This challenge changed my life
I took on the Aspire Channel Swim in 2017 not only to raise money for a fantastic cause and to make a difference, but also to help with my own health. I was struggling with long-term infertility and the emotional and physical toll that treatment takes.
I was also tasked with losing 10% of my total body weight, which gave me a new focus, something that I could control. It gave me purpose and a renewed sense of ability, whereas infertility leaves you feeling totally helpless and utterly hopeless. I saw an advert for the Aspire Channel Swim and it instantly clicked. I hadn't been swimming since a teen.
I love a challenge and wanted to find something my body COULD do, rather than focusing on the one thing my body COULDN'T.
What surprised me was the positive effect that swimming had on my mental health. Not only did I benefit from seeing my body grow stronger and more capable, but I also had two hours every week with nothing to focus on but counting laps and processing the frustration, bad news, painful treatment or other stress from the week. Over time, my swimming sessions helped me to let go and turn a corner to a much happier state of mind.
I dedicated myself to the challenge and found that I was getting stronger and before long I could swim a mile within around 50 minutes. The weight was steadily coming off and my confidence soared. Swimming allowed me to process all the frustration, anger and profound sadness that comes with long term infertility.
All of a sudden, around halfway through the challenge, swimming became difficult, almost like swimming through treacle. I persisted but was exhausted and starting to feel nauseous. Well, would you believe it, we had finally been blessed with a miracle and I was pregnant. I didn't give up and swam throughout the three months of my first trimester regardless of the tiredness and nausea.
Looking back, I do think that my increased fitness and the calories I was burning helped me to conceive.
A healthy body can respond better to fertility treatment and weight has a huge impact on this. I was overweight and swimming helped me to reduce my BMI, improve my fitness and increase my confidence. Whilst there is a multitude of factors that can impact fertility and fertility treatment, it is agreed that having a healthy body is an important factor.
Lily Hope was born on 3rd July 2018, weighing in at a mighty 8lb 12oz. We have both hit the water ever since. She has been attending weekly swimming lessons since she was six weeks old and I took on the 2019 January Aspire Channel Swim, to lose the baby weight, regain muscle strength and confidence in my body.
I have also completed the 2.5k Swimathon, 1.4 mile Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim, the Couch 2 5k running programme, with my first 5k race over in 24 minutes, 10k race in 55 minutes and my first half marathon on the 6th October.
The confidence that Aspire Channel Swim has given me has opened up a whole world of health and fitness