Alicia Neave, 22, a university student from Colchester in Essex, felt self-conscious and disconnected from her body, until going to therapy gave her the courage to join her university gym – and take control of her health.
Before finding fitness, my lifestyle was not healthy at all. I rarely exercised and hated any kind of cardio. I was incredibly unfit and very unhappy in my body. I felt alienated from places like the gym and the fitness community because I wasn’t a size 8 and I didn’t have abs. I just didn’t feel like I could ever belong in that world.
My relationship with food was pretty bad too. As a uni student, I would constantly buy unhealthy food and rarely cooked myself proper meals. Quick, convenient food was my go-to. At the time, I weighed about 15.5 stone (and I'm 5’9 – which, meant I had a BMI of 32 and fell within the 'obese' category).
Food became a comfort for me, as I was struggling a lot with my mental health. I went through a bad cycle of binge eating and then not eating at all, that went for on quite a while. It put a lot of strain out on my body.
The turning point
I think my turning point was when I turned to therapy, when I was about 20. It helped me realised that I wasn’t looking after myself at all.
From such a young I’d always felt so disconnected from my body. And so, my main goal was just to feel at home in my skin again.
I decided that I needed to put my health first and that meant, I had to set foot in a gym, which was very, very difficult for me. I started off at my small university gym – it only had 2 treadmills and some dumbbells and maybe one cable machine.
The first workout was hard, not so much physically but mentally. Actually walking into a gym whilst I was still very self-conscious of my body was very difficult. I had to sit in the changing room for quite a while and almost hype myself up to actually go in.
Getting it right
It took me a while to build up the confidence to do anything more that walk on the treadmill – the weights section was so daunting. I’d been following Krissy Cela online for a while, so eventually I started copying down her workouts from her Instagram and YouTube into the Notes app on my phone and trying my best to copy them in the gym. I would write up exactly how to perform each exercise step-by-step. I wanted to get it right!
At the beginning I was working out three times a week. I would warm up on the treadmill for about 20 minutes and then do some of Krissy's weighted exercises too.
After a few months, I bought one of Krissy’s workout guides, which included both circuit and weight training workouts and I absolutely loved them. What a relief not to have to write every single exercise down! When she released the Tone & Sculpt app in 2019, I must have been one of the first to sign on. It had everything I needed for my workouts in one place.
It was within the first month I started noticing a change within my body. I tried not to weigh myself, I started to take progress photos and really noticed a change in my physique. I also I noticed an overall change in my mental health, I was feeling a lot more positive towards myself and my body.
I was so proud of myself for the first time in a long time because I had done that all by myself. No one forced me to – and I wasn’t doing it for anyone but myself and that was so empowering.
Keeping things balanced
When I was exercising, eating better came a bit more naturally. I stopped eating take-away foods firstly (which was difficult considering I worked part-time in chip shop) but I would start meal prepping and actually cooking my own foods.
I never cut anything out of my diet though because I had been doing that in the past and realised it just didn't work for me. The more things you cut out of your diet, the more likely you are to crave them and end up binging.
So I would try my best to keep things balanced, and cook all my meals myself. I would go for healthier options of the foods I loved, so if I fancied pizza, I would search for a healthier alternative like as a tortilla wrap pizza.
What I usually eat in a day
Breakfast: I usually have porridge oats with a little drop of honey and some chopped banana on top.
Lunch: This changes frequently, but at the moment my go-to is a smoothie bowl that I make myself by blending frozen fruits, milk and some peanut butter. I also love to make my own soups from scratch filled with lots of veggies because I’m not the biggest veggie eater – so I have to get them in somehow!
Dinner: I LOVE the tuna pasta bake recipe from the Tone & Sculpt app. It’s so easy to make and delicious.
Snacks: I tend to look to the Tone & Sculpt App again because they have so many delicious snack ideas. My favourite is the peanut butter frozen yoghurt recipe, which is so delicious. I also love to have some cut up apple with peanut butter or some rice cakes with a little peanut butter on them. I love peanut butter anything!
How I workout
I usually follow the Tone & Sculpt app workouts. Before lockdown, I followed the gym guide but now I’m working out from home, I have switched to the Sculpt It guide.
As well as following workouts, I try and go out on a bike ride or walk as often as I can.
- Monday: Lower body and maybe some ab work.
- Tuesday: Full-body
- Wednesday: Upper body
- Thursday: Abs and a cardio workout from the app.
- Friday: Fridays are for whatever session I feel like – usually a lower body
I always take the weekends to fully rest my body. I might go for a walk or a bike ride on these days just to keep my body moving but I don’t do any structured workouts.
Reconnecting with my body
I don’t really like to weigh myself, but I’ve lost roughly 3.5 stone in the past two years, and I’ve dropped two dress sizes. But the one thing I am most proud of is the relationship I have rebuilt with my body and the fact that no matter what, I keep pushing. I haven’t given up.
I’ve learnt that this journey will never be linear and I will have good days and bad days, but that’s okay. I feel so much more connected with my body now than I ever did before and I have really worked hard on getting to a happier place within myself and my body.
I am also really proud of my transformation, that took a lot of hard work and dedication, going in to the gym and days where I maybe wasn’t as motivated or pushing through when I felt like I wasn’t seeing results. I kept pushing and I did it for myself. I’ve come a very long way and I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved so far.
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