From feeling my age to fighting fit

menopause, exercise, midlife

At the age of 40, after a lifetime of being one of those people who could eat all they liked and remain a skinny size eight, my body started to change.

menopause, exercise, midlifeAt first they were subtle changes and ones that I quite liked. My boyish frame began to look a little more hourglass. I couldn’t get my old jeans past my hips but that was okay. I had a new bum.

I spent the next five years pretending that I was pretty safe. I could maintain a healthy and happy weight and I’d remain my young svelte self. Most women imagine they’re larger than they actually are. I was doing the opposite. I’ve never really exercised – I’m allergic – and I never had to watch the calories. I refused to accept that I’d ever be any different.

At 45 and only just a few days ago, I had a realisation. I realised that the one and a half stone I’d gained and the soft, squidgy, cuddly cushioning I’d developed was not going to go away unless I actually moved.

Raphael would’ve been proud of my dimples but I was beginning to feel heavy and uncomfortable with myself. I was feeling unhealthy. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think women should feel comfortable in their own skin no matter what their frame or size. But I wasn’t feeling comfortable in mine. I didn’t feel like ‘me’.

My mother has been putting the creepers on me too, with her stories of not being able to shift the weight that seems ‘suddenly’ to have crept on – over 20 years, I’ve watched it – and her health is dictating her freedom to exercise. I decided I wasn’t going to wait until I was in such a position to do something about the way I felt now. 

Learning to run, one step at a time

At this year’s Race For Life I offered to keep a friend company. She’d injured her foot and for a year has been unable to re-establish her running passion. We walked briskly around the course and it felt good. The weather was great and I felt happier for doing it. So I asked her if I could join her for her first 5km run/walk around the park the following week. A hangover wasn’t conducive to the best start, but I did it and I actually enjoyed it.

During that first week, I downloaded an app called Runkeeper. I input my goal of achieving a 5km run in three months. But was I really challenging myself enough? I wanted to boot myself out of my comfort zone – 10km by October 2016 and lose one stone by 14th August – the day I go on holiday.

It’d be a miracle but why would you want anything less? I needed that quite frankly almost unrealistic goal to propel me.

In my first ten days I ran a total of 13km – in bits, I’m not that good yet – burnt 759 calories and lost 3lbs in weight. Not only that but my body shape is changing. I’m beginning to recognise it again. My chicken wings, I swear, are less flabby. I’ve lost an inch on my waist and I’m feeling less bloated.

Who knew running would become fun?

older woman in raceI love getting out at 6.30 in the morning rain, getting wet through, with the cold, fresh air in my lungs and the American lady on my app telling me to walk or run. I love that I have a friend to keep up with on Saturday mornings because I’d hate to let her and myself down. Jemma and my American lady are making my journey so much easier.

I even chose to walk 2km to the shops the other day, just so I could clock up the exercise on my app. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up. I want to exercise – I want to run. It is a miracle I’m exercising at all, let alone in ten days. Thank you Runkeeper. Thank you Jemma. Thank you double ring of blubber and back boobs.

Ladies, I feel alive. I feel healthier and brighter. I feel slimmer and lighter. My lungs and heart are getting stronger and the power in my legs is increasing. Walking up the stairs no longer feels a challenge. I certainly feel motivated to carry on.

I am not going to let my age or complacency defeat me. Stand aside comfy shoes and tops that hide my upper arms – it’s going to be a while before I ever see you again.

And if I can do it – lazy and averse to all things exercise as I am – maybe you can too.

Misia is now fundraising to raise awareness of alzheimers. Please support her if you can using her Just Giving page or text MJRA70 to 70070.

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‘Having watched two of my grandparents ‘disappear’ to dementia I feel I should be helping to raise awareness of how this condition alters the lives of those suffering and those who surround and care for them. In loving memory of my Dziadzio (Granddad) and in support of my mum who currently lives with and cares for her mother.

I’m unfit. I’ve never exercised and I’m 45 years old. I’m going to run 10km by 14 October 2016. I started run/walking just 10 days ago (June 13). Please push me through my pain barrier (and life long allergy to exercise) by donating and letting me see that this matters.’

About Misia Smith

I'm a skin and wellbeing practitioner based in West Bridgford, Nottingham. I specialise in helping women achieve the healthy and radiant skin they deserve, naturally. But I'm not just about skin, I have a holistic approach to helping my clients reach a state of deep relaxation through tailored massage movements, feeling special and valued and ready to take on the world. I tailor my treatments to each individual taking into account lifestyle and nutrition so its not about a 'beauty' treatment for me. Its about taking care of the whole woman. I have another caring role as founder and Director of Therapists Taking Care of Therapists which takes my caring to a very different place! I hope you enjoy my articles but if there is anything you'd like to know about skin or wellbeing please send in your suggestions!