What A Cruise Ship Gym Tells Us About The Road Less Traveled

Presently I am on a much needed vacation.

While in the grips of a typical Pacific Northwest winter which is always gray and rainy, several girlfriends and I decided we needed to get away to some sun and warmth. So, we carefully wedged in a cruise to Mexican Riviera sometime between the end of "Engagement Season" but before "Wedding Season. (Can you tell I am traveling with wedding professionals?)

It's now Day 1 aboard the Carnival Splendor and we are out at sea, heading to Cabo San Lucas. After a relaxing breakfast, coffee and chat, my friend Sharon and I decide to head to the gym to get a workout.

The gym is pretty nice and completely filled at 8:30 in the morning will all of the travelers equally determined to NOT put on the usual 7-14 pounds one gains after a week of cruising. And it would seem, by walking into the door and midway into the room that there is no room for us.

However, I knew that around the corner, the rows of treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes continued and I assured my friend we'd find a place. So, I asked her to follow me and sure enough, right around the bend, were over a dozen more pieces of equipment, empty.

I jumped on a machine at the far end, next to water fountain and with a speaker overhead playing upbeat gym music and enjoyed the space to myself. Sharon, was able to find a treadmill and get her workout going. And it while I was on the machine, I noted how most people didn't seem to know or care to explore the gym to find out how much more the place had to offer.

And, that seems to be the norm for us a people in many aspects. Many people prefer the "safety in numbers" because of its primal protection is offers us and are unwilling to keep exploring where we can't see clearly what might be ahead and less so , do it alone. But in the case of the gym today, it's where the opportunities were if you really wanted them!

Now, what did I sacrifice here in my corner at the end of the road? Well, I didn't have a clear view of the ocean as we glided through it and perhaps that's why no one wanted these machines - people's priorities were more or less on the view than the results. Maybe? I don't know. But I know that during most of my workout, my view I cherished was the one in my head - that of Amee at 70 or 80 years old, standing on a mountain top in some far off land, having completed a hike with my kids and their kids. My vision of my Age-Defying Goddess that I keep close at hand. I don't need to see an ocean move by me to be motivated. This Future Amee motivates me enough.

But I think that most of the time, people venture only so far and if they are not really disciplined to the task at hand, are easily distracted by the available excuses laid out in front in them, which is in this case "Oh well. Gym is full. No machines. I guess it's back to the Lido Deck and have another Mimosa then. I tried. You saw that right?" And they are unwilling to explore what's unseen and around the corner and prefer to take their cues from the masses. Most of us don't choose to travel on, as Robert Frost called it, the road "less traveled by."

In the last several months however, I have become reacquainted with my body in many ways. I have become committed to the fact that it is the temple that protects my divine spirit and taking care of my physical health is how I worship it. And with almost monk-like discipline, I have been constantly pushing myself to not just work out more, but to do it with consistency. To work through excuses like cramps, joint pain, time, etc. And then it was to honor my body and the soul within it by taking the next step and taking up mental health.

Finally, about 6-7 weeks ago, I recognized that I won't lose my "Margarita Lover" membership card if I choose to not drink them as often as I'd had. And also - do I really need 1-2 glasses of wine every night to relax? Or should I work on mental fortitude instead? What role does sugar & sweets play in my life? Because it seems that eating candy is in fact me getting a sugar high and a short-lived dopamine boost.

So, I revisit my audacious goal - I want to be ageless. I want a strong mental state and I want a body equally capable of carrying it. And will I get there if I only do part of the work involved? I saw that the answer was "No." In fact, after several months of working out regularly, I was getting fitter and stronger but not where I knew I could be and that was due to the alcohol and sugar. I was close but I had to break free of social norms and my own habits. I had to walk around the corner by myself.

And so back to a row of empty equipment around the corner that most were unwilling to explore. How far do you push past the obvious to find the hidden? Or do you simply accept what you think is true because of the groups in front of you or around you. I suppose if you are satisfied with where you are, this is all okay.

But, if you are trying to change and grow, it requires exploration. And because the masses will try to convince you to remain safe with them, you have to decide "Am I still safe if I remain where I am today?" For me, I recognized that doing the "same" might be familiar, which my brain liked, but it was not only no longer safe for me, it was slowly ruining me.

So being a cruise, where drinking and gluttony is not only an expectation but for most of the 3,000 people on board (excluding children of course) - the primary objective, I will certainly be tested in ways I have not.

Can I be free, relaxed and more importantly, "fun" without a constant buzz from alcohol? Drinking was a big part of breaking down my inhibitions - which were formed from always being "on guard" and a fear of "looking dumb." It helped me open and talk with strangers in personal conversations. Otherwise, I was always the one who sat off to the site and everyone assumed I hated them or thought I was too good for them.

Therefore, by maintaining my obedience to my journey to a better life down a road I've not taken before, I will have to keep saying "No" on this trip. Now, I will not be a saint by any stretch of the imagination, but I am intending on exercising significant restraint and looking to express myself in different ways and enjoy a beverage or two in extreme moderation. And skipping the dessert bars that are laid out everywhere.

One thing I learned this morning while reading was a study that demonstrated the profound influence of maternal drug use on children. If a mother used drugs and alcohol, it not only affected her abilities to parent her children, but it set an example that her kids followed. And mom using drugs or alcohol was more strongly connected to future drug use by children than a father's. So, it's also important to me that the example I'm setting for my kids is critical. They are watching me, even now. Especially now.

Because becoming "ageless" is not simply something material or vain. It also means ensuring that my kids inherit the best of what I can give them and can grow it into a better version for themselves and give it, one day, to their kids. Because my body dies with me and that is certainly not "ageless" at all. But legacy - that is something different.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost



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