To give you, the reader, a chance at context these initial blog posts are going to take a sort of ‘Story So Far…’ approach. I’m not about to take you through my entire backstory but perhaps the series of key events that led to me signing up to my first ultra event, and a few events since, may help you understand more what I write. I will say this is more about the physical side of things, I’ll share my mental health learnings in a different post.
I stated previously that I never had a single ‘EUREKA’ moment that changed the entire course of my life. Where I don’t doubt that they may happen to some, for me I was far too set in habits and stubbornness that it took a few serious knocks to finally get me to start making changes.
The first one that comes to mind was going on a walk in 2013 with friends in Grasmere (in the Lake District) and very quickly getting out of breath walking up a steep hill. Then, whilst on a stag do in Spain in 2014, playing a quick game of beach football with friends and realising how quickly I was out of breath and exhausted. It was minutes. I was still smoking, but only when drinking. The problem though was that I drank a lot. That same year a random blood test (as part of a work health check) picked up high liver function levels. A few months later I was tested again and the levels were still high. This then led to a ultrasound of my liver which revealed heavy fatty deposits which were the very first signs of early liver damage. I kinda worked out at that point I should really consider a few changes.
The thing is, even at that stage, I didn’t go making any huge sweeping changes. I didn’t go on a fad diet, I didn’t throw out all my drink and start being repulsed by smoking. I didn’t even rush to start going to the gym. What I did do was take small step after small step. No more sugar in tea. Skimmed milk instead of whole. Parking at the back of the car park to go shopping. Choosing to walk instead of drive.
Slowly and surely lots of small changes started to have big effects. When I did start going to a gym it was reluctantly and started as an off and on habit. Then I started to get results, drop weight, notice a little toning here and there… it was in early 2015 I started to really step up and start doing proper workouts. The small changes in diet and lifestyle were still happening and then a friend in work signed up to
an ‘Ultra Walk’. I never knew such a thing even existed, and I had found my first real, proper goal to set myself. In 2016 I was going to walk around the Isle of Wight!
I’m going to save the story of that particular walk for another post, likewise why I chose to fund raise for the mental health charity Mind.
The point of this post is to get across the message that the way to create true change, true meaningful change that sticks and doesn’t become an utter chore, is to start small. The way you walk a 100km challenge is simple, one step at a time until you get to the finish line. The exact same advice rings true for ANY sort of self improvement. Don’t be drawn in to clever marketing and media fads. Find your reason for doing it, and start doing it, doesn’t matter how small the changes, just keep making them and you’ll get to where you want to be.