Where do I start?
I wasn't the sportiest person at school, I would dread sports days and the lessons always seemed to be comprised of cross country runs around the perimeter… the only thing that kept us going, was the threat of having to repeat the course at lunchtime, if were the last one back... but, all of this changed when the school invested in a multi-gym?
And, so began my fascination with training, trying to emulate my screen heroes… Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Lundgren and Van Damme. I packed on the weight… 'bulking up' for those in the know? And by the time I hit my twenties, I thought I had finally found my sport!!!
However, by the second year of college, I spent more time in the pub than the gym… I brushed off any weight gain 'as just me getting more bulky?' I tried a few martial arts, but the weight kept piling on… Okay, I did have a few good years, made an effort to eat clean, train more and try different sports… but, it didn't take me long to fall back into bad habits and bad food choices!
It is so much easier to put weight on than take it off. It’s funny; I spent so many of my late teens trying to bulk up, now I struggle to keep it off?
In the following years, I tried countless diets, with varying success… plus, a few different sports, fitness and training methods. Mostly on my own, based on Muscle & Fitness magazines and books.
In 2007, I moved my business to Basepoint, taking on a new member of staff… Richard Mayneord. He was training for the Flora London Marathon and we joked about him missing the Silverstone Half Marathon, a recommended run for those running the London marathon… I can remember saying I would have run it with him, the only chance I was going to get to race around the circuit?
I was happy plodding along at the gym, doing my own thing? My weight was going nowhere, so I tried one of those meal replacement diets… yes, the ones with the shakes that everybody tells you not 'not' to try!!!
Well, I can't say they didn't work (but, probably for all the wrong reasons) however, the results didn’t last long and six months later I had put half of it back on again…
Anyway, Rich finally persuaded me to join this running club he found, 'they meet in the car park or at the back of JJB?' he said. So that is when I met the Slinn’s, and I became a member of the running club in October 2008.
What a lovely bunch… really friendly and helpful, and it didn't take me long to catch the running bug. In 2009, I ran my first 10k, followed by Silverstone Half (the run that started it all?) and then Reading Half (pb). And before you know it, Rich had me signing up for all kinds of things… including a marathon?
I still had eating issues… I thought I should be eating more due to all the running I was doing? Something I have only recently discovered is not true.
Clare offered to help me with eating plans, but I thought I could handle it on my own and even though Les was right there on my doorstep, I kindly refused his help and stuck with my own training techniques?
Then injury struck… somewhere between not listening to the running club's advice and my own ignorance??? I lost my running mojo (it happens to us all?) and now I was spending all of my time in the gym, throwing bigger weights around with the gym gorillas? You know the ones… grunting in the corner wearing vests etc.???
I probably got away with some of my size, being a bulky build and surprised some people of my actual weight?
Anyway, skipping forward a few years… I am back at the club again! This time, I joined the beginners (as a helper!) and tried my best to find my running mojo… it came back slowly, but I was constantly beating myself up about my pace. Finding myself muttering 'I used to be quicker than this…' and 'I used to run with those guys…' whilst I struggling at the back?
I can't complain, the club is great, really supportive and I was meeting new members now.
It’s 2012, and my running mojo is back... and during a friends funeral, I found myself entering the 2013 Brighton Marathon. The training was a struggle, my eating was still out of control, along with the extra weight… but I complete the marathon hand in hand with a friend (albeit with a fair amount of walking).
There was plenty of running events planned for the rest of the year, but unfortunately I pick up another injury?
It was my own fault, the sign clearly said ‘NO BOMBING!!!’ But, there was a skip full of water and a sea of red shirts… I just couldn't help myself?
I returned to the running club a few months later with the help of some nifty running aids and thought I would try the Brighton Marathon, one more time. I was determined to beat my time and thought I had done enough training? (Small addiction to pasta).
I struggled of course… and it's not just about the weight, I saw plenty of runners pass me in varying shapes and sizes, it was definitely my fitness (and a fair amount of strategy).
My size… it was whilst I was looking through my marathon photos that I realized the shape I had become. I know I am not in the minority who vet all their photo’s, but I am struggling to find photos of the ‘bigger’ me for this testimonial? And it was clearly a sign, when you delete or de-tag yourself because you don’t like your shape?
Anyway, on the bus to VLM we conveniently sat in the seats in front of Les… I openly chatted about my struggles with my weight loss, fitness and my running. Les offered his services again as a personal trainer, explaining to me that he could help reduce my weight and increase my fitness… and I am so glad he did!
It didn't take Les long to point out my errors… this may sound familiar? ‘Eating because you increased your mileage/workouts’ or ‘treating yourself for running an event’ and there’s ‘grabbing the first thing you see, because you’ve missed a meal’ or ‘craving those fatty, salty or sweet foods, because you’ve made bad food choices?’.
I know it doesn’t sound like rocket science, as all it took was filling out a simple food diary and training sessions built around nothing more than my body weight… but, it worked and I was hooked!!!
I have never enjoyed my workouts more… I look forward to my beasting every week!!! It's a funny combination of ‘wanting to prove to Les that I can do it’ and Les ‘pushing me to failure’. I enjoy the banter, not just in the gym, but with other clients.
The monthly challenges have us fighting for the top spot and the weekly sessions have us guessing what will be next. I still have my tough days and still struggle with my food, whether it’s choices, amount or times.
But, now I am getting constant support by a personal trainer who cares. I know that sounds naff… but, he really does (Richard too) I offered to bet him on my weight loss one week, but he just flatly refused, telling me 'I want you to do it because you want to…'
And I think the results speak for themselves.
Thank you Les.
Mike Land - 2013.