This is the second instalment of The Fitness Diaries, documenting the beginning of my journey to shed some chub and get fitter!
It’s not preachy, it’s just one girl on a mission to feel happier in herself.
Join me as I share my journey, work outs and motivations in these fitness updates.
Rather than bore you with every work out I’ll highlight my favourites, highs and lows from the past month and sum it up with a mantra that represents it all.
But, be warned, this is a real journey, my journey so I’ll also be writing about the tougher work outs and how I am feeling. Life’s a big old rollercoaster of emotions and I’m going to represent it well!
Coming out of March I knew I had to be more consistent with my workouts and I vowed to stick to my Monday to Friday plan to get in the gym (or do something to move my body) every day, even if it’s just to do a little bit.
Over these two weeks my focus was on improving my all round fitness. I’m no fitness guru or professional, although I used to row and coach I’m literally using the fitness knowledge I’ve gained over the years to improve. There may be faster and better ways to do this, I recommend seeing a PT and a nutritionalist if you’re looking to take it super seriously.
My favourite routine became a variation on the following:
- Warm up/cardio – Cross trainer for 10-20 minutes
- HIIT circuit – 20 to 30 mins
- Weights circuit – 20 to 30 mins
- Cardio to warm down – up to 30 mins on the cross training doing some interval training (pushing for 30seconds or a minute with the same rest period) and then at least 5 mins walking for active recovery
FYI – Find out what works for you. You do not need to do this much. Once in the gym I just really enjoy myself as those endorphins started pumping and want to spend some time doing different things. Some days I’d switch it up and just do the HIIT or weights and variation on the cardio element.
Even if I didn’t feel that good that day some movement is better than none, especially when I’m sat down all day at work.
For the HIIT I picked a body weight circuit that I did when I was on Joe Wicks program which is short sharp and gets that heart rate up! Pick four exercises and repeat them four times.
I started with 20 seconds on and 40 seconds off, then build up to 30 seconds on and off and then 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off. My aim is to get to one minute on and 10-20 seconds off.
N.B. If you’re starting this from absolutely zero base fitness then go steady, start with 20 seconds on and just do 20 minutes every day with two days as rest days.
- Star jumps
- Running on the spot
- Push ups (on knees, keep ankles uncrossed)
- Ankle touches (lie on back and move side to side to touch each ankle)
As most of my exercise is focused on my legs, I made sure the weights circuit paid attention to my arms, shoulders and back. I’d pick 4-5 exercises from the image below (or others that took my fancy to keep it interesting!).
I’m not going to lie the first two weeks of doing the HIIT, weights and cardio combo was haaaaaaaaarrrrrrddd. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit heavier and less strong at the moment either.
However, this was a solid week of more HIIT, weights and cardio, I even hit the stair master a few times, and I am feeling pleased that I’ve kept going through April.
I think this week was especially tough though as I had a busy week of events and commitments, and trying to get to the gym on top of all of this is EFFORT. This is where I had to dig deep and work hard on the days when I wasn’t feeling it.
The good part of the beginning of getting back into fitness is that the improvements come thick and fast. I’m seeing little improvements each day and it will get only get better the further I get into the journey – I now just want to stay injury free so I can progress!
An important element of working out is also getting some rest. You need both, your body needs time to recover. By the time it got to the Easter weekend I’d done a full week of workouts and had the weekend off and it’s lucky I did as I had a raging ear infection and was completely knocked out. Four days later, a lot of sleep and with one Cadbury Easter egg in my tummy I was feeling better and ready to get back in the gym.
This was also the week that the weather was good enough to walk to my gym. I loved getting a bit of sun on my face and it really boosted my mood. It did however make me wish I wasn’t spending all my time working out indoors. This was the catalyst that made me start thinking about pulling on my trainers to go running outside and motivated me do a weeks worth of long sessions on the cross trainer.
My first cross trainer session was an hour, then an hour 15mins, then an hour 30mins and the final one was 1 hour 45mins. I’d do a mix of interval training on the cross trainer to push myself, sometimes I’d focus on speed and other times resistance. I know it’s a long time but, it’s definitely helped me open up my hips and was a nice variation to the HIIT and weights I’d been doing previously.
