Day 5

Today I am working out with a DVD called “15 Minute Workouts for Dummies” with Gay Gasper. I have absolutely no idea where this DVD came from – I have no memory of purchasing it. But there it sits on the bottom of our DVD shelf alongside the other workout DVDs which were purchased over various New Years in the vain hope that I might start January and actually achieve some of the resolutions I had set myself in the lull between Christmas and New Year’s Eve – when good intentions are turned into a list and stuck on the fridge.

So, Gay. She really is. She has a permanent smile etched on her face for the entire workout. I have never seen anyone look so happy about exercise – or manage to coordinate their body, talk non stop and smile at the same time. The woman is a machine. She is all muscle – she is strong.

I’ve talked about wanting to be physically stronger. I want my body to be strong but I am also interested to see if exercise will help me feel stronger in other ways. Braver perhaps – less worried about things. Our daughters are growing up in a world which increasingly encourages them to aspire to be strong and warrior esque, rather than placing value on being “Princessey”.

I still want to be a Disney Princess. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just the nature of Disney Princesses has changed over the years – they’ve updated themselves. I don’t have a problem with Princesses who slept all day and waited for a Prince to wake them up – they were of their time – but I am excited that my daughter will grow up with Princesses like Moana.

I want to tie my hair in a messy bun, board my metaphorical boat and be totally badass saving the world. She literally took out hundreds of angry, weapon carrying coconuts with an oar and her brain. She is strong. She has moments of doubt too but she has self belief at her core. She defies the norm and leaves her island to help save the day. I want to be Moana.

Moana was one of the first Disney Princesses whose story did not revolve around romantic love. Her story did, however, still revolve around love. She loved her family and her home and she set out to save them. Because great love takes great strength. To love deeply you have to be strong – you have to trust someone else with your heart, your most precious organ. And that takes a type of strength you can’t learn from a DVD. I am lucky to love and be loved deeply – so now I need to do what I can to strengthen my heart as a muscle so it can keep me loving for as long as possible.

And all this in just 15 minute workouts, designed to “work around your busy schedule” – they couldn’t make it sound easier if they tried. And actually it was easy – or if not easy, it was easier than it would have been 5 days ago. It was easier because I felt better about exercising and motivated to get going. Could it be the start of a new love affair? Am I starting to feel those magical exercise endorphins that I’ve read so much about? Was it Gay’s insanely positive approach cheerleading my fitness journey and willing me to be strong? Perhaps. But I like to imagine it was my inner Moana, boarding her boat and sailing into the unknown – a little bit braver than she would have been 5 days ago.

Day 4

My earliest memory of organised exercise (not that wonderful exercise you do as a child not realising you’re exercising – like climbing trees and roller skating to the park after school) was a one mile race I completed at primary school.

I don’t remember how I felt about having to race a mile but I do remember that race well – which is pretty impressive as those who know me will vouch for the fact that I often forget people I knew at University and rarely remember whether I went upstairs to brush my teeth or find my phone.

It was called a “Fun Run” which I now understand was the teachers’ oxymoronic sense of humour but at the time probably sounded like a great idea. I set off at a good pace with a girl called Fiona. Fiona and I had already planned ahead – we would run the race together and keep each other company. We knew we wouldn’t be the fastest in the race but we fancied our chances of coming in at a respectable position.

About half way round the ‘Big Field’ (which as I remember it was only ever used for the annual Fun Run) Fiona started dropping behind. I could see she was struggling to keep up. I felt great. I could have increased my speed at that point – possibly moved into second or third place. I can remember looking over my shoulder and seeing her slowing to a jog.

We said we would run together. We said we would look out for each other. I slowed my pace too and let her catch up. I ran the rest of the race at half the speed I was capable of and even cracked a few jokes to keep her going.

As the finish line drew closer – only a few metres ahead of us – she sprinted. The absolute cow. She shot off like a stealth cheetah (cheater) and I watched her leap across the finish line to claim 7th place whilst I, in shocked silence, was awarded 8th. I knew in that moment that I was never going to make it as a professional sportswoman. I was just too kind.

It is my belief that kindness is the most important trait a human can possess. Above all else I value kindness and it is something my husband and I hope to instil in our children first and foremost. Our son was given a t-shirt by his Nanni with the slogan, “Cool to be Kind” – the same Nanni who stood at the finish line of that Fun Run as Mother, 22 years before she would become Nanni, and hugged me and told me how impressed she was – for coming 8th and for being kind.

Over the years I have talked to many people about the concept of being kind to oneself. Kindness is something we bestow on others but it is also so important to be kind to yourself. I often use this as an excuse – I’m being kind to myself by sitting down with half a bottle of wine. It’s been a long day so I’m being kind to myself by eating three bags of chocolate. I’ve worked hard so I’m being kind to myself by collapsing on the sofa with my feet up.

