Getting Active

21 Aug

I didn’t add ‘exercise’ into my new life until I’d lost over 3 stones, I thought now was a good time to give you a bit of background to my relationship with it.

I had avoided any kind of formal physical activity since I was 14. I sent my mum to the school to pitch that extra maths lessons were more beneficial to my long-term future than PE and we succeeded so the gym skirt went in the bin. I had though always enjoyed things like gymnastics, I was a flexible child, however my experience of how PE was administered took away any joy I got from it, it turned into being all about competitive activity and team games, I wasn’t any good at it so I wasn’t motivated, it turned into being a very negative experience of not being chosen for teams or just failing (in the opinion of the PE teachers). There wasn’t the opportunity to do the things I was good at or even to try anything new, I’m sure this is the experience of many.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t active, I even spent all my earnings from my summer job at 16 on waterskiing lessons and used to walk a good 3 miles to my gap year job.

I managed to get through University without really knowing where the sports centre was, I believe I danced a lot in the union and walked as funds were limited and it saved on bus fares but that was about it!  Importantly I was extremely tiny so I guess no-one really made any fuss about me needing to do anything more than that.

I’ve always been more than happy to support friends who did do sport, I’ve spent hours on the poolside, I’ve watched and supported my best friend’s very intensive power lifting career, cheered the fun runners in and was even married to a very active sky diver. However I still did nothing.

In my 20s I developed ME and spent a long time trying to get well, one of the things the ME caused was a massive effect on my metabolism and I put on an enormous amount of weight, as I got bigger, my self-esteem got more damaged. I spent my 30s being grateful that I was getting well, at that stage being able to complete a day at work or get out of bed when things were really bad was enough of a challenge.  I was terrified of doing anything that might set off the ME, I never wanted to feel that kind of pain again.

And during my 30s I did put on more weight, I did have a lot of ‘head stuff’ that wasn’t being addressed, self-esteem and confidence was still a very big issue, this is something I will talk about a lot more, it’s a silent problem, we don’t talk about it enough.

So let’s fast forward to the end of 2009, I’d lost a bit of weight and I was getting more active, I had more energy for a start and was smaller, I had already noticed that things seemed easier and that even walking up the stairs was less of an issue. My confidence was also building, so how did the big change come that led to me loving exercise?

  • Following a visit to a speech therapist to solve an issue with my vocal cords and a persistent cough, I was told that I had a couple of issues – the top of my spine was starting to curve and I was probably losing height, it was being pulled into this position by very tight neck muscles, in fact my muscles were incredibly tight all over my body, the weight loss was actually contributing to this, they had no idea where they were supposed to sit or act in the new slimmed down version.  She recommended I try pilates to strengthen my core muscles, loosen and realign everything.
  • One of the things I had not been able to do confidently for many, many years was wear a swimsuit, I was terribly, painfully self-conscious. So after a few months of losing weight when I ordered one, it fitted and I looked ok, getting in a pool seemed like a good challenge. At that point just before Christmas I thought it would be enough for me to just go, find out if I could swim at all and then it would be a good thing to be able to go to the pool with my friend and her children and to perhaps go on holiday, I’d been to California the year before and it had been very hard not to be able to get in Pacific and enjoy the wonderful beaches.  The swimsuit story is actually a much bigger one, I’ll tell you about that later.

What  actually happened then was beyond anything I could have imagined or believed at that stage was achievable.

What I’m hoping that you will take from this little introduction is that even if you have never done any exercise, think you don’t like it or that you will be rubbish at it, there is still hope for you, there was for me!

And if you used to exercise, then try to think about what you enjoyed back then, could you give it a go again, remember how it used to make you feel about yourself?

Today’s photo is of me at the end of my pilates trip to Italy in June, I’d said I wanted to be able to get my feet behind my head, I used to be that flexible in my teens, I was over the moon to be able to achieve that, thanks to a week of intense training!  It is now my party trick, I will show anyone for several glasses of Limonchello!

 

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