This post has been a long time coming, and a very requested one. I have been promising it for ages, but have never known the right time to share as it still feels like a work in progress and something I am not all that knowledgable on either. And the truth is in the past few weeks I have taken a few steps backwards in terms of my body image and health (she says while spooning some banoffee pie into her mouth). But I have found that fitness and body image is all part of a journey which does include some steps back here and there.
Let me go back a little bit first; I have always been a slim build. Always lanky, mostly limbs that were always skin and bones, always a straight up and down torso with no curves. I never thought my figure could change too much at all, and I never really liked or disliked how my body looked. I have also never ever been a sporty type, which meant that exercise has never been a big part of my life. I always dreaded games lessons in school, and it mostly came down to ongoing issues I have with my knees which eventually led me to a personal trainer. Any longtime readers might remember the few months I blogged on crutches after dislocating my knee, something that had been a long time coming after yeas of dodgy knees. Since then it's been a major worry that it might happen again, and the impact it would have on my work would be huge - a nightmare when you're self employed!
So, the knee problem combined the general feeling of weakness (lugging a suitcase to London every week was a massive chore, which would be lessened if I was just that bit stronger) sent me to a personal trainer. I had joined the gym prior to that, and had stints where I had done my best to really get into a gym routine, but because I didn't know what the heck I was doing I never saw much change in myself. I also find it insanely boring and not at all stimulating. So, eventually I bit the bullet and got myself a personal trainer. Something I 1000000 % recommend to anyone who finds this within possible within their monthly budget. Having someone alongside you who can not only give you guidance, but modify and update that guidance as your body and abilities change, is invaluable. Soon, the gym became a huge part of my weekly routine that I hugely looked forward to. I could see my PT twice a week, go to the gym myself once more and actually know what to do. Gyms can be hugely intimidating places. and the confidence that yes you are using that machine right, can make the whole experience tonnes more enjoyable.
I soon started to see a change in my body. My legs toned up, my waist pulled in a little, my abs became more defined. I felt stronger and fitter, and in turn the most confident I have ever been in my life. You guys noticed it too, especially on YouTube, which was amazing because the changes where small but clearly reflected in myself on a larger scale too.
I became more comfortable in tighter clothes, dropped a jeans size, and generally felt I could play up on mix of tight fitting and oversized pieces in a different way to ever before. Things like body suits have become a part of my wardrobe, where an oversized t-shirt would have previously reigned supreme. I feel like the small physical changes, combined with the confidence changes, have given me a huge sartorial update.
In terms of what I actually do in the gym, I have always been reluctant to share this as my PT updated it so regularly! But I have always focused on building my core strength first. Something which makes you hold yourself in a completely different way. It has meant I am always a little conscious of how my muscles are engaged - especially my abs which I have learnt to always pull in, even when I am my most relaxed. We didn't do any cardio, as my goal wasn't so fat burn, and things like running are nightmare on my knees and way too high impact. But the general gist was to work on my core and posture first, two things which made a huge difference, before building strength - and doing a huge amount of squats.
In terms of diet, I learnt to love healthy food. I will always have a massive sweet tooth, and chocolate will always be a part of my life as there is nothing I love more than settling down with a cuppa and a chocolate! The main thing that made me aware of healthy eating was trying to eat a vegetarian diet during the week. It made me really develop a taste for vegetables, and find different recipes for filling and tasty dishes that mostly consisted of veg. Since then I have found myself always gravitating to a vegetarian diet, and cooking with loads of veg instead of carbs. Choosing to do it during the weekdays felt like a not-too-restrictive way to try something out, which has transformed my diet on a whole. Just to be clear, I am not vegetarian and do eat meat - mostly chicken, and the occasional steak here and there.
I do still indulge if I really fancy it, and as I said there is no stopping me and my sweet tooth. But I try and be aware of it, try to always have a bowl full of fruit so I can reach for that instead of Dairy Milk, and try and order healthy dishes when I eat out which can then inspire my cooking at home.
As I said, this is a journey, and the idea of this being ongoing is key. Finding a way to fall in love with exercise is the first step. I think as soon as you start to see and feel the benefits, it quickly becomes an essential part of your lifestyle that you strive to keep there too. Since moving away from Manchester I have barely exercised, and it's effecting both my confidence and mood definitely. Finding something new to do in London is high on my priority list, whether that be another PT (most likely, as I think it's an amazing investment), or going to classes... or maybe even both! I am itching to get back into exercise, and that feeling alone is something to recent to me and my lifestyle.
To feel confident in clothes is amazing. There have been moments this Summer where I have worn something tight fitting and felt amazing in it, and that is so incredible to say that!! It makes the hard work so so worth it when you can wear something with confidence, and then to have the confidence to play around with different styles and outfits because you believe your body can pull it off. I completely know how it feels to not have that confidence (I have having that moment right now, where nothing fits right and nothing feels the way you want), and I know it's not an easy journey. But it's so rewarding, and I think so long as I always remind myself that it is a work in progress, I will always feel motivated to improve.