JKG | jkgphotography.co.uk
Location: Clapham, London
I've been wanting to talk about this for a while, but I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do - but here we are.
The fitness industry in my opinion, is pretty diabolical lol. There is only ever one idea of 'fit' that is celebrated and I don't know about you, but I find the entire topic of exercise pretty intimidating, judgemental and on some occasions harmful.
My relationship with fitness as an adult has never been positive either. In the past I have used 'getting fit' as a cover up for another agender - weightloss. And that is because (if you haven't noticed), that most people associate getting fit, being healthy, and exercising with accomplishing a 'bikini' body or with losing weight.
Since joining the body positive community and educating myself with diet culture and fat phobia, I have realised just how ridiculous all of my past personal trainers have been, and how much they have affected my relationship with exercise. Of course, social media and society as a whole has also played a part in this too!
Did you know that you can work out without pushing yourself so hard you throw up? Did you know that exercise doesn't have to hurt? And did you also know that you can move your body because you love it, not because you hate it?
These are all the things I had to learn and understand on my journey to recovery and over the past year I have empowered myself by NOT exercising. However I now feel ready to incorporate it into my new found 'woke and well' life.
Over the last year I've dabbled in exercise and attempted to find the kind of exercise I like. I hate running lol and will never ever do it, but I like Zumba, boxing and if I'm in the mood - yoga.
But the two things that have affected being able to take part in said exercises, other than life getting in the way and not prioritising my time well, is the fact that 1. I couldn't find well teachers or personal trainers (ones that didn't use diet culture language etc) and 2. the anxiety around the fact that I know I'm not fit anymore and that I used to be.
I've previously wrote about exercise in this post, where I spoke about being disconnected from my body due to trauma and how I was now rediscovering it and learning to appreciate it for what it can do, not for what it looks like. I'm definitely still on that journey and learning just how much exercise and mental health are intrinsically linked - for me anyway. I would often punish my body with exercise and use it as way to measure my self worth.
Now that I've really worked on my mental health and processed past trauma, I sort of feel like my brain doesn't match my body. Not in terms of size - but in terms of feeling good and strong and full of life. I feel sluggish and tired and I've been experiencing a lot of physical ill health. I believe my body is now feeling the affects of my trauma now that my mind isn't and its something I never expected, so its a little bit of a shock for me. I want to feel empowered and powerful and like I can fight a fully grown man if I needed to lol and right now, I just don't feel that way.
So a few months ago I began searching for a personal trainer who I felt was on my wave length and christ almighty - it hasn't been easy. It turns out that so many people in the fitness industry are heavily engrained in diet culture and that just doesn't sit well with me. I also decided a PT would be best for me because at times I need motivating and extra help, so I knew 1:1 training would benefit me the most.
Exercise gives me anxiety. The thought of people looking at me out of breath, red faced and puffy just makes me want to hide in a corner and cry lol. I realise this is because all you ever see are thin cis white women, jogging round Clapham Common looking like a Victoria Secret Model lol. But in reality - exercise for most of us isn't glamorous. It can be hard work and who the fuck looks pretty when they're panting and working their butt off? Not me babes.
I used to be so fit (although unwell and unhealthy) but I could get through a two hour Zumba class without a problem, so comparing that to how I feel after walking up a flight of stairs now, really makes me feel guilty and ashamed. Although I know that I'm so much healthier now mentally, I definitely still feel a little worried and anxious about working out with my new bigger body. Will it do the things I need it to? Will it feel the same when I bend over? Those are the kinds of questions I find that I'm asking myself and although the answers are all probably no - I understand thats not down to my size, but down to just not exercising regularly for the last few years.
Anyway. I'm anxious as fuck but I have found an amazing personal trainer who I believe will be the best person to embark on this new journey with me. I feel confident that I can now work on myself physically without sacrificing my mental health and y'know what? I feel fucking proud and excited - albeit anxious but I know that will change once I'm in a routine and I'm improving session to session.
I'm not working out and starting this new journey to drop a dress size or to Instagram myself doing a squat. I'm doing it to feel empowered, to de-stress and to just generally incorporate some more healthy habits into my life. This decision is just a new part of my self care and a way for me to be able to look after myself.
I won't be sharing this new journey often because I know how alienating it can be, but every once in a while I will update you all on how things are going, how I feel and what progress or setbacks I've had.
My first session is this Sunday and OMFG I have butterflies just thinking about it, but I know I'm ready and I know this is what I want to do and y'know what - sometimes you have to do things that scare you because happiness is right outside your comfort zone.