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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

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Old 09-02-07, 05:24 PM   #1
bigrider
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50+ clyde with a serious question

All,
I'm posting this here as well as in the Clydedale forum because they both apply to me.

I would like some help with what I guess would be an attitude question. I am 58 years old, in good health, with the exception of the clyde status. I have never been much of an athlete, just played some baseball, but not much else. Was in the best shape of my life during military service, but after that, kinda let things go. Never really involved in team sports and so probably never learned the discipline that can give you. So I find myself overweight (which I can do something about) and getting older (which I can't do anything about), and I am getting more concerned about my condition. I know I should have done more earlier, but I am where I am. My basic question is: if you have never had the kind of discipline it takes to make drastic changes, how do you do that now? Or, what do you do to keep "pressing through" the wall until you have a habit of losing weight and getting in shape. I know it can be done. But I have not been successful at it. What I would really like to hear is some success stories that can give the kind of boost (hope) that it will take to carry me through. I am a great starter, but not a good continuer. What did you folks do to press on through? Any help would be appreciated. I am riding a bit now, but my body (mind?) does not like what I am doing. The spirit is willing but the flesh is winning. What have you folks done to make the change? I really would like to hear. Sorry for the rant, but this may help some others also.
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Old 09-02-07, 05:41 PM   #2
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Training my wife really got me used to riding again. Once a basic skill / condition level gets reached, I find I'm eager to go, even if nobody else wants to. I rode 8 miles today at slow speed with my daughter, who is getting used to a road bike. On a MUP. It was great!

I used to ride 45 minutes at least 4 days a week at lunch, when I had a job. Structured work. I got very fit very fast. Lovely break. I think a little scheduling and discipline goes a long way at first.
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Old 09-02-07, 05:46 PM   #3
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This may sound to simple, but it works for me. Set yourself a number of rides you are going to do a week, and then schedule them just like you would anything else. Then, no matter how much your body says, stay in bed, sit on the couch, etc. , get on your bike and start the ride. You will not be far into your ride when your body says hey, this feels good. I started riding for my health in the fall of last year and my resting heart rate, my blood pressure and my cholesteral all have improved greatly. good luck
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Old 09-02-07, 06:33 PM   #4
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I was you 10 years ago, when I was 58yo!

Firstly, you have to love whatever "exercise" you are doing - so it no longer becomes exercise. Perhaps biking isn't truly your thing, perhaps it is???

Then set some goals consistent with your new "exercise." In my case, I started bicycling in March, and set my goal of "Riding the Rockies" - a 353 mile bike trip over Colorado passes - and it started on Father's day that year, and I did it (well, most of it!).

I think it is a fatal flaw to do it the other way around. If you think, "I have to exercise, (even though I hate it), at this da**ed biking thing so that I can get fit" you will never make it.

BUt, it is possible that if you once start bicycling, both things can happen at the same time - you will start to love the bicycling, AND you will get more fit.

You will never lose weight by bicycling alone - you must also have a change of eating habits - not a diet, but a change of eating habits.

So now, I bicycle about 150 miles a week, and I lift a lot of weights. I love lifting heavy weights and seeing my body getting stronger - even at almost 68 yo.

But, walking is good as so are other activites. Just enjoy them or learn to enjoy them!

There - my sermon for the day.
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Old 09-02-07, 07:00 PM   #5
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BR, first congratulations on making the first move. Some say that the hardest part of a life-changing experience is making that first step. If you can find a riding companion, you may find it easier and most likely more fun to ride often. You probably won't want to let your companion down, and you can lift each other up when one of you is feeling down.

Bite off small chunks. Don't overdue it at first so that you learn to dislike it. Make it fun and build slowly on increasing your ride distances and intensity. You'll be surprised how soon 5 miles will become 50 miles. For me, if I ride a lot, it's all I can do to keep weight on. After a long ride you may find yourself famished. Eat a little, let it settle in, then eat just enough to satisfy yourself. You may want to purchase a heart rate monitor with caloric consumption information. Let that be a guide, not an excuse to consume as many calories as you have worked off. We have some friends who do that (use the caloric consumption figure to justify eating more), and they alway wonder why they don't lose more weight.

