Spotlight Sunday: Sara Travers – “What I learned was that I couldn’t just change one piece of the puzzle… I rearranged ALL the pieces.”

Apparently about three-quarters of women are heavier a year after giving birth. I was part of this statistic.

Back in the heady days before I had my son Arthur I’d been able to eat what I liked, never needing to worry about my weight. This completely changed as soon as he was born, and I had absolutely no idea what to do about it. I tried various forms of exercise, but nothing seemed to keep the weight off.

Over time, with all the pressures of parenthood, but without actually realising it, I gradually stopped doing many forms of exercise altogether. Things I enjoyed and kept me fit, like swimming. It was because I didn’t like the way I looked.

At the age of 3 Arthur started nursery, by which time I’d reached the stage where I just accepted not feeling happy about my size and the way I looked. I dismissed it as “just part of being a mum”.

But despite appearing to be OK about the situation, I wasn’t. I particularly didn’t like the fact that finding clothes to ‘get away with’ wearing was a constant battle in the morning.

Sara Before

The turning point came when Serena Stone posted about PW Physique and Fitness on Facebook. My son’s school, Sompting Abbotts, had been selected for a free month’s worth of membership.

So, I enrolled, and before long I was hooked, addicted to the atmosphere, and the camaraderie between everyone.

Over the next few weeks I started seeing results in my strength. It was fantastic to see my ability coming back. My fitness was OK, but I wasn’t really losing any weight, I just hoped that doing the extra exercise would be enough. But sadly it wasn’t.

Then a year ago everything changed in my personal life. I had a choice: Wallow in self pity, or turn the negativity into something positive. For me, and my son.

I chose the latter, and this decision was soon rewarded by a focus and drive to become a better form of me. The rest, as they say, is history. And wow, what a difference a year makes.

What I learned was that I couldn’t just change one piece of the puzzle. It was not enough to just monitor my eating or do a couple of workouts a week. My recipe for success was changing the complete picture: I rearranged ALL the pieces.

The central piece of the jigsaw for me was positive thinking:- I started by writing 5 positive things I had done every day, even if it was just something small, like having a glass of water instead of a lemonade. I also did the same for how I felt about myself.

The positive thinking became a virtuous circle. When I started looking in the mirror and liking what I saw, it made the biggest difference. It’s amazing how one positive thing can sustain you, no matter how small it was.

Slowly a love of exercise emerged, and so did the good habits. I looked at how I thought about food, the gym, what I did everyday and really considered how it was affecting me. I changed my whole way of thinking, and therefore, my whole way of living.

This is now the new “normal” for me. I now even miss not making it to the gym, both physically and mentally.

So, my journey, like many others I’ve heard about, was no overnight thing. There was no quick fix. What I learned was that you have to commit to being in it for the long haul. To accept you are currently making mistakes and to want to change them.

It was a re-discovery just for me, total self-indulgence. And now I don’t even recognise that old person.

I’ve lost 2 stone, I have an amazing new job which I love, a new home with the most amazing neighbours, stronger relationships with family and my truly amazing friends, and now a new man in my life.

It has been a total transformation in every way. What an incredible past year.

Thank you to the whole PW team for all your support, and a massive thank you to all my friends who have offered so much encouragement, and given me compliments and feedback along the way. It’s been a journey, one extraordinary journey, and one I hope others will experience too.

My best piece of advice? Simple. Listen to Anthony, he really knows his stuff.