Gym vs. bike and picking your own poison

Winter wetlands during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada

Over the Christmas season, I had been flipping through Facebook and was motivated by an account of someone that avidly works out. She lost a lot of weight over the past year and totally transformed herself into pure buff. Wow.

I marvelled at the befores and afters, and then thought… that’s a LOT of effort right there.

I immediately felt pain in my joints just thinking about it…

Forest trees on fire during golden hour along the Vedder River along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada

I’ve had issues with working out over the past few years due to old injuries. My body appears to detest weights and anything gym related. Yet the one thing I HAVE been able to do is hop on my bike and hit the trails.

As you already know if you’ve been following my journey, these trails changed my life. Before I got a bike, I didn’t know they existed! Yet they start 5 minutes down the road from my front door. Crazy.

As my bike endurance increased, so did the offer of even more trails that were even more beautiful! It was like a gift for improving my own endurance.

Winter wetlands during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada

However, outdoor trail riding can be a bit of a miserable adventure in pouring rain (which we frequently get) or high winds. When we had a LONG run of that during Christmas, I was inspired to join a local gym a few minutes from my front door. I was inspired to keep moving, regardless!

A guilt zap went straight to my gut. Looking around where I sat… I felt immediate shame holding a big bowl of buttered popcorn, warmly snuggled underneath a cozy blanket in front of some ongoing Netflix saga. There was LOTS of evening ahead of me, so I had no excuse as to why I was resorting to this same scenario each night, all night long.

And I was feeling it too. Getting more sluggish, not caring as much… you get the picture. Hibernation time was in full effect.

So I bit the bullet and joined the gym the very next day. And of course, did a workout right after signing on the dotted line.

After that workout, I promptly took a week off. Nooooo…. not again!

I don’t get it, but every time I work on stationery machines of some sort, I can only manage about 30 minutes tops within those 4 walls before my mind goes a little crazy. Then once I get home, the workouts leave me feeling horrid afterwards. I have no energy and have to crawl into bed, and often have to recoup for a few days from headaches and what not. It isn’t a good experience. And I went SO easy on myself!

Why? Why in the world can’t my body cooperate?

In comparison?

Bench with an outstanding view along the Vedder River along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada

On a bike, I cannot wait to get out there. In fact, I have water in the fridge and my shoes and bike gear by my bike located in the front entry offering me everything in need with 5 minutes notice! (have you read my 20 second rule post HERE? it works)

Mind you, I have a quality bike that fits me like a glove that made ALL the difference. 

And once I get home, I have more energy than I can even imagine. I am pumped to move! My mood is spectacular, and I feel more fit to go out the next day because of it.

Why such a drastic difference?!

Smooth, gravel trails along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada

I’ve had some training on gym machines so I know it isn’t JUST that, although some new guidance would probably help. 

I personally think it’s because of the type of injuries I’ve had in the past. I had a foot surgery last January and I was able to get back on the bike before I was even walking properly! That’s very telling to me.

I’ve attempted walking in the past, but that didn’t do it for me either. Even with camera in hand for something more to do, I got bored easily with the slow moving scenery. Plus, walking hurts my foot anyway, so that isn’t fun.

Biking is where it’s apparently at for me.

Winter wetlands during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada

And at this stage of the 56 year old game, I just want to infuse my life with things I enjoy vs. attempting every trick in the workout book in order to achieve that ‘perfect body.’

I don’t even want a perfect body if I’m crunched over in pain. Not worth it.

Although I don’t love it, I am grateful to have a gym nearby to work up a bit of a sweat during those in between moments I can’t squeak in a bike run. (I don’t even like the sit down bikes in there! they hurt my back) Now I just have to figure out a way to utilize it without hurting myself.

However nothing will ever compare to the real deal bike ride amongst nature for me.

If you have been reluctant to move lately, I get it more than you will ever know. But I also know what happens to me when I don’t move. I start to slide backwards in motivation and happiness. I start seizing up and wanting to stay in bed longer. I don’t have the energy to travel pushing heavy luggage from plane to plane. Everything just moves backwards.

It’s as if movement oils the joints. That’s what my mom always said anyway. And I think she’s right.

I vote to pick a movement that doesn’t hurt you for a start, then choose something you actually enjoy. You just may find a ‘new hobby’ you just can’t put down! That isn’t even close to a poison. 🙂

Sunset facing the Vedder River along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada

It may be winter out there, but when it’s not raining, you know where I’ll be…

What’s your fav way to keep moving?


Visit more of my bike riding adventures HERE

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Categories: Junk Drawer

15 thoughts on “Gym vs. bike and picking your own poison

  1. My poison is not a bike, but the goal to remain healthy and FLEXIBLE so my poison has been for many years, pilates and sometimes yoga mixed in. I started with a gym recently and come home after two hours of weight training(slow and deliberate) and one hour of yoga, pilates or even zumba and crash on the couch. My daughter exercises at a gym in the am and comes back with tons of energy. Not me, but I’m getting better. I am Absolutely feeling better and my movements are smoother and my abs are getting stronger and I’m feeling so fit.

    That along with meditation and visualizations daily are combining to makemee a happy person. You sound like you need nature in your regime….big time. Set your priorities and tailor the workout for you, not someone else.

    • That’s so inspiring Eileen! I really loved Zumba but alway got injured. It’s been mentioned that yoga may be the one for me… something I have not yet attempted. Oh dear… maybe I ought to give it a try…

  2. I can do only 1 mile on my Tread-monster (my name for my treadmill) 4 miles walking the local green-way, or 8 miles traipsing through the trails in my local state park. Yes, being in the real world works the best for me. I totally get your message in this post!

