a podcast by Pawlean

My health and wellness journey, thoughts on body image and motivation

August 19, 2020 Pauline Narvas Season 1 Episode 2
a podcast by Pawlean
My health and wellness journey, thoughts on body image and motivation
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

I've been prioritising self-care since 2016 by implementing healthy habits that I now swear by today. This is my story - I'll be taking you on my journey as well as learnings along the way.


  • My blog: https://pawlean.com 
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulienuh
  • Instagram: https://instagram.com/paw.lean
  • More projects by me: https://by.pawlean.com
  • Stephanie Buttermore: https://www.instagram.com/stephanie_buttermore/?hl=en
  • Shona Vertue: https://www.instagram.com/shona_vertue/?hl=en 
  • The Weird Benefit of Mouth Taping: https://somnifix.com/blogs/snews/the-weird-benefit-of-mouth-taping-that-you-should-know-about

Support the show (https://pawlean.com/support-me)

How is it already the end of August? It's insane how quickly this year has gone by! So August is a really special month for me because it's actually the month that I celebrate reflect on a couple of my favourite things. 

The first thing is I actually just posted a blog post about reflecting on the last five years since I restarted my blog, Pauline calm, and that was really nice to reflect on because five years ago when I started my blog, it was just one of those like scary moments because I've been blogging for years now but then I took a bit of a break and then when I came back I was still quite scared like Returning and you know, clicking that Publish button, and then putting my thoughts out there again. But it was really nice. And I'm really glad that I've managed to keep that up today. And now, everything I've done online has grown so much. I've got like the YouTube videos about inspiring figures. I've got this podcast now, which is amazing. And alongside that of you start tuning in to all different sorts of content I've put out there and I'm really, really thankful it's really, really awesome. 

In addition to that, this month, is also a very special month because it's actually the month I started my fitness and wellness journey, which I'm going to talk about today. In August 2016 Actually, it was more like July 2016. 

As I said in my previous episode on breakups, I actually went through one of the hardest breakups I've ever, ever been through ever in my life. But like I said in my other podcast episode, it's it was actually the one breakup that really caused me to grow. 

