Something monumental has happened in the last few weeks, but I think I need to whisper it for fear of bursting the bubble……come closer……. I think I might have rediscovered my running mojo!
Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while may remember me talking about my, errrrm, complicated relationship with running in the past (feel free to check out the posts here and here) but I’ve been attempting to up my exercise game recently, mainly because I haven’t been feeling as though I’m the best version of me at the moment, and I am ready for change!
I’ve been relying on my daily walking as my only source of exercise and I’ve realised that it just isn’t enough any more. I’ve dabbled with some Barre3 (which is actually really great, and boy, can you feel it working your muscles) and a little bit of kettle bell action, but I never really felt fired up enough to turn either of them into a regular, committed practice.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I suddenly started feeling really anxious. While “putting myself out there” with the blog is ridiculously exciting, it can also leave me feeling a bit vulnerable, and last week I allowed the demons to get in and take over. You know all of that “ditch the inner bitch” stuff I bang on about? Well, I’m usually pretty good at it, but last week must have been my regular skinny bitch’s week off, because it wasn’t her tormenting me about the size of my bingo wings. Oh no, no no!! It was a new kid on the block who sounded exactly like the most heinous type of school bully. You know the one…..”you’re so stupid”, “you aren’t cool enough”, “you can’t be in our gang – you’ll ruin our cred!” Try as I might, I was finding it unbelievably difficult to bounce back from the internal insults, and I knew that I was going to have to try something different to pull myself out of the hole.
So I asked myself what advice I might give to a friend or client going through a similar experience. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the first pearl of wisdom that sprung to mind was EXERCISE. Now in the past I’ve been guilty of procrastinating my way out of exercise, so I decided to act immediately. As soon as the thought popped into my head, on went the trainers and I headed out to my office in the garden where my dreadmill treadmill sits. I didn’t have any plan, aim or goal, I just knew that I needed to work up a bit of a sweat. I also decided that rather than listening to my default loud music (as I usually do when I exercise), I would instead listen to something I could get more absorbed in. I checked my podcast list and found that I had an un-listened to episode of Laura Thomas’ Don’t Salt My Game, where she was talking to Chloe Brotheridge about her best selling book The Anxiety Solution. Now if that wasn’t the universe sending me a sign, I’m not sure what it was!
After doing a bit of brisk walking for 5 minutes, something really odd thing happened……..I suddenly decided to crank up the speed and have a go at jogging. And do you know what? It felt REALLY BLOODY GOOD! When I’ve jogged in the past, even when I was doing 5k regularly, the physical effort of it was so intense that I actually despised every step. But not last week! Even though I could feel that my body was working hard, I felt as though it was flowing far more naturally than any of my other attempts have done. It was nothing short of a revelation!
But the best bit? I couldn’t quite believe the amazing affect that it had on my mood. I know that the scientific research behind endorphins and physical exercise is well reported, and my best friend swears that exercise is the best anti-depressant, but from a personal point of view, I was very aware of how the act of pushing my body managed to get me out of my head for a while. Instead of continuing to get myself lost under a pile of negative thoughts, jogging made me really focus on the brilliant work my body can do. It also made me realise that I am actually a lot fitter than I give myself credit for (HAES anyone?!) and that in itself gave me a bit of a buzz for the rest of the day. In fact, the buzz was so good, that I decided to make it a regular part of my routine and since that day I have made time to hit the treadmill (and even to follow it with a cheeky bit of yoga) 3 times a week.
One of the things I‘ve realised is that my number one concern is no longer about losing weight, or running a particular distance in a certain amount of time. Instead my aim now is to make myself feel good. I’ve realised that connecting back to my body is a really important thing for me to do and that I definitely need periods of time where I am able to get out of my head and into my body.
So am I going to keep it up? Well, all I’ll say at the minute, is that I am actually looking forward to my next session….. in fact, I might even go so far as to say that I’m excited about it.
Now who’d ever have thought that was a possibility?!
I’ve just read a crazy statistic – the average person will spend nearly two hours on social media every day, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime. And that’s just the average, so it’s safe to assume that *some* of us are spending a lot more time on-line than that.
I’m as guilty as the next person, and absentmindedly picking up my phone and indulging in a little PS (Pointless Scrolling) happens more times during the day than I’d care to admit. But, like it or not, it’s where a lot of life happens these days, right? And it’s certainly not showing signs of disappearing any time soon.
Now while I’m not saying that it’s OK to opt out of Real Life in favour of the wonderful, shiny world of Instagram and Facebook, I am suggesting that if you indulge in more than a bit of social media, then it can be a great way to enable you to build a virtual community that supports and helps you to become more body positive than the mainstream media would have you believe is possible.
