This is what the end of a workout looks like for me. Red, sweaty, certainly not what you’d see on Instagram, but very happy. This picture is the very start of my fitness journey.
If you’re looking for super glossy fitness inspiration then this series of posts may not be for you. But, if you want a very real fitness journey that’s (hopefully) motivating, then stick with me because it starts here.
I’m going to be sharing my journey, including my work outs as I move from not fit to fitter!
I’m going to track my fitness journey each month basically to hold myself accountable, to help get me back in a routine and as a bit of self-motivation to stick to my work out routine.
Why am I doing it?
It’s simple – I’m not happy, my clothes don’t fit and I miss the endorphin boost and clarity of thought I experience after a work out.
As I have a job that’s in an office I don’t move and often life gets too busy. Really I should be taking the time to look after myself properly so I can best help my friends and family – I’m hoping this diary will help with that. I’m hoping I can reflect upon my month to help me be more mindful about my activity and plan my time better.
I mean we’re all guilty of letting life get in the way, sometimes at the end of a long day all I want to do is curl up in a big blanket and watch Netflix! Sometimes it’s good to embrace those feelings but perhaps I’ve done that a little too much lately!
It’s all about balance in every respect, for me my goal is to be happier, less stressed, eat better and loose some of the chub I’ve gained over the past year. I also like to run around a lot so to be able to do that without again being out of puff would be nice!
What is it not?
It’s not to be super skinny, I’ve got hips for days, an ass bigger than Beyonce and even when I was at my fittest I was never skinny!
It’s not to starve myself but to make a few better decisions. We eat pretty well with most of our food made from fresh with plenty of veggies so it’s just being a bit more mindful, making portions smaller and exercising a bit more.
It’s certainly not to preach to you about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa.
It’s not to shame anyone either, we all gain and lose weight and shape at different rates. These posts are to share the realities of working out and getting fitter again not to make anyone feel bad but to share the experience. Working out is hard. I am working out again because I’m not happy within myself. And, it doesn’t matter if you never go to the gym, or you go twice a day, it really doesn’t matter as long as you are happy. And btw, when I say happy, I mean truly happy in your core, not fake Instagram happy – you know the kind I’m on about!
It’s not to boast, I am sick of seeing fitness people on Insta sharing endless photos of their bodies or how they dare not even look at chocolate only kale. It makes me feel AWFUL, in fact it makes me feel TERRIBLE. Even at my peak fitness rowing 7 times a week I never looked like any of these girls, I like kale and chocolate. Again, I reiterate, it’s all about balance.
February – getting back in the gym
There wasn’t much point to writing something regularly for my return to the gym in February. As I was determined to stay injury free, I went back intermittently building up to three times a week.
I always find the first few sessions back achy but good and very motivating. It’s week two and three that really hurt and I realise I have to establish a routine to survive this stage of the process. This time during this stage I’ve had my good friend Emily keeping me on the straight and narrow. She’s been helping me do short, sharp HIIT routines to help start to build my fitness levels back up.
It’s so nice working out with a friend, we both have a background in sport and like finding funny little work outs on apps, Instagram and Pinterest to challenge ourselves. And, it may sound silly but, it does make you feel less alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love a solo work out but busting a few weights with my pal is so much fun. It also helps me get to the gym on the days I’m not feeling it and could easily flake and not go to the gym at all.
In that second week during those sessions it was a really tough but, it also acted as a great reminder that the puffing and panting was the whole reason I was there.
Sometime despite feeling great after my work outs I felt a bit blue that I’d let things slip quite so much. I’m so hard on myself, instead of enjoying the post-work out high, I scorned myself when I should have really been celebrating my efforts. Why are we so mean to ourselves?
Week three I began to feel a lot better again enjoying the sweaty mess I ended up as at the end of each session – it wasn’t all plain sailing though there were highs and lows for sure.
Week two and three brought some serious muscle aches aka DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) my way and sometimes even standing up from my desk or walking upstairs became an absolute mission.
My biggest positive from this month was how good it felt to be back in the gym and the incredible feelings I experienced post work out. Being able to come down a notch on my belt buckle certainly helped me realise I was going in the right direction and a few tops I wear regularly to work felt a bit more comfortable too.
I can’t remember all my work outs for this month but a lot of them just focused on getting moving. I based most work outs around HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with sessions for arms, legs, back, abs in rotation. My friend Emily had signed up to a work out app so we did lots of these short 20-30 minute work outs. I also did lots of long cross training cardio sessions which I will continue to help get my body back into the swing of things. I’m not strong enough to do heavy weights so I kept it light, for the sake of my back and so I have a starting point to develop from.
