HOW DO YOU ENFORCE AN ENTIRE LIFESTYLE CHANGE?


Get up, get changed, and get fit. Start simple and build.

By  Lauren Brigden

YOU HAVE TO WANT TO DO IT.

When I was asked to write this blog post, I thought, ‘sure, I can write a snippet of my journey. That simple change from eating a whole tub of Ben and Jerry's Peanut Buttah Cookie Core during an episode of Game of Thrones, to training for a half marathon. Easy.

But when is it ever easy? And what actually happens when you finally look in the mirror? Like, really look.

One day, I hit the bottom of the ice cream tub and swore, out loud, to no-one. Had I really just eaten the whole thing? I ran upstairs to the bathroom, jumped on the scales and thought, shit, this isn't pretty. Sidestepping in front of the mirror, I very slowly stripped off and realised that I didn't feel it either. Poking the swollen tummy and pinching the back-fat podge that really didn't need to be there, I sobbed. Actually sobbed. Like in the movies. But unlike those fabulously slim actors and actresses, I had just consumed 1300 calories that would continue to contribute to my sudden weight gain.

Like most people that unintentionally, ‘let themselves go', I was suffering from some personal issues at the time. Not that this is an excuse, I can assure you. It is just a fact.

So there you have it, I admitted defeat, started listening to my body and enforced an entire lifestyle change. The big question was how? Where the bloody hell do I start?

Well, we are very fortunate these days, to be able to access any content and material we desire, with the help of our friend the internet. Bypassing Weight Watchers and Slimming World adverts, I re-accessed my forgotten Pinterest app and started customising a board, of which I labelled Fitness. This would later be rebranded as, Fitness Freak. I started following health, lifestyle and wellbeing magazines on Twitter. I downloaded MyFitness Pal and learnt how to analyse nutrition.

And best of all, I bought a Fitbit. This snazzy little piece of kit monitors my steps, heart rate, sleep patterns, distance travelled and flights of stairs taken per day, and of course, tells the time.

Initially, I didn't use my data to hit targets or goals, but to assess how much I wasn't actually doing. How few steps I was walking and how little sleep I was getting. Believe it or not, both are key factors to maintaining a healthy standard of living. It's quite shocking how many calories we burn by simply moving more.

With the intelligent technology of my shiny new fitness tracker feeding exercise information into MyFitness Pal, I was able to calculate the number of calories I could and shouldn't consume to contribute to a healthy weight loss regime, depending on my level of daily activity. With careful monitoring, I started losing the pounds, rapidly at first, but I soon plateaued and had to work that little bit harder. When you hit that frustrating barrier, don't give up. Persevere and your body will kick-start again, enabling you to shift those last few pesky niggles.

It all sounds very simple, right?

It isn't just about watching the calories. You have to work for it, and there is nothing more satisfying than watching your body as it develops muscle definition and strength.

The difference between my story and the rest of society is this; You have to want to do it and not everybody does.

So can we inspire people that are yet to realise they could facilitate a change, and to believe that they have the ability to initiate it?

Personally, I think the answer is yes, regardless of how long it may take. Everyone has the right to be able to access the tools and information to make that choice. We're not only talking about people that wish to reverse weight gain, but also those that need to introduce general wellbeing boosters, like allowing a little bit of ‘me-time', or treating themselves once in a while.

So what's changed for me?

For starters, I now spend more time in gym clothes than casual wear, and I can truthfully admit that I prefer it this way. For me, there is nothing more exciting than ordering a snazzy new pair of leggings or donning my Tough Mudder Finisher t-shirt to fuel a training session.

I've also realised that, for me, a holiday is no longer a holiday unless I'm trekking through the streets of new cities, hitting at least 30,000 steps a day. Or even better, it involves hiking. Stairs, mountains, volcanoes, you name it, I'll hike it.

I've recently become a ‘starter and main' kind of person (unless there's lemon sorbet on the menu, then I have no control). I grew up with an unbelievably, difficult to combat, sweet tooth. But I it really is possible to train your body to protect itself from those unhealthy cravings. It might not work for everybody, but I decided to cut particular foods from my diet. I no longer eat crisps, chocolate, biscuits or sweets, which I've been able to maintain for about 10 years so far!

And lastly, (though my list is obviously not exhaustive) my gym membership is my favourite piece of plastic in my wallet. I know that I can always rely on exercise to make me happy, cheer me up, and reduce stress. It is a state of euphoria.

Once you embrace it, fitness IS forever.

So what's the alternative? Is there an easy option? Well, you could turn to the nine-to-five excuse and the, ‘I deserve a break on the weekends', chat up line. That's okay, yeah? It would certainly save a lot of time and effort. Then there's just dieting, you don't even need to exercise then, do you?

No, no, no, no… NO.

Get up, get changed, and get fit. Start simple and build. Educate yourself on nutrition and ways to stimulate a healthy state of well-being. Set challenges. Achieve success and most importantly of all, reward yourself.