Author Topic: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?  (Read 5213 times)

jeromedawg

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Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« on: May 05, 2015, 11:26:04 AM »
Hey guys,

Just recently started biking into work and love the fact that I'm saving gas and getting some exercise. But sometimes I wonder about the exercise aspect... My commute is about a little over 4mi each way and it takes usually 20-25 minutes to either get to work or back home. There is about 137ft elevation gain going into work and I noticed it takes a few minutes more getting into work than it does coming home. At first I thought it was just me being sluggish in the mornings. I probably average about 9-10mph going in and 10-11mph coming back, so definitely not very fast. I'm carrying probably between 5-10lbs of stuff (change of clothes, bike tools/spare, wallet/keys/phone, bottle of water, lunch (on the way to work) in my backpack as well. This is on a Trek fitness bike.

I also noticed I've just been hungrier in general, and it's easy to kind of go overboard and "justify" bad eats because I "exercised." Especially on the weekends, when I don't really exercise at all. Obviously, the rule of "80% diet/20% exercise" comes to mind when I think weight loss and general nutrition/fitness. But just wanted to ask, for those of you who commute, if you struggle with this as well or if you have an action plan for diet and nutrition. Currently, after riding I try to eat a little something (I have a stock of protein bars at work) and or drink lots of water. The commute I have isn't that crazy either though - I'm just wondering if it's a good-enough exercise routine. Basically, I get at least 40-45 minutes of relatively intense exercise in spread across 2-times a day (although, a 10mph average seems a bit slow...). I've been using Runtastic to record my rides and noticed that my top speeds at times can get to around 22mph at the highest (especially on part of the off-street trail that is kind of a straightaway and decline) - this is probably the most *intense* part of both rides too, as I'm pushing in the highest gear. There are some slight "hills" (overpasses) closer to where my work is so I suppose I can try pushing harder to get up those especially in the morning. I'm definitely sweating when I get to work or get home.

I've had some issues with my cholesterol levels (borderline 200 and higher at times) and blood pressure 120-130/90 that concerns my doctor, as I'm 34. Also I think I'm a bit overweight (or at the high-end at least) for my height - been hovering around 150-152 at around 5'5 for a while. Got down to 145lbs when I used to join an early-morning workout group where we did a ton of plyometrics, aerobic, and cardio. I'd like to get back down to 140lb or less though. Do you guys think I'll be able to get there based on my current efforts? Any tips, strategies, or advice on really maximizing my ride without killing myself (especially in the mornings haha)?

KCM5

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2015, 11:56:38 AM »
It's probably unnecessary to eat after your ride. Unless you don't eat breakfast before you leave?

I have a similar commute and do find that if I also ride home for lunch I'm way hungrier. So I eat more. I'd also like to note that I've been riding to work (and sometimes home for lunch) for the last two years and have gained 5 lbs - these biking muscles are no joke!

jeromedawg

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2015, 12:01:59 PM »
It's probably unnecessary to eat after your ride. Unless you don't eat breakfast before you leave?

I have a similar commute and do find that if I also ride home for lunch I'm way hungrier. So I eat more. I'd also like to note that I've been riding to work (and sometimes home for lunch) for the last two years and have gained 5 lbs - these biking muscles are no joke!

Right, I don't eat anything before leaving other than a *tiny* nibble maybe. Otherwise, it's pretty much my breakfast. If not the protein bars, then I'll either eat oatbran/wheatbran mix or trailmix/nuts.

Whoa, I don't think I'd want to ride back home for lunch (and then have to ride back in for work) unless I wanted extra workouts maybe :) I didn't realize you can actually gain lbs from building muscle from riding - so this is a pretty normal thing? Did you initially lose a lot more weight and gain that 5lbs back? Or did you just straight up gain 5lbs? I don't want to gain 5lbs when I'm already slightly overweight! But then again, I'm sure that goes back to diet more than anything :)

Le Poisson

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2015, 12:11:21 PM »
I'm likely in a similar situation to you. I've been putting off cycle-commuting for years, and now only just started in April. I'm 5' 10" and about 160 lbs - not huge, but not tiny. I have a mitral valve prolapse (heart thing), so my doctor told me to beware of it when doing exercise, but not to limit myself because of it. I've never worried about it, but every now and again I feel it act up.

