I’ve never liked running. It’s never been on my ‘To Do’ list for the day. I’ve never before 2011 woken up and thought to myself ‘Let’s venture outside in sports gear with no make-up on and run for 30 minutes straight’. Running was something someone else did. I fixed my weight my way: by dieting and under eating. Of course, that changed when I was in London.
I can always blame the schooling system for my lack of enthusiasm with regards to sports. I’m not entirely sure how PE works in other countries, but in Bulgaria they make a habit of measuring your fitness level by forcing you to run 300m for under a minute and 50m for under..however many seconds. To top it all off, this monumental event happens at the end of the school year, namely around June 29th, namely when it’s 35 degrees outside. Or do 100 sit ups with no time for practice. You virtually go from doing nothing to busting your core at the blink of an eye. While I fully comprehend that finding the faults in the Bulgarian schooling system isn’t the topic of this post, I believe it was directly linked to my disliking for anything that involved me moving from A to B. Running was the equivalent of fifteen or so girls lined up next to each other, waiting for the PE teacher to shout from across the track ‘Go’, to then sprint in said direction, red-faced and sweating profusely. Not attractive, huh?
Not to mention we didn’t have a choice of sports we could do as an extra curricular activity. You couldn’t join a volleyball team, or take up swimming. There were no dance classes and no one had thought to introduce rock climbing (even though our town has mountains..). In my book, sports was reduced to the unattainable good mark. PE was the subject you were completely unprepared for. And yet, you could fail your whole education because you couldn’t push yourself up from the ground 70 consecutive times, or score 10/10 on your ‘basketball’ exam.
You can then imagine the wave of shock I was washed with when I first stepped into Sports Direct to purchase running shoes, a pair of leggings and a top. It was as if I was now operating behind enemy lines and was exposing myself to a danger of unmatched proportions. Most fellow humans I encountered there were well aware of what they were after. I must have looked really lost, because I was asked on multiple occasions whether I needed any help. And every time I said ‘No, I’m okay, thanks’. Rubbish! Anywho. This enemy-littered territory wasn’t so bad after all and, equipped with a beginner’s running outfit, I was ready to brave the wilderness of the local park. Bewildered that I didn’t drop dead on the fifth minute, I continued for twenty instead. It was there that – with the cold air in my lungs, classic rock music blasting in my ears and a pony tail that was falling apart – I felt I was alive. Apparently, lying on the sofa with an empty tummy and a miserable mind wasn’t what being alive consisted of. Apparently, it consisted of getting up, shutting down all electronic devices, dressing the part and ..well, moving.
Pretty much every morning, after breakfast, I routinely ran in the park. I switched the running experience up a bit to keep entertained and challenged. I ran uphill, downhill..on grass and on a path. What used to be stressful became stress – relieving. I learnt to enjoy the initial struggle. And the burn. And the slight soreness after it. When I returned to Bulgaria I had to modify my exercise routine because the park wasn’t an option anymore. At home, I have a stationary bike. Hopping on it is my main cardio workout at the moment. I’ll write a separate post on what I currently do to fulfil my daily exercise needs and more in order to get the body I really want.
It may have been the Bulgarian schooling system that discouraged me from working out, but in terms of food, I have no one to blame but myself. As much as leading an inactive life is bad for one’s health, starvation – in my humble opinion – is worse. I wouldn’t have caused damage to my body, if only I’d had a well-balanced diet. I’d have had clearer skin, if I’d received the nutrients I needed, especially during puberty. I’d have performed better at school, if I hadn’t skipped meals.
I stopped eating breakfast aged ten. I have no idea why; I can’t recall what prompted me to refuse to eat in the morning. Perhaps I wasn’t hungry before the morning school shift. Perhaps I observed my parents who – still to this day – eat a minuscule amount of food which they call breakfast. I’m certain, however, that at this point it wasn’t about losing weight. But once I did start dieting two years later, not eating breakfast was quite handy. I was convinced that by NOT eating breakfast, I increased my chances of losing weight. There was no power in the world that could sway me. There was not a person who could possibly know better. Morning shifts must have been horrendous for my body. I crawled out of bed at 6:45 and was at school at least until 12:40; in later grades, often until 1:20pm or 2pm. And no, no food. Skipping breakfast was my chance to reduce the number of calories I was consuming.
I can’t tell you precisely when I started having breakfast. It was very much around the time when I made the decision to become vegetarian. As stated in my previous post, I did research meat substitutes and what food groups I had to pay particular attention to. With this new attitude towards food, there appeared the notion of living actively and participating in (mild) physical activities. With this new attitude towards sports, I was suddenly intrigued by the possible connection between a fit body and a calm mind. Every single article I read – about an improved lifestyle, happiness coupled with less stress, you name it – mentioned that eating breakfast was essential. Well, the articles emphasised numerous important points, but we’ll discuss those later. One word kept creeping in: breakfast, breakfast, breakfast. So, I said to myself ‘Fine then, world. Let’s see what the big deal about breakfast is!’. I’ve never looked back ever since. It’s been about three years now. And I can tell you in all honesty that I’ve had breakfast every single day.
And let me reassure you: I’ll never skip breakfast again. Starting my day with a nutritious meal is among the best, life-defining resolutions I’ve ever made. It may mean leaving my bed at 4am in the morning, but I’ll do it. It can, and often does, involve me preparing breakfast the night before, but I’ll do it. I don’t leave the house without eating first. In general, my understanding of food and the way I treat food has changed dramatically. I’m relaxed about it now; I look forward to eating; I rarely burden myself with counting calories unless it’s to ensure I’m eating enough, etc.
For a detailed description of what I eat and drink on a daily basis without worrying about weight, plus a post explaining all the benefits of the first meal and why it’s absolutely paramount to have it, check my blog again soon!