WEIGHT IS JUST A NUMBER….
In June 2015 I started Anything Is Possible on my own and realized very quickly how important it was to have access to a network to help me not “do my job” but to “help me be me”. What I mean by that is at the time I was comfortable with my capabilities to run my business and provide my clients with the high value services they were seeking, but I wasn’t very good at focusing on myself. Clearly to be successful long term I needed to do both.
I remained committed to my business and began to expand my client base and see success but even after 2 years I’d still not started to focus on myself. Then I met up with a friend of mine who had embarked on a new fitness journey and I was impressed with her success and feedback and so she asked her personal trainer to put out a question to her PT network for a colleague who’d be willing to help me locally. In September 2017 I met Victoria Wells, owner of FutureFit. Ironically this was the first time Victoria had agreed to meet a client from the network – most of her clients were personally referrals so I got lucky.
We met and chatted about my goals and “where my head was at”. The key to our successful partnership was found in that moment. I had met a personal trainer who was not concerned with scales and numbers but fitness and mental wellbeing. I also found a woman running her own business with a mental strength that I knew would keep me motivated (and on my toes!). When we talked about targets and goals Victoria promised she’d help me lose the 28lbs I wanted but to also make me stronger and fitter both physically and mentally. My only caveat was I wanted it to be a sustained change but I also said I would be 100% committed.
Now as you are very well aware there has been a pandemic over the past 18 months and as a 55 year old menopausal woman who likes gin I have a tummy that is still “work in progress” but below is my data over the time I have worked with Victoria – this is just my weight – the greatest beneficial change is in visceral fat and Fat% and Muscle% but this gives you a good indication of the reality of the past 4 years
What I have learnt over the past 4 years about myself is enlightening. I found out that the reason my previous fitness efforts had not been successful was because:
- I had tried to do it on my own
- I love data and I hadn’t been using it
- I was focused on physical fitness and not physical AND mental well-being
I want to address these 3 things a little more because I think they may help other women on a similar journey.
I had tried to do it on my own
Nothing wrong with going it alone – I have been pretty independent all of my life and enjoy my own company a great deal. What I found for my fitness journey was if I told myself I would work out 3 times a week I would maybe make one of those and easily excuse myself out of the others. Or if I said I would only eat carbs at the weekends – I would start to explain that Friday and Monday were really part of the weekend. However, if I made a commitment to someone else I completed everything without cheating.
It turns out my internal desire not to let anyone down is very helpful on a health and fitness journey! If I book a personal trainer once a week and then follow a food and diet plan given to me my compliance is 100%. Victoria used WhatsApp to make me report in (daily at the start) on what I was eating and doing for exercise. She sent me “homework” in-between our sessions and I did EVERYTHING even things that included burpees which I absolutely hate.
In the 4 years I have had once a week 121 personal training sessions with Victoria I have missed 4 (and 3 of those were because I had COVID). Any that were impacted by holidays for either of us were rescheduled so I had multiple sessions in other weeks. During the pandemic we first reverted to Zoom and virtual sessions and then when we were allowed to exercise with one other person outside, we ventured into local woods (in all weathers). To put that in perspective – I have missed 4 sessions out of 200. 2%!
I love data and I hadn’t been using it
Let me make sure this is accurately reflected – I love health and fitness data about myself. I hate doing my accounts for my business and when I worked in the Corporate world I relied heavily on the brilliance of both my finance business partner for my departmental and site budgets and a member of my leadership team who could do colour shading on pivot tables in Excel before I’d even asked her to help me create a performance report.
With health and fitness EVERYONE tells you NOT to weigh yourself and not to track your data. The best approach is to go on “how your clothes fit” and “how you feel”. I’ve pretty much ignored all advice from day one. I weigh myself every day – sometimes twice. I record my weight each week on a paper chart stuck to the inside of my bathroom cabinet and then transfer it to my Excel charts and data that I have had from the beginning of my fitness journey. I track my walks, my runs, my steps and even lately (due to a bit of a spike due to COVID) my alcohol units 😊
This is very bad practice but do you know what it works 100% for me. I let myself go 2-3 lbs and then I’m back on it. I have to be in control as I am scared if I take my eye off it then I’ll revert back to my old self. I absolutely follow the instructions from Victoria when I am on holiday or over Christmas to just do whatever I like and we will “repair” the damage but because of how I now approach my own health there is only ever 3 or 4lbs to worry about. That’s the same for during the pandemic – it had little impact for me because of the changes (physical and mental) I have made over time.
