We all know the key factors in maintaining great health, right?
- Good Nutrition
- Reduce Risk Factors
- Proper Sleep
- Supportive Medical Care
- Clean water and air
- Positive Mental Attitude
As a Mother, we look after our families and ensure that all of the above are covered but often find ourselves last on the list – especially when it comes to exercise.
After my kids all moved out and found their own lives, I found it surprisingly hard to adjust. I thought it would be great to have peace and quiet. What I found was a great gaping hole in my life. I worried about my kids, a lot. I had a sense of purposelessness. I doubted myself and my value.
One day, I found myself in such a dark place that I could not stop crying. I had begun to have some serious pain in my left knee and it was swollen and ugly. I felt overweight, unattractive and old. I started to think that Jeff would be better off without me. At that point I realised that something was very wrong so I went and saw my GP. I was not living a joy filled life. I was a sad, sad woman.
I totally do not judge anyone who needs medication to help them through rough patches in their lives. Sometimes, it’s just too overwhelming and the hole too deep to climb out of alone.
I chose not address my feelings with my GP, I just showed him my knee. He had a good look and told me it looked like I had the knees of a 65 year old (I was 53 at the time). He ordered X-Rays and by the end of the day I knew I had hardly any cartilage in my left knee and that bone on bone situation was causing the swelling and inflammation.
Obviously, I needed to drop some weight to take the pressure off. I needed to find a way to exercise which would not cause further pain in my knee. My GP suggested I either buy myself a bike or get myself into a swimming pool.
I bought a bike and I think it saved my life.
I had no background with cycling except for hooning around on a bike as a kid. I did however have a friend who was a cyclist and she guided me through buying the best bike for me and getting me started with riding again. I did not know how the gears worked, how to change a tyre and climbing even the slightest incline was really, really hard. I felt embarrassed and awkward but she encouraged me to keep riding. Jeff bought a bike too and we would ride together, sort of. Jeff rode off into the distance and I tried to keep up without falling off.
I Googled “women’s riding groups” and discovered She Rides. This is a relatively new initiative by Cycling Australia designed to help Australian women to get back on their bikes. I booked in to She Rides Hollywood course located in Perth. She Rides offer three levels of courses for Road Bikes and Mountain Bikes. I chose the Confidence Course as that fitted my skill level at the time.
I met some fabulous women and had great fun doing the initial eight week course. Some were on upright bikes (the ones with the cute baskets) who just wanted to be able to confidently ride the kids to school while others were dressed in cycling gear and were on dropped handle road bikes. I learned so much during that eight weeks! The best part was the new connections I made with the women in the group though. Connection is so key to loving your life.
Riding has become a wonderful part of my life and I participate in group rides with women whenever I can.
Best of all, Jeff can’t keep up with anymore. Winning at life!
Finding a way to exercise that suited me, my body, my own needs and was fun for was the key for me. I just developed a mindset that I did not care what anyone else thought about how I looked or what crazy things I did. I allowed myself to gradually just get better.
I love cycling. I love riding with a bunch of women. I love the camaraderie of the coffee after the ride. I love that my knee is pain free and I have muscles in my legs.
I have cycled down a mountain in Bali, around the gardens of the Peterhof Palace in Russia, Down a volcano in Hawaii and around an island in Vietnam as well as given the track a good try!
Cycling has been a blessing in my life from the moment I began.