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Sunday 23rd June

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You’re stronger than you think you are!

This was said to me one cold winters morning, in an outdoor exercise class.  Let me set the scene. I’d enrolled on a Nordic Circuit class (essentially outdoor Nordic walking with exercises included), it was a cold, frosty morning and at the point this was said I was hesitating to pick up some hand weights to do one of the exercises.  I’d paused thinking ‘there’s no way I can use those ones’ and was spotted by the trainer. She used the classic line to encourage me to do it – ‘you’re stronger than you think you are’.  I tried them and they weren’t as daunting as I had assumed. She was right. I could do it. You may be wondering why on earth I’d decided to do this type of exercise (a very good question and lying on tarmacked ground in winter practically being snowed upon this thought was in my head) but I had a goal.  In 6 weeks, I was going on a skiing holiday and in desperation was on a frantic journey to at least make it through the weeks’ trip. Over the years I had struggled to make it through a week of skiing – always needing the classic rest day. (If I’m honest, it wasn’t just about a holiday, but I made that my focus for a short time.) The holiday came and went, along with the exercise.  Hey, I’d set a goal to go on holiday, completed it and had no need to carry on putting myself through more pain! That was my mindset on exercise. It was a function to an end.

Roll on a few years and my health was going downhill. Blood pressure increasing, weight increasing, energy lacking, fatigue, tiredness, emotions erratic – I was under the misconception that this is acceptable as we age and something to live with!  I dabbled with various exercise regimes, as I have over my whole lifetime, but none of them stuck. I quickly became bored; I couldn’t see the point if I wasn’t enjoying it.  Until that is I rediscovered weights and a different sort of exercise. Randomly a Facebook ad appeared in my feed, and I saw a female flipping a huge tyre – intrigued I clicked the link.  Within weeks I had joined a local gym where they offered conditioning classes, strength classes, boxing (not really my thing, but I tried it and it was confirmed not for me), spin (the fear of those spin bikes means I’ve never even tried it). But I stuck with classes and after a short time I found myself loving exercise for the first time. Yes I felt better physically, but I also noticed a change in my emotional and mental health.  The changes I started to feel, rather than see on scales, were having an impact.  Incidentally it was around this time I also started to see a change in my business, as I became healthier – so did my business (but that’s for another blog).

When Covid-19 lockdowns occurred, it would have been easy to stop exercising but I count myself as one of the lucky ones.  I had already seen the benefits, and there was no way I was going to allow myself to stop because the world had paused. I embraced the hour we were ‘allowed out’, started exercising at home and although not to the same level that a gym can offer, created a new routine. Maybe this ‘strength thing’ she had said about wasn’t just a physical strength but a resilience to dig deeper when required.  It wasn’t easy exercising at home, but I knew I didn’t want to go back to the starting point as I had done on so many other occasions.

Once gyms reopened I was back enjoying the process even more.  Finally, after years of (non) exercising I found way to stay well and healthy and actually liked doing it.  This time I had no particular goal, (check out blog – is there an issue with SMART goals) but was having fun (an essential part of the Radiance lifestyle plan).

Then I started getting that unsettled, that ‘I’m a bit bored’ feeling.  Something needed to change, I needed something to spark my interest again.  One of the many parts of the lifestyle plan is to learn .. I’m a classic butterfly learner flitting from one thing to the next shiny new thing. I thought about the things I had been doing, some running with some friends (I’ve tried, another not ‘my thing’), and knowing more about weights and lifting seemed to spark an interest.  So, I got myself a PT and spent the next 6 months learning how to deadlift, squat, clean – what is this language I even know and understand now! That previous trainer was absolutely right – ‘you are stronger than you think you are’.  This time it wasn’t mentally stronger but literally physical stronger.

Someone asked me today why I did weights. Where do you start with answering this?  I went with the practical – ‘as you get older it’s important to strengthen your bones and muscles, it helps with balance and mobility, it protects your bones from injury’.  All true, but it’s not the whole picture.  The satisfaction of achievement when you have been pushed further than you think (stronger than you think you are) is indescribable.  The self-confidence and resilience strength training gives you should not be underestimated.  After all, if you can lift your own body weight, what else could you be capable of. The lifestyle plan is about using this knowledge in all walks of life, finding the things you love to do, that feed your soul (have you ever noticed under the Radiance logo – ‘Awaken Your Soul’).

A change of circumstances has led to a pause in the personal training, but not a pause in my love for this discipline (I couldn’t think of another word – is it a sport – doubtful because I really don’t like taking part in sports – or so I thought before). Who’d have thought I’d love those grubby weights. On reflection, when asked ‘why do you do weights’ I’m not going to give them all the fluffy reasons why, its simply ‘because I like them, I feel better when I do and I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been’ – what more reason do you need!

The lifestyle plan aims to bring clarity – whether in your motivations, life decisions or choices, a calm – understanding your mental health and allowing time for you to be you, and joy – enjoyment in actions you take and decisions you make.  Weights and gyms won’t be for everyone.  Just as if you mention team sports to me you are guaranteed I’ll be running in the other direction (and as I said I don’t even like running). Finding your ‘thing’ is what matters.  It can take getting outside of your comfort zone, being brave enough to say yes (or a scared ok); it can mean trying something new you didn’t think possible. You might surprise yourself.

Do you know what that thing is? Do you worry about trying something new due to lack of confidence, or a belief that you ‘can’t’ do it? Remember what the trainer said on that cold winter’s morning… ‘you are stronger than you think you are’. In those moments of doubt, remember that, play it on repeat, and you might just be amazed when you discover it is true!



I thought it might be useful to tag the people who made are mentioned in this blog, because they have been a part of the process.  Feel free to take a look at the links, you might even be inspired to get in touch with them ?


Debbie Atkins – Fitness and Elite Health

Unleashed Performance

Lee Carnaby Strength & Conditioning