So if someone tells you not to use data but you know it works for you my advice is go with it – don’t let it define success or failure but certainly use it to help you stay on track. Victoria still dislikes the fact I weigh myself so often but she still does all my assessments monthly to give me my numbers and she’s adapted to my love of data tracking. I was saying a while ago I was making sure I was doing 10,000 steps a day regardless of what I was doing work wise – Victoria upped the target to 100,000 steps a week. I’m not saying I can make that every week but it motivates me to go beyond the 10,000 on the days of the week I have the opportunity to do more.
I was focused on physical fitness and not physical AND mental well-being
I’m not sure I can write much about this aspect of my journey as it still remains a very private part of who I am. Victoria knows my head as much as my body. We can be exercising and without talking she will say – “this isn’t working for you let’s change it”. I can turn up for a session and not be on form and she’ll throw me the boxing gloves and say let’s punch whatever is going on out. During the time I have know her there has been the pandemic and she been a genius in continuing to create sessions that help my physical fitness AND my mental wellbeing.
My brother died in January. David was 57 years old with a devoted wife and 3 truly amazing daughters. I know I have used exercise to help me over the past 6 months. I know I have had to run more frequently because I need to be outside and focused on something else. If I wasn’t as fit as I am I wouldn’t be able to do that and I know I’d have not been able to navigate the dark corners of my life this year.
Others have helped me and my Mum during the past 6 months and I’m not underestimating the importance of my partner and close friends and family but for me I have to feel I can try to take back control of my feelings myself and my fitness and exercise is helping me do that.
When I first started my health and fitness journey my desire was to make it a sustained way of life. I didn’t want a health and exercise routine I wanted to live a healthier and balanced life. How can I mentor my own clients if I am not trying to get the balance right myself? How can I be authentic in workshops and online classes if I am not doing what I advise others?
So now I do what I can each day to be the best version of myself I can be. Yep I drink gin and no matter how much my tummy annoys me I know the consequence of my decisions – it’s about balance and choice and for it to be a sustained way of living I have to have “cheat meals”, G&Ts and a personal trainer that is more committed to my journey than I am!
Victoria is proud of my journey. She uses my before and after photos on her web site to show clients what is possible. Quite rightly for her cause these are photos of me at my heaviest and my lightest. Those two photos show the dramatic difference committing to a healthy lifestyle can make. But I wanted to add a photo from today – 4 years on and not at my lightest (definitely at my wettest as it was pouring with rain this morning). I knew when I was at my lightest I would not stay at that weight – it wasn’t a sustainable weight for me but I wanted to make sure I didn’t drift too far from it!
According to my own data I am 6lbs from my ideal weight and that’s my current target and very achievable if I can sort out this menopause nonsense! But Victoria has always been right – what is more important than the weight target is my strength and fitness. This morning I went for a run and while I was running I wrote this blog (in my head obviously) and I kept running because I wanted to demonstrate that when you are on a journey YOU can achieve remarkable things. Today I registered my longest ever run on Strava at 11.5K – when I was at my lightest I could just about make 5.5K. Now I know others run marathons (some more than one in a day), others do Ironman or equally remarkable things but your targets and achievements have to be relative to your work and 11.5K is good in my books.
I don’t want short term targets – they don’t work as well for me. If this is a sustained change and a new way of living then I need to look to the future. So my new personal goal formulated on my run alongside this blog content, is to be able to run 6K at 60 years old and be 6lbs lighter than today. Now I love a good proverb – so like to motivate me to my new 5 year target I’m thinking “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings” or for me, until my personal trainer tells me it is!