It’s just under a year since I started going to the gym. At the time, it was one of the ways I was trying to seize control of a life that felt like it was spiralling out of my grasp (I would be separated three months later) but there were also some solid reasons why I was choosing this particular method of putting myself first. I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about that in great detail, so here we are
Okay, obviously aesthetics: I’m not built to be a slender person… I’m just not. Even at my lowest (and potentially my most unhealthy) weight as an adult, I always had a booty. Even in my ballet pictures as a scrawny kid I had a booty. I’m a generous hourglass and I can still look in the mirror and like myself, don’t get me wrong. But I can’t deny that I prefer my own look with a little less sand in the hourglass. That’s personal preference, nothing else.
Knees: I have a family history of notoriously shonky knees and I’ve done myself no favours with falls in gymnastics and ballet and with a scooter accident when I was 19. While I may not be able to prevent future surgery, losing weight and reducing the load on my knees should hopefully mean that I can use the joints I have until I’m old and grey. Doing leg-based weights is also helping my ridiculously loose right knee ligament, which in the past has done a pretty cruddy job at keeping my kneecap in alignment.
Active Motherhood: I have a typical little kid – he has SO much energy! He’s on the go from the moment he gets up until he crashes out for afternoon nap. And then on the go again until dinner time. About the only time he stops is for meals. I love that energy in him and I don’t want it to change, so me getting fit enough to keep pace with him as he grows is important. I don’t want to be that unfit mum that watches from the sideline and I like that I have the energy to handle the wrestling on the floor with him that comes along with each little testosterone boost he gets.
And there’s been a couple of side benefits that have kept me on track too:
Endorphins: Since starting a regular exercise programme, I’ve definitely noticed the difference that exercise has on my mood. I can be having a foul day (or just be in a crappy mood) and taking it out on the treadmill or “blowing the cobwebs out” with a fresh air walk can be a huge mood improver. There’s no denying that while the last year has had some massive highlights, it’s had some pretty dark times too. Exercise and endorphins have definitely helped me through that.
Me Time: Gym time/ walks have definitely become my “me time”. Even when the timing works out (which, to be honest, it rarely does) for me to hit a group fitness class, I don’t. I used to love them, but not anymore. I’m so switched on for people so much of the time that I just want to lose myself in my music, my heartbeat and my thoughts for an hour or so.
It amazes me how much it has become a part of my life; that I’m the person who will actively seek to take the stairs (well, most of the time), that I feel bugged and unsettled if I’ve missed going to the gym for a week, that I enjoy the ache in my legs after a long day of walking (I’m looking at you, recent trip to Melbourne!). Good change though!