There has been so much going on at Needle & Fred lately, I wanted to bring you up to speed.
Taking you away from wedding stationery for the moment. It's time to learn a little about what makes me tick.
Everyone is on a journey, whether it be getting fit, career progression or starting a family. Everyone’s journey is different, and everyone’s goals are different. We each have our own unique stories to tell about how we achieve our goals and the path we have chosen. We all want to succeed, and we should all want our fellow man to succeed too. When we work together, we can achieve incredible things.
My recent journey starts with some sobering words. Back in 2016 after a routine blood test my doctor sat me down for a serious chat. He explained to me that I was borderline diabetic. It wasn’t entirely related to my lifestyle as he told me it was hereditary, and it would rear its head fully if I didn’t take drastic action. I remember the moment well. I sat there looking at him with a look of disbelief on my face. He then uttered words I dreaded to hear “You need to do some exercise and go on a diet”. My response wasn’t exactly what you’d expect from a sensible adult. I looked at him pleadingly and said “No, I’ll do anything, but please don’t make me exercise.” I even started to cry. The thought of having to get off the sofa filled me with dread. I did the full-on ugly face crying, with snot flying out of my nose intermingling with my tears. In the other treatment rooms, some poor patient was probably be delivered terrible news, like they had an inoperable brain tumour and probably took it better than I did with my exercise news.
I don’t even think the diabetes diagnosis bothered me, it was purely the diet and exercise. I love my food, I really do. I watch so many cooking programmes and competitions and make collecting recipes a national past time. However, after I’d composed myself, I sat and listened properly to what he was telling me. He was going to refer me to a nutritionist to get a proper diet plan in place (oh joy!! My other worst nightmare, some hippy vegan telling me to eat raw onions…..I think you’re sensing how much I was not enjoying this prospect, especially when I tell you both my sisters and my mum and vegetarians, so I do have the deepest respect for vegans and vegetarians, and no vegan or vegetarian was harmed in the making of this comment).
I went to see the nutritionist with my super healthy sister, she was there to do this listening and I was there to just nod my head and pretend I was listening. The nutritionist waffled on in a very strong Scottish accent about the five food groups, what to avoid and what I could and couldn’t eat. It all sounded like a veritable pile of bollocks to me, I’m not going to lie. My attitude was simply that I had to be there as a tick box exercise. I was given a phone directory thickness of papers to read and some sort of diet plan. Needless to say, they went straight in the recycling bin when I got home. “No one tells me what I can and can’t eat” I ranted at my husband, “I’m an adult I make my own decisions.”
At dinner one night with my sisters (both healthy eaters and keen exercisers), they were giving me advice on what I should and shouldn’t be doing, what diets to try, what exercise to do etc. They only had my best interests at heart but at the point in time I wasn’t interested in their advice. I loved my lifestyle of being a couch potato and eating my own body weight in Pringles. I even asked my mum to tell them to back off, that I would do things in my own time and my own way. My mother will tell you that I absolutely hate being told what to do (other than in a boss/subordinate work situation, because if you say no you get sacked!). I’ve spent my life being told what to do, so this was now my time to make my decisions and do things my way.
After going back to see the nutritionist and lying through my teeth about the progress I had made, she signed me off, safe in the knowledge that I was eating kale three times and day.
After a few weeks, I dusted off my old slimming world cook book, I remember liking some of the recipes in there, so I started to make some of those meals. When I visited my mum, she subtly left a ‘Blood Sugar Diet Cook Book’ on my bed, so I took it without speaking about it and read the intro, some of the recipes I wouldn’t feed my non-existent cat, but some did look good. In my defence I do like vegetables, unlike my husband who thinks broccoli was put on this earth to taunt him. A week after eating some decent meals, I literally dusted down the exercise bike that we had decided to use as a clothes horse. I put some decent TV on and found that I’d cycled for twenty minutes without noticing, however, when I got off the bike it was like that scene from Bridget Jones’s Diary where she gets of the bike after a spinning class and promptly falls over. After I didn’t die from cycling, I thought, “Well this isn’t too bad” and the next day I got back on my bike, as they say. I kept this up for a few weeks. I then found some old and weights under the bed with a thick layer of dust on them. I started using these and doing some (incredibly bad) sit ups.
