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de-lurking from The Boulder Bubble; aka 28 square miles surrounded by reality

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hi, my nick is lfr and I'm a carb addict.

I found my way here from various links over at reddit and MetaFilter and have been lurking for awhile. In the past 3-4 weeks I've been inspired by a number of things, not the least of which has been cleaning up my diet and making some changes to my workout schedule and seeing *real* changes as a result.


tl;dr summary: washed-up GenX nerd bike racer chick gets hurt, gets fat, gets pissed off, decides to FIX ALL THE THINGS. Finds religion through running, then skate skiing, then re-kindles an old love affair with Paleo diet. Discovers NerdFitness site via other nerdy sites, posts ginormous wall o' text which you may now happily skip.

And for the masochistic reader: I am a veteran bicycle racer, longtime nerd and general rebel. In high school I was that weird kid in the back of class who resembled the Ally Sheedy character in "Breakfast Club". I am also 43, so I'm sure a major percentage of the Rebellion are too young to get that reference.

In my halcyon days of youth I figure skated, rode horses, ran cross-country, raced road, track and mountain bikes, skateboarded, LARP'ed (more like proto-LARPing in those days), read manga, was a dedicated fan of Voltron and ST,TNG, (oh be nice, I was a teenager), played desktop and computer RPG's, drew a bunch of embarrassingly bad LOTR fanfic art, built DOOM levels and cobbled together my own DOS, and then Windows boxen, had endless nerdy-white-kid rap battles with my friends over who could quote more lines from Star Wars, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Clerks, Monty Python, got a job as a bike courier in DC in 1988, frequented goth clubs, raves, and Skinny Puppy concerts, wore black makeup with combat boots and lace, and generally lived like a badass GenX slacker throughout my 20s. I still own hardbound editions of every single Harry Potter, Tolkein and George R. R. Martin book there is, all of which I re-read on a frequent basis. My favorite things I ever won at bike races are a Mr. Potatohead, a giant import box set of New Order CDs and a rubber chicken, in that order.

In spring of 2009 whilst prepping for a big spring bike race in New Mexico (Tour of the Gila) I messed up my lower back, and thus began a 2 year downward spiral of inactivity, weight gain and general meh towards, well, everything. Job stress and major life upheavals factored in. I realized firsthand that all that "getting old" garbage that I'd rejected for so long was for reals, and I sort of freaked out a bit. Well a lot.

Reader, I ate cupcakes.

At my wedding in June 2011, I had ballooned to 158 pounds, the heaviest I'd been in many, many years, and at 5'4" on a small frame, that ain't pretty. And although I will have to live with those photos for the rest of my life, I'm actually okay with that (I made my own dress!).

Late last summer I finally, after reading through a raft of very good research and advice on a trigger point massage / physiotherapy site, realized that my ongoing muscle pain/joint pain/back pain was not in fact injuries or arthritis, nor really anything more sinister than flat out being lazy and stubborn about booking regular massage and using the foam roller and the lacrosse ball, and just generally taking care of myself the way I should. My muscles, after years of abuse and neglect, were bound up in worse knots than a Jacqueline Carey character (and if anyone gets that reference I'll eat my own socks). I got with a good physical therapist, had a few swear-inducing sessions with him and with my ever-growing "dungeon" of massage toys (as my friends refer to it), and was back to riding the bike and generally getting around pain-free. I even jumped into a late season mountain bike race, and despite being overweight and out of shape, everything went better than expected.

The problem was, the bike alone was no longer doing it for me in terms of weight loss. Sometime around mid-November of 2011, I looked at myself and said "Self, you have muffin top. This will not stand". The one thing I've always been proud of, regardless what I weighed, was my flat belly, but I couldn't even hold onto that anymore because, well, there I was, looking just like every other middle-aged flabby chick. I even *shudder* bought some cheap yoga pants, because I could no longer even fit in my "fat jeans".