If you are really committed, let cycling become a big part of your life. Identify yourself as a cyclist. It's a great hobby, and there are many aspects to it; mountain biking, road biking, touring, tandem riding, you name it... Now go get yourself some spandex shorts and ride!

P.S. Stop by this forum often and tell us about your progress.
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Old 09-02-07, 07:49 PM   #6
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+1 on posts above.

Find an activity you enjoy and do it. Often, even daily. Gently at first then with increasingly intensity as your body signals it is ready. No drastic changes are necessary since small ones add up rather quickly.

Last last at this time I was 60, very overweight, and thought eight blocks was a long walk. At 61 I am enjoying riding a hundred or two miles each week, only slightly overweight, and feeling at least ten years younger. These changes are not at all unusual.

If you are not having fun riding, try some walking. If that fails, maybe call a rowing club or a dance group or a running club or . . . whatever it turns out to be, just keeping doing it in a way that keeps it fun for you.

George
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Old 09-02-07, 07:53 PM   #7
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Here's the best adivce I got about losing weight - Do not diet. No adkins, South Beach, anything. Just change your eating habits. Cut out the junk (you know what it is), eat the right things, and eat smaller portions. Add cycling on that, and the weight will fall off. Exercise alone won't do it, and changing your diet alone makes losign weight hard.
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Old 09-02-07, 08:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by kerlenbach@cfl. View Post
Here's the best adivce I got about losing weight - Do not diet. No adkins, South Beach, anything. Just change your eating habits. Cut out the junk (you know what it is), eat the right things, and eat smaller portions. Add cycling on that, and the weight will fall off. Exercise alone won't do it, and changing your diet alone makes losign weight hard.
As simple as this sounds it is the whole key to taking off weight and keeping it off. Burn more calories than you eat. That is it, end of story. Whatever method you use: walking, biking, gym etc. take it slow and just keep at it.

You have taken the first step by wanting to do something about the issues. You do not have to be an athlete to enjoy any activity that will keep you more healthy. As a matter of fact being competitive may hinder your enjoyment because you think you can do what you did at 20 and will lead to injuries.
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Old 09-02-07, 08:25 PM   #9
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Took the results of some blood tests to give both my husband and me a kick in the pants to lose weight. He's 58, and about 4 months ago he had a routine physical which revealed a 300+ cholesterol level and glucose level that was pre-diabetic. Well, we went on the South Beach diet (sorry kerlenbach, we needed some structure) and started walking more. He lost 20 lbs, mostly in the tummy he'd grown over the past 5 years. I lost about 7 lbs as a result, too. The latest blood work shows his cholesterol is in the low 200s and his glucose level is normal.

We bought bikes just a month ago. It really helps to be starting these new good habits together. Also, I've found that I need a destination to get into the habit of riding. The store is three miles round trip. Our favorite breakfast place is 30 miles round trip. The bookstore and Peet's is about 10 miles round trip. If you don't have a significant other, maybe you can find a bike club in your area? Nothing like having someone expecting you to show up to give you a kick in the pants. Good luck! It's really a fun adventure.
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Old 09-02-07, 08:27 PM   #10
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If losing weight and keeping it off were easy...everyone would be fit and trim! But...we all know that just isn't the case.

Lifestyle is the key. A certain lifestyle got you where you are and a different lifestyle can get you where you want to be. Remember....it took 58 years to get where you are and the transformation you are wanting will not come quickly. But...one does have to start somewhere and now is just as good a time as any.

The advice Denver gave is outstanding! Print it out. The advice of the others is well worth printing out, too.

Think long-term. Think life-style change. Realize nobody will do it for you. Make time for yourself...you have to make time for yourself...you're worth it.

Without question, exercise is a very good thing! It burns calories and promotes C/V fitness. The key is finding the right form of exercise that you like and will stick with over a long period of time...like maybe the rest of your life.

You are looking to take that first step. Like a child trying to take his first step....it can sometimes be a bit scary. Good luck with your new lifestyle!

