Active Change Award Winner 2021 - Gemma Warrington
With nominations open for the 2022 Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Awards, we are taking a look back at some of the winners from last year's awards.
Gemma Warrington was the winner of the Active Change Award (sponsored by One You Lincolnshire) for the Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Awards 2021, she was also awarded the Active Champion of the Year Award.
The Active Change Award recognises an individual who has used sport or physical activity to make a positive change to their own life. Gemma won the award for the commitment she made to becoming more active, transforming her physical health and mental wellbeing, as well as inspiring others around her to do the same.
We caught up with Gemma to find out what winning the award meant to her, and asked her to share more about her journey to becoming physically active.
- What did winning the award mean to you?
It's just amazing to me how many friends, friends of friends, family and work colleagues are still telling me that I have inspired them and they too are now exercising, trying to eat healthier and being more health conscious in general. I never realised how many people follow our stories from afar and take notice when things change. When you really put your mind to something it seems that it really spurs others on too.
So I think that would be the thing that means the most to me about winning the awards, if it can inspire one person to give something new a try, get out there and try to make themselves feel better and get healthier at the same time, I don't think that can really be beaten. My daughter who is 14yrs is also writing about me and my journey as part of her health and social care project in relation to someone who does daily sports or exercise so it's nice to have her asking me questions about what I do and when etc. She’s never generally interested in anything I do!
I recently spoke about my journey to being more active at the launch of the Let’s Move Lincolnshire strategy at Lincolnshire Show, and had really positive feedback from that!
- What is your favourite way to keep fit? (preferred sport or physical activity?)
My favourite way to keep fit would be my fitness classes. I do enjoy walking and biking but tend to do those alone during the week using my shape time (kids aren’t interested and hubby isn’t always keen to come at weekends as he likes to snuggle up with the dog- who also isn’t interested in any exercise!)
I do 3-4 classes a week and it’s a time where I can enjoy the social aspect of getting out of the house after work, get some fresh air on the way there and then really enjoy a good 45 min session of fab tunes, giggles and the group really keep each other going. The classes are so brilliant as there is always levels and options if something is too difficult or becomes a strain on any body part you can adapt them to fit you personally.
- What advice would you have for anyone starting their journey into a more active lifestyle?
The advice I would give to anyone looking to increase their activity is to have a routine and consistency and build this up slowly. You don’t need expensive clothing or gym memberships or to have a ridiculously complex fitness plan. I started off by choosing a specific time of day and aim to keep to this time wherever possible. So my time was 10am, I knew at this time I would stop whatever I was doing and take that exercise, this stops procrastinating and it feels so good to get it done crossed off your to do list, for you to enjoy the rest of your day. I also read that being out and exercising in the morning sunshine is really good for our mental health.
You must be patient with yourself and realise that life doesn’t always work to plan, so don’t find excuses to be put off. I’ve found the days when I really didn’t want to go out when it’s cold and dark and wet and I’m tired, are the days when I’ve enjoyed it even more as you know you have done something amazing for yourself.
- How has being more active impacted your life, and has it been easy to maintain your new active lifestyle?
I have gained so much from becoming active it’s unbelievable. I was always one of those people who hated exercise, always yo yo dieting and refusing to exercise as it just wasn’t me, didn’t have time and didn’t need to as I was active enough at home with the kids. Now, I struggle to have two rest days a week as I enjoy my exercise so much. I’ve lost over 6 stone by managing my nutrition, daily exercise and intermittent fasting.
I am so much more flexible and agile and I am also so much healthier mentally, as once you begin on the journey of exercise and you get into a routine, it can almost be like meditation – it makes you feel so good and I honestly believe it can feel addictive with all the happy hormones it releases!
I am learning to try and balance how much exercise and movement, and which days and classes/times are best for me to slot around my day to day life and work and being a bit more relaxed at weekends food and drink wise but just balancing that with extra long walks or bike rides to keep me moving and be able to maintain weight loss rather than be constantly trying to lose all the time. It's the hardest part to try and maintain and I definitely think that healthy eating along with the movement is the key, they really do go hand in hand. And it’s also so important to be able to accept and enjoy rest days, listening to your body when it’s telling you to take recovery time and not feel guilty about it.
- Where there any services you used to help inspired you to get started?
I was so lucky that my employer (North Kesteven District Council) introduced a scheme called “The Shape Hour” which was one hour per day where employees were encouraged to get up from their desks and exercise whenever and wherever to look after their physical and mental health during lockdown. It had been running for a while and told myself I never had time to take advantage of it but I felt that I was wasting an opportunity- so I bought a bike and started walking and biking for an hour per day, and even carried on across the weekends. That is when the magic began!
- Where is your award now?
My awards are in the top shelf of a glass cabinet in my home office with a photograph of the awards evening. Every time people come to the house I make sure I put the lovely spot lights on and take the time to show them (even if they have seen them before!) I sometimes do my home exercise classes in there so when I’m on the mat sweating and in pain and thinking of resting, I can look at my awards and those photographs and they keep me going.
Nominations are open until Wednesday 31 August for the Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Awards 2022.
If you know somebody who has used sport or physical activity to make a positive change in their lives, like Gemma, follow the link below, to nominate or see the full list of award categories. You can also self-nominate for the Active Change Award.
Lincolnshire Sport & Physical Activity Awards 2022
Do you know an individual or organisation that deserves recognition for their work supporting Lincolnshire residents to be more active? Follow the link to find out more and nominate today.