Ruthie’s JSA Journey
Going to get straight to it.
It’s been one hell of a journey in JSA and so much has happened I didn’t know how or where to begin!
I’ve tried to plan, prepare and think how to write this challenge story for months but in the end it just needs to be written directly from my heart, I need to let this go.
After being in Cheltenham for the weekend, I finally know why it’s taken so long to write this, it’s because it means so much and it’s letting go of an old me - an afraid, shy, quiet girl and making room for the new person I’m transforming into. She’s confident, sexy and quite cool at times - I’m really not used to it. I’ve been a tomboy, quirky, clumsy, silly most of my life. I don’t know who this new person is!! She’s audacious, ballsy and throws dance moves whenever possible - it’s embarrassing but also A LOT of fun.
The beginning of this is so sad and so far away from who I am now, I’ve been too afraid to write it and read in black and white. I’m just going to take a breath and get this done.
How do I wrap up 17 months of my life? The most transforming time I’ve ever had. A mixed bag of the most emotional, hardest and most amazing times of my life! I’ve no idea!! The past 17 months have been a rollercoaster ride.
The reason I’m not rounding up just the present challenge but all of my journey? I feel this is where I’m at presently and it feels right.
My journey has been very slow and steady and I’m at a point now looking back where I’m proud of my journey and who I’ve become.
Ok I’ve been trying & I don’t know how to do it! after 17 months posting nearly every day, I thought I’d find this easy and it just isn’t! Its just too effing long....I think I could draw it or dance it or write a poem or make a video but writing it is like a book! So I’ve gone for a start middle and end.
From the start last year I’ve always related to my journey as ‘The James Jigsaw’. He gave me the pieces, I had to make the picture. It went like this:
I was in a box room at my parents, a 5 month pregnancy had come to an end, I was laid on my bed dealing with the post natal body and hormones but no baby, I was absolutely lost and
I didn’t exercise, I didn’t even walk, I ate crap and I didn’t think there was any point to me even being here. I honestly thought why did the World want me around, why would anyone love me. I was in a dark place. I’d lost everything I knew mind, materialistic and body. I had no vices to turn to. My soul and zest for life had left the building.
I’d left a toxic relationship along with my business, a property, so called friends, and everything I ever knew. Oh then I got fired - that was nice. I had nothing, no money, no home, no partner, no baby, nothing. I was back at my parents after being away from home since I was 19. I’d never borrowed a penny from no one and there I was a complete mess, totally incapable of anything living at my parents eating all their biscuits and chocolate magnums. I’d been at my sisters but I felt a spare part in their life with her family and sons. I was so unhappy it was untrue. I had nowhere to turn. And without being totally depressing - it was a matter of months, maybe weeks before I’d just want out. I had no fight left and hated myself for getting that way too.
Laid on the bed in the afternoon scrolling through Facebook feeling sorry for myself - I came across your LIVE. It was a rant about Pete the ballbag. Then vegans and something about Keto. I laughed my fucking head off. I jumped upright out of bed. I’ll never forget it. I actually laughed and I hadn’t in ages. I was sat at 90 degrees laughing. I remember taking that moment quite seriously. I’m laughing, I’m smiling? This is important I thought.
Thereafter, I watched every morning and night (you did 2 then in Oz), I set alarms for them and I’d drop everything I was doing to watch them - much to my Dads tuttering and moaning at me. Get off your phone and get to the job centre!
I sat and took notes at every live, every book recommendation, every quote, I noted it. You were passionate, funny and I wanted in. I had no money but when there’s a will there’s a way. I found it and joined up & within weeks, I’d joined the group & I had my mum taking photos of me half naked for the 1st Bali Challenge. She loved it. I was doing something and she saw her daughter wanting to live, she was all in. And so was I.
The middle bit (February 2018 to July 2019):
Some of the achievements made, there’s boat loads, I’ll remember them all once I’ve sent!:
•5 JSA challenges - complete.
•Half trail marathon
•A full marathon
•Found CrossFit and fucked off running
•a Jamie Catto workshop
•CrossFit competition at body power
•Found a love for lifting
•Photoshoot for Fiji challenge final
•Over 10 JSA meet ups
•Unstoppable weekend with Paul Mort
•Met Sonny Webster, Martin Macdonald, Ross Edgley, Diren Kartel and Paul Mort
•Best part - Met you - twice ~ having the confidence to speak the second time proved to me how far I’d come!
