'How I regained my motivation to stay active'

Mum-of-two Danielle Walters, 32, from Waingroves, Ripley, thought she had done the hard bit when she lost six stones to get fit, but then found she slipped back into her old ways and put the weight back on. She has since 'overcome her fears' to get active once more, and is well on her way to getting back down to her goal weight. Here, she explains how she motivated herself to do it all again.

Starting with a shuffle

"I first thought about getting myself more active after I had my second child, Arthur, who's now five. I had piled on the weight and was 16 stone. My brother is a runner and has always been fit and healthy, but I didn't know what it felt like to be fit at that stage and didn't even own any trainers.

"But I could see the benefits and wanted to do something, so I gave it a go. For a start I was wearing ballet pumps and shuffling – literally shuffling – around the block. It was only something like 300m or 400m, but it was a start.

"The next time I went out, I would shuffle a bit further, and then a bit further until I improved to the point where I lost a lot of weight, six stones, and I felt really good.

Family life got in the way of Danielle's initial health kick.

A parental trigger to stop

"But then I started to lose my drive and felt comfortable with where I was, so I stopped exercising. One of the big triggers was that – as any parent will know – life intervenes and you don't always end up doing what you intended.

"One of my children had chicken pox for two weeks and so I was housebound with a child who didn't want to let go of me, feeling poorly. Once one got better, the other got it and then, to top it off, the school half term holidays followed.

"It meant that five weeks had gone by and it got to the point where I had the fear of doing it. You wonder in your mind if you can still do it, and all of a sudden months go by. You forget how great it is to be doing something and the buzz it gives you. I slipped back into my bad old ways.

‘Enough is enough’

"I remember the date when I decided enough was enough and I wanted to get active again. It was October 1 last year (2016) and I was sat on the steps with my daughter Florence. She grabbed the back of my arm and said with typical child-like honesty: 'Mummy, the back of your arm feels like a sausage'.

"I then got on the scales and saw I had shot up to 16 stone, and those two things made me determined to overcome my fears and start running again.

The confidence barrier

"I think the biggest barrier, for me at least, was having no confidence. I didn't want anyone to see me out running and I didn't want them to see me if I stopped. In fact, I didn't want to run in daylight at first in case anyone saw me.

"But now I've realised that forwards is forwards and moving is all that matters. It doesn't matter if someone is quicker or going further than me, or they honk at me from their cars or try to put me down. I don't care about that – all I care is that by doing something I am winning my own battle.

Danielle says regular exercise gives her a buzz.

‘It doesn’t cost anything’

"Another barrier for someone is that they think it will cost a lot, but whatever I have done to this point has always been for free. It doesn't cost to go out jogging and it doesn't cost when I do insanity videos in my kitchen. It hasn't cost me 40 quid to join the gym. It hasn't cost me a penny.

"I also think we, as women, are obsessed with getting on the scales and all we do when we start getting active is to look at our weight. If one week we work really hard and we haven't lost anything, we get deterred and think 'why bother' and then open the cupboard and get out a packet of crisps.

Eating right, alongside exercise

"We don't realise that we might have altered our body shapes and swapped fat for muscle, which actually weights more, so that, without knowing, we are making progress.

"We also don't realise the importance of eating right – that if we eat a carb-heavy meal at night we can go to bed and it can sit on us as fat, where as if we ate that at lunch time and then exercised with more of a protein-heavy meal, then it works a lot better.

"Until you start, these are just things you don't realise and don't know.

'You should always have time'

"People often say they that haven't got time and they are too busy, but I have got two kids and two dogs and still managed to do it. It's just a case of not sitting on the sofa at the end of the day when the kids have gone to bed and just having half an hour.

"You don't even have to leave the house. My husband is often in the other room while I'm jumping around. In my opinion, you can always make time for 30 minutes out of your entire day. If you're that bust that you can't, then I think you will be burning off enough calories anyway!

"I just think it's down to a lack of belief from people that they can do it before they even try. You just have to have that bit of faith in yourself.

Danielle has posted pictures on Facebook in a bid to inspire others.

A bid to inspiring others on Facebook

"My whole thing about posting things on Facebook, as I do, is to try to get others to get more active. I have had a lot of people say I have inspired them, which I'm delighted about, and they have got their running or gym kit out.

"It's not that I'm saying 'look at me', because I have still got curves and I haven't got a six pack, but if I can get this far in four months, then it really shows that anyone can do it.

"When I first started, 4km would take me 50 minutes and now I can do it in 24 minutes.

'Setting a great example to my kids'

"The kids love that I have lost the weight and Florence said one day that there was nothing left of me!

"She's really interested in running and wants to come with me and understands that as adults we need to eat a different diet to stay healthy, and that's why I'm choosing not eat things like fast foods.

"I have seen the two kids having running games between lampposts outside, and it has brought big benefits to the family all around.

A healthy future

"From 16 stone 4, I'm now down to 12 stone so I've lost 52odd pounds so far and I'd like to lose another two stones before I get down to my ideal weight.

"My BMI was off the scale when I started and it's now down to 27.5, so I'd also like to get that down to a much healthier level, as well as put on a bit of muscle to replace some of the fat.

"Once you get to a certain point your body gets clever and adjusts and you can plateau, so you have to keep mixing it up and that's what I'm going to do.

"My husband has done a Tough Mudda and I would consider doing one of those myself and I've run half marathon distance before.

"But it's not necessarily about going further. I just want to feel happy in myself and know that I am looking after myself. Having slipped back once, I think I have learned my lesson and I would never let it happen again."

Find out more

International Women's Day takes place on March 8, with activities relating to it to be announced in the near future.

If you want to get moving go to our Get Active pages to find out more.

You can also find out about eating alongside exercising in a series of articles from JOG Derbyshire leader Becky Lyne.