This Guest Post was written by Cari Corbet-Owen: Clinical psychologist and author of 'The Mind over Fatter Programme' and 'The Joy-Filled Body: Eat! Play! Love and Live!' Catch her over at her website, Ditch Diets, Live Light!
I'm trying to think of the most sensible thing I've done.... and you know what, I had to conclude it was resigning from the gym - and feeling relieved about it. WHAT? I can just hear the .... and she thinks that's sensible??? Hold on, hold on, I can explain.
One upon a size xxxxl (that followed the period when I had been not so sensibly anorexic and thin enough that you could have faxed me) I signed up zealously at the gym. Yip - I was going to exercise this fat bod into submission, even if I got exercise bulimia, (which I thought from experience was a vastly more sensible option than anorexia, I mean I could eat loads doing the weight loss thing this way) um... even if it killed me. It nearly did.
Now, look to my credit, I had gone out and invested in leggings and a headband that matched my leotard, you see if there was one thing I knew for sure it was that I wasn't going to be fat AND unfashionable! I my fantasy life I just knew I was going to be one of those 'cool-as a cucumber, hardly-raising-a-sweat-types' who arrived in pristine makeup and left looking the same way.
So I try to make myself as invisible as possible. But Houston we have a problem. My breasts alone are about the size of the Grand Tetons and if I unleashed them two black eyes would be my lot. I'm only about double the size (even if it was only in my mind) of every other thinderella there. How come they all seem to have that cucumber coolness while I'm more um.... well let's just politely label it 'beet puce'. and I'm breathing as if in labour.
Everyone else's makeup seems run-proof. Mine - ( I don't usually wear any but I made an exception for gym - I mean that's sensible isn't it?) well it's sweated itself everywhere and to cap it all, I've got about as much rhythm as a broken windmill. When everyone else's leg is up - mine's the only one still down. The instructor tries smiling at me and I want to slap her. Why does she have to notice me. She (that's me) shuffles, look down....I mean, I'm a psychologist, that's a rational reaction isn't it???? Please say 'yes'.
And if you've ever believed in this 'no pain, no gain' principle you'll know that you get two stages to stiffness; the first day you're worried you're not going to live and by the second day you're more concerned that you are going to! I went through both these. So, you've got to admit that the only sensible thing to do to avoid future near death experiences of this kind was to turn in my resignation. By that I mean, I buried that gym card in my bottom drawer and never went back.
But it did teach me something of value (I finally locate my sensible cap)- being a gym bunny isn't for everyone. Some people like structured classes. Not me. I'm someone who likes to hop on my bike, throw on my shoes when the fancy takes me and head off on a hike, or dance when no-one is looking. (it has to be when no-one is looking - remember I told you about that rhythm thing)
I'm not someone who does well starting off doing too much too soon. I suppose I have to admit that my masochistic tendencies just aren't developed strongly enough. And if yours are, and your body doesn't take exception, that's cool by me. I discovered my body really does much better with regular exercise that I can increase over time. It really likes getting stronger and fitter slowly, it finds that sustainable and enjoyable.
I hate anything that means I have to dress fashionably (what was I thinking?...in truth I could easily win the award for the worst dressed woman around) - and heck when I'm out enjoying the breeze (I prefer the outdoors too) and the delight of being active, I don't want to have to compare myself with a cucumber cool flawless barbie. I used to aspire to being one, but I've handed in my notice on that idea. Getting older is fabulous - as my eyesight declines, I'm finding it vastly easier to fall in like with myself.
I'm also someone who hates having to get into my car to drive somewhere to exercise - it just robs my day of time. I don't do well on an exercise program that I have to tie my life in knots to fit in. I want being active to just be a natural part of my day. So, I'd rather have a workout walking up the steep hill to the shops with my backpack on. I'm killing a couple birds with one stone.... fitting in my shopping, fitting in some sunshine, smiling at a few people on the way, doing my affirmations, taking a break from work AND striding out. An hour later I'm back at my computer feeling refreshed and invigorated. I somehow never felt that way at the gym.
Yip, I guess, there are many ways of staying fit and healthy and the best way to do it, at least for me, has been to find out what I enjoy and what I know I can keep on doing without it being a bore and a chore and something I dread.