I struggle with my body image. I’m ashamed to say I have had many days where my entire mood has plummeted because I’ve looked in the full-length mirror (rather than the face mirror) before I’ve walked out of the door. I dread when the photos start being snapped at family events, because I know I’m going to see a ‘real’ picture where I’m off guard, not breathing in, and not a picture of what I like to think I look like, that’s been orchestrated to be taken from about 20 ft above my head to give the illusion that I have a chin [singular]…
I’ve started to write posts about body confidence in the past, and the issues I’ve faced and the impact that’s had on me, but in all honesty, I’ve never had much of a positive spin to put on it, so the posts have usually gotten to juuuuust about this point, and not gone any further and been deleted.
Something’s changed recently. Crucially, I’ve realised that whatever change you make, has to be a forever change. Incremental, small changes make a big difference. Time and time again, I’ve jumped on the latest diet fad, dropped a few pounds … and then immediately put it all back on once I came off the fad. Not to mention, I was doing all of this in my early 20s, when realistically, my metabolism was more than kind to me, and I could have achieved my #BodyGoals by simply being more informed about what I eat, learning moderation and embracing exercise.
I’m 28 now, and all of the aforementioned little niggles about why I don’t look like the next member of Love Island still eat at me. A friend recently started dating again and showed me his Tinder and I literally could not believe how beautiful all these perfect-teethed, tanned, toned and every other complimentary adjective I can think of women were… And it still gets to me a little bit – a lot bit, actually, that that seems so unattainable.
I think though, what I’ve realised this time around is that ultimately, I want to live my life. When L and I went on our amazing trip last year, we had a toast that was “to life well lived”; and what I know now is that, a life compared to others is not a life well lived! I’ve got loved ones close to me who are struggling to walk, and it made me realise that my body is capable, but I’m taking it for granted all the time; everyone says what a high exercise delivers, and I was determined to find that exercise-high.
My housemate and I started running. He introduced me to Amino Acid energy drink, which has really helped prevent my muscles from fatiguing. I’ve been really big on praising my progress (and not just success!) when I run. For example, when we first started I couldn’t do a lap of Ravenscourt Park, but half way into the second week, I did it! Every day I set myself a tiny target to achieve – ‘today I’ll make it to the third bin on this path before I stop for a rest” “today I’ll stop at the end of this path” – small, achievable goals have got me really loving it.
I recently ran the British 10k, the route was beautiful and it was the biggest running challenge I’ve completed. It was a beautiful day running in a wonderful city.
This is not something I do that often admittedly, but when I do I feel amazing for it! It’s pretty intense but everyone takes breaks throughout the class. Definitely do it; if you’re scared everyones going to be amazing and super yogi, honestly don’t be – I’ve been to a few of these classes at a mix of different studios and the teachers are always kindly and the moves are easy to follow – not to mention, there are people of all shapes and sizes in them. It has to be said that yoga is one of those environments where everyone will welcome you with open arms. I’ve got a craving to head back to the yoga studio already!
In London there are so many cheap courts with places you can hire rackets from (or you could even pick one off of Gumtree for free!), A few friends and I have started going and its so much fun – I don’t even realise I’m running around half the time!
This year I finally ticked off something I’ve been wanting to do since I moved to London, I signed up to a netball league! I have a whole other post coming on this, so I’ll leave it short and sweet for now, but I can say that I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner! 🙂
If you live in London, there seem to be Frame studios popping up everywhere; they have an amazing range of classes; last week my bestie and I went to a music video dance class which was Beyonce themed… That didn’t even feel like exercise! 🙂
As I’ve found actual enjoyment in exercise, my goals have changed. Now I don’t think about exercise as a chore I need to undertake to get thin which seems to take forever; now its more about being grateful that my body is capable of doing all of the above things, and that I can push it a little bit at a time to achieve a little bit more.
Mainly, I’m just learning that I want to embrace life – I love food and drink, and I’m no longer going to be in the mindset that a fit body = deprivation… It means living life 80 / 20, attacking my mental health with regular exercise, which, after 3 weeks of hard slog trying to make myself like it, I found myself taking a natural liking too (so much so, that when I got a blister which rendered me unable to run I thought I was going to go crazy!)
I’ve found that I have to vary my routine – I don’t mind the gym in winter but I love playing sports in the summer, the addition of Netball and the fun I’ve had since joining GoMammoth is unmeasurable, and the fact that my clothes are starting to fit better, my health is improving and I’m getting a regular burst of happy endorphins is incredibly valuable!
Find the exercise that works for you – not a runner? give curling a shot! don’t want to play a team sport? Why not take up hiking? There’s so many different ways to get fit, there’s something for every one!
How do you like to exercise?
