Saturday, 5 November 2011

I hate exercise.

2 weeks ago I purchased some clothing suitable for physical fitness of some kind. It was an exercise in espionage. Trying to get inside the door of rebel sport and navigate the aisles of foreign, stretchy lycra without meeting anyone I know (actually quite difficult in Wanganui) or anyone asking me for help, was quite an achievement. Then I was faced with the dilemma of whether I really wanted to spend $60 on a pair of stretchy pants to wear while doing something I didn't want to do. In the end I decided I didn't and then repeated the exercise, this time instead in the sportswear aisles of the Warehouse. As I tiptoed around I felt as thought I had a neon, flashing arrow pointing to my head that yelled "Look at Sarah! She's going to attempt to get fit!" Something which I guess most people may feel proud of but not me, oh no.
My hatred of sport and exercise is deep rooted and started as a child I think. Most of it is just part of being an Arty Creative Type, I was never naturally inclined towards sporty stuff and spent my childhood going to piano lessons and pretending to be Eeyore by eating grass in my front yard rather than at Saturday morning sport. I went through a variety of attempts at sport - a year of netball, a year of hockey, a year of badminton, a stint at cross country, a year of a gym membership, one painful weekend trying to learn to snowboard - but certainly none of those experiences brought about any kind of self-confidence or desire to commit in any capacity to Sport as a thing  that I do. I do not do Sport. I do not do Fitness. I do not do Exercise.
And why would I? I don't like feeling puffed, or tired, or raising my heart rate, or sweating, or adrenalin, or putting in any sort of physical effort. I hate competition. I have plenty of memories of high school P.E with grumpy 16 year old boys blaming me for the loss of whichever stupid game we were forced to play in our horrible, clingy polyester polo shirts and unflattering shorts. In fact, that brings back memories of me as a 10 year old, one of the earliest "developers" in my class (Yes, I'm going there), and having to do running races and holding my purple t shirt out in front of me as I ran because I was so self conscious. And at that same age I got glasses for the first time, huge purple and bronze speckled frames (very trendy at the time), but every encounter with a ball of any kind seemed to send them flying off my face in various embarrassing situations. Sport to me has very rarely ever been fun. When I was 13 I am proud to say that I managed to weasel out of every single sporting event at my school - cross country, athletics and swimming sports included.
So the purchasing of the aforementioned sports gear was accompanied by much grumbling and cringing on my part. I feel as though I am betraying my inherent values and belief systems. And that's nothing compared to actually wearing the gear.
I walked out of my house on Monday afternoon looking all sporty and I swear, I would have felt less conspicuous if I'd been wearing a clown costume. Or a Big Bird outfit. The neon arrow made it's reappearance again, this time shouting "Haha! Sarah's now going to attempt to DO something that involves exercise!"
Anyway, I've been for 2 walks this week. I went round the "lake of virgins" (as my husband would call it) twice at speed and then walked around the 2 city bridges a couple of days later. Pushing both my kids in the double buggy. I can't yet say that I enjoyed it.
Joking and sarcasm aside, I really struggle with this whole thing. As a teenager I had the "perfect figure", I guess - I never had to worry about how I looked in anything really. I ate what I wanted (which wasn't much, to be honest) and I didn't really exercise, apart from the one year mentioned above where I had a gym membership - and this was just because my two best friends were competing in aerobics competitions so I was at the gym as a social activity rather than for myself. I did get fit doing it and I did enjoy it, but it was mainly because of the time spent with them rather than from any feeling I got from it (I think). But I also didn't eat that much. I just was not interested in food. I remember telling people that I didn't get the point of it - it went in your mouth, out the other end, why did we bother? I didn't get any joy from eating. I didn't even like chocolate!!! I know, shocking. My mum and anyone else who knew me always served up an insanely small portion of food for dinner. When I got engaged I felt that maybe I should be putting in some kind of effort for the whole wedding dress thing, so I had an Elle Macpherson exercise DVD and a "Pilates for dummies" video that I did every day or so. They were fine. In fact, my dressmaker had to tell me to stop doing whatever I was doing because I was getting too small for the dress. But I still wasn't skin-and-bones, by any means. I was just-right. With minimal effort. Oh, how I miss those days.
Somewhere between getting married, and moving towns with my husband 6 months later, I gained around 15 kgs. All on my upper body. For a couple of years I tried various things to lose it. Running, getting up early before work to do the exercise DVD, weird diets where I replaced meals with protein shakes and took "craving suppressant" pills. I've only ever managed to lose 5 of that 15. Never any more. After getting pregnant and having kids, I kind of gave up and to be honest a lot of the time it just doesn't bother me at all.
I love food! I tell you, I obviously just did not know what I was missing. Ha. Eating is now one of the great joys of my life. I love sharing meals with friends. I love breakfast. I love morning tea. I feel like Merry and Pippin "What about second breakfast? Elevensies?" (Lord of the Rings reference, in case you missed it). A cup of tea and something sweet (thanks to my British friend!). And breastfeeding just makes me starving too.
What is the point of this post? Well, it's a confession of sorts I guess. This whole thing has been a loaded issue for me for the last 7 years. Every new year I make a "I will be healthy" resolution, and it lasts about a week. I have had countless "I am going to change" moments, and they last about a week. I have gone over this in my head in every direction for so long.
