Old Man starts Exercising, Writes Blog.
Part 2: This is Just for Me.
There is lots of “stuff” that surrounds taking care of your self. The media and self help gurus are quick to tell you that you don’t quite cut it and with just a little more effort (or one of their gadgets or new info just released) you can be a better person.
Listening to that chatter doesn’t have the effect they think it does. I have never been motivated by some stranger telling me to eat healthier, exercise more and be more mindful. As a matter of fact, those messages come at me with such amazing frequency and zeal that they sound like the propaganda of a despotic ruler. I call it the Tyranny of the health industry.
My healthiest days were when I was in training for league soccer. Starting in March and working out until September we would go twice a week for training plus 14 weeks of matches and play-offs, if we were lucky. I loved that.
Then from October to February, I continued riding a bike or when I was living in the Snow Belt, cross-country skiing. Solitary pleasures that get me out of my head in into the world.
I wasn’t “getting fit”, I didn’t give two shakes about my diet and no one, not even Richard Simmons himself could convince me that I should do more.
Fast Forward half a lifetime later and I find myself pursuing a healthier lifestyle by eliminating (read: reducing) poor food choices and taking up a course of pilates with Diane Archer of Compassionate Body Pilates.
Today, after spending 8 hours hunched over my workstation I was knotted and tired and in a pretty crappy mood after a workweek full of stress and doing things for other people.
Not long after my one-on-one session with Diane started, I began to feel that stress slip away. Just the controlled breathing and stretching that came with our first few moves was enough to change my perspective to “this is just about me”.
I was opening up my lungs, checking my body positions, deliberately moving through the routines and feeling my body doing a little more of what it was meant to do. It brought me to a place where I was finding selfish pleasure; observing where I was pushing through the tightness and coming out the other side.
Blood was flowing better and my mind began to clear. I was relaxing into the work-out with the Diane’s gentle corrections making my efforts all the better.
What a luxury this was. It dawned on me that a private session in my home with a Pilates instructor was worth the expense. That the “selfish” just-for-me attitude wasn’t wrong-headed, but something that truly matters as my life-style choice.
Now as I write this, once again at my workstation, I am sitting taller, my posture is correct and I focus a little more on my breathing. I am relaxed and mildly rejuvenated.
My energy level is a little higher and my outlook brighter.
I came to an exercise program in my mid-life because I want to share activities like hiking and cycling with my uber-fit partner. But in the midst of today’s session with Diane, it struck me that I should have been doing this sooner.
It’s not about hiking in the mountains of Mexico, or our next cycling tour of the wine regions or finally kicking her butt at Racquetball. It’s about treating myself to some time for me, tossing off the stiffness and crankiness and getting to a place of balance in my body and my mind.
That last bit sounded like what a typical fitness guru might have told me.
I just wish they had told me earlier.
By Dan Willis
Diane Archer, Pilates Instructor from the UK now living back in Canada. Blog of tips, thoughts, home challenges.