So today’s post is a bit different. Before I begin I want to state that I am not a health professional, I don’t have all the answers and this isn’t an advice post – just a discussion about what I found works for me. As you can guess from the title it’s about strength training – a recent change to my workout routine. I am by no means a gym bunny and still have a considerable amount of fat to lose but I’m on my way and that’s what matters to me.
Before this I rarely worked out. I went for walks along the river and cycled or walked to and from uni – that was it. I was overweight (or obese if you believe in BMI scales) and extremely unhappy with my body. I knew I had to do something but I didn’t know where to start. I’d tried a few workout apps before but had only really stuck to them for a few days. Really I wanted a workout buddy but no one I knew was in the same frame of mind as me. That’s when I came across Fit Girls; an exercise regime with a HUGE supportive online community designed to get women back into exercise and healthy habits in a fun and accessible way. I decided I’d give it a go – if I didn’t follow it so what?
In the same way that slimming world works better than tackling weight loss alone because you are accountable to your group of slimmers, FGG works because you are accountable to the online community. I’ve made so many friends through this community and it has really helped me carry on with my fitness goals being able to chat to and share with like minded people. These guys and girls understand that no one is perfect, embrace the odd indulgence and share healthy recipes, encourage you to drink more water with the hashtag #sdac – stop drop and chug – and post sweaty selfies post workout so you don’t feel like you’re the only one that looks like a tomato afterwards.
Planning To Exercise
The biggest change that has kept me on track is knowing what I am doing in advance. Sounds silly and really simple but before FGG I would tell myself I needed to workout but never give myself a plan. So when it came to exercising I would shrug it off because I didn’t really want to do it and didn’t know where to start. With a mixed weekly exercise plan of strength training and cardio that feels achievable I’ve actually stuck at it (even when I really didn’t want to) and noticed some surprising changes in myself both physical and mental. There are still days when I really don’t want to exercise – it’s not magically become fun but I do enjoy the feeling of accomplishment once I’ve completed my workout and the changes I can see in my body.
Eating Well Not Dieting
One of the biggest draws for me was that FGG wasn’t a strict meal plan. I don’t like being told what to eat, especially if I have to eat 6-8 times a day, buy everything from a health food store and can’t adjust it to my tastes. FGG gives you a few recipe ideas, reinforces what is healthy and what isn’t and sends you on your way. With my IBS I’m currently unable to eat gluten or dairy (all the tasty food) which has made choosing healthily easier as I don’t really have any other choice – unless you count bloated and in pain. But it has led me to rediscover my love of cooking and have fun with different flavours. There are some incredible gluten and dairy free cookbooks out there (Barbara Cousins and Madeleine Shaw anyone?), so I’ve found a whole host of ‘new favourite’ recipes that are healthy, tasty and gluten and dairy free. If you’re interested drop me a comment and I’ll share a few on the blog.
Strength Training Vs Cardio
It’s important to have a mix of strength training and cardio in all good exercise regimes according to pretty much everyone on the internet. I can’t really comment on the validity of that because I’m not a personal trainer, but since starting FGG – which is a mix of body weight strength training and cardio – I have noticed changes in my body shape that I have never had before.
On previous health kicks I would eat well and head out jogging, jump on a cross trainer, go to a dance class or practice yoga. I would get fit and drop some weight but my body shape never changed. I was still jiggly in all the same places, there was just less of me to jiggle. I didn’t like strength training because it was hard work and I didn’t want to build loads of muscle. Yet I still complained when my arms were a little flabby and my inner thighs looked unappealing.
I’m now on my second round of FGG and while I’ve lost some weight I don’t really care because I’m happier with the shape I see when I look in the mirror. My arms and inner thighs still need some work but I can see the shape of them changing and I no longer feel the need to hide them away. I still need to lose some fat from my middle but my waist is coming back, and I can see the tone of my muscles under the excess weight. I feel strong and capable – something which I haven’t felt in a long time – and I constantly wonder why it has taken me so long to do this.
Home Workout Cost
There are plenty of free workouts available online but they usually only target one area of the body. Whilst I could fashion an exercise regime from them I don’t really know what I’m doing and could be expecting too much or too little of myself. There are plenty of plans and apps available to suit everyone, some that require subscriptions and those that don’t. As a student I chose FGG because it was a one-off payment rather than a monthly fee. I’ve also found FitnessBlender who provide thousands of free workout videos on YouTube as well as one-off payment workout programmes from $5.99. I’ve bought some equipment – namely some girly dumbells, a snazzy exercise mat and some resistance bands. You don’t need them to get started with but I’ve enjoyed the chance to make my workouts a bit harder on the days I’ve felt I needed more of a challenge. I’m still on my fitness journey and trying to figure out what works best for me but I can definitely say that the change in shape I’ve achieved from strength training has just motivated me even more.
If you’re interested in following my fitness journey I have separate insta and Twitter accounts (so I don’t bore those who aren’t interested), feel free to add me and share your tips and advice.