The Beauty of Exercise: From the Perspective of an Unfit, Unmotivated Girl

For a good part of my 18 years thus far on this earth, I have been in rigorous training for the life of a coach potato.

Many said I could never do it, that I could never be that lazy and unproductive… but I showed them. Oh, I showed them.

I have never liked exercise more strenuous or involving greater distances than the walk from the couch to the fridge. Nor have I ever felt enthused at the idea of running around an oval, or lifting up heavy objects for the hell of it. I always came last in cross country, even when I tried my very best (which is really no different from my laziest: I’m very unfit). 

If it were possible, I’d be lapped in a hundred metre race. I really would. 

I never understood the people who would encourage me to exercise. To be honest, I thought they were all raving mad. Worse were the people who ate healthily — no chocolate??!? VEGETABLES?!?! What madness is that!

But I’m a changed (wo)man.

Well, I still eat a lot of crappy food, struggle with beans, and get puffed on stairs but I’m in the process of changing, okay! Leave me be!

I actually really enjoy exercising now. I’m still super unfit, so there is no running. Actually, I hate running and I may always hate running, no matter my fitness. It hurts my boobs and I always think that I can feel my brain bouncing around in my skull. Is that a weird thing to think? Maybe I shouldn’t have said it. Well, it’s out there now. (There is a backspace key? What? No one ever told me!)

But I ride much more often now (which makes that expensive bike that I bought then left untouched in the garage for seven months MUCH more worth it) and I love long walks. I’m also getting more active with sports like basketball (which I coach) and soccer (which I play against my two little siblings and my dog… they always win).

For someone who is a very anxious person and who can easily get weighed down by the BS like me, exercise is really beneficial. I find that I can get absolutely lost when I exercise (figuratively and literally — thank god for Apple Maps). I stop worrying and just let it all go. I feel much happier for it, every time.

And that is the great thing about it – every time I don’t feel like going for a walk or a ride (which is the vast majority of the time) I remember how great I felt every other time I send screw it and just went. I’m lucky enough to be very near the ocean and have easy access to a gorgeous bike/walking path that is frequented by many cute guys. So whether its my view of the ocean, or of the guy in front of me (I like beautiful things, what can I say), I always see or experience something that makes me smile. So I never regret going for a walk or ride. 

Seriously though, this is my view:

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I also find that as I walk, I see really lovely things. Whether its a mum teaching her son to ride a bike, or a sweet moment for a couple overlooking the sunset, I always end up feeling warm and fuzzy inside. 

There are two different walking styles for me: long, lovely walks by myself where I just relax and let go, and shorter, hilarious walks with my friend. 

Although the walks I take with my friend are much shorter, they burn as much energy just through the laughter we share. I thoroughly recommend walking with a friend, especially if you don’t really like exercising. For me, it doesn’t even feel like I’m walking because I’m just having fun. In saying this, choose your walking buddy carefully. If you are a speedy gonzales, choose a speedy gonzales friend. If you are slower and more in the mood for a chat, choose a mirrored friend. The lovely girl I walk with is actually much fitter and faster than I am, but she saves her speedy gonzales moments for her own walks and indulges my turtle-like walking. For that, I am eternally grateful. 

My friend that I walk with personifies the other kind of healthy and fit. She is really good at sticking to healthy eating and is much fitter than I am. I have tried to keep up her in the past, with no sugar diets and the like, but I just do not have the will power. But what I have found through being her friend is that everyone does things their own way. Just because she is much better at sticking to the greens than I am, it doesn’t mean that I can’t slowly transform my eating habits, too. 

(SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO THIS FRIEND: Thank you for putting up with my lies when we used to walk in the early mornings, when you would call when I was late and it would wake me up, but I’d say that I was on my way and almost there. You hardly ever made fun of the fact that I was too tired to change out of pyjamas when I finally showed up for the walk, and never commented on my bed hair. Thank you. Thank you kindly.)

On the other hand, if you ever see me walking alone, you will notice me. I really let myself get transfixed by the music in my ears and the sights around me and just the methodic act of walking, and I’ll end up kind of dancing and singing as I go without really realising it. It happens all the time. I also madly smile at lots of people, who all look back at me like I’m a lunatic. 

