Nicola shares her story….
I have always been conscious of my shape and size, I used to dance when I was young and remember looking at all of the lumps and bumps in that horrible Lycra! I was never “overweight” but always looked at the girls who were super skinny. Realistically I was never going to be one of those girls, as my build was not made for that.
I started playing hockey when I was about 12 and it was my cousin who got me in to a local team. I played every season until I was about 25 when I had to give up due to work commitments. I still enjoy playing on occasion when the team need extra players, however I love having my weekend as I work Monday to Friday.
When I was around 17 I began running. I lived in the country so could always find a quiet route and just gradually built up my distance. I would go out hail, rain or snow and dreaded the thought of going for a run sometimes but always felt so much better after I had been. I completed some 10k’s but tend to like doing my own thing, as I’m quite competitive and there were so many people I couldn’t keep up with!
From finishing school and my through my 20s I became very body image conscious. I developed a sort of unhealthy relationship with food. In my head if I was hungry I felt skinny. I would eat veg and as few carbs as I could and would guilt myself for having something that in my head wasn’t “healthy”. I would then binge on take away, chocolate and sweets on a Sunday. This was probably the point when I was in my worst shape.
In 2018 I moved to Glasgow from North Ayrshire and joined a gym up here. I felt incredibly self -conscious in the gym. I used YouTube a lot to guide me and also followed personal trainers on social media to see some of their workouts. I had always liked the idea of a PT but felt too self- conscious to exercise in front of someone who was there to watch only you if that makes sense. However I got talking to Caroline Digweed in a gym called SWEAT in Glasgow. She gave me a programme to work through and gave me some nutritional advice. I worked with her for one session per week for about 3 months then moved to checking in with her on occasion.
My food played a massive part. I didn’t know what the right things to eat were before and I would be eating hardly anything but consuming over my daily calorie allowance. I try to have 3 meals a day with some protein snacks in between meals. I also drink up to 3 litres of water a day, this makes me feel a lot less sluggish!
I go to the gym at least 4 times per week usually in the morning before work and really enjoy it. I tend to do about 30 minutes cardio which can be sprints or incline walks. Then do an all over body weights session, which I usually try to focus on key areas such as glutes, abs, shoulders and back. I always have to remind myself to change it up a bit because I do fall in to a routine easily. If I don’t go to gym I will go running and really enjoy getting out in the fresh air but do find it more difficult in the city because of busy roads etc.
One of the biggest reasons I am truly grateful I can exercise is the way it makes you feel. As I’ve got older I’ve seen how unkind the workplace can be, what stresses life throws at you, what pressure you’re under to be “perfect”. I wasn’t built to be invincible but sometimes I forget that and can become really anxious. This is where exercise helps. I go to the gym in fight or flight mode and can switch off and focus my attention on exercise. This gives my head the mind space that it needs to recover and be ready to handle the stresses of everyday life.