And so during that time, I was going through quite a rough patch. So, you know, as you do you, like sort of mourn over how you had someone who was always there, and then suddenly they disappeared. And it's all it's a lot of just like getting used to and adapting. And one thing I will say that I said before as well, is that time heals. But for me, I was like, I need to make this heal faster. What should I do? Around the same time, I was just experience I was just having a really terrible time with like anxiety, and just feeling really down and depressed about everything going on. At the time. There was just loads of things that felt like it was compounding that was a result of that breakup. So My dad actually saw that I wasn't really improving. So he decided to step in. And one day he was just like, Hey, Pauline, do you want to go for a run? I said, I don't really feel like it. I don't like running. I haven't run since like pee yet school. So I was like, No, thank you. But then he managed to convince me. So we went out onto this massive field, and just start running around in circles. I did a few laps. But after that, I felt so good. I was really unfit by the way. I was like, panting to two minutes in, not even two minutes is too long, but like, two seconds, and I was like, Oh my god, I can't do this. But then after that, I felt really really, really good. When we went back home and my dad was like, You should also like try going to the gym or like, lifting weights with me because I think it'd feel even better. And I was like, I don't know. I told him like, I didn't really want to go to the gym because I didn't want to look like a man and everything and no Boy, was I wrong. That was completely wrong for me to think that. So on the day, I promised my dad that we were gonna go to the gym, I actually, I was in bed and I was like, You know what, I don't think I want to go anymore. And he was like, he like, went upstairs into my room. And he gave me this like, it was a kind lecture where he was like, Pauline, you can't just say things and not commit to them. You need to see them through. You need to just go for it. And like, even if you don't like doing it first, you just need to continue push through, push through it and see where you get to, because otherwise you'll never know unless you try. Right? So and he was always like, once you commit to something, don't back down. It's not great to back down the sun, the retrack what you just said. So I was like, Okay, I'm going to go ahead and do that. Man, we ended up going to the gym. And I remember feeling really intimidated by all the equipment. I had no idea. this the first time I've ever stepped foot in the gym was just really intimidated by all the people there and all the equipment and just not knowing what to do. And so I put my stuff away in like, the women's locker room. And I just remember being like, what am I even doing here? I feel silly. Feel like people know immediately that I don't know what I'm doing. So the first thing my dad got me to do was run on the treadmill. And then I, I use the like elliptical machine, which is really fun. It was mostly actually a cardio session. The first session. I just loved it. I just love just running and working out on the cardio machines like just focusing solely on myself and like letting my mind wander. without restriction almost. So that was really nice. And so after that, I was like, when are we going again? So then we went the next day and then I tried some weightlifting with my dad who heavily supported me but at the time I felt so stupid and I was still like quite scared. But if I lift even like one like kettlebell one barbell one dumbbell, I was like, I'm gonna look like the whole cost of this and I really don't want to I have enough to do is really, really silly, obviously. And so and so yeah. And then after that session, I was like, feeling pumped. I was like, This is amazing. fitness and health and wellness just started becoming a huge part of everything I was doing to heal after my breakup. After everything else going on that summer. I started reading Loads of like health and wellness books. I started listening to like inspiring videos about like people who use like health and wellness as part of their like journey to heal or to just improve themselves. I stopped binge watching my self improvement videos and loads of them always talked about the importance of exercise, and like things like meditation, which I was already doing at the time to try and improve like my anxiety at the time. So I was building up on these habits we had like meditation, journaling, exercise, drinking enough water, prioritising sleep, and yeah, and they slowly just started to compound on top of each other. And as days went on that year, I just started to feel so good. I joke about being a monk that year because I was literally so disciplined. You have no idea I lived and breathed My exercise in the morning, my meditation in the morning, my journal in the morning, my journal in the evening, my second workout in the evening my walks my water, sleep, everything I was really really really on top of it. So the structure of my workouts in my first year was mostly home workouts actually. So I found a account that I still use today on YouTube called fitness blender. And then knowing to do loads of really fun and varied home workouts and I like swear by them. I've got most of like my initial weight loss result I would spend the weekend at the gym I do really long like gym sessions with my my parents. And what we do is like a really heavy leg day and then on Sundays I do like a heavy offer day and then throughout the week, I would literally just be a home bodyweight exercises mostly hit. It's no wonder when I think back, I lost a lot of fat really quickly because of that. And in addition to that, I was like focusing on just eating completely clean. To the point I actually got quite obsessive. Now I look back, because there was this one time where I was craving a KitKat so badly. And I and we have kitkats at home and I took a KitKat out out overdraw and like, I was like, I'm gonna eat this. But then a part of me was like, No, you can't. It's like I had this all or nothing. attitude. And it was really really bad because then what happened was I just had the cake. I was just holding the KitKat waiting to eat it, but I kept like, my mind was like, No, you're not eating the cake. So I just ended up like smelling the room. Stupid, but also I did and like it helps me go through it sounds rude. You know what now I say out loud is actually it was really really bad because it sounds like I said it was obsessive. I was being really obsessed with clean eating it was all on nothing. So like it's no wonder I dropped a lot of weight that year because I was like incredibly disciplined. And like I said it was like my month here. And then moving forward to like 27 teen to 2018 I started taking like fitness a bit more seriously. So I moved away from hit, and I focused more on like five days a week or even six days a week of strength training. So I did more weights than like bodyweight exercises. So I invested in my first leg adjustable dumbbells in Mike Yes, I can. Yeah. And I worked out at home again, but then went to the gym a lot more a year. I think that's where like I really piqued my like love for fitness and especially weight training. And again, that was actually the year. I also did a lot of walking back and forth from university back home and I live quite far out from university so, and I refuse to take the bus again. So I was just like walking constantly. And so again, I dropped a lot of weights, I was around like, my lowest body fat percentage was like 15%, which is insane, insane for me. Because now I'm seeing around like 2425 but at the time, I was incredibly lean. It was the leanest I've ever, ever been. And I was really proud of it. I felt really good at the time, even though there were days where I felt Really unwell and the magic because I had no energy literally low energy because at the same time I just wasn't, I was focused on clean eating. And for me that was literally like a bit of kale chicken for lunch and then no snacks. If I had snacks I had like, I don't know, like a banana or like a bit of peanut butter. Then I got home and then again I had the tiny dinner walking through right now. And reflecting on it again just makes me it just made me so aware that it was unsustainable and unhealthy in the long term. Like sure I must have looked super ripped, super lean, and probably the leanest I've ever been in my life, I don't know. But at the same time, it was just like I said unsustainable and I started to find like patterns in Thinking that now I think back is just unhealthy. So that includes things like, you know, obsessive tracking of macros and obsessive tracking of food. You know, like, say no to social events because of not because I wanted to make sure that I hit my macros that day and I didn't want to have another cheat day. And my even my approach to cheat days or how I used to have cheat days, once every week, and then it turned to like, no, I used to challenge myself and say, Okay, what if I had no cheat days this week, or no cheat days for the month? What happened? And then again, I just got really obsessive were clean eating for me, was just the thing I needed to always always achieve. And it was just awful. Because, again, unsustainable and I was, you know, increasingly just depriving myself and feeling quite unhappy. And then in 20 2018 a few things happened a few life events happen, but it made me just take a step back and I realised, you know, what is actually really important here. I also started to notice some things happening to, to me and some signs that were telling me that maybe what I was doing was unsustainable and unhealthy. So one of those things was actually, I missed a few periods. I think it was probably two in 2018, where I just didn't have a period for a month and it freaked me out. I was like, Oh my god, I can't be pregnant. And so what else could it be? And so I was like digging and digging, doing a lot of research and I realised that a lot of women who like have quite low body fat percentages, don't actually have periods or they lose it. You know, they only have if every few months or whatever. And yeah, that freaked me out. I was like, I don't, I don't like not having a period. I don't like missing that monthly thing, but I know like sort of keeps my whole body in check. And maybe that sounds really weird because like periods actually fucking suck, but it's part of it was one of the things that just scared me. And I think another thing was in 2018, I moved out of my parents house and then I moved to Leeds to to work and my first like, full time professional job as a young professional. There was a lot of changes. And I think at the time, I was just feeling really overwhelmed with everything going on. And at the same time, I was burning myself out because I was trying to get involved in every single thing that was happening in Leeds. nearing the end of 2018. I started getting more sick more ill and I never usually get ill even like pre fitness pre wellness of I just never got ill. I'm so it was a bit weird but I just started like getting ill every every single month. I think it was just a mixture of things but at the same time I started to realise that maybe my obsessive, clean eating my obsessive approach to diet and fitness was just not healthy for me and that I needed to really think about what was important and what I needed to do to get myself back on track, both mentally and physically in camera and I set myself a few goals, I decided that, you know, like fitness and wellness is really is a huge part of everything that I do. It's like central to, to me, it's the foundations of everything that define me and I find it really, really important even today. 

