Pandemic life has been hard on everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are single, in a relationship, a parent, working from home, working remotely, or unemployed. We have all had our own journeys to go through. This pandemic will be taught in school for years to come – that our kids will talk about with their kids. For many, this has been one of the hardest seasons to get through, for a variety of reasons. Access to daily necessities have been increasingly difficult (umm hello toilet-paper-gate 2021??) and life as we know it, has changed. We will all be masked for the near future, and stock for Purell will continue to rise. Exercise and access to physical fitness were one of the areas of our lives that took a hit. Depending on your mindset and mental state, this could have been either a positive or negative change.
This love story began in February 2021 when our bike came. Actually… it started earlier when Hubby suggested a Peloton and I scoffed at how expensive it was. He talked about this bike that he had heard of – that there were on-demand rides and you could spin with other people. I loved the idea but couldn’t understand why it was necessary. At the time, I had been the equivalent of a couch-hermit, not participating in very much activity. Prior to Covid, I was doing kickboxing workouts 4-5 times a week and was in the best shape I had been in years. I felt good both physically and mentally. But then, we went into viral lockdown and everything diminished for me. So, the idea that we could park something in our basement and access workouts on demand was definitely appealing, but daunting.
A simple Google search will tell you that this all makes sense. You can read article after article that explains the positive correlation between exercise and positive mental health. Experts all agree that movement is paramount to improving mental outlook. It reduces stress, improves cortisol, creates endorphins, and lowers blood pressure. However, it is NOT magic. It is not a switch that you can easily flip and rainbows will form overhead. For those who struggle to get out of dark places, it is hard to get going. I remember having numerous conversations with both Hubby and my mother about feeling stuck in a cycle. I felt so tired, and I knew that if I incorporated exercise I would feel better, but I felt too exhausted to even start. My brain and my body were not in sync. Even though I knew what might help me, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I feel so fortunate for my amazing support network, who listened, and encouraged, and helped me dig myself out.
I started my first ride a few days after the bike was delivered. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I did a 20-minute Tabata ride without a true understanding of what that actually meant, and quite literally felt like I had died. I couldn’t make it up the stairs and Hubby couldn’t understand why I started that way (in hindsight I have no idea either!). But I decided to go back the next day, and the day after that. I hadn’t realized initially that Peloton was not just spinning. I love that I have access to other classes, too. When I started feeling very sore, I began adding yoga routines in the evening. It’s even gotten so that I can’t fall asleep properly if I haven’t done even a small yoga class.
What I didn’t understand then, that I do now, is there is no price tag too expensive for your mental health. feel so much stronger both mentally and physically after 6 months. It’s a change in mindset and an embracing of my positive energy. It’s putting myself first for 20-30 mins a day and ensuring the endorphins carry me through. I love that my children can watch me on the bike (with headphones for those explicit classes, ha!) and see the importance of moving your body. When I was set to hit 100 rides, they were so excited, and it was so amazing to see. More so than the signs they made or the fact that they were cheering me on, was the fact that they were able to see that this milestone was a big deal. I want to be able to instill those healthy habits in them.
So now I am working towards my next 100 rides, my next 100 strength classes, and my next 100 yoga classes. It won’t happen overnight but I am confident that I am going to keep at this. It isn’t just for myself anymore. I want to show my kids that not giving up working towards a goal and putting yourself first all make you stronger. It makes me a better mother, a better wife, and a more sane human. Cheers to the next 100!
This is life. Love, Mom.
A small disclaimer: I do want to take a moment to say that I am well aware of the privilege that goes along with this post. I know that machines like this are not accessible for everyone. I feel so very fortunate to be able to not only write about this but access it daily. I want to add that there are many machines and apps that are less of a financial commitment and can be game-changers. This is what worked for me, and I am so happy to share that it has.