Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Quitting smoking hurts your legs

I gave up smoking just over a year ago. One year and 4 days ago, to be exact.

It's been a pretty cool year. Despite putting on a little weight, I've felt a surge in my sense of health and well-being which you would naturally expect to result from stopping the routine and willful poisoning of your body.

The quitting, however, did have a natural flow-on affect on my sense of overall health. I realised pretty quickly that smoking was just a crutch to excuse quite a lot of unhealthy life choices in recent years: poor diet, lack of exercise, horrible sleeping patterns, binge drinking and regular intoxication by other substances. I'd actively resisted attempting to fix those other things by hiding behind the fact that I was smoking at least a packet of cigarettes a day: it didn't matter how fit I became, or how balanced my diet was, I was ruining any positives by that rather large negative - was my thinking. Without the cigarettes, I know longer had a convenient bunker to hide behind.

So I joined a gym, I focused my attention on my diet and I sought to remove some aspects of my personal habits which were doing me damage. I also bought a bike. I rediscovered this machine as a relatively exhilarating way to exercise and commute. I vigorously explored the city bike paths on weekends, and often found myself wanting more. A lot more. And so it was in this frame of mind that I accepted workmate Mick's invitation to go actual mountain biking last weekend. My gym sessions were going very well, my bike had been recently serviced and I was feeling relatively invincible. And, since my mountain bike hadn't yet actually tasted anything near a mountain in its life, I figured this would be a great way to celebrate my one year no-smoking anniversary.

We trekked down to Daisy Hill on Brisbane's southside and quickly got into the rhythm of things. The first 10-15kms was relatively polite, as I traversed muddy tracks, craggy paths and pot-holed speckled firetrails. It was great to be in the outdoors and I could feel my confidence beginning to soar with every narrow miss, with every drop negotiated and with every rock ridden over without it resulting in my face assisting in my breaking. It was in this spirit that Mick suggested a final trail - more of a "technical route" that a "fast and scary". Sounded fine, I reasoned, and so we made the way up the red-mud clad hill to the top. "See you at the bottom" he called, as we begun the descent down the very narrow muddy trail.

The track was very narrow, with trees and rocks closing in on both sides. Often the trail was only big enough for your tires, not allowing any room for error. A steep hill fell away on the left for a lot of the trip. I traversed a few tricky corners and crags, and my confidence was reaching its zenith. Rounding a rather fast corner, I spied a deviation in the trail ahead - a purpose-laid path of relatively flat stones was gouged away on the left hand side by hundreds of bike tires slipping off. As is often the case, I focused on where I did not want to go - the sharp edge of a stone which dropped off steeply on one side. The focus did nothing but guide me into it. With both hands squeezing the brakes for dear life, I had no option and closed off my mind as the sickening thud of the tire on the sharp rock signaled a spiraling entanglement of my body and bike. The result was a bruised knee-cap and graze on my left knee, and rather deep scrapes on both thighs. These scrapes have manifested itself into two pretty impressive blue/yellow bruises:

Shut up! This camera sucks and it doesn't really do them justice. They're huge bruises! Certainly the most impressive I'd had as a result of physical exertion for some years (as opposed to bruises gained from sheer clumsiness or the like, which are relatively common). Bruises aside, it was a pretty bloody darned fun way to celebrate such a milestone and I can't wait to do it all over again. I think I'm hooked to this exercise-y stuff.


Dr Yobbo said...

Them's sexy thighs my man.

This exercise thing sounds like a lot of hard work. I will continue to drink too much and eat too well safe in the knowledge that not having smoked I'm probably somewhere near even stevens. So long as I'm not near Shakin' Stevens.

Anonymous said...

Ben, knocking off the bacco was one of my better decisions. cheers Geoff.

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amy said...

I heard it for the first time that smoking hurts legs, thanks for posting this blog and making me aware of some unknown effects of smoking..

jeny said...

Quiting msoking may seem hard to you initially ,but sooner or later you will see the good and positive effects of quiting smoking habit. Use the good substitute for quiting which will not be painful for you.

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