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  1. #1
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    Going uphill is such a struggle

    After cycling for almost a year and losing close to a 100 pound i'm trying to challenge myself and riding some more hilly terrain.
    To be quite honest trying to cycle uphill was a big dissapointment for me.
    I did two hills in my neighbourhood who where quite challenging.

    I did the slingerberg:

    Slingerberg.png

    Which is a average climb of 4,8%. With the steepest part of 7%. It's 1400 meters long
    I made it up there but had to cycle in the lightest gearing so the small in front and a 30 in the back.
    I was going so slow that i had trouble balancing ;-)
    When i finished i was completely out of breath!

    The second i tried was the Schieversberg:

    Schieversberg.png

    Which is a average climb of 6,2%. With the steepest part of 12%. It's 880 meters long
    I had to take a 30 sec break half way through because i was completely out of breath.

    I was so dissapointed i thought i would have a much better level of fitness cause i do a lot of miles every month, but this hill climbing is a much different beast.
    I read all these posts of you clydes climbing 1000's of feet in rides and i can't even get up these small hills. It's so demotivating.

    Are any of you heavy riders experiencing the same problems?

    Basically what i want to know do i just really suck or are my expectations just a little unrealistic? ;-)
    Should i try to ride a different gear so i don't spin myself out of breath so quickly?
    Argg i'm so frustrated right now..........

  2. #2
    Senior Member breadbin's Avatar
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    keep doing them and they will get easier each time and then one day they will just be part of the spin! i find hills tough myself but keep trying, it's excellent training!
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  3. #3
    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    You're not alone. Last year I couldn't ride hills because I was riding a worn out mountain bike. Thus, I stuck to the flat bike trail and rode that daily for the first 3 months of starting before winter hit.

    This year I picked up a Giant Escape. I ventured out behind my house (live in the middle of nowhere) and rode on the back roads. Most of the hills weren't bad. I wasn't breaking speed records, but I trudged up them pretty well. Problem is, if I want to do more mileage, I'm stuck on every route going through the same valley in different spots and have a huge hill (at least I think so and still thinks so judging on replies to a thread I started last week) that I have to climb up. The hill is a little less than half a mile and 151 foot elevation climb. From my calculation, not nearly as bad as what you post, but bad enough for me. I have a triple on front with a 26t chainring and was in 34t on the rear. My speed was 2 mph up that hill. I got to the top and my heart was beating so hard I couldn't hear anything over the sound of my heart rate in my ears. I had to stop and take a break even though there was a nice long flat for a bit after the hill.

    I am constant up and down hills with barely any flat sections when I'm on the roads. I have a route that circles around a little longer that avoids this valley so I think I'm going to ride that route for a while (still constant up and down hills, just not so big.) After a while of that, I'll jump on the big one again, or actually I have a slightly bigger hill I'd like to add to the mix as it would add another 3 miles to the route for a longer ride.

    I have constantly read that a thin stiffer saddle is more comfortable than a cushy saddle and now riding the new bike, I see what they said is definitely true. Thus, if the folks are saying that the climbs will get easier, I think we should believe them on that as well.
    Ride no faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!

  4. #4
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    Congratulations on losing close to 100 pounds in less than 1 year

    Some points to consider:
    1. Hills are your New Friends, they will challenge you for your best effort and hold you accountable every-time.
    2. When anybody puts out maximum effort for a long period time they will be Out of Breath.
    3. Climbing Hills is different then riding on the Flat roads.
    4. Where were you "in" your ride? Was it at the first part or the end of your ride? It does make a difference. Last Saturday two other guys and myself did a 60 mile ride with a climb that starts @6% and ends @15% with over 2000 feet elevation in less then 4 miles, but we were only 1/2 mile into our ride before we started the climb. Were you coming off a "rest day" or had you been riding your bike the previous 3 days straight?
    5. Did you stand up out of the saddle and peddle at any time?
    6. What was your pace at the bottom of the climb going up? Myself, I like to peddle as hard and as fast for as long as I can till my legs just start to reach the burning point and then start to gear down and hopefully I can maintain that pace at the pre-burning point before my legs burn out .

    In closing: Breadbins advice was excellent "Keep doing them" I think you under estimated hill climbing and you're being too hard on yourself. A man I knew said, He wasn't so much concerned where you are in life but what direction you're headed in. You did an awesome job in accepting the challenge in attempting to climb those two hills. You "own" one of those climbs now keep on "attacking" that Schieversberg climb, you're headed in the right direction Keep us posted.

