During the pandemic and lockdown period I struggled with my fitness and was too nervous to see my doctor for blood work or to hop on the scales. At the time, I was 46 years old and heading towards some serious health problems. I joined the AIA Vitality programme and used it to start hitting my step target every day. I also started utilising the at-home workouts and meditation videos the programme provides.
Then two years ago, I went to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training session with a friend of a similar age and health, who had been going for a year and encouraged me to do the same. I had no intention of doing more than two sessions, but the ‘just turn up’ phrase stuck with me, and I was hooked.
When I got on the scales the number terrified me, as I had never been anywhere close to that weight before. So, I changed my diet, cut out processed foods and started training competitively in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with great people around me. I am now 32kgs lighter which is an ideal competition weight for me. I also went to the doctor a month ago to get my full blood work done and have my blood pressure checked. The results were all perfect. In fact, my results were what doctors would expect from a very fit and healthy 25 year old!
In terms of how this journey has improved my mental health, I find that I now have more patience with my job, family and friends. If I'm having a tough day, I can go to Jiu-Jitsu training for a couple hours and leave as a totally different person. This is not only applicable to Jiu-Jitsu. Any sport or exercise is a great stress reliever! I even find when my kids are having a tough day and then go to Jiu-Jitsu training or rugby practice, they come home refreshed and with a more positive outlook.