YOUR SECRETS: Helen’s story – After years of hating exercise, I’m now a fitness fanatic!
I AM absolutely thrilled to finally bring to you the first ‘Your Secrets’ story on Pouting In Heels.
Kicking off this new blog series is a totally inspiring story which I just know you are going to love. It’s one that we can all learn from but is particularly perfect for anyone whom is looking to lose weight, get fit or take up a challenge this new year.
As Helen’s friend, I have followed her remarkable journey for months via Facebook updates and after being continually inspired by what I read, I decided to ask Helen to share her story with me – and you- on Pouting In Heels. Thankfully, she accepted my invitation and I genuinely couldn’t be more delighted.
What’s it all about? Well you’ll have to read Helen’s story to find out properly. But in a nutshell it’s about weight loss, eating clean, discovering the joys of exercise and the power we all have within ourselves, to change who we are and transform our lives.
I’m so pleased for Helen and what she has achieved. Both her determination to succeed and her new found enthusiasm for health and fitness is just truly fabulous.
Ladies, I now hand you over to Helen Stokes and her remarkable story. Please don’t forget to show her your love and support by leaving her a comment below, popping over to her fantastic blog ‘And That’s Just The Warm Up’ or sending her a tweet. x
(Oh and make sure to tune in tomorrow too, when Helen will be sharing her top tips and two of her favourite paleo dishes. I’m already drooling over one of them…x)
Helen Stoke’s story…
My weight has yo-yo’d for years and I was overweight when I was pregnant with my daughter Imogen, much to my Doctor’s disgust! I vowed I would shift the weight after the baby was born, but like many women, I really struggled post birth and clapped on even more weight. Then, when I went back to work I put even more on.
If I’m honest the catalyst for losing weight was to have another baby. I never set out to get into fitness or eat clean, I just wanted the weight gone and would do anything! I’ve tried all sorts over the years; Weight Watchers, Slimming World, counting calories and have even used a hypnotist (!) all with varying degrees of success.
Last Christmas I decided 2013 was the year I needed to sort it or I just wouldn’t be able to have another baby. I bought some Wi-Fi enabled scales, signed up to Sainsbury’s convenience food diet plan, and went swimming 2 or 3 times a week. I dropped a stone just by doing that alone.
But in February I decided the swimming wasn’t working for me. The pool was too busy and I wasn’t pushing myself, so I decided to join a gym. Again I thought I’d just end up swimming but they offered me a free personal training session.
I thought I’d try it as it was free but surprisingly, it turned out that my personal trainer Jason Horton was just what I needed! Someone who was able to get their head round a) what I wanted b) my insecurities with exercise and food c) develop my thinking from just weight loss to fitness and health too.
Now when I look back, I can see that I didn’t just need to lose the weight, I needed to improve my fitness too. I was getting out of breath just climbing the stairs. I hated going to soft play with Imogen because I didn’t have the energy to run round after her and I hated walking anywhere.
The other thing I had never thought about was what I needed mentally. Working out gives me something else to think about other than work. It gives me space to be me, not mummy, not wife, not teacher, just Helen. I hadn’t realised but I needed something else in my life to help me let off steam and relax.
Exercise and eating clean has changed my life in many ways – obviously there is the physical aspects – currently I have dropped 4 & 1/2 stone and 3 dress sizes. My body is more toned. I have muscles in my arms and legs and my stomach is beginning to flatten and tone up. My skin is also a lot better.
I am no longer out of breath and I sleep better. I am happier in myself, I am able to switch off from work a little more and am more confident because I know I can achieve things that I might have thought I couldn’t before. I’ve gone from someone who hated exercise and would do everything to avoid it to someone who loves being in the gym!
When I started I couldn’t do press ups at all, now I can do 10 in a row as part of my circuits (usually with a lot of whinging!). I couldn’t do more than 2/3 burpees at the start, I didn’t even know what a burpee was! But now I can do 15 – 20. It has also surprised me how much I love lifting weights! I’d never in a million years have considered weights as an exercise that would interest me or that I would want to do, but I love it! I love the challenge of trying to go a little bit further.
I’ve had to learn to love food. I hadn’t realised but my cycle of eating unhealthy, convenience foods and takeaways meant I’d forgotten how to taste foods and made me very fussy. I’ve had to persevere and educate my tastebuds again. It sounds daft but before I hated food like strawberries and raspberries and now I’ll eat them.
The most difficult thing I find is continuing to eat clean when I am stressed or feeling down. I love eating clean , the food is delicious but I won’t lie, it is time consuming to prepare – cooking steak and vegetables at 6am for your breakfast is no way near as quick as eating toast or a cereal bar!
So as much as I love the food, it is tricky to fit it in when you work full time and have a demanding toddler. However I try to cook things that give me reheats that I can have the next day for lunch which helps. As well as eating clean I have also introduced paleo eating into my diet as I find that it’s a little more flexible and allows me to cook ‘recipes’ so you feel more like you are eating proper food.
Family, friends and colleagues have been very supportive and people are always asking me questions now about what am I eating, what exercise am I doing and how have I managed to lose the weight. The honest answer is hard work. It isn’t easy. I sometimes see a look of disappointment when they realise it isn’t a quick fix.
There is no pill or ‘diet’ that will help you improve your health and fitness. It is something we are all told by the health professionals; eat better foods, exercise more. It isn’t witchcraft or black magic. You just have to commit to it and understand that it takes hard work.
A lot of people have said I am an inspiration. I am not sure how I feel about that to be honest. It’s pretty flattering that people say that and I never thought people would view me in that way.
I’m so passionate about this health and fitness journey that I have been on, that I want everyone to understand it, try it and love it too, which is why I decided to set up my blog ‘And That’s Just The Warm Up’ . If I can inspire people to become healthier and happier, then that for me, is a real positive.
I am proud of myself, that I’ve stuck with it. I never set out to work with a personal trainer. I thought I’d do it just for a month, but I am hooked! I honestly thought by now I’d have jacked it in. I didn’t even dream I could do half the stuff I am doing now! I feel more confident in myself now both in the way I look but also how because I know that I can achieve things that are difficult. There is still work to do but I now see that anything is achievable.
I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I slip sometimes, but I genuinely believe that I am fitter, healthier and happier as a result of this journey.
In the future, I hope to become pregnant. Jason assures me I can still train whilst pregnant and also eating clean will be part of staying healthy during any pregnancy. I certainly intend to keep going. Even if I reach a weight I want to be, I will still want to keep going with fitness and eating clean.
It is part of me now. There isn’t an end point.
I just want to finish by saying a HUGE thank you to Helen for sharing her story with us. Thanks to Helen, I’m definitely going to be experimenting with eating clean and the paleo diet in the near future and who knows I may even dig my ol’ gym kit out too. Watch this space.
P.S Each month I’ll be publishing one inspiring ‘Your Secrets’, could the next one be yours? If you’ve got a story to tell, you can find out all about the series here or drop me a line at email@example.com.