How much change can happen in a decade?
I’ve grown to understand that change happens regardless if we’re moving with it, or trying to resist.
As this decade draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting my experiences – both good and bad – and what I could take forward for the next decade.
The start of this decade saw me ‘commit’ to changing my life for the better.
To provide context, I was very big and unfit. Growing up, I spent most of my days on my own. I’d always been big for as long as I can remember. I was picked on for as long as I can remember too. Usually it was about my size, although a good portion was because of my colour.
I was adamant that I shouldn’t change to be like everyone else. Why should I? They were mean. The more I hid, the bigger I became.
So, in my self-pity at the start of the decade, I was struck with the thought that I needed to change – for me.
Being that big and unfit didn’t make me happy, and when I hit a UK size 20 in women’s clothes, that was really the shock I needed. Although I was resisting changing myself to dodge people’s comments and passive aggressiveness, I was still changing in other ways – getting larger and unhealthier, and more prone to future health issues that could have been avoided.
That first step into the gym, and the commitment that followed, was a huge test. Whilst most focused on themselves, I was a target to be mocked by a number of young men. It hurt. A lot. I don’t understand why some people need to go out of their way to be unkind. Especially when it comes to fitness, it takes a lot of effort in the first place to actually turn up when you’re so self-conscious that you’re one of the biggest there. For many, it’s enough to make them quit too early when they had so much potential.
I kept training at the gym. My favourite day was Friday evenings, when most people my age would be out with friends to parties. My bar time was certainly different. A few years later, I started my martial arts journey which also had its ups and downs.
The harder I worked, the more conscious I became about what I consumed: mentally and physically. Slowly, I became invisible in the fitness world – and that suited me fine. Well, mostly invisible – I couldn’t hide my colour and those intolerant couldn’t hide their prejudice. I couldn’t hide that I was a woman, which brought disrespect and intimidation in different ways. A few emotional crashes happened over the years – one can only stay strong alone for so long. It was at these moments that I was humbled by the good in people.
And so, I endured the pain, ache, and tiredness for change.
It’s only really been the past year or so, as I’m finally nearing the end of my earliest fitness goals that some have started to throw words at me such as ‘inspiration’ and ask ‘how did you do it?’ At the same time, I find myself opening up more. Getting to know people on a deeper level is wonderful.
In honesty, I don’t feel ‘inspirational’, and think this term is thrown around too often. Anything can be ‘inspirational’ yet without subsequent action by the person saying it, it’s just words. This story, my story, has been a journey to find myself and put my desire to action. It’s had lots of challenges, and I’m keen to show that it isn’t easy but it can be done. If this helps someone spark the drive, or supports rising from a dip in the fitness journey in any way, then I’d feel honoured to be a part of it.
There is no secret for fitness goals, or other goals at that. There is certainly no quick fix. It starts with a drive so powerful that it dominates your thoughts. Always. When you are charged like that, challenges become insignificant or you have the confidence to overcome them. It took me this decade to get to where I am today. It might not take as long for you.
In total, I’ve lost a little more than a third of my starting weight since I began this fitness journey. It’s crazy – especially when I hold a sack of potatoes and think how many have been lost from body weight! It’s certainly not been a smooth decline, I’ve tripped a lot. It happens.
Perhaps the greatest gift is the journey itself.
It continues to teach me a lot about change. Change is always happening around us. You either change over time or change happens to you or around you.