I get asked a lot about how I got into fitness or was I always active etc.. So seeing as this is my first blog post, I think starting with my own journey is fitting.
From a young age I was always active; played a lot of GAA, school sports and was generally very energetic. Sport was a huge part of my life up to my late teens where college life took over and my grá for team sports was replaced with running on a treadmill.
I’d like to say this was a healthy change for me, but the reality was, running on the roads or the treadmill for hours a week was mostly down to wanting to be the thinnest version of myself possible.
I grew up in the Paris Hilton era so being thin was in. And the less I ate and the more I exercised, the more accomplished I felt.
Thankfully, this severe obsession only lasted 18 months or so (which is pretty long but also knowing that some people battle with this for years, I count myself lucky that mine was shorter lived) However, it did impact the way I fueled and exercised my body, spoke to myself about my body and the way I viewed my body for years after.
To be totally honest, I can still slip back into that mind frame occasionally but I can deal with it better now.
My form of exercise during my college and early 20’s was mostly fitness classes and running. My nutrition was only ever an afterthought and I most definitely was never fueled properly for exercising, unless it was post workout gin and tonics.
I left Ireland at 24 for a year in Oz with my friends and whilst working in a gojry kindergarten, I became friends with the owner who used to take me to her gym for fitness classes. These were classes like no other ones I had been to. Well ran, structured, good vibes, strength focused.. I became obsessed!
A healthy obsession that so much so, when I arrived home to Cork, all I wanted to do was get into fitness as a side hustle.
Fast forward 2 years, a break up, a house move and a few mental breakdowns, I finally signed up for the NTC course in the mardyke. Every weekend for 17 weeks. Working full time in a creche. During this time, I really got into weight training. I invested in a PT and worked on progressing my own form, strength and knowledge of the benefits of lifting weights. Lifting weights became the easy part but I still struggled with the nutrition as I was always afraid to eat that little bit more. I quickly became a very tiny version of myself as my addictive personality took over and I trained 10 times per week minimum.
Looking back on this part of my fitness journey, I didn’t even realise how obsessive I was. I was allowing my personal trainer/fitness persona to fully identify me. Skipping social events or going late for fear I had to eat the food. Drinking sparkling water pretending it was gins so that I wouldn’t drink calories. Wearing a fitness tracker on nights out to count my steps like I was fcking Ben 10! It was an obsession and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I ever actually admitted this until right now. I suppose I knew it but never accepted it.
I can easily see now how it’s possible to fall into this cycle. Seeing results and wanting to be better, faster, stronger, leaner. Consuming all your time to look a certain way, but when does this start and stop?
During this time, I had quit working in childcare, worked as a PT in a gym, opened up a studio which quickly turned into a large commercial gym and still weight trained going through cycles of ‘bulking and cutting’ depending on the social calendar.
I think allowing fitness to become my identity for a long time meant that instead of training because I enjoyed it, I felt the need to always have a goal, whether this be a goal weight or a weight of a lift I wanted to progress in. Social media had a huge part to play in this as it is flooded with fitness influencers on the ‘daily grind, no days off, hustle harder’ bandwagon and being new to the industry, I allowed this to impact me.
Over this period, maybe 3 years or so, I did enjoy training. I got myself good and strong, healthy and injury free. I built up a solid foundation of knowledge for training other people. I worked really close with hundreds of clients and learnt how to adapt training to different people.
Then we hit Pandem. I have mixed feelings about the two years of lockdown because I had a lot of changes. But for the sake of this post being about my fitness journey, I’ll stick to that and one day soon, I’ll write about my mental health journey during that time.
The one thing I did learn during Pandem and my love for training and fitness, was that it doesn’t actually define me at all. It only took me from 2015 to realise this..
I worked a lot on my self talk and had completed a 6 month Life Coaching and Self Development course a few months prior.
The way we speak to ourselves is the biggest factor in self acceptance. And I didn’t truly understand this until I started putting this to practice. When you talk to yourself in a kind and understanding way, everything flourishes. This has a domino effect on how you view your body and all it does for you.
My fitness goals now are to be the strongest version of myself both inside and out.
I train when I want to and because I want to. I work on my self talk, and being kind to myself. I enjoy moving my body because it makes me feel good. I listen to my body and recover when I need to.
I know I will always be learning more about myself and this industry but for now, I’m comfortable in knowing my goals have become more about being able to take the stairs in twos in my 80’s and less about what social media perceives fitness to be.