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Kick-start reader story – Sue Huntleigh-Smith

Kick-start reader story - Sue Huntleigh-Smith

Sue Huntleigh-Smith is a secondary school teacher from Coromandel who has been following the Kick-start Plan since day dot. Sue found investing in her exercise regime helped her overcome procrastination.

I have been following the plan ever since it started coming out in Healthy Food Guide magazine. I decided to join the Kick-start Plan because I want to get fitter and lose weight, so that I can run around after my small grandchildren and potentially live longer and healthier to spend time with them and my own children.

The thing that helped me most has been the private HFG Kickstarters Facebook group. I have tried a few of the meals, but my own allergies and personal likes and dislikes – along with those of the other members of the household – have not always allowed many meals to be made. I also like the expert advice.

The hardest thing about adopting healthier habits is fitting it all in, in a super-busy life and allocating ‘me’ time. It involves making the mind shift about fitting in exercise, like you would timetable an appointment you have to attend.

The best thing about adopting healthier habits is you feel accomplished when you actually do that exercise time, when you see the clothes not fitting so tightly, when you see the number on the scales drop little by little, when friends and colleagues compliment you on how great you are looking.

My biggest motivator last year was that I wanted to walk the 21km Whitianga marathon, and I had to start somewhere. So, adapting the exercise programme from Kick-start helped. I have back issues that preclude me from doing many weight-bearing exercises, even against my own body weight. Due to illness, I wasn’t able to do the full 21km, but I did do the 10km.

The thing that helps when things get tough is actually saying ‘bugger it/them’ and getting out and doing it. I am a great procrastinator. So I bought a Fitbit Charge 2. I spent money on a bum bag to put my keys and cell phone in when walking and a set of earphones to listen to music. I found a tempo of music that I like and can walk to.

Once I got up to doing 90+ minutes on a Saturday morning, I purchased a backpack water carrier. Carrying a bottle of water was an issue with elbow problems. I rearranged my life so I could go as soon as I was ready on Saturday and stay out the length of time needed as I built up my endurance and distance.

Spending the money was a great motivator, as I had to make sure that it all paid its way. I also told my specialist that I would not let my back stop me from doing what I like or love. I remember that when times are tough. I said it, so I should keep my promise to myself.

The advice I would give someone else starting out on this journey is find something that you can do easily and on a daily or three times-weekly basis. Start small, and I mean really small. I started with a 1km walk. I could have gone longer, but I may have paid for it later. I gave myself a mental high-five every time I achieved each day of exercise. Then build up the endurance or speed or weights slowly.

Set SMART goals for each day, then week, then month. If you fall back, don’t knock yourself. Just go back to the daily goal and build up the pattern again. It takes at least 36 consecutive repeats of an action to make something into a habit. I like phone apps, so I downloaded two (Fitbit and Runtastic) and used them to record my exercise, and then checked in with them on a daily basis.

New healthy habits I’ve picked up include making sure I always have two pieces of raw fruit every day. I try to include veges at two or three meals. I try to walk four or five times a week, but wet weather is not my friend, so winter has been bad. I am just getting back into it now.

I like walking. I wasn’t able to exercise much before. I hadn’t been allowed to, as a child, due to health reasons. I usually walk five kilometres. But I do need my headphones, music and a route I have planned beforehand. No music, and I struggle to complete the allocated distance.

I don’t mind doing the same route for five kilometres every time, because I have a split goal for the first kilometre and then for each kilometre after. I have a variety of Saturday routes that build up to 20km in one session.

My next goal is to add some inclines. My back does not like any incline, so it will definitely be taking that slowly. But, like I said, I won’t let it stop me from doing what I love.

First published: Nov 2018

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