My routine is that in the morning I have breakfast with my boys, then load the 4 yr old in the trailer and the 7 yr old on his bike. We have a nice warmup ride for about 3 km to the elementary school where I take a break to chain up the 7 yr old's bike. After that its an intense hill climb to the daycare for the 4 yr old. I try to keep my pace up but on narrow sidewalk with the trailer, we are sometimes held up by pedestrians.

At the daycare I get a break to drop off the tot, then its a hard cool down leg to get into the office. I basically keep the pace I did with the kid in the back, but without the weight I can go faster.

My trip home is a full push all the way, with dinner waiting at the other end (8 km home).

The first week I did this I was hungry a lot, but now my body has adapted and this is just what it is. I do have a big glass of water when I get home at night. The morning ride is a little less intense with the kids along for the ride, and usually I don't feel too hungry through the day. I also feel the pains of muscle growth in my legs. A good sign.

ketchup

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2015, 12:18:35 PM »
I definitely eat more when I bike.  If you're hungrier, eat more.  I wouldn't worry about it from a weight-management perspective; in that department just make sure what you're eating is healthy and not junk.  There's a difference between the guy that is "bulking" by eating cookies and Doritos after working out, and someone eating a handful of cashews and an apple.  Fruit is especially good after biking for me I've noticed because of all the extra water I forget to drink.

KCM5

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2015, 12:22:30 PM »
It's probably unnecessary to eat after your ride. Unless you don't eat breakfast before you leave?

I have a similar commute and do find that if I also ride home for lunch I'm way hungrier. So I eat more. I'd also like to note that I've been riding to work (and sometimes home for lunch) for the last two years and have gained 5 lbs - these biking muscles are no joke!

Right, I don't eat anything before leaving other than a *tiny* nibble maybe. Otherwise, it's pretty much my breakfast. If not the protein bars, then I'll either eat oatbran/wheatbran mix or trailmix/nuts.

Whoa, I don't think I'd want to ride back home for lunch (and then have to ride back in for work) unless I wanted extra workouts maybe :) I didn't realize you can actually gain lbs from building muscle from riding - so this is a pretty normal thing? Did you initially lose a lot more weight and gain that 5lbs back? Or did you just straight up gain 5lbs? I don't want to gain 5lbs when I'm already slightly overweight! But then again, I'm sure that goes back to diet more than anything :)

Well, this was after pregnancy/nursing, so my weight was doing weird things. But I do weigh 5 pounds more, have larger legs/glutes and all of my clothes fit mostly the same. I don't know if its normal or not? I do have a super heavy bike and have to grind to get up hills in my lowest gear some maybe the muscle growth is more about my riding style? I don't know. I did recently have the gearing lowered, which makes for riding up hills easier.

It's bike to work month here and our local advocacy group keeps posting that the average bike commuter loses 13 lbs in their first year. Use that as a data point instead of me!

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 12:53:54 PM »
If your goal is weight loss, realize you're not burning anywhere near enough calories to justify any eating. The exercise is good - if you want more of it, design a longer route, especially for going home.

Focus on your diet and the weight will drop, because while you are not burning many calories, you should raise your metabolism a bit.

Definitely don't eat to "replenish" after a ride that short. It takes several hours of cycling before your body will truly tank out of stored glycogen.

Try getting your speed up, especially on the way home when sweat isn't a concern.

jeromedawg

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2015, 01:04:20 PM »
Thanks everyone! Great tips and experiences...


If your goal is weight loss, realize you're not burning anywhere near enough calories to justify any eating. The exercise is good - if you want more of it, design a longer route, especially for going home.

Focus on your diet and the weight will drop, because while you are not burning many calories, you should raise your metabolism a bit.

Definitely don't eat to "replenish" after a ride that short. It takes several hours of cycling before your body will truly tank out of stored glycogen.

Try getting your speed up, especially on the way home when sweat isn't a concern.


When you say "you should raise your metabolism a bit" is that in reference to the cycling that helps that? Or in reference to the overall diet + exercise?

Is it probably OK to be eating Quest bars in the morning especially if I haven't eaten breakfast at that point? Or should I just stick with oatbran and or nuts? I'll have to see what other routes I could take... I don't particularly enjoy riding with traffic and try to avoid it as much as possible. Closer to rush hour in my area, there's a lot of congested car traffic. There aren't a whole lot of straightaways on my route either but I think I can try to do more and pedal harder.

