backwards progress | unfitness update

2020, fitness, mental health

Hello!

It’s been a while since I wrote one of these ‘unfitness’ posts – I wrote a couple at the beginning of quarantine and I’ve talked about why fitness hasn’t been a priority in the last year or so, but I thought now would be a good time to do a little update, as well as looking back on the progress I’ve made.

I have a highlight on my instagram (also called ‘unfitness’) where I’ve been documenting my ‘journey’ with exercise (though I don’t think it really deserves to be called that). It started with lots of boomerangs of my trainers on the treadmill and screenshots from my FitBit app with long rambles about how my mental health is all over the place and it’s hard to find examples of fitness that work for someone of my size and fitness level (which is a solid zero).

Then I started Couch to 5k – I ran consistently three times a week for maybe three months and I was so proud of the progress I made and my commitment to doing something for me. I saw results, I lost weight, I felt better about myself… but then the weather got really hot and I couldn’t cope. Then life stuff happened and I didn’t have access to a treadmill anymore and I was gaining weight and I was disappointed in myself and I kept putting it off.

Now 17 weeks into lockdown (not that I’m counting…) and I’ve put on enough weight that I’m nearly back at my heaviest weight from two years ago and I’m trying really hard not to beat myself up about it but it’s really disappointing.

There are so many external factors – a literal pandemic, living in a small one bedroom house where even pottering all day every day doesn’t get that many steps in (I wanted to hit my step goal once and did maybe 200 laps of the living room… about 15 steps a lap!), feeling sad and comfort eating then feeling worse about comfort eating and feeling like I deserve a treat… And then the toll that takes on my mental health.

So I wanted to start reintroducing exercise in a way that didn’t feel forced or high pressure – the pandemic lockdown is taking a harder toll on my mental health the longer it goes on for so I need to gently find long term sustainable things that can help. In June, I set myself the goal of doing 5000 steps per day – I only managed this for about half the days of the month, but it made me more aware of what 5000 steps looked like and the efforts I had to make to achieve it.

Although it wasn’t particularly successful, I decided that I wanted to start Couch to 5k again in July – my boyfriend was interested in starting it too and together we would brave running in the outside world (something I’d never done before). We’re now two weeks in – I’ve successfully committed to six runs in that time, although I’ve repeated Week 1 of the program twice (I meant it when I said my fitness level was zero) I’m doing it and I’m feeling it get easier and I’m making it part of my routine.

Do I have high hopes that this will become a regular habit and I’ll get to a point where I actually enjoy running? No – I know that in the past any exercise venture I’ve been on has ended after a few weeks of seeing no weight loss and feeling too mentally drained to put the effort in. But I can honestly say at this point, I’m kind of enjoying it – getting outside and getting my steps in and feeling my heart rate go up that high and then getting home and lying on my bed for twenty minutes before I can feel my toes enough to get in the shower. Doing something that pushes me and hurts my body a little bit but I know is going to be good in the long run feels good.

Mentally feels good I should say, physically it feels awful.

So the next step is working on my diet to go with the exercise – I’m never going to be someone who eats a salad because they like it or swaps to whole wheat pasta and brown rice (carbs are important to me). But I can cut down on snacks, eat more vegetables (I do love vegetables), portion my evening desserts so I don’t eat an entire pack of Haribo.

Even changes like going back to wearing make-up every day and having an evening skincare routine and maybe meditating again aren’t necessarily directly related to fitness, but they’re all parts of mental wellness that give me structure and routine and might give me more of a chance of 1) actually losing weight and 2) maintaining an exercise regime.

In the two years I’ve been documenting my ‘unfitness’, I found a pretty good routine where I lost over a stone in a couple of months and then lost nearly another stone over the next six months or so. I gained a little bit back but maintained up until the beginning of lockdown and then it all went downhill again. Although I’m not far off being back where I began two years ago, I’m hoping that knowing what I’ve learnt over those two years will make moving forward and seeing progress easier.

Fitness, weight and body image are such difficult topics to write about as they’re so personal to every individual – no one experiences anything in the same way, there are so many factors that make things different for everyone. But the important thing to remember is whatever your goals are, whatever you want to achieve whether it’s losing weight, getting stronger or just having some time in the day to do something for you – it’s all okay.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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unfitness – when the going gets tough, listen to your body

2018, lifestyle

Hello,

I’ve gotten into a habit of blogging about something when it happens and then I become less interested or I find it harder to motivate myself and then in three months the cycle starts again. I’m determined not to let that happen with working out.

I wrote this unfitness post about starting a few steps back a couple of weeks ago and I was really excited, I was doing well at getting out of bed really early (well like 7am, that’s pretty early right?), doing 30 minutes of walking at various speed on the treadmill then having a shower and having a good productive day.

But hi this is bad mental health and it’s here to ruin your motivation to exercise!

Last week I managed one half hour yoga session which didn’t feel like it did a whole lot and one morning where I did ten minutes on the treadmill and ten minutes on the rowing machine. I didn’t even manage the ‘three times a week’ goal I set myself.

This is going to sound really melodramatic but hear me out: I feel like there is a hand around my heart right now and whenever I try to take a deep breath it closes a little bit. It’s an anxiety thing, I get it quite a lot but it makes exercising really hard, because whenever I try to push myself or do anything too strenuous breathing becomes a struggle and exercise is meant to make you a bit breathless but this is another level.

So I’m trying not to let this extended bout of anxiety stop me long term – I managed two sessions last week and it’s Tuesday as I’m writing this and I’ve just done my first session of the week and it was another ten minutes on treadmill/ten minutes on the rowing machine because I just can’t face doing any more.

(EDIT: I managed one more session that week (which was a 6km walk) and this week is looking more promising, follow me on Instagram if you’re interested in more immediate updates!)

But I did some. And at the end of the day I think that’s what matters – a part of my body is trying to tell me that I shouldn’t do the thing that’s good for me but I’m doing it anyway. It’s not a lot but it’s something and anything is better than nothing isn’t it?

I feel like I need to learn more about fitness and what I should be trying to like actually see some results but for now, I think I’m going to carry on doing what I’m doing and maybe one day I’ll be able to afford some Personal Trainer sessions. But trying is better than nothing and not only is it working out which is good for your body but it’s also proving you’re better than your mental health, you’re defying it!

It’s hard, but it’s worth it in the end.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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