*CONTENT WARNING – WEIGHT LOSS*
I get so many questions about what kind of workouts I do or what can be done as a bigger human. And so, before I go into it, I want to prelude this post with a few musings:
* I am frequently asked things like ‘How can I work out but keep my boobs/grow my boobs/shrink my waist?’ etc and I have to tell you two things. Firstly – there’s nothing wrong with your shape. There’s nothing wrong with having a smaller bum or larger waist. And without drastic surgery it’s really not possible to create your desired body shape with a workout. You can do things like squats to grow a round bum – but you have to keep them up or it will sag and disappear. Working out should be about hitting goals in terms of stamina, strength, health, and fitness, and body changes are a lovely side effect.
* I am also asked, ‘What exercise can I do to shrink my arms/thigh/tummy?’ and again, the answer is – nothing! Losing weight is 90% about food intake, and if your arms are big and chubby then you won’t see definition until the fat around the muscles is lost.
* I once again must reiterate that if you are wanting to lose weight, then exercise alone is rarely not the way. If you run a marathon every day then you will probably be able to eat what you want, but if weight loss is your goal then you need to change your eating. There is no fast fix. No pill. No shake. It’s bloody hard to drop weight, but if you are determined, it’s bloody rewarding!
* The best thing you can do to determine what will work well for your size, shape, age and ability is book a one off appointment with a personal trainer. It’s a really worthy investment as they will be able to give you great pointers and advice and you won’t go damaging yourself!
* I am not a qualified anything. You may not be able to do some of the exercises or classes that I talk about in this post – see someone qualified for help and advice!
There is no easy way to motivate yourself to work out! Personally, the things that get me to the gym are…
* Booking classes
* Having a gym mate
* Setting goals
* Funky gym gear
And I have never ever regretted going, even when I have completed a half arsed workout! The sweat, the endorphins…well, they make the DOMS worth it. Almost! It’s really important to make the gym part of your routine and not make excuses to not go – because that hour or two hours that you spend working out a few times a week will never be wasted!
If it helps, you can set goals. For every hour you spend working out, why not put £5 into a jar and at the end of a month treat yourself! Or set yourself a workout goal – I will cycle 10km in half an hour within two months, and once I have I will get that awesome new handbag. It’s not only children and animals who respond well to treats and tick charts, sometimes we all need a little encouragement and rewarding! And I *promise* that once you start making exercise a part of your routine and start seeing results, you will find it hard to drop it from your life!
And so onto what I like to do at the gym! Personally, running isn’t for me. I tried. I tried a lot. And maybe every so often I do get onto the treadmill and give it a shot, but generally I am not a big fan of the impact of my heavy body on the pavement or treadmill. However, cardio is a wonderful wonderful thing. You should aim to do a pulse racing 45 minutes of cardio three times per week as it helps increase your stamina, gets you sweating and (if it’s your goal) can help aid weight loss.
I do the rounds with a lot of the machines, I have never been consistent. I went through a phase of using the bike a lot. Sometimes I would do 2x 45 minute stints IN A DAY! Sometimes I would just do half an hour or an hour at a time, sometimes I would do 20 minutes at a time on it, then use cross trainer and the elliptical for 20 minutes apiece as well – I like to mix things up! I get bored easily, I start to count the minutes and then I fail to push myself! And so I try to set goals, get something good on on the machine’s TV or listen a fab podcast and zone out whilst getting the job done!
At present I am trying to use the spin bike a lot more. I aim to go to spin classes at the gym 1-2 times a week if I can, but that’s not enough! These bikes have no TV screens, so I usually whack some music on on my phone (loud enough to drown out my own panting) and get to work!
I find it hard to push myself as hard as the classes push me, and so I try to do hill and sprint intervals. I generally do thirty seconds of hard out sprinting, thirty of recovery and a few minutes of hills aka standing up with the gear turned right up. For the hills I change it up with a few different resistences and speeds, get my recovery in and then go back to sprints or more hills. So far I have found it a great way to fill half an hour – and I really really get a sweat on! I will probably still get some elliptical workouts in soon as well as they’re so good for building and toning the bum, but for now the bike is the one for me! I am the Goldilocks of the cardio equipment, but I think that’s ok. You shouldn’t dread the gym, you should make it work for you, and if that means changing shit up on the regular then crack on!
Cardio is just part of my workout – I also try to use the free weights and weight machines, things like the TRX and skipping ropes and I have boxing gloves and a fab gym buddy!
