Change. Life is full of it.

As you may have noticed, I have only published one blog post so far this year. There are many reasons for that – first and foremost, life’s little adventures have become somewhat lacklustre since I lost my beloved doggie Albert in November last year. I can’t face going to Blackbury Camp and photograph the bluebells or the autumn leaves without him, so a few of my blog post traditions have been lost, at least for now.

As luck would have it, though, one year and one week after losing Albie, I was asked to become a dog walker for Bertie. We’ve already been out on one long walk – in the recent Devon deluge, no less – and we both had a brilliant time. After one hour’s walk, Bertie was eager for another lap, so this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The main reason though, is another change: I seem to be morphing into a bit of a gym bunny of late. I needed something to fill my time with when I came back from Norway after Christmas last year, and compensating for the lack of all those dog walks with a gym membership seemed a great idea.

This way to the gym

The gymming (that is totally a word, btw) took a bit of a back seat in March, when I returned from yet another trip to Norway and was told by my landlords that they were selling the house and that I needed to find somewhere else to live.

Another major change in a short space of time.

For a few months I put all my energy into my work, trying to save up enough money for a decent deposit on a flat, but once again I landed on my feet and, thanks to my minimalist ways, I was able to rent a tiny, cheap flat just a few minutes’ stroll from the beach.

This change turned out to be a good’un.

I moved in there in July, and having the stunning South West Coast Path quite literally on my doorstep, I have rediscovered the joy of long walks, usually accompanied by the hilarious podcast The Guilty Feminist, as I still need distraction from the fact that there is no happily wagging tail in front of me. (I am not trying to make you feel sorry for me, I promise you I am fine. But I want to be honest about this. People who have never loved an animal tend not to understand how profound the grief of losing them can be.)

Anyway –

The change of location meant I was now even further away from the gym I had signed up with. I made a mental note to cancel my membership as soon as the contract allowed. Until then, I decided I would try to use the gym as much as possible, as the membership isn’t cheap. (And also because the showers there are better than the one in my new flat). Also, I had started seeing a physiotherapist in the same building, so it only made sense to work out after my appointments there.

And then I tried a free taster session with a Personal Trainer – and I LOVED it! I signed up for weekly sessions then and there. Now, a few months later, I have lost over 12 kg and am fitter and stronger than I have ever been. In fact, I am enjoying it so much that I have signed up for a 1-month membership at a gym in Norway, so I can keep working out while visiting friends and family over the Christmas and New Year’s period.

Gym equipment

By now you are probably starting to wonder who is writing this – this doesn’t sound like Neens Bea, right?

Don’t worry, this has been such a change that I don’t recognise myself, either. I have just finished a complementary PT session today. My trainer took me through a 21/15/9 workout (I know, I had no idea what it meant, either). I cycled 0.3 miles on a spin cycle, then did 21 goblet squats, 21 push-ups and 21 kettlebell swings. Then back on the bike, no break, followed by 15 goblet squats, 15 push-ups and 15 kettlebell swings. You get the gist.

Once I had somehow completed all that exercise, my trainer joked that it was just the first set. I really love her, she has the most brilliant sense of humour. She ‘surprised’ me with an extra set in this way a few months back. Since then, ‘surprise, you’re doing another set!’ has become a standing joke between us.

However, this time she wasn’t joking…

I have no idea how I did it, but I got through it and I felt great afterwards. And I’m already looking forward to my next session with her on Tuesday. So no, I don’t recognise myself, but I think I like the person that I’m changing into. By now I don’t get completely wiped out after workouts, either. It is good to be able to do a bit of work afterwards. (Not gonna lie, my income took a hit during the first few months after I caught the exercise bug. Thank goodness for the cheap ‘beach hut’ by the sea. If I had wound up buying my own place, I would not have been able to do this.)

Change - Barbell

It is actually very liberating to be able to focus so intently on my own health and fitness. Obviously it I something I should have started many, many moons ago, but better late than never, right? And who would have thought this committed desk jockey would be able to leg press 120 kg? (Yup, that’s not even a humblebrag, that’s just pure boasting! 😂)


Seriously though, I had no idea that I was strong, but a few weeks ago my trainer increased the weight during an exercise and said “I forget that you’re so much stronger than my other clients!” Whoa. I am strong?? Until that moment I had only ever thought of myself as a weak and feeble woman. (I was indoctrinated by the patriarchy, no doubt. Can you tell that listening to The Guilty Feminist is rubbing off on me?). But similar experiences in the gym have proved to me that I am in fact strong, and I enjoy working towards getting even stronger.

The realisation that I am actually strong has done something to my confidence. I wish I would have realised sooner, of course, but I am SO happy that my lovely nieces over in Norway began training martial arts at an early age, because we women aren’t just mentally strong, we are physically strong as well, and I am thrilled that they won’t grow up buying into the notion that all women are weak and feeble. To them, the phrase “you kick like a girl” is the ultimate compliment – and that is how it should be.

Change - Kick like a girl

Now, I don’t kick yet, but my personal trainer is also into martial arts, so watch this space. I may yet kick like a girl. 😉

Love, Neens xx


(All photos are from

4 comments Add yours
  1. You have indeed experienced many changes, which have changed you in surprising and beneficial ways. Thanks for sharing them in this post. Surely it is an inspiration for everyone who reads it,

    1. Thank you so much, Sara! You never really know where life will take you, I guess. If someone had told me a year ago that I would soon spend more time gymming (still totally a word) than singing, it is safe to say I would not have believed them! 😀

  2. I feel for you missing your little monkey. I know you cannot replace him, but consider giving all your love to another pup. I often tell my two girls (border collie and anatolian shepherd) how I wish they could have met their brother, JJ, as they would have loved him as much as I do (still). Best of luck in all of your amazing endeavours. Happy Holidays in Norway.

    1. Thank you so much, Maggie! Sorry about the late reply, for some reason I wasn’t notified of your comment. Unfortunately I am not allowed to have pets where I live now, but I shower my love on all dogs I meet. I have also tried befriending my new neighbour’s cats, but no luck so far (they know they’re not really allowed into the garden). Today I even had a brief conversation with a duck who had misplaced her hubby. Easily done, I’m sure. 😉

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