•Swam in the sea by myself for the first time
•Got on stage by myself at a literary event and read out one of my poems
•Took part in a play - a fisherman’s wife, my only line was ‘get off me’! I said it well
•since January I’ve posted all my progress online and don’t care what people think
•get chatted up and stared at more often, I actually got chatted up while writing this earlier, his chat up line was ‘you look sporty, do you work out?’ I secretly loved it. He asked my name and I said ‘Angel’ - no idea why haha. I felt confident. It was magic.
•what I’ve loved most is no ones told me what to eat, drink or what training to pick - I’ve moulded my own lifestyle which enables control.
•Been out to dinner & lunch alone
•Took part in over 10 performances with a community choir (amazing way to get confidence back! Sing!)
•Supported my mum through cancer, a stroke and a bad fall
•Become my own nutritionist; learnt all about calories, making food, protein, prepping, all on a budget. I could write a whole book on this. I make an unreal banana bread
•being more knowledgable in general about life
•I still eat all the food I love
•I know how to not eat till 15:00 and it’s called not eating till 3pm.
•tried the gym, home workouts, running, TRX, boxing and then found CrossFit and lifting - the rest is history.
•I don’t weigh myself anymore but it’s approx over 1.5 stone I’ve lost in weight •Lost a tonne of bullshit and know when I’m online or reading anything. I don’t get fooled anymore.
•I’ve tried everything from joe wicks to insanity to beach body to tone it up to wall climbing to the gym to yoga to Bootcamp to les mills to bro split to juice diets to starving myself and I was exhausted. I’m thankfully now in JSA where I belong!!
•Gone from size 12/14 to 8/10 - means a lot in a woman’s brain.
•Took my first ever video Sept 18......
•.......Then took a video every day thereafter in JSA Squatober, Plankvember and 25 days of Xmas challenges and turned into a video dancing sporty junkie
•helped numerous friends and family with my new found knowledge!
•my head faces down on all my photos up until the Fiji Challenge and I didn’t take a video for 7months!
•read the books, walked and listened to podcasts. Sat on street corners listening to your podcasts (because they’re too relaxing at home and can bring on sleep!)
•I’ve done all of this with hardly any money, I sold my camera for lifting shoes for the last challenge to work on my snatch goal!
•been on courses, workshops, Ross Edgley live, currently on a transformation with Paul Mort
•joined Sonny Webster academy - I love it. Thanks to listening to your podcast. And Donna telling me to.
•You’ve changed my whole life around James and I am eternally grateful. Fitness and body issues aside, I just feel a whole lot happier in general and that’s worth more than abs or ass any day. Thank you so much.
•favourite: helped transform a friends life and find fitness and nutrition in his life. Now 4 months off drugs and in CrossFit. Probably the best gift ever, helping another change their life. He had to want to do it but the fact I could be there to help has transformed me too.
•I make people laugh when I tell them Pete the ballbag and Brian the Bird where the instigators that changed my life
•I got my money back from the joe wicks plan - I felt so deflated by trying to cook the recipes and doing the exercises I jibbed out after a week. Told them I had a bad back and got my money back. I did too, from traipsing around trying to find weird ingredients. I’m proud of this.
•the numerous messages and comments I get from people who’ve gone back to the gym or been inspired by me. Most recently someone went ice skating. Another joined weightlifting class. 4 CrossFit. Another messaged me to offer to pay for my flight to Barcelona today! Someone I’ve never even met but said I’ve helped them! What!
•never giving up. Never getting on or off a wagon or starting again. Just getting on with it and facing it all for 17 months and now my future.
•I’ve never worked harder or stayed as consistent at this than anything I’ve ever done.
•I’m closer to my parents and even though I beat myself up about being back with my parents at the time, we formed relationships we’d never have had without it. No regrets. I now speak to my mum every day - before it was once a month. My dad even sends me WhatsApp messages and has bought an iPhone. They have followed every part of my progress.
•the feeling of being more educated. All the jokes, sass and dancing aside - I feel like I’ve been in some sort of Uni but without the massive price tag or loan to pay back.
•my dad bought me a heart bracelet (he never buys me anything ever!) he said it was a ‘never be that miserable person again celebration bracelet’ - thanks Dad.
