Confidence

fitness

‘Fitness Helped Me Build My Confidence After I Left My Arranged Marriage’

Kingston mum Saima Hussein, 40, found her confidence – and her calling – in the gym.



a woman standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: After leaving her tumultuous marriage, Kingston mum Saima Hussein, 40, found her confidence – and her calling – in fitness.


© Provided by Women’s Health UK
After leaving her tumultuous marriage, Kingston mum Saima Hussein, 40, found her confidence – and her calling – in fitness.

I fell in love with sport in junior school – netball, softball, rounders… I even did Irish dancing. I was good at sport, and my classmates always picked me first for any team. I really loved that – it made me feel special. I grew up in quite a strict home and wasn’t really allowed to go out and play with my friends. When I was at school, playing sport, that was the only time I could really socialise and have fun.

I had an arranged marriage when I was 19, in December 1999. I had spent 5 minutes with him before we got married. We had two children by 2003. But my husband and I just weren’t compatible, and our relationship fell apart. I have nothing against arranged marriages, but we just weren’t the right fit. There was no real love there. By 2006, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I took my kids and left.

I got a job as a sales assistant in a shoe shop. Being South Asian, as a single mum, I was very much frowned upon for leaving my husband. It was an incredibly tough time, and I battled with severe depression and anxiety.

I wanted something just for me – something that made me feel accomplished, like I was achieving something. So I joined my local gym. Exercise and fitness became my safe place – where I could be my own person.

I was still very self-conscious, so I started off on the cardio machines. They all faced the windows, so I didn’t have to look at anyone – or see anyone looking at me – while I exercised.

But the trainers were all lovely, and there was one in particular who took me under his wing. He coaxed me away from the treadmill, gave me free 10-minute boxing sessions, and gave me a basic resistance circuit I could follow. For about 3 months I would just repeat the same circuit every single day!

Initially, I had the usual motivations; I wanted to lose a bit of weight and tone up, and after the first few months, my body did start to change (I dropped about 3 dress sizes) – but my outlook changed even more. I found that I was chasing goals, rather than a certain body type.

I loved to run, so I decided a half marathon was the next goal – I’d never set myself such a big one. The training was so tough on so many levels – trying to fit in training while still being there for my kids wasn’t easy. But I did it – and that feeling was something I’d never felt before. Smashing that goal made me feel unstoppable.

After my marriage ended,

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