Friday, July 31, 2009

The Perils of the American Diet

I came across a blog to day called the No Impact Man by a man named Colin Beavan who talks about what each of us can do to end the environmental crisis. I am not sure if anyone follows that blog, but I put it on my reader list because this is an issue that’s important to me. Today I found it through a posting that was reproduced on the Huffington Post blog which talked about what the American diet has done to the health care crisis.

It seems to me that most people, me included, rarely think about what they eat. They eat for taste, convenience, and sometimes for cost. I read an article the other day that talked about the reason Americans overeat is that the food is filled with fat, salt, and sugar and these are triggers that prevent you from stopping. If you think about all the junk food out there, you realize that is so true. Think about all the fast food ads; they are hawking so much fatty foods that you can gain weight just viewing the commercial. No Impact Man’s blog talked about the increase of obesity over the last 30 years and the correlation of the popularity of the foods like hamburgers, French fries, milkshakes, and the like and you can definitely see there is no coincidence. I also read the Atkins Diet book and he said that the correlation of the food pyramid and obesity was striking. He claimed that the same percentages of the food groups are exactly the same as the way they feed the pigs to fatten them on the way to the slaughterhouse. If you listen to my mother, she swears the sugar industry has us by the short and curlies.

He also goes on to say that the Americans have also sabotaged themselves by drastically reducing the amount of exercise we get. Recently, there has been some realization of that as shown by the amount of gyms have sprung up and the attention that seems to be paid to doing various things to help move the body, even Nintendo helped. Seriously, look at the things we do; drive everywhere, sit on the couch for entertainment nightly, take moving stairs everywhere, and sit in an office cubicle all day typing away. Our brains and fingers are getting all the exercise! With obesity comes all manner of illness, and with illness comes the need for healthcare. It seems like a simple solution to me - one that will take a while, but simple in its execution.

I am really a fine one to talk as I had fallen into that same trap being no better than anyone else. But knowledge is a powerful thing. The more I read, the more I am able to control those cravings…well mostly.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Continuing Saga

The other day I reported that I had read the news about an attack on the bike trail where the victim pulled his gun to defend himself. Well, the saga continues. Today, it was found that the 17 year old youth who did the attack was operating a bicycle chop shop in the basement of his father’s home. They found 15-20 bikes in various states of completion and found that he was re-assembling them and selling them. The kid was arrested for the assault and is facing simple assault charges in the juvenile system. In addition, the DA is currently “re-evaluating” the charges against the man who discharged the weapon. Maybe that is a politcial decision on her part.

I am really glad they charged the youth. I understand that they might possibly drop the charges against the man. Although, I understand his reasoning for doing what he did. However, he didn’t have to shoot at the youth’s bike, he just could have reported it and let it go at that. The man thought he was defending himself and he was the victim.

The one thing that I am not happy about is that the people involved in this situation are all from my current hometown. The incident happened outside of the town and at first I was relieved. But now again, the people involved put more negative light onto the town; just one more thing to turn people off to the town and continue its downward movement.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


It’s been so dark in the mornings lately when I get up that I feel as though I am slipping out in the middle of the night when I leave for work. This morning was quite dark and my husband was still asleep when I was getting dressed as he was not due at his work site until 7:30am. I don’t like it when that happens because I feel like I am really bothering him, so I sneak around trying to find my clothes, jewelry, and makeup in a semi dark room. That’s a laugh and a half – me trying to be quiet.

All my life I have been a major klutz. My husband laughs because he says I am the only person he knows who can fall going UP the stairs, which is exactly what happened about five years ago resulting in a broken toe. I didn’t think it was all that funny. I mean the stairs are carpeted and the soles of my feet were slippery; anyone could have tripped. Anyone could have gotten a broken toe. It was a recipe for disaster no matter how you cut it. Speaking of cutting it last night I dropped a kitchen knife on my foot. Fortunately I only nicked my toe; I am sure it could have been worse. So my trying to be quiet in the morning when my husband is still asleep is like expecting no one to hear a charging rhino.

Then I get to work only to get a call later from my husband saying he stepped on an earring that was on the stairs. I have no idea how that happened. It wasn’t one of the earrings that I am wearing, and furthermore, it isn’t one that I have worn recently. It must have gotten caught on my clothes when I was in the bathroom getting the earrings I wore today out of my little jewelry box and then fell on the stairs as I went down. It was just another example of the accident waiting to happen, which is a description of my life.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Tour

Okay, so it wasn’t the Tour de France, more like the Tour de Perkiomen, but it was a fun ride and we did 57 miles in just under 5 hours. My husband and I, along with our friend, didn’t set out to do any land speed records. Our main goal was to get there and back. We did take a few breaks, most notably half way when we stopped to have a snack. It was fun despite the fact that yesterday my butt felt like it never wanted to see the bicycle seat again and my legs hurt a little today. Overall, though I think I faired well.

