To celebrate Internationals Women's Day on 8th March, we've dedicated an entire week to hearing from some of the most influential and inspiring female voices that we've been fortunate to work with.
Celebrating their sports, their training and their unique takes on the wellness industry, with advice and practical tips for both the current crop and future generations of women in fitness.
Bon Collins is a coach and body neutrality expert who has overcome absolutely insurmountable odds on her own personal journey, to become one of the most inspirational and unique female figures in fitness.
Here Bon shares with us her philosophies on goal setting, challenging yourself and how establishing the right goals for you may be the most crucial part of the plan.
Most of my life has been a bit of a challenge. Not always in a good way, so it always felt like I was failing, and the one challenge I couldn’t seem to get on board with was taking care of myself for the future.
For 20 years I battled with my weight and for 20 years if you named a diet, I had tried it. I did the exercises all my friends were doing, but I was miserable and never stuck at it. I’d lose a few stone, old habits would creep in, I’d still be unhappy with myself and the cycle would repeat.
I couldn't understand how I had the strength to get myself out of a wheelchair after five years and walk again, yet I didn’t have the strength to keep going on a diet.
It wasn’t until I really started thinking more deeply about why I kept going backwards on the one thing I really wanted that the penny dropped and things changed. I’d been setting myself the wrong goals.
I had believed that in order to feel happier and better in myself the goal should be to lose weight. It didn’t matter how I did it, but that was the goal. Being a certain size or shape was going to bring me happiness. After another month of nothing but chicken and broccoli and trying to run like everyone else, I felt so down. I also probably had far less of a social life due to the cumulative effect of lots of chicken and broccoli every day. I was scrolling through Instagram when I came across someone talking about exercise - and they weren’t trying to tell people what they should do, but just sharing something they really enjoyed. I could see how happy they were. It struck a chord for me.
At that point I realised that my goal was never the weight loss really, it was to be happier, to be stronger and fitter and to be able to enjoy moving my body. I realised in that moment that I didn’t need to wait to feel that way, I could be happier from that very moment if I chose to.
In 2019 I changed my goal. I decided I wanted to focus on taking care of my body so that it would keep working well for the long term. I sacked off doing the exercise that everyone else was doing and tried different things till I found something I enjoy. For me that was lifting weights. I enjoyed it so much I never had to force myself to go and do it, and as I enjoyed that and wanted to get better, I found I started taking better care of my nutrition and instead of ‘failing’ after 4 to 6 weeks, I just kept going.
Being able to stick at it brought confidence in my body and ability that I had not had before. It changed my mindset even further and I began thinking about how now I could lift those weights, what could I do next? How could I challenge my body to do something it hadn’t done before? I didn’t want to be the best weight lifter or strong woman, I just wanted to challenge my body in ways that I enjoyed, so I started thinking about things I could do and enjoy. Over the last 3 years I have made exercise and moving my body part of my life that is something I do without question. I am stronger, I am happier and a fantastic side effect is that I am healthier too.
So how can you challenge yourself and set goals?
-My biggest piece of advice with goal setting is that even if you do have an aesthetic goal for the future ( and let’s face it, we all would like to look a certain way or have a particular look we aspire to), don’t focus solely on that. What matters most is actually the process, the steps that you take to reach that goal - that’s where your focus needs to be. So set that overarching goal, then break it down into smaller things that you can enjoy, that over time will add up. After that focus on how you want to feel while you are working towards that goal.
-Don’t be afraid to do what makes you happy. You don’t have to do the same as everyone else and you don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you want to do something.
-Start small. We all have people we aspire to be like or being able to do things that they do - and the person at the top of that list will be the best at that thing. When you’re thinking about what you aspire to do make a list of 10 people who inspire you in that thing - then scroll down to number 7 - that’s the person you need to pay most attention to, because that will be attainable. Follow people on social media that inspire you rather than make you feel bad about yourself.
-Don’t be afraid to change things. You might start working towards one challenge or try something and find it isn’t the right thing for you. There’s nothing wrong with this - it’s not failing, it’s learning. We can’t all be good at everything so don’t beat yourself up. Go back to the drawing board and explore some more.
Challenging ourselves and setting goals can be a scary prospect. We might think we lack the confidence or think we won’t be able to do things, but the only way to find out is to try.