Friday, June 15, 2012

Changing habits

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 10:18 AM

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In light of the half-century challenge, I've decided to get serious about quitting smoking. With the smoking ban in effect throughout Indy, and some major routine changes in my own life, it seemed like the perfect time to take the plunge. So I bought a few packs of NicoDerm CQ patches, and have been following the nicotine replacement therapy plan for about two weeks. As of Friday morning, I'll have been smoke free for twelve days. And while its still too early to count it a success, I can already tell a big difference in my body and my bicycling.

Generally, I'm an afternoon cyclist. I wake up, work from home, and then I head out for a ride before dinner. But the downside to the nicotine patches: I can't wear them while I exercise. As blood flow increases, so does the amount of nicotine in your bloodstream, making for nausea, headaches, and dizziness.

Despite doing this research, I still tried to bike while wearing the patch on the first day. And what I felt were all of the above symptoms. I cut my ride short and actually got off my bike to walk (slowly) the rest of the way home.

And because I'm too cheap to remove the patch mid-day, train for the half-century and put a new patch on, I've had to change my daily exercise routine.

Now, even back in college, when I did habitually exercise (and wore a size-6 jeans, gee, those really were the days), I could never make myself get up early and get to the gym. It's just not in my DNA. So the thought of waking up early to ride first thing in the morning truly makes me shudder. It, at least, makes me hit the snooze button a few extra times as I bargain with my half-conscious brain, trying desperately to think of an alternative solution.

But, if I want to quit successfully (and I do, I really do), this is how it has got to be... at least for the next ten weeks or so.

So for the past eleven days, I've been crawling out of bed and into a sports-bra and bike helmet. And while it is hard to get there, once I make the first few pedals away from my apartment, it almost feels good.

I've realized, there are certain advantages to a morning workout. The trails I frequent are less crowded, making it easier for me to push my pace. It's much cooler in the morning than in the high heat of the afternoon. And it's just plain nice to see the world waking up via bicycle.

However, I do find myself less alert. (I've also given up caffeine, a major smoking trigger of mine) And I'm definitely less personable. On a ride yesterday morning, on three different occasions, a car blocked a crosswalk of the trail I was riding. The third time, the driver had his window down. So, I locked eyes with him and pleasantly said, "Thanks for blocking the intersection, asshole."

To which he responded, "I didn't think about it, bitch."

Not a very positive exchange to begin the day. But, I guess I did start the name calling.

And as the temperatures rise this Summer, I'm willing to bet I'll be grateful that a morning ride is my new habit. It's just going to take some time to adjust.

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