Sit ups in the sand

So it’s about time I published this article right?

After all, Sue from Ms.Fit in the Vale of Glamorgan wrote this for me mid October 2016!!!

Oops… Sorry, I always knew I wanted to get this out there, but like a fine wine… some things really do get better with age (I’m allowed to say that right? Well tough, I’m gonna do it anyway – which I do quite a bit – as you know;)

Anyway it’s kinda even better I post this now in many many ways.

Why?’s now Jan 2018 and I’m happy to report that as some of you know, Sue has just won our Ms.FIT ATHLETE OF THE YEAR 2017 … but more importantly she continues to lead from the front with her “doing” approach to life.


She’s unstopable and rarely listens to the little voices saying “you’re too old for this” or “you should slow down a bit”.

What’s even more fascinating and inspiring?

Sue’s story…

Over to you

Coach Lloydy

ps – she’s had a heart attack as well on

With apologies to Bridget Jones this is how my year began ; 29th December 2015, 11st 3lbs, shit, shit, shit.

Party at a friends house where I have a semi drunken conversation with Jo Phillips following which I manage to remember said conversation the following morning.

2nd January, a Saturday and I am doing sit ups in the sand with a slightly stupid smile on my face. Oh yes, this is so much better than any gym.

This, by the way was Mark’s suggestion so you have him to blame but, you know, how often do you get the chance to actually reflect, in writing, about life and stuff?

I just hope you’re not bored to death and also not spotting the grammar and spelling errors (Fiona).

Apparently I am an inspiration?

Several people have said this to me and not only in Ms.Fit but in work too, so I’m not making it up.

I am not sure how to take this given that my own view of ‘me’ is far from inspirational.

Most of my working life I have been wracked by a lack of confidence, worry and anxiety. I have an ability to ignore steaming piles of urgent shit which then takes on a life of its own, especially at 4 am waking me up in a cold sweat with lockjaw after another nocturnal teeth grinding session.

Alcohol, yes I’ve done that too.

Arrive home from work with a head full of mashed up melon, total inability to concentrate, gin and tonic (obviously a large one) followed by another and trash telly all night – repeat for the next 4 days and sometimes work Saturday mornings just to catch up.

I would say that was a fair summary of my working life for a large part of the last 10 – 15 years. It is a little inaccurate however because on top of work I’ve done a load of other stuff.

I have never been a true couch potato, and I’ve never been massively unfit nor massively overweight.

Weight wise I have been consistently 7 – 10 lbs overweight, and naturally, an expert at losing ½ stone and putting it back on again.

As the years have gone by a couple more pounds per year have crept on. At one point 10 stone was my ‘line in the sand’ then it was 10st 7lbs.

For about the last 5 years it’s been 11 stone, hence the disgust just after Christmas last year.

Sport wise I love walking, swimming, cycling, being out in the countryside, sunbathing with nowt on (try it – its fabulous) and for about 20 odd years , SCUBA diving.

Diving was great fun especially as we did all the organising ourselves in the diving club I belonged to. A day out diving involved a lot of thinking, planning, and concentration as well as a good laugh but more importantly it occupied the mind. It was very varied.

I once did a dive in Llandegfedd reservoir (I know, why would you?) where I swam headfirst into a mud bank simply because I couldn’t see it.

I’ve dived the German Fleet which was scuttled in Scarpa Flow after the First World War; an underwater waterfall at the mouth of Loch Etive; around Oban and Mull; South coast of England and of course West Wales where there are some simply stunning wrecks, reefs and all night pub sessions – oops.

Aled came along in 1998 and by the time he was six I made him play footie on Saturday mornings because I thought he should play at least one team game with his schoolmates.

At around the same time, Mr W got a ballot entry to run the London Marathon – he’d hit 40 bless him. Well, that meant Saturday morning was ‘long run’ day and left me to do footie duty.

I hated it, so did Aled to be honest as he has absolutely no affinity with a ball or any sport involving coordination with a moving object.

Anyway the diving stopped because it’s an all day thing really and I just could not justify a whole day away from the family to do it.

The diving kit is still decaying away gently in my garage; 7 cylinders, 6 demand valves, two ‘O’ Three dry suits, I kid you not. That’s all nestling away in one corner whilst the 6 bikes are parked in the middle and Aled’s kayak is in another.

Talk about a kit shop – and I haven’t even mentioned the camping gear and the ice axes and crampons (true) – oh and a nice new triathlon wetsuit!

After the diving stopped which I still miss , I have been a bit rudderless exercise wise.

I lost my focus. I did get a bike (one of the 6 aforementioned) and rode to work – when the weather was ok – so not very often and I joined a gym and did body pump which I enjoyed.

I ran occasionally (definition , about 2 – 3 times a year). I never lost any weight doing any of these things.

Then in December 2013 just before Christmas I had a ‘sort of’ heart attack.

Well it was a heart attack but not a furred up artery heart disease type of heart attack. Who knew, there’s more than one type?

I had a fortnight booked off work – hooray, so did Mr W and Aled had his school holidays too so we were all looking forward to it. I was ready to collapse after a massively stressful few months in work.

As I had so much time off (25th was a Wednesday that year) I had plenty of time to clean the house, shop for food, wrap presents, you get the picture, I’d left it all to the last minute.

Mr W was out on the lash Friday lunchtime and I picked him up about midnight so you can imagine the alcohol intake – impressive would be an understatement.

Two am Saturday morning and I wake up with central chest pain. Nope, this is not happening – get a glass of milk go back to bed.

