I’ve been fighting the urge to right a ‘weight loss’ blog, but after this weekend I’ve felt inspired to write this.
In September 2011, I went into a local boots store – cockily said ‘I wonder how much I weigh’, stood on the scales and then was blown over with shock. I knew I was heavy, but my god I didn’t realise I was THAT heavy. I can’t even bring myself to write what was on those scales. It’s weird when you’re a big person, because you really never stop and think about how big you’re getting, mainly because (for me anyway) it seemed like it built up over time…
I had to do something about it. So I signed up for the Bupa Great North Run 2012, a 13.1 mile run in the North East of England. Then I signed up for a local gym and started from there. At first it was really difficult, I decided that although I could do very little, I would do it often. I mainly used the cross-trainer and the treadmill on a hill setting – no running. I couldn’t maintain a good running pace of over 2-3 minutes, it also seemed to have a huge impact on my knees. I did this 5 times a week, before work for 45 minutes. After a month I’d lost about 10 pounds and felt really good about myself.
Then I started running on a treadmill. I could do about 5 minutes before having a break, where I would stick it on a hill setting, then go back to running. I steadily built this up over about 4 weeks, where I was starting to run longer and longer. By this point I was still going to the gym around 4/5 times per week. My energy, particularly at the beginning was almost at 0. I struggled to concentrate at work, felt exhausted on an evening and ached everywhere. This slowly passed. The more I went, the more energy I found I had.
I started running, doing about 2k-3k on the treadmill and this got easier. I then signed up for Park Runs. IF YOU WANT TO GET INTO RUNNING SIGN UP NOW! It’s completely free, good fun and takes part in most parks throughout the WORLD. It’s a 5k route, where you are timed. It doesn’t matter what ability you are, and there is a great sense of community. I managed to do about 3/4 of these when training for the GNR. I maintained my progress at the gym for around 4 months, up until February 2012 where I decided I needed to start road running.
Road running is embarrassing. It’s cold. It hurts your knees. It is the best thing I have ever done. Once you get past the embarrassment, it is the most fulfilling form of exercise you will ever do. Get some good music on, don’t let anything get in your way and just GET OUT OF THE DOOR. It’s the hardest part of any run. I also used the Nike+ app to help me track my progress…I think in a way it also helped with my motivation…getting encouragement from friends on Social media sites – particularly twitter!! (Thanks guys).
I would alternate my runs, some short ones (3k) and some longer ones (6k-7k). I got some amazing advice from @AliSaiqa. Don’t worry about the distance, just saying you’re going out for an hours run…see how far you get. This made the difference with my runs and I started getting into 10k distances. It was becoming clearer now that I was losing weight, I’d dropped about 2 stone in 4 months, and could really feel the difference.
By April/May time I was running 3/4 times a week, and still going to the gym, although struggled with knee pain quite a bit. I had to rest for about 2 weeks, which took a good chunk out of my training. Getting back into the gym was really difficult, and I’d started to find my routine boring. As a result, I tried to run more outside but again found this a little boring. I started cycling a lot more over the summer months which I absolutely loved. It was just the break from running that I needed.
In July 2012 I did the Bupa Gateshead 10k with my friend Katie Bollen. This was my first competitive 10k and I found it really tough. The sense of achievement I had at the end was absolutely massive. I think I did it in around 70 minutes. Not the best time in the world, but I am still over the moon that I completed it. You could begin to see how exercise was having an impact on my body shape, particularly around my legs and my face. I was up to around 2 and 1/2 stone of weight loss. I also felt amazing, I was happier, had more energy and enjoyed exercise.
August 2012 was up and down in terms of training, I found that when I did longer runs (15k being the biggest), I really struggled to recover afterwards, which then impacted on my motivation to do longer runs. Twitter (again) was really helpful. Steve, Melanie, Andy, Kate, Saiqa, Louise, Mikela, Stephanie (to name a few) – all complete strangers, but the most supportive and awesome people ever. We all had one shared goal – Great North Run 2012. At times I struggled to see how well they were all doing, and I felt my training was lagging behind but I enjoyed going on runs with Helen (best girlfriend) and Katie! Helen did the GNR in 2010, and was probably the biggest motivation for me taking part.
