The Smart way to a fitter you!

We often hear stories about people who have lost weight by following the latest, quick fix, faddy diet, but we all know that the successful weight loss is very much short lived. As part of our new ‘real life’ health series, we’re looking at the healthy, smart way to lose weight, whilst also improving fitness levels and long-term health.

Part one tells the story of Ruth Goulson:

“It’s a Saturday morning in January. I haven’t really gone in for the New Years diet thing this year and I have absolutely no idea how much I weigh, but what I do know is that I still fit into trousers that were too tight last January. An achievement in itself, but even more so considering I am 24 weeks pregnant!

Rewind to January 2015.

I had just started a new job and was still reeling from 2014 being a complete annus horribilis in terms of work. On top of that, I was fat and although I was exercising, I wasn’t enjoying it and it wasn’t really making a difference to my overall wellbeing. Somehow though, I knew I had to just keep myself going; keep the habit and that at some point, the vicious cycle would become a virtuous one.

It was February before I realised that I actually weighed more than I had done at Christmas. This prompted me to spend a couple of weeks looking at LighterLife and the 5:2 options. I never got beyond looking, however, because I knew that realistically I wouldn’t be able to sustain that level of calorie deficit; even for just two days a week. Instead, I found a convenient Slimming World group and joined that. I started to regain some self esteem, started to notice a bit of a difference in my fitness levels and that’s when the vicious turned into the virtuous.

I started attending a class in my village, Smart-Fit; a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) class, run by local task-master Dave Bovey. The best and worst thing about Smart-Fit is that you wear a heart rate monitor and your live stats are projected onto a board at the front of the hall. This means you absolutely cannot hide, but it also means that you are truly working at your own level; one person’s 85% is not the same as their friend’s!

The next best thing about Dave’s class is that he is family friendly. I had been avoiding going twice a week because my husband is out on Wednesday nights and I had no childcare. It turns out that’s not a good enough reason not to go, as you can bring ‘em with you! Ruth GoulsonThere is usually a small group of kids; in the summer they play outside, in the winter, they sit in a corner of the hall and either play on their tablets (bad mother alert!), or watch and critique your burpee technique and comment on how often you made it into the ‘red zone’ (when your heart rate reaches 90%+ of its max). So, after I’d eaten my entire body weight in cheeseburgers on a family holiday to Florida at Easter, I made the transition to twice a week and shortly after that, added the core class to the Wednesday session.

Smart-Fit, combined with Slimming World and my weekly Pilates class, soon made me notice a massive difference in what I could actually do! When I first started at Smart-Fit, I hated the warm up, I hated the running around, I hated changing direction and I hated burpees and sprints. But then, all of a sudden, I could hit the floor and get straight back up again.

Dare I say it…I was keeping up with the big guns!

Not long after this, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child (following a massive gap of seven years) and I panicked. What if I wasn’t able to carry on with Smart-Fit? I emailed Dave very early on and he was so supportive. He assured me that most of what we do in class was safe for me to continue with and most importantly I needed to listen to my body. He also promised to assist me without letting the cat out the bag.

And so…I continued.

Morning sickness didn’t rear its ugly head until I was around 9 weeks (I started throwing up at six weeks with my first and never seemed to stop), but somehow I managed to convince myself that pushing through with exercise would help…and it did. It wasn’t all peachy. Several times I ran out of class to throw up, but would instantly feel better and just carry on. I did start to notice that I wasn’t able to push myself quite so hard and, in the early days, that really bothered me. I had enjoyed keeping up with the proper ‘fitties’ and given it was still a secret I worried that everyone would think I was being pathetic. In hindsight, no one was paying any attention; it’s not the sort of class where you have the opportunity to worry about what anyone else is doing. I had a little spell of illness at around 14 weeks, which knocked me for six, but still I only missed 3 sessions. By the time I was back at class, I was able to tell everyone why Dave had been letting me off so lightly for the past couple of months.

I committed myself to keep going until Christmas, after which point I would review how I felt. I started to research aqua natal and thought about upping my Pilates sessions, but neither of those options felt right for me, they just seemed a little boring and tame in comparison.#wispamonday

When I started at Slimming World I decided that my ‘treat day’ would be a Monday. I still kept those treats within the plan and looked forward to a Wispa bar every Monday. It was great. Everyone eats salad on a Monday after a heavy weekend and is miserable about it. Not me! Not only did I get to chow down on a decent bit of chocolate, but I also noticed that it made me perform better at Monday’s Smart-Fit if I’d had the chocolate. It even earned its own hashtag #wispamonday.

