I hardly remember a time when I wasn’t trying to change my body.
Over the years I have tried many times to change it to make it smaller, to take up less space.
After the car accident I wanted to change it to make it work again. I wanted to be able to walk properly, to wear heels, to run. I wanted the strength back in my right cross and hook, I wanted to feel my haymaker again. And some of those things happened with the help of an amazing physio (thank you NHS) and I remain grateful for them.
Then a whole bunch of life stuff happened and I found it very difficult to maintain the good habits and routines. Getting started again seemed as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Do you remember me banging on about Gretchen Rubin and her Four Tendencies and how life changing it is? This is another one of those moments. Hurray for Gretchen and her freaking awesome book!
By understanding that I was an Obliger type and that the best way for me to succeed was with accountability, a whole sequence fell into place in my head. The times when I had made headway in my fitness journey were the times when other people were involved. So I needed to either find a friend who was super committed and who would come over to my house to work out when Tilly was in bed, and/or I needed a personal trainer.
Just so happened that I was at the local business show and footfall was low and this ray of sunshine bounded in with a bright orange t shirt, huge smile and a box of fruit. Jo was there as a Sugarsmart volunteer and gave me her card, but only after I’d said at least twice that I really wanted it.
I sat on it for a few days, then I looked at the book on the kitchen table and it seemed to be mocking me. I sent her a Facebook message, and the rest is history.
* * *
When I started working with Jo last year, she asked me how much weight I wanted to lose, because this was usually what her clients were trying to achieve. I said “I don’t care about being thin, I want to look like I could kick your arse” and she grinned at me. A few weeks later it became all about the Year of the Cartwheel.
I never did a cartwheel as a kid. Not one. Why? Looking back, I think it was because none of the girls who could do them looked like me, and I never saw my big brother do one, so I didn’t believe I could.
For decades it had never occurred to me that it was in my head. Then my daughter was at her gymnastics club and when the instructors said it was time to learn cartwheels I let words fall out of my mouth. It was one of those split reality things where you can hear the words coming out while inside your head you are screaming at yourself to just shut up and stop talking. I said “Mummy’s never been able to do one of those”.
Her little face. It was like I’d told her Supergirl couldn’t really fly.
We forget of course, while we’re busy looking at all of our flaws, that in the eyes of our young children we are perfect. So if Mummy can’t do something, logically she won’t be able to either.
Sure enough, it took her ages to get it. She got there, but I had thoughtlessly planted a seed of doubt in her mind that slowed her down.
This was the moment though, looking at her little face and how confused and suddenly worried she looked, that I decided. I was going to do a cartwheel. By my 42nd birthday, I would do a mother fucking cartwheel.
That’s on Friday by the way.
So what have we done to prepare for this momentous occasion?
Well Jo and I have been working out on Tuesday afternoons in term time, and a handful of Friday mornings, for about a year. We have done many warm ups and we have swung, lifted and balanced many kettle bells. We have also done crunches, taekwondo kicks and this evil manouevre with dumbbells that I call Blood Eagles because we both like Vikings and it’s bloody painful.
I started off with a 4kg weight and could barely walk for a couple of days after the session. Over time I have moved up through the weights to include the 6kg, then the 8kg and 10kg and last week I started including the 12kg as well.
I feel like a badass while I’m with her, and a legend when we finish. She does every move of the workout with me, well except for when she’s doubled over laughing at one of my witty comments. For this is how we do it. We laugh. A lot. It gets us through the pain barriers required to keep building muscle.
So, will I do a cartwheel this week? Too fucking right I will.