Why I've Committed to 30 Days of Biking

turnpike, interstate, i-80, bridge, sky, west, overlook, pa, pennsylvania
My view this morning on my way to work. Looking
over I-80 West from the Old Turnpike Road bridge.
Today, I commuted to work via bicycle. It's not the first time I've done it, but it's the first time in almost 10 years that I've even attempted to try. It's easy to say that I only had to ride 18 miles, but the journey to get "here" has taken years. I feel good, and I feel even better about not spending money on gas, but that's not the point. The point is to get active, to get healthy, and you can do it, too!

I made a commitment to get in shape in 2012. I had been eating healthy since May and successfully lost 40 pounds, but I was still above my body-mass index and had been looking for a way to be more active. Up until then, I only ever took the bike out for a spin around the block. I never really tried to push myself and would call it quits after 10 miles. I had no idea how people could ride for 30, 50, or even 100 miles. It just seemed so unreal. That's when I decided to push myself, to enter an event and train myself to ride extended distances. I chose the Flaming Foliage Festival as my event, and focused my efforts on getting ready to ride 30k by October.

Eventually, I made my goal. I was regularly riding distances of 50 miles and easily completed the 30k Flaming Foliage ride. Since then, I'm happier than I've ever been in my life. I mean it when I say that I believe my bicycle has saved my life. It has kept me active, kept me fit (falling below my BMI for the first time in 20 years) and gave me a pressure release valve that allowed me de-stress when things got out of hand. Any time I feel down or distressed, I just go for a spin, and it clears my head. That's why I believe in projects like 30 Days of Biking. This simple machine that has been saving my life... I believe it can save the world. At least, I believe, it could save Luzerne County.

Today, the Citizen's Voice published a story about a study that found Luzerne County to be less active and less healthy than the Pennsylvania state average. The study reports that we have lower incomes than the state average, which is believed to be the cause of higher anxiety and depression cases in our area. We're poor and miserable, and that leads to poor life choices, like smoking, drinking and over-eating.

I live in Luzerne County. I am considered to be living below the poverty line, and I know, first-hand, the effect this has on anxiety and clinical depression, because I've been living with it most of my life. I've never been an alcoholic, but eating to feel good has been my crutch for far too long. It's so easy to just sit around, eating and feeling bad about yourself. It's a trap, and it's one of the leading, preventable causes of death in this country. So, what can you do?

Get outside and go for a ride.

I can't promise that riding your bike will change your financial situation, but it can change your life. (Any kind of moderate exercise has the potential to make you feel better, but I just find that biking goes well with my love of nature and exploring the outdoors.) Along with a boosted mood comes changes in outlook and attitude. A cleared mind can gain better perspective, allowing you to see solutions to problems that you thought were unsolvable. Then comes the best part: physical adaptation. As your body adjusts to doing more work, you'll find your regular work load becoming easier to handle. You'll lose weight, feel good and feel better about yourself -- and feeling better about yourself will prompt you to make even more positive changes in your life. Just taking the first few steps (or rides) can unlock the motivation you need to go beyond anything you thought you could do before, unlocking limitless potential. This isn't some new-age, crystal-gripping hippie speak, it's a fact. There are decades of sports medicine research that can back up these claims.

I made the decision to get in shape, setting small goals and checking them off as I achieved them. With each step I took, I found that I wanted to take more. The further I went, the further I wanted to go. You still have plenty of time to get ready for April. Make the pledge, commit to riding each day in April. You can do it!

2 comments:

Bone said...

I'm doing #30daysofbiking here in Harrisburg, too. I did it last year, and it was fun.
Good luck!

Dale Culp said...

Thanks! Good luck to you, too. Are you riding for any particular cause, or just to accept the challenge?

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