Every other day I would add something new to the routine and slowly I had my own little keep fit routine all worked out. Then I got this crazy new feeling inside me, I wanted to do a bit more. My sister took me to her gym, and we went swimming a few times which I really enjoyed.
I kept this routine up for three months and in that time, I lost a stone. I was elated. My face no longer had jowls and I could see my toes for the first time in years. My confidence grew quickly, and I was liking the ‘new me’.
In January 2017 my sister took me to be initiated and I became a gym member. I joined a ruddy gym, I couldn’t believe that was me. It was twenty years ago that I had last been a gym member and it felt good to be one again. I took my routine from home into the gym and my sister helped me make it better. I soon got obsessed with weights and found swimming at the weekend really helped centre my mind and thoughts and I felt ready for the week ahead.
I carried on in this vain for the next eighteen months, sometimes going five times a week to the gym. However, my weight didn’t change, but that was both due to muscle development and the fact that I kept falling off the diet wagon, but I was finally happy with how I was progressing, and I didn’t want to be sucked into what I ate becoming my life. I like my wine, I like my cheese and that’s not something I was prepared to give up, I just tried not to indulge as much.
When I visit my parents and unable to get to the gym, I exercise in their garden, or the garage, designated as my new gym. However, if the weather is bad, I exercise in the front room under the watchful eye of my dad. He sits in his chair and coaches me. He taught me to do proper sit ups and how to correct my posture to be more effective with my work out. I am learning a lot from him.
During 2018 I had got chatting to one of the guys who worked at the gym as a trainee trainer (trying to say that after a few vinos). I liked his calm approach to his work and he always helped me out with the equipment when I couldn’t find the right weights or couldn’t put a machine back to my setting. I told him I didn’t want a Personal Trainer, that I liked to work alone and do my own thing. He asked me how effective I thought I was being training on my own. “I’m a hell of a lot fitter than I was eighteen months ago and that’s all that matters to me.”
In September 2018 when we were having one of our usual chats, he announced that he was becoming at PT at the gym now all his training was done. I said it still didn’t change the fact that I didn’t want a personal trainer. He told me he’d do one free session just to see what I thought.
I agreed, after all I had nothing to lose. So, the following week I went to see him. After about five minutes I just thought, this isn’t for me, I think I might pass out in a minute. However, I powered through the session and at the end I had a feeling of contentment that I’d never experienced through exercise before. The endorphins had finally released themselves and it was euphoric. I felt so pumped that I hired him on the spot. I have two session a week with him. They are half hour sessions, because let’s face it, at the end of the day I still have a heart condition and rheumatoid arthritis, I’m no super hero.
Five months into my sessions with my PT, I can feel I’ve got stronger, I love seeing my muscles ripple and the feeling when those endorphins kick in never grows old. I go to the gym a further two times a week to practice the exercises he has taught me during that week. I even attend his Abs & Glutes class on a Saturday morning, and quite often with a hangover, but after thirty minutes of hard abs work, I sweat it out.
He has just issued me with a nutrition plan, and once again it looks like something, I wouldn’t feed my non-existent cat, but with a few tweaks and approval from my PT, I will make it work for both me and the broccoli hating husband in my life.
My journey is ongoing, in fact I hope it’s a never ending one. I hope that when I reach a set goal, it spurs me on to set another goal. I am proud of what I have achieved in these few years. I like how my mindset has changed and how focused I am when exercising. It keeps me centred and calm and the gym has now become my happy place. I can’t believe how immature I was in the doctor’s surgery three years ago. My doctor had my best interests at heart. Unfortunately, he has left the surgery now, but I did make sure I sent him a thank you card, because it was him that set me on the path that my journey has now taken and it’s my PT that keeps me on track. However, it’s due to the constant support and encouragement from my family (especially my sisters and my mum and dad) and friends, that keeps me motivated to carry on.
It’s amazing how using positive words can make a difference to your mind set. “You can do this” is the mantra running through my head. It’s what my PT says to me many times during a session. He also says, “Don’t say you can’t do it until you’ve tried to do it”.