I am by no means qualified in this area, however as someone who struggled for years to find joy in movement, it has become one of the most interesting, and possibly relatable journey’s I’ve been on.
I saw myself as ‘The fat friend’ from a very early age. My school friends were all tiny, while I was awkwardly tall and throughout puberty held a bit of extra weight. I’ve also always been particularly conscious of having a very round face! I think back on this time as my ‘Bridget Jones Breakdown’; at a sleepover once, I remember crying, locking myself in the bathroom and telling everyone that I was the Bridget of the group- that no one would ever want to be with me.
Of course, eventually someone did. Although, an older woman would look back on that relationship and shudder. My first boyfriend had the gall to tell me I was fat on a regular basis and that I was lucky he was around. I weighed around 9 stone and, at about 5 foot 6, within healthy numbers on the scale. This is where my relationship with exercise started. I began going on short runs and doing sit ups, with the sole intent of looking better.
Fast forward to the first year of university and, well, any chance of being healthy went out of the window. We were nocturnal, drinking ridiculous amounts, eating crap and smoking like chimneys. I wouldn’t change a moment of it, I had a great time, but by the end of that year of course I’d piled on the ‘Fresher’s 15’. This was also around the time I really got a taste for adventure. But the two did not go hand in hand.
Over the next few years I would yoyo between going to the gym, getting out in the welsh countryside hiking and caving, and generally being shit at looking after my body. And, behind the scenes, generally hating how I looked.
It wasn’t until I worked abroad, shifted a little weight through having very little access to decent food, an almost continuous case of the travel shits for 3 months and a spat with Malaria that I felt I really needed to change the way I looked at my body. I started hitting the gym regularly, somehow managing to keep it up.
Another big change came when I had a pretty rough few months, one of those times in life when all the bad things came at once: a messy breakup, having a horrible time at work, money worries and worst of all, a very sick close relative. Life happens, we’ve all got shit. We all go through these terrible times. And after coming out of the other side of that time, I can look back and realise that this was when my relationship with exercise and my body really became something beautiful. Exercise had become an escapism from day to day life, had become a way to look after my mind, had become me time.
Realising that in turn has helped to create a real shift in mindset. That taking the time to work out, to cook proper food and to carve out time in nature are incredibly important to human health. And that, without filling your own glass, how can you possibly think you can fill the glasses of others? From something so negative, came something so wonderfully positive, I do feel it will stay with me for the rest of my life.
So, I suppose with that in mind, that is where the interest in exercise and healthy living have come from. Along with the benefits of being able to go a lot further, and a lot harder, during life’s many adventures!