Friday Five: FIVE Things I Gained from BOOT CAMP 

I am so excited to be linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0! Please hop over to their blogs and others for some great inspiration.

My dear friend Polelo is no stranger to this blog! She has been right beside me, physically and emotionally on my journey to fitness and on my mission to conquer 17 races this year. She has encouraged me when I have felt down and she has held me accountable for getting my workouts done. I might be in the slower half of the races but according to Polelo I am just a few seconds from qualifying for the next Olympics! Of the 12 races I have already done, she has joined me for seven – the Jack’s Gym Trail Run, the Gabs 1/2 Marathon, the Lady Khama Trail Run, the Palapye Race, the Diacore Gaborone Race, the Gaborone City Mayor’s Race and the Botswana Independence Race!

For many of these races she has brought her mother, husband, niece and nephew along for the ride and their smiles as they cross that finish line have quite simply been heart-warming. A few months ago she signed up for an intense Boot Camp. This is her story, in her own words. Enjoy the read and BE INSPIRED

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Three months ago I made the decision to do my first ever Boot Camp. I had reached a point where I decided my mental health was the most important thing to me; I wanted to feel less tired, I wanted to have more energy in my life and to finally find some work-life-balance. I knew to achieve this, I needed to make a mental shift. I’m a planner by nature and I started to realise that over the years I had begun to be more “relaxed” in my approach to life and as a result I had started to let things slide a bit. In some aspects it was the best decision I ever made; I was less uptight, a lot more willing to go with the flow but on the other hand I became less accountable to myself. Upon realising how far from myself I had strayed, I decided I needed to make a change and that’s when I joined Boot Camp.

Here are the Five Things I Gained From Boot Camp:

1 – The mind is a powerful thing: It’s not about the amount of time one puts in at gym, it’s about one’s attitude. Boot Camp started in the dead of winter and getting up at 4am three mornings a week wasn’t easy but my attitude kept me committed.  I made a commitment to being prepared for the week ahead and that meant having to prep days in advance to make sure my work clothes, gym kit and meals were all sorted because being disorganised had the potential to set each day off course and affect how my whole week turned out. Everyone wants to start the day right!

2 – Form is everything: This cannot be understated. I walked into the gym on Day 1 of Boot Camp totally pumped!  It had been years since I stepped into the gym and I was beyond ready.  I could not wait to get stuck in and boy, was I disappointed.  The first 6 sessions, that’s two weeks, were just about form.  Everything from how to use the spinning bike, to how to do lunges correctly, to how to lift weights properly.  Those first two weeks turned out to be critical to our fitness journey. Our personal trainer was clear, knowledge is power, it’s about getting the basics right. We are not about getting injuries!

3 – Teamwork makes the dream work: I’ve had the privilege of getting to know eight incredible women on this journey, all of us in it for different reasons but for one hour three times a week we were each other’s greatest fans.

As the weeks went by our camaraderie extended beyond the gym.  We had each other’s backs in and outside the gym. We posted on our group to check on those who were off sick, we shared our meal plans and encouraged each other to resist the junk food cravings during the tough times.  We are in this thing together!

4 – The secret is to keep going: The exercise is the easy part, understanding food is the nightmare…

I haven’t dropped the weight I expected to.  It’s been three months and I was certain I’d be back to my 27 year old self but I’m not 7 kg lighter than I expected and I had beat myself up over it for some time.  I’ve had to counsel myself and remember why I started this journey in the first place.  The truth is I didn’t get here in 3 months, I got here over 7 long years.  My life has changed drastically since then and I’ve picked up bad habits along the way. My mission was to feel better, have more energy and boy, do I ever!

5 – Forgive thyself: A lot has happened over the last 3 months.  I’ve had moments of pure triumph along with major setbacks but the difference is that I now have a very different conversation with myself.  Ordinarily, if I was doing well, I’d get comfortable and quickly slip into my old bad habits then subsequently beat myself up over it. And when life dragged me through it, I’d wobble and start slipping back into my bad habits and yes, you guessed it, I’d beat myself up over it. I’ve learned from Boot Camp that the choices we make outside the gym are the most important.  70% nutrition, 20% attitude and 10% exercise.

I could spend my entire life in the gym and go home to eat and drink all wrong things, binge on other people’s successful weight loss stories on Instagram and Pinterest and so goes the vicious cycle. But now, since Boot Camp, my good times are celebrated and I know how to deal with the challenging times better.  I forgive myself for the slip ups and I don’t dwell on them long enough to wallow any further.  I simply get up, dust myself off and carry on; tomorrow is a new day. How lovely is that?

What I do know, unreservedly, is that it’s been an education and it feels marvelous to be where I am right now!

