Today's Weight 181.5 lbs
Did I mention that I treated K and myself to a new bike each? Well, I did (last week), and for the first time ever we’ve got front and rear suspension. What a difference it makes! Yesterday we went to Thetford forest and searched out the muddiest, rootiest, ruttiest, gnarliest single-track that we could find, and rode it for two and a half solid hours – and by the end of it I wasn’t the least little bit saddle sore. My legs felt like two strands of overcooked spaghetti, but my – ahem – delicate bits were just fine and dandy. Woohoo – what a breakthrough!
There was a race meeting on, and I did manage to go arse over tip in the start area in front of about 250 fit young guys when I couldn’t unclip out of my SPD pedals fast enough, but even that wasn’t enough to cast a cloud over my day. The sun was blazing, the bike was great, my bits were comfy and I felt fit and fabulous. What a difference a new bike and (almost) fifty fewer pounds of blubber makes! Just think how great I’ll feel when I’ve lost a hundred pounds!
There’s something primitively satisfying about hurtling down bombholes and getting covered in mud and scratches and nettle stings – it makes you feel so vibrant and alive! I had a couple of hairy moments when the terrain was a bit beyond my technical bike-handling abilities and I thought I was going to catapult myself over the handlebars and do myself a serious injury, but amazingly I managed to stay upright apart from the aforementioned face-plant and only came home with a few bruises. I’m already looking forward to next Sunday so that I can do it all over again!
Wouldn’t it be great if exercise was always that much fun? If instead of cycling on turbo trainers or running on treadmills, or using rowing machines or skiing machines at the gym, we could be out cycling hell for leather down alpine hillsides or running through sun-dappled tree-shaded country lanes, or white water rafting down turbulent rapids, or hurtling downhill on some off-piste black run. Suddenly it wouldn’t feel like ‘exercise’ – with all it’s negative connotations – it would feel like plain simple unadulterated fun.
My female co-workers and I were discussing what we did “for exercise”, and one of the guys chipped in and said “why don’t you stop doing all this ‘exercise’ and start doing some sports instead?”
Then he sauntered off with a smug grin on his face, in that really annoying way that some men have when they think they’ve just scored a point over the ‘girlies’.
It got me thinking though, I have to admit. Dammit, he had a point. Probably the people who are out there pushing themselves to their physical limits running up mountains, or competing in marathons, or doing 24 hours solo mountain bike enduro races, or cross-country skiing, or playing rugby or football, or pounding the hell out of each other at boxing or karate, or practising their ballet moves over and over again etc. don’t think of what they’re doing as “exercise” at all. If they give what they’re doing a name, they probably think of it as “doing sports” or “having fun”.
It’s like when I was a little kid and I’d be “out playing” for hours and hours and hours at a time, just riding round the neighbourhood on my bike, or roller-skating, or running round with the other kids, or climbing trees, or skipping, or swimming in the river. I was an overweight kid, but I never thought of what I was doing as ‘exercise’ – I was just doing what all kids do naturally without giving it a second’s thought. If someone had told me it was ‘exercise’ I’d probably have thought it was too hard for me to do, and gone indoors and read a book instead.
Now Shakespeare may have been technically right when he said “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet”, but there’s definitely something to be said about trying to change the mental terminology to think of workouts as “doing sports” or “having fun” instead of “exercising”. It may take a stretch of the imagination to think in those terms when I’m pounding the treadmill or the turbo trainer, but if I can manage it, it could make a world of difference to how I feel about this whole business of getting hot and sweaty.