Exercise – it really does help

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For a while now, I’ve been very aware that my lifestyle has been less-than-ideal.

I work from home – which on it’s own is a massive benefit for me. However, it has some pretty huge implications on lifestyle, namely, I sit on my arse all day, some days I wouldn’t even leave the house. Up at 7am, start work at 8am, finish work at 5:30pm.

I would have breakfast, and then I’d snack all day, whatever we had in the kitchen, I’d eat. Biscuits, chocolate, toast, cheese, anything.

About a month ago, I really started to notice that, mentally, I wasn’t doing too well. I was lethargic, bored, unmotivated. Even when I had the chance to leave the house, I didn’t really want to.

I couldn’t be bothered.

And that was when it hit me.

I needed to do something, I needed to leave the house, daily, if possible, for myself. For no other reasons other than for my own wellbeing.

I suffer awfully from a form of Dad Guilt – I hate doing things on my own when Ashleigh and Grayson are then left stuck at home – I couldn’t just pop for a swim after work, leaving Ashleigh to look after Grayson. This is 100% my issue, Ash encourages me to do things, but I feel guilty, so I tend not to bother. Even things like cleaning the car, I feel guilty as I don’t feel like I’m parenting when I should be.

So I decided that a solution to all my concerns, was to join a Gym, and go when I should be having a lunch break. We’ve a couple very near to the house, so I arranged to view the one that I thought I’d prefer, and went along to have a look around.

It’s about 2 minutes drive from the house (yes yes, I should walk, or bike, but my aim is to get to the gym, not walk, walking is boring). I had a look around, found out that I can take Grayson swimming there for free, saw the facilities and signed up there and then.

If I had have waited, I’d have talked myself out of it by the time I’d got home, so I just went for it.

It’s been a 5 weeks now, and with the exception of when I was up in Liverpool and Ill (two visits), I’ve been 3 times a week, every week. I actually look forward to going – something that has never happened before with previous gym attempts.

I want to highlight here that I’m extremely lucky. I have a high metabolism, so I don’t really tend to carry weight, and if I do, it goes quite quickly.

The aim of this was never to really lose weight, however, I’ve managed to lose over half a stone since joining. This isn’t just from going to the gym, though. I’ve stopped buying biscuits and chocolate with the weekly shop – we don’t drink alcohol anywhere near as much as we used to, and I mean, we can literally go weeks now without a glass of wine (a shock I know). Whilst we love a good night out, neither of us are overly enjoying alcohol or the effects it has on your body, so there’s just no point in it. I may treat myself to a whisky if we’re watching a movie or something, but nothing more.

Subconsciously, I’ve suddenly become aware of the bad things, so I just avoid them. There’s always an alternative, and whilst I love a large coffee and a cake, I can just as happily give it a miss. Your physical and mental wellbeing isn’t something that will fix itself – you have to make that decision and be strict about it. It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

Don’t get my wrong, I’m not here to judge anyone for their lifestyle or weight – if you’re happy and comfortable as you, then that’s all that matters, but I wasn’t.

It’s like someone has flipped a switch in me…..

Of course, there is no switch. This all stems from me realising that I’m really not getting any younger, and I don’t want to feel uncomfortable in my own body. I was starting to physically hate myself, and that’s never a good sign. I felt unattractive and I didn’t want to fall down that hole. I didn’t want to ache when I get up out of my chair, or struggle to carry G for too long because my back would hurt (yes he’s a tank, yes I have back issues, but still!)

So, I made a plan, and started a routine at the gym. Nothing too intense, but my goal every visit is to do the same, or slightly better, than before. I do around 20mins cardio (treadmill or cycling). My cardiovascular fitness level was a joke, a few minutes in and I’d feel like death, but already, ~20 minutes is now fine. I then head to the resistance machines – not with the aim to “bulk out”, but just to stretch the muscles, wake them up a bit. I use around 5 or 6 of the resistance machines to work the key areas that I know need attention.

If I have time, I’ll then go to the steam room or sauna for a few minutes to relax, and then head back home.

I think what really helps is that, when I go, the Gym is pretty much empty. There’s a few regular faces, but never anyone waiting for the machine you’re on, and no waiting around for a bike or treadmill. The staff all seem pleasant, without being pushy, you’re just left to get on.

I get back to my desk feeling so much better – literally full of energy to crack on with the afternoons work. I used to read about people who would say that exercise is good for your mental health, and I’d think “you’re having a laugh, why on earth would that help my mind”, but, I can now safely say, I’m converted.

Exercise is, without a doubt, one of the best things you can do for your mind, and body.

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