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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cross Country Skiing and how it Heals ME

I grew up in New York City and dancing and walking were my only means of physical activity. I did fine in Gym Class but never excelled at any sport. I hadn't tried downhill skiing until I was over 21 and a friend took me. Okay, so it was my boyfriend at the time who had been on skis since he could walk. He proceeded to laugh at me as I got off the ski lift and went uncontrollably straight down the hill terrified.... Learning sports as an adult had always seemed intimidating to me. But when my husband and I decided we were moving to upstate NY I told him I HAD to start a winter sport like cross country skiing to keep my sanity during the long winters.

I borrowed a pair of skis and I had a friend who had just gotten a pair from a garage sale. We went to the local park (being an old airport it is NICE and LEVEL), strapped the skis on and went. Luckily my friend Gina had gone once or twice years before so she knew the basic movements. This is now my 4th winter cross country skiing. I had no prior knowledge of it other than it was great exercise and it would get me outside even on the coldest of days. Taking up a sport with no prior knowledge gave me self-confidence and brought me SUCH happiness. I received cross country skis for Valentine's Day from my husband that year. (2004)

We have LONGGG winters in upstate, NY. Really from November until late March or even April it is COLD and there is usually a blanket of snow. Every Saturday morning is MY TIME to go out with my girlfriends and go skiing. Pictures above are (me, Gina, Ange) and (Gina, Jacki, Ange). Even when I was ill, it didn't matter if I didn't feel good, it didn't matter if it was below zero -- if there was snow on the ground I knew I was putting on my 4 layers of clothing and we were going. The winter can be a time of sadness and illness. The change in the weather, being stuck inside without opening windows, the holidays -- affording them and the obligations we tend to feel, the shortened days, not being out of the house with the kids for extended periods of time..... the list goes on.

Cross country skiing is EASY to pick up and inexpensive. Believe me - if I can do it -- anyone can. Skis, boots and poles can be bought for as little as $125 new or cheaper if you get them used. XCSKIWORLD has great information on cross country skiing and how it is GREAT exercise and not at all JUST for the physically fit. You can also go to your local sports store to find out what size skis and boots you should get.

This past weekend was my first time of the season out. I ended a hectic week and what I kept looking forward to was being out on Saturday. My husband took the kids and their friends sledding at the same park at the same time and my friend Jacki brought her 2 dogs that LOVE playing in the snow. No, the conditions weren't the best. The snow was more like mud or sludge and it felt like we were REALLY working out and trudging through rather than gliding much. But how healing it was! To be outside, wind and sun on my face, talking and laughing with friends and to leave any stresses I felt during the week of being cooped up inside behind.

We need fresh air ALL the time NOT just in the warm months to keep our bodies healthy. If you tend to get down in the winter or just need a way to get moving during the cold months I cannot recommend cross country skiing enough. You can borrow or rent skis and try it out. If you go to a local park there will be no repeated charges (many local parks even have trails they clear). Ask a friend or two to start it up with you. It's NOT even winter yet and there are a few months ahead of cold and snow... make sure you do something to keep your mood positive and to keep you moving! If you do try it, feel free to email me and tell me about your experience with it -- I'd LOVE to hear!

6 comments:

deb said...

Hi Jenny! We're still water-skiing down here in Florida!!! You go girl! Brrrrr!

Jenny Mannion said...

Hey Deb, Wow -- awesome. My husband's the water-skier in the family... summer seems a bit short here and winter a bit long but I do love the seasons. I am hoping for a white Christmas. Think of me next time you're on the beach and send some warm thoughts to me while I am shivering and skiing! ;-)So good to hear from you! Gratefully, Jenny

Stacie said...

Hey Jenny -
I'm so glad that you have a winter sport! Winter used to be such difficult time for me. I have struggled with seasonal depression. But this year, since we live in the country, I have Truman who forces me outside, and we hike in our woods twice a day, I can see a complete difference in my attitude. You're right, we do need fresh air year round. Isn't it amazing, how powerful nature is to aid in the healing of our bodies, minds and spirits! Ski on!
Love your friend, Stacie

Jenny Mannion said...

Hey Stacie,
Yes, the winter blues are common. So glad you have Truman to get you out and moving! Hoping this ice leaves and we get some more snow so I can continue to look forward to my Saturday mornings out! Thanks for commenting,
Jenny

Mokihana and Pete said...

Hi Jenny, The season's turning from summer to fall so I know what's coming ... This will be my first winter for 14 yrs, and with your POSITIVE BLOGGING I'm loving the experience of cross country skiiing you share. I've got one other x-country experience decades ago...it never led to more of them, yet. Maybe this is the winter where I try it again. Thanks for the inspiration. Mokihana

Jenny Mannion said...

Hi Mokihana, I definitely recommend getting out there this winter. Cross country skiing is such great exercise and it helps so much to be out getting fresh air and sun (even if it does get pretty cold sometimes). Once I get moving all I feel is joy for being outside, moving around and of course the joy of being with my girlfriends. This winter I will have more time with my daughter in full time school so might even try to get out by myself sometimes for a quick ski. Let me know how it goes when you try it again! :-) Thanks for commenting. Love, Jenny

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