So what's changed? Well, my body hopefully! They say it takes 4 weeks for you to see a difference, 8 weeks for friends to notice and 12 weeks for total strangers to start throwing compliments your way! I'm not holding my breath on the last of those but, more to the point, I don't really care if the rest of the world thinks I've grown an extra head, I have taken on this challenge for me, not for anyone else.
Big or small, chunky or trim, what matters is that you are happy in your own skin. If YOU feel change, if YOU notice a difference, if YOU begin to feel more content or confident, that is what matters.
Any changes to my body shape are just the final result, they are not the game itself. This 12 week journey has seen a dramatic change not just to my body, but also to my mind set, my eating habits and my whole approach to diet. Success can be measured in many different ways but I think the most lasting benefits will not be felt in the weight room or on the gym floor but in my general demeanour and take on life. I do feel a more confident and rounded individual and that is as a result of the challenge that I've taken on and (nearly) met. It's has not been without its struggles and I'm not sure that I could have done it without the right kind of support and expertise from my 'team'. But in admitting that it would have been more difficult without my training partner, my coach and my food suppliers, I have been the most important person in my own personal challenge. I definitely couldn't have got this far without some determination and willpower and drive, and those qualities are the source of my new found confidence.
Now, you may think that such a boast is my way of recommending that everyone takes on such a challenge. Sorry, but the opposite is true! I have written this weekly blog so that you can make up your own minds about that. I have never pretended that it has been one long fun ride. I have lacked energy to the point where I have even begun to resent the industry and hobby I have such a passion for. None of us know exactly how we are going to respond to pushing ourselves close to our limits and giving up so many things we love. It has not always been pretty! I have not always liked what it has done to me and my mind but with the support and guidance of those around me it is a challenge I have (almost) completed and one that has taught me a lot.
I have never been an advocate of encouraging people to eat less, and I'm still not. What I have now learnt to do is full frontally encourage anyone struggling to make changes to first consider the type of foods they are eating. More of what is good for you is… well, good for you! Less of what is bad for you is even better. A shortage of nutrients is going to lead to shortages everywhere in your life, so knowledge is the key not denial. I 'thought' I was eating well but I was guessing. My body shape was fine so I assumed my diet was right too. However, it now appears I may have been overeating just a little in terms of the goals and results I wanted to achieve. Humph!
I have always been petite and so always fairly comfortable in my own skin. Just like any individual, I craved a little tightening and toning from time to time. Mixing amongst some of the most fabulous fitness figures in the industry can be quite an inspiration and so this is where I have found mine. Jealousy can be a magnificent motivator!
Motivation came not feeling unhealthy or unattractive but more from seeing how comfortable these examples were in their skins too. I am aware that such competitive feelings can be considered unhealthy, and that become obsessed by change for change's sake can lead down some dangerous roads. People become easily dissatisfied with the initial changes they make and look for any way to make more. I always saw this adventure as a one-off. I chose to undergo this challenge not so much to improve my fitness as to gain greater insight into a thought process that can go wrong without the correct guidance and focus.
What I'm particularly keen to share with you now is that it’s actually fine to feel motivated and driven by others. It’s ok to have the desire to push your body physically. Without this desire my industry would not be the incredible ‘community’ it is to be a part of. But what is most important to learn and remember is that if you do choose to embark on a similar journey to me, you seek the same kind of support, guidance and knowledge from those you trust and those you know best. When done under supervision and for the right reasons, change can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. I hope to prove this with my results.
I used to eat well and train hard but I had no real structure to my diet. I suited myself and ate as and when I wanted. Despite being fed by the best at Fresh Fitness Food, I continued to snack outside the nutrition they provided. With this compromised diet I maintained a good shape but, considering the effort I put in at the bar, not one I was particularly proud of! This challenge has seen a cut in the calories and with a subsequent drop in the hours dedicated to the dumbbell. I’m nearing the end now and the calories are inevitably lower than I would like but up to this point I have been fed with the nutrients, taste and treats my body desired - just without the added extras. I stuck to my four meal mantra and avoided excess snacking in order to adhere to my Train Fitness Challenge plan as designed by Richard Scrivener. By following his programme I have indeed begun to see change, and that change has delivered results, confidence and an element of self-achievement.
So 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks. Who really cares who else sees what? I saw results from day 1 because that was the day I committed to this challenge. From the very outset, I began to listen to my body and understand it better and become more confident in its ability to cope with a different way of living. We all like to feel comfortable with life... comfortable with our friends, our surroundings, our routines. I like comfort. Oh, do I like comfort?! But by occasionally stepping outside of our comfort zones and testing ourselves, we learn new ways to enjoy life, we find new zones we can be comfortable in. Comfort can restrain and restrict us to the point where we lose motivation and focus. It is then that some people turn to extreme ways of escaping the habits they've got used to. That's when mistakes are made.
I wanted to take a step out of my comfort zone and experience something a little different but, thanks to the expert training and advice I was given by Richard, I always knew how far to go in order to find this new way both safely and effectively. I was on message so I've been on course throughout the challenge. Better direction and knowledge gave me the drive and determination to finally become proud of the work I put into my body, training and nutrition. You all know that I'm going to celebrate the completion of this challenge with some food, drink and behaviour that you won't find prescribed anywhere in Richard's plan. He knows it too! But he's cool with that because he knows that I am much better equipped to programme my own diet and exercise as a result of working with him and the rest of them. Never mind, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks, I hope people will notice a change in me now that will last for years and years.