Living the simpElle life: Sharon

As we continue completing the steps towards achieving our individual goals, it’s always great to hear about the journeys of others. What struggles have they faced? How have they felt? Where have they surpassed their own expectations?! 

No better way to find out the answers than to ask the questions in the form of this mini series – Living the simpElle life – where I talk to someone who has inspired me with their story.

I heard a great phrase last year –

“The Universe is made up of stories, not of atoms”

 – so that is what I want to share with you, stories, to open up the Universe to us all!

Each individual we meet embodies what this blog is about. They have dug deep to find motivation, they have sought inspiration and in doing so become inspirational to others. They have been empowered with knowledge to change and that is what their story will do for the rest of us…

Meet: Sharon Tsang 

I met Sharon a few years ago through teaching Nike Training Club sessions in London. I don’t remember the first time we met, I just remember her being a part of my world as if she had always been there! Bubbly, fun to be around and always game for the next challenge…that’s the Sharon I came to know and love! Here, she shares with us the journey that got her to where she is today…

…here’s Sharon’s story…

– {THEN} – 

Elle: What made you decide to start training / running? …What were your plans / goals?

Sharon: I started getting into running in 2009 because like everyone else I wanted to lose a few pounds. My brother in law suggested running as it was cheap. I started with everyone’s favourite Race for Life 5k in the July of 2009. Then signed up for the Bupa 10k, Bluewater 10k and Great North Run (half marathon); as you can see I don’t do things by halves!

I felt amazing after finishing the races and wanted to do more…that’s my addictive personality coming out (you’ll hear about that later on). I trained and pushed myself so much my knees started to hurt and I had to rest, as I was in so much pain. After 3 months of no running I was fine and decided to reward myself with the Reading Half Marathon in March 2011. But for some reason I not only rewarded myself with that race I also rewarded myself with a trip to Hong Kong, India, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Peru, Croatia and Barcelona! (Addictive personality strikes again) …Yes all of that in the first 7 months of the year! And with all these trips I didn’t take my training seriously so I crammed in as much training as I could in just a couple of weeks.

So, guess what?! I had to pull out of the Reading Half because of my knees, no surprise there. I was gutted by this and thought ok it’s fine I wasn’t ready. I still had my trip to Buenos Aires and Peru to look forward to. I did the Inca trail and during that time I damaged my knees even more. So all running activity was out, in fact all exercise activity was out!

As I mentioned earlier about my addictive personality; well I’m a party girl and loved partying every single weekend. Loved going to festivals. I loved going out after work on a Friday night and not going home until Sunday evening. Then do it all again the following weekend or mid week. I loved the buzz of going out seeing friends, meeting new people, going clubbing, listening to amazing music, drinking (until I was actually sober and drinking some more to get drunk again) smoking, the lot! I looked forward to it each and every week; I was chasing the high that partying was giving me. I’d been doing this for a long time. Partying all week then going to work in a stressful environment on no sleep. It was inevitable that it would take it’s toll on me one day!

That one day came…Tuesday 13 September 2011. I woke up and I felt a huge weight on my face pulling my usual upward turning mouth downwards. A huge dark cloud was over me. I thought my life was falling apart. I hated my work, I hated London, I hated life! I wanted to hide away from everyone, I wanted to leave London, the UK in fact. I wanted to leave and move abroad and start all over again. I turned my phone off as I didn’t want to speak to anyone or see anyone. I ignored my friends and just wanted to be alone. I only spoke to my 2 housemates, housemate’s girlfriend and my dear friend who I met on the Inca trail a few months previous. I just wanted my family.

I knew I was having a breakdown, I was having panic and anxiety attacks too. The highs of life had finally grabbed me by the throat and threw me into that dark dungeon of doom!

I was like this for a couple of months; my parents wanted me to see a councillor or doctor but I refused because I was scared they would give me tablets and I didn’t want to rely on the tablets and get addicted to them. So I was dealing with it the way I thought best. Going for walks, visiting museums, art galleries, spending quality time on my own with my music. Then my housemates girlfriend told me about this free training session at the Nike Store (Nike Training Club – NTC) in the newly opened Westfield Stratford Shopping Centre and asked me to go along with her. So I was like err ok I’ll give it ago but she would have to pretend to be me when signing up. You had to book via Facebook and I’d taken myself off there. It was the second ever NTC and I didn’t know what to expect.

I was introduced to this hot looking female trainer called Tana. Both myself and my friend were like…we want to look like her she is amazing! We were in awe until Tana started the warm up, then the drills! At the end we didn’t love her anymore! hahaha! (Tana if your reading this, I was joking I still love you). The class was hard, nothing like I’ve done before and I loved it so as soon as I got home I got my friend to sign up for me again. I was attending these classes every Monday and Thursday and I loved it! I was getting the same highs I was getting when I was going out. So I kept on going then started to go to not just to the ones in Stratford but to Nike Town and White city. I was feeling a lot happier but I still wasn’t ready to face my friends.

By the April of 2012 I was slowly getting back in touch with my friends and still going to the NTC classes. I felt better and even went out with friends.

During this time I found out some horrible news about my uncle, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That news floored me and I was slowly falling back into that dungeon again…But this time my friends were around so I was able to deal with it a bit better. Also I had NTC as well to take out all the stresses I’ve had each day. I was so dedicated I even went to the 7am classes at Stratford during the Olympics! I even shocked myself because getting up at 6am was unheard of especially on a Saturday morning! I was used to coming out of a club at 6am and going off to an after party…how life had changed. I even signed up to do the very first Ealing Half marathon.

