Unfortunately, I’ve always been one of those girls that if they even look at a chip, they instantly put on like 5 pounds. Okay, I may be slightly exaggerating but I have a mega slow metabolism and so have always had to watch what I eat from a young age.
I’ve been going to the gym and lifting weights for over 5 years now, battling with a full-time office job, and being mindful of what I put into my body. As it is such a huge part of my life and has such a positive impact on my mental health, I thought I’d share my fitness journey, right from the start.
Where It All Began
I haven’t always had the best relationship with food and fitness. When I was younger and at the time in my life when I was still learning ‘who I am’, I hated the way I looked. Literally everything about it. This led to an unhealthy perception of what I wanted to look like and therefore how much exercise I would do or how little food I wanted to put in my body.
Instead of exercising to stay healthy and to make myself feel good, I would exercise to burn off the little calories I consumed, tracking every last detail to the gram on My Fitness Pal (an amazing calorie tracker that I still use now). I was so wrapped up in what other people thought of me that I completely lost myself.
This obviously wasn’t a sustainable way to live and in the long run just made me miserable. It took me around 2/3 years to come out of this negative phase and into a much more positive mindset which is where I’m at today. Now I train at the gym because it makes me feel good and I do it for me.
And if I want to eat a whole pizza and pig out on crisps and dip because that makes me feel good too, then I will and definitely not feel guilty about it (okay, sometimes I do but I’m working on that! We can’t all be perfect, right?)
Overcoming Gym Intimidation
Initially, I was absolutely petrified of the idea of going into a room full of confident girls and massive scary men. The thought of it was my worst nightmare. I loved the idea of lifting weights but could never bring myself to do it.
Throughout college and the first year of university, I was a member of the gym but mostly stuck to cardio machines, classes and occasionally would have a little go on the weight machines if they weren’t too busy. I always wanted to be one of those girls training in the scary weight section, but it was far too intimidating, so I just avoided it entirely.
Having a Gym Buddy
I had my first girl’s holiday booked which I really wanted to get in good shape for. At this time, I was still negative about the way I looked and was worried I’d be the ‘ugly’ one out of all of my friends. Luckily, one of my close friends had been weight training for the whole time I’d been away at university, so I decided to join and train with her.
This was the best decision I could have ever made. Not only is it not as scary when you’re with someone else but also, she could teach me what she knew. The joys of having a gym buddy, eh? We trained a lot together and I finally felt my confidence grow, not only in what I was doing at the gym but also in myself. As I saw the differences in my body, it only made me want to go to the gym more and I soon fell in love with it.
This was the first time in a long time where I was starting to feel confident in a bikini.
When I went back to university for my second year, I was so adamant that I didn’t want to gain any weight as this is soooo common in girls with all the over-eating and silly amounts of alcohol. I made sure I tracked my macros and calories but wouldn’t be over obsessive like ‘younger me’ and enjoy treats and a cheeky dominos takeaway now and again because hey, I was still living that student life!
I even felt confident enough to step in the gym alone as I no longer had a gym buddy I could rely on! This was a massive step for me, and I truly believe I wouldn’t be half as confident as I am now, if I had never plucked up the courage to start training and lifting weights.
I was also a member of the Dance sport club in my second year and trained once or twice a week so was just about maintaining my weight, despite the copious amounts of alcohol and naughty food.
Although I was enjoying training and my new-found confidence, assignments, socialising and dance training meant I had to split my time. This meant sometimes I wouldn’t have time for the gym, and I was okay with that.
Big Life Change
It wasn’t until I split up with my long-term boyfriend, that I realised how important exercising was to me. I turned to the gym as a coping strategy and basically became completely obsessed with it. The gym was my new bae. This is when I realised how good training was for me and especially for my mental health. A safe place where I could take out all of my emotions and benefit from feeling amazing and looking good.
Ever since then, I’ve got to the point where if I don’t go to the gym or exercise, I will feel sluggish and not myself at all. I’ve been lifting weights for over 5 years now and love seeing the difference it makes in my body.
Travelling South East Asia
I’ve been through different phases and cutting/gaining periods and don’t get me wrong sometimes I would rather just stay in bed!
The longest time I’ve not trained for was around 3 months as I went travelling in South East Asia from Jan-March 2019 and anyone whose been will know how bloody hard it is to find a gym!!
As a result of all the boozing, eating and lack of exercise I gained over a stone, so I was around 73kg! Literally came back like a giant marshmallow. Or that’s what it felt I looked like at the time. Of course, I don’t regret anything as travelling was such an amazing experience.
Luckily, when I got back, I found I was even more determined to get back to where I wanted to be and ended up losing around 10kg in 5 months.
Festivals and Holidays
Personally, I find when I have something booked which I know I’m going to be wearing a bikini or a figure-hugging outfit for, my motivation is higher than ever. There’s no better reward than laying on that sunbed feeling good or getting ready for that festival and loving your outfit. I always try and have something booked and as its festival season approaching (providing corona virus doesn’t ruin it all), this is my motivation for now.
Where I’m at Now
I’m currently working in a full-time job, so going to the gym before work and at the weekend, usually aiming for 5 times per week. I’m tracking my macros and calories with my daily goal being 1600 calories. However, I usually eat under this.
On the weekends, I will be a bit more lenient and have lil treats or a cheat meal as I feel this makes it more sustainable and means I won’t binge. I am currently in a cutting phase and have enjoyed seeing changes in my body and my weight dropping. Although I’m not too caught up on the scales and would rather just see the difference in my own appearance.
I’ve still got a long way to go as I always believe there’s room for improvement, but I’m much happier with myself than when I started my fitness journey, and that’s the main thing.
So, if you are worried about joining a gym or can’t find the motivation to exercise, I would strongly encourage everyone to do something as it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m such a different person to when I started and part of that is down to my fitness journey.