I’m a (very) overweight 40s mum to four… here’s why I now run, hike & kickbox. And model swimsuits…

Okay, so here’s the thing.
I’ve hesitated to talk about my weight and body shape for a while – because I’m definitely ‘body positive’, so how can I talk about my desire and need to lose weight?
But of course I can do both. Because dieting and weight-loss-motivated exercise are a very different thing to the subject of health and well-being.

This winter I was the biggest and heaviest I have ever been (and that’s saying something).

I’ve been a classic weight yo-yo-er all my adult life – varying degrees of slim to curves throughout the having and raising of four children. It’s never really bothered me – I’m not the sum of my physical looks, and everyone who matters to me knows this.

My smile is still warm, my brain still sharp, and my cheesecake still amazing, no matter how lumpy I look in my jeans

But.

Here’s the secret I’m not really supposed to talk about. I also know that I’m not deeply happy when I’m very overweight.

It’s not a popular truth, is it?
But that’s my truth.
And no, it’s not because I hate the way I look when I have more wobbles.
It’s never about what’s in the mirror.
It’s ALL about the way I feel.

I do have an underactive thyroid – but this is not an excuse or even a reason for being overweight. I’ll admit it doesn’t help, but…

…the simple fact is I’m overweight because I like eating lots of cheese and pizza and cake, and I sit on my arse all day.

Laura, LittleStuff

It’s not rocket science.

And as I slide gently into one of my expansion phases, I notice a number of things – and each and every one of them is related to my health. I ache more – my knees, my hips, my back. My skin is dull. My mood is… moody. My feet HURT when I’ve hiked ten miles – and yes, I can absolutely still do those ten miles. But they’re slower, and sweatier, and… harder.

This was me in January – what you can’t see behind my triumphant smile is that I’m actually wheezing and gasping for oxygen 5mins after topping that climb!

When I’m this size, I just don’t feel healthy.
And I want to be healthy.

I want to stride up the hills, run up the stairs, and most of all, I want to feel like I’m giving myself the absolute best chance of living pain free into a long and disgraceful old age. I want to be running with my grandchildren.

And there’s another, bigger, thing. What sort of example am I setting to my kids? What would I be thinking privately if they sat at their desks all day long, never exercising? I’d have strong words to say about their respect for their bodies, their waste of a beautiful gift.
I’m a Bloody Hypocrite.

plus size middle aged mum learning how to run.
That’s me at the start of lockdown, March ’20

And so there I was. At the start of 2020, noticing that my size 20 clothing was now snugly uncomfortable, and apart from one long hike a week doing literally no exercise at all.

As lockdown kicked in, two of my teens became reluctant to take part in their twice weekly kickboxing class via Zoom.

So I gave it to them.

Not a proud parenting moment – but I loudly and rather angrily pointed out that we were paying money we could ill afford for these lessons, and if they couldn’t be bothered to move their bums for two single hours a week, then it was deeply disappointing to me.

And my hypocrisy hit me in the face.

So over dinner, I apologised – and asked if they would mind me taking part in their kickboxing class with them (at the other end of the room, far FAR away from the camera).
And so I did.
It bloody killed me.
But I showed up two days later for the next session. And the next.

At first I couldn’t do a single press up, sit up or burpee (yes, for those who don’t know, kickboxing classes include a LOT of old-fashioned bootcamp PT exercise). I would finish each 50 minute session absolutely exhausted, and honestly hardly able to walk the next day.
My 13yr old almost-black-belt patiently taught me the most basic of moves, and both teens were nothing but patient and encouraging (and gently mocking).

But I kept showing up.

Simultaneously, trapped in the lockdown house with three teenagers, the husband and I decided a little space was important for us all – so we took a nightly stroll across the fields, just the two of us. We’ve only missed a handful of days since March.
And what with the daily walk, and the twice weekly kickboxing, and then a regular weekly hike once lockdown allowed, I started to feel… good.
And I remembered that feeling.

So I dug out my trainers, installed the Zombies 5k running app on my phone (again), and off I went again – my third time through the Couch to 5k training app (one of my most popular posts is about a previous go – read my plus-size girl thoughts on getting the exercise habit to stick here).

plus size runner

I made it to week 7 of my training before a foot injury caused me to pause a couple of weeks ago; steadily plodding out a slow 5km three times a week. But it’s okay, I’ll pick it up again in a week’s time. I’m not racing anyone but myself here. In fact, a glance back through my Runkeeper history tells me I’m maintaining the same rough speeds as I managed through the training three years ago – when I was 30-odd lb lighter

And the thing is, all the small things add up. A short walk every single night. A longer country hike (somewhere between 10 and 12 miles – you can see what we do on Viewranger here) once a week. Two kickboxing sessions a week. A quick glance at my Runkeeper these days and my brain does a little jump of shock – here’s the total activity for the last three months for my couch potato lardarse self:

Over 400km, almost 130hrs, and I burnt an extra SIXTY FOUR THOUSAND CALORIES! Holy COW – imagine if I’d just eaten them all!
Because that’s the thing – I really haven’t changed my diet. I pretty much cook from scratch, I don’t really snack – my issue has always been just sitting down. All. day. long.

And so when Tesco asked if I’d like to do a little work around the new F&F summer range last month, I weirdly felt confident enough to say yes. Even when I knew there was a swimsuit involved.
Firstly – because I’m rarely embarrassed, and people can take me for who I am, no matter what size I currently happen to be.
Secondly – because I’ve dropped over a stone and a dress size, and whilst still have a very long way to go I feel… better. Stronger. Leaner.
Which is silly, because I’m not much, not really.

curvy plus-size swimsuit model 40s mum

But that’s why I actually love to exercise. For me it’s never about gaining the ‘right’ body. It’s about regaining the right body for me. I simply love it when I feel strong and fit and healthy.

I love the sense of power I feel when I conquer another tough workout (btw I can do burpees now! I can star jump without wetting myself! Still crap at press ups though…). I love using my body, and feeling it work properly.

laura from littlestuff plus size model in a soft pink linen shirt

So. Here’s me. Bold and Proud. Modelling the new F&F summer range. Showing off my lean(er), strong(er) and healthy(er) body. And yes I do still have a very long way to go; but I’m not embarassed to say so.

Thanks for reading – I’m off for a big plate of chip shop chips.
Because I still like to eat ALL the foods, too :)

how to get fit at 45

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Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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