29 April – 1st May
This was the week that I downloaded the Couch to 5k app from the BBC. It’s half an hour of interval training which you do three times a week and each week the run changes to steadily increase your ability. You can pick a celebrity to motivate you through each run as well as guide you through the intervals. I set my celebrity voice to Sarah Millican and at the time of writing this post I’ve completed my first two training runs.
The first run, I’m not going to lie, was absolutely hideous. While the past two months had improved my fitness, my body was not used to running on concrete again. Everything felt heavy, sluggish and the front of my shins hurt. It was not a great start and I felt unbelievably demotivated after this first run. There’s nothing worse than feeling down after putting in a lot of effort.
But, having got into running before I know this starting point is the worst part of running, the ‘getting going phase’. It takes a good two to three weeks of solid running to start feeling a little more comfortable and I know I’ve got to stick with it to progress. Falling at the first hurdle isn’t going to help!
On the second run I was joined by two good friends, the sun was shining and I was so happy that my legs didn’t hurt like the day before. It was a completely different run and I only started to feel puffed out at the end of it. I was really pleased that I’d not given up after the first one and that this run was much better. What a difference a day makes!
April feels and monthly mantra
This month I felt so motivated. There were times where it was really hard to get going but, once I was at the gym or in the park I felt like I’d made an effort and I really felt better for it.
Don’t get me wrong, some days I had to drag myself to the gym but, once there I put the work in and I’m beginning to notice a difference. It has been the most positive month yet and most weeks I’ve managed to get to the gym at least four out of the five days of the week.
Last month I’d been watching a lot of Queer Eye and I used some wise words and metaphors from Karamo to remind myself to be kinder to myself.
If last month’s mantra was ‘stop knocking yourself for trying and give yourself a pat on the back for turning up and doing something about it!’ then this month’s it has to be another golden nugget from Karamo…
“When people build up walls, they end up keeping other people out. But they’re also keeping themselves in.”
— Karamo Brown
I’d built so many walls and barriers up to exercising and over the last year I just wasn’t in the right place to take care of myself. By doing so I’ve kept people away and kept myself down. By stepping back into my exercise routine I’ve spent more time with friends, got out and motivated myself to move more.
I’m also feeling like I’ve overcome the biggest barrier which is starting, anything now is just onwards and upwards. I’ve definitely managed to keep it consistent, maintaining my gym plans and challenging myself.
At home I’ve looked at my diet again too and I’m making an effort to keep portions controlled and meals nutritious. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been treats and over Easter there were some hot cross buns and one Easter egg. (I purposefully asked people not to buy me eggs, I certainly don’t need it!) But, you need some balance, and some treats to keep you going along the way – life is for living after all!
In my last post I left you on this little gem I picked up from the third series of Queer Eye and to be honest I might need this as a reminder every month. A reminder to not neglect myself, that it’s ok to take care of yourself. Over to JVN…
“How you take care of yourself is how the world sees you. It’s OK to have a relationship with yourself.”
— Jonathan Van Ness
What’s in store for May
My aims for May are, I guess, fairly big compared to the past two months but, I think they are achievable as I’m starting to get a little fitter.
- Stick to the running by using the Couch to 5k app so I can build up to running a 5k comfortably again
- Get back to classes at the gym – especially Yoga, I miss it so much.
- Work on the bits I’m very self conscious and down on myself about.
Point three is something I find very difficult. I’m so embarrassed, ashamed and self-conscious of my arms. They’ve got so big they don’t fit in tops and I have to buy several sizes up just to fit my arms.
Most of the time it rules clothes out completely and recently anything with a sleeve is a no go. It’s utterly heartbreaking when you can’t fit in clothes just because of your arms. But, I’m determined to do something about it and am looking at more and more arm work outs to help bring their size down. I know losing weight overall will help with this generally but, I do want to do some targeted work outs, as I’ve done in April, to get them more toned.
Actually while writing this post I found this awesome post and Youtube video that I’m going to try in May. It’s great discovering new work outs to try and having a plan to help the things that I’m most self conscious about makes me feel proactive.