    Phil

    RIDE SAFE

  5. #5
    Senior Member spdracr39's Avatar
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    I agree, hills suck but if you keep trying they will get easier. The key is to pace yourself and don't worry about your speed. Keep your cadence up and don't let your feet get bogged down.

  6. #6
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    When I was young and in my late 20's, I purchased a high end road bike and started cycling. I was 175 pounds and had to learn the pain of climbing. The lowest gearing back then with Campagnolo was 42-26. So what I am saying, anybody new to cycling will go through growing pains when starting to climb. More leg strength, more lungs, heavy breathing. As time goes on, you will enjoy that little hill that used to give you grief. It does take time, please don't give up! Try different ways to climb the hill, if you start out too fast, you may will be out of breath sooner, too slow, you might lose momentum. It is a game of making the hill.

    Mike

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by abstruse View Post
    I was so dissapointed i thought i would have a much better level of fitness cause i do a lot of miles every month, but this hill climbing is a much different beast.
    I read all these posts of you clydes climbing 1000's of feet in rides and i can't even get up these small hills. It's so demotivating.

    Are any of you heavy riders experiencing the same problems?

    Basically what i want to know do i just really suck or are my expectations just a little unrealistic? ;-)
    Should i try to ride a different gear so i don't spin myself out of breath so quickly?
    Argg i'm so frustrated right now..........
    Perhaps I'm one of those clydes climbing thousands of feet in rides, but I guarantee I don't look anything like the pro racers climbing the Alps while I'm doing it. I vote for ratcheting down your expectations.

    For about 50 feet of climbing on rollers, maybe I'll push a bit at the bottom, stand in the middle, and maintain some momentum over the top. Those can be fun if I'm not too tired.

    When you're climbing 500 feet or so, depending on your individual fitness and ability, you'll reach a point where you have to figure how you're going to climb. The people who I've seen alternately stand and sit, while staying in a gear that matches my middle ring, are the lightweights. As a clyde, you're probably going to have to back off some. Go to the small ring on your triple crank, get a bigger cassette if you have to in the back, and try to maintain a smooth pedaling stroke and a reasonable cadence. Don't worry about taking a break or even walking -- most tourists and even randonneurs will tell you they've had to walk some hills, so you can thing of walking as training for another kind of "extreme" riding.

    Climbing is a special kind of fitness. Lots of flat miles won't help. Keep climbing, and look at it as building up your climbing abilities. After you've been climbing these hills for a while, you'll start to notice that you can shift up a gear or two where the grade eases off, and maybe build up speed another mph or two, before you hit the next steep section. When you reach that point, you may find that you've got extra speed on the flats!

  8. #8
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    I am not a hill climber by any measure, but the few small hills I manage to ride I see as a challenge to help me improve myself. And when I talk small hills, I mean small hills, the ramps that are in place to allow the cyclists to go under roads on our local levee trails. Last year, I had a very hard time with even them, and now after a winter off, they are still tough, but I am using them as a sort of interval training, pushing myself to get to the top.

    Anything that is physically challenging on an aerobic level will leave you out of breath, but there is an "up" side... it gives you a more intense workout to help your body to be able to do things besides maintain your constant cadence on flat ground.

    I have found for me, on my small, short hills, that it is helpful to hit the base of the hill fast, and downshift periodically to keep my speed from being too slow too early in the climb. I am not a physicist, but I suspect the energy used is the same, but it helps me psychologically to get the early part of the climb completed quickly, and then grind through what I must.

    Add to that the fact that I see no shame in walking hills, and therefore I know I always have an option. Having an option helps me to enjoy the challenge without the mindset that not making it is a failure. The only failure (for me personally) is to sit at home...
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  9. #9
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    I ride a triple with a 30x27 granny gear. I'm pretty good as long as the climb doesn't get above 15%. What makes things a little more difficult is that I live in a really flat area. I have to drive quite a ways to find something above 10%.

  10. #10
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    Going uphill is such a struggle

    I'm a flatlander. On the rare occasion that I ride hills I really like it. I find its more about focusing on your breathing, and keeping a steady pace. Great thing is when I return to flatlandia I fly!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abstruse View Post
    ...............
    I did the slingerberg:

    Slingerberg.png
    ...............

    The second i tried was the Schieversberg:

    Schieversberg.png
    Hey,
    Please reconsider your thoughts on this... Yes, you exerted yourself... But instead of feeling bad about it... Realize that few few people would even try WALKING up the hills, even if their car broke down... Not only did you RIDE up these, you choose to try, and you will do it again, and again, and again!