Part of my issue with it is that I strongly believe that women of every size and shape are beautiful. That we need to learn to love ourselves and value ourselves. I hate the fact that Hollywood and mass media feed us images of size 6, tanned, buff beauties and try to force us to believe that we need to be this way or we are not beautiful. I hate the fact that weight-loss companies make millions off women losing weight and then gaining it again, only to need to go back on their products to lose it again. I don't like there being a standard, "Ideal" version of beauty. I love people like Gok, who are celebrating the female form in all of it's diversity, and inspiring women to make the most of what they like about themselves. I don't like the whole "I'll have a salad" thing at restaraunts. I want to champion these things that I believe, rather than speak down on myself or kill myself trying to conform to some kind of skinny ideal.
But then there's the other side of it. The side that wants to live a healthy, long life for the sake of my kids and my husband. The part of me that knows that the most dangerous fat you can carry collects around your tummy. I know how badly I want to be well and to never get some kind of awful illness, because I know what it is to lose someone and what it is to watch people I love care for people who are ill - and I don't want that for my family. And I want to keep up with my kids. I want to spend a morning at the park with them without being exhausted. I think these things are all worthy reasons for trying to lose weight. Far worthier than wanting to look like the "Old Me" or some superstar on television.
And to be honest, the major factor at the moment, and the reason I'm writing it down here for you all to read, is the mental and emotional side. I have convinced myself that I can't. I can't lose weight. I can't get fit. I hate exercise. I don't do sports. I don't have any willpower. I am not disciplined. I'm lazy. And then as some of you will know, on your really bad, down days this leads pretty quickly to I'm fat. I'm useless. I'm weak. And that leads extremely quickly to chocolate and ice cream and cake.
I never used to comfort eat at all, and that was probably why I stayed thin. When I wasn't coping with life I used to sleep, or shop. I would go to bed in the afternoon and sleep through the night. I would go out and spend, spend, spend. To this day I swear I still get a rush off having a new thing in a bag to bring home and look at. Unfortunately this was always, and still is, pretty temporary because after an hour or 2 you can forget you have it and then 2 days later want something different. But now, I'm a mum. Sleep certainly isn't a readily available option, and neither is shopping, since I married a wise man who knows how to manage money and has taught me about when to spend and when not to. So I turned to food. And this needs to change.
The only thing I should turn to when I can't cope with life is Jesus. He is the one who will sustain. He has the answers I need. He is the comfort I need. And I need to go deeper and further with Him to sort out the destructive thought patterns and lies that lead me to talk down to myself the way I do. I'm a lot better than I used to be. I am so thankful for the journey that God has taken me on this year. I know that I am safe in his love, I know that he wants what is best for me. I know that I can come to him, just as I am, and be accepted and loved and welcomed. I didn't always believe that, so this is massive for me. I feel like I'm now in the right place with Him to be able to confront some of these other rooms in my heart.
That's a reference to a book I have read recently called "God loves Ugly", by Christa Black - one of the most inspirational writers/artists that walk the earth. She talks about how your heart is a house. Each house is full of rooms. Your house can be beautifully painted, nice garden, shiny and new on the outside - but when you open the door each room is black, dirty, mouldy and rotting. You need to go into every room, with Jesus, and show him all of the filth - and allow him to clean out the rooms with you. I know for myself that God has helped me with I think almost all of the rooms in my heart-home. I'm so thankful for what he's done. But there are a couple left, and I want to deal to them. And so begins the adventure. 
I'll probably need to write more on this, but because this is a loooonnnnggg post I am going to stop now, and leave it at that. But if you're going through the same sort of things I highly recommend the above book, by Christa Black. It's not going to be easy to get a copy in the next year - because it's been picked up by a major publisher, and will hit stores all over the place around September next year. I also recommend "Confessions of a reformed dieter" by A.J. Rochester. I read this a couple of years ago on summer holiday and I really appreciated her honesty and was amazed at her weight loss journey. It's interesting though to read it from a spiritual perspective, because it's very clear where she needs Jesus, and she doesn't have him, which is sad. I also love Joyce Meyer, for overcoming the lies we speak to ourself in our mind. I highly recommend Mandisa's album "What if we were real". She has been on an incredible weight-loss journey herself, and her songs are so inspiring and relevant to anyone going through the same thing. I also have recently discovered Doctor Caroline Leaf through listening to Christine Caines podcasts, and am very keen to read her books about how to be set free from negative mindsets and strongholds in your mind. I also absolutely love the blog "Lauren Nicole Love", the raw honesty and openness about relationships and overcoming a damaging past is a breath of fresh air.
And I really want to say strongly and definitively, You Are Beautiful. Size 6, 16, or 26 or whatever, You Are Beautiful. Some incredible and challenging posts that I can't recommend highly enough to read are this one, from Sarah at Emerging Mummy; Tina Francis's post at SheLoves Magazine here; and this post from the Good Women Project about our issues with food. I have read a lot more that have really helped me but, typically, I can't find them now I go back to look. In fact, subscribe to those blogs and you'll get good, honest, uplifting and challenging stuff in your inbox every day.
Thanks for reading. I appreciate so much all your feedback and your comments. I'm still figuring this out, so bear with me while I grow and change.
xx Sarah


  1. Your such a inspiration thank you x

  2. I fully agree with that women shouldn't have to conform to the Hollywood stereotypes, we shouldn't be slimming down or eating only salads because someone else says we have to. However, if it's something you want to do for YOU, if getting fit and healthy and yes losing a few extra kilos is something that is right for YOU, then I think that is totally fine.Find something that you enjoy and don't make it about it having to be painful and a chore, it doesn't have to be.

    Most important, you can do it! If it took you seven years to get here it will take time to make life changes. When it's for you and your family it's worth it though.

    You go girl!