Let’s Talk about Exercise.

So, let’s talk about exercise! Up until just a few years ago, I was never a fan. I hated P.E at school and conveniently forgot to bring my kit A LOT, or pulled a sicky on sports days!

Round One:
I first joined a gym around the age of 18/19 years old with my best friend Sophie. We were such amateurs! I had no idea what to do and just used to mainly stick to the treadmill or the bike. The minute I would break a sweat, I just wanted to leave the gym for the fear of someone I know seeing me all sweaty! It would drive Sophie mad as we never spent much longer than 20-30 minutes in the gym!!! We also did the odd aerobics class and occasionally spinning, which was a good fat burner but I hated it at the time. Needless to say, we didn’t keep it up for long. Like thousands of other suckers, I think I was probably still paying for a gym membership just in case I decided to go once every six months. Oh, the money I must have wasted!

Round Two: 
Once I hit my mid-twenties, I started noticing the dreaded love handles arise and decided to give the gym another go. I have never been overweight by any means, I’m only petite and on average a size 8- 10 at most, but it was never particularly about losing drastic amounts of weight it was more about toning up the tummy, especially when a holiday was on the horizon. This time, I thought I would join a fancy gym so I got the hubby (then boyfriend) to add me onto his membership at our local virgin active, so we could benefit from the couples discount. I think it was costing us about £100 each at the time!!

I mean, I spent a lot of time swanning around in the steam, sauna and jacuzzi area and also treated myself to quite a few massages in the clubs own spa, but not so much time in the gym!! After a while, I did start to gradually get into the gym a bit more. I had a few free training sessions and was starting to get a little more confident with various bits of equipment which meant I could go and stick to a certain routine of a running warm-up followed by a few machines and some ab exercises. But just as I started to get into the swing of things, Adam decided that we needed to start saving money so we could move house, so the gym was the first luxury to go!

I wanted to try and keep up the exercise as I had started to notice some small results such as a slightly flatter tummy and increased energy levels, so I took to road running and doing some ab work at home. It was quite sporadic and I tended to only up my game when I had a holiday coming up. Running was never my strong point (it’s still not) but I started to enjoy the challenge of being able to run just that little bit further without stopping. I never ran particularly far, I would do about 2km at the most but I thought that was better than nothing. Over time I managed to run the full 2km without stopping which for me was a great achievement at the time.

Following the sudden loss of my Dad back in October 2014, I somehow found myself running more often. It was a bizarre reaction and something I never had expected I would do when going through such a horrendous time, but weirdly it was helping. I would run after work to burn off the stress, I would run when I was sad to distract myself and I even ran on Christmas morning to mentally prepare myself for the first Christmas day spent without my dad. (Which was a pretty shitty day, to say the least). Grieving was an obscure and incredibly difficult time for me, but ironically I think this is when I truly fell in love with exercise. Rather than just slogging myself down the gym to try and vainly work on my ‘’bikini bod’’ I was exercising when it really mattered, to help my mental health. I was channeling my anger and grief to make me run further and faster which in turn made me return home feeling a little lighter and with a few more happy hormones to keep me going. Some days it was just an automatic response that I would put my gym gear on and run, I barely even thought about it. Other days it was the last thing I felt like doing but I would find the strength to force myself out as I knew from previous runs I would feel better after. I only ever ran for about 15 – 20mins, which for a novice runner can feel like a lifetime but it was just enough to boost me without draining the little energy I had at the time.

Since this point, I have kept up running. Like most people, I have gone through stages of not going for a few weeks or just doing a very short 10 minute run here and there but on the whole, I push myself to try and exercise at least 2-3 times a week and run for at least 20 minutes at a time.  I’m still not the quickest runner but my stamina has risen over time so I now can manage 5km in around 35minutes, which for some may sound rubbish, but for me this is a huge achievement.

Round Three:
I have now been a member of my current gym for around 2 ½ years. It’s not a fancy health club, but a middle of the range gym which costs £50 a month. They have great equipment and lots of classes. Although my gymming ethic has definitely improved over the last few years I have always stayed very much in my comfort zone. Sticking to the same type of routine and whilst I now quite enjoy breaking a sweat, I wouldn’t necessarily push myself to my limits. Until now!

Personal Training:
6 months ago I decided to treat myself to some personal training sessions. Once again, I have to admit, my initial motivation was a holiday which was coming up. After a cozy winter I had been overindulging in comfort foods and my tummy was starting to feel a bit flabby again and out of shape. I also started to notice my bum was non-existent. My back literally just merged into bum with no curve! Adam and I started to joke about it, calling myself back bum! When you watch as much Kardashians as I do, a back bum is not cool!
My new trainer Betty quickly got me doing lots of squats and ab work and I gradually started using weights too. After my holiday was over, I decided that I wanted to keep up the personal training session as Betty was pushing me way harder than I ever pushed myself and I was feeling so much stronger and positive. Whilst weekly personal training sessions are not exactly cheap, it is the greatest investment I think I have ever made and hope to continue this going forward. Although seeing physical results such as a flatter tummy or toned bottom, of course, are very rewarding, for me personally, the mental results are the most rewarding and this is my main motivation these days. Exercising helps me feel more balanced, deal with stress and lifts my mood. It also makes me feel mentally and physically stronger and more empowered to get on with life.