Looking After Yourself Month: Movement

I thought I would start by telling my story on movement and what I do. It’s far from vintage or charming but here we go…

I always said I “hated” exercising. I spent most of my teenage years in a small beachside town. The girls were athletic and blonde and bronzed. I was curvy, pale and if the sun so much as touched me I turned lobster red and spent the next few weeks peeling. Apart from winning a few swimming carnival races in year 8 (my school was near a refugee processing centre…most of the kids couldn’t swim) and the term I played soccer (where I was removed for becoming a bit to aggressive on the field…also same school) I avoided “exercise” like the plague.

I was also particularly uncoordinated, especially when it came to ball games. The week after I was hit in the head with a volleyball (it really hurt) I had my jaw dislocated while trying to catch a softball. After that I had “my period” every week during PE….for four years.

Then a few years back I had my breakdown, ended up in hospital and was sent home on a very heavy sedative. I didn’t move much for those few years. I sat in bed. It exhausted me just to go to the bathroom. Eventually the doctors realised I had been way over medicated (and now it turns out I was medicated for something I didn’t even have!) and started to reduce the sedative. As I slowly “woke up” there was so much I wanted to do. But I couldn’t. I was puffed out just leaving the bedroom. I started to wonder if I would ever be able to be active again.

I started simply. Walking to the shop (6 houses away). I needed to take a break when I got there. Then I walked to the park (a little bit further). Over the course of a month or two I was walking at least 5km a few times a week. In the interest of “speeding up” my fitness I decided to try running using the C25K program, which is basically intervals of walk/running. Before I knew it I was calling myself a “runner”. I discovered I LOVED running. It made me feel free. It made me feel safe. It made me feel strong. It was something I could do on my own, at my own pace.

I am telling you my story for two reasons:

  1. I don’t want you to think I started from a place of “normal” unfitness. I started from not being able to walk 50m without a rest.
  2. If you find a movement you love, you are more likely to do it. Why waste your time doing something you don’t love

So why am I calling it “movement” and not “exercise” or “fitness”? It is mainly because I think the second two words are too tightly woven into our cultures obsession with being thin. And that those two words seem to come with the expectation of changing your body (mostly making it smaller). I love the word movement as that’s all it is. Moving your body in ways that make you feel good.

I think moving your body can be a really great way of looking after your body and helping it to keep helping you. I found freedom when I found running. Not just because I enjoyed it, but because the rest of my life became easier. I could run for the bus (helpful in a place that only has a bus every 40 minutes), I could leave my house, play in the park with my kids, see my friends but the absolute best part was when we went on holidays last year and I was able to spend the whole day with my girls out at the theme parks. Six months earlier I wouldn’t have been physically able to spend a day out of the house, let alone on my feet.

Miss Fairchild

Miss Fairchild actually having fun on a family holiday (even though it might not look it)

The other part is finding something you love. If you had told me a year ago I would love running I would have though you were crazy. As I found it easier to move I started trying lots of things. I tried burlesque, hula hoop, adult ballet, pilates, swimming, aqua aerobics, weigh lifting, yoga, bike riding, taekwondo, wii fit and god knows what else. My eldest daughter and I are also going to try bollywood at our local community centre soon.

My point is don’t think “ok I want to move I must join a gym”. Find something that you love, that you look forward to, that makes you FEEL GOOD. If you ever happen to see me after a run jumping around like a lunatic and grinning away you will see a) that I am in fact crazy and b) I loved my run.

My latest discovery was weight lifting. Now I had done weights in the past at my female only gym (it was the only gym I have been a member of that ever encouraged me as a girl to lift) and I loved how strong I felt, how quickly my body got stronger. But I sort of forgot about it. My nana has been encouraging me for years to get back into it for osteoporosis prevention (my nan is my hero when it comes to movement. She ran the City to Surf in Sydney every year til she was almost 70). Then I found a book at the library called “The New Rules of Lifting for Women”. So on Tuesday my personal trainer will be walking me through each of the exercises in the first stage so I can make sure to do them right and avoid injury!

If you don’t know what you think you might like just go out and try things. Most places have a free (or low cost) trial class. For those who may not feel comfortable with an audience try some DVD classes. I have enjoyed everything from burlesque dvd’s to boxing to pilates to ballet.

If money is an issue check with your local council (there are lots of walking groups in my area as well as low cost movement programs) and your local library for books or DVDs.

My personal favourite websites/books/dvd’s are:

  1. Couch to 5km (and all the variations on this running program – there are lots of apps available too)
  2. Yogalates (the first DVD is the one I own)
  3. Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running by Dagny Scott Barrios
  4. The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Shuler and Cassandra Forsythe
  5. Yogavibes.com (especially Sage Rountree’s Yoga for Runners series and Anna Guest-Jelley’s curvy yoga)
  6. The Fit Fattie Forum

Movement, for me, is a key part of looking after myself. Especially with my depression. When I run I am filled with endorphins. My moods stabilise. I am happier. I am more energetic. I feel GOOD.

Lovely ladies, tell me…what is your favourite movement?

Miss Fairchild xoxo

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6 Responses to Looking After Yourself Month: Movement

  1. lately my movement seems to be walking to and from the fridge… Other than that I love my weight training and I really must get back in to my ‘shuffling’ (I won’t say jogging, I do more of a shuffle)!

    BTW I cracked up at some of those vintage exercises– what the heck was that woman doing to that poor chair?!

    • Good luck getting back into weight training. Had my first solo session this morning and was surprised it was over so quick. I normally run for ages and it feels really different. Had to restrain myself from doing more!

  2. Teresa says:

    My favourite movement is riding my bicycle. It not only gets me outside and into the sunshine but it gives me a little ‘movement’ too. 🙂 I’ve also become a little bit of a fan of the ’30 Day Shred’. I have never ever been one to exercise routinely or in a gym but I think the 30 min timeframe for this workout just hits the right ‘attention span’ cord with me. 😉

    • I know you love your bike. I have always been a fan of home exercise videos. Especially as someone who has odd sleeping routines. They were especially great when the girls were babies and now I am mostly housebound. You have to find what works for you.

  3. I was never a born athlete, but I enjoyed a lot of sports as a youngster, especially if I could play them “just for fun” (I’m the polar opposite of a competitive person). From soccer to track and field, ice skating to swimming, gymnastics and (perhaps my very favourite) dance, to name but a few, I really delighted in the act of moving and developing my skills at a certain sport or activity. However, for more than a decade now (and believe me, I’ve tried tons upon tons – very often to dire consequences and ER trips) due to my chronic health problems, the only movement I’ve been able to do (on my better days) is walking. I dearly miss quite a few others (especially bike riding, swimming and dancing), but I so grateful just to have this still sometimes. I’m far from speedy and I won’t be walking across the country any time soon, but it’s awesome to get out there some days and take in a few minutes of mother nature’s fresh air while moving my way leisurely down the street and back.

    ♥ Jessica

    • WOW. Sounds like you were the opposite of me growing up. I avoided sports like the plague. We have always encouraged the girls to try lots of things rather than just sticking with one sport. Eventually they found their “thing” that they loved, but if they hadn’t tried out lots they may still be doing the first thing they tried.

      It certainly is a challenge adjusting to a chronic illness that changes your physical abilities. Especially if you were an active person before. This is why I think it’s best to do something you love and something you are able to do. I hope you enjoy your lovely walks.

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