After everything that happened last year and the pressure I put my body under, I made a promise to myself to look after “me” more. To sleep more, stress less, exercise more, eat more healthily, push myself less. And most importantly to learn to listen to my body. To go back to basics a bit and not to stubbornly just push because that is what I have always done.
Some of these things have been easier to do than others. And one of the big areas I have been focusing on is trying to get my body stronger through exercise. At the resilience retreat I went on late last year I also made a commitment to myself to run a half a marathon before the end of April. This was something I did regularly in my twenties, but hadn’t attempted again since cancer and Lymphoedema. And at the time of making this commitment it was a huge, massive push for me and I had no idea if it would be possible to actually do it. But I knew that if I was going to do it, it was going to take a huge amount of training and commitment. And most importantly a re-jig of my mindset, that of being ultra competitive and needing to be “the best” and smash some kind of time goal. Because what I had come to realize was that, specifically with my Lymphoedema, it was not going to be possible for me to do a sub-2 hour half marathon anymore without putting my body under extreme pressure, and that actually for me, just finishing a half marathon within the cut off time without being absolutely broken would be a challenge in itself.
So I have been doing a lot of “head work” to try and reprogram what is so much ingrained in me. I started training with Ash and Lolly at Fitmom, doing Sweat, yoga and running and just trying to make good incremental improvement. Without completely punishing my body. It’s been hard, but I feel like I am slowly improving.
And then the opportunity came up to go on a Fitmom Wellness Retreat. I was initially going to go with my sister-in-law, and I felt comfortable with that knowing that I would have “my person” with me to protect me socially and to hang out with so I wouldn’t have to put myself out there too much. And then my sister-in-law could no longer go on the weekend and I thought long and hard about whether to still go or not. I knew that the weekend would do me good from an exercise and fitness perspective but I also had a lot of anxiety around whether I would cope socially, how I would answer the “kids” question – 3 and remain true to me, or 1 and avoid social suicide. I spent time talking to my psychologist about it, how to approach it and what to say and do in different circumstances.
So I decided to put my big girl panties on, step out my comfort zone and go. After all I could always leave early if I was finding it too difficult. And how very glad I am that I decided to do this. What incredible food for the soul, in every way. And an incredible collection of like-minded women, with zero competition and expectation. It was just about you, what you could manage, your own personal challenge, nobody else’s.
I shared a room with a girl I had never met before, but we had some common friends, and thank goodness for social media and our blog. Because she knew our story already, had visited our blog, and on the first night acknowledged our loss upfront without me saying a word. I was so so grateful to her for having the courage and emotional intelligence to do this. It immediately put me at ease and removed so much anxiety for me. There were a number of wonderful woman on the weekend that I knew as acquaintances and I was able to get to know them a little better and also meet some other incredible females. I pushed myself physically in the run, and so enjoyed it, did an awesome boot camp, an incredible swim in the river. I lay on a blanket under a tree, reading my book, with zero expectation of me to do anything, I had an afternoon rest, and I laughed, connected and just generally took some amazing time for me.
So what started as something that I was extremely nervous and anxious about became one of the most amazing things I have done for me in a long time. And I feel so privileged that I was able to attend something like this, with the support of my wonderful husband. And while my body has been sore and tired this week (an 18km trail run will do that for you!) my heart and soul have felt full and rejuvenated and I have felt much more able to tackle what is expected of me. And what I expect of me!
So I guess what this post is all about is how sometimes things can seem scary and hard and you can build them up to be a bigger thing in your head than they need to be. But if you just push yourself a little, step out of your comfort zone you can be so pleasantly surprised and it can lead to some awesome personal growth and some wonderful new women in your life.
Thank you dear Ash for making this all happy in the amazing, seemingly effortless way that you do. X