Exercising is an important part of our day to day life, for all of us whatever our circumstances, situation, and lifestyle. It helps us to control our blood sugar levels, keeps our whole body active, our joints mobile, and refreshes our brain with endorphins after. When we are outside, we have the benefits of fresh air and often enjoy the countryside at the same time.

It’s now February 2021 in the UK and the days are slowly lengthening, and one of the benefits of being self-employed is the ability to work flexibly. Today I bicycled six miles, in between client sessions, as I noticed the rain had stopped, and it would be beyond dark by the time I finish working on zoom tonight. I got caught by heavy rain and gusting winds on the way back. I arrived home with my face and legs wet and stinging from the cold, but I felt good.

While I cycled along I was reminded of the times in my life where I was completely stifled by loss and grief, and how very important exercise became to me then. I was totally broken both physically and mentally and yet I tried to keep walking as often as I could and I used my rebounder in the house most days, sometimes just for five minutes. I was absolutely determined to survive and thrive. 

I was not going to let the circumstances of a double bereavement, and the unexpected and very sudden ending of my cherished marriage defeat me. Take it from me – to be unknowingly passed over and traded in for a younger model is one of the most painful things a loving and faithful wife can ever experience. 

So much of my life, at that point, appeared to be out of my control. My Aunt and Mother had recently died and then I lost my husband, my job, my role, my heart, and I had to move house. It was catastrophic, I couldn’t eat, or sleep and I barely functioned. 

The only thing I could control was how to rescue myself. I knew I had to look after myself, there was no-one else left. I vowed to myself through my screaming that this was going to be a beginning and not an end. With the benefits of hindsight I can see it was a phenomenal decision to make while I was a sobbing wreck for much of the time. I innately knew I had to stay strong physically in order to try to look after my body, so it would help me to recover. I was 59 and it was a tremendous shock. 

I was used to being out and about and I started with ten minute walks in the village and two minutes on the rebounder. I made myself do it, sometimes it was really hard and then I felt better afterwards so this reinforced the fact that I was on the right track. I kept going, if I missed a few days it didn’t matter. 

I built the walks up regularly until a four or five mile alone, or a walk and talk, with a friend, became the norm, and the daily rebounding increased to 20 minutes most days. This eventually led to me both eating and sleeping better. My post menopause weight gain, of around twenty pounds, fell off – the divorce diet is well known to be spectacularly effective, and I have remained at my natural pre-menopause adult weight ever since then. 

Moving to the present day after finally relocating and settling, I rediscovered the joys of bicycling for fun on a thirty year old second hand bike, whilst still rebounding. Walking and bike rides remain very much part of my day to day life. Our local pool is currently closed but I look forward to getting back to aqua-arobics and aqua-jogging plus the over 50’s Gym sessions. On wet or icy days I run up and down the stairs (safely) until I am out of breath, and then I do it again. I sometimes wonder if the neighbours hear me. I dance around the kitchen to the radio, and I smile and I keep moving. I want to stay strong, and independent and it’s true what they say “Use it or lose it”. No ‘bungalow legs’ for me. 

I take a holistic approach to my work as I hold qualifications in both mental and physical health. Regular Continuing Professional Development in both disciplines, ensures even greater knowledge and awareness of the latest evidence based practice and techniques. I bring all this to bear when working with clients, plus the experience of having applied so much of this theory and science to my own life and the lives of others. 

The Grief Tree is a project I am so proud of and so passionate about. It’s a specific seven week programme to help individuals recover from loss. My colleague and dear friend Sasha Holyoake and I have developed the Grief Tree over the last few years, from our training, our experiences and our work. For more information please visit www.thegrieftree.co.uk 

What have you done for your body today?