My son and ex-husband tell me I’m an addict.
I’ll admit … I once was. In my late teens and early 20’s I was completely obsessed with exercise. Now, I manage my addictive tendencies with daily vigilance.
My battles weren’t pretty.
I remember a day as a young mum, when I had two toddlers and a sink full of dishes, where I absolutely lost it. There was hysterical yelling from nowhere. I realised it was coming from me.
My mother’s jaw dropped and my husband abandoned his beer. “I hate this. You guys don’t get it,” I cried and yelled as the kids scattered.
I remember my Mum’s loving arms around me as I sobbed uncontrollably. Much worse than any 2-year-old tantrum. It was primal. Intense. “I’m going crazy! I need to get out,” I screamed, losing control completely. “I’m exhausted … I can’t go before they wake up – it’s too f***ing early. YOU won’t let me go… You don’t get it … I NEED to walk”.
“Hey, relax, it’ll be okay,” said hubby, slouched in the leather recliner.
Mum is wiser. “You go darling, I’ll look after the kids and the dishes.”
And I went.
Runners on … out into the fresh air … outside … to the beach … I walked to sanity.
It has been 25 years since I was addicted to exercise.
I think it came from my youth. I was so obsessed with gymnastics that I became National Champion at 16 and a borderline bulimic by 20.
Eventually, pregnancy motivated me to manage my food obsession, and motherhood ended my exercise addiction. There just wasn’t time for me and my issues anymore. It took me five years to work out how to get exercise back into my life, and 20 years to understand why I had to make time for exercise.
So when I saw all the online debates criticising the mother who posted this photo, I was confused.
Because what I have learned is that it is NOT selfish for mums to exercise… quite the opposite.
In fact’s selfish NOT to exercise.
There is now more research than ever to back this up. Nearly one eighth of the population suffers from some level of depression, anxiety or mental illness. And exercise is a known cure for depression.