Exercise, Weightloss

My Spin on Cycling

I’m not a pro at bicycling by any means. My boyfriend Philip will tell you that I ride like a girl. Maybe he’s right, but then again, he hasn’t seen me in spin class.

Cycling, also known as spinning, is one of those activities that is really hard if you’re not in shape. So even though I was in a hurry to get out of town yesterday, I decided to squeeze in a class before hitting the road. And as usual, I’m glad I did.

The experience of a cycling class is always fun–and also amusing. I can always count on the one or two newbies–usually a guy and a girl–that hide out in the back. Right off the bat, they’re recognizable by the way they aimlessly wander around the seat-less bikes. About 10 minutes into the ride, they look to the instructor with fear, as if pleading for a break. It’s funny to me now–watching the noobs. But I vividly remember being a clueless wreck when I entered the room of my first cycling class.

Maybe it’s the fact that I knew overweight people don’t look all that attractive on a bike. Or maybe it’s that I was conscious of the way my butt would look on that groin-smashing bicycle seat, bouncing up and down in the saddle for the person behind me to observe. Or MAYBE it’s the fact that my instructor was a very blonde, very lean woman in a hot pink tank top whose genuine hardcore-ness practically attacked me at the door. Either way, I was particularly nervous to try this thing. Her name was Jackie Brooks, and she is the most intense fitness instructor I have ever had. In fact, she was more of a coach than an instructor. When I think of her, I envision her large eyes, full of fire, drilling intensely into the back wall, (I like to think she was envisioning a race track ahead of her). She would yell things like “Don’t you quit on me! Gear-UP!” and “On a scale from 1 to 10, you better be at a sixTEEN!”

Since I took her class, no other cycling teacher has been able to come close. I’ve had enough bad cycling teachers to know how to value a good one. The worst one was an old hippie lady, very Eugene. She played awful music that seemed to make me sleepy rather than energized.  She forced us to put our cycles in a large semi-circle, so we we disabled from checking ourselves in the mirror. But worst of all, the hippie lady did not challenge us one little bit. Instead, she provided us with excuses to take it easy. “Don’t push too hard now,” she would say. Why on earth would I pay 5 dollars per workout so that I can take it easy? I’ll give you a hint: I wouldn’t.

I’ve also had a couple 20-something brunettes who put on a decent, but not spectacular, class. The first one was pretty tough, but she was also really interested in making sex noises while she egged us on. She was always moaning and saying things like “stay with me, and I’ll stay with you,” in a breathy voice. The other brunette was a peppy and talkative girl who was probably my age. She pushed us and gave good instruction, but she couldn’t compare to Jackie Brooks. She kicked my ass.

After that first day of cycling, I was hooked. I had never felt more victorious after a workout, and I couldn’t have been hungrier. I could physically feel the impact of this phenomenal activity. A massive amount of calories had been sucked from my system, and were replaced by void in my stomach. (Now I like to eat peanut butter granola bars immediately after class.)  According to Glamour Magazine’s handy health calculator, one can burn anywhere from 750-915 calories from doing 50 minutes of moderate to rigorous spinning. So it’s really no surprise that I have found cycling to be the best cardio workout I have ever had in my life. Yes, even better than running.

Similar to running, cycling is the kind of activity that you don’t want to push yourself too hard at. If you do, you could end up sitting in a pool of your own sweat while dizzily hovering over a toilet in the Student Rec Center bathroom…or something. (I think I was dehydrated). So as tempting as it is to push it to the max, it is also important to prevent yourself from hurling. Drink plenty of water throughout your day, so that when you show up to class you are ready to sweat it all off. Also, you should use proper form to protect yourself from injury, AND to get the most out of your workout.

I can’t stress enough just how important it is to bring a water bottle and sweat towel to class. After each drill, whether it be a seated hill or a standing run, you will be panting heavily and desperate for agua. (Luckily, your instructor will be blasting the music loudly, and masking everyone’s heinous breathing sounds.) I usually go through a whole bottle of water in one class, and there is frequently a decent amount of sweat on the floor when I’m done.

My recommendations are:

1. Take a cycling class.

2. Really listen to what your instructor says about proper bike set-up, and proper cycling form.

3. Push yourself hard, but not too hard.

4. Drink lots of water before and during your class.

5. Use a sweat towel.

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I’m Back.

