I love to exercise! I love to feeling post run or swim – that sudden rush of endorphins which makes you feel incredible.
When I was born I was diagnosed with a rare heart condition and in the 80’s – conventional medicine wanted me to endure open heart surgery to ‘fix it’. Luckily my parents decided to push back and wait for medical advances – but in the interim I was told to not run around, not to do PE and not to exercise. I was told my skin may turn yellow and without the necessary ‘fix’ procedure my max life span would be around the 40 years mark. I ignored most of this advice and as a child was very active, in the 90s before smart phones – riding our bikes everywhere, playing in the woods and took every opportunity to play sport. Captained the school hockey & netball teams, competed in swimming competitions, tennis matches and was even in the army cadets for 6 years. No one thought of me as any different.
I was very lucky and in 1998 – that advances in research and medicine lead to me being the first child in Manchester in the UK to have the heart surgery without being cut open. The surgery was a success and I have never looked back on my dodgy heart as anything to hold me back.
Since then I have ran marathons, endured cycling events, open water swimming events and even competed in a charity boxing match to name a few. It has really been since the birth of my second child in 2016 when I stepped up my level of fitness to be where I am today.
I love everything about the process of exercise and how sport makes me feel. Every week on a Sunday I schedule my week’s exercise along with my kids activities and my work schedule (I own two businesses). For me I see exercise as equal importance to all other events in my life. I exercise 7 days per week (often twice per day), of course I vary the intensity – not every day is a race day and I have spent years building myself up to this routine. I limit my intense or hard sessions to only 3 of these per week. I love competing in races and events and have my first Ironman 70.3 race scheduled for July 2023. To an average person I seem crazy, but I absolutely love it and wouldn’t change a thing.
As a teenager I suffered horrendously with very heavy periods and as it feels usual practice the GP suggested the Oral Contraceptive Pill as a method to control them. I just presumed this was normal. Since the birth of my children – I reacted very badly to going back on the OCP and knew this wasn’t a long-term solution for me. So I researched and adopted a more natural approach. Having opened my first business The Float Spa in 2015 which is a health and wellness centre, then going on to re-train as a Naturopathic Health Coach, meditation teacher and Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, and develop a more natural approach to all areas of my life. These included completely changing my diet, lifestyle, stress, sleep and alcohol consumption. I felt all of these were affecting my health and hormone health. By slowly reviewing all areas of my life I was able to create a new lifestyle which was balanced and worked.
As a women who exercises a lot, we have to focus on diet. My husband has always said I eat a lot of food – this is never taken negatively as I exercise a lot so I need to fuel. I do not want to lose weight and I am in the right weight bracket. For triathlons I also do not want to ‘bulk up’. For me I need to fuel for the exercise I do. A game changer for me, came when I studied Dr Sarah Myhill protocol and the PK diet. This combines the best of ketogenic and paleo diets. I always used to feel hungry all the time, and then over compensated with healthy snacks such as apple with almond butter or corn cakes/carrots with hummus. The question was why was I getting hungry? I found that my diet was limited on fat and fibre and I utilised carbs for energy. So when my carbs source depleted I felt hungry, it was a yoyo spike/crash style of life. I now prioritise eating fat, fibre and protein with every meal along with a small amount of carbs (even ditching the vegan lifestyle and adopting an animal based diet). This has not only been a game changer with performance – having run PB’s on every race since the change in diet, but has also balanced my hormones meaning my periods have become less heavy and less painful. I don’t even realise they arrive.
As humans we do need to have a level of stress in our lives, but our ability to switch between our nervous systems has become disjointed. We spend too much time in our sympathetic state of fight / flight as opposed to the parasympathetic state of rest / digest. I personally learned this the hard way in 2014 when I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression following a very traumatic event. Since then I have adopted techniques to maintain my stress levels. I have two children and two businesses – which were severely impacted with the pandemic. I understand how stress can play a significant impact on my life, therefore being able to maintain and reduce stress is a huge importance. I have a daily meditation practiced – which is a 5-10 mins long. Whenever I face a stressful situation or ‘intense’ training session, I spend a few moments resetting and calming my nervous system before rushing to the next task. All of these micro practices help to maintain a balanced life.
If you are an Olympic athlete – coaches and trainers spend a lot of time ensuring there is plenty of recovery time. This includes getting at least 7 hours (plus the amount of training time in the day) of sleep. I go to bed at 10pm and wake either 6am or 7am depending on my training schedule – meaning most nights I get 8 hours of sleep. Waking feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Included in my recovery are Epsom Salt Baths, floatation sessions, Cryochamber / ice baths and infrared sauna. The infrared sauna helps my body to detox waste hormones, energy and waste in my body. All are vital to ensuring great hormone health. I feel sluggish if I have missed a sauna session in a week.
With Future Woman I have completed their advanced hormone test, my results were interesting and overall very good. I am aware that often women who ‘overexercise’ lose their periods and suffer badly with their hormones. For me I do not see myself as an over exerciser – I vary the intensity and type of exercise, and I also have spent a long time building up to the current routine. I also believe balancing of diet, stress and recovery time supports my hormone health. Ensuring I am the best possible version of myself and to keep achieving my goals.