It’s Day 4. Things haven’t changed that much – I’m sure I will still continue to do all those things. And as with most things – moderation should be at the core. But I wonder if these 100 days will help me think differently about exercise. Because I want to be kind to my body.

I’m going into this evening’s exercise feeling positive and excited. The memory of Fiona crossing the finish line makes me smile now, it’s a story and I love storytelling. But a tiny part of me is probably still a little bit bitter about the 7th place I missed out on. Tonight I am going to harness that energy and push myself to knee lift a bit higher and squat a bit lower.

I am not on a massive weight loss mission or a total body image change. But I would like to know I am being kinder on my body – helping to make it stronger. I want to roller skate to the park again and not be out of breath or uncomfortable. I want to climb trees with my children. Big ones. Right to the top.

Day 3

It is the era of the App. I wake up in the morning and look at an App to see how long I slept for, I check the weather with another and then put on clothes I purchased using a new App my phone recommended for me. If I want to I can use an App to check what mood my baby is likely to be in and another to plan our day out. In fact, on average I’ve used 7 Applications on my phone before I’ve even made it downstairs.

It is not surprising then, perhaps, that when I decided to start exercising I turned to the mighty App store in the sky…or the cloud…or wherever this magical place is. A few key words, “keep fit”, “fitness”, “exercise” and a wealth of new Apps flooded my screen.

These ones were full of toned, oiled up, weight lifting, squatting and presumably inspiring bodies. Use this App and you too will be able to plank like a pro, lift like a legend and gallop like a gazelle. Well – it was worth a try and it was free (although if I do want to purchase “add ons” I have another App which I use to earn points which can be redeemed in the App store – the madness never ends).

Using an App to exercise also met some key requirements for me – I didn’t have to go anywhere, spend money, commit to a regular time or be seen exercising by anyone until I was ready. On the downside I have absolutely no idea if I am squatting correctly and long term I might get a bit lonely (and lazy) prancing around the garden in a sports bra and big pants.

The App of choice is called W – Workouts for Women. I liked the simplicity. I liked the countdown to each exercise. I liked the different lengths of workout and I liked the little cartoon lady demonstrating the moves – she seemed friendly.

I need to be accountable to someone or something. Which I guess is a key reason for starting this Blog. I don’t like to lose face so now I’ve committed to writing this for 100 days I know I will. I am in competition with this App now and I absolutely hate not winning. But it’s not just about that anymore because something I hadn’t really imagined would happen has happened. Someone has read what I’ve written. I received an email saying someone was following me. Following me! Not round my garden as I squat and lunge and plank, but following my words. Hello and thank you!

So now I really have to keep this going. My inner competitor has been summoned. I can’t quit now. 97 days to go. At some point I will have to brave the world outside my garden…go for a run and risk being seen by the outside people. Or go to a group and join other people who like to squat and lunge. But for now it is enough to know that someone is reading this and wondering what I might write next. Oh, and it helps that the App also reminds me it’s time for exercise.

Day 2

I love lists. It is possibly the former teacher in me or perhaps the organised/assertive (read bossy) older sister, but I cannot help feel a sense of calm when I sit down to make a list. For some people I presume it is the sense of accomplishment they feel when they tick things off a list (certainly this is the case for my husband) but for me the joy is merely to write it – to remove said lists from my brain and commit them to paper. Which is perhaps why our house is a list battleground. Me – frantically writing lists and adorning the fridge with them. My husband – frantically trying to tick things off them. Luckily for him I also always provide a highlighter in a ziplock bag next to the list… definitely the teacher in me.

So, in true list spirit – from what I have been told, or read or seen – the reasons to exercise include (but are probably not limited to):

Improved general health

Improved mental health

Increased life expectancy

Stronger heart

Stronger muscles

Improved condition of skin, hair and nails

Stress reduction

Better digestion

Shared experience

It’s free

The list of reasons I have given for not exercising in the past include (but are definitely not limited to):

I don’t have time

I’m not good at it

I don’t have the necessary equipment

I can’t afford it

It’s boring

It’s too hard

It hurts

I’d rather eat cake and drink wine

Well now there is only one thing on the fridge – a chart with the numbers 0-100 and Day 2 just got crossed off.

Day 2

Day 1

I have just completed my first day of 100 days of exercise. How do I feel? Sweaty. Very, very sweaty.

As a lover of pathetic fallacy I did rather enjoy the roll of thunder as I ended the workout. Following a day of 30 degree sunshine it was both a welcome relief that rain was coming and perhaps a metaphorical sign of something more.

So do I feel a sense of accomplishment? The start of an amazing journey to come? Empowered by this step?

Time will tell. Right now I mostly feel sweaty and dehydrated. Note to self: next time have water on hand. Oh, and also look up how to do a Burpee safely – I am not sure it’s meant to hurt THAT much…