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.
Eight Things 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’ve had a couple of kids and so I can’t expect my body to do a myriad of exercises… This turned out 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’ve 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. My Biggest Fears Were Unfounded
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.
8. 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. Apart from that I didn’t think I would 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. 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’ve 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!!!”
Continuing the Healthy Weight Journey
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 be 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.
Previous Posts in this Series
- Se7en’s Journey at SSISA Begins With a Goal…
- Se7en Takes You Through the SSISA Healthy Weight Assessment…
- Se7en’s Blog: From Workouts to Workshops and Everything In-Between…
- Se7en Begins Week 3 of our Healthy Weight Program…
- Se7en’s Blog: It’s Time to Take Sleep Seriously…
- Se7en’s Blog: Meeting the Healthy Weight Team…
- Se7en’s Blog: And Suddenly We Are in Week 6…
- Se7en’s Blog: There is no Assessment Like Your Own Assessment…
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.