Wellness Wednesday: How to run your life better

Vanity is a vice. Constant activity and sharing on social media is also seen as a no-no. But put the two together and bam! You have a formula for changing your life and feeling like this:


This is Nikki. She’s a part-time kindergarten teacher, a mum to a toddler, a wife to a journalist, and a proud runner. And she has every right to be proud: as a result of taking up running, Nikki has cured her insomnia, gained more energy, improved her skin and hair – oh, and lost 20 kilos in less than a year. Pretty inspiring, don’t you think? If you want to know how she did it, here’s her story…

“Growing up [in the US], my family ate relatively healthily but when I moved to uni I developed a few bad habits. Then, when I moved here six years ago with my husband, I experienced lots of new foods that I hadn’t known before when I had been living in a small town in the US. Kon, my husband, is 6’4” so requires more food than I do, but I think a lot of women start eating the same portion sizes as their husbands and that’s what happened to me – my body got used to eating big portions.

“When I was breastfeeding my appetite was insatiable but when I stopped it was the same, so I put on weight. I’d never had any weight issues until my son came along. I’d joined gyms before in an effort to get fit but I was embarrassed to work out. I did ballet until I was 12, but then I got a head injury that affected my balance and I still have balance issues which made working out at the gym embarrassing sometimes. So I would quit and go eat chocolate.

“I started running last July when my best friend from the US visited and she’d exercised and lost a lot of weight and I got jealous! I decided that if she could do it, so could I. It was really vanity that got me going, I was sick of being fat and I got jealous of my friend!

“She and another friend had done the Couch to 5k program so I downloaded the app, then one night I just went out and ran for six minutes. I nearly died, but I just kept doing it every second day or so. My body really responds to exercise and the weight started coming off.

“After the Couch to 5k I did the Couch to 10k. I liked how they do the interval training where you run, then walk, then run again. I now run about three times a week, probably about 5, 8 and 10 km – I’ve done 5, 10 and 14km races [Nikki did the Great Train Race! Definitely not for the faint hearted!] and I’m training for a 16km one. I work 16 hours a week so my son is in care three days a week but my husband is very supportive and minds him when I need to get out and run. And I’m only gone for an hour or so anyway.

“Why do I love running? It’s free, so unlike a gym, if it doesn’t work out for you you can stop and haven’t wasted any money. But also because I can listen to music, or just think out a problem that I’m having – and I love posting to social media about my achievements! I’m one of those annoying people who posts about their running on Facebook. I didn’t know I’d love it so much but now it’s part of who I am: I’m a runner. And now when I go to opshops I can find things in my size, whereas I used just go for things in black that didn’t look too terrible.

“I made sure to share my run results on social media when I started, and it motivated me because I felt that I had to show people I was running and how I was going. I had to run and share it, it made me accountable.  I had such great feedback from family and friends and such great support. I’ve also joined Facebook running groups and have commented about my journey, and I’ve even been contacted to share my story in a book about running.”

So there you have it in a nutshell. Be vain if it makes you dream of a better body and better health – and makes you do something about it! Give those thumbs a workout on your phone and share your fitness achievements and goals if friends’ feedback gets you off the couch!  Why not go right now? Well, because you might want to read about the positive changes Nikki made to her diet too…

“I never used to eat breakfast, I had stopped eating it when I was about seven years old – sometimes I didn’t eat anything until about 1pm – so I had basically had a 30-year break from breakfast. But now I have oatmeal and a cup of tea by about 7am instead of a creamy latte with sugar. I really think that’s helped my metabolism.

“It can be hard for mums of small children because you often end up just wolfing something down over the kitchen sink when you get a minute, but now I make sure I eat a proper lunch by 12.30 (something like poached egg on toast with avocado and fetta) and a healthy dinner with my husband by 6.30 (perhaps wholemeal pasta with pesto), and I’ve stopped adding sugar to things. I’ve also stopped eating so much red meat and prefer fish and lean meats like turkey. Oh, and we always used to have a glass of wine before going to bed, but I’ve stopped doing that because it’s empty calories. I’ll occasionally have a vodka and soda instead.

“I used to eat chocolate like it was my job, but when I took up running I stopped eating chocolate and cheese and started researching eating whole foods. Now, instead of eating chocolate, I’ll have air-popped popcorn and peppermint tea as a snack, or carrot and celery sticks. I’ll also ask myself ‘are you really hungry or are you just bored or stressed?’. That helps me step away from food. Also, luckily, my husband isn’t much of a sweet tooth so we don’t keep sweets in the house, although there is ice cream in the freezer for occasional treats. And if we go out for dinner with friends on the weekend I indulge within reason.”

I loved hearing Nikki’s story – it’s the perfect example of two “wrongs” making a right. I’m not so great at maths but the equation seems to be clear: vanity + social media sharing = better fitness + better life! Let me know if you’ve got any maths formulae for fitness motivation – I’m sure other readers would love to hear them too!