For the ‘hope‘ section of Blue Jay, I was really keen to interview some inspiring people – after all, hearing other people’s stories gives us all a little hope.
I thought about who I could interview, and realised (very quickly) that the people who inspire me the most are my friends. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by friends who are not only hugely inspiring but also real, beautiful, honest and generally kick ass every day in their own incredible and unique way.
To start with, I’m talking to Emily. She was, in my eyes, the epitome of ‘cool’ when we were at school. I don’t think we actually ever said a word to each other… we ran in different circles. This all changed when we got seated next to each other in Media Studies at college and I quickly discovered that she was so much more than ‘cool’.
We have since become good friends and even flatmates. Her attitude to life inspires me in so many ways and I’m excited to share her pearls of wisdom on all things fitness here on Blue Jay.
Hi Em! So, to start with, can you tell us a little about yourself and your fitness journey?
If I was to describe myself in three words I would say confident, caring and resilient. I’m 30 years old and a Sports and Business Manager. I’m a very positive person who is self motivated and always looks to find a solution or positive outcome to whatever life throws. My family and friends are my world and I have to say I am happy with who I am.
My fitness journey started at the age of three with dance – ballet, tap, disco and modern. I continued dancing up until the age of 11 – I still love dancing but for me it just naturally came to an end.
Like any normal young kid I thought watching TV and seeing friends was more important.
I always struggled with my weight when I was younger and comfort ate a lot – a big factor of this was that my mother was suffering from MS. Watching your parent go through such a horrific illness as a child was not only stressful and heart breaking – I was overcome with such a sense of helplessness. I think this is why I have such empathy for people now as an adult and will always try to help people.
I never took PE seriously at school and this was mostly down to the fact that I was unfit and I would go red when I exerted myself – something that my teachers didn’t mind pointing out to me! I would say I re-started my fitness journey when I joined the leisure industry.
You can’t help but want to be active and I really started to fall in love with training. It’s when I get to focus on me and it helps me work out any frustrations or worries I may have. It’s my form of self therapy and I love it when I go red now because I know I’ve worked hard.
My body feels stronger and I am so much more confident with how my body looks – if I could go back to my younger self and tell her not to care about what others thought of you and how you looked working out, I would.
In 2015 you stopped drinking for a year – what prompted this?
Honestly, I knew that I had started to binge drink too much and I wasn’t happy with who I was when I was drinking. I clearly wasn’t happy – I hadn’t really dealt with my mum passing away or my relationship breaking down and really I was just using alcohol as a bit of a crutch.
I decided on New Years Day 2015 that I was going to stop drinking for a year, start focusing on my health again and take ownership of my emotions.
This was without a doubt the healthiest year of my life. I didn’t miss alcohol and I found my confidence again.
It has changed my relationship with alcohol now – I know my limits and when to call it quits.
I don’t have to have a drink when I go out and I can have just as much fun sober as I can when I drink.
How do you think not drinking during this time contributed to the way you view your health?
I know that if I have had a heavy night of drinking, the next day I feel like crap – it makes me want to eat crap and you forget how much it can play on your emotions. The term “beer fear” has been created for a reason.
I do like having a night out and drinking with friends – but I love having a productive day/ weekend more. Life is precious and I don’t want to waste it being hungover every weekend. I also know that if I’m not in a great mood then going out drinking is not the answer – I have a workout or go for a walk instead.
How has your career in the leisure industry shaped your attitude to fitness?
It’s taken away any barriers I had of fitness. No one is ever judging you when you work out. The staff are there to support you and I love it when I see someone who isn’t “perfect” working out.
I also know how powerful exercise can be not only for the body, but for your mental health too. If I had told my younger self that I was going to work in leisure I wouldn’t have believed her. I’m such a believer in exercise being good for the body and mind that my work is now sponsoring me to gain my PT (personal trainer) qualification!
How do you stay motivated when it comes to being active and eating well in day-to-day life?
I never realised how disciplined I was until a few years ago. I like structure and I love routine. I have it in me to be self motivated and positive which I believe comes from having to be strong emotionally as a child.
My Nan has always told me that you have got to make things happen – something I live by. I use inspirational quotes and images to keep me motivated. Buying colourful workout gear and having a good workout playlist works too.
I’m very strict Monday to Friday and have embedded my workout into my work routine. My alarm goes off at 5.30am and I’m at the gym in work first thing. I have about an hour working out and then I shower, change and am at my desk feeling ready to take on the day. At the weekend I do tend to eat what I fancy, but I am now actively starting to make smarter choices.
What advice would you have for someone struggling to stay motivated?
Make it part of your daily routine and don’t look at it as a chore – it’s the time you get to really spend with yourself. And remind yourself that you deserve to treat yourself well.
Start with little goals and once you start to see changes and feel changes, that’s when you will enjoy the experience. Mood boards and inspirational quotes work and preparation is key. Pack your bag the night before, have your lunch ready to take to work with you.
Progress pictures are another great motivator too. Whatever you do – however little it is – you will not regret it.
You deserve to enjoy the body you’re in and be thankful for the opportunity to look after and care for it.
Thank you Em xx