I actually wrote the majority of this blog post 3 months ago but I find that these kind of posts can be a little daunting to actually get all my thoughts down, finished and published. But after a few months in my drafts, I came back to it and here it is.
At the start of the year, my husband and I joined our local gym… I know, the idea of it gave me a good dose of anxiety and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit apprehensive about how I would cope.
I was last a member of a gym a good 6 years ago or so. I ended up having to cancel my membership after all my body dysmorphia and eating problems as even though I was recovering, I felt like being at the gym was too much of a trigger. I didn’t know how to live a balanced life and I wanted to just stop all forms of counting or measuring. Since my first step towards that needed to focus on the food side of things, I decided the gym needed to take a back seat for a little while.
Since then, my exercise routine has been rather erractic, some months I am better than others but in general, I’ve not really been looking after myself as I should. I sometimes get asked what my exercise routine is when I post a more figure hugging outfit and that question always leaves me feeling guilty that I’m not taking better care of my body! But I just struggle so much with not being a “all or nothing” person.
Matt and I had been talking about signing up to the gym that’s down the road from us ever since we moved to London in August. The full schedule of classes and pool really appealed but we figured we would wait for the inevitable January deals that they would offer. The wait paid off and we scored a month for free with no joining fee! #beatthesystem
On of the main motivators for me to join this time was to get my body moving and build some strength. I suffer from terribly tense shoulder and neck muscles that have been made worse after being in a car crash last year. I knew that working out would help as it has done in the past.
I also wanted to feel strong and capable! I know that from the past, I always feel so great about my body when I feel like I’m taking care of it and it has strength. I want to feel powerful, to be able to run for my train and not feel like I’m dying, to maybe even be able to do some epic yoga poses one day. I have always loved watching people move their bodies in incredible ways, be it dance, circus acrobats, pure strength or the control of yoga. I find it so inspiring but I also can’t help but think to myself, “I wish my body could do something like that”. So, whilst I’m not going to be doing anything too crazy any time soon, just being able to push myself to do one more rep is my little tribute to body’s potential.
But, even as someone who has recovered, I knew that joining a gym could potentially allow for unwanted negative thoughts to creep back in.
So if you are in a similar situation to me, here’s how I have managed it. Firstly, I thought about what I wanted to achieve and came up with these goals:
- To integrate exercise into my life in a balanced way that allows for me to have days where I can’t be bothered or only go for 20-30mins if that’s all I can handle.
- To have consistency and aim for at least 3 times a week BUT NOT BEAT MYSELF UP if I don’t meet that goal. Life happens and that’s totally fine.
- To enjoy what I’m doing, not worrying about weather it’s working me hard enough or if I’ve already done that workout twice this week.
- Finding the balance between PUSHING through something but being kind to myself. If I have to grit my teeth through that last few hundred metres on the rowing machine, it’s not because I’m punishing myself for eating cake yesterday.
- To go to the gym regardless of how well I’ve eaten that day. Even though I’m not trying to lose weight, it’s crazy how this mindset is still very much with me. I love indulging in good food and don’t beat myself up over it when I do, but there’s been a few times where automatically my brain has gone: chocolate = don’t bother with the gym. I didn’t realise how easily this would creep up on me but I think that’s part of my journey to also change my mindset to going to the gym for health.
- To build strength in my arms, back, shoulders and core which will help with the pain I get.
No matter what your goals are, it can sometimes be hard to deal with pushy gym instructors who probably look at anyone joining a gym who’s not slim and assume they want to gain weight. I went for my first induction appointment prepared to say NO to the scales, body fat measurement and even body measurements because that’s just not what it’s about for me. I told my trainer I didn’t want to be weighed, measured, be told what my BMI or body fat % was. It was not important to me and I didn’t want subsequent sessions with her to be just about what I had or hadn’t lost.
However, know that you ARE ALLOWED to want to change your body AND STILL LOVE IT at the same time. Body positivity and self love doesn’t mean that if you want to lose weight then you don’t love yourself. So if that is your goal, take care to do it slowly, with kindness and love and if you have to measure something, using a measuring tape… STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALES!
I’ve realised that, due to my personality, striving for balance is something that is probably going to be a ongoing thing in my lifetime. But it’s nice to feel like I’m making progress and I don’t have to be so terrified of a gym anymore. It’s all going really well, I feel like I’m on the right track and am achieving most of what I set out to do- My neck and shoulder pain has hardly been a issue since joining! My biggest obstacle right now is how to keep consistent when I’m travelling – In the next 8 weeks I’m only home for 23 days so I’m now working on trying to still go for walks or doing a workout no matter where I am.
If you are looking for some inspiration to start working out, I love seeing what Georgina from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust posts – she’s got so much strength, half the stuff she does I wouldn’t be able to do but maybe one day soon! You can see all her fitness stuff by searching #fullerfigurefullerbustsweating on Instagram. George actually took me for a workout last week and I just about died. If you ever want to feel like your legs are on fire for 3-4 days straight then try frog squats- they are a killer!
At the end of the day, the most important this is that you do what you feel comfortable with. Love, nourish and cherish your bodies for the amazing things they are!
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Categories: Body Confidence