For those of you who have followed me for a while you’ll know that I’m a massive fitness fan. I love going to the gym and have done for around two years now.
When I first joined the gym I was underweight, I wasn’t eating enough and I had a very warped perception of what I looked like. I was just under 7 stone, I’d never pick up weights or use any machines that weren’t cardio. I’d go to the gym and work off more calories than I’d eaten in the day. As much as I never thought it at the time, looking back it was extremely unhealthy. I had a lot of the symptoms of Anorexia. I wouldn’t eat breakfast or lunch, only dinner when I was with my family. I would say I wasn’t hungry or pretend I’d already eaten when I hadn’t. I lost a lot of weight, I was tired all the time, I had no energy and I was completely over-emotional. I’d weigh and measure myself every day, sometimes a few times a day. I had a very warped perception of what I looked like, thinking I was much bigger than I was, thinking my thighs, my waist, my whole body was too big.
It was strange for me because I didn’t want a skinny body. I wanted a fit body. I’d be constantly on Instagram looking at fit, slim, healthy bodies and wishing I had that. I made an album of inspiration on my phone but failed to see that at the time I was skinnier than all of these girls. I thought I had to lose weight to look like them when in reality I needed to gain weight and to exercise!
I continued on a calorie deficiency for a long time until I went to a Yoga class at my gym. The personal trainer who ran the class talked to me after and I showed her the photos of the fit/healthy girls I wanted to look like. She told me straight away that I’d need to gain weight to look like these girls. I was shocked but I was so unhappy with my body I took her advice. I started training with her and she helped me with meal plans and with understanding the importance of feeding your body and your muscles enough for the exercise you’re putting them through. I stopped doing cardio and started doing weights. Stopped being skinny and started being strong. My PT told me I had a good build for Bikini Fitness competitions and asked if it was something I’d be interested in. Initially I thought it was, I think I felt a bit pressured to say yes at the time. I admire Bikini Fitness competitors, you have to be so committed and so controlled. It requires 24/7 dedication.
We started working towards Bikini Fitness, the first step was to gain weight. I was eating clean to gain weight for the first three months, I managed to gain half a stone (7 pounds). Then I got ill and lost 5 pounds in one week. It was so difficult for me to gain weight, I started eating junk to try and put weight on more quickly. It was during this process that I realised Bikini Fitness really wasn’t for me, I couldn’t handle how my body looked while I was gaining weight. I still wanted to be fit and healthy but I knew I couldn’t handle the bulking cycles that Bikini Fitness competitors go through. I didn’t find going to the gym fun anymore. I was having to gain so much weight it felt like I was going backwards. I was going to the gym 6 days a week but looked more unfit than I did before.
I stopped my PT sessions, left that gym and opened a new membership closer to home. My new gym is fantastic, there’s a pool, a sauna, steam room, hot tub, classes are included. It’s a lot smaller and the people are so friendly. By this point I was around 9 stone, I’d come really far in terms of gaining a healthy amount of weight. I started to train with my boyfriend and his friends, still weight training without cardio. It was a lot more fun and I found I started actually looking forward to going to the gym again.
I trained with Sam and his friends for a few months but decided I wanted to be toned rather than muscly so I started to train on my own. I started doing HIIT training on the spin bike for 20 minutes after every workout. My body started to look a lot more like my goal. Before I went to Ibiza with Lipsy I trained really hard and ate well to try to look my best for holiday. When I came back I started my final exams at ACM.
I was so stressed, I had loads of essays, assessments, written exams and performance exams. I didn’t have the time or the effort to go to the gym. I felt so bad for not going and felt like I was getting fatter and fatter by the day (I wasn’t).
Then I had a little mini epiphany. I realised I’d been going to the gym for two years and beating myself up every time I didn’t manage to go 5/6 days a week. I told myself I wouldn’t go to the gym until all of my exams were over and refused to beat myself up about it.
I had my last exam on Thursday (Hooray) and I’m heading back into the gym tonight for the first time in two months. I’m so glad I took the time off. It’s been a huge slap in the face for me, really helped to put things into perspective.
The internet/social media is full of beautiful, inspiring slim/fit women. Unfortunately from time to time they can make us feel pressured rather than motivated. To go to the gym, to get that dream bod. But in reality sometimes exercising isn’t the healthiest choice. As backwards as that sounds. I used to compromise sleep for exercise. I’ve come to realise that you have to do what’s most beneficial to your overall well-being. Sometimes what’s best for your body isn’t best for your brain and you need to find somewhere in-between. I’ve been under way too much stress and pressure to be hitting the gym every day.
My tummy and my hips have a little more jiggle now but I’m still toned, I’m still healthy and for the first time in two years I’m really happy. I’m going to get back into the gym and work hard because I have the time now. I’ll work hard because I want to progress, not because I hate how I am.
I guess what I’m trying to say with all of this is don’t worry. Having your dream bod would be great but for most of us it’s not the number one priority. Work out when you can and don’t stress it when you can’t. I’m not the fittest I’ve ever been but I’m happy, I’m enjoying myself. And I can guarantee when you’re old you’ll look back at your holiday photos and wonder why you were ever unhappy with your body.