Happy 1 year of fitness to me! I’ve got to admit when I wrote my first fitness blog post 6 months ago I was a little sceptical I would make it this far. The fact that I’d stuck to a healthy diet and regular exercise for 6 months had surprised me. As I have always been clear about, I have had no goal to become a size 0 or have a six-pack, my only aim is to maintain a healthy lifestyle which in itself is a murky phrase with no clearly defined lines. I took healthy lifestyle to mean eating healthy meals most of the time i.e. lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and hitting the gym a few times a week. However, this balance has not always been perfectly maintained.
As mentioned previously I have a very addictive personality and I’m a very all or nothing kind of person so I struggle with balance, which is a necessity to maintaining anything long term. My New Year’s resolution was to have a better work life balance and overtime I have managed to reign in my neurotic tendency to become a perfect robot which often led to me having emotional breakdowns because I was overworked and overstressed. The gym was at first a pain in the arse, then it was a happy place where I relieved some stress, and then it was my life and everything else revolved around it. I’ve never had an eating disorder and throughout this I have always made sure I have as close to possible the right amount of calories a day but the gym became an obsession, exercise in general did. I was walking 2 hours a day to university and back, I was in the gym every day, even sometimes twice a day and when I had just finished an 8 hour shift at work I was guess where…in the gym! If I didn’t wake up aching and sore with ab lines, I’d be annoyed with myself and push myself harder. Every activity I did was often merited in my mind based on exercise. A walk to the shops, great that’s another 20 minutes of exercise! A game of tennis…I hate tennis but hey, it’s exercise!
My food was always really healthy. My birthday drinks with my friends was a smoothie from the local Juicing shop! I’d pour myself over healthy recipe pages and fitness accounts trying to find new meals to make. I felt guilty eating things that were high in calories and had little nutritional value. I did sometimes have unhealthy food because I knew I needed to be more balanced but I’d then be planning how I can burn it off straight away. I wouldn’t say I had Orthorexia which seems to be on the rise due to the growing popularity in the fitness world. Orthorexia for those who don’t know is a condition where you become so obsessed with healthy eating that it is seen as the route to perfect healthy and if you eat foods that are believed to be unhealthy you will get sick and it causes a lot of anxiety. It can also develop into cutting out whole food groups and only eating very specific foods, i.e. raw natural vegetables. It can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. I was never going to bother with protein shakes and supplements because my belief is that the normal dietary advice of just eat healthier and move more is sufficient to have a healthy lifestyle.
I knew I was beginning to burn out because the gym was no longer helping my sleep as I stressed about my university work and it became harder and harder to drag myself to the gym everyday or go running. During my exercise I’d be wide awake but just before it and not long after I’d be back to walking around like a zombie. Someone who worked at my university originally applauded me for my super human abilities then realised I wasn’t being very kind to myself when I turned up at her office drenched from my hours walk in the rain, eye bags revealed from my makeup washing off and told her I’d be walking an hour back in it then hitting the gym. When she asked me how often I went to the gym a week and I told her it was everyday and if not I was running she told me I needed to learn to switch off because I was like this perfect little robot either at work, doing university work or in the gym. Inadvertently I’d sucked the fun out of everything. She advised I start reading something that isn’t academic or watch TV in the evenings occasionally instead of going to the gym. So naturally I burnt through numerous books which I think she wanted to hit me round the back of the head with because I was just turning that into another task to ace. It took a while for me to learn to just do things because it made me happy, rather than doing everything as a means to an end to say I completed it.
Everyday is still a mental effort for me to be more balanced but I’ve realised that’s because of just who I am as a person more than a fixation with one thing in particular. As you’ve probably noticed I set up a business over night for my dad, I couldn’t just do that in stages! Despite all the struggles though I’ve managed to have a healthier lifestyle over all for 1 year and I’m amazed! This bad period was fleeting amongst all the positive benefits I have received throughout my journey. My body has changed shape and is more toned without losing curves and I still have a J. LO bum. I do have progress pictures but I’m not posting them because I’m in my underwear and I like to keep some things private! Since coming home for the summer I’ve continued running a few times every week and beat my personal best and I still eat healthy. I went for a run this morning to celebrate the occasion (not everyone’s ideal celebration activity I know). I can now run for ages without needing to stop, run much further and I have more confidence with sports I’m not very good at because I’m not worried I won’t have the stamina or strength for it. It’s made me a more active person in general and I feel more awake and ready for the day. It feels like a weird thing to say but I feel more human when I’m pushing myself physically because our bodies are incredible and we can do so much more than what our brains tell us we can do. I’m a firm believer that you can do anything once you put your mind to it and everyday I’m continually proving to myself that that is the case and surpassing my expectations.
June is probably a popular month for everyone to start thinking about their ‘beach body’ so I hope that those people pursuing a diet remember that a diet is what you eat, not a temporary turmoil of a fast. A healthy diet can bring more positives to your life like a happier mood, better skin and more energy rather than just a slimmer waist line. Exercise is not a gruelling activity that is a punishment, it’s giving your body that strength that it’s capable of and caring for your health. Don’t start a diet with your sights set on an end point, if you start your day with the mentality of starting better habits for yourself then weight loss will follow and you’ll feel a lot better about what you’re doing compared to running to the end of the road with no energy because you’ve starved yourself all day and feeling like this isn’t for you and you can’t wait till it’s over. There is no quick fix to anything in life and crash diets lead to you putting all the weight back on and extra.
I wish everyone the best of luck this summer with their healthy diets and workouts! Remember to be sensible and don’t fall down the rabbit hole like I did.