I’ll get straight to the point. Exercise and I have a pretty tricky relationship. Its something I know I should do. Its something I know I could do. I even know when I should and could do it. But oh so often I just cant be arsed!
When I was a kid, I was never really a run-around-like-a-lunatic, racing for the sake of racing kind of kid. I was more of a thinker rather than a do-er and I suppose I could be accused of not having changed much! If I had to pick my exercise thing as a kid, it would have been swimming. I LOVED swimming and I was always pretty good at it. A strong swimmer, not a fast swimmer, as everyone seemed keen to tell me (how to make someone feel a little bit rubbish at something they’re actually not bad at eh?!) In fact, during my sixth form and university years I worked as a lifeguard and assistant swimming teacher – a job that I loved and have really fond memories of. So why don’t I swim now you may ask? Well, (and heres where it starts) I could give you a myriad of excuses. Stuff like…..our town pool is manky; the public swimming timetable doesn’t fit in with my timetable particularly well; It means that I have to re-do my hair and make up more than once a day…..Vain I know, but what can I say? I’m just telling you the truth! I wouldn’t blame you for telling me to shut the hell shut up! And then I start to question myself…..Why Amy? Why are you making these excuses? Are they real and valid or are you just bullshitting yourself?? Hmmm, maybe I’ll ponder on that as I continue………….
I have tried. Honestly, I really have….. Look, here are some of the other exercises I have tried to stick to over the last few years:
Zumba. One of my bezzies, Julie nagged me for MONTHS to go to Zumba with her and to be totally honest with you, I resisted for yonks because I was terrified of making an arse of myself. But when I eventually surrendered and went with her I LOVED it!!!! For the first time ever, I really did get that buzz that everyone bangs on about. I got ridiculously hot, sweaty and out of breath and I loved every minute of it. I kept going for about 18 months -2 years and at some points during that time I was doing 2-3 sessions a week. And then our amazing teacher quit to go to uni as a mature student. And try as I might, I have failed to find another teacher who is able to inspire me to shake my booty in quite the same way as Anne Marie. So Zumba and I split up!
Running. Ahh, running! For most of my life running was my nemesis!! Something I couldn’t do, wasn’t built for, and was convinced I would die trying. But sometime after my second baby was born I stumbled upon a number of blogs written by larger ladies who for their own specific reasons were all embarking on their own running journeys and I started to get a little curious. Around about the same time I also read Alexandra Heminsley’s Running Like a Girl, which inspired me more than any other book I’ve ever read. Seriously, if you haven’t read it, I cant recommend it highly enough. So anyway, I did all of this reading (see, I told you- a thinker rather than a do-er!!) and spent a lot of time imagining myself attempting such a feat.
Now at the time, my husband was doing loads of running (he still would be if it wasn’t for a slight glitch with his heart at the minute) and he was uber keen to get me on board. So keen in fact, that he agreed to let me spend a lot of our money on a treadmill to go in the summer house at the bottom of our garden. Why? You might ask…. Well it was because at the time, the biggest obstacle holding me back was my crippling fear of people seeing me out running and hurling abuse at the useless fatty who was inflicting herself and her sweaty wobbly bits on the general public….. Sad, sad times. Anyway, we bought the treadmill and off I went. And I really went for it. I downloaded the NHS Couch to 5k app and followed it to the letter, and whaddya know….before too long I was doing it! Running 5K, 3 times a week. And what was even better was that I eventually plucked up the courage to take my running outdoors. I was getting up at 5.30am 3 times a week, going out for a gorgeous (when I say gorgeous, I mean that the scenery was gorgeous, not the act of running!) solitary run on quiet country lanes, watching the sun come up and I was back home and showered in time for the school run. Hell, I even inspired my best mate to start Couch to 5K too and she ended up running Bath Half Marathon!!!! In fact, these are a couple of cards she sent to me at the time………..
…….The second one completely sums up how I felt about a running every time I did it! However, I did also get an ENORMOUS sense of achievement from every run logged. The buzz that came from pushing my body and proving to myself that I was capable of so much more than I had believed, was immense.
And then I got a gammy hip. It started gradually but soon got to the point where it was causing me a lot of significant pain even when I was just walking. I went to a physio who gave me some exercises to do and while it did improve slightly, it only really went away when I was having complete rest from running. And so pretty much as soon as I had discovered my inner Flo-jo, I was forced to put her into retirement for a while. Well, I say a while but its now been about 2.5 years!!!!! Its safe to say that my running mojo has well and truly left the building. My Dreadmill still sits glaring at me in my office while I write and I keep promising myself that I’m going to start again. But I’m afraid to say that I now well and truly have The Fear. Maybe sharing my fear with you will now encourage (*shame*) me into taking it up again…..watch this space!
Spinning. Hmmmm. What can I say about spinning? Other than that I hate it! I have really, really tried to get on board with spinning, but do you know what, my undercarriage isn’t so keen for me to continue with it! I just don’t get it. I don’t get the pain and discomfort. I don’t get the being in a room with lots of other very sweaty people all the while being shouted at by a very fit 20-something while your bum goes screamingly numb! And If I’ve learnt something over the last few years its that I have to want to do the exercise if I’m to have any hope of sticking at it! Incidentally, I have also learned that for me, if exercise is going to happen, it has to be a morning/daytime thing rather than an evening appointment. I just don’t feel like schlepping out to a class in the evening. In my happy space, evenings are for cooking a nice meal, sorting the kids out, chatting to my husband about the day and generally winding down before bed.
So what do I do right now? Well, not as much as I should do I know that much! My one saving grace at the moment is my Fitbit and I love how that keeps me focussed on at least upping my step count each day. When the weather is dry (yay spring) I make encourage the kids to scoot to and from school so that I can walk. Each round trip is approx. 6,000 steps so more often than not, I find that I am managing around 14-15,000 steps per day. Albeit not particularly brisk ones. Things have also moved up gear more recently because Ben has caved in to the Fitbit pressure and so now there’s a bit of healthy competition going on in the house!
Apart from walking, my current joy is Jessamyn Stanley who is 100% encouraging me to hit the mat and get my yoga on every day; If only for a very short burst, but a little is better than none eh? I also intend to start doing some open water swimming sessions with one of my best mates and her sister in the next month or two. Its something I’ve been really interested in having a go at for ages (I live in Cornwall for goodness’ sake!) but as yet I haven’t managed to be brave enough to fight my way into my wetsuit and plunge myself into a disused quarry full of freezing cold water. Hmmmmm, it sounds so appealing doesn’t it?! But if anyone’s going to encourage me to get in there, it’s Ellie!
Oh and BTW, I feel that at this point I should just throw into the mix how much I freakin’ LOVED the This Girl Can campaign! I mean, really, really, ultra, mega inspiring. The first time I saw the ad, I cried at its awesomeness. In fact, maybe I just need to head off and watch that on loop for an hour or two to help me re-find my mojo!
So, a wee bit of exercise is happening and plans are afoot for a little bit more, but I am aware that maybe its still not enough…….. Any keen exercisers out there who feel they can inspire me to take up anything fabulous that will suddenly turn me into a fit-a-holic? Please, pitch in…. all suggestions gratefully received!