It has been a while since I wrote my first bootcamp diary. Tempting to think that the first boot camp was a one-season wonder but not so. I have followed that first boot camp with four more.
So this time round I thought rather than say what I was going through each week, I thought my diary would talk a bit about what I had hoped from doing boot camp and why I have continued.
I have always been quite sporty and thought I was fit. After all I could run on a treadmill for an hour. My heart rate would go up and I would pat myself on the back for completing 50 minutes. I loved walking and walked everywhere if possible BUT and this is a big but I did not like my body. And, as often happens, when you are not happy with your body, it affects the way you feel about yourself. It’s not that I had a picture in my head of perfection. I did not think I want to look like a Victoria’s Secrets Angel or some supermodel but I did think- is this it? Is this what I should settle for? Deep down I thought maybe not but nor did I have the time to make the gym a second career just to get a body I was happy with. This is where kettle bells have really been life changing- short, sharp, tough and effective.
LOOKING BACK AT BLAST! KETTLEBELL BOOTCAMP
Way back in June (when the weather was nice, the mornings light) I was so chuffed at completing my first boot camp. I seriously thought that by October I would find doing boot camp a walk in the park. Not so. This program is designed to keep you pushing you. The moves are the same but I still come out with a heart rate so high I ask myself whether it is possible for a heart to beat that fast and I am still dripping in sweat.
During the first two boot camps I got fitter and faster. I could get through routines better and I was using a pair of 4kg bells. My body started to change for the better. I was looking more toned and I was certainly fitter. Before kettle bells I only ever did cardio. I applauded myself for being able to run for an hour but you know what- some days it felt seriously tough and I did not enjoy it but it was one of those things where I thought, “ This is doing me a lot of good”. It may have been doing me good but honestly it did not feel like it many times. It took a lot of motivation to get me to start a run a lot of the time.
This is where Elliot really trained my mind-set as well as my body. He told me if I waited to be motivated about doing something I would never get all the things I wanted done- I had to rely on discipline. Now I understand the Nike logo- Just do it. “Just do it” is about discipline. No matter how you feel, no matter what the weather, just do it. The amazing thing about this instruction in discipline is that it permeates through the rest of your life. I stopped avoiding doing the things I did not like but knew I had to do. Elliot once explained he considers what he is doing most days and differentiates between what he “has to do” and the rest is about the doing things that get you where you want to be.
Back to kettle bells. When I started kettle bells, three sessions a week was all I could manage in terms of fitness. I could not do a run or any thing else. Elliot writes on his web page that this rest time is needed as the body is adjusting to change. I admit I thought: “I can do more, I know I can, what’s he on about”. How wrong was I? My body told me, no, screamed at me, to rest. My muscles were sore (the word sore does not really do justice to how I felt but believe me it was bad) and that was it, I had to rest on the days between. The body adjusts when it is resting. My arrogance that more is better was immediately challenged. Just not true. It is quality over quantity. I know that sounds like such a cliché but I learnt the hard way.
My other half likes to do a 10km run on Sunday mornings. By my third boot camp in September I envied his outdoor runs. He kept asking me to join him and I would be enthusiastic on Thursday about a Sunday run but come Sunday morning!!! One Sunday, time was ticking until he said outright, “ Are you coming or not?” I was scared because I had not run in months. My sessions with Elliot were intense but they were not runs. Reluctantly I said okay, more to avoid an argument than any real excitement about running in the park. At the stage we exited the front door I was really fighting my mind. I can tell you I found that run the easiest run I have ever done- I do not exaggerate. I kept thinking while we were running that we were running slow because it seemed so much less effort then all those years of running before. Not so, we were tracking our pace. Kettle Bell boot camp is like a HIIT with weights but the emphasis on core and functional exercises improves all round endurance.
PROGRESSION THROUGHOUT BOOTCAMP
By the time the third boot camp came along I had progressed to 8kgs weight for most exercises and on some was going even heavier. New people joined the class and if I thought I would be an old hand Elliot brought me down to size by making me go heavier and doing more reps! That’s telling me. It was interesting to see how the women who were new to kettle bells all feared getting bulky. You only have to look at me as proof that kettle bells do not make you bulky but they do make you fit, strong, lean and toned. The first boot camps, made me fitter and faster. I started to tone up. By the end of the fourth boot camp I saw quite huge changes in my body. My stomach is flatter, way flatter. My legs and arms are toned and my posture has improved. I looked better in my clothes as a result. With monthly cycles you do feel flabbier some days than others and then you dress to “cover-up” and we have all, skinny or otherwise been there. This was much less so by the start of the fourth boot camp.
