From running or rowing to raving or rollerblading – there are so many fantastic ways to feel more active. That’s what our Body Magic programme is all about: finding an activity you really enjoy, and taking small steps towards a more active lifestyle – like Steve, our brilliant target member.
Steve says that the support he found when he joined Slimming World gave him the confidence to go to the gym for the first time. Have a flick through his Body Magic diary to find out more…
I’ll never forget the day I knew I wanted to do something about my weight. I’d decided to apply for a job as a physical training instructor at the prison where I worked as an officer. But when I plucked up the courage to see a senior manager about the job, he told me I wasn’t fit enough to handle the physical demands of the role. I was crushed.
Looking back now, I realise I shouldn’t have been surprised. My weight had crept up over the years and life had become a struggle. Although I’d scraped through my annual fitness test, I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without stopping to catch my breath. Working shifts, I rarely had time to cook a proper meal. Instead, I’d snack on crisps throughout the day, and fill up on slices of buttery toast during my breaks.
After my knockback, I realised that my weight was stopping me from progressing my career, too, so when a relative suggested I joined Slimming World I knew I had to give it a try. Even so, as I sat in group that first night I didn’t think it wouldn’t work for me – in fact, I was determined to prove that I couldn’t eat pasta, chicken and potatoes and still lose weight. But, after losing 7lbs in my first week, while filling up on lasagne, burgers and prawn jalfrezi, I was hooked!
I wanted to get more active alongside my weight loss, so I started running on a treadmill in the prison gym. I hated that first run – after three minutes, I thought my lungs were going to burst and I had to stop. I stuck at it, though, and as the weight came off, I started to run further and faster. Even more surprising, I discovered I really enjoyed lifting weights. Losing weight gave me so much energy, I couldn’t wait to get back in the gym, and I always came out of workout feeling strong and positive.
Although I became a physical training instructor two years after joining Slimming World, I’d grown to love exercise so much that I decided to go into business for myself as a personal trainer. Now, 7st down, I can’t imagine not being active. I feel fitter, healthier and more energetic than I ever dreamed possible – and I wouldn’t change ‘that feeling’ for the world.
Week 1: Getting gym-confident
I checked my body was positioned correctly on the weight bench, lifted the barbell off the rack and started counting out the reps. One…two…three… After I’d finished the set, I sat up and looked around at all the other people in the gym. To think, when I first joined, I was so self-conscious that I’d deliberately go early in the morning when I knew no one else would be there.
A colleague had offered to show me a few basic exercises, and I surprised myself with how much I could lift. The more I went to the gym, the more I was able to do. And as my confidence grew, I stopped thinking about whether the other gym-goers were looking at me and just focused on myself. Now, going to the gym is my ‘me time’. As well as going to group every week to get support with my weight loss, taking an hour out of my day two or three times a week to train really helps to clear my head, and I always finish a workout feeling more positive and energised.
Steve’s tip: Start off slowly to build up your confidence. The great thing about the gym is that you can go at your own pace and only have to do as much as you want to.
Week 2: Back in the swim
Jumping into the water, I pushed off from the side of the pool and swam towards the other side. Getting into the pool was a big step for me. At my biggest, I avoided swimming as much as possible, only going to the pool when I was on holiday. Even then, I made sure I covered up in a baggy T-shirt first. But after going to the gym for a couple of months, I wanted to find a way to cool down after a workout that wouldn’t put pressure on my joints, and I decided to give swimming a go.
Even though I’d already lost 2st, I still felt incredibly nervous getting into the water for the first time. I scurried from the changing rooms to the pool, and jumped in at the deep end before anyone had a chance to see me. That only started to change when I decided to try an Aquafit class. As I stood in the pool, going through the exercises with the instructor, I realised the class was filled with people of all different shapes and sizes – and they were all laughing and enjoying themselves. I realised then that no one was really interested in what I looked like, and now I don’t worry about taking my shirt off in the pool – or even on the beach if I’m on holiday.
Steve’s tip: If you’re nervous about going swimming, try a swimming class – being part of a group might help you feel less self-conscious.
Week 3: Keep on running
“We can do it, Steve!” I heard my fiancé, Sheryl, shout as we raced towards the finish line of a 10K obstacle course. We’d started doing organised sporting events together a few weeks into our relationship, when I surprised Sheryl by signing her up to a 20-mile obstacle run. It’s more fun to exercise together, and it’s definitely brought us closer as a couple. We cheer each other on, and help one another if one of us is struggling. We might get a bit competitive with each other at times, too!
I’ve also found that having an obstacle run or a 10K in the calendar helps to keep me motivated. Knowing I’ll be running in an event in a few weeks’ time is just the push I need to get me to go running on those days when I feel too tired or the weather isn’t the best. Thankfully, Sheryl forgave me for that first obstacle run, and we’ve been doing them ever since. We’ve even roped a few of our friends from group into signing up, too! I’ve got more than 40 medals in my collection now.
Steve’s tip: Body Magic is a brilliant way to spend quality time with your better half.
Week 4: Being an active family man
As much as I enjoy keeping fit in the gym, spending time with my family always comes first. And now family time is active time! A weekend doesn’t go by without Sheryl and me taking the kids to a junior Park Run, down to the park, or to a climbing centre where we can spend the afternoon racing each other to the top of the wall.
Recently, Sheryl and I woke up one beautiful sunny morning and decided to make the most of the weather by going for a bike ride. We spent the entire day cycling around Rutland Water Nature Reserve – on a tandem bike, of all things! – and stopped halfway round to enjoy a Food Optimising picnic. It’s hard to believe that a few years ago I would’ve been stuck to the sofa all weekend. Being active has become a part of my normal life, and I’m enjoying every moment.
It’s fair to say that Steve is loving his newly discovered active lifestyle. If you’d like to get ‘that feeling’, you’ll find lots more information about Body Magic – as well as unbeatable weight loss support – at your local Slimming World group and at Slimming World Online.
Whether it’s swimming lengths in the pool or dancing around the living room, we’d love to share what’s in your Body Magic diary on the blog or on social using #theSlimmingWorldblog