Witness the Fitness
Sorry, I couldn’t think of a title for this post and when I was writing, this Roots Manuva track came on and I figured it would work nicely! ha! Anywho…
I’m about to let you in on a bit of a secret, well not really a secret but something I’ve pretty much kept to myself over the past few months. Back in June I started an adventure of a different kind.
An adventure into the world of fitness.
It’s not something I’d usually spend time gushing about but I’m pretty proud of myself right now so I’m going to document it here. Also, if writing about my experience this year inspires or helps others who might be struggling with getting out there and keeping fit then that’s got to be a bonus!
If fitness isn’t your thing, feel free to skip past this blog post and head to the regular holiday and work related ones - I won’t be offended in the least! But if you fancy a read, grab a brew and hopefully you’ll find what I have to share interesting…
There are numerous reasons I decided to sort my fitness out and if I’m honest with myself they’ve been piling up for a quite a few years now but essentially, it all boiled down to the fact I was feeling sh*t and I’d had enough of feeling weak, tired and generally down on myself.
Back in January I started physiotherapy sessions after developing a pain in my left foot when I was training for the Cambridge Boundary Run (half Marathon). It became apparent that the pain was linked to other knee and lower back pain I’d been experiencing (and ignoring), which was basically due to overall weakness in my hips and legs.
I needed to work on building strength back up in the muscles I had neglected to pay attention to over the years… I mean, I’ve never really paid much attention to any of my muscles so it’s no surprise they weren’t looking after me either!
I’ve never had much confidence in myself and how I look, I have always filled my wardrobe with oversized clothes, baggy jeans and hoodies and generally shied away from anything figure hugging. The thing is I’d been slowly putting on weight over the past few years and these ‘over-sized’ clothes helped me easily ignore the weight gain!
It wasn’t until I saw a couple of photos earlier this year and genuinely got upset, that I started to pay more attention to my body shape and how it had changed. It started to make me feel even more self conscious and I didn’t like the way I was starting to feel in my own skin. It also made me realise that maybe how sh*t I’d been feeling about other things could be related to not feeling ‘good’ about myself, including driving and social situations, which had all steadily gotten worse over the last few years.
Adding those existing anxieties and self-confidence issues with feeling physically weak and tired made me realise something had to change. I want this body to help me get the most out of life and the adventures it throws my way so I needed to start looking after it more.
For me, feeling fit, healthy and staying active is KEY to my mental health and general wellbeing and if I was being truly honest with myself, I wasn’t really doing enough to keep me as fit an active as I was 3-5 years ago and it was clearly showing - mentally and physically.
I LOVE food and although I’ve never been a terribly bad eater, I’m a fast eater and often quick to over indulge. I’m not afraid of eating whatever I want or enjoying food to the max and in the past I guess my exercise/metabolism balanced it all out quite nicely as my weight/shape never really changed much.
However the scales had tipped somewhere (figuratively and literally!) and when I took a look at just how much I was eating, and more importantly WHY I was eating more than I needed to, I realised I needed to readdress my relationship with food and take better control.
So what did I do? What changed? How did it all come about? This is quite difficult to get down into words because it felt like a lot happened/changed quite quickly but it’s all been a lot of fun and felt pretty straight forward to implement.
The physiotherapy sessions I went to earlier this year definitely sparked an interest and curiosity in me that I hadn’t felt since school. I wanted to learn more about my muscles (or lack of!) and take the opportunity to build my strength up. This prompted me to think about weight and resistance training so I started to do some research.
Throughout April/May I spent time looking at local gyms, boot camps and personal trainers, whilst seriously thinking about what it was I needed to not only motivate me to start a new fitness plan but also stick at it.
After plenty of online stalking, review reading (and getting sucked into some of Tom’s hilarious motivational videos), in June I joined TK Total Fitness. In my application to join, I was clear (in my own waffly way) that I didn’t want to join specifically for weight loss; my main goals were to get stronger, address my eating habits and build my confidence - something the TK Total team are 100% behind.
I was terrified at first, it felt like a HUGE commitment (money and time-wise) but their 8 week starter session was the perfect way to try something new and I was determined to give it my best shot! Turning up to do something I wasn’t familiar with, in a group environment, in a strange new place was everything this anti-social bean hated about exercise.
Yet, I turned up for my first few sessions and bloody LOVED IT! I hurt like hell for the first week or so but everyone was so friendly, encouraging and supportive that the pain didn’t matter. The atmosphere, enthusiasm and banter gets everyone going and working hard in each session, so any feelings of intimidation or incompetence were soon banished by the overwhelming support and encouragement.
