Cycling To Work
Juliette shares why she chooses to cycle to work.
Date: 18 August 2022 Author: Energise Me
After suddenly losing his father in May this year, Lee decided to raise money in his memory by walking. He challenged himself to take part in Diabetes UK One Million Step Challenge. And he’s inspiring others to help themselves by helping others.
As a child, I was always quite active. I did a variety of sports like football, tennis and cross-country. But when I turned eighteen, my priorities changed. And I dropped the activities I used to love. Then in my early twenties, I put on a lot of weight and became the heaviest I had ever been. Looking back, I wish things had been different but the only differences I can make in my life are going forwards.
When I found out my partner was pregnant with our first child in 2015, I knew I wanted to change my habits. There was no way I could run around after a little boy in the state I was in, and I needed some energy from somewhere! So, I started walking and it made a huge impact on my overall health and wellbeing. Since then, it has been somewhat of a rollercoaster. Losing weight and doing plenty of exercise to then losing the motivation and putting it all back on, and repeat.
I really enjoy walking – it’s free, it’s easy and it isn’t physically demanding. So even though you are working your body, it never feels like you are. My favourite places to go had one thing in common: the scenery. Living by the sea and in the New Forest I am lucky enough to have so many lovely places to go and walk, without even having to get into a car to do so. Being outside was a great way to manage my mental health and I gravitated to trails that were exciting to be engulfed by.
I wish things had been different but the only differences I can make in my life are going forwards.
I learnt a lot about myself during the pandemic; when presented with a challenge the best in me comes out. I got back into walking (it helped that that was all we were allowed to do!) and eating well. That all made me feel motivated and positive.
I persevered on to a good place again during the COVID winter lockdown at the start of 2021. That March, I took part in the 10K Steps a Day for Cancer Research UK challenge. But a few months after, I suffered a mental health breakdown, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do most things. Especially when facilities re-opened, I felt mentally and physically stuck, which began to affect other areas of my life.
Lee overlooking a city on one of his walks.
Unfortunately, the first half of this year has thrown a lot at my family. We’ve suffered three family bereavements in the space of five months. In that, I lost all interest in looking after myself again. When my dad unexpectedly passed away in May, it was just another reason why I couldn’t prioritise my own health even though I knew I wanted to.
Just before July, my friend sent me a message on Facebook with a link to the Diabetes UK One Million Step Challenge. She said: ‘I’m not sure if you’re interested, but I know you did something similar last year.’ And it just clicked. My dad had Type 1 diabetes since he was 11 until he passed away at 61. I thought to myself, I can do this in his memory and raise money for a great cause while improving my health and fitness.
The first of July signified the second half of the year. I saw that as an opportunity to go forward and change my life for the better. The step challenge runs from July to September which works out at about 11,000 steps a day. So, I signed up and put on my walking shoes.
I can do this in his memory and raise money for a great cause while improving my health and fitness.
Another reason why I am doing this is because it’s a three-month challenge. I’m hoping it can change my mindset and instill an ability to find physical activity in my daily life in the future. Currently, I do all the school runs, I walk to places instead of drive to them and when I can I go for a walk during my lunch break. I’ll also get my children out with me on the weekends; my son’s quite good, my daughter less so!
I’m really proud of myself so far. I’ve been averaging 13,000 steps a day! My partner keeps saying to me: ‘you did 25,000 steps yesterday; you don’t need to do as many today.’ But I don’t see it that way. I have to get to my 11,000 steps goal because if I don’t do it one day, it’ll be easier to not do it the next day. Then I’ll spiral.
If you don’t like running, jumping, or going to the gym, it’s just walking, which we do every day. It’s about finding ways to do a little bit more of it when you can.
I’m quite a good self-motivator. If someone isn’t like that, I think when you sign up to do something for charity there’s an extra attraction to it. To raise as much money as you can by doing the best you can. Choosing an active task, you’re then simultaneously helping yourself. Last year, just walking for a month had such a positive impact on my life.
It’s also a great place to start. If you don’t like running, jumping, or going to the gym, it’s just walking, which we do every day. It’s about finding ways to do a little bit more of it when you can.
The other thing is to remember that physical activity is a lifetime journey. You’ll have good days and bad ones. Sometimes you won’t motivate yourself off the sofa, other times you won’t want to stop moving. All of that is ok. Life is chaotic at the best of times. Don’t be hard on yourself, just try again when you can. For me, walking will always be there to ease life’s stresses and give me the time and space to sieve through my thoughts. And even if I fall off the wagon, I know I can get back on it.