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