Monday, April 14, 2008

A confession. And, a list.

Spring is upon us at long friggin' last.

And in the springtime, a woman's thoughts turn to... Bathing Suit Season.

Yessir. The most stressful time of the whole. damn. year. is right around the corner.

Back-to-school? Tough, but I can handle it. Christmas? Fa-la-la. But one mention of Bathing Suit Season, and you'll find me spewing an entirely different "f-word", altogether.

The idea that one of these days-- no doubt, much sooner than I'd like-- I'm going to be forced to don my summer wardrobe without being labelled obscene, has made me do something different this year.

I've become a "closet cyclist".

Well, actually, a "basement cyclist", if you want to know the absolute truth.

Every night, after my girlies have been bathed and read-to and kissed goodnight, I don my "sweats" and head down two flights of stairs, for my trusty stationary bicycle.

We've had Old Klunker for about a decade, now. I actually laughed at my husband on the day that he brought it home and set it up... right in front of a television set, which was supposed to be "motivation" for him to use it. When that failed, he bought a sort of "music stand" attachment, and screwed it onto the handlebars, so that he could catch up on reading annual reports while he was getting a little exercise.

Needless to say, it was a fad that didn't last long. Poor Old Klunker wound up gathering a fair bit of dust... until the girlies discovered that if they sat their Barbie dolls on the pedals and wound them around, it made for an extremely pleasing ferris-wheel ride. From then on, Old Klunker was regarded more as a toy, than as a piece of fitness equipment.

That is, until I returned from vacation last month. For, a rawther dismaying thing occurred while I was down south this year. It turned out that, once freed from the restraints of my usual winter uniform of jeans and a black turtleneck, certain parts of my anatomy did not always stop moving when I did.

Oh. The. Horror.

Of feeling the tops of one's arms still waving "bye-bye", even after one's hand and wrist have ceased. Of one's rear-end feeling more than slightly gelatinous. Of one's thighs... Well, we won't go into the thighs. And all while wearing summer clothing. Which does not cover up and hide nearly as much as the winter wardrobe does-- so effectively, that even I, myself, was almost completely unaware of the situation.

This, people, must be the ONLY reason I can think of for not liking Spring. Everything else is heavenly... except for the shedding of all those layers and layers of protective clothing, which, as it turns out, had become a sort of "disguise" for my physique.

That's not to say that I was packin' on the pounds, exactly. I'm a proud lifetime member of Weight Watchers... You name me a food, and I can tell you from memory how many points it is worth. I love to cook, and my family and I eat healthily.

But it turns out, that is no longer enough for me. Nor is it enough to constantly chase three small children around, and call it "exercise".

I needed to do something-- FAST-- and it had to not only fit into my schedule, my budget, but most importantly, into my lifestyle.

I am not really a "gym" person. I tried, for several years, to be a member at Goodlife Fitness, and I actually did pretty well when the girlies were tiny babies. Once older children were safely ensconced in school or nursery, I would take the sleeping infant along with me, and she would sleep peacefully while I took a class. I started with yoga, and progressed to some weight-lifting. Eventually, I got so into it, I started taking kick-boxing classes... It was great. So great, in fact, I even scared my jock of a husband.

But then, the baby started to wake up, and need attention. Considerably more attention than the gym's child-care staff were prepared to give, it seemed to me. And there was no way I could take a class, knowing that my child was not being well looked after.

I quit pretty quickly after that, and replaced my gym membership with long walks in the countryside. All three of my children enjoyed that activity with me. But, long walks are really only possible with small children when both they, and the weather, are co-operative. And, since I live in a place where weather is an "issue" at least half of the year, the ol' routine really started to slip once the temperatures began to plummet.

I got careless. And although the bod still seemed to weigh the same, the shape gradually began to change. And in reality... as one ages... it becomes aaaaaaallll about the shape you're in.

Or, should I say, the shape I WAS in.

