I’ve decided to write something a little more personal. Why? Well, once I get talking to people, I often find they ask me the same sorts of questions and I can see their curiosity gets the better of them. They want to know more about lifting and eating and in general, how to live healthily and happily. How to find a balance and not fall foul of one extreme or the other. So I always think hard about the advice I can offer them, drawing from mistakes I have made in the past. Mistakes made are often not something we want to talk about or be open about and these conversations often take me completely by surprise. But I guess when people pick up on a certain vibe or are really interested in something, they want to know more and I’m cool with opening up about that.
I’ve been living the healthy lifestyle for what seems my whole life when in reality, it’s only been 8 years. A late bloomer. I was a hardworking and ambitious 20 year old with potential but I hadn’t yet found my passion. I was terribly unhealthy up to this point too. Once I found the gym (which just seemed to happen), that all changed and so did the way I felt about myself. I picked up a dumbbell, I found out about ‘real’ food, I felt incredible, I had an epiphany and the rest, as they say, is history.
The gym has played a huge part in my life. It still does. It has changed the way I live. That’s pretty deep and 100% true. It’s no surprise then, that a question I get asked constantly is what is the fuss about? Why do I love the gym so much? What does it give me? Try explaining how lifting makes you feel to someone who doesn’t lift. It’s impossible. We sound like loonies. But boy, if I could bottle up and sell that post-workout feeling or the confidence I have now or the way I think about myself, the true feeling of happiness, I’d be a very rich woman. And I owe that to the gym.
So, as I meet a more and more young woman who are looking to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, I often think about the advice I would give them. What would I tell my younger self if I could? How have my own mistakes helped me to grow and develop into a stronger, more confident, more successful , happier person. Well, here they are, truly, the things I have had to understand to make my life a better one, and of course all of them, in my life are directly related to the G-Y-M.
1) Enjoy the journey.
Have a long-term goal but don’t pine for it so much that you miss the here and now. Be present today and every day, enjoy the choices presented, the things you do and that feeling of accomplishing every single time you succeed. This is probably why I like to write lists, why I log my training etc. It cements my mini achievements and I feel that sense of productivity which I think is so important in life. The victories, the high fives, the fist pumps – these little things are what make life worth living. Patience is key, for sure. I think I must use the phrase “just be patient” every single day but it’s true, we need to remember to slow right down, enjoy every ounce of what we do and be appreciative of the fact that we can do it. You’ll begin to enjoy the journey so much that you’ll stop battering yourself for not doing or being better.
2) Choose Your Circle Carefully.
I’m so lucky to have a good group of family and friends around me but I think a lot of that has to do with who I choose to be close to. Unfortunately, there are jealous people in the world that harbour a lot of negativity and take it out on others. Their negativity isn’t about you and you shouldn’t have to be subject to it. Make time for those people that make you feel good and remove yourself from situations that have you reflecting negatively on yourself. You’ll be glad to be part of a more positive, solid support network.
3) Stop Comparing.
This is one of the most common issues I deal with a lot. It’s so easy to be swept away by social media. It’s so easy to idolise, and while that can be great and inspirational and motivational, it can also make you come down on yourself harshly. Through other people’s successes, you start to feel like a failure. You have to be good at recognising and ditching negative thoughts and focus on all the things that you do well. The wonderful thing about humans is that we’re all so different so just like you appreciate others for their qualities, appreciate you for yours. Jealousy and negative thoughts are unproductive so change the way you look at others and stop comparing your story to theirs – I bet they’re totally different!
4) Don’t lose your focus.
If you want something badly enough, you need to make that commitment to work at it. The best things never came easy. Ask anyone that’s successful and they will tell you that. You make your own destiny. Every decision you face is yours for the making, so feel empowered and grateful that you can. In my very early days of lifting weights, a former IFBB Pro (now retired) came up to me in the gym and said, “You’ll go far, it’s clear to see, you’ve got fire in your belly”. I will never forget those words and true enough the fire is still burning. It’s so important to do what you do with passion and if that passion ever goes, stop doing it.
5) Forgive Yourself.
We are not perfect beings! I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll never stop saying it. One mistake does not mean you are a failure. How you react to the mistake denotes that. Draw a line, start again, move on because fretting over it will not incite positive feelings nor will it make the problem go away. You have to make peace with it and move on. It’s the only way – you have to learn to forgive yourself.
6) Just Do It. This is probably the most relevant to me right now. Although my confidence has grown hugely, I’m still sometimes insecure about taking action. I’ve talked myself out of hundreds of ideas. To be successful and achieve, you have to not just step but actually take a massive leap out of your comfort zone. It’s the ‘not being ashamed or embarrassed if things don’t work out as planned’ kind of scenario. At least you can always say you tried. It’s only now that I’m beginning to worry less if ideas don’t come to fruition or don’t quite work out as I’d hoped. Out of numerous attempts, there’s bound to be at least one success, and sometimes, that’s all you need. Don’t give up.