I grew up in the era when Jane Fonda’s workout videos were all the rage and in the public’s eye, she was crowned the Fitness Queen. Or, maybe that was Richard Simmons? If you were an 80’s kid, you know that my comment is not ill-intentioned, simply reflective of the time and his back-then notoriety. And, for the record, I much preferred his chipper, energetic approach over her signature ‘tight and legwarmer’ routine. My point is that aerobics and VHS tapes defined my idea of exercise as a child, as did the mandatory physical education classes in school.
In the younger grades, I enjoyed most gym periods, especially floor hockey, volleyball and dodgeball; the latter of which is still a hit today for most kids, even for some adults who play in now-established leagues. Track and field and gymnastics were my least favourite, simply because I wasn’t good at them. This girl was clearly not built for running or tumbling, and that is okay with me, except that I was made to do both and coming in last or struggling endlessly to master a move does not a fan make! Needless to say, when participation in Phys. Ed classes became an option in my second year of high school, I indeed opted out–sad, but true. I wasn’t the only one. The fact is that I didn’t care to make a fool of myself in front of others at that tender, impressionable age when peer approval seemed to matter so. I predict that some of my classmates felt the same way.
When I started University, I began suffering from regular panic attacks in addition to my already long-standing body image and anxiety issues. (Good heavens, what girl didn’t or doesn’t sadly have one or the other or both, but that’s a whole other post or series of posts, rather. And, yes, these issues affect boys too.) Thanks to my Ukrainian roots, or so I like to say, and my DNA make-up, the words skinny and trim never made my repertoire. Not even as a little wee one. Add in the stress of post-secondary education and my inner afflictions took a hold of me, much to my chagrin. After succumbing to their wrath for years, I decided in my mid-to-late twenties to stop the madness, take charge, do some much-needed research and most importantly, get back in control of my life. After all, it was MY life! Subsequently, I began my new journey into the realm of fitness, now more commonly known as overall health and wellness. Gee, what a concept!
Hatha yoga and the treadmill became my fast friends and I was/am dedicated. They are still two of my favourites today, along with the elliptical and a bit of jogging & free weights, and this is now two and half decades later. The difference from some of the forced activities in junior high and high school is that I was able to choose what I wanted to do and what made me and my body feel good. Healthy body, healthy mind, right?! Of course, the key to success in any nutrition or wellness ‘program’ is longevity; hence, it is important to find something(s) that you enjoy and that is/are reasonable so that you can stick to it most of the time. Sure, we all have our days wherein we break our promise of exercise or good-eating, but if we can persevere 80% of the time, I think we have it made. Calories in versus calories out–there is your billion dollar diet industry secret, folks! Move more, eat more; move less, eat less. (Feel free to send me an e-transfer for that little golden nugget of knowledge, c/o Jibber Jabber with Sue;-).
Keeping in mind the idea of energy spent vs. not has generally worked for me, and I am now middle-aged, where at most, I have fluctuated twenty pounds since grade six, when I grew to my tallest height. Not too shabby, I must say. I am not a size two and never have been nor ever will be, and you know what?! Throughout all of this, I have learned that as long as I have my general health, I eat relatively well and I can move about freely, I doing pretty darn good. If anything, my recent struggles with an old ankle injury, in which I have since had to rest it, so that it can heal and continue to serve me, has taught to be even more grateful for what being healthy really looks and feels like.
Your body is your temple–it will serve you as best it can, if you are kind to it in return. Feed it well and move it regularly. I promise it will pay off in mind and spirit too. I am living proof:-).