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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the correlation between mental health and physical health; exercise, food and wellness. I don’t think I’ve realised before just how intrinsically linked our physical wellbeing is to our mental.
The thing is, I think we all have our mental ups and downs. I know I certainly do. I’m 80% shiny happy people, but that other 20% of the time I find tough, whether it’s through work stress, child worries or plain old depressing winter. Life is hard, and when it’s not going the way we think it should do it reflects on our mental states, that’s for sure.
Which is why I try to prioritise my wellness. When my body is well, I tend to find my mind is well as well. It’s all well!
Last year, when I turned 30, I was what I guess some people would call super healthy. Juicing every day, cutting out carbohydrates, exercising three times a week. And yeah, I looked great naked. I had a big birthday coming up so I wanted to make sure that at midnight on July 25th I was happy with my looks, my career, my life.
I was, at that time! Very happy.
I took a photograph of myself on the morning of my birthday at 6am and just about to jump in a cab (I put clothes on first) before meeting my best friend at Soho House to enjoy a day of champagne and swimming pools. It was amazing and I looked and felt fantastic. Welcome 30, I thought.
But my overwhelming memory of that time is of always being slightly hungry, of depriving myself things I wanted (like bread, cheese and tiramisu). What’s the point in looking good naked if you can’t enjoy an excellent slice of sourdough?
Later that year I was invited to have my picture taken and write a piece for Speedo, to go in their Swimming magazine that gets circulated to customers. I did it, because I still looked great naked, and how often do you get asked to have your photograph taken in swimwear for Speedo? It was an incredible experience and I would do it all over again in a shot.
However: then winter came, I re-discovered bread and Burrata, went to the gym a bit less and started putting on some pounds. Not a huge amount – 8 perhaps – enough so that my tighter jeans don’t fit any more and I can feel my bottom wobble as I peg it up the stairs.
But the point is that I’m still happy. Happier, even, than I was with the body that I thought was perfect. I’m a size 10 now rather than a 6 but I like that I no longer have sharp edges… I’m more rounded, a bit more womanly. I have a bottom, curves, slightly bigger boobs.
And do you know what? It’s because I have started prioritising my wellness over my skinniness. If I want to eat pasta pesto because I’m too tired to cook anything else I will eat it, and I crucially won’t give myself a hard time over it. If I want to order a burrata I will (and I do! I do I do I do!!). I’ll choose the chips over the salad, the cheese over the low-fat nonsense.
It feels liberating. Like I have seen the light: health isn’t how thin you are, it’s how happy you are on the inside, and how healthy on the out!
Which is why I’m SO happy to be working with David Lloyd Leisure Clubs over the next six months to learn more about my own personal wellness relationship. Losing weight isn’t going to be the goal here: it’s spending time together as a family, making sure we’re all happy and healthy and enjoying being active. I’m really excited to focus on our wellness as a family.
I’ve been a member of my local David Lloyd for the last three years and it’s one of my favourite places to be. I’ve spend many hours beasting myself in their free weights section and putting in time on the cross-trainer, and I’m really excited to see how my attitude towards fitness and well-being changes by having to actually stop and think about what I want to achieve in not just the gym, but in the pool and classes, too.
As a single parent, their kids clubs have long been saviours of mine and I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days over half term in clubs with some fellow bloggers and their families while our kids were happily entertained. David Lloyd offers a plethora of kids activities included with their memberships which I always try to take advantage of when I can – even if just to snatch a coffee with myself. All kids activities during term time are free of charge, and though the holiday clubs attract a nominal fee it really is invaluable to be able to leave your children in a setting they know well and trust.
So, on to the facilities that I’m going to be making the most of while I enjoy being the best version of myself…. our club has the most amazing pool that both kids love (they both learned to swim at the lessons offered by David Lloyd) – and there’s an outdoor pool that really comes in to its own in the summer hols. You’ll be able to find me there once a week, swimming with my monsters and maybe having the odd cheeky float in the adult’s only jacuzzi.
I’m going to be in and out of the gym but I won’t give myself a hard time about it. At half term I had my first go on the SYNRGY 360 equipment and LOVED it – a really fun whole-body workout without the boredom I get from long stretches of cardio. Brilliant.
I’m also going to make sure I get to one yoga class a week. I adore yoga, but it’s the first thing that goes when I’m busy with work or life, though it makes such a difference to my mental well-being and physical strength and flexibility (check me out with Adrienne and Susie above looking all profesh and bendy).
Then there’s all the things I haven’t tried yet – spinning! Pilates! Hardcore Kundalini Yoga, HIIT! I’m excited to go into all these classes with the aim of being fit and healthy, not skinny and craving crusty bread.
So buckle up, I’m about to go against everything I thought was true about diets, eating as much cheese as I want with a healthy injection of exercise. Who’s with me?!