On the Road Again – The End of the Road

“As time went on I started to realise that this journey was not going in the direction I had hoped BUT it was becoming more valuable than I first thought, and was teaching me much more than I could have ever anticipated”

What a journey! But I think I have finally made it to the end of the road.

I started a personal transformation journey in 2016, after a long period of inactivity due to ill health, and of course like many other women, my primary aim at the beginning was to drop dress sizes again and build up some strength. However, as time went on I started to realise that this journey was not going in the direction I had hoped BUT it was becoming more valuable than I first thought, and was teaching me much more than I could have ever anticipated.

I have been involved in health and fitness my whole life, but it has taken me to go through this journey to really learn about myself and to discover what my strengths and weaknesses are, what works for me, as well as becoming more mindful of the NOW and accepting that situations, fitness potentials (not levels) have changed and that my goals needed some serious tweaking to become more realistic and achievable. Needless to say, it has been a valuable process, which hasn’t been limited to improvements in my fitness.

The key lesson

The main lesson I learnt was to be mindful that I had pre-programmed ideas of what my health and fitness should be, due to experiences, abilities and achievements over the years. I needed to recognise this and take some time to decipher exactly what they were, and what they need to be now going forward. Health and fitness doesn’t remain stable. Neither does life. The goal posts shift and the action plan changes. Recognising this, and implementing it in real terms, was the main key to my ‘success’ over the last few months.

 

My advice to you
  • Develop skills to enable yourself to weave in good nutrition and exercise with whatever life throws at you. Expect those curve balls. Don’t put your health and fitness on hold until the curve balls pass by, because sometimes they will just keep on coming! So, learn to adapt. This may be, for example, dropping the full workout you had planned and instead, just taking 10 minutes to yourself to do some gentle exercises at home, such as a nice quick and simple abs workout. Every 10 minute slot of exercise not only helps towards improving your physique but it also lifts your mood, your confidence and your motivation for the day ahead. And by doing this you can also avoid the feeling of having fallen off the wagon or ‘failing’. So, re-programme your mind to think that ‘just 10 minutes’ IS actually worth it.
  • Ditch the guilt. Whatever is happening is going to happen anyway. Choosing to put guilt on to yourself on top of everything else is only going to make you feel worse and increase your anxiety. So, choose to adapt to the situation, not feel guilty about it. To paraphrase one of my favourite quotes …. You can’t change the actions happening around you, but you can change your reaction to them.
  • The journey towards health and fitness goals isn’t a
    smooth one. It’s more like this…  
    Preparing for this mentally can be extremely beneficial. Recognise that a dip doesn’t mean complete failure. It means it’s a dip. Just a dip. Adapt, ride the wave, and then get back on it!
Things I have learnt about myself

Wowzers, where do I start. I have honestly learnt (or remembered!) so many. Here’s a quick rundown of my top 10 ….