By the time September came round, I was signed up for the Middlesbrough 10k. The day was INCREDIBLY hot, but the atmosphere was electric (much better than in Gateshead). I finished this race in around 70 minutes, again not an earth shattering time but I blame the heat. I was starting to feel ready for the Great North Run.
September 16th 2012. Great North Run. It had been just under a year since I had started my goal of doing the run, and I had lost 3/4 stone in weight. I felt amazing. The race itself was absolutely incredible, I cannot describe how incredible the atmosphere is. It doesn’t matter how capable you are, what your time is or if you’re not a ‘fit’ person, ANYONE can do it if they put their mind to it. I finished it in 2 hours 50 minutes. Looking back I’m a bit disappointed with my time, but I cannot describe just how horrendous those hills are haha. Totally horrendous. By the 11th mile my legs were like lead. Finishing the race was euphoric. Seeing my family and Helen during the last mile was actually pretty overwhelming, knowing that the end was coming. Crossing the finish line is defined by one feeling…relief. Then the happy emotions came, particularly when I saw my family and Helen. I had raised £500 for the Stroke Association, a charity very close to my heart. The mile walk back to the car felt like I was doing a 13 mile run again, and I was completely exhausted but I felt totally incredible. BRING ON GNR 2013!!!
In September 2012 I started a new job and moved to Newcastle. At first I started at the gym and struggled to get back into it following GNR…I’d put everything I had into training and losing weight over the year but just didn’t enjoy it. Running outside had also lost it’s appeal due to aches and pains in my legs.
About a month later, I joined Crossfit in Newcastle. Simply, this has been the best fitness decision I have ever made. I completed 2 fundamentals classes that involved a lot of squats and basic movements…I could barely sit down for about 3 days after. It was clear that I was using muscles I didn’t know I had. The ethos is pretty simple…eat clean, work hard and reap the rewards. It is not boot camp. It is a fitness programme aimed at developing your own potential through a range of functional movements. My friends and family are sick of me talking about, also my work colleagues. But quite simply, it is changing my life. Every week I am making progress, pushing my own limits, expanding muscles in places I’ve never seen and feeling better and better. It is hard. You will ache and feel uncomfortable the next day. This will last for about 6 weeks when the aches and pains reduce. People will tell you how good you are looking and how much you are achieving, they will also begin to notice the ‘guns’ you are getting haha. *disclaimer – guns are dependent on your own ability and how much you pester people to ‘feel your guns’.
It is December 2012. I weighed myself today, and since starting this journey about 14 months ago, I have lost 5 STONE 3 POUNDS IN WEIGHT. Thinking about that weight, it is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t believe what I have achieved in 14 months but I am so happy. It’s not just about looking better, but I feel better in myself. I am more motivated, happier, I have more energy, my brain feels like it works faster, I feel more comfortable and I enjoy my food a lot more. I’m not sure if it’s fair to say it was easy, but it is. Here are some things that helped me achieve this.
1. Be narcissistic – Talk about your achievements. People who compliment you or comment on your achievement make you feel good…it’s a fact of life.
2. Get good running trainers – your knees will love you forever.
3. Make small changes regularly – run a little further, eat a little less, eat more of the good things
4. Shock your body – change your routine regularly.
5. Don’t follow new fads – Drinking milkshakes all day is not good for your body…
6. Pack your stuff early – Get your gym/running stuff ready the night before, so that when you wake up, you roll over, put your stuff on and then you’re ready to go.
7. Surround yourself with positive people – Positivism breeds positivism
8. Don’t be ashamed of your new obsession – People will tell you to slow down, take a break and stop, but it doesn’t really help. Listen to your body, when it’s not working take a break and get back into it when you feel better.
9. BELIEVE – You will have terrible training sessions, you will feel like shit. But it will get better. 3 terrible runs can be blown out of the water by one amazing run.
10. Try not to make excuses – 30 minutes of exercise is nothing.
11. Don’t listen to me – Do whatever you want, when you want, but as long as it’s what you want to do.
I’m sorry if this seems like I’m preaching, or I think I’m mr. fitness. I’m not. I have a long way to go. I’d like to think this has been useful in getting me to reflect on what I’ve achieved over the past year, which is what I will take with me into 2013. If you’ve made it to the end, thank you for reading this and I hope it seems like it was written with good intentions. If this has in any way inspired you, go for it!! I guarantee you will do something similar when you achieve everything you want to achieve. ❤