Lift the shit out of everything! (Or how I lost 2 dress sizes)

 |  Fitness, Personal

Back in October of last year (feels weird saying that; happy new year!) I told you about how I’d started lifting weights — and some other soppy shit about being in luuuurve — and how because of it (the weight lifting, not the love part) I’d managed to finally lose two dress sizes. Well, in December I finally plucked up the courage to post a progress pic on Facebook. This progress pic (caution: features me in my undies and a badly fitting bra).

Since I posted that I’ve had a ton of people asking me how I got started, what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, what I’m eating, etc etc so I thought it’s probably about time I blogged about it properly.

First: diet

Or not diet, because I still eat exactly the same as I have for years. I eat plenty of veg, meat most days, I don’t skip carbs, I occasionally eat junk food, I love my ice cream and I don’t pass on cake or biscuits. I still drink wine but generally opt for vodka (straight) if I’m out. I love food and it’s important to me that my new lifestyle doesn’t force me to compromise on the things I enjoy. Life’s too short to be eating lettuce 3 times a day and counting calories depressed the shit out of me.

As you can clearly see in the progress picture, this enjoyment of food isn’t preventing me from losing fat. (Although obviously if I were to cut out the crap altogether I imagine my results would have been faster and more pronounced.)

Second: equipment

I can’t afford to spend a shit ton on equipment or gym membership or anything like that and I need to workout at home. I bought the York 20kg cast iron dumbbell set from Amazon for £30. You can get cheaper options made from plastic, but plastic weights deteriorate and split so you’re not saving any money long term. I also bought a pull-up bar because my aim is to be able to achieve a pull-up (sod the weight loss, I want to be ninja strong!)

Third: routine

Obviously I have two children, two jobs, housework, my various animals and a boyfriend to juggle in my schedule, so I needed to find the time to fit this stuff in that wasn’t going to be compromised by other things. I picked Tuesday and Thursday evenings because a) these are the days I don’t typically see Gaz, b) once the kids are in bed I can easily fit in a 30-40 minute workout and still have time to tidy, feed the pets etc. It is worth noting that I don’t have a TV licence and don’t watch TV, so if that’s your bag you’re probably going to be compromising screen time to fit workouts in.

Fourth: lift, baby

(Or what the hell I’m doing with this stuff.) I spent a *lot* of time reading articles on everything from what weights to use, what lifts to do, how many reps, how many sets, what to eat before and after workouts, how much or how little you should rest etc. Lift heavy and slow, lift fast and light, lift lots, lift a little, don’t eat carbs, eat carbs, do this don’t do that *brain explodes* Save yourself the time: don’t do that, because everyone disagrees with everyone else.

That said, I’m not an expert so I figured I’d pick some exercises, stick with it for 6 weeks and if it made a difference I’d keep going, and if not I’d change it up a bit. I vary the weight on my dumbbells depending on how tired I am, and add in additional exercises on good lift days but here’s my standard go-to workout, based upon advice from Nerd Fitness (I highly recommend this site, even though they’re paleo nuts):

30 star jumps (aka jumping jacks)
30 high knees
15 bodyweight squats
30 seconds arm circles
10 incline push-ups
15 sit-ups
10 front leg swings (each leg)
10 side leg swings (each leg)
30 second plank

8 goblet squats
8 one arm dumbbell rows (per arm)
8 bicep curls

Repeated x 3 with a 30-60 second break between each round, depending on how knackered I am

Cool down
Various static stretches – here are some good examples

I occasionally mix it up a bit by adding in/replacing the bicep curls with something else, e.g. dumbbell bench press (and by bench I mean sofa, because I’m limited in my equipment!) or some triceps extensions. The whole thing usually takes around 30 minutes. If I’m feeling really energetic I do half an hour on my exercise bike too but this is a recent thing and not a factor in my fat loss.

Fifth: lose inches


It’s worth noting that:

  1. as well as reading loads, I spent a lot of time watching youtube videos to ensure my form was as good as it could be.. please don’t go fucking up your back or knees off the back of this post, I can’t afford to be sued :P
  2. I still haven’t lost weight (lbs) because my muscle gains are making up for the fat loss. If you’re into tracking numbers and want to weigh yourself every day you’re probably going to be disappointed. Still, I’d rather weigh 170lbs and know I’m strong than weigh 120lbs and be “skinny fat”, weak and unfit.

TL;DR? Lift the shit out of everything!

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

12 comments so far

    • Jem said:

      No probs. Just bear in mind that my main focus at the moment is building upper body strength so if anyone has other goals in mind there may be better exercises out there.

      • Kalliste said:

        That explains the lack of ab work :) You have a few squats in here though so it’s mostly an all round routine.

        I might give it a try, it’s a lot easier when someone says “here’s everything I do” rather than having to design you own. So thanks :)

  1. Kelly said:

    The scariest thing in that article… is you have no TV licence!?! Not sure I’d cope without an hour of Tivo a day (admittedy I don’t use laptop once home so probably evens out).

    • Jem said:

      I’ve not had one since Isabel was about 4 months old and I don’t miss it – I guess I keep so busy with other things though.

      I do occasionally watch catch-up TV e.g. BBC iPlayer if there’s something that piques my interest, and I watch a lot of DVDs etc when I’m with Gaz, so I definitely get screen time anyway :)

    • Jem said:

      As in the 20kg set? Because it’s a well known brand, good quality, cast iron etc. Just to clarify: they’re not 2 x 20kg dumbbells, they’re 2 bars and several weights which make up a total of 20kg. I’ve actually only got 11.5kg loaded on the bar at the second (including the weight of the bar itself).

  2. Georgie said:

    Congratulations Jem! This is so awesome and I really loved seeing your progress and reading about how you went through it! (Also have loved seeing you in dresses on Instagram.) Life is definitely too short to be doing calorie counting or any of that. I’d never been a fan of lifting before, but I started going to the gym and realised I was getting some nicer arms though… guess it wasn’t as horrendous as I thought.

    Also, I feel you on the luuuuuurve thing… I fell in love ’round October, too. :3