This is something that I have found hard to write about - and for some it may sound really insignificant. But to me, cancelling my gym membership represents a big chunk of closure on a part of my life that has been both amazingly rewarding and yet extremely challenging. I never used to be a gym girl - I hated the gym in fact. I used to be that person who signed up and then paid for 6 months before finally admitting to myself that I had absolutely no intention of going.
And then I discovered an amazing gym in my local town. Not only are the facilities incredible, but I very quickly became friends with the guys who owned it and also met some wonderful people who are now permanently in my life!
To be strong you have to lift weights right?
I discovered lifting weights and how amazingly powerful it made me feel. I finally found like I had found my 'fitness thing' and I actually wanted to spend time doing it.
And for the first 6 months - in the honeymoon period as I would call it - my body got stronger and stronger and leaner and leaner. People told me how great I looked, I fully embraced the #strongnotskinny and #girlswhosquat hashtags on all of my social media, and I felt like I could take on the world!
And then in came these little warning signs... things that I knew deep down were messages to suggest that perhaps my body wasn't quite dealing with the stress and strain I was putting on it. The carefully counted macros, the 5 or 6 days of training, the lack of rest and the slightly obsessive behaviour was taking its toll.
I damaged a disc in my back. But regardless of this I kept on 'training' - doing everything I could that didn't hurt because I was fearful of stopping.
My periods stopped... now I wasn't super lean at this point but something was still telling my body that it wasn't safe to put energy into my menstrual cycle. I carried on regardless. I refused to believe it was due to my exercise regime - and to be honest I still don't know now if it was.
I used to be sore nearly every single morning - no pain no gain right?
The fear of stopping...
But stopping wasn't an option to me. I was too fearful. Fearful of putting on weight AND the fearful of missing the connections I had made there. For someone who worked alone and spent a lot of time in solitude - these people were everything to me. And they surely wouldn't want to spend time with me if I wasn't training like a #girlboss?
I had created a persona of this #girlwholifts which I needed to keep up - and I liked this person. She was tough and strong, determined and committed, she was a badass!
But in reality, I knew deep down that this space wasn't the healthiest for me to be in at that time. I had this little voice at the back of my head that suggested I was perhaps not doing the right thing for my body - but my ego wanted me to maintain this 'go hard or go home' attitude. And so I did.
Ironically, over the past few years of training harder than I ever have, I have actually put on weight! I am bigger than I ever have been. I am also more obsessed with food than I ever was before. I have more body image issues than I ever did growing up. And yet I still refused to admit that something wasn't quite right. You do the maths!
Fast forward three years and last month I finally took note of that voice.
It took becoming a yoga teacher to realise that I couldn't do it all. Now that I use my body to teach people I have found a newfound respect for it and know that she needs nurturing. I want to protect her and look after her. I want to show her the love she needs - after all she is with me every second of the day.
I want to inspire people to use their body in a way that feels good - not simply put it through hell and back because they want it to look a certain way.
And so, at the beginning of September I cancelled my gym membership. It was a huge deal for me. It was accepting that I cannot do it all and that a slower pace of life is better for me - especially right now.
Being strong is so much more than lifting heavy objects and throwing your body around. Being strong is having the courage to stand in your truth - no matter what other people around you are doing.
But standing in my truth triggered a whole host of fears for me...
Will I put on weight? Will I lose strength? Will I miss out on being with friends? Will I not look as strong and determined in my life? Will other people think lesser of me because I am not training hard? Will people think I am not a super duper magician who manages to fit in a million things to my day?
Will my anxiety come back because I am not using exercise as a mode of controlling it anymore? Does this mean I can't eat spoonfuls of nut butter anymore because I am not exercising enough? What on earth will my Instagram followers think?!?
As ridiculous as many of these sound, they are real fears for me.
Cancelling my gym membership has taken a huge pressure off...
The people I have met through the gym still love me for who I am - whether I am with dumbbells or not!
Those who are important to me would never judge me based on my exercise regime. The only person who would ever do that is me!
My anxiety is part of me and something I have learned to love. She will show up every now and then but by reducing the stress I put on my body I actually feel less anxious. It doesn't mean I am sitting on my bum all day - I have found other ways to move my body in a mindful way such as walking, gentle jogging if I feel like it and of course my beautiful yoga practice. These are things that nourish me... they don't punish me!
And as for the nut butter... pass me the tub!
Is there something that you suspect is not serving you right now, but you can't quite let it go? It may not be the gym for you - this was simply my catalyst. Trust your instincts. Listen to those inner guides. And if you need a little help doing this then get in touch here.