I have spent YEARS attempting to find an exercise routine that worked for me. Some of them have lasted a few weeks, some months, but it’s only in the last few years and now I’m in my forties that I can say I’ve found something I really enjoy and believe will continue.
I was never a sporty child – in fact I was the complete opposite. I was a bookworm who enjoyed drama, singing and dance but was also shy and introverted and used these activities as a way to be someone else. I absolutely hated sports day (I always volunteered for the three-legged race to get out of any actual athletics) and apart from a stint in the Netball team in the first year of comprehensive, I actively avoided exercise and sport as much as possible.
This was partly because I felt super self-conscious. I was always a bit chubby and from my early teens I was constantly on a diet….I remember doing Rosemary Conley exercise tapes in my kitchen with my mum, Slimming World classes, calorie counting, I’ve tried them all. Interspersed with periods where I would binge on chocolate and crisps when I was alone. I didn’t have a good relationship with food or my body. And that contributed to me avoiding exercise too.
Through my twenties and thirties I have been a member of so many gyms I’ve lost count. I always started well and was super enthusiastic to start with but life would get in the way, I’d always find excuses to not go and would end up cancelling my membership.
That started to change after I had my kids. I found a local gym that included a creche in their membership and that allowed me to go 3 times a week and have a bit of time for me, knowing the kids were happy playing with their friends downstairs. I fell in love with body combat, body pump and Zumba and went every week for a year.
Then we moved away and I struggled to find something similar nearby and I had started nutrition studies, was working part-time and had a busy family life. I know I wanted to do something else so I started running a few times a week early morning with my friend (we met at 6am) and also going to a yoga class on a Tuesday night. I did that for a couple of years running a few 5k’s and even 2 10k races and improving my time until I could run it in less than 60 mins. I always felt like I was forcing myself to do it and never found the ‘love’ that people talk about. I did it more because I felt I should then because I enjoyed it.
Nearly 4 years ago now, we moved again and I stopped running with my friend and I went to the local gym a few times but struggled to find classes that fit around my work and family commitments.
New Year’s Resolutions meant I wanted to kickstart my exercise again and I found a bootcamp class on a Saturday morning and I found something I REALLY enjoyed. 3 years later I am still going (albeit the last year has been virtual). A few months on I signed up to a popular 90 day plan which included the same type of HiiT training. I followed the plan to the letter, sticking to the food plan and working out 5 days a week and loved it.
Major life events over the last few years have meant I wasn’t able to do it as much as I’d like but the Saturday bootcamp was a constant and I tried to do at least 2 other workouts a week although it wasn’t very consistent.
The past year I have gone back to the 5 days a week and re-done the 90 day plan as well as doing the Graduate Plan and a 6 week plan with a local PT. I’m now following a strength based plan that is on YouTube to help build lean muscle and instead of focusing on weight, I am focused on maintaining my results and getting stronger.
I love fitness in a way I NEVER thought I would and can’t imagine ever stopping.
The message I want to get across in this blog is that it really is about finding what you love and being consistent. Did I wake up every morning and leap out of bed – no! There were days I really couldn’t be bothered. But I got up and did it anyway and I never regretted a workout. The way I feel afterwards physically and mentally and the way it’s changed my body and how I feel about myself make me want to continue and stay motivated.
Here are the top things I did to get to this place:
- Making a commitment to myself – by signing up to a plan and paying money out for it, I made a commitment to see it through.
- Tracking my food and workouts – I have a 90 day planner I use daily but a journal or notebook is just as good. I planned my meals and scheduled in my workouts each week, then track them every day to keep myself accountable.
- Get support – I had a What’s App group of people doing it that supported each other and along with the Facebook group for the plan I was doing, that really helped. Seeing other people smashing it or struggling and having them understand makes a big difference.
- Don’t set your goals too far away – I find 90 days is a good amount of time. It gives you chance to really see results, while also breaking bad habits and creating new ones.
- Be prepared – lay out everything you need for your workout the night before. Get your alarm set, have chosen your workout and saved it in your phone. Give yourself no chance to make excuses! And if you can do a morning workout while motivation is low, then do it as you have less time to come up with a reason not to do it!
- Don’t let one bad day affect the rest of your week. If you miss a workout or have a binge or life just gets in the way then don’t beat yourself up and just get back on it the next day. This is always going to happen because it’s just part of life so accept it and get back on track.
If you know that you need to make changes but are struggling to get started then download my Self-Care Guide here for simple, actionable advice and tips on fitting Self-Care into YOUR life.