Monday, 11 April 2011

The Beauty of Exercise

These last couple of days, exercise has truly been a life-saver.  It's lifted my mood, pulled me out of a funk, and given me an outlet to de-stress and reset.

I've been a regular exerciser for a long time now.  Much longer than I've been successfully losing weight for.  I was pretty regular with my activity through most of uni - and when I say pretty regular, I mean 4-6 hours of fencing training a week, an hour of horse-riding, and often some swimming / gym time on top, plus walking between lectures and into town.  That all followed years of regular activity at school, because my school had us out doing games at least 2-3 times a week for an hour at a go.  And I also biked everywhere as a kid and walked the dog.  I ate pretty atriciously during most of that time (well, I realise that now), but aside from when I stopped moving for a short periods, like my first term of uni, my weight was pretty stable because I was so active.  My weight went always went up in short, sharp bursts when I stopped being active.

Moving to London after uni was a nightmare for me, because I wasn't at a gym or playing sports for the first time in my life.  And for the first month I lived there I was staying in a hotel.  Disaster.  And I sociallised like a demon.  The weight just piled on.  I managed to drop some of that weight off again by being a bit more careful with my eating, but I didn't work out regularly again until I moved away from London - I suppose the only saving grace of my time in London was how much I walked places.

Since moving back to the Shire though, I've been a regular gym member.  It's pretty much ingrained in me now as a standard behaviour.  I feel lazy when I don't exercise, and not in a good, indulgent way.  More in a self-flagellation, come-on-you-know-you're-better-than-this kind of way.

Which brings me to yesterday.  A beautiful sunny day, and an unexpected day off for me, as I was originally due to be in the office all weekend.  It should have been an enjoyable day, but somewhere along the way I got caught in a loop, and instead I was miserable and questioning all my life-decisions again.  Hannah was out of town with her new boyfriend (yeah, I know, 6 months of being single and convinced she'd never love again, and she's found someone already.  I'm happy for her, but seriously - how unfair is that?  Surely it's my turn?), and I was feeling like I had no friends in Bristol, and that after 6 months that was pathetic.  I basically sat in my lovely sunny flat and started thinking I'd made a mistake, and that I should never have left Malvern. 

I did all my chores somewhere during this thought-process, as a bid to distract myself, and then decided finally that enough was enough, and staying in the flat on a beautiful day was not helping myself.  So I put on some flip-flops, grabbed some sunnies and went for a walk round the harbour.

And it was absolutely the best thing I could have done.  It's hard to feel as lonely, when you're out surrounded by people for a start, and the sun always cheers me up.  And what do you know?  5 mins after leaving the house, I got a  text from Hannah to ask if I wanted dinner with her, Cassie and Piers later.  Then I bumped into Cassie and Piers themselves at my local cornershop as I picked up a magazine and a cold drink on the way home, and Cassie said she wished she remembered I lived nearby as she'd been out walking their dog, Henry, earlier.  And finally I spent a hour on the phone to Jo when she called me back just as I was settling into my window-seat to relax back at home. 

And suddenly, all my blues from earlier were gone.  Somewhere around the harbour, I'd cleared my head.  I started thinking that if I want friends then I have to make an effort and not expect people to just adopt me.  There are at least 2 girls at work I think I could probably be good friends with ... I just need to take the step of cultivating those relationships.  I was also thinking about all the clubs I thought I'd try, and why I haven't so far.  It did occur to me that maybe it was because I didn't really want to do those particular things.  I do really enjoy my bike rides, but I generally find it quite a faff getting kit sorted, etc.  So am I scared to turn up to  a new group, or can I just not be bothered with that level of biking committment?  And in which case, what activities can I be bothered with?  I think the answers are there if I just have a good think.

Other than that, yesterday was good.  Things got done, and I ate well too.  Even to the point, that last night's impromptu paella was in my daily points.  Today's eating has been pretty ok too, but I've used up the last of my flex points on a snack to keep me going til I could get home for dinner.  It's been a long day as I was in the office from 9am this morning til 9pm.  Thank god for quick dinners in the fridge this week!

I did take the time out this lunchtime to head to the gym for Body Balance though.  I've only been going regularly for the last 3 weeks, but I feel like I'm starting to see the difference in some of my bendiness already!  I really found myself deep in the stretches today and feeling remarkably calm and comfortable.  There's still some things that are horribly stiff - my hip flexors and upper back just for 2 examples - but they can be worked on.  The best thing though, is going back to the office on a busy, stressful day feeling revitalised and calm - exercise rules.

And on that note, I'm going to take my bendy self off to bed and catch some decent sleep.

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