I spent the last two weeks of December mainly cooking and eating so it’s hardly surprising I’m joining the masses by starting January mainly exercising.
Exercise is something I’ve never found attractive or easy and I’ve spent most of my life actively avoiding it. I didn’t just skip the occasional P.E lesson at school, each term I’d think up a reason why I couldn’t do P.E for that entire term. Lucky for me up until the age of 27 I could eat more or less what I wanted and stay roughly the same size. Not so now.
The only times I’ve ever been able to exercise regularly were:
a) When I was pregnant. Each week I did yoga, aqua-aerobics and antenatal aerobics and continued even when I was past my due date. What motivated me was that I didn’t know anyone who was pregnant or had kids and I desperately wanted a support network of people in a similar situation to me.
b) Ten years later I decided to get fit. To start with I was phenomenally bad. I couldn’t run for more than a few minutes without feeling like throwing up but within a couple of months I was running five miles fairly easily. I loved how it made me feel so I started going to the gym too and speed walking with a colleague most lunchtimes. When I changed to a new job that included gym membership as part of my package, I started boxercise and spinning classes. My team at work signed up to a 10k and I surprised myself by running all the way, I came last in my team but whatever, I was proud I didn’t stop.
Now these are not major achievements by any stretch of the imagination, but as I had never really participated in or enjoyed exercise it was a breakthrough for me. Both times I LOVED IT. My figure changed, I felt strong and healthy and I was still slim but became toned too. These were all by-products of why I was exercising, which was originally to get fit or meet people but quickly became about how exercising made me feel. I didn’t own a set of scales and I wasn’t interested in weighing myself when I went to the gym as it wasn’t about that.
About a year into my second exercise epiphany I met my lovely husband. We were eating out more, I was drinking more and my endorphins came from the early rush of love. As I didn’t need exercise to give me my endorphin hit my exercise fell by the wayside. That old cliché of gaining happiness and gaining weight came true for me.
Since then I’ve not got back into exercise really. I’m not obese; according to the weight/height ratios I’m barely even overweight. But my body is not what it once was and I feel bad about it. This doesn’t motivate me to exercise though; even working for a fitness company with free gym membership wasn’t a motivation.
I’ve had occasional spurts of exercise and dieting, most notably driven by panic – of a beach holiday maybe, my wedding, not fitting into my bridesmaid dress two weeks before a friend’s wedding. Each panic-induced time I started exercising way too late for it to make any real difference and I just felt negative about it. In my last two and a half years of mainly being inactive I’ve weighed myself every morning. I’ve put on a few pounds, lost a few pounds, put them back on, lost them again, put them back on… and it isn’t getting me anywhere except a yo-yoing waistline.
The only time exercise has ever worked for me is when I have just exercised to feel good, exercise does make me feel good. The less I exercise the more prone I am to feeling negative, unhappy, disillusioned and self-critical about everything I do, which makes it harder to do anything let alone start exercising again. I remind myself of the time I fell off the treadmill or when I fainted and threw-up in a circuit class (yeah, that was embarrassing). I tell myself bad things and don’t have any perspective. For example I often remind myself that I weigh more now than I did when I was 9 ½ months pregnant. That sounds bad doesn’t it? Now, let’s add some perspective. I was sixteen when I fell pregnant and before being pregnant had a 24” waist, i.e. the body of a teenager. It is unrealistic for me at 31 to expect to look the same as I did when I wasn’t even an adult yet. I know… I’m frustrating.
Since I’ve known my husband his exercise routine has stayed pretty much the same, he goes to the gym 2-4 times every week. For him exercise is about being healthy and nothing more. He tries to inspire me to eat better and exercise more because he wants me to be healthy and not because of what I look like (or so he tells me!). I think I need to re-learn this.
So in late November I started exercising again. I’ve been doing some running, fallen in love with Zumba (who knew it was so much fun?) and joined the gym. I’m not going to weigh myself anymore. I’m going to get fit again and enjoy myself. I’m no longer going to hanker after the perfect body but instead will hanker after all those lovely endorphins…
Now, tips please! What helps you stick at exercising?