I remember growing up having a difficult relationship with exercise.
I was always very sporty, which was my saving grace, but I didn’t really see that as exercise; I just saw it as having fun with my friends. I did struggle at times to not get too nervous of letting other people down and being the weak link on the team but luckily I seemed to have a fairly natural ability when it came to sports so being a part of different sports teams/groups was my main form of exercise growing up.
However, as I’ve already said, I didn’t really see this as exercise (which is obviously a good thing as no child should really be focused on exercise but rather should just be keeping active having fun with friends… which is what I was doing). Instead I saw exercise as… running. The bleep test at school was exercise. Cross-country running was exercise. Basically the thing that I found most mundane and unenjoyable was exercise.
And despite the fact that I played netball, volleyball and swam each week, I wasn’t a ‘slim’ child… my relationship with food wasn’t exactly the healthiest, so combine that with the fact I was an early developer, I was classed as over-weight for my entire childhood . Therefore I was always self conscious about my weight and my body and as I got older I believed I needed to start exercising to ‘fix’ it.
I did the thing most of us did. I got a gym membership with a friend and we planned to go ‘workout’ a few times a week. Of course what that meant was lets go to the gym three times on week one and spend our time on cardio machines and chatting, whilst maybe trying some of the resistance machines but not really knowing what we were doing. Then the week after we’d maybe manage two trips… and it would very quickly deplete until we hadn’t been for a couple of weeks and then we’d start the circle again.
The gym was a place we went because we weren’t happy with our bodies, a place we thought we had to go in order to fix our bodies and fit the mold we were conditioned to believe we had to compare ourselves to in order to be beautiful and desirable.
So exercise became a punishment. It was an obstacle that stood between me and ‘perfection’, between me and happiness.
So what changed?
One day, after a minor meltdown in the gym (in my head), I decided to bite the bullet and invest in a personal trainer for a few months; just to learn what I should do in the gym and then I could go at it alone.
And… well… I bloody loved it.
I didn’t instantly or constantly love it, and there were days when the motivation to go dwindled, but on a whole I loved the thought of myself getting stronger and fitter; plus I did see a change in my appearance so felt like I was on the right path.
Exercise was no longer just mindless minutes on the treadmill.
It was weights, it was strength, it was fun.
However I was still focusing on how it effected my appearance. My relationship with exercise had started to change, I no longer only exercised for aesthetic based reasons but it was still on my mind. So much so that when I became a PT myself I almost didn’t jump straight in as I felt I didn’t look good enough to be a PT; I still didn’t fit the mold. However, I jumped in anyway due to the kind of PT I wanted to be, but still felt the need to exercise to look a certain way.
It wasn’t actually until I started CrossFit that my relationship with exercise properly changed.
CrossFit has opened me up to a whole load of strength I didn’t know I had. It has pushed me to my limits and shown me I can go further. It has changed my mindset and my drive when it comes to working out.
I can now do things I never even considered being able to do and I want to keep adding to the list. I am now thirsty to keep adding to my skill set and see what else I am capable of.
The funny thing is, the moment I stopped using exercise as a way to lose weight, or a way to change my appearance, those things just happened anyway. Through focusing more on lifting heavier, moving faster, ensuring my technique was right, not only did I start to enjoy exercise more but I am in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in and my mental shape is also in a much better place.
I no longer determine my worth on my aesthetics or feel like I need to exercise in order to look good. I exercise because it makes me feel good. I exercise because I respect my body and want to keep it healthy. I exercise because I want to.
I just competed in my first ever CrossFit competition and I am now more determined than ever. I have goals to work towards… and none of them are based on how I look.
It feels great!!
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t have to be a chore or a way to punish your body for not being ‘perfect’. It might not happen over night but if you keep trying and give yourself some time to find out what works for you, you can start to change your relationship with exercise and even your body. Just don’t give up on yourself.
#bettyoucan #bettican # bettwecan