Getting healthy and writing a book are essentially the same thing.

J A Browne, 2019

What I mean by that is to write a novel, you’ve got to get the words down. Craft each chapter, develop each character, plot out the story line. And write. Get your bum on the seat and put those fingers to work on that keyboard because otherwise the book won’t exist. We writers don’t like to admit that novels don’t write themselves, as much as we wish they would!

Essentially, it is the same with keeping healthy and indeed getting the body you’ve always wanted. There’s one major difference – you can write long in to old age, but it’s much harder to get fit if you haven’t been fit for a while.

Ernestine Shepherd, 76
Source: womenworking.com

Or is it?

This beauty began training when she was 56! She is now 82 and still body building and spreading the message that you can have health at any age. You’ve just gotta put the effort in.

Now you might well be thinking, well, that’s easy for you to say?

Well, no. Here’s my truth.

Weighting to Win the Battle

I have battled with my weight since I was a teenager. I’ve hated my body for the majority of the time, particularly when I was younger. I was always everyone’s fat, funny friend. Old reliable. But I was miserable. I tried so many diets, some successful, some not. It wasn’t until in my thirties that something clicked. I learned to focus, listen to good advice and – here’s the truth of it – be consistent – it was only then I found happiness in how I looked and, more importantly, how I felt. Because you can’t fake it. If you don’t feel good, it shows…

Recently, I’ve lost my dad, had anxiety, another back injury – this year the list could go on and on and on…

But I know that if I don’t exercise, I don’t feel good.

This last year I’ve put some timber on, and after having been in the best shape in my life for the last couple of years and pining for that once more, I knew I had to do something to stop it getting out of control. I had to act. No more crappy excuses. No more feeling sorry for myself. No more feeling like a failure, that I’m not good enough, that I’m “getting on a bit now” – I refuse to accept defeat because as Ghandi said…

Source: Wisdom Quotes

Train like a champion, a bikini one!

I’m not saying that I want to start training to be a bikini model. But I do follow their advice so that I can get to a place where I feel as good about myself as they do about themselves when they’re on stage (or even off). In particular, two incredible athletes, both champions and both female entrepreneurs that I follow closely are Gemma Stanley based in Calderdale and Kim Constable, aka The Sculpted Vegan from Northern Ireland.

I’m not consuming unnecessary calories, I’m consuming the best content instead. I’m learning and re-learning from the best. Learning from their achievements and applying their knowledge…

I’ve had the privilege to train with Gemma previously and still now when I’m training I follow her techniques to the letter. Getting your technique right is key and this beaut taught me so much about macros, muscle memory, the importance for women to build muscle to protect against musculo-skeletal disease and conditions like arthritis – something I’m very conscious of as my late mother was riddled with osteo and rheumatoid arthritis and it crippled her little body. Finally, Gemma helped build my confidence to train like a beast in the gym – yes, in the weights section – a place where so many women fear – when my husband wasn’t at my side.

I don’t do weights because I don’t want to look bulky and big.

Said many women everywhere…

But you won’t. Unless you’re taking steroids and eating three times as much protein as a female requires and at the gym every day, etc. etc.

What you will gain is lean muscle and if you’re doing slow and steady cardio to fat burn, then prepare for a whole new body. And remember: the more muscle you have, the faster you burn calories – even on rest days!

Diet Change for Climate Change

What I’ve learned from Kim is that I can follow a much higher plant-based diet and still build muscle. I don’t eat meat. It’s a personal choice because I don’t want to contribute to climate change, I don’t want to eat animals any more either – it’s my way of helping protect our precious planet and giving my body the nutrition it craves – but I do still want a solid level of protein to repair and build muscle.

Kim has proven that you can still absolutely smash it on a professional level to become a champion and be a vegan. I also admire Kim because she really is a straight-talker – she’s very much: Set the plan. Execute the plan. And an incredible business women. We’re also close age-wise. Whereas I’ve had weight issues my entire adult life, Kim hasn’t, but she’s still had her own hurdles, like we all have.

I’m not perfect. No-one is.

I still eat eggs, but because I suffer from wheat, gluten and dairy intolerances, a largely plant-based diet for me is the best. And it reduces my carbon footprint. And that is something I care about a lot. #IstandforwhatIstandon

These incredible champions have worked damn hard for what they wanted to achieve and continue to do so and Gemma and Kim remind me every day that, like them, I’m a fighter, I’m enough, and I’ve got this.

But what happened to yoga?

I still do yoga stretches before and after every single workout. I stretch when I get out of bed, during the day, after writing. Everything I learned at Bikram Yoga in Leeds I have taken in and use as much of the practice as I can. I would love to return. Very much. But I’m pivoting in my career right now, so the costs aren’t manageable. It’s such a special place because its such a special community. I miss that, too.

Embrace

Ultimately, what I’m discovering this year which has literally been, no word of a lie, one of the hardest, most challenging, emotionally draining years I have ever had, is that some things happen for a reason, but you’ve also got to make things happen, work hard, then work harder. Build the life you want, make a dream into a reality. Give yourself every chance of happiness. Embrace life. Embrace change.

So ladies, ready? Now, lift… or pull in this case…

Make sure you stay Write Healthy

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