Recently I went back to Sydney and caught up with some ‘old’ friends. They all knew me long before, during and after pregnancy. They’ve seen me go from slim, to pregnant, to struggling to lose those kilos that snuck up on me during two pregnancies. But because we no longer live in Sydney, they hadn’t seen me since I’d joined a gym and started paying much closer attention to my diet. Safe to say, they noticed a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a dress size bigger than my pre-pregnant self, but there has been change.
I wasn’t going to share this but there’s nothing like a couple of unintentional, thoughtless comments to annoy you enough to write a blog post.
What were some of those comments? A random male who I met at a function thought this was a compliment (??) – honestly I don’t know why he felt the need to say this to me – “You look like you are naturally slim where she (my gorgeous, tall, blonde friend sitting beside me) looks like she has to work for it.” Then a friend of mine said, “I wish I had your genes and could lose weight as easily and as quickly as you”… both totally negating the effort that this journey of trying to get back to my fit self is.
It’s been about 4 months since my original post on the gym? Apart from a week where I was upset at the world, and the week over Christmas, I’ve been going to the gym four times a week. That’s important I think. I haven’t been hit and miss. Obviously there have been sessions where I haven’t been as committed as I should be. There has been also been times when I’ve just not been able to finish that last set, or sometimes even do what’s being asked of me at all! I either wasn’t coordinated enough, strong enough or fit enough. And that has annoyed me no end. But on the whole, when I commit, I commit.
Today I thought I’d cover some of roadblocks I’ve had to overcome, and some of the things that have really worked for me
Finding time to go to the gym
When I started, I wasn’t working. So easy. No excuses. Then I started work again. Nights were tricky as my husband already had dibs on two weeknights to go mountain bike riding. I did try nights. Let me just say, by 5pm I’ve lost my brain. So trying to do anything beyond what I can do on autopilot, was always going to be a struggle. So early mornings it is. Factor in the drive to the gym, that usually means a 5am wake up. Sounds awful, but you get into a routine. I actually quite like the quiet of these early mornings, especially driving past all the farms as the sun rises over the mountains.
Lack of sleep
There were so many days when the last thing I felt like doing was going to the gym. It can be terribly difficult to find motivation to get up at 5am when you’ve been up all night on and off with the kids. Our son still struggles with sleep disorders, so there is never a night where our sleep is uninterrupted. But as a psychologist said to me on one of our many hospital admissions – this is our new normal so we need to develop ways of coping with it.
Lack of a gym buddy
Until this recent adventure, I hadn’t really been to the gym. Sport of all sorts – yes. I love how in sport, even in gymnastics, you are a part of a team. You can’t not show because you’ll let everyone down. You also get the hanging around and chatting before and after the game, and quite often in training sessions too. Then there are also the social events you do with your team. Both my touch football teams hung out together a lot. I even had weekly dinners with two of my team mates before our games. It was all very social. Were I back in Sydney I’d have a plethora of friends to go to the gym with…. here, not so much. Probably because here I’m meeting people through the kids’ activities, rather than the through the sporting teams I played in. So for the most part, going to the gym is a solo effort. That sucks. Especially on the days when I really don’t feel like going. But I won’t complain too much, because often I also really appreciate the quiet time that comes with going by myself.
I also have a work-around. My very close friend in Canberra goes to another gym. We often end up going to the gym at the same time, just in different places. So we’ll chat on WhatsApp before, during and after our sessions. Helps keep us motivated. We also bust each other’s proverbial if the other gets lazy and tries to whimp out. But we’ll also do things together outside the gym, like bush walks, and we’re just about to try out some other classes at different places.
Oh my word. What you actually wear to the gym is a complete drama all of it’s own. It’s like gym clothes are made for people who don’t ‘need’ to go to the gym. They are all super tight, see through, low cut… I could go on. And let me just say, if you are bigger than a B cup – good luck. You have two options; double crop top or wear a bra with a crop top. My advice, pick the sales assistants with the big boobs to help you because those ladies with A cups just don’t get it. God bless them they try, but they just don’t understand.
