Me and Lara often remind you that the best way to succeed in reaching the goal is to make it personal. Think about what you would like to be, what you would like to be able to do. What makes your heart skip a beat?

My big dream.

This summer I walked and cycled miles after miles to increase my activity level as the gyms were closed. While doing so, I remembered how much I actually do enjoy hiking.

It reminds me of all the stories, books and movies that inspire me. My sister walking 100 km in 24 hours on Latvian coast every year, Rolfs Potts book 'Vagabonding'. An uncommon guide to the art of long- term world travel', my recently finished Cheryl Strays story about her time on the Pacific Crest trail 'Wild' ( movie was just as good), are things that make me want to have my own little adventure.

A long time dream of mine is to go on a month-long solo hike. Alone, in nature and covering hundreds of kilometres while letting the environment consume routine and worries that are part of everyday life I usually lead.

I guess my romanticised idea is that it would help me to reshape my mindset and teach me how to push through boredom, wanting to quit or control everything around me. Sort of go on the way of pilgrimage. In my head, I imagine I would like to be a person who has stamina and what it takes to do that.

Get inspired but don't let it stop you.

I'm a grown-up with responsibilities. Is it even possible to have a month off? I will need a gear which is expensive. What about my job? Will I miss social interactions? Longest distance I have done in one go on foot is 24 miles, how will I manage a couple hundred?

Quite often we set ourselves a fitness (or personal) goal that seems quite far fetched, maybe even unreachable. It makes it seem more like a dream than an achievable reality.

Would you like to be able to run a marathon, but don't have enough time to practice or can't really run even a mile at the moment?

Would like to have a black belt one day and be a girl that really can kick some ass? but not sure if there are martial arts clubs nearby that have female classes. It may seems quite dangerous and injuries might affect your ability to work.

Would you like to look and be able to move like that girl on instagram? but it looks like she is spending hours and hours in the gym every day. Who even has that much time and energy after all the real life obligations, right?

Starting small.

Even though, I don't know when I will have enough courage to create this opportunity for myself in terms of financial and time limitations, I have written it in my bucket list as a goal to look forward to and work towards. Maybe I will do it one day or maybe not.

Meanwhile what I can do is cover enough road under my feet and prepare my body physically for longer distances.

I will enjoy the process of hiking, put it down as my leisurely activity and get the benefits that long distances and time outdoors provide my body, especially to the cardiovascular and nervous systems.

Visualising the end goal and what you would like to achieve It’is what creates this first motivation and drive to do something about it. However, it is important to set yourself small achievable tasks that will get you started.

Go for three one mile long runs. Sign up to a kickboxing class once a week. Join your friend for a workout. You might just realize that your end goal is not that unachievable and through the process of actually doing something, you will find your way through those barriers that were really high when you first thought about it. 

Is it really what you want?

Sometimes while going through the process of actually participating in the chosen activity on a smaller scale you might realize that what you imagined you want to achieve has slightly changed.

After reading a couple of books about long distance hiking, I imagined that the best place for my adventure would be Nepal. Many experienced hikers have documented their trails in that part of the world and it seemed to be 'the place' to go to.

Now coming back to it and doing a bit more research, I found that Nepal trails have become quite unwelcome for solo travelers as camping sites and accomodations prefer larger tourist groups due to the business they bring to them, quite often leaving solo hikers without a place to rest.

Does it mean that I need to let go of my dream? No, I just need to adjust my expectations or look for alternatives. Who knows what the end goal will actually look like once I will get to it, because there is still so much work to do before I worry about that.

So dream big, but don't let your wants and expectations swallow the joy of process. Because it is what we do on everyday bases that changes us just as much as big achievements and experiences do.

For 3 full weeks already many gym goers have been happy to be back in the gym. Some of them have experienced the excitement of picking up their first dumbbell in a while and the horror of not being able to get out of bed for a couple of days after. Which is totally expected but avoidable. What exactly happens when you haven’t trained for a while and get back to it? How do you restart your training program?

I had a chat with some gym members who were in their first year of training before gyms got closed. They admitted that they are feeling a bit defeated. Just starting to see some changes in their performance or physique, they felt as all the progress was lost and the process would have to start from beginning.

It might feel so, however if you have achieved certain physical adaptations to your body they do not disappear as quickly as you might imagine. As long as you have been moving at least a little bit during this break.

Next paragraphs will look more in detail about specifics of restarting training in the gym, however most advice would be useful for the first time goers as well. So, if you are just thinking about taking a look at what the situation is in your local fitness centre, read on.

Not everyone's first month back in the gym is the same

It will massively depend on how active you were during the break. Were your only movements from desk to sofa, to cornershop, to fridge and bed at the end of the day? Or were you jumping around with all the free available online classes, hiking, cycling, doing pull- up’s on scaffolding bars?

Sustained activity even without any kit would have helped to retain muscle mass, aerobic fitness and strength much more than total inactivity.

How long you have been training before a break will play a significant role as well. More muscle mass, training experience, physical adaptations to exercise (heart, blood pressure etc.) will make your return much easier.

What is the effect of decreased physical activity in trained adults?

Without activity it takes around 3-4 weeks to see a significant reduction in aerobic endurance, but slight decrease might be noticed even after a week. 

Many research papers state that strength can be held on for at least 3 weeks without any significant changes, but after week 5 strength decrease might reach 14% mark and from there decrease more rapidly.

Does it mean that after 4 month of inactivity, you are basically where you started?

Not really. Even though your endurance might have suffered the physiological changes to your cardiovascular system, particularly heart valves, do not disappear that quickly, especially in recreational athletes.

