PRIORITISING MY HEALTH ONE STEP AT A TIME

Written by: Nyomi Tullock, You've Got This Ambassador

I’m not what you’d call a natural athlete. I have issues with balance and coordination and used to book my orthodontist appointments to coincide with P.E. lessons at school to avoid doing laps around the field. I actually enjoyed visiting the dentist more than running!

Whilst I had made attempted to set an active routine for myself in the past, it usually ended up being a passing fad. I would buy all of the gear, decide that this would be the routine that changed my life, and then give up in a month or two once the novelty wore off.

Like many people, I didn’t make my health a priority. There would always be something more important to do, whether extra hours at work or social activities.

Then, in March 2020, lockdown hit, and I suddenly found that my busy life ground to a halt. My mental health was really suffering, and I had no motivation to get out of bed in the morning.

Towards the end of April, my workplace noticed that quite a few people were in the same boat and decided to encourage us all to take our daily exercise by starting a step competition.

Being quite competitive, I signed my team up thinking that we’d probably stick at it for a week tops. I set myself a personal goal of 7,500 steps a day and bought a basic step counter for £9.99 from Argos because I know that holding myself accountable and measuring progress is a significant motivator.

In the first week, the motivation to get moving wasn’t easy, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed walking once I got going.

So, in the second week, I pushed my goal up to 10,000 steps a day. Barely moving from the desk all day, I found that I could hit this goal by going for a walk that took just over an hour each evening.

Before, I wouldn’t have ever thought that I’d find an hour after work every day to go for a walk; however, I soon realised that it was crucial to take that time for myself every day, no matter how busy I was.

Taking a break from staring at a screen all day became the highlight of my day! I’m lucky to have a partner who comes on every walk with me, which has definitely been a massive help. I would recommend trying to get fitter with a partner, friend, or community where possible.

I wholeheartedly expected this to end as soon as the competition did. However, I have consistently walked over 10,000 steps a day for over a year now (even on Christmas Day!). Whilst it doesn’t seem like much, walking has been a great ‘gateway’ activity to a more active lifestyle.

Regular walking was a great way to ease my body into a more strenuous routine, whether going for a jog, going to the gym, or even a long ‘Just Dance’ session. The most important thing for me was to do something that I enjoyed rather than making working out a chore.

Whilst it may sound cliche, I found that whilst my physical health has undoubtedly improved, the most significant change was in my mental health.

I struggle quite a lot with anxiety and taking the time to switch off by getting out for a walk with my headphones in makes a world of difference. It also really helped me fall back in love with my local area, and I have discovered so many places that I would never have found if it wasn’t for being more active.

I definitely won’t be winning any medals any time soon. Still, I’ve gone from being someone whose running experience started and ended with running a bath to being one of those people that I always slightly hated who run a 5k for fun a few times a week.

I really hope that this story shows people that if I can do it, anyone can! It is about making small changes that you’re comfortable with, making time for yourself and your health, and finding what feels good. Even something as simple as walking every day makes a huge difference.

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