I am writing a series on my Fitness Journey… its a slow and steady process, pretty much like the fitness journey has been. I am really writing this for the moms that come through here looking for homeschooling and parenting tips… who feel that they have lost their own way a little bit… I want to say your journey is not over. You can start fresh, you can work on yourself… and if you are consistent, a little bit everyday, you will start to feel better… its a thing. Slow and steady does win the race.

  1. Fitness Fridays and the Start of My Fitness Journey…
  2. Fitness Friday and My First Workouts in Twenty Years.
  3. Fitness Friday and Can We Talk About Restorative Sleep…
  4. Fitness Friday and Everything is Connected…

Eight Weeks Later and Eight Things I Loved About the Healthy Weight Programme

This morning I was the first person on the gym floor and for a few moments I was the only person there. All was quiet, dark in fact and not a workout in sight. I have to say, I did have a moment of “Where did those eight weeks go?” and “Who is this new person who is up before dawn waiting eagerly for their next gym class?” It has been eight weeks of The Healthy Weight Programme and so much more than gym classes.

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Eight Thinks I Loved About the Healthy Weight Programme

  1. The Friendly Staff: Everybody at the gym smiles, everybody greets you. Every single person says “Hi, how are you doing.” Whenever you walk in the door, whenever you pass someone on the stairs (I can’t say for elevators!!!), folk who have nothing to do with your programme, everyone… greets you and has something genuinely nice to say. There is an atmosphere of cheerfulness and it is encouraging, especially in those first days when you would really rather be back in bed.
  2. Everybody is an Athlete: This was huge for me, everybody in the gym is working out, doing their thing on their programme… after years of completely inadequate exercise it’s not surprising that I would feel slightly self conscious. This is the place where every athlete counts and if you can’t do something then someone will help you. Not to mention you do get so caught up in your own workout that you quickly forget that there are other folk there.
  3. There Really is No such Thing as Can’t: I started the programme with a lot of preconceived ideas about what I could and couldn’t do. I mean really I have had a couple of kids and so I can’t expect my body to do a myriad of exercises… I found this to be untrue absolutely every single time. I completely believed that I could not do crunches, I can. A lot of them in fact. I completely believed that I would never be able to run around the track… ever, but I can. I categorically knew that I would never ever jump… but I did slightly more than once. I have said, “That’s impossible” so many times and been proved wrong every time… that it is actually laughable.
  4. I Can’t Believe How Much Fitter I Feel: I know I started the programme because I wanted to move more, but I can’t believe how much more I am able to do. Yes, the classes were harder than I imagined they would be, when I signed up. But they were never too hard. Classes work around sets of exercises and between sets there is always a rest and walk over to the water fountain. Initially the thought of walking to the water fountain was just too far(!!!), but now I welcome the interlude.
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  6. They Take Your Injuries Seriously: If you mention a pain they will take it seriously. There are no silly notions like push through an injury ever. I entered the programme with a longstanding injury. I was given advice, and exercises that improved it drastically, and I was always given an alternative exercise if there was one that would affect me. During the programme, I got another injury from something outside of the gym and they made sure I could work out around that injury and that I got the help I needed to recover speedily.
  7. You Are Always Encouraged: The truth is we were encouraged all the way and the once or twice, that I genuinely thought I could not do something, I was asked to just try before I would be given an alternative exercise. There was no opportunity to quit, there were lots of opportunities to make choices and every single time I really tried something I discovered that I could actually do it. I am not the most epic athlete, but I wasn’t totally awful either. I discovered that we can all do a whole lot more than we think we can, when we just try.
  8. My Biggest Fears Were Unfounded: I think my biggest fears were really not gym related, but more related to my family…. I thought it would take so much time away from them and that they would be upset that I was always dashing off to gym… well folks it is only three mornings a week. I thought they would be upset that breakfast wasn’t ready at the usual time… turns out I am out and back from gym before they even wake up… and I was convinced my husband would never remember to get his lunch ready before work… well somehow he survived too. In fact to be honest, they all like their fitter mother, they love my post work-out stories. I am so much more energetic and wide awake, and everyone is better off for it.
  9. It is an Intervention: When I signed up for the Healthy Weight Programme I really thought that I would be fitting three exercise classes into my week and apart from that I wouldn’t really be changing my life around too much. How hard could it be? Honestly, I had no chronic illnesses, I ate healthy foods, I did a bit of walking and I thought I was healthy enough. I really just wanted to up my exercise game a little. I very quickly realised that I was practically sedentary, and after keeping a food and sleep diary, I knew that I didn’t eat as well as I thought I did and I didn’t sleep at all. I have gone from thinking I should sleep better, to getting a full night’s sleep every night, because it is the only way to get up consistently at 5:30 in the morning. I make much better food choices, and have found other ways to reward myself. And as for exercise, I was surprised to discover that I loved it… I looked forward to the next class and the challenge as soon as a class finished. It was hard, but I am definitely moving more (!), from my first trip round the track when I thought, I hope they only ask us to do that once, to running around the track countless times in a workout… as “Active Rest!!!”