Gym classes and PT sessions have been crucial in helping learn how to use various bits of equipment or exercises, as well as motivating me. I box quite a lot with my gym buddy, and it feels good to then go to the boxing class and still find it a challenging workout, but also one in which I feel very capable and strong. Dan, the PT who takes the Boxercise classes is always really motivational, and the classes are always very varied. We work everything – abs, legs, butt, as well as venting our frustrations with some arm aching rounds. I think it’s so important to find a good class with great people and an awesome teacher who will push you and make sure you get a great work out in. Dan also takes the spin classes, and they are as gruelling as you might expect! It’s a mixture of sprints and hills with some arm and core work thrown in too. Yikes! I also have started to go to a ‘Weights For Women’ class, and Aimee the PT is really fantastic at challenging us, giving us very little rest between sets, helping up perfect our technique and giving us great tips and advice. Don’t let the name of the class fool you – I have been out of action for days after some classes!
Classes can be intimidating. There’s always someone stronger, fitter, faster, with more stamina and more coordination than you. But the more you go the better it gets. And if people are finding the time to judge and watch you then you’re getting a better work out done than them!
If gyms aren’t for you then investing in things like weights and mini bands are a must – and they are also great things to use at the gym to keep workouts varied and work on different areas. You can also do several great workouts that require no equipment at all – things like planks, squats, lunges, crunches etc etc.
I generally like to do circuits when I train with weight or do floor work. An example of a routine might be:
15 x 4kg medicine balls slams
15 x goblet squats with 6kg of weights
Two laps of the room doing lunges with 7kg dumbbells in each hand
15 x TRX diagonal pull ups (feet on the ground)
‘Round the world’ with the mini band round the ankles
12 x tricep burners with a 5kg dumbbell
30 second plank
12 x bicep curls with 4kg in each hand
Dead bugs with 5kg of weight
Repeat x 3
(Yes, some of those terms are slightly made up! But it’s more to give you an idea of how a floor workout might go!)
I love doing sets because you feel the burn on one part, then switch to another muscle group ten seconds later. By the third set your body is on fire, but it’s important to push through and work on adding more weight next time, or new activities or more reps and sets. It’s really important to maintain good form when carrying out these exercises – which is why I recommend seeing a PT at least once. They will also be able to tell you what works for you and any injuries or medical conditions you may have.
Generally, if I have done a spin class then I will try to get an upper body workout in before or after – before usually works better as I’m knackered afterwards! If I am doing a boxing or weights class then I’ll get my cardio in before or after. If my arms are aching then I’ll focus on my legs – athough if my legs are aching my gym buddy Lisa still makes me do cardio, yuck! Speaking of the lovely Lisa – we are usually good at co ordinating gym sessions several times per week. She is amazing at boxing and forces me to be powerful with a good technique. She’s very strong and fit and doesn’t let me slack off at all – and she’s also the same when we go drinking! You gotta have balance! Having a gym buddy is something I never thought I wanted, but I am so glad that I now have her in my life! We workout on our own as well, and sometimes we go to the gym together but go off and do our own thing. But we each keep one another accountable and motivated – and sometimes we each persuade the other to skip to the gym and drive to McDonalds!
So I am not sure that this post is useful or makes sense. And as my gym routine chops and changes depending on how busy I am or how my DOMS feel, I cannot give you a proper breakdown of how my week goes in terms of workouts. All I know is – exercise makes me feel good. It makes me feel fitter, it makes me sleep better and as I have gained weight that I want back off, it helps make my goals more achievable as my mindset is better. I am also using My Fitness Pal and it’s been really good! I cannot believe it took me so long to believe the hype!
As things stand I like my workouts and feel happy with the classes and routines I have got myself into. I keep meaning to try yoga and other classes, but why fix it if it aint broke?!
And sometimes, I do feel conscious of my weight. Jumping in Insanity is harder. Things jiggle a bit more. I pull my trousers up and top down a LOT because my belly likes to try to break free. I get paranoid that people are staring and laughing. But my main focus has to be on myself. I may look fat in my slightly-too-thin gym leggings that show everyone how much my butt enjoys eating a pair of knickers – but I just beat my cycling PB. I also look fat in everything…I am fat. My arms wobble when I box but I pack a lot of power into my body hooks. And if I miss a few sessions – so what? It just means I was enjoying my life and I need to put in an extra session the next week.
Life is about balance. Balancing during a gym class. Balancing a round of drinks on a tray. Balancing in a new pair of heels. Balancing your working day with lunch and gym breaks. And do not wait for changes to take effect before you live your life! Because you may never deem yourself to be ready.
What kind of workouts do you like best?