•my travel notepad is full of dick drawings after Cheltenham.
My #bali3 challenge goal:
The massive thing I see here is the mental transformation. In one I can’t even look up. The other is zero fucks given to posing on the street and having fun!!
My fat loss journey was very quick at first and I’ve lost over a stone in weight, then it’s been a long, hard journey getting even the tiniest bit of definition or muscle and gaining body strength.
The strength in my legs isn’t even noticeable in a photo but they are 10 times stronger and flexible. It’s very frustrating to work and work over long periods of time and not SEE anything. Especially the past few months - I’ve worked my ass off at a new sport and there’s hardly any composition change.
HOWEVER - the unseen mental side of me is getting stronger every day, it’s just harder to show and get across. I’m hoping I can do that in this challenge.
Being told I’m skinny, stick legs, tiny ass, why do you go to the gym you don’t need to? All really gets to me as no one asks ‘are you happy?’ Or ask what focus and drive I get from fitness? It’s all about the body sometimes.
And yes I’m not gonna lie, I’m looking forward to getting ripped because I’ve never looked like that! and I’m excited to be the best my body can be - who doesn’t want to look hot even just for a little bit of our lives, it’ll all be gone one day anyway! I just want to try it!
I think I’m trying to say the mental transformations are incredible. I’m a different person but that cannot be always seen in a photograph.
I may not LOOK that different but I can tell you I FEEL a hell of a lot different.
💜I’m really proud of how far I’ve come💜 - and just writing that is my transformation.
Last ten years or so:
When partying was my life: I couldn’t do, see, speak or go anywhere without getting drunk or taking something. All my problems would vanish and I’d blackout hopefully and forget my life. I loved drinking. l’ve had wild, crazy, absolutely amazing times - st Patrick’s day was always my favourite, being half Irish and there being a whole day dedicated to getting pissed - was a dream come true. When it landed on a weekend even better, one year it did and the whole day drinking wasn’t enough so I got in a taxi to the airport to get on a flight anywhere - the choice was Leeds, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam - I thought fuck love, chocolates, long sausages or Leeds I wanted more party - so you guessed it I ended up in Amsterdam which I quickly renamed amsterdamage afterwards. I’ve drank vodka straight out the bottle on a night train in Vietnam talking to chickens, I’ve swam in the Mediterranean naked drinking cava out the bottle, got on stage with a jazz singer in New Orleans after drinking what seemed hundreds of drinks called hand grenades (they don’t tell you the ingredients) followed by the bourbon street tradition of flashing my boobs to everyone on the street. I got on the back of a fire engine chucking out beads for a Mardi Gras type parade - totally wasted, I drove a hover boat pissed in the swamps surrounded by alligators.
On the flip side comes the less funny and more dangerous, when my life was totally out of control: Woke up outside a street hotel entrance door asleep. Threw a pint glass at a mirror dancing in a rock bar cause I thought it was funny. Mistook martini for wine and was the epitome of paralytic - a bit like the guy in wolf of Wall Street that took too many lemons but I thought it was hilarious and I was really living life! I took a load of African guys to get drunk paying for everything and buying all their watches only later to try get bundled into a van and nearly raped. Lost bags, wallets, money, jewellery, multiple iPads, iPhones and lost my car many times.
These are to name just a few - ones that I can remember anyway. I was the life and soul I thought but evidently actually a bit of an arsehole. I’d vetoed the right to partying. I desperately needed change.
I basically spent years of my life chasing the end of the wine glass, shot glass, pint glass, martini glass, cider glass.... any fucking glass I could to find for all my answers to my problems, they never came so I had to drink heavier and heavier to get the high. A night out wasn’t enough so I’d carry on for the whole weekend. Then drink wasn’t enough so I went on to harder things. Still not enough, still no answers. What it gave me in return was god awful hangovers, I was fat, bloated, miserable, depressed, bad skin and people that were only my friends because I was always buying everything and was the best craic to be around. I binged on junk food, starved myself or puked up food. I bought insanity, beach body, SSS, tone it up (2 fit birds from LA and another £300 wasted) everything - and tried to defy science by sweating it out jumping in my living room. I followed juice diets, plans, aloe Vera cleanse - all the fucking shite that was sold to a very naive and helpless me.—————-
I found this academy and my life just hit the gas and there’s no turning back!! I know what to eat and how to exercise and most importantly - WHY. I’ve never know why before now. I came to realise that I’m actually now capable of all that fun and SOME now that I’m focussed, that other girl is still there but she’s more in the moment than being wasted. I don’t forget or not hear or see anything these days, I feel every touch, I see every sparkle, I hear every word someone says to me, I look people dead in the eye and feel their soul and actually hear what they are saying. I thought I was living then but I’m actually really living now. I sing, dance and socialise without the use of substances. I believe in myself. I feel magic every day in the simplest of things. I barely have any possessions and want for little. I treasure my friends that have stayed around when it’s been shit the past year or so. And I treasure the new friends I have met here that have supported me so much.
