What losing 40lbs did for my mind and body

My diet has, alongside the 10 to 15 hours a week I cycle or paddleboard, brought about the weight loss and change in my physical shape. Previously, I was an emotional eater, an anxiety eater – largely triggered by work stress, and by my divorce. I found comfort in eating when I wasn’t hungry. I still feel it sometimes, but when I shop I limit the sweet things I’m getting to have at home to mini-meringues, mochis and some fruit. If I do over-indulge, exercise will always follow.

Cooking an evening meal every day has become a ritual. I rarely eat red meat. My diet is mainly seafood and the best organic vegetables and salads – salmon, white fish, crab, samphire grass, salads, fresh pasta, and bread at a minimum. My girlfriend, Julie, who I met last year at my local farm shop, eats with me every night and has lost 2st as a result. I still enjoy my favourite tipple – tequila – but have learnt to sip and not slug it down. Long boozy lunches are gone. Takeaway food is no longer a consideration. I’ll wait until I get home, even if hungry. Sometimes, If I’m out all day on assignment, I prepare a meal to take with me. Previously, a Red Bull and quick snacks from a petrol station were the norm.

Overall, there is much less anxiety in my life: if I feel it rising, the bike is there, and the river or the sea calls to me. I’ve just ordered drysuits for me and Julie, as I don’t want another winter without paddleboarding.

Something changed for me, one day on the paddleboard last summer. The belly had gone and I felt comfortable taking my shirt off. I got a tattoo on my arm that day of the eye of Horus, symbolising wellbeing, protection and restoration. Friends labelled my tattoo moment a midlife crisis. But it was the opposite. It was a day I genuinely felt I owned my life again.

Now, when away for work, if I’m in the UK, my bike and paddleboard are always in the car, and if abroad, I cycle in a hotel gym, or walk a mile or two rather than taking a taxi to assignments. Last summer, at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo which I was covering for the Telegraph, I bought a bicycle, and for the last nine of 23 days there, was pedalling the streets. When I’m in LA, I hire a bike and have paddleboarded on the Pacific. I want to cycle into my 70s; I want to paddle all over the world. It’s as built into my diary as zoom calls, press conferences and fight nights. I’m still a workaholic – and very driven. My children are now into their 30s, my second grandchild is on the way and I feel now as if I “own” my 50s. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Thankfully, my will is now showing me a better way.

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