Friends, it’s time I told you my Peloton story. It starts last August, at the beach. I was there with my family and everyone was doing their beach thing, hanging out, swimming, and just generally enjoying themselves. The kids were moving around and having fun, trying the stand-up paddle board, going out in kayaks, walking back and forth from the house to the beach with different toys and snacks. As this was happening all around me . . . I sat. I had a book and I was reading. And sitting. I wasn’t unhappy about that, I love reading at the beach, but it bothered me that I felt physically uncomfortable with exerting myself, that it wasn’t quite right that I felt ill prepared to do anything other than sit and read.
Later that week I went wedding dress shopping with Hannah and Doreen, who is not only my best friend but also Hannah’s godmother. The shop is lovely and in a very old building. And the dresses are up on the third floor. And there is no elevator. I managed, but I got pretty out of breath and I had to stop and rest partway up. It was a little embarrassing but I laughed it off. At lunch, after Hannah selected an incredibly spectacular gown that Doreen bought for her (I know! Right?!) I looked at my daughter and my best friend and I shared with them that I knew something had to change about my lifestyle. I had, as it were, a moment of truth. I confessed how I had felt sitting on the beach watching everyone else move about with confidence and feeling like my own body wasn’t up to doing any of that. I admitted to being mortified that I couldn’t climb the stairs of the shop without having to rest. I looked at them both and said, what do I do?
Almost in the same breath they both said: you need to find exercise you enjoy. I responded the way I always have: I hate exercise. But Hannah persisted and said there had to be something. So I thought for a moment and I said, the only thing I ever really enjoyed was spin class. To which they both responded, practically in unison and as if they had rehearsed it: you should get a Peloton! I told them they were crazy, that Peloton bikes were too spendy and I didn’t have room in my house and I wasn’t going to be a piece of exercise equipment that I’d never use and we moved on to doing important things like ordering champagne.
Later that day, though, I started doing some research on at-home exercise bikes. There are several that are much less expensive than the Peloton and I began comparing them all. The thing I kept coming back to, though, was my feeling that the Peloton was the best. And I sort of have this thing about wanting to have the best. I pretty much decided right then that if I were to purchase something it was going to be a Peloton. I reached out to Kym, knowing she had one, and asked about the size of the bike and we started a conversation that, truthfully, continues to this day. We went back and forth for a bit, I talked with Dale, we rearranged the furniture in our little den to make sure it would fit . . . and I ordered the Peloton the next day.
And then the waiting began because, as Kym pointed out to me immediately, it takes weeks or even months to get a Peloton right now. In my particular circumstance, I ordered it on August 28th and my delivery was scheduled for October 20th. And that Kym . . . she’s a crafty one because her first question to me, after I told her my delivery date, was what are you going to do in the meantime? She recognized that my motivation in that moment was high and I needed to take advantage of it. Luckily, Peloton gives you free access to their app while you wait for the bike. And luckily, there are some really great classes for strength training and stretching and yoga and more. And, not to overuse the word, but luckily I had Kym to encourage me.
The first thing she did was make me stop using the word exercise and start using the word move. As someone who hated gym class, was never good at sports, and always preferred reading over physical activity, I definitely have a block when it comes to the concept of exercise. The second thing she did was encourage me to use my Apple Watch as a tool for tracking my movement and holding me accountable. That has worked particularly well for me as I’m someone who enjoys tallying my accomplishments. The third thing she did was patiently explain things like cardio and stretching and strength training and she helped me work out a plan to do all of those things on a regular basis. We quickly established that I needed to have 30 minutes of movement every day to really set myself up for success. Taking a day off just wouldn’t have worked for me and I’m pretty sure I would have lost my mojo and I wouldn’t be able to brag right now about it being nearly 200 consecutive days that I’ve closed the rings on my Apple Watch.
That’s a very long lead up to the actual arrival of the bike! But arrive it did, right on schedule, and I started riding that very night. Not to sound like a commercial but, the instructors are amazing and encouraging, the variety of music is fantastic, and there are so many types of rides that there’s no chance of being bored. My goal is to ride 4 times/week and I’ve been pretty good at meeting that for the last 20 weeks. In fact, I’m closing in on my 100th ride, a milestone known as the Century Ride in the Peloton community. On the days that I don’t ride, I do yoga or stretching or strength training. And as weird as it sounds . . . I love that damn bike. Don’t get me wrong: it’s hard! But it’s a good hard. I sweat and huff and puff and even swear. Some days I can’t wait to ride and other days I have to really force myself to just.do.it. But I’m always glad when I do. I said to Kym recently that cardio strips away the gunk of life and I think that’s so true. When you’re in the moment and feel like your lungs are shredding and your legs are going to fall off, it’s impossible to think about anything else and that’s incredibly freeing. There’s just no way to be anything but present in the midst of a good, hard cardio work out.
I feel like I need to say something here about weight loss because for many people the purpose of exercising is to lose weight. And that’s cool and I wish them well. But that’s not what this journey is about for me. I could write whole blog posts about the dangers of diet culture and the brutality of fat shaming and the prevalence of fat bias in the medical community. For the purpose of this post, though, I’ll just say that my story is about accepting my body and making it stronger and healthier and that has zero to do with the numbers on a scale or the size of the clothes I wear. Rather, it has everything to do with my brain and the things I say to myself. I’m fighting years of believing I’m not worthy of anything good in my life because of childhood trauma, years of calling myself unlovable, unworthy, and unhealthy because that’s all I thought I deserved. It’s been one hell of a journey to get to the point where I can feel a little pride about my body and how hard it can work instead being ashamed by the size of it. I ride the Peloton to improve my cardio health. I do yoga to improve my balance. I lift weights to strengthen my body. And if I never lose so much as an ounce I’m absolutely fine with that because my resting heart rate has dropped significantly since last October. And those stairs at the bridal salon? I climbed them last Thursday and yes, I was winded, but I didn’t have to stop and rest and I recovered within moments.
Buying a Peloton has been a huge change in my lifestyle and I feel so good about it. Now when I sit on the couch and read, (which is and always will be what I’d rather be doing) I feel like I’ve earned it. And that feels way different than how I felt last August, back when I felt like my only option was to sit and read because I wasn’t capable of anything more. Looking back, though, I’m grateful for that day on the beach. I’m grateful for that feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I’m grateful for the seed that was planted in that moment because that seed has been watered and nurtured and cared for, not just by me but by Dale and Hannah and the rest of my family. And by Kym (and her husband, Tom, too), who has encouraged and supported and occasionally even cajoled me to believe in myself, to stick with this plan, and to literally change how I think about my place in this world and the space I take up. I know I’m the one doing the hard work. I know I’m the one changing my story. I’m just so glad I get to do it with these amazing people cheering me on.