Out of all my passions in life, fitness is definitely near the top of the list! I feel like I’ve been on quite a journey with fitness and I have finally arrived at my destination – doing what makes me happy! The appearance of the destination may be altered over time but as long as I continue to enjoy what I’m doing, there is no need to move on.
Teens & Early 20s – Football then…not very much
As a child, I was probably considered quite “sporty.” I played football regularly for a local team, was always involved in school sports days and even continued PE class after it was no longer compulsory.
As many teenagers do, I soon discovered that going out with friends and drinking vodka mixed with a half emptied 2 litre bottle of Fanta was more fun than going to football training and getting up early to travel to glamorous locations like Cumbernauld for matches. So that was the end of football.
Next it was on to university and everyone knows what happens then. I started with good intentions by joining the university gym but again, the lure of pints of cider and black at the nearest Scream pub after lectures won out over 45 minutes on a crosstrainer and continued to do so for the next four years.
Mid 20s – Running
Now in full time employment and with quite a few pounds gained, it was time to do something about it. That is when the game changer came along – running. I can’t even remember how I started but before I knew it I was signed up to run my first 10k.
Running definitely changed things for me. After a few years of living an admittedly unhealthy lifestyle, running gave me a reason to finally make changes although at this time my eating habits were starting to become a bit obsessive, something I will no doubt talk about in a later blog post. I loved the structure of training for a race, knowing that I must run x number of days and x amount of miles in a week, no better motivation than an app on your phone asking why you haven’t logged your miles for that day!
After a couple of 10ks, I had the buzz and decided to sign up for a half marathon. This really tested my mental toughness as well as my physical toughness as I was training during the winter months, there were actual tears on more than one occasion. But I did it! It was the hardest thing I had done at the time and vowed never to do it again.
Of course that didn’t happen and I did a further 4 half marathons, getting a PB at all but one. If I had stuck with running I think I could have continued to improve and achieve some quite impressive times but then I discovered the iron!
Late 20s to Present Day – Strength Training
Even though running was my only form of exercise, I decided to join a gym for those days when running inside on a “dreadmill” was more appealing than battling the elements outside. I also made the odd half arsed attempt to pick up some dumbbells since “Runner’s World” magazine kept telling me that I needed to incorporate some strength training into my routine in order to improve.
One day when leaving the gym I came across a sign advertising a “Girls that Lift” class which I immediately signed up for thinking it could be the key to getting stronger and improving my running. This changed everything for me again!
This class was actually more like a group personal training session and focused on the Big 3 – squat, bench and deadlift aka powerlifting – which were completely new to me at the time. I had never felt so out of my comfort zone but I loved it! There is just something bad-ass about lifting a heavy barbell off the ground and slamming it back down again, as simple as that concept is.
Once I gained a bit more confidence, I started spending more and more time in the gym working on the Big 3 and the associated accessory exercises. After a few years of running, I was stiff as a board so technique was pretty ropey to begin with. However, there was something so exciting about seeing form improvements and adding weight to the bar each week – newbie gains!
The number of runs started to diminish each week until eventually all I wanted to do was lift heavy shit every day! So I did! I couldn’t believe the change in my physique, I started to look strong and fit, something I had been trying so hard to be for years and I was achieving it without really trying.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve continued strength training mixing powerlifting with more bodybuilding style workouts and have loved watching the progress and the weights going up. I did get a little obsessed for a while convincing myself that I wanted to be like the strong chicks on Instagram and compete in a powerlifting competition but pregnancy has been quite humbling with my numbers now generally going down rather than up.
Pregnancy has changed my perspective on fitness with my focus now being on doing what makes me feel good and not beating myself up if I miss a workout. I’ve even started running again, purely for enjoyment. I don’t wear a running watch so have no idea of my time, I just pop a podcast on and trundle along at a comfortable pace, very relaxing.
After pregnancy, I’m sure my fitness routine will change significantly as new responsibilities and priorities come along but since moving my body makes me happy I will still make time even if it is just going for a walk every day. I will continue to strength train when I can as the benefits are undeniable (again, a subject I will blog on soon). Maybe I’ll try Crossfit or Olympic LIfting or Yoga…I don’t really care as long as I’m happy doing it!