Jim J
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Old 09-02-07, 08:43 PM   #11
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Picture yourself attending a funeral . . . YOURS!
Now try to something to delay that . . .
Quit procrastinating! Best exercise: push away from the table!
You got that bike? Ride it!
Sure it can 'hurt' a bit; but persevere. Just like you make a habit of brushing your teeth, you go out and ride that two-wheeled contraption every other day. When that big butt gets used to the saddle a bit, ride a longer ride at least once a week.
Join a bike club, meet other folks and keep a positive attitude!
Kwitcherbellyachin' and do something!
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Old 09-02-07, 08:46 PM   #12
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I am 58 years old... never been much of an athlete... Was in the best shape of my life during military service... Never really involved in team sports... I find myself overweight...
You and I sound a lot alike. I'm 58 as well. Add long-term smoker to your story and you have my story. If you're left handed, it would be scary similar!

I've ridden bikes on and off but never semi-seriously until a couple of years or so ago. My work took me away from home and wife for long periods of time, so after a while I brought my mountain bike with me to have something to do other than sit in a hotel room. I started biking, started eating breakfast (other than my typical cigarette and cup of coffee), and started eating Lean Cuisines because eating out was getting old and expensive. Little by little, I started shedding a pound or two here and there. I started enjoying the bike and was able to increase the distance of my rides little by little. I'm about 6'2" and started out at 225lbs. I'm still about 6'2", but now I'm at 165lbs. I rode my first century (100 miles) this year, and I don't smoke any more.

This change has been slow in coming... about like eating an elephant... one bite at a time. Advice from other posters sounds good... a little at a time. Perhaps you could set a goal to ride your age (in miles) next season and start working toward that. There are a lot of 50+ success stories here, but to the best of my knowledge, none happened really quickly.

Keep riding. Have fun.
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Old 09-02-07, 08:52 PM   #13
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Something has to trigger a desire to change This was a business meeting for me about 15 years ago. I got tingling up my left arm and popping ears. I had to walk out and take a deep breath. I realized were that will lead to next.
Rely on doctors or clean up your act I decided to do all I can do BEFORE handing my problem to doctors. I started very modest exercise by joining a health club. From that became jogging. I read some books on positive addiction and decided to get positive addicted to exercise. That means at least one hour per day.
There needs to be compelling reasons I found out that I had arthritis in both knees. No more jogging. I found cycling by observing what others do and the opportunity in nearby WI bike paths. I became positive addicted to that.
Set an achievable worthwhile goal I researched the Internet and found that many Americans bike across the USA. I decided to try that and learned what fitness was required. I did an across USA fully supported trip at age 65. I needed to shed some weight and get fit. There was some significant money at stake and I was determined not to waste that investment. I am now retired and still planning the next bike trip across the USA next April. That requires a tremendous effort in training, food control, money and time. But it keeps me energetic. I am right now in OH on a bicycle trip. I was racing a group of much younger bikers on a bike path from Xenia to London, OH. We hit top speeds of 30 mph ON FLATS. Yes there was a little wind from behind.

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Old 09-02-07, 08:55 PM   #14
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Ah yes, methinks I know where you're coming from. Why do anything that hurts? I'm averse to pain. Gyms? Why do people do that to themselves (yes, btdt). And doing something for 'training'? Get real - I set those sorts of goals and they're toast before I get started. Actually I'm good at this now - there's absolutely no pain or guilt or sweat in my 'training' avoidance these days.

First a few thoughts on process, then I'll tell you how I'm doing it.

Getting fit and losing weight is going to take a long time - years, so if you aren't enjoying what you're doing, you won't do it long enough.

Once you leap on the bike and start riding, you'll spend a lot of time burning fat and building muscle. Guess what, muscle weighs more than fat so you won't be losing any weight. Similarly, the old waist measurement is one of the last to go down and is remarkably stubborn about it, so you'll be putting in all that effort and the traditional measures will be going nowhere, despite your feeling better and looking better.

Cycling is a very efficient form of exercise - you aren't going to lose weight by cycling alone. You need to change your eating habits as well. A glass of red wine will take about an hour of good cycling to burn off dammit.

I got back on the bike a bit over 12 months ago. In that first 12 months, my weight went no-where, despite the amount and type of riding I was doing. See, I had a fairly good diet and for a variety of reasons, wasn't in a mindset where messing with my eating habits was something I could face. Rather than getting depressed about that (depression being one of those 'reasons' I just mentioned), and realising that I wasn't going to lose weight by exercise alone, I just made sure I ate a healthy diet and didn't fuss about my weight.

