Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Robbie Cheadle to the blog! When I found out that this children’s book writer used to be a spin class instructor, I approached her about potentially submitting a post about her fitness experiences. She kindly obliged. In the post below, Robbie Cheadle explains about her relationship with exercise, including over-exercising at one point.
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Have you known anyone with this type of fitness obsession? Also, find out more about Robbie and Michael Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate book series and the first release from the Silly Willy series, titled Silly Willy goes to Cape Town. These children’s books delight, as does Robbie’s blog. Now, let’s give Robbie the stage.
Balancing work and fitness
I was never very good as sport when I was at school. I had very bad eyesight which made hockey, water polo and tennis very difficult. It is hard to be very good at a sport when your main concern is keeping your glasses up so that you can see the ball. I did better in solo sports, like athletics and cross country, when I was in junior school. These faded into the background during my high school years as I was much more interested in painting my nails, doing my hair and shopping for clothes.
After high school I had a working gap year and I worked as a receptionist for an electronics company. If my parents’ purpose in letting me take this working gap year was to refocus me on studying, it certainly worked. I did not want to spend the rest of my life answering the telephone and being shouted at when people were not available to take the call. I hated my job as a receptionist but I did meet a man, quite a bit older than me, during that year. He was a mechanical engineer and travelled a lot. He was also very sporty and played a lot of tennis
Gerhard served the dual purpose of helping me with my application to university to study accounting and introducing me to the gym and indoor cycling.
I have always been an obsessive personality and, while the obsession itself may change, the absolute tunnel vision with which I pursue a specific undertaking does not.
Gerhard gifted me a stationary exercise bike and it didn’t take long before I was forcing my tired and untrained legs to cycle 1 km, then 2 kms and then up to 10 kms on this little bike. I loved it!
The benefits of physical activity
I soon found that exercise made me feel strong and healthy and I rapidly progressed to a contract at the local gym and spending at least 30 minutes per day on an exercise bike, my headphones firmly in place on my head. I soon discovered other, even more interesting, forms of exercise and was soon spending 90 minutes a day in the gym, cycling, rowing and doing stretching and Pilates classes.
I was studying by this stage in my life and my new courses very challenging and intense. I loved accounting, economics and law and spent up to 8 hours a day studying and attending classes. I convinced my parents that I needed all the gym I was doing to relax and take a break from my relentless study programme.
The next three years saw me obtaining my accounting degree and also becoming a qualified spinning instructor, which would be part of my over-exercising beginnings. Spinning is a very intense form of exercise on a stationary bicycle in a class of other [crazy!] people.
The exercise programme lasts for 45 minutes and is set to music. I loved spinning and was soon teaching up to 10 classes a week.
The high it gave me was incredible and I would emerge from the class positively glowing and covered in sweat. My classes were very popular as I would really push the participants and I also went to a lot of trouble to plan interesting and unusual classes.
The spiral into over-exercising
At the beginning of my Honour’s year, I started my articles at a major auditing firm. I met my future husband on my first audit and it wasn’t long before I had converted him to the joys of the gym.
Between my spinning, gyming and studying, poor Terence had to come with me to the gym if he ever wanted to see me. It was Terence who came up with the idea of road cycling. In my highly obsessive exercise state, I thought that was a fabulous idea.
We bought bicycles and so it began. Starting at 30 km cycles we quickly progressed to much longer rides, and even races, of up to 130 km. My obsession with exercise occupied a lot of my thoughts.
I worked everything else in my life, including work and social engagements, around my cycling and gyming programmes. I would check the weather report from Wednesday onwards as rain was my arch enemy.
Terence would not ride in wet weather as it was too dangerous. At the first sign of a sore throat or sniffle, I would rush to the doctor for medications to avert any illness that would stop me over-exercising.
Health issues related to over-exercising
Of course, my obsession with exercise had side effects. I developed a problem with my knees from over-use and had to attend months of physio therapy to control the pain. I was a regular at the local chyropractor as I developed problems with my upper back and neck from sitting hunched up over a bicycle for so many hours a week.
How did it all end you might ask? I fell pregnant. The minute I found out I was pregnant with my son, Gregory, the world shifted for me. I felt desperately in love with my unborn child and didn’t want to risk any harm to him.
In the blink of an eye my obsession shifted. Over-exercising was out and my baby was in.
I often think back on this time in my life and wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t discovered I was pregnant. I was on a path to doing significant harm to my body through all the over-exercise and nothing and nobody could shift my focus or convince me to slow down.
Over-exercising is a recognized condition in a similar vein to anorexia and bulimia.
About Robbie and Michael Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.
Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.
Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books. Robbie is also the author of the new Silly Willy series the first of which, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, is now available.
Silly Willy goes to Cape Town
Blurb: When the George family go on holiday to Cape Town, Cautious Craig cannot believe what he has to endure at the hands of his naughty and wilful younger brother, Silly Willy. Willy throws tantrums at the most embarrassing and inappropriate times, causes a commotion on the aeroplane and tries to steal a chameleon from Butterfly World. What is a poor older brother expected to do in these situations?