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Imagine if you didn't give up...

Exercising didn’t used to be one of my favourite things to do. In fact, for an exceptionally long time, it was one of the things I probably did the least!

When I did start exercising, I certainly didn’t find it easy, or natural, but I had reached the point where I loathed myself so much that I couldn’t give up this time.

Losing the weight wasn’t easy, but the process, it turns out, is incredibly logical; you eat a bit less and you move a bit more and the weight comes off.

Over the past few years I have discovered more ways to exercise than I ever thought possible. More ways to feel stronger, more ways to relax and stretch and take time for yourself, more ways to get fit without even having to leave the house – which has been somewhat helpful this past year!

Now the 1 exercise that I could only ever dream of doing when I first started to exercise was to run.

Running is that thing that some people do naturally, without having to think; you see them running when you’re out, whether you’re walking to town, walking round the park, driving somewhere, there will always be a runner somewhere and there’s always those runners who just make it look like it’s the easiest and most comfortable thing in the entire world. Oh how I envied them; being able to just put on a pair of trainers, go outside and run, without being embarrassed at what they look like, without worrying about sweat patches, or wondering whether you’re going to need the toilet while you’re out, or worried that someone might see you that you know and they’ll laugh at you, or someone will shout out of a window just to be funny.

Yes, I envied runners because they made it look easy and, in my mind, for so long, if I was to imagine what fitness was, or what exercise was, then it was having the ability to run. If you could run then you were good at exercise! Ignorance is bliss eh?!

In 2015 when I was decided I was going to sort myself out, I attempted the Couch to 5K programme, I got a few weeks in, I got to running 10 minutes non-stop and then the next week it was asking for 15 minutes and I just couldn’t get past the 10-minute mark, I just couldn’t do it. Resigned myself to not being able to run and I stopped trying.

Thankfully I gave myself a giant kick up the backside and have continued to do so in some respect ever since.

In January 2016 I managed 3.97km in 34.16 minutes. Just over 4 months later I managed 5.05km in 35.24 minutes.

Since then I’ve had an on/off relationship with running. I’ll go a long period of not and then get into it again. The body responds well to not doing the same thing over and over and as time has gone on it is always a pleasant surprise to find that even with months off, your day 1 back at running isn’t like you 1st day ever!

After my accident last year, when I was initially told it was just a bit of bruising I set myself a goal of doing a 5km before Christmas – time was entirely irrelevant, I just wanted to be better enough to run because for me running is always the hardest (mentally) workout that I do. On Christmas Eve I did that 5km in 33.30 minutes. One of the best runs I have ever done!

It would have been quite OK to settle for that and at the start of the year I was happy doing some gentle interval runs once a week and throw in the odd run here and there on a weekend. Today, I ran 10km in 56.22 minutes! Even with enough in the bag to sprint the last bit!

To say I was chuffed is an understatement, but this post isn’t to brag, or to show-off, it’s to remind you that just 6 ½ years ago I was 16 stone and miserable as sin in my own body and appearance. I’d spent the best part of 20 years being the eternal size 16, the tall one, the forgettable one, the person to blend into a background and not want to be seen, hidden in photos. Completely aware that I was never going to be any different because that was just who I was.

I was wrong.

If you want it badly enough; if you commit to something then you can do it. You can. You have to really really want to do it. You need to be prepared to keep on going when it isn’t easy. You learn to ignore your head telling you that you can’t, or that you’re not meant to. If you want to bloody do it then I believe that you can.

Help is always there, whether it’s to get you started, whether it’s to spur you on when it gets tough, whether it’s to share new ideas. You just need to ask.

Whatever it is you’ve been putting off promise yourself you’re going to get there this time. The feeling when you do is worth it a million times over.

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