Country Cardio or When Introverts Exercise (My Silent Midlife Crisis, Part III)

Country music is three chords and the truth.  –Harlan Howard, songwriter

For many, the word “exercise” conjures up hundreds of negative, SWEATY connotations.  If you’re an introvert, you could likely multiply that number by a million.  And if you’re me, one could amp it up even more.  Exercise just sounds awful–exertion, perspiration, racing heart, muscle burn, etc.  Combine that with the thought of joining a gym or signing up for a class with a bunch of strangers and the idea becomes absolutely overwhelming.  So obviously, I’m not a fan…and yet, I’m also not an idiot.

Exercise is important, that’s what THEY tell us anyway.  They’re right, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it…or at least I don’t.  As an introvert, exercise has been rather tricky for me.  Fortunately, I’ve settled into a routine that hasn’t killed me (at least not yet!) and of course, I had to add my own dramatic flair to it.  I mean it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.

ENTER THE EXERCISE BIKE.  You’ve probably seen the Peleton commercials and I’m definitely not that girl, but it was my inspiration.  I figured a stationary bike was perfect for me.  I could ride at my own pace, work up to a good solid routine, stay indoors, and monitor my progress all while indulging in Netflix!  Jealous, right?  It was the perfect solution…ALMOST.  It wasn’t long before I decided that this was a little too easy.  I mean the saying goes, “no pain, no gain,” right?  So I decided I needed to add an element of suffering AND discomfort to my cycling.  Thus, the Country CARDIO music playlist was born.

These 11 country songs fuel my 10-mile daily ride all the while generating an emotional punch that stirs up just the right amount of heartbreak, memories (good and bad,) and tearfulness.   From the very first song to the last song, I experience a rollercoaster of feelings…love found, love lost, break-ups, good times, hopefulness, hopelessness, dreams shattered, dreams fulfilled and more.  Yes, all good stuff!  And while I only truly loved country music for a few years in the 1990s, these songs are near and dear to my heart today.  I can remember exactly where I was, who I was with, and all the circumstances surrounding each song.  It’s like unlocking a memory treasure chest with each pedal turn…the perfect compliment to my current midlife crisis.

All the nostalgia of George Strait and Garth Brooks combined with girl power ballads from Martina McBride and The Dixie Chicks (yes, I’ve forgiven them,) intertwined with Tracy Byrd, Vince Gill, and Brooks & Dunn.  (Betcha can’t guess which song is my favorite?)  The memories span from leaving home for college to moving halfway across the country AND BACK, plus so many more.  One minute I’m so grateful for everything, then a simple song change has me feeling all melancholy in a lonesome bar somewhere.  Another song has me completely heartbroken and the next musical selection reminds me how much I learned from that same heartache.  To quote one favorite, “And the words of every sad song seem to say what I think….”  Sure, it’s a tad dramatic, but that’s what makes it perfect.

So maybe I don’t work myself into a total sweaty mess on these little treks, but I know that I feel like I’ve run a marathon when I’m done…even if it’s just an emotional one.  My bike doesn’t have an incline setting to induce burning thighs, but I’m satisfied with the melodramatic pain.  I might not be building tons of muscle, but know that in one way or another I’m growing stronger.  Somehow it all seems like enough.  When I step off the bike, I feel accomplished.  I feel empowered–like I’ve done something and been somewhere.  I feel sore and worn…and there might even be some perspiration, too.  Sounds like exercise to me…

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.   – Philippians 4:13

 

 

 

 

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Is It Hot in Here or Am I Just Dying? (My Silent Midlife Crisis, Part II)

Amazing women don’t have hot flashes.  We have power surges.  –Author Unknown

Like with all things–good OR bad–you remember the first time.  Hot flashes are no exception.  Apparently, these little “power surges” rear their ugly heads in your 40s (without warning mind you) and can vary in severity.  I remember hearing women talk about this “fun” part of midlife before, but none of the talk could prepare me for the actual experience!  Somewhere during the car ride between the grocery store and picking up a Sonic coke, I was pretty sure I was on the verge of death.  Should I pull over?  Was I going to pass out?  Am I having a panic attack or a heart attack, or BOTH?  No amount of air conditioning could fix this “power surge.”  And while it only lasted a few minutes (and I did get that Sonic coke,) I came home in a cold sweat and immediately went to bed.  I was convinced, this was how it was all going to end….

Fortunately, I lived and thanks to a plethora of medical advice via the world wide web, I was able to come up with a diagnosis pretty quickly.  Hot flashes.  Ugghh.  No, no, and NO!  I subsequently slipped into the first stage of grief…denial.  I’m too young.  I don’t feel bad.  This is supposed to happen to other people, not me.  As the summer heat increased, so did my progression through the rest of the grief stages…anger, bargaining (which totally doesn’t work by the way,) and depressed mood, but I flat out REFUSED to wrap my head around the idea of acceptance.  It seemed so final and like I was giving up the fight.  So I quickly made my way back to anger…because hot flashes basically just suck.

