Camila Tobias, 34, a manager at a financial consulting firm from Greenwich in London, took charge of her health and fitness earlier this year – and didn’t let lockdown deter her from her goals.
2019 was a really tough year for me. I went through a series of really major life events, and by the end of the year… I don’t think I’ve ever felt so physically and emotionally exhausted. It affected my lifestyle too – I put on a fair bit of weight because I was relying so much on sugary food to keep me going. I didn’t really have the energy to exercise either. I was in a pretty bad place.
So at the beginning of 2020, I decided to take some much-needed time off. I needed to reset – and I wanted to use the time to invest in my health.
I’d read an article about Roar Fitness and their incredible transformation stories. I was inspired by one client who wasn’t that into the gym but got great results and this gave me the courage to start a fitness journey.
I signed up, and while I did have some modest weight-loss goals – I weighed just under 13 stone at the time, the heaviest I’ve ever been – my primary reason for joining the gym was to get healthy.
I started in February this year – my first session was on my birthday – with a Roar personal trainer called Anca Vrabie. I was no stranger to the gym, but the first session felt a bit alien. I was doing so much I’d never tried before, like deadlifts, and this really evil thing called a prowler – basically a weighted sled I’d have to push and pull across the length of the gym.
My first hour-long session was incredibly tough because I was so unfit. But before I knew it, I was going three days a week, feeling stronger and more comfortable each time. Anca was quite militant about form, which suited the perfectionist in me down to the ground. Our sessions always involved heavy weights, low reps and lots of rest in between, which I found really worked for me.
On top of the strength sessions, Anca had me doing three cardio sessions, 30 – 40 minutes at a moderate intensity, on my own. I opted for running, using the Couch to 10k app to build up my miles. I started out doing running and walking intervals for 30 minutes, but I found myself improving quite quickly, and I was up to 10k within a few weeks.
My diet also got an overhaul. Roar’s programme also included an eating plan, which saw me start with a complete 3-week reset – very high protein and minimal carbs. After that, my plan was tweaked at regular intervals, and I slowly increased my carb intake again.
My protein intake – necessary for the muscle I was building – was much higher than I was used to, so I never felt hungry. There were some days where it was actually a struggle to get all the food in.
My new normal
I had a month in the gym with Anca before we went into lockdown – thankfully, it was enough to learn the basics. I’d made quite a lot of progress by then, both in terms of fitness and weight loss (I’d lost near to a stone in the first few weeks), and I was determined to keep working towards my goal, even if I couldn’t get to the gym.
I had to buy a set of dumbbells, but the only ones I could find were a set made of walnut wood, which are hilarious, but they do they job (picture Ron Burgundy from Anchorman as in the gym: these are the dumbbells he’d use). I already had a skipping rope, a yoga mat, a kettlebell and a running backpack that I’d fill to turn it into a weighted vest, so I was all set.
Anca did provide me with some workouts, but I found I really enjoyed using an app. I experimented with a few before I settled on SWEAT, where I followed Kayla Itsines’ BBG plan. The workouts are meant to be fast paced, but I found success adapting them to the slow, steady weight training I’d done at Roar, keeping my heart rate low.
Anca had showed me how slowing down each movement would actually make them harder, and this tactic definitely levelled up my home workouts.
Although I had quite a lot of success training at home during lockdown, I’d don’t think it would have happened if it hadn’t been for Anca’s guidance. She set me up both physically and mentally to succeed.
How I workout
I managed to keep working out six days a week, alternating between strength workouts in my back garden, and 5k or 10k runs. I have to fit things in around my work schedule and the weather, but my usual home workout week looked something like:
- Monday: Legs strength session
- Tuesday: 5k tempo run
- Wednesday: Abs & arms strength session
- Thursday: 10k slow run
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: Full-body strength session
- Sunday: 5k run
Now that gyms are open, I’ve started up again with Anca at Roar, but only twice a week – I’m still not back at the office, and it’s quite a long trip. I’ll still do a third strength session at home.
Another thing that really help keep my steps and activity up while working from home was ‘exercise snacking’ – basically getting up at regular intervals and doing a few squats or even just dancing around a bit. We had a bit of a competition going at work, which made it really fun.
What I eat in a week
I kept up with the eating plan too – eating healthy, unprocessed food left me feeling so good. It was a no-brainer for me to keep going. Plus, the fact that I was at home all the time meant I had plenty of time for meal prep, and I love to cook, so I really enjoyed getting creative with my meals. Preparing tasty, beautifully plated food has become an important part of my own self-care.
- Breakfast: A high-protein meal, like smoked salmon, a boiled egg and half an avocado, or bacon, scrambled eggs and some veg
- Lunch: A big chicken salad loaded with couscous, cucumber and herbs, picked red onions and tahini dressing
- Dinner: Some lean protein and veg – I like to treat myself to high quality meat and fish from the butcher
I more than surpassed my weight-loss goals – I now weigh a little under 10 stone. I’ve had to buy a whole new wardrobe in a smaller size. But the end goal of this wasn’t really changing my appearance (although new clothes are nice) but it’s the internal changes that have been most important to me.
I’m someone who has struggled with mental health issues long-term, and the regular exercise and healthy food has made such a huge difference. Mentally, I’m so much more resilient than I was.
I’ve also I’ve been more productive and way more creative when it comes to work and writing, one of my favourite hobbies. I’ve just had so much more energy – I finish a day’s work, I workout and I still have energy leftover for writing or doing something else I love.
My new lifestyle has provided me with the foundation for doing the stuff that matters to me. It’s exceeded my expectations completely.
Camila’s home workout essentials
Women’s Health Cast Iron and Rubber Kettlebell – 8kg
Reebok Purple and Grey 6mm Yoga Mat
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