  • I need to regain a strong core and increase flexibility in my muscles. Over time (old age) I have stiffened up like an ironing board on the outside and turn to mash potato on the inside. I have tremendous neck and back pain which is aggravated by my disastrous shoulder flexibility and non-existent core strength. My tight lower back and hamstrings aren’t much fun either. All this leads to a terrible posture and an array of aches and pains, that, well, could be avoided! Relieving this tension and realigning my posture to reduce pain is much more important to my day to day life (and comfort) than fitting in to a smaller dress size. I could be more lean but the pain would remain – and where exactly is the joy in that! So, Pilates class, here I come!
  • My prior preference of working out at night time seems to have abandoned me. I have been holding on to this old habit, and evidently swimming somewhat upstream with it, but I have slowly realised that training at night no longer works for me. My lifestyle (and energy levels) have changed, therefore I am now a morning exerciser! Who would have thought!
  • I like the gym. Quite a bit actually. Another surprise. Well, when I say I like the gym, I mean in the initial stages at least. I find it works for me when taking those first steps back in to fitness and embarking on a new fitness programme after having some time out. Once my body has woken up and I’m on my way with some level of base strength and fitness, then I much prefer to take it outdoors with some functional fitness and get exploring while I train!
  • I need less screen time. Although my passion is the great outdoors, I unfortunately can’t lose myself in the mountains every day. I spend an ever-increasing amount of time on my mobile phone and laptop. And then, when I am strict with myself and tear myself away from these devices …. Guess what? ….. I have been plonking myself down in front of the TV late at night (for that ‘quality’ me-time! Jeez). So, if the mountains are calling me, then I may just have to start answering that call more often.
  • I love vegetables! I mean, I actually enjoy them. This may seem obvious, and you may be squinting your eyes and scratching your head thinking ‘she runs a fitness company and advocates healthy eating…of course she likes vegetables!’, but I mean that I have re-found and grown my love for them, and we’ve become closer friends than ever before. I lost my way to the dark side for a while, and processed foods tempted me in, but I have once again seen the light and the taste sensations, vibrant colours and endless options for food creativity that exists with vegetables have pulled me back again. I feel like I’m eating FOOD again, and that’s kinda the point isn’t it? Thank you brussel sprouts. I owe you one.
  • Sleep. I don’t just enjoy it – I desperately need it. As busy women and mums, we adapt to running on fumes and putting everyone and everything else before ourselves, but through this journey I have clearly noticed the positive impact it makes on my mood, my patience, my training, my food prep and my productivity at work. I need sleep! I just need to find a way to stay strict with myself and not stay up to 3am, just because ‘that’s the only time I have peace and quiet and ‘quality’ (yeah right!) me-time…..’ (Anyone else? That just me?)
  • I don’t enjoy sugar. Probably my biggest shock. Yes, that’s right, I don’t actually enjoy eating sugary foods (well, apart from shortbread – everyone loves shortbread. Right?). My once world famous sweet tooth has now also seemed to have left me. I was obviously aware over time, that I wasn’t craving as much sweet stuff, like chocolate cake and desserts etc, but I still found myself consuming sugary ‘treats’ in social settings and nibbling on convenient little bundles of refined carbs! Was this just habit? Who knows. However, after completing a few ‘sugar detoxes’ (along with some of my lovely Tribe Members), it became quite evident how amazing I felt without the sugar cycle taking place. I am now much more mindful about even nibbling because I can now choose not to, with confidence, knowing (as I always did) that it doesn’t provide me any nutritional benefit, but now, and most crucially, it doesn’t provide me with much joy either! I feel a little bit freer from the grasps of refined carbs.
  • Fresh air is like magic. Literally gold dust. Even sitting in the back garden for 5 minutes can transform your whole being. Honestly, give it a go. It revitalises your body, releases tension, dampens anxiety and lifts your endorphin level with a beautiful array of the wondrous stimulants of nature tickling all those senses. So very valuable, yet totally free.
  • I need to plan differently. Through the twists and turns of life, I have discovered that I need to plan, and re-plan, and re-plan again. I am unable to sustain one plan. Situations and events change too often to maintain your ideal nutrition and fitness regime. Therefore, I have scrapped planning, and instead need to map out a general idea of how I am going to weave good food and exercise in my upcoming week but accept the fact that this is fluid, very fluid, and can be wiggled and jiggled about if needed. I need to do this on a weekly basis or life runs away with me, and I run nowhere!
  • The Fourth Agreement – Always Do Your Best (The Four Agreements: Don Miguel Ruiz)

    Be content. Ultimately, throughout the journey, the one thing I learnt most about myself, is to allow myself to be content and happy with myself and my efforts, without guilt or envy or regret … IF I was consistently doing my best, and aiming not to be perfect, but good enough.

 

 

Final thought

To round up all my ramblings of self-discovery, I want to share with you a final thought (Gerry Springer stylee), and tantalise you with some points to perhaps consider in your own health and fitness journeys.

My mental and emotional ‘fitness’ is now the best it has been in years. I know myself better now. I have realigned my thoughts (if not my spine – yet!), and I am comfortable with the NOW and I am accepting of the new path my fitness journey will continue to go down. I am happy and excited to move forward in to 2017 with an open mind and calmer disposition to the inevitable constant change. I am prepared for those bumpy roads – sure, it just makes the journey to your destination a bit more exciting!

So, have I achieved my initial goal of becoming super lean and ultra strong again? No.

But, do I feel that I have ‘succeeded’? Absolutely. 🙂