Physical exercise passed me by until…

For years I worked in an industry – the legal sector – which both attracts workaholics and creates them as many people feel they have to be that way, a ‘fit in to survive’ mentality.

Often, something has to give and I think physical fitness and focus on its health benefits was mine.  With each turn of the year I would resolve to do better.  The year revolved and I would find myself at year-end stuck in the same place.  I would look in all sorts of places for inspiration and devise all sorts of plans for creating more time to focus on this.  ‘Getting physically fitter’ – in my mind a specific destination with a specific ‘look’ – seemed like a gargantuan chore, from a low base, yet another task to fit in.  Plus, I often felt that fitness phases had passed me by – over the decades whether it was aerobics (I am showing my age here!), ‘going to the gym’, jogging, running, cycling, whatever was steaming ahead with popularity, just seemed to pass me by.  I didn’t seem to catch the bug!

Sneaky self-sabotage 

Then several things coincided. First, I recently noticed something I had never noticed before – and this is a really sneaky self-sabotaging bit.  In the places I was looking for inspiration, what I was actually doing was looking for reasons to exclude myself from the success I was reading about.  I would devour an article about someone who had achieved success later in life, say, running 5ks or 10ks regularly, and I would scour the article for evidence that they already had a background when younger that made it possible, that gave them an advantage.  Advantage attracting advantage, if you like.

How sneaky is that!  Talk about unconscious patterns keeping us stuck.  Especially when this thinking is piled on top of deeply ingrained cultural patterns that deter us from taking things up later in life – because there’s an expectation we have to be good at things, and being a beginner is a state reserved for childhood/adolescence.  Being a complete beginner at something as an adult is very uncomfortable.

Fitness and ‘sports’ – not another chore!! 

The second and perhaps most important thing though was a gift from one of my lovely Lightning Process clients.  Confidentiality prevents me from identifying her but she knows who she is.  Through hearing her grief at temporarily losing her life in ‘sports’, I began to understand something that I had not fully grasped before: that physical fitness and sports is not a chore or a task to be added to an already long list and (in my case) the thing most easily sacrificed; it is a life process rather than a destination; it is community and friendship.  For some people, sport is their identity, their entire universe – their life revolves around it.

The challenge – inspired by a client

So, completely inspired by her, a few weeks ago I found myself taking up a challenge, something I never thought I would be able to do – cycling in the mountains.

I joined three other women taking bikes to cycle in the Alps.  Part of me hoped the trip would have to be cancelled due to Covid!  I came close to leaving my e-bike behind (I’ll stay behind and do the cooking!) but one thing kept me going – “it’s about the camaraderie, it’s not about the task”.

Video diary 

I am so grateful to my companions for the opportunity – I was worried I would hold them back – but we found a way to do it together that met our needs.  And there were lots of little surprises along the way, as these short video diaries show:

I hope that you enjoyed following my journey here.  Please get in touch if you have any questions or if you need support with something you are looking to change!