The idea for this post came to me recently when I was at AquaGym in Christchurch swimming lengths. I'm not one of these people who has been swimming for years and is super fit and can swim lengths of freestyle for an hour. The truth is that I haven't been swimming for long at all and I do spend an hour in the water but I take rests, and I swim a variety of freestyle, breathstroke and backstroke. And I love it. I go at my own pace. I can swim anytime, regardless of weather. The water feels gentle and forgiving. I can create my own rhythm and go with the flow, so to speak. I like how your whole body gets a workout when swimming and you can throw some cardio into the mix too. But the best thing about it is that I actually enjoy it!
I will always remember talking to a friend of mine in Auckland after he'd been swimming one morning. He said "I don't actually think swimming is my thing." It stood out to me at the time and I have thought about it a lot since. At the time I was running, sporadically, but still ocassionally running. When he made that comment I remember feeling a murmur within, a feeling of surprise that may have been trying to tell me that I would prefer swimming to running. But at that stage I had semi-blinded myself into thinking that running was the way of the future. You know, you can just walk out the door and go. It's free, easy, in nature. But the reality was that my commitment to running was pathetic. Or, to put it kindly, my commitment to running was ambivalent. I'd run three times a week for a month or two and then stop for sometimes the same length of time. It was challenging, boring, and not enjoyable, for me. I also didn't feel that great after doing it. It made my head race and feel buzzy, which is also what I experience after drinking coffee.
Ironically, the friend I have in Auckland, (the one who used to swim most mornings) now runs frequently, does marathons and has come to realise that he loves running, much more than swimming.
I learned later in life that swimming is my thing, not running. Yoga is my thing. Biking is my thing. Tennis. Surfing - mmm I'd like it to be my thing but I started late in life, like just over a year ago, and while I feel inspired and great being out on the water, love catching waves and feel super chuffed when I manage to stand up, I also feel frustrated, and a little timid. I still hold hope that it may become my thing but I think boogie boarding might be more my thing, these days. Kayaking - love it!
I guess the primary reason for this blog entry is that we all need exercise and some of us procrastinate or have unrealistic thoughts about what exercise is or should be. Exercise and a balanced and healthy diet are fundamental to good health and wellbeing. They are nature's medicine and I believe they are still totally underrated in terms of addressing people's mental and physical health. But it's a no brainer - good food and enjoyable exercise strengthen the body, and the mind and produce all the feel good chemicals we need to feel energized and in balance. Doctors should be addressing these aspects of clients lives, always.
But the good news is, and it took me a while to realise this, that exercise can and should be enjoyable because then we want to do it and we feel good before, during and after doing it and to top it all off we feel great FOR doing it.
So... what's YOUR thing?