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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our New Hobby

For a few weeks now I've been looking for a way to add regular cardio training to my life. I am a big believer that a cardio workout will make you feel better than anything else you can do. It does not necessarily help with weight loss, but definitely gets your heart pumping and clears away all the emotional and physical yuck in your life (irritability, weariness, depression, feeling overwhelmed, etc).

The problem is, I can't stick with anything for too long that's boring. When I lived in Austin, I went on walks in the city, which were picturesque. That was interesting and diverse enough to keep me going for years. Now that we live in the suburbs outside Atlanta, well..house, car, bush, house, car, bush, just gets old after a while.

After reading a book which was very inspiring but I don't recommend because of its evolutionary-bent, Younger Next Year, I was even more convinced that I need to get more cardio. The book's premise is that we get sick and have ailments because our bodies are made to be physically active for the purpose of eating each day. This constant physical activity is a message to our system that all is well and all the chemicals pumping through our system from the exercise keep our system running in tip-top shape. We stay healthy. During famine, people didn't get the daily exercise to gather or prepare food, and their bodies slowed down, got sick and died. Evolution isn't needed to know this is true; thousands of years of human history tell us that people have always labored to get food as well as water, and prepare it for consumption - both men and women have always worked hard to eat. Can you imagine having to thresh your own wheat or pluck a chicken?

So, though I don't agree with the evolutionary conjecture of the book, I totally agree with the premise and became even more inspired to get exercise each day.

But what would I do? I prayed that God would guide me.

I went on power walks. That was pretty good when I had a good sermon on my iPod. I signed up for squash at the health club. That's kind of fun. But I can see that getting old as well - white walls and all.

I started riding my husband's bike in the neighborhood. That was a little more fun than a power walk - you push hard to get up a hill and are rewarded with fun down hill moments. I took my boys with me, which made it even more fun.

Then, I decided to take the boys to a bike trail. I loaded up the bikes and...

SERENDIPITY!!!!

I discovered mountain bike trails.

It just so happened that all our bikes are "accidentally" mountain bikes, because we didn't know what to buy. We went on this beautiful trail off the main path, into the forest and mountain biked for about a mile. It was lovely and fun. We were amazed at all the wildlife and beauty - right in the suburbs near our home. We went over small wooden bridges maintained by the mountain bike association, and went up hill and down hill. I got a good cardio workout and it was not in the least bit boring!

I am so happy! The boys are thrilled. I can't wait to get the girls on board, too - they'll love it. They don't have bikes, though. And I'm not sure that my youngest (she'll be eight on Saturday) could handle it. When she's nine, maybe.

I have since learned more about mountain biking from the SORBA website - which is for the southern states. There are maps and groups and clubs. The trails are marked green, for easy and blue, for more difficult. The green trails have some challenging places, but are mostly flat and smooth, winding through the beautiful forest - with spectacular views. I've never been on a blue trail. I think we'll wait until we get bored with green. There are also expert trails that are pink. I downloaded several maps to trails near my home. We'll try to go somewhere every week.

I was also thinking how fun it would be to have a family mountain biking vacation. We could go to beautiful places in America and mountain bike. In the mean time, we are getting great exercise and are really excited when we're heading to the trails, and have a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when we're heading home.

I plan to be younger next year!