It’s been a while since I wrote about exercise or fitness. I guess one of the main reasons is that I don’t want to sound like a stuck record, or become one of those annoying people who posts about their ‘fitness regime’ every time they even put on their takkies. But since falling back in love with exercise again around 2 and a half years ago (thanks to Ash from FitMom!), it’s become such a part of my life (and I’ve reaped so many benefits), that I wanted to share what I’ve learned – so that others can benefit from it too.
Self-care vs avoidance
I’ve realised that there’s a difference between ‘self-care’ and avoidance. What do I mean here? Yes, there is the odd day when I’m flat out exhausted, or my back hurts a bit, and then I know that I just need to curl up in bed with some tea and a book. But there is also a mental game we play with ourselves, when it comes to exercise: “I’m going to be kind to myself today, you say, so I’m going to skip gym and just veg at home, because that is what I need”. Sometimes, that IS what you need but most days, this is just a way for you to justify to yourself why you’re not going to exercise today. And it can become a slippery slope, something you start telling yourself most days in the week. Before you know it, it’s the norm, and you’re not moving at all. When in fact, what your body MOST needs, and what would be the most kind thing to do, is to move.
Finding the right mix
I will admit that I probably exercised a bit hard at the beginning. I had goals and I smashed them but after that, I realised that it was not completely sustainable for me and my lifestyle. I ended up twinging my back and having to see chiros and physios to sort it out. So I then cut down on the stuff that was hurting my back (treadmill running), changed my trainers to more supportive ones (for my weird feet), and this year I’ve had hardly any back pain at all.
The perfect weekly exercise mix for me is:
- A personal training session with Lauren from FitMom
- A yoga class (or 2)
- A Sweat1000 session
- A Shape Class at gym
- A fast 30 minute treadmill run, or a 5km run around the neighbourhood/forest
I’ll usually have one day a week where I don’t do any official exercise, although I may walk the dogs, or swim in the sea (summer people!), or get weeding in the garden. If I don’t move in a day I feel stale, claustrophobic, grumpy.
Personal training has transformed my appearance. But it’s not really a quick fix, it requires consistent perseverance. I love these weekly sessions where we lift weights, do burpees, sprint around the block, and generally laugh and get sweaty while we do it. Working out with someone else makes it fun, and has become such an essential part of my life.
Then there’s yoga. I started yoga being the least flexible person in the class. But now I can touch my toes. I can reach further. I can remember the poses. Someone even complimented me the other day on my practise. Yoga does more for me though. It quietens my mind and makes me more peaceful. It truly makes me a more rational and loving person. This is another form of exercise that I know will always be part of my life.
Confidence, health, sleep, mood
Getting moving has far reaching consequences. It’s not at all about losing weight or “being thinner”. After all, being thin does not equate to being healthy. It’s strength I’m after.
Plus, exercise has genuinely improved my overall health. I am hardly ever ill. My skin is more glowing. Generally, I sleep SO well (I’m one of those annoying people). Getting dressed in the morning is even fun, because I feel confident.
Food tastes better, when I’ve moved a bit and feel like I’ve earned it. My moods are more consistent too. If I’m travelling, or don’t exercise for a few days consecutively, I can feel the grumpiness descend over me like an unwelcome mist. Then I pick myself up, put on my gear, go for a run and then afterwards, it’s lifted and I’M BACK (I am not talking about diagnosed anxiety or depression here, simply stabilising my own mood swings).
This is an epidemic
This is not a sponsored post but I got an email from Discovery the other day which said that globally one in four adults are not active enough and that 10% of people die from causes related to a lack of physical activity. But it’s WAY worse in South Africa, where one in every two adults doesn’t move enough. That’s so incredibly worrying.
A lot of this is due to poverty and other socio-economic issues that are not the fault of these South Africans. But for those of us who have the means, the time and the education to know how vital moving/exercising is, this needs to change.
It’s about finding something you like
I’m a weirdo who likes sprinting, and I prefer to run short distances quite fast. I’m naturally competitive, so team sports work for me too. I’ve figured out what exercise I like, and I’ve made peace that I probably won’t run a marathon, due to my back. It’s about finding something that works for you. I get that not everyone is a gym bunny. Some people like to exercise alone. But there are so many ways of getting your body moving, that this is no longer an excuse – there is a form of exercise out there for everyone.
And what about moms with kids? My kids go with me to Virgin Active a few days a week – they love Club V and they learn great skills while they’re there too (not a sponsored post;). We need to make a plan because we need this so much more than people did generations ago, due to our sedentary lifestyles sitting behind computers. We’re bent into extreme and uncomfortable shapes and if we don’t exercise, our bodies will start to complain, in so many terrible ways.
I don’t care what size or shape you are, this is not about saying there is only one perfect shape of body. This is about saying that I’ve experienced the results of getting my body to move and I really want others to as well. We only get one body so our health is EVERYTHING (as I get older I’m reminded of this a little more every day).
After all, we owe it to our loved ones to try and stick around here on earth as long as we can.
Have happy and healthy weekends.