Facebook reminded me of something great yesterday.
On 27th April 2011, I tentatively walked through the door of a popular Zumba class near my house with a friend. I’d heard about Zumba before but assumed it was basically a bunch of old ladies side-stepping to salsa music.
It was the very first exercise class in all of my 25 years’ existence, and I spent the whole class three steps behind everyone else, with the grace of a charging elephant, but a grin plastered across my face. Zumba taught me not to give a shit about what I looked like when exercising. What a revelation.
I met some amazing people (like Linda, below), and realised that fitness could actually be fun.
|Linda showing us why Zumba’s so much fun – and me facing the wrong way AGAIN|
It was the beginning of the end. Of the old me, that is – the sedentary smoker whose idea of a healthy breakfast was three cigarettes and a cheese toastie. (tbf I’m still bang on the cheese toasties…)
Don’t get me wrong – I was by no means unhappy before that Zumba class – I lived in Brighton (still do), had a wonderful boyfriend who I’d loved forever (now husband ❤️), and after a couple of years’ faffing about in civil service admin jobs had just landed a new job in digital marketing. (I’m now a freelance copywriter and content marketer).
But I was nowhere near as happy as I am now. In life, or in myself.
Learning to breathe again
In the January of 2011, four months before that first Zumba class, I did the best thing I have ever done for myself and finally stopped smoking. Once I did that, I knew I had the (will) power to stick to a lifestyle change, so in my search for the ‘perfect body’ I joined Weight Watchers, lost nearly two stone, and when it stopped working (because it always does, why do you think they’re still in business?) I started exercising.
|Pissed in Prague at 18 with my hubs 🙂|
It was a bumpy road to start with – I *LOVED* the Zumba classes as they were so much fun (best Zumba classes in the world, no side-stepping, I promise!), but it took a bit longer for me to learn to love the three-month early morning Brighton bootcamp classes I bought to go alongside them. I signed up to lose more weight – to achieve the ‘perfect’ slim body I’d always wanted. The body I was conditioned to think was more worth having than the one I already had. I was gonna stop when I reached my goal.
I actually never found what I thought was the ‘perfect’ body, and still don’t have it now, but somewhere in the middle of all the 7am outdoor kettlebell swings and boxing drills, I signed up to more bootcamp classes and fell head over heels in love with exercise.
I fell in love with it for how it made me FEEL – not how it made me look or how much I weighed.
|My first ever rainy bootcamp|
It’s given me so much more than weight loss. It’s taught me to believe in myself, that I can push myself and achieve things I never thought possible – running marathons, becoming a triathlete, stepping into the boxing ring.
It’s made me more focused and given me more energy, even when I’m tired and really can’t be arsed. It’s made me part of a huge, thriving community of runners, triathletes, boxers and fitness addicts in Brighton and beyond.
It’s inspired this blog and my career in sports, fitness writing and digital marketing, and given me so many opportunities along the way.
It’s literally changed my life. (And I’m not the only one).
Birthday Miles, Birthday Smiles
Let me just set one thing straight though – I’m ALL about balance.
Yes, I love keeping fit and eating healthily, but I also love cake. And chocolate. And chips. And massive roast dinners, and flapjacks, and pudding, and did I say cake?I love sitting on my arse doing nothing sometimes and at the moment cannot for the life of me get up early for a pre-work run.
I’ll never have abs because I just can’t be bothered with the discipline required in the kitchen.
But I’ll always be active, for as long as I can be. Because it makes me feel AWESOME.
I turned 30 last week, and celebrated the only way I knew how – by booking the day off and cycling 30+ hilly miles to see my best friend in Bexhill.
Last night was the first BTRS duathlon of the Midweek Tri Series and on Tuesday I finally went back to boxing after a month off. I can safely say that my arse was well and truly handed to me on both occasions.
Last night in particular, I felt like I’d never exercised before in my whole life – to console myself once I crossed the line I took two Bounty bars, a Snickers and a token banana from the BTRS bucket for my efforts, and reminded myself that the first workout back is always the hardest.
Just like the first one ever.
|Brighton Triathlon Race Series – duathlon no.1 of the 2016 Midweek Tri Series|
If you’re starting your journey into a fitter, happier you – don’t give up when your legs and lungs are screaming at you. Push through it for one more rep, run to one more lamp post, cycle to the top of that hill on the bike. Rest at the top. And take a selfie to tell everyone about it.
If you can push through when you want to give up, you really can do anything.
Even if it makes your face do this:
How did you get into fitness?