Yesterday I wrote about how my 30-mile ride last Saturday was easier than the 26-mile ride on Friday, even though the conditions were similar. I chalk it up to repetition. The more you do something, the easier it gets.
Today I subbed for another Spinning instructor instead of riding outdoors. It was a tough choice, but I enjoy both activities. A mother and daughter came in to take their first ever Spinning class. As always, I reminded everyone to go at their own pace, and threw out tips about proper form. Toward the end of the class I noticed they were giggling about something, so I started talking about how seated flats build endurance while climbs build strength, and then I segued into the topic that afflicts most new riders: a sore crotch. Bingo — I got their attention.
Because I ride a lot and never notice that soreness, I guess I’m usually a little insensitive to the fact that some people can’t stop thinking about it. Luckily, I read an article called Beginner Spinners that made a great point. People new to bike saddles (indoors or outdoors) tend to sink into the saddle and put more pressure on their sensitive parts. But repetition builds strength in the muscles that keep you from sinking. The good news is that, according to the author, those cycling specific muscles can be strengthened in as little as six classes. Specifically, he said two spinning classes a week for three weeks.
Three weeks seems to be a magic number. I’ve often heard that you can build a new habit with three weeks of repetition. The other day, our ride leader LaVerne said the same thing, but added that you can break a new habit with two day of old behavior. Two days! No wonder we’re rusty after the holidays.
As Dory sings in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” Or Spinning, or running, or whatever keeps you fit!
I’m not into new year’s resolutions in the traditional sense, but after a month of celebrations that include events with more eating and drinking than other times of the year, I’m always anxious to start fresh with better nutrition and exercise. Even though I’m lucky enough to live in a climate where we can ride and hike year round, I didn’t ride my bike much after the middle of November due to a variety of other events.
Last week I rode two days in a row. The terrain, leader, and level of experience of the other riders was mostly the same. The distances were similar — 26 miles the first day and 30 the next. Yet the 26-mile ride was more difficult for me than the 30-mile ride. The main difference is repetition.
Mentally, it’s hard to get back and do a bike ride, run, or go to an exercise class when you’ve been away from it for a while. You think you will suck at it or be in pain afterwards, so you avoid it. Sometimes that first time is so discouraging that we don’t go back the second time.
Yesterday I saw an inspiring video of a woman who had every reason to be discouraged, but she kept going back to the gym and recorded her progress for 100 days. That’s one day of improvement 100 times. Watch it here.
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and it’s time to renew! February is typically when all those healthy resolutions go out the window, and it’s easier for the rest of us to find a parking space at the gym. Hmm…maybe that’s actually mid-January.
No matter. There’s still time to make a Chinese New Year’s resolution. Or better yet, just do something. It doesn’t have to be an annual plan, or even a six-month plan. About a month ago, I read a post by blogger Peter Shankman about why inspirational quotes don’t work. Basically, he says, “Do today, what you know you can do again tomorrow.”
To me, it’s genius in its simplicity. Whether going to bed 15 minutes earlier, drinking more water, or taking a short walk, you can start making small changes today. Do it again tomorrow, and again until it becomes a habit. Then add to it. There’s no need to start some daunting program, only to get frustrated and quit. Start small and build.
Even positive changes don’t come without some resistance. As we age, we get used to the idea that whatever we did in our youth still defines us. If you were a jock in school, chances are you still enjoy some level of activity. If you were more of a nerd, maybe you still prefer intellectual pursuits. But guess what — a recent study shows that your ability to stay mentally sharp depends on your level of physical activity. In it, scientists used brain MRIs to show a correlation between the calories burned by older people and the amount of gray matter. Although we really don’t know how to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, why take chances? Even if it means getting out of your comfort zone, get more exercise!
Today is my birthday, so maybe that’s why I paid extra attention to a headline that said: Will Baby Boomers live as long as expected?
The article claims that in spite of better medicine, our generation isn’t necessarily benefiting in longevity. Most of the reasons are preventable: obesity, smoking and suicide, along with cardiovascular disease and lack of mobility, which often occur as a result of obesity.
To me, it’s a no-brainer to make healthy habits a priority and enjoy a longer life.
Perhaps most startling, the article stated that health problems resulting from obesity should have a greater impact on the younger generations because current youth are more likely to have been obese as children than Boomers were. Again, largely preventable through healthy eating and exercise.
Some health conditions that are are mostly beyond our control include cancer and declining cognitive function. If I have to worry about something, now I know what it is.
Really, I have nothing to complain about. This afternoon I stopped to chat with a neighbor who I’m sure is younger than I am, but who has a major health problem every time I see her.
Something else I read recently confirmed that the Phoenix area, really the whole urban corridor from Prescott to Tucson, is getting warmer due to development. Anyone who has lived here long enough realizes that summer nights don’t cool off anymore. As concrete replaces farm fields, the area retains more heat. The study suggested that by 2050, temperatures would average 10 degrees higher than now. I wondered if I’d still be around when 117-degree days are the norm. It’s within my first century…so maybe.