That close gym-going friend of mine in Canberra complains that all I wear are black leggings and boring tops (and never singlets). Yup. That’s true. Boring. But boring usually means everything is kept in the place it’s supposed to be and I can do all the weirdo things they make you do in a gym without worrying I’m going to flash someone. After all, I’m not going to the gym to pick up. I’d like to say I’ll change, I did buy a pink top but apparently that doesn’t count because it’s baggy…
I have been my biggest roadblock. I am straight up going to apologise to every student I have ever pushed through a mental or physical barrier, be it when I was teaching or coaching sport. If I were teaching you now, I would have more empathy. I still would make you do it… but I’d definitely have more empathy.
I am a perfectionist. I really have issues with putting myself out there unless I know I’m going to at least be ok at something. I am definitely not confident (although people always tell me I appear confident) and I’m still learning to be a risk taker. Yet being a risk taker is something I consistently expected my students to be. Just give it go! Who cares what other people think?!? No big drama if you stuff it up… Those are words that frequently came out of my mouth. Hypocrite. That’s me. I am so reluctant to try anything new. When my trainer started moving me to the free weights area, I was nervous. When he expected me to work in there by myself, I panicked. On one hand I was so bored of what I’d been doing I was dying for a challenge, but on the other hand it was really outside my comfort zone. Actually in saying that, I think every session I have with my trainer we are doing something new. I cannot tell you how many times I’m doing something and I think – seriously this isn’t that complicated so why I am finding it so difficult to find the coordination to just do this?!? Yeah, let’s just say I’m getting better at just giving things a go but it’s still very much a work in progress.
In addition to that there is a bit of an internal battle that goes on in my head when I go to the gym. I find this whole gym thing quite sobering? That might be the word for it. There are so many things that I do where I think, when I was 17 I could not only do this, but do this with weights strapped to my ankles and my waist. Things like pull ups. I used to have at least another 10kgs strapped on to me and I could do so many, so easily. We would do calf raises on a bar with a team mate sitting on our shoulders. It’s really quite demoralizing to go from being able to do all that, to now. Combine that with the whole – how do you actually tell if you’re doing ok at this gym thing? It’s not like sport where you score a try, or win the game… I can only compare myself against what I used to do and that’s too demoralizing at the moment because I’m not even close to that.
So in short – ‘myself’ is a roadblock that I still battle with every single time I go to the gym. Well the battle really starts just as I begin to consider it might be a good idea to potentially get ready to leave the house and maybe go to the gym…
What I eat
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I eat out a fair bit and I find it almost impossible to turn down a good bottle of red… or a good burger! Some of this is tied up with the social media events I’m invited to. I joke that these social media events are why I needed the gym in the first place… and there is truth in that. But outside of those events, I’ve been pretty good.
Time has had the biggest impact on what we eat. By the time I collect the kids and get home, let alone the two nights a week where it’s just the kids and me, not only am I exhausted, but we’re pushing close to their bedtime. So dinner needs to be ready in about 10 minutes or all hell breaks loose.
I started off really well (when I wasn’t working). Most nights we had a variety of steamed vegetables and some form of meat. Mostly because I have freaky children who LOVE steamed vegetables. Yay for me because steamed vegetables are so simple. But now I’m back at work I am just brain dead. So we’ve been cheating and buying pre-made salads. Cost wise not a great idea, but because of their simplicity – they are gold.
But in so far as avoiding all those extra treats, those sneaky doughnuts, chocolate and cake… At first it was really tough, but as time has gone on, I just don’t want them as much anymore.
Nutrition is something I definitely have to look into more. That’s why I jumped at the chance to chat to Kate from The Healthy Eating Hub about snacks. What we eat will be a big focus for the next coming months.
I covered my initial reasons for getting a personal trainer in my original post on joining a gym. Those reasons are still valid – I feel like as much as I know more now, there is still so much I just don’t get. But there have also been other pay offs to having a trainer that I didn’t foresee. But I also know that I was lucky and got a personal trainer who is not only very knowledgeable and good at his job, but also someone I actually like as a person. And when my enthusiasm has waned, actually enjoying our sessions and finding him an interesting person to listen to, has often meant the difference between cancelling and rocking up. It also really helps that he gets sarcasm and puts up with my ‘sass’ as he calls it – and this means I don’t have to filter my thoughts in case I offend him. I can’t tell you how much easier it makes things when I can just chat to him like a mate.
