We asked a trio of fitness fans about the moment that proved pivotal in changing their perceptions of health and exercise for good

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Does your relationship with health and fitness seem to constantly shift from love to hate to ‘it’s complicated?’ The journey to feeling hot, healthy and happy  from the inside out can feel like a turbulent ride with work, family and general life often taking the top spots in our daily to-do lists. However as with any tumultuous relationship, there has to come a moment of much-needed clarity - an ‘aha’ moment so to speak - that finally allows us to break free from our bad habits, see exercise in a whole new light and encourage us to prioritise our long-term health for both ourselves and the people closest to us.

So what is it like to actually have experienced such a get fit epiphany? We asked a trio of health and exercise enthusiasts about the ‘aha’ moment that proved pivotal in changing their lifestyles for the better to help provide some empowering and inspiring fitness motivation.

Amy Lawrenson

Editorial Director, Byrdie UK

“My ‘aha’ moment had to be when the Elemis team asked me to take part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon with them for charity. I thought ‘why the heck not?’ even though I had never run further than for a bus. I headed to Hyde Park and started running fast, because that's what running is, right? I overtook a woman who was jogging barely faster than walking pace. Within a minute or so I was bent over, huffing and puffing, all red of face and sweaty of brow. The slow jogging lady overtook me. Then I caught my breath and started running again, overtaking her. Again, within minutes I was bent over. Needless to say this was classic tortoise and the hare - she left me in her dust. From that day on I vowed to take it slow, little and often.

“Rather than seeing exercise as some painful punishment to grit my teeth and struggle through, I started off again another day slow and steady - enjoying the view and my playlist. I just kept on jogging, then running. I finished that half marathon. Then signed up for another. And another. Because if you want to be healthy and feel energised, you need to make fitness a part of your agenda. Exercise is about setting yourself challenges, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, but it's also about going at your own pace - some days that may be all out fast, others slow and steady. Most importantly though, it's about enjoying the ride.”

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Mimi Spencer

Lifestyle journalist and co-author of The Fast Diet

“My ‘Aha’ moment really came when I discovered yoga - not just the weekly exercise class sandwiched between everything else - but the practice of yogic principles that can really course through a normal, busy day.

“Learning to breathe was a big moment; I think I’d always been a shallow breather, and breathing in a slower, deeper way is incredibly calming (and easy, if you can bear to concentrate a bit). It can be overlooked, but Pranayama is easily as important as postural yoga. I also learnt a bit about muscles - starting Pilates was a turning point for me. These days, I’m really conscious of how I’m holding myself, and not just in a class - I think I’m more aware of my posture when I’m driving, stopped at the traffic lights, watching TV. It sounds so simple, almost banal, but I have discovered that, for me, small, consistent changes like this are the way to stay healthy and fit. So, I fast regularly, usually once a week, just out of habit. Working with Michael Mosley on the 5:2 Fast Diet books taught me (and millions of others) that developing good habits is the key - one or two days of holding back the calories each week is enough. And I do really basic stuff - putting on my exercise kit first thing in the morning, leaving my trainers by the front door so they’re the first shoes I put on, weaning myself off cappuccino and onto black coffee and peppermint tea. So I guess my Aha moment was less about the body and more about the brain!”

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Susannah Taylor

Editor-in-Chief, Get The Gloss

“I have always eaten relatively well, but I had never been super fit until I decided to take the plunge about three years ago. I had especially never considered myself to be a runner, but I started reading this book called  Run Fat Bitch Run  by Ruth Field, £8.99. It is basically a straight-talking book that teaches you very simply how to start running from scratch - to start very slowly and to stop making excuses.

“It’s brutally honest in the way it tells you that it won’t be easy, but that it will be well worth it. So, I started running and to begin with I couldn’t even run the half mile down the lane outside our house without stopping. However, with the help of this book and personal trainer Steve Mellor  from Freedom2Train , I started to get fit. That half a mile led to a mile, which one day about 2 months later lead to a three mile jaunt across the fields to our next door village. I remember running down this hill in the morning sunshine with one of my favourite songs playing, the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside sprawling in front of me, and I suddenly welled up with tears because I couldn’t believe this was me running like this. That will stick in my memory as the moment that I knew that starting to get fit would be one of the most exhilarating and rewarding things I have ever done.”

Follow Amy  @amylawrenson , Mimi  @mimispencer1 , Susannah  @SusannahTaylor_  and Ayesha  @Ayesha_Muttu .