I was very active growing up. I was in an athletics club at five, I played netball throughout my school years and I did gymnastics for a few years throughout primary school. I was pretty active in school sports and a good cross country runner. In my final years at high school I was involved in Dragon Boating with my school as well as with the Tokoroa Senior Dragon Boating team. I loved trying new sports and I loved being part of teams.
My physical activity levels changed a lot when I left high school. Apart from having the odd year playing indoor netball, my activity levels were pretty low. After I had my first child in 2008 and my second in 2011, and I felt like my body changed dramatically. I knew I needed to do some kind of activity but I wasn’t sure what. In 2014, I decided to join the gym so I could be more active with my kids instead of being a couch potato and using my weight and tiredness as an excuse to sit around and do nothing.
If I’m honest, my biggest barrier to being physically active has been myself. I liked to comfort eat and liked to have drinks with my family and friends resulting in hangovers and bad eating habits. I conquered that barrier in 2016 by making better choices and prioritising a healthier lifestyle through exercise and food, and then in April of 2017 I had a nodule appear on my thyroid resulting in quite a big lump poking out of my throat.
So, while I had overcome my mental barrier, I then found myself having to battle a physical one: an underactive thyroid. My husband working shift work also means that I often need to look after my two girls (6 & 9), and this can make it difficult for me to fit physical activity around a demanding family life. There are lots of things that could stop me being active, but I don’t let them…
I joined a local gym that allows me to take my girls with me. They have an area where my girls can sit and I can see them while I workout, which is awesome as it has helped me not to use them as an excuse to stay home. I also started a 12 week challenge at the beginning of the year, which gave me access to an online page which linked me to other people like me who were doing the challenge. To combat the fatigue and low energy levels associated with my Thyroid issue, I have upped my game at the gym and started doing Zumba, HITT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes and personal training sessions. I’m at the gym pretty consistently five days a week.
Despite the challenges I face, I choose to be physically active to lead a healthier lifestyle for myself and for my family. My husband is quite active and in the past I have felt like I was the one dragging us down in terms of getting out there and doing things as a family. I want to be a good role model for our girls and be the mum on the sidelines watching and encouraging them and not the mum at home on the couch.
Secondly, I exercise to keep my energy levels high and feel like I’m alive and getting the most out of my day and my life, and not letting the waves of fatigue I experience keep me down. My gym is like my second home and family, and my kids love going as well. It’s a real whaanau environment and I leave on a real high, feeling like I’ve achieved something when I walk out the door.
My advice to other women wanting to get up and moving is to find something you will enjoy. Find a sport, a team or a gym that you feel comfortable at. I met so many more people when I joined the Zumba class at my gym and just loved going…it didn’t feel like exercise.
If you’re a mum that needs to take her kids, find somewhere like I did where you can take them. Do some investigating and some googling, and talk to people and find out what might suit your lifestyle. If you’re home bound or on a budget, then look on YouTube or google exercises. You can do a Zumba workout from the comfort of your lounge. The hardest part is starting!! My journey has had many ups and downs and taken quite a few years, but if I can do it, you can do it too!
"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."