From Fat to Fit – Another Reason to Love the Great Outdoors


at the summit of Ben More, Isle of Mull

at the summit of Ben More, Isle of Mull

I love the great outdoors for so many reasons. Being out in the wild, windy and wet wonderfulness that is the Scottish countryside makes me feel alive. It’s good for the soul. I feel inspired. I feel connected to nature. And depending on my activity it gets my heart racing and my adrenaline pumping for a super natural high. In short, it feels amazing!

I also love the great outdoors because outdoor activities got me from fat to fit.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing lots of ideas for getting and staying fit in the great outdoors. Not just with the Sunday Brunch Club (the social and activities network I founded) but through lots of other groups in Edinburgh and beyond.

This blogpost is the story of how I went from couch potato to fitness fan.

My moment of truth came in January 2009 during the Shopping Trip from Hell when I was buying a new pair of ski trousers for SBC SKI 2009. To my horror none of the size 16s fitted and that was the largest size. I had thought it was my size.  The sales assistant advised that “big ladies usually buy mens”.  It’s an understatement to say that my mood was not good. The lovely Mr Mac had to give a lot of reassurance as I modelled Tisos men’s ski trouser collection! Determined never to repeat the experience I promised myself to take action on our return.

SBC SKI 2009

Pete & I in Meribel. I'm modelling the men's ski trousers - all that would fit!

So when my friend Jim announced that he was going to do the Hearts & Heroes Challenge – a 29 mile walk along the Southern Upland Way on 13 May 2009 – I jumped at the chance to join him. I didn’t like hillwalking, couldn’t understand why people seemed to get so excited about it but I thought it would be a good way to get fit painlessly. And with my size 16s groaning under the pressure immediate measures were needed.

Along with fellow Sunday Brunch Club members Jim, Rhoda, John, Ian, Pete and I started training. In the snow.

First Hearts & Heroes Training Session - Mar 09

First Hearts & Heroes Training Session - Mar 09 What a day to start?!

The first training session was fun but tough for me but as time went on I found myself enjoying the hillwalks and looking forward to our trips out. At the end of my first 12 mile walk with Mr Mac our legs ached for days but we saw improvements really quickly and my endurance and speed improved.

Hearts & Heroes Training Walk in The Pentlands - Mar 09

Hearts & Heroes Training in The Pentlands with Bill and Jim - Mar 09

It felt amazing to cross the finish line after 29 miles. And thanks to Maureen and and Jane (not pictured) who provided excellent support for us on the Challenge. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Hearts & Heroes Challenge Team

Hearts & Heroes Challenge Team - from l to r Ian, Jim, Rhoda, me, Mr Mac and John

I still go hillwalking right through the year and get on as many of the SBC hillwalks as I can. A huge thank you to our marvellous team of Hillwalk Leaders, Robin Davidson, Bill McWilliam, Ian Filby, Jim Hiddleston. In coming weeks I’ll be talking about other hillwalking groups and rescources if you have ideas you’d like me to include please put them in the comments box below

I was having such fun with walking and enjoying my newfound fitness that I decided to take my bike out of hibernation and sign up for Pedal for Scotland, the 51 mile bike ride in September 2009 with friends Stuart and Alan. I was a bit worried about keeping up with the superfit Mackenzie brothers but I managed to keep up a good pace. 

Pedal for Scotland 2009

Pedal for Scotland 2009 l to r me, Stuart Mackenzie, Alan Mackenzie, Ruth and Blair

It went so well that I decided up to do a bike ride around Arran with Graham and the guys from Arran Cycle. Stuart and Alan evidently not put off, came with me again. They managed admirably but… Oh. My. Goodness. That ride nearly killed me! I discovered that a) Arran is very hilly and b) the other guys were very fast. It felt good on the ferry home knowing I had done it – 56 very hilly miles. If you know Arran you’ll know the killer after-lunch climb up from Lochranza…

Arran Bike Ride 2010

Arran Bike Ride 2010 - At the beginning before I realised how hilly Arran was or how fast the guys were!

Undettered I then joined a few rides with Edinburgh CTC a group I found on this great resource for Group Rides in Edinburgh. And of course I went all our Sunday Brunch Club monthly bike rides. You can see some recent bike ride pictures on facebook. I went mountain biking and absolutely loved it. My most recent highlight was Pedal for Scotland 2010 last month when I completed the 100 mile Sportive pictures on facebook here

Mountain biking

Mountain biking with Mission WoW at Glentress - Aug 10

I’m a total convert to cycling and now and regularly use my bike to get around town as well as enjoying long rides. In future posts I’ll be giving more information on biking resources and my favourite bike shops, groups and more. If you have ideas you’d like me to include please put them in the comments box below.

