This week's Friend Friday topic is fitness.
1. Do you keep some kind of fitness routine? Why?
I'm not too obsessive but I'm a born again exerciser. I avoided sport and phys ed at school until I was in year 11. I was starting the intense and stressful 2 year approach to my university entrance exams and funnily enough, I had my epiphany in a maths class. My teacher was trying to help us all approach the exams in a balanced manner. By not only starting hard study early but also by looking after ourselves. She was big on health foods and also exercise.
One weekend, I got bored and decided to put her words into practice. I started taking afternoon walks to the foreshore. It really was relaxing and it did help me sleep better at night. I think it counteracted all that instant coffee and diet coke....
Then I got fitter and decided to try running. It looked easy enough, my dad runs every morning - why couldn't I? So I started fitting in runs after school. At this stage, I realized that my runs gave me energy rather than taking it away. So I persevered into uni.
I started working fulltime and amazingly managed to keep going. I really grew to appreciate the endurance that running gave me. I could deal with the long shifts, the hours on my feet and all those stairs at work without much bother.
As various life stresses came and went, I also grew to appreciate the way my mind cleared when I ran. Being outdoors in all sorts of weather came to be a daily escape from being indoors or in my car all day - no matter how bad the weather was.
Yes, at the beginning, losing and then maintaining weight was a big reason I persisted with running but I've also come to really value the 'non physical' benefits it has given me. I started swimming and yoga in the last few years as well. I like the complete relaxation my whole body and my mind feels after both these forms of exercise.
Yoga especially has taught me to listen to my body and also to appreciate what it does as opposed to what it looks like. I find yoga class really empowering because I see people of all body types giving it their all and also that flexibility and strength are not all about a Hollywood endorsed ideal body type. I also respect the beauty and tranquility that comes from withing with yoga. It isn't botoxed or stretched taut beyond belief. It's real and it comes about from effort and perseverance.
2. Has working out, maybe training for a marathon or something of that nature, helped with your own perception of body image?
Though I'm a regular exerciser, I'm not that motivated to improve times, distances or any other parameter. I think I do need to start setting some goals otherwise I'm just going to get complacent and stop reaping the benefits of my exercise regime. I do find though, that treadmill running improves my speeds.
3. When you are hitting the gym or just going out for a long walk what do you wear? Is it about functionality or fashion?
Function all the way. I'm by no means a frugal person but I just cannot bring myself to spend money on exercise clothing. I mostly run at the crack of dawn so I think I can get away with it. I usually by cheap leggings, tops and hoodies from Target, Supre and Cotton On. I like their colour schemes too. Most sports gear I find tends to look really gareish on me.
4. Do you feel there is a cultural perception of what you ‘should’ be doing for your own physical fitness?
Definitely. Fitness in the popular press tends to follow trends. Aerobics, jazzercise, yoga, pilates, yogalates, body combat etc etc. I stick to what I can realistically maintain. I know that it doesn't work for me to join a gym and I actually enjoy exercising on my own. So I run, I swim and go to yoga class. I am trying to do a few ab things along the way but I hate spot exercising.
5. Dream big… what would be your ultimate fitness goal.
I'd like to maintain my exercise programme for life. I've been at it since I was 15 and I've stuck at it through uni, work, getting married, moving states and other turning points in life where it would be so easy to just give it up. But my routine makes me feel good and deal with everything else in life more productively.
Okay, better go. The Royal Wedding preparations are in earnest at my place. I'm running late and stressed from a long and tedious day.
Take care and until next time!