I definitely wasn’t a very active kid. I thought of myself as someone who wasn’t athletic. A few years ago I had a change in career that made me reevaluate my priorities. One of those changes was joining a gym. Now I am studying to become a trainer, I’m excited to be able to help more people discover that there is movement for everyone.
“Depending on who you ask they would say my journey is complete or only beginning. I see it as a consistent journey.
I started my weight loss portion of my journey in 2010. I can not tell you my exact starting weight as I had become far too ashamed and afraid to know the truth, so I base my start at my last known doctor’s weigh in. 265lbs. I guarantee you I was well over that at the start of everything.
A little bit of background, I was a super skinny high energy kid, until I was about ten. Then my whole body composition and view of myself started to change. I hit puberty earlier than all my friends and started to gain weight very easily. I was 140lbs in fifth grade. From there I moved to a new town and school just before junior high. That added to me withdrawing and becoming far less active. Fast forward to high school graduation year, stress of school and the rest of my life facing me head on I gained more weight. Enough that my dress for grad didn’t fit well even with two layers of compressive garments to help sausage me into it. 184lbs at 18, it was extremely depressing for me. I was aware I was big, bigger than most of my friends. So I tried to hide my insecurity with being the helpful smiling friend. Pushing aside my own feelings, it wasn’t as if I wasn’t happy. I just didn’t deal with things when I should have. I suppressed a lot.
Pushing forward, I was married 29 days after my 21st birthday and got pregnant on my wedding night. Surprise! Definitely not something you plan to have happen. Though as unready as I was then, you honestly are never actually ready for kids. They come into your life and shake it all sorts of crazy in the best ways possible. Once my daughter arrived, my life didn’t change much in the way of my health. Two years later, I was pregnant with my son. His birth was traumatic on my body and my mental health. I developed postpartum depression, which manifested in me being only concerned with my kids. I didn’t want and need to have connections with friends or other family. Not even my husband. Needless to say my marriage dissolved and we divorced when my kids were 3 and 1. Though I began to make a few online friends, who were mums with kids the same age as mine. None of my friends were in that area of life yet; though they absolutely adored my kids.
The end of my marriage thrust me into living in a new city and back at home with my mum and dad for a couple years. It was within that time when I finally hit my “reason why” moment. I couldn’t make it up the stairs chasing my toddler without struggling to breathe. I decided since it was just me and my kids, I had to do everything in my power to be better for them. To make sure I was around as long as possible for them.
There I was at 27 years old trying to start my life over again and make the right choices for my health. I set myself as a priority for the first time in so many years. I struggled with that because I was so used to putting others ahead was always my way. Changing my diet, eating smaller portions, cutting out pop was the start. I then did the hard part. I would wait until my kids were asleep and go to the basement and work out to Jillian Michaels dvd’s and do minimum three Zumba songs on the Wii as cardio. This was my life for almost a year, every single night. I didn’t feel comfortable going to a gym. I had no idea what I was to even do at a gym. I started to research and after a while when I was not progressing much further with my home workouts, I found weight myself using my community sports complex gym. I was still sticking mostly to cardio because I had a delusional view of what my goal was. Skinny was the only goal that seemed to be in my mind; anything but fat. I had a new job which was very physically demanding now, my food intake was minimal. I had slipped into a very dangerous mindset.
I wanted to try running a Mud Hero Obstacle course. So in 2014 I did it! I was extremely proud of myself, I manage the run in under an hour and felt amazing for doing it. I was at my lowest weight 117lbs…..and I was still not happy nor was I actually healthy yet. I hit a wall in life again. I made some changes, was able to get my kids and myself into our own place. I had managed to move up in my company into an office position. I had a new drive to succeed. I also started a relationship with an amazing man. Life was improving. So needless to say going from a job that was physical and barely eating to a desk job and snacking of office snacks, my weight began to rise. I was becoming paranoid of the weight-gain, I was weighing myself 4 times a day. Knowing exactly if I limited myself to exact foods, I would gain an ounce. It was extremely damaging, thankfully I had my boyfriend who cared enough to push the hard conversation with me. To help me to see the truth in own worth and that I didn’t need to find value in the scale. That I didn’t need to fear, that I would get back to being over 265lbs. He helped me to see that I was strong, that because I was determined not to let myself get so overweight again I wouldn’t. He also pointed out that I needed to break away from the unhealthy need to be “skinny” that I needed to be healthy. Regardless that if for my body that means being closer to 135-140lbs.
