Jasmine Widdowson from Chesterfield has been working in the police control room in Ripley for the past seven years. In that time, her sedentary job has lead to her becoming less and less active. So when she had the option to join Fit 4 Life she was keen to give it a go.
When lockdown hit not long after she’d met Fit 4 Life advisor Ashley, the challenge was maintaining the one-to-one support remotely and this has had a big part to play in keeping Jasmine engaged.
Getting out of a rut
She explains: “I thought Fit 4 Life was a good idea to try and motivate me because I wasn’t really doing any exercise. I’d occasionally go for a run but I’m not someone who really enjoys going to the gym. I just wanted to find something to get out of the rut I’d got myself in.
“When I started in the control room I was a teeny tiny size 6/8 and quite active and I just became more and more sedentary as time went on. When you’re tired and you’ve got less time you eat more takeaways. So it was becoming a vicious circle. I put quite a bit of weight on and wanted to do something about it.”
Something Ashley regularly talks about with people on Fit 4 Life is the difference between being consciously and unconsciously active or inactive.
“This model really kick-started me as I thought, I want to be active as a habit. I don’t want to have to think about it or put loads of effort in, I want it to be part of my life. Because I knew I was having the weekly catch ups with him at work and knowing I had to report back really helped me. Just having someone to talk to about it.”
Support moves online
Under normal circumstances Ashley would meet Jasmine at work for in person, one-to-one chats. But as lockdown hit they had to do them online. Jasmine explains the benefits in retaining that personal support.
“I’d already met Ashley and got that rapport with him when I was at work so it was nice being able to catch up with him over Zoom. It feels like you’re still sitting and having a conversation instead of just calling or texting. That doesn’t have the same personality to it.
“Some days I would admit I’d been a bit less active than usual and was struggling with my motivation. It was so nice to have Ashley to say that to face-to-face on Zoom. He could be supportive, tell me not to be so hard on myself and try again next week.”
A change in lifestyle
Jasmine went on to make numerous changes to her lifestyle, taking up yoga, swimming, walking and cycling. Various coronavirus restrictions have meant she’s had to adapt to new ways of doing things but because she’s doing things she enjoys she’s been happy to do that.
Jasmine said: “I really got into Hotpod yoga after speaking to Ashley. Then lockdown hit and I’ve been doing the classes online. You could still follow it because there was an instructor on screen and they gave us the Hotpod sounds to listen to on Spotify. The only thing I missed was when you go in there and it’s dark it creates a nice atmosphere. But I just did my best at home. I put my diffuser on and got a yoga mat, so I was still doing the yoga it just wasn’t hot yoga.
“I also recently found a new love for swimming which I’ve not done in years. It just popped into my head one day, then I was hooked. Until the gyms closed recently, every available opportunity I had I was getting up early to go swimming. Even on my days off, which I never would have done before. I’m really really missing swimming now.
“I’ve also been walking more and I signed up to BorrowMyDoggy. I’d love a dog but I can’t commit to one because of my shifts so we borrow one called Angus. It gives me a reason to get outside when I’m at home by myself on my days off.
“I became aware of how inactive I actually was. Some days I’d do less than 1000 steps when I’d done a 12 hour shift. It was so bad for me. Because we get a one hour break I would split that in two and go for two walks around the block just to get my step count up, get a bit of sunshine and it did me the world of good. I felt so much better.”
Long term change
With the changes becoming a normal part of her life, Jasmine began to notice if her activity levels dropped again.
“If I’ve had a few days of not doing any exercise it starts making me feel grumpy and I really feel like I need to get out and do something,” she said. “Before I would have been quite happy just to sit on the sofa, put a film on and have some snacks. Now I think, no I need to get outside, I need to get up and do something. So Ashley’s definitely helped me to make that long term change.”
As summer turned to winter, Jasmine adapted her activities to suit the colder, darker nights.
“I’m quite a fair weather exerciser,” she said. “If I go for a walk or a run I want it to be nice outside. I don’t want to be running or walking in the dark. I find swimming or yoga are good things to leave the house for because they’re indoor activities. At swimming I’d see the same people everyday and have a little catch up with them. It’s that sense of community so I couldn’t wait for the gyms to reopen.”
Increase in confidence
Feeling healthier and having more energy has meant Jasmine’s got a renewed motivation for trying new things.
“Since I’ve been more active it’s made me open to new things. When I started riding my bike and doing these swims all the time, I followed a page on Instagram called the haveagoes. Since I’ve been following them I thought maybe I could do a triathlon one day. That would never ever have occurred to me in a million years before. But because I’ve got this new mindset of yeah why not, I’ll give it a go, I think it’s made me more open to things,” she said.
“Since I’ve been doing more exercise and had these positive influences I’ve thought why not, anyone else can do that, why not me.”