The Puzzle of Movement: Becoming the Kinetic Energetic

In the final stage of starting to get active the focus is on actually starting to move. Feel free to move in any way which suits you and here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way when turning getting active into part of my permanent lifestyle.

This stage is called, Becoming the Kinetic Energetic.

Balance Ambition and Attainability

With running, it is tempting to go for straight for the big distances. A training plan says you can run a half marathon in 8 weeks, so why shouldn’t you? If you train hard you’ll get results quickly right?

Unfortunately, fitness isn’t always a direct correlative relationship of input vs results. We are human beings not machines: we can’t force out bodies to stick to a constant progressive plan as figured by an algorithm. Injuries happen. Overuse injuries and obtaining injuries from increasing your exercise load too quickly are very real – and are not something be ploughed on through in the name of ‘mind over matter’.

Our bodies do things that may not fall in line with our plans and ambitions. Being realistic with self expectations and self compassionate throughout your journey will harbour much greater results than literally beating your body up physically in order to run too far a distance in too short a time, or dead lift too many Kgs too quickly – and that’s OK.

I can however, make slow progress in line with how my body adapts. I can gain more than climbing higher grades and running faster miles from my journey. This way I maintain a level of ambition and sense of progress that becomes very enticing from exercising, whilst also respecting my body and capabilities. You can too.

Engage with Online Communities for your Activity

I don’t mean follow a bunch of Insta models with chiseled muscle definition and a body shape that requires an unhealthy level of obsession to achieve. What I mean is, if you don’t know anyone who wants to get into your activity with you, go find your people.

One way of doing this is the web – Meet Up, and local clubs and Facebook groups are a great place to start. Engaging in an ongoing conversation with others like you about your journeys, encouraging one another is a great source or virtual community. Some members may be inspiring to you, and you never know, you may yourself inspire others.  You may meet up at an event and do it together – there are hundreds of people just like you who have done just that, and for as scary as that may initially seem – you’ll meet some bloody brilliant people.

Together we’re stronger.

Make it social

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Working out alone can be a good time to clear your mind, focus on yourself and take time out from your day. For years, I ran solo, I went to the gym on my own, and I only climbed in a group because you kind of need someone to belay you – until I discovered bouldering could become a solitary activity also. I enjoy being alone, and know that not everyone likes being alone as much as I do.

For years I totally underestimated the value of working out with others, undervaluing the greater benefit of running with friends, and enjoying the company of other people in a positive space. Since this bomb has dropped, I regularly go to running crew each week.

It has become a place to forge friendships who share my passions. It has become a place to shake out the cobwebs of stagnation from a low mood in the company of others, a place to celebrate achievements of one another and a safe place of acceptance.

The benefit of human contact on a regular basis is something I never valued, until now. And as an awkward introvert who is usually immersed in swathes of social awkwardness I have found the fitness people, and the running crew to be a very non-judgmental and friendly bunch. It may not feel right with the first group you run, yogi or climb with, but keep trying – eventually a you’ll find yourself a you-shaped space to be the missing piece to a jigsaw of a crew you never even knew about before.

Embrace the Power of Post Exercise Mindfulness 

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After a work out take time to sit, breathe and be mindful about how your body and mind are feeling. Just taking a moment to do so gives you time to reflect on where you’re at, how you’re feeling physically and emotionally. Is something bothering you? Is there something you want to work on? Is there a niggle in your knee that needs attention? Or are you just feeling totally zen and absorbing as much of that as possible for a moment? Stop to smell the flowers.

Don’t Focus on Weight or Size

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Weight loss is a viable goal for many but I would definitely never advocate obtaining a certain clothes size or goal weight to be the main or only reason for incorporating physical activity into your life. It is claimed that weighing yourself regularly can help with weight loss in numerous research papers.

However, focusing on weight alone can become very disheartening and a very damaging relationship with yourself. There is no self compassion or love in weighing yourself every day. This gives the scales too much power.

Use the scales if you need to but don’t enslave yourself to them. They’re a tool and deserve no power in your life beyond that. Be real with the scales and let them be real with you – and leave it at that.

Pushing your physical boundaries can be an emotional journey. Let it.

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Pushing yourself, breaking yourself down in order to build yourself up is so much more than a physical journey. ‘Your body is capable, it’s your mind you have to convince’ and this can be a very complicated and windy path of self realisation and discovery.

Sometimes it will be a struggle, other times you’ll smash your own expectations and it’ll feel emotional. You may want to shout or cheer, or even cry – this is entirely OK. Emotions are OK, and pushing yourself in order to break self-inflicted boundaries and  achieving your fitness goals can be an emotional journey. Let yourself own it.

Stop believing in tomorrow. Start today

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Tomorrow I’ll start running. Ok, It’s Wednesday and I didn’t go – I’ll start over on Monday. Next week is definitely the day I’m going to start going to the gym. I’ve signed up now, there’s no excuse, other than the excuse you’ll give to yourself when Monday comes.

Sound familiar?

Stop giving tomorrow so much power. The day is today. What can you do today to prepare yourself and take a step in the right direction? It might not be lacing up right now, but maybe it’s thinking of how you could start. Something may be in the way at the moment: work, study or commitments, so tomorrow may be necessary sometimes but put a deadline on it.

