Thinking back to where I was last summer, I was comfortable! I had a 15 minute walk to work, my diet was alright, I knew I should probably be doing more exercise but I thought I was too busy to do anything extra. On the other hand I was embarrassed that I was starting to get out of breath walking up a couple of flights of stairs, all of my jeans were getting snug around the waist and I had a ‘muffin top’. When I had a melt down trying to buy swimwear I knew I needed to do something. You can’t control a lot in life but I figured I could do something about this so decided it was time to take some action and attempt to get fit!
Last week I took some progress photos and measurements and seeing the results after 8 months I wish I’d started sooner. When I took the photos at the start I absolutely hated them! I tried sticking a filter on them, cropping them, sucking my stomach in and refused to wear shorts. Now I’m so glad I kept some unedited copies to compare my progress to as that was the whole reason I started this crazy adventure. I still think it’s a bit cringe but as a few of you have asked I thought it might be useful to share some progress photos at the bottom of this post! They might not show dramatic results compared to some but since the photos on the left I’ve lost a stone, 4 inches from my waist, 2 off my hips and dropped 2 dress sizes which I’m pretty chuffed with. My aim now is to focus on building fitness and strength!
Quite a few people have also messaged me and asked how I’ve found time to fit it all in and keep it up. I put it off for a long time thinking I didn’t have time, studying for a post-grad, working full time, travelling up and down the country, social commitments and generally being too stressed and shattered to think about it. I decided that I needed to make a change though if I wanted to lose the muffin top so I re-ordered my day and was strict to give myself back the 3 hours a week. When you think about it 3 hours out of 168 in a week isn’t a lot. Whether you have a crazy work schedule, study full time or are a full time mum/dad – you deserve 3 hours for ‘personal investment’. I think you just have to find a balance that works for you! I’ve worked some crazy hours 12-14 hours and all nighters. There have been plenty of times where I’ve wanted to skip a training, get in my PJs and slob in front of the TV but generally I’ve found that it’s always helped with stress and energy slumps and I always feel better for going. It’s 3 hours out of the week!
So what have I learnt from going to the gym so far?
I train in coach led group sessions around 3 times a week and it’s been this combo that’s kept me going and given me the results. The coached aspect means that I can just turn up and get on with it, you’re encouraged and guided on technique but it’s much cheaper than an individual PT session. With a conventional gym I struggled to think what to do and often ended up confined to the treadmill and cross trainer as I didn’t have a clue what I was doing with the rest of the equipment (that’s when I got bored and quit after a month). I’ve found that I also work better in a small group with other people doing the same exercises and seeing their progress, a little competition and spurring each other on helps keep you motivated and makes it more fun. (This is where I go but I’ve found a few options for readers outside of Manchester if you get in touch).
Resistance training really does work and doesn’t make girls bulk up.
I was initially weary of this type of training thinking that it was mainly geared towards guys, girls who were already strong or that it would make me bulk up. When I walked into the gym on my trial and saw the weights rig I was already having second thoughts but after trying it, starting with the lowest weights possible and building up slowly it’s become strangely addictive. Rather than bulking up the heavy weights have nipped me in 4 inches at the waist and toned things up way quicker than hours on the treadmill.
Keep it varied!
I’ve tried running, Bikram yoga and spinning but I’m the sort of person who gets bored very quickly if something is too repetitive. What I like about my current routine is that each session is planned out and different, one day you could be training legs with loads of squats and lunges and dead lifts another day you could be swinging from the rig trying to master a pull up. Saturdays morning can be completely mental with us giving each other piggybacks around the block, running up the road with a kettlebell or doing a 1000 rep challenge.
I hate sledge runs!
I didn’t even know this was a thing until a few months ago. Take a traditional sledge, load it with heavy weight plates and then try to do shuttle runs pushing it up and down. Sounds fairly straight forward but it works your whole body. Of all of the exercises this is the one that burns me out faster than a 10k run, makes me feel sick and gives me flashing white lights in my eyes after just a few goes. Last week I tried to sprint pushing more than my body weight and it literally finished me off. It felt like it was my first gym session all over again and I stood by the door for ages trying to cool down. When I came back in I was struggling to hold a conversation while trying not to be sick on the Astroturf. When I say I hate these – I really do – but equally they really work and I can have guilt free carbs whenever I’ve done them!
It brings out a competitive streak.
I’ve always been a bit stubborn and if I want to do something I generally just do it or figure out a way to do it. With fitness and being completely new to it there may be things that you can’t ‘just do’. Like a 100kg dead lift, pull ups, press-ups on rings and running 10k in under and hour. Not being able to do these things frustrates the hell but out of me but also gives me the motivation to keep plugging away and seeing gradual progression working towards each goal is really satisfying. I’m now the sado googling how to master a pull up on my lunch break and what I need to do to be able to bench press more. Haha!
I’m loving hearing how you’re all getting on – keep the messages and updates coming!
(I’ll cover food and diet in part II of this update).