I wanted to share my fitness journey you because it’s one of the topics I get asked about the most. I’m currently at a stage where I feel the fittest, strongest and healthiest I ever have, both physically and mentally. However, this didn’t happen over night; it was a journey and I’ve definitely had my up’s & down’s with training. So here is the story of how I got to where I am to today with my fitness, what motivates me to train, what I actually do to keep fit and healthy and some tips to help you on your own fitness journey. This is a very raw and real blog for you guys and I’ve tried to answer all of the questions I received on this topic. xx
How My Fitness Journey Started
I was always an active and sporty kid. I started dancing and calisthenics when I was 3 and continued this until high school. I loved athletics and cross country at school and was always playing sports. In year 10 at school, I stopped all sports to focus on study but soon decided I wanted to start running as a break from my study. Running became my escape from everything; I loved it! It made me feel good, de-stressed me and gave me a challenge and focus outside of school.
In year 12, my best friend and I signed up to the gym, but we literally just went on the cardio machines. At that time, there wasn’t a big focus on weights for women and the weights area was “for the boys” so we never ventured there.
Over the next few years I kept running (outside and at the gym) and I improved quite a lot. I was able to run faster and for longer periods of time. I competed in some fun runs with my preferred distance being 5km and 10km (for those who asked, my PB is 37min for 10km) and I became fitter, happier, lost some weight and felt really good!
My Struggles With Training
Cardio and running was my only form of exercise in my teens and early 20s. And whilst I loved it, looking back now, only doing cardio wasn’t the best thing for my body (I just didn’t know if at the time). I needed to strengthen my muscles, bones, joints, ligaments and tendons, but all I knew was cardio. Consequently, I over trained with running. I actually injured my foot and had to wear a moon boot for weeks. This was NOT fun, especially because it was in the weeks leading up to my wedding. But I’m glad this happened, because it introduced me to strength training.
I wasn’t able to run, but the physio advised me to do weights, so I went and bought some 1kg dumbbells (yes 1kg – you have to start somewhere) and started doing upper body weights. I actually really enjoyed it and once my foot was better, I started lower body weights and body weight exercises too. If you are currently struggling with an injury, my tips would be to see your physio, exercise physiologist etc to get advice re what exercises you can and can’t do. Depending on the injury, you may be able to do some exercises still or certain rehab exercises, which can be beneficial both for your physical and mental state as it will give you something to focus on.
The combination of weight and running is when I started to notice real changes with my body. I started getting stronger in both my upper and lower body, leaner and more toned. Running with still my focus but I ran a lot less and incorporated lots of strength training, which actually helped improve my running. Over time I increased my weights, added in plyometric exercises and constantly challenged myself with new workouts & goals.
Body Image Struggles and Tips
- Find exercise that you love – one struggle I had when I started training was body image. I was always really shy and nervous about my lower body (legs and butt) when I was younger. I remember the first time I decided to go for a run in year 10, I wore stockings under my shorts to cover up my thighs because I was embarrassed about people seeing my legs when I ran. I’d been told my legs were chunky, stocky, short and big. The more I ran though, the more I loved it and slowly I began not to care about what I looked like and cared more for the enjoyment and how good it made me feel. If you are currently in the same boat I was worrying about what people might think when you exercise, find a type of exercise that you love and focus on the enjoyment, not what you think other people might think. I can guarantee you most other people actually don’t care what you’re doing. They are either a) to focused on their own workout b) actually think you’re doing awesome for getting out and training and c) if they do say something negative, they are a douchebag and they are probably just self-conscious themselves and it’s a reflection of them, not you. So get out there and train and enjoy it!
- Train with someone – I was also really shy about going to the gym and training with other people around, but having my friend with me really helped. So if you’re nervous about training with other people around, my number one tip would be to get a friend or family member to train with you. It’s more fun and takes a lot of the nerves away.
- Build your confidence – get yourself some workout gear you love and find some music that motivates you to workout. I have certain workout clothes and certain songs that I put on that honestly make me so motivated to train and smash out a session!
What Motivates Me To Train Now
The number one reason I train is because I love it! It makes me feel good; it energises me. When I train, I feel alive. Those who see me running will always catch me with a smile on my face because I truly love it! When I go on holidays, I can’t wait to go for a run or do a beach workout and explore the place! I love moving my body & being physically active. If I don’t exercise, I feel tired, sluggish & usually quite grumpy.
I also feel incredibly blessed that I have the ability to move my body pain free. One thing I didn’t mention above, was that when I was studying at Uni, I sliced my eye open, had surgery and then got an eye infection. My Dr wasn’t sure if I’d get my sight back. Thankfully I did and that experience honestly changed how I view life. I am now so thankful for my body and the fact that I am healthy and can see and move my body pain free, and that motivates me.
When it comes to motivation, to be honest, the feeling I get from training motivates me. I also love a challenge. I love setting new goals with my training and smashing them. But as well as motivation, training to me is part of my lifestyle. I don’t always need to be motivated to workout each morning, I just do it because I’ve trained my body to be in a habit it. Occasionally there are times where I use things like fun-runs, my own challenges etc to re-motivate me, but overall, training is part of my lifestyle.
If you struggle with motivation to train, my biggest tips are:
- Make it a habit – find different types of training that you enjoy and get in the habit of doing them regularly. For example, you habit might be to get up early before work and go for a walk three times a week and to the gym the other three days. Do it every day until it becomes a habit. It might be hard at first, but everything worthwhile has it’s difficult and challenges. Be prepared to put in the effort and slowly it will become easy until you don’t need to even think about it, you just do it.
- Mix up you sessions – constantly challenge your body with different training types that you enjoy.
- Train at different locations – if you always train at the gym or at a certain location, mix it up so you don’t get bored. When I started training, I wrote down 20 different locations I wanted to train at and trained at a different one each day across the month.
My Current Training
My training is currently a mixture of running (click here for some of my favourite running sessions), weights/strength training and HIIT. I don’t have a rigid schedule with my training but I do like to train first thing in the morning. I like to do a few running sessions, a couple of weights sessions and 1 or 2 HIIT sessions (usually in the form of F45) each week. My running sessions are mostly interval training; either sandhill runs, stair sessions or timed intervals, plus one easy longer run (~10km) each week. I often combine or split my workouts too, for example, I run for 20min to some outdoor equipment, do a 20min strength session then run back home for 20min. Or sometimes I’ll go for a jog on the beach in the morning for 30min and go to the gym and do a 30min session at night (my gym only opens at 4pm). I don’t schedule in rest days but take them as I need them. I prefer to do this instead of scheduling them because some weeks I feel awesome and I want to train every day and others weeks I may feel tired or be super busy with work or travelling and need a day off. But overall I like move my body everyday as I love it and feel my best
Editor's Note: this is a personal blog and all opinions are my own. Always consult your health care professional for any personal fitness advice.