How Joining A Local Football Team Helped Me Mentally, Socially and Physically

Get Social with Sports
Written by Fiona Jenkins

Throw in a stressful, if rewarding job, and my tendency to eat to alleviate pressure and soon I was the heaviest I had ever been.

Throw in a stressful, if rewarding job, and my tendency to eat to alleviate pressure and soon I was the heaviest I had ever been. I share why and how I’ve grown mentally, socially and physically by joining a team.

by Ingy The Wingy

My weight is something I have always struggled with. Since my teenage years, I have alternated between periods of extreme self-discipline and positivity with stretches of complete indulgence and negativity. However, due to the combination of youth and an active lifestyle, my weight never reached a point where it became a real issue, outside of my own head that is.

However, having left university and moved to London, I lost my regular exercise playing for my Uni’s football team. Also, through only being able to afford a shared-flat on the outskirts of Greater London, I suddenly had a sizable and exhausting commute that stunted any desire I had to freshly prepare meals. Throw in a stressful, if rewarding job, and my tendency to eat to alleviate pressure and soon I was the heaviest I had ever been.

Naturally, as many of us do, I found ways to distract myself from my rising weight. Suddenly deciding I liked the baggy look on clothes and rediscovering my love of black, for starters. However soon, after one too many horrific picture tagging’s on Facebook, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was big. Not ugly, not worthless, not stupid but unhealthy and too large for my smallish frame. Moreover, it was undeniable that I was becoming moody, snappy and self-conscious.

Whilst I am completely for healthy eating, I have always found that exercise – and lots of it – is the quickest way for me to both slim down and brighten up. A recent study by the University of Bristol discovered that around 80% of us do not meet the government’s target of taking moderate exercise at least 12 times in a four-week period. This means that only 2 out of 10 people actually benefit from the detoxing of harmful chemicals, and mood elation, that are just two of the many scientifically proven benefits of regular exercise.

Now, I am not a gym-goer and neither do I understand the thrill of jogging or any other isolated form of exercise. When straining to lift some weights or stumbling through the last kilometre of a run, my brain is completely focused on the pain and the boredom of the task at hand. However, if I am playing a sport, then I find that I am too busy enjoying myself to notice these things. Therefore, having always loved myself a bit of football, I decided to join my local women’s side. I adore everything about the UK’s most popular sport, from watching Match of the Day to kick abouts’ down the park to football betting at my local bookies. Moreover, as a team sport, it cannot be beaten.

Although nervous, when I first went down to the pitch, for my try-out, I immediately felt at home. My potential teammates were welcoming, laid-back and chatty. Although slower and wheezier then I once was, I didn’t do too bad and was quickly welcomed onto the team. Since then, I have lost two stone and have found an effective and healthy stress-release. Moreover, seeing the small improvements in my fitness — some extra pace to win a free-kick here or an additional second of endurance there — has proved to be excellent motivation when I become briefly disillusioned.

Playing football, or any team sport, is a great way to lose weight. Not only are you distracted from the workout through competitiveness but the sociability and camaraderie available offers an extra incentive to keep coming back. My mood has massively improved and therefore, without even trying, I am eating less and have more energy and motivation to prepare healthy meals. Also, in a weird but wonderful way, I have become more focused on becoming fit than on becoming thin and really, isn’t that what the target exercise should always be but sadly, rarely is.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

That the grass isn’t always greener and that, although it is difficult sometimes, it is important to look at your own life both objectively and positively.

What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

My ability to be emphatic and understanding, and having friends that are these things also.

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

Teaching in Japan for a year, a moment of gap-year madness became one of the greatest experiences of my live. To stop trying to make myself something I am not.  

We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

A complete lack of common-sense counterbalanced with an almost obsessive knowledge of obscure subjects. To view any of the many embarrassing things I do on a daily-basis as merely future great dinner-party stories.

“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)

Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I love my red hair, because I knew it would become cool to be ginger one day!

About the author

Fiona Jenkins

Fiona Jenkins is a mum of one from London. When she's not running around after her little one she has found a new passion in running around after a football! She enjoys writing to inspire others to get out there, try new things and get fitter

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