What It’s Really like to Start a Fitness Journey Again in January – Week 1

What It’s Really like to Start a Fitness Journey Again in January - Week 1

Ever wondered what it’s truly like to start getting fit in January? One of our client’s employees have kindly agreed to tell their story through the ups and the downs, the good and the bad, and all of the healthy changes they are trying to make. Here is week one of Employee X’s fitness journey:

It has been a week since my stereotypical ‘New Year, New Me!’ get fit campaign started… It has been a long time since I last trained on a regular basis.

Since I finished playing football, I have never joined a gym or even found the personal motivation to keep exercising. My motivation before was playing football. Therefore, I used to train two or three times a week and play a game twice a week for eight months of the year. Then I got injured and my fitness journey halted.

In the years following my injury, which forced me off of the pitch I have found the team spirit most prevalent watching sport down the pub. Whilst also supporting my club/country with a pint in hand. This was easily done when live sport was on once or twice a week but now you’re constantly bombarded with games. It’s very easy to be tempted to head down the pub and watch all the matches. I’m aware if I’m going to get fit, I have got to move more and visit the pub less. However, that is an uphill battle!

Wednesday 3rd January

My first fitness session in ages and I’ve booked in with one of the gyms Personal Trainers for an assessment. This involved measuring various parts of me including waist, stomach, arms and thighs. Along with a weigh-in too… Ouch! Until that point I hadn’t stepped on a set of scales since school and it was a real shock. If I’m honest it was embarrassingly high and to give her credit the PT was very kind. She didn’t snigger or raise her eyebrows. I finally feel like we have a starting point now.

We start off going through a series of warm-ups:
  • 10 on each leg
  • 10 on each arm
  • Another set of combined movements before the assessments begins
The proposal is to do 8 exercises, 50 times each and completely in my own time. The workout consists of:

I don’t make it through the tricep dips before I have to stop and feel quite ill. I lay on the gym floor drained and nearly went to sleep there and then. After about 15 minutes of water and rest, the PT and I go for a chat.

Let’s get one thing straight, the reason I failed the assessment exercises was not the exercises themselves but poor preparation. Seven pints of Guinness the night before and a piece of toast for breakfast was not the best of ideas. Never underestimate the power of fuel in your body! The PT points out I needed to have eaten about an hour before my assessment. My tank was empty and my body didn’t appreciate not having any fuel. Thus went into shock because of it.

My PT suggested eating a bowl of porridge and a banana for breakfast to get me going.

I managed to do the press-ups in about five sittings and the squats and sit-ups weren’t a struggle either. I got them done in three relatively equal sets for my fifty. The star jumps were done in one go. But I was puffing, sweating, yawning – yes yawning and shaking… The tricep dips were a huge struggle and I only made it to about 12 before I needed to stop. I thought I was going to bring up last night’s Guinness onto the PT’s clean trainers. However, thankfully didn’t and had that lie down instead.

Have you heard of Glycaemic Index or Glycaemic Load?

The final part of the chat we had was about managing my food intake. Have you ever heard of Glycaemic Index (GI) and Glycaemic Load (GL)? No neither had I and basically it is about how the body processes certain foods and handles the sugar. For example, a Cantaloupe Melon has a very HIGH GI and GL so the body will store the sugar for much longer. as opposed to Peaches or Oranges that are LOW and therefore are better for you in a weight-loss situation. We also discussed the importance of muscle repair and consuming protein after a workout, which I need to do within 45 minutes ideally. This is why some people bang on about a “protein shake”. This is adequate but protein also comes naturally in lots of foods.

We decided the plan is to now strengthen my legs, arms, abs and shoulders. Then I can re-visit the assessment in 4 weeks. So, in a nut shell the first session is done, the cobwebs have been annihilated and I’ve learnt 3 things:

1) I must fuel up an hour before and after my workout.

2) Water instead of Guinness on the night before!

3) Food choices make a huge difference so I’ve invested in this book “GI & GL Counter”. It is a handy pocket-sized book to check the status of some of my food favourites.

Am I looking forward to my second gym session? No, I’m worried and dreading it. It isn’t enjoyable in the slightest, however, I felt good today (eventually) – the hare is running.

