Through school, college and university training in the gym became a big part of my life and a big priority. After moving away from rugby i sought something more than just standing in-front of a mirror picking up weights, i felt like i needed to find purpose to my training again. when i played rugby it was easy (i thought being as big as possible would make me the best player on the pitch) so going to the gym became easy and motivation to train was high.
I discovered Crossfit and Olympic weightlifting and a whole new side of training where performance became the focus over how big your biceps were, i liked the look of this!
Fast forward a little and i became hooked. I was obsessed with making progress, developing skills, getting stronger, getting fitter and training was a huge part of my life.
In this time i was also starting to train other people,i gained more experience and subsequently became busier which i absolutely loved! Helping people became a real passion of mine.
After finishing uni and coaching people for 4 years i made the jump and set up Fortitude. Over 2 years on my life, my priorities and my focuses have changed massively.
So i’m going to write about this particular period in my life and the challenges i have faced within my training and the balance i have struggled to find. I have experienced weight gain, weight loss, regular and a consistent lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, anxiety and frustration amongst many other feelings.
This is written in the hope that i can relate to some of you guys who lead busy lives with many other priorities. Some may share similar feelings to those that i still continue to feel and struggle to balance and if this is useful or just allows you to relate and not feel so stuck then the post is worth all of the time taken to put down on paper.
Quickly after opening Fortitude (even before) my priorities shifted. All my time, attention and focus was on ensuring Fortitude grew and that we helped more people become fitter, happier and healthier. My own health and fitness became far less important and did so more and more..
I continued to train inconsistently for around 2 years, frustrated at a lack of progress, proud of what i was achieving with the business and the opportunities it was opening up but still not finding a balance of the two. My mind was focused on growth; growing the business, helping more people, making sure our service is always improving, starting up wildboar weightlifting, taking on new staff, accounts, programming, taking on more specialist clientele with individual needs, working with British weightlifting, trying to write and create content and trying to have some sort of life outside of the gym (i am by no means anywhere near on top of all of this as i write this).
Before i knew it i had been on a steady slope of gaining weight. I went from around 94kg-104kg (it certainly wasn’t muscle and i wasn’t happy). I used to lean on the fact i was prioritising getting stronger as to why weight gain was okay but in reality i was isolating myself from training that made me uncomfortable, eating copious amount of food unnecessarily and even avoiding certain social situations due to not feeling comfortable within myself and how i looked. I suffered with feelings of being a slight imposter – why would people be coached by someone who’s not in shape? I also didn’t want to be involved in training with anyone else as i was embarrassed by my physical condition, it was unrecognisable from my time at college and uni.
Fortunately after a couple of miserable attempts at dieting i was finally ready to make a change. I needed an outcome goal. I’d failed in the past as i had intentions to lose weight but no real reason other than to look better. So i decided to enter a weightlifting competition 3 weight categories lower than i currently was (sub 89kg). That was my accountability to not only make weight but to also begin training consistently.
I won’t lie it was a tough weight cut. I genuinely at the start didn’t really believe it was possible, however seeing some initial results in a short space of time motivated me. I started to enjoy not being so lethargic and my energy levels improved. I had ALOT of terrible eating habits, the first couple of weeks weren’t perfect but i made progress. I also had an all inclusive holiday, a stag do and various meals out etc which had potential to cypher my efforts. I enjoyed every single one of those events however i jumped straight back into plan and proved that balance is real and you can actually enjoy yourself and get in decent shape.
I weighed in 5 months later at 88.7kg and made weight for my competition over in Sheffield. I had lost 14.3KG over 10% of m bodyweight and i felt great. My goal now is to simply maintain this weight, get myself fitter again and then find another fitness challenge of some sort, be that moving back into some Crossfit or continuing with weightlifting, I’m still unsure as of yet.
To some people the idea of owning a gym sounds easy. You wake up and spend all day there, ‘You should be really fit because you can train all day’ is a phrase i have heard more than once.
People seem to think all we do is sit around, train and coach people in the evenings. They don’t see the stuff in the background. The constant work to improve things, constant revaluation of our processes, the content creating, the account managing, the marketing, the 10 hour coaching days and 14 hour working days, the pressure of being present for so many people every single day.
I struggle to find balance. I am much more concerned about the welfare of other people than i am of my own. Time spent training can me feel guilty and like i am wasting precious time that could be spent on the business or with people that need my help. This is something i am trying to get over and am starting to realise that if i am refreshed and at my best this is reflected in all other aspects of my work and life, and training is one constant that helps keep me feeling good and refreshed.
I just wanted to finish with condensing things into a few big takeaways from this experience that i think may be able to help someone in a similar scenario.
1 – If i can do it anyone can. Im not gifted genetically i have to work my ass off, I’m inherently lazy, i don’t like being restrictive with my eating, hadn’t ever been before and had to overcome some terrible eating habits so if i can be successful anyone can.
2- If you fall off, jump straight back on and forget about it. None of us have time to dwell on things. If you do you need to occupy yourself more. Write it off, get back on plan and you’ll keep moving forwards. Holidays, weekends away can always be enjoyed so long as its factored in and we can return to routine as soon as we get back.
3- Training slipping down the priority list is normal. Everyone has their own unique routine. Sometimes things happen that aren’t always completely in our control which make things much harder. We may get used to training at a certain time on a certain day every week. When this can’t happen any more instead of falling off completely, be flexible. Don’t let a set back ruin your hard work, keep doing something even if it is a little less and less optimal than before.
4- Something is always better than nothing. I had a few times where i nearly dropped out of the competition. I wasn’t getting my sessions in, i was to busy with other things so what was the point (like i said earlier i place everything else in front of my training). Fortunately i gave myself a few harsh words and put myself in one of my athletes shoes, if they were in the same scenario i’d sure as hell tell them to do it anyway. So even if you can’t do as much as you like (I’m pretty certain that is most of us) still do something!
5- You need to be ready to change. It’s all good having the intention to lose weight or get fit but willpower and those thoughts alone just won’t cut it for long term sustainable change. You need an outcome, you need a bigger purpose. You need to feel like a bride training to get into her wedding dress or a divorcee getting back on the dating scene! I wouldn’t have achieved this without booking that competition. Period.
To conclude this rambling/essay (i appreciate it if you made it this far), i still struggle with all the above. Things seem to only be getting more hectic and more obstacles keep cropping up. Fortunately i have a team that are all amazing and work their asses of for a common cause. More work, more things going on, more things being created, more people tools after, more bills to pay means more responsibility; more of my energy and mental capacity being shifted further.
I am slowly learning to accept that i’ll probably never reach my true athletic potential (it wouldn’t be that impressive either way) and I’m coming to be okay with that. I have a lot more things to be positive about and training keeps me happy, healthy and sane.
Since losing weight i am more confident, have more energy, am a better person to be around, enjoy and feel more comfortable being around the community we have collectively created and therefore feel i can do my job better as a result.
I love what i do and wouldn’t change it, i still feel like i am only just getting started and have so much more left to do before the brakes go on.
Im happy that i keep learning every single day and am excited for the future and what myself and the team can collectively achieve with loads of special people around us.