Tag Archives: Health

Take A Step

13 Nov

www.takeachallenge.org recently posted a photo with the following phrase: The first step is the hardest – take a step. This really struck a chord with me, especially as that day I had found the diary I kept for my rehabilitation after heart surgery. Each step then was a huge challenge, starting with a walk around the ward. I was told to walk every day and slowly increase the distance. Determination to improve, get better, become fitter and feel ‘normal’ again were the motivating factors.

But what if you lack the motivation to exercise, to take the first step? Or if you have previously had motivation but somehow lost it, what can you do? My personal drive is to focus on a very specific goal, be that a big race, a specific target such as my 6 miles in 60 minutes run goal after my surgery, or a dress to wear in Las Vegas :) If you lose sight of the reasons for wanting to achieve, chances are you won’t see it through.

When I have experienced low points, I have had to remind myself of the importance of health and fitness. I recently had a humbling experience when I went to see a sports cardiologist. Not satisfied with the input I received from the NHS, I sought out a specialist who understood why we do sport. I wanted to get an honest opinion from a professional about how safe it is to continue with training for Ironman, when you have or have had a heart condition.

Whilst there, I had a full set of tests to determine both the state of my heart and my fitness levels. The results were quite pleasing, however, the cardiologist sat me down and literally asked me how many marathons or ironmans I wanted to do. I found that hard to answer but was honest and said I’d like to do as many as possible! He explained that that wasn’t a great idea long term, that my heart as a muscle will never be perfect again and will likely tire if I continue with these endurance events. He also told me that I shouldn’t ever hope to be competitive or go for ‘fast’ times. This conversation was humbling because it put into perspective mortality, health and the reality of living with a heart condition (even if it is ‘better’).

My second method of motivation is thinking of those less fortunate than myself, those who can’t exercise for whatever reason. The consultant I saw does a lot of work with the CRY charity – cardiac risk in the young. With many stories of athletes and non-sporty people who have dropped down dead from an undiagnosed heart condition, how can you not appreciate your own health? This is just a subject close to me, but I believe everyone could relate to a cause or health condition that might have affected a family member or friend.

A friend said the following to me recently: “The ONLY reason I “came back” was to complete an IM.  While there is a lot of other good stuff about life that I appreciate, the dumb IM is the mountain I wanted to climb, and quite frankly, I didn’t much care if it killed me to try since one cant ask for much more than to be living life on the path you want to be on, rather than a path everyone else thinks your life should be on.”   Without realising, I was of a very similar thought process. Before completing Austria, it was my overwhelming goal, to finish, to achieve what I had set out to do. To be completely honest, there isn’t much that could have stopped me finishing that day. It meant that much to me. But on completing my goal, is it realistic to continue to pursue it again, over and over? This was my reason for seeking out a specialist, one who actively promotes sport, is passionate about it and has a desire to help athletes overcome physical obstacles.

When he told me that ironman is not for me forever, I had a sad moment. I thought of all the joy training brings, the build up to the day and the race itself. The experience was the most positive one in my life so I had been keen to continue getting that feeling. The cardiologist then went on to discuss the possibilites of my races in 2013. With the go ahead for 2 iron distance races next year, my sad moment turned into exhilaration. So what if I can’t race forever, I will just enjoy the time I do have and will spend it doing what I love – Ironman!!

 

 

 

Body Fat and Weight Challenge Results!

12 Nov

Today is the end of the Twitter based ‘Tweigh’ challenge, and here are my results:

On 3rd September 2010 my stats were: 9 st 1 lbs, body fat of 25.8%, BMI of 20.7

Today’s stats: 8 st 11 lbs, body fat of 25.2%, BMI of 19.9

I have been careful not to obsess over weight, and focus more on burning fat. I feel great as a result! Whilst I am not overweight, I felt it was important to set myself targets to get back into shape after my operation which meant a lot of feet up on the sofa, eating the lovely chocolates I was sent! Sharing my weekly weights and stats spurred me on, as did sharing healthy eating and exercise tips.

Small goals have really kept me going since my heart surgery and I will continue to record my progress. The aim is a body fat of 23% (something I achieved back in 2007).

I have taken photos of myself to use as before and after shots, I’m not ready for these to be public just yet!!

A recent find for healthy recipes is Fitbitchuk – check it out!

From Diagnosis to Ironman

17 Mar

Back in January, I was diagnosed with a hole in my heart. Over the last two months I have had many investigations, with today being the first day I received results. I will need an operation to close the hole in my heart, as it is large and the right side of my heart is failing (!). Not nice news.

BUT, after the operation and recovery, I will be able to return to my current level of fitness and far exceed this also. My initial questions to my consultant were those relating to health, the surgery, outcomes etc. Second, came questioning about my ability to return to training for running events and triathlons. As exercise is a big part of my life, I naturally wanted to enquire how this diagnosis will impact my plans for racing this year and for the future.

My plans for marathons for this year are out, definitely. My triathlon races and the London to Brighton bike ride in mid-summer, questionable. I have paid to see my consultant privately to speed things up, for which I am lucky. Seeing a specialist in Southampton will give me the answers to my health and fitness questions. I am informed (and this information is cemented in my mind), that I will be running within 4 weeks of surgery, so long as I have a local anaesthetic procedure as opposed to open heart surgery.

Either way and under any circumstances, I am DETERMINED to remain positive and achieve my dreams of improving as an athlete, however amateur! Over the last few years, my running has improved – not greatly (and for this I now have reason!). My love of triathlon including swimming and cycling has grown and I am committed to pursuing my fitness goals. And yes, this does include Ironman.

Ironman for me symbolises the ultimate challenge, physically, psychologically and emotionally. For those that achieve this endurance challenge, the rewards are immense. I am incredibly hard to please, and this is what drives me forward. To sit back and accept or resign yourself to a seemingly gloomy fate is unproductive. You could even say that this kind of attitude is failing yourself.

My journey starts here. Crazy as it sounds, I’m excited. I am positive that the benefits of this hurdle in my life will far outway any negative implications. To test myself like never before and record my journey to share my experience with others, I will not only increase my belief in my abilities to succeed but inspire others to overcome obstacles in their lives.