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My story – Exercise & Mental Health

If I think back to school, I hated running and PE. I dreaded the athletics season in case our PE lesson was the 800m run. School cross country was awful. I was even picked up in a police car because I was so far behind everyone else! I used to go to the gym… on and off for a few years but secretly I hated it. Swimming was always a pleasure but even that became a chore and any excuse I could think of to convince myself not to go was firmly etched in my head. 

November 2019
April 2021

Jump to 2018 where I began running. I took part in the triathlon as part of a relay team. Fast forward to 2019 where I completed the Nantwich Triathlon individually and then a Manchester Half Marathon 2 weeks later. I then stopped. I stopped running and swimming. (Cycling was never something I enjoyed on a mountain bike anyway). Lockdown then hit and my weight soared and on April 26th, 2020, I knew I had to do something about it. I started eating better and exercising. My weight loss really began, and my mind set changed. My anxiety levels plummeted, and my confidence grew. I then joined Nantwich Tri Club. Meeting a stranger and talking about exercising was something I would never have had the confidence to do, let alone cycle with a group of people who I knew would be faster than me and have more confidence on road bikes then me as I peddled away on my mountain bike.

The club reassured me and gave me hints and tips along the ride and made me feel just as welcome as everyone else. I realised how good I felt doing exercise, meeting new people, and eating well. It spurred me on to launch my own business supporting children with their sports and well-being through gaining my qualification in sports coaching and coaching kids for self-belief. It has also inspired my boys further with their sport. Taking part in the Nantwich Duathlon. Inspiring and motiving my boys is part of my personal journey as a mummy but helping others is also important to me. I know the impact of sports on my own mental health and well-being and with my knowledge as a primary school teacher I combined the two and Butterflies was born!

My strength increased, my confidence grew, and my weight continued to drop. In January I started leading online strength and conditioning classes on a Thursday night for the Tri club. Again, this is something that I would never have had the confidence to do, I have completed my Level 2 Personal Trainer qualification and already started Level 3. I have participated in various events in the past 12 months including and most recently the Nantwich Triathlon. Completing it over 8 minutes faster than I had in 2019, despite a puncture on the last kilometre from home on the bike.  Having bought a road bike in May, I now really enjoy the cycling element and will happily go out on a Sunday morning for a cycle on my own or join or lead the Sunday Cycle Event.

I was chasing a PB whenever I went out but then I began to realise that my well-being and mental health were more important and sometimes a steady 5km was far more beneficial overall than a sprint. It is important to remember 5km is still 5km whether it is done at 26 minutes or 46 minutes. 

The journey has been a good one, but it has not all been about the weight loss (which at the start I thought it was). It is about the confidence, the resilience, and the drive to do it. The determination I have found within myself to have a go. I am no Usain Bolt and will never be, but I enjoy it. I learn something new each week about myself and I strive to be my own Butterfly. I want to be the best version of myself for me and for my family. I have confidence I never had. My hair is healthy, my skin glows and I smile far more than I ever have. I  stand tall and proud of my achievements. (The bling does help too)

My next challenge is the Ultimate at Alderford Lake in September. A 3-day event pushing myself way beyond my comfort zone – a far cry from my school cross country days and trip in a police car!