My Journey to Health and Fitness

The path to exercise

I had been overweight for as long as I could remember. I’d tried exercise and every diet going but I had never stuck to one long enough. I wanted to see if a) it worked and b) if it was sustainable. I decided that enough was enough and I re-joined Weight Watchers in April 2010. My weight went from 16st 12lbs to 10st 4lbs in 9 months! Soon after reaching my target weight I started missing meetings and my old habits crept back in. That was until I had regained so much weight that I was embarrassed to go back to the group. I tried to lose weight on my own over the next few years but eventually I was back up to 16st 5lbs.

Just before Christmas 2016 I decided that I needed to sort myself out once and for all but with a different approach. I was concentrating mainly on what I looked like rather than improving my health for the long term. I’ve always enjoyed exercise but I shied away from it because I was worried about people judging me. I knew that I needed to put those worries aside and think about the long term benefits.

My new approach

I started following my diet plan again, and I also started going to the gym to improve my fitness and to help lose weight. My worries about being judged at the gym were soon quashed as everyone was too focused on what they were doing.I felt at ease to concentrate on what I was doing. It was tough to start with but I was soon able to increase the effort level and the time spent exercising. I even bravely tried out a spin class! .

I’d been given a Fitbit for Christmas and it’s a great motivational tool, encouraging me to walk more to reach my daily step target of 10,000, though my average daily steps total is now 16,000. I can be quite competitive so I enjoy trying to beat other people in step challenges. Since I have been using it my resting heart rate has gone down by 20bpm!

I noticed that Kimberley and District Striders (KADS) were running a couch to 5k course in January and I signed up. I’d done a few Race for Life events in the past but I didn’t particularly enjoy them. I always struggled to jog the whole route without stopping. It was an effort to go sometimes but I made myself attend every week and I grew to love it.

After the 8 week course we had a timed graduation run at Colliers Wood. I managed to run the whole 5k without stopping! The following weekend I did my first Parkrun in Congleton whilst visiting family and I was amazed that I completed the course in less than 30 minutes. I’m now a fully-fledged member of KADS and I attend their weekly Wednesday evening runs. I have signed up for my first 10k which takes place in Wollaton Park this Saturday 10th June and another the following month along with several 5k races and a 5k obstacle course.

New diet

Alongside the exercise I have also changed the way I eat with a bigger emphasis on healthy eating and reducing my fat and sugar intake. This time around it is definitely a lifestyle change and not a ‘diet’.

Part of the reason that I struggled with maintaining my weight was I missed the thrill of stepping onto the scales and seeing the weight loss. Exercise has now taken over this as I want to stay fit and healthy. It also gives me something positive to focus on. Instead of dwelling on seeing a loss on the scales I can concentrate on setting a new Personal Best (PB). This could be in a 5k or entering a race at a distance that I haven’t done before.

I’m continuing to push myself and joined the weightlifting for women course; Need a Lift, at Kimberley Leisure Centre and it’s been fantastic! Using weights in a workout has been a real eye opener and given me the confidence to use the weights on my own now. As part of the course I’ve been using the body stats analysis machine Tanita. This has given me another focus, as I can work on improving my muscle mass and my metabolic age. I wasn’t too chuffed to find out that it came out at 3 years older than my actual age but I’m working on reducing that!

Weight is something that I think I will always struggle with. However I am very happy with my new lifestyle. It is something that I feel that I can maintain in the long-term. The new habits that I have developed are there for life. I’ve found that I am sleeping much better and my mental health is much improved. Simply put, the effects of exercise are incredible!

I can’t recommend the facilities and staff at Kimberley Leisure Centre enough; they’ve been fantastic in giving me the fitness motivation I need!