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Remodelled her life after reaching a milestone age

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Jan Kelly today after getting fit and healthy. Photo: El Keegan

Jan Kelly today after getting fit and healthy. Photo: El Keegan

Jan Kelly today after getting fit and healthy. Photo: El Keegan

Taking that first step to living a healthier, happier life is always difficult, so I commend all of you who are undertaking the 100FITDays Challenge. If you are still sitting on the sofa putting off that day when you make the commitment to get fit and healthy, then perhaps my story might encourage and motivate you to start.

I woke up one morning (coincidentally around my 40th birthday) and realised that I was not happy with my current body shape or my energy levels. How did I get so unfit and lethargic and, dare I say it, - fat? My dress size had been progressively getting larger until I was buying size 16. I looked in the mirror and I didn't like what I saw.

How had this happened to me? I had always been into keeping fit by playing hockey, running and going to the gym, but that was before I had three children and a full-time career. I realised that I had let my life take control of me instead of me taking control of my life. Three young children, a husband and a full-time career are a lot to juggle and they will take their toll on your health and well-being if you allow them.

I tried a few diets and then Weight Watchers and, when these didn't work for me, I decided to get back to the gym and finally make good use of the membership that I had been paying for the last few years. With great enthusiasm I hit the treadmill in an effort to lose the pounds that had been piling on during my three pregnancies over the last 10 years. I did manage to improve my fitness levels, which I suppose isn't difficult when you are starting at zero, and I did manage to lose a few pounds but, after a few weeks, the weight loss almost came to a standstill and, with it, my enthusiasm. I knew I needed help or else I would give up.

I had seen ads in the gym for personal trainers so, eventually, I plucked up the courage to ring and book myself an appointment. I knew I needed someone to help me devise a plan to achieve my goal and to hold me accountable. I had tried it on my own but with no success. It was too easy to make excuses not to go to the gym and not to stick to my plan. This was when I met Damien Maher, owner of Be Fit For Life Transformation Centre. Damien was instrumental in helping me transform my body shape.

In my business life, as an accountant, I was used to setting targets and devising step-by-step plans to get me there, and there was always someone to hold me accountable for my results. Damien pointed out that the standards that I used in my business life should be no different to the standards I applied to my health and fitness. He worked with me in establishing where I was now and what I wanted as my final goal in terms of body weight and body fat percentage. He broke that goal down into small achievable weekly targets that we measured each week.

He helped me identify the habits that I needed to adopt in my lifestyle to ensure that I was successful in meeting my targets. I knew that if I followed the plan, my ultimate body transformation would be successful.

One of the most important things that I learned with Damien was that I had to understand why I was doing this, why I wanted to change my body shape and regain my health and vitality because this big 'Why' was what was going to get me through those tough days in the gym and help me resist the many temptations that I would meet along the way. If I wanted the outcome badly enough, then I would do everything I could to make sure that I stuck to the plan.

During my journey, I learned to trade the treadmill for the weights room. This was not an easy task as I was a firm believer that the only way to lose weight was by running and spinning. I now understand that continual aerobic exercise was counterproductive to my goals, which was to lose fat and build muscle in order to transform my body shape. Interval and weight training have proven to be the best methods for achieving these goals. But I was 40 years of age and I had never lifted weights before, so I was a little intimidated at first but, once I became familiar with the weights area, I found that I really enjoyed lifting weights. I was so happy with the way this type of training was changing my body shape that I actually began to love going to the gym.

I also learned the importance of nutrition and the huge influence it has on my ability to perform, both at work and in the gym. No amount of training will counteract the negative impact of a bad diet. Fresh foods in the form of lean meats, chicken, fish and vegetables form the main part of my staple diet, together with plenty of water. Eating little and often is what enabled me to transform my body shape so that is what I stick to today, at least 90pc of the time.

Health and fitness have become an important part of my life. Since my weight loss journey over 10 years ago, I have become a coach in Be Fit For Life. I help my clients through their weight-loss journey, using the tried and tested methods of the Be Fit For Life philosophy because I know they work. I followed the plan and got the result I wanted. I feel a lot better at 50 than I did at 40 and I know that if I keep up my training and my good nutrition habits, I will be lean, flexible and mobile for many years to come.

We do not have to accept that, as we get older, we become more sedentary and put on weight. Yes, this will happen if we let it, but we have many clients in Be Fit For Life in their 40s, 50s and a few even in their 60s and 70s who are in better shape now than they were 20 years ago. Many people accept age as a limitation to getting in shape but, in fact, that is just an excuse. Weight training improves muscle strength and tone, which protects the joints from injury. It also helps maintain flexibility and balance and helps you remain independent as you age.

For anybody embarking on the 100FITdays I would advise you to:

  • Know your end goal and make sure it is specific and measurable
  • Set small weekly targets and check your result each week
  • Plan your training for the week with set times and set days so that training becomes a habit
  • Establish where you are with your nutrition by recording a food diary
  • Make small changes to your current nutrition plan as it is easy to become overwhelmed with too many changes
  • Plan your meals for a few days in advance and shop accordingly and then record the result. That way you can see if the plan didn't work or is it that you just didn't stick to the plan?

Health & Living