Thursday 4th January

I was very tempted to go for a beer tonight as a reward for having a gym session yesterday. Without a doubt is ironic when you think about it, but I ended up resisting temptation. Funnily enough the reason I didn’t go was because I wanted to read Dr Wynnie Chan’s book. It is really interesting and is all about essential nutritional facts for every type of diet and special food needs. It is a handy pocket format! The book shows the Glycaemic Index (GI) and Glycaemic Load (GL) ratings, fat, calories, protein, carbohydrate and fibre in more than 1,900 foods.

I have big lifestyle decisions to make and I know white bread is the first food that has to go. I eat way too much white bread, be it in a sausage sarnie or in a coronation chicken sandwich at lunchtime. That doesn’t even take into account pizzas, garlic bread, bagels or doughnuts… Sticking to my fitness journey today I had sausages in a wrap instead of a ‘white bloomer’ for lunch. Whilst I gave up the white bread I still stuck with my coronation chicken filling as I don’t want to go completely crazy! It may only be a small step for some but for me it is massive.

Tomorrow I have my second gym session and I’m dreading it…

Friday 5th January

I’m eager to workout again, which is surprising. Furthermore, I would even say I am bordering on keen to do my second gym session with my personal trainer… This time before my PT session, I ate sensibly. I had some sausage, and even a bowl of porridge and banana. This time round I was much more prepared! I even brought a towel and bottle of water with me. However, I thought a defibrillator would be much more useful than some water!

Today’s exercise was boxing. If you are picturing a ring with grizzly maniacs you will be very disappointed. It consisted of hitting my PT whilst she was wearing hand pads. After a warm-up routine the session starts with five rounds of twenty Jabs and ten squats. We have a water break after about ten minutes or so. Then do the same routine again but this time with upper cuts and lunges. After a second round of exercises we have another water break followed by Body Hooks with crunches. Finally Body Hooks with a 20 second plank five times round.

It is safe to say I was knackered afterwards. My arms were tired but in a good way as I was comfortable and ready to do it again. Well almost, I was glad the planks were over. My PT explains to me what muscles are being worked by each exercise and why. I’ve also learnt that ‘quads’ is a fancy name for ‘thigh muscle.’

I also decided to downloaded a free pedometer app called Pedometer++  to track my fitness journey. However, my PT has tasked me with walking 8,000 steps a day. Surely that won’t be too hard…

Saturday 6th January

My arms… Oh my poor arms… What has happened to my poor arms… I’m not sure if I can even lift my cup of tea to my mouth, they ache that much. I’m not sure my arms have ever hurt like this! The only thing that took my mind off of my arm pain was when I got up I noticed that my glutes ached. In fact, there wasn’t a single muscle that didn’t feel sore. I’m reassured via a text from my PT that I’m not dying but that it is in fact D.O.M.S (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). It is apparently good pain… Maybe my body is reminding me that I have actually exercised and my brain is telling me good work! My step count for yesterday was 5,312 and it’ll take monumental effort to even get me to eight thousand today! Although a walk to the pub might help.

So, I managed the walk to the pub and back again in the end. The ‘good pain’ is not easing but it served as a reminder that I am meant to be getting fit. Following the pub lunch, I went shopping to stock up on some more healthy foods. However, I couldn’t help but think that the cashier at check-out was thinking “Salad? Why is he buying a salad? He doesn’t normally buy salads? Is he alright?”

Sunday 7th January

Unfortunately, I didn’t reach anywhere near my 8,000-step target yesterday. I have quickly realised my normal routine is not going to be good enough for my fitness journey. Today I’m off to watch the football so I have started the day with a run/walk. I walked to my local park and attempted to run around it. The first 200m were the hardest steps I’ve ever taken and it was like I was running with skis on. I had to stop running and decided to do the warm-up routine the PT had explained to me. After that everything became easier, I could manage running and then walked when I couldn’t keep up the pace anymore. My morning exercise consisted of running, walking, running, walking, running, walking and so on.

It isn’t as bad as it sounds as walking in between more intensive exercise is called “active recovery.” It is normally practised by very physically fit individuals after they have had a day of high intensity exercise. Then they have a low intensity day to recover. However, for me it means walking 100 yards every time I run 300 yards. I ran on and off for around thirty minutes, and despite the excessive muddiness it was very good. My biggest fear of exercising was accidentally bumping into someone I know and getting heckled at. A beanie hat, ski mask, dark sunglasses and a fake moustache might have taken the edge off of that… It wasn’t even lunch time and I had almost reached 8,000 steps.


Check out how Employee X got on with their fitness journey in week two.