Natalie's story

Natalie got back into fitness and has now taken up HIT, pilates and yoga around her working day.

How Natalie got back into being active 

As a young child in the mid-80s I played football in the Netherlands when it wasn’t very common! I continued to play up until I went to university. Although I always struggled with wheezingI just put that down to a lack of fitness, until I was recently diagnosed with Asthma. I also suffered from bad shin splints and whilst I tried to carry on playing into my mid-twenties I struggled with my injuries, as well as fitting it into a very busy job.  I did very little exercise for the next 10 years or so, I was very good at justifying my way out of classes and exercise in general!  

Fast forward to my late thirties and I was challenged by a friend to cycle 65km from Leeds to ManchesterI didn’t even own a bike at the time. continued cycling as I found I quite enjoyed it.  Since then, I have really started to enjoy exercise. I regularly do HIIT sessions and occasionally Pilates and yoga as these fit nicely around my working dayschool runs and so on.  

One thing I have never really enjoyed or got into (until recently) is running.  I always struggled with running – my issues with wheezing and shin splints just made it feel like it wasn’t for me.  It felt so hard I made a conscious decision about 5 years ago that ‘I don’t run!’.   

Then a friend of mine shared a Desk to 5k group that was starting, and I thought I’ll give it a goI was homeschooling at the time and thought that it could be something we could do together - ‘PE with Mummy’.  

Three weeks into it, following the sad and sudden loss of a friend to mental illness a year earlier, a group of friends decided to raise money for the charity Mind in her memory and I just had to get involved.  It meant I really had to fast track my Desk to 5k journey, but all the stretching, strength work and mindset sessions included in the plan really helped and with the inspiration from the group, my running buddies, friends, family and sponsors I managed to run and walk, but mainly run 116km in 5 weeks. It’s been a brilliant experience and helped me deal with my grief in such a positive way.  I miss Emma so much, but she loved running and I just know she would be so pleased and proud of me!  

stay active for the feeling I get when I achieve something I didn’t think I could do, my mind and body feel stronger and healthier and being a role model to my daughter to show her that being active is important and fun too! I’m now in my mid-forties and I want to be as strong as I can be while I still have a good level of health. 

Being active has definitely helped my mental well-being. I feel more positive, brighter and happier when I am exercising regularly.   

My advice to anyone that would like to be more active is, find a sport that you enjoy, don’t rule out learning new sportsyou might find you actually like them! Know that you are more capable than you think you are, connect with other people who like similar activities and do them together – its lots more fun! Identify a goal to work towards and then increase that goal step-by-step. You will amaze yourself with what you can achieve! 

Natalie said: I feel more positive, brighter and happier when I am exercising regularly.