My parents were both extremely active so it was only natural, that as a kid, I would follow suit! I was a very quiet, somewhat anxious child but participating in activities and sports helped foster my self-confidence and as that grew so too did the noise levels! My parents had a ‘don’t knock it ‘til you try it’ policy and encouraged me to give every available activity a try.
From the age of about 3yrs up until I left school I had participated in 17 different sports and activities. I found my true loves were hockey and cricket and I dedicated a great deal of time to these pursuits; captaining my cricket team and playing at a district rep level at both for a time.
After studying, I received a rude welcome to the working world as I found I wasn’t very good at time management or scheduling! After long, taxing days working I came up with reasons not to exercise and my activity would consist only of sporadic walks and the occasional hockey game. In my mid twenties, I met my husband who was not very active either but was keen to get into tramping and wanted to give strength training a try. We lifted weights seriously at least three times a week for several years and both saw amazing changes in our physical and mental states. However, he took up a new job which was quite a distance from our gym and the training fell by the way side. After another year of inactivity later, and I was generally feeling pretty unhappy.
Most of my barriers seemed to come from a lack of self belief and worrying too much about what others might think of me. I told myself I shouldn’t do things as I didn’t want to come last, I’d be embarrassed if I didn’t know what to do et cetera. At the start of 2018 I did a lot of learning around reducing anxiety and stress management. I decided that I was not the best version of me that there is and made a start on self development. I realized that I was just wasting time and it was boring being comfortable and doing the same things over and over.
I began my most recent physical activity journey when a workmate had started attending a women’s only bootcamp with great success and she invited me along. A year later I’ve seen changes in my body, gained confidence, fitness and strength and I have never looked back! Additionally, a friend talked me into signing up to run a half marathon with her but she was too sick to do it. Although the idea of going alone made me quite anxious I decided to be brave and just go and find out what running events are all about. I didn’t run a great time but I felt a huge sense of achievement at starting, not to mention finishing! I began to really step out of my comfort zone and started finding out new things about myself and trying new things…
I discovered that the running community is generally a very supportive, friendly bunch of people and now I try to extend that to other new runners. I’m now convinced that I am not in competition with anyone and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks anyway. I know I’m never going to win races but as long as I am trying my best to be a better me than I was yesterday then I am winning at life.
Currently, my main activity is running and I try to attend as many of the great events we have all over NZ as I can, particularly those of half marathon distance. In saying that though, I’m the type that gets bored easily so I like to have lots of variation in my activities! I try to fit in some activity every day whether it’s a Youtube yoga video, a HIIT, boxing or strength training session at bootcamp, kayaking, a tramp/hike or a run.
At first my main reason for exercising (like many females) was weight loss and I focused purely on that. However, I soon realized that my feelings of worry diminished whenever I was active. My attention is turned from the stress at work and pondering what to have for dinner, to the workout itself. Rather than sapping all my energy, the break from worry helps me return to any issues with a fresh perspective. After being active I find myself to be in a more positive mindset and have more energy, and this flows into all areas of my life.
The activities I participate in all provide me with something different physically and mentally. Tramping out in the bush and camping overnight helps increase strength and endurance and makes me feel brave and capable. Yoga brings not only increased flexibility but is a great stress reliever and way to touch base with emotions and take notice of how I am feeling. I love Bootcamp for the laughs, the socialising and the support from like-minded women in a safe, comfortable space. And running is a great way to have a bit of ‘me’ time, to go out and burn off energy, think through issues and of course become stronger and fitter while doing so. Also, crossing the finish line at an event with crowds cheering, photographers snapping and your supporters waiting is an experience that’s hard to beat!
This year I hope to increase my running distance and complete a full marathon or possibly a 50km race. I would like to start playing cricket again and have just started learning to play golf. My big, scary but exciting challenge for the year is to go whitewater rafting.
My advice, is that if something interests you don’t be afraid to try it out! Don't hold back because you are afraid of what others may think. Most of the time they're either worrying about the same thing or applauding you for giving it a go!
