Tanya's blog #1

Survivor

Get off your Ar*e

We are living in a lazy generation, with a decreasing need to exit our front doors. We can watch films on our computers and phones; we can order groceries online and have them delivered; heck, we can have gourmet meals delivered right to our doorstep, albeit by possibly a Deliveroo cyclist with a massive insulated backpack. Even though the expansion of all the new technology and enterprises is helping us move forward economically, us as people, are actually moving less.

Studies have shown that in the past 50 years, people in the UK have become a lot less active; many people choosing to work from home, and the introduction of television and computers has kept children cooped up inside, instead of playing out in the sunshine. The numbers show it: movement is declining and obesity is on the rise. But it isn’t only the physically obvious increase in our waistlines that has changed. We, as a population, have also become more emotionally depressed, and our lack of exercise and of generally being outside and our disconnect from nature may be a contributor to this.

Exercise and movement releases “happy chemicals” from the brain. These are called endorphins. When they access cells of the body, these chemicals help to reduce the feeling of pain. This is where the phrase “walk it off” takes a literal meaning. Walking can actually reduce the feeling of pain, in addition to clearing your mind of negative thoughts. In addition, endorphins can help to improve your mood and generally make you feel happier about yourself. With regular exercise, this feeling of happiness increases along with the amount of endorphins released. This also has a positive impact on your self-esteem.

Myself; I am a short-statured 22 year old who has a weight problem, albeit not as bad as it could be. I have a BMI of 30.7, which is in the “obese” category. This information alone doesn’t do any wonders for my self-confidence and, with too much contemplation, can leave me lying on the sofa with a tub of Ben and Jerrys, crying about my weight. The truth is, I’m not that “fat”. I’m a size 14 (16 in some places), but I care about becoming a lot healthier. I have found that every time I take a positive step towards my health goal, I make better choices about my lifestyle.

For instance, I recently decided that I wanted to join a gym. For those over the age of 16 and are in education, I’d recommend looking for gyms that offer student discounts – this can save a lot of money. Once I had paid for my membership, I decided I wanted to try out a range of new classes. For me, knowing that I have paid out of my own pocket for the membership gets me out to the gym more to make the most of it.

For others, this may not be an option. But there are plenty of ways to get off your arse (pardon my Irish). It’s all about getting that heart rate up. Going for a brisk walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week is a start, if your lifestyle is on the sedentary side. For others, bike rides are a good option, as well as a run. For me, I do not enjoy running. Rather, I would much prefer to endure a bikini wax listening to Jedward, than go for a run. I choose options that suit me, such as Zumba. I prefer doing activities which don’t feel like exercise, and that work for me. I much prefer to endure the suffering with others, than to sweat my face off on my own.

And it’s not all about “getting on your feet”. After all, we British win most of our Olympic medals sitting down: cycling, rowing, sailing, horse riding, and water sports. For me, it is all about the motivation. I have a long way to go to get my goal. I use the initiative “THIS GIRL CAN” to get me through the workout, and to keep me motivated. My change in mood is clearly noticeable after a couple of active days; I feel happier and more content. It all makes sense, the happier I am, the more likely I am to get out and about, and keep moving.

We are living in a lazy generation. This is a fact, but facts can change over time. I reckon that now is about the right sort of time, don’t you?