I never used to be the type of person who LOVED exercise. You know, the type of person who wakes up at 5 am to be at the gym while the birds are still waking up. The type of person to push weights and run far and fast. It's just not for me. For most of my twenties, I spent a lot of time trying to be a 5 am'er and then beating myself up when I failed at being one. This resulted in me not exercising and making a million excuses as to why I can't. I also have the luck of being a competitive person. Not necessarily with someone else but with myself. This meant in my head that I was supposed to be the way I was in high school. I would keep referring to my "back in the day fitness" There was only one problem. My "back in the day fitness" was way gone and so was my perspective. Being 30 is not being 25 and being 25 isn't 16. I'm sure a few you of can relate. You look back and it feels like yesterday hence your body should be where your mind thinks it's at. It was all a big mess and to be honest just resulted in me failing. Time and time again.
A year ago I moved to Sea Point. An area of Cape Town which is a stone's throw from the promenade. A gorgeous stretch of walkway that runs for kilometers along the shoreline. It's super inspiring because so many people are walking, running and generally getting fit. I realized because I lived so close - literally a block away that I no longer had an excuse. I tried. I found a million reasons as to why I shouldn't or couldn't. Sometimes I would even hit the prom and run. Then be in pain afterward and not do anything for two weeks even though my body clearly couldn't handle it. Eventually, something had to give.
So I made myself a promise. A promise that for one hour a day I would just move my body. It didn't have to be with running, weights and at 5 am in the morning. It has to be on my terms. It was the only way I was going to succeed. So I found myself a pilates studio and I started with pilates. I committed to finding strength and alignment. To lay the foundations of fitness because let's get real, after years of not exercising it was all gone and I needed to start at the beginning. Coupled with the pilates I walked. I hit the prom and I just put one foot in front of another. Before I knew it a few weeks had gone by. I then started doing Yoga and more cardio building exercises. I then joined FITKEY (an amazing app) and started moving my body more based on what I felt it needed. Again there were rules. They were the following and I hope you can take something away from them. They certainly helped me find my way and still do today. They have become my mantras and my guidance to gaining strength and fitness.
1- Show up. No matter what time suits you or what you have to do, show up. Take the time to see where you can fit your exercise into your schedule and do it. Put your running shoes on and get out the door before you come up with excuses on how to fail yourself. Honour that time slot for you because you are worthy of it. It is practicing self love. A critical important practice for all of us!
2- Go slowly. It doesn't mean you are a failure if all you can do is go slowly. Your pace is all that matters. Be kind to yourself for how you are doing it because you already accomplished step 1. You showed up.
3- Be gentle with yourself. This isn't about perfection and you don't have to get it right every single time. All you have to do is persevere and take it one day at a time. Before you know it a week will have gone by and you moved your body for an hour a day. It will add up. I promise.
4- Don't compare yourself to others. It is the death of joy. Just because your friends can go to a sweat 1000 class and run at full pace, doesn't mean you have to. Meet yourself where you are at and know that you are doing the best that you can. With time, you will run your own marathon.
5- Keep swimming. There are going to be days where you will be tired and there are going to be days where your mind is tired. Know the difference. I believe you need to honour your body and know when to take a rest. I also believe that you need to push past the initial pain and not reward yourself for it. It is going to be hard in the beginning if your body isn't used to it. That is where the mental game comes in. Push past the pain and keep moving! You can do it!
6- Be consistent. It doesn't help if you go to 4 yoga classes then you don't do anything for two weeks. Consistency is key and you will soon feel the difference. You build fitness with building blocks as you would a house, lay the foundations first.
7- Take the time to get to know your body and what it is about. There is a lot of noise out there with people telling you what you should and shouldn't be doing. Your body knows best. If you are doing something and it hurts, back off and stop doing it. If it doesn't then keep going. Not all exercise is for everyone. I certainly know that ballistic exercise isn't my thing and I prefer walking and yoga. But that is me, you decide for you. Don't do it because of someone else's story or because you think you have to.
8- Find your groove with your move! What moves you? Do you like being up early? Do you like calm exercise or a military muscle man shouting at you to go faster? Do you want to swim or walk? Find what makes you happy. Moving your body should be something to celebrate. It is a privilege not everyone has. Don't make celebrating your body a chore and something you dread. It really will make the process so much easier if you connect with this and do what works.
9- Stop beating yourself up. Whether it is with the food that you have eaten or the walk that was slower than you wanted. You are not going to succeed by bullying yourself. Coulda shoulda woulda, the past is the past. Whatever wasn't 'right' just move on and try better the next day. You have got this!
10- Be your biggest cheerleader. You can do this. You can move your body for one hour a day. You are a wonderful human being that has a beating heart and breathing lungs. You have two feet that can move and arms that can lift. You are made of stardust! So go and celebrate that!