One of my on-line faves, Lucy Sheridan (see below) suggests that when trapped in the compare and despair cycle that we all fall into every now and then (and which is often perpetuated by all of those very carefully curated social media feeds), it is sensible to treat your social media as you would a guest list for a house party: don’t follow anyone who you wouldn’t be happy to have dancing on your dining room table at 1am!
I love this analogy, and realised quite some time ago, that there is great power in curating an inspirational and positive social media party. If following a certain person is triggering you into feeling crap about yourself, go ahead and unfollow them. It’s really no big deal. I mean, why spend your days getting wound up, or even worse, filled with self doubt, just because of the “stuff” that that certain person constantly posts? Remember this is your party, so feel free to “remove” the drunken bum with the offensive views!
I’d take this one step further, and alongside deleting those who drain you, I’d also suggest that it’s well worth while actively searching for accounts that are going to lift you up and make you feel fabulous when their words of wisdom or inspirational images pop up on your time line.
So in that vein, I thought I’d use this blog post to share with you some of the people who make me feel great when my finger hovers over that Instagram button once or twice (ahem!) a day:
@bodyposipanda – after a hard fought battle with anorexia, Megan Crabbe has now dedicated her life to promoting body positivity and body love across the globe and is just poised to publish her first book on the subject. She is a positive ray of sunshine and I love seeing her gorgeous belly roll pictures posted with such confidence and happiness.
@louisegreen-bigfitgirl – Louise smashes the old stereotype that big women can’t be fit and she is striving to “create a world where every ‘body’ can realise their athletic potential, regardless of her size.” In her own words she is a “plus size trainer and athlete” and is another who has recently published a book which is next up on my ‘to read’ pile – “Big Fit Girl”.
@carolinehirons – Nothing to do with the bo-po community, but Caroline is THE skin care blogger to turn to if you have any skin issues or queries about new products. She is the font of all skin care knowledge…… And the added bonus is that her instagram stories are often very funny.
@donthatetheshake – a fabulous feed filled with videos of followers dancing with their wobbly bits well and truly on show! Just the summary itself is wonderful: “dedicated to the ever amazing #DontHateTheShake videos. 100%Body Positive. No bullying. Safe Place for all!” Contributors with belly rolls are very much encouraged to get them out in the name of joyful dancing and I love it (but haven’t submitted a vid myself……….yet!)
@bodyimagemovement – for those of you who watched the wonderful Embrace, you’ll be very familiar with the founder of Body Image Movement – Taryn Brumfitt, the lady behind the movie. This is a feed which documents many aspects of Taryn’s life, including her global travels to publicise Embrace and her amazing, dancing quest to be invited as a guest onto the Ellen show!
@deliciouslyella – OK, OK, I know that the whole “clean” eating thing is pretty hackneyed now, but there are no two ways about it, I love Deliciously Ella’s food and am often inspired to try new recipes thanks to her Insta page.
@lucysheridan– As mentioned above, Lucy is one of my faves! She is a crazily successful coach (the Comparison Coach), public speaker, and one half of the duo behind the book “Higher Selfie”. As well as having an incredibly beautiful feed, Lucy often hops on to Facebook and Instagram live to share her words of wisdom. I don’t know how she manages it, but she always makes me feel as though I’m listening to sage advice from one of my closest friends. She has a gorgeous, warm manner and always has something encouraging or inspirational to share.
@eatingpsychology – this page very much appeals to the health coach geek within me! While I trained with Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) I have long since had my eye on following up my initial training with a course from The Institute for the Psychology of Eating. I need to earn quite a bit of cash before that becomes a reality (!), so until that point, I will continue to enjoy the free, little nuggets of wisdom that they post on their page.
@fullerfigurefullerbust – the gorgeous Georgina is a plus size model who proves without a shadow of a doubt that larger ladies can 100% be as sexy as hell! As well as posting amazing shots of herself in swimwear and underwear, she also posts videos of her training like a boss and is now contemplating becoming a plus size fitness instructor (which I think would be amazing) so I am extra keen to follow her journey.
@allisonkimmey – Allison calls herself a “Global Self Love Expert” and her wonderful tag line is “Just Do You!” She is another coach who strives to help women believe that diets and self loathing are not the path to a healthy or happy life and she posts frequent swimwear shots of herself in a bid to normalise a larger, post 30, post baby, body – Hallelujah!!!
@happilicious.co.uk – obvs! 😉
I’d love to know if any of this rings true with you. Do you find yourself seething every time a particular face pops up on your news feed? Or have you had any experience of culling your friends list in a bid to improve your self esteem? Why not pop on over to the (closed) Happilicious Living Facebook group to share your views, or drop me an email if there are any other wonderfully inspirational women who you think I should know about.