500 Rides: A Lesson in Resilience and Persistence
I recently hit a significant milestone on my Peloton bike: 500 rides. Impressive? Maybe but not for the reason you think. You see, I purchased the bike six years ago. Oh.
The relationship with my bike is important to me. It’s one of my favorite possessions. It brings me joy and helps me recharge, focus, and generally feel better having spent time on it. I’ve had some significant streaks. I once rode 60 days in a row. My proudest accomplishment was when I rode at least once a week for 52 weeks. A year of rides convinced me that I could create a sustainable exercise habit. I had a long history of all or nothing exercise patterns before I purchased my bike.
So why did it take me 6 years to get to 500 rides on my Peloton bike?
Over the last six years, I’ve had several setbacks. Resilience and persistence are what defines my relationship with my bike. There have been several conversations between myself and my husband that go something like this:
“Can we put this somewhere other than right here in the living room?”
“Nope, I am starting back on it very soon. I never want to forget about it!”
I’ve injured myself doing other activities. I ruptured a disc in my cervical spine doing water aerobics (definitely not an old ladies’ activity) that led to disc replacement surgery and no riding for two months. My hip injury from too many squats at Orange Theory meant no riding for two months with physical therapy.
The thing that has sidelined me the most, though, has been my surgeries for skin cancer. I’m having my sixth melanoma excision in about a week, and several other less dangerous cancer surgeries have occurred as well. Each time I have a surgery, the doctor forbids me to ride for a month or so, depending on where the surgery was located. I know it sounds crazy, but when I get a call from my dermatologist with the news of another positive biopsy for cancer, the first thing I groan about is not being able to ride. The endless scars on my body affect my body image too, but my husband reminds me that these are my battle scars, signs of my continued victory over cancer.
A word from the wise: Be careful out there. My years of lifeguarding and fun on the beach without protection (remember that I grew up with suntan oil and not sunscreen) has certainly taken a toll on this blue-eyed blond.
So what have I learned from my 500 rides over the past 6 years?
Exercise is a privilege, and I no longer take it for granted.
It’s medicine to me, a better antidepressant and anxiolytic than what I could get from a pharmacy. The bilateral movement helps me think more clearly and creatively. It has been said that Albert Einstein came up with his theory of relativity while riding a bike. Imagine that! Exercise is brain fertilizer. The music takes me to another place in time when I played and sang the songs until they were cemented into my memory. I enjoy feeling like part of a community of riders from around the world. Sometimes, I catch a competitive spirit, but most of the time I just “high five” and let them pass. The instructors are motivational speakers, full of encouragement and validation. I ride to energize for the day ahead or as a way to relax before settling in for the night. I remember that our bodies were meant to move. The return on investment is one of the best values of anything else you can choose to do with your time.
The most important thing about exercise is to just do something. How long or how intense doesn’t matter as much as just establishing the habit. Find your thing and do it. Make sure you love it, or it’s paired with something that you love. If you find yourself with roadblocks and obstacles, pause and find a different path. Or wait until you are ready and able again.
The key is to always start some type of movement again.
And, of course, you can never, never, never give up! Resilience and persistence are steeped in flexibility without stopping the focus on self-care. I had to get my head screwed on right, because at one time, it was all calories, formulas, and personal bests. I had to remember it was about reducing stress, not creating more. It was about feeling good and not about looking good.
Now, I always think, “I get to do this…” I never really have to, and that has made all the difference.
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I’m also thrilled to share that I’m launching my first online course, based on my latest book Food, Body, and Love, but the greatest of these is love, on April 1st. Stay tuned for more details!