"My mindset has completely changed" - Women's Running UK

“My mindset has completely changed”

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  July 22, 2016

Louise Vincent interview with WR

Suffering from anxiety since childhood, Louise Vincent, 29, from Birmingham, has spent years contending with her mental health. But since finding running in May of last year, Louise found she was able to better manage her anxiety. A form of escapism, running gave Louise the physical – and mental – space to collect and get perspective on her thoughts, helping her to adopt a more positive mindset and develop her self-confidence. She also saw herself losing weight, which transformed her attitude towards health, nutrition – and her own body. Now, having lost five-and-a-half stone, Louise has developed a new-found confidence and is feeling more positive than ever.

Starting the journey

Louise says she never set out to become a runner. “I just thought, I’ve got to survive Race For Life and not die!” she says. While watching Emmerdale with her sister, Louise came across an advert on TV for the Cancer Research event and flippantly suggested to her sister that they both take part. “I didn’t really think much of it until she asked for my bank details.”

With a 10K race just four weeks away and at the heaviest she had ever been, Louise knew that getting around the course would be tough, and so decided to do all she could to prepare. “After that weekend, I then went out running every day for the first week and just went round our estate. I ran for the four weeks leading up to it. I think I ran the first kilometre [of the race], then I walked and jogged a little bit for the rest.”

Despite going through a difficult period, Louise was determined to carry on with her running after the race. “I kept on going and I stuck to it. It was really strange because, at that point, I was suffering panic attacks leaving the house. I ended up going at 4am because I knew if I didn’t go then, I wouldn’t go and I just didn’t want to stop.” Refusing to give into her anxiety, Louise recognised the sense of escapism running gave her. “It was just having that ‘me time’. It was time for me, not thinking about what my family wanted.”

Lou Vincent Race For Life

Completing Race for Life was Louise’s first goal

Combating anxiety

Brought up in care, Louise went through an emotionally traumatic childhood, leaving her battling with anxiety for as long as she can remember. Grappling with persistent worry, struggling to cope with change and severely lacking self-confidence, anxiety has been a day-to-day battle.

However, since taking up running, Louise found it helped her to calm and clear her mind. “It would bring me quite a lot of comfort,” explains Louise, “It was just like ‘Wow! This is me and it’s OK to be me and, yes, things
might not always be perfect.’”

“We’re having a lot of trouble with my son, Thomas, at the moment. I didn’t cope very well with school, and it makes me worried that he’s not going to get the right help, but running gave me a chance to get a little bit of perspective on it. I just run it off, don’t think about all the bad things and think about all the brilliant little things that he has achieved.”

A newfound confidence

For Louise, running has given her the confidence to cope in situations she would have previously found intimidating. She uses the interview conducted to write this feature as the perfect example. She also references her approach to her parenting, and her ability to better support her son through his schooling. “I had to do a review meeting for my son last Friday to see how he’s getting on,” she says, “and I went for a 2.7-mile run first. It made me go in there with so much more confidence. It got my energy levels up and I just went in and thought, ‘This is what you need to do.’ I had never done that in a meeting before.”

Healthy body, healthy mind

Losing an incredible five-and-a-half stone, the changes Louise has seen to her body – and her health – since taking up running has played a huge role in developing her confidence. “I’d got that big that I just hated it. It makes you feel unhealthy and feel like you can’t do anything. I’d refused to have photos taken and refused to step on scales. I’m now much more confident in my weight and I know that I’m healthy. I feel like I’ve got a lot more energy, it’s amazing.”

Taking up running with little focus on losing weight, Louise’s transformed attitude towards her nutrition and her health came as a natural consequence.

Lou Vincent weight-loss transformation

Louise has lost five-and-a-half stone since taking up running

“I found I made the changes very gradually,” she explains. “I was changing slightly what I was eating, so I wouldn’t have a massive meal before going for a run, and never felt like I wanted to come back and eat a massively
stodgy meal.”

Opting to make a series of healthier choices, instead of following a strict diet, Louise has been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while still indulging in some of the things she enjoys.

“People see me now walking down the street and say, ‘Oh my god, what diet are you doing?’ But I don’t feel like I am. I can eat everything, it’s just about making wise choices. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the odd takeaway and the occasional glass or two of wine!”

Louise aims to fit into a size 12 dress size by her 30th birthday in May, and is training for the Women’s Running 10K Milton Keynes race on 3 July. She continues to get up early in the morning, running around 3 miles, before tending to her two young children, Thomas and Elizabeth – and won’t be stopping this routine any time soon. “My mindset, about everything, has changed. I never thought that exercise in any way, especially running, would ever do that for my mindset, but it has. I’m much more positive about everything.”

Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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