What I did was I decided that I needed to relax a little bit so I actually in 2019 I met Mark My personal trainer, Ryan at Leeds, and he was absolutely fantastic because we had a really great conversation about like, my goals and where I want to be. And at the time, I switched up my goals from like losing weight to building muscle. And I was like, I just want to focus on building muscle because I focused so much on losing weight, having abs and making sure I was super lean. I didn't want that anymore. I just wanted to be strong. And so like his approach to like training me and talking me through my approach to diet really opened and opened my eyes. And it really it made me like reevaluate what I was doing before. And I felt like just training with Ryan and speaking to someone else about fitness, who knew his stuff really just helped me like stay on track, but also just changed the whole game for me because I had this one perceived idea that Saw from like social media with actual fighter is just tired of it. I wanted something new. I wanted something different. And so yeah, in 2019 I really reframed my whole perspective on fitness. And in addition to that, I travelled a lot. And I got really busy with work focused more on my career, I still worked out every single week, as much as I could, even though I was travelling and doing all sorts of stuff, because I always came back to it because it is the foundations of everything for me is the foundations that make me feel better make me like, motivates me and everything like that. So I continue that. But the difference this time was, I decided that I just needed to reset my mind and rethink reimagine fitness and wellness. So yeah, that year I focused mostly on strength training, did a bit of power lifting. That was the I felt so, so powerful doing that was amazing. And then improving my pull ups being able to pull my whole bodyweight up was amazing. And yeah, I just started like clinging more onto those winds and just focusing mostly on that and celebrating it rather than celebrating how much how much my abs are popping, or my body weight percentage and stuff like that. 

