I was sort of sporty as a teenager. Sure that’s how I met my boyfriend. I was a rower then and fitness came easy to me. But the Leaving Cert came around and I felt I needed to “sort out my priorities.” Really, I think I just got sick of daily exercise and pushing myself physically (there is indeed a lazy bone in my body!) and I used my portfolio and the looming Leaving Cert as an excuse to quit. When I stopped, I stopped completely, I mean COMPLETELY. Looking back, I can see now how lazy I became. This must have annoyed the boyfriend no end as he was super fit and loved to be active. All I did was watch telly, hang out and eat. I ate a lot, like an athlete. No one mentioned calories to me, I had no idea what I was doing to myself. And it wasn’t until half way through my first year of college that my poor mum felt she had to tell me that I had lost my way. She was so upset when she was telling me, she felt like she was the worst person in the world. But she was right…
So I decided to make a change. But only with food. My diet changed but my activity level was still really low. This carried on for years. Trying to be healthy through food alone and completely half-assing any exercise I attempted. Starting off with great potential but getting bored and giving up again. I was sluggish, I was slow and I was deeply unhappy. It all came to a head one day when I just burst into tears because another dress in my wardrobe was too tight, was suffocating me. My weight was suffocating me. I wanted to run away from it, rip it off me and be free. My boyfriend simply said if I hate how I look and how I felt that much then change. It was only myself holding me back. My fear of the effort. This thought that I’m not really going to change, not like the people do in the magazines, not like those weightless spokes people. This stuck with me. But I started to run (with help and a wee bit of coaching from himself). Admittedly, my main goal was to lose weight but I started to have a little bit of energy, then a load of energy, soon there was an obvious spring in my step. I loved how agile, how nimble, how quick I was becoming.
So nearly two years passed and I got really into running, doing weekly 10k’s as if they were nothing! But I started to feel the niggle of that lazy bone again. I didn’t stop exercising but I began shortening my runs, I ran less frequently, no longer feeling guilty if I missed a run or two. I had the mindset that I had already achieved my goal. I had lost over 3 stone, I was a healthy, active person now, I didn’t need to kill myself on a 10k anymore. This was dangerous, but I fought this mindset and I managed to stay active, not letting long workdays and lazy Sundays to be the end of my new lifestyle. I was determined to not go back to that unhappy girl I used to be.
Then by chance an old work colleague needed an extra bum in a new sport she was trying. That new sport was rowing. Went to one session and was nagged to join the team (thanks Emily). And all of a sudden I was out rowing a few times a week, only leisurely at first but then we started to get a taste for it and then, shockingly, we wanted to compete. This changed everything. Suddenly, we realised we had to up our training to five/six sessions a week. Long runs on the rowing machine, tough intervals, a little bit of weight training and drills after drills after drills. Instead of becoming more sedentary, I was becoming more active, becoming really fit, really fast, really strong. I’m a million miles away from the girl I used to be. I just wish I could tell her that it was all going to be worth it. That not only her body would change, but her health would improve, her attitude to life would change and she’d finally feel good in her skin.
People, if you’ve done what I’ve done, changed your life and became fit and are worried about falling back, find a sport you enjoy and join a team. There is no better motivation than not wanting to let your teammates down. There is no better way to get through a tough session than doing it right next to someone going through the same shit. One goal in mind, motivating each other, being there together.
I am forever thankful to my boyfriend for pushing me to achieve what I wanted and I want to thank my crew for not letting me fall back. Anything is possible with the right people beside you.