I’m not a naturally sporty person – I never have been, and I never will be. At school, I would skip PE whenever I could – in particular running, when the means girls laughed because my bazookas took off in a direction all of their own. (Safe to say, I now wear a sports bra for running, one that requires a military operation to get into but which secures said bazookas for pretty much anything.)
I did try, honestly I did. I played tennis and even had coaching, and it was really hard, but I did try and I enjoy tennis more than any other sport. (The fact there was a shop that sold penny sweets and Diet Coke was besides the point.) Tennis is a summer sport so when school went back after the holidays, I was forced to play squash throughout the winter. I detested squash and actually still do, but tennis was okay with me, as was swimming (despite coming last in pretty much every race. Is it a race in swimming? I recall something about a swimming gala at school). Funnily enough, I still swim and play a few games (read as hitting the ball over the net) in summertime.
Something I thought I’d never do is running. I would shout, “C’est impossible!” to my now husband, but he pushed me to try. So, around eight years ago, I started jogging, slowly, and I’ve been going ever since. Sometimes I’m pathetic, sometimes I’m okay, but what keeps me going is that it changed my body physically, helping me to accept* my curves. Not only are my legs more toned (and my stomach flatter) when I run, but my outlook is generally more positive and I feel better in every sense – especially when I’m outdoors with Jake by my side.
Like I said earlier, I’m not a sports person. I know I could do more, and I’m not particularly good at running, but I only ever compare myself to myself – not to others. I know when I’m doing well and when I’m not, but the point is that I’m not in competition with anyone else – just me. I think that’s why I keep going, and why I enjoy exercise more now, as an adult, than I ever did as a child.
Part of the battle of running (or exercise of any sort) is the get-up-and-go factor. The thought of exercising is always, always worse than actually doing it. Getting past this basically comes down to giving yourself a pep talk – positive mental attitude – and not over committing. Just do what you can do, and don’t over think it; just go.
There are two things that motivate me to exercise. The first is to keep my mind happy, and the second is clothing. I feel better exercising in decent active wear, so it’s important to find fitness wear that is comfortable; it helps you to focus on the task in hand.
M&S has a relatively new fitness range, which I’ve been trying out for the past few weeks. This top (£12.50) is great for any type of exercise; it’s a good length and the shoulders don’t slip off, so I wasn’t distracted by tugging at my top while running, when I should be focused on my breathing (and how much better my jeans will feel once I’m finished). In addition to being super comfy and breathable, the top looks great thanks to the simple design and use of colour, which has an ‘illusion’ effect to make you feel good before you even get started. I would recommend it to anyone, for any exercise, whether it’s cardio or stretching.
The cropped leggings were a little tight on me, and probably not the best for running. Instead, I’ll use them for something like pilates or yoga, or interval training with the addition of toning exercises, like I was doing in these photos for this post. I think they’re a great basic and a good starting point for those who want to get into exercise, especially as they’re priced at just £18. If you are just starting out, you should definitely head to M&S to invest in some well made, comfortable fitness clothes. It’ll instantly make you feel good, and secure, and ready to get stuck into your exercise routine.
Either sign up to some classes and start off at the back of the class until you feel confident, and chat to your instructor about your fitness levels and goals. Or, if you’re more like me and prefer to exercise alone (or with your dog), then simply take yourself somewhere like a park or beach and give yourself markers; set out for a jog and push yourself to reach your first target, whether it’s a lamp post or a bit of soggy seaweed. Then walk for a bit, and aim for your next marker and jog again. It’s a process, one that is part mind, part body. Push yourself to do your best (whatever your best might be) and don’t worry about anyone around you – they’re probably going through the same thing, too busy to notice, or thinking, “Good on you!” for getting out.
I’d be really interested to hear from you guys about your exercise routines, and your diet too, so leave comments below if you want to join in the conversation. Sharing tips and struggles can be really helpful, so please do feel free to get in touch.
* in addition to the recent trend for a curvier, stronger physique
With thanks to M&S for supplying the fitness wear (http://www.marksandspencer.com/l/women/sportswear).
Images: Kris Miller