When Fitness Starts to Be… Fun?
It’s so funny how times change. A couple of years ago, I’d never, ever have thought I’d be where I am right now. A lot of things are different, in a whole range of crazy ways. I like different foods, for one thing; unless I’m a hormonal demon horsebeast, I could take or leave chocolate – but put a butternut squash in front of me and I am in there like the proverbial swimwear.
I’m also considerably more confident. I may have lost 130lbs, but I’ve gained balls of steel – which helps a lot, given this blog has given me the chance to talk to some amazing, exciting people. That’s not just to do with my weight, though – I’ve been lucky enough to work in a great place, and I have some truly awesome friends and family who’ve always been behind me. I’m a lucky girl.
But one of the things that hadn’t changed was the way I felt about “fitness.” Namely, pretty much everything outside of the programme. Walking, yes. Weights, yes. Everything else, not so much – with the sole exception of yoga, which I love, but my ability is far, far below my passion for it. Especially until I’ve got my knee fixed.
I’d look at people doing Legs, Bums and Tums, or British Military Fitness, or just going for a run, and I’d think… Well, I can’t write what I’d think here without putting “NSFW” in the title, if you get my drift. Suffice to say, I was less than impressed. It just seemed incomprehensible to me that people would enjoy that sort of thing. They’d be all, you know, sweaty and stuff. No ta.
But then, there was that time I climbed the Malvern Hills for the first time in over five years. I fully expected to get to the top panting, and sweating, and wanting to die, but it just didn’t happen. Getting back down, it transpired, was a lot harder than climbing up - and I had such an amazing buzz afterwards that I was grinning for days.
And then, there was my first Pilates class. Sweet lord in heaven, my abs. My ABS. I’m not a girl that even has abs, or anything remotely resembling core strength. Most of the time, when I bend down, I fall down. Smooth and strong are not words we use to describe anything about me, unless we’re referring to the way I like my coffee. I’m not saying I don’t ever work them or anything – just that they’re still hidden behind what I’m going to optimistically call my “Renaissance” woman softness around the middle. I’m cool with that.
But in Pilates? My God. The pain.
But it was also kind of exciting. Each time the instructor would demonstrate the exercise, I’d think “Oh HELL no,” and pull a face much like this:
But then, I’d remember that I wasn’t there just to kill time before dinner, and I’d give it a shot. And every single time I’d be able to do it.
Well, not every single time. That’s a lie. I firmly believe some of those positions are downright unnatural, and I still can’t figure out my left and right without making an “L” with my thumb and forefinger. But you get the idea. More often than I expected, I was more flexible, stronger and fitter than I expected to be.
Not only that, but stretching myself (pardon the pun) beyond what I thought myself capable of was… Fun.
And herein lies my problem. I think I may have accidentally sold out. I’m sorry you guys, but I have become one of those people that really rather enjoys that whole ‘fitness’ thing.
Like I said the other day, I think it’s possible to find yourself feeling like your body isn’t something that’s really a part of you, when you’re not able to really enjoy it. And if you’re morbidly obese and disabled – like I was – it can feel like your body’s working against you at every turn. Exercise doesn’t seem fun, because it’s so uncomfortable that the pain or awkwardness outweighs how good it can actually feel.
And if you’ve always been ‘fat’ – again, like yours truly – most of your experiences of exercise will be full of that pain and awkwardness, so it’s impossible to comprehend the awesomeness of a great stretch, or feeling your heart rate go up. Personally, I’d always find those things mildly terrifying, because a stretch would likely mean an injury, and a raised heart rate would mean a stress I wasn’t sure my body could actually take. Grim, perhaps – but pretty unavoidable.
Now, I do think there’s a bit of annoying reverse psychology going on in my brain at the moment. I’m having knee surgery on Wednesday, and I’ve managed to pull a muscle in my back carrying my PhD notes around town for most of the weekend, so for the foreseeable, there will be very little exercise on my part. Which sucks.
But honestly – this whole ‘fitness’ thing, as it turns out, is actually pretty fun, and not just in the gym. From chasing around after the kids (or playing with the dog, in my case); to being able to run for the bus, or dash back up the stairs when you realise you need your sunglasses in December (yay!) – when all these things are no big deal, that’s when fitness becomes really, really satisfying. And when you’re seeing these sorts of benefits, suddenly getting even fitter becomes a priority, because it’s helping you to make the most of every second.
So yes – I’ve sold out. I’ve become one of ‘those fitness types.’ But I’m willing to wager that if you stick with it, eventually, you will too – not because you want to be the fastest runner, or the bendiest Pilates-type (although if you do, that’s fine – duh) but because you’re making the most of what you’ve got: one amazing body that doesn’t hold you back, and one awesome life as a result.