Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

The final word: Ashley Lane on how exercise and clean eating are simply part of her life

I need to remember to be kind to my body – it is, after all, the only one I will ever have.
Ashley Lane is planning to take on the New York City Marathon next year.
Ashley Lane is planning to take on the New York City Marathon next year.

I can remember it so vividly, even now as an adult. My 158 centimetre, 16-year-old frame standing in front of the mirror, in floods of tears, pulling at the ample flesh that covered the surface of my stomach, hips and arms. I hated what I saw. It’s an easy memory to hold onto because there were so many like them. They say the teenage and young-adult years are the most emotionally trying. Adding to that, my struggles with my weight and confidence – a story so common it’s almost a cliché – made them nearly impossible. I spent the better part of age 14 to 20 wishing myself smaller, slighter and all around less me.

At my heaviest I was 68 kilograms, which given my height put me well into the overweight category of the BMI scale. And while many medical professionals have recently dismissed this as an accurate measurement of health, I can safely say that I was far from “in shape”.

The final straw was during my second year at university when – after a summer spent working as a camp counsellor, where ice cream runs were a daily occurrence – I decided enough was enough. My flatmate, and still one of my closest friends today, urged me to start running. I ran through a list of reasons why I couldn’t possibly take up running – from bad knees to not having any stamina, a factor that resulted in me being cut from my Varsity football team two years prior, a massive blow to my already non-existent confidence levels.

I eventually ran out of excuses and dragged myself to our well-equipped university gym. I don’t remember my first session and it’s possible that I’ve managed to block it out because I barely survived. What I do remember, however, is going back again, and again, and again.

Eventually, a habit grew, and 10 years later I’ve managed to go no longer than a week without some kind of exercise. Three years after first stepping foot in a gym, I moved abroad to start my career. It was there that I completed my first half-marathon, followed by two others. I met my husband who, having grown up in a rural area, was accustomed to eating mostly farm-fresh produce and he introduced me to the concepts of free-range, non-GMO and clean eating. I completed my first marathon – the London Marathon – in 2012, a day before moving to Dubai.

Today, exercise and clean eating are simply part of my life – be it training for my first triathlon, which I completed in February this year; planning holidays around how much outdoor walking we can do; or my daily resistance training with Kayla Itsines’s app (it’s amazing how technology means you can exercise just about anywhere).

I’m planning to do another triathlon and put in a bid for next year’s New York City Marathon.

Yet my journey is far from over. Though I’m no longer that insecure and self-conscious girl, crying in the dressing room of some department store, even with the combination of maturity, having the support of an amazing husband, friends and family, and removing myself from negative influences in my life, I still have my moments. At 30, I am the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been, yet sometimes I feel as if that’s not enough. As long as I’m looking for validation from someone else, there is still work to be done. And I need to remember to be kind to my body – it is, after all, the only one I will ever have.

Ashley Lane is The National’s assistant editor – magazines

alane@thenational.ae

Updated: November 13, 2016 04:00 AM

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