On that note, my mother in law called my wife the other night and told her about how a guy our age died riding his bike not far from his house after getting hit by a car. I'm pretty sure he had a helmet on (pics of his instagram show his bike w/ helmet from an earlier post). My mother in law can get crazy paranoid and so can my wife; so my wife didn't tell her that I've been riding my bike every day. The sketchiest parts of the ride though are wherever there are cars, and stories like that kind of freak me out. Now I try to stay exclusively on the sidewalk (legal in my city unless there are signs prohibiting it); unless I see no cars on the street, I'll ride the asphalt.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2015, 01:09:12 PM »
Riding on the sidewalk is the fastest way to die on a bike.

The vast majority of bike accidents happen at intersections, many of them because bikes are doing things they're not supposed to (weird turns, biking wrong way, biking fast on sidewalk, etc).

Realize that, no matter how scared you might be of it, getting clipped by a car in traffic from behind is very rare. Especially if you take proper lane position.

jeromedawg

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2015, 01:15:14 PM »
Riding on the sidewalk is the fastest way to die on a bike.

The vast majority of bike accidents happen at intersections, many of them because bikes are doing things they're not supposed to (weird turns, biking wrong way, biking fast on sidewalk, etc).

Realize that, no matter how scared you might be of it, getting clipped by a car in traffic from behind is very rare. Especially if you take proper lane position.

Some of the "bike paths" in my city are kind of weird... there are some that are both sidewalks *and* bike paths but at the same time there is an actual bike lane on the street. I take a "short-cut" path through some pretty barren streets close to work which do not have a bike lane and that's where I do most of the sidewalk riding and use crosswalks as well. I tend not to go blazing fast on sidewalks either for this reason but the business park entrances I pass aren't very high traffic anyway. The part I really have to be careful of is this carpool lane exit that exits out onto the middle of an overpass. There is a cross-walk and sign but no buttons to trigger it (not sure why they even have it there). Anyone making a right turn out off the exit onto the overpass could potentially hit me. Fortunately, I can see when they're coming but I always get off my bike and walk/run it across that part of the overpass anyway.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2015, 04:39:27 AM »
It's probably unnecessary to eat after your ride. Unless you don't eat breakfast before you leave?

I have a similar commute and do find that if I also ride home for lunch I'm way hungrier. So I eat more. I'd also like to note that I've been riding to work (and sometimes home for lunch) for the last two years and have gained 5 lbs - these biking muscles are no joke!

Right, I don't eat anything before leaving other than a *tiny* nibble maybe. Otherwise, it's pretty much my breakfast. If not the protein bars, then I'll either eat oatbran/wheatbran mix or trailmix/nuts.

Whoa, I don't think I'd want to ride back home for lunch (and then have to ride back in for work) unless I wanted extra workouts maybe :) I didn't realize you can actually gain lbs from building muscle from riding - so this is a pretty normal thing? Did you initially lose a lot more weight and gain that 5lbs back? Or did you just straight up gain 5lbs? I don't want to gain 5lbs when I'm already slightly overweight! But then again, I'm sure that goes back to diet more than anything :)

Don't stress if it's 5lbs of muscle. Muscle is denser than fat. Besides, getting in 40-45min of activity a day is awesome regardless, that's 40-45min more than many of the sad bozos driving to work :)

I've been riding for the last two months, and I find by the time I get home especially, I'm absolutely ravenous, and would eat more once I get home as a result.

I definitely notice it's getting easier and there's lots more muscle in my legs. Probably hasn't impacted the scales much, but as was said earlier, that's more related to diet anyway. I lost a whole bunch of weight a few years ago (since put it back on, oops), and it resulted primarily from changes to diet.

Le Poisson

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2015, 05:23:30 AM »
Riding on the sidewalk is the fastest way to die on a bike.

The vast majority of bike accidents happen at intersections, many of them because bikes are doing things they're not supposed to (weird turns, biking wrong way, biking fast on sidewalk, etc).

Realize that, no matter how scared you might be of it, getting clipped by a car in traffic from behind is very rare. Especially if you take proper lane position.

Some of the "bike paths" in my city are kind of weird... there are some that are both sidewalks *and* bike paths but at the same time there is an actual bike lane on the street. I take a "short-cut" path through some pretty barren streets close to work which do not have a bike lane and that's where I do most of the sidewalk riding and use crosswalks as well. I tend not to go blazing fast on sidewalks either for this reason but the business park entrances I pass aren't very high traffic anyway. The part I really have to be careful of is this carpool lane exit that exits out onto the middle of an overpass. There is a cross-walk and sign but no buttons to trigger it (not sure why they even have it there). Anyone making a right turn out off the exit onto the overpass could potentially hit me. Fortunately, I can see when they're coming but I always get off my bike and walk/run it across that part of the overpass anyway.

