family · fitness · habits · motivation

I had a plan – where did it go?

Well this is not the post I expected to write this month! A few months back I wrote Sam that I had been exploring and really enjoying exercise and would like to regularly blog about aquafit. At that time, I’d been going to the pool two to three times per week for a few months. It was a habit and it felt good. I also had started really enjoying the feeling of getting a good cardio workout. That itself felt like a minor miracle.  

I wrote my introductory post and looked forward to seeing what was coming on my journey of digging into exercise. It turns out what was awaiting me the last month was a lot of frustration and not getting to exercise! This is not new – many people struggle to get to their gym or their exercise. Women especially are conditioned to put our needs after others. In my case, historically it’s been really easy to distract me from exercise because honestly, I didn’t like it and I didn’t want to do it.

This is different though. I want to get there. Apparently though, wanting isn’t always enough. I’ve only been to the pool a couple of times since mid-April. And it shows. It shows in my mindset, which is more easily frustrated. It shows in my aching hips that don’t want to sit for hours while I teach and grade. It shows in my own disappointment too.

Now I have good reasons for not getting to the gym. I’m on a job search that is going s.l.o.w.l.y. (I teach college on contract and I want a permanent, student-facing job!). My husband is on sabbatical in Italy for the month of May. He’s working hard too and I’m happy to support him, but oh boy, I didn’t anticipate how many things would go sideways at home with our kids while he was away, or how much of our lives relate to getting our kids to places. I am struggling between my kids’ needs and my own, and my own have been losing out.

Selfie of a woman with greying hair and brown sunglasses in front of a blooming pink magnolia tree. She has bright sunlight on her face and is wearing a navy coloured tshirt reading "halfway between"
On my dog walk, I had to stop in front of this beautifully blooming magnolia tree

In truth, all reasons for not exercising are “good” reasons. Our reasons can be legitimate even when they are frustrating or disappointing. Canadian society seems to have a fixation with connecting fitness with guilt and judgement (as anyone who knows this blog knows). The last thing I want to do in writing today is to contribute a sense of judgment of people’s choices. What I do want to acknowledge (mainly mainly to myself) is that for the first time I really miss exercising. That makes this post another in my posts celebrating my journey toward enjoying and, I would say, reclaiming my body as my own for my own use. THAT feels pretty good to say.

So since I’m missing activity, and my growing strength and confidence as (dare I say it?) an athlete, it seems that my next challenge is to actually get back in the pool, and doing some late spring hiking. I can see I need to re-establish my routines and make space for myself in my life. I’m working on that now. So far the best I can do is get out each day to walk my dog. It’s a start – I’ll let you know in a month how it went!

fitness

Wait, I like exercising??

Hello! If you are a really regular reader of this blog, you’ll remember that I’ve written here before. I wrote about my love of swimming, a very meaningful return canoe trip to Killarney Provincial Park, and about how I didn’t like walking, but I thought maybe it was feminist.

Well, I think it’s time I update you. I know it’s time I check-in with myself about how I’m doing with this whole exercise thing because well, how I’m doing has changed, a lot actually. About 2 1/2 years ago I had right hip surgery to repair damage that dated about 9 years back (to when I was pregnant with my 2nd son). After that surgery I started exploring walking on London’s beautiful trails. For the first time, really ever, I was able to enjoy the experience of walking. I learned that I needed a walking pole to help with balance on slippery surfaces, and I got some yak-trax for my shoes. I even enjoyed walking on ice! This was progress.

I also started pushing myself, in tiny ways, to try new things. It’s weird how for me, as middle age and motherhood has settled in, I’ve become timid. Now I’ve never been a boldly active person, but my “mom” role seemed to cement that I was the one that got left behind on adventures sometimes. Since I don’t downhill ski, that does still happen but I’m trying to get a little daring.

Here’s a picture of me jumping off a (smallish but huge to me) drop into Charleston Lake in eastern Ontario. I was so terrified, once I was in the water my husband asked me if it was fun and I screamed “NO!” So I decided to do it again so I could actually notice how it felt and it WAS fun.

Boy and woman jumping forward off a grey rock into a lake. Both are suspended in the air, the woman's arms are spread wide.
Taking the leap at Charleston Lake!

I think the thing I’m most proud of is that I bravely took a sled ride down the steep hill near our house. I did that in 2021, on a day when there was loads of snow so the sled was slowed down a bit. It was definitely scary but I was so glad I did it! You can see me in my snow-covered glory on my Instagram page.

So I guess what I’m saying is that as my pain decreased post-surgery, I started taking a few small risks. And I’m found that I really can enjoy some exercise. I know that for many of you sporty blog readers that might seem an odd thing to say, but exercise has never before felt like a pleasant, or if I’m being honest, a safe experience for me.

Well that has changed now, and I actually enjoy some sports! So I wrote Sam and asked if I could contribute some writing exploring my experience. I’m doing aquafit regularly now and that is a whole other story that I look forward to telling you about it. I think I’m going to be sharing my story about once a month with you. Tell me about your experiences with finding your way in exercise – I’d love to hear them!

Amanda Lynn

Amanda Lynn Stubley is a folklorist who teaches writing and communications at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. In addition to teaching, she is a musician performing with The Heartaches Stringband.