Deb McAlpine



Belinda Edmondston

Ok, so I might not have officially won the Challenge but I know I am a winner at the end of this 20 weeks.

So, where to begin? I turned the big 50 last year which made me stop and assess a lot of things. I had put on 5 Kg in 3 years, which may not sound a lot but 60 wasn’t looking too good if I kept putting on weight at that rate. I have dabbled in ‘getting fit’ for years, going to the gym and doing classes (sometimes), walking up a hill (now and again) and trying to eat sensibly (until something intervened like boredom, frustration, overwork, etc, etc).

So when my PT Belinda, mentioned the 20 Week Challenge on our first training session I glibly agreed to commit to 12 weeks thinking that would be longer than I’d stuck anything out in the past and I was sure I’d find an excuse to quit if I needed one (like menopause or something).

My main aim was to lose body fat and increase my aerobic fitness and I was hoping that would also result in some weight loss and size reduction too. I’ve never really enjoyed running or any kind of exercise with high cardio content, so it was a real challenge to me to even start some of the activities I needed to do, to reach my goals.

When Belinda emailed me my training programme, I remember ringing her to let her know she had made a mistake and sent me something intended for one of the Canterbury Tactix. She had such big ideas of what I could achieve that I just scoffed. But when I read through the plan for the first month I realized that I was already doing one or two of the activities I just needed to lift my game and fit another 2 or 3 in each week and with her help I managed to do just that.

My first trip out of town with work was the first big test, but Belinda had given me such a variety of workouts, that I had some options of programmes to do in my motel room, or up the hill, or even the local gym. After having achieved that, I was pretty keen not to ruin my work by using food for comfort, like I usually do when I travel, as it’s the one thing I looked forward to all day. I have made 4 or 5 work trips over the duration of the Challenge and each time made sensible food choices and done my best to keep my training going in some form.

This has been a difficult year for me personally and health issues culminated in my having an operation about a month into the Challenge. Like many people involved in manufacturing, this has not been a very positive year work wise. Having just turned 50 makes me a ‘woman of a certain age’ and my body has been behaving in some strange and uncomfortable ways. In the past the combination of these factors would have seen me give up on any kind of challenge because I was too tired, down, unwell or simply unmotivated. My PT, Belinda, had put such an awesome effort into helping me succeed and made the Challenge fun (most of the time) and the fact that I was seeing positive results each week gave me the incentive to continue. The Challenge became something positive for me to focus on and one of the few things I could have some kind of control of in my life.

In hindsight, it would have been easy to quit at the 12 week mark. I had just come back from a weeks holiday in Fiji (one of only 2 weeks that I put weight on), then Belinda was away on holiday the following week. But I’d actually forgotten about my original commitment until Belinda reminded me a couple of weeks later.

Since taking up the Challenge there have been a number of positives that stand out and have seen me almost cruise through the 20 weeks:

  • I am the lightest I have been in 15 years
  • I bought my first pair of size 12 jeans last week since 1995
  • My heart rate is about 10-15 BPM less when exercising
  • My skinny workmate gave me a couple of skirts that actually fit me
  • One of my workmates commented on my ‘tiny waist’ (I don’t think I had one before)
  • I have hugely improved my performance in all my aerobic activities
  • I have gained so much from this challenge – some things I expected and others were almost bi-products
  • I have established and maintained a healthy and satisfying eating regime which includes having my home, office and car well stocked with fruit, nuts, protein bars, rice crackers, cottage cheese etc.
  • I realize how many “treats” I didn’t really miss and no longer crave muffins, slices and chocolates (doesn’t mean I’ll never eat them again but certainly not like I used to)
  • I have a much better understanding of how my body reacts with food and exercise (I also know it can be pretty unpredictable sometimes too)

I feel confident that I will maintain and maybe even tweak my new shape and fitness. 20 weeks  has been long enough that the exercise and eating have become habit. I now have to consider what my next personal challenge will be.

Thanks for the experience!

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Deb McAlpine