If you’ve been a Lightly We Go reader for any length of time, you might be aware of my complicated relationship with the gym. I’ve written before about feeling especially anxious at the idea of exercise, especially in a confined space with other (fitter) people, but also about how the act of working out often does wonders for my mood. Gym fear, though, was one of my anxiety’s last strongholds following my difficult first year at uni. Four our five months ago I couldn’t cope with the idea of working out in any way – but on returning to uni at the weekend getting back into the gym is one of the things I am most looking forward to. In fact, in the final few of weeks of last term, I was getting up and going to the gym almost every other day. I know that gym fear is something a lot of people struggle with, for a huge variety of reasons, so today I want to share just how I managed to rid myself of gym anxiety – hopefully for good.
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017 on Lightly We Go. Scrolling through my Bloglovin’ and Twitter feeds I’ve seen quite a few people talking about how something feels particularly good about this year. I’m not sure what it is either, but I’m feeling it too. The start of last year was very difficult for me personally, but as time went on it got better and better and I’m hoping that 2017 will follow in the same trend. But of course that won’t happen just by magic! So I thought it was time to set some goals that I hope to focus on and achieve over the next twelve months.
There’s a trend in the blogosphere for lives that are pristinely planned and impeccably tracked. We see it in each perfected bullet journal spread posted to Instagram or Pinterest; in every shiny new tracking or list-making app; in every self-improvement how-to blogpost or airbrushed morning routine. This constant sense of the need to better oneself can be seen as aspirational, but it also encourages a culture in which nobody can ever be good enough, however much they plan.
The #PrettyHealthyProject has always been, in part, an effort to regain my mental health following my difficult first year at university. This summer, and the project, has largely been a recovery and strengthening process to support me for my return to York this weekend(!). A number of things have aided me in this process, most notably spending so much time with my family, G, and friends, taking the pressure off, and working on my body image and confidence through this project – but I’ve realised that there has been one thing which has helped more than any other. This summer I was given the opportunity to part-loan a horse called Sooty, and the effect has been profound.
During this series I’ve made regular mentions of my FitBit; it’s what facilitated my 70,000-steps-a-week challenge and has provided both motivation and information on how I’ve been getting on in my endeavours to become pretty healthy. I’ve owned a FitBit Flex since Christmas, but this summer my wonderful mum gifted me a new FitBit Alta (inheriting my Flex in the process!). Now I’ve had some time to get to know it, I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to a review.
Back when I started this project, I wrote about how I’ve hated my body for as long as I can remember. But in the last few weeks something in me has changed, and it’s down to that question in the title. For me, that question signifies a shift in mindset which has enabled me to become, for the first time in my life, truly body-positive. So what changed?
I was never keen on PE in school. For me, it was a waste of time I could spend on other things; when I move to sixth form and was given Wednesday afternoons off for ‘games’ I spent the time in the Music block practising violin. I was never motivated to exercise and enjoyed only a few of the activities on offer, particularly since in upper years I worked hard at my equestrian centre for ten hours a week and rode regularly. Then for a long time after I left school and switched riding centres I thought that ‘exercise’ was just built into my daily routine as I walked around college. It wasn’t until my gap year when I didn’t have any regular, intentional exercise set up in my routine that I suddenly realised how important that time dedicated to focusing on my body and its fitness really was.