Woman & Home - Midlife without a map

Tried everything to lose weight? Arlene Skelhorn, 40, lives near Stirling and is married, with a ten year old son. She went to The Camp fitness boot camp.

320x240w&h.jpgI spent my twenties and thirties thinking that my ‘natural’ size was 12 – 14. Slowly this crept up to a 16 and at one stage I was a size 18. I was a classic yo – yo dieter. My downfall was snacking and portion sizes and I rarely exercised. Now I look back and think; ‘How could I not have noticed that I was four stone overweight?’

After I had my son, I took redundancy from my job as a marketing consultant. Around the same time my friend Janine asked if I wanted to go to a fitness retreat. I was reluctant at first, as it cost £1500, but I took a deep breath and said yes. I was terrified that I’d be the fattest, most unfit person there. But, when we arrived, there were women of all shapes and sizes and everyone was so friendly.

The first couple of days were tough. We'd start with a run, power walk or fitness session at 6.30am. It was April and cold and I’d always avoided running because I hated feeling my body wobbling about. Each day there was an activity like a cycle ride or hike. Food was served in controlled portions at set times and we weren’t allowed any food of our own. After two days I was on the phone, crying to my husband that I wanted to go home, but I agreed to give it another day.

My goal for the week was just to get through it! But I started to getting a buzz out of doing something so positive and at the end I’d lost seven pounds – and made a new group of friends.

When I got home I resolved to stick to smaller portions and exercise every day, even if it was just a walk. I started going to body pump classes and, a few months later, a new large gym
opened, and that was when the addiction kicked in. I’d get up at 6am for spin classes and go pretty much every day, and slowly the weight came off. I’m 5ft tall, and for the past couple of years, I’ve been a size 8 and weigh eight stone, having lost four.

A few years ago I decided to train as a group fitness instructor. I get such a kick out of encouraging other women that I don’t even think of it as a job. Now I work part time as a marketing consultant, and teach 12 classes a week, which is the perfect balance.

The week at The Camp was totally life changing for me. I used to avoid the attention, but now I love standing up and doing presentations – and I’m much more outgoing too.

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