Sunday, July 26, 2009

learning lessons

i've got this cool magazine cut out on permanent display on my bulletin board.
It shows a picture of a fluffy looking couch.
This is the caption:

and squishy,
like you're going to be
if you don't

For ages I ignored this thing i cut out
I knew it was right,
but i had a million excuses. . .
i work full time
i'm tired
i don't have time to exercise
i don't feel like it when i do have time
its not fun
i have asthma
i have degenerative arthritis in my upper and midspine
i have a protruding disc in my lower spine
i'm getting older
the gym's class times aren't convenient
my gym closed
i need to be motivated by someone else
no motivation
my dance class folded
i miss it and i don't like anything else

I discovered something important
excuses are ridiculous

i can motivate myself
i DO need to get up
i don't want to be big, soft, or squishy
i don't want to be limited, despite my limitations
i will not be held back by them
they are not the boss of me

things like eating properly and exercising are not things anyone can really afford to think of as optional
i have discovered that since i HAVE to do these things
i might as well pick things that are fun

i discovered something else on the way to having fun
sometimes despite being fun and rewarding
things that require consistency, effort, exertion, dedication and discipline
are not fun at first.
when we bought our bikes last year, we took them out for that first spin
i thought i was going to die after 2 blocks.
my legs burned
my lungs hurt
i begged to go back home
so i could collapse
i did.
right on the living room floor
flat on my back

things didn't seem to improve much on subsequent rides.
hills were my nemesis
my city is full of hills
its easier to name the streets that aren't giant hills
than it is to name the ones that are.
great going down
hell going up
walk the bike up
lungs bursting
legs burning
feeling like i'm going to puke
I thought my asthma was to blame for my lack of ability to go up hills
it kept triggering
i'd honk
and cough
and wheeze
Rob said to me one day after a brutal ride: "I think your bike is too heavy. Try riding mine for a while."
The angels sang. .
I felt like i was in bike heaven
it had shocks
it had a light frame
i was using the wrong kind of bike

After that lovely epiphany my husband went out and bought me a bike like his
I adore it.
and him.

Then we began to get serious.
Getting out.
Checking out the trails.
Finding routes.
There were only so many places that were flat.
We had to make our peace with hills.
We tried to choose the easier ones.
Just kept going out,
Clocking kilometers.

winter came
we got l a z y
we did nothing
we had no back up plan.
i had my many fitness DVDs. . but they weren't nearly as exciting as being
there was no destination
there was no beautiful scenery
just counting and loud music and drudgery
winter chub, that Canadian phenomenon
i was becoming just like that fluffy couch. .

when we started up again for this season
it was like starting all over
winter robbed all of our progress
we let it
no endurance
burning legs

i've learned that you cannot ever stop
you can't think that you can afford to.
or you'll be sorry
i've also learned that you must plan when circumstances change
if you can't do 'this',
do 'that'
but do something! (heading out to get a pool membership, so all that conditioning does not disappear through the fall and winter)
Now, we look for every opportunity to get out
a short ride for us is now at LEAST an hour.
yes, its hard work
yes it takes a lot out of you
but it gives a lot back to you.
its such a feeling when you've just given it all
wrung yourself out and climbed tough hills and gone LONG
and you THINK its gonna kill you
and your mind tells you things
'you can't do it'
'its too hard'
'you should stop'
and sweating
and feeling like you can't go on
to see your 'reward' up ahead. . .
a beautiful, huge hill
going DOWN.
ahh. . . its amazing.
you get to fly
into that delicious wind
you don't have to do a thing
gravity does all the work for you

when you go far
you learn that you can farther every time
2 hours
3 hours
4 hours
15 km becomes 20
then 25
then 30.
you learn new routes
you see new things
you get faster
you shave time off your rides
you go faster
you stop complaining
and start enjoying

you sleep like a rock
you 'earn' your *food* treats
and you really ENJOY them!

i've learned the paradox of energy expenditure
you think you don't have enough to spend
but when you spend what you have
you get more
and more.

thank you, magazine ad cut out
thank you for telling me to
get up.

it took me long enough
but i've realized
that you're so right.


Gina: said...

I finally bought a bike.
I allow myself to get away excuses like...
I need a new front tire
I have no time to replace it

Secretly, I long to ride... but I'm afraid of the results.

I tried to take up running.
Then I hurt my foot.
I've yet to see a doctor... I just walk with a slight limp and say:
It hurts too much to run.
It hurts too much to walk.
So I sit.

I'm thinking it is time to let go of those excuses :-)

Thanks for writing this, friend.

J9 said...

I once heard a saying - can't remember where or when, or from whom, but it went something like this:
"The more you do, the more you CAN do. The less you do, the less you WANT to do."

So true! I'm dying to get back to working out, I miss running, but know the first few times out will be brutal when I try to get back into it. I have excuses too - no-one to look after the baby, I need new running shoes, I don't have the time (that's my pre-baby, at-work excuse).....

But at least I'm doing SOMETHING - that's the beauty of strollers and neighborhoods with nice paved trails! Walking is better than sitting, that's for sure!

Electroluminescence. said...

you're amazing.
my motivator!
i struggle with leftover injuries from my years of competitive gymnastics.
i struggle with weight... and feeling healthy ...
i had a super intense workout today and it felt good.
but then i wake up the next day feeling like doing NOTHING.
neverending cycle.
i need/want a bike.

kathryn said...

nice to hear from you girls! everyone has something that's just right for them. . something they like, they can do and they will keep doing! xo