It sounds like you are describing Multi-Use Paths (MUP), bike lanes, and sidewalks.

You should take some time to educate yourself on what each of this is, and how to ride it. MUP's are for cycling on, but also for rollerblading, stroller-mom's, and whatever else on wheels needs to be protected from traffic. If there is a bike lane provided, it means you should probably be on the street.

Never-Ever ride off the sidewalk into an intersection. Ever. End-stop period. If you feel unsafe riding on the road, and need to ride on sidewalks, it means you are going to stop, dismount, and walk your bike across every driveway and intersection.Cars turning and reversing out of driveways just aren't looking for a bike moving 20km/h on the sidewalk. They won't see you and you will lose. Watch how many cars stop behind the sidewalk versus ahead of it, and you'll see what I mean.

Merge sections at interchanges/right turn channels are a dangerous spot for everyone - glad you've figured them out. Another - possibly better way to ride the interchange is to own the lane, holding up the car behind you. Don't feel like you have to hug the curb, actually being out into the lane a little can give you a safer position. Read more here (watch the video): http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2008/11/06/smart-moves-passing-a-freeway-on-ramp/

JLee

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2015, 10:36:41 AM »
It's probably unnecessary to eat after your ride. Unless you don't eat breakfast before you leave?

I have a similar commute and do find that if I also ride home for lunch I'm way hungrier. So I eat more. I'd also like to note that I've been riding to work (and sometimes home for lunch) for the last two years and have gained 5 lbs - these biking muscles are no joke!

Right, I don't eat anything before leaving other than a *tiny* nibble maybe. Otherwise, it's pretty much my breakfast. If not the protein bars, then I'll either eat oatbran/wheatbran mix or trailmix/nuts.

Whoa, I don't think I'd want to ride back home for lunch (and then have to ride back in for work) unless I wanted extra workouts maybe :) I didn't realize you can actually gain lbs from building muscle from riding - so this is a pretty normal thing? Did you initially lose a lot more weight and gain that 5lbs back? Or did you just straight up gain 5lbs? I don't want to gain 5lbs when I'm already slightly overweight! But then again, I'm sure that goes back to diet more than anything :)

Don't stress if it's 5lbs of muscle. Muscle is denser than fat. Besides, getting in 40-45min of activity a day is awesome regardless, that's 40-45min more than many of the sad bozos driving to work :)

I've been riding for the last two months, and I find by the time I get home especially, I'm absolutely ravenous, and would eat more once I get home as a result.

I definitely notice it's getting easier and there's lots more muscle in my legs. Probably hasn't impacted the scales much, but as was said earlier, that's more related to diet anyway. I lost a whole bunch of weight a few years ago (since put it back on, oops), and it resulted primarily from changes to diet.

Yep - you may find if you measure yourself, you'll notice your body getting smaller while your weight remains the same (or increases).

enigmaT120

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2015, 02:00:48 PM »
I don't eat any more when I bike than when I don't.  9 miles each way minimum but I don't do it every day.  It probably means I eat more than I need the rest of the time, like most people!

The only time exercise made me want to eat more was when I was training for running ultras.  I guess that would be like biking 3 or more hours per day, trying to compare. 

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2015, 02:06:40 PM »

Whoa, I don't think I'd want to ride back home for lunch (and then have to ride back in for work) unless I wanted extra workouts maybe :) I didn't realize you can actually gain lbs from building muscle from riding - so this is a pretty normal thing? Did you initially lose a lot more weight and gain that 5lbs back? Or did you just straight up gain 5lbs? I don't want to gain 5lbs when I'm already slightly overweight! But then again, I'm sure that goes back to diet more than anything :)

Correction: you don't want to gain 5 lbs of FAT. Gaining weight as muscle is a very good thing. Among other things, it increases basal metabolism, meaning you're burning more fat all the time, so your overall weight will eventually go down. High weight, if carried as muscle not as fat, is not unhealthy, which is why BMI is a terrible indicator of health. Much better option: THROW AWAY THE SCALE. Instead, measure your waist, thighs, chest, and butt. Track your "total inches" at these points. The most important of these measurements is waist at the belly button- central obesity is the most dangerous type, especially for men.

Weight only tells you your relationship to gravity. You know other ways to lose weight? Have osteoporosis. Get an amputation. Cut your hair. Will any of these make you healthier? No. Stop tracking weight and track something useful.