(SIDE NOTE: Do not be the person who gives ‘the look’. You know which look I’m talking about. It is the look that says, “I’m completely decked out in Lorna Jane gear and you are wearing pyjamas. Embarrassing.” It is the look that says, “How can you be so puffed already! My make up/hair is perfect but you look like road kill.” Don’t do it. I hate it.)

It is my walks alone with only music for company that see me kind of zone out and get lost in time and end up walking much further than I can really walk, and end up sprinting home because it gets dark and I get increasingly more frightened of being kidnapped. I’m clearly not the brightest bulb in the kitchen. Is that even the saying? Are there any other bulbs in the kitchen to compete with? Who knows…

If I exercised for anything more than fun and feeling good, I would be doing a pretty shitty job. Although I could stand to lost a love handle or two (preferably two because what is the purpose of only one love handle? They are a package deal…), I am taking my time.

At the beginning of this year I was feeling particularly down about myself (see: the rut post previously in my blog). I was on a mission to lose weight, and fast. Because I thought that that would magically make me happy. It was driven by my own insecurity as well as friends and family telling me I had put on weight or that I should watch what I eat. (DON’T DO THIS TO PEOPLE. IT’S SHITTY. IT IS NOT AN ACT OF CHARITY. IF THEIR PANTS AREN’T FITTING RIGHT, THEY WILL KNOW IT. THEY DON’T NEED YOU SPELLING IT OUT FOR THEM. ASSHOLE). Being someone without a really healthy relationship with food or exercise, I found myself eating nothing and then binging crazily, or going from no exercise to making myself run until I felt ill. 

Now, exercise isn’t about losing weight to me. If it happens, cool! But I’m pretty happy with my lumps, bumps and curves. I’m just taking it at my own pace and using it to feel good, rather than putting undue pressure on myself. It is the same with eating healthy now, on a side note. I still eat too much Nutella and lean more towards chips than vegetables, but I’m slowly making my diet healthier, without actually dieting.

This is not because dieting is necessarily bad for you, but because I now know what I am like, and what I need to do to implement change in the long term rather than just short periods of it.

Look, exercise may not be your thing. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, you may be super fit and healthy and look down on this post greatly. Don’t we all, don’t we all. But this is just my newly formed opinion on exercise from the girl smack-bang in the middle of the spectrum. 

Now, it’s not the idea of the end goal of weight loss that makes me happy, but the process of exercising that does. 

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Goodbye Rut, Old Friend

For the past couple of months, I have felt like I’m stuck in a rut. It’s a rut of my own making, without a doubt, but one that is hard to look at objectively as a means of changing my ways and getting out of it.

I’m not someone who glorifies high school days. At all. I had some good friends and good times, absolutely:

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But I also had a lot of unnecessary drama and focus on things that I felt weren’t what I wanted to be doing or thinking about. Because of my disinterest in the freaky micro-society that is high school, I really looked forward to graduation. I had big plans. I was going places, kid. 

But then I graduated and I had a very long break. It was filled with the same old drama of high school, as well as a job I really didn’t enjoy. After all my ideas of travel and adventure, I was feeling pretty dejected with the reality of time away from school. 

After such a reliance on the stability of scheduling of high school, I found it really difficult to deal with the abundance of free time I suddenly had. I quickly became overwhelmed with the feeling that I should be doing something much more than I was doing. I jumped from one idea to another, never settling on one or generally calming down.

Needless to say, I felt pretty crappy. 

Paired with this was the inevitable changes in friendship as we all went our separate ways after high school. People that I had compartmentalised in my head as being particular ‘types’ of people were quite quickly evolving into different versions of themselves. Think Pokemon, but much less fighting in bushes. That kind of change is not only inevitable, but really healthy — you’re not a stationary person and nor is your personality; growth means changes, it is to be expected. But it still really threw me for a loop. I didn’t know how I was supposed to act in their ‘new’ world, and as much as I wanted out of high school, I was scared of change when it really came down to it.

