It was an evening in early May of 2008 and I decided to go for a short bike ride around the block.
I'm not sure why as I didn't do this often at the time, but during this particular ride I felt free. You know how when you're a child and you ride your bike fast, recklessly, and without a care in the world?
That's exactly how I felt and this short bike ride turned into a 1 hour long bike ride.
With fresh air breezing by, and the sun setting, I had an epiphany. In the thrill of the ride I realized that the reason I could never stick to an exercise regimen was I would do exercises that weren't enjoyable to me.
I tried running, lifting weights, pushups and other body-weight exercises but it all went nowhere.I hated running just for the sake of running, yet I would try to run daily and usually pull a muscle or two. After a few days I'd quit. Does that sound familiar?
I hated lifting weights because it was boring and the amount of weight I could lift was miniscule. I hired a personal trainer twice/week anyway because I thought lifting weights is what you're "supposed" to do. I quit after a few months. I didn't realize any significant progress in strength and the weight room smelled like sweaty feet and massive ego.
And I absolutely hated pushups because from a very young age I always had the weakest upper body in my peer group and could never do more than a few pushups or pullups.
But that evening bike ride shifted my thinking. If I could find exercises I enjoyed then I'd not only want to do them, I'd crave doing them.
Have you realized that when you find something you truly enjoy doing you can't get enough of it?You lose track of time when you're engrossed in the activity.
So I immediately got to work organizing a 44 mile bike ride along the West Orange Trail in Central Florida for Saturday June 7, 2008. It's 22 miles each way, so we'd do the whole trail front to back.
I began training every day. First just a few miles. Then 5. Then I was doing 10 miles per ride without a problem. I stepped it up to 15 miles and then finally I did a single 22 mile bike ride a few days before June 7.
I still hadn't built up the endurance for a full 44 miles, but I knew I could do the West Orange Trail one way. Since I'd be stranded if I didn't continue I'd have no choice but to go 22 miles back to the starting point. My friends would be there for support if I needed them.
Saturday rolled around, 10 friends showed up, and we started our ride from Mile Marker 0 of the West Orange Trail at 11:30 am.
That was a mistake. It was already hot, 85 degrees or so, and the peak temperature of the day hit 95 and very humid. We should've started the ride at 8 or 9 am.
The first 10 miles were simple. I'd already been training at least 10 miles/day for a few weeks so I had no fatigue.
I didn't hit the first figurative wall until about the 18 mile mark. It was getting really tiring. It was hot. I was soaked in sweat. I'd already been riding in this incredible Florida heat for 2 hours because I made sure to stay back with the slowest rider.
That rider, through no physical fault of his own, was my friend Andrei. He borrowed a too-small mountain bike that was very difficult for a grown man to ride.
Finally we got to the end point, mile 22, and stopped at a gas station for rations. After a few minutes of rest we were off back the way we came.
It was getting a lot more difficult and my friend Andrei was looking sick and pale. Usually he could power past anything, but this bike was exhausting him so greatly that he was ready to quit.
At the 31 mile mark I gave Andrei my bike, an easy to ride Gary Fisher Zebrano hybrid, so he could rest a bit.
I was exhausted too, but I thought 11 more miles on a children's bike would be no problem.I was wrong.
This bike didn't want to move. Besides being far too small for my six foot five inch frame, the wheels were really fat and slow.
After 2 miles I thought I was going to pass out. I stopped constantly, drinking water, resting in shade, doing whatever I could to press on.
At Mile 41 I was ready to quit.
3 miles from the finish line but I just couldn't continue. My body was so exhausted I was actually cold.
It was 95 degrees outside and I had chills. I didn't feel right.I ran out of water a few miles back and saw a building I thought had a water fountain. I immediately stopped, threw the bike on the ground and ran to the building. No water fountain. No people. Nothing.
Dizzy, and unable to focus my eyes or thoughts, I dropped my almost lifeless body in the shade of a tree.
My friends continued, not knowing what I was up to, and found the actual water fountain about 200 yards further down the trail.
After a few minutes of laying on the ground I got up and got on my bike, hoping I could make it. Thankfully, I only had that 200 yards to go.
The water was very warm, being that it was in direct sunlight, but it was glorious. I drank, poured it all over my body and laid down on a bench. Andrei had already been passed out on the adjacent bench for 10 minutes.
I told everybody else to go, we'd make it eventually.
After what seemed like hours, but was really just minutes, I told Andrei we needed to get up and go. The sooner we got back, the sooner we could eat and refuel our depleted systems.
I still had chills, and knew something wasn't quite right, but I also knew I needed to press on.
So we got on our bikes and rode the last 3 miles with a triumphant feeling of pure agony.
After 5 grueling hours and 44 miles in the scorching Florida sun, we made it.Almost immediately we hopped in our cars and headed to a local burrito joint to load up on protein, carbs, and cold water.
Our exhaustion had turned into bliss.
I've since done the full 44 mile West Orange Trail again and I've ridden it in shorter lengths countless times.
How This Will Help You Get Fit In 1 MinuteYou need to take just a few simple actions.
1) Find an exercise you enjoy (as I finally did).
This will take some trial and error, but it doesn't matter what it is. It can be running, swimming, lifting weights, playing basketball, literally anything that gets you sweating. Notice I didn't say walking. Walking, while it may be beneficial, doesn't get your heart pumping and isn't much of a workout. You won't get a euphoric workout high by just walking.
2) Starting immediately go do that exercise for just 1 minute.
Yes, that's it. Put on your shorts, t-shirt, sweats, tennis/running/cross-training/basketball shoes, or whatever you need to wear for your workout. And go do it for just 1 minute.
Nobody is so busy they don't have a single, solitary, free minute in the day.
Psychologically, it is important that you actually "suit up" for your workout so don't skip that. It gets you in the "yes, I'm about to workout!" mood.
3) When you wake up the next day go do that exercise for another minute.
Do it immediately upon waking. Don't shower. Don't eat. Go do your 1 minute workout. Again, it's just 1 minute. Yes, you have that much time before work, school, or whatever morning commitments you may have.
4) Keep this up for 30 days.
To be fair: 1 minute won't be enough to get you fit on its own, but it will be enough to get you in the exercise habit.
By the time the 30 days is up, assuming you chose an exercise you truly enjoy, you will not only be in the habit of daily workouts, but you'll workout for much longer than 1 minute.
It's a funny thing this brain of ours. When we do something enjoyable it forces us to do it regularly and for a considerable amount of time.
In my case, I went a little extreme with that initial 44 mile bike ride, but I've been biking regularly ever since.