fitness / lifestyle /
15 years ago, I left my job as a PR director for a global hairdressing company and moved with my family to rural Cornwall. I hadn’t anticipated the change it would have on my life and the struggle it would bring, both physically and mentally.
Within a few weeks my beloved mother, who already had heart failure, had a fall and had to be placed in care. I began a weekly drive to see her, 3 hours away in Dorset. At the same time, I was offered a PR position with a professional hairdressing product company and asked to help with a huge charity event at the Royal Albert Hall, both in London. 15 years on, I am still doing both those jobs, though the 5-hour journey to London most weeks hasn’t got any easier!
The fairly quick result of this life-change was that I put on weight, (comfort eating–or out of sheer boredom whilst travelling,) and developed a painful and ongoing backache. It was a visit to an osteopath that led me on a road to a fitness regime I’d never previously enjoyed. I found a Pilates class (and a good friend in the Pilates teacher,) and have religiously done Pilates ever since. I quickly realized the core strength it developed improved my posture and gave me heightened strength. Pilates led me to other fitness classes such as Pump, Zumba, Body-Balance and Kettle Bells or just going to the gym.
Over the last couple of years I’ve had a couple of freak accidents that hampered my fitness regime, but importantly it’s part of my life so it’s never stopped me for long… I’ve even been to Pilates in a medical ‘boot’ after breaking a bone in my foot. Keeping moving is so important for our joints, heart and our mental well-being.
I absolutely don’t claim to be any kind of expert, but from time to time I’ll be sharing some ideas and thoughts on keeping fitness in our daily routine as we age and sharing the expertise of my more-qualified friends.
PUNCHING ABOVE YOUR WEIGHT.
How it happened I still don’t really know, but one minute I was stationary, looking back over my shoulder and the next I was falling down a bank. The snow was fresh and soft and I was off-piste. Every skier knows, hurting yourself off-piste can be a very expensive mistake, so as I landed, and heard the top of my left arm crack, I knew that whatever I’d done, I’d have to drag myself back up that slope. Somehow I managed it and fortunately, we weren’t far from an actual piste.
Two painful hours (of slow skiing) later I arrived back at our hotel, had lunch, (yes really) and then caught the bus (again, really) down the mountain to the doctor’s surgery – all the time telling myself I hadn’t broken anything. Half an hour later I knew I had. I then waited impatiently in a bar for the pharmacy to open after its 2 hour lunch break, so I could buy a ridiculously expensive sling, (though not as I thought, to get painkillers. –Oh no! I was given 4 paracetamol for 2 days.) As I stared mournfully at the coffee in front of me I thought “Nah! I need a proper drink!”
…..For the rest of the week I was thoroughly miserable. I’d skied for 30 years without ever hurting myself, and neither the expensive facials I booked for myself, nor the luxury lunches, hotel cocktails and ‘jollying up’ of my family, were ever going to improve my mood.
Back in England the doctor in the orthopedic department of the local hospital almost gleefully told me I’d never again be able to hold my arm above my head, giving me more feelings of doom and gloom. Then my inner competitiveness kicked in. I decided I wouldn’t miss another ski season and I absolutely would regain total movement in my arm.
I religiously did the strengthening exercises I was given. I got myself a personal trainer and went to Pilates every week. I spent many hours with my arm above my head pressed into a wall or lay on my back practicing arm extensions. Then my personal trainer introduced me to boxing. How I wished I’d discovered boxing years before. Not only did I quickly regain strength and movement in my left arm, but I loved the excitement it gave me, the sweat it caused and the improvement to muscle tone. I imagined myself to be as good as Nicola Adams.
Why am I telling you this story? Because punching above your weight is what you should be doing all the time. We’re living in a fast-changing world and hopefully younger generations will more easily attain positions of power and influence, but even in our personal lives we’ve still got a long way to go to have inner confidence and equality. I’m no ‘shrinking violet’ and can be pretty feisty, but I’ve still been walked over. Managing to recover from that injury showed me a part of myself of which I wasn’t aware. I could focus, set a goal and achieve it. I certainly don’t do this all the time, but now I know I can –and that’s important.
So come on, raise a fist and get punching!