What does fitness mean to me?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "fitness" has several meanings:
- The condition of being physically fit and healthy.
- Biology: An organism's ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.
- The quality of being suitable to fulfil a particular role or task.
When I speak to many others, their perception is different entirely. When I googled "fitness" a whole host of images appeared, mostly a six-pack and gun show and some slightly pornograpic. It's no wonder the public's perception of fitness is so distorted when this is what is paraded all over health and fitness magazines, websites and social media. Phrases on the front of health and fitness magazines are always the same: "lean" "diet plan" "six pack in 10 minutes". Is this a true representation of fitness for most of us? Perfection?
When I was younger, "heroin chic" a la Kate Moss was the aspirational body, so I ate little more than a packet of crisps and a salad a day to try and stay skinny. Today, "fitspo" is a huge phemonenon thanks to the plethora of social media and health and fitness magazines and blogs. Whilst not always a bad thing, taking inspiration to "be in shape" or "be able to play a game of football" is a little different to extreme leanness or "being shredded". At nearly 40, I don't compare myself to young twenty-somethings on social media, but many do, and as a mother, this is something I'm hugely aware of when it comes to protecting my children's future mental health.
Aesthetics used to mean everything to me. It would be dishonest if I said I didn't care at all, because I do, but too much onus on it in the past made me miserable. It feels good to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with what I've got, but most of that is due to a change in mindset and a much healthier attidude to nutrition and exercise. I didn't much care for health as a youngster, but, as many do throughout their life, my perception of fitness has changed dramatically over time.
Mummy "me" time makes me happy
Becoming a mother was a big turning point for me in terms of my attitude towards fitness. There is now no space in my mind to scrutinise my body all the time and I definitely don't have the time to thrash out a workout whenever I want. Exercise has become my time for myself, a time where I can look after me, whether that be in the gym or on my yoga mat. I work from home and travel around to personal training clients. Most days are spent either working, the school run, entertaining the todder, cleaning, washing, being a referee(!) and feeding the brood. Heading to the gym, local crossfit box or to yoga and being around like-minded people who know me and not as "someone's mum" makes me feel like I have a bit of a life outside of parenting.
Exercise lifts my spirits and pushes the cloud overhead that sometimes lurks to one side. No drug is as powerful as exercise for me. Whether it be lifting heavier weights, improving WOD times or acheiving goals, they all provide me with a huge sense of acheivement and that all important endorphin rush. Spending time just "being" on my yoga mat gives me space to breathe, my mind to slow down and tap into my soul. Exercise and restoration of the mind is a huge component of fitness for me. I have more patience, am less stressed, have the mental clarity to get my job done well and am happier: I am a better mother, wife, friend and coach.
Healthy, strong and functionally fit body
We all know that being fit is good for the body. It improves health and prevents disease. I like to feel healthy and personally want to grow old gracefully with a strong and healthy body that is free of disease.
Being physically strong, supple and fit with have two children under the age of six makes life a whole lot easier. Shoulder carries, piggy-backs, swinging and throwing them up and down and chasing them around the supermarket would be bloody hard work otherwise.
To be a role model to my children
It goes without saying that all parents want their children to grow up happy and healthy and feeling as though they can acheive anything. Whatever happens to them in life, the very least I can do is provide a solid foundation for them. A healthy home environment will hopefully instill healthy habits for life.
So what does "fitness" mean to me?
Essentially, to me the word "fitness" refers to being healthy: body, mind and soul. It is not about being perfect. It is enjoying nourishing food, a glass of wine, training in a way that I enjoy, resting when I need to, all of which enable me to be more relaxed, a more grounded person, better mother, friend and coach and being happy with the way that I am but not being afraid of bettering myself. After all, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be more.
What does fitness mean to you?