Thanksgiving week I started a Couch to 10K program on my iPhone. I played around with diet and tried to set up a "core" strength routine but wound up baking metric buttloads of cookies and bread and homemade enchiladas and drinking lots of craft beer (to top it all off my cycling team has an Avery sponsorship...) and just generally losing my mind over the holidays.

I did, however, for the first time in my life stick with the running. Not sure if it was the structure or the gentle ramping up, or the ease of use of the iPhone app, but even when I didn't want to, I kept going out in the dark, in the cold, in my Yaktrax on the ice and snow, and just getting on with it.

And of course despite feeling fitter and getting good results on the bike (being able to keep up with my husband and the boys on my team group rides for the first time in several years was a step forward), the running wasn't helping any of the weight come off. I needed something different. I flailed around trying various things which didn't stick, like buying kettlebells and resistance bands. I signed up for a 4 mile cross-country foot race on January 21st... for no more noble reason than because it took place in a park a half mile from my house.

And then I got sick for two weeks with the worst head cold I've had in years. I barely managed to stick to my running plan, and three days before my event, I couldn't even string together 30 minutes of 2x1 minute jog/walk intervals. I had no appetite and no sense of taste, so I'd been surviving on green tea, miso soup and chicken bullion for a week, and had disrupted sleep due to coughing fits. I very nearly dropped out of the race.

In hindsight, despite the suck factor, the cold was probably the best thing that could have happened. 10 of the pounds I'd been trying to lose for over 2 years just melted off. Partly water weight, yes, but maybe also because I did the equivalent of a broth cleanse and ate zero carb. The Saturday morning of the race, I woke up feeling pretty good, despite. I decided to suck it up and go, and if I had to run/walk, so be it. I wound up running the entire 4 miles without even having to walk up the hills, despite not having gotten further than 7 minute run intervals on my Couch app, and finished 3 minutes under goal.

That weekend I got so inspired by the weight loss that I did some more internet research and decided to stick to more of a low/no carb Paleo approach. I know Paleo well; it's been my good friend in the past. Full disclosure; the only reason I haven't done this sooner is that my husband is a ovo-lacto vegetarian and it's insanely difficult to cook for two when the individual diets have a high rate of divergence. Somehow I've managed to stay pretty clean ever since. Husband has been struggling with various GI issues and lethargy for awhile, and elected to partially join me in cutting wheat and sugar, so that's a huge help right there.

And oh boy, right after that, we both got hooked on skate skiing. Got suckered into a team trip to a local Nordic center, and everyone rented skate gear, so we figured "what the heck", and man, were we ever in for it. If you've never skate skied before, let me tell you it is physically and technically one of the most demanding aerobic sports going (and I've raced cyclocross, so I get to judge). Even though I figure skated as a kid and didn't have much trouble with the balance part, I still struggled with the physicality aspect. My poor husband spent the bulk of his first day doing face plants and butt-scooting down little hills you probably couldn't even sled on. I'll sum up by saying that your first day on skate skis is exactly as much fun as dropping a live honey badger down your trousers and setting them on fire.

My husband got us both new skate ski gear as an early Valentine's Day gift. I think that says a lot about us as a couple, our mania for the outdoors, and our tolerance for pain.

At any rate, between skate skiing, running, and cleaning up my diet, over the last three weeks I've seen some real progress and lost a total of 12 pounds. This morning I tried on a pair of pants I've not to fit in since fall of 2008, discovered the waistband was loose, and wore them in to work today. Win! Husband has noticed that his energy levels are considerably higher since cutting wheat and sugar, and he's had next to no GI trouble in the past four weeks. Win!

so 2012 goals:

- Run the Bolder Boulder 10K race on Memorial Day without having to break to a walk.

- Win a road race for the first time since 2008

- Fit into a size 4 pair of jeans for the first time since my early 20s

longterm goals:

- drop running pace from ~ 10 minute miles to ~ 8 minute miles

- build a sweet set of abs like the instructor girl at the parkour gym next to work

- get my biathlon cert and do a race or 2 next season (dude it's a combo skate skiing + shooting at stuff, how James Bond badass is that?!)

