Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Warm-Up Was A Cold Chore

Original photo by Susan Cronk. 
Several inches of new snow fell last night, approximately five. It felt like five inches when I was shoveling a path through it and clearing it off the vehicle this morning. 

It was a cold chore, to be sure, but it provided a good warm-up exercise before tackling the cycling. I didn't start too early, however. It was a rather late night.

It has been a long time since I have pulled an all-night writing session, but if there is any chance of finishing these next two nonfiction books this spring, that's what it's going to take. The research is all there, and the chapters have been roughed out, but there is a lot of new data to be incorporated. 

The wind started blowing a bit ago, and it's possible it will undo some of the path clearing I did earlier. Our road usually drifts, in several spots. There is hope. The sun is out, and the temperature is hovering around 31°. Tomorrow we're expecting more heat, 39°, which will melt away most of what I picked up with the shovel and threw into pile. Wasted energy? I got a little extra exercise, and the decks and steps are clear. After lunch, around 3:30 p.m., I may reward myself with another cold treat. A Klondike Brownie Fudge Swirl. I know. I know. But there's another fifteen miles yet to pedal today. I need fuel for that. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, like a polar bear to snow. 

Note: I am not an affiliate of the above linked product or retailer. And no, I'm not sharing my Klondike bar. Go shovel some snow and earn one for yourself.  

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Riced Broccoli and Chicken Burrito

I decided to try a slight variation on the traditional chicken burrito tonight. I didn't vary it by much but it was a bit more flavorful, and more flavor without more sugar, carbs, or fat is a good thing.


In a skillet, I heated some Tyson Pre-Cooked Pulled Chicken Breast, with a dash of garlic salt. In another skillet, I cooked some Pictsweet Farms 3-Color Pepper and Onion Strips. In the microwave, I steamed the Green Giant Riced Broccoli. With all three cooking at the same time, this takes about ten to twelve minutes to throw together.

[Since white rice or even long-grain white rice can wreck your carb counting, I've been replacing rice in my burritos with an alternative, like riced cauliflower or riced broccoli, not only to keep the carbs lower but to add in a touch more flavor. You can pulverize your own fresh cauliflower and broccoli and freeze it, if you own a food processor or like to spend a lot of time chopping things with a knife. The Green Giant steamer bags are nice and quick, though, if you're in a hurry, which I usually am.]

While the above is cooking, place a burrito-sized Chi-Chi's soft flour tortilla onto plate.  When the cooked items are ready, place 1-2 tablespoons of the cooked riced broccoli (or cauliflower), one to two tablespoons of the cooked peppers, and onion, and 1-2 tablespoons of the cooked chicken onto the burrito and top with a sprinkling of Kraft's Expertly-Paired Cheddar and Asadero cheese. Roll it up. Sprinkle a little more cheese on the outside of the burrito and put it in the microwave for about 1 minute to melt the cheese. Then top with Herdez Salsa Verde, diced fresh tomatoes, and a bit of Daisy Sour Cream. Now, it's time to eat!

This makes a great meal and you can watch your serving size pretty closely. If you want to lower the carbs even more, try using the Mission brand low-carb tortillas, and if you want some additional flavor, you might try the other Mission brand tortillas that are available. They have jalapeno cheddar, sun dried tomato, garden spinach, and rosemary olive oil.

Note: I am not an affiliate of the product makers nor of the retailer. Just sharing the recipe for those who like wraps and are trying to eat healthier. 

What's That Click'n Noise

A few years ago I heard a great comedy routine by Henry Cho. It was titled "What's that click'n noise?" You'll find it on YouTube. Mr. Cho's voice echoed in my brain again a couple of days ago when the Exerpeutic bike, which typically runs whisper quiet, started acting up. I was forced to ask, "What's that click'n noise?"

No, I wasn't signaling to turn. In fact, my exercise bike has no brakes, no tail lights, no turn signals,  no steering wheel, and no engine. That eliminates most of the things that go wrong on a car. The bike's only source of power is me . . . pedaling, and it has a very limited number of moving parts. It also has no wheels and therefore doesn't travel very far. The only time the bicycle might turn right or left, is if I lean over too far reaching for the water bottle on the table next to me and tip it over. That will be signaled by a scream as the floor rises up to meet me.

