Cofrin Park

Cofrin Park
Cofrin Nature Park

Friday, February 15, 2013

RAGBRAI: The Tandem Bike Team Adventure: Mind Spinning Matters

The RAGBRAI tandem bike adventure team continues training, and I have joined in, sort of.

I've survived my 14th spin class, and my thighs and calves and feet ache. Karyn, our instructor, says I can only count my classes up to number 20. She assumes I'll make it that far, she is such as inspiration and a dreamer. Besides leading our spin class, she also coaches athletes. She swims several miles a week too. So does most everyone in the spin class, but me.

Besides Chuck's prodding, Karyn is the main reason I continue the brutal game of spin. Karyn anticipates that I want to quit and she says "Time to put your big girl panties on!" That's her metaphor for sucking it up and digging deep to make it to the end of class. She tags one class "climbing" and chants "we love to climb, we love to climb..." as we "add gear" and slow down the revolutions, and "get out of the saddle" for 1 minute. I last about 30 seconds out of the saddle. I stay in the saddle when the whole rest of the class is "out and up" and peddling with ferocious intensity. 

Why do I do spin class? Firstly, the spin class is the only way I will ever get my heart rate up. Secondly, I feel so much better the rest of the day. Really! Thirdly, it feels great to break through my comfort zone and do more than I thought possible. Finally, it's kinda fun.
But enough about me.

 Here's Chuck's next installment on his RAGBRAI journey:

The intrepid RAGBRAI teammates, Chuck and his Captain, Cheryl, after a Spin class workout at the gym; and they still have enough energy for smiles. (Note the blue glow emanating from Chuck's skull, a weird side-affect that shows up in some Spin Class participants.

RAGBRAI: Tandem Riding Adventure: 
Psychological and Emotional Snafus, a.k.a. Mind Spin
            The physical, emotional and psychological obstacles I face in preparation for RAGBRAI have mainly become challenges in self-acceptance and self-motivation. As I am almost blind and am older than many riders, those two attributes could lead to creeping self-doubt. So, I quickly found the need to surround myself with positive people who consistently support and motivate me. Otherwise, the demands and setbacks associated with preparing for a week long ride across the state of Iowa could do me in. 
            Although my psychological and emotional journey began as a youth, the real challenges began when I faced losing my sight.  In 2010 my sight had gotten so bad that I lost my job and started to collect Social Security Disability.  I decided that I needed therapy and attended many sessions that helped considerably.  Therapy focused on self-acceptance and self-motivation, in order to build a strong foundation for mental health. It worked.
            Attending blind rehabilitation at the centers in Birmingham and West Palm Beach forced me to “see” other people just like me, struggling with the same challenges as I.  I felt the need to become independent and strong. My overwhelmingly positive experiences with the blind rehab training changed my outlook on being blind.
            Once I was able to transform my thinking, I gained a positive self-image. As I upgraded my self-image, I took a hard look at my physical self.  I had definitely let this part of me go. I had gained weight to an embarrassing 306 pounds and my health suffered. 
In January 2012, I volunteered and was chosen for a workout study using the new X-Force workout program.  This workout study set me on the path to changing and healing my body.  The group motivation and accountability, that is critical to such a program, kept me from giving up.     
            In the fall of 2012 I started the spin classes.  This extreme workout immediately kicked my butt but I found that I loved it.  After just a few months, I found my body transforming and that motivated me to ride even harder.
Occasionally, I still face the issues of self-image and self-acceptance. These issues usually arise when I am alone with hours of free time.  The old adage that you can be your own worst enemy rings true, however, awareness is the anecdote. For example, when I know I’ll be alone for the weekend, I plan ahead and surround myself with positive and highly motivated people.  I am especially careful of being around people that give up too easily and look at the glass as half empty. I stay away from such people, as I am susceptible to their mind-numbing poison. Luckily, those folks don’t show up in spin class!
Last year, I started a daily journal where I just let my thoughts flow.  In the journal, I can talk to myself in a critically objective manner. The journal is my outlet and it has been extremely liberating. I write daily about my triumphs and failures, how to become stronger or how to prevent or overcome failure.  I often go back and reflect upon the issues that have plagued me in the past. When I put those tough issues in writing, where I can contemplate them in a different context, I learn how to prevent those things from repeating. I highly recommend this form of self-therapy—it’s free, it’s powerful—it works.
1)     Therapy was of utmost importance as it allowed me the opportunity to look inside myself in an objective manner; 2) rehabilitation was pivotal in my self-acceptance; 3) becoming part of a team or group gave me inspiration and motivation; 4) finding a mission or purpose helped me focus my efforts;5) committing to a form of training allowed me to engage my entire being.
            You are in control of your transformation and no one else. Here’s some tips to get us all started:
Document your life through journaling and pay particular attention to asking:
What do I want to do with my time?
How do I want to perceive myself?
How do I want to project myself to others? 
What are my goals?
What are some ways that I can achieve these goals? 
Once you have written this down, TAKE ACTION!
Remember, action produces results, not failure! Any perceived “failure” is just feedback. Feedback lets you know that you need to tweak your efforts. When discouragement stares you down, don’t blink. Turn around and find another way by using your powerful, unlimited imagination—your greatest gift!

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