Monday, April 28, 2008

A weekend purchase

I bought a bicycle Saturday with the help of my brother, Doug, who pointed me in the right direction. I had been wanting one for a while and enjoyed using Mike's, but the time was ripe to get my own especially since Mike actually started using his leaving me with nothing.

It's a Schwinn Sierra comfort aka hybrid bike. It's all-purpose! It has disc brakes and front fork shocks (weird at first but then quite lovely) and it has a quick release front tire and a comfy seat and you change the gears much like you would on a motorcycle. I like it a lot. I'm not thrilled about the hunter green but the colors were slim pickings and Mike assured me it would get banged up over time anyway. I also got a dorky helmet to protect my noggin. Nope, it doesn't match the bike. Again, the colors were slim pickings on the helmets too.

So Mike and I were both very excited to "go exploring" today. Our plan was to take the trail by our house to the right (we usually go left to the lake) and see how far it would take us. But alas, it's miserable out and consistently raining. We'll get our next chance after finals are over.

But I can say that both Mike and I are generally very excited about getting outdoors. I hoped my excitement would be contagious and it was. Mike got on the bike and bought a new fishing pole and really enjoys getting out of the house almost immediately after work before the sun stars to set. It's been wonderful. I've been finding bike trails and he's been talking to people and texting me with names of places for me to look up that his co-workers recommend. It's a blast!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kayaking the Pineys

Thankfully the weather held last Sunday and I was able to meet up with Neil, the organizer of The Best South Jersey Kayaking Meetup Group Ever!, and go on out to Batsto Lake in the Pine Barrens to do some kayaking.

It really was a gorgeous day - bright blue skies and upper fifties/lower sixties the whole time we were out. We parked at Batsto Lake and a friend of Neil's was kind enough to let us throw the kayaks and gear on his Prius and drive us the several miles through the Barrens to where we'd launch. If you're not familiar with the Barrens, which I was not, there are these extremely long, scary one lane "roads" that just run all through that area. Supposively, they are the same roads traveled by Washington (the main road is called the Washington Turnpike) and his troops during the Revolutionary War. I admit I was slightly nervous being out there with strangers but my awe and surprise that such a monstrosity of dense woods could exist in New Jersey took precedence over my fear.

We finally reached the launching area which seemed to me no more than a creek about ankle deep and very narrow.


I got a quick paddling instruction on land and I was off. I wouldn't say kayaking is difficult. But kayaking down a narrow, shallow river that's more like a stream is quite challenging. I accidentally beached myself on shallow sandbars and weird mounds of red algae numerous times and I crashed quite a few times. Maneuvering fallen trees and very low lying branches while navigating the narrowness, shallowness and curviness of the river was challenging. There wasn't much time for reflection until several hours into the trip. Oh, and not to mention that all those branches you either duck under or get swiped in the face by all have huge spiders on them.

We took a break 3.5 miles into the trip. I wasn't aware how much I needed it until I stood up and ate a pear. Ten minutes later back in the kayak the paddle felt much lighter.

The river gradually became deeper and wider and the trip got a little easier and there were times I could just coast a little. We saw hundreds of turtles over the course of the trip. They were everywhere! Neil was excellent at pointing out all the wildlife and helping me to sneak up on the turtles to get these shots:

We eventually ended up in what looked like a lake, but wasn't. I don't know what to call it but it was gorgeous. These pictures are from that area:

After paddling through the fake lake, we made it into the real lake and I didn't get any pictures because the wind really picked up out on the flat lake and we really had to struggle to get across it. In all the trip was six miles and took about four hours give or take. When we got to the lake with only a quarter of a mile left was the first time we saw another human. It was just us out in the middle of this lake and hikers along the edge were taking pictures of us.

The whole experience left me feeling small. We were certainly the intrusion out on the river and by no means was it our turf. The experience also left me feeling hopeful. I didn't know such a huge pocket of nature and beauty existed in New Jersey and it makes me happy to know that we haven't yet destroyed all of nature. I'm also proud of myself in a way. I really wanted to get out there and try something new and I found a way. I did something that the majority of the world may not get to experience. I look forward to getting out there again.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Goal Report 2 of 2 for January - April Challenge

I'm going to make you read a while before disclosing my success or failure. In case you missed the first report, please click here to bring yourself up to speed.

So I had to lose 7.8 lbs. in two weeks to make the 15 lb. weight loss goal. Last week I lost 3.4 lbs. leaving me with 4.4 lbs. to lose this past/current week

I went all out, pulled every ace out of my sleeve and, in my opinion, kicked ass. I scarcely ate yesterday and when I did the choices were deliberate and strategically chosen. I went to yoga again and it was awesome again. Afterwards, my friend Kelly and I stopped in at a coffee shop where I drank a double shot of espresso straight. The logic behind this was that I would burn calories all through the night and give my metabolism one last shock to the system.

This is where I hope to amuse you with my neurosis.

So, naturally, I couldn't sleep. Not just because of the caffeine, but also due to the anxiety of weighing in this morning. I tossed and turned all night and finally at 3:00 am, it hit me. If you weigh in now, you can put an end to all this madness and get some rest.

So I got up, stripped down, and weighed myself. I was shocked! Still an entire 1.6 pounds off from making my goal! I stepped off the scale thinking what an awful time it was for the scale to break and stepped back on. The result was the same.