Recognising that setting myself any form of training regime is just giving myself something else to ignore, I set about enjoying my cycling. I ride when and where I want to ... and that's it. I then set up my cycling so it was fun.

I'm someone who once I've ridden a route, finds it hard to do it again - it's boring, so I go exploring. I bought a car carrier, which lives in the back of the car, so I'm not restriced to riding from home and believe me, that is sooo liberating (especially when you live in a hilly area like I do).

Most of my rides have a purpose. Every second sunday when my son is with his mother, I ride down to watch him play soccer - this involves a round trip of anywhere between 50km and 120km and always involves a monster hill (I have to climb it to get home). I ride to the library, to the shops, anywhere I feel like like. Come the school holidays, my son and I will do the occasional ride down to Willunga for a pastie and back - about 80km round trip (you can afford to eat fat and carbs at the turnaround ). But I also ride just because I want to ride. Sometimes I ride hilly routes, sometimes flat, sometimes fast, sometimes it's a dawdle.

On many days, I ride with my son to school - he likes the company and it's a bear of a ride so it's a real workout (just over an hour and I'll burn over 1,000 kcal doing it).

I bought a tag-along bike so my daughter can go for rides with me. Sure, they aren't overly long rides but it's another opportunity to be out on the bike.

I bought a dog trailer so my wee doggie can go for rides as well. I don't ride any more often but by cripes it's hard work.

I bought a Brooks saddle because it's kind on bottoms that aren't protected by padded nix. I now don't have to get dressed in fancy cycling clobber to go riding ... though I do if I want to. In fact, setting yourself up so you CAN ride in ordinary street clothing opens up many more opportunities, just as having the right clothing for those long trips makes them so much more pleasant.

Essentially, my approach is to maximise the opportunities to ride and then let my heart guide me. And it's worked. I ride a lot, some short, some long, but I don't force it - my riding diary (yes, I'm a nerd) has a lot of blank days.

Mind you, a riding diary is a good move. It allows you to see where and when you've been, and there is a lot of satisfaction watching the total distance mount. I started with something simple, now it's a horror of useless information, but it's another way of making the whole thing fun.

I'm a tinkerer and a builder of models and boats and things, so I've taken that onboard with my cycling. None of my bikes are standard. I mess around with fit and function, I'm always looking for more 'issues' to address. I've got a collection of dvds about cycling, cycling races, cycling tours, weird people going to insane places on their bikes. This takes my cycling off the road and into my everyday life - even when I'm knackered and resting in front of tele, I'm still doing my cycling, just not on the bike.

That's the riding side of it.

Despite my distrust of anything 'diet' (let's face it, 'diet' is just 'die' with a 't'), I found that nearly every website that talks about nutrition and food and the like is so full of gobbledegook and pseudo science that they're inpenetrable. I don't want to study biology to work out how to eat. However, 'diets' have a long track record of weight loss followed by weight gain. I wanted to know how I could eat so that I could be strong, healthy and to lose the extra weight.

Just eating less does NOT do it. Sorry to all those who think it does, but it doesn't, not on its own. You've got to eat the right stuff.

The CSIRO, which is Australia's national scientific body, did a lot of studies and research and came up with their 'Total Wellbeing Diet'. Basically, it increases the amount of protein you eat, reduces the amount of carbs and balances everything else. Like all diets, it has a long track record of people going on it, losing weight, then packing it all back on again when they go back to eating 'normally'. This is the flaw in going on a 'diet' - you need to make a lifestyle change. The book that the describes the diet, describes how it works, why it works, offers guidelines so that you can modify your own eating to fit in with it and, for the chronically lazy (me), it has a blow by blow program compelete with recipes.

I looked at this and thought - yes, you do lose weight but if you go off it, you bung it back on - not worth it. However, when I looked closely at how it works, yes, you can treat it as a 'diet', or you can use it to reorder what and how you eat. I see that second mindset as one that I can maintain long term. So I bought the book and gave it a go. The first thing I noticed was that I had trouble eating everything they want me to - this is common, no way do you starve on this diet. The second thing was that I am never hungry, in fact I feel a bit over fed at times and this is something I'll be addressing. The third thing is that there are times when I'm craving carbs ... so I let myself be naughty. I've got two kids, a teenage boy who lives with me full time and is amazingly fit and active, and a rather typical 7 year old daughter who is with me just under half the time - I'm not into cooking seperate meals for people and didn't want to force something on them they didn't need. However, as I'm starting to understand how this diet works, I've been able to modify what we eat or to make it a minor matter for one cooking session to produce two different meals (for example, we love our own version of tortillas - a modified chiliconcarne recipe wrapped in lebanese bread - the lad eats his in the lebanese bread, I eat mine from a bowl. Simple).

