I’d been thinking how to angle this blog post for a while now. And then today, as I was at Sweat 1000, armed with boxing gloves and jabbing at that punch bag repeatedly (with quite a steely determination I might add), it hit me: my transformation this year has been fuelled by a desire to be stronger.
Physical strength is not something that is much spoken about or praised when it comes to women. Men sure, they must all be strong and fit but the goals and adjectives we use for women, are seldom about strength. No, we must all be thinner, more glamorous, sexier, more ambitious, more loving etc. Strong women are often seen as intimidating or masculine.
I wrote earlier this year that I wasn’t focused on losing weight and this remains true. Over the course of a year or so, I’d put on about 8kg without properly noticing (no scale! no full length mirror!). That’s not a lot and I wasn’t overweight, I was just bigger than I had ever been and I wasn’t feeling quite myself. I had fallen out of love with exercise and I felt demotivated.
My pants didn’t fit. My face didn’t look the same. I couldn’t run a few kilometres without huffing and puffing. I didn’t feel physically strong. And I didn’t like it.
So I made some changes. Getting fitter and stronger (and subsequently thinner) is really all about you. No one else can do it for you. And once you’ve achieved your goals, no one else can take them away from you. That is a very powerful thing.
In a world where women often feel sidelined and overpowered and unable to show their strength, changing yourself in this way can give you a confidence that simply wasn’t there before. So how did I do this? Different things work for different people, but below are a few changes I made to my life (some of them little, some of them big), that added up to the changes you can see:
- I paid more attention to drinks. I never drink anything now but water. No juice, no Appletiser or any type of fizzy drink. I drink cool filtered water and lots of it. In terms of coffee, I skip the lattes or cappuccinos and I drink filter coffee with a splash of milk (and a smidge of sugar). I have one of those in the morning and then it’s water, water, water.
- I cut back on the wine. I don’t drink on week nights as it’s such a sneaky way of adding calories (although, let’s be honest – sometimes you need it!).
- I looked at my portions. I’ve always had a healthy farm girls’ appetite and that will never change! But I was eating way more than I needed to. I’d eat my first helping so fast and then immediately head back for seconds, even though I was actually full. Now I take a smaller portion than I used to and eat much slower.
- I found an eating plan that suits me. I don’t eat a lot of bread, cereal, rice or pasta but I love potatoes! I always try eat protein for breakfast (boiled eggs etc) because it keeps me fuller for longer and I make sure I always throw snacks in my bag (apples, bananas, rice crackers and hummus etc) for when I get hungry at work. My hardest time was always from 5-7pm when you’re making the kids dinner (and yours), and are peckish. So I try to have healthy snacks available then so I’m not tempted to eat 3 leftover fish fingers. I still eat fun things like a slice of cake or a burger now and then, but I try fill my diet with lots of unprocessed, fresh and healthy food.
- I got a personal trainer. I’ve written about training with Fitmom before, but it really was the kickstart I needed. Having someone you’re accountable to (and that you’ve prepaid!) is really the only way I would have discovered the joy of exercise again.
- I discovered other forms of exercise like Sweat1000 and I also tried out new classes at gym (like The Grid and Shape), which have been great. I’ve realised that I’m just not someone who pushes themselves enough if they exercise alone on the treadmill (plus it’s so BORING).
- I found a friend/training partner. It’s much more fun and motivating if you’re meeting someone to exercise together.
- I did a lot of cardio but I also made time for yoga or Pilates. I’ve tried to add one session of yoga in every week as these much used muscles really need it.
- I plan my week out in terms of exercise and I write it in my diary. I make time for it, like you would a work meeting or a coffee with friends.
- I bought nice workout gear. You don’t need a lot, but 2 or 3 nice pairs of funky gym pants and tops can really make you feel more confident when you’re exercising.
- I’ve tried to not get obsessed with the scale. I still don’t own a scale, I jump on one every 1 or 2 weeks at the gym and just check in. I’ve dropped 8kg since January and I’m not planning on losing any more.
None of this was easy. I got up in the cold and dark with the sound of rain on the roof and headed out in mid winter to exercise – when all I really wanted to do was sleep. But was it worth it? Completely.
I feel happier, with more energy for being a mom and a business owner and a wife and a friend and all those things. Exercise has become such fun again. And the best part is that I feel like I’m inhabiting this body fully again and that I’m a much stronger version of myself.
Have wonderful weeks.