I’ve been exercising for over two months now. The pre-exercise me used to make jokes about how unhealthy I was and how I didn’t exercise. It is fairly common to joke about your perceived weaknesses or self-declared failings. Perhaps we joke because we would rather we said it than someone else did, or because making light of it might draw away attention from the fact that we actually aren’t very happy about something.
Today in conversation, when diet and exercise came up, I had to stop myself mid-sentence. I was just about to comment on how mad the other person sounded when they spoke about getting up early to exercise when I realised I couldn’t make that joke anymore because I do that too now. I was going to laugh about the fact that I don’t see the point of exercise for exercise sake when I could be doing more fun and important things. Except I do see the point of it now.
I was all ready to protect myself by putting up a wall of humour to block any potential criticism or pity that might come my way or happen behind my back and then I realised I didn’t need a wall anymore. I didn’t need to protect myself. What I could do instead was join in with a conversation about exercise and actually add my own thoughts and feelings about the benefits.
And as I chatted away about how great exercise can be I realised I sounded like someone else – someone I would have been intimidated by before. Not because I am intimidating and not because I know very much at all but because in the past people who talked passionately about exercise scared me a bit. I think I was scared because I was worried they would think I was lazy. I was. And actually there’s nothing wrong with being lazy – if you’re happy with that. But I wasn’t – and so I made jokes to cover the fact that actually what I would really like was to be healthier and fitter and stronger.
Today, 2 months of exercise me took a mallet and smashed down a brick wall that has been around unhealthy me for many years. I tore it to the ground and inside I found pre-exercise me. She was sitting there joking about how much she loved her body and would never put it through torture like exercise would be. I took her by the hand and told her it was okay – she doesn’t need to make jokes anymore. It’s okay to come out because no one else was actually ever judging her as much as she judged herself. And hey, look, she’s still me and I’m still her but we’re stronger now.