I've been on it four weeks now and am losing a steady 1kg a week. That's a weight loss that is sustainable and is healty. It has been achieved by eating habits that provide me with everything I need in a format that doesn't feel like I'm on a diet, doesn't leave me hungry and allows me experiment and fit in with my family. It has also left me fit and strong so that I enjoy my cycling and, as the research shows (again part of the CSIRO 'diet'), sixty minutes of exercise a day is essential to healthy weight loss.

Still with me? Hope so - I've gone on a bit because I don't think this is something that can be handled simply or with one line of attack. But basically, by building my bikes into my life (rather than trying to force my life to include bikes) and eating well (from sensible guidelines), I'm losing weight in a manner that I believe I'll be able to maintain in the long term.

Richard
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Old 09-02-07, 08:58 PM   #15
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Dnvr said it well: finding exercise that you love is the best way to stay with it. There's no way I can ever see myself giving up riding, as long as I can do it. But for you, maybe swimming or something else may be the magic exercise.

And just riding (or whatever exercise you end up with) may not be enough. The other thing that I did, when riding wasn't taking off enough weight to suit me, was to start researching nutrition. Once you really learn why different foods are good for you or not, it makes it easy to start making better eating choices, and when you combine that with some hours of good aerobic exercise like riding, the weight has to come off. And to me, just experimenting and finding healthy food that I liked was much better than trying to follow some regimented diet.

Good luck with your quest.

Edit: Wow, looks like europa was saying the same thing as me, at the same time, but saying it much more eloquently. Good stuff, europa.
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Old 09-02-07, 09:06 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by kerlenbach@cfl. View Post
Here's the best adivce I got about losing weight - Do not diet. No adkins, South Beach, anything. Just change your eating habits. Cut out the junk (you know what it is), eat the right things, and eat smaller portions. Add cycling on that, and the weight will fall off. Exercise alone won't do it, and changing your diet alone makes losign weight hard.
+1 And all the other excellent advice given above.

Here's what works for me. First, I started walking. Nothing rigid, just walking to my office instead of taking the bus (15 minute walk). I walked back to my car in the afternoon (another 15 minute walk). At the same time, I began to clean up my eating habits. Not a diet, just cut out the junk, smaller portions, ate more often (snacks in between smaller meals), whatever to keep from going hungry but not overeating. Healthy, nutrient-dense foods (vegies/fruit, 100% whole grains, chicken/fish, nuts, beans) and lots of water. I made one or two changes at a time rather than a drastic overnight transformation. But here's the key for me: On a daily basis when confronted by a food temptation, I said to myself "Not this time, maybe later" or "maybe tomorrow" or "maybe this weekend". For example, if I want to get chips with my sandwich, I'll say "Not this time, maybe tomorrow." For me, this works much better than saying "I can't have any ice cream until I lose 40 pounds", which is totally unrealistic. Dessert, cookies, etc. are restricted to special occasions when I enjoy them (in small portions) as a treat. Late last year we bought a treadmill to enable us to walk day or night, rain or shine, hot or cold. Then, in Spring of this year, we bought our bikes with the intention of supplementing our walking with a ride or two a week. Well, we fell in love with cycling so much that it's now our favorite activity we do most days. But the key to that is that we love it. It's not a chore to go and ride our bike, not something we "have" to do. My bike is my friend, and this lifestyle is now a habit. I've lost almost 40 pounds and I feel at least 10 years younger, I am no longer overweight, I have a new wardrobe (the one that was hanging in my closet but didn't fit) and I move with stamina and strength that I haven't felt in years.

As for riding, just start with very short rides, say 15 minutes. What worked best for me was to say "I'll just ride/walk/whatever for 10 minutes and if I'm too tired then I'll quit." It was just a psychological game I played with my mind, but it worked for me. 10 minutes after work turned in to 20, 30, and now an hour -- and I'd continue if it wasn't dark and time to get ready for work the next day. I bet after 10 minutes you'll enjoy it so much you'll want to continue. Don't force yourself to have fun if you're not... find an activity you love and look forward to, and that's the one you will continue to do.

