Telling the World: goals not resolutions

About those cycling goals I am telling the world (or you my blog readers)…  Even before I read the article “Tempt Yourself Thin” by Lisa Marshall in the January/February issues in Bicycling magazine, I learned that setting goals and breaking them into “bite size chunks” works well for me. I do not make resolutions in the new year; however, I do spend time reviewing the goals in my journal and making new ones. This article helped me better understand how rewards can help me stay on track.

Eat my vegetables!
Eat my vegetables!

The article also includes profiles of six people who have been transformed physically through cycling and exercise. I found these inspirational and full of practical tips, including:

  • “I map out my riding schedule at the beginning of the week, anchoring it around my long ride on the weekend, with smaller rides during the week.” from Trish
  • “…mounting research suggest that tantalizing dieters with material rewards (or the threat of material losses) helps them lose weight and keep it off.”
  • “Don’t put work first. Put yourself first.” from Anne.
  • People are motivated the first week or two..but as time goes on, it’s harder to maintain self control, so if you have a lot of weight to lose, make your rewards incrementally larger.

In the next two weeks I will eat my vegetables everyday, and bike 2 times a week for at least 30 minutes (using the trainer if it rains) and one longer ride of an hour or more. When I accomplish this I will reward myself with clipless pedals and a bike fitting at the bike shop that makes me drool.

Reward: clipless pedals
Reward: clipless pedals

I will continue to set goals every two weeks. I may experiment with the website gym-pact.com where I can earn money if I meet my goals and pay others if I do not.

On my way to the Tour de France I will need to build up to being able to ride 50 miles on rolling hills with ease; to maintain my bike and make repairs (especially to flat tires); to shift gears, use clipless pedals, and travel at higher speeds; to speak more basic French phrases.  Also I want to lose at least half the weight I would like to ultimately lose, or 20 pounds.

I decided to enter the Bicycling magazine “You Lose You Win” contest. I submitted the following paragraph to describes my goal and commitment to weight loss. If selected, I win coaching from Selene Yeager and the opportunity to earn a brand-new Raleigh road bike.

After years of watching the Tour de France from my couch, I am committed to following it in person from Yorkshire to Paris. I am part of a Trek Tour in England and must be able to cycle 50 miles at an average of 15 mph. Today I am 40 pounds overweight, cannot shift gears very well and have never used clipless pedals. I am sharing my journey on my blog Adventures of American Julie. The testimonials in Bicycling convinced me to ask for help meeting my goals of becoming a level 3 cyclist and shedding 20 pounds by July. 

Before.
Before.

Wish me luck!

No More Excuses

Compared to most of the Northern Hemisphere, the weather in NorCal has been balmy. For this weather wimp it has been too cold to ride… in my current bike kit, in this wind, and so on.  I opened up the January-February issue of Bicycling magazine and read several inspiring stories including “Conquer Your Mountain” on page 18 by James Herrera.

Step One is to identify your goal. My big goal is to follow the Tour de France and to ride on a Trek Tour through the first stages in England.

Step Two is to make a plan. I have the tour and hotel reservations done for the Tour de France. The harder part is learning to ride well enough and be fit enough to enjoy the experience.  July 2014 seems so far away, so I am making a lot of excuses and not riding any miles lately.

Step Three is to tell the world.  Okay, so this blog is not the world, but you are willing to stand in for “the world”, right?  I realized that I needed to set some very short term goals, like 2 weeks at a time, to stay on track with my big goal. Even before I could do that I had to go to the bike store and buy some winter riding gear. I do not like trying on kit because it is all so unfamiliar. It feels like just yesterday I bought my first pair of bike shorts; and with the long Indian summer they worked well until about mid-November. Off I went to B&L bike shop in Davis because they have a good selection without an overwhelming number of choices. Jenna helped me find tights, a long sleeve jersey and a windbreaker. I also bought mountain bike shoes for another short term goal: learning to use clipless pedals. I made my purchases on Wednesday, so when do you think I tried it all out?  That same day? The next morning? Not until Saturday morning! I will not bore you with all the reasons.

Never been too worried about being matchy-matchy; more interested in visibility on the road.
Never been too worried about being matchy-matchy; more interested in visibility on the road.

Finally I got on my bike and I rode from 8:45 to 9:22 a.m.  I planned to be out the door at 8:00 a.m. but the sun was still creeping up and it was bitter cold. So I waited a few more minutes and then coached myself. How important is my Tour de France goal? Very big deal. So get on your damn bike and get cold.

Step Four is track your progress.  There are so many apps to do this. I like Map My RIde for knowing how far I biked and then I make notes in my old fashioned paper journal.

Step Five is be present. I did enjoy my time on the bike today. I am not very fast. I hope that as I drop weight I will see my speed pick up.  I am still trying to identify interesting routes of varying lengths near my home depending on my schedule. I picked my way down an olive tree lined path toward the airport, then toodled along a quiet road that serves the University farm, then punched it on a busy county road with a short stretch without a shoulder, then enjoyed the sunshine as I headed back towards home. I noticed a big crow eating walnuts, a lot of runners out pushing themselves hard, and groups of dog walkers with their coffee mugs enjoying a more leisurely pace. I could hear an airplane preparing to land, and cars a long way off on the road (prompting the thought: what will it be like to ride when more and more cars are silently electric?)

Finally, step six to achieving success is put in the effort.  Okay, okay. No more excuses.