I was a bit of a tear away, always looking for a party and the next hit of anything! Whether it be alcohol, shopping, cigarettes, food, sex, drugs, dance, party - anything that would laugh off and cover over / mask what was going on in my head. I procrastinated, ignored and couldn’t face anything. Party? What time? I’m there. Festival? Yeah a whole weekend of forgetting everything. Woke up on a hill in a Spanish village at a tomato festival this way. That was a lot of fun actually.
Had A LOT of fun, but years and years of it took its toll and I just ended up numb & fat with a boat load of addictions to shake off. I broke one day, actually broke...crashed to the floor, cried for a bit and screamed. Then got up, gave myself a deadline of 3 weeks to arrange myself and walked out on THE LOT: 2 businesses, a relationship, an apartment overlooking the mediterránean sea, my friends, my things. My everything I ever knew. I acted brave and put on a front but...It broke me.
I’m now getting to grips with mental health, this past year talking for the first time about it - having been trapped in my head for years it’s been magical and such a RELIEF and most recently - getting counselling, now on my 4th session this week. My past and some stuff I’ve had to deal with has basically nearly been the end of me. I’m happy to say I fought and I’m getting through it.
I’ve started a new chapter in my life and I’m looking forward to the future. I’m learning, reading, stopping myself fucking about, i don’t need hardly anything material to survive, I eat fresh food, I have friends, I have a roof over my head - that’s it. My life is simple. I’m always weirdly happy I have my teeth and legs. So many people don’t. And now I have really long legs.
I’m facing my fears head on this year, it’s frightening at times but worth it!! I’m even going to get over a life long fear of spiders and hold a tarantula. Apparently it’s a cure for so much. I’m getting to know myself again and it’s fun!! I realise now I don’t need any go-tos or addictions to keep me happy, I just needed to be ME.
Yes it’s great to walk down the street and finally have an ass in my jeans
Yes it’s nice to look in the mirror and like what I look like naked
Yes it’s nice to receive compliments and get asked out more - by men & women!
Yes it’s nice to have even longer legs!
But what is the best feeling in the world - is walking down the street and loving how I feel in my head.
Walking down the street and loving who I am. Being audacious, silly, adventurous, sexy, sassy, laughing, hugging, creative - ME. And not caring what others think.
I’ve sold all my valuables, mainly to buy lifting things 😂 I live in a hostel, I’m starting a new life and I’m pleased to say I am my most valuable possession. It’s taken almost 38 years but here I am. Here I fucking am.
My goal in #Bali3 was to show a transformation not only of composition but of mindset. I hope I’ve achieved that.
Over the past 17 months I’ve revealed who I am, the lowlights, the highlights: warts and all, given my all to the challenges, to the beautiful legends that are now my family, to the academy and to you. I’m less afraid each day and it means the world.
Its without a doubt been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m in tears just looking back through it all, it’s time to let go of this and start a new chapter and that’s what’s scary and making me cry.
What you have created here is very special.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I finally have put together a pretty decent jigsaw which I’m proud of.
So there we have it - ‘The James Jigsaw’ pieced together and still pieces to find like that damn bit of green grass or blue sky pieces missing. I have however, the foundations, the edges and the main character.
Honestly, I don’t know if that makes sense, if my effort and hard work comes across.
The change I see most though is mental, its the things you can’t see, I’ve pulled things out the bag I never thought I could. I’m stronger and more determined than I ever imagined and I now know the world has a place for me.
If I could scrap it all and replace with one phrase though, I’ve gone from:
‘HEAD DOWN TO HEAD UP’.
That’s it actually.
Love & hugs,