I love the alliteration of the title of this post! I also struggle with photos being taken when I’m not comfortable in how I look and what I’m wearing. I’m trying to overcome this and get more used to how I look and more accepting of it. Congrats on all the exercise you have been doing recently. Congrats on the 10km run, that’s fantastic! I love running. There’s something so freeing about it. I love going running in my local park and around my area. It’s great headspace too. It’s hard to think of anything else when you’re running! I go to the gym occasionally but I do prefer running, I suppose it gets me outside! I’d love to tennis or badminton sometime. Best Wishes. Kate. xx
Aw thank you so much, Kate! It’s definitely challenging, especially in a world where there’s so much media focus on looking a certain way. I’m so pleased about the 10k, I’ve really found a love of running and am starting to understand the appeal that everyone talks about. Badminton is meant to be so much fun, I’d love to try it properly !
I love this post it’s so positive and I love the little goals you set yourself when running I do the same in the pool ‘just 4 more lengths’ type of thing 😊. You have literally been instrumental to me changing my whole routine and I couldn’t agree more with your points around 80/20, and also it’s a forever change – that’s a great way to describe it. We’re smashing it and learning together x
Ahhh this comment has made me absolute day! Having someone to help on those off peaks is so helpful and I’m so proud of how you’ve thrown yourself at getting into fitness! We will crack on 🙂
This is such an important post, and I love the message you’re spreading. I am honestly so unfit and half of it is due to me not wanting to exercise in ways that I don’t enjoy. But you’ve got me thinking, and there are definitely some activities I could put a bit more effort into and get both a health benefit and a mood boost! Thank you for the inspiration!
(Also well done on the 10k, I knew you’d smash it haha!)
Beth x Adventure & Anxiety
Thank you so much lovely! It’s taken me a really long time to get to a point where I enjoy exercise and its really been trial and error the whole way! haha and thank you for your congrats on the 10k; it was tough but I’m so happy I did it! Need to decide on the next challenge now!
I love this post!!!!!! I’m so proud of you and how much you’ve been doing lately. I was always a runner but stopped after the marathon because I fell out of love with it, Ive always found that while you have to push yourself at times, you still have to ultimately enjoy it. I’m the same as you, I’ll set little challenges – I’ll swim 4 more length, I’ll stay at the gym until the end of this chapter on my audiobook etc, then it gives me a mini focus that is easier to focus on and achieve. I think praising yourself and your achievements is absolutely key, and you should be so proud of yourself. Well done on your 10k, that’s amazing. Can’t wait to hear more about your netball!
I love YOU! xxx
I’ve always wanted to try hot yoga, it sounds exhausting but rewarding. Wishing you the best of luck on your fitness journey lovely 🙂
Def try it Izzy!
Wowwww you’ve been doing LOADS! I get what you mean exactly with the body image thing because I’m the same at the moment. I often don’t have the time or energy for a lot of exercise but I’m trying to fit some in when I can. My thing that I’m doing soon is joining Slimming World so I can at least get my diet in check first! I’m a bit nervous to join because it seems like it’ll be a struggle to get used to not eating anything I want to eat, but I’m looking forward to (hopefully) seeing some results from it. Good luck to you!
Ahh thanks Charlotte, the great thing is, it doesn’t even feel like that much because its so enjoyable! I tried Slimming World, but actually found it quite complex, WeightWatchers have a really good app but I’ve actually moved to My Fitness Pal now as its a little bit more results driven. I’m sure you’ll smash whichever option you pick! Good luck lovely!
It sounds like you’ve been doing amazingly with throwing yourself into fitness, Kate! Good on you! I’m so happy that it has been helping you improve your body image – you’re a gorgeous girl and have every reason to feel confident when you look in the mirror! Netball sounds like a great way to keep fit and I’m sure the social side is fab too – looking forward to your full post on it! Since I’ve been in Cambridge a lot more over the summer, my most common exercise activity has been cycling! I really enjoy it, it’s really freeing being able to blast along the cycle paths with the wind in your hair! I’m still a fan of running too, determined to complete a 10k race by the end of the year! Huge congrats on yours!!
I’ve actually really enjoyed fitness for the first time in my life. You’re so sweet as well thank you for the lovely comment! I really want to get in to cycling, it seems like such a lovely way to see parts of the world, and I definitely want to cycle more in London although I’m a bit of a shaky rider so might have to practice in some local parks first!
Wow you do a lot to keep fit, I wish I had that type of motivation – ugh I’m not a fan of my own bod and I should really do something about it. I do walk as much as I can and I’ve recently joined the gym, that’s a start right? Haha
Jessica & James | http://www.foodandbaker.co.uk / http://www.foodandbakertravels.co.uk
Walking is awesome and starting the gym is a huge deal! You are absolutely gorgeous so you really don’t need to worry but I’ve really found it’s help me start to feel a bit more comfortable in my own skin – which is about time after 28 years!
Well done for running 10k! I regularly go to the gym but I struggle when it comes to running. Regular exercise helps me a lot with my own body image though. Plus it makes me feel a lot less guilty about the dominos I had tonight…oops!