My First Steps Into Walking

I remember the first time as an adult I realised I was not in as good a shape as I would have liked. In July 2009 I decided to do a walk up a hill in the Yorkshire Dales called Pen-Y-Ghent. It was a few months after my dad died and I know he had done the walk a couple of times and it felt right to do it as part of my grieving process and as a way to "Gently" easy myself into a more active lifestyle.

My dad died of a heart attack in the November of the previous year and it was that along with what I looked at in the mirror after a shower that got me thinking I should maybe do more exercise and get into better shape. My dad was only 65 when he died and I was almost 40 at the time.

I remember the day vividly, it was red hot and I was new to walking and I was carrying what now looking back was a huge backpack and wearing the nearest thing I had to walking boots a pair of safety shoes from my job as a warehouse operative.

I could only have been about half a mile into what was a planned 8-mile route when I became acutely aware of how tough I was finding it. It was a busy day on the hills being a Saturday and I was getting passed on my way by groups and people of all ages. My legs ached and I was struggling to get my breath. It took me a long time but I eventually reached the top.

Moving and staying active was to become a big part of my life from that point. I can't say I was any good at it for the next 4 years, but I occasionally ventured out and over the coming years I tentatively tried a lot of different ways to try and improve my fitness.

Gym memberships were taken on, golf clubs bought, running events entered and still in the words of Bono from U2, I still hadn't found what I was looking for.

Then in 2013, I met Sue, she was an avid walker and early on in our relationship she started to take me out on walks she knew. The first couple were just as hard as that day up Pen-y-Ghent but slowly I got better and it was not too long before I was completely in love with walking.

For me, it is the simplest and most natural form of movement us humans can take on and it is a great way to start to improve our fitness levels in a way that is not extreme. Being outdoors also is brilliant at lifting our mood and helping clear our heads of the stresses life these days brings at times.

If I was to give anyone one simple piece of advice that I think would have the biggest impact on their well-being it would be to move more.

These days 26-mile walks and big hills are normal for me, but I wanted to highlight in this post that's not where I started.

If a chubby out of shape middle-aged man can go from couch potato to a long-distance walker, anyone can do it. All you need is time and a decent set of boots.

Gareth

Community and Connection.

I was never too interested into community but since starting a yoga class at my local community centre I have come to realise how this local support can truly change lives and I have learnt so much from being there but I have to admit as a self confessed introvert I’m not one for hanging about much after class and usually speed off as soon as is politely convenient as I’m SO busy doing all my other stuff. I have now come to the realisation that rather than being introverted I’m maybe more judgemental and have a dose of “can’t be arsed”

This morning was different, as I was packing up to leave two of my regular ladies - Sandra and Lynn asked if I would like to join them for a coffee in the centres cafe and instead of making up some excuse I decided to rather bravely join them along with their friend Christine and so the four of us gathered round a table to sip coffee (or green tea in my case) and put the world to rights.

We chatted about a host of topics from the usual weather, the price of parking and even  Boris Johnson got a mention, Sandra didn’t like the fact that he had children with random women and Lynn didn’t “get” his hairstyle! and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Sandra played the ukulele, Christine had been a curler (not the hairdressing type) in her younger days and Lynn was distantly related to Henry the eighth via a rather dubious bloodline.

 A gentleman walking past with a white stick and a uniformed Labrador was pointed out to me as “blind” but he was also a champion Skipper which I took to be you know like on a boat but they meant actually skipping with a rope which was even more impressive!

Whilst sat listening to these three friends laughing and chatting away I realised that most of us (including me) never put time aside to spend with others just chilling and catching up. Our lives have become so busy with jobs, chores, to do lists and family dramas - we are all far too serious and taking an hour out to sit, listen and connect with others seems not important somehow not a priority but I realised that it is important and should be a priority as it’s essential for Wellbeing and just as important as diet and exercise.

