We all know the the ole saying, a journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step and very often that first step is one of the hardest. Now imagine if that first step was also weighed down with debilitating health issues and the painful passing of a beloved parent? This herculean challenge is exactly what 8fit Forever Fit participant Ashleigh faced as she embark on her journey from sick to fit.
We sat down with 25 year old Ashleigh, and talked about her battle with several life threatening health issues, the impact of losing her father suddenly and how 8fit helped her turn her lifestyle around and navigate her way to physical recovery as well as peace of mind.
Against All Odds
What was life like before you found the 8fit Forever Fit Challenge? I had heart issues, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, and a few other different health issues. I was struggling to exercise, get up or sleep. These issues took about two years to identify, and the path to diagnosis started when one day my physiotherapist turned around to me and said “these symptoms aren't normal,” and wrote a letter to my doctor. My doctor then referred me on to rheumatology specialists where they knew then and there what was wrong with me, while a few other tests revealed heart issues as well.
So, with the heart condition I kept on fainting, and one day I thought I was having a panic attack so my partner told me to lay down and I ended up passing out. I was fully conscious, just like, well, I'm paralyzed. I basically couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, anything like that, but I could still hear and see and was aware of everything that was happening.
Ashley stumbles upon 8fit
Wow, that sounds intense. So, why 8fit? After reading extensively, I realised being fit isn't just about doing exercise, it’s about nutrition as well, and 8fit has both of those and makes both of them very easy
What did you initially think of the 8fit app? Doing exercise was really hard on my heart, and I like to push myself as well, which isn’t the best thing. With 8fit the shorter workouts meant it was easy to build up to the bigger exercises and be able to build my heart muscles up a bit again.
Following a mobile fitness app and not a trainer in person telling you what to do was actually better for me. I found that if you want to do something, you don’t have to wait to schedule a time with somebody or pay 50 or 100 dollars per session for something. You spend a one-off fee for the year, and you have it at your fingertips whenever you want. Even when you can only do 10 or 20 minutes you can still fit those in, there’s no excuse not to.
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How did 8fit help you out? I chose to use the app because I wanted to get away from medication to help my health issues; I didn’t want to be on medication my whole life, and I tried to find a natural way through nutrition and fitness, and the 8fit app has both.
8fit also meet you where you’re at in your fitness journey -- you can do short workouts or long workouts, you can progress to a higher level, or you can level down if you need to - either way it’s going to help you.
(8fit) Challenge accepted
What did your lifestyle look like before? Before the 8fit challenge my nutrition fitness were… I guess, weren't great. Obviously, life happens (in my case something traumatic with the death of my father) and you drop the ball with everything, so I didn’t eat really bad but I wasn’t conscious of what I was eating either, and I definitely wasn’t exercising, because I wasn’t able to. I would try too hard to work out and do 30 or 40 minutes when I should’ve been doing 10 or 15 minutes, but in my mind, I thought “it’s not worth doing 10 or 15 minutes, why would I do that?.” Why did you decide to take on the 8fit challenge? I thought it’d be a really great way to be accountable for sticking to something. I felt that if I put it on social media and my friends see it, I have to do it because if I don’t do it, they’re going to be like “oh, I thought you were in the 8fit challenge, that didn’t last very long.” I thought it was really a good idea to be able to post about it and not just say in my head that I’m doing it to myself because I know I probably won’t stick to it.
What was your goal? My biggest goal coming into it was just to feel better. I wasn’t feeling good with the way I looked or within myself, and I knew that a person of my age should feel better than how I was feeling. I just wanted to be more fit and healthy like I used to be. It wasn’t so much about losing weight per se or anything like that, it was just feeling better within myself and in my body.
What do you like the best about the 8fit experience? The most surprising thing is how easy it was and also the community behind it, everybody rallying around you. I didn’t think it would be so interactive and it was, and it really motivates you when people are commenting on your progress and say “oh, great job!” and you’re commenting on everybody else’s and seeing that maybe your struggles are the same as everybody else’s as well, and you can all work through them together. Also, the workouts are relatively easy for everybody no matter where you're at, and meals are simple to cook -- anyone can use it, and it really has helped me.
What were the main changes you noticed using 8fit? I've lost 11 kilos, which I’m most surprised about. I didn’t think I had 11 kilos to lose, to be honest. A lot of it was from my tummy, and that’s probably the area that has changed the most. But the most surprising area has been my legs. I didn’t realize I could lose so much on my legs either and that there could be muscle there and building definition.
How long in did you start seeing results? I think it was probably about 3 weeks later when I started to see results, not within the way I looked but the way I felt. I had more energy, my partner was commenting on me not sleeping on the couch when I got home and actually wanting to cook tea or do things and getting excited to cook an 8fit meal. Yeah, so 3 weeks in and I was starting to feel better within myself.
Do you feel stronger? Yes, I definitely feel stronger and I feel like I’m more energized and I can lift a box of items rather than asking my partner to do it for me. I feel more independent.
How did you manage to integrate it into your life? It was pretty easy. I work a 9-5 job, so I had a routine every day and would either do it in the morning or do it at night. I tried to figure out what worked best for me. It’s easy on a Sunday and to do a little bit of meal prep if you need to and cook enough leftover for lunch the next day and just get into that routine of having your proper meals and things like that.
What's your favorite exercise? Everybody’s gonna be so surprised that my favorite exercise is actually burpees or 4-counts. I really like them, I don’t know why, I think because they’re really hard, so anything hard is gonna help you. I really do love the yoga as well because it helps with the fibromyalgia and anything stretchy, I kind of have to do. Incorporate the yoga into it; otherwise, my muscles get too sore, and I experience setbacks so, yeah.
Any parting thoughts It’s definitely a new me. I feel like I did before everything happened. Of course obviously some days I need to have a little bit more rest than others, but I’m never gonna get rid of what I have, and it’s gonna be with me forever. I know that if I stop doing what I’m doing now, it’s gonna get worse again. So this is a new me and I know that I have to keep on doing my exercise and keep on with the proper nutrition, because if I don’t I’ll go back to where I was, and I won’t feel right within myself, and I feel good, and it’s nice to feel good about yourself finally.