I was concerned if I could get back on that saddle again today and ride for our regular 20, and I did, but it was a struggle including the fact I got another flat tire. The whole ride tonight took longer than it should have.

But all in all we had a great time on the Big Ride. The weather held out. When we got to the end (or rather midpoint) it was drizzling but that ended after we ate, and we were under tree cover, and it didn’t rain the rest of the trip - that's what the picture it. Either we were incredibly lucky or we timed it right. We had looked at the weather reports all week and into the night before and the hourly forecast called for 20% chance of rain into the afternoon when it went up to 50% chance with isolated thunderstorms. It didn’t rain until around 9pm and we had some terrific thunderstorms then with lots of lightening.

For our evening’s entertainment, during all that rain last night, we watched Marley and Me. It was an endearing story and I thought quite funny. My husband on the other hand took a dim view to the whole thing because he can’t stand unruly dogs. He grumbled through the whole thing.

Friday, July 24, 2009


An incident happened on a local bike path that involved a rider pulling a gun on some kids after he was kicked by one of the boys while he was riding, which, caused the man to fall off his bike. The man was armed and shot at, and hit, one of the boy’s bike tires. He is in jail now with a rather high bail. The kids? Well it didn’t say in the article whether they were in any trouble, but they ought to be. They ought to be in a juvenile detention facility and have to face charges as well; after all they started it.

I am out on that trail practically every day and the area near my home has made the news more frequently than the area of this incident because there have been more reports of problems. As a result, the police have stepped up patrol in the area of the trail within the town borders. On one hand I am sorry this happened, but on the other I am glad it didn’t happen in my area. It just shows that my area is not the only place negative things happen. There is a biking group who started a website to report incidents on the trail like this, and when they opened the site, they hung notices on the trail about the site. However, once you are out of the town limits on the trail, the notices aren’t posted. That really speaks volumes.

In the last few weeks I have gotten pretty angry, and this is one more thing to get angry about. I don’t know why I am so irate; I am usually a very peaceful person and not one to want to cause any violent act against another. However, recently I feel like I just want to punch someone out. Is it because I am getting so much stronger now I am not afraid to defend myself if necessary? Is all this exercise affecting me in a negative way? Lately I imagine me wailing on someone after they tried to hurt me, or harass me. It’s weird. Maybe it’s old age. Maybe I am getting to be a grumpy old woman. Maybe it’s hormones.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


It rained today. But I am so addicted to the calorie burn of biking – and maybe to the biking itself – that I decided to ride my stationary bike in the basement. I did this on Tuesday also because of the rain. There is on good thing about this, and that is I can read my latest book while I am riding, which of course I can’t do doing the real thing. The other good thing is that doing this makes me sweat like crazy. There is no wind to keep me cool, there is no water container to cool me down, and there is no stopping. One solid hour of consistent pedaling. I am not sure of the calorie burn, but I think it is comparable to doing the real thing, so that’s what I am going to put it in as on my log.

The log I am talking about is an app on my phone that tracks the amount of food I eat and the calories I burn. It also allows me to enter the weight I am at the time and any blood work results that I have. The later is helpful in tracking the progress that I am making in my A1C reduction and my cholesterol readings, both of which need to come down or in the case of the blood sugar, stay below a certain point. I have not been diagnosed with diabetes yet, and don’t intend to. However, the blood work when I first started this journey was up by a point over what it should be. My doctor called it insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. When my numbers were reviewed in the beginning, I was given the option of starting medication and losing the weight or just losing the weight. I decided to go with the medication. I can always stop that either because I feel I am doing better or because my numbers are down there. The next round of blood work is in two months.

It sucks getting old. But I am not going to let it get the better of me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Must Be Addicted

Last night it rained. We had just cleaned our bicycles and a) didn’t want to go out in the rain and b) didn’t want to get our bikes dirty. What to do? I realized on the way home that I have an old stationary bike in the basement that hasn’t been used in a while. I could still get a “ride” in and burn a few calories and read at the same time. So that’s what I did. I set the timer for an hour and away I went. I guess it was because the book I am reading is good that I didn’t notice the time and it went by very quickly. I looked at the timer twice and I was surprised that the time had gone by. I am thinking that I must be addicted to the biking to explain this compulsion to ride. The day just isn't right until that happens.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Getting Ones Affairs in Order

I have been spending a lot of my time today getting my “affairs in order”. It’s not that I am going to die soon, but one never knows. I thought about this because of my father, who by the way is much better, and discussions with my mother. So I looked up some websites and found two that were helpful, one from the state and one from a church. Both have forms that you can fill out that have all manner of things to have on hand so your family knows what you want done and the location of important documents. I started a binder with sections and started printing out things and putting them in the book. I made up one for my husband too.