Look out for group and club open days when you can trial an activity with other beginners with no pressure. You’re more likely to stick to something if you find it fun so don’t endure an activity just because you feel you need to exercise – there are so many options out there and it just means you haven’t found the one for you yet!
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – starting small is still a start!
"Going to the gym and being physically active makes me feel alive and motivated"
"The rush you get from being active, and achieving your physical goals, is unmeasurable"
"I love the feeling when you're all sweaty, tired and out of breath because you know you've tried your best and pushed yourself as far as you could"
"I like getting fit, competing and winning medals. I like to have big strong muscles"
"So often as a mum you are doing things for other people, so being physically active makes me feel good in that I’m doing something positive for myself"
"I enjoy the social aspect of being physically active, when it’s not too serious and it’s just about learning new skills or getting out of the house and having fun"
“I don't like sitting around and being bored. I love participating in team sport and putting goals in place to achieve.”
“Never give up, keep pushing even when times are hard, and love yourself. Find your passion and grow because your only competition is yourself”
“Being active is important to me. I want to live a healthy life and movement is a big part of that”
"For me, sport and physical activity has offered me opportunities to make friends for life and memories I will never forget"
"I’m now convinced that I am not in competition with anyone and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks anyway. I know I’m never going to win races but as long as I am trying my best to be a better me than I was yesterday then I am winning at life"
"Not being the one sitting on the sidelines watching and being able to role model how to stay healthy and fit to my children so that they grow up believing being active is a part of everyday life and sharing all these wonderful adventures with them, it makes my heart sing"
“Quite often when you can’t be bothered or you’re feeling sluggish and tired you can surprise yourself on how well you’ll do. Just get out the door, breathe in some fresh air and take some time for YOU, because you deserve to be HAPPY and HEALTHY!”
“Start out with small steps and milestones like walking around the block without stopping, going to that first group fitness class or jumping in the water for the first time in 10 years or so”
“I feel a lot happier when I'm active. A run or a swim will always clear my head”
“You have got to have a positive attitude and just get out there. Keep moving, stay focused, because life is way too short to waste your time not doing what you love to do. Just do it”
“By valuing ME more, I started to recognise myself and all of my qualities. Now I’m proud of who I am”
“I find I am generally a better human being and can give more when I keep active”
“Being active amazes me at what my body can achieve, after all I have put it through. It amazes me how it can heal”
"Find something that you enjoy doing and make the time to do it. You’re not being selfish; you’re looking after yourself. The best time to start is today"
“Running and working out are my antidote to the everyday stresses of life. When I’m not active I find it harder to switch off and view things in perspective. Sweating through activity means I don’t sweat the small things in life”
“Being active makes me feel like I’m using my body for good. It makes me feel powerful, positive, sweaty, glorious, achy in a good way, and hopeful for the future”
“Running is an outlet for me and I feel as though I am in control when it’s just me and my running shoes”
“I was proud that I was determined enough to start from scratch and have had lots of fun playing in local competitions”
"I didn’t want to be the parent that only ever watched my kids run around and kick a ball – I wanted to be a part of what they were doing"
“Happy is a very well-known word but yet can be described in many ways. To me happy means doing the things you love while not being forced to do them. Sport and keeping physically active are my happy place”
“Overall regular physical activity makes me more positive and happier”
“I feel alive and ready for anything”
“Active, healthy lifestyles aren’t defined by how often you run or go to the gym. Exercise can look like what you want it to be and what fits into your life”
"Just by putting your shoes on and getting out there, you’re being active and doing great things for your wellbeing."
"There’s so much reward to be had by overcoming fear and achieving things you never thought you could – so go for it – and link up with other likeminded women along the way."
"Exercise makes me feel incredible! It makes me feel strong capable and grounded."
"...there is more to life than the aesthetic of your body."
"I am so damn proud of what my body and brain can do for me. It brings me so much joy."
"Feeling confident in my own skin, being stronger and fitter than when I was younger."