There’s a number of milestones in your life that you will face – two of those for me happened within the space of a year.
Getting married and turning 30.
But turning 30 wasn’t as easy as I’d expected.
As a professional golfer in my early 20s, I tore my shoulder and was in rehabilitation for a number of years, effectively forcing me to stop the game I had devoted a quarter of my life to. This was the one sport that had made me physically and mentally fit, made me walk over 10 miles a day and taught me how to be patient, confident and how to win, and it was suddenly not in my life.
My shoulder injury had caused massive muscle imbalances in my back, which was being exacerbated by increased weight gain and a lack of flexibility.
The muscle imbalances meant that whenever I put my body under strain, I would have muscle spasms as my back tried to protect itself from uneven pressure. Meanwhile, my knees and joints were having to take different loads, and this inevitably led to sciatica.
As time went on, during my twenties I became less active and started to put on weight.
Going from peak fitness to being unable to train, play or exercise meant my body started to suffer and caused long-term damage that I still suffer from today.
After visiting physiotherapists a number of times, I realised it was vital I lost weight for the sake of my long-term health. I had gained nearly three stone in the five years so I needed to take some pressure off my joints to enable me to start exercising and burn off calories.
This happened as I prepared to turn 30. I realised I had lost my way and now seemed the perfect time to launch a new me. I decided to take a stand and get back to my previously healthier ways. I started knocking a few golf balls around, and my shoulder held up! Before I knew it I was joining the local club and playing in their scratch teams against other clubs in the district.
What I didn’t understand at the time was that I was mentally experiencing the ‘Zero Effect’ – a change driven by hitting an age with a zero on the end! I evaluated my lifestyle choices and changed things. It was hitting 30 that prompted it and 5 years later I can see that.
Recent research by Bupa Health Clinics found that moving in to a new decade age encourages nearly half (48%) of Mancunians to overhaul their lifestyle and focus more on their health. This statistic didn’t surprise me at all because when I approached 30, I began to create lists of health and fitness goals I wanted to reach.
The Zero Effect for me wasn’t about a massive change at 30, it acted more as a wakeup call that led to a number of big changes in my life.
The biggest change is planning what I eat and balancing off proteins, greens and reducing carbs. When you start monitoring what you eat you take more care over what you eat, food intake is a whole new ball game.
Being overweight, unhealthy and in need of exercise, I came across hiking as a way of stretching my legs and working out. I found walking to be a great source of mental clarity as I got to see some of the most picturesque locations in the UK such as the Lake District and Peak District. These encouraged me push myself and do a cross-country charity hike for numerous charities.
One of the best things I did was book myself into a Bupa Health Assessment last year – to check in on where I was health wise (https://www.corporatedad.co.uk/health-fitness/preparing-for-a-prostate-exam/ or https://www.corporatedad.co.uk/health-fitness/charity/coast-to-coast-charity/coast-to-coast-preperation-qa-with-bupas-physio/) The assessment showed me the effects hard work has had on my body.
The health assessment gave me an understanding of what my body is doing in more detail and that should anything go wrong, there are options there to support my needs. The health assessments are very thorough; you can get time with a GP, depending on what assessment you go for.
It was literally a turning point in my health. When you MOT your car, you can always fix it if it breaks. You can’t do that to your body. For me, it’s no surprise that according to Bupa Health Clinics 55% of people in Manchester book in for a health MOT when they hit a milestone birthday – they have the right idea.
A health assessment can give you a snapshot of your health and can be the catalyst that you need to make changes. It’s not easy and that added motivation and understanding drives you on the early walks, when it’s cold and wet, or when you’ve had a weight gain week through water retention.
One thing that the whole process has taught me is that keeping on top of health is for life – you can’ t take your eye off the ball.
In May I walked from London to Birmingham for charity. It was quite full on and unfortunately, I developed sciatica again and was out of action for a month. Unable to do any exercise, I gained weight again but, this time I knew that repeat physio and a change in outlook was what I needed.
So keeping healthy is a balance of a number of things; finding out more about your health, making informed decisions on your lifestyle, finding a solution – such as a hobby or sport -and if that doesn’t help, have health services available to you that can support you.
Find your catalyst for change and make a positive decision now.
If like me, you’re keen to take control of your health or are just wanting to make lifestyle changes, a health assessment is a perfect place to start. Until 31 October, Bupa Health Clinics are offering 25% off selected health assessments. Simply use the code SUN18 when making your appointment to get the discount.
This blog post has been sponsored by Bupa Health Clinics, but as always, all opinions are my own.