Although I would like to say that I am 100% excited about getting fit again and it is all a piece of cake, I have to disappoint you. Getting back into exercise after a break is in every way as hard as I remember it to be. Juggling a baby and a whole lot of other balls in the air makes prioritising my personal health and fitness near enough impossible. And the times I make space for it, I have to be careful to not be overcome with a form of guilt. I know this trap so well and I have seen it thousands of times, yet it is difficult to avoid falling for it. I would highly recommend doing “Something” rather than “Nothing”, even if it is for nothing else than a change of scenery and proving to yourself that you won’t give up. I managed to get out for an interval run last Sunday, despite having a list of reasons why I shouldn’t go. I wasn’t out for long, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I felt such an achievement when I got back (plus re-energised and fresh). Reluctant to let go of my goal to get my fitness back, I have been looking for other alternatives that are quick and relatively easy to access and I have found yoga to achieve a variety of healthgoals.
I know people who swear by yoga, but for some reason it has never been my cup of tea. As your body and training requirements change with age, I have found that my muscles are more stiff and I certainly never take out much time to relax and focus. I thought I would try yoga and give it another go. Of course it would be great to go to classes over time but for now I am doing a 20 minute AM Yoga session or a 20 minute PM Yoga session (AM/PM Yoga DVD, by R. Yee & P. Walden) at home. It is supposed to be for beginners but -despite having exercised all my life- I find it nicely challenging. It certainly doesn’t feel like it is all “an easy way out” or an excuse to relax. Instead my body loves the stretches whilst my mind slows down enough to take stock and focus. It is excellent exercise for posture too and a welcome change from pounding impact from power walking and jogging. It has been a hugely valuable addition to my training activities and I feel the benefit for a variety of health goals. And with only 20 minute sessions, it’s easier to fit in.
If you are looking for an exercise session that ticks many boxes, give yoga a try. It will train your posture, especially core stability and flexibility, whilst slowing down your mind.
I recently wrote about the prospect of the “new season”. That time of year the kids had gone back to school, which for me, would herald a time of finding a new routine with my new born whilst fitting in work and exercise. Somehow September feels like a clean slate and you can make a fresh start with whatever you want. But September came and went like a flash of lightning and looking back I just felt disappointment about my lack of exercise. You may recognise that feeling of having all the best intentions and –for whatever reason- you don’t/can’t follow through. Do you find your brain just makes more excuses and reasons to not get out there, all very believable but ultimately unhelpful. I can think of hundreds that have been flashing through my mind, the broken nights and subsequent tiredness, the early darkness in the evenings, the late light in the mornings, having no time on my own and “tomorrow” always seemed a better day to do it. So this morning I decided to go training behind the pram, despite being tired, despite the rain, despite anything.
My friend told me recently how her 4 year old was scared to cycle through a narrow lane at dusk. Suddenly she realised that he cycled behind her saying to himself “I can do this, I can do this”. I used the wisdom of this story to set out training behind the pram straight after the school drop off. “I can do this, I can do this”. My body hurt, rain was splashing against my face and the prospect of being outside for 40 minutes or so just seemed too much. “I can do this” flashed through my mind over and over, because I only needed the smallest excuse to turn round. But then again, I should know the psychology of this more than anyone. Women used to call my personal training business wanting to get fit after a baby, almost always in shock and disbelief that a number of years had passed. When you are out of a routine as a result of a life change then it takes determination (and a degree of insanity) to get back on track. There I was this morning doing an interval training session behind the pram of both power walking and jogging. My baby boy meanwhile sat strapped in the pram enjoying the view and the spitting of the rain drops on the cover that kept him dry and warm. After a while he dozed off to sleep and he missed the biggest showers.
Something started to happen when I was on my way back to the house. Slowly a sense of victory and achievement came over me (combined with relief to almost be back). I had felt very self conscious all the way round as people must have noticed this insane woman running behind a pram in the pouring ran. On my last stretch a car pulled up beside me and lowered the window and a man said jokingly “shouldn’t you buy an umbrella?” I had no opportunity to answer as simultaneously another car reversed into the road and they collided. I carried on running telling myself “I can do this” and “don’t stop and look back!”
Whatever you want to achieve, there are always obstacles standing in your way. Whether you want those obstacles to stop you or not is a different matter and up to you. I am not going to buy new clothes, nor am I going to get trapped in waiting for all the circumstances to be excellent, so this is the way it will have to be. Yes, I was soaked to the bone when I got back, but I felt alive.