Team Member

Past FFF 12 Week Challenge Participant - Abu Dhabi

I decided to join Pippa’s FFF challenge in September 2013 just to see what would happen really. A few of my friends were doing it and I knew I wasn’t eating that well or doing much exercise so thought it might motivate me. I had heard bits of Pippa’s story and was curious but honestly assumed it either wouldn’t do much for me or that I wouldn’t stick at it!

I was 9 stone 10 (62kilos) after 4 babies and 38 years old. I have a thyroid problem that makes my metabolism work too fast and therefore keeps me quite slim so hey why bother watching what I ate or exercising my shape stayed pretty much the same and I was happy enough with that?? However I was curious!

I have always been a ‘busy’ person and was an active child and adolescent. Since then I have done bits and pieces of exercise, some aerobics now and then or the odd run of a 20mins or so and joined a gym a few times but I have never stuck to anything. My shape never really changed and I could eat what I wanted or so I thought!

So when we had the initial meeting at Pippa’s in September where we met some friends of hers who had done the Michelle Bridges 12 week plan I was quite surprised by what they said. 500 calories burned a day!! Counting calories, no eating chips and crisps, one of my weaknesses, and weighing in weekly, I was a bit taken aback. I don’t want to be one of those people who are obsessed with what I eat and counting calories. But OMG there is a whole daily allowance of calories for women in a KFC meal!!

Also Pippa was very quick to point out that one of the best ways too loose weight and tone up was running. She explained about the App MyFitnessPal and writing down what our goals were and that we would meet on a Saturday for a ‘Body Blitz’ session that would last 2 hrs!!!

I left that first meeting feeling quite scared and unsure that I could do what some of the other woman had done but was encouraged by the other girls there and so it began.

One of the first emails I sent Pippa said that I had no idea what to set as my goals as I had no idea what I was capable of. I said that I thought my knee troubles that I had had in the past would prevent me from running very far and at a push I ‘might’ sign up for the 5km BIBD run. I told her I found it hard to stick to things and that I never see anything through!

The first few weeks of the challenge were quite exciting as everything was new and Pippa’s mini challenges were interesting and kept us motivated. The first body blitz session I attended I couldn’t even do 1 sit up! I was looking around thinking how is everyone else doing this?? I’m not that unfit am I?? The 400 metre warm up run around the track was exhausting and I could not see how it was going to get any better!

Luckily I had some very good friends doing it with me and we all were really supportive of one another, texting after sessions to compare notes of what muscles hurt the most and whether we were over or under our calorie goals.

What surprised me was that although I was really pushing my body with the sessions doing burpees and situps etc I was doing it. And although at times I was giving Pippa dirty looks (she’s used to it!!) and cursing my way through a session, I was completing the sessions and at no point did I have to stop, pack up and go home which is what I fully expected to happen. I was also never so sore the next day that I couldn’t carry on daily activities so I was not actually hurting myself!

As I weighed myself each week and at the half way point measured myself there was a marked difference and I could feel that I was getting fitter. My husband started to see a change in my shape and I was running further than I ever had before. I decided to sign up for the 10km BIBD run with some of the others something that I never thought I would do.

By week 11 when we had our 10km run I weighed 9.3 (58kilos) and had lost cm’s from my waist, hips and thighs. I was really nervous about the run and even then felt that I may not finish it. But finish it I did in 1hr4mins and it was hard, but I did it. A real achievement and one I honestly did not know I could do. I went to a Christmas function the week after that knowing that I looked the best I ever have post children and feeling great!

I wanted to keep the motivation going so signed up for another 12 weeks after Christmas and really enjoyed encouraging others after my first experience and enjoyed the company of more ladies who had set goals and were hoping to achieve them. My goal for the 2nd 12 weeks was to maintain my weight and try and do another 10km in less time than I had done the first.

The workouts were still hardas Pippa had had to step them up with our improving fitness levels but I had no knee problems and felt much more comfortable at running club sprinting and doing distances another surprise for me.

It was definitely a challenge maintaining the weight in the 2nd challenge as muscle tone was going up and I had altered my tablets for my thyroid giving me less energy and slowing my metabolism but I was happy to stick with 9.5/6 (60kilos) as long as I was running regularly.

Pippa set us another run for the end of the 2nd 12 weeks and I was feeling better about running 10km again and I was trying to keep to a particular time for each km so that I could beat my previous time. On the day I astonished myself by coming first out of 12 of us and smashing my PB by 8mins! I truly never thought that would be possible.

Realizing that it is actually quite amazing what your body can achieve with the right training and preparation was a real eye opener. Watching Pippa stretch herself almost daily in her Cross Fit was really inspiring and I was starting to realize that I might well be capable of things I never thought possible. I had seen Pippa complete a 21Km after I had done my first 10K and was hurting and just thought there is no way I could run another hour or more on top of the 10k I have just done I am NEVER doing that.

But on the May 11th I did just that and signed up for The Run 21Km!!!! I just wanted to see if I could. And it turns out I can! Despite really hot weather and a hilly course with the support of another FFF member and her husband we plodded our way around 21Km and the feeling of achievement after the race was over is enough for me to say that maybe one day I will do another one!!

What I have learnt about myself through doing the FFF challenge is huge! I feel like I’m a different persom. I have realized I am better motivated in a group, I am competitive when I want to be, my body can do way more than I thought and I respect it more for knowing that. You can have fun exercising!!! And watching what you eat isn’t all about eating boring food and counting calories. The women in the group inspire me all the time and the support and encouragement was so great, I KNOW I would not have been able to do it without them. Pippa was always there quietly saying ‘yes you can’ whenever I said ‘no I can’t’ and it turned out she was right! (Damn it!!)

Hilary Ward