- continue to be a badass into my 50s and beyond

cheers, lfr

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Welcome from a 43 Y.O. ex-bike racer. I tried skate skiing too, but I never developed the coordination to do it fast. It sounds like you have a life long base of fitness, I'm sure you'll be successful as you jump back into competition. You'll have to let us know how Paleo and the demands of bike racing works, I've always assumed you had to be pasta fueled.

“We might as well start where we are, use what we have and do what we can." – Caitlin Rivers

Sloth: The Man with the Hammer battle log

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hallo Sloth-Like,

actually Paleo works quite well, at least for me. I think Joe Friel even has some good things to say about it in his most recent book.

I'd have to say my most successful season of bike racing so far (24 years and counting) was in 2008, when I was eating almost 100% full Paleo. caveat: I am primarily a criterium, short track / XC and cyclocross racer, and women's events in general rarely go beyond the 3 hour mark unless you're on the NRC, so it's not as hard to maintain your intake as it would be in say 6-7 hours of Ironman or a 24-hour MTB race. I eat stuff that full-bore Paleo zealots would probably shun, like homemade trail mix, peanut butter on apples, bananas and the occasional Larabar, but I avoid super sugary energy drinks and carb gels unless I'm truly desperate. I use a maltodextrin carb gel for long road races (anything 2+ hours) which doesn't seem to mess me up as much with the spike/crash thing. I also use an electrolyte drink called EFS which works well for me as it's fairly low sugar and I don't mix it full strength.

I just last week confirmed once again that pasta does nothing except make me feel like ass. I'd been completely clean for 2 weeks up until we came home one night, hadn't done a good grocery shop, and I was messing around cleaning the garage. K decided to make dinner for us, and since his approach to cooking generally follows the theme of "open package, turn on stove, avoid burning smells", the result was a packet of spinach cheese ravioli he found lurking in the freezer. I ate a plate of those and spent the entire next day feeling gross.

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I am primarily a criterium, short track / XC and cyclocross racer,
and a runner, and a cross country skier... Impressive. Do you schedule down time into your yearly schedule or try to maintain a high level of fitness year round?

“We might as well start where we are, use what we have and do what we can." – Caitlin Rivers

Sloth: The Man with the Hammer battle log

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and a runner, and a cross country skier... Impressive. Do you schedule down time into your yearly schedule or try to maintain a high level of fitness year round?

yes, typically the interim around the holidays is a considerable lull; we both take between 2-4 weeks completely off post season, and then do nothing but gentle base rides between mid-November and January.

The thing is, I've barely been racing (only 3 events last summer!) and only riding to work and back regularly (10K round trip on flat bike path which barely counts) since I blew up my back in spring of 2009. I only really was able to ride with intensity on the bike after I sorted out all the muscular tightness issues that were leading to my low back pain, and some correlating plantar foot pain (I had terrible hotspots that turned out to be triggered from knots in my calves). Once I got that solved it's been a pretty long hard road back trying to undo 2.5 years of basically sitting on my butt drinking beer and eating cookies. The running and XC skiing is new this season - it is my attempt to quit making excuses for not doing something when it's cold, dark and/or snowy out, because I flat refuse to ride the stationary trainer.

I'm contemplating taking a lesson or 2 from the parkour kids at the gym near work as soon as I can eke out enough bodyweight strength training to bang out a couple of pullups, because I'll need those. The parkour gym happens to be right next door to the brewpub that sponsors my team, and I've seen them monkeying around over there while I was sitting on my ass drinking beer and it made me envious to say the least.

I need to also give credit where it is due; the main reason I'm here on this site and finally registered is that someone posted Spezzy's remarkable transformation on an Ask MetaFilter post about getting in shape. She has abs like the instructor gal at the parkour gym, and I want some of that.

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