Despite what you might have heard, and despite the fact I refuse to run for the bus, I don’t hate exercise. I am, however, clumsy and uncoordinated, and school PE lessons didn’t leave me feeling inspired and raring to go (my friends and I were found hiding at the bottom of the field more than once having told the teacher we were ‘going for a run’). But until recently, I never really did anything consistently. I’ve owned an exercise bike, a mini exercise bike and a cross trainer over the years, but all were old and creaking and bought off Gumtree, and ultimately ended up at the tip for being bulky and noisy and a bit rubbish (that’ll teach me for trying to be frugal). So that’s why nobody was more surprised than me when I joined a gym a couple of months ago.
I’m extremely uncompetitive, and would rather pull my eyelashes out than get involved in any team sports. I’m much more of a lone wolf, which is why I thought the gym might be a better bet for me. And, amazingly, I’m still going! I’m aiming for three times a week, which is a combination of classes and using the equipment. It’s only been a couple of months, so I haven’t noticed any drastic physical changes yet, but what’s interesting is that moving my body above and beyond the long treacherous walk to the fridge has had quite a significant mental impact.
When I started on this hygge journey, I wanted to explore the holistic side – the idea that hygge can be all-encompassing, and how to achieve that. The expression ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ is tossed around all the time, and it’s only now that I’m starting to get it. The better I feel, inside and out, the more I want to do more of the things that make me feel even better – it’s a win-win situation.
So, with all this in mind, I thought I should probably do something about the way I eat too. I don’t eat a massive amount of meat so don’t get much protein, which is probably part of the reason I have absolutely no muscles in my entire body. I’m not a big fan of protein powder, as it just tastes too ‘powdery’ (sssssh), which is why I was very excited to find out about For Goodness Shakes Protein Water. As a type 1 diabetic, I have to be very careful about sugar, so it’s really reassuring that there is no sugar (and no fat!) in this protein water. It comes in two flavours: orange & mango and blackcurrant, and is available at Sainsbury’s. As well as this, each bottle packs a punch with 20g of protein – to put that into perspective, that’s 80g chicken, 167g tofu or 313g chickpeas, so this is a really easy way to fulfil your protein needs before, during and after exercise. I took mine to the gym on a Sunday (!) and it made a really refreshing change to my usual plain water, and tasted great.
As for what I’m actually doing… I BLOODY LOVE ZUMBA. It’s genuinely the highlight of my week. It’s just 45 minutes of throwing your body around to some brilliant tunes – we do a bit of salsa, some Charleston, cumbia, merengue and Bollywood and I love it more than I can express (we even did some line dancing to 9 to 5 last time!). This article is well worth a read if you’re looking for some decent Zumba shoes, as your normal trainers may not cut it. As well as this, I sometimes do body combat (punching and kicking to music), I tried spin (ergh) and I’ve had a go at a few other classes to see what I like. I also had an introductory session with a personal trainer which was really helpful, as she showed me how to use the machines to help me reach my goals, and a friend has also shown me how to use the free weights – still working up the courage to use them on my own at the moment. My favourite things to do at the moment are the cross trainer, the rowing machine and the leg machines – I have a very feeble upper body, so my next aim is to overcome my gymtimidation and venture into the weights area to work on that.
I’ve also learnt that it’s crucial to go properly kitted out – an ice pack has been massively helpful (see more here for some recommendations), and while I’m not sure they’re necessarily for me, I know some people swear by those rather unusual-looking barefoot running shoes – you can https://runners101.com/10-best-barefoot-shoes-for-runners/check out more health gear here.
This is all having a knock-on effect too – I feel happier when I come out of the gym, and it makes me want to be kinder to my body. I want to eat better and exfoliate and brush my hair (happens less often than you’d think) and sleep better. By looking after my body and mind, it’s putting me in a better position to enjoy the little things in life – I’m more receptive and relaxed and happier, and ready to welcome hygge with open arms!
What do you do to look after your body and mind? Whether it’s yoga, meditation or long weekend walks, I’d love to hear how you take care of yourself.