We recently caught up with Catherine Ann Smiles the founder of ThickGirlFitGirl and spoke to her about her journey of weight loss, to the woman she is now and the whole ThickGirlFitGirl movement.
When did you decide to change your lifestyle and get healthier?
I would say it started all the way back in 2002, I left college and decided to take a gap year. During that time I was doing some acting and working part time at the Royal Free in Hampstead. At the hospital, there was a rec centre that was kind of like a hospital gym, so I decided to join it and that was the beginning. My thing was that I didn’t want to go to university big, so I was like okay, during this year I’m just going to try and lose some weight.
Did that come from any confidence or self-esteem issues?
I wouldn’t say I was aware of confidence or self-esteem issues at the time, I wasn’t really thinking about self-esteem. All I was thinking about was that university was a chance for me to be a new person and to reinvent myself. Essentially, I wanted to shed my old skin and go to university a different person, so that was my main motivation behind it.
How much weight did you lose in the end?
To be honest, I’ve lost count, but I’ve gone through different stages of knowledge and awareness of fitness and about food. When I started, I was just dropping my calorie intake to like 500 a day and doing cardio like first thing in the morning. I wasn’t knowledgeable of what the proper ways to be healthy was, so as the years have gone past I’ve educated myself and things have changed drastically.
Did you go through any fad diet stages?
Yes, I’ve gone through just eating salad leaves and chicken breast, I’ve done the shakes, the slim fast. There was a period of time where I did no carbs and that ended up damaging my metabolism, so I had to metabolically repair my body and at the time I had an eating disorder in the midst of all that. So it’s been a journey and there has definitely been some ups and downs.
So now, in general, how often do you train a week?
6 days a week. My thing is now weight training which I do 6 days a week. I try and do cardio 2 – 3 times a week it’s probably the least thing I do. I have a treadmill at home so if anything, I can jump on my treadmill but I what I prefer is to weight train. I like to feel strong and feel my muscles and look toned.
What sort of tips can you give for everyday women who may live a busy lifestyle and can’t always make it to the gym?
You can do stuff at home. I would advocate women if you want to look a certain way get resistance training into your life, get weight training into your life. It helps you to burn fat, so even if you are just at home I would get stuff like resistance bands, get a couple of dumb bells. It also depends on your goals and what you are trying to do.
What motivates you?
God. I believe that I have gone past motivation and it’s just life, obviously I go through my moments when I don’t particularly feel like going to the gym or doing my training. However, how great I feel after is what motivates me. Also probably more than ever is the way my body has changed motivates me. When I look in the mirror I’m so comfortable now with what I see and I’m so comfortable with the changes due to how I’m training, this keeps me motivated and I want to do it more.
So, regarding the ThickGirlFitGirl movement what is that about?
By the general standards of medical characterisation, I am still considered overweight, even though I have been training for years and I don’t look like a fitness person. There are people out there who look like me, who are healthy, train, their strong, but people might not necessarily see them as “fitness people.” So the whole thing is I’m a thick girl but at the same time I’m fit. So the platform is mostly for people like me who train, live healthy lifestyles, might not necessarily be deemed desirable in the commercial sense. But we are thick, we are beautiful, we love how we look, we love our fitness. It’s all about women who are shaped like me, who still take care of themselves, live a healthy lifestyle and feel good in themselves.
With all that what can we expect this year?
I have launched my blog which covers a range of different topics aside from just fitness including, makeup, skin, style, food recipes and current issues I speak on. So I am just continuing to build that. I also think it’s important that I introduce the world to me because essentially this whole movement is about me. It’s about the things I’ve been through, and the things I’ve done and unlike me going through this 14-year journey of all the wrong things and right things I’ve done, people reading my blog can start on the right playing field in terms of educating themselves on fitness and living a healthy lifestyle and training. I also want to talk more about my career, I’ve worked in PR for 8 years. I’ve done PR for the likes of One Direction and Alicia Keys, so I think giving advice for young people getting into this industry is something I would want to do. Essentially, it’s taking my experiences and motivating others.
With your amazing body and Social media, what type of reception have you gotten?
What has been positive has been girls messaging me like how did you do it? How long did it take you to lose weight? What kind of things do you eat? People just commenting on the makeup looks I have on social media and say I really like that. Moreover it’s been good that girls also ask me for advice and motivation based on my posts and my movement.
If you could go back and speak to your 18-year-old self what advice would you give her?
I would say “Set yourself up to not work for somebody else”. Get yourself together and start your life on your own terms. I’ve always been switched on even from when I was younger, but of course, things happen things knock you back and life happens. I would say “you’re going to make mistakes, things are going to happen that are not going to go your way, but just always, always have that mindset of SELF! Doing things on your own and not for somebody else”