Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Bike Riding Milestone

I know I said yesterday that I was going to keep taking it easy on the exercise front to give my surgical site some more time to heal, but I decided to go for a really short bike ride this morning just to see how it felt. I've been meaning to try riding my bike to the grocery store for a while now, but I kept talking myself out of it. This morning I decided to just do it. I didn't want to go fast or far on this ride--I just wanted to pick a store and go.

I left pretty early and took side streets to avoid cars. I was worried that sitting on the bike would press on my surgical site, but I didn't feel any discomfort so I just made my way at a comfortable pace. I brought a small backpack with me to carry my groceries and I made sure not to buy anything too heavy.  

The only thing that I didn't like about biking to the store was that I was slightly sweaty (but not smelly) by the time I got there. Between that and walking around the store carrying my pink leopard print bike helmet, I definitely got a few weird looks from the people who worked there. I just kind of shrugged it off and ignored them. I'm over here trying to be a little healthier and today that meant buying produce while dressed in running tights and carrying a bike helmet. Nothing to see here, folks. Please just carry on.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Coffee Date: All These Changes

I've gotten a few new readers since my last coffee date post, so let me explain what's going on. Sometimes when I haven't got any solid fitness or weight loss related news to share, I write a coffee date post where I tell you a little more about non-fitness or weight loss life. Today's coffee date is particularly appropriate because I am writing it at a Starbucks near campus. The company that manages my apartment complex decided to replace all the windows in the building and my apartment is scheduled to be done today. The window people have been loud and disruptive enough when they were working in other apartments so I can't imagine how loud and disruptive they would be from inside mine. I needed to catch up on bar prep stuff so I headed out just before the workers were supposed to arrive and parked myself and my textbooks in a corner of the coffee shop. I needed a little study break, so here I am coffee dating.

I mentioned in my Apera Bags review that I had surgery recently. I had to have a polyp removed from my stoma. If you have no idea what that means, don't worry. I will try to explain. I wear an ostomy bag because I have Crohn's Disease and the year before I started law school I got so sick I almost died. A gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic recommended that I go on "bowel rest," at least temporarily. Bowel rest is doctor speak for getting an ostomy. A colorectal surgeon performed the procedure laproscopically and when I woke up in the hospital, I had something called a stoma. A stoma is the little piece of intestine the surgeon sewed to my abdomen so poop can go in a bag that sticks to my stomach. I've seen stomas referred to as front butts and that seems pretty accurate. Anyway, if you have questions, leave them in the comments. I don't mind answering :)

Even though having the polyp removed was a minor procedure compared to the other surgeries I have had, it still takes time to heal. The last few times I've changed my bag, I've noticed that the surgical site is still bleeding a little. I don't want to go back to strenuous exercise until that stops being a thing, so for now I'm limiting myself to walking.

Even though I'm not really working out right now, I'm in no way bored. I'm still studying for the bar exam, which happens at the end of July. I'm also moving to a new apartment after I take the bar so I've been collecting boxes like a hoarder and packing up non-essentials as time allows. There is only one day between when I finish the bar and when I have to be out of my current apartment, so I want to pack as much as possible before the exam so I can relax a little on the day after I finish the test.

I guess you could say I am living a life in transition at the moment. I graduated from law school and I'm preparing for a professional exam that will determine whether the last three years of my life were worthwhile or not. I'm leaving the apartment I've lived in for the past three years and moving to a new space that I hope I will like just as much. I'm looking forward to starting my career after I take the bar and I'm hoping that the new medication I started to treat my Crohn's disease will mean better health as I go through all these changes. That's what's happening in my life. What's going on with you?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Apera Bags Review

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I had surgery last week. I have had an ostomy for the last four years. Several months ago, I noticed a little lump on my stoma that my ostomy nurse said was a polyp. The polyp wasn't painful or serious, but it kept getting bigger so I went back to the ostomy nurse about a month ago. She asked the surgeon who did my ostomy surgery to take a look and the surgeon thought I needed surgery.

My surgeon explained that she would try to just remove the polyp, but that there was a chance that she would need to completely redo my stoma. She wouldn't know which one she would have to do until we were in the operating room. If all she had to do was remove the polyp, it would be a simple outpatient procedure with minimal recovery time. If she had to redo my stoma, I would need to stay in the hospital for at least one night. Since I didn't know when I left for the hospital if I would be coming home or not, I had to pack for an overnight stay. Dedicated blogger that I am, I decided to take the opportunity to try out my Apera Bags Yoga Tote.

