What is it about Spring that makes everyone get all motivated? Over the last few years I have tried everything to get in shape and lose weight, but it took me until this year to find a regime that really worked for me - and best of all it cost next to nothing to set up and maintain. Before that, I spent hideous amounts of money for very little results. Let me demonstrate:
Penny's Fitness Plan 1st Attempt: 2000
- Join gym 40 minutes drive away for six months = $400
- Book pre-schooler into extra daycare sessions so I can attend gym = $10 per session
- Four hours extra travel time and petrol to get to gym three times a week = $50 per week.
Result: 2kg weight loss and five month's of gym membership wasted as couldn't afford daycare and got fed up with travelling after one month. Weight soon put back on.
Penny's Fitness Plan 2nd Attempt: 2003
- Sign up for Weight Watchers 'At Home' 12 week plan = $300
- Daily 30 minute walks = free
Result: 5kg weight loss (4kg of it was in the first week and I near starved myself in order to get that wretched 5kg Gold Star at the end of my 12 weeks). Stuck to diet as rigidly as I could but nobody else in the family liked what I was eating (and half the time, neither did I). Weight soon put back on.
Like many, I started putting on weight after having children. When Liam was born, everyone told me that breastfeeding would cause weight to fall off. I did it for almost 18 months and all I did was put it on. After Ali was born, even though I was on a farm and doing physical work, it just continued to pile on. By the time he turned six years old, I was 15 kilos heavier than when I had been nine months' pregnant with him! I couldn't understand it - as a busy Mum of two, I never sat down, I was always on the go, so how could I be overweight? I didn't have a sweet tooth, eat biscuits, cakes, chips or any of the so-called Ã¯Â¿Â½bad foods', but I was still obviously doing something wrong. The turning point came in June 2004, when these three incidents happened in quick succession:
- I tried to get my jeans on for winter and found that I couldn't do the zip up - even with me lying down, hooking a coathanger through the zip and enlisting Noel to help me heave it up.
- Walking down the street in a nearby town, I passed two giggling teenage girls and heard them say 'Look at that lady's big bum!'
- Coming out of Subway, proudly clutching a diet conscious Veggie Delite, only to pass a table full of young chaps, loudly commenting 'Now that's what I call a whale'.
I almost turned and went marching back to those guys and said 'Well you're no oil paintings yourselves', but I couldn't be sure that they - or the giggling girls had really been talking about me. The fact was, I knew darn well that they could have been. Even though I wasn't that huge, I wasn't doing myself any favours in the huge tents I had taken to wearing. In an effort to cover up the bits of my body I didn't like, all I had succeeded in doing was make myself look even bigger. The following day, I set about starting:
Penny's Fitness Plan - 2004:
- Join local gym (by now one had opened in our town) = $125 for six months
- Nag husband into buying an exercise bike as an early Christmas pressie = $400
- Winsor Pilates twice a week with a buddy using videos from eBay = $50
Results: 13kg weight loss in four months.
I went to the gym every day - first, as a casual member, paying $4.00 per session, then paying my six monthly membership once I knew I was in it for the duration. Because I was exercising every day, I was drinking a lot of water; something I had never done before. Far from being full of fitness fanatics and Ã¯Â¿Â½superbods', the fitness centre was full of people just like me, all with their own flaws and lumpy bits but trying to do something about them. After a few weeks, I didn't even mind if I didn't lose weight - it was how I felt that mattered and I was feeling really good. Every day I walked on the treadmill, until I found it wasn't a challenge any more, so I got a bit faster, and a bit faster until I was jogging. From jogging I progressed to running, until I was soon running 4km every day. Me - running! The Winsor Pilates videos we were doing were also having a fantastic effect, I would recommend these to anyone (the only thing I have ever found that has any effect on my stomach!). Because I was already exercising so much, I no longer needed my exercise bike, so after only a few uses, it began gathering dust in the lounge, where it remains.
Christmas came and an inevitable few kilos with it. You've heard me mention my real life Happy Hanna friend before, the Mum of four. Her real name is Rochelle and over the years she has inspired me many times. We had been doing Pilates at her home for several months now and she knew about my running. With her youngest finally ready for school, she had been dared by a friend to enter a womens' triathlon for her New Year's resolution. She had never run before, so I offered to be her training buddy. Before I knew it, I had signed up to enter myself! For Rochelle, running was her real challenge, but for me it was swimming. I had two weeks to be able to swim 300 metres and I couldn't swim a stroke! A training plan was needed, but coming from such a big family, a gym membership wasn't an option for Rochelle. I was happy to do things her way, which became:
Penny's Fitness Plan - 2005!
- Running on the roads - free
- Second hand 12 speed bike from eBay - $50
- Cycling on the roads - free
- Swimming at school pool - free
- One professional swimming lesson - $25
It just took that one swimming lesson and I was able to swim 300 metres! That $25 I spent on a lesson meant hours of fun in the pool with my children all summer, as for the first time, Mum was able to keep up with them. One triathlon turned in to two, followed by a duathlon and we have six more events planned for the next five months. I never dreamed I would ever be able to run or swim half a kilometre, but if I can find a way to get fit, anyone can. Getting fit is like quitting smoking - you'll only achieve it if you really want to. Exercise buddies are brilliant, but the only one who can make yourself get out there and do it is you! I work during the day and at night and have a family, but I still make time. I don't have any other hobbies and for me, exercise is my escapism, my Ã¯Â¿Â½me' time. If I have to get up at 6am to go for a run, or switch on a Pilates video because I won't get time otherwise, so be it. There is something out there that suits everyone, it's just a question of finding it; but now I've demonstrated all my expensive methods of the past, hopefully it may save someone else money along the way. For the first time ever this summer, I hopped out on to the beach in a bikini and didn't feel horrendously out of place - hopefully nobody noticed I was breathing in the entire time!