Following on from my post about ‘labels’ I thought I would continue the theme, and tell you a little more about me and what makes me tick.

Challenges are something that appear often in my life. Not because life has thrown them at me (although we have been hit with a few over the years), but more because I love to push and continually challenge myself to do new things.

Its a trait that has found me building a house, moving and travelling through new countries, setting up my own business, running marathons (barefoot!), eating solely raw food diets, jumping out of a plane, towing a caravan from Bordeaux to Bologne overnight (a journey of around 12 hours, which was honestly much more white-knuckle than it sounds!) and much more.

I’ve no idea where my sense of wunderlust or desire to push myself into unchartered waters comes from. Everyone else in my family are home-bodies, who have found their love of life in having children and being settled. I guess there is more to the argument of ‘nature or nuture’ than we think!

That’s not to say that the idea of having a ‘forever home’ with veggie gardens, lots of rescue animals, and a retreat space for people to come to and heal isn’t appealing to me. I just haven’t found the right place yet.

Over the last few years I have had health challenges that have put a hold on the more physical challenges that I used to put myself through. Marathons and ultramarathons have had to take a back seat whilst I deal with an autoimmune disease that has at times had me dragging my knuckles on the floor such is the fatigue that comes with it. Not conducive to running long distances, or any distance at all actually.

Then there is the menopause which came a calling a few years back. Although I appreciate I could have ‘suffered’ a lot worse, it still did something of a number on my mental health.

Being a personal fitness trainer, much of what I am about is tied up in my fitness and appearance. Being able to ‘walk the talk’ is one thing, but sadly in this modern world that we live in we are expected to ‘look the talk’ as well.

The menopause left me 2 stone overweight. Whilst I have lost some of that there is still some to go and I have struggled with my own self-image as a result.

I finally feel that I am coming through that though and knowing that in less than two months I will be back in the sun, and feeling more like myself again (I thrive in a hot climate), is liberating. It is also allowing me to think about what I would like to challenge myself with next.

I still want to run. Long distances. Like more than a marathon.

Ultra’s are still very firmly on my list of goals that I want to achieve.

When I first thought about running an ultra there was a particular charity that I was going to run and hopefully raise money for. I still desperately want to do that. It is a charity based in Kenya – The Sheldrick Trust. They rescue and rehabilitate orphaned elephants and rhinos.

Ele’s have always held a special place in my heart. I mean I LOVE ALL animals, but there is something about elephants. Their sheer size and presence is overwhelming, but what is so impressive about these majestic creatures is how gentle and loving they are. The thought that man does such harm to them literally hurts my heart, and is something that I cannot in anyway understand.

I watched a documentary on Netflix a few nights ago called ‘Gardeners of Eden’ all about the trust and the work they do with these gorgeous beasts.

If the level of poaching continues at the rate it is then within 10 years they will become extinct in the wild. African elephants are currently being slaughted at a rate of :

1 every 15 minutes

Yes you did read that correctly. Every 15 minutes…….

How can we allow these animals to become extinct – it just completely knocks the wind out of me to think about it.

My challenge was always to use what little talent I have at running for a worthwhile charity. I also want to prove that getting ‘older’ does not preclude you from having great health, nor mean physical ability needs to diminish.

They are two passions that run side by side in my life. Helping animals and challenging societies attitudes around health and fitness (especially as we age). If I can successfully combine the two and bring awareness to them both then I will be very happy.

So, over the coming months my goal is to work on getting my health back on track, and then to start moving towards a life where we can be of service to those animals most in need. Starting with the elephants!!

Watch this space and expect to hear much more about what, how, and when!!!

Helen x

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