Healthy Mind. Healthy Body?

Apologies for the delay in putting this post up, but it has been too painful to write.  Not emotionally, but physically.  I have signed up for a 6-Week CrossFit Challenge at The Box, Ystradgynlais.  Why, I hear you ask.  Well, I am rapidly approaching a milestone age and I can’t run a mile plus I weigh many stone.

CrossFit has been recommended to me by family and friends as I always moan that I find the gym boring.  The humdrum of the fixed programme means I know what exercise is coming next and that is a disincentive.  I have joined many gyms over the years and it always followed the same pattern; enthusiasm for a month (or less), then grudgingly going sporadically until I could cancel my membership.

Having self-esteem issues meant that I never really cared about how I looked, but as I have worked to improve my mental health, my lack of physical health played on my mind.

So, I rocked up to The Box and sat through a fascinating presentation by owners Laura and Peter on the specifics of the 6-week Challenge.  I was given a meal plan, invited to the closed Facebook group, got weighed (don’t ask) and was told to report for a session on the following Monday, which came around faster than Usain Bolt.

I joined my fellow inductees in the cavernous exercise room.  In there was an abundance of structures and equipment, all of which terrified me.  We started off by doing a three exercise round as many times as possible.  5 press-ups, 10 sit-ups and 15 squats.  Sounds okay, doesn’t it.  Well, let me tell you, when you haven’t done those 3 things since school and you are the heaviest you have ever been, those things are tough.  I can comfortably jog (or fast walk) for 20 minutes without much of a sweat.  But after 1 round of these my forehead was like Niagara Falls.  I was doing the adjusted version of the press-ups, I looked like a turtle on its back as I rocked doing sit-ups, and my heels rarely touched the floor during the squats.

I left that first session feeling a multitude of things; exhaustion, embarrassment at my perceived awful performance, a bit of a high, and exhaustion.  The embarrassment rocked around my mind for the week.  I went again on the Tuesday and then played tennis on the Wednesday.  By Thursday I was walking like John Wayne and every part of me hurt.  Then a WhatsApp message pinged.  It was an encouraging voice message from one of the coaches.  This gave me a real lift.

By the session on the Saturday I had ruminated for a long while about my performance.  Not being able to do the exercises to the same level as those around me really bothered me.  Then on the Saturday, the coach said something that made everything click into place; “You are not competing with anyone, only the you of yesterday.” or something like that.  And he was right.  I wasn’t going for other people, only me.  Okay, I cannot perform to the level I want to, but that is only at the moment.

Previously, my insecurities about my level of fitness and body-shape (circle, that’s the shape) meant I would inevitably become despondent and give up.  But that was because I was comparing myself to others.  I didn’t know how long they had been exercising or anything about their fitness journey.  But I know mine, I am at the very start of it.  It’s only been a week and I can see a difference in my performance.  At the moment it is a small improvement, but that’s good.  I am the only person I should compare myself to.

Also, everyone there is supportive and encouraging.  It is not a combative, hyper-competitive atmosphere.  There is constant positivity from the coaches (when we are there and at other times through WhatsApp and Facebook) and other participants.  On the Facebook page, we all share tips and photos of meals.  And as for being bored, there is no chance to as every session is a different work-out.

It is going to be tough, I’m under no illusions of that.  But that’s okay, I had always tried to favour my mental health over my physical one and as I said in my first post, they should have equal standing.  So, as the saying goes, every journey starts with a single step, or in this case burpee.

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