ModelTypeFace: Rethinking Exercise
Guest post from Rebecca Pearson of ModelTypeFace.com
So it’s National Fitness Day today, and I’ve been having a bit of a rethink re: exercise.
It’s time to calm it down.
I’m not suggesting we all down tools and get back to the sofa. Lots of us have worked hard to integrate fitness into our lives and we now know that it’s important to raise our heart rate and put our bodies through their paces at least three days a week.
However, there’s a real emphasis on pushing ourselves to the limit. And whilst hitting the HIIT and grimacing through the sweat droplets in our eyes works for some, it’s not necessarily doing our bodies or figures that much of a service.
I’m no PT or expert but this is a personal post simply speaking from experience. There are times when really hardcore exercise stresses my body out, de-motivates me and gives me a bit of a belly from the cortisol pumping through my body.
This year, I went through a life patch that I found traumatic, both physically and mentally.
Rewind half a year and I was feeling on top, both professionally and physically. I went to regular At Your Beat dance classes because they made me happy. And as a side effect, like the celebs on Strictly, the constant movement shrank and strengthened my whole body. I felt lighter and tighter but most importantly I felt full of joy.
Then the break up, the family death and the health issues hit. I often couldn’t exercise because I had so much work & travel, barely got to sleep at 3am, or had to take a break on doctor’s orders. I urgently TRIED to get back to where I was before. I pushed myself, despite not being mentally or physically up for it – I was exhausted on all fronts. I even ran out of a dance class crying because I felt so lost: I wasn’t me.
Physically, I felt swollen and tired and uncomfortable about my body on shoots.
So I listened to my weary self took a break. I forgot trying to get my abs back and I did yin yoga, which entails maintaining poses for minutes at a time to achieve release and a deeper stretch. I did hatha – previously an easy treat – if I wanted to do something ‘vigorous’. I got back in touch with my body from top to toe and I let the energy flow around my body. Sometimes I only did one or two classes a week.
And you know what? I de-swelled. And breathed. And I lost that frenzy, that mania that was as much about escaping my unhappiness as it was trying to look like I did when I had felt on top. It’s world fitness day, so it’s time to appreciate that there is a world of fitness at our fingertips at any moment in our lives, both for body and mind. Fitness doesn’t have to be a rigid programme: it can evolve as our lives & needs do and we can tune into what our bodies are saying rather than being told by others (or that guilty voice in our heads) what we SHOULD be doing.
So where am I now? I realised that a lot of that desperation to exercise was about control and denial and that a calmer acceptance is what I should embrace. When I do stop, breathe and listen, it turns out that my body is pretty good at telling me what will make it content.