Exercise. Define your life

One of the fundamental changes I made in my life after weight loss surgery was to be a more active person. For most people, that means joining the local fitness center.  I joined the YMCA numerous times in my life to fulfill my New Year’s resolution to be a healthier person. It seemed to be the logical move; force myself to work out through my wallet.  I paid for the membership and would have to use it or lose that money.

That did not work out for me at all. Come mid-February I found myself snuggling up in front of the TV rather than venturing out on a cold night to ride a stationary bike or lift weights. As I began my bariatric surgery journey, I knew this pattern of forced exercise via health club memberships was not going to work out. I had to find a way to be a fit person that was not dependent on a membership card.

I started religiously walking and running daily on my home treadmill. That soon turned into a combination of morning runs on the treadmill and evening walks around the neighborhood. I was developing a love for the outdoors on these walks. At some point I realized I needed some variation to the walks and pulled the bike down from the garage rafters. I found my love for fitness the first time mounted the saddle and cycled the neighborhood.

Cycling became my passion and continues so today, four years later. Those early rides on the street turned into rides through local parks. It lead to me cofounding a bicycle club for recreational cyclists who cycle for healthy life. Almost all of my vacations revolve around cycling or a cycling event. A year ago I experienced the wonder and achievement of travelling 325 miles on a bike over a week with my best friend.

I have achieved my goal to be healthier fitter person. I did not do it with a health club membership card. I did it by following my passion. For me, that passion evolved from walking the treadmill to exploring the outdoors on my bike. I was fortunate to recognize the power to be more active was not in the fitness center membership card in my wallet but in my mind and body.

The key to becoming fit is not a complicated formula or expensive proposition. Each of us must find a form of exercise that meets our needs. If you are searching for that magic bullet for a fit life, I do not have it. I do have some suggestions on finding forms of exercise that will keep you coming back and become more enjoyable over time. 

  1. Exercise needs to be fun and entertaining.
  2. Exercise needs to stimulate your senses.
  3. Exercise needs to be challenging.
  4. Exercise needs to be shared with others.

If you are a sedentary person, I encourage you to try different forms of exercise. I personally feel outdoor exercise is a great place to start. Walking, hiking, running, cycling and swimming are low cost ways to get moving. It was not until I began cycling that I realized the extent and beauty of my area’s park systems. Cycling is definitely fun, entertaining, stimulating and challenging to me.

I also found in my quest to be fitter that social interaction during exercise is critical. Exercise needs to be shared with others. I went in a loner looking to be fit. My journey introduced me to a variety of people and organizations that grew my interest in cycling. My cycling friends became my support network. It is through these support networks that I have found a sustainable pattern of fitness in my life.

A local bike shop has a simple tagline, “Ride your bike. Define your life.” I wholeheartedly agree. Find your passion for exercise. It will indeed define your life.

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  1. Tom Repula September 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I agree with the fact that the outdoor exercise is so much more fun. I love to ride my bike and even walk or occasionally jog outdoors. I do also spend a fair amount of time running in the gym. All are great stress releases and all are great for overall health. I hope to reach a point of running the local peace race next year.

    Keep up the good stuff (exercise).

    1. Tom Bilcze September 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      Tom, I never thought I wanted to run a race until I did my first 5K. It was fun and I have done several more. You should read the book, “An Accidental Athlete” by John Bingham. It is excellent motivation for guys our age.


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