    THEY NAMED THESE!
    These are not easy hills.

    You kicked it! But more importantly you'll keep kicking it!

    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
    You're not alone. Last year I couldn't ride hills because I was riding a worn out mountain bike. Thus, I stuck to the flat bike trail and rode that daily for the first 3 months of starting before winter hit.

    This year I picked up a Giant Escape. I ventured out behind my house (live in the middle of nowhere) and rode on the back roads. Most of the hills weren't bad. I wasn't breaking speed records, but I trudged up them pretty well. Problem is, if I want to do more mileage, I'm stuck on every route going through the same valley in different spots and have a huge hill (at least I think so and still thinks so judging on replies to a thread I started last week) that I have to climb up. The hill is a little less than half a mile and 151 foot elevation climb. From my calculation, not nearly as bad as what you post, but bad enough for me. I have a triple on front with a 26t chainring and was in 34t on the rear. My speed was 2 mph up that hill. I got to the top and my heart was beating so hard I couldn't hear anything over the sound of my heart rate in my ears. I had to stop and take a break even though there was a nice long flat for a bit after the hill.

    I am constant up and down hills with barely any flat sections when I'm on the roads. I have a route that circles around a little longer that avoids this valley so I think I'm going to ride that route for a while (still constant up and down hills, just not so big.) After a while of that, I'll jump on the big one again, or actually I have a slightly bigger hill I'd like to add to the mix as it would add another 3 miles to the route for a longer ride.

    I have constantly read that a thin stiffer saddle is more comfortable than a cushy saddle and now riding the new bike, I see what they said is definitely true. Thus, if the folks are saying that the climbs will get easier, I think we should believe them on that as well.
    I'm running 22, 32, 44 and 11-32t. It really helps with hills, especially with a pack.

    I find that I tend to spin out as opposed to exhausting muscles. I started thinking about how I should approach various hills.
    I'm riding with a Heart Monitor now. I find that if I "defend" a heart rate, then I can push up a hill w/o over running my capabilities...

    I would love to hear peoples observations and strategies to climbing.

    I have one hill I personally call "the widow maker". It's not as steep as your hill, tops out at 9%... It's that there's a long run up at 1,2, then 3% which then hits 7% but about then there's the white strip about 4 inches, then a guard rail and a 30 to maybe 50 foot drop... There's always traffic... so you just cannot stop, no place to dismount... once you pass about 50 yards of that the road opens up and it's like 7% for a few hundred yards, then 6 for a while, then 4 then 3... eventually there is a seemingly endless 2%...

  12. #12
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    It never feels good chugging up a hill...for anyone, at any level, but I feel the mental and physical toughening you gain is worth it. Every time you crest a hill it's an excuse to smile, celebrate.....grab a drink and pedal on.

  13. #13
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    Je doet boete.

    You're doing fine.

    I think we make a big deal out of climbing hills.

    I for one just slow down and enjoy the scenery. I limit my efforts so I don't run out of breath.

    If it isn't a race, who cares how long it takes to get to the top of the hill.

  14. #14
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Null66 View Post
    Hey,
    Please reconsider your thoughts on this... Yes, you exerted yourself... But instead of feeling bad about it... Realize that few few people would even try WALKING up the hills, even if their car broke down... Not only did you RIDE up these, you choose to try, and you will do it again, and again, and again!

    THEY NAMED THESE!
    These are not easy hills.

    You kicked it! But more importantly you'll keep kicking it!



    I'm running 22, 32, 44 and 11-32t. It really helps with hills, especially with a pack.

    I find that I tend to spin out as opposed to exhausting muscles. I started thinking about how I should approach various hills.
    I'm riding with a Heart Monitor now. I find that if I "defend" a heart rate, then I can push up a hill w/o over running my capabilities...

    I would love to hear peoples observations and strategies to climbing.

    I have one hill I personally call "the widow maker". It's not as steep as your hill, tops out at 9%... It's that there's a long run up at 1,2, then 3% which then hits 7% but about then there's the white strip about 4 inches, then a guard rail and a 30 to maybe 50 foot drop... There's always traffic... so you just cannot stop, no place to dismount... once you pass about 50 yards of that the road opens up and it's like 7% for a few hundred yards, then 6 for a while, then 4 then 3... eventually there is a seemingly endless 2%...
    I agree with this. You tried and succeeded in climbing a tough hill. That is something. There are only a few tough hills in my area and I know of cyclists who avoid them. The thing is, hills are where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Any moderately fit cyclist can cruise along on a flat at a steady clip. You showed some commitment!

