Square is a thing to behold – the women’s store is 7 floors, and the shoe department is HUGE! (The men’s store is 5 floors, for those who are interested). We had a great time finding some shoes for Tanya.

On a quick side note, I have to tell about another NSV.  Walking in SF was always a challenge for me, even when I lived there for two years.  It’s a hilly city where you have to walk everywhere, which left my feet hurting and feeling breathless whenever I was out with friends walking around.  Not things time!  I was walking all around with no problem, and didn’t get breathless once.  In fact, most of the time I was leading the pack, walking quickly.  What a change from the past!

After shopping, we made our way to First Crush for some wine and dinner.  I’d never been before, but I would definitely go again.  San Francisco is an amazing food city, filled with terrific restaurants.  So many that you could go out to eat every night for a year and not have to repeat places.  We had the best time trading stories and getting to know each other.  Jodi organized the entire meetup, and her husband Chuck, was a great ego booster as he told everyone within earshot what a lucky guy he was to be with all these gorgeous ladies. Without seeming immodest, I have to agree:

Chuck told us to give him our best Charlie's Angels

Chuck told us to give him our best Charlie’s Angels

At the table before dinner

At the table before dinner

This is one fun group of women!  The conversation went from WLS to shopping to working out to relationships to sex to everything in between.  There’s just an unspoken bond among people who have had weight loss surgery, we “get” each other, because even though we may be from different backgrounds, we’ve shared an experience that you can’t understand unless you’ve lived it.  And not just the surgery and the weight loss, but also living as an obese person for so many years and then having this amazing transformation.

Another side note NSV: in the past whenever friends and I took group photos, I would always worry about the angle and how heavy I would end up looking in the photos.  Tonight I didn’t give it one thought.  I had the confidence in knowing that I am a whole different person now, and that the photos would reflect that change.

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This group just looks like fun, right?  Or as one of the ladies posted on FB – trouble! This was our last photo as a whole group before Chandra (in that great maxi dress next to me in the photo) and I left.  The rest of the girls were off to paint the town red, and judging from their posts on FB throughout the night, they did!

I feel so lucky to have met all these ladies, especially Tanya, and I am confident that we’ll all get together again very soon.

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Today FaveCousin and I walked in the SF Mermaid 5K.  A stark contrast from my first Mermaid 5K, which I participated in back in March 2009 with my sister.  If you have a few minutes, go and read that post.  If you don’t have a few, I’ll recap it:

It was March 2009. I weighed 275 pounds or so (over 60 pounds more than I do now, but 40 pounds less than my all-time highest weight).  I had signed up for Team in Training, planning to walk a half marathon, but had been having difficulty with numbness in my right foot which moved up my leg all the way to my hip.  It was awful, debilitating, and extremely frustrating.  But my friend Harj decided that she wanted all of her friends to celebrate her birthday by participating in the Mermaid Run.  So I asked my sister if she’d do it with me.  From the start of the race, everyone passed us – the runners, the power walkers, the walkers, the women with strollers – everyone.  I mean, we were dead last.  And it got to me because I wanted to push harder, go farther, move faster.  But I couldn’t.  I had shin splints, cramps in my calves, and the numbness in my feet/legs.  I broke down hysterically crying shortly after we’d begun, and my sister had to talk me down.  One of the things I realized that day was that I’d have to forgo the TNT training and the 1/2 marathon, because I physically just couldn’t do it.  It was one of my low points in this journey.

The photo on the left was taken in March 2009.  The one of the right was taken today.  I can see a HUGE change in my face.

The photo on the left was taken in March 2009. The one of the right was taken today. I can see a HUGE change in my face.

Cut to today – FaveCousin and I had to walk about a mile from the parking lot to the start of the race and we did so in less than 12 minutes!  We got to the starting line and enjoyed the “girl power” music – Beyonce, Katy Perry (Even though I really dislike her music, I have to admit that “Roar” is a rallying song), etc.  I was excited for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that today I was wearing that women’s cut shirt that I would’ve never fit in back in 2009.

2013-11-10 07.23.332013-11-10 07.33.30 At 7:35am, the race started, and while plenty of people passed us, we were far from the last ones walking.  In fact, we were solidly in the middle of the pack.  This fact alone made me incredibly happy and awestruck at just how far I’ve come.

It's hard to see because of the lighting, but I just had to take a photo of all the walkers behind us.  We weren't the last ones!!

It’s hard to see because of the lighting, but I just had to take a photo of all the walkers behind us. We weren’t the last ones!! There are more walkers for a good half mile behind this group, too.

While we walked, I felt good.  I wasn’t exerting myself, and I knew that eventually I should either push myself to start competing in 10Ks or I should start run/walking.  (More on the running in a future post – let’s just say that next year I’m going to do my best to run most of the 5K). But for today, I decided to just continue walking at my 3.8mph pace, and enjoy the lovely scenery and the great company. Today there were no tears.  Today I was all smiles as I realized that this 5K was going to be an entirely different experience from the last Mermaid 5K.

2013-11-10 07.49.29 2013-11-10 07.40.14 2013-11-10 08.05.44 2013-11-10 08.03.48San Francisco really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and that Golden Gate Bridge is one of the jewels.  The weather was brisk and chilly, but sunny while we were racing.  Oddly enough, the fog rolled in later in the morning, but while we walked we were blessed with the sunshine. (Although you can see just what the foggy, ocean air does to my hair – can we say ‘fro?!).

All told, we finished the 5K in 56 minutes, which is a darn good pace for walking.  I hit over 10,000 steps by 9am.  I’m so proud of all that I have accomplished and the dramatic difference between this race and the one back in 2009.  I’m a completely different person now, with abilities that match my determination.  I couldn’t be more thrilled with my progress!! Today was definitely one of the high points in my journey!

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Photo credit: Pinterest search: San Francisco fog

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Have you heard?!

In honor of our World Series win, I’m going to go all-out fan girl today at school…

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It’s a bold choice, but I figure:

  1. These pants won’t fit me in just a few short weeks, and will definitely be WAY too big by next spring, when it will be warm enough to wear them again.
  2. They match my SF Giants tshirt perfectly.
  3. THE GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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