Another big motivation was buying a Fitbit to track my heart rate and activity. It has been such a boost being able to see where I am on the fitness scale and it has encouraged me to move a bit more from my desk each day. I love seeing the stats, how often I’m moving as well monitoring other things like sleep, calories and water intake.
March – getting going in the gym
Personally March was a bit of a mad one – we were robbed, a car was stolen, the fence blew down and for a short time everything seemed a bit bleak. Sorting all of this out took its toll on my gym time and I skipped working out for a week. But, I didn’t let that ruin my work outs for the rest of the month.
The aches and pains are still present and I think I’ve still got a few months of hard work due to the sheer amount of time I’ve taken off from being active.
This month I’ve been doing workouts posted by Alice Liveing, Shona Vertue and a few other people under the #fitness on Instagram. I like these two because the advice they give is actually good, focusing on technique and not putting
One of my favourites is this one posted by Shona on Instagram, I sandwiched it in-between some interval training on the cross trainer and it made for a simple but surprisingly tough little session.
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UPPER BODY EXERCISES (for Toned arms)* – 1. Overhead Dumbbell Press | Mainly works the Deltoids (shoulders) and then also the trapezius, triceps (upper back of the arm) and some of the upper chest. GREAT FOR STRENGTHENING SOME MUSCLES USED IN HANDSTAND. – 2. Bench Dumbbell Single Arm Row | Works sexy back muscles like the Lats, Rhomboids, Traps (particularly lower traps) and of course your biceps (obvs not a back muscle). NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF A SEXY BACK. Not only for aesthetics, but posture too. Y’all wanna know why you’re struggling with your posture or pain in your shoulders? In many cases it can be down to too much pressing/pushing and not enough ‘pulling’ and working the back. – 3. Single Arm Flat-Bench Dumbbell Press | Mostly works Pectoralis Major (Chest) but also gets a little help from her/his friends the Triceps (upper arm). OK – This exercise is, for whatever weird patriachal-y conditioned reason, neglected by women. I think there is a fear of developing massive Arnold schwarzenegger pecs but that is as ridiculous as Kimmy K trying to assert her booty is ‘natural’. LADIES – you say you wanna push up, handstand and in general BE STRONG then get this exercise into your regime. – *I totally click-baited you there fam. The truth is that toning essentially refers to adding muscle, because muscle is what creates the shapes and lines that you’re referring to. In some cases it may refer to dropping body fat too (but not in all cases). In the words of the awesome (and funny) NICK TUMMINELLO; “You can’t build a perkier, rounder, or sexier anything without building muscle. And, ladies: To build that muscle, you need to stimulate muscle tissue, and tiny dumbbells just aren’t the tools for the job.” . START THE VERTUE METHOD 12 week programme ❤️ www.shonavertue.com #vertuecrew #vertuemethod
Despite the rocky start on the whole I’ve had a great month when it comes to the gym, I’ve definitely established a good routine and I am really enjoying working out.
There have been less sad moments, although I did have a real massive wobble when I saw myself in the gym mirror and instantly my hormones took over and I was fit to burst into tears. I quickly pulled myself together and reminded myself that’s why I am here sweating it out and getting my booty moving.
Looking back I should have also reminded myself to be more kind to that poor gal in the mirror. She’s had a tough year and is doing the best she can and she’s back fighting to be fitter in the gym.
After watching a lot of Queer Eye lately I swear I need the wise words and metaphors of Karamo to try to re-train my brain to be a bit nicer to myself. This month’s mantra should be ‘stop knocking yourself for trying and give yourself a pat on the back for turning up and doing something about it!’.
Gym time is definitely helping me to focus, feel less stressed and I’ve encouraged my partner to come with me too. I’m feeling happy with my commitment, the exercise I’m doing and the progress I’m making – and that was the whole point of starting. I leave March in a good place and I’m looking forward to April.
I guess now is where the real hard work starts to happen. I’ve got to keep it consistent and work on maintaining and challenging myself. I think I’m going to start looking at my diet a little more too and getting to some classes at the gym now I’m a little fitter.
I’ll leave you on a little gem I picked up from the third series of Queer Eye…
“How you take care of yourself is how the world sees you. It’s OK to have a relationship with yourself.”
— Jonathan Van Ness
See you at the end of April for a bit of a shorter fitness update!