You’re never too old to enjoy your childhood: A Guest Blog Post by Beth L.

Well…I’ve been urging Beth to contribute a post for months now and so here we FINALLY have it!

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and riding with Beth for nearly as long as I’ve been an instructor / member at the local YMCA (about 5 years now!). Like many west Michiganders, when given the option, on a beautiful Michigan day, Beth will typically choose to be outside on one of our many trails…on her bike or on foot.

When it comes to music, Beth loves some good ole’ alternative 70’s rock (the likes of Zeppelin, Floyd, YES, Rush, Genesis…), but current New Zealand Alt/Pop artist Gin Wigmore is also a favorite!

More than sharing many rides (inside) and love for this great state of Michigan…we both have a “common” heart condition known as a Left Bundle Branch Block (LBBB)…more details on that are HERE.

So, for February…American Heart Month, meet Beth and read about her well-rounded approach to healthy living!

One afternoon in 2008, as I was making my bed, I suddenly felt pain up and down my arm. It stayed with me off and on the rest of the day until I called my daughter, who took me to the ER. An EKG showed no heart attack, but a Left Bundle Branch Block (LBBB) which meant the electronics on the left side of my heart had stopped working. While I was relieved to hear no heart attack, the tests that were done soon after (echo cardiogram, stress test, etc) scared me enough to change my life.

I started with nutrition. I was extremely overweight and all I could think of was to change my eating habits, which I did. The weight started to come off, actually more quickly than I had ever figured it would. I followed up with walking. Coincidentally, I was working in the Marketing Department at the YMCA downtown Grand Rapids for years and had never actually used the facility (wish I could go back in time and change that!).

The walking was followed by a desire to jog and maybe even run. I was surrounded by like-minded members of the Y who supported me and educated me on nutrition, how the muscles and ligaments in a body work together, and encouraged me to try new things like cross training. I started to see my own body as the complex machine I needed to get through life.

Next, I started outdoor cycling and Spinning too. I bought a Gary Fisher hybrid (I had no idea what a hybrid was at the time) and tried to ride it. I couldn’t even make it up our first low-incline hill. Lost my balance and fell over. Embarrassed, I walked it home and stuck it in the garage.

Fast forward to 2009, minus about 60 pounds, feeling more fit in general. I decided to give that bike a try again. I rediscovered my childhood on that bike and truly believe that YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO ENJOY YOUR CHILDHOOD! 

Eventually I bought clip-in cycling shoes and pedals. This was scary because I had no idea how I was going to quickly unclip when it came to stop the bike. I took it to the Musketawa Trail by myself to try it slowly. It came naturally and I quickly learned how to clip and unclip at will. Clipping in was helpful in my process of learning how to pedal with more power…my instructors were right!

With the running and weight training I experienced a meniscus tear. Some minor surgery took care of that, but arthritis is not my friend lately, and after completing one triathlon and a half marathon in Grand Rapids, I can no longer take the heavy impact on my knees that comes with running.

Again, bicycling came in to play as my cardio go to of choice. To this day I feel like a kid again when I am on my Specialized road bike (yep, replaced the hybrid in 2009). I have pedaled through batches of butterflies on the side of the road, picked up fishing wire in my spokes by the river and needed to be rescued, taken curves too quickly and fallen in to various bushes, watched raccoons playing in the water under a bridge. My hobby has been to get more in touch with the world around me! My fellow exercisers still support me in a community of fellowship and encouragement. And indoor cycling…”the ride inside” is necessary training that keeps me ready to get out again on my road bike.

Thank you Beth for your frequent visits to the Cycle Studio, sharing your favorite tunes, your amazing healthy granola, your friendly smile…and sharing your story here!  See you soon!

 – Steve

PS – If you’re also a fan of classic 70’s alternative rock, you need to check out this post and the Spotify playlist!

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