I’ve been moving a lot lately. Physically, emotionally, spiritually… But the thing that people have noticed most of all is my increase in exercise. I am now very into the gym [who even am I] and I’ve started hiking again.

I’ve signed up to walk 26 miles from Eastbourne to Lewes [or possibly Lewes to Eastbourne, not entirely sure at this stage!] in August 2018. So I’ve got to get some hill walking in every week between now and then.

Luckily, I have several friends to accompany me on these training walks. One of them, my friend D, is actually going to do the thing with me! Marvellous. But last Saturday I walked with H. We’re lucky to live in and around the Surrey Hills, so we took to Box Hill [famous for cycling in the 2012 Olympics and such like cycling events] for an 8 mile loop, clearly marked out with helpful red signposts.

Excellent!

When we pulled up to the car park it was empty, which is essentially unheard of. I turned to H and said “That’s weird, it is Saturday isn’t it? Why is it so empty?”

H replied, “Probably because it’s freaking FREEZING Sian, and most sensible people are in bed on a Saturday morning!!”

Oh. Right. Yeah. That. Eeeeekk. Sorry babe.

There were some ill conceived half suggestions from H of doing a shorter walk, which clearly I ignored because I’m determined on a Saturday morning! And off we went.

It was quite muddy.

I mean, it even started raining. H fell down a couple of times on some of the descents. She tried to blame the dog for pulling her over – likely story! [I’m not sure she’s going to come out to play with me again tbh!]

But it wasn’t until the final hill climb, right at the end, that we really outdid ourselves.

Now when I say it was muddy – I mean it was lose-your-boot-and-all-of-your-dignity muddy. And that is exactly what we did. At the bottom of the final climb my feet went out from underneath me and I found myself face to face with the mud. It was glorious. At first I maintained a plank position but after some searching around for a resolution I realised there was no getting out of this unscathed, so I had to embrace the mud, and my knees sank to the ground. I laughed uncontrollably as the dog tried to wrestle me for my scarf and the mud took hold anywhere it could.

Soggy and rolling around in the mud on the side of Box Hill. Happy Saturday!

At one point I thought I might have to crawl up the the rest of the way! But once I regained control of myself, I managed to get to my feet and continue onwards.

Of course, not long after that H also ended up rolling around in the mud on the side of Box Hill! The dog was genuinely elated at our apparent willingness to play with him!

It was hilarious.

At one stage during this final climb, H turned around and said to me over her shoulder “You know, most people would call this preposterous!”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my friend actually used that P word. Preposterous. In that moment I couldn’t have loved her more. There we are, windswept, wet, wailing with laughter, and caked in mud, and she’s hollering over her shoulder words from a bloody Jane Austen novel.

Perfection.

So why have I signed up to 26 mile hilly hike along the South Downs in August? And why have I been hitting the gym so frequently?

Well, because I can.

Usually, while I am trying to persuade another friend to “join the gym and come play” they respond with some heartbreaking remark about how they aren’t good enough, or that they’re too fat or unfit and it’d be embarrassing. They seem to miss the part about ‘playing’ entirely.

I only do things that I think are fun. Or, things that I can turn into fun. Otherwise, what is even the point? I understand that the gym isn’t everyone’s idea of fun – it never used to be mine. But I love going with friends because it is just like playtime. We laugh and joke and move and try to beat each other at different games. We all excel at different things, and we learn from each other. None of us are athletes, none of us are going to be on the front of Vogue in the foreseeable future. But all of us have miraculous bodies that carry us through this life and should be treated with respect, nourished and cared for accordingly.

I gym and hike because I love myself. I love my body and I love what it does for me. I love that I have the freedom to roam around the countryside and climb up and down hills at a whim. I love that my lungs and my heart and my legs allow me to do this. Sometimes it is slow progress, sometimes I can’t chat and climb a hill at the same time because I’m out of breath! But I know I can still get to the top if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and breathe! Going slowly is still making progress.

Monday 12 February 2018 was a significant anniversary for me. It was the 2 year anniversary of me moving out of my ex boyfriend’s flat and back in with my parents. [You can read about that in more detail here]

Two years ago, on 13 February 2016 I thought my life was over. My entire world had crumbled around my ears and I did not want to participate anymore. I did not want to be around for the sunrise the next morning.

I was also 5 stone overweight and I hated myself. I hated the entire world. I did not understand how I had gotten to where I was and I wanted it all to stop.

On Monday this week as I was getting changed from my gym kit into my PJs I looked at myself in the mirror and cried. For the first time in my entire life I was truly grateful and proud of my body. I remembered how far I had come from the self loathing, self abuse, edge of the world feeling two years ago, and I cried.

My body is amazing. It walks up hills; it almost out-performs the boys on the rowing machine; it lifts weights; it cuddles my friends to show them how much I love them; it protects my heart, and it carries my soul in this lifetime – and I love it.

I can’t imagine ever treating it badly again.

I exercise because I love myself. I do what I find fun. I push my physical and mental limits by moving my body, and I enjoy it.

I do not exercise to punish myself for eating.

Exercise is not punishment. Even if I’ve eaten a bar of chocolate the day before [70% dark chocolate still counts as sugar free right? Don’t judge me!]

I exercise to show gratitude for the body I’ve been blessed with, for the miracles it performs daily and the miracles it holds within.

I exercise to maintain my mental wellbeing; to surprise myself; to explore my limits; to get stronger and healthier, and to be the best version of myself I can be.

I want to live a long life. I want to know the privilege of old age. And I want to age well. So I’m looking after my body now.

Stop using the F word [fat] and start focusing on making healthy choices, and putting one foot in front of the other until you reach the top. Even if you go slowly – it’s all progress.

Big love, bright light

Sian xxx