Welcome to Deep-Fried Friday! Despite my love of deep-fried stuff, I do recognize that health is an important aspect of life. For anyone who followed my ROW80 progress in Round 4 of 2011, you know that I had an exercise goal which went largely unmet. I struggled to find any shred of motivation to get up from my cozy writing nook chair and work out for even a half hour a day.
I was thinking about what had worked in the past to get me motivated. I do better with a specific challenge and a varying atmosphere. So I decided to publish what I wrote back in early 2010 about my successful endeavor to bike through my town. Here you go:
My past exercise regimens have been like many others’ – fervent and dedicated in the beginning, flailing within a few weeks, and dead as an armadillo crossing a Houston highway within months. In 2009, I wanted to find something different, something challenging, something I would finish.
Thus, my New Year’s Resolution 2009: To ride my bike around Friendswood. All of Friendswood. I set out to cover every street in the incorporated part of Friendswood on my bike in one year.
I had a Schwinn purchased at Target a year or two before. I had athletic shoes and a helmet. I began riding two to three times a week and biking around neighborhoods close to my home, maybe two to three miles each time. Slowly, I increased my mileage and began seeing more of my town.
I invested in more equipment – a speedometer/odometer, a cushy bike seat (sorry, Schwinn, the original one hurt my fanny after a while), a water-bottle holder, a keys/cell phone holder, new headphones for my iPod, and a bike lock. At City Hall, I also got a free Chamber of Commerce map of Friendswood to hang on a wall at home and highlight streets where I’d been.
After the initial pain of building my muscles again, the physical activity felt good. But what kept me motivated was what I was learning about my own town. We get into our usual routines and typical routes and don’t see the interesting stuff off our usual paths.
I’ve now seen homes with horses, cows, and donkeys in yards; tree houses and enclosed swimming pools; rushing creeks and still neighborhood ponds; dead snakes and live rabbits and opossums. I’ve marveled at the diverse architecture and intricate landscaping. I’ve found parks I never knew existed and paths leading into wooded areas where the trees seemed to whisper for me to explore. I’ve seen people of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status. I’ve seen homes with single garages and ten-car garages; with small, manicured lawns and wild expanses of land; with homemade yard art and professional sculptures. I’ve spotted small businesses to serve almost every need, schools for all ages, and churches of various faiths – those places that make a town a community.
Since moving here in 1997, I’ve been very pleased with my town, but I didn’t really know it until I got on my bike and started to ride.
I suggest you do the same. Get to know your town, or at least your neighborhood. Grab a bike, a scooter, some roller blades, or just strap on some walking shoes. If you can’t engage in physical activity, take a “Sunday drive.” Look around. Don’t stop to smell the roses if they’re on someone’s private property, but see the places around you with a fresh perspective. You might fall in love again with the town that you call home.
What keeps you motivated to exercise? What have you learned about your hometown by walking, biking, or driving through it? What health challenge(s) do you hope to take on in 2012?