Now we're in 2020 I haven't been to the gym in over six months. When lockdown happened, I freaked out and I was like, Oh my gosh, we're all gonna have to work work out at home. And I really stressed out and I was really quite worried that this would be me. Finally me falling off that fitness waggon and actually just doing nothing and feeling like shit again and going back to like what I was before I started fitness. and wellness and you know focusing on all the self care and everything. So I was really scared that that was gonna happen again. absolutely terrified. But then I sort of just like snapped out of it and I said, you know what your your first year of working out back in 2016 but first time the first week you decided to write down like that workout plan for yourself. I did it all at home. So I was like, I can do it again this year or for as long as I need to until it's safe. I've actually really enjoyed myself because I've switched off my workouts every like few months and it's been really fun because rolling out of bed, getting into my gym clothes, and then working out just in the living room has been really fun and been motivating because now I'm a home I always seem to get my workouts in because I don't rush to go to work or to anything because you know I can literally just finish my workout, quickly have a shower and then jump on my laptop and be at work. So it's been quite nice in that sense. And also, I've just enjoyed being a little bit more creative with my workouts. But yeah, in terms of like a body image and weight gain, I have to say, I have gained weight over lockdown. I have gained weight since 2017 when I was like my leanest self, and I'm okay with it. I didn't think like, if you asked me in 2017 how I would feel if I gained weight. I would probably cry, I would like free cow. I would be like, Oh my God, my whole world is over. Like I've spent so long focusing on these healthy habits. And then now I've just gained all back and I feel ugly if I feel worthless and all of these things that have just run through my head. But now I'm just so much more positive My weight gain, I feel so much more happier and more grateful and appreciative of how strong my body is. Because at the end of the day, even though I've gained weight, my body can do some pretty cool stuff, I can still lift really heavy, I can still pull myself up, I can do push ups. And overall, I'm so strong and overpowered that it's just flippin amazing. It wasn't always like this. And I think a huge part of what helped me with my more positive approach towards my body image was the fact that I started following more body positive people on social media. And I started unfollowing people on social media that made me feel like I had to look a certain way to even like fit in in the fitness space or even consider myself as someone who is like someone who does fitness stuff, one fitness influencer that I really, really, really admire, and I talk about All the time is Stephanie Baltimore. So she went through a all in journey recently, I think over the past year or so. And just watching her journey and her relationship with food and fitness and mental health and everything, just change over the past few months has been so positive and so inspiring to watch. And it's one of the main things that has really motivated me in terms of like, re framing my mindset, in you know, gaining gaining weight switching it up a bit, eating unhealthy way that isn't restrictive. And you know, if I want to eat something, I will just eat it. Like I don't think of any rules. I don't label it. I just see it as what is its fuel for my workouts, fuel for my brain. 