I think that most people are scared to think of these things. I guess it’s hard to face your own demise. But it’s eventually going to come and I know from experience if you leave things in an orderly fashion it’s so much easier for everyone. Take my stepfather for example. He left detailed instructions down to the tiniest piece and my mother and his sisters didn’t have to do any second guessing. I mean it was so detailed that he mapped out the role for each person to play at the memorial service as well as the disposal of all his personal belongings. This was far and above his will even.

Of course my mother scoffs at the idea that I get this information from the web. She wants me to go to a lawyer. I am sure that if my estate were complicated with a lot of real estate holdings or money, that would be prudent, but my life is fairly simple.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Finality of Life

My getting older means my parents get older. That’s obvious. My father suffered a small stroke last night and I was wakeful most of the night thinking about it. His health is very poor to begin with and he has been in and out of the hospital since his bypass surgery 10 years ago. Every time he goes in he somehow pulls through, so you would think that I would be somewhat immune to the worry that is accompanies him going into the hospital. However, each time it happens I fear his death. It’s weird as I am not really that close to him.

My father was not an important figure in my life. My parents got a divorce when I was a teenager. It wasn’t a very nasty one and my brother and I did spend a lot of time with our father when we were younger. When I was in college, he got remarried to a woman who is considerably younger than he and only about 15 years older than I. I never got very close to her either. I believe it was primarily because our respective views on life are diametrically opposed, and I never found conversation with them easy. But it was probably more because of the way they treated me after my divorce. I never really forgave them for basically ignoring me when I reached out for support while trying to get out of an abusive marriage.

However, he is my father and his death represents more than the loss of a person. It is means much more to me because he is first of my biological parents to die. My mother’s husband died last year and that was very sad and I miss him a lot, but somehow it’s not the same. I suppose it represents the fact that I am mortal and that I too will die someday too. I don’t think I am really scared of death; I accept it and acknowledge my mortality and am not really freaked out by it. I only hope I don’t suffer.

So we all wait to see what is going to happen this time. Will he pull through again, or will he be incapacitated, or will this be the end?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Value of Exercise

Sometimes changes come really slowly, especially those that involve your body. For the last four months, my husband and I have been seriously biking and building up our mileage on a daily basis. Yesterday my husband shot a photo of me on the trail that surprised me. I know I had lost weight from stepping on the scale, but not the kind of weight that this picture suggests. It only goes to prove that exercise is a valuable part of a life change.

In the gym where I go, there is a large sign on one wall that says “exercise is poor man’s plastic surgery”. For months I looked at that sign and didn’t think much of it. I look at this picture and see such a difference in my face that I am really beginning to believe that sign. I really can’t stress enough that it’s not just the reduction of calories that helps you lose those extra pounds – in my case it’s not just a few – but the exercise that makes all the difference. Sure there are still trouble spots that need to get worked on, and yes the lines of age are still there, but overall, things are getting better.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s really hard to keep this up. Sometimes I go home and get changed to go out and think to myself that I am only going to do a short ride because I really don’t feel like it. But I get one the bike and get through the first few miles and things get a little easier. I almost dread having to go out at first. But as with any habit, the routine takes over and it almost seems easy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Last night I kind of overdid it. I went for my usual workout at lunch, which consists of doing the elliptical machine for 30 minutes and then light weights for the arms. Then when I came home I did a strenuous bike ride featuring hill climbs for about an hour. Then I left and went rock climbing with people from work for 2 hours at a rock climbing gym. Today I am not as sore as I thought I would be.

The rock climbing event was a work thing and I am pretty much game to try anything. I must confess that I thought I would be able to overcome my fear of heights by doing this. I was not. I got up about half way on the first try and starting shaking so much I had to come down. I went up again on the second try and got a little further but still starting shaking so much I didn’t think I was going to be able to hold on to the hand holds. It was the same with the third time. Even though I was on a rope with a very strong guy (and a rather handsome, rugged-looking, one at that), I wasn’t able to overcome the shaking. By the end of the session I was so tired, either from the earlier exercise or from the climbing I didn’t try any more.

