Finding a simple exercise solution

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Trying to find a healthy balance has been my aim this year. I wrote at the start of the year about how I wanted to get off the dieting / weight loss followed by weight gain yo yo. A healthy, happy middle ground is what I was looking for. I was adamant I wasn’t going to lean on my usual crutch of Weight Watchers. I lose weight easily on the programme, but I always struggling to keep it off. Exercise is something that is key to all of this, in particular, finding something I enjoy and want to stick at.

In my late teens and early twenties I was an international gymnast competing as a middle of a women’s group in Sports Acrobatics. Training at such an intensive level meant I didn’t have to watch my weight. I’ve grew up with a balanced diet mixed with treats in moderation. I was a bit more careful with what I ate as we approached competitions but on the whole, I ate what I fancied.

That all changed when I retired from gymnastics in my mid 20s. I soon piled on the weight and struggled to find a form of exercise I enjoyed as much as gymnastics. The next 2 decades have been spent on a quest trying and then discarding a wide variety of activities.

I have a home DVD exercise collection that would support a large gym. I enjoy this type of exercise, but the size of my collection reflects the fact that I get bored easily. Usually with the music rather than the dance. An actual dance class is your answer, I hear you cry. It probably would be if I didn’t have to get changed, leave the house and travel to do it. I’ve had my eye on several classes and I even went to one for a while. But they’re at set times and those times usually don’t fit in with my life.

Swimming is something else I enjoy. Once I’m in the water, it’s quite relaxing and a joint friendly way to get fit. Unfortunately, I’m not one of the privileged few that has a pool in their back garden. That therefore means I have to travel to go swimming. And then get changed. And then get dried and changed at the end of it. Before I was a mum, that was actually quite a nice way to spend a few hours. Now I just don’t have the time.

We’ve had an exercise bike in our spare room for years. It is something I used regularly but it was quite uncomfortable and felt like a chore to do it. I felt good afterwards but much like my dalliance with running, I hated doing it.

So what is the answer? As is often the case when you can’t see the wood for the trees, it is actually very straightforward. Running gave me absolutely no pleasure at all. I used to feel jealous of who runners who constantly bang on about how great they feel after a run. It’s their space to think and breath. For me it was torture but I felt it was the only sport I could do outside. I was missing a trick and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to find the simple answer. Which of course is walking. I love being outside. I love the freedom of losing myself in music while I soak up the atmosphere around me. Walking is the perfect answer.

Two things have happened over the last few months which have been lightbulb moments for me and my fitness. The first was to do what I vowed I was never going to do again and join Weight Watchers. I did it for a lot of reasons. After a very dark and long winter, I was extremely unhappy with my weight and uncomfortable in my skin. For a while I felt that so many areas of my life was outside of my control. I hate not being in control and I’d dealt with that by sitting on my backside and eating rubbish.

Making some small changes didn’t really make a difference. I knew Weight Watchers would. However, this time I’ve gone into it with a different mentality. I’ve always done it before thinking it was a short term thing. Losing weight was the aim, but when that was achieved, I’d go back to doing what I did before. Unsurprisingly, that led to the weight going back on. This time it’s more about re-educating myself about healthy food and cooking healthy and enjoyable meals.

The second thing that happened was signing up for a walking challenge at work. For 8 weeks, we’re challenging ourselves to walk 10,000 steps every day. For some people, that’s the norm. They have active lifestyles that mean they do that before lunch. I’m not lucky enough to have a job that allows me to do that on the 3 days I go out to work. I work in a courtroom and getting up every so often to do some steps is generally frowned upon.

The challenge has really made me think about my lifestyle. It’s become easy to not move around very much. I did the challenge last year and managed 10,000 some days but was usually only doing around 8,000. That’s still good, but I felt this year I needed to up the anti and take it seriously. We’re currently in week 7 and I’ve done at least 10,000 steps every day except 2 which were still both over 8,000. Pushing myself to do the steps has been the kick up the bum I’ve needed. I’ve lost weight but more importantly, I feel so much better in myself.

So, once the challenge is over and my subscription to Weight Watchers runs out, I’m going to stick with it. Healthy eating, relaxing things a bit at weekends. The most important thing though it keeping up exercise. I’m determined I’m going to fit 10,000 steps into my daily life. Whatever the weather.

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