Although I’ve always been into sports, having had swimming and tennis lessons and enjoyed being active as a child, there came a time where I began to view ‘doing exercise’ as an effortful yet necessary activity if I wanted to lose weight/look good/stay looking good/eat chocolate etc. I realise now what a shame (and how sad) it is to see exercise this way as it instantly blinds you to the joy and all the other benefits that exercise brings when it isn’t solely linked to your appearance and calorie burning.
Associating exercise with dieting and weight loss makes it is very easy to lose essential lifestyle balance and you can end up going to extremes. For example, when you fall into a pattern of unhealthy eating, you are likely to then lose the motivation to exercise as you feel as though you’ve already failed at being healthy. Alternatively, if you’re on a mission to lose weight and decide to follow a strict diet (not recommended!), you might also start following a strict exercise routine. This can develop into an obsession where you daren’t stop exercising for fear of ruining all your efforts.
What I’ve discovered is that not only do we need balance and moderation when it comes to diet and exercise but we must also listento our bodies (and hearts) in order to find what feels good for us personally. When we do this, we open ourselves up to feeling good not only on a physical level but also on a mental, social and spiritual level.
My current fitness routine involves attending a ladies mixed fitness class (which involves a combination of strength training, cardio and stretching) 2-3 times a week and a yoga session which I’ll do either with a small group of friends, with my boyfriend or by myself in the comfort of my own home. This is usually throughout the week, then at the weekend I do more leisurely activities such as a walk on the beach, dancing (at home or out with friends) or stand up paddle boarding.
I really love this routine for the following reasons:
- The ladies fitness group has such a positive, motivating energy as many of us have attended for over a year now and we’ve created great friendships
- The mixture of strength training and cardio is the perfect way to build stamina, strength and toning
- Although I look forward to the classes every week, I also acknowledge when my body is feeling tired and I therefore choose to rest on these days instead
- Doing yoga with friends or my boyfriend provides a unique experience for us to bond as we engage in this calming and empowering exercise together
- Yoga has guided me to develop my spirituality together with my meditation practice
- I feel empowered and capable to lead my own fitness sessions (either improvising by myself or planning a session for others)
- I feel fit, strong and healthy
- Check out the classes available at your local gym – see which appeal to you and try them all out to see which you like most. If you find the first class difficult, don’t be put off straight away, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while. It will definitely get easier!
- Don’t be put off if it seems like everyone knows each other – introduce yourself and get to know people; it’s a great way to make friends!
- Suggest a day after work where you meet with friends to do a physical activity together, whether it’s running, cycling, dancing or yoga – it’s a fun way to break up the working week and you can have a nice catch up afterwards
- Search for fitness videos on Youtube that you can do on your own or with your partner (or kids!) at home – there are loads to choose from!
- Lay down a yoga mat and just improvise with some stretching – listen to your body to find out what it needs – this is great to do first thing in the morning or after a day of little activity. Similarly, if you are mainly sitting down at work, take at least one 5 minute break to stretch or walk around.
- Take opportunities to try out new activities – you could be a natural at it and you never know who you might meet or where it could take you.