How 'quitting' exercise made me healthier

I’m a creature of habit and I like routine. When I’ve found my comfort zone with something I prefer to stay there as I like to feel secure.  Having a daily routine helps me to create healthy habits, stay focused and is generally better for my wellbeing.  I hate feeling out of sorts and in a muddle with things, organisation and planning are almost like second nature to me now.

A major focus of my routine was exercise, I love it and there is nothing like that adrenaline rush after a good workout.  I used to workout 6 times a week for up to 90 minutes without fail – normally 30 minutes of cardio followed by a full hour of weight and stretches.  I would squeeze in these workouts without fail, whether I was tired or ill didn’t matter.  The guilt that I would experience if I’d strayed from my daily routine was too much. I would hate myself for failing and hate my body even more because it wasn’t functioning the way I wanted it to. 

Obsessing over getting those six-pack abs then felt like a lifetime ambition.  My life would suddenly be all rainbows and unicorns if I had a smaller ass and thinner thighs. Similarly, I thought I would feel better about myself if I could drop a dress size. I’ve never been overweight, but something about chasing being smaller was positively dreamy and life was surely better on the other side. Screw everything else, I worked out without fail without a second thought about what I was putting my poor body through.   The fact that I was being driven by this addiction didn’t register with my brain and it became so bad that my husband almost missed his graduation because I had to workout before the ceremony.  It had a massive grip on my life that I never realised then – hindsight is a wondrous thing, my friends!

Finding a balance in my life has been tricky and I’m always anxious that I will fall back into those dangerous and obsessive habits again, which is why I refuse to buy bathroom scales.  I’ve come a long way since the early days of starting this blog and in some respects, I think I was hiding behind it.  Looking back I can see that some of my ‘healthy habits’ were unhealthy. Falling into the clean eating trap is high up on the list and obsessing over everything I was eating is another.  My exercise addiction is of course high up there too. Something drastically needed to change and it needed to happen fast! 

If you’re following the paleo diet, not eating pasta, sugar and drinking juices all day long makes more space for your soul and fills your heart with joy, then that’s pretty amazing!  However, if you reach a point where it’s not working for you anymore and it’s complete torture then the time has come to change your lifestyle.   I knew that when I had crossed the territory of going to the gym because I thought it was the right thing to do and not because it was making me feel good it was time to stop b*llsh**ting myself and make that change.  

I identified that I was over training and punishing my body with a hardcore routine in a quest to get tight abs, smaller bum, and thinner thighs.  Alternatively, I adopted a more holistic approach towards exercise that was more attainable, gentler on my body and flexible to stop the guilt trips.  I haven’t had a gym membership for over a year and I go through periods where I quit exercise altogether, but that’s OK; my body appreciates the rest and the gift of time to heal.   I’m not going to become morbidly obese if I don’t exercise for a period of time.   I’m currently doing a 30-Day Shred Challenge over in my Facebook group and each workout is only 20 minutes long, that’s just perfect for me and still gives me that endorphin rush that I love so much. 

If I really wanted to I could probably have that taught washboard stomach and a bum like a pert peach, however, I know that the grueling effort to get there just isn’t worth risking my current happiness and positive mindset towards my body. I would never trade hours training in the gym for what I have now. I’ll take my keep curves and belly jiggle thank you very much and two fingers to anyone that takes issue with it!

Discovering my version of healthy has been a challenge and it’s not all peachy.  I still have days where I struggle with body confidence issues and hate the way my clothes look on my body.  I’m not immune to these days, but I am better equipped to deal with then than I once was.  Having a baby turns your whole mindset and thought processes on its head.  What was once important pales into significance compared to the little life you’ve bought into the world.  On bad days, I always remind myself of all the positivity and love in my life and that really helps like nothing else.

Sometimes what we think is truly healthy actually becomes restricting, harmful and bad for our bodies.  If you’ve opted to make certain lifestyle choices under the pretense of being healthy even though your body is screaming at you to stop, it’s time to get real. Redefining the barriers that you put on yourself and freeing up some space to be kind to your body is so important.  Torturing your body and giving up your happiness because you think it’s the right thing to do isn’t worth it. You’re only given one body, be gentle and kind to it because she deserves it. 

Have you ever quit something and felt healthier and happier for it?  Do you put too much pressure on yourself to stick to a routine and feel guilty when you can’t follow through?