Elle Ferguson, founder of Elle Effect and influencer, opens up about how she chose to go against the grain and used the social isolation that came with COVID as an opportunity to overhaul her diet, exercise routine but also her outlook on life. She shares how she became – in her own words – ‘a new person’.
“Prior to COVID, my diet had always been very clean – however with the busy lifestyle I was living and numerous delivery apps on my phone, we’d often order in.
Joel and I went full vegetarian last April, and we also signed up for HelloFresh – which has been a game changer for us. Our portion sizes became smaller, and we really started to appreciate the process of cooking at home and eating out. We also LOVED not having to ask the dreadful question of “What’s for dinner?”
In regards to exercise for me – I need to move to feel good, but when life gets busy, I feel like my exercise is always the first thing that suffers…. I’ve been doing Pilates for around five years and I love it. I see real change in my body when I can do it three times a week, but unfortunately I just hadn’t had the time to be able to get to a class.”
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Everything changed, and so did I…
“COVID completely changed everything. I had SO much international travel booked in for this year; Joel and I were planning we weren’t going to be home very much at all for 2020. We had two new product launches for Elle Effect happening and besides that, we were looking forward to our wedding! COVID for me, like a lot of people, has been a real roller coaster.
The first couple of weeks I lived in my PJ’s and pretty much watched every episode of Gossip Girl… again. I think I was so used to being ‘GO-GO-GO’ that when I stopped, I just didn’t move. I was also very scared as to what was happening in the world.
Around the third week of lockdown I cleaned out my entire house, I mean EVERYTHING was cleaned out. I felt lighter, I turned the news off and just cleaned. Something I’ve learnt about myself is that I need to be doing something… always. I also found that my sleep patterns were all over the place. I was staying up super late, then sleeping in. I am a fan of a routine and I didn’t have one…”
Going against the grain…
“In my life, I have never done the same as everyone else; if people are walking I’m running. If someone turns left, I’m turning right. It was at the end of week three of lockdown when I had a lightbulb moment after seeing everyone not leaving their houses (including myself) that I thought, ‘I have to change something here’. I want to come out of ISO and feel better about myself.
I also thought I always complain about not having enough time to work out, and now I have all the time in the world. I knew on average walking 10,000 steps a day kept you healthy so I thought to myself I need to do that everyday. I found a place that would let me hire a treadmill, and I had it delivered the Friday of week four of ISO.”
Previously when I have trained hard for a shoot or a cover I’ve also programmed myself to do two workouts a day, I thought why not now? That’s when I booked in a Pilates class via Zoom each day. This made me accountable to turn up for something every day! The plan was to walk for an hour (10,000 steps) and do an hour of Pilates each day. I’ve just hit five months of this as of 5th September…
Running has always been a bit of a barrier to me and something I felt I wasn’t good at… Fast forward five months and I’m not walking anymore, I’m running… fast!”
You really are what you eat…
“In week two of ISO my phone broke (!!!) and when I updated, I lost all my apps and had to reinstall them… I made the decision there and then that I wasn’t installing any of the food delivery apps that I have previously relied on. If I wanted food I either had to go out and get it (which at the height of lockdown was really scary and a real process) – or I had to make it. I also found because I was at home I was drinking so much more water, I went from only drinking a couple of glasses every day to drinking at least two litres of water.
HelloFresh continued to deliver through ISO which was amazing for dinner and then for lunch we just kept is simple with salad. Because we didn’t have any ‘bad snacks’ in the house, we weren’t eating them. We somehow found ourselves doing a cleanse without actively deciding to do it. I think my body went through a detox because my skin broke out around the two month period and now my skin is amazing and my eyes are super clear. I haven’t eaten takeaway in five months and I’m proud to say that pretty much everything we eat, we cook – and it’s super clean. My body feels and looks completely different. It’s made me realise that you really are what you eat!”
Daily changes, big results…
“I made the change cause I had the time and I also wanted to feel good about myself. I’ve always been very proud of my body and I found that I was losing that feeling. In all honesty, this has been such an emotional journey for me… I’ve cried on the treadmill more than I’d like to admit, and I’ve cried during Pilates when I’ve tried so hard but still couldn’t get that squat right. But with every time I’ve cried, I’ve got up and tried again.
There’s something about getting up and trying again that makes you even stronger. And through that I have gained so much strength not only physically but mentally. I’m proud to say I have not missed a day since I started. I train six days a week with Sunday being my rest day. I workout twice a day, no matter what. I set goals, sometimes I achieve them and sometimes I don’t, but I just keep going.”
Finding motivations from the doubters…
[On having low-motivation days] “I’m only human but… I also am very goal-driven, so if I say I’m going to do something I’m doing it.
I also wanted to see what I could do. So many people around me were saying “You can’t run, you’re not going to workout every day”. To that I thought ‘Okay, let me prove you wrong…’ On bad days that’s the reason I’m getting out of bed – to show them I can do it and I am going to do it.”
The best shape of her life…
“My body has completely changed… I am longer, leaner and in the best shape of my life. My posture is so much better- I’m stronger when I walk or sit and I have trained my body new ways to do things. My body’s mechanics have changed.
Mentally I’m also a new person – I am stronger. To be honest I’m not sweating the small stuff. I am goal-focused and motivated.”
Making those changes stick…
“I’m still working out from home. I LOVE IT and I’ve realised that working out from home suits me – I no longer waste time driving to and from classes – I can roll out of bed and be on that treadmill or Pilates mat in five minutes and it’s amazing! I’ve also set the goal that I want to do this for six months straight, and I want to hit that 10km on incline 10, in one hour…
It is hard work. Change is hard, but make a small change everyday and at the end they’ll add up to one big change. Believe in yourself and just move.”
Elle Ferguson is an influencer and founder of Elle Effect. Connect with her on Instagram.
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