Finding My Old Self with Sarah Rowlands!

I’m Sarah Rowlands and I have been suffering with depression for a while probably years but was only diagnosed back in January 2011.

To help me with my recovery my husband; Craig Rowlands tried to get me into the gym. In the past it has always ended in disagreements as I have a love hate relationship with it. I love to hate going to gym.

I never really had the confidence to go into the gym especially the free weights area. The only way Craig knew I would get into the gym was with an instructor/Personal Trainer. Craig introduced me to a Personal Trainer working at the gym; Alex Bromfield.

With Alex helping me by introducing me to the machines in the gym, showing me different exercises my confidence started to grow to the point where I was following a training plan, which he had developed for me on my own.

The Fit Forum 12 week Body Transformation challenged started on the 1st April. Craig was trying to get me to enter so that it provided a goal. A focus for why I am training. Hoping that the end result would help with my depression. I agreed, but was nervous about the ‘What ifs’

This was me on the 1st April 2011.

Starting stats: Starting weight 11stone 11lbs (75kg) Body fat 32.23% Shoulders 42” Arms 13” Calves 14” Thighs 25” Chest 38” Waist 37” Hips 40”

I started weight training 3 to 4 times a week and cardio nearly every day apart from Saturday which was my rest day.

The weight sessions were broken down into body parts and Cardio was walking on the treadmill, the spin bike at home or HITT.

The training sessions were; Back, Triceps & Abs, Legs & Abs, Chest, Biceps & Abs. One of the weight sessions per week would be half an hour with the Personal Trainer Alex. Half an hour was more than enough, as we always did supersets, the upper body and load of abs. I always enjoyed the workout, as he made them fun and different but I was always maxed out by the end.

I suffered a couple of days where I just didn’t want to do anything. Feeling low since I got out of bed. It didn’t help that the scales weren’t moving. All my hard work and not seeing the results.

I enlisted the help of Matt Wild on my diet. He worked with me and finally found a diet which suited my fussy eating!! The diet I ended up with is the DP diet. It a high protein, moderate fat (good fats) and very low carbs. Less than 30g of carb a day. I had to give up my nice cups of white tea, my beers and squash. They were replaced by black coffee, green tea and diet sodas.

The pounds and inches were starting to come off at a steady rate.

As I started to see the result of my hard work, and to keep the momentum going I started to train with Alex 3 times a week.

At our gym, probably the same everywhere, there are no women in the free weight area in the evening. Just blokes throwing the weights about. With Alex training me I was even venturing into the free weights area. The gym was becoming less off a scary place.

Alex and I did regular measurements and body fat reading to ensure I was losing body fat.  Early on I had set myself a goal of dropping my body fat to 21%, it was 32% at that time.  Also we did fitness tests to see what effect the training and diet would have on my general fitness.

Eighth week into the 12. I went on a family holiday to Cyprus - the resort was all inclusive. It was a tough holiday. Trying to find low fat meat and low carbs to accompany it. I managed to avoid the deserts but the beer in the bar was too good to resist. I told myself that when I got back I would work twice as hard to make up for it.

In the tenth week I came down with shingles. Underneath my arm to my chest on the right side. But not even this was holding me back.  The doctor said I could carry on training as long as I covered the spots. I was feeling great and people were commenting on my physique. Even the doctor had noticed a change in me.

The day before the end of the competition, work was busy, hard, demanding and stressful to the point where I nearly gave it all up. Throw in the towel on the training.

Alex managed to persuade me (bullied me!!) into training and finishing the competition. To which I thank him for not letting me quit.

I finished the competition, I had achieved my goal! Finishing Stats: Starting weight 67.7kg Body fat 21.4% Shoulders 42” Arms 12” Calves 13” Thighs 21” Chest 35” Waist 31” Hips 36”

I had managed to hit the 21% body fat and lose 7.4Kg. The transformation for me was not only on the outside but on the inside too.

I still can’t believe it sometimes. I have gone from being an over weight person suffering from depression using alcohol to cope, to a person who is much happier, fitter and more alive. The person I always wanted to be, more like my old self.

Now I love going to the gym, no longer scared of it. I have even joined a local running club (Gloucester Running Club), and compete in 10k races. I still do weight training and I still have once a week training session with Alex, as it is good to have someone to push you to your limits.

None of this would have been possible with out the love and support of my family, my Husband Craig and my trainer Alex Bromfield.

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