I stopped sleeping well, I ate terrible food, never exercised and didn’t do anything to help myself grow. Essentially, I gave into my fears. 

These were the effects of my personal rut, and served to deepen it as well. 

Without sleep, I wasn’t operating to the best of my ability. By jamming junk food down my throat, I was making myself feel bad and losing my self confidence. This wasn’t helped by a lack of exercise. I actually really enjoy sport and running and especially walking along the beach. I am so uncoordinated, so my love for it doesn’t show, but it exists, I promise! Exercise is one of the most important things you can do, for mental and physical health. As a consequence of slacking off on exercise, I gained weight and stopped feeling good. 

I also found myself saying no to a lot more. I went from a resounding ‘yes’ person to someone who made excuses not to attend things just because I would let myself think too much about the potential negatives of every situation.

Now, I’m on a warpath. A warpath to happiness. Mmm, I don’t know if that works but it’s too late, I’m on it.

I still don’t feel tired until 2am but I’m trying much harder to sleep better. Already I feel the improvements. Although I find it impossible to wake up early, I’m always thankful when I do. I feel like I miss so much of the day when I sleep in. I like being able to go for a nice early walk or read a book outside. I’m slowly forcing myself to become a morning person rather than the night owl that comes naturally to me.

I’m trying really hard to eat better food. I’ll never be that amazing person who eschews all junk food and only eats healthy food straight from the ground. But I’m definitely improving my eating habits. I snack less now, and when I do snack I try to have it be with healthy foods. I have a newfound love of sultanas, greek yoghurt and fruit. I have been chain eating fruit lately. I do feel much better with it. I cooked dinner tonight (which, if you knew me, is an amazing feat. I’ve never cooked in my life. Fried eggs are the most you will get from me). It was Aubergine Rolls, which is a recipe I got from Lady Smart’s blog. I actually loved it. I have always loved spinach and ricotta together, and I wasn’t disappointed. It felt really good being able to eat something that I had made myself that didn’t make me feel sluggish. 

I’m starting to exercise more. I’ve been going on long walks because I’m lucky enough to live near the beach. I walked 16.5km the other night and got to watch the sunset, which was lovely. I take my dog for smaller walks because he’s just as lazy as me, and if I walk him too far he makes me carry him home. Honestly, he stops and just jumps at my arms until I pick him up. I coddle him, I know. I’ll start jogging and running more soon. I am easing my way into it. I’m also coaching a basketball team, and the trainings keep me pretty active. 

I’m saying yes to more things. Some have been great, like coaching the team and going to some parties I’ve really enjoyed and meeting new people. Some have been not so great, like crappy parties and awkward dinners. But it’s been really nice to be able to say that I didn’t enjoy something but gave it a go. 

I’m also not putting as much pressure on myself. I don’t know if university will end up being my niche, as I really want to travel. I don’t know if I’ll ever write a book, or publish a magazine, or have a successful blog. I’ll just try, and see what happens. 

I’m not expecting crazy changes, and there are a lot of parts of me that I wouldn’t want to change. But life is being the best person you can be. It’s improving myself confidence by allowing myself to be happy.

A life lived with no achievement other than happiness is a life lived well. 

It’s calming. 

I hope that you guys are liking life as well! 

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I sure am.

Letting Go

I never thought that I would say this – ever – but all my free time is actually stressing me out.

I mean, this coming from a girl who would at least win silver in the Couch Potato Olympics. I’ve essentially been in training from early childhood. You know how babies are extremely lazy and are happy to just eat, poop and sleep? I never outgrew that stage.

But after having 13 years of constantly striving towards the next goal in school, it’s quite frightening to have the rug pulled out from underneath you and suddenly have an abundance of free time!

I have been consequently trying to fill my days with work, friends, blogs and making videos.

I am learning a lot about myself in this time.

For example, I am a very confident and outgoing person usually, but I’m finding that I’m actually an introvert. That is, I gain comfort and security from being alone. This may be a byproduct of my laziness; it seems quite likely.

I’m also discovering that when I feel intimidated by someone, I lie. I never knew this before, because I’ve never really felt it before. It’s a terrible trait and one that is sure to land me into trouble.