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Thank you Polelo – thanks for being so authentic, vulnerable and honest in describing your challenges but also in sharing these beautiful lessons! I for one look forward to seeing you a lot more on the Friday Five 😉

Friday Five: FIVE times I didn’t QUIT

I am so excited to be linking up for the first time with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0! Please hop over to their blogs and others for some great inspiration.

For those of you who are new to my blog, I am a newbie runner from Gaborone, Botswana. To keep me going, I (bravely or stupidly) set myself the challenge of running 17 races in 2017! So far I have done four of them (a 5k trail run; the Mini-Monster 10k in South Africa; a 10k race in Gaborone where I set my current PB; and a 10k trail run in fancy dress)! I am having so much fun doing this but there are days when it seems easier to quit! So to keep me motivated, I decided to look back at FIVE TIMES I DID NOT QUIT! 

1 – Ballroom Dancing Competition (1989): Let’s take it way back! I was 9 years old and my mum had enrolled my sister and I in ballroom dancing classes. I lived in Lobatse, a small town about 72 km from Gaborone. I am not and was never a natural dancer but even at that age I was so determined to work hard and be good. I ended up being chosen for a big Ballroom Dancing Competition held in Gaborone. Going to compete in the “big city” was scary enough, not to mention that the competition was to be aired on TV! The event was scheduled to start at 8 pm, but we only got on at midnight. I was so nervous waiting that I ended up with an awful headache that I had to sleep off before I got on. Don’t ask me how as I still don’t know… but my dancing partner Mompati and I placed FIRST in the Tiny Tots Category! I stopped dancing shortly after that, but I can always claim that victory in ballroom dancing! Lesson: Hard work and a great partnership pays off. 

2 – Climbing Table Mountain (2003): I was doing some volunteering work in Cape Town. I was very fit at the time (no running, but lots of gym classes) so I felt ready to conquer Table Mountain. I set off one Saturday with another volunteer Chris. I don’t remember many details but I do remember the number of times I wanted to quit… the climb was like going up a never-ending steep staircase. It was so unbelievably painful and with each step I took I was completely and utterly disappointed that all my fitness classes had not prepared me for this mountain. But we did not quit. I will always be thankful to Chris that he stuck with me the whole way and had several encouraging words even at times when he too was struggling. Lessons, 1) the right kind of preparation is needed for any challenge. Yes, I was fit but I had no experience climbing mountains; 2) taking it step by step will get you there in the end.

3 – Walking the Bibbulmun Track (2005): My boyfriend (now husband Ditiro) was studying in Australia. On one of my visits to him, we decided to walk 120 km of the Bibbulmun Track which runs from Perth to Albany (around 1000 km). We planned to walk 60 km and then back again over 7 days. We carried backpacks each weighing 15 – 20 kg with all our food supplies and camping gear for the week. It rained as soon as we set off and within 5 km we were drenched, tired and wanted to quit. The terrain was torturous, the flies were relentless and doing about 20 km took us the WHOLE day. You couldn’t just stop and set up camp at any time – you had to get to the designated camping spots and preferably before nightfall as there were snakes about! Every day when the sun set and we were still far from camp, I cried. Lessons, 1) Canned food tastes so good after a day of hiking, 2) Don’t pack canned food if you have to carry it for 7 days!; 3) Distraction gets you through physical pain. We did our fastest 20 km when we were in a heated argument!

Notice the natural Nike Sign – just do it?

4 – Victoria Falls Bungee Jump (2010): This was on my Bucket List of “30 things to do before turning 30”. It was actually not my first attempt at bungee jumping. In 2003, I walked the bridge to do the Bloukrans Bungee Jump in South Africa. However, when I saw those guys coming back up with such blood shot eyes, I changed my mind. But 7 years later, I didn’t chicken out even when the big, LOUD, know-it-all guy in front of me did. Would I do it again? No. Do I regret doing it? No. Lesson: It takes leaving your comfort zone to realise what you are truly made of. 

5 – Jwaneng 30 km Desert Walk (2016): Shortly after my son turned 2 in May 2016, I was feeling quite frustrated that although I had lost a lot of baby weight, I was no where near fit. I was struggling to balance work, being a mum, and getting fit. When I signed up for this walk, I felt it would force me to get fit again. But as the time drew close, I was terrified as I had not really trained much. Thirty kilometres through thick desert sand is no joke! I did it with Ditiro and my friend Elisa and as people dropped out one by one, we kept putting one foot in front of the other. We completed it in SEVEN hours! Lesson: Setting a goal is always the best starting point. This walk gave me the encouragement and the resolve to reclaim my fitness and ultimately gave birth to the “17 in 2017” Challenge!

So I will NOT quit no matter how hard it gets. 

Thanks for reading! Have you ever really felt like quitting?