I had found the perfect balance of focus, friendliness and support I needed and was thoroughly enjoying learning about new exercises that also fit in perfectly with what I’d been learning from my physio sessions.
It’s been 3 months since I joined TK Total Fitness, I aim to go to 3 sessions a week and have stuck to it most weeks - apart from alarm fails on a couple of earlies or holidays. I am feeling more confident in the sessions now and am starting to push myself harder each time. The flexibility of exercises in the classes means you can tailor everything to your strengths/needs and the instructors are always on hand to answer questions or help you with personal goals.
Earlier this year, if you’d have told me I’d be going to a boot camp style class with lots of other people and genuinely looking forward to each session, I’d have laughed my socks off but here I am… socks still on and I BLOODY LOVE IT!
My wonderful friend, Claire started going to a local spin class earlier this year and I asked if I could tag along one week. I’ve tried and enjoyed spin classes before but never stuck at it as I didn’t have a regular buddy or anyone else to hold me accountable. The fact I could make these particular weekly sessions AND catch up with Claire was a real bonus and I’ve been going every week since the end of May. (THANK YOU CLAIRE!) The classes are fun and our instructor is brilliant but my god are they tough, thankfully they fall on a day I’m not at a TK session!
If you’re not already aware, my obsession with Paddleboarding increased tenfold back in May when I bought my very own board. Since then I’ve been out for a couple of hours at least once a week - more if the weather allows or I have a friend or two to play with!
Thanks to lovely Anna and her Super Whale socials, I have met some wonderful local paddlers and have been out with several friends on the river over the Summer. I also somehow managed to convince my physio (who is now a good friend) to buy his own board, so we’ve done lots of adventuring on local waters.
It’s only a matter of time before I convince The Beard (and everyone else I know!) to buy one too…
I used to think running was keeping me fit enough (it wasn’t) and I feel bad that I’ve neglected it with all the other things I’ve been focussing on over the last few months. I’ve been for about three runs (oops!) but I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve been out on and have noticed a difference in how I feel during and after running. Maybe I’ll try and squeeze a regular run in but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself as there’s plenty of activity already going on!
For my first couple of weeks at TK Total Fitness, I downloaded My Fitness Pal again and started tracking what I was eating - not changing any of my usual habits, just documenting it. It was pretty shocking how many calories (mostly fat and carbs) I was troffing! Especially if I was feeling down or bored, it was no wonder the bit of exercise I was doing previously wasn’t having an effect when I was eating 500-1000 calories more than I needed most days!
Eating and food in general makes me happy, I love it and am always excited about trying new things or sampling the newest foodie spots in town! It’s also my go to pick-me up when I’m feeling down and whilst there’s nothing wrong with comfort food and treating yourself now and then, if you do it 80% of the time and fail to look after yourself in-between, it can end up being a negative experience in the long run.
This slap in the face made me realise that I needed to bring my calorie intake down and get into some better habits, but I also knew I had to find something that worked for me. I’ve always avoided diets or fad eating things so I needed some new habits and routines to get stuck into!
I have only made TWO significant changes to my eating habits and the first one is breakfast on the mornings of my TK sessions. I don’t like to eat before exercise (I get terrible tummy aches and stitch) so on these mornings, I tend to have my morning brew before I go and then a banana and protein shake afterwards. I never used to like the idea of ‘shakes’ but I’ve found they not only help me hit protein goals but also curb my raging appetite so 3 days a week that is my breakfast of choice now.
The other big change is around selecting a lighter lunch option at home or when I’m out. If I’m travelling or out for the day the temptation for me to think f*ck it, I’ll have a burger/pizza/massive meal was the norm but I was out and about A LOT so this was clearly having a huge impact on my troffing skills. So lighter lunches (not just potato smilies and huge fish finger sandwiches) every day and trying to have a healthy-ish balanced meal most evenings has helped me control my fat and carb intake more.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do this all the time and I’m not super strict with myself either. I still enjoy eating out regularly at local food-vans, ordering those huge burgers and indulging at weddings etc but because I feel more in control and aware of what I’m eating the rest of the time, it’s made quite a big difference to how I feel overall.
The majority of the above has happened since the end of May this year and on the surface of it all, you might think things around here look pretty similar - I’m still cracking on with and loving running my business, we’re still enjoying weddings, holidays and mini adventures in Buddy when we can, I’ve been seeing friends and family… life has been ticking along but in the background I have experienced quite a few changes and A LOT of benefits since starting my little fitness journey.
So… here’s a whistle-stop summary…
Turning up to classes and feeling comfortable (whilst wearing gym gear!)
I’m driving a helluvalot more in the car now… next up, driving Buddy!
My balance and confidence on my Paddleboard has improved, I even mastered a headstand!
