Personal Journey

Two BS beliefs I had about food and exercise

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This morning I woke up feeling overwhelmed, as I am struggling to get to grips with my new training programme and food protocol, so I checked in with my coach. She reminded me that I am trying to do too many things at once. She told me to breathe, to relax, and to just focus on one thing for my business and one thing for me. And she also reminded me that if I had a clear vision of where I want to be and I keep taking small steps towards it, I am doing brilliantly. Great. Panic over.

Little did I know when I spoke to my coach this morning that a couple of hours later I would be inspired to write this blog and share my personal ‘body transformation’ story.

At this point, I would just like to say that I am not sharing this to tell you “look at me, look at how amazing I am”, in fact, quite the opposite. I am doing this in the hope that I will inspire you and share two BS beliefs I had about food and exercise.

In the gym this morning, I noticed a guy staring. I vaguely recognised him from spinning. I ignored him and carried on with my workout. Next thing I know, the dude is walking towards me – at which point I freaked out. So he said: “I almost didn’t recognise you. I had to look twice and then I realised who you were. Gosh, you’ve changed. Where have you been? I haven’t seen you since January” As some point, he also commented on how ‘buff’ I looked. I graciously accepted the compliment, while at the same time wishing that the earth would swallow me.

I quickly realised that this man was truly inspired by my body transformation, not some kind of stalker, and I relaxed. He had a lot of questions, so I shared some of my experience with him. Afterwards, I thought, why not share my story, and what I’ve learned about food, exercise and myself, with others too? So here goes:

Since January I lost almost half my body fat. I am now in the same range as professional athletes. To give you some idea:

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So why did I decide to do it?

Last year I turned 40, and even though I was fit – I did the Prudential Ride London, a 100-mile cycling tour (the day after I turned 40) – I felt fat. I was also mentally and physically exhausted – on the verge of burnout. So after 20 years, I left my corporate job and took a few months out. That’s when the soul-searching started. I had to reconnect with my why. I reached my lowest point when I decided to start my own business, as a high performance and leadership coach and trainer. In doing so, and through my own training, I had a stark realisation that I had to “practice what I preach” and the logical next step was to focus on my own mental and physical health. I then set myself a goal for 2018: To get into the best shape of my life  – for life.

[Please note that none of this was carefully planned… I think about my journey over the last year or so as “the stars aligning”, and I feel eternally grateful for the way things are turning out]

With the help of an incredible coach, I achieved my goal. Now, I am not going to lie and say it is easy. I have to work hard at it – every single day, and some days I lack motivation. But I’ve learned to be kind to myself. To not beat myself up about it when I don’t have a perfect day.

So this morning I shared with the said guy in the gym, two BS beliefs I had about food and exercise, which completely transformed my life. So simple, yet so profound, they are:

#1 Cardio is king.

I love cycling and I am in my happy place on my bike. It clears my head and I often tell people that cycling is my Prozac. So when I turned 40 last year, I couldn’t understand why I was so heavy, despite being cycling fit. Well, it turned out that cardio isn’t king. Most of my workouts now include power walks, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), strength and resistance training.

#2 Fat is the enemy.

Growing up I used to eat everything low fat or fat-free. I was raised to believe that fat is the enemy. Now I eat everything full fat. And a lot of it. And I am loving it – avocados, nuts, Greek yoghurt, olive oil etc. All those things I didn’t use to eat because I thought they were bad for me.

Since I left my corporate job a year ago, I’ve been focused on regaining my strength and confidence; on getting my ‘mojo’ back. My physical and mental health has been my top priority. And it’s only now that I am beginning to feel comfortable to share my journey. And this is only the beginning. As I continue to learn and transform myself in the coming months and years, I hope to share many more inspirational stories with you.

Not only am I in the best shape I’ve ever been, but my business also is doing great, and I am happy. It’s only after I turned 40 and realised that I was unhappy at work, and my relationships were suffering, that I decided to prioritise ‘me’ on my list of priorities.

And I can honestly say that it’s been the best decision ever.

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