I am a very different person to the person that started this programme and I have the t-shirt to prove it. My goal was to get moving and I sure am moving. I didn’t lose masses of weight, but I have a whole lot of muscles to show for it and I did lose cm’s everywhere. Without even noticing I am more flexible, I am so much fitter and stronger. More than that I have totally lost the “I can’t… ” song that has been playing in my head for a while, and I am eager and willing to try new workouts, new challenges and new things. Today was my last day as a Beginner in the Healthy Weight Programme… and my story doesn’t end there. Next week I will moving onto the Intermediate Course. I am a little nervous, I have no idea if I can manage the harder workouts… time will tell… it is the start of a whole new journey.

Conquering the Healthy Weight Programme

Welcome back to the Healthy Weight Series. I blogged my way through the Beginner Series and ended the series as a completely different person to the one that began the programme way back in February. I am different for so many reasons, apart from the obvious that I sleep better, I exercise better and eat healthier, and I now know I can do things that I thought I would never be able to do again.

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Launching from the Beginner Programme

My goal at the start of the programme was to move a whole lot better… and I am moving in ways I never thought I could. If you had told me I could do pushups, crunches of all sorts of varieties… not to mention star jumps, I would never have believed you. Never. But after eight weeks of three classes a week with a team of professionals on hand and a biokineticist helping with every single move I was confident and eager to join the Intermediate Programme.

I have to add that a lot of folk enter the programme simply to lose weight. I didn’t lose a lot of weight in the Beginner Programme, in fact I only lost about 2kgs. However, I did lose centimetres, and lots of them. I also gained better eating habits, sleeping habits and I learnt how to work out… how to move, how to use weights and the different machines around the gym. I have to say the workouts were never too difficult, they were challenging but the focus was on skills and technique all the way.

And into the Intermediate Programme

The jump from the Beginner Level to the Intermediate level is significant, and I am so glad that I had eight weeks to master my gym skills I needed before I went into the Intermediate level. The classes are harder… much harder, and I love them. I really love having the skills to do the classes and I love that you have to push all the time just to keep up. I have to say the first week was more than a little bit of a gasp moment, when I realised that I knew how to do everything… but I actually just wasn’t able to do it all because I wasn’t yet fit enough. The first and second week were a bit of an adjustment as I was pushed to the next level of fitness. By the third week I felt like I was just coping and the fourth week I was totally there. So it takes a little time for your body to catch up and get to the next level of fitness.

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I love the bigger class and camaraderie of the Intermediate Level, and I quickly realised that when the going gets tough the class rallies round and says, “Just do your best” or “Just do what you can.” This is very different to the Beginner Programme where you had to do everything and if you absolutely couldn’t do something then you were either taught how to do it or given an alternative. In the Intermediate level, the class is given a series of exercises and you do your best… if you are doing something wrong then a biokineticist immediately jumps in to help you and correct you. And the challenge is always there to do absolutely everything and do it well, but if you really can’t then all that is expected is your best and a good attitude and for more challenging exercises levels you can do, with the expectation that you will do your best and you will improve.