Apparently, there is hope out there…or so I’ve heard (again with the talk.)  Many women find relief through various hormonal treatments, supplements and dietary changes…yada, yada, yada.  Some medical sites point to “knowing your triggers” and advise trying at all costs to avoid them.  My heart sunk when I saw that the top triggers include:  warm air temperatures, hot beverages, and spicy foods. Seriously?  So basically baseball/softball/soccer, COFFEE, and Mexican food.  That list pretty much sums up my life right now…so what’s a girl to do?  Invest in Frogg Toggs, large Yeti cups (for cold drinks,) battery operated fans, and ICE, lots of ICE!

So far, I’m still surviving.  My close cohorts have been very helpful and understanding, AND have probably heard me complain way too much about these “power surges.”  (I try to keep it real for the people.)  MENTALLY, I remind myself that I’m not going through anything that any other woman hasn’t gone through…and lived to tell about.  SPIRITUALLY, I do a ton of praying (mostly for rain.)  EMOTIONALLY, I’m in a pretty serious relationship with air conditioning.  And PHYSICALLY, I’m the lady who isn’t afraid to drop ice cubes down her shirt when needed.  Still, I gain confidence when I hear other women tell me that these “power surges” will eventually end.  (I don’t believe them…but I do gain confidence.)

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:4

UP NEXT:  Country Cardio or When Introverts Exercise (My Silent Midlife Crisis, Part III)

 

 

 

 

 

Invincibility+Avoidance=Denial (My Silent Midlife Crisis)

Silence is the most powerful scream.  —Anonymous

When 40 reared its ugly head my reaction was twofold:  First, gratitude…not everyone is afforded such a luxury!  And my second thought was…this is it?  Really?  Midlife doesn’t look so hard.  Naïve, so very naïve.

I was duped on so many levels…most of them of my own doing.  First of all, I felt great!  On my 40th birthday I felt as good as any day in my 30s.  Only now I thought I had the advantage of WISDOM on my side.  Clearly, I’d made it through the hardest part of any person’s lifespan.  Far from adolescence, long past the early stages of discovering myself in adulthood, and just beyond the trials of thirtysomething.  All the “growing up” and “what-ifs” were behind me.  I was so comfortable in my own skin that I should have pinched myself!  In hindsight, I wish I had.

It’s not that midlife is scary or daunting…I just really wasn’t prepared for the level of introspection that accompanies this milestone.  Let me elaborate.  We’re all familiar with the clichés that surround the dreaded midlife crisis.  Extreme images like buying fancy sports cars, dating someone half your age, and plastic surgery always come to mind.  However, midlife can also be as benign as a new haircut, a tattoo or training for a marathon.  I knew about all these tell-tale behaviors, but it was the internal unrest that took me by total surprise.

Of course, all of this didn’t happen right at 40.  I was a late bloomer, so I should have expected that my midlife symptoms would show up late to the party as well.  And they did!  Look, I’m an introvert by nature, so being lost in thought is nothing new to me.  I wear it like a badge of honor.  I’m thoughtful and reflective.  I make informed decisions…I’m cautious to a fault.  I process everything…ABSOLUTELY everything.  This has always been my way.  Still, nothing could have prepared me for this new level of self-analysis and soul-searching.  Somedays, I carefully walk around my own thoughts…like a misplaced piece of bulky furniture that no one wants to move or deal with.  Other days, I can’t get away from myself…I’m practically tripping over my own musings!  And it’s not about regret.  My conscience is clear here.  It’s just that I wonder…should I have, what if I did, and my least favorite…is there still time to….

I truly thought I had it all figured out and when I realized that I didn’t, I decided to ignore that truth.  I told myself, I couldn’t possibly be prone to a midlife crisis.  I didn’t plan for this!  I didn’t authorize this!  I’m not doing this!

Naïve, so very naïve.

So, here I sit…wavering between dumbstruck and flat-out denial (all while trying to raise teenagers! God is so funny sometimes.)  It can’t be this hard, right?  Surely, everybody deals with this on some level? I know I’m not the only one (please tell me I’m not the only one!)  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a functioning adult.  I have every intention of processing the heck out of this and coming out better on the other side.  And while I’ve already ruled out getting a tattoo, that doesn’t mean the fancy sports car doesn’t look good to me!

UP NEXT:  Is It Hot in Here or Am I Just Dying? (My Silent Midlife Crisis, Part II)