I have been babysitting for a family who are very controlled and fitness/health centered. I am the polar opposite of all of those things, and when I come in my hippy pants sans makeup to look after the children and am greeted by stunning designer-clad parents, I feel a little daunted.

That is why I shamefully responded quickly, “Oh, of course, I cook dinner every night at my house! I love cooking!” when they asked if I could make dinner for the children. In actual fact, I burn two minute noodles. Somehow I have made it seem like I am Perth’s answer to Betty Crocker and that I can easily make tofu and healthy eating options for the kids…

But I’m sure that won’t prove to be problematic in the future…

I also stumbled my way into telling them I’m in a band and that I know how to use an Apple TV. I truly need constant supervision.

For all my troubling ramblings though, I am proud of other aspects of my time-filling in the last few weeks.

One of the most prominent of these is my realization of something I mentioned in an earlier blog post.

I had promised not to make fake promises for new year resolutions. Instead, I wanted to let go of the past. I wanted to be rid of past problems and with things within myself that were holding me back.

Last night I took a bunch of friends down to the beach at sunset and we had a lovely (if fattening) picnic and a swim in the ocean. While I was looking to ‘Burn the Way for the Future’ the 40+ degree heat of Perth made me think it was better to avoid anything that could land me on the front page having to explain that I was ‘sorry for starting a bush fire, I was trying to let go of past regrets.’

So instead we wrote all of them down, ripped them up and threw them into the ocean. Some of us shared ours and some of us didn’t.

I think it had a huge potential to be a very odd little event and awkward to say the least, but instead my friends embraced it and I honestly feel so content now that I’ve done it.

We let go of some of the things we struggle with about ourselves, and grudges against each other, and any regrets that were holding us back.

To me, it felt like a fresh start.

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It’s Not What I Want to Be, But Who I Want To Be

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Just before you read this: my apologies for the many questions and very little answers!

 I think that the scariest part about life is that despite the truth of its brevity, the hopelessness of my indecision for my future makes every second drag on. 

I want to be so many things, but I also just want to live out my days on a deserted island. The difficulty of having choices is making them, for no matter how many opportunities I am privileged enough to have, I must choose one. That is extremely frightening. I don’t know who I am yet and I don’t know what I want to be, yet I am expected to map out my entire future. That is beyond petrifying. 

 I would like to write, but I have no motivation. I would like to travel, but I’m broke. I’m a walking paradox borne of indecisiveness and confusion. I listen to every other person’s opinions, yet I cannot tap into the inner consciousness of my own brain to see what I myself want. I’m a mystery to myself, yet I dream of someone being able to unravel my intricacies. I cannot even unravel myself. I want to break the boundaries that I have around me, but I cannot tell which were imposed upon me and which I myself created. 

 It’s difficult to determine just who I am and just what I want and deserve. I feel like I need to do something that matters, but who am I hoping to impress? And who determines what is and what isn’t important? Is it helping others that is essential for life, or bettering yourself to better the world? I truly cannot tell. Is it being remembered? People die, memories of them are lost and warped, and their achievements are inevitably lost in the wind. So then what determines true achievement, true success? Do I myself reach a point when I suddenly decide that, yes, I have made it? Or is it someone else, whether of this world or beyond? Am I judged once I die, or is every day judgement day? 

 I crave the sense of fulfillment that a job well done offers, but I cannot find my motivation, for nothing is provoking passion or desire within me. I truly feel like a sailing boat adrift on the ocean with no anchor nor lighthouse to guide me. It provokes introspection for me, but I don’t know what I am looking for, nor what to do if or when I find it. I am lost within myself, thus I cannot hope to be found within this vast world. My ramblings are inconsequential and my opinions will perish with me. So how do I leave my lasting mark on the world? Is it about the quantity of people you touch or the quality of the work you do that truly matters? 

 I fear that I will leave foot prints in people’s lives that are easily washed away, rather than lasting prints. I do not know how to set my life in stone, because I do not know what life I will live. Who deems the importance of one person’s life? Is it God? Is it others? Is it ourselves? Or is it no one? Does each person come on earth, live out their days, then die without their impressions being weighed up on a scale of positive impact? I cannot decide if this is a good or bad thing. If no one is there to tell me whether or not I am on the right track, I fear that I may lose my way forever without even noticing. It is this fear, this overwhelming sense of powerlessness, that keeps me awake at night. 

