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  • Writer's pictureJen Curtis


A few years ago I was mega unfit.

I had played sports all the way through school, but had always been on the chubby side. Being involved in ALL the sports teams kept my weight in check.

Then I got way too stressed doing my A Levels and study completely took over. 4 years at University with very little exercise and faaaaar too much drinking and binge eating, I was at my heaviest ever.

Going to work in an office after that really didn't help matters. I was living a totally sedentary lifestyle.

I knew nothing about health, fitness and nutrition at this point. Like most people, I loved to eat (and drink), and I thought that weight-loss was all about strict diets. I would sometimes try - and I'd usually be really successful - but only for about a week, then I would lose interest and motivation and end up back where I had started.

I really wanted to start running (because I was sure that cardio was essential for "burning off the fat" - this was before I discovered strength training, obviously). So every day, I would say to myself all day in the office that TODAY I WILL go for a run this evening.

I HAVE to go for at least 20 minutes (because otherwise you don't burn any fat, right?).

And everyday I would get home and proceed to watch TV, kind of, sort of thinking about that run - and then convincing myself that I'm too tired, that it's OK, that I will go tomorrow.

And so on and so fourth ad nauseam

Then one day I had this brilliant idea that I would just go out and try to find out how many minutes of running I was actually able to do (rather than deciding ahead of time how many I was supposed to do, based on some totally arbitrary number). I decided to assess my own fitness, if you will. This felt very motivating and far less scary than the 20 minutes of running I had previously set for myself. I kind of wanted to know where I stood, what I was able to do.

I managed 5 minutes - I was puffing and panting and my legs felt like they were filled with lead. My chest and neck felt tight and I was so short of breath. It was horrible and I was embarrassed and surprised by how unfit I had actually gotten.

So I stopped at 5 minutes and slowed my pace into a walk... I thought "oh well, so much for 20 minutes - but now I'm out here, I might as well walk the rest". And then I walked for 15 minutes more.

I felt surprisingly good after that. Although I had been tired BEFORE the run, I now felt energized and had a great, productive evening.

Rather than beating myself up for not running the full 20, I FINALLY gave myself a pat on the back for at least doing something, and I realized that 5 minutes of running + 15 minutes of walking is WAY better than what I had been doing before.

I felt a burst of energy for my new fitness regime that I was about to embark on.

I had this crazy idea that I would do things differently this time, listening to my body, aiming to do less and ACTUALLY DOING IT. Meeting myself where I was at and not fixating on arbitrary goals that were unrealistic.