On the 1st January 2014 I set myself a goal- to get healthier and tone up. By no means was I overweight, but I had a spare tyre on my tummy and I seriously hadn't done regular exercise since I was at school. I decided to document my monthly progress on my blog, in order to keep me motivated and help anyone else who might have been doing the same.
I ended up doing really well and I drastically changed my lifestyle. I lost two stone of weight, toned up a bit, started really thinking about what kind of food I was eating, and above all gained a passion for exercise, especially running. I went from not being able to run half a mile to running two half marathons and other shorter distance races. For a year regular exercise and eating well just became a part of my life, although of course I allowed myself treats as well.
I love reading 'real life' stories of fitness and healthy eating, and it seemed that others felt the same as I got lots of emails saying how I had inspired them to do exercise or start running. I posted a 'before and after' photo on my instagram account at the start of the year, and I was all set to delete it after a few minutes as I wasn't entirely comfortable showing it- but actually it was my most popular photo to date. However you may have noticed (or may not care in the slightest!) that I haven't posted any fitness updates recently. And well to be honest that's because I feel a bit of a fraud and I haven't really had anything to say. But I wanted to do an update regardless as this is my blog and I want to look back on it all in years to come.
In February 2014 I started getting really poorly every once in a while. It was so strange and there was no pattern to it- it could happen a couple of times in one week and then not happen for a couple of months, or it could happen constantly for a couple of weeks. There was no rhyme nor reason to why it was happening, but I would have ridiculously uncomfortable tummy cramps, an upset tummy and then feel incredibly sick- more often than not I would be sick too. I went to the doctor and was told to keep a food diary, which I duly did, and they couldn't find anything, I was referred to a specialist at the hospital a couple of times and again they couldn't find anything badly untoward. It really was horrid as I never knew when it would strike- my best friend's hen do and a press trip to Palma being two of the worst times. I had to cancel and change plans a lot due to it as well. It was really strange but this on top of the exercise and the healthy eating, meant that I lost a lot of weight.
At my lowest weight I was just under eight stone. Obviously weight is relative to you, your height and your build but I would say a comfortable, slim weight for me is around 8 stone 6- that puts me in an 8-10 dress size. But in October last year, I went to see the specialist who checked my BMI and said that I was now classed as really quite underweight for my height and frame. And that scared me a lot if I am honest. I have never had an issue with my weight or my body image, I've always been a comfortable size 10-12, (creeping up to a 14 after I had LL) happy with myself and reasonably confident. Sure I have hang ups like everyone else from time to time, or days where I look in the mirror and think 'bleugh' but for the most part I have always felt pretty normal and average.
But hearing a professional tell you that you are now classed as underweight is actually pretty scary. I want my daughter's to see me as a role model, I want to teach them about being healthy and confident. We also may one day want more babies, and being underweight isn't a good thing for fertility either. Looking at myself in the mirror I could see that I no longer looked toned, but actually too thin. My legs had no fat on them at all and my face looked gaunt and tired. Around this time in October I had my second ever half marathon and Mr E took a photo of me- I think I look way too thin.
I'm not saying that I had made myself too thin deliberately or anything like that- far from it, but I think that finding a love of exercise, getting down to my goal weight really quickly and then being poorly just perhaps meant it all was a bit too much pressure on my body. So from October onwards, I sort of lost my way a little. The weather became worse, Winter came and I lost the motivation to run as much. I have a definite mind connection between eating and exercise, if I exercise I am less inclined to eat 'bad' things like biscuits, cakes and chocolate, but if I don't then I find I eat more. Then Christmas came and of course party season means you eat lots, but I was still trying to exercise, just not quite as much as before.
On January 2nd I took this photo of my progress and that's when I think I was at my best, I was still toned but healthier than I was in October. But then we went on holiday to the Caribbean and my exercise sort of dwindled down to almost nothing. So of course the vicious circle happens where I eat more rubbish because I am not exercising. My running was really sporadic, I would run three times a week one week and then not run for two weeks. But the main thing is that I was back to not particularly eating well at all.
It wasn't all bad- I ran my first half marathon of 2015, the Cambridge Half Marathon at the start of March, after hardly any training and I was thrilled to complete it in 1.50.04. But I allowed my main weaknesses- chocolate, biscuits etc creep back into my diet. I am not one to starve myself from these kind of things, I think they are fine in moderation and I enjoy having them- but I went back to eating them most days. That combined with less exercise like kettlebells and lots of going away and eating out in restaurants (puddings are impossible to resist!) means that I am now far less toned than I was at the start of the year.
So what now?
The thing I struggle with at the moment is balance. I either go the whole hog and watch what I eat constantly, exercise lots and am strict, or I don't exercise as much and therefore snack on rubbish. I need to find that happy medium, one where I exercise regularly, eat healthily but don't deny myself things I enjoy- after all life is too short for that. I am now what I class as a healthy weight for my frame (8 stone 7), but I have lost some of those ab muscles I worked so hard to get last year. So my main aim is to get those back. I want to get toned and feel strong. I am also still running, but I want to get back to enjoying it again, rather than finding it a chore, which is how it has got at the moment. We are so busy at home and I feel like it's just another thing to have to do when I rarely get a chance to relax as it is- but I know how much I loved it last year so I need to get back to that stage. I have three more half marathons booked in this year- one in August, one in October and one in November, and I want to make sure I train well for them.
It seems that my health problems have finally eased- I haven't had a episode since we were in the Caribbean on holiday in January, and even then they are few and far between now. I have no idea what it was, whether it was something to do with my diet, a bug that wouldn't clear up and affected my immune system, or some sort of reaction to something, but touch wood I feel a lot better now, so fingers crossed it stays that way.
In terms of food this is the main one for me, I want to make sure I try and find a balance- where I eat well, with the odd treat, and don't snack on rubbish- that's my main weakness and it's not healthy. Overall my diet is pretty good but I need to stop eating quite so many snacks. For the last few weeks Mr E and I have been making smoothies as we bought a Nutri bullet- we are really enjoying these and it also means that the girl's are having lots of hidden goodness that they wouldn't ever dream of actually eating. We have lots of lovely trips and things coming up over the Summer, and life is too short not to enjoy them and eat what I want, but I just want to get back to the outlook I had last year of finding healthier choices rather than eating half a pack of biscuits!
The last couple of weeks I have been back to exercising more, especially working on my abdominal area and I took a photo of myself yesterday morning so I can see how I get on over the next few weeks...
I have noticed an improvement on my abs even after doing exercise on them for a week or so.
So there we go, a ridiculously long and ridiculously overdue fitness update! Apologies if these aren't your thing- normal service will resume tomorrow!