Thursday, 9 October 2014

Exercising: the necessary pain in the ass (Sometimes quite literally)

Right, take a deep breath, because I'm going to talk about exercise. Don't' worry, I'm not going to go on about how it's good for you. You know that. I knew it for years and it didn't mean squat to me, nor make me do squats for the ‘lolz’. Exercise and I could never maintain a healthy, long term relationship. 

Exercise in Sydney go together like peas and carrots. Or Avocado and balsamic vinegar; it just happens. It makes sense. Walk along the Bondi promenade in the morning and you will see surfers, dog walkers, swimmers, photographers and joggers running the frankly intimidating Bondi to Bronte route along the coast. They all know that the day starts when the sun comes up, not just when your alarm goes off. It’s part of their lifestyle, and I wanted to start injecting that kind of enthusiasm with regards to exercise in my life in the UK. 

Autumnal East Anglia on this afternoons jog 
It was slow. Hell, sometimes it still is. And it all started with the simple walk. 

Realising that I wasn’t taking advantage of the pretty, quaint English fields I live near I pushed myself to go for a 30 min walk at least twice a week. Then I moved to power walking...but not with any fancy form. Actually, I call it ‘power walking’ to sound smart, but really it was just walking with slight speed. 

Once I felt I mastered the walk (laugh all you want) I started flirting with a few 30 second sprints all RIGOROUSLY timed so I didn’t go over. And then I would DIE. I became an out of breath, snotty mess with a really appealing copper taste in the back of my throat convinced that I’d broken something internally. And boy, isn’t it just great when that bit happens just as a certified jogger prances perfectly past you, not sweating but glowing with rose smelling perspiration? Yeah, that happened a lot. 

When I moved into a flat that had a gym, I felt I had no excuses. I was also newly single and ass know no inspiration like newly found singledom. So one evening after work, after I did my semi sweaty run, I gave the gym a go. It took me a lot of sweaty months through winter to finally reach ten minutes of running. Sure, that’s laughable to a seasoned runner, but to me it was amazing. I'd never done it before and I felt incredible. And I still do every time I go outside for a run and can now jog up the hills I used to grudgingly crawl up.

We’re so used to instant everything. If you want something, the chances are you can buy it from your phone and get it delivered the next day with bells on. Exercise doesn’t work like that. It’s a long, sometimes boring and painful process with lot of moments of feeling like a failure. But, let me tell you, the gratification is better than anything you can buy. That and the fact that there is always the next goal to achieve. It’s a continuous process. 
Dangerous. Obviously. 

At the moment I work out four times a week for about 45 minutes. I do a mix of jogging, Pilates, yoga, HIIT, all depending on what I feel like I need- and want- to do. I’m not super fit, I’ve still got a lot of goals to reach, but I think that’s what keeps me going. 

Do I feel better? Yes. Absolutely. I may not be jogging down Bondi every morning but by hell I feel good about what I can do. When I don't exercise, I get cranky and generally feel a bit poo. And those moments when you beat your records; wall sits, runs, reps; when you beat your personal best you get all slow-motion-movie-walk-with-an-explosion-behind-you afterwards. It’s the best feeling. Yes, I sound like a Nike add. But trust me when I say it's life changing for the better and it’s a necessity to positive wellbeing.

Getting going tips: 
  • Don’t make any choices about whether you’re going to work out until you’ve got your work out gear on. THEN make the choice. Driving home and playing the "Will I, won’t I" game will probably result in you sitting on the couch with a cuppa. 
  • Get something that will track what you do: a pedometer, a phone app or you’re own internal sat nav. Track that progress and celebrate that extra rep or centimetre. 
  • Don’t compete with everyone else. I thought I was the doggies running-nuts until I went for a run with a great friend of mine who literally ran circles around me. It brought me back down to realising that it really doesn’t matter. Everyone has a different fitness level. And at the end of the day, your competition is only with yourself.
So tell me, how do you motivate yourself to keep active?

x KB


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