The Smart-Fit Christmas Party rolled around and some awards were given out; people’s choice, coaches choice and a couple of special awards. My friend, Becky, won the coaches choice award, which was more than deserved, as the girl is a machine and I will NEVER be able to keep up with her. I was nominated in the people’s choice awards and after Becky had been to collect her award…“this is so unexpected, I’d like to thank my cat, my trainers etc.”… I was awarded with a special ‘up the duff’ award; aptly made up of a multi-pack of Wispa bars.

It was amazing!

It was a little silly, I know that, but it made me feel great. I posted it on Facebook and somebody joked about the lack of nominees in that category. I got that it was a joke; my sense of humour hasn’t failed yet, but decided to stand up for myself and state that was it surely the whole point.

No, nobody else at Smart-Fit is up the duff.

I am the only one!

The Monday after the party I was super tired and I mentioned to my husband that I might knock Smart-Fit on the head that night. He responded, “But you won an award for pushing through.” Dammit, I hate it when he’s right! So, I went…and I continued going all the way up to the Christmas break, therefore reaching my initial target.

It Was Decision Time!

I was given some Maternity exercise wear as a Christmas present. Very generous; have you seen how expensive it is?

And My Decision…?

I’m still going…!

Maternity fitness wearI’ve paid up front for January. Yes, I’ve had a couple of wobbles; the High part of the HIIT is definitely downgrading itself to Moderate, sometimes even Light, and sometimes what I am doing is completely different to the rest of the class, but I feel that the longer I keep going, the longer I will be able to keep going. Current target is to the end of February – I’ll be 30 weeks!

So, how has all of this affected my pregnancy?

Firstly, let’s make no bones about this, I am nearly eight years older than I was with my first. It’s not easy being pregnant at 37 years old and the tiredness has hit me like a brick wall. Plus, if there is a bug or virus doing the rounds, I will catch it!

When I first discovered I was pregnant I was only 7lbs away from my target weight at Slimming World and I naively thought I could do that in my first trimester, after all, I was bound to get the dreaded morning sickness, which shifted 7lbs in 4 weeks with my first baby.

That didn’t happen!

I developed an aversion to all things healthy, especially fruit and veg, and pretty much lived on food you can buy at Greggs for weeks on end. My midwife was also not very supportive of me continuing at Slimming World, which was a real shame. Although, she didn’t outright say no, she did bang on for ages about how it hadn’t worked for her and managed to change the topic several times when I asked her to sign my consent forms.

That said, I continued to keep an eye on my weight and when I went for my 12 week scan, I found the notes from my first pregnancy. This time around, at the same point in my pregnancy, I was still 7 kilo’s lighter, even without having puked my way out of half a stone!   My scales have run out of battery now. I have no idea how much I weigh, which is probably a good thing as I was starting to get a little neurotic about it all!

I have now started to move away from Greggs and on towards the Slimming World philosophy. I do still need to cut down on the sugar; I’ve had glucose detected in my wee and been threatened with that God awful test they do for diabetes, but unfortunately, I still have 4 Ferrero Rocher and a box of chocolate biscuits left over from Christmas, so it’s one step at a time. I do, however, feel much better for switching back to fresh, lean and wholegrain stuff and, let’s not forget, there is no wine in my life at the moment, so I suspect on balance, all is well!

I've done it!I am so proud of what I have achieved!

It has been mainly driven by a desire not to undo my hard work of the last year. The weight didn’t just fall off you know. It took me 5 months to lose 21lbs! It’s hard to tell how much of a difference my efforts are making, though I have learned over the past few months that there is no point trying to improve on my fitness. My body shape and energy levels have made it impossible to compare for example, my changing centre of gravity is making burpees impossible. I can get down or I can get up. I cannot do either quickly and I cannot regain my balance once I’m back up again. Instead, I get to do high knee sprints, whilst everyone else has to do burpees –  ha ha!

I’ve also learned that it doesn’t matter how many squats you do, a fatter backside and wobblier thighs are part and parcel of pregnancy. I can only hope that these efforts will pay off once the baby is here and that I simply snap back into shape.

Because that is what’s going to happen…isn’t it?”


(Part 2 of our ‘real life’ health stories features the incredible weight loss journey of Pete Jolly – due to be published next week it explores how he lost weight and tells the story from both his and his wife, Hannah’s, point of view).