But every high has to have a low…during August my old knee injury started playing up again during a NTC class and that was it, I was out of training for 3 months AGAIN and had to pull out of yet another half marathon. I was not happy at all. I was frustrated and annoyed with myself. So I went back into being a bit of a hermit again.

January 2013 came and I was still feeling the same. But a miracle happened – I along with 4 other girls were chosen to have this amazing opportunity of having a personal trainer for 10 weeks to get race ready for Nikes first ever We Own The Night 10k race. When I heard the news I was chosen I was so happy. I felt so lucky to be chosen by my favourite brand, get a personal trainer and also free Nike gear!!!

The training started in March, this is where I met these amazing females who will become my friends for life – Rachel, Nkeiruka, Leah, Laura and Joslyn (our Supersonic coach). Every Wednesday we would meet up for an hours training session and we were like sisters. We trained together every week up until the night of the event in May. Finishing the race was emotional as the first person I saw after crossing the line was Jos and then Rachel and Nkeiruka. The whole WOTN training experience was something I will cherish forever.

At the same time, my uncles illness was getting worse so I dedicated myself to do one race for the next 6 months that was leading up to Christmas and to raise money for a cancer charity. Friends started teasing me by I saying “do you ever stop running?” I found that really funny and I don’t think I will stop running because it actually keeps me sane and it’s when I can spend quality with myself to set the world right in my own head.

I feel so blessed that I met a group of really amazing girls ( the above plus Chi Chi, Nneka, Ogechi, Abby, Elle, Krystle, Susannah, Sue and some others) through the love of exercise who I enjoy spending time with, without me going out and getting smashed out of my face!

I found a new high in life through running and high intensity training. It’s helped me with my depression. I’m not sure if I’m 100% over it, I’m not sure if you do get over it. But I feel 100% more positive and happier than I did from Tuesday 13 September 2011! I will alway remember that day, not only was it Westfield Stratford City’s grand opening but the day I do not ever want to go back to again!

I’ve given up smoking, am drinking less and my new addiction is chasing down that next runner bling!

That frown has finally turned into a huge smile again 🙂

– {HOW} – 

Elle: What’s your favourite way to workout?

Sharon: Running and when I was in London – NTC training. Now that I’ve moved away from London I have a got myself a PT and started to do strength training on the TRX and weights. Also going to try out Hot yoga. I’m turning myself into a lean mean buff ting machine!! Hahaha.

Elle: What’s your typical weekly schedule?

Sharon: With me working all over the place I don’t have a typical weekly training plan. And also I have a few races coming up until the end of July so after that will be a bit different.

This is what I did last week:

Monday – rest day (half marathon on the Sunday) and foam roll foam roll foam roll
Tuesday – Gentle 5k jog
Wednesday – PT session with kettle bells and TRX
Thursday – rest day (aching after the weds training) …foam roll
Friday – rest day (lots of work to finish off and too tired by the time I have finish)
Saturday – 10k run with a friend (with sprints, hills and stairs)
Sunday – rest day …stretching, foam roll

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Sharon: This section is for me big up and give props to people around me:
My friends and family who have been through difficult times but still manage to pull themselves out of the dark place and come out the other side better and stronger.
My sister and brother in law. Watching them train and supporting them on race day, brings a tear to my eye (in a good way) and makes me want to do what they do.
My NTC sisters, we motivated each other every single week. We will always be there to support each other as it’s always lovely to see a familiar face in the crowd. Even now that I’ve moved away from London they continue to support and inspire me.
My NTC trainers. Each week with out fail they will all be there come rain or shine to whip us and push us further and until our bodies cry! Making us stronger and fitter.
Basically anyone that doesn’t give up on any situation in life is my inspiration.

Elle: What was the first big difference in you, that made you feel proud and excited?

Sharon: Mentally I felt more happy and positive.
Physically I dropped a dress size and I was gaining more definition on my legs. I felt great!

Elle: Did you make any changes to your diet once you started training?

Sharon: Yes, I started eating more – changing from white to brown (rice, pasta) and more veg and protein.

Fruit smoothies, green juices and I swapped regular milk to almond milk.

I still treat myself to a juicy burger, fried chicken, chips etc! I have a 80 / 20 attitude, because if I deprive myself of food I will end up gorging! And that’s the last thing I want!

 – {NOW} – 

Elle: How do you track your progress?

Sharon: I used to track my progress on the scales and using my Nike+ running app.

Now I’ve ditched the scales but kept my app and I track my progress through how I feel after a workout and also how my clothes fit and how heavy the next kettle bell or weight I can lift is.

Elle: Have your goals changed since you started your journey?

Sharon: Now that I’ve done a few races I would like to beat my 10k and half marathon times. This I have already done, I managed to get a PB in my last half marathon woo! I would like to do the biggie next year…a marathon! Complete a triathlon sometime in the next couple of years and remain positive and do not fall back into the dark place!

Oh and I’ve finally given up smoking..10 weeks and counting!

Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Sharon: I sign up for races and make sure I can either beat my times from last year or at least equal it. Love a bit of competition against myself. Plus I know how I felt like last year when I was a lot fitter and I want to feel like that again. Oh and my Nike Fuel band!

Elle: If you could go back and give advice to the “before” you…or any other person contemplating changing their lifestyle…what would you say?!


 “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Maya Angelou

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn

..so what d’ya think?! 

If you’d like to leave Sharon a comment below please do so or you can connect with her via Twitter – @shazzabo

If you would like to share your own story please get in touch with me: {Contact Elle}

Until then, keep living that simpElle life 😉 

Elle 🙂 


1 Comment

  1. Bal Bangard
    June 23, 2014 / 19:53

    Awesome! well done Sharon – such an inspiration To be able to open up about your depression and amazing how you overcame it. An inspiration to all. Well done – a great read.

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