Meet Kosiwa, an occupational therapist who loves the gym.
Debbie is a triathlete, yoga instructor and swim group organiser. After struggling with ill-health and multiple diagnoses she found that energy breeds energy. Now she uses being active as a way to manage her conditions.
At 32 I was diagnosed with my 1st Autoimmune disease Lupus. I had already in my twenties been diagnosed with Raynaud’s Disease. But I had learned to live with. After this second diagnosis, I was told I’d have to ‘Modify my lifestyle’. I wasn’t sure what they meant as I was only able to work and sleep as I was so exhausted all the time.
It took me 6 years to get to grips with things and into doing some form of exercise. My husband is a keen runner. I always wanted to give it a try but found it too exhausting going out with him.
There was a gym at work and staff had a free membership, so I thought I’d give it a go. A chap there always seemed to be on the treadmill next to me. He started giving me little coaching tips and lots of encouragement. After a couple of months, I was running 3 miles and I was amazed!
From here on in I knew that exercise was the key to managing my illnesses. My new motto was ‘Exercise to Energize’.
I like to set myself challenges – small steps towards big goals. Now, I do quite a lot of different sports. I teach Tai chi and Qi gong. I also cycle, run, walk, swim, and practice yoga.
In November last year I decided I wanted to sea swim/dip all through Winter. I always found I had a lot less pain when being in the sea in the warmer months. I asked a couple of friends if they’d join me.
In the end, I set up my own swim group ‘Shivery Bites’ for anyone else who wanted to join us. I now have 103 members. I’ve made lots of new friends, and it’s been wonderful to see people of all abilities get the buzz from open water swimming.