Spin Wins: My Little Victories Off the Bike

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Photo by Tall Hair Creative

Before my sleep test, I had to fill out paperwork that asked me for my current weight, as well as for my "peak lifetime weight." The numbers were the same.

Let me tell you, it didn't feel good to write out that number twice. I was embarrassed & ashamed. I wondered what my doctor would think of me. And then I got to the next question, which asked me if I exercise, & if so, how often.

For a very, very long time time - like, 33 years long - I didn't exercise at all. Sure, I'd go on a yoga kick or do a few sessions with a personal trainer or periodically try to complete Couch to 5k. But I hadn't worked out consistently - not ever.

Until now. Filling out that form, I wrote in that I exercise three to four times a week - & it wasn't a lie. I do. I ride at Harness Cycle two to four times a week, & even if the scale - & the shape of my body - don't reflect that, it's true. And that? Well, that felt good.

I started to think about the things I've proud of, beyond just the potential for (& lack of) weight loss. I started to think about the way I feel when I ride, the way my body has changed & strengthened even if it's not visible to others.

And that? That felt good, too.

Here are just a few of the things my body & I can do now - things I never could have imagined prior to my newfound love of cycling.

1. I can actually speak/move/function after classes. 

After my first class (you know, once I was done crying), I headed to a local coffee shop, where I ordered a latte & sat for more than an hour... in part because I felt like I couldn't stand up without falling over. This was the case for the first five classes or so - & although it still happens every now & then, for the most part, I am back to normal (uh, aside from copious sweating) as soon as class lets out.

2. I can bend over & touch my toes while standing.

I always thought I couldn't touch the ground because of the rods in my back, the ones from my spinal fusion - but it turns out I couldn't touch the ground because I was inflexible & out of shape. These days, when I bend in half, I can nearly set my hands flat on the ground on front of me. That's huge for me - & it feels great.

3. I can bend over & touch my toes while sitting.

Do you remember that 1990s elementary school exercise called the V-sit & reach? Man, I was so good at it... probably because I had a spinal deformity. Oh. Once I got those rods in my back, I couldn't bend forward anymore, not like I used to - & I never regained that flexibility. After 75+ classes, I still can't do the V-sit - but I can definitely now bend forward & touch my toes, which is huge for me. And also feels great.

4. I can (usually) do the entire arm workout with weights.

For my first 20 or so rides, I had to put down my hand weights during the arm workout in the middle of class. I stuck with all the exercises, but I couldn't keep at it with weights. Now, while I admittedly sometimes need to work with one weight or shake out my arms in the middle of an arm workout, I can usually complete an entire arm workout with my 3-lb. weights in each hand.

5. I can do the end-of-class stretch where you balance on the handlebars.

What's this stretch called? Beats me, but I'll try to describe it for you: At the end of class, sometimes the instructors lead the class in a stretch where we stand on the pedals, lean our stomachs against the front of the back, & stretch, arms above our heads. In the beginning, I couldn't do this one because I had zero core strength. Now, I can do it pretty easily (that is, when I'm not using the bike beneath the speakers, which gets in the way of putting my arms up!)

I went to the doctor last week (for my pneumonia vaccine, ouch!) & while I was there, was tested for thyroid issues, just to see if there were any medical issues that might prevent me from losing weight. There weren't - which means it's time to work harder & figure out some new workouts.

What non-weight-loss victories can identify in your exercise routine?

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