I don’t remember being this scared when I was younger. I remember we had a rope in our backyard tied to a tree on a very high branch and I was able to scramble up that thing with no problem. I wanted to try skydiving when I was a teen (never did), and flying never bothered me. Why do heights bother me now? And speaking of flying, our family trips are a never ending source of amusement for my family. I got so scared one time the airline attendant gave me wine to calm me down because I was scaring the other passengers. Perhaps fears get worse as you get older – and maybe wiser understanding the consequences of the action. Oh well.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Housekeeper I am not

I have a love-hate relationship with housework. I hate doing it but love it when it’s done. I know that’s not that unusual; plenty of people are in this boat. I would rather have a maid but financial concerns do not allow that to happen. This morning after a series of mechanical problems thwarted our bike riding, I had to make a decision. Did I want to watch my husband fret over the brakes on the bike, or do I want clean sheets for the week and the availability of clean underwear? The clean won. It didn’t take a lot of time and before you knew it, the bikes were working again and out we went.

To me, and probably too many others, dust accumulates in the flattest of surfaces all too soon. When I do get in the mood to actually dust, a week later it looks just the same as it did before I dusted. Well not totally, but dust is there again, looming its ugly head up and proclaiming its appearance once again. I hate the dust. It makes me look like the bad housekeeper I am.
When I got married, I tried to impress my husband with my housekeeping abilities, such as they were. But I soon tired of all the show and eventually when he complained I said “if you don’t like it, do It yourself.” To which, he did! Now he is quite the housekeeper doing more vacuuming and cleaning than I do. I tend to leave everything to the last minute until the time I look around and see that the house resembles something out of a horror film and then decide that something has to be done and we can’t live like this any longer. I the speed around dusting, vacuuming, and straightening until things are somewhat shiny. My husband on the other hand takes his time and really makes things shine. That’s great for him, but I hate to do it and so I do the least amount that I can. I suppose I am a diva at heart.

But this morning the only thing that got done were the laundry and the dishes. Then we went out for a ride.

Friday, July 10, 2009


So tonight before I went home from work, I stopped by a bike shop in the local area who was hosting a Trek demo for women. It was great. I really wasn’t suited up for it, having come from work, but I managed. I rolled up my pant legs and put on a helmet and was set to go. I must say, the difference was incredible.

I have a 30 year old 10 speed and here I was riding a brand new carbon fiber bike. Not only was it lighter but the gearing was better and easier. I only rode for a short time, but it was enough to know that if I get another road bike it is going to mean a big change for me. It felt really different and I wasn’t sure that it was better. I actually liked the hybrid better than the road bike. I felt “squished” on the road bike because the distance was a lot shorter between the seat and the handlebars than I am used to. But the main reason for going to this was to find out what size I should be looking for, which I accomplished.

After I came home, it was much later than I normally get home, so my husband did almost not want to ride. We usually go for about an hour and that would have put us much later so we abbreviated it a little and only rode for a little under an hour. I could have ridden longer, but since I was not riding alone I had to compromise.
To start things off, first there is cycling. Within the last three months my husband and I have started riding our bicycles. At first it was a way to burning a few hundred calories and spending time together (more his reason than mine). Now it’s become almost an obsession. It has also become training for riding half of the MS150 in October. We live very close to the Schuylkill River trail in Pennsylvania so consequently that’s where we spend the majority of the miles we ride. In addition to that, we also ride the connection to the Farm Park when we need to practice a few hills. Since we have started, we have logged over 1000 miles. See I told you; an obsession.

Yesterday we rode to the Valley Forge Park, which is accessible from the trail over a rickety wooden slated bridge that parallels RT 422. It’s a terrifying ride for me. First I have an unexplainable fear of heights and have a mental image of the bridge letting loose and me and my bike falling into the river below. Second because it’s only really wide enough for one person and I can only picture a rider coming from the other direction crashing headlong into me and causing a several bike pileup in the middle of the bridge over the river and then having the bridge let loose and all of us fall in to the raging river below. Some picture, eh? My fears are unfounded, my husband says. He is not in my head.

The bridge is one thing. The trail through the park is another. It’s hilly. Very hilly. It burns. A lot, and my lung capacity is not the greatest (yet) and I get very winded. I suppose that will get better, but for now it was hard. But I did better than I expected. Last night I only had to get off my bike one time in the begininng long climb so I consider that an accomplishment. After that we went back on the SRT and went to Phoenixville. 25 miles in all. Nice ride.