If someone asked me why I take time every day to move my body five years ago, the answer would be very different to what it is now. Five years ago exercise was a way of punishing my body. The goal was physical transformation.
Fast forward to now, and particularly in the past few weeks, the reason I have chosen to move my body is for my mental health. It is a non-negotiable part of my day. It is the time that is just for me, my body and mind. I am more patient, I think clearer and I am so much more alert at work and through my studies when I take that 30 minutes a day for me.
I think there is still the common misconception that unless you are sweating like crazy that it wasn't a productive session. Sure if you didn't go as hard you may not have reached the red zone in your training, but that doesn't mean that the time you spent moving was wasted.
Those of you who have been following my posts the last few weeks will know that I haven't been myself lately. I am experiencing really high moments and really low moments. It doesn't seem to be balanced. I have an inkling that it is because I have come off the pill (stay tuned for another Women's Health post soon) so I am not too worried. I mean when your body is used to receiving hormones everyday and then all of a sudden the supply is cut off that is bound to affect something.
One area of my life that I can say I truly listen to my body is movement. I know in myself that I am not as energetic so instead of flogging it out with burpees, jump squats and the like I have gone for a more gentle approach. I have been lifting light weights, doing a modest amount of cardio, attending barre class and getting outside for long walks. I can feel my strength coming back a bit more every day (uni break week has definitely helped with this).
When you are in the routine of getting to the gym or getting outside that is when you can really have fun with your sessions. Sometimes getting there is the hardest part. I have been going five days a week for six years now. Movement is literally embedded into my routine. I think that even if I didn't set an alarm in the morning that my body would still wake itself up. My top tip for getting moving is to really find something that you love doing. It might not be the same thing as your partner or your friends. The key is just to move.
Start by making movement a non-negotiable. Think of it as an appointment. You can reschedule to other times of the day but try really hard not to cancel. Sometimes when we are just cancelling on ourselves we don't consider it as important than if we had someone that we were letting down. This is where getting friends and family is really great. I have a friend that I go for a walk with every single Saturday and my family that I walk with every Sunday morning. Unless something really important comes up, the walk goes ahead. I plan whatever else I have to do around it because that time walking is what I really value.
I know it can seem impossible to find the time and motivation. I get that. If you want to make a change in your life it needs to come from you. It can't come solely from reading a blog post because now may not be the time for that. I find myself looking at fitness videos sometimes of women I am inspired by absolutely smashing it in the gym. I used to watch them and feel guilty for not going that hard. I look at them now and think, when the time is right I will get back to those workouts but for now I move to get out of the house, to see my friends and to clear my head and that is okay.
Beyond Blue is an organisation that provides information and support to Australians to help them with their mental health and wellbeing. In one of their many informative articles they talk about the benefits of exercise on mental health. In addition to promoting the release of feel good chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, exercise also helps us to sleep better. It is for these two reasons that I always make movement part of my day.
I don't want this post to make you feel bad for not taking time to exercise. It is about taking it slow and at a pace that works for you. If you do no movement at all then try once or twice a week. All I will say is this, do what you want to do for yourself. You are the only person that you need to impress. You know where you are at what you can handle at this moment.
With Spring in full force now I encourage you to try new types of movement, to soak up the gorgeous sunshine and use catch ups with friends and family as an opportunity to move your body together. Movement is so much more than the way we look. It is something that I believe can truly shift our mindset and see things in a clearer and more positive light.