Gemma Warrington is a 33-year-old married Mum of two, originally from Essex now living in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.  She is a Licensing Officer for North Kesteven District Council meaning she spends a lot of time sitting at a desk (especially due to Covid and reduced visits). Gemma was a finalist for the Active Change Award at the Lincolnshire Sports and Physical Activity Awards recognising the remarkable transformation to her life she has made through physical activity. 

“I decided to be more active on 08.10.2020, this was also the day I also joined WeightWatchers for what I think must have been the 5/6th time. I was at a point in my life where I was the heaviest I had ever been, I was stuck in lockdown working from home and home schooling the children and eating constantly throughout the day. I was starting to suffer with severe backache even doing simple tasks like walking and food shopping and kept telling myself it was from sitting at a desk but deep down I knew it was my weight. I was 17stone 9lbs and 5ft 4 and just too heavy for my frame. I was also very anxious and feeling lethargic and just not myself so I decided I needed to take control before I ended up with serious health issues. 

I was so lucky that my employer (North Kesteven District Council) introduced a scheme called “The Shape Hour” which was one hour per day where employees were encouraged to get up from their desks and exercise whenever and wherever to look after their physical and mental health during lockdown. It had been running for a while and told myself I never had time to take advantage of it but I felt that I was wasting an opportunity- so I bought a bike and started walking and biking for an hour per day, and even carried on across the weekends. That is when the magic began! 

I have gained so much from becoming active it’s unbelievable. I was always one of those people who hated exercise, always yo yo dieting and refusing to exercise as it just wasn’t me, didn’t have time and didn’t need to as I was active enough at home with the kids. Now, I struggle to have two rest days a week as I enjoy my exercise so much. I’ve lost 6 stone 1.5lbs in 53 weeks by managing my nutrition, daily exercise and intermittent fasting. 

I am so much more flexible and agile and I am also so much healthier mentally, as once you begin on the journey of exercise and you get into a routine, it can almost be like meditation – it makes you feel so good and I honestly believe it can feel addictive with all the happy hormones it releases! 

I’m physically fitter, so my stamina has increased, my determination, and I just feel fantastic. It’s MY time out of the house, away from work, kids, Hubby, chores, bills, the phone etc, just to work on me and regather my thoughts and enjoy moving and fresh air and sunshine. I don’t believe our bodies are made to sit or lie down constantly and that we should make the most of our abilities and physical health whilst we are still blessed with it.

The advice I would give to anyone looking to increase their activity is to have a routine and consistency and build this up slowly. You don’t need expensive clothing or gym memberships or to have a ridiculously complex fitness plan. I started off by choosing a specific time of day and aim to keep to this time wherever possible. So my time was 10am, I knew at this time I would stop whatever I was doing and take that exercise, this stops procrastinating and it feels so good to get it done crossed off your to do list, for you to enjoy the rest of your day. I also read that being out and exercising in the morning sunshine is really good for our mental health. 

If things come up just try and ensure you take that time at some point in your day elsewhere, or start small and try for three times a week and build this up gradually.

You must be patient with yourself and realise that life doesn’t always work to plan, so don’t find excuses to be put off. I’ve found the days when I really didn’t want to go out when it’s cold and dark and wet and I’m tired, are the days when I’ve enjoyed it even more as you know you have done something amazing for yourself. I was even out biking on Christmas Day!! Find a buddy if you can- someone to encourage you and keep you on track. * You always have time * Even if it means re jigging a few or getting up earlier. 

You can get moving at home, in your garden, on your driveway, bedroom, bathroom, anywhere- even a 15 min walking video from YouTube is a good starting point. Find something that you enjoy and can fit into your life and day, and build up from there. The sky is your limit!  

Don’t be scared of taking time for yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone. I have gone from completely sedentary to trying so many new activities and enjoyed them all! Even the ones that weren’t for me (Yoga) I was happy I tried and can say that nothing puts me off trying something new!

I currently do walking, cycling, Tai Chi, Mindfulness, and three to four exercise classes per week which can range from fitball, boogie bounce (trampolining) kettlebells, step, cardio combat. Clubbercise (dance) Pilates. Barbell Pump (weights) Tabata (short bursts of high intensity exercise repeated).

The one thing I would say to anyone wishing to increase their fitness is no matter what age, weight, size, or personal circumstances YOU CAN DO IT! And you will enjoy it!! Just take some time to plan and make it fun with activities you enjoy and it won’t even feel like exercise. 

Invest in yourself! You won’t regret it!”

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