Hanna Elliot felt like the consequences of her bad lifestyle habits were holding her back from really living life. She was tired of it and decided not to let her history dictate her future. Be inspired by her powerful personal story here.
At one time, Hanna weighed 132kg. "I was inactive, tired of life and felt depressed most of the time," she says. "I slowly came to realise I needed to change my lifestyle." She did not experience a specific event that led to any epiphany or "a-ha" moment. Rather it was a growing realisation not to let history repeat itself.
"I lost my dad when he was only 48," Hanna says. When she reached 40 and realised how close she was getting to that age, she was struck by just how short life can be. "I had wasted so many years sitting on the side-lines, not taking part in life. This was because my weight was preventing me from having the confidence to do so because I was physically incapable of trying new things, or even doing simple things like swimming with my kids."
'Clueless' about how to get active, Hanna hires a personal trainer
"You get to the point where staying the same becomes more painful than the fear of making a change," Hanna explains. "You say, 'I've had enough of this - there has to be something better in life for me'."
September 2015 saw Hanna turn 43. She started eating more healthily and taking better care of herself. About eight months after that, she decided to hire a personal trainer. "I was clueless about the best way to go about getting active, since I really hated exercise. I hired a personal trainer who at first started me off doing bodyweight exercises and later got me hooked on weightlifting," she says.
Finding her personal trainer helped her take on the challenge of changing. "The trainer that I chose was a godsend. He opened my eyes to what my body was capable of doing even though I was overweight. He didn't treat me differently because of my weight - instead he challenged me daily."
'Everyone at gym is trying to better themselves'
Starting out to get fit was hard at first, Hanna admits. "I felt awkward because I was so unfit. But having someone in my corner who had my best interest at heart and who challenged me every time I went to gym made all the difference. At first I thought everyone at gym would stare at me and laugh because of my being overweight. I soon learned that nothing could be further from the truth.
People simply don't care about others' business at gym. I made a point of making eye contact with everyone I passed. It was evident that no one stared at me or judged me. In fact, it wasn't long before people started greeting me and chatting to me because I was a regular face at a place where everyone was trying to better themselves."
How good incentives can help make being fit addictive
Discovery Vitality has helped in her journey to better health. "It's a remarkable programme," Hanna says, "because it rewards you for doing the things you love doing. It incentivises you to get fit, keep fit, and improve your longevity."
She adds: "Before I decided to become fit and healthy I never contributed anything towards our family's yearly Vitality points. My husband just about gave up on us ever reaching Gold Vitality status. These days I am matching and even surpassing his contribution points. It is a good feeling to know that I am doing my part to ensure that our family can benefit from cheaper flights and discounts on groceries and sports gear."
At first Hanna started going to gym three times a week. "I loved it so much that I wanted to go every day, sometimes even on a weekend. Now being fit has become addictive."
The best benefit of an active lifestyle is the confidence I've gained
Hanna's life has been turned around by her healthy lifestyle changes. "I feel much more energetic and positive about life. Previously I had so many aches and pains at an age where I really shouldn't have worried about that yet. Getting up in the mornings is a joy now because I am so much stronger and fitter."
"The best benefit of living an active lifestyle is the confidence I've gained. Confidence is a by-product of action. It is when we push ourselves to do the uncomfortable things that we thought previously to be impossible that we gain the confidence to do more, go further and push harder."
Hanna's advice for those who feel their weight limits them
So what would Hanna say to other people out there who want to feel fitter, but find their weight is a barrier? "The most important piece of advice I can offer is to not wait on your weight," says Hanna.
"Don't think you need to lose weight before you can take part in sports or lead an active life. There is so much you can do with the body you have right now. Granted, you might not be able to run a marathon immediately, but if you take up walking daily you are already so much better off than you were just sitting on the couch watching TV."
Hanna has surprised herself in taking up new challenges. "I am trying new things that I have never been brave enough for previously. Swimming with my kids, playing beach volleyball, kayaking and powerlifting have all become my new normal. My kids still can't believe it!"
Hanna has been with Discovery Vitality for more than 10 years. "The last time I checked, my Vitality Age was only one year more than my real age. I am on a journey and I believe it will only get better," she says. So don't let your past or even your present hold you down - change your personal history today by making a move towards a healthier lifestyle.
Check out Hanna's website here and read Hanna's top 6 tips for building your strength through weightlifting here.
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