Where to start?
I will try not to bore you to death with small details ( this might be hard – as I noticed when I write I definitely labor the point!).
I did not not get fit until pretty late in life.
As these stories go – I had a light bulb moment after seeing some unflattering pictures from our family holiday. This was followed by a meltdown & an attitude shift.
I was 36, a working mum, and about a stone (or two) over where I wanted to be. This was really from as long as I could remember. I was never hugely overweight – but over the years went up and down in weight quite a bit. I moved between 10st and just under 13st (I’m just over 5″6). No biggie – but I remember hardly ever being happy with my body, even in childhood. I was fed with asking my husband “Does my bum look big in this?”, and not really wanting an honest answer (who does really?).
Our eating habits were not great, with lots of carbs, take aways, and too much red wine. This was intermittently broken up with various fad diets, where I would drop some weight, then a few months later pile it back on. I the classic a yo-yo dieter. I had dabbled with exercise here and there, but never with enough consistency. It’s not something I particularly enjoyed.
I knew it was time to do something, but I had no idea what. From January until July I tried on my own – that didn’t really work. We recently moved and I joined a local gym – sadly joining isn’t enough! 3 weeks before my August holiday I decided it was time to bite the bullet, and get some structure.
I was fortunate enough to be able to get help from a Personal Trainer – it meant sacrificing some stuff ( like eating out) to pay for it, but hey, it’s all a matter of priorities.
Never having been a big fan of cardio, I was dreading my first session. Back then I had no idea of what was in store for me – I honestly thought that cardio was imperative to losing weight, and getting fit.
Thankfully my PT was someone who specialized in strength training – and he was pretty adamant that he could help me reach my goals. This was with minimum, or no cardio involved. I was convinced that any strength training would make me bulky, and muscly, and manly (not an uncommon belief, but it couldn’t be further from the truth!)
He asked me to commit to writing down what I eat, and training 2-3 times a week. After the first couple weeks I was struggling as things were not happening quickly enough. I wanted instant gratification. Instead I initially put weight on – which was annoying as hell! (in fact this is not uncommon at all).
But I carried on, stayed consistent, and suddenly things shifted. My body fat reduced by almost 1% a week, and I quickly dropped 2 dress sizes to a comfortable 10. Within 4 months I looked like a different person.
Pretty standard story, right?
Yo yo dieter suddenly does what she always knew was needed – improves eating habits, and exercises with consistency. We see many stories like this everywhere.
But then what, is that the end of the journey?
It isn’t, because it never really ends. I gave up on personal training 7 months later as it got repetitive. And then I found Crossfit. Got totally hooked, and loved it. I actually took part in some competitions, and got my Crossfit coach certification (I never actually used it). But I lived it and breathed it for a few years.
But so what? Did that alone make me happy? No it didn’t.
You know when you have these thoughts of ” If I just lose a couple of stone I will be happy”. They are lies. Being a certain size is not something that on its own can make you happy. Trust me on this one.
I actually ended up feeling like rubbish every time I didn’t exercise, so you could say I went the other way. I was still experimenting with various ways of eating like Keto, and putting waaaaay to much pressure on myself. At one point, I overdid it by training 2 hours a day , 5 days a week. I was a nicely shredded size 8. Then burnout and injuries came along. Looking back it was an escape from other things I didn’t want to deal with at the time.
In the fear that this blog post may put you sleep I will be succinct about the rest of the journey. Basically I started dipping in and out. Crossfit, Olympic lifting, back to the gym. Then back to Crossfit. Then a break due to more injuries. Then starting again. Eating more, eating less. Recording food, then not recording it. Playing with ratios of protein and carbs. Cutting out sugar then putting it back. Drinking then not drinking. Educating myself.
Looking back, this process was a total blessing in disguise.
It was a blessing because it taught me a lot of things, one of which is to be kind to myself. Life throws many things at us. And sometimes we feel strong and motivated and amazing, and sometimes we just want to curl up under a blanket stuffing cheerios at midnight. And do you know what? – either is OK.
So where am I now, having just had my 44th birthday?
I’m still pretty fit and healthy, and rarely weigh myself. I don’t record my food anymore unless I decide to lose some weight – and then I do. As boring as can be, it works.
I mostly don’t drink, but if you offer me a nice Mojito I am very likely to oblige and polish it off. Just because I like it, and not because I need it. I’m currently on the vegetarian trail, but that’s another post all together. I exercise 2-3 times a week, and only do the things I want to do. I KNOW MYSELF. Which means when I feel that stress starts building I go outside for a walk or do an intense 20-30 minute workout, Crossfit style.
When I feel like I am low on motivation, I will go to a local Olympic lifting or Calisthenics class. I know that mixing with people, a bit of banter and community will make the exercise feel effortless. I also know that going to a class has never made me feel worse, only better. As soon as something starts feeling like a chore and it’s no longer fun, I change it up. I have nothing to prove to anybody.
Frankly I am in awe of the human body – the fact we can change how they look and how we feel, whenever we want to ( health permitting of course), is pretty damn amazing. The only thing it takes is consistency.
Most importantly, I have grown to love and accept my body. I am comfortable with the extra layer of fat over winter, and enjoy the fact I actually have boobs . But I also looking forward to shedding a layer of the winter coat at spring time, when the weather gets better. So I can step into the summer with a lighter step.
And while it’s cold, I’m happy snuggled under a blanket stuffing cheerios.
Maria is a Therapeutic Life Coach, Business Coach, Photographer & free spirit. Multi passionate, logical, creative, and an extrovert introvert. Fascinated by people, psychology and most at home by the sea. Foodie & dog lover.
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