This year. I started getting back into meditation and regular journaling. These were some habits that I saw of fell off the waggon. So, I did them, at least like every single day, back in 2016 2017 and 2018. I sort of like slipped up a little bit in 2019. But again, in 2019, I sort of focus more on self-acceptance and love. So if I did slip up, I just tried not to be so obsessive and a bit of a perfectionist in terms of this stuff. Because then, at the end of the day, it just wasn't enjoyable. So I've slowly started getting back into that. And I've enjoyed meditating with headspace. I also like to track my mood and journal as much as I can. So now I'm journaling and tracking my mood with an app called UVA. And it's basically an app where it asks you how your day was and how you feeling and you basically just track how you're feeling and what your mood is. So And then you can also pick what you think triggers that mood. So why you're feeling that way. So for example, I'm feeling really happy because the weather's really nice, or I'm feeling quite stressed out because of work. And all sorts of stuff like that. And it's really good because eventually, you build up a better picture and a better sense of awareness of how you're feeling, and what your triggers are. So that in the future, you can like, build upon the things that make you happy, and maybe avoid the things that make you stress or at least be more mindful of the stressful triggers. And I'd have to say how you think you are has been really fantastic in terms of improving my mental health and helping me during this crazy crazy year. 

Other things I'm doing for like my mental health and just general wellness is doing a lot more yoga in the mornings. So before I start my life, for a proper workout, I do a quick 10-minute yoga session of my favourite YouTubers show nervous too. So she's really cool cuz she has some fantastic mobility and yoga focused sessions on her YouTube channel. So yeah, that's been really fun because, on Sundays where I'm not in the mood to lift, I'm not in the mood to do any cardio, I just wanted to do like a dent gentle stretch, to feel good. Then I just go and head over to her channel and she has some really great videos and again, I think it's the mixture of doing something good for my body but also breathing and being mindful of my breath has been a huge part of just calming my anxieties and improving my overall state of mind during that time. 

I think another thing just to call out is sleep. So I have been obsessed with sleep for the longest time even before like Really focusing on like, self-awareness and like health and wellness. I have always just been obsessed with ensuring that I get eight hours sleep because if I don't I just feel so terrible and I just can't get on with my day. So, so yeah, over the past few years I've especially been like researching ways I can improve my sleep quality because although I have, I do get enough sleep like, in terms of quantity, I still want to get better quality sleep. So I've been doing loads of different things. One of the things that I've done a few months ago, and I still do today is with it might sound really weird, by the way, what I'm about to say, but, um, I watched and listened to a podcast so he did an episode where he talked through how nose breathing versus mouth breathing, how they affect your sleep. So basically When you're sleeping, and you open your mouth whilst you're asleep, we all do it sometimes, then, you know, sometimes you wake up with a really, really dry mouth. During the night, what happens is you actually breathe through your mouth rather than your nose. So that can actually affect your sleep quality. And obviously, it makes you just feel terrible. So what you need to do is like train yourself not to open your mouth at night, and it's really difficult for some people. So one thing I read up on and listened to one of his episodes was that you can buy these like mouth tapes that you tape over your mouth, it forces you to keep your mouth shut during the night. And then you just breathe through your nose. And I've been doing it for a couple of months. Now. Sometimes I miss like a night or two, but I've been pretty consistent have felt a difference. I've felt like a lot more refreshed when I would wake up and I hate that Having that like dry mouth feeling when I wake up, I don't really have any more. And I've also noticed, because I'm in Sheffield right now and I don't have access to the right tape, I didn't bring it with me. I've actually noticed that even though I've not been wearing it over the last few weeks, I've already trained myself not to open my mouth again, whilst I miss sleep. If that makes sense, this might sound really weird. But again, I'll link all of the information I got this frog in the show notes somewhere, but it's really, really useful. And that's just one example of what I've done to improve my sleep quality. But you can see that I can sometimes just go ahead and go into different venues to see what people are doing out there. I've literally tried everything. And it's been really fun actually, I love experimenting. 