I am confidently picking out things to wear and spending less time cringing in the mirror - I still have plenty of wobbles but I’m getting better at being kinder to myself!
I’m spending less time second-guessing myself about every little thing, making it easier to smash through things day-to-day!
I feel more in control of myself when it comes to food and my eating habits, especially in the evenings, which was when I used to binge eat crisps and ‘treat myself’ to wine and snacks.
I’m less bloated and have fewer tummy upsets than ever before.
I’m still treating myself and enjoying my food, as my shameless food snaps on Instagram continue to show.
I can actually do push-ups! Like, proper full push-ups. I still struggle to get to 10 but I couldn’t even manage 3 on my knees when I started so this is a HUGE deal to me!
Same goes for pull ups, kind of. I can’t do one without a resistance band but I can actually do sets of pull ups and feel like I’m improving as the weeks go by. One day I’ll master them.
My legs and hips are stronger! I never thought of my legs as weak but my goodness, cycling and hiking feel quite different now and I found a new love in box jumps (see Tom’s photo below)
My knees, when I go up stairs, don’t ache any more. Something I used to ignore and although they still click they don’t hurt like they used to.
Turns out I actually have some core strength now too! I mainly notice this when paddling as my balance is much better and I’m more confident moving around my board. I can also hold a side plank for longer than 10 seconds now.
I have much more structured days (Mon, Wed & Fri), which in turn has helped me focus my work and other daily routines/plans such as meal prep, errands and social stuff.
I’m sleeping much better too and finding myself curling up with a book in bed earlier rather than sitting on the sofa eating crisps until midnight.
I’ve also found I feel way more motivated and often end up being much more productive day-to-day now, even though I’m carving out bigger chunks of time for exercise.
There are some obvious benefits to eating less and exercising more and this past month I’ve really started to notice them:
I have lost 1.5 stone
My arms are looking leaner and feeling stronger
My lower back isn’t hurting and my bum is visibly less ‘sticky-outty’ (anterior pelvic tilt)
My skin is clearer
Overall I feel lighter, brighter and more positive about myself
I’ve met some bloody lovely new people throughout the past few months! Whether it’s the friendly faces at TK Total Fitness and Spin classes or new paddling buddies, I feel like I’ve made some fab new friends this Summer (hopefully they feel the same about me too… that could be awkward!)
Tom’s videos. I’m not sure how much he’ll appreciate me saying this but Tom is brilliant on social media and always makes me laugh. A lot of what he shares often strikes a chord with me too - whether it’s squirrels fighting magpies on rooftops or a truth nugget about health and fitness; I genuinely look forward to seeing his updates.
I’ve never done so many squats in my life and they’ve paid off in more ways than one - wild weeing has never felt so easy!
I can fit into several pairs of trousers and jeans I have had since I was at university (crikey, that’s over 10 years ago now!) Maybe I should have thrown them away by now but the 15 year old wannabe-skater-girl in me is over the moon to be back in my baggy jeans again.
I’m in a video! And other than our wedding video, I’ve never agreed to be on camera so the fact I wanted to do this speaks volumes. It’s a mighty cringe-worthy performance from yours truly (LOOK AT THE CAMERA, JO!) but it’s all about my experience with TK Total Fitness so far and gives you an insight into what I’ve been up to. Hopefully this blog post helps explain further what I was trying to get out in the video too so pop over to THIS LINK and enjoy the awkwardness if you fancy a giggle!
Ok, so this has become a much bigger post than I intended but it’s felt good to write it all out and think about what has happened over the last three months. I am proud of what I’ve discovered about myself, what I’ve learned about fitness and what I’ve achieved personally. Above all else, I’ve enjoyed myself and that’s really important to remember and reflect on in case I struggle with how I feel in the future.
It wasn’t about finding a quick fix for me (although three months really isn’t that long), it was about building better habits to help me stay fit and healthy. I just needed to find the right kind of people and activities to help me stick at it and I think this year I have!
You’ve got to find what works for you though, not everyone will relate to my experience here or agree with things I’ve found that work for me but I strongly believe you’ve got to invest in yourself - whatever that means for you so if sharing this helps in any way, then great!
If you’d like to find out more about any of the places/people I have grown to love this year, check out the links below:
Physiotherapy : PhysioFit
Fitcamp : TK Total Fitness
Spin : Chesterton Sports Centre
Paddleboarding : SUPer Whale
Thank you so much for reading about my little fitness journey! If you have any questions or want to chat about anything I’ve waffled about please feel free to drop me an email. In the mean time I’m going to get cracking with a blog post about our recent holiday in Norway…. prepare for holiday spam! teehee