I have about five pairs of skinny jeans. They are in a box in my garage. They are in the same box as my maternity clothes, because in my mind I am equally unlikely to use either of them ever again. But they sit there, just in case. I removed all of my skinny jeans from my wardrobe ages ago because it was a bit too depressing to have nice things that I couldn’t wear staring back at me.

In 2011, I started to run. So this has been a three year journey for me. In 2012 I started to run outside. In 2013 I ran three half marathons and in 2014 I stopped drinking and smoking and started CrossFit.

Some of that journey was a natural progression and some of it was a conscious decision on my part. For some time my goal had been to get to a better race weight and to really see what my body would look and feel like if I committed to my training.

For me, commitment is investing something of yourself in the process that you can never take back. It means getting up in the early hours of the morning when you are tired or sore or you just don’t want to. It means forging forward even when it feels like your plan isn’t working. It means believing that all of those times when you push through your own resistance are worth it. It means throwing everything at your training until there is nothing left. It means work. And it’s hard. Because it’s supposed to be hard. Change is hard. Staying the same is hard. And I chose which hard I could live with. But you know? I always liked the hard.

The rewards for all of that are far more than you could write down in a list. Really, they have nothing to do with the fact that I got out my skinny jeans this morning and they all fit, even better than they did before. And it has nothing to do with cracking under two hours in a half marathon. Even though I’m so happy about both of those things. And yes, I’m proud of what my body can do and I’m proud of my ability to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m proud of being able to do something quite crazy and have the fitness that I’ve developed over the last few years carry me through, even when I have no training to speak of.

They are all great things, fantastic things. When I look in the mirror now I see a lot of things. I see the body that gave birth to my children and I see the body that Operation Move built. But there is one thing that is the real reward of all of that work and it is all the hidden pieces of myself that I found in the runner that I became. Sometimes when you push your body to see how far it can go, you discover who you are and you like that person a whole lot more than you ever thought you could.



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Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. Fantastic Zoey. Well done and you look great. The fact that you feel great is even better.

  2. Zoey Dowling

    Thank you Zoey. I really needed to read (and see) something like this today. It's so easy to compare our middle to someone else's end because we don't realise where they started. You are so strong and fit and confident!!

    • Zoey Dowling

      I think it's so important that people know that this isn't a 12 week journey! I certainly had many ups and downs in the last three years, but I was usually heading in the right direction at least!

  3. Feel incredibly honoured that I've been there to witness what you've achieved. You are so inspiring and are the perfect example of what changing your mindset can do. You deserve all the goodness you've gained out of it. All the love xxx

    • Zoey Dowling

      I distinctly remember thinking when we first met (in real life) that you were freaking mad for running a sub 2-hour marathon. Only crazy people do that.

  4. Honey I couldn't care less what you look like, but I do care how you feel so WELL DONE YOU. Love your guts. xxx

  5. What an inspiration you are! Judging by the photos you appear a lot more confident now too. I've said it before but I'll say it again you are a SUPERSTAR Zoey Martin :)

    • Zoey Dowling

      I felt so uncomfortable before - I think that's really obvious in the photos. Now, I feel more like myself.

  6. Hey Zoey, awesome post, you look absolutely fantastic but like you said more than that I love to feed off your motivation and confidence. Well done on achieving so much and thank you for constantly sharing that along the way. It makes a big difference to a lot of us trying to find our way.

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thank you Mandy! I'm so excited about training together this year!

  7. I've met you once, and I thought you were gorgeous. Now I look at you and I see how strong and athletic you look, its awesome. I love seeing how strong my body is becoming, I'm sure you feel amazing. You're awesome.

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thank you! I love that strength and not weight loss is what my girls think about too when they think about exercise.

  8. My favourite bit is that I get to talk running with you. So cool :)

    • Zoey Dowling

      It is so good to talk to people who know what you are going on about :-)

  9. Check out that extremely confident "take no sh*t" AWESOME second photo! LOVE it. Zoe - you are an inspiration to so so many people, but most importantly to yourself. Congratulations. x

  10. thanks for sharing Zoey. It's great to see how the journey started as well as where it is headed. Everyone has their own journey and it's good for those just starting out to know others have been there and worked hard and now feel better than ever.

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thank you! It's important for me to occasionally look back over a longer period of time so I can see the differences too, because you don't always notice them day to day.

  11. I think the most striking thing about the picture of you above is not so much the change in the rest of your body, but the change in your eyes. There is a completely different woman looking out of the second picture. You can actually see the mental change that has taken place more than anything. This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you xx

    • Zoey Dowling

      That is so true. I probably wouldn't even recognise that person anymore.

  12. I think it's amazing what you've done. I wish I could do that too, but I just don't have the strength to commit like you do. Well done.

    • Zoey Dowling

      I think it's important to remember there's nearly three years between the start and today and to start all I did was commit to an hour of moving 3-4 times a week.

  13. You my dear are so inspirational and strong and brave. Bravo! xx

  14. What a legend, such willpower you have. I'm almost there, mentally that is, to start making a change.... thanks for giving me more incentive :)

    • Zoey Dowling

      When I'm about to make a change I write down the goal. And then I ask myself the same question over and over, 'is this choice congruent with my goal?' - it helps me! It might help you too.

  15. Awesome story! And all the more awesome that it's realistic. 3 years is realistic. The true meaning commitment you talk of - the waking up in early hours, when you're sore, when you don't want to…all real. So all the more power to you that you stuck at it. Inspiring x

    • Zoey Dowling

      Completely agree Grace! It's important that people know it was three years and I didn't start exercising at the level I do now. I started with what I could do with a small baby which was usually a couple of sneaky treadmill sessions during the week (and hope she didn't wake up demanding to be fed) and a longer run on the weekend.

  16. I am so happy for you Z. After our conversation at DPCON, I decided to try running too. I've mixed it all up, running, dancing, yoga -- because it is about moving. This is my second year into a healthier life and it has hiccups but it's consistent. It will always be consistent. Thanks for this.

    • Zoey Dowling

      I love how you've approached it K to keep it fun and interesting so you can keep on going with it!

  17. Zoey - I am so proud to know you. I have no more words x

  18. Look at you. Amazing strong lady! Also your hair looks really cute. You are an inspiration.

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thank you Pip! Hair clips are my absolute best friends right now!

  19. Having met you briefly before as well, wow. Just wow. You're a true inspiration. X

  20. Having met you briefly before as well, wow. Just wow! You're a true inspiration. X

    • Zoey Dowling

      It really is. And I think that was a real shift for me in not thinking about what I weighed but thinking about what I could do and having my fitness be the focus.

  21. Beautiful thoughts and message Zoey, you look amazing and love the sparkle in your eye x

  22. Congratulations Zoey and what a wonderful example you are setting for your girls about taking care of yourself.

  23. Brilliant Zoey. Very inspirational. I've followed you on Twitter for a number of years now and had a bit of an idea about your journey but WOW! your whole body and mid transformation is amazing.

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