As some of you know, I found my ‘thing’ earlier this year. It took me 37 years but I finally found it. By ‘thing’ I mean exercise and for me this was Training For Warriors.

Throughout my life, I have tried so many types of exercise. When I was at school I was captain of the athletics team and competed in sprinting, long jump and high jump. However, when I went to university I put a lot of weight on and struggled to find something to help me keep fit. One summer holiday a friend convinced me to join my local Rosemary Conley’s Diet and Fitness class and I really enjoyed the aerobics and coaching it offered. I managed to lose nearly 2 stone over the summer holiday, going from a size 18 to a size 14. I remember going back to uni feeling better and more confident.

Over around 8 years, I gradually put this weight back on as I struggled to find something I loved and would stick to. I cannot tell you how many gym memberships I have started and cancelled after not going for months. I have tried PT, which I did enjoy, but didn’t do anything in between my PT sessions. I have downloaded workout subscriptions such as BodyBoss and Insanity, but I just ended up watching them whilst sitting on the sofa. I took up running for a while when a friend convinced me that when I got better at it I would really enjoy it. My little sister loves to run and makes it look so easy so I really gave it a go. But after working through the Couch to 5k app for 4 weeks, I was not enjoying it and so I gave that up too.

In March this year I joined Training for Warriors when a good friend recommended it to me. I had seen the changes in her over the 8 weeks she had been a member, not just in terms of her body, but in her confidence, positivity and energy. Along with 23 other women, I embarked on their 8 week challenge, a signature program to get you used to the exercises and kick start your fitness journey.

I can’t tell you how nervous I was. Putting myself out there with all my insecurities with a big group of people was terrifying. I felt like my lack of fitness was completely exposed and that people would be judging me. Of course I found the complete opposite. I joined an amazing group of women each with a personal and touching story behind why they wanted to get fit.

The premise is simple. TFW follows a program set centrally with a mixture of strength and cardio. There are some mental aspects as well such a language change around working out, replacing words like ‘training’ with ‘practice’. Every practice begins with a motivational story, set along the theme for the month with themes ranging from kindness to teamwork to grit. There are amazing coaches who genuinely take an interest and care about you. They champion you and push you to be the best version of yourself.

But fitness is only part of what you gain from TFW. I have joined a community (although my friends will tell you I have joined a cult). TFW has completely reenergised me and given me a love of fitness. I can see why people think its like a cult. I have started talking differently, I love high fives, I look for ways to cheer others on in my everyday life and I get up at 6am on my days off to go and work out. My mum sometimes wonders if I have been swapped with an alien.

I have days when I cannot be bothered to get up off the sofa and work out, but then I just think about the other women at TFW who need me to motivate and cheer them on. And this works the other way; when I have had a terrible day at work and just want to go home and drown myself in chocolate, I go to practice instead because I know that my fellow warriors will do more to cheer me up than any bar of Dairy Milk.

And I have seen results so quickly. For the first time in my life I have visible muscles in my arms. I can run up the stairs at work without nearly collapsing. I completed Tough Mudder with my team an hour quicker than the previous 2 years. And it is not just strength and fitness. I have made new friends, which most of us know is hard to do as an adult. I am more confident and just feel better about myself and who I am. It even inspired me to write this blog, something I would never have dreamed of before joining Training For Warriors.

I think for me, it is the group mentality that TFW offers that keeps me going. I know that people want different things from their fitness and workouts and for me it is clearly having other people to motivate you. I want to be supported and to support others. I enjoy the responsibility and accountability that group fitness offers. I know that this would not be for everyone but we all have to find our ‘thing’.

What is your ‘thing’ for fitness? Have you even found it yet? If you haven’t I would encourage you to keep searching because the pay off when you do is so worth it.

I have now been fully committed to exercise for 5 months and aside from the obvious weight loss and muscle gain, I have noticed several other side effects that I attribute to working out.

Firstly, I smile more. I know, this sounds ridiculous but it is true.Take this photo for example. I am a hot mess here having just completed a practice. My face is tomato red, there are sweat droplets on my top lip (post about sweating to come soon) and I felt like I needed to collapse. But I just couldn’t help smiling at having nailed my workout. And it is not just after exercising that I find myself smiling. I catch myself in the mirror and have a wee smile at the little differences in my body. I see the muscles in my arms and I am pure delighted with them, causing me to break out in a smile. Even my mum has commented that I just appear happier and it’s because I am smiling more.

Another side effect I have noticed is that I have more energy. I have to confess, I have not nailed the nutrition part of being healthier; I just love food too much. However, even just through working out, I am finding myself rejuvenated and full of beans. I actually feel like I have turned back the years. Traditionally I have been a lazy person. I can lose hours awake in my bed, procrastinating and avoiding all the life admin that I need to do. In the 5 months since joining TFW, I no longer do this. I even find myself getting up on my day off to join the 6:30am practice (who am I) because I know I will come home, have some breakfast and get on with my day. This is a marked difference from my traditional routine of sleeping till 10:30am and then wasting away in bed till 2pm. Exercise has literally given me time in my life. I now have so much time and energy that I don’t know what to do with myself (possibly how this blog started).