Another difference between the programmes is that in the Intermediate Programme you only have two classes a week. The plan is that you will spend at least two other days at the gym doing your own thing. I looked at the class schedules and felt a little intimidated, since I was only just managing the Intermediate Classes, and I just wasn’t  quite ready to join a Keep Fit class and definitely not ready for a Step Class and I haven’t even thought of swimming, but there is open access to the gym when it isn’t class time and I really wanted to make the best of that opportunity. I was ready to try out the Super Circuit on my own, and wanting to make the very most of my gym time. So that is where I have been hanging out on the days we don’t have classes, and after two weeks I can really feel the difference. I do like having “free days” where I can pick my own schedule and get to gym earlier and home earlier before anyone notices that I am even out of the house.

New Programme, New Goals

My goals for this programme were to be more consistent overall, get my better sleep habits on track, get my healthier eating a lot more consistent and get a whole lot fitter. I have found that putting everything together, including four or five days of workouts a week, means that I have started to slowly lose wight… it had to happen. So if that is your goal for the healthy weight programme is to lose weight, don’t give up too soon, your body will figure it all out and you will start to see results. Keep at it, because at last I am starting to lose about half a kilo a week. but I have to add a proviso, the weeks that I am not as disciplined about sleeping at least seven hours a night I don’t lose that much weight… Sleep is the key. Everyone says exercise and diet, but you have to have good sleep as well.

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Still my goal remains to move better and to be fitter… I really enjoy my seemingly new abilities to do things, but it is a much slower journey than I initially thought it would be. Before I joined the healthy weight programme my exercise was hiking once a week with my kids and a couple of easy walks. I thought that by joining the Healthy Weight Programme that my hiking skills would improve dramatically. Honestly they didn’t, whenever I hiked during the Beginner Programme my body was just so tired as it adjusted to the new level of exercise and as you try harder and learn new things, my gym skills improved, but my body remained physically tired. I have to say I was beginning to think that I would never see any difference. But there has been a sudden improvement in the last two weeks and that fatigue has gone away and I find myself eagerly anticipating the next gym class.  We did a family hike that was 17km long and I was quite able to do it without any of my previous near death experiences, I could never have done that hike before I started the Healthy Weight Programme. After two weeks of adding a super circuit every other day and all the associated Step Ups to my week I have noticed that I don’t even notice that I am hiking anymore… I can literally walk and chat and not stop for breath or count the steps up every hill hoping that they come to an end soon. My legs are finally catching up with my head and I am doing it.

What Does it All Mean?

In terms of fitness I am a whole lot stronger, I am not by any means speedy and I don’t have a whole lot of stamina, hopefully that will come. The thing that I really like is that my recovery has become so much shorter. Before this year a hike would leave me stiff and store and unwilling to move for a day or two and now after a long hike, even really long hikes, I can relax for an hour or so and I am good to go again… even eager to go again. I love that, it does mean more hiking adventures for my kids and I know they are going to love that.

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Would I recommend the Intermediate Level after the Beginner Level… to be honest I never want to go back to my practically sedentary life, I have become something new and I like it, I don’t want to change back and I don’t want to be that unfit ever again. The Beginner Programme was essential to getting me moving again and I would have given up completely if I had started in the Intermediate Level, I need that transition from stationary to actually moving. I do love going to gym, I love the friendly faces in the morning to start the day, I love having conquered a good workout before the sun comes up. And while the Beginner Programme gave me skills and a certain level of fitness, the Intermediate Programme is doing so much more to get me into shape. I am fitter and stronger and look forward to our classes. I never know what our biokineticist is going to give us to do, but I can be sure that it will be a challenge and it will definitely be fun.

Many thanks to the Sport Science Institute of South Africa for providing me with this opportunity to join their Healthy Weight Programme in exchange for honest blogging along the way.

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