As I have been riding my bike more this summer, I realized there are some bike ‘rules of the road’ that can assist you in your quest for greater wellness.

1. Look where you want to go. When riding a bike, if you look off the trail to your right, your bike will go to the right. If you look to the left, it will go to the left. Therefore, if you want to keep moving forward, you have to look straight ahead for the most part. And, look for your route through the gravel, rocks and tree roots. In life, you need to stay focused on what you want to accomplish or you most likely won’t get there. You can stay focused on all the reasons you can’t do something, like lose weight, and stay stuck continually beating yourself up. Or you can focus on all the benefits and advantages of losing weight. By looking forward to where you want to get, you will be more motivated and have more confidence that you can keep up the hard work of moving toward your goal.

2. But, when going up hill only look at the next step, not the whole hill. On my bike I sometimes look at a big hill and feel overwhelmed. But, when I start pedaling and just focus on what’s right in front of me, I feel more capable of getting to the top. If you set a goal and don’t break it down into manageable action steps, it will seem totally overwhelming. So, keep the larger goal in mind, as mentioned above, but also start with one step at a time, setting smaller goals to work on and master each day.

3. Keep moving. To get over rocks on a mountain bike trail, you have to keep up enough speed or you will fall. If you stop being social or active, because you feel depressed or unmotivated, you will most likely feel worse. Sometimes you have to ‘act as if’. Act as if you can complete a task or have the energy to go to a social event. Changing your behavior can have an impact on your thoughts and or feelings, leading to a more positive mood.

4. You get good at doing what you do. This is a basic personal training theory. If you stay at home watching TV, then you get good at staying home and watching TV. However, if you start walking for 15 minutes a night after work, then you will get better at walking. And, it will then be easier to walk for more time or to add in some hills. On my bike, I can ride strongly on level ground, but when it comes to hills, I slow way down. So, I have told myself, if you want to get better at riding hills, you have to ride hills. As I push myself to ride more hills for longer periods of time, they are becoming easier.

5. Go at your own pace. I often do long road bike rides with my husband. It’s a great way to spend time together except that he’s so much faster than me. Sometimes, I find that riding with him feels more difficult because I am always seeing him way out in front of me. When I tell myself that I am going at my own pace and that is okay, then it does not feel so hard.

So, look where you want to go, take it step by step, keep moving, practice what you are wanting to improve and go at your own pace. If you want more support and practical steps to help you create change for better moods or a healthier lifestyle, contact me bclark@shineintegratedtherapy.com.