I then randomly remembered an old mans shelter in the park where I lived as a child. All the old men in the village would sit in this little wooden like bus shelter with their flat caps and carved walking sticks and chat for hours about the good old days and the war ( just made that up - no idea what they talked about ). I know it’s not PC nowadays with equality but their few hours solace will have been important and at least the women could be left to cook, clean, garden, look after grandchildren, knit, sew and mend, build garages, chop wood and walk 20 miles in substandard footwear to find clean drinking water without their men folk insisting on a shag.

Connection is a basic human need and there are many people especially the elderly, disabled and poorly who need the rest of us to step up and make sure that everyone is included, everyone matters and no one should have to feel lonely with all the resources that we have at our disposal.

It’s not just up to the government or our over-stretched social services it’s up to everyone of us to do our best to help and support where we can. Just be kind, a few words and a smile could make someones day.

I felt important in that little group this morning, I felt that I mattered and I felt good, it was wellbeing and wellbeing is paramount. Those three ladies made a difference to my day and they won’t have even noticed but I hope I also made a difference to theirs.

I’m also starting ukulele lessons at the end of the summer so look out for the new album!

Ask your self this question every morning before you get out of bed - “How can I be helpful today?” And see what a difference it makes.

Namaste.

Sue

Why Well-Being Matters to Sue.

This seemed like quite a simple question that I was recently asked and it wasn’t until I thought of my answer that it became a rather long one, so here is my take so bear with me……

The first thing that came to mind was my physical health and why that is important to me. As a yoga and nutritionist it’s clearly important as it’s how I make a living but then again I did choose how to earn my money so it must have been important well before that.

At birth most of us are gifted a perfect physical body and it works beautifully. From our skeletal and muscular system to the workings of the heart and the amazing complexity of the brain we are given the most sophisticated and advanced piece of creation and we are stewards until we no longer need it so therefore we have a responsibility of utmost care to do our best. I believe that in general we just don’t give our bodies a second thought until they start to play up and then we get concerned and immediately add to the congestion in our doctors surgery.

From my observation most of us can limp along to our early fifties before our lack of care becomes obvious and the disrespect we have shown our bodies becomes more apparent and this is not lost on me as a nearly 57 year old.

I love to hike, I live in a beautiful part of the world with the countryside and the coast easy to reach and most weekends you will find me on the top of some peak like Pen-y-Ghent or Great Gable. After sometimes ( well ok every time) a hard slog to reach the top the scenery and the views are priceless and I definitely need a strong body to keep climbing well into old age - my 76 year old Mum is still doing it so I have no excuse!

I have a 7 year old grandson who is football mad and I enjoy playing make believe World Cup finals in the local park with the added complication of a feisty dachshund trying to steal the ball from us and this is where my strong heart comes into it’s own pumping away and working tirelessly. 

I feel that it’s important to set an example to any generations below that health and vitality need not fade with age and it’s my strong belief that every age has so much to offer but not if we can’t get out of bed because of our aches and pains or we can’t move efficiently because of a bad hip or excess weight and feel pissed off because of it.

I have so much more left to do from climbing Mont Blanc to paddle boarding in the Indian Ocean, from standing at the top of Mt Kilimanjaro to horse riding over the Andes none of which would be possible with poor health.

The second part of the question is about the health of my mind and how I think.

It’s of utmost importance that I’m happy and content although this is never a constant  state as sometimes shit does happen but being able to navigate all the ups and downs that life throws at us comes from us being clear, having purpose and possessing resilience all the traits of a well balanced mind. Being able to keep getting up whenever I get knocked down.

Being grateful and appreciative for what I have (which is plenty) and not always wanting more which is a fruitless exercise and also seeing the very best in everything and everyone ( a constant work in progress).

I love to cook for my friends and family and making sure that they all have a great experience eating delicious, tasty and nutritious food is a true pleasure and plays to my creativity and I need my brain to multitask in the kitchen!

I love to read and educate myself on everything from the Yoga sutras to cookbooks from functional anatomy, science and philosophy - lots to learn and still so much time.

