Today OnBalance readers have a real treat: my friend and fellow women’s wellness advocate Darline Turner has written a guest blog post. Just read the story, and you’ll know why I asked her to share. She’s a real go(al)-getter!
So what would cause me, a nearly 50 year old woman and mom of two busy kids, to cycle 1000 miles in four months?
I got divorced on December 21, 2012, “The end of the world” according to the Mayan calendar, and I have been trying to figure out what to do with myself ever since.
I have a Master’s Degree in physician assistant studies, but I really had no desire to return to the clinic after 12 years. So I decided to grow the small business I had started, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond.
Growing a business is about as easy as getting divorced! My focus is community outreach in Maternal and Infant health and I have spent the better part of the last three years getting entrenched in the Austin medical and public health communities. In April of this year, after a particularly frustrating day, I uttered this off-hand prayer:
“God, I feel like such a failure! I need a win!”
I felt like I could do nothing right, and every door I knocked upon remained unopened, or was quickly slammed shut after opening.
A few days to weeks later, I saw an ad for “The Great Cycle Challenge”. Cyclists were preparing to ride and raise money for children with cancer. I had just asked family and friends for money for other campaigns, so I didn’t want to ask for more cash. But I decided to do the ride anyway.
I had been out of the exercise loop and this was just the inspiration and accountability that I needed to get going. The challenge was for the month of June, and I set a goal to ride 150 miles in 30 days.
June 1st rolled around and I set out. I rode 8 miles that first day. Those first 8 miles were tough as it had already begun getting hot in Austin. But I got through the ride and lo and behold, felt great the next day! So I kept riding, gradually increasing my mileage every few days. Midway through the month, I was riding 15-20 miles at a shot and realized I was very close to my 150 mile goal.
So I increased my goal to 200 miles; my total mileage for June was 207 miles.
Funny thing about exercise: it’s kind of addicting! My body literally began craving my rides! I noticed that my mood improved, I lost weight and I was happier than I had been in a long time. So I decided to continue. In another very off-handed comment I told my Facebook friends, “I think I’ll see if I can ride 1000 miles by October 1st.” I have never ridden that much in such a short amount of time, and coupling that with the hottest days of summer in Texas was really going to be a challenge!
Like all good challenges, this one had its ups and downs. I got a flat tire one day while riding at the Veloway and had to walk home about four miles. I got a nasty cold/allergy attack and rode the last 6-8 weeks often congested. But by then I was committed and nothing was going to stop me!
I learned so much about myself during this challenge.
- I can set a goal and achieve it.
- It is never too late to start an exercise program.
- Exercise really is medicine. My cycling boosted my spirits and lifted me out of my depressed state. The added benefits of weight loss, muscle tone, improved sleep and lots of support and encouragement from my Facebook family and friends were icing on the cake!
- Sometimes, you have to create your own “win”.
- No matter what, I now know that I am “good enough”.
This challenge was so much more than a bicycle ride. It was a HUGE self esteem boost, a huge physical health boost and a huge connector to my friends and family! I had been moaning and lamenting the fact that I am so far from friends and family (I a from New England) and yet, each day, with each ride, family and friends were right there to cheer me on! In today’s cyber world, we can remain connected.
I invite any of you who are feeling down, shy, unsure or even really great to challenge yourself to do something different, something “abnormal”, something totally out of your comfort zone! You will learn amazing insights about yourself and experience a tremendous boost of confidence as you attack and achieve your goal.
Whatever it is, I wish you good luck.
Feel inspired by Darline’s awesome example? Her next challenge is raising $2500 to start a chapter of The Birthing Project in Austin. The Birthing Project is a non-profit organization that supports Black women through pregnancy and childbirth to have term pregnancies and healthy babies. Black women in Austin have 2-3 times the risk of delivering a premature, low birth weight infant and those infants have twice the risk of dying before their first birthdays. Please consider a donation towards this challenge and thanks so much for your support.