I have been watching breakfast TV again. I am someone who needs makeup to leave the house, so this is factored into my morning routine, and while I do it, I watch breakfast TV, usually with my 2 little helpers using the bed as their dressing / lounging around area. This morning the story that caught my attention was about getting fresh air and being outdoors, to help combat depression. I felt this led on from my other breakfast TV inspired blogs about loneliness and parenting. Now I am not saying that loneliness and depression are the same thing, but it got me thinking about how I use the outdoors to clear my head. I think I might be one of the people they talked about who needs the outdoors to lighten my mood; reckon it comes from being a farmer’s daughter. Not that you would see me as being remotely useful on a farm these days! For me the outdoors means exercise, though I love to lay around in the sun, let’s face it, those days that it is sunny enough are rare in this country, so it is usually more the move around, or freeze option.
My brain gets super busy and not always in a useful way; it replays conversations and scenarios over and over, it worries about bills, children, well just about everything, and now it is writing blogs on the side. Sometimes, the brain express train just needs to find a station and stop, re-arrange it’s passengers and then get on it’s way again. Over the years, I have found that walking really helps me sort things out in my head, while I walk my brain will have a little chat to itself and quite amazingly, by the time I have raised the heartrate a little and got from A to B, my thoughts are less muddled, I feel brighter and sometimes I manage to make decisions. After DD1 arrived, if I was having a lonely day, I found that a walk around the park made me feel like I had done something with my day, it didn’t even matter if I just had a sleeping baby for company. This was trickier for DD2 as by then I had a walking 18-month-old, who did not rate travel by buggy as an option, so walking was curbed for a while. I am sure if I had done more walking and had more fresh air, my post-natal depression would have been easier to deal with.
Exercise has always been my nemesis; I like food and lots of it, but I stress about my weight, so exercise is the compromise. Eat, exercise, eat again; that’s the format. But over the years the eating has got more frequent and the exercise less; the result …. Oh no, the love handles are now industrial sized and baby belly is starting to look like no. 3 is hiding in there. I can’t say I have ever enjoyed exercise and find it a struggle to motivate myself. Before children I would go to the gym, go to classes, and very occasionally go for a run, but post children, which also coincided with post 40, things have changed.
I will give the disclaimer here – my usual one is that I write about my own experiences and in no way, would I suggest what I do is right, but it works for me, so read on, hopefully enjoy and take away from it what you like. On a more serious note – always know your own limits, consult a Doctor if need be, and take care when exercising. I had to rebuild my muscles in intensive physiotherapy during my 20s, so I became very familiar with my body. I am also trained in anatomy and physiology, so I have a knowledge about the human body and how it works. Plus, over many years, I have attended a lot of different classes, so I know the safety requirements. All of this is why I currently choose to exercise under my own steam and without support; it is not an ideal scenario as the pros know what they are doing and can help, but at the moment my options are limited by funds.
I see walking as the only exercise I truly enjoy, I love the fresh air, I take photos while I am out and enjoy the views. Now DD1 doesn’t agree with this; “Walking is not exercise!” she bluntly stated when I said walking was good exercise. “Walking, walking walking, la, la, la, bored!” She followed up her statement with a demo of her walking experience. But it is free and I can incorporate it into the day without donning the lycra. I hate to pay for parking, so I usually set myself the challenge of finding free places to park. These tend to be quite a long walk, sometimes, I purposely park knowing that I will need to walk a mile or so to get to where I need to be. Now this only works if I have the time, but I put it down as exercise time and justify it in that way. I would get more out of an exercise class, or a run, but I don’t get the headspace from those. So, it is a triple whammy; get my jobs done, exercise and clear my head…winner.
I also try to exercise for free in other ways; I am currently signed up to an online yoga site that has a huge variety of classes to download onto the TV or laptop. In summer it is possible to do this in the garden, (if the neighbours are out!) Obviously, the online teachers can’t check my technique, but the demos are sound and it’s a great way to exercise for almost free. I tried to do the mini tramp thing too, using YouTube, but the thing took up so much storage space that now I use the kids trampoline outside and just go for it on there; another summer option though – I don’t do cold! Running is another free one, I am not a natural runner, it is pitiful to watch, but I try every now and again, but it usually ends in a near heart attack state. I can also be seen scooting to school …. I have no shame on my pink scooter, who knew it was such good exercise? By the end of the road I am wheezing and gasping for air, so it has to be good for me, right?
Cycling is another option, but I think I might be scarred by years of cycling to school in the freezing North. I don’t see it as fun, and mostly I see it as quite terrifying as the cars whizz by me. But DD1 has decided she is going to be an Olympic cyclist, so we may need to invest in family bikes and help her with her dream. Sadly, DD2 is not getting this cycling thing and is currently, still a stabiliser girl. Yes, I know 6 is far too old, but the whole combo of balancing, steering, braking and peddling is just more than she can cope with, for what she sees as far too much effort. DD2 would still be in a buggy if she had her way, that’s my girl! DD1 is also going to be an Olympic runner apparently – she is on her own with that one though, maybe I could scoot while she runs 😊
I know that as I get older my self esteem is dropping as my physical appearance changes due to age. Exercise is a great way to counteract those negative feelings, and what better way to do it than in the great outdoors?