I cannot believe how amazing it feels to take regular exercise. That might sound like a dumb thing to say, but it’s so easy not to do it, to find excuses to sit on your arse.
Six months ago I suffered an appendicitis infection, and because my symptoms were atypical the hospital refused to take me seriously. They kept trying to send me home.
If I’d done as I was told by the doctors who misdiagnosed me – who basically made me feel like an inconvenience for daring to insist I was ill – my appendix would have burst and there is a significant chance I could have died. It was a very, very frightening experience.
When I was in hospital I noticed something I had never noticed before. Nearly every patient I saw in hospital for treatment was overweight. It shocked me to my core.
It is true that if you are overweight or obese and take regular exercise, don’t smoke, eat your five a day and drink only in moderation, then you are no more likely to die early than anyone else. Studies have shown that, as long as you look after yourself, it doesn’t matter what size you are. And I honestly believe that if you are happy with your body, whatever shape and size it is, then that is all that matters. Live your life on your terms. I am NOT judging you.
BUT, for every one of the the above ‘healthy’ behaviours you don’t do, your risk of an early death increases substantially. I felt like I was being given a warning and I listened.
So after I came out of hospital I started to look after myself much, much better. I didn’t want to ever set foot in that place ever again.
Over the last six months I have, first recovered from my operation, which took about a month, and then gradually worked on improving my overall health. I have stopped drinking Diet Coke and cut way back on junk food. I have increased the amount of fruit and veg I eat, I have cut down on booze, I have started walking everywhere instead of getting the bus, and I have slowly built up the amount of swimming I do (my favourite exercise). I haven’t done anything extreme, like decided I can’t eat carbs, or cake, or drink wine, or dieted, or worn myself out with too much exercise. I have just been a lot kinder to my body, and it has paid me back, by doing things I never thought it could do.
This week I swam three and a half miles crawl, across three separate swims. My longest swim of the three, the longest I have ever done, was 1.6 miles/ 2.6km, which took me 1 hr 2 minutes, and 104 lengths crawl of our pool. Afterwards I felt absolutely fine. Not even tired. I only stopped because I didn’t want to miss my daughter’s bed time. I reckon I could have done another mile easily.
Today I went for a walk with some good friends, whose oldest daughter is best friends with mine. As six year olds are wont to do, they had a tiff, and I needed to help them to make up, but they were about 200 yards apart. So I took hold of my daughter’s soft little hand, and helped her run to her friend. I ran the whole way. And I didn’t get out of breath – not even a little bit. I just ran, like it was the most normal thing in the world. It took no effort. I felt like I could run forever.
The human body is such an amazing thing. To go from suffering a life-threatening condition to being able to swim a mile or run without even feeling it, in such a short space of time is incredible. I feel so grateful for that horrible, agonising infection, and for that terrifying stay in hospital.
If you are someone who doesn’t feel great about their body, please just try looking after it better. How you feel matters so much more than how you look.