This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Mark Spoor
Through 3 weeks of my healthier 2021 (which actually started in late 2020), things were cruising right along. I had taken 21 Peloton biking classes, learned a lot about stretching and flexibility, cleaned up my diet some, and started seeing measurable results.
Then I went to my 14-year-old daughter's team workout.
My daughter is a catcher on a very competitive travel softball team. How competitive? They're having team workouts in mid-January when it's ... what's the word I'm looking for ... oh yeah --freezing.
Anyhow, one of the other dads on the team is the head football coach at a local high school, so the girls are able to work out in the school's weight room. The place is awesome and has all the amenities you might expect to see at a big-time college.
As I sat down in a comfortable chair with the other parents to watch these kids go through their paces, I saw my daughter and her wonderful teammates go from gossip-hungry, social-media-craving teenagers to focused, fearless, aspiring athletes.
I sat amazed as my daughter worked thick, heavy ropes with all the confidence and swagger of someone with an endorsement deal. She ran through some pretty high box jumps like she was playing hopscotch, then jumped rope like she was in an '80s-movie montage.
It was then when I thought to myself, "You can do more, old man."
And then I did.
It started with the socially distanced meal the team and parents enjoyed after the workout. (If there's one thing softball parents like to do, it's eat out.) While everyone else was noshing on chips and salsa, I waited for my meal, sipping on a glass of unsweet tea (or, as my Northern friends and family call it, "iced tea"). The meal itself? Grilled shrimp, onions, peppers, cilantro, lime rice, and yes, a bit of spicy queso.
Dessert? No thanks, I'm good.
The next morning, as I climbed on the bike, I decided to forgo the normal beginner ride and attempt the longer, more challenging, advanced beginner ride. The biggest differences? During this sweatfest, you come in and out of the seat during the ride, something you don't do in the beginner classes.
That takes coordination, my friends -- something I'm not blessed with an abundance of.
The intensity goes up a bunch, too. After all, you have to dial up the resistance to keep the bike steady while you're up out of the seat. Then, when you sit back down, to my surprise, the resistance stays up. By the end of the 30 minutes, I was pouring sweat.
But you know what? I did it. The next day, I did it again, along with a 10-minute core workout. The flexibility battle continues, but I'm making progress there, too.
Laura Downey, a co-worker of mine who's on her own Healthier 2021 journey, recently asked me to do a live Peloton class with her soon. Hey, Laura. I'm almost ready to try it. Maybe we can get Cheer-Dad Bill onboard, too!
After I finished that first 30-minute ride, I was so proud of myself, I reached out to the instructor on Twitter and thanked him for the classes.
Yup, I actually thanked him for the torture.
After I did that, I tried to think of a way to thank my daughter for her inspiration that wouldn't result in an eye roll or a grunt (a tough ask when you have a teenager). Hopefully, this did the trick.
Mark Spoor is a senior health editor with WebMD. He spent more than 2 decades in sports media, working with groups like the NCAA, NASCAR, and the PGA TOUR. Most weekends, you can find him and his wife, Chris, cheering on their daughter's softball team.
While Mark has spent a lot of time with athletes, he's not one, so fitness has always been a bit of a challenge. He hopes this endeavor will help him get a little closer to winning that battle.
You can follow Mark on Twitter @markspoor.