The last time I ran around the Bishop’s Field in Creggan was probably in or around 1986 when I used to go with my siblings or friends to play with the old park beside the chapel.
I never imagined for a second that 27 years later I would be running around that self same field as part of a Biggest Loser programme. Still and all, I found myself at there last Thursday as the red team took on our first box fitness class under the direction of Ciara Melaugh.
Yes, we were exercising. Outside. Where people could see us.
Now Ciara is a petite, fit, lovely woman. I imagine her entire body probably weighs the same as one of my legs. But if I thought her diminutive size would be reflected in her demeanour towards us losers I was wrong.
“Run,” she said, as if it were natural to us. “And anyone who doesn’t will have to do 50 burpees.” Prior to Thursday night I didn’t know what a burpee was but I can assure you that if it were introduced as an interrogation method in some medieval torture chamber the accused would have been singing like canaries, whether they were guilty or not.
This I realised was going to be another challenge - especially when I donned my boxing gloves for the first time and realised those things are heavy. “Punch” she said, “then do a star jump”. I thought of my compromised pelvic floor and panicked but the fear of the burpees had me jumping anyway - there was no room for slacking. Thank God for the Tena Lady.
When my arms started to get heavy and I wanted to stop punching I used the simple but effective technique of picturing the faces of people who have really got on me wick in the last few months to be a great motivator.
We punched forwards and sidewards and in the biggest test of our endurance - upwards. For the first time I truly understood what “feel the burn” meant but again what makes programmes such as the Biggest Loser so successful is that whenever I felt myself flagging there was always another member of the Red Team to encourage me and push me on.
Walking away from Bishop’s Field - my arms heavy, my sports clothes grass stained - I may have felt tired but I also felt elated. I had done it and I felt great.
Of course after Thursday night’s class I had to wait a full five days until my next Biggest Loser session - and so in an attempt to make changes which will carry me through life I decided to continue with my programme of long walks, and eating better.
I walked round Ness Woods first thing on Saturday morning and, in a bid to show my children how serious I am about doing this not only for me but for them, I even took them swimming on Saturday afternoon.
Then it was back to the OLT on Tuesday. And this part was hell. Readers, I endured a spin class. I had been told it would be tough - but I never realised it would be so tough. It was, singularly, the most horrible physical experience of my life. On a few occasions I know I made noises akin to those I made in labour. At one stage I thought I would pass out and/or vomit and at several stages I had to fight - with every ounce of my willpower - not to just run out of the room. I’m fairly ashamed to admit, I cried.
It was, again, the motivation of the team around me and the trainer, Connor McBride, which kept me on the bike when every part of me screamed to get off it. At the worst stage I simply closed my eyes, breathed as deeply as I could and internally asked myself over and over again how much did I really want to succeed.
With the hard work done it was then time for the first weigh in - and it felt distinctly like going to confession. There was no hiding from the scales.I’m going to keep the big reveal to the end - but I was delighted to walk away from OLT on Wednesday night lighter than I have been in five years. Bring on next week.
To follow my progress during the week follow me on Twitter @claireallan