I’ve never been sporty and I was one of those people who was pretty much always a size 12. Over the years I’d had sporadic attempts to get fit, a gym membership where I’d do cardio and ignore the weights, a few weeks of bootcamp here and there, and a short stint in Pilates were all I’d done over 30 years. I rarely went up or down in size so I didn’t see the incentive to get fit, it just wasn’t a priority when I could be out with friends having a drink or going for a meal.
Where I was lucky is that I grew up in the kind of house where it wasn’t classed as a meal if there weren’t vegetables. Take away may have been ordered twice a year at most if there was an occasion or the electricity was gone so although carbs played a huge part of every meal I’d been set up with some fairly good dietary habits. Even after moving out of home I could only ever go a couple of days eating badly before I’d start craving broccoli. All of that lulled me into a false sense of security though because I chose to see the good things I ate and ignore the daily treats; I have a terrible sweet tooth.
The year I turned 30 I just seemed to pile on the weight. I started a job where there was a canteen so I was eating breakfast and dinner there everyday, and I didn’t really do a proper weekly shop. My evening meal became whatever was handy. It was gradual, but slowly my size went up and it just didn’t suit me. I didn’t look like me and I felt terrible. I was 31 by the time I bit the bullet and did something about it.
I signed up to EVO fitness, a gym that specialises in resistance training. I was sceptical at first, it just didn’t seem right to me that I could get a proper work out without doing copious amounts of cardio. But I was desperate and willing to give it a go. My initial body analysis was a shock to the system, my BMI was well into the overweight category and my body fat was 37.3%. To say that I was horrified is an understatement. I was really embarrassed but instead of letting it get me down I used it as motivation to stick to the plan.
The food plan seemed very strict at first. Going from a carb heavy to a no sugar, high protein diet didn’t seem sustainable but I was determined and despite headaches in the initial few days I actually started to enjoy the food. I enjoyed doing proper grocery shopping, cooking proper food from scratch and I loved seeing the results. Over 6 months I worked really hard, I lost 21lbs and my body fat went down to 27.9%. I felt the best that I have ever felt and I started running (something I’d never been able to do) and in April 2014 I ran my first ever 10km race. I completed it in a respectable 1 hour and 6 minutes. Then I decided I needed to change my workout and started doing an evening kettlebell class instead. I loved that too but I resented staying late at work until the class started and I hated giving up an hour of my evening especially in the summer. So I gradually stopped training.
That was a huge “use it or lose it” lesson for me. Over the months were I wasn’t training I could feel myself lose muscle tone and my clothes started getting tighter. The day that I considered rooting out a pair of my old “fat” jeans was the day that I decided I had to rejoin EVO. I started back at the beginning of January this year and straight away the exercise endorphins kicked in. I’d managed to keep a lot of my strength so I didn’t have to drop my weights. I was also back to being able to work out in the morning and do more regular, intense, short training sessions instead of feeling like I was giving up too much of my spare time.
In a way though, I’m glad that I learned that lesson the hard way. It taught me a lot about what works for me and not to veer away from that. I will never again join a gym that I wouldn’t have time to get to in the morning. I’ve also learned that I need regular body analysis and measurements to keep me motivated, and I need competition be that with myself or against someone else. So this might not be the typical “Before and After”, I am still very much a work in progress but I feel better that I’ve set the wheels back in motion. So much so that the January blues have completely passed me by this year and I’ve agreed to do my first half marathon in March. It’ll be tough but I can’t wait and I’m writing about it for Krank.ie so fitness has opened a door for me in terms of writing – something I’ve always wanted to do.
So if anyone is reading this and hasn’t quite found the right plan for them, I hope my story will help them find the motivation to keep looking. What works for me might not be for someone else, but there is something out there for everyone and it’s worth finding, we all deserve to look in the mirror and feel great.