It doesn’t have to be a major health barrier that stops us from being active. Often it’s just everyday life making us feel too tired or a dose of self-conciousness preventing us stepping out the front door. In this, the 4th interview in my Active Women series, I talk to Cheryl Speight who overcomes these types of barriers and reminds us that we can do it too. What have we got to lose?
Tell us a bit about yourself Cheryl.
I’m in my 40s’, I’m originally from Yorkshire but I now live in Lancashire. I work long hours on my feet in healthcare, which is both physically and mentally tiring. I’ve three teen and upwards children, so I have more time for me than I used to. I write a blog called ‘I’ll Stop When I’m Done’, all about my fitness journey. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.
When did you decide to start exercising regularly and why was that?
It can be a bit lonely moving to a new place, so I needed to find something to do on my days off. I’ve always liked exercise, but nothing too serious.
In September 2012, I was 40, I was unhappy with how I looked. When I saw some photos that had been taken of me recently I made the decision there and then to lose a bit of weight. I did Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred; I did it regimentally every day, before, in-between and after shifts. In 2013 after losing some weight I tried to run. I did 3 miles on a treadmill in about 45/50minutes and decided it was ok and I’d carry on. Since then I’ve run Road and Trail, 5k, 10k and half marathon events, including Obstacle Course Races and just recently an Ultra!
What activities have you tried and what’s your favourite?
I’ve tried so many activities over the years, on and off! Martial arts, workout DVDs, pole class, Zumba, weights, yoga, swimming and running, to name a few! I liked Jujitsu and combat type workouts but don’t participate in these now. I do weights and kettle bells regularly and of course, running. Swimming is ok; I’m not very good at it. I dislike Zumba; I lack rhythm and co-ordination!
What has been the biggest barrier you’ve had to overcome in your fitness journey?
I think I’m probably my biggest barrier! I’m tired, I’m busy, I’m slow, it’s late etc. … I work long hours and being tired is very genuine. Also, my fitness level and weight are barriers. I’m not as fit as I think I should be and I’m aware that I’m overweight, my thighs rub, I’m heavy on my feet and I don’t look like other runners. It makes me self-conscious when it shouldn’t do.
Have you had any negative comments and how have you dealt with them?
No I don’t think I have! My husband is always supportive of what I do. I have a good friend that has got me through a few race events. She was nothing but encouraging and just what I needed to hear when I doubted myself. Most of my workmates seem impressed that I run the distances that I do. I’m the negative one! I’ll take too long, I’ll be last, I’ll not finish…
What goals have you set and have you reached any of them yet?
To run easier, but I don’t think running is easy.
To run further. I can run 13.1miles without stopping now. It’s slow but I can do it.
I completed an ultra (31miles) run /walking in March this year. My goal is to complete another one, more easily!
To lose weight, but it’s a struggle, and it’s now less important, more of a bonus goal really.
What benefits has being active brought you?
I’m fitter, I can run further and slightly quicker than the first time I tried in 2013! It’s made me more likely to try things. To think that maybe I can do it. What have I got to lose?
What advice would you give to other women who want to start exercising?
Try a few things, try everything! You might like running, swimming or just walking; you don’t know until you try! What have you got to lose? You never know where it might take you. I went from 3 miles on a treadmill in 2013 to 31miles in 2016. You can do it!