In my last blog post I promised to share some of my own personal journeys and I’m jumping straight in here with my current quest to get in shape and ditch my mum tum.
This is a challenge for me because I love food, I hate exercise and I’ve tried (and failed) many times to reverse the creep in dress size over the past decade. I got away with it in my twenties because I’m naturally a slim ‘vata’ type build (more on Ayurvedic doshas another day if you’re interested). In my thirties the tide turned, my metabolism started to slow. I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue and banned from strenuous exercise (not that I ever did any!) but two pregnancies took their toll, my size crept from a UK 8-10 to a 12-14 and I had no way to work it off. I did what was allowed, swimming and walking, I cleaned up my diet too, but the weight didn’t shift. What I’m doing clearly isn’t enough.
Now in my forties and living in the tropics there’s nowhere to hide. Its a beach and pool lifestyle. You can’t cover up. Its too hot! It doesn’t help that Bali is the land of the body beautiful. They’re everywhere in their string bikinis and pneumatic boobs, frolicking in the sand with their cute kiddies, zipping around on motorbikes with babies strapped on their backs and I feel like a big, old, saggy mum. It doesn’t matter if this is really how I look, because its how I ‘feel’ and I am sick of it!
Now, as someone who sees the beauty in every size and shape, I’ve also questioned my own desire to get back to my old size. Am I being vain? Does it really matter? I’ve got plenty of larger-sized friends and clients who look amazing and inspire me. I don’t want to become a gym-bunny. There’s so much else I’d rather send my time doing, but I DO love clothes, I love to play with style and my increasing size and tummy are limiting my options to express myself in that way and THAT makes me sad.
I don’t want plastic boobs and a six pack, but I do want to be a lithe old lady. I want to be able to hike off into the sunset with my husband and jump into freshwater lakes. I want to wear gorgeous clothes. I fancy I might have some kind of gyspy re-birth in my sixties and wear my hair in long plaits with a fedora, a silk blouse and pair of cigarette pants. I may or may not be riding a white horse…I think I’m somewhere in Spain… or maybe its California, anyway, the point is I will be fit and slim and I’m going to need some help getting there!
Enter Mel Bomba of Motion Fitness Bali. I heard about Mel before I ever discovered her discreet fitness studio in the heart of Seminyak. A friend called her Bali’s answer to Tracey Anderson and I was straight on the internet googling her. Her website terrified me. There was something about group workouts being good because “nothing brings people closer quite like misery and physical suffering.” This kind of talk turns me right off. I have learnt from experience and Adrenal Fatigue that if I push myself too hard (my natural ‘Vata’ inclination) I can short circuit my nervous system and tip into crippling depression and anxiety. I have learnt that I need to take things slow and build steadily. This is hard for me, because I am ridiculously impatient with, and demanding of, myself but I have trained myself to curb those inclinations and be smarter.
So, six months ago I went to my first group workout at Motion and here’s what I wrote when I got home….The class is not dance, but the music is GREAT! It lifts my spirits and keeps me going through the toning exercises. Everyone sweats buckets. The women in the class look AMAZING! The woman who set up next to me had the most beautiful long, lithe, toned body. I figured she was some little twenty year-old until she turned around and I realised she was over fifty. Now THAT, inspires me. The women to my right, probably late forties, also with a fabulous body, revealed stretch marks during one exercise and I’m thinking, ‘Respect. You didn’t always have that body. You made it.’
Mel inspired me straight off and here’s why. Her body is a work of art! I mean, it is incredible! There is not one inch of fat on her. Every muscle is defined and yet, she doesn’t look weird or masculine, but pretty and strong. I am fascinated by this body that is so clearly loved and valued and nurtured and taken care of. I am ashamed I’ve neglected mine so long, but no longer. Its all change for this Whisker. I am gonna be a lean mean fighting machine. Ooh yeah baby!
Mel smiles beautifically as she leads us through warm-up and then the tempo shifts and we’re punching hand weights in the air and doing kicks with leg weights and everyone’s sweating buckets and glugging on bottles labelled ‘Slim Tonic’ and I realise I am way out of my depth! This is a level of hard I’ve never encountered, but the results are all around me, so I knuckle down. I am mindful not to take the heavy weights like everyone else, but still its hard. I actually imagine Mel’s super-toned arms are mine to get myself through one set of reps! Then I start to lose the plot and I’m laughing helplessly as I try and fail to keep up. My brain is cooked. “Look at the state of me! Hahahaha! I’m like Mr Bean in lycra! Oh my god, this is too funny! Oh stop! I’m gonna wet myself!” So that’s me entering the delirium stage, which transitioned to involuntary grunting through each rep, collapsing in a sweaty heap on the floor between sets and weird self chat “Ohmygod. Ok. Ok. Ohmygod. Ok. Keep going. Pheufffff. Ok. Ohmygod.” By the end of class, I look like a total rave casualty…all dilated pupils, looking lost, but euphoric. Mel came over to introduce herself and say ‘well done’ and all I could do was mouth the words ‘thank you’ and hobble out the door. I feel insane, but happy. If I am not totally unable to walk by Thursday I will definitely be back for more!
So there you have it, my first step to getting into shape and ditching my mum tum. More to come on that, but what I want to say is, if you connect with any of what I’m saying and are thinking about trying something new, just do it. It is so worthwhile. I feel so proud of myself for going to this class. I felt so nervous beforehand, but everyone was new once and everyone’s so focussed on their own stuff, no one’s judging. Even when its new and its hard and you’re clearly the weakest link, it can still be fun and make you feel amazing.
Lightbulb: this is how people create the habit of exercise: they find something they LOVE! When something is so fun and makes you feel so good, you will find ways to do it, to fit it into your life.
If you’ve made it to the end of this post. Well done! And thank you so much for reading. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts if any of this strikes a cord or if you have any tips for me – on writing or on ditching the mum tum.
Mel Bomba of Motion Fitness Bali