    You could spend a day a week just tackling those hills, and nothing else. In other words, just climb the hill, then descend and do it again, and repeat until your legs give out.
    Last edited by MRT2; 04-04-14 at 10:17 AM.

  15. #15
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    I have had struggles just making it up some climbs. I had to lean against a railroad crossing bridge to rest on a recent killer climb during a 200k brevet with a total of 10,000 feet climbing. I barely made it up the kill without falling off. I can manage 8% and under climbs but 10% and over are really, really hard. I can't wait for more of the fat to go away.

    I focus on belly breathing, balancing the bike, and sitting up to maximize the force of the quads and allowing better breathing.

  16. #16
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    I'd rather ride up a steep hill than into a fierce headwind. I get a sense of accomplishment at the top of that hill!

  17. #17
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    Only thing I would add is, to the extent you can, just try to relax. I bought a Garmin Edge early on after I got back into cycling because I like to explore and don't have a very good sense of direction. A couple of seasons ago, I added the "gradient" display to my screen and that has helped me gauge the challenge, take comfort in what I've done in the past, etc.

    Not saying you have to get one, only that doing that helped me overcome the "mental aversion" to hills that can be bigger than the physical challenge. When you get down to brass tacks, you really only have to spin fast enough to keep your bike at about 5 miles per hour or thereabouts to avoid toppling over. As long as you stay spinning and stay upright, even if it takes you a while, the hill will pass.

  18. #18
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    Maybe you need lower gearing. What is your current setup? For me it is easier to keep spinning.

  19. #19
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    First, congratulations on losing 100 lb (kinda surprised you're not using kg, since 4,8% instead of 4.8% places you in Europe, probably ) I too have lost 45 kg.

    Quote Originally Posted by abstruse View Post
    Which is a average climb of 4,8%. With the steepest part of 7%. It's 1400 meters long
    I made it up there but had to cycle in the lightest gearing so the small in front and a 30 in the back.
    I was going so slow that i had trouble balancing ;-)
    When i finished i was completely out of breath!
    That's why they put 34-30 gearing on a lot of road bikes now. I am in that gear (actually 34-28) on just about everything over 4% if it is over 100 meters long. Like you I grind up hills steeper than about 5%; hills that I would not have made it up 45 kg ago. As I get stronger, and lighter, the grade I am able to spin up, increases.

    I still weigh 95kg looking to loose another 12.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  20. #20
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abstruse View Post
    After cycling for almost a year and losing close to a 100 pound i'm trying to challenge myself and riding some more hilly terrain.
    To be quite honest trying to cycle uphill was a big dissapointment for me.

    I did two hills in my neighbourhood who where quite challenging.
    ...

    Are any of you heavy riders experiencing the same problems?

    Basically what i want to know do i just really suck or are my expectations just a little unrealistic? ;-)
    Should i try to ride a different gear so i don't spin myself out of breath so quickly?
    Argg i'm so frustrated right now..........
    Congratulations on dropping 100lb. You don't really say where that leaves you in terms of weight, but since you're posting here I'll assume that you (like the rest of us) could lose more weight. Gravity is the problem! There is no easy solution, just keep after those hills.

    And yes, we all go through the same thing and we're all slow as molasses in January going up hills. The good news is that riding up hills will do wonders for your cycling fitness, so don't give up. You'll probably never look like a pro tour cyclist spinning up a 10% grade at 18 mph but that's not a reasonable expectation for most of us anyway.

    So, hill tips - for me, it depends on the hill. If it's a long hill (say, a couple miles) I'll pick a HR that I know I can maintain and stay under that number. (e.g something near the top end of zone 4 works for me). If it's a really steep hill with a grade that is just evil then it becomes a matter of managing your effort so you don't pass out. I had to go all the way down to 40 rpm with 34/32 gearing on a 15% grade last weekend and we were joking with a lady walking near us... that's how slow that is. The previous weekend I did a 4 mile ride that had a lot of 15% grade stuff and I tried to keep my cadence up at a more reasonable number and my HR kept exploding, so I probably had to stop 30 times over 4 miles.

    So don't be distressed, just keep after those hills.

  21. #21
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    Here's what I read:

    Quote Originally Posted by abstruse View Post
    After cycling for almost a year and losing close to a 100 pound i'm trying to challenge myself and riding some more hilly terrain.
    Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah
    I did two hills in my neighbourhood who where quite challenging.

