I started off this year with the idea of "New Year, New Me".
Having spent the majority of the previous year working on an online master’s degree while holding a full-time job, my work-life balance was completely off. It was a stressful period: my eating habits were atrocious, I wasn’t getting enough rest and had no time for exercising, which would have helped combat a lot of the weight gain that occurred. I spent a lot of time sitting in front of computers or reading books and assignments on my tablet – too often at the local burger joint where I would order a burger meal with dessert. And if I had six hours of sleep, it was a good day. My doctor was on my case to get the weight off and to start exercising. I always promised, but never made the time. My energy levels were plummeting every day and my blood pressure was on the rise.
It was time for a change. So when opportunity knocked at the beginning of this year in the form of The National Fitness Challenge, I found myself being one of 25 staff members to sign up for an eight-week programme at Haddins Fitness. I know myself well enough to realise that if I don’t have a goal, with a plan of action, the task probably won’t get done. I’m a planner and I like order and structure, and the programme gave me the organised plan I needed. Plus, it gave me the camaraderie needed to keep me motivated, others to commiserate with. It was never easy, but always doable. It made me challenge myself.
By the end of the programme I’d lost 10 kilograms, my hip measurement decreased by 8 centimetres, my run-time improved by two minutes and rowing time improved by 34 seconds – there was a positive difference in all of my assessment measures. My doctor was ecstatic to see that my blood pressure had dropped to 113/80 and told me to keep it up, because it was working.
Many people have commented on the noticeable difference and have commended me on my efforts and encouraged me to continue. Some have even signed up for the programme after seeing my results. As I have told them, I have often come last in the daily workouts, but I know my limits and I do the best I can. It is a 120 times more than the nothing I was doing before and it makes me feel good that I am accomplishing something.
I will never be a fitness fanatic – the trainers at Haddins have not managed that miracle – but I am now very conscious of the fact that I need to stay active.
I have signed up for another four-week programme. My routine includes a 7am alarm every day to start preparing myself mentally for the 8.30am class. I cook more now – I’ve avoided the burger joint, but I’ve been to a few brunches and know my boundaries. I cheat and have desserts on the weekends sometimes, but I eat more veggies and lean meat and stay away from a lot of junk foods and carbs.
I’ve found a healthy balance and now I’m making it a lifestyle.
April Robinson is the Deputy Art Director at The National.