How Cycling Changed My Life
In college I picked up cycling and was addicted. I would go every week for about two years. It was my favorite part of the week! Once I moved to Chicago, I took a break from cycling and focused on strength training in my apartment gym and outdoor runs. I slowly forgot about how cycle made me feel lighter, more powerful and connected.
That is until I reconnected with a high school friend who taught at Cyclebar in the city. I decided to give her class a try. All at once, cycle changed my life all over again. I remembered how it felt to push your limits, to feel like your flying on the bike, and how it felt when your ride connected with the music and nothing else mattered; you have no thoughts, you have no worries, you're just riding. I fell in love all over again.
I've been a member now for over six months in Chicago. Now, I don't think you need to pay to exercise, but I do think it's important to find a workout that you love. Cycle is that workout for me and purchasing a class pack was what I need at the moment to pursue a hobby I love.
What's the workout that changed your life? I'd love to chat about it!
Original Post Published in August 2015:
I’ve never enjoyed fitness. In fact, I hated it. My parents or friends would have to drag me to the gym or on a jog, which I normally quit about halfway through. I viewed working out and fitness as torture- it was punishment for not being pretty or skinny enough. I’ve always struggled with my body, and even suffered an eating disorder. While I was suffering from an eating disorder, I would work out, but not in a positive way. I pushed myself as punishment. I hated my body. I wasn’t working out for the right reasons.
My view on exercise started changing this summer. I was living with my dad while I was interning in New York for a few months. I decided to give working out another go. I was about to enter my junior year of college and my current lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. The first time he took me running, I immediately regretted my decision to start this fitness journey. I’ve always hated running. It’s just not my thing—or so I thought.
Turns out, I like running. My dad and I started the C25K training program that mixed intervals of running with walking to help build stamina. As much as I hate to admit it, I looked forward to the end of the workday so I could go home and go running. It was a great stress reliever. My dad also purchased a fitbit for my birthday, so I was able to see how many steps I could get during my commute to work (about 4,500 each way if you were curious).
P.S. If you haven't already, you should definitely invest in a fitbit. To purchase one go here. You won't regret it!
As I returned to school for my junior year, I wanted to continue on my little fitness kick. I didn’t want this to be just a phase; I wanted it to be my lifestyle. My university offers free workout classes during the first week of school. A few of my friends and I went to every class that sounded interesting and fit with our schedules. I quickly fell in love with the classes and purchased a semester pass before the end of the week.
Barre and yoga are among some of my favorite classes, but there was one class in particular that struck a cord with me—cycling. I’ve tried cycling before but always hated it. This time I focused on challenging myself when I went into my first cycling class (of this semester at least). I was pleasantly surprised. The instructor was energetic, encouraging and she pushed each and every one of us. She has this incredible ability to make you feel like she’s talking to only you and it’s just you and her in the cycling studio. Her playlists are also kick-ass, and I look forward to them every week. (Side note: I had to miss cycling class one week for a meeting and I actually cried.)
One thing she said in the first class really stuck with me. She said that we were cycling not because we hate our body, but because we love it.
That goes against everything I had taught myself about fitness. She was right. Fitness is meant to help your body. You push your body, you challenge your body and you make your abs and legs sore because you love your body. You want your body to get stronger. Same goes for eating. You don’t restrict calories because you are punishing yourself. You eat healthy fruits, veggies and unprocessed food because you want to nourish your body. You want it to feel happy. Eating processed foods does nothing but fill your body with unwanted toxins.
Once I had that mental switch, the healthy and active lifestyle became a lot easier. I started enjoying every work out. If I don’t have a fitness class, I still go to the gym to run. I’m not scared of the rec center anymore (sad to say I was before!). I started pushing myself. Just the other day I went for a 3 mile run. It turned into 7 miles, because I just couldn’t stop! I started eating a lot healthier, because frankly, the thought of processed foods makes me sick to my stomach. It’s not because I’m restricting food, or starving myself again, it’s because I know my body appreciates when I eat fresh food like fruits, veggies and lean meats.
I have more energy than ever before. Most mornings, it’s easier to wake up, and I am not a morning person. My body is stronger than I could have ever imagined. I am happy and healthy.
Ever since I changed the way I view fitness, healthy eating and my body, my struggles with my eating disorder have lessened. I haven’t relapsed in over a year, and hardly have thoughts about doing so. I don’t view pro-anorexia sites, I don’t weigh myself on a scale and I don’t count calories. I simply listen to my body. If I feel sluggish, I eat a nutritious meal or go for a workout. If I crave a piece of chocolate, I go for it. My body is the only one I will ever get, and I am determined to keep it happy and healthy.