Similarly, there is certain “muscle memory” or neurological adaptations that are created during resistance training that will make coming back to lifting weights much easier and allow for progress faster in comparison to non-trained adults even if you have lost a bit of muscle mass.

Things to be aware during your first week back

You might feel strong. Recovered from all the injuries and tightnesses that made lifting or running troublesome before break. Energetic and excited, you step in the gym for the first time. And you go for it! It feels good, you feel strong, not as strong as before, but stronger than expected.

Even if you do remember all the exercises, your form might need some refreshing. It’s easy to make small mistakes and pull a muscle on your first day back, just because you think you remember how every exercise should feel. Take it easy, use the mirror and go through all the cues. Are you holding your back and knees right, is your position straight or bent over enough, are you lifting elbows in the right direction?

Lower the weight to at least 60% of the weight you did before the break. You might feel strong, but DOMS or extreme soreness could possibly slow down your return by another week, if you over do it. Starting with compound moves or whole body training might be a good tactic as well, as it will lower the risk of overworking one muscle group in particular and spread the work over the whole body, letting you assess intensity of the workout much easier, and adjusting it for the next one.

How long will it take to get back to where I left off?

It will depend on how long and consistent your training history was before the break, however the rule of thumb is that if it was consistent  it can take around half the time of the break. So, if for example you were unable to train for 6 months, it might take around 3 months to get back to the strength or endurance you had before the break.

Our fight for the perfect size.

There is nothing more frustrating than going in the changing room with 10 jeans just to realise that you can't get half of them over your knees and the other half just doesn't look good enough. In the end, you buy the pair that is semi-decent.

The high street has got quite a burn-in recent years with people questioning their sizing, going on a 'shop crawl' and comparing what the same size means in different high street stores and sometimes even on the same shop floor.

An argument made states that non-regulated sizing in shops can have a significant effect on people's mental health. Especially for young girls. And surely it might as well do if in certain shops you are a size 10 or 12 and in others size 16.

However, H&M is a great example that companies listen if enough complaints have been made. In 2018 the store updated its sizing in UK and US stores to follow Western sizing, rather than Scandinavian that tends to run 1 size small.

Even with these improvements from some retailers, sizes are still so inconsistent that a website that compares different your ‘actual size at popular retailers’.

Let's talk about size.

A client of mine recently admitted that going from a size 10 to 12 after lockdown made her feel much worse about herself: 'It's something about crossing that line. Once you reach 12 it doesn't feel good'.

In the fashion world, a size 10 is considered a Medium, with our shaped mentality that smaller is better, anything above that can trigger an alarm or force you to think of yourself as 'body positive'.

Let me make it clear. While sizing is useful to find clothes that might fit us, our perception of sizing and attached societal meanings to it is not!

Size is mostly determined by your circumference or in other words how long it would take to walk around you. Then in some shops it's split in 'normal', 'petite' and 'tall' range.

However, our perception of sizes does not take into consideration if you are a 4 ft 11 size 10 girl or 5 ft 9. Nor does it care if you have got the most amazing hips and breasts that tend to stretch fabric on your dress. Size 10 is size 10 no matter your body type. Even if you like your taller, more fit, or curvier frame often when talking about clothing size we can feel pressured to feel the need to have it smaller.

Is it because of the idea of being feminine as something small, fragile, sexy, or because of female forms represented in advertisements and media? Probably both.

Clothing mostly is made for a medium height, medium curved girl. Anything that deviates from it is left uncatered for. Leaving us - consumers - to find styles and sizes that would do the best job in enhancing our image. Often meaning that sizes do not much up between different brands, styles and garments.

I would encourage you to think about size just as that - way to find clothing that fits faster, not a representation of your actual size, figure, fitness or favorable weight.

Getting 'fit' or slimmer doesn't help with the issue

Quite often weight loss or a fitness journey starts with the realization that your old skirt doesn't fit anymore or feeling that when trying to buy clothes you can't find anything that would fit nicely.

Funnily enough, girls who decide to take on fitness seriously and totally change their body composition by losing extra fat and building some shape struggle with the same issues. Too tight around the butt and shoulders, too loose in the waist, etc. In the end, walking around wearing leggings all day as it's just so much comfier.

Because clothes are made for The Woman, not women.

Exercise because you want to be stronger, healthier and feel better not because you want to get in certain trousers. In the end, you still might not be able to.

Why I don't wear bras no more.

I am not crazy about the 'free the nipple' movement (though I do support the idea behind it). I just got fed up with feeling miserable in the changing room or walking around uncomfortable and in pain.

I'm size 85A to 85C which means that there are no bras in my size in the high street store when my breasts are not bursting before my period.

When a shop assistant offered to do a bra fitting and then tried to squeeze me in sizes that were available on the shop floor I just felt defeated. Usually, the available size is 80B or 80 C from which neither are comfortable or appropriate.

Having a slightly more muscular and wider back, further out spaced breasts and a smaller cup means I'm just right on the edge of not being feminine enough for most lingerie stores. It has made me cry a couple of times and wonder, am I really that specific or different from other girls that they wouldn't make products for me.

The realization that my body is absolutely normal and that it is the clothing industry that is just ignoring my type of body shape makes me feel empowered and a bit angry. As I'm sure most girls with a similar size just get squeezed in the wrong size and are expected to accept it. Well please don't.

I'm at the point when the size will not determine how I feel.

I just throw on the dress, throw my bra behind the bed, and walk head high. When a shop assistant asks me if I would like to do a fitting, I just say: "Don't worry, love. You don't have my size".