In the past for me exercise has always been one of those things that I have avoided if possible, vilified in my head or used as a way to punish my body for not being perfect.
I’ve thought of, and used, every trick in the book to avoid doing it.
I have been inspired by a few individuals to dust off my running shoes, find my hiking boots and air out my swimming costume and to start exercise again with a different approach.
My sister in law Sarah has been very inspiring, not only did she lose weight and start running last year to raise money for the CF Trust in her little cowboy fundraiser, she has continued with it despite the fact that she has a very busy life (er… 5 kids and she still finds time to run- superhuman comes to mind here) and has completed her first official 5K run with her friend and running partner Becky, plus they have managed to run 10k in training! This is a brilliant achievement- going from “can’t run, won’t run” to running 10k in a matter of months is indeed very inspiring.
I have been inspired by my lovely friend Tracey and my new swimming buddy Lisa to get some therapy whilst swimming! They invited me to start swimming with them this year and we endeavour to go swimming every Monday night from 9-10pm.
We have found it’s a great way to not only get some exercise but to get some adult time away from the kids, to have a laugh and socialise and to talk through and share all our problems and challenges that come from being parents and stay at home moms. During our hour long swims we manage to cover so many varied topics from disability to religion, farming to politics, book reviews to parenting tips that we barely even notice we are exercising!
I have been inspired by my husband Robin, who has spent many hours training on his bike so that he can start commuting the 11 mile journey by bike to work. He rides up giant hills that I can only stare at in horror with great gusto and excitement, he uses his gadgets to record his achievements and create new goals and he approaches cycling with great love and joy- he shows me that exercise can and should be about having fun!
And I have of course been inspired by my son Joe who runs around like a loon, climbs on every available surface he can see and climbed to the top of Spring Wood peak with us on his little toddler legs during the Easter holiday. All this despite being plagued by viruses one after the other, trips to hospital, new medications and weight loss. Although he can’t really tell me what it feels like to have CF, I’m pretty sure at times he feels absolutely rubbish- and yet he continues to play and climb and run and do his medications and physio with a smile.
So with all these inspirational people behind me I have started going swimming weekly and started running again with the Couch to 5k running podcasts from the NHS that you can access here. And with this inspiration I have discovered that in the past I thought about exercise in the wrong way, so now I’m going to try and approach it differently:
- Firstly exercise is not about PUNISHMENT and doesn’t have to be about LOSING WEIGHT. There is nothing wrong with my body, there is nothing wrong with me that needs fixing- I don’t fit into society’s standards of what is beautiful and perfect and that’s OK- exercise is not about punishing myself for not being perfect, it is about empowerment and achievement and about loving myself as I am now. ( The phrase “I am not the “before” in a “before and after picture” comes to mind.)
- Exercise can be FUN. It doesn’t have to be about burning as many calories as possible or how many miles per minute you can go. Rob can jump on a bike and pedal up the side of a mountain in the wind and rain with a smile on his face, he comes back sweaty and sore and EXHILARATED. He does it because he wants to, because he likes to, because it feels good. Joe runs about and jumps on his trampoline and climbs over the back of the sofa and dances to the Ben and Holly’s little kingdom theme tune because he loves to, and he wants to and its fun!
- Exercise can be about SOCIALISING or SOLITUDE. I can have a great time chatting away and putting the world to rights with my friends in the swimming pool whilst swimming 20 lengths, I can have a great time with my family stomping through the woods and looking for pine cones on a hike or I can put my earphones in, escape the Peppa Pig re-runs and have 30 minutes of precious mummy alone time pounding the pavements.
- Me and Rob exercising is important for Joe. Exercise is incredibly important as a treatment and therapy for people with Cystic Fibrosis- I can’t expect Joe to go out for a run or a bike ride or a swim when he finds it difficult to breathe and painful and exhausting when we won’t go out because we can’t be bothered. Making exercise a part of our family life makes it a natural part of Joe’s life, and not just another treatment on his extensive list.
- Exercise is for everyone Not matter if you are fat or thin, tall or short, disabled or able bodied, young or old you can, and you deserve to let yourself get out there and enjoy exercise and celebrate your body. It doesn’t really matter how far or fast you go, as long as you give it a go!
I am at the very beginning of this journey- and it is one I have started and failed many times before! But I’m really going to try and embrace exercise- I’ve just finished week two of the couch to 5K course- wish me luck! I hope that this has given you some inspiration too!