    I did the slingerberg:

    Blah, Blah, Blah,....
    I made it up there... Blah, blah, blah.

    .....i finished.....

    The second i tried was the Schieversberg:
    You're doing it. THAT is what matters. No, it's never easy. Gravity is only your friend on the down-hill side. Uphill, it is your enemy! Keep it up, it will get easier. I believe jsigone says "It never gets easier, you just get faster". I'm not sure I agree with him. My last climb sucked!!!! It was soooo much harder than the same ride last year, but I let myself get (more) out of shape.

    Congrats on the weight loss, not being a wimp, and getting out there and gettin' it done. Go do it again! Then again! Then report back here so others who come along in the future who are in your exact position will see that it can be done, does get easier, and is worth doing!
    If at first you don't succeed, Skydiving is not the sport for you!

  22. #22
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    Congrats on the weight loss! Hills are your friends. It never gets easier you just go faster. If it gets easier you are doing it wrong . When I first started a few years ago on a hybrid with a triple I was passed by a jogger while going up a 2% grade in the easiest gear I had. I was 5 miles into a 6 mile ride at the time. i now do not notice that little hill much. I seek out hills to climb. I'm still painfully slow and it still hurts. My heart rate hits max or near max rather quickly. There are some I must get off an walk, damn few, I think they are over 20%. Keep at it. You have climbed them once, you can do it again. Over time you might even be able to either pick up another gear or go faster or both. Maybe it will help to remind yourself that pain is weakness leaving your body as you are climbing up the hills. Embrace the hills.

    As far as technique it really depends on your fitness, strength, and the hill profile. Fitness for riding on flats as you have found out is not enough. Approach the hill as fast as you can comfortably go and gear down as needed to maintain cadence. If the hill is short enough or slight enough that you can make it over in less than a minute get in the climbing gear before starting up and go for it. If longer and or steeper gear down as needed but remember to ease up while shifting.

    To get better at hills you need to ride hills. I like the pain it gives me, I like very much the accomplishment of improving my times on hill segments. That is motivation. Join Strava and filter the leaderboard to only show your efforts, not sure if this is an option for the free version, if not write down you times and track them over time. The more you ride hills the faster you will get.


    Mark

  23. #23
    Catching Smallmouth BradH's Avatar
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    I use the mapmyride app on my phone but there are others. I compete against myself on the climb courses. If a course hasn't already been created on a climb, or any other segment for that matter, you can create one yourself. Being able to compare your climb to past climbs, you can see yourself improve. It adds another form of motivation and is quite a bit of fun.
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  24. #24
    ... part of the machine. the engine's Avatar
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    I look for hills, always have. Most of my life I lived in a hilly area and did climbing every time I was on the bike. About ten years ago I moved to a flater terrain. Now I have to ride to or drive to get my climbing in. If I don't continually train in the hills, my climbing sux!! I'm 240 lbs., so as you know it takes a lot of energy to get this body over a climb.

    What works for me ...

    I use a triple on my event bike and a compact on my training bike, both with an 11-32 cassette.

    I don't look at the top of the hill, I watch just a few feet in front of my tire most of the way up.

    I ride a comfortable pace from the sitting position, until the hill really ramps up ... then I only climb out of the saddle to get me past the "tough part", getting back in the saddle as much as I can.

    If you are running out of steam riding straight up ... zig-zag, and terrace your way up the steep spots.

    Most of all ... keep the pedals rolling.

    The only way to get better and for climbing to get easier is to do it. You use different muscles in your legs for climbing than for flat riding, so you are working a whole lot more muscles when climbing. You are incorporating your back and shoulders more, and especially your glutes and hamstrings.

    Keep climbing, and you'll get better. It's the only way to do it. There is no magic pill in hill climbs ...
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    Okay, I can totally relate to this... Yes, it is very hard for us bigger folk--but they are not impossible. The fact that you're contemplating it already shows a tendency towards victory over them for you. That large hill at the end of the valley--do it. You may have to stop and rest at some points, or you may even have to walk a bit at some point, but you WILL get over it, and you will have to stop/walk less and less the more often you do it. It DOES get easier--the thing is, you'll want to keep challenging yourself, and thus you will try to get over a particular hill faster and faster, which leads to many stating that "it doesn't get any easier, you merely get faster..." I know how that may appear demoralizing at first, but there's a great reason people say that--and its a positive thing

    Good job on the 100 lbs, and keep at it!
    "I had this baby hand made in Tuscany, from titanium blessed by the pope. It weighs less than a fart, and costs more than a divorce..."

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