What drives you to live a healthier lifestyle?
This is Nick and me in 1984, we hadn’t been seeing each long, I was 17 and Nick was 20. Nick was sailing the yacht, single handed, and we were on a brief trip to the Lake District.
It was shortly before Nick was due to leave the Royal Marines and I was studying for A’Levels.
I worked in the holidays and some weekends in our family business, SunKing Flowers, and spent my days in the fields, or in the packing sheds. In the summer this meant starting as early as 5am on a hot day, working until the job was done, usually finishing the day wearing a bikini top and cut-off jeans. If the field was off site, I would cycle there and back, and between fields as necessary during the day, usually totalling about 10 miles, and when it was really hot, finish the day by diving into one of the irrigation reservoirs for a swim. There was no doubt in my ability to do any of these things, it didn’t enter my mind that I might not be able to jump onto the back of a trailer, or load lorry, or do any of the above. I trusted in my own body and the freedom of life it gave me.
At the age of 44 I ruptured my Achilles tendon, and was non weight-bearing for 5 months. At my daughter’s wedding, I looked like a jolly barrage balloon, and walked with a pronounced limp. I had lost my faith in my ability to move in any way useful, and on a day trip to the Norfolk Broads, didn’t have sufficient faith in myself to even jump onto the bank from a small boat. I was stiff, over weight, unfit and usually unwell in some way, with headaches etc. and a general excuse to refrain from exercise.
A few months before we had started to go to Northern Soul events, and to begin with I hadn’t danced much, preferring to watch. As my tendon healed and I could start to wear flat shoes, I really started get into the dancing, and it took me back to the feeling of being 17, at the youth club where I learnt to dance. It brought back the memories of having a body that could do anything, dance all night, work in the fields, and the freedom and sense of wellbeing that brought. The more I danced, the better I felt.
I joined a gym, and put Northern Soul on my phone so that I could listen while training. My strength improved, and my overall fitness. Nick had taken up road cycling a year earlier, and I went with him for a 6 mile ride on my sit up and beg bike. This brought back more memories of being a teenager, except that then I had an Eddie Merckx racer, so next thing to do was buy a Tifosi road bike, on the cycle to work scheme.
Since then I have been cycling every week, building up the miles, and enjoying the countryside. We have also qualified as PADI open water scuba divers, and I have started Open Water swimming at a lovely lake near Lincoln, with a circuit of just over a mile each time.