Lecture over ;)

JJsfr

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2015, 02:11:32 PM »
Seeing as your question deals with exercise/weight management in general and not whether you can eat a protein bar at work, I'll address that.

If you're serious about losing weight, get an estimate of your daily caloric expenditure, wear a heart rate monitor on your bike rides to get a calorie count, and then do math to figure out how much you can eat/day to still lose weight. Some people I know aim for 250-500 fewer calories in a day to lose weight.

I would recommend adding in some weight bearing activity. Even though you're getting a lot of cardio on a bike, your body would benefit from some resistance training. It sounds hilly where you are. Go on long walks (hikes?) or runs a couple of times a week and you should be fine. Yes, you can do them the days where you ride a bike.

At first, you might benefit from something regimented like a documented exercise/nutrition plan but once you get into a healthier groove you may find that you can drop it as the exercise becomes part of your lifestyle.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 02:15:27 PM by JJsfr »

Le Poisson

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2015, 02:28:56 PM »
The most important of these measurements is waist at the belly button- central obesity is the most dangerous type, especially for men.

Momma and I were talking about this yesterday - do you think that cycling helps much with beating belly bulge? Balance and maneuvering have to give your gut a bit of help, but not the same as sit-ups or what have you. I've never had much of a gut, but as middle-aged office life sets in, I see it creeping up on me. I think the little bit from cycling might be enough to knock it down again.

JLee

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2015, 02:46:34 PM »
The most important of these measurements is waist at the belly button- central obesity is the most dangerous type, especially for men.

Momma and I were talking about this yesterday - do you think that cycling helps much with beating belly bulge? Balance and maneuvering have to give your gut a bit of help, but not the same as sit-ups or what have you. I've never had much of a gut, but as middle-aged office life sets in, I see it creeping up on me. I think the little bit from cycling might be enough to knock it down again.
Contrary to popular belief, situps won't kill belly fat.

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/09/03/5-exercises-to-lose-belly-fat-and-build-sexy-abs

Sparafusile

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2015, 02:59:34 PM »
I'd like to get back down to 140lb or less though. Do you guys think I'll be able to get there based on my current efforts?

Put bluntly, no. A bike ride that averages 10mph and is only 4 miles is not going to get your heart rate high enough and for long enough to burn a significant amount of fat unless you're significantly obese or going up a mountain. I certainly will burn more calories than driving your car however and it will get your legs in shape for longer rides which are both great stepping stones. I use to be pretty active on Fitness StackExchange and thought these answers might help you:

http://fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/869/best-exercise-to-lose-belly-fat-fast/870#870

http://fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/1525/lost-weight-and-getting-fit-where-to-go-from-here/1526#1526

To summarize: you need to change your lifestyle in a fundamental way to lose weight and keep it off. Contrary to what most people think, American's don't have a bad diet, we simply eat too much. If you were to put yourself on a "diet", the best one you could choose would include everything you already eat! When you sit down to dinner and serve yourself, take 1/3 of what's on your plate and put it back in the serving dish. Simple and easy to remember. Once you get your diet squared away then add in an exercise that you enjoy doing and you'll really see the results.

Compare this to a saying that's used around here a lot: "it's easier to save money than it is to earn more", but in your case "it's easier to not eat calories than to burn them off later".

Good luck.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2015, 03:04:45 PM »
The most important of these measurements is waist at the belly button- central obesity is the most dangerous type, especially for men.

Momma and I were talking about this yesterday - do you think that cycling helps much with beating belly bulge? Balance and maneuvering have to give your gut a bit of help, but not the same as sit-ups or what have you. I've never had much of a gut, but as middle-aged office life sets in, I see it creeping up on me. I think the little bit from cycling might be enough to knock it down again.

The only ways to reduce central obesity are to reduce visceral fat stores. This means two things: one, reducing overall bodyfat, and two, reducing systemic inflammation.

mschaus

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Re: Bike commute - fitness, diet and health?
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2015, 07:46:51 AM »
- First, great job riding to work! Keep it up!

- Do not ride on the sidewalk (I'm glad we all agree)

- 2x4miles @10mph will probably be little to no impact on your eating for the day. For me, combination of weights and bikes and fundamental diet change was awesome:

- http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/05/11/food-rules-a-shortcut-to-better-health/
- http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/17/get-rich-with-olympic-barbells/
- http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/19/how-to-be-slim/