this week on the sh*t-sorter files, we head across to NMMFG’s land of birth – England. in fact, this week’s subject is a former colleague and long-time friend who has been doing some really good stuff on the fitness and running front lately – and when i dug into it a little further, much of it took me by surprise!
so as per the usual protocol, can you please introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from, what you do and maybe a little of your background?
My name’s Steve Mayne, I’m from the UK and I’m a computer programmer…
My working life started rather suddenly after secondary school thanks to my unwitting capabilities as a pro-creator. My first few years after school were spent looking after my newborn baby and doing a university degree in the evenings, all whilst working like crazy to pay the bills and move up the career ladder at work. This pattern of doing more than seems sensible set me up for a life of never really knowing when enough is enough. My main focus has always been “Make sure the family are provided for and don’t suffer for my teenage impulses”. I think I probably passed the point where I’d made up for my age by about 24, but I’m now on my way to 40 and I haven’t really slowed down. My brain tells me that time that could be spent “moving forwards” should be spent doing just that.
These days I work full time for an Internet Services Provider, run a separate business in my spare time, am a dad to three wonderful daughters and attempt to be a good husband to my wife! It’s genuinely surprising what you can do when you don’t watch TV! But stress might be an issue…
excellent, thanks for that Steve, now can you tell us about your journey – for example what was your motivation to get started down this track – was there a classic “enough is enough” lightbulb moment?
Last year I went to the doctor with a myriad of complaints. I had insanely high blood pressure and various other issues; I felt like I was falling apart. I’d let my weight get out of control, felt generally miserable, and thought that my best years were well behind me. Not a good thing for a 35-year-old to think!
Two important things have changed in the last 18 months:
The first change was dietary. I realised that I didn’t get on very well with bread. My stomach seemed to always feel unsettled, and I’d solve this by eating more. After a short reprieve this usually made the rumblings worse, but habits are hard to break – and frankly, who doesn’t like toast?
We have lots of chickens at home, and a ready supply of eggs, so I stopped eating so much bread and switched to omelettes and scrambled egg. Coupling that with a concious effort not to eat rubbish, the weight started to fall off pretty quickly! Despite what we all want to believe, exercise alone isn’t enough to do much to our weight.
The second change was exercise. In January this year a new gym opened near to my workplace. Many of my colleagues signed up in the traditional New Year frenzy of short-lived resolutions. Somewhat suprisingly though, a group of us have continued to go throughout this year, usually during our lunch hour (instead of going to the pub!). The stereotypical image of fat, sedentary people working in IT slowly started to lift from our team. The office floor joists must be very grateful.
The primary focus was my blood pressure problem. I had lost a bit of weight (10 kg) due to dieting in the preceding 8 months, but this wasn’t enough on its own. A mixture of resistance and cardio at the gym started to reap rewards. I lost a bit more weight, but I started to notice other things too: the endorphins did enjoyable things to my state of mind. The break away from the desk at lunch allowed me time to think, clear my head and de-stress. I had created a small window of “me” time.
Since May, a group of us started doing runs instead of gym work because the weather has been uncharacteristically wonderful this summer in the UK!
I had previously thought that I’d never be a runner because of a dodgy hip and knee, but it’s surprising what you read about when you start to learn about fitness. It turns out that my problem was a tight ITB on my right hand side. I’m convinced that I’ve carried this issue for well over 10 years, and it was affecting even gentle walks with the family. A bit of physio, a foam roller, some exercises and determination have started to repair this issue. Ironically, starting to run has addressed an injury, rather than caused one!
if you look at your overall journey so far, how you would you say it has gone in terms of changes and even challenges you’ve faced?
I have lost 22kg since starting my journey last year. I don’t have any more to lose, so I need to put the brakes on that one! I have worked up from barely being able to run 200m without stopping to doing frequent 5-10km runs with colleagues during our lunchbreaks.
A couple of months into my gym visits I stopped losing weight. This lasted for about three months. I had been so focused on weight loss as the only metric that mattered to me during my dieting phase, this proved really disheartening. However, thanks to the peer pressure of colleagues and my own beligerance, I continued to exercise and eventually I noticed that my shape was changing for the better, even if my weight wasn’t. I had to change my definition of progress.
that’s awesome! so apart from continuing to develop your fitness and mental well-being, do you have any specific goals?
This is an interesting question because at the beginning of the year, I hadn’t set any goal other than ‘stop falling apart’. Upon careful inspection, this goal has been achieved!
A couple of months ago you (nmmfg) and some other friends encouraged me to sign up for an event. I hadn’t contemplated doing anything with my new-found fitness but aiming for something makes perfect sense in retrospect. Working towards a goal has pushed me further than I thought I’d go.
I plan to do longer and longer events in the coming years!
well i’m glad to hear you too that advice on board and are now a confirmed event addict! what would you say has been your biggest achievement to date?
As mentioned, I was coerced (by nmmfg and others) into signing up for a sprint triathlon. Not a 5km ‘fun run’, oh no, that would have been far too sensible!
With barely a month to prepare, I got back into the swimming pool after a 5 year absence, started riding my bicycle at weekends, and continued to run with my friends at work. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend the feeling of doing a decent cycle ride then attempting to run afterwards. They call it “Brick Training” for a reason! I thought of it as a good way to empathise with elephants, as my legs felt as if they were a similar weight to theirs!
I completed the triathlon about a third of the way down the pack, which I was absolutely delighted with. I was aiming for a half-way finish if possible.
and what would you say have been the main impacts you have seen in your life since starting down this path?
Lots of knee and hip ones, until I learned how to avoid heel striking 🙂
haha, yes…. so re-wording that slightly, what have been the greatest benefits?
I can get to the end of the day happy that despite all the other stuff I might have done for others, I still did something that was long-term good for me. Going to the pub used to be enjoyable in the same way, but that was usually short-term goodness and longer-term regret! I still go to the pub of course, but far less frequently.
It’s a very personal thing, but suffice to say my mental wellbeing has improved dramatically. This was a completely unexpected benefit, but my goodness, what an amazing one it is!
and what would you consider to be the pitfalls and drawbacks?
Because I do most of my exercise in my lunch break, there have been no time-related drawbacks. Being at the gym has also helped me to reduce my pub-lunch and beer expenditure! I suppose the biggest drawback is for all my poor Facebook friends who have to put up with a stream of Strava notifications. I’m sure many have already blocked me 🙂
well the ones who haven’t blocked you could wind up catching the bug themselves, this stuff is infectious! juggling your various roles of employee, business owner, father and hubby, how do you stay motivated with it all?
I never, ever thought I’d say this but I actually crave it when I’m not doing it. Running and cycling give such an endorphin boost, I suppose I’m addicted! I’ve done short periods of gymming in the past, but it’s always felt like a chore.
awesome! so given that you are now definitely an addict… if you were able to say one thing to people considering making a similar life change, what would it be?
If your primary motivation is losing weight, don’t expect it to come from exercise. You need to change your diet. Exercise is the icing on the cake, so to speak – except, no cake for you! Well, maybe a little 🙂
You might have read many of these files on the NMMFG website, and others, and you probably have a list of mental excuses as to why its been “Easier for them” or “That wouldn’t work for me…” or “You’ve been lucky”. Drop the excuses – no one’s saying you have to be able to compete on the world stage. Even if you only amble around to start with, it will become a positive experience eventually. It’s going to take some perseverance for the first few months, depending on where you’re starting from.
that’s brilliant Steve, and thanks so much for agreeing to be profiled here!
for those of you who want to connect with Steve, find out more about his story or just hang out online a little, you can find him at: