Isn’t that what they say? When you haven’t done something in an extremely long time, but you’ll be able to pick it up again right away -- it’s just like a riding a bike?
Well, I put that saying to the test this past month when I got back on the bike saddle again after about 15 years of not riding. As a kid, I used to love riding my bike. After school or on weekends, I’d strap on my helmet and ride around the area for hours. I’m sure I was racking up miles upon miles. As often happens, however, I grew up, went away to college, started working in the real world, and soon forgot about the one activity I really loved to do.
Well, this year, in honor of entering my thirties, I decided to stop, take hold of where I’m at, and really examine my life and where (and who) I want to be. I made a little 30 things to do when I’m 30 list. But, there are also more serious, life-changing goals. The first step in my transformation, if you will, was to concentrate on my health – specifically, eating better and developing an exercise regimen.
The eating better part was easy – I love food and cooking. I’m addicted to the Food Network, Top Chef, and the countless Gordon Ramsay cooking shows on FOX. As a gift to myself, I got a subscription to Food Network magazine (it’s actually a really good magazine - tons of cool stuff besides just recipes). After months of trying different recipes and learning as much as I can, I’m really developing into a quite a little cook. I try out new recipes all the time and I’m finally at the stage where I’m beginning to put together my own little concoctions – and they actually taste good. I use almost all fresh ingredients and I really try to make my dishes as healthy as possible.
**Disclaimer: In the beginning, I did make a ton of Paula Deen recipes (“now just add another whole stick of butter, y’all”) but I’ve since learned to adapt them into low-fat, healthier versions of themselves.
Anyway, part two, the exercise part, was a little trickier. It’s been a while since I really took working out seriously. Sure, I had a gym membership for years and I would log in some cardio/weight work a few times a week, but I never enjoyed the experience. I noticed that although I was always happy after I completed my workouts, it was always hard to motivate myself to actually get there in the first place. I would come up with any excuse for why I’d have to put off the gym til tomorrow – “If I go to the gym now, then I won’t make it to Publix in time to pick out the freshest head of lettuce… guess it’ll have to wait til tomorrow.” Seriously, ANY excuse.
So, I got to thinking – if I’m gonna really get in shape and stick to my workouts, I need to find something I WANT to do. Plus, it has to be something free, convenient, and accessible. I used to ice skate and I love skating, but being limited to the hours of the skating rink, plus having to drive there, plus paying to skate each time, would just put me back in the position of always having an excuse not to go. Plus, I want the freedom to work out whenever I want. I shouldn’t have to worry about gas mileage or paying to exercise every single time.
Eventually, I remembered – I loved riding my bike! Cycling is perfect for me. I can take out my bike whenever I want, it’s free (to actually ride), and I enjoy it. So, after years and years of not touching the pedals, I put that little saying to the test. And guess what… it’s absolutely true. I got on the bike and started pedaling. I felt the wind on my face, and although in reality I was probably going pretty darn slow, it was thrilling. I felt more alive and active than I have in years. “Now this is something I can get into,” I thought.
And so here I am, becoming a cyclist. I may just have a little mountain bike for now and I may not be the fastest rider out there. But, I do love it. And, being inspired by my cousin, Erica, who ran her first marathon this past year, I decided to set goals for myself and join an awesome website called DailyMile. DailyMile is an awesome online community full of athletes - runners, cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, etc. And they’re all at different levels. There are people who have been running for years and have completed tons of marathons and there are people just starting the Couch to 5K program who haven’t run a mile in their lives. I have only been on the site a couple of days and I’ve already made a bunch of new “friends” who are so supportive and motivating. The site is designed to keep you motivated and keep you out there exercising. The people are ultra-friendly and are always quick to keep your spirit up and motivate you to keep on going! They’re also full of advice for all of us beginners out there.
Anyway, for now I’m just enjoying the thrill of being back on the saddle again. I finally feel like I found a way to exercise and actually enjoy it. I feel myself getting stronger, both physically and mentally, already. :)