Here goes with my first post – a bit of a introduction as sorts and insight into my fitness journey.
Let me first say I have never posted my “transformation” story before as I have never wanted people to think I needed transforming in any way or that my life was lacking before I lost weight. What I have learnt since then is that there is no shame in being overweight; it doesn’t make you any less of a person. However, it wasn’t until I lost weight that I was able to gain the self-confidence to realise that and for that reason I feel like it has certainly enhanced my life and allowed me to discover things I am passionate about.
Once upon a time I was an inactive, overweight teenager. It wasn’t extreme – I wasn’t morbidly obese, had lots of friends and managed to hide my crippling lack of self confidence fairly well so that I led a normal teenage life. I had a lot of hobbies and was involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities but few of them involved sport because I thought I “wasn’t good at it.” However, the desperation to be thin had been present for as long as I can remember – I remember vividly being upset and embarrassed about my fat body as young as age 8 or 9 but quite simply believed that it would never happen as I just loved food too much.
When I was 17 I discovered what now to me is so seemingly obvious, that instead of worrying about fad diets or starving myself, losing weight was quite simple: I just had to work off more calories than I consumed. I tracked & learnt about the nutritional content of all the food I was stuffing into my body and started doing cardio regularly, building up from not being able to run at all to taking part in a half-marathon. Over a year I lost 4 stone. I don’t regret taking this approach one bit, it was a maintainable starting point for me to lose body fat.
However, in the quest to be thin – I had forgotten the need to be healthy. Nutrition wise, I tracked every calorie that went into my body and in the aim to keep that amount around 1200 calories daily I basically eliminated fat from my diet as foods with any form of fat were much more calorie-dense. Days that including running would usually “allow” me around 400 more calories per day which I used to really go crazzzzay and treat myself with low-fat yogurts and numerous bowls of Special K.
Physical signs of this poor nutrition began to show. I lost clumps of hair every time I brushed it, had a terrible immune system, couldn’t sit down for extended periods of time due to hip pain and was permanently cold. The scariest part is that I was never classified as underweight: my BMI was always within a normal range, I weighed far more than the reported weights of various celebrities in magazines (I barely dipped below 9 stone) and ate far more than they apparently did as well.
That is one of the main reasons why I have started this blog – to emphasise the fact that everyone is different.
Luckily, by this stage I had developed the self-confidence and desire to improve in my training that I could see this was not the way forward: I wanted to run faster and feel good while doing it. I re-introduced fat into my diet and began to incorporate strength and resistance training. Soon I noticed a change in my body as I began to become less “flabby” and cut my running times considerably.
Now I feel fit, healthy and happy. I honestly believe there is no one correct way to exercise, no one way to “build the ultimate body.” You must find what works for you, is maintainable for you and what makes you happy – because that is the lifestyle that will stick.
So, what is this blog about?
This blog is not designed to be a #fitspo blog posting about tracking macros, constant gains or telling girls to ditch all cardio. I feel like there is a new online phenomenon telling girls that unless they are constantly squatting and downing protein shakes they will not build the “dream” body. This is lies and not what I want to preach. Who even designed this dream body?
If this is what you discover you love, by all means go for it. I have learnt and reaped the benefits of including weights in my training routine and I think it is fantastic that the previously entrenched view that lifting weights would make girls “bulky” is being overthrown. I love feeling stronger and think the health benefits mean that it is a crucial part of training for anyone who wants to improve their overall health and fitness.
But not everyone who runs/cycles/does any sort of cardio does so because they are ill-informed about what training is best and in some sort of belief that it will give them a body like a Victoria’s Secret model. I do it because I love the endorphins and finding out what my body is capable of. I have learnt the dangers of over-training and instead of pounding out hour after hour of running on the treadmill I mix up my routine to incorporate a variety of interval and strength training.
In conclusion, my fitness journey has very much been trial and error. What I did is not perfect and I am sure I made mistakes. I still make “fitness mistakes” all the time. I read books on different methods of training and nutrition constantly and what I see from those is that no-one really knows and there is no one correct way. There is so much conflicting stuff out there that it is no wonder people remain overweight.
On this blog I hope to provide some hints on what things I think you should believe and what I think you shouldn’t, and also reviews of new foods and exercise classes I may try. I am moving to London in August and this is just TOO EXCITING for a foodie/fitness freak like me so I think I am probably going to post a lot about various cafes and classes I try there.
As a final note, I think if you can take one thing from this blog – I want it to be that you should exercise based on how it makes you FEEL, not how it makes you LOOK. As soon as you get your motivation for exercising correct, everything from training plans to nutrition and general well-being falls into place a whole lot more easily.