As soon as we returned from holidays, part of my massive household-clean-up blitz included pulling Old Clunker out from under all the Barbie accoutrements down in our basement. I dusted him off, and investigated the controls... It turned out, he wasn't such a bad specimen of an exercise bicycle, really. He may not have all the fancy-schmantzy controls to set up a "route" and allow you to pedal along, mindlessly, while different pre-programmed settings adjust the tension for you... But he has a digital timer, an odometer, and a speedometer. I am perfectly capable of taking my own pulse, thankyouverymuch, and actually, I prefer to adjust the tensions settings myself, during the workout.

I've been riding every night, for over a month now, and depending on the music I listen to while I cycle, I usually manage to "rack up" between 12 and 15 kilometers. And the shape I'm in is changing for the better, more quickly than I ever thought possible.

It has been pleasantly surprising how much I enjoy pedalling away every evening-- I actually look forward to the half-hour of time where I can close my eyes and not think about very much at all. I love the fact that I can just put my head down and not worry about following a route, or how deep the next pot-hole in the road might be. There's no traffic or farm machinery to dodge. I REALLY love that I am no longer having to pay for a gym membership that I hardly ever used. And my children? Don't need to stay with a babysitter, or suffer the former-gym's "child-care facility".

Of course, the REAL key to my home-based exercise plan is my trusty ipod. Because truly, setting a good pace, and making it up all those imaginary "hills" (when the bike's setting is cranked up around 7 or 8) is aaaaaaaaaaaalllll about music.

Over the past several weeks, a few of my blog-friends have written posts about their own exercise regimes, and listed some of the music that they listen to, in order to get motivated. Kim, of The Merits of the Case, who beat her breast cancer with such style and grace last year, is now running marathons. And Leann, of The World Through the Eyes of Me, is a self-proclaimed gym addict, and has just celebrated achieving another fitness "personal best" this week. Both of these gorgeous, strong women posted some of their favourite music, and so, in response, I'm going to "show you mine", so to speak...

With apologies to my parents... Who, no doubt, would love me to be listening to all of the Mozart Piano Concertos (in order, of course)... I give you:

CGF's Spinning Tracks: Spring Edition

"Serendipity" by John Mayer
"Beautiful Day" by U2
"Walk on the Ocean" from the OC Soundtrack
"The Bitch is Back" by Tina Turner
"A Change Will Do You Good" by Sheryl Crow
"Anything but Ordinary" by Averil Levine
"Please Don't Stop the Music" by Rhianna
"Send Your Love" by Sting (the Dave Aude remix)
"Sexyback" by Justin Timberlake
"Never Coming Home" by Sting
"My Sharona" by The Ramones
"Higher Ground" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Mississippi" by Sugarland

and, of course:
"Bicycle Race" by Queen

Bathing Suit Season's right around the corner, people...

What's on your list???


painted maypole said...

i have recently started excercising, too (and have seen my bare thighs in a reflection while walking - scary!) maybe if i put some music on my mp3 player i'd enjoy it a bit more. ;) i've been working through my enormous old magazine stack. ;)

Multi-tasking Mommy said...

Oh the gym...oh the exercise. I was doing SO well---until I got pregnant! Bathing suit season brings on a HUGE belly for me....and thighs and ass to go with it. YIKES! Oh well, what can you do?! I so need to get back to the gym!

Good for you! Sounds like you're enjoying your exercise and that is important. It's quite the variety in music you have there!

mrinz said...

Love your post! I listen to my MP3 player as I go for my morning walk(weather permitting)and I too have a rather eclectic mix! Mostly hits of the 60's and 70's, some well known marches, and also Abba and even the Pogues.

Leeann said...

LOL. I love that you did this and I am going to check out the ones I'm not familiar with.
I went and bought Justin Timberlake's CD. OH, how I love the songs. Several of them will work for cardio and those that don't...will work for weights. (I like slower ones for weights.)
(I've listened so much that my 4 year old is walking around singing only one line...course it has to be "Get your sexy on." LOL) Great.

Kim said...

Love this post!! Your recommendations to me recently were great, and I'll be posting another list soon. Another great workout song? 4 Minutes by JT and Madonna. TOO much fun!!

shauna said...

I sooooo need to copy your list (in hopes that I will soon be joining your ranks). Way to go Candygirlflies, way to go!

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