Running and exercise can be life-changing… my story

I know it’s been a while since my last post. I hadn’t planned it that way at all. Life just seemed to get in the way of sitting down and starting my posts and then as time went on, it seemed like I had left it too long to write the posts I had planned.

Anyway… I’m back with this blog post and it is something I have been thinking about for a while. I think I have written something along the same lines when it was my runniversary back in June, so if you’ve heard what I have to say before, I am really sorry! You don’t have to carry on reading, I won’t be offended.

If you have been following my blog or following me on Twitter for a while you may know that I fell in love with running. You may also know that running has had a big impact on my life. So i thought I would go back a few years and let you all know just how much I have changed over the past few years.

Let’s go back to 2008/2009. I was at University studying for my Psychology degree. In 2008 I went to ascot with my mum, her friend and my friend. I wanted to dress up for Ladies Day in a pretty dress. I found one I loved (the one I am wearing in the photo) but it was so demoralising that I had to have a size 20 so it would fit and even then it was a little tight. I was wearing size 18 in most of my clothes with a few of them being a size 16. I look happy, but I don’t think I really was… I found university to be a tough time, emotionally more than anything and I made poor food choices and would turn to food when I got upset. I liked a guy but he didn’t like me. In fact, guys didn’t fancy me full stop. I didn’t feel pretty, I didn’t really even feel happy. I would smile and laugh and think I thought i was ok, but really I wasn’t. In 2009 I graduated from University with my degree. I came home and wanted to change. But boy it is hard. I didn’t like the gym. I was self conscious, lacked confidence and hated people looking at me trying to exercise at the gym. My attempts to lose weight were short lived. I didn’t really put weight on but I didn’t lose any either. Looking at these photos makes me feel sad. not because of how big I was, not because I hate how I looked back then. But because I can see from looking at my face how I really felt, I can see how the girl I was back then wasn’t a happy one.

 

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Let’s now jump to 2010 and 2011. I lost a little bit of weight, I went to the gym (not often) but I didn’t stick at it. My heart wasn’t in it. Why would I do something that I didn’t enjoy?! It was hard and the determination and want to change just wasn’t there. I was a lost girl who just kept going on as she was before. Smiling away, but not always really being happy. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

In 2011 my sister got married and I was bridesmaid. In the lead up to the wedding throughout 2010 and 2011, you would have thought that something would’ve clicked and made me want to lose weight for the wedding. But being the stubborn girl that I am, a comment was made about my weight or me losing weight for the wedding. So of course my head said no.

 

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In 2012 I went back to university to do my PGCE. Possibly one of the most stressful, hard times of my life. So much work to do, so many expectations to know everything, and little support from the university and school I was placed at. I think I’ve always been an emotional eater – I still am, but now in moderation. I would think nothing of eating crisps, chocolate, sweets, cakes you name it. I failed my final placement and had to decide if I wanted to resit or withdraw from the course. I decided I wanted to resit, university said they couldn’t find a school that would take me – this went on for over a year, before I had to give up on my dream of becoming a teacher. A really difficult time but I got through it.

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In June 2014, my whole world changed. My Gramps, who I was very close to passed away unexpectedly. I miss him everyday, and find myself talking to him or thinking about what he would say if I told him I had started running. A few months after he had passed away I made a promise to myself that I would make some changes. I started looking at going back to university to do a Masters or apply for the Educational Psychologist course. I changed my car and started looking at new jobs. At this point I hadn’t even thought about exercising more. I still had my gym membership but hadn’t been for a while.

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In June 2015, almost a year since my Gramps had passed away, I decided that enough was enough. I wasn’t happy, not really. I didn’t like how I looked, I hadn’t ever really felt pretty. I hadn’t been on a date, I hadn’t had a boyfriend, I wasn’t really living life, I was just existing and smiling my way through, hoping people wouldn’t notice. My friend had had a baby in 2014 and I was asked to be Godmother. It made me realise that I want to get married, I want to have children and I want to fall in love. And how I was back in 2015, that was highly unlikely to ever happen. I decided that it was time to do something for me, make a change in my life. So I signed up to run the Silverstone half marathon in March 2016 for charity. I knew that by raising money for charity I would be more likely to actually do it.

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I started off trying to follow the C25K programme and found it really tough to do on the treadmill at the gym. I met with a lady who put me a programme together and showed me how to use the different machines at the gym. I didn’t enjoy it though. In fact I found it hard to get motivated to go. I was also going to Pilates classes with my friend which I hated too. I joined Twitter and started my blog to keep a log of my progress. And as a way of being able to express how I was feeling. It’s always much easier to write things down than say them out loud. Little did I know when I started Tweeting and blogging how much of an impact it would have.

After being on twitter a short time it was suggested I try running outside. That was a huge challenge for me. I live in a small village and people I knew could see me. My very first run outside was so scary, but after that I haven’t looked back. I stopped my gym membership, I started going to a different Pilates class, I started going to Step aerobics. I made some amazing friends on Twitter (and drifted apart from one of my closest friends) who gave me so much support, advice and kept me going through the tough times. But most importantly I found my smile and I found my happy. I found an inner determination that I never knew I had. I found some confidence. I became less self-conscious and worried less about what people said. I started to feel pretty.

I ran my first race in November 2015 with Andy, who I met on Twitter and has now become one of my closest friends. It was a 10k race and only my second time of running that distance. He didn’t leave my side, he kept me going, and led me to a PB.

Here is a photo from our race last year and a photo from when I saw Andy last weekend. The difference made me go “wow”

In 2016, I was to run my first half marathon at Silverstone. It was hard, I hated every single minute (even though I loved running) and considered giving up running altogether. Another friend I have made through Twitter, Sarah, told me to just go out and run, no expectations, no PB chasing, just find a route you loved and go out there. I did and she was right, as soon as I got back out there I was in love all over again. Since Silverstone I have done two 10k races and 2 more half marathons, with one more this year.

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I can truly say that I am the happiest I have ever been, I have never smiled so much. I am the most confident, most determined, healthiest, slimmest (since I was at school doing A levels) I have ever been. I am challenging myself by going to Kettlebell classes and pushing harder each class.

I even signed up to online dating. I’ve not had much success or luck, but you know what, I wouldn’t have even signed up to it back in June 2015. A few weeks ago a lovely guy I had been chatting to asked me on a date. I said yes. I met him yesterday. The me of this time last year wouldn’t have even considered going on a date, let along even saying yes or actually turning up.

Running and exercising have changed my life so much more than I ever imagined. The photos below are from last week. I still have a way to go but I am beyond amazed at how my body and mind have changed.

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Last week I headed away for the weekend to meet up with friends from Twitter and Facebook who are all runners. The very lovely Vikki brought us all together in her Facebook group called Vikki’s Runner Friends. We all get on so well, we support each other and are happy for each other when we achieve things, without the competitiveness. I said to a few people that I probably wouldn’t have gone to the meet up this time last year either. But I had the best time with these guys.

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So really, what I’m trying to say is…

You have to want to do it for you. You need to find what exercise you love. The gym wasn’t for me but running and classes are.

Running and exercise has given me:

  • confidence
  • determination
  • a boost in self-esteem
  • amazing friendships
  • happiness
  • my smile
  • strength
  • fitness
  • a desire to try new things
  • a positive outlook on life
  • and so much more

I know so many people say it, but if I can do it, anyone can. Step by step, small changes can have a huge impact.

 

Enjoy life and smile real smiles.

Love always

Kimberley

x

 

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