27 November 2019
By: Michelle Mortimer (aka Morts)
So let me start by answering a question with a question… Why not Smile?
I’m often asked, “Why / how do I keep smiling while taking part in what some may consider incredibly difficult events.”
To me the answer is fairly simple, I love what I do. I love the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment. I love proving to myself that the only limits I have are the ones I set for myself. I love the thought that I might be inspiring someone out there to leave their comfort zone and explore the endless possibilities of what they can achieve if they keep working towards a goal. I love encouraging those around me on race day to keep going. But I think the biggest reason I smile is because a few short years ago the thought of completing any of the events I’ve done to date was simply impossible.
To understand my smile, you need to understand where I began. It started in 2011, topping the scales at 144.4kg. To be clear, I was not unhappy and I did smile then too, but that was when a friend and I decided to get bicycles and try work our way towards better health. It wasn’t going to be easy and the road before us was long, but we were sure we could do it if we persevered and kept moving forward towards our goals.
In the beginning it was incredibly slow going. I think our first ride was 5km. A 10km ride on my trusty mtb, felt like an epic journey. Every single incline in the road would force me to get off and push. But there was me, my friend, my bike and a new found determination to keep moving forward towards my goal and we plugged away.
Nutrition was key too; it wasn’t fad diets or magic pills / shakes. It was simple good old fashion healthy eating. Back to basics, calories in vs. calories out, and making sure the ones going in are healthier options. The weight was not gained over night, so I was not expecting it to be lost overnight either. Willing to put in the hard yards, so to speak.
Side note: A food diary is incredibly useful to get a proper understanding of what all you’re