I am involved in quite a big range of activities these days – getting here has been a journey though. I run most days (it has taken a long time to call myself a runner, I would have said more a plodder), play club hockey during the winter, summer hockey over the warmer months in a social team (that includes my teenagers), mountain bike when I can, trail run and have found I enjoy adventure racing as part of a team, I now enter quite a few events (mostly running and trail running) to keep the motivation going.
The social aspect of being able to now play a team sport has been huge, it opened a gateway to find other people with the same interests. As I have become more active I have also managed to rope other people in to joining me – we have had work teams doing Tough Girl and Guy, Ekiden Relay Race and Round the Bridges much to my delight. I have met over time a group of girlfriends and we enter trail events together sometimes and have done the Spirited Women’s Adventure Race (mid length) and several Rogaine events and this year I also did the Whangamata Adventure Race. I have met my partner since my journey began and have even managed to rope him into playing summer hockey and doing the Whangamata Adventure Race as part of our team. Running every day has become HUGE for my mental health. It is my only guaranteed “me time” on any given day and is the time for personal reflection.
There were several barriers for me – but the most significant were time, money and weight. I could not afford to join a gym or buy expensive gear. The decision to initially walk every day and then start running really happened out of necessity because I couldn’t afford to do anything else. These were activities I could do anywhere anytime with minimal gear required. Time was huge too, I have 3 children and a job – finding a way to fit it in was massive. When I first started out the children had no choice they had to bike or scooter and come with me. Though my kids all now play social summer sports with me in the same team and still opt to join me on some of my crazy adventures. These days I do the bulk of my running and walking either at 5.45am before work, or in the evening. My weight was a significant factor – over a decade of being a Mum and the weight had piled on, I struggled to walk around the block without puffing and sweating profusely. I was scared people would see me and laugh at me trying to move, I thought about diets but they all cost. Instead I made the decision to just make healthy choices and change my lifestyle, in my eyes it was the only sustainable way to live and long term maintain this way of life. I am still a curvy girl but nothing stops me now, I will try most things at least once! I have also learnt not to compare myself to anyone else – for example my partner is a “proper” runner and he has won events and done marathons. Running together happens occasionally and I have to accept my fastest run is just a jog or easy run for him, and likewise when I am with the other women doing events we work at different paces, but that is more than ok.
I had to have a really positive determined attitude. On any given day there are a hundred reasons and excuses why I shouldn’t go or couldn’t go. I really wanted to make this change in my life and was adamant there were no more excuses. Getting the balance between children, work, and life took a bit of adjusting, it wasn’t easy at first but then realizing that the children didn’t have to miss out on me, I just had to fit me around them or include them whenever I can. As I have become braver and more active I quickly realized the only thing I really needed to spend money on was decent shoes, my mountain bike and other gear I have acquired have all been second hand, my active gear is all from kmart or the warehouse – flasher or label gear doesn’t make you any fitter or faster. Hard work is what makes the difference. The mental battle was also huge, it’s taken me a long time to love my body and accept that this is who I am, and more importantly how I see myself is not necessarily how others see me.
It was a combination of things really for wanting to be physically active. I wanted to be a better version of me. I didn’t want to be the parent that only ever watched my kids run around and kick a ball – I wanted to be a part of what they were doing. I missed the sport I had played decades ago pre-kids, and realized I wasn’t getting any younger and actually this was my last chance to make a change. I had put on A LOT of weight over the years and hoped that by slowly embarking on this journey a bonus side effect maybe a bit of weight loss. More than anything I wanted my children, friends and family to be proud of me, I wanted them to see it’s never too late to make a positive change, and that good things can come about as a result of them. I never ever thought I would be 40+ years old and back playing sport, let alone making a team at provincial level.
Honestly it makes me feel alive again. I have more energy to give to my work, family and most importantly my children. I have found that being active has meant I sleep better, worry less and have become more comfortable in my own skin. I like that I can challenge myself in big or small ways. I have ticked off bucket list things I never dreamed possible – doing both a trail and road half marathon for example. No, I wasn’t fast, but I finished, and did so completely exhausted but with a smile on my face and seeing how proud my children were was the best feeling ever. It has made me more confident in life in general.
I admire the woman I pass out walking or running every day because they have made time in their day to do something and I don’t know what challenges they have faced to get there – but they are just out there doing it no excuses. I also think Valerie Adams and Gemma McCaw are amazing human beings. Yes, they are at the top of their sport, but they have gotten there through hard work, raw determination and they are doing it while raising a family.
