Things I've Learnt from my Personal Trainer

I can’t believe I’ve been training with Abi for over a year and a half. Now I’m moving away for Uni and thought I’d think about everything I’ve learned from the hours of sweat.

When we started, I weighed 11 stone 8 lbs, was so unfit I got out of breath climbing stairs and ate chocolate for pretty much every meal. I didn’t seriously think I’d take up training and met with Abi to stop my mum nagging. Somehow, within a few months I was training twice a week, and then three times a week.

Now, I weigh 9 stone 10lbs and I don’t eat chocolate, sugar or white bread anymore. Yes, I wrote chocolate and sugar separately to convey the gravitas, because for me chocolate in all its chocolatey goodness is in a completely different category from other food.

May 2016 -- September 2016 

Anyway, here’s 8 things I’ve learned…

 1. Basically everything you thought is wrong. These are gonna need some subtitles…
a.     You have a lot more time than you think. I have really strong memories of arguing with my mum when she suggested I meet with her personal trainer. I’d just started Sixth Form and couldn’t contemplate fitting anything else into my schedule, particularly something that would make me more tired. But when I continued to train three times a week around my A2 exams this year, it showed me I really can fit it in when I need to. It helped me plan my revision far better if I knew I had training that day. So another thing I’ve gained: time management. 

b.    Your will power is stronger than you think. One of the hardest challenges (yes, harder than interval training) was sitting at a friend’s house and she’d cooked some chocolate snack. A bunch of us were watching the Game of Thrones season premiere and they were munching away. I didn’t have a bite. There aren’t many things I love more than Game of Thrones and chocolate, and somehow I managed to resist one of those (clue: the one without the gore and incest). Since then, I’ve resisted chocolate/bread/pasta cravings on countless occasions. And it isn’t just food. Having a trainer waiting for me means I do roll out of bed and get to the gym. I do complete that last rep even when I feel like my limbs have turned into bricks. Or marshmallows. Or both.

c.     You are stronger than you think. Now this one’s physically, none of that emotional stuff. When I was 13, I went to countless doctors after finding my hands went into spasm when I tried to write more than about a paragraph. I also suffered from back pain, neck pain, and migraines. They all had different things to say but it basically came down to ‘severe muscle weakness and fatigue.’ I kind of took that to mean ‘you are medically weak; there’s nothing you can do. Here’s your excuse to sit on the couch all day.’ Anyway, even though I do still suffer from spasms in my joints and occasional migraines, training has turned my severely weak muscles into stronger ones that support: squats, lifts, planks and everything else Abi throws at me.  I rarely think now that I can’t do something she sets me. I just know it’ll take a lot of work and I will end up sweaty and smelling like a sock…

Diary entry from 11th January 2015: I was so worried I wouldn't keep at it, because I've never stuck at something like this before. 

2. Exercise helps with almost everything. Small areas like my wrists still struggle with being very weak and painful occasionally, but pretty much everything else I can think of has been helped since we’ve started training, and I’ve got fitter and stronger. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise why my body just struggles less with things than it used to. It’s also really helped with my mental state too though. Whenever I feel stressed exercising gives me at least an hour where I’m not thinking about anything other than how the hell am I going to do another rep of this!? It also helps to have a trainer I can vent to about anything as long as I’m lifting weights!

3. To be confident in the ‘Men’s Area.’ I used to –infrequently- go to the gym alone and, when I did, the heavy weight section was just completely off bounds to me. It didn’t even cross onto my radar because it was so clearly full of huge men who would crush me if I walked over. Actually, it wasn’t just this area. So many parts of the gym seem intimidating. Like parts that are too crowded. Or parts where too many good looking people are assembling. I’ll just stick to the back near the toilets, thank you. But since seeing how my trainer marches right through to the equipment she wants me to use, I’ve realised there aren’t actually any posters telling me where I can and can’t go. And yes, I still jump when the weight-lifters yell and throw their barbells, but I’m getting there…

4. Personal achievements are the best kind. Ok so some people might go for hours on a treadmill, at an incline, lifting weights. But when I started I was terrified of treadmills, getting shakes just thinking about how fast they go and how I could so easily fall off the back. Somehow a few months ago, Abi and I started getting me on one. First at a walk, and then at a jog, and now I can run on them without thinking about my impending doom. Getting on that treadmill might seem like a small victory for others but for me it really showed how far we’d come.

Pre-gym selfies are a bit of a ritual... 
5. Nothing tastes as good as skinny healthy feels. Sorry, Kate Moss, but your slogan isn’t as great as this one. I don’t agree that the goal should be skinny but I do agree that the feeling of eating chocolate doesn’t even compare with the feeling I have when a Measuring Day goes well. I obviously still get the voice in my head saying you need that Galaxy bar. You deserve it. But then I think about the new gym gear in Victoria Secret, and I would much rather deserve that.

6. Shopping for gym clothes is the best reward. Ok so I’ve already mentioned Victoria Secret and although I’m yet to actually buy something from there (erm, £50 for leggings…) trying the stuff in hope of future sales has been one of the best rewards and motivation.

River Island gym gear <3 (£18 and worth it) 

7. Speaking of rewards: food shouldn’t be one. It’s insane how society reinforces food as a reward for good behaviour or a celebration. During the first few months of me eating healthily I had my birthday, my best friends’ birthdays, end of school, end of exams… It was the start of summer and a really bazaar time not to be eating chocolate. My 18th birthday genuinely didn’t feel that big a deal without something sugary to make me feel celebrated. It made me feel sad that kids are brought up to associate the two so strongly. So Abi and I made a new tradition: weighted lunges to commemorate the day…

8.  Pain the next day is an amazing feeling (and you will love telling everyone). I never thought I would enjoy the feeling of waking up in the morning and having abs that feel like bricks sticking me to the mattress. Or walking down stairs only to find my quads have just given up supporting my weight. But it shows me how hard I’ve worked the day before and of course I love being able to say Oh, don’t mind me, I’m only crying with pain because of Leg Day yesterday.

Well, really, what haven’t I learnt? Before I joined the gym, I didn’t know my shoulder-press from my Russian twist. I also had no idea about diet, for instance which carbs are friends and which are foe.

Now the real test will just be Fresher’s Week…

1 comment:

  1. Great article - and it is written from a strength perspective, rather than a victim mindset. Love it, thanks. There are some serious wins in here.
    Rosemary, Director Triple Win Enterprises.


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