Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Giveaway: Be happy in the (this) saddle

Friend or foe?
There is a special freedom found only on a bike. It’s one of those rare thrills we feel at every age and ability. Whether it’s your first wobbly ride off training wheels or your umpteenth century (100 mile) ride of the season, cycling makes us feel independent, strong and happy.

Except when it doesn’t.

For some of us, particularly women, climbing onto the saddle causes more than just a little discomfort “down there.” And until you find a saddle that fits just right (and take off your panties!), biking will never make you feel like a kid again. Instead, it will make you feel like you’ve just had one—right there on the bike.

I have vivid memories of a long ride with my husband back when were first married that resulted in him winning the Heisman Award for a good week. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I pushed through the pain, fleshy one minute and boney the next. Didn’t matter how I sat, I was uncomfortable. Not strong. Not happy.

I went through a few saddles before I fell in love (or should I say, my crotch fell in love) with the Terry Butterfly Ti saddle. It’s lightweight and designed just for “her” by folks who specialize in ladies cycling. The guys like it too since it eliminates the Heisman phenomena–at least as it relates to the bike, anyway. (Come on, riding really shouldn’t be a pre-coital excuse!).

Having saddle issues? Got that “not so fresh feeling”? Just want to try something new? I wanna hear from Hot (Sweaty) Mamas like you about why you like to ride, or about your favorite two-wheeled adventure. I’ll draw one winner from the entrants here and at hotsweatymamas.com and post the winner on Friday. Good luck!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Running in Circles

My friend Greg once told me he likes to draw an imaginary circle around himself and every person with whom he has a relationship—his wife, kids, friends, co-workers (you get the idea). As often as he remembers, he takes a little inventory of his life to make sure he’s keeping all the right stuff inside each of those circles. He reminded me that everything we do within a given circle has the potential to strengthen the relationship therein. And sometimes when we leave things out of certain circles we ultimately make them weaker.

Thinking about all this made me realize how important health and fitness are to my overall wellbeing, not just my physical health. How they’ve helped me establish and deepen a number of relationships in my life. When my husband and I met, we shared a passion for the outdoors and a passion for running; and each year our marriage grows through some shared physical activity including these things (i.e., running the Grand Canyon, sailing trips, camping).

Many of my closest friends are also running partners, riding buddies or fellow gym rats. Those that don’t share my passion at least appear enthusiastic about my goals and accomplishments. And it’s okay if they’re just faking interest, to share a circle with me means to share my interests no matter what. And I share the things that make them tick, too (even when I don’t find them interesting).

I’ve had a couple of friendships that haven’t fared so well over the years; there have been times I’ve let fitness get in the way of a relationship by simply not sharing it with someone else. Greg got me thinking that maybe I can use my passion for fitness as a means to rekindle those old friendships, repair relationships that might need tending to or strengthen an already strong bond with a loved one. It even works with people who don’t quite “get it,” who don’t understand that it’s fun to work up a good stinky, sweat.

I can keep circles intact by sharing what it feels like to be me, and that doesn’t necessarily mean running a marathon (though it’s always nice to have some company). There are plenty of other options—a short walk with an aging parent, a leisurely bike ride with my kids, a lake swim with a friend who usually hits the beach for a tan. If fitness is a big part of your life, find some way to share it with those people who are most important to you. Let it bring you together instead of tear you apart.

We all know that good relationships can be the best, most challenging endurance events out there. And as a mom, having a good support network is a sanity saver. So when you think the finish line is in sight, loop back and keep going. Sometimes running (or walking, biking, swimming, etc.) in circles can be a very good thing. 

An active lifestyle keeps me physically and mentally fit, better able to handle the demands of motherhood. How about you? Does fitness keep you strong in more ways than one?