I have had a pretty varied life in terms of how I keep fit and healthy.
Once upon a time, it was 2 hour aerobic and step classes in Aberdeen, wearing outfits that looks like I should be using them to floss my teeth (thongs I tell you!!! Thongs!!!), then it was weightlifting following a manual written by Gladys Portuguese, then it was hanging out with boyfriends that were bad for my health and nightclubbing far too much, then it was the boyfriend who used to pick a fight with me when we were out running so I would pick up the pace, shouting, 'come back here and say that you b*stard!'
All varied, all fun.
And now I have been back lifting weights again for the last 10 years or so. I love it. Here's the thing though. It’s very easy to set unrealistic expectations on yourself. I used to think that building muscle was easy, it really really isn't! I brought up this subject with my esteemed colleague Jane Black recently and we both just rolled our eyes.
I have been following a '12 week transformation plan' with a friend Michael, and we are on week 8 now.
Do I look different? Nope.
Do I FEEL different? Yes.
Am I stronger? Yes.
Do I wake up most morning feeling like I have been hit by a small car? Also yes.
My central nervous system is taking a battering, but the odd thing is, I am enjoying it. I love following a plan.
Michael on the other hand does look different, and annoyingly has developed lovely vein coming out over his bicep which most men who lift would kill for, but also, he does say to me every now and again, 'please, no more arm stuff' non of my T shirts fit me any more'. Showoff.
This is not a case of following something for 2 weeks and then sacking it off. I hear many comments about people, both men, and women giving up after 2 or 3 weeks because something is not working, or they haven't magically lost 14lbs in an unrealistic time frame. The same way that when I am dealing with an injury, it takes time to recover, it's the same with following a fitness plan or lifestyle change. It’s consistency every time that will get you through this.
So what are the basic rules of change that may help?
Define your goals - why are you doing it? To make a longterm change or good or just a cheeky wee dopamine rush? For me, it is to get 2 inches off my waist. Job done but its taken 8 weeks to do it. Next up is 2 inches off my hips but my ass appears to be going NOWHERE.
Exert pressure on yourself by all means necessary - Today, Michael and I consistently upped our weights on each set because it wasn't challenging us enough. If you are doing leg press and texting at the same time, you are not working hard enough.
Harness your fear - my fear is taking progress photos but I'm still doing it. My bigger fear is seeing no change whatsoever. I'll let someone else decide that.
Self belief - You've got this. That is all.
Having a fitness goal means making sacrifices, less TV, getting home later, making different food choices, choosing to get better sleep, but I always keep the end game in sight. Right now, as I said, its week 8, I don't think I look different, but I really do feel different and that to me is super important.
I'll leave you with this. I asked a friend of mine who is what they call a 'bikini' competitor, What it feels like for her coming up for a show. Basically she said 'tired, really hungry, emotional, sore, and very very weak'. Please don't look at other peoples Instagrams and put yourself down, because we never know what the backstory is. I love food too much to starve myself!
Don't be afraid that you are going to 'bulk up' and get too muscular from getting healthy and lifting weights, what may happen is that you will rock your jeans, feel stronger, keep skin tight across muscle, have more energy and be able to push yourself in ways you never thought possible.
Oh and I showed my gun show to Jane to see if she could notice a difference. Apparently I do have tickets to the gun show.
It's totally worth checking in with a personal trainer to make sure you are getting it right, and getting good form, and also great for accountability. Get in touch if you so desire, because I know the best of the best in Glasgow.
Thanks for reading!