This is a bit of a different blog post for me, as shooting in a sports bra wouldn't be something I'd ever dreamed of only a few months ago. But recently my outlook on the whole exercise thing has completely changed. I've went from a couch potato to someone who actually looks forward to working out and thinks about it every day - strange, huh?
I'm putting this post together with The Sports Edit as they were kind enough to send over the gorgeous pieces in this post. I am obsessed with their site, but I'll talk about this more further down the article, as I'll be discussing the significance of wearing nice workout clothes.
So, let's start from the beginning, shall we? Me and exercise haven't always got on. I used to swim a lot when I was a teenager, but then I went to University and I swapped the pool in favour of drinking shots and ordering pizza, so working out was the last thing on my mind. It was fine when my metabolism was amazing and my body didn't change, but as I'm 28 now I knew something had to give.
Yoga - don't worry, I'm not going to get all hippy on you - has completely changed my outlook both on exercise in general and how I feel about myself. I was always convinced I had no strength, no balance and the coordination of a baby giraffe, but I found I'm actually better at this than I ever thought. Yoga has taught me a lot of discipline, it's taught me to breathe better, to have more stamina and, most of all, that it makes such as huge difference to my mental state. With my job being entirely online and being 1 of 2 members of a very busy company, it can be very hard to switch off. I realised at the end of one lesson that I hadn't thought about anything other than what I was doing, and that, to me, was blissful.
It took me a while to feel fully comfortable with my new found love of exercise, but I'm slowly getting there...
I've never been the most body confident person and how I perceive the way I look has always been a little bit... off. As someone who has never been over a size 10, a lot of people would say I'm not allowed to have body confidence issues or want to lose weight (I've written about this before and they were the responses I had) but whether you're a size 6 or a size 26, I believe anyone can feel uncomfortable in their own skin.
Getting yourself out of that mindset can be quite difficult and practicing self-love is, to me, crucial in the journey to improving yourself in any way.
It's important to remember that you have two choices: change it or accept it. Whatever you decide, you have to remember to always love yourself and be kind to yourself. If you choose to change, don't punish yourself and remember you're changing yourself because you love yourself, not because your body is wrong but because you're not good enough or want to look like someone else. Love yourself as you are now and at every stage in the process. Beating yourself up gets you absolutely nowhere
I feel like once you've accepted that you're changing for the longterm and it's a process then your confidence will grow. Taking these photos was definitely an experience but I really wanted to showcase the average person who wants to be more toned. I still have rolls and a pancake butt and thighs that wobble, but who doesn't? I can't expect to have an ultra-toned yoga bod in 5-6 weeks and that's cool. I'll get there eventually, or I may never get there because ice cream, but I'm ok with that too. I'm making a positive change for my body and my mental state and that outweighs any desire for washboard abs or to look like a girl off Instagram. As long as I get stronger and better at yoga each time I go, then that's enough for me.
It may take a while, but I promise you'll feel more confident in your own skin. I've found I wanted to wear nicer workout clothes and I was relying less on plain black to hide myself. This is a first to me, as I've never felt comfortable in leggings and a tighter top. My weight hasn't changed and my body tone hasn't changed, but how I feel about myself has come on leaps and bounds which is something I never thought I would achieve as I previously hated exercise so much.
I'm obsessed with The Sports Edit for this reason alone. As my confidence grows, the more I want to wear brighter or more patterned leggings, to not wear all black (even though I do still think it's v chic) and sort of show off in this very small way in class. Having sportswear that fits perfectly makes a big difference too, as there are some very deep poses in yoga so you need your leggings to be extremely functional. It needs to stretch and form to your body perfectly, so the items I picked out have been perfect for this.
The Sports Edit stock some amazing brands and styles so you'll be able to find some ultra chic workout wear so you can look cute while you get fit.
The Terez Rainbow Splatter Leggings are definitely my favourites and as soon as they arrived, I knew I had to test them out. I took them to yoga the next day and they're ultra stretchy, but solid in colour (no underwear on show here girls) and they function perfectly. Plus they look amazing!
