I used to run. A lot. It became a challenge every time I went to the gym – how much further could I go, how much faster, how many more calories could I burn? It became an addiction.
Unsurprisingly, I lost a lot of weight. At the lowest, my weight dropped to around 6 ½ stone. For a 5 foot 5½ (the half is important) female, this is low. Extremely low. So if you’re reading this with similar statistics, please please don’t think this is normal. I looked ill.
Fortunately I overcame this and by the age of around 24, my BMI was at a ‘healthy’ level. But my mind still wasn’t particularly ‘healthy’. I was still obsessed with exercise and felt guilty if I hadn’t worked out.
Four years later and I’d be lying if I said these thoughts don’t still cross my mind. However, over the last couple of years, I have definitely gone a long way towards changing this mindset. A lot of this comes through education and I have my better half to thank for that. Don’t get me wrong, he would be the first to admit that I was resistant at first (I tend to have to come to these sorts of decisions by myself – or at least pretend it was my idea). But as my Instagram feed started filling up with transformation photos from those committing to programmes by people like Kayla Itsines and Joe Wicks, along with hashtags such as #strongnotskinny, I thought there must be something in it.
I turned to Joe Wicks’ YouTube channel to understand more about HIIT (high intensity interval training). It made sense – push your body as hard as you can for short periods of time, rest, then go again. Couple this with good – and enough – nutrition (the ‘enough’ part was something I was never very good at previously) and your body will thank you in the form of lean muscle.
I’m definitely one of those people who wants to jump on the whole ‘strong not skinny’ bandwagon. Am I there yet? Absolutely not.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the above photo is awful. Far from it. I’m proud of how far I’ve come over the last decade. But is there room for improvement? Always. I now exercise around four times per week (I’d like to do more but life tends to get in the way. Not that that should stop me – at the end of the day, I could always get up half an hour earlier to smash out a HIIT if I felt so inclined) which tends to be a combination of HIIT, weights and the occasional run.
Now that I have got to the root of my stomach problems by cutting out dairy, I really feel that I can start to put more of my focus into ensuring I am exercising effectively and just as important, fuelling my body correctly.
I look forward to sharing this with you.