In my early 20’s, I was 4 stone heavier than I am now. I could perhaps have gone down that slippery slope of piling weight on further but a health scare frightened me. A couple of bumps along the road later, enough was enough! I started my own 100 healthy days to change the way I viewed food, exercise and my health.
I used those 100 days to change my whole attitude to food and exercise rather than attempting any kind of quick fix or fad diet. I took small steps each day and it amounted to huge changes.
3 years on, I am proud to say that those changes have become lifelong habits and I consider myself an entirely different person now. I barely recognise myself in old photos. Thanks to Facebook memories, I often get reminders of the girl I used to be.
As you get older, you become wiser. Next year I turn 30 and have felt this year has been a huge year for personal growth in all aspects of my life.
Thankfully, I now know my body much better and understand my personal healthy weight range. I know when I am treating myself too much and need to reign myself in. I know when I am not exercising enough. My body and moods tell me!!! Physical and mental health are too closely linked to ignore.
In December last year, my mental health suffered. I found myself crying a lot and felt unmotivated to exercise. I felt stressed at a job that I had previously enjoyed thoroughly. It was a downward spiral as the dark, Winter mornings and evenings made outdoor exercise difficult. From training in the sunshine all Summer and completing an Ironman, I was lying on the sofa wondering where to rediscover my motivation.
I moved to Sydney and had the most amazing four months in a country where outdoor living and a much better work/life balance creates happiness. My mental and physical health improved dramatically.
I had an incredibly positive experience in a country where healthy living is at the forefront of everything.
I worked as a casual teacher in a huge variety of schools and learnt a lot about myself as a teacher and where I would like to continue with my career.
Stepping firmly out of my comfort zone, I completed a beginner’s course in rock climbing!
I got outdoors on my bike, running round Centennial Park and along coastal paths. I built my fitness slowly up again in order to run a half marathon and compete in a (nearly) 3km sea swim. I ate really healthily and had tons of energy.
After the Wedding Cake Island sea swim, I continued to tackle my fear of open water (and all the creatures that lurk beneath) by signing up to an open water diving course.
This was an incredible and terrifying experience. I experienced my first two panic attacks during the course. There is a skill in which you have to remove your mask entirely, swim a distance then replace your mask and get rid of the water inside. It’s horrendous. Over 3 days, I failed in the pool and on the ocean floor. I kept hyperventilating and getting water in my throat. Did I mention that it was horrendous?!? In fact of the 7 people doing the course, only 3 of us passed. But I did it! And I was super proud of myself.
Challenging myself to achieve things I am unsure of is definitely one of my major keys to personal happiness. Usually, doing so unleashes a chain of events.
Diving was no different. Doing the course enabled me to discover a beautiful underwater world that I had previously been afraid of.
I spent three glorious weeks on the islands of Fiji – diving, diving, diving.
I travelled solo and yet spent no time alone. I made friends everywhere I went and shared amazing underwater experiences with fellow divers each day.
There are no words to describe how in awe you feel when you dive a coral reef. Surrounded by underwater life of every size, colour and shape imaginable – it is “out of this world!” Being able to breathe underwater is not something humans should be able to do. You are an alien in their world and I felt a real sense of privilege to be able to swim down deep amongst such beautiful sealife.
Out of the water, I ate delicious food and hiked to watch beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
I met beautiful people – locals and travellers.
For 3 weeks, my jaw hurt from smiling! It was a far cry from the previous Winter blues.
Change is good and change is healthy. We are masters of our own destinies and we shouldn’t be afraid of change, of challenges, of stepping out of the comfort zone.
I am proud of my unhappiness last year. I am proud because I refused to dwell on it. I took action and took my health and happiness into my own hands.
Now I am back in the UK enjoying a Cornish summer with my family before the next adventure beckons. Details to follow…
If you are feeling at all unhappy or unhealthy then own it! You are the only one who can truly make positive change. If I can do it, you can! Here’s to health and happiness…