Friday, October 5, 2012

The Arch Nemesis Rises

My 2nd Bike Ride
Once upon a (very brief period of) time...  I loved cardio... or at least the sanity that cardio brought.  I've already admitted that the baby stage of parenting was not my shining moment; To try to get out of that funk, we joined the most glorious gym ever.  It was elite and expensive (my DH tells a funny / humbling story about being locker neighbors with Bo Jackson).  Walking in felt like arriving at The Promised Land; One could almost hear the chorus of angels... mostly do to the fact that they had free childcare.

It had tunnels and slides better than any McDonalds' playland, a child size basketball court, outdoor park, computer section, life-size TV with groups of kids pretending to be marching with Dora, toys to ride, craft corners, new friends to make, and toddler sized potties and sinks.  My kids would run in, physically embracing the supervision, who where mostly peppy high school and college kids who wanted nothing more than to entertain hordes of squirrelly kids (when they weren't harmlessly flirting with each other).  My children begged to go to the gym, and my DH and I rushed over after work (often I got a head-start with a rowing machine and Audible).  We procured two side by side ellipticals and talked about our days until we couldn't.  On my particularly bad days, he played basketball, while I sat in the sauna or hot-tub, or got a haircut in the spa, or a coffee in the cafe, all while I escaped in a book...

We ended by heading to our separate locker rooms, him usually teasingly (and unsuccessfully) carrying-on about the merits of meeting him in the 4th family locker room in 15 minutes.  I took longer to finish up; he wrangled the kids, we drove home peacefully exhausted.  It was our sanity during that period of life, especially when the days were cold and the darkness was long and suffocating.  I was in excellent cardiovascular health (I even have the club administered test to prove it; I should frame it).  Things changed and the kids got older and were in more activities; we moved and our beloved gym was too far (and we were too broke), but for those couple of years, I truly loved cardio.

Since then it has been a mostly losing battle.  I haven't found a gym that greets me with a chorus of angels.  I hate machines in the house (we tried it).  The weeds always need to be pulled.  The house needs to be cleaned.  There is always laundry.  Dinner needs to be made.  I have a headache, my hair needs washing, and I never make the time to fit in cardio.


My hereditary hypertension is getting really out of control again.  We have some extra money in our medical flex spending and since I love all things natural, I am trying acupuncture.  At my first appointment, the really nice Chinese acupuncturist asked, "How much cardio you getting?"  I explained to him that I walk everywhere.  I do yoga nearly daily.  I eat healthy, no salt, no sugar, B12, fish oil, pomegranate juice, supplements... and he interrupts and repeats, "But how much CARDIO?  Blood Pumping!"  I shamefully look down and admit, that it is rare, and proceed to make excuses about my knees hurting when I run... and he says, "Well get on bike! or swim! or elliptical! (each idea exclamated with arm and leg movements); EVERY DAY, YOU NEED CARDIO."  I told him that I will do my best.

Following my first appointment, I washed up my navy blue beloved Trek comfort bike (bought with a generous bonus from my boss when times were good).  I pumped up the tires and put a water bottle next to my ziplocked iphone in the basket.  I headed out to my favorite path.  My tires crunched the red, orange, and yellow blanket blowing around me; my sound-track consisted of the birds and insects and prairie grasses.  The fresh cool oxygen rushed through me.   

And then about half-way through my not very ambitious ride, my chest started to hurt and hurt bad.  I kept thinking about what an idiot I was to do this alone for the first time (and I was).  I tried to remember that it is just a muscle.  It is just sore from lack of use.  I've had this feeling before! Remember? back in immortal youth, when I actually pushed myself?! I've been tested a thousand different ways, my blood pressure is just high, my heart is healthy.  I tried to visualize the blood pumping hard through my veins, clearing out all of the problems but instead kept seeing snapshots of myself from above, collapsed on the ground with red and white lights screaming down the bike path.  My over-priced comfort style seat didn't do much to comfort me but the benefit of being on an actual bike is that you can't just quit.  At some point, you have to get home.  You can sit all you like, but you either need to walk or ride your ass back, which I eventually did...

And then I felt pretty great.  It ended up that pushing myself didn't kill me.  I didn't ride for 72 hours to make up for lost time.  I rode my bike for 45 minutes (not counting the breaks) and then did some sun-salutations and yoga.  The next day, I did it again, but without stopping.  Today I did it again.  And today, no chest pressure at all.  It just felt good.  I'm starting to remember that cardio isn't that bad.  I'm starting to remember how much more energy I have to get other stuff done.  Without music or company, I have time to think, to really think, about where I'm going and where I should be going (and I don't mean on the bike path).  I feel stronger and sleep better.  The lovin' is better.  My mind is clearer.  I am more motivated.

I knew that I needed to do cardio; this wasn't a divine revelation.  I'm highly doubting that Dr. Chen stabbed my, "Love Cardio" nerve with that little needle, but maybe he did.  I'm quite sure that this is just the cool autumn and the colorful leaves talking, so feel free ask me how the cardio is going, especially once the weather changes and I need to go inside, where my current gym greets me with Lady Gaga & Katy Perry, who although peppy, are a far cry from the chorus of angels that I've come to think that I deserve.  I need to be in mortal fear to quit because frankly, I want to change my own destiny.  I want to be someone who looked heart disease in the face and told it, 

"Not today, my Arch Nemesis, we will meet again and you may get the upper-hand, but not today."  

Note to Self:  Please re-read this when you don't feel like moving; when the couch is comfortable and outside is cold and dark.  It is only 45 minutes.  You can do it.  Your heart will thank you tomorrow.  You can break your lineage.  The house will still be warm and cozy when you get back...  The good and wise Dr. Seuss was right,

Today is your day!  
Your mountain is waiting.  
So...get on your way!


  1. Is it bad that I am reading this curled up on the warm, cozy couch watching Water for Elephants while my kids and DH are outside playing?

    1. Not at all! You of all people deserve a break, and you don't have my issues!! Although I didn't love Water for Elephants (the book or the movie). I have always loved Reese, and she is beautiful, but I am tired of her playing roles intended for 20 year olds. I want her to have enough self respect to grow-up naturally. She can play a hot 36 year old! She shouldn't be fawned over by the Twilight generation, although maybe that is the dream of our age-group? To find our own Ashton? Who kows... I do like her though and can't wait for This Means War to come to Redbox. <3