This post was supposed to be about why I hate the gym (and why I’m going anyway), but I’ve since decided that it’s actually about self-care – self-care in terms of really looking after yourself. The self-care that’s often overlooked in the name of self-indulgence.
It’s a concept that has kept coming up of late. Debbish referred to an article she’d read in this post late last year, and since then that same article has kept appearing in my feeds.
Have a read of the article – it rang heaps of bells for me. The key message I took away is that true self-care often involves doing the thing that you least want to do:
Sometimes actual self-care, “has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot to do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness.”
It’s about putting in place those structures that mean you don’t need to escape your life as often as you might need to now. It doesn’t mean that every so often you don’t need to take time out or treat yourself, but rather that you don’t need to do it as often – or at the long-term expense of your health or goals.
I haven’t always disliked the gym…
I used to be quite the addict. You name a class, I’ve done it. I even used to double up – a pump followed by a step or combat…or vice versa. I can still listen to certain songs and will automatically know the steps from the old body step track or the rhythm of the pump track.
I stopped in my early 40s when a combination of injuries, weight gain, work travel, weight gain, work stress, weight gain, and chronic back pain took me away from the routine of classes. Actually, the chronic back pain started after I stopped – and stopped me from starting again.
I still moved. I walked and spent endless boring hours before work on the treadmill and cross trainer. The only time I had to exercise was before work and I decided that if I had to get to the gym by 5 am, I certainly wasn’t going to get up at 4.30 am to do something I disliked before heading to a job I disliked as well. So, I ignored resistance training – even though I knew that I shouldn’t – and my pain got worse.
As we get older we need to do more resistance training.
Cardio is important, but there’s also that business about bone strength and maintaining muscle mass and how metabolism slows when muscles lose their mass. Yep, it’s technical and it makes my eyes glaze over too.
Aside from those reasons, I personally need to do resistance training to support a wonky back that’s always been wonky but is now more so as a result of too many years of doing too little to help it and too much to hurt it.
While I’m in substantially less pain than I was in Sydney, my spine has structural issues that need to be managed. It’s curved in a couple of places and I’m missing a few ribs and a couple of half vertebrates. There’s also a couple of healed cracks in there from horse falls…don’t ask.
It’s something I’ve dealt with my whole life and managed relatively successfully until my early 40s – which was, you guessed it when I stopped swimming and resistance training…and when I started putting on (rather than lifting) serious weight.
They say that the best exercise for you is the one that you love…
That’s absolutely true. Regular movement is what’s important. The problem is, I’ve spent the last 7-8 years doing only the exercise that I enjoy and ignoring what I know will be good for me.
While walking does my mind and my body a heap of good, I know that while it helps, it’s no longer enough on its own to keep my back strong.
That’s why even though I don’t enjoy it, in the interests of self-care, I’m adding resistance training back into my regular routine. I’m continuing to walk in the mornings – that’s non-negotiable – but I’m committing to the gym at lunchtime on at least two of the days I’m doing the corporate gig.
It doesn’t mean I have to like it, but I’m going to try and learn to enjoy it. I have a great playlist that I turn up very loud, and I’m just getting on with it. It’s a tough love thing and, while my mind might rebel today, my body needs it for tomorrow.
It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…
It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, Debbish, Seize the Day Project, Write of the Middle, 50 Shades of Age, and, of course, me.