One more piece of advice about weight loss: Don't be in a hurry. Try to avoid weighing yourself more than once a month. My weight loss was 1-2 pounds a month, slow by most people's standards. Slow, but steady. Don't focus as much on weight as on eating healthier and doing some form of activity you enjoy for a short time every day, just for your own health. That short time of activity will grow to longer periods when you find something you really like.

Well I babbled on longer than I intended... maybe you can take something away from my babble that will help you.

Realistic short-term goals, one day at a time... one meal at a time.... one ride at a time... you can do it.
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Old 09-02-07, 09:08 PM   #17
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Keep on coming back here. Enjoy other's triumphs, and post any triumphs you have. It will help you maintain your enthusiasm. Lots of us are getting better and growing, and not around the middle.
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Old 09-03-07, 06:44 AM   #18
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I'd encourage you to try and tap into whatever it is that allows you to be successful in other areas of your life. I'm sure you must have other things in your life that require discipline or tenacity on your part. What is it in you that allows you to be successful in those situations. You don't live to be 50+ years of age without having some internal strengths/characteristics that help you push through challenges. You need to know that you've already been successful, now remember how or why, and apply to this situation.
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Old 09-05-07, 04:54 PM   #19
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I agree with the other posts, but will add this: It's all about habit. Unfortunately good habits seem to be a lot harder to make than to break. You have to convince your mind that you are the person you want to be & get out there every day and be that person & think like that person. The longer you do this the easier it gets, but it's never really easy. Goals & results help keep the motivation up, but discipline is always part of it. I find that as results occur (e. g. better endurance , speed & weight loss) the easier it gets. Learn to consider yourself an athlete & gear your actions around that.

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Old 09-05-07, 05:16 PM   #20
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Good advice, but remember the only person that really gives a dang about you is YOU. (meant that in a complimentry perspective).
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Old 09-05-07, 05:48 PM   #21
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1. I think that it's actually easier to exerise every day than it is to do it 3 times per week. If you are in the every day habit, you don't have to make a decision each day to go or not to go.

2. I think that "how often" is more important than "how far" or "how fast". Just get out and go but try not to ride the exact same route twice. Keep finding little variations. If you do that with frequency, far and fast will take care of themselves.
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Old 09-06-07, 01:37 AM   #22
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+1 And all the other excellent advice given above..................................Etc.

. Don't force yourself to have fun if you're not... find an activity you love and look forward to, and that's the one you will continue to do.


Realistic short-term goals, one day at a time... one meal at a time.... one ride at a time... you can do it.
Big Rider

Just had to reread Yens reply to you and she has not been cycling long. Everything she says is from experience and it has worked for her. Probably plenty of others aswell but take her as your "HERO". Follow her example as we'll be seeing you on organised rides next year but you will have to change your handle by then as bigrider won't be suitable.
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Old 09-06-07, 05:14 AM   #23
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All,
My basic question is: if you have never had the kind of discipline it takes to make drastic changes, how do you do that now? Or, what do you do to keep "pressing through" the wall until you have a habit of losing weight and getting in shape. I know it can be done. But I have not been successful at it.
Discipline is a muscle that grows, just like a quad. Work it and it gets bigger and stronger.
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Old 09-06-07, 09:12 AM   #24
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Big Rider

Just had to reread Yens reply to you and she has not been cycling long. Everything she says is from experience and it has worked for her. Probably plenty of others aswell but take her as your "HERO". Follow her example ....
I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy.....

I should add that it took me about 3-1/2 years to lose the 40 lbs., it did not happen overnight and there were months when I thought "WHAT'S THE POINT???" but continued for my health's sake. Also, cycling seems to burn the fat like nothing else I've ever done. Consistent activity + moderate intensity + healthy eating.
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Old 09-06-07, 09:25 AM   #25
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A neighbor with similar issues started by walking. First around the block, then around the neighborhood, eventually doing ~2 miles every evening for a year. After losing 60lbs he started riding and now does that every day.

Personally I believe you have to make it part of your lifestyle. I ride to the train station year round. I always take the stairs.

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