Ahhh, People. Shauna sent me this by-request guest post along with a very snazzy photo of a flight attendant. The thing is, as much as I loved the image & long to do Shauna’s bidding, I had to rebel. I adore Shauna. I miss our podcasts. I treasure our friendship. Im honored she would share her words with us. Please to enjoy.
How many times have you heard Carla say, “you have to put on your own oxygen mask first” when it comes to exercise?
I’d always nod my head sagely at that one. Brilliant stuff, Miz! That’s a cracker of an analogy! I know it will really help all those people who put themselves last on their priority list. You know, those really busy people with hordes of kids and/or high-powered careers and/or ailing parents and/or really naughty dogs to take care of?
But it didn’t apply to me. Nothing could come between me and exercise. It had hauled me off the couch and out of clinical depression. I lived for my Spinning and weight training sessions. I also had neither child nor pet, so oxygen-mask-forgetting was for those properly busy people.
Then last year I got a promotion at work and I started Up & Running with my running coach friend Julia Jones, creating awesome e-courses to help women around the world get into running. Suddenly I was genuinely, seriously, joyously busy.
It took awhile to notice the oxygen mask had slipped. I was in a frenzy at my day job, covering for my boss while she was on maternity leave. She worked with high standards and efficiency, so I was determined not to spend the twelve months destroying her good work. Before long I was working my lunch breaks instead of walking them, and swapping evening Spinning for weary flopping on the couch.
Meanwhile at Up & Running, I was in love with the project and our growing community of runners. Julia lives in Italy so we often work together over Skype. A year on I can admit it, I kinda lost myself for awhile there…
“Well, it’s a beautiful Sunday here,” she said after a productive chat, “I’m going out for a run.”
“I’ll be back in two hours.”
“Okaaaay then,” I said, while simmering on the inside, HOW…. DARE… YOU! Don’t you know how much work we have to do? What about this list of twenty-seven totally urgent things? How can you go out and run when all these runners need us!
She returned to Skype with rosy cheeks, buckets of energy and ready for more work. I was still glued to my chair, cranky and resentful as I obsessively tweaked a blog post about the importance of making time for exercise.
Hot and cold, all or nothing; feast or famine – choose your own cliché for my erratic approach to exercise. And the knock-on effect of shoving fitness down the priority list? My eating was sloppy, my sleep was sloppier, and I was a rather moody git to live with.
I should exercise, I’d mutter, I must take better care of myself… I need to get back on track. But should, must and need didn’t inspire me to action. I had to get honest and ask WHY.
“Put on your own oxygen mask first,” our Carla would say. Why do I think I don’t need one?
Sometimes… the logistics of exercise feel too overwhelming to think about.
Sometimes… it feels like an indulgence when there’s so many other things to do.
Sometimes… I just can’t be arsed getting hot and sweaty.
Sometimes… I genuinely deep down believe that what I need isn’t as important as the needs of others.
Sometimes… I’m sh*tscared that I if don’t do everything perfectly and immediately I’ll be outed as a fraud, get fired from my day job, all our lovely Up & Runners will run away, and the world will basically stop turning. Yeah, I think that’s it!
Downloading all that angst onto paper was very cathartic. It looked less scary when written down. Kinda ridiculous, even.
Now what to do with it all? Turn it around with another list, of course. Lists are brilliant. So… why do I need my Exercise Oxygen?
… it takes me out of my head and back into my body
… it brings perspective and insight to whatever’s frazzling me
… it makes me feel foxy and happy in my own skin
… I’m miles more productive afterwards
… it’s like an injection of self-esteem and self-belief
… it makes me feel stronger and excited about life
… the stronger I feel, the more wholeheartedly and generously I give to others
The second list was a magical kick in the pants. I’ve been back in a happy exercise groove for over six months now. Yes, I had to make practical changes too – like getting to bed earlier and signing up for a yoga class five minutes walk from the office that’s too convenient to even dream of skipping. But the most helpful thing is to reading that list and keep asking myself WHY. The reasons are so personally delicious and compelling that I grab that oxygen mask and gulp away.
Do you ever find it hard to put your mask on first? Why do you need your exercise oxygen?
Shauna Reid writes at Dietgirl.org and co-created Up & Running online running courses with coach Julia Jones. They run e-courses for new and seasoned runners in 5K, 10K or Half Marathon distances, all with unlimited coaching support, kickass training plans and a wildly supportive online community.
**This code can’t be used with any other discount codes and expires on Sunday 10 June 2012