Wake up at 3 am – pain still there, must have made some sort of noise as Mr W is suddenly awake and more astonishingly, functioning.

Paramedic arrives and wires me up to his magic box – my blood pressure is apparently off the scale.

Off we go to Llandough where I have the blood test which takes 12 hours to run and then we wait.

8 am – change of shift. I am on the bed, quite chipper, feeling fine in fact. Mr W on the other hand is ashen grey.

Nurse to Mr W, ‘ We don’t usually do this but because it’s Christmas we’re going to McDonalds, do you want anything’?   To be fair he didn’t partake.

Monday evening after an entertaining Sunday night with Dementia woman in the bed opposite, actually hilarious, and I am bed swapped to UHW – Hooray.

Tuesday, Christmas Eve, 4 pm angiogram done. This is fascinating. You are awake for the whole thing and can watch as the little wire thing wriggles along your artery with your heart merrily pumping away.

Then the head man comes out and says, ‘The good news is that there is nothing wrong with your arteries so what we think is you have had a dissection in a small vessel and it has healed itself up and that is what caused a small clot’ WTF??

Well, what this means is I have had a spontaneous cardiac arterial dissection – SCAD .

Quite a lot of research later reveals that this is: seen in women who have just given birth, in younger people, and in people who have done strenuous exercise amongst other categories. Oh, and there is, depending upon what research you read, a 20% chance of another one.

Fan fucking tastic.

Took me a year to get my head round it and frankly I am not sure I have even now, I just choose to ignore it. I’d rather do what I am doing than not.

Right, I’d better move on to food.

Now I am not claiming to have found the answer – after all ‘winter is coming’ and that’s the time I eat more which is apparently a throw back to our ancestral cave man past.

However, after many, many diets of various categories of bonkersness (yes that is a word Fi) I have found a way of eating which suits me. I’m not suggesting this will suit anyone else but here are my rules:

There are five things I cannot live without:

  1. Tea
  2. Coffee
  3. Olive oil
  4. Balsamic vinegar
  5. and Alcohol of any sort.

Crisps and biscuits are (mostly) no longer a part of my life. Of the two I miss the crisps more and still find a bowl of said comestibles (Fi are you impressed?) practically irresistible.

I eat less starchy carbs – having discovered that your liver does remarkably clever stuff, one of the things it does is converts unused carbs (sugar really) and stores it as fat. Right, so now I eat bread 2 maybe 3 times a week. A sandwich is one slice rather than two slices. I eat brown rice and pasta and buy those little Merchant Gourmet sachets of posh grains and lentils.

I sometimes just have meat and veg. I am careful with carbs and intend to keep it that way.

Smaller portions – this is tough for a girl whose mum said many, many years ago. ‘

You’ve got eyes too big for your stomach’.

So true. Interestingly Aled has that magic ‘off switch’. When he’s full he will just stop eating, no matter if it’s his favourite thing in the world. Me, I can carry on until I am groaning. Trying not to overeat is still a challenge.

Rewards – ha, how many of us think, bootcamp done, that’s a coffee and a cake?


You need to burn way more calories (I know Mark hates that word but it’s as good as any other) than that before you can have cake.

Long cycle rides are just about ok but a 3 hour bike ride with hills will do at least 1000 calories whereas bootcamp might be half that and a decent slice of cake will put most of it back on.

Be careful with the rewards. I would rather have the liquid variety later on.

Calories – just don’t bother counting them. It’s very, very boring almost impossible to do accurately and demoralising. It really is a waste of time.

Diary – I have kept a diet, weight and exercise diary for the first time in my life since the end of January which has been very revealing and now I hope, is a habit I intend to keep up.

It’s just a reminder each day of what I have done and helps me stay on the wagon rather than floundering in the mud. It’s a great boost to look back at it and see how far I have come.

I am inspired by Esther. This is a true story. Esther did Ironman this year. Last year she couldn’t swim and hated the feel of anything between her toes so her coach used to carry her down the beach and make her stand on seaweed.

She finished in about 14 hours (+) and did the 2.4 mile swim in, I think, 1hr 19 mins.

I cannot get that out of my head.

Aside from Esther who let’s face it is clearly bonkers, I am inspired by all of you at Ms.Fit.

Coach Jen, you asked me how I have time for all the training I am doing and I flippantly said that it was because I have a husband who can cook and a son who can drive and knows how the toaster works.

Actually, I no longer have a young family who need me so I am not now part of the parent taxi brigade nor up and down stairs for those wakeful kids who won’t go to sleep.

I actually do have more time for me and I am making the most of it. But I take my hat off to you lot, with or without kids, it’s hard to find the time for this fitness malarkey.

We all have different lives with different commitments and priorities but what is so great for me about Msfit is the support and encouragement from all of you.

Future plans.

This is the scary part for me. I am 54 and sooner or later will hit the menopause.

I am not intending to let that slow me down but it will, inevitably.

Already I need less energy per day to stay alive – a depressing thought.

However, I know plenty of older women in Les Croupiers running club who are still running remarkable times and distances and who are older than I am which gives me hope for the future.

So, in the spirit of not giving in to this ageing shit I have entered the Olympic distance Triathlon in Cardiff next summer, (1.5km swim, 40k bike, 10k run).

I will probably do the Velothon again – 140km bike ride and there is Mark’s Gower coast thing in March which I am really keen to do.

I have a feeling Suz is going to make me do the Cardiff half marathon in the Autumn.

And of course there is Ms.Fit which is such a large part of my life now.

I just wish I had done something like this years ago.

So, yeh, bring it on….