TW: Exercise, eating disorders – no numbers included.
I recently updated my Instagram bio to tell the world that I am a joyful mover and shaker. My girlfriend told me that 1) I never stop changing my Instagram bio (which is true) and 2) I sound like an OAP (which also might be true). My relationship with movement has been rocky. It started as something that made me feel good but quickly became something that made me smaller. I chased numbers in all senses: miles ran, jeans size worn, calories eaten and it was miserable. I pounded the pavements as I became a seasoned runner and had little regard to how my body felt and this selfishness has caused potentially life long damage to my poor lil feet.
Last year when I completed an Ultra marathon along the Cornish coast I was so proud of myself but I was also so exhausted both mentally and physically even after a long period of recovery afterwards. When I tired to start running again I got a searing pain in the bottom of my heels which continued to visit whenever I rested after exercise. I have chronic plantar faciitiis and now need regular acupuncture, orphiotics and an extremely sexy leg splint. Stress manifests in different ways and my v.qualified podiatrist and I believe 2 key factors are to blame: Years of running on feet that aren’t quite in the right position and years of exercising in a way that pressured me mentally. This has meant that this pain is something that I will have to learn to manage and not something that I can cure. Weirdly, instead of feeling sad that my capacity to run has been wildly reduced I feel relieved and the less I run and the less I feel pressure to run the less things hurt. Go figure.
The diagnosis gave me permission to do what I had been craving for years – tuning in to my body and doing what feels good instead of clinging to my identity as someone who runs long distances. This tied in to the time where I feel good around food and accepting of my body. As long as I was striving to be smaller I was never going to have a neutral and intuitive relationship with food and movement. It was time for me to reclaim movement as something I did because I loved myself and not because I wanted to change myself.
Things that do not work for me: HIIT, circuits, burpees, running long distances, (most) yoga and gyms.
Things that work for me:
– Pool swimming
I love the feeling of pushing off at the start of the length when you are under water and I feel like an actual mermaid. I love how my body feels in the water and when I’m done I like how the chlorine smells on my skin. I also like when we go for a late night swim and then stop off at McDonalds on the way home for an apple pie.
– Wild swimming
I love the anticipation of getting into the cold depths. I love the feeling when you start to feel a little warmer in the water. I like feeling seaweed under my feet. I love floating on my back and looking up at the sky. I also like getting warm afterwards and drinking lots of hot tea.
– (Sometimes) plodding/jogging/running
I love jogging to see my friend Maureen who compliments my cookie monster leggings. I love giving myself little challenges like getting to the lampost before the chorus of a song ends. I love listening to Florence and Machine when I run through the old railway tunnels and I try to sing along but usually end up giving myself a stitch. I also like stopping for walking breaks and taking lots of deep breaths.
I love my ridiculous gold shiny helmet that some people scoff at and some people cheer. I love being able to process things that happened during my working day whilst I pedal home. I love the feeling where you push hard up a hill and then get to go weeeeeeeeeee all the way down on the other side. I like when I (occasionally) overtake men in lycra. I also like when I finally reach the flat and I have a long shower and a lie down.
I am a joyful mover and shaker and it feels so good.