I started running. It’s been a love-hate relationship! I love being able to see my fitness progress. So excited to improve my 5k time from 34 mins to a personal best of 25 mins.

I’ve just started again for Winter and have signed up for the BHF Winter Warmer 5K to help keep the focus. It’ll be a fun event. Are you doing it? Do you want to do it? Let me know in the comments box below.


BHF Winter Warmer

BHF Winter Warmer on 31 October 2010 - Hope to see you there! Let me know if you're running this

Every Saturday at 10.30am we do a run around Arthur’s Seat. It’s a beautiful run and all Sunday Brunch Club members are welcome to join us. In coming weeks I’ll be talking about other running groups and rescources if you have ideas you’d like me to include please put them in the comments box below


SBC Run 9 Oct 10

Beryl, Robert and Amabel on last Sunday's run. I'm behind the camera.

Fit for Fun
I have had so much fun with getting and staying active that I’ve boosted SBC’s Outdoor and Sports programmes so that all our members now have more options to get or stay fit while having a great time. These include

And yes, now that I’m two stones lighter, I can buy my ski trousers in the ladies section. Buying them this year was a pleasure. And of course it’s great to feel good in Party Girl dresses.

Grange Sports Club Ball

Grange Sports Club Ball - Oct 10

But the best thing is the whole new world of activity that’s opened up my life in exciting and unexpected ways.


I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please leave a comment in the box below
Do you know of a great fitness resource I can include in future blogs?
What fitness achievements are you most proud of?

What are your fitness goals for 2011?

Do you have your own fat to fit story to tell?


15 responses to “From Fat to Fit – Another Reason to Love the Great Outdoors

  1. Gosh, all that makes me feel fit just reading it. Fabulous, now to take your inspiration from above and get out of my chair……… Angus

  2. Awesome story! the only other resource Iwould add is the use of Emotional Freedom Technique you can get more info on my blog EFT is great for removing mental and emotial blocks to weight loss and reprogramming your mind.

  3. Wow fantastic blog and thank you for the mention re getting you started on walking the hills. Brings back memories of the fantastic Hearts and Heroes effort. Your story should be posted to the Nhs to encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors and get fit and feel good. Well done you! Jim x

  4. Great read! Need to go for a lie down now, am exhausted…

  5. Well done!

    My fat to fit was merely moving from the USA to Edinburgh. I didn’t actively diet or try to lose weight. Since i never weighed myself since I was 16, I don’t know how much i lost. It was just moving to a place where I walked everywhere and lived on the 7th floor of tenement building at the top of the Royal Mile so going home was always an uphill climb. Over the course of a year it got to the point where none of my old clothes fit! It was annoying since I didn’t have the money for a new wardrobe at the time. Then I discovered the wonderful world of charity shops and everything was alright again.

    I got to my fittest when i joined the St Andrews Boat Club – an amateur rowing club on the canal. I met two great friends in my boat who I’m still friends with. I don’t do it anymore though since getting four women plus a cox and a coach together regularly was really difficult.

    One suggestion for you, I’ve had a couple things put through my door by local politicians talking about “saving Dalry swim centre”. I presume possible cutbacks at Edinburgh Leisure may be a threat to our local gym centres. Perhaps you could advocate for keeping them open and funded in your new blog.

  6. Wow what a great story Fenella. Rowing sounds so cool Jane was telling me about a group she rows with that seems busy. I can ask her for details if you like.
    And thanks for the tip on blog topics – Edinburgh Leisure should be supported. Such a great resource for us.

  7. Is there a tv serial or film on the horizan, about this great transformation
    from Edinburgh couch to a Edinburgh Diva.

    It sounds great what you have done, how do you now keep it off ??

  8. Brian your comment made me laugh! Well if anyone out there wants to televise me…?! I love your Edinburgh Diva phrase – will start using that one.

    How do I keep the weight off? Well I find being a diva burns a lot of calories…

  9. Pingback: Diva does… Castle Terrace Restaurant | Adventures of an Edinburgh Diva

  10. Stephanie, you are a true inspiration and I can’t wait to give you my very own fat to fit story.

    -Thing is, I’m exercising my mind, aiming to change my thoughts, ways and habits. I am fully aware of the fact that NIKE has got it right; JUST DO IT ;D

    I am loving what I am doing, and will be loving it even more, when I am doing more, and following your example in creating another healthy fat to fit story.

  11. Hi Marianne, you ARE doing it! You’re the poster girl for Just Do It!
    Look forward to catching up tomorrow.

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