The bike has been working exceptionally well since it was purchased a few years ago, and it has only accumulated a few thousand miles. Who knew it was going to need a tune up? Now, the car I can take in to Service Lube for maintenance and repair, but where do you take your exercise bike for repair and upkeeep?

After only three miles this morning, I couldn't stand the click'n noise any longer, so I stopped, climbed off, flipped the bike over, and got out the tools. Maybe it was afflicted with something, like dirt or cobwebs? Yes, there were both of those inside its housing. Unfortunately, even after their removal, it still clicked when I turned the pedals. My next thought was to check for Legos or other very small toys, like Peppa Pig and her friends, as my great niece likes to place her miniature figures on the pedals and pretend they're on a carnival ride. Nope. No missing figures inside the chamber housing the flywheel and belts. It was a long shot anyway. She would have had to stuff them in there from underneath. If she had, and had been unable to extricate them, then she would have signaled, not with a clicking noise but with a high shrill scream and crocodile tears while explaining how they got in there and were now unable to escape. She's four. Stuff like that happens.

I added a bit of WD-40 before I finally put the bike back together. In fact, I oiled whatever parts inside appeared to move. I  didn't have any any spare parts left over after it was reassembled, so I must have done it correctly. I flipped the bike back over and started to pedal. Darn! What's that click'n noise? My only guess is that the flywheel or one of the other pieces may be out of balance. That's beyond my limited mechanical ability.

I was able to resume the ride a couple of hours after this adventure started, still clicking occasionally. I finished by adding 12.5 miles to the original three. I'll add another 14.5 later today, clicking happily away. Since I wasn't able to fix the problem, and since there is no maintenance garage for exercise bicycles nearby, I found another workaround. I plugged the earbuds into the laptop on which the cycling video was playing, and cranked the volume as high as I could. No more click'n noise.

A short time later, once comfortably seated in my office chair during the 'cool down' phase, I took another look at the Exerpeutic and wondered, "What can it become when it can no longer be an exercise bike?" That's what I'm supposed to do, right, recycle, reuse, and repurpose? It has already spent too much time as a clothes rack and tote-bag hanger. I'm thinking all those metal pieces might just find their way into the design for the bicycle trailer for the road bike. Hmm. Maybe the Exerpeutic is signaling to let me know to get the plans ready. That's what that click'n noise is for!

Note: I am not an affiliate of the linked products or retailers above. Just sharing their info in case you have a clicking noise you need to track down.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Whitl'n Down That Goal

Edited Photo. Original photo by
Donald Giannatti@wizwow

The original goal was fifty miles per day, pedaling a two-wheeled machine whose predecessors got their start in the early 19th Century in Germany. It was called a laufmaschine then, and later called different things around the world, like the dandy horse, velocipede, draisienne, pedestrian curricle, or hobby horse. While it has gone by many names through the centuries, the most popular named today is 'bicycle' here in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries. Or, an 'adult trike' if you favor the three-wheeled version. The earliest verifiable introduction of this vehicle is 1817. So, to say the least, it has staying power.

I have been trying to track the distance, time, and calorie burn experienced through this type of exercise to see if it really has a great deal of effect against blood sugar levels. It does have a nominal momentary effect, for the better. Many of the things I try have implemented provide temporary, albeit minimal, reduction. Daisy-chaining a lot of minimally beneficial things together throughout the day works fairly well.

Bicycling is fun, in addition to being healthy. I set a daily goal of fifty miles. I'm almost there. Yesterday was the highest daily mileage achieved in a single session, 20.3 miles on the morning ride.  was aiming for twenty and overshot the goal. It took just over two hours to complete and burned off over 490 calories. The goal now is to add an extra ten-mile ride at the end of the day, to make thirty, and sustain that for the next two weeks.

If you're at all interested in bicycling, I encourage you to try it. You don't have to go for fifty miles per day, but any goal above zero can help your health.   

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Brisk Winds Frigid Temps

Did I mention it was really cold?
landscape photo of snow covered mountain
Original photo of by @lesanderson

It's a bit too brisk to be outside today. There are below-zero wind chills and fast-moving breezes.

I don't live at the location where this photo was taken, Oregon I think, but this represents what I mean about cold breezes.

