I’m not a “naturally” fit person. What I mean by that is, I don’t have this natural stamina that some people are simply born with. I think it’s this kind of organic fitness that sets athletes and sportsman apart. Sure, for these athletes it’s years and years of training and a whole different level of discipline and commitment, but I believe there’s a huge element of natural stamina and fitness that’s on their side, and possibly even genetic.
Take extreme athletes and sports people out of the equation, there will always be those people who are naturally more active and whose bodies seem to respond well to exercise and the time they invest in the gym or on the road.
I am not one of those people, No not at all. I have to run consistently and regularly to even feel a budge in my fitness levels. I I have to work that little bit harder. My body isn’t built to put on loads of muscle or lose excess fat quickly either. My body isn’t even really built to bend like a pretzel the way many yoga fanatics do, their arms and legs so supple you wonder if they are on their way to becoming some kind of contortionist or something. I’m just not your typical fitness girl and that’s the simple truth.
But over the years I have worked hard at getting active and have actually rewired my brain and my body to enjoy exercise, especially running! I have gone from barely being able to run 2 kilometres without stopping to running my very first half marathon with relative ease. Guys I can honestly say it was so much easier than I thought and probably one of the greatest experiences of my life. But the truth is, the training and getting to that part was so much tougher than the race itself, as anything like this should be.
I guess I’m writing this post for three reasons. One: To document this achievement along with all the other special milestones on my blog. Two: To scream it from the rooftops how proud I am of myself and yes maybe brag a little bit 🙂 and Three: To remind you (And myself) that this was such a small part the journey. Sure this accomplishment is awesome but through reflecting on my health and fitness journey I have come to quite a few realisations.
Here’s what I have learnt:
- It doesn’t matter what type of body you were born with, it matters what you do with it. Sure some bodies may be naturally more inclined to move with a certain degree of ease and perhaps yours doesn’t feel built for endurance, but it’s still built to move and your body is capable of so much more than you think. It’s important to find something you enjoy, even it starts with simply tolerating it or bearing through it. Once you have pushed through that “wall” you will reap the rewards and fall in love with it.
- Tracking your progress is great for morale and improving your current state of fitness. So often we get to that stage of feeling stuck, like we aren’t getting anywhere, that nothing is worthwhile. But reflecting and looking back at where our journey began, can enable to us to see how far we have come. They may not be huge noticeable things in the beginning, like losing that extra tummy roll or seeing abs take shape underneath all the wobble. It might be something more subtle like seeing a difference in your skin, nails and hair or realising that you are sleeping better than you have in years. We may not all respond well to exercise in terms of losing weight or gaining muscle easily but it’s important not to underestimate these other things and to trust that those other things will come with time. We’ve become accustomed to wanting to see physical results quickly that we forget about all the stuff that’s going on spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
- It important to to set goals for yourself and do everything in your power to stick to them. Setting big goals like signing up for marathons makes you push yourself in ways you never thought you could. I know I never would have clocked in all those hours on the road had I not signed up for Two Oceans. I knew I had to put in the work if I wanted it to be a positive experience. And it was so much more than that, it was liberating!
- Exercise is SO important for everyone but especially those suffering from anxiety and depression. It has by far been the most effective sort of “treatment” that has helped me through some horrible bouts of anxiety and any form of depression I used to suffer from is now a thing of the past. Obviously eveyone’s situation is different and medication is sometimes a necessity, but don’t be scared to find out how well meds and exercise go hand in hand. You might be surprised at how effective endorphins can be to treat anxiety, stress and depression.
- It’s important to know when to push yourself and when to rest. As someone who has pushed through the hard stage of simply tolerating exercise to now being able to actually enjoy running, I think I’ve become better as listening to what my body needs. Exercise puts you in touch with a your body in a way like no other. You are able to read it and know it better, what it needs to be fuelled well and when it needs more rest time versus pushing yourself those extra 3 kilometres. I have never been more in awe of my body as I am now. I have birthed three babies and still managed to achieve a level of fitness in my late 30’s that I didn’t even dream about in my 20’s. Exercise has allowed me to make peace with my body, it’s natural shape and to love it for everything it offers me. Remember, exercise has the power to make you feel good, not merely look good and to me there’s so much self-love and toxic freedom in that.
I think if I want people reading this to walk away with one thing it would be this: Love your body enough to believe in it, to believe that is is strong and capable of doing things you ordinarily thought you couldn’t. That ballet class, that yoga session, that running group that meets down the road from you twice a week? Stop thinking you’re just not built for sport, that your body can’t do what other’s can. We may not be built to do what the person next to us can but you need to stop making excuses and give your body the chance it deserves. Let it show you what it can do. ♥