I have been wanting to write a post like this for quite a while, simply because the subject area is something very close to my heart and something which has changed my life and my health for the better. I am a massive advocate for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and exercising on a regular basis and really do feel like it benefits you so much, for both that moment and in the long run. I have always been quite an active person, I did ballet, swimming and gymnastics from the age of 7 till my early teens, and always loved to get involved with cross countries and fun runs. I was never really keen on sports day, purely because I felt it was all a bit of a popularity contest, and I every year I would be so embarrassed of my bean pole like body and the fact that I never really developed womanly assets till my late teens.
One thing I wanted to also put out there is that, to me, your weight does not define you, nor does it determine how often you should exercise. Many people say to me 'why do you need to go to the gym, your so small?' And I always reply that its not about my weight, its about being healthy. I gym because I love the feeling I get after a good work out, I love looking in the mirror and noticing that my thighs are getting toned rather than skinny, and I love the feeling of being healthy. I know of skinny girls that probably have similar health problems as larger girls, just because your thin doesn't mean your healthy. I decided to start going to the gym when I first started University, heading to the gym was almost like my get away from all the Uni work and life issues going on in my head at that moment, it also made me feel that tiny bit better about my life after a previous alcohol fuelled night out. I Joined a few local gyms throughout University, and probably got really serious about working out in third year, I sometimes look back and think how the hell did I manage to walk the 20 minute journey to the library, crack out a whole essay, walk home, then walk to the gym and do close to a two hour work out. It baffles me. However I do remember having a lot of energy and motivation throughout third year as I think the lifestyle and work ethic pushes you further, hence I managed to nab my 2:1 without abandoning my exercise routine.
After Uni finished, a lot of stress was taken off of me, and since moving home I decided to sign up to my local gym and spa and now gym about 2-3 times a week. I don't like to over do it as I have an irrational fear of bulking up and getting massive thighs ( I know this would probably never happen but I still worry about it after every gym sesh) I also throw in a run once a week, which is a quick 3 mile circle route near my house, I will admit it is easier to run if you live in the country as you have no prying eyes or white vans honking at you, and its also a lovely way to get some fresh air, let out steam and have a good old ponder of life. I really wanted to let you guys into my personal workout routine, and what I use as inspiration to help me enjoy my work outs. I realise when you first get into exercising on the regular, its bloody hard work and feels like you are on the brink of death, but trust me, once you have had a few workouts and start eating a bit healthier in conjunction, you will love yourself for it and you will feel so accomplished after a solid hour workout. I really do believe in endorphins and I can honestly say that I always feel my best after a work out and a good stretch.
So I like to do a good hour and a half session in the gym, including stretching, and I have a set routine in which I do everything. Im not good at running on treadmills so I tend to avoid these and just stick to country running. Here is a rundown of my workout and the machines I use:
Basic stretches - 5 minutes - Its so important to make sure you stretch before a workout to warm up the muscles, if you don't then you will pay for it the next day and will be walking like you have soiled yourself. A few lunges and calf stretches will do for this, nothing to complex, just make sure you are all ready for your workout.
Cross trainer - 20 minutes -
Stairs machine - 15 minutes -
Weights -25 minutes-
You can use various different websites and books to help you get some good arm workouts, there are so many different free apps available too and they are so useful as you can see exactly how to do the lifts. I tend to work all around my arms, especially focussing on the inner arm, where bingo wings form (shudders)
I like to do a few lunges with weights to work my thighs, I find doing a for reps on each leg just stretches and works the muscle without over doing it.
I am a bit obsessed with butt workouts and have seen such a noticeable difference in the look of my own bottom (yeah I went there), I literally use to be as flat as a pancake but since doing squats with weights and donkey kicks (these two are 100% the most beneficial exercises for achieving that pert little butt every girl wants, trust me) my bottom has just lifted so quickly, and its amazing how quickly the glut muscles can enlarge.
Hip abductor - 5 minutes -
I use this machine because I have dodgy hips, (seriously i'm gonna need a hip replacement at 30 at this rate) and I like to work the muscle around that area to strengthen the hip bone and core.
Core and stomach -15 minutes-
I really like to work hard on my stomach, I think butt and stomach are the two problem areas every girl has, whether she's 7 stone or 15... you can never get away from that niggly pot belly. I like to do various different sit ups and leg movements to work both my core and stomach, again mobile apps can give you the best exercises and tips for this.
stretching down -15- minutes
I really like to take my time stretching down as I think this is most important part of a workout, to really stretch the muscles and to keep your body flexible and pain free. I incorporate some yoga moves into this such as bending my legs back over my head which is the most amazing stretch and feels so rewarding afterwards. I also like to do the back stretch where you lay on your front and push your upper half up to the sky. I then go into a few leg stretches that I use to do at gymnastics such as the straddle stretches.
My kit is fairly basic, I don't like to spend too much money on gym clothes, because, well, i'd rather spend my money on bags and shoes? My nike leggings are actually a mates from Uni, I found them in the bin bags I lugged home and haven't managed to get them back to her, fun fact though, she climbed Kilimanjaro in them, cool eh? These leggings however have come so in handy throughout the winter months as they are so warm and skin tight. They are the perfect sports legging as they are super stretchy and allow you room to move whilst looking super cute. I also have a cropped sports bra from Primark, which was about £3.00 and is amazing as its super comfy and not too tight, and also has handy padding so I don't need to wear a bra. I also recently bought this white sports top from Primark too for £4.00, before this I had been wearing baggy tshirts which I find get in the way of a workout, so this tight sports top is so handy and allows your skin to breath. And finally the footwear, I bought these nike free runners ages ago but I absolutely love them, they are so light weight and comfy and are the perfect shoe to gym in as they have great support and again, allow your feet to breath.
I take my inspiration from various different elements; it could be a picture of the gorgeous candice Swanepole in a stringy bikini that makes me instantly want to go to the gym, or it could simply be if I have woken up in the morning feeling groggy, a workout usually sorts me out for the day and I always feel so refreshed rather than tired. However most often my inspiration is Millie Mackintosh and witnessing her fitness journey on Instagram (seriously though, how good does she look these days?!) I think inspiration various depending on your goals, for most girls the goal is to lose a few stone, so they may use pictures of girls in bikinis and booty shorts with Ryan Gosling quotes scribbled on them, but for me its just about maintaing a healthy body and mind. Working out, however cringe it sounds, is like a nice little drug for me, it sorts me out when i'm feeling crappy and down, and more often that not, after a workout I feel on top of the world and in a such a great mood.
Maintaining your fitness:
The best way to maintain your routine and fitness is to start slowly and work your way into it. If you make an impulsive and irrational decision to go to the gym everyday and eat literally nothing, the initial high will wear off and you will end up feeling exhausted. Another thing to remember is that it takes time to see changes, one month at the gym wont get rid of that stubborn bit of cellulite on your thigh, or give you abs abbey clancy would be proud of, however it will increase you chances of carrying on and if you allow an exercise routine in your life, and a more do able one such as gyming twice a week and eating healthily, then you will see changes. You need to be realistic, everything worth having takes time and you need to set yourself goals, whether that is to be able to run for 15 minutes on the treadmill without stopping or lift heavier weights, setting do-able goals and reaching them will push you on to your next goal, and before you know it you will be the healthiest and more than likely, the happiest you have ever been.
Happy Gyming !