Becoming active after a life of inactivity is daunting. People who have been fit all of their life may not grasp just how daunting it is.
Over the years I tried to lose weight many times and I always found myself stuck in a behavioural pattern that I would repeat again and again.
I would wake up with a fierce determination to change, to become the person that I knew I could be; strong, confident and successful. I would go shopping for my new workout gear, throw away all of the junk food in my house, all the while promising myself that I would do it this time, that this would be the time that stuck and I would make the change to be a healthy woman.
I would get dressed to go to the gym, looking in the mirror as I left, feeling disheartened about how I looked of course but determined none the less. On the way to gym, it would feel like my first day at school, I was so nervous. I wanted to go but I also dreaded walking into the place that forced me to take notice of how unfit I was and how bad I looked.
Once inside I was clueless. The weight room was full of huge men, who seemed to grunt more than they sweated. The mat area was full of thin women doing the splits or something similar, again barely out breath, without a bead of sweat on them. Then there was me. A tomato with blonde hair. Sweating profusely before I even started exercising because I had walked quite fast to get there.
Never before had I been so aware of how my belly jiggled as I moved or how far I had to go before I could marry the image of who I wanted to be in my head with who I was. It was depressing. Soul crushing.
So there I was, in the gym. In new clothes. Fuelled on lettuce. No idea what to do. Anxious I was being judged and positive everyone was looking at me. I looked around and I chose to go on the machine that seemed quite easy to use and that was out of the way of everyone else; the cross-trainer.
I stayed on that cross-trainer for 10 minutes. Tried to do some sit ups and then went to have a 20 minute shower so the reception wouldn’t notice my failure to have a proper workout and then I left. Probably stopping by M&S on the way home to get a bottle of wine and some crisps, because…
“Why bother. I’ll always be fat!”
And that was that, I would not return for another year, when the pattern would repeat.
So how did I change this behaviour? Well I got a Personal Trainer to teach me what to do, but more importantly I learnt not to overthink what I was doing. I focussed on what I was achieving that day and not what I wanted to achieve in a few months or a years’ time. I call it putting on ‘the blinkers’ and it is hard, but if you can learn how to focus on your fitness goals a day at a time, I promise you that success will come your way and the pattern of failure will be broken. I would also encourage you to remember, that while your body can’t do everything right now, your mind can learn everything you need to know. Commit yourself to the pursuit of knowledge, whether it be through a Personal Trainer and research like I did, or off your own back. The more you know, the less likely you are to slip back into old habits and the more likely you are to become that person you always imagined yourself as.