I still have moments of struggle, but I wanted to find strength over being skinny. I needed to find what was MY healthy. I took that challenge of running the Mud Hero into running multiple Spartan Races, the community was so supportive and encouraging in finding your strengths and pushing your goals. I adjusted my training to include weight lifting and I could not have been happier! I even completed my Trifecta which is running a Sprint, Super and Beast in one season. The Spartan Beast was 24km+ up and down a mountain with obstacles, 33* blazing sun. I finished in 6 hours all alone. I got a finishers medal, a t-shirt and second degree sunburn! Beyond all that I proved to myself I can overcome anything. I hung up my racing glory for the past couple years since I was pretty darn banged up from multiple injuries, but my weightlifting has continued. I spoiled myself with new workout gear when I started my Spartan journey, that is how I found Gymshark and it changed my life. The clothes gave me a new found confidence in my body along with new connections in the fitness world. I have learnt so much from others whose journeys I have begun to follow. I took part in two Gymshark 66 challenges, I loved the engaging support and friends it has brought into my life. This isn’t just a company it is a family world wide. I even won third place in the 2019 campaign! I was dumbstruck! The fitness journey I am on is not a start and stop race. This is a lifestyle for me, ever evolving and being exactly what I need to live my truest healthiest life. I now love and appreciate my body, embrace my story, celebrate my shape even if it wasn’t the ideal of media. I share my journey to help anyone who was ever in the place I was, to know you can continue, you can change, you can adapt, it isn’t failing if you need to change your plans. It is only failing if you stop and you give up.
I am beyond grateful for my kids for being the reason that pushed me forward and continue to drive me. My boyfriend who loves me no matter what I am going through. To my friends who have joined me on this crazy lifestyle change and embraced their journey. I am proud and never want to stop this drive towards living my life instead of must numbingly let it pass foggy in front on me. I look forward to 5am gym sessions, hiking, family movie nights with lots of snacks, to balance in all parts of my life.”
“For as long as I can remember I’ve always been involved in sports. Athletics on Mondays, swimming with my mum on Fridays, family bike rides on Sundays and of course playing football at every opportunity I had.
As most young boys do, I harboured ambitions of becoming an elite sportsman. A footballer or sprinter, I wasn’t really fussed. I was fortunate to make great memories in both, captaining my club and my school team to various trophies and running for my district team (not as the sprinter I once thought I could be but as an 800m runner). I will always have fond memories of these experiences with the teachers, coaches, teammates and successes making it what it was. Despite trialling with a few teams and representing my County team, things soon ground to a halt. After playing for my college first team and on the cusp of rejoining the County team, I suffered back to back broken ankles, first during pre season and the second when coming back too soon from the first. This proved to be the first time in my life that I lost my love of exercise. Though I loved the sport I played, breaking your ankle twice in a row and spending 5 or so months of the year on crutches coupled with the thrill of turning 18, girls, alcohol etc etc lead me to taking a 3ish so year break from sport. No football, no running, no gym, no anything.
These 3 years marked some of my first at uni, I continued to eat badly, continued partying and continued overlooking sport despite studying on a sports degree.. go figure. One day though, my friend asked if I wanted to come for a kick about and reluctantly I agreed. Overweight, out of breath and with a touch worse than Guendouzi, I finally realised what I had done to myself. I’d gone from being a confident, ultra fit, county level footballer to a mess and it was time to make a change.