Possible the best side effect I have found is gaining confidence. I have always been the person who appears to be the life and soul of the party. I have a big personality to match my big body and definitely come across as confident. However, most of it is a front. I am actually really insecure and am constantly in my own head. I question everything I wear, I question everything I say, I even question why people are my friends. Since I ‘discovered’ exercise, I have gained so much confidence.

I wore this top on a night out having bought it 8 months earlier and not feeling able to wear it. And this was only 1 month into my fitness journey. I gained confidence at work, finally feeling good about my abilities in my role. I even applied for a new position at work (I didn’t get it but not important). It was as if I had just decided that I was good enough and I could do it. In fact, I feel like I could do almost anything I put my mind to. I tried riding a motorbike this week, something I had always wanted to do and I actually did really well.

I know there is loads of science around exercise and endorphins and I probably haven’t really believed in it before now. Even when I have had the worst day, I push myself to go and train and I come out happier. I can be so stressed I am on the verge of tears but after beasting through some squats and sprints I am ready to take on the world again. It is like the best free and legal drug I could have hoped for.

Has anyone else discovered side effects from getting fit? What sort of things have changed in your life that you attribute to working out? I would love to hear any great stories to keep me motivated.

My whole life I have lied to myself.

I have told myself little things to feel better. I have convinced myself of things to avoid taking any action or responsibility for the way I look. I have avoided using certain words because I don’t like the way they sound.

When I first started getting fit, I started to think about some of these lies. I started to say them out loud. And I started to realise how ridiculous they sound.

Lie number 1:

“You are supposed to be this size”

Well, I know that this is a lie because I was not alway this size. There was a point in my life when I was a size 10-12 and could see my toes; now I am a size 18-20 and haven’t seen my fanny in years. When I was younger I could also eat anything that I wanted to and didn’t have to exercise. I would shovel in all sorts of crap just because I could. My diet was appalling. At one point I think I survived on microwave mash potato, steak bakes and cans of Red Bull. I was always first to hit the chippy on the way home from a club. I would be first up to order takeaway pizza to cure my hangover. I remember laughing at people when they would tell me my metabolism would slow down and I would pay for this later in life. Now when I laugh my belly does a little jiggle.

Lie number 2:

“You would look silly as a skinny person”

Ok, this is only a semi lie because when I lose weight it goes from everywhere expect my boobs. So I do look a little bit silly when I am skinny. But seriously, who looks silly when they are skinny? I might not look like myself, but that is because I am a different version of myself. And why would this ever be a reason for someone not to take better care of themselves? You know what does look silly? Having to sit down when I play with my nephews because I am out of breath. Having to go outside for air on a night out because I am too hot due to my excess weight. Having to undo my jeans because I have eaten too much and my clothes are all too tight. Those are the things that look silly.

Lie number 3:

“You could lose the weight easily if you wanted to”

Now I know this is a lie because I did it once before. When I went to university, I put on a lot of weight. I went up to a size 18 after my second year and I was really unhappy with my size. So my best friend helped me to do something about it. I joined Rosemary Conley’s weight loss program. I had to watch everything I ate. I had to check all food for fat content and weigh the things I was eating. I had to think twice before I went out for dinner. I had to work out every week and be weighed in a room full of strangers. It definitely was not easy. Since then I have also tried several times to get fit. I have tried having a personal trainer, joining expensive gyms, signing up for boot camps, purchasing exercise dvd’s and buying any sort of miracle pill I could find on the internet. And I am still the same size. So yes, this is a massive lie.

Lie number 4:

“You are not fat”

Well, a whole load of doctors and scientists would disagree with this statement. With a BMI of 34, I am classed as obese. Not even overweight but actually obese. I don’t know why I shy away from the word fat. For years I have flinched when people say it, even if they aren’t talking about me. And I am definitely not in support of fat shaming (will write a post about this in the future) but I also believe in reality.

My biggest step to doing something about the way I looked was to be honest with myself and stop telling all the lies. I am a fat person. I would feel better in myself if I lost some weight and got fitter. There is no specific size I am supposed to be but I would like to be a smaller size. I even caught myself the other day when I was talking about my fitness. I was about to say “I don’t think I will ever be a size 12′ and I stopped because I don’t know that. Maybe I will get to a size 12, but I know if I start telling myself I won’t then there is no way I can ever get there.

Everyone has their own fitness journey for their own reasons. But you can only start that journey when you are honest with yourself and also stop putting blockers in your way. I know I have just started telling myself the truth and I have a lot further to go.

Let me know if any of this resonates with you. Have any of you told yourself lies to stop taking action? How did you start being honest? How do you feel now you have been honest?

Thanks for reading