Monday, 24 September 2018

My relationship with Exercise


Being the huge introvert that I am, when we were kids, and my brother and sister used to go out riding their bikes with their friend, I used to stay in, reading Harry Potter, watching Lion King 2, and collecting bugs in the garden. I wasn't a particularly active kid. While I was in Primary school I'd get out the car when mum dropped me off and run around the corner to the school entrance. I don't know why I always felt the desire to leg-it, but I did, every day. One day my brother laughed and told me I run like a chicken. I was then too self-conscious to run.



In secondary school, I used to dread PE at school. I was never good at it, and I didn't feel encouraged to improve. As narcissistic as this might be, it felt like a lesson with the sole purpose of embarrassing me. Give others the opportunity to point out where I struggled. It also seemed that it came naturally to all of the 'cool' girls, it was torture enough getting changed in front of other girls in midst of puberty, to then have to endure a game of netball where nobody wanted to you on their team. I hated exercise.

I was born premature, which affected my flexibility, muscles and balance, so exercise never was going to come naturally to me, and the endorphins which it brings never would outweigh the hurt I'd feel (probably, imagined) laughter of the other girls. No matter the effort I put into PE lessons, I wasn't good at it, and being reminded of that over and over every week was humiliating. At my school, if you enjoyed PE lessons, you fell into one of two categories, you were either one of the 'popular' girls, or you were sporty, I didn't fit either description in the slightest and I felt out of my depth running around that field.

This false perception of working out meant  I rarely exercised as a teen, despite the anxiety-inducing PE lessons which unlike a lot of my friends I actually went to, because heck I'm not a troublemaker.


When I reached Uni, I got my first (and only), real boyfriend; he was fit, as in fit and healthy. I survived the first team of Fresher pretty much on cheese toasties and alcohol. I hated how my body looked and I became so aware of how unfit I was. I visited home and everyone, correctly told me how much weight I put on. Of course, it took a lot of crying and until my final year of uni for me to do anything about it. Then I began eating better and dabbled in a bit of running.


The first time I went, I asked my boyfriend to take for me a run, I lasted all of about 5 seconds. I could still see our house when I stopped, panting. I wanted to go back, of course, Benji wouldn't let me, but it ended up being a pretty short run because I was so unfit and could not control my breathing. But eventually, I built some momentum with it. I started going running with my housemate most evenings, and then we'd do a 'sit up challenge' which we of course completely made up. It was the only time I'd exercised and didn't hate it. I began to realise my I have a terrible relationship with exercise, which has come from the secondary school hierarchy which was often reflected hockey games, and PE teachers who chose to shout at me, rather than help me and a belief that I couldn't do it.

Since leaving Uni, sometimes I've ran a little, sometimes I haven't bothered. I never felt good enough at exercise to do anything else.

A few months back, my sister told me she was signing up with a personal trainer, who also happens to be our cousin, so I decided to do the same, thinking it would be nice to feel fitter.

That was at the start of Summer, and now for the first time I ever, I feel my relationship with exercise is a positive one. I work out on a regular basis. In my first few personal training session, I dreaded burpee's, I just couldn't do them, my form was terrible, I'd fall all over the place, and be exhausted as just half-assing one of them, in my last session, I was doing them one-legged, barely giving it a second thought.



Lauren, my trainer, has now moved away, but in the time I worked with her, I managed to rewire my brain, change how I think of exercise, not only so it became a part of my routine, but also something I look forward to. I find myself daydreaming about that hour, in the woods when I'd need to focus on my body and nothing more.

Yesterday I took myself out for a run, I found myself smiling, as I thought to all the 'mean girls' that used to laugh at me during those PE lessons. It hit me how far I've come and how I made the effort to develop my negative relationship with exercise to something positive, working out has become a part of my life which I actually enjoy.


This year my relationship with exercise has come a long way, and bloody hell I feel good for it.



As you can see, I took these pictures on the windiest day!
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