There were a few things that motivated this change, the realisation of how big/unfit I’d gotten, the fact I was going on a holiday with a girl I crushed on (god forbid her see me topless) and the longing I had to get back into competitive sport. I decided that I was going to run the marathon, get into the gym full time and most importantly get back to playing football whilst also disengaging in some of the negative lifestyle choices that had made me this way in the first place. The beginning was tough but it made the results all the more worthwhile. At first, I couldn’t run down the road without stopping, I couldn’t do a single pull up, I couldn’t reach my toes and I certainly couldn’t take my clothes off and feel comfortable. But every week I started seeing progress, running faster and farther, lifting heavier and longer in the gym, weight falling off me and most importantly my footballing ability starting to come back. I hadn’t fully realised what I missed until I was back in it and I can’t help but regret my actions for those few years as I consider it a period where I really did lose myself for a while. Nevertheless, it was a learning curve and I remember finishing my first marathon and crying at the finish line as it marked a significant change in my life and one that I’ve adhered to ever since.
Since that first marathon, I’ve gone on to do another 2, I’ve ran a whole host of half’s, I play semi professional football, I became a PE teacher, I have qualifications in personal training and sports therapy whilst engaging in and promoting sport and physical activity at every opportunity. Where I’d grown stagnant and unmotivated in life getting back into sport helped put everything back into perspective for me. All of a sudden I started achieving things again and having that need to achieve helped motivate me both in my physical and career based pursuits. My outgoing, resilient and confident personality came back to me and despite a number of setbacks both in work (not getting certain jobs) and in sport (breaking my ankle again and my shoulder) I used this heightened hardened mindset to bounce back bigger and better than before.
I think the main thing I’ve tried to explain here is that when I was at my lowest in life, physically and mentally in poor health, sport and physical activity were non existent for me. Since they’ve been back I am happier, healthier and enjoying life way more than a few drinks, a night out and a kebab could ever possibly provide me.
“I fell in love with the look of muscular and toned bodies back in 1992 when the U.K. introduced their version of the television series “The Gladiators”. From the age of 17, I weight trained on and off for years, though never took it too far. Then in January 2019 I suffered a depressive bout and I remembered that my happiest times had been when I had weight trained.
Overnight I decided to take up weight training and specifically bodybuilding and I hit it with real enthusiasm and consistency. Cardio, weights and protein became a daily part of my life and literally overnight my depression disappeared (and hasn’t come back). I love training and the results fire me up and spur me on. I feel great and I use Instagram to motivate myself and others. I got an eating plan and workout routine at the start of the year from @e_monet_pro which has given me my biggest gains yet and every day I try to step just a little more towards my goals!”
“Growing up I was always at a pretty healthy weight, but I was never a very active person. I got married at the age of 19 and just a few months after I got pregnant with my first child. Back then there was no social media to help guide me along or motivate me to be healthy during my pregnancy. I gained a lot of weight and found myself struggling to lose it. Shortly after I got pregnant again and by the end of this pregnancy I was severely overweight.
Here I was….a newlywed and a young mother of two. I had gained so much weight in such a short amount of time. I became very depressed and felt trapped in a body that wasn’t me. I had zero self confidence and lost my sense of worth. Fast forward a few more years and 2 more pregnancies. I was so happy to be a mom to these amazing kids but somewhere along the way I started to forget about myself. I didn’t give myself priority. I hated the person I saw in the mirror. By this time I was severely depressed and obese.
Until one day, 4 years ago, I said enough is enough! I joined a gym and started eating healthier. At first I absolutely hated the gym. I had no idea what I was doing. I would cry almost every single day and wanted to quit so many times. But I didn’t give up. Every single day I would dedicate some time to myself, I would give myself priority. Here we are today. I am still working towards my goals but I am so much healthier and happier. Exercise saved my life. Being active has completely changed my whole outlook and attitude. I have so much more self confidence now and I am proud of the person I have become! My message to anyone reading this is to never give up on yourself.”
“My school days were some of the toughest moments I have been through in my life. When I started playing sport I could escape all these negative feelings then becoming ‘good’ at sport meant people would talk to me more.
My love for sport grew from that, leading to my sports degree today. I was selected to train at a high level in badminton which was an amazing experience, competing for my school and county gave me a real sense of achievement. I then left my small village for University. To gain some friends I joined sports clubs and had never been happier, everyone was so friendly like never before. When I got membership for the University gym in 2nd year, I was very scared to go as I have never really exercised at a gym. I very nervously signed up and attended a female weights session, this started my love for the gym as the instructors were very approachable and encouraging.