Making a change isn’t easy – and you have to want it. Getting active has to start with small steps, you can’t just wake up and expect one walk will make you fit. It takes time and effort and a lot of determination. It certainly doesn’t have to cost money, nor come at the cost of your family or friends. Being active is different for everybody and that is more than okay, you are far harder on yourself than you realise. For some people it might be walking or biking 3 times a week, for others it might be a walk every evening after dinner. Everybody is different and everybody has different challenges to face. One of the greatest pleasures in life I have discovered is doing what people say you can’t or doing what you never thought was possible – I am my only limit. I don’t see myself as inspirational more just an average woman who wanted more for herself and her children. I have limited finances and time, and I live with my 3 children, but I make it work. The odds were against me but if I can do it, anybody can – you just have to want it! Its 1% Luck, 1 % Talent, 98% Never give up = 100% Success.
"Going to the gym and being physically active makes me feel alive and motivated"
"The rush you get from being active, and achieving your physical goals, is unmeasurable"
"I love the feeling when you're all sweaty, tired and out of breath because you know you've tried your best and pushed yourself as far as you could"
"I like getting fit, competing and winning medals. I like to have big strong muscles"
"So often as a mum you are doing things for other people, so being physically active makes me feel good in that I’m doing something positive for myself"
"I enjoy the social aspect of being physically active, when it’s not too serious and it’s just about learning new skills or getting out of the house and having fun"
“I don't like sitting around and being bored. I love participating in team sport and putting goals in place to achieve.”
“Never give up, keep pushing even when times are hard, and love yourself. Find your passion and grow because your only competition is yourself”
“Being active is important to me. I want to live a healthy life and movement is a big part of that”
"For me, sport and physical activity has offered me opportunities to make friends for life and memories I will never forget"
"I’m now convinced that I am not in competition with anyone and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks anyway. I know I’m never going to win races but as long as I am trying my best to be a better me than I was yesterday then I am winning at life"
"Not being the one sitting on the sidelines watching and being able to role model how to stay healthy and fit to my children so that they grow up believing being active is a part of everyday life and sharing all these wonderful adventures with them, it makes my heart sing"
“Quite often when you can’t be bothered or you’re feeling sluggish and tired you can surprise yourself on how well you’ll do. Just get out the door, breathe in some fresh air and take some time for YOU, because you deserve to be HAPPY and HEALTHY!”
“Start out with small steps and milestones like walking around the block without stopping, going to that first group fitness class or jumping in the water for the first time in 10 years or so”
“I feel a lot happier when I'm active. A run or a swim will always clear my head”
“You have got to have a positive attitude and just get out there. Keep moving, stay focused, because life is way too short to waste your time not doing what you love to do. Just do it”
“By valuing ME more, I started to recognise myself and all of my qualities. Now I’m proud of who I am”
“I find I am generally a better human being and can give more when I keep active”
“Being active amazes me at what my body can achieve, after all I have put it through. It amazes me how it can heal”
"Find something that you enjoy doing and make the time to do it. You’re not being selfish; you’re looking after yourself. The best time to start is today"
“Running and working out are my antidote to the everyday stresses of life. When I’m not active I find it harder to switch off and view things in perspective. Sweating through activity means I don’t sweat the small things in life”
“Being active makes me feel like I’m using my body for good. It makes me feel powerful, positive, sweaty, glorious, achy in a good way, and hopeful for the future”
“Running is an outlet for me and I feel as though I am in control when it’s just me and my running shoes”
“I was proud that I was determined enough to start from scratch and have had lots of fun playing in local competitions”
"I didn’t want to be the parent that only ever watched my kids run around and kick a ball – I wanted to be a part of what they were doing"
“Happy is a very well-known word but yet can be described in many ways. To me happy means doing the things you love while not being forced to do them. Sport and keeping physically active are my happy place”
“Overall regular physical activity makes me more positive and happier”
“I feel alive and ready for anything”
“Active, healthy lifestyles aren’t defined by how often you run or go to the gym. Exercise can look like what you want it to be and what fits into your life”
"Just by putting your shoes on and getting out there, you’re being active and doing great things for your wellbeing."
"There’s so much reward to be had by overcoming fear and achieving things you never thought you could – so go for it – and link up with other likeminded women along the way."
"Exercise makes me feel incredible! It makes me feel strong capable and grounded."
"...there is more to life than the aesthetic of your body."
"I am so damn proud of what my body and brain can do for me. It brings me so much joy."
"Feeling confident in my own skin, being stronger and fitter than when I was younger."