"The gym has changed my life. Not only have I lost half my bodyweight, I'm stronger, happier, and so much more healthy." - Carli
In March 2014 I woke up one morning feeling paralysed – I couldn’t move. Eventually I realised it was a trapped nerve from the sheer weight of my body mass when I was sleeping. I knew it was time to make changes and work on improving my health.
During this point in my life, I was at my largest, sitting at 260lbs and a size 26 at only 5’3. I barely moved during the day. I worked 55-60 hours a week in an office and the only movement I did was up and down stairs each day to have a cigarette. I was eating large meals and huge amounts of crisps, biscuits, sweets, hot chocolates, orange juice etc. I was having, on average, 4000 calories a day.
At first my main focus wasn’t on losing weight but about moving my body more. I started by making small adjustments.
I got an exercise bike which I had in my lounge and started cycling 20 minutes a day. I gradually worked my way up to cycling 30 to 40 minutes, and then sometimes having a 60-90 cycle. After 4 months of cycling in home, I took the next step and joined PureGym Walton-Thames in June 2014. I continued to gradually increase my physical activity.
As I started going to the gym more often, the more it grew on me, and exercising became a hobby.
I took baby steps each day, so I could work towards getting healthy and better, and improving my level of fitness. I set myself the goal to lose half my body weight in 2 years (140lbs) which I did by 2016. Over time, I slowly reduced my calories to a more appropriate amount for me. I improved my diet by eating less unhealthy snacks and eating more veg and fruit, and even focusing on being more plant-based. I’ve lost 63.5kgs / 140lbs in the initial 2 years, and then I went on to work on maintenance and getting fitter and stronger.
Aside from losing weight, I’ve seen much more muscle definition. I’m looking healthier and younger. My clothes are fitting better. I have so much more energy and I barely get sick or ill. My mood is better, and I have a much more positive outlook on life. I am even squatting 100kgs!
My whole life has changed since getting into shape.
I’m now a motivational speaker helping to inspire others to change their lives. I’ve just so much more energy to do more things. I’ve even just recently published my first book based on my journey! You can find me on Instagram at @misscarlijay_healthyliving.
I am also now keeping active outside the gym, doing bikram yoga, stand up paddle boarding in the Thames and ice skating, and getting in my cardio outdoors!
If I could give one word of advice to people wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle that would be to start where they are. We all know how to start but often procrastinate. Start by making small changes, even if it means doing 10-15 mins a day. Become more conscious of the food you’re eating and try to build a better relationship with what you eat. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. Do this for you!
If you are just starting out in the gym remember that:
A. Go there for you. Everyone is there for a common interest to better themselves and their health so while it might seem like an intimidating place, you’ll discover it isn’t.
B. There’s no need to overcomplicate things. Start with what you do know, what you can use, work with your limits, and learn to enjoy it – you don’t have to run a marathon on your first day
C. Enjoy it! This is for you and your life, enjoy the process and be conscious of how you feel, not just how you want to look. Results won’t happen overnight, so be there cause you want to better your whole self, not just what you see in the mirror. I keep motivated to go to the gym by reminding myself of why I am going, how far I’ve come, and the way the gym always makes me feel. No matter what I am always happy after and so glad I went. Don’t think of it as exercise and a chore. Think of activities and things you enjoyed as a child. You may enjoy dancing, walking in the park, swimming etc.… it doesn’t always have to be hours running on a treadmill. Often we can burn more calories just doing activities with friends – so it’s about moving and getting active that way. Or join a gym with friends and encourage each other to exercise together so you can spur each other on. And keep switching it up so your routine doesn’t get stale and repetitive
So what’s next in store for me? For me it’s to keep getting fitter and healthier, and stronger!