 I am struggling to find my way in a world structured by nine to five jobs, and somehow I still hope to make something of myself. 

 Is money all there is to it? Is that what measures the importance of one person over another? Perhaps a sense of currency is what derives the hierarchy of goodness, of potential, of impact. Or, equally likely, perhaps it is the antidote to true happiness and success. If people are too focussed on money, can they forget to make an impact on others? 

 Is it love, then, that defines us? If so, what makes one person more worthy of love then another? Does the unconditional love of family count, or only the love that is worked for and maintained?

What is truly important? I think that these are the underlying questions that trouble me when I am lying awake at night wondering what I am supposed to be when I am older. 

True Happiness, And Where to Find It

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I think being in a world where we are encouraged to just want more and more, we can forget what truly brings happiness.

Today, I bought the computer that I have been saving up for with all my hard earned KFC (don’t ask) dish jockey money. Whenever I have been bored or frustrated or even sad recently, I’ve looked to this purchase like a kind of salve. I think that’s the kind of behaviour that has become the norm in such a consumerism-driven society.

But despite the great effort that went into saving for this computer, it was seeing my puppy so happy when he went for a walk and met other dogs that made me happiest today.

I think in life it’s frighteningly easy to forget to cherish the simple things. Yes, a computer can deliver me new episodes of my guilty pleasure chick-flick shows and I can watch ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ to my heart’s content, but it can’t warm my heart like watching a badly trained, nutso dog spin in circles because he’s too excited to pick a direction.

Nearing the end of this year, I’m looking for new resolutions to begin 2014 positively. Usually I say less chocolate and more exercise, then recede back to my room to binge on any sweet stuff I could steal from the dinner table. (To effectively picture this, visualise Gollum with the ring. Now replace Gollum with me, and the ring with a donut. Pure bliss.) 

This year, I’ve decided not to make fake promises to appease myself. Instead of helping me, these resolutions usually allow me to convince myself that it’s okay to gorge during December because I’ll work it all off in January! Needless to say, it never happens. February rolls around and I decide, ‘Screw it, may as well live terribly this year and work it off next year!’ I’m worried that as I get older it will become more of a ‘Next decade..’ kind of thing. 

This year I want to focus on the future by not mapping it out with unrealistic goals, but by letting go of the past. 

I have so many silly preconceptions and even sillier grudges against people that I would be so much freer without. 

I don’t want to be one of those people who falls back on the past in order to avoid the future. I’m EXCITED for the future. I want to greet it without being weighed down by baggage. Lord knows I have enough baggage that even if the airport loses a couple of the bags, I’ll have enough to last me a lifetime. 

To avoid letting this become one of my many failed resolutions, (we all have them, don’t you look at me with those judgey eyes… how’s that gym membership? That’s what I thought…) I’ve decided not to leave it to January.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cON3qGI6NTI < This video is what inspired me.

I don’t want to go back to the ‘way that we were’. Instead, I want to forge a NEW way. 

That is why I am going to have two separate events with my family and friends, respectively. I am going to invite them to burn their worries and their hang ups and just generally anything holding them back. I have gone for the cliche route and named them ‘Burning the Way for the Future.’

With my family, we have all had our own trials and tribulations this year, and as a family we have seen different obstacles in our way along the road. These are the kind of things I want not to forget, but to move on from.

With my friends, we have all gone through periods of struggling within ourselves and with each other as we have all grown and changed at different spaces to become our own people through the hardships of the end of high school. I don’t want to greet 2014 with a heavy heart of regret or anger.

I want to start fresh. 

And so I am not waiting for January to bring a magical cure and suddenly have the best year of my life… instead I am going to take action in December and ignite the past, leaving a blazing trail for a hopefully exciting future.

P.S. Just so you can understand why the simple task of taking my puppy for a walk made me so happy, have a look at him:

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His little limbs were going 100km/hr!