I want to squeeze the juice out of every moment and always do my best. I want to be a great partner, mother, daughter, sister and nana I want to support as many people as I can to live the best life possible as I truly believe that it’s in all of us not just some of us to achieve success in whatever way that means to us personally.

Failing health, obesity, heart disease, cancer, strokes and mental illness have become the norm and it’s now time I believe to change the norm and reclaim what is rightfully ours.

So…. In a nutshell - Well-being means that I can get the most out of my life, all my life.

Sue.

It's all in your head.

There is just so much content I could produce for these blogs and on so many subjects, but I wanted to get this one in early on.

What I am excited about wit Better24/7 is how it allows Sue and me to share some of our expertise, and my area of expertise is Mindset.

I have long been interested in how people think and how the way we think has a huge impact on how we experience life.

Back in 2012, I started to study for a qualification on something called NLP. NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. From the first lesson, I was hooked. It not only explained how people behave, more importantly at the time, but it also allowed me to recognise some of the ways I was behaving was caused by my mindset.

Our mindset is very important, especially if we are wanting to improve some aspect of our lives. What I learned during my NLP training was that we can reprogram our thinking, if the thinking we have is not working for us. This was a revelation.

I was so impressed with NLP that after getting my first qualification as a practitioner, I continued the training and in 2013 became a fully qualified NLP Master Practitioner.

You may think you are too old, you don't have enough time, or your life is such a mess it could never get better, well you would be wrong to think that.

It's only very early days her at Better24/7 but I will be sharing ideas and strategies as we go along that can help you think better. I would also encourage any readers to contact us if you want me to cover anything specific that you feel could help you on your journey into improving your well-being.

Take Care

Gareth

Why Well-Being Matters to Gareth.

Well although this blog post won't take that long to write, it has been a long time in the making.

For some time now I have been wanting to work on some project around well-being with Sue. This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly I think we work well as a team, we think in similar ways and we have complementing skills. And secondly and probably, more importantly, is that fact that Sue has been instrumental in me living a better life.

I have to admit prior to meeting Sue my happiness and health was poor. I did a very little bit of exercise, was a skinny lad with a fat belly and I was struggling with any kind of motivation to do anything about it. I was also deeply unhappy in my work and relationships. All this turned around after meeting Sue.

The think about well-being is, you don't realise how bad yours is until you start to improve it.

I remember vividly the first time we went walking. I had told Sue I was a walker, the reality was it was only because she liked it and I was trying to impress her. I think she began to smell a rat when after a few hundred meters into the walk I had a purple face and was incredibly short of breath.

This walk was to mark the start of my love for walking and I am happy to report that some 6 years later, I am a lot fitter.

But for me well-being is a lot more than just physical fitness, it's being happy and healthy in all areas of your life.

I know plenty of people that look physically great, they have bodies that are admired and envied, but behind the scenes, their lives are somewhat of a car crash.

Sue also helped me to look at relationships in a different way and find happiness and joy in those again. And she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zones around travel and we have been to a lot of places in our time together.

Once I started to get on top of my physical well-being, everything else fell into place. Whenever I talk to people about improving their lives, I am always interested to know how they exercise and eat, it has a huge impact on the quality of life we have.

We both were moved to start Better24/7 because we seem to notice more and more that people seem to be unhappy and unhealthy, its almost as if it has become the norm and nobody seems to be that bothered. Well, we are and both felt if we simply blogged and did podcasts on what we have done and do to keep happy and healthy, then others might get some value out of that.

Documenting and sharing what we do also feel good because this website will also serve as a bit of a diary for us. It will be great to look back in years to come and see what we're up to and how we have developed over the months and years.

I really do hope you enjoy the content, and if you only get a small percentage of the changes that improving your well-being that I did, you are in for a great journey yourself.

I can say hand on heart that working on and improving my well-being has been the best investment in myself I have ever made.

Take Care

Gareth.