Now this sort of the episode of our health and wellness without a little bit about motivation. I get asked about a lot everyone single Day, like almost every single day when I post like a picture on Instagram of me like working out for the day or getting like earning my sparkles for the day and all of that. So I get asked that a lot. And one thing I can say is I'm not an expert in terms of motivation, but this is what I'm about to say is what has worked for me. So I think the first thing is just this sounds cliche and cheesy, but and you've probably heard it already, but it's remembering why you even started in the first place and why you want to get fit in the first place or why you want to start meditating or why you want to start journaling. So all of these things like why do you want to improve your sleep? Ask yourself why? asking yourself why is really important? Because whenever you feel like you don't want to do it anymore, or you are feeling lazy and unmotivated. Then you can just return back to your why and For me, that's enough to kick me up the butt, I get up and do what I need to do. And so for me, my Why is I want to make sure I want to work out, I started working out because I wanted to be stronger because I wanted to be able to open a bottle of milk by myself because I wanted to carry everything. I want to carry stuff on my back without relying on anyone else. I wanted to be healthier or to be in the best shape I could be. And I just wanted to be happier. And another part of my why is that when I think back to before 2016 me when I started working out and like focusing on self-care and health and wellness was when I think back to that time, I just feel quite sad and I feel like I never let myself my like true self out until I really focused on myself because before then I was just so obsessed with how other people were viewing me, I was so obsessed about other people. And without focusing on how happy I was or how I was feeling. And when I think back to that person I was before, I just feel really sad, and I just never want to be in that place again. Where I didn't have I didn't really have a direction. And I didn't really care about myself every time I think of her, who I was a few years ago, and who I am now I'm so proud of how far I've come. And I just feel like I can't, I will. I don't want to do that to myself. And so whenever I feel like really down or really unmotivated, I go back and remember mine why. And a huge part of that is going back to remember who I was and the person I've become now and the person I still want to be That is enough for me to get up, do my thing and just go through the day. And I know that sounds like super dramatic. And you know what just saying that got me a bit emotional. But it is super important to me. And that's why I continue to do what I do. That's why I continue to work out. That's why I continue to meditate, I continue to spend that one hour on myself every single day without fail. So I know the benefits, I've been through it, it's helped me get through really, really tough times. And so I'm going to continue doing it. I think I think that's really the basis of my motivation and where it comes from. So whenever someone asks me that I'm always just saying, make sure you understand why you're doing, what you're doing. And make sure that when you set yourself these goals, that they're focused mostly on what you will Get out of it, instead of like focusing on what, how other people will perceive you or how you may look to other people because it's really easy to fall into that trap of trying to, like get really fit so that someone will notice or, you know, going through all these healthy habits just for show when, especially in the social media age, when in actual fact it just that that's draining, and it doesn't do you any good. You need to focus on you, you need to focus on what it does for you. And I've personally found that when I've just been super, like hyper-focused on myself and hyper-focused on my goals. The motivation just naturally comes because I never feel like I'm dragging my feet because I never feel like it's for anyone else. It's just for me. So yeah, that's my answer, motivation. Remember your why and remember that Whatever your y is make sure that it's focused on you because you can't be out here pleasing other people. 

Wow. Hope you enjoyed that episode. I really had fun recording that episode, I actually did it completely unscripted, you might it might be a lot more obvious when I've said that now because my last one I actually wrote myself a script. And even though that was really good, because I had a bit more structure. For this one, I just wanted to be a bit freer and just have a chat. Like, this is what this podcast is all about. It's trying to be more personal and, you know, you can get to know me a bit more on a personal level rather than like having like a full-on script or a polished blog post or a perfectly edited video. So yeah, I hope that you enjoyed that episode. Let me know what you think. And if you have any more questions about health and wellness or anything like talked about today, please let me know. And we can discuss it on social media, or on my blog or whatever. And maybe a future episode. Who knows? 

Remember, you can find me on social media, on Twitter. I'm at @paulienuh, on Instagram. I'm at @paw.lean. And you can find more information on my blog, pawlean.com. Thank you so much once again, and I'll speak to you in the next one!

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Where my health & wellness journey began
2017-2018 of my journey - 'the obsession' with fitness
Signs of an unsustainble approach to fitness
2019 of my journey - reframing my mind
2020 - a sustainable approach
Body Image and weight gain
Habits that help with my mental health
Sleep obsession and 'hacks'
Unscripted? Or Scripted?