    • Now I want to create nicknames for all those bad boys that treat me wrong at the gym! LOL

      I have an idea… I’m going to try and plug a yoga tape into the machine next time I go and try that instead… you know, when I can’t bike. I’m never giving that one up! High five on nature there…

  3. Hi Donna,

    I cannot do gyms either. I was just looking for a used VHS player to use a VHS tape that I have used in the past. When I moved I decided I did not need the player or tape any longer and got rid of them. As I age I need to be moving more. I am ordering the VHS player and the Denise Austin’s Swinging Big band VHS tape. I am like you with past issues…Achilles tendinitis and frozen shoulders, foot surgeries so need something easy. Hope this does the trick. I have several yoga CD’s and did not like them. Brand new bike and helmet in the garage. Have not used them due to the rains we have had in Cali. More rain on the way. No complaining about rain, we need it!

  4. I have been a cardio junkie most of my life. Marathons, half marathons, over 600 miles on the Appalachian trail backpacking with a load of 25-30lbs, lots of biking, bike racing, walking etc.

    NOW at 56 years old I’m experiencing much pain in my back and joints. Much of it is hereditary, however, if I had the last 30 plus years of exercise to do over………yoga, bike, walk!!!!!!!

    I always hated yoga. I knew I needed it but I just DID NOT like going. The hour seemed like 3!!!!!!! It only took about 20yrs to find the right place for me. LOL When that happened I was totally hooked. So you, being a outdoor/biker chick might want to try all yoga places. I found mine at the City Leisure Services Department. $3 per visit. I’ve paid up to $15 for a class I hated.

    • My goodness…. just goes to prove we’re all made for different things, doesn’t it? Have you ever tried hot yoga? I’m curious but I can’t even step into a sauna… wonder how people breathe… haha

  5. Hi Donna,

    I think it’s whatever you’ll stick to and enjoy.

    I could ramble on…

    I saw your comment about hot yoga.

    I tried it once(I’m not a group exercise person)anyways I walked in and thought I was going to die and needed to run back out. I had to mentally focus on my breathing and then it was fine and soon it never bothered me, however, it was not for me to be soaked in sweat like that!!

  6. Donna,

    Yoga is a great exercise for people who do something active like biking, walking, etc., because it helps to lengthen and stretch the muscles you build while doing that sort of activity. It also builds flexibility, lubricates your joints, massages interior organs, and teaches you to breathe properly, which would be very useful while riding your bike.

    I also do not like a lot of the yoga videos or DVDs. Sometimes people’s voices or their teaching method just don’t appeal to me. I ordered a bunch of DVDs from the library until I found one that I liked and then ordered it on Amazon:

    She also has one for beginners. You can also try You Tube videos to do at home. It does help to take a class with a certified yoga teacher who can make sure that you are doing the poses correctly, or can make sure you are not doing poses that may exacerbate an injury.

    Yoga can be both relaxing and energizing, and leaves you with a feeling of well-being. It is the kind of action that not only involves your body, but opens your mind’s awareness to your body and breathing. You never push your body to the point of pain. Yoga can really help with the aches and pains of maturity and injury. There is a reason people have been doing yoga for thousands of years. It is definitely worth trying.

  7. I like to walk but I don’t do enough of it. Sometimes I also try to do yoga with my daughter, we watch Adrienne on YouTube. She is very gentle with us because that is all I can take.

    As for having the perfect body, that is overrated. Being healthy on the other hand is a whole nother ballgame. I cut out sugar and cut down on my carbs and now I am a whole new person. And I have lots more energy.

  8. Oh boy, exercise and me has always been a love/hate relationship! In the 80’s it was aerobics and weight lifting; then I bought several at home machines (treadmill, rowing machine, etc) even joined a gym. During the last year I did Zumba and then the ladies teaching the classes stopped. Then I tried cardio drumming which was really fun, but the music was way to loud for my old ears, so back to my fallback – walking on the treadmill. Although in this house, we taught our lab mix how to walk on the treadmill, so when I use it she stands there and watches me waiting for her turn!

    During nicer weather I love to take the dog for a walk outside – it’s not boring when we’re outside and maybe that makes the exercise part a little easier to swallow!

  9. I faced the same decision, and went with the bike…but found out too late that bike riding does nothing to strengthen your bones, or to protect you from osteoporosis…indeed some research shows that it can contribute to it. Who knew. Walking, running, weight training…essential for your bones

  10. I find that what I eat has a huge impact on how I feel. I’ve been on ‘no sugar, no dairy, no grains’ for a year, and I can move. Everybody is different, try eliminating different foods for at least a week to see if they impact you.

  11. This post has perfect timing as I have become a YouTube slug bug this winter. In summer short bike rides one or two times a day and mowing the grass helps me to move, get fresh air and sun and provides a good detox. But this winter I have not pushed myself to keep
    moving. And you know how it is…, the less you move the less you move. Makes me feel
    like I need a crane to get me off the couch.
    So it helps to read that you have some issues with the winter blahs as well.
    There is a gym at a church near by that has a treadmill and a few other workout pieces of equipment that I have used for very brief workouts (10-20 min) and while I get tired I feel better. So maybe you have encouraged me to get down there. Then there all the excuses in my head..,,it is too much trouble, it breaks up the day, I don’t feel like being social today, it takes too long to do any good and let’s see….,what other bit of procrastination can I throw in there? But the irony is that the more I move and workout, even if it is brief, the more I want to.
    Well, keep us posted, We need a mutual support group.

  12. I was really glad to read this! I love to be outdoors and when I can’t , I find myself feeling sluggish, headachy, etc… but once it’s nice enough out there, I’m walking the dog , riding my bike or doing anything I can to be out there!!! Do what makes you feel good❤️??

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