Some of you may be aware that I’ve recently been selected as one of this year’s This Girl Can Essex ambassadors as part of the local drive to get the women and girls of Essex moving and shaking!
In the This Girl Can spirit, I wanted to share some of my personal reasons and motivators for exercising – which are absolutely not about weight loss! just incase you weren’t aware **NEWSFLASH** Fat People Don’t Just Exercise To Lose Weight! Over the past 3 or 4 years since I recognised these motivators, my enjoyment and approach to exercise has changed completely!
(In fact, in the preceeding 15+ years before I discovered this revelation for myself – when weight loss was, sadly my ONLY motivation to exercise – I would get to a point where my weight would plateau and I would eventually give up… The cycle ultimately made me miserable and unmotivated…).
Why Exercise Then?! Here’s why:
1. To improve my wellbeing
This is about looking after my body AND mind – and not in a self-righteous “holier than thou” way! I experience less stress and depression when I exercise. I sleep better. My knees and ankles cause me less pain. I’ve finally found exercise (mainly dance based group classes) that I love – so much so, I sometimes find my cheeks ache from smiling so much during a class! 😄 Knowing it will make me feel good keeps me going back!
2. To see progress
I love seeing my strength and stamina improve – particularly when I started circuit training and managed to do a burpee over that sodding little bar!! I’d kicked it off weeks and weeks! But then I managed one, then a couple, then a few more! I had a similar experience with planking. Now, I go through it on an almost weekly basis as I’ve joined SOS Dance “crew” training so I’m being pushed to learn more complicated choreography. I start off thinking “I’ll NEVER do that” and then hours, days or weeks later I’m doing it! It’s basically competing with myself over and over. Recognising the progresses really keeps me motivated and looking to see what I can try and achieve next!
3. Excellent instructors
I’ve been very lucky to find instructors who choreograph amazing routines – particularly zumba and street dance (with SOS Dance). I’ve generally found the instructors at Colchester Leisure World to be positively encouraging without pushing me too far (except the spin instructor – I couldn’t stand her! But I know other people who love her). Not one of the class instructors made me feel like I wouldn’t be able to manage their class or was patronising. Having a membership for a while meant I could choose lots of different things while I sussed out what and who I liked. Through this trial and error I discovered I was as motivated by who was running the session as much as having a class preference. I’ve had more than one situation when I was tempted to walk out of a class because I didn’t like the cover instructor! Find the right people – it makes a huge difference!
4. To spend time with people
Writing “make friends” seemed a bit of a cliché but basically that’s what it is. Sometimes I guess it’s making acquaintances – for example: there’s a purple haired lady I see at lots of zumba classes. We chat regularly, I know she commutes home from London but I don’t know her name! I enjoy chatting to her and the other regulars. I like dancing together, laughing when we get it wrong or when we have to do a cringey ‘freestyle’ bit! Joining “crew” and being part of a mini dance family with 15 other dancers (who’s names I do know!) is a lovely experience. I’m a people person so being able to let my hair down and shake my bootie with a lovely bunch of ladies brings me joy.
5. To keep dancing
I have always loved dancing and the way it feels to move in my body. I did ballet, tap and modern as a child and gave them up as a young teen as my peers were going ‘en pointe’ and I was embarrassed to be left behind (I didn’t see the point in messing up my feet and ankles for something that would only ever be a hobby). I did Performing Arts A-level and danced throughout. My uni days were spent on the dance floors of the bars and clubs. I returned to adult tap and ballet and tried a bit of street dance in my mid-twenties before I had kids. Dancing just for the sake of dancing has always brought me joy! Having that as part of my regular routine is a just brilliant!
6. As an act of self-love
Rather than a grueling regime to “work off” something I’ve eaten, I now view my exercise routine as a kindness to myself and my body. It has taken me an awfully long time to begin to love myself and my body and now that I have I want to treat it with kindness. It’s a bit of breathing space away from my job and my kids. A time to focus my mind and let go of my inhibitions. Be a little bit free. It’s my own weird kind of indulgence!
I’d love to hear about what your body positive (i.e. not weight loss related!) motivations are! Or is there is something that worries you or prevents you from exercising? I’d love to know more about your experiences.
Tomorrow night I’m off to a celebration event to meet some of my fellow ambassadors – I’m bound to be sharing a photo or two on my Instagram!