I've been pairing them with the Beyond Yoga Lift Your Spirits Bra, which is medium support and dries ultra quickly. It's soft, supportive and comfortable which is exactly what I need. It also doesn't look like a traditional blocky sports bra, so it has a bit of cleavage which is my favourite part!
The Koral Finley Mid Rise Leggings are absolutely stunning too. They're my second pair of Koral leggings and they're a brand I'd really rate. Not only are they perfect for the most stretchy of all yoga poses, but they just look so stylish. I love the wet look of these magenta hued beauties, but the fit of them is honestly perfect. I have a feeling these won't be my last pair of Koral leggings as I'm already eyeing up this pair on The Sports Edit site.
Finally, we have the trainers. The APL TechLook Phantom Trainers are honestly the single most comfortable trainers I've ever worn. Ever. I'm not even exaggerating and have worn them with everything from jeans to dresses since they arrived on my doorstep. I love the knitted effect with the white and black (with a touch of silver) colour combination is ideal for off-duty dressing. They're practical, too, as I've been walking the 50 minutes to and from the yoga studio in them and I don't have a single complaint. Once I build up my strength, I *may* attempt running or cycling, so we'll see how I get on with them then, too.
I've been known to start a new workout routine and feel ultra motivated for about a week... only to get bored and quit. I've come to realise that I strongly dislike the gym and HIIT and it's just not the exercise for me. I get bored too easily, I find the gym distracting and very judgemental and HIIT makes me give up, perhaps because I haven't built up my stamina prior so it's just too hard.
So, to stick at my current exercise, I've found the below tips really help:
1. Find An Exercise You Love
As I said above, the gym and HIIT just weren't my bag. I mean, I went to the gym 3x a week when I was in Uni and it's ok-ish with a friend, but going on your own is beyond dull and something I really don't enjoy. So, I tried to find an exercise that suits me and that's when I found yoga. Yes, I am one of those annoying yoga people, but nothing makes me feel physically and mentally better than yoga. It's also not as easy as it seems and I leave every class a sweaty mess, but I've seen such a huge improvement in my ability in the 5-6 weeks I've been going and it's hugely motivating!
2. Start With A Class
Nothing makes me lose motivation like starting something on my own. I constantly ask myself if I'm doing it right or I convince myself that I've done enough and just quit, when I've only done 1/10 of the workout I should have done. When I decided to join the local yoga studio, I said I would give it a month and try my hardest. It was tough at first, but after a week I knew it was the exercise for me. Contrary to popular believe, I feel zero judgement in the yoga class I go to. In a nice way, no one cares about the other person and is there to work out for themselves and themselves only. The added bonus of having a teacher there to make sure you're doing everything properly is great too, as I've learned a lot in a short space of time.
3. Wear Something Nice
Finding nice leggings, sports bras and tops to wear when you work out is a huge motivator. When you work out in ill-fitting clothes or that bra that doesn't quite fit properly, it can put a huge dampener on how you work out. You need clothes that are practical and functional, but having ones that also look good is the best bonus. This is why I adore The Sports Edit. I find going to my wardrobe and picking some nice leggings out is one of my favourite parts of the experience, but hey, that might just be me. I've started wearing them in the house and Phil now calls me 'Activewear Helen'.
4. Set Yourself A Time
If you're starting something new, make sure you set yourself a time to try the exercise. We've probably all started a new workout routine and declared that we hate it 10 seconds in, but all we needed to do was give it a week. As I said before, I decided a month of going 3x a week was my plan and it was totally the right decision. Now I can't imagine my week without my yoga lessons as I genuinely look forward to it! Give a new exercise a few sessions, maybe try a class or personal trainer or a new teacher to give you a good introduction to it, then set yourself a time (a week, 2 weeks, a month...) to get to grips with it before deciding if it's for you or not.
So, that's my experience with working out and sticking to it, so I hope it helps you if you're starting your journey. Please remember to treat yourself with respect and give yourself time. Nothing will change overnight, especially your mental state. Try new things and enjoy it!