My Master’s year was significantly harder than my previous university experience as most of my friends had graduated, so I decided not to compete in badminton or join the club but join a local badminton club. The people were welcoming, and the sessions were fun which was what I needed.
As lockdown hit, I left Portsmouth. I felt sad leaving a club I built connections with and will miss playing badminton with them. Now in lockdown, I am grateful for living in a quiet area and have started my running journey. I have always wanted to be ‘good’ at running but have never had the motivation until starting couch to 5k, seeing my time reduce is great progress. I am achieving something which I have never been good at and gives a nice break from attempting to finish my degree at home.”
“I started participating in physical activities at a very age of 6 years. I was in the athletes team of my primary school and was a great performer, got many certificates for good performance and I remember each time I had a competition on sports day my opponents would beg me not to beat them which to me was crazy because winning was my aim. As I advanced to my higher levels of education I continued with athletics and then I also joined the school netball team as well and it was an amazing journey. It kept me fit and each time I had stress and participated in athletics I felt so much relief. As I advanced into the university, I somehow relaxed because I didn’t have enough time though I would just get time over the weekends and did some physical exercises. After university, a friend of mine introduced me to daily workouts and gyming and I have never regretted it. It’s so refreshing and keeps me fit all the time. Because a good life is a healthy life I also try to regulate what I eat. I hope to get back to athletics and netball soonest as I work on my fitness.”
“I found my confidence in fitness! I wasn’t always the confident person you see today.
I had a secret love of physical activity growing up, but all schools focused on that time was team sports and athletics and never felt worthy of participating because I wasn’t slim enough and was shy.
But when I discovered circuit training, dance and boxing inspired workouts at 16, I realised I was stronger than I thought and decided that my only competition was myself! Being Active gave me a voice and a platform as a fitness trainer, as this once shy girl now continues to inspire hundreds of other people to be more physically active regardless of shape and to have fun whilst doing it.”
“I’ve never really been an active or sporty person, I found hobbies that would keep me going but they never revolved around a fitness lifestyle. Getting into my teenage years I remember feeling overwhelmed with “perfect bodied” girls all over the social media which made me think “wait, shouldn’t I look like that?”. As much as it probably wasn’t the healthiest reason, it pushed me towards purchasing a gym membership.
Working out felt like a chore at the beginning but as time went by I became more comfortable with the environment and it turned into something fun! After discovering all different sorts of gym equipment I got more and more excited to work out. The best part of it has always been seeing my own improvement; it really kept me going. As my life started getting busier there has been less and less time for the gym; I made a mistake of not prioritizing it more. Looking back at it I regret having stopped making the effort. Taking care of my condition and working out made me feel better and more confident with myself.
The lockdown has been a new challenge with loads of spare time to slowly go back to working out. Feeling the lack of motivation hasn’t been helpful but seeing people around me share their stories and read how much of an impact sport actually had in their lives made me rethink how working out positively affected me and how great it would be to feel like that again.”
“I always hated exercise as a child. I never made it on to any sports teams, and PE was my least favourite lesson at school by far. I came to associate exercise with humiliation and failure. I ran intermittently as a teenager, but always gave up after a few weeks.
It wasn’t until I went to university that I started going to the gym with a good friend. She showed me how exercise could be a great tool for managing mental health, which became particularly important in our final year, with the pressure and stress of exams and finding a job.
Since then, I’ve tried to exercise at least a couple of times a week, either running or going to gym classes, which I find particularly motivating. When the gyms all closed, Humans of HIIT was a wonderful alternative, and the community are so supportive and encouraging. It’s been fun to have the time and space to be able to work on my fitness goals, and begin to see real improvements as the weeks go by.
Now I can’t imagine not exercising for a week – I really feel the difference in my mood and energy levels when I haven’t moved for a few days. I’m very grateful to finally be in a place where I can look forward to a workout, and feel great afterwards, rather than dreading every second!”