Thursday, 17 May 2012

Obsession #3 - Exercise

This is one obsession which I definitely do not regret.

Having gained a substantial amount of weight during my bout of studying, I spent my summer holidays feeling dumpy, unfit and unhappy. I knew that I had gone above a healthy weight, but I was so unfit that I couldn't motivate myself to do any hard exercise. I'd go for a twenty minute walk and be gasping by the end of it, and I wasn't able to keep up with my siblings and cousins when they came around. The lowest point came when I attempted to pull on a wetsuit at the beach. In full view of my family. With disastrous consequences.

Image from
I realised that something had to change. You see, I had managed to fool myself into believing that my weight wasn't an issue, that it was normal. I constantly reassured myself with the thought that people in magazines were too skinny, and that the discontentment I felt about my body was in fact due to comparing myself to these unrealistic ideals. I forgot, though, that it is equally unhealthy to weigh in at either end of the scale. Eventually I had to face up to the fact that if I didn't deal with the issues I had with comfort eating and sedentariness, I would end up stuck in a rut, from which it would be very difficult to escape.

At first, I started small. I began to walk more regularly, pushing myself to get further, and enjoying the flushed happiness I would get at the end. I started to take part in more school activities, and I bought an ABBA aerobics video at the €2 shop in town. My comfort eating went down quite naturally, as the stress of exams were over and I was beginning to make new friends who I actually liked to spend time with, instead of my previous frenemies. I dropped a bit of weight without much effort, and it was a real relief to fit into my old clothes once again. Already I felt more happy and healthy than I had in a long while.

My biggest push, however, came when I decided to join a musical theatre group for their Easter cabaret show. I originally assumed it would be a fun, easy way to pass the time, learning songs and making friends. Was I in for a shock! I had unwittingly signed myself up for an intense dancing extravaganza of Fame proportions. There were four hour dance rehearsals three times a week, and after each one I flopped dizzily down the stairs, and fell asleep as soon as I got home.

Image from Dance Theatre Ireland
Being Christian, I also put myself on a strict Lenten fast that year too. I don't believe in dieting, but I cut away any junk food or between meal snacks, and began to ask myself for the first time if I was actually hungry for food, or if I was just bored or moody.

Little by little, my dancing became less of  "elephant among swans", and although I was no Billy Elliott, I surprised myself by actually mastering the steps, and persevering no matter how much my joints ached. My relatives noticed my weight loss before I did, after they commented on it, I went home, examined myself carefully in the mirror, and realised that I was actually truly happy with what I saw.

After the performances, I continued to exercise, and still do. I go hill-walking, jog occasionally with my friends, and have moved on to some more advanced workout videos like Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. The experience was positive for me in many ways: I took control of my body and my health, and I also truly began to appreciate the way I look. I realise now that the work it must take to look like a model or a film-star is an effort I never plan to put in! I am grateful for what I have - my health, my shape, and my newfound happiness.

No comments:

Post a Comment