I’m excited to introduce you to Jo Moseley who has been such an inspiration to me with her regular postings on social media. She has such a thirst for activity and an infectious enthusiasm. I was so happy when she agreed to contribute to my book, ‘Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health’ as she is such a shining example of how getting older doesn’t mean doing less. Read how an indoor rowing machine helped transform her life and hear about her new goal of being a surfer. She’s a true #ActiveWoman.
Tell us a bit about yourself Jo.
I’m a 52 year old working Mum of two teenage boys living on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. You can follow me on Twitter & Instagram or join me at Healthy Happy 50 for stories, tips, news and inspiration for sporty women #womenover50.
When did you decide to start exercising regularly and why was that?
I started exercising regularly when I was 48. I was finding life stressful and wasn’t sleeping well. Looking back I realise I may well also have been peri-menopausal but didn’t know. I told a friend that I was tearful, anxious and tired and she offered me an old indoor rowing machine to see if exercising might help. It did! I began sleeping once more and everything started to feel less overwhelming.
What activities have you tried and what’s your favourite?
Since then I have started cycling and bodyboarding again as I did as a little girl, I began running Couch to 5k, have taken up stand up paddleboarding (SUP) and swam a mile in the Lakes. A picture I took at the Great North Swim was used in a poster campaign for This Girl Can in the summer of 2015 which was totally unexpected but such a confidence boost!
I have rediscovered my love of being in the sea so I think bodyboarding and SUP are my favourite. I live two hours from the coast so they are very much special treats. I have also been really surprised by how much I have enjoyed running in the fields and muddy trails near where I live.
What has been the biggest barrier you’ve had to overcome on your fitness journey?
The biggest barrier has been – to my surprise – injury. I fell in early spring 2016 (not whilst doing any sport!) and badly injured my knee. A few months after that I developed tendinitis and bursitis in my shoulder which has been really painful and debilitating. Neither were sport’s injuries but have really limited what I can do.
However, the two lessons I have learned from this are a) to be patient and imaginative with what’s still possible (swimming with my arms when my knee was injured and walking a lot when my shoulder is painful!) and b) how important it is to keep building my fitness, core stability and strength as I get older.
I want to do more yoga, stretching and strength training in addition to the outdoor fun. It’s giving me more impetus to be active in future despite slowing me down now!
Have you had any negative comments and how have you dealt with them?
No, I can honestly say no-one has ever been negative towards me. In fact, I have always found people are very supportive and encouraging. Family, friends, contacts on social media or people I meet on my adventures in the sea, gym, beach or fields.
What goals have you set and have you reached any of them yet?
My biggest goal by far has been to row a million metres and marathon on the rowing machine in 2014 fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support to thank them for everything they have done for both my parents who have had cancer. My Mum died in December 2013 of Lymphoma and from May 2014 to December 2014 I rowed 10km every other day for 200 days (after work and whilst looking after my sons and our home etc). Five days before my fiftieth birthday and on the first anniversary of my Mum’s death, I rowed a marathon. We raised over £10,000 which was way more than I had ever imagined we could achieve. Having not exercised consistently to any degree for decades, it was quite a surprise to me to even set, never mind achieve this rowing challenge. The indoor rowing machine will always have a special place in my heart.
My Couch to 5k running goal has been put on hold whilst my frozen shoulder heals but still remains important to me. I’m determined to start again when I can, simply because I enjoyed it so much. That was such a revelation to me as I hated athletics lessons at school and had tried running in my twenties, thirties and forties and never found any pleasure in it at all!
My current goal is to exercise outdoors every day for a year for 30 minutes – something I post on Instagram & Twitter as #rainorshine30. I’m now on Day 235 and am really enjoying it. Even simply walking for half an hour a day is a great boost to me – physically, emotionally and mentally.
My biggest goal for the future is to learn to surf. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but felt was beyond me physically. I’ve also been concerned that I don’t fit the profile or image of a surfer and that it’s off limits to someone like me – a middle aged Mum starting to learn in the cold, grey North Sea!
However, after following campaigns like This Girl Can, reading Anna Kessel’s book Eat, Sweat, Play and being inspired by so many wonderful women (like yourself Juliet and your 261Fearless team), I feel more confident about dismissing this worry from my mind. I have no idea whether I will be any ‘good’ at surfing, but when my shoulder and knee are strong enough, I will book some lessons and at least give myself the opportunity to find out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
What benefits has being active brought you?
Oh so many benefits! Physically, I feel and sleep better when I exercise and so far, my peri-menopausal symptoms seem quite manageable.
I also find my mental and emotional well being has benefitted. I’m naturally an anxious person – I can worry for England! As part of the sandwich generation (working and supporting my two sons whilst also being there for my Dad) there’s always something or someone on my mind. Exercising, especially outside and on a daily basis, has really helped me feel calmer and more positive. When I couldn’t move well because of my knee last year for a few months I was tearful, anxious and much less positive about life. Once I was told I could build up my walking, swimming, cycling etc I began to feel so much better. I began #RainOrShine30 at that point to give myself half an hour a day (or two blocks of 15 minutes) to regain my positive attitude as well as physical strength. Something simple each day has been a big part of my recovery.
I’m convinced all the rowing I did after my Mum died played a part in helping me work through my grief.
What advice would you give to other women who want to start exercising?
I would say the hardest bit is just getting started! Think about what you feel would suit you best and try that. And if you don’t feel it’s for you, try something else. And then try something else until you find something that fills you with joy and you feel you can continue with. This isn’t school! You don’t have to continue if you don’t like it!
Don’t worry what people think – nobody else’s opinions matters and they are most likely too busy being focussed on what they are doing to notice you anyway!
Start where you are with what you have and build up. Find online or IRL groups to give you support and ideas if you feel that would help. I have always found other women especially to be hugely supportive.
Good luck and enjoy taking the time to look after your health and well being. As the ad says, you’re worth it!