Hi. How have you been? I know it’s been a long time since I last wrote…

 

Oh look, there I am–not blogging.

 

A couple nights ago, I dreamt that my blog had died. I was routinely surfing the internet when I stumbled upon some generic-looking media site that had created a ranked list of this month’s Top Ten Most Dead Blogs. As if there are documented rankings and varying degrees of dead for blog sites (I Googled it, and it doesn’t exist). A breathless blog sounds like a silly thing to be concerned about in the midst of my slumber, but the truth is that I have been awfully concerned about the direction of No Moore Muffins for quite some time now. It’s part of the reason that I haven’t written in so long! I’ll be the first to admit that my coping strategies have not been topnotch. Running–unless literally–from the problem is clearly not going to solve anything. And neither is procrastinating giving an explanation for as long as I have. For both of these things I am sorry and regretful. And don’t worry, I have been constantly reminded of my neglect. I can’t escape the inquiries–sometimes nagging inquiries–from my readers, friends, fellow journalists, and even near strangers. But I am grateful for the nagging. It has shown me that it doesn’t go unnoticed when I stop writing.

You should know that my absence was only meant to protect you. I wanted to protect all of you from taking useless, and perhaps even detrimental, advice that would have resulted from the confused and deranged state that I have been in since September. It would have been the blind leading the blind, for lack of a better metaphor.

So let me tell you what I have been doing (and not doing) for the last couple months: adjusting to living alone, and consequently, cooking alone.

I have had some challenges with eating right now that I have an entire refrigerator, kitchen, and apartment all to myself. First of all, I’ve discovered that I love being able to use any appliance I want, at any given time, with any given food. It’s Fabulous with a capital ‘F’. I don’t have to wash anyone else’s dishes before I get started (but I might choose to do some of my own), and I don’t have to wait for the stovetop to be free. Most noticeably, I don’t feel obligated to share my meal with anyone. Not. A. One. The upside of this is that I produce lots of leftovers and don’t need to whip-up a new meal every night. The downside to this is that the recipes I generally like to cook usually revolve around some type of carbohydrate. This has often resulted in my scraping the same pan of cheesy-starchy-salty goodness all week.

Another bittersweet luxury is the basic fact that I don’t feel any judgement–positive or negative–by anyone, at any time. This can come in pretty handy when I surge into an ‘I’m-so-fat-and-ugly’ breakdown, and must quickly solve the problem by eating half a box of chocolate-covered pretzels while watching Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami without shame. But, as you can probably imagine, this is also a con. When I had roommates, even if I knew they didn’t care, I always weirdly hoped that they were judging me for going soft on my exercise and eating habits; that they would make a mental note for every time that I ate a few too many tortilla chips and wonder if I was going to gain all the weight back. It’s pretty twisted, and don’t judge me, but I actually thrive under the pressure of my peers’ judgement. I, sadly, relied on that contrived judgement when I couldn’t conjure up my own will to work.

So because I am now starved for that ass-kicking peer pressure that I always used to rely on, I’ve been searching for a new motivator to start my next plan. And actually, if I’m being honest, my plan is already pretty much planned out. I have just been waiting to start until I felt truly inspired. (This is the kind of plan that will need some hardcore inspirational back-up if it’s really going to work.)

Happily, I very recently decided to do a profile story on Molly Wizenberg, the creator of Orangette.  I interviewed her early early this morning. Orangette is an award-winning and very successful food blog that I initially modeled my format and aesthetic for No Moore Muffins after. From Orangette, Molly now has a monthly column for Bon Appetite Magazine, has written a book of essays called A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen. Through it, she also met her husband, and opened a restaurant in Seattle. In doing research for my feature story, I also read her book. It is fabulous, it is funny, and it is a New York Times Bestseller. Oh, and you should read it.

So once again, I have found myself inspired my Molly Wizenberg. Her blog, her book, her writing, and her passion for her topic are all sublime. And this is why I am starting again today and renewing my commitment to No Moore Muffins. I have a gazillion things to try, and many things to write, so be prepared for my content to skyrocket this week and from now on.

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