An old Feeling

10 Feb

This morning I woke up a bit stiff after yesterday’s work-out but with a real feeling that I wanted to walk. It’s a wet, sleety, cold day but somehow the thought of an hour on the treadmill wasn’t doing it for me so I wrapped up, put on a hat and set off.

An hour later I was back, cold, wet but invigorated. As I took off my track bottoms I had a feeling, a very old feeling, my legs were red, cold and damp and I was that fourteen year old girl again.

The fourteen year old me wasn’t confident about being active, I was good at school, one of the brainy ones, but what was more important was whether you were good at sport and that meant netball or hockey.  I wasn’t, I wasn’t a team game player, I’d loved gymnastics and dance but once you got to the 4th year all that mattered to the PE staff was the team games, other things just fell off the timetable. I remember that feeling in my legs coming from being outside in winter, the rain coming down, we weren’t allowed to wear tracksuit bottoms so we were in our gym skirts or shorts, legs raw from the wind, rain and cold.

We were self conscious, our bodies were doing strange things to us, so what did school do, yep made us take our clothes off, shower in communal spaces, made us feel inferior because we weren’t as developed as our classmates or more developed, made us worry, fret about that more than the actual PE lesson. And for me I was made to feel that because I wasn’t good at team games that I wasn’t as valued as the other girls. Instant self esteem failure.

Today that makes me sad, how many other girls are out there who feel the same, it may not be about being good, but about how they feel about themselves?  I hope that things may be better thirty years on, but somehow I think teenage girls may now be in an even worse situation. Today there’s social media, more focus on celebrity (god forbid that ambition is now about being a WAG or Katie Price) and we have a generation of obese women so my fear is that we haven’t improved things at all.

When I get back from a walk, swim or a workout now, I feel immensely proud and good about myself, it hasn’t been about how ‘good’ I am but how it makes me feel and hopefully when I tell people about what this 40 something can now do. how they might just give it a go too.

I would like to see PE in schools approached differently, that it is about taking part, just being active, that there is more choice so kids are marginalised. I’d like to see PE staff understanding that self esteem is so important, that it is the taking part that is important, if you just want to walk that’s great, teach them about obesity, the risks, the reality of what it really means, about ambition and self esteem. It’s about teaching kids about lifestyle and what is healthy, if their parents are not active, obese, smokers etc etc, where are they going to learn these things? Their normality has been distorted, I don’t want to sit back and watch a generation destroy itself.

Weirdly that old feeling this morning felt good – It may have taken some time but being active feels pretty darn good. Now to see if we can get others to feel the same.


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