It started raining around midnight, after a freezing mist fell earlier in the day yesterday, coating everything, causing those who tried to stand up to fall down if they made one false step. The sound of that chunky rain hitting the roof meant that the morning commute was going to be treacherous. When I checked the road conditions, I was right. I was fortunate, I didn't have to get out. I was able to telecommute today. Nice. One less car and driver on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Cost savings!

You normally wouldn't catch me pedaling outside in this kind of weather, but I did do some cycling this morning. I pedaled fifteen miles, on the indoor bike, while the winds howled. They're still howling, as a matter of fact, at about 25-35 mph. I don't even pedal that fast, which means if I were outside I couldn't outrun them.

They say that tailwinds are a cyclist's best friend, especially when climbing hills. They give you that little extra momentum you need to tackle the incline. I don't think they meant -15° tailwinds, though.

close-up photo of purple petaled flower
Original photo by @aaronburden
We're hopeful for less ice and bluster for tomorrow, even though we get to keep the cold temps for a day or two longer. I'm marking the days off on the calendar. Spring has to follow winter, after all. It's been that way since the formed the earth. He knows what he's doing.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Powered by Pasta

The earth, our little corner of it at least, was in a fog today. It was having a difficult time making up its mind whether it would be hot or cold, or somewhere in between. The "in between" resulted in that milky-white ethereal environment that Hollywood has to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve for its films. We get it for free here.

My day started off with a short cycle ride, on the exercise bike, of about ten miles. It took just under an hour to complete. The bulk of the day's remaining activity involved shopping, and then an early dinner at Olive Garden. I can never be satisfied with just the salad and breadsticks, but they're definitely a treat. I have to have pasta when I go there. It's probably a rule, anyway.

The pasta of choice was spaghetti with meat sauce. That which I make at home is never as good as Olive Garden's. Perhaps mine doesn't taste as good because there's so much labor involved, mine. It's nice to let someone else do the cooking. It's also nice to let someone else get the check. I did the driving for the day and the one driven paid for supper.

In addition to the salad, breadsticks, and spaghetti, we ordered an appetizer. Pasta chips with lasagna sauce for dipping. I can't say the new dish will be added to my "favorites" list. It tasted, well, like lasagna, and the chips were okay. Perhaps we should have opted for a dessert instead. The excellent service made up for what the appetizer lacked.

When I arrived back home, it was time to pedal again. I have to say, the first five miles of the fifteen-mile ride were a challenge with all that food still processing, but when the carbs kicked in the pedaling became easier. With each passing mile, I felt less guilty for having stuffed myself an hour earlier. In the end, the pasta-powered bicycle ride wasn't so bad. In addition, while pedaling, I was able watch a really interesting murder mystery film from 1979. It stars Hal Holbrook. Katherine Ross, and others. No spoilers here, but I can say the ending will twist your brain into knots.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Still Miles to Go

I am slowly creeping up on the daily cycling distance goal. You can check the numbers at the bottom of this blog post. Now, it's time to improve on the TOF (Time on Feet). Because diabetes can cause peripheral neuropathy, walking is the least pleasant thing, yet most useful thing, you can do. Climbing stairs is the second worst thing. Standing for any period of time is like standing on tacks, pointed side up, and that pain radiates upward until it forces you to sit. So, it's also a challenge to overcome.

Muscle spasms are another thing. I still get muscle cramps, but drinking diluted Claussen dill pickle juice, or the cider vinegar drink I mix up at night, has helped with those. Compression socks are also a huge help, but some of them are way too tight and if not fitted properly can pinch off circulation, especially if sitting down for long periods. So, restrengthening those back and leg muscles should be a great help in increasing the TOF. The cycling is helping with circulation, and it's easier on the feet.

person walking on brown wooden bridge near green tall tress during daytime
Today, despite the cold, it's going to be time to add in some track time. I hate walking indoors. Stale, musty air isn't healthy for the lungs, but I'll do it because it's only 45° outside and I dislike really cold temps even more. As soon as the weather warms up, and I find my MP3 player or download some music to the phone, I'll be outside walking instead. There are still miles to go, but they aren't quite as intimidating as they used to be when this all began three years ago.

Lord willing, I'll achieve and exceed all the goals, and set new ones.

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)