Week 4: You want me to do what?

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I never imagined in my life that I would find myself power walking up Southway. Southway is not somewhere a sane person walks up. In fact I get the head staggers driving up it - but nonetheless on Tuesday night I found myself, along with 100 other Losers beating a trail up one of Derry’s most unforgiving hills.

We were supposed to run, if we could, but my legs were screaming at the effort of the uphill slog. I was aware people were passing me by and that by all accounts I would probably be among the last of the Losers across the line back at the Old Library Trust (OLT).

But I didn’t care. I just had to face my own exercise demons and not anybody else’s.

I finally realised, even more than Spin perhaps, that I was feeling the burn. My calf muscles were screaming at me to sit down. My thighs were leaden and sore. But I was determined not to give up.

And when I felt myself flag, one of the trainers, Conor McBride - who had run the aforementioned Spin class, walked alongside me and gave me a much needed pep talk.

“It’s not a race,” he reminded me, which is what I needed to hear. There is, of course, a competitive element to Biggest Loser but my biggest foe in this battle is not the person running on ahead of me, shaking their size 14 bum in my face, it is me - and those screaming calf muscles and leaden thighs.

I am only ever racing against myself - and I am only ever competing with the old me - the me who would normally spend a Tuesday night sitting on the sofa, reading a book or catching up on the telly not thinking at all about walking up Southway.

That is one of the biggest lessons I have learned in my four weeks of Biggest Loser so far. I push myself - sometimes to the point where I think I may be sick or start crying or both - but I don’t break myself.

I don’t look at the person beside me and vow to do it bigger and better - I think of the me who existed before this process and vow to do better than her. So far I’m succeeding.

Of course it isn’t always easy. We had circuits again on Thursday. Last week, I had written about how I enjoyed circuits. It was as if the Gods of Exercise were mocking me then when we stepped things up a gear at our next session. This was circuits - but on a whole new level.

I have, I’m not ashamed to admit, the upper body strength of a toddler. So when we were faced with weights, kettle bells, more weights and then some more weights I took a bit weak.

I’m sure I had a look of disbelief on my face when I was asked to throw a 5kg ball above my head, repeatedly.

But still I gave it as much as I could and maybe a little more.

But the look on my face when handed the weights was nothing compared to the look on my face when I was handed a skipping rope and told to get on with it. This was, dear reader, no “Charlie Chaplin went to France” rhyme and jump session. This was full on “this is where you start paying in sweat” territory.

The only way to succeed at a programme such as Biggest Loser is to remind yourself, repeatedly, why you are there and what you want so much.

The support of your team mates and the trainers at the OLT helps carry you along as well - but when you walk out of each session, tired and sore, the sense of achievement is yours and yours alone.

My weight is changing - my shape is changing more. And there are six weeks left to go.

Until next week......