Monday, 3 February 2014

Julia Buckley: Dreaming of a Fat Burn Revolution

I'm really proud and excited to welcome a special guest to Dare to Dream today. Julia Buckley is a fitness journalist and trainer. She is also my friend. When she recently achieved her dream of seeing her first book, The Fat Burn Revolution, published and it became an Amazon bestseller within a week, I knew I just had to get her on the blog.

Here she talks about going from PE hater to fitness expert and offers her advice on daring to dream . . .

Welcome to Dare to Dream, Julia! First of all, massive congratulations on the recent publication of your book. We first met several years ago at the Harrow Writers' Workshop, so I know that having a book published has been a long held dream of yours. How does it feel to actually achieve it?

It's been such a long process, but now the book is out there it hardly seems real (I signed with Bloomsury back in July 2012). One thing that brought it home the other day was when one of my clients said she spotted two women doing one of the workouts from the book together in the gym. It's amazing to think people all over the country (and beyond) are really out there doing the training. ...I think I'm still working on getting my head around it!

Former PE hater, Julia!

Have there been any scary aspects of achieving such a big dream? And if so, how have you dealt with them?

Oh yes, lots of scary aspects! First, I was worried about whether the editor at Bloomsbury would like it, then I was worried about whether people would buy it, and then whether they would like it. And even now people are buying it and telling me they love it I still get scared that they'll change their minds!

I've never doubted that the advice and programme presented in the book were good - I've seen it make such a positive difference to so many people's lives, even I couldn't convince myself TFBR wasn't a highly effective and enjoyable fat loss fitness programme. I just kept reminding myself of that when those worries start to creep in. I suppose the real fear was that I might not have presented the advice in a way that people would connect with. But feedback so far is that, quite the opposite, people are saying the book speaks to them in a way that no fitness or diet book has before, which is absolutely fantastic for me to hear.

Back when you were coming to the Harrow writers'  workshop you were initially more interested in writing fiction. Can you tell us a bit about what led you to make this change in direction with your writing? And do you have any advice for anyone reading this who might be having doubts about an initial dream of theirs and wondering whether they ought to change direction?

I haven't really thought of it as a change in direction before... I'm not sure if it is really, I still dream of publishing a novel. I think I'll have a lot more confidence in that now I've had this experience with The Fat Burn Revolution. As a freelance journalist I've been writing for a living for a long time so I approached the book in a similar way to landing a magazine feature - just massively scaled up! I knew there was a need out there for a book like TFBR so I just went for it. Sometimes you have to go with the flow I guess!

How did you stay focused on your dream in the early days? I know from my own personal experience how hard it can be to write an entire book. What it was that kept you going?

I don't remember ever thinking I wanted to give up, but I was certainly very daunted by the size of the project. Sometimes I wondered if I could ever get it all done. With a book like this, there's a bit of "donkey work" involved. The introductory, advice chapters flowed out quite easily, but writing the exercise descriptions was a bit of a slog. I think my background in fitness probably helped, you get used to pushing your boundaries and keeping going when your brain starts offering excuses to stop. The willpower and self-belief you build up through that definitely carry over into other areas of like and help you deal with all types of challenges. 

So fitness clearly plays a very important part in your life and yet you hated PE lessons - which I was really shocked to discover by the way! Can you tell us a bit about how and why you changed your opinion of fitness in this way. And do you have any advice for any reluctant keep-fitters out there?

Yeah, I talk about this in the first chapter of the book, it has surprised a lot of people! PE at my school was all about competitive sport and I just wasn't the competitive type. Plus I wasn't good at any sports - which meant I'd spend the whole lesson getting shouted at, both by the teachers and the other girls in the team. I don't blame the girls at all now, of course, or even the teachers that much really, that's just how it was then. I believe PE lessons are lot better nowadays, I certainly hope so! The first time I discovered that exercise could be fun was when the PE teacher got us doing a Jane Fonda workout video one day. I liked it so much I went out and bought the video! And it all sort of snowballed from there over the years. I wrote about that in the book to help people realise that even if they've never been "sporty" fitness can definitely still be fun. Starting out with something you can do in private at home that you can adapt to suit your own level is a great place to start for a lot of people and that's something I'm offering in The Fat Burn Revolution.

Obviously with fitness programmes like The Fat Burn Revolution the emphasis is on the physical benefits of working out but can you tell us your experience of the emotional benefits of exercise? 

I mentioned above about how fitness helps you build up confidence in your abilities and "staying power". With the type of training in TFBR people tend to make progress very quickly and that can be very affirming. Feeling healthy and energetic makes you feel confident and lively, which gives you a more positive outlook on life. Increasing your physical strength helps you to feel mentally and emotionally strong too. When you pick up a weight that you couldn't lift just a few weeks ago, it makes you think "what else can I do that I couldn't before?" You realise that even things that are impossible for you right now can be made possible in the future if you put in the effort required to make it happen. And that's pretty powerful stuff.

So, having seen your first book soar up the bestseller lists, what are your dreams for the coming year?

To spread the Revolution far and wide! I want to help as many people as I can discover the fantastic difference fitness can make to their lives.

The TFBR Facebook group already has over 300 members and is buzzing with people sharing their experiences of the programme. Of course, it's early days because the book was only released a couple of weeks ago, but they're doing really well. I'm so looking forward to seeing the results they get and hearing about how good they feel at the end of the 12 week programme.

And finally, if you had to sum up your attitude to life and achieving your dreams in one sentence, what would it be?

There's a little card I keep on my desk on which I've written (in glitter pen!) How can I make today awesome - for me and at least one other person? 

Thanks so much, Julia and vive la revolution!

You can hear more from Julia about The Fat Burn Revolution on the video below, filmed when she was interviewed for Magic FM.

And to receive bite-sized pieces of inspiration of a fitness and fat burning variety, you can follow Julia on Twitter, here.


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