Then I got to thinking about so many of you who I have come to know through sober blogging who want to exercise, wish they could exercise, or simply know they ought to exercise ... but just find it too hard. I was thinking about what makes it hard, and what advice or hints I might have that might help in some way.
An important thing to know about me first, is that I was not the fit or sporty type. I was the kid that got picked last for all the school sports teams, and I was very overweight from my mid teens through to my mid twenties. Yes, I can show you some real fat photos! I only got skinny when I travelled through the Middle East, India and Nepal on a diet of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Hardly the picture of health! I returned to New Zealand skinny and sick looking, a heavy drinker and smoker. And it wasn't until a year or so after that, that I quit smoking, and started getting fit.
What happened next is another story, which involves a few years of competitive running, an affair with my coach and a beautiful baby .. but I will leave that story for another day. But what is important is the things I learned about getting exercise into my life, and keeping it there. I'll tell you about them, and maybe someone will find something helpful.
- Try and find an exercise you enjoy. This is hard at the beginning because if you are unfit, you wont really enjoy anything. If that's the case, then try and find an exercise you THINK you will enjoy. Outdoorsy? Maybe run. Like music? Maybe dance. You get the drift.
- Understand that the first 3 months might be shitty. If you are really unfit, whatever you are going to do is not going to feel great at first. You have to break through the unfitness to start enjoying, and that can take a while. So set yourself mini goals and mini rewards, and then one day you will suddenly find yourself enjoying it.
- Find a goal. A big friendly running event, a tramp with a friend, a local milonga you want to tango at. Just try and find something that you can put out there to try and work toward.
- Get a coach. It doesn't have to be a paid coach. It can be a friend like me who helps you set a bit of a programme, then checks in on you once a week. If they are nice and friendly, they will go along with you from time to time!
- Join a group if you like that sort of thing. In Wellington for instance there are all sorts of "meet up" groups you can get involved with. There is a Tuesday night "get off your bum and run" event for beginners which sounds fun. You can just post in the meet up groups too and say "does anyone want to run with me?". There's tons of other meet up groups, it doesn't have to be about running.
- The old running adage goes: "The hardest part is putting your shoes on". This is entirely true and has been the total key for me. Sometimes when things were at their worst for me and I did not even want to move let alone run, I would put on Sinead O'Connors "Troy" really loud and really angry. I would sing and yell and cry to it, but at the same time promise myself that by the end of the song my running shoes would be on - and they always were. Then I would run out that door and usually the anger and sadness would melt away.
So, I don't know if any of these suggestions will help any of you guys, but I just wanted to share from my experience. Exercise has changed my life for the better, and if there is anything I can do to help any of my friends along, I will.
P.S. here's "Troy". You might get a sense of some of my pain and anger in my youth when you listen to it. I tell you what though, play it real loud, scream and yell and put your running shoes on, it works ...... xx