Certain birthdays have a way of focussing the mind, and with one looming, I decided towards the end of last year to take myself in hand! As an assistant tutor on a hypnotherapy training course in Bournemouth, I found myself working alongside some truly inspirational people. One in particular, a lady I first met five years ago when she was 55, has dropped a considerable (and I mean a LOT) of weight, taken up exercise and is now running marathons. I started comparing her with other people I know who seem to relish the ability to give up because they are “too old”, and decided right then that something was going to change!
So, I found myself a personal trainer. I discovered that I am actually quite strong and despite having a dodgy valve in my heart, I have quite a capacity for exercise. There are days when I can’t be bothered, but that’s when I use self-hypnosis to keep me focussed. And do you know what? I am actually enjoying those underused muscles waking up and having fun. Last week I joined a Pilates class for the first time in over 10 years, and despite the pure agony for a couple of days afterwards, I will be back tomorrow.
When I was a child I learned to hate exercise. My Dad was no sportsman and delivered a message which stuck. “The only reason anybody should run is to get away from something or to catch something!” And I was tall and gangly, so that was a good enough reason not to run. My hand-eye co-ordination has never been brilliant, so wherever possible I have always avoided throwing or catching – especially as a teenager – why would I risk breaking a nail? Not surprisingly I absolutely dreaded that moment when the games teacher told kids to pick teams – in fact I longer for uneven numbers so I could be the scorer!
PE teachers love sporty kids, and virtually every one I ever encountered didn’t warm to me. (I did go to 15 different schools, so there were a few of them.) With hindsight I recognise that I created the expectation that PE classes wouldn’t go well! I created strategies such as serving my ball over the fence to end a tennis game, putting on a limp during cross-country, and wow was my menstrual cycle messed up during the swimming season. And everybody supported my negative mindset!
Well, no more - I am actively seeking the company of people who inspire and encourage me and moving away from negativity and limiting mindsets.
So now, I am 55, half a stone lighter than I was 2 months ago, (despite great food and drink over Christmas,) having lost 4 inches off my waist and being generally more toned than possibly I have ever been. But more importantly, I have re-discovered my own ability to be strong and active and most of all I am stretching myself both mentally and physically.
A quote from my teen idol David Bowie sort of sums up my new mindset:
“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”