After a month of tomorrow’s start switching to today thinking. Tomorrow will be better from the actions you make today. Get yourself out there. Show yourself what you’re made of – and have a bloody good time doing it!

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Food Rule #9: Health is a State of Being, Not a Number 

In order to be healthy and by healthy I mean truly healthy: good vital signs, good level of fitness and a healthy mind, you don’t need to have a 6-pack. There is no definitive quantitative score that defines health despite the amount and in-depth analysis of numerical recordings we can gather to indicate health or a lack of. Overall, I think when you are healthy you feel it within yourself. Just like when something just doesn’t seem right, we feel it within ourselves. A niggle, a fatigue or a pain and we notice. What we frequently don’t notice however, is the signs of good health that our body sends to us. Perhaps because they are less attention demanding than aches and pains – designed to grab our attention. If we focus deep within ourselves and pay attention we can see and feel signs of good health for us.

Maybe it is clear skin, a glowing complexion, or a general sustained energy level throughout the majority of your days. Perhaps it could be a regularity in bodily functions, such as sleeping and waking, or going to the toilet. I think also though, how we genuinely feel within ourselves is a good indicator: are we satisfied, fulfilled, content?

There is no dress size or waist measurement that fits everyone who is healthy. There is no sport that defines one person as more healthy than another, no calorie limit or excess to fit everyone exactly. Sometimes we are healthier than other times but the point is, to aim to be the healthiest and best version of yourself is a personal journey – that includes a bit of indulgence here and there.

My healthy is going to be very different from your healthy because our bodies are individual. There is general advice recommended for example, by public health bodies, but getting hooked up on a body fat percentage, or a 10k time or a “goal weight” or clothes size isn’t the way to go.

I don’t think there is a particular end goal to be attained in order to be healthy. It is a state of being, and you can be healthier or unhealthier than others or your previous self but there remains no destination at which you reach and stop. There is no finish line with healthy living, even if you reach your own peak health and performance, if you don’t maintain activity and healthy practices then you will lose strength, cardio ability and general fitness levels – which you will feel within yourself.

So forget measuring how healthy you are by a dress size or a “goal weight”. Forget comparisons to other people’s’ performances as a yard stick for health – some people who appear very toned and muscular may not be as healthy as you perceive them to be. Similarly, just because someone is considered ‘skinny’ or ‘slim’ by societal standards does not equate them to greater holistic health.

Health is about enabling you to live your life fully, not about fitting into a numerical category of health of scales and measurements. So I urge you to try to release yourself from being hooked on quantifying your health, and to focus on the natural method of how you feel. I don’t always manage this myself – I am a sucker for statistics for every aspect of my life, perhaps to the point of bordering obsession and need to feel in control by numbers in all areas of my life. I am trying to release myself though by weighing less frequently, removing my FitBit from time to time, and stopped insisting on seeing my vital sign results in the doctor’s office because health is a state of being, not a number.

You. Are. Enough.

Sometimes we need to remember to be rational and emotional, calculated and in touch with the incalculable. In a world full of messages bombarding us that we need to be this, that and XYZ by 25 – I’m saying, heck, life isn’t like that and that’s OK. My life didn’t turn out how I had imagined, and I’m OK for that. Let life happen. You are enough. Value is found in the incalculable, ironically.

Let’s be immeasurable.

Climbing Kisses and 3 Kilometres

Yesterday I went climbing. It was great. I haven’t been for some time, so my hands had softened up- as you can see from below and I forgot my finger tape. However, it was great fun and definitely great to try out a new centre as so far in my climbing journey I have only climbed at one centre, which is a very nice centre known at The Reach, but it was good to go to The Arch in Borough too.

As usual with climbers, the competition is with yourself, and helping each other out is the name of the game as a friendly fellow leant me some tape to cover my sores so I could climb some more. Dear friendly climber, it was much appreciated.  

This morning I ran my first 3km in my 10k training plan. It went quite well and I managed to dig a bit deeper to get a 7’47” average pace instead of the usual 8’36” which I feel quite pleased about. I feel slightly stronger in myself and hope to feel stronger by the time Tough Mudder and Rat Race Dirty Weekend rock on up in a months time. I am in my final month of preparation and I feel like I’ve only just started despite knowing this was going to happen for a year and a half nearly now. I had planned to be in peak physical fitness and shape, I can only laugh at how much that didn’t happen, but despite this, I’m trying..still. I won’t give up, I refuse.

When I weighed myself this morning I miraculously gained about 5lb in two days. Obviously this is some sort of joke that my scaled are playing on me. Ha ha scales, well done, good one. Hil-arrrrr-ious! Seriously, hilarious!

So I decided to start taking measurements using My Fitness Pal, which I use for nothing anymore other than recording my weight and measurements on charts – fun, I know. So here we go – for I am yet to be brave enough to do a before shot my measurements go as follows:

Hips: 37.3″
Bicep: 11″
Thigh: 25.2″
Waist: 32″
Weight: Late April Fools but usually 162lb.

I don’t know what measurements I would like to aim for, this I need to give some thought. I have a goal weight, but not goal measurements, but it would be nice to be a size 10-12 again so maybe a 28″ waist would be a good goal to aim for. Which isn’t unachievable, and the rest of the measurements will follow.