So I threw my clothes back on and went and laid back down. Then another thought hit me. You can go running! You still have three hours to try to make this goal! Yeah, well, that thought left as soon as it came and I instead chugged an entire nalgene bottle full of water and proceeded to toss and turn until 6:10 when I got up, peed, stripped down and got back on the scale. The result was 2 ounces less than it was three hours earlier.

So alas, I fell short of my fifteen pound goal by exactly 1.4 lbs.

I'm mildly disappointed but also happy to move on to the next challenge. I lost 13.6 pounds in 2 and a half months. I started in the 180's and am now in the 160's.

I also learned a whole lot about my body since January and limits and moderation. I also learned that the last two weeks were pretty miserable and how I never ever want to be a prisoner to food like some people I know. I learned I really need to become even more active since I love food so much. Sacrificing food because you're too lazy to exercise is unacceptable. You'll inevitably fail, or worse, condemn yourself to a life of misery and guilt. My habits have changed, my outlooks have changed and mentally, something just sort of "happened". I honest to God don't think I could go back and do some of the things I may have done six months ago ever again. This challenge helped me to re-wire the part of brain that deals with food, diet and exercise. So for that, it was a success. *Actually, I'd like to add here that it wasn't just this challenge. I think this challenge was the final icing on the cake after three cumulative much healthier years - each one a little better than the previous one. I've changed these past three years. For the better.

So here's some stats for the past fifteen weeks:

Starting weight January 4, 2008: 183.4 (includes Christmas heft)
Ending weight April 11, 2008: 169.8
Average weight: 176.35
Average weekly weight loss: .91

So here's some privileged information for you from 2007:

Starting weight 2007: 175.8
Highest weight 2007: 178
Lowest weight 2007: 169.2
Average weight 2007: 173.3
Note that I am currently a mere 6 ounces away on April 11 from my lowest weight of the entire 2007 year.

I understand that the stats for the average weekly weight loss for the past fifteen weeks are skewed and useless. It includes ups, downs, and three pound losses. However, I'm going to use it anyway. The next challenge is a mini: 6 weeks. We start with today's weight and the final date is May 23 - the day before my 26th birthday. I learned these past fifteen weeks my body likes moderation and consistency so my goal is six pounds in six weeks: realistic and attainable.

In case you're wondering why I just spilled all this obsessive, personal information, I did it for me not for you. If you care, cool. If not, cool. This blog helped me to walk through how I really feel about all this and give myself a fair and honest evaluation.

And as promised, here is the line graph for the past fifteen weeks.

Jessica = red line
Mike = black line

I don't know how to make it not too small or not too blurry, but you get the point.

And just for shits and giggles, here's last year's graph. Where there are line breaks, we skipped weighing in that week.

Mike kicked my ass! LOL.

So you won't here from me about all this again until May 23.

Now back to less purposeful blogging......

Friday, April 04, 2008

Goal Report 1 of 2

In case you're just tuning in, as of today I have seven more days to meet a goal. That goal is to have lost 15 lbs. from January 4 through April 11.

Friday. Weigh Day. I lost 3.4 lbs this week and have to lose 4.4 in the next seven days to meet my goal. I really was hoping for a larger loss this week to take some of the pressure off of next week, but it didn't work out that way obviously. But I feel good and I'm down a total of 10.6 lbs since January 4.

I evaluated last week's "performance" and see where there is room for improvement so I have a plan for next week. That plan is completely reliant on not abusing the open bar at tomorrow night's venison dinner. Very poor timing for an open bar dinner. So I will be the designated driver.

I attended my first yoga class last night and it exceeded my expectations. The studio was fantastic - the wood floor had large knots and natural splitting, the colors and paintings on the wall were inspirational, there were orchids, candles, and deity figures strategically placed about. The class was small - about ten of us - but the studio wouldn't have accommodated more than maybe three more. Everyone was friendly especially our young, perky teacher. The setting was intimate.

The class was one and a half hours and it seemed like a play with many different acts. I knew yoga was a spiritual experience but I wasn't aware that aspect would be represented in structured classes. I'm so glad it was. I'm eager to go back next week. Although I admit I am quite surprised by how incredibly sore I am today, especially my lower back. But I feel longer and straighter.

Overall, I'd say the week was for the most part a successful one. I understand the body isn't meant to lose more than 2-3 lbs in a week so I should be pleased with this week's progress and I am.

Will Jessica make her goal? Will the weather allow her to go kayaking? Who knows! So tune in next Friday! And as an additional bonus for tuning in, get a chance to check out Jessica's weight loss line graph!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Quick update

So far so good for this week:

  • I have an exam tonight that I hope to take before my head explodes. I'm feeling really good about it but will feel better when it's over
  • I'm down 3 plus pounds since Friday. I'm kicking major booty this week and that goal is looking in reach. Amazing so far for two reasons:
    • I sat at a hibachi table last night and only ate two california rolls. No hibachi. Impressive, right?
    • I didn't stress eat while studying and pining over this exam. Nice, huh?
  • I start my first yoga class this Thursday. I got a pretty mat and a pretty bag. I can't believe it took me all this time to just pick a class and friggin go to it. Geez. But it's never too late.
  • Weather permitting, I'll be going on my first kayaking trip EVER April 12. So stoked. I bet I'll love it.
Knock on wood that things keep looking on the up and up.