Every morning when I wake up, I check Instagram like the morning news. But ever since lockdown was announced my feed has been suffocated with daily workouts and exercises which can easily be done at home.
At first I felt motivated to keep in shape. I saved the short clips of various HIIT sessions with the good intention of following through with them at some point … but I never did. And the more I saw everyone else exercising at home, the more my anxiety built and my self-worth felt like it dwindled more and more.
I consider myself mildly athletic (at times). I love running for my mental health and going to the gym and I used to do a lot of yoga. I struggle a lot with anxiety and depression and when I can get myself there, exercising really helps me. Unfortunately I’m plagued with anxiety triggered by exercising. The irony is not lost on me. So instead of using all this new free time to go running, or engage with hour long HIIT sessions, I just … didn’t. And I felt my body begin to change in response.
At first I spiralled. I began to despise what I saw in the mirror and cried over the minute pounds that had gathered prominently around my hips and my stomach. I didn’t understand why I just couldn’t be one of the women who got up at 7am and did a two hour workout, ate a minimal breakfast and then went for a 10km run. I wanted to so badly but I just couldn’t. I was so miserable in myself.
But I’m reminding myself that my body is carrying me through a global crisis. And I know I’m not the only one who needs reminding of this. I don’t want anyone to loathe themselves at this point in time. There’s so much happening in the world and everyone should have the right to feel at home in their own skin.
You are not a failure for scrolling past online workouts without feeling the need to punish yourself into doing it. You are not worth any less if your body has changed during this period. You are not any different.
Instead of squeezing myself into jeans that feel tight and remind me of how I’ve changed, I’ve started actively being kind. I wear looser clothes that are more forgiving right now. I dress myself in a way that makes me feel good instead of trying to desperately hold onto the image of me pre-lockdown. I love my curves and my figure. I eat well and it’s a sign of my privilege and security that I have the ability to eat well.
My body will always bounce back after a hard time and I know this is no different. When lockdown is eased and gyms are open, I can start working on myself again. But for now, our bodies are carrying us through a pandemic.