I have done small group boot camp before, as in it was the same four women twice a week. It was a lot of fun and we all got to know each other quite well. But while I was completely shattered at the end of each session, I didn’t really notice a whole heap of change after three months, other than I got slightly fitter. That trainer made us run a lot. A LOT. Have I mentioned I don’t like running? I also left each session none the wiser about anything I was doing. In contrast, my personal trainer seems quite happy to answer all my questions about why we are doing certain things. Because if he’s going to make me do something weird, like crawl along the floor like my three year old, I want to know why on earth I should be doing that – what possible benefit could I get out of it? Not only is it great he explains all this so I understand, but it also means I have more respect for him on a professional level because he clearly knows his stuff. And as the sessions are one on one, they are specifically tailored to my issues.
Knowing that I’ll be working with him once a week has been added motivation not to slack off during the week. Sort of like – well if he takes training with me seriously and puts effort into writing programs for me, I should at least work hard in return. Maybe that’s a throwback to when I was a teacher and I’d be so disappointed when I’d continually work hard with a student in an effort to help them improve, but they really couldn’t care less. I know how much more satisfying I found it to work with students who were motivated and really tried.
(Obviously, having included a photo from his Instagram account, Sheldon is now aware of this blog and he did read this post prior to it being published. If you want to know more about him, follow the link in the picture to his Instagram account or this link to his profile.)
Measurements of success and progress
So there seems to be four main ways people tend to track their success – photos, weight, measurements and what you can do. There are also fancy scans and things, but they cost money.
Photos are everywhere. If you are on Instagram they’re often hashtagged with #transformationtuesday and often people’s trainers will be posting them. Prior to going to bootcamp, way back after my first pregnancy, I met with a personal trainer. I walked out before the end of our first session. There were a few things she did that annoyed me, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was when she asked me to go into the bathroom and take a photo of myself in only my underwear and send it to her, so we could compare myself as time went on. No. I am not going to send a photo to you, someone who I’ve only just met, have no idea about what security measures you have on your phone, or send you a photo of myself when I’m practically naked and feeling the most unattractive I’ve ever felt… Just no. And honestly, maybe I’m blind, but half the time I look at these photos and unless they’re obvious, I can’t work out what’s changed. So this isn’t something I’ve done.
Weight – Yes this is an indicator. But a quick google on losing weight and building muscle will explain why, even though this is useful and so easy to measure, it also might not be your best indicator. However, a 2013 study did show that people who weigh themselves every day, lost nearly four times as much weight as those who weighed in less frequently.
Measurements – This makes more sense to me than how I look or my weight. Am I actually making a difference on those problem areas? Is it sucking back in and or disappearing like I think? Have I gone down a dress size? I’m not really consistent with measuring, probably because this isn’t the criteria of success that matters most to me. But it is reaffirming that every time I remember to measure, my measurements have gone down. So it’s not all in my imagination!
What you can do – Ok, this is my winning criteria. Can I actually do what I want to do in life without feeling like I’m about to collapse? Can I carry my children without continually needing to put them down? Can I play chase with them? Can I do that day hike up the mountain? Can I carry all my grocery bags to the car at once so I don’t have to put the trolley back? Because that’s what it’s all about – going to the gym multiple times so I can be too lazy to walk the shopping trolley back.
I have begun to realise that there are other ways you can track what you can do, specific to the gym. As in how much you can lift, how many times you can do things, etc. Let’s just say I don’t know enough about all this yet. I’m sure many of you who read my blog know more than me here!
So where does that leave me? While I don’t necessarily enjoy going to the gym, for many of the reasons I mentioned above, I do like the benefits I get from going and the ‘me time’ it gives me – so I can’t see myself stopping any time soon. Hopefully as time goes on there will be less roadblocks and more positives.