To make a long story short, this is a great little gym/overnight bag. It has tons of pockets to help you stay organized, it is incredibly roomy on the inside, and I was really happy with the quality of the bag. Plus, it comes in magenta, a color for which I have a deep and abiding love.
I packed a change of clothes, some toiletries, and my medication when I went to the hospital, but I decided to see how much of my fitness gear I could fit in the bag just for fun. The bag held some running tights, a tank top, running shoes, a lightweight rain jacket, some toiletries, a water bottle, my garmin and heart rate monitor strap, a running belt, iphone arm strap, my bike helmet, and my yoga mat with plenty of room to spare. The interior has a fabric separator that lets you keep your shoes or sweaty clothes separate from everything else in the bag. Plus, the straps are designed so that you can slide your yoga mat or foam roller through them securely without worrying about them falling out. This bag is going to see a lot of use as a gym bag, but it was also great as an overnight/hospital bag. Apera is having its Anniversary Sale now through July 31, so if you are interested in snagging your own Yoga tote, enter code SUMMER2014 at checkout for 20% off. I should also mention that for every 3 bags Apera sells, they will donate one bag to a Special Olympics athlete.  

**The folks at Apera bags were nice enough to send me one of their yoga totes for purposes of this review. I did not receive any further compensation for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.**

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Meals and Miles

I know I have been pretty MIA lately. Studying for the bar is no joke. Even though I haven't been doing a very good job of keeping you updated, I have been making time for fitness and food exploits. I thought I would do an update on my favorite meals and miles from last week. 


My favorite homemade meal was this breakfast panini. I was trying to make a slightly healthier version of Starbuck's slow roasted ham and Swiss sandwich. I saw some fresh baked ciabatta in Trader Joe's and decided it would make a great replacement for Starbuck's delicious, but high calorie croissant. I sliced a ciabatta bun in half and topped it with a fried egg, ham, and light Swiss cheese and put the sandwich on my George Foreman grill for a few minutes. It was a nice change from my usual breakfasts!

My favorite not-homemade meal was my cousin N's graduation dinner at Shogun Bistro. It was horrifyingly unhealthy and I felt heavy and ashamed after I finished eating, but it was nice to spend time with relatives and family friends to celebrate my N's accomplishments--it's not everyday that she graduates from high school with one of the 10 highest GPAs in her class and goes off to a college honors program with a great scholarship :)

On Wednesday I went to this group bike ride thing for people who just want to go for a slow cruise with other cyclists. It was miserably hot and the route involved some truly painful hills, but I'm really glad I went for two important reasons. The first reason is that the view of the river was kind of great. 

The second reason is that one of the other riders said my tires looked flat and told me that flat tires on your bike make it much harder to ride. I was struggling to get up a particularly evil hill at the time. I thought I was just out of shape, but the other rider made it sound like my tires were the problem and I liked the sound of that. 

I finished out the ride and promised myself I would make time to visit my local bike store and ask about the tires. I went on Friday and it turns out the tires did need air. I was excited to test the theory that hills would be easier if my tires had enough air, so on Saturday morning I went for a ride. You guys, adding air to your tires is some kind of voodoo sorcery, because look at these splits:

Since when am I capable of 5:xx miles?! I also achieved another milestone yesterday. Normally I ride my bike on the sidewalk even though it is illegal because I am terrified of being run over. Yesterday, though, I decided to modify the route I normally take to the park so I could try to ride the whole way on the street. I did it! Part of the reason I decided to try it is that I was leaving so early I didn't think there would be many cars along the route I took. I made it all the way to the park and no one ran me over. I'm still not comfortable riding in traffic, but at least now I've found a route that I'm not terrified to take to the park. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Vega Sport Review: #fuelyourbetter

I was one of a few lucky Sweat Pink Ambassadors chosen to work with Fit Approach and Vega Sport on a campaign called Fuel Your Better. Vega Sport did send me some free energy bars in exchange for my participation, but other than that, all the opinions in this post are my own. So, lets get to it. 

I'm not an energy gel person, so when I am planning my nutrition for long workouts, I gravitate towards real food. In the past, I have carried fruit and vegetable purees, fruit leathers, and healthy snack bars with me on long runs and now that I am trying to increase distance on my bike, I am starting to carry the same types of snacks with me to keep my energy levels up. 

I was happy to try Vega's products because they fit with my personal philosophy on workout nutrition. The energy bars I tried are plant based. The taste kind of reminded me of those almond joy candy bars, but with healthier ingredients.

I tried one of the Vega Sport bars during a recent 12+ mile bike ride to keep me going and I think the bars are great for that purpose. They're easy enough to carry in a running belt or bike bag and would work well as a snack before, during, or after a workout. If you want to learn more about Vega Sport, check out their website here. You can also learn more about the Fuel Your Better campaign here. They offer training tips to help you get through whatever keeps you from working out as hard as you want to: lack of motivation, stamina, overtraining, muscle soreness, etc. Have you ever tried Vega products? What did you think?