So am I happier with my body? I can honestly say I am finally beginning to appreciate and like my body. I have not been one of those people who took before and after shots that you find on instagram to be able to tell myself: Wow! I do realise as I dress in the morning that the body is looking good but I am also healthier. I did alter my eating but found that as my body changed it needed to eat healthily. You cannot do kettle bells eating junk. I cannot explain it but you cannot get through and improve. On days when I have eaten rubbish and have a class the next day I did not do as well. So disappointing is that feeling that you make sure you eat well the night before but then it becomes every night. This does not mean I don’t eat unhealthy food. I do but the amount I consume has become less over 6 months. The reason for this is that I have worked hard and like what I see that it just “ain’t worth it” to undo it all by an unhealthy diet. I have not, I repeat, I have not become a boring or faddy eater. I do not go out and buy super-foods. I do not shop my entire eating needs in Planet Organic. I go to the supermarket and buy normal foods but they are healthy. My food bill if anything has gone down because I am not impulse buying. Every Wednesday, Elliot delivers messages on fitness and health themes where he covers diet, hydration, and food preparation etc.
LIFESTYLE, COMMITMENTS & RESULTS
I admit all this at the beginning sounded like hard work but then after 6 months of working out with Elliot, I see that it is actually hard work not feeling the best version of your self. You waste a lot of energy being dis-satisfied and ill at ease with yourself.
This diary may make it sound as though kettle bells dominated my life. No it did not. It took three weekly 45-minute sessions to get here. In the last month I have been able to do more t because I have to but because I want to. I do go for one long run at the weekend and I am have one PT session with Elliot learning how to master pull-ups. My exercise routine most days is over by 8am or earlier. I have a life. What I want to say is the improvements have not been a 24/7 endeavour.
Committing to boot camp three mornings a week at 6.45 am is no mean feat but it does pay-off. It is short, sharp and fast and I still find it tough. The Wednesday core routine is by far the hardest for me. New people have joined the class and have got to a stage more advanced than me even though I have been doing boot camp the longest. At first I minded that I was not seemingly getting better and “others were beating me” but the ever- philosophical Elliot reminded me that it is not about comparisons but commitment and focusing on what we can do rather than lamenting on what we cannot. It is about pushing yourself to your limits and with time those limits expand. There is no high better than knowing you have gone through a barrier.
PUSHING YOUR LIMITS
I do want to say something about Elliot. He pushes you. I already wrote way back he does not bark but there is no slacking. BUT just when you are about to give up he tells you that you can do four or five more reps. At first you want to swear and tell him where to go but you just do it. Then after weeks, you understand you are pushing your limits and not accepting anything as an end point. For me, that has had a huge impact on my mind-set. How may times have we all in life stopped short at something not even trying to find out if we can do more, be more? That encouragement you get in the gym does make you think about others around you in life. You see who in your life are the “Debbie-downers”, the ones who seem determined to put a negative spin on anything new and seriously, in the last 6 months, I have got rid of quite a few people who did that to me.
I did at one stage show Elliot a photo of someone I wanted to look like- it is embarrassing now to admit that. He asked why? I could not answer him apart form saying she has great legs. Elliot pointed out I have legs and should I not be working on making my own legs look the best they can be rather that trying to look like some strange woman I had seen on a blog. What about Photoshop, and the angle of the photo etc. What was the truth about these legs I so wanted? His point was: I am not her and never will be in every sense. And, why would I want to be her. We all do this at some level. Who has not gone, for example, to a hairdresser and wanted to have hair like so and so? Battle lost. Another cliché but true: Work on your own mind and body to be the best it can be. That sounds like one of those inspirational quotes you see on the Internet and think, so true, but does not really change you. A quote will not change you. Only you can do that- the best change is slow and determined. Only then will you see the quote makes sense. I don’t look like a Victoria secret’s model or anyone else but I do look like me and I like what I see. This did not happen automatically. It has taken 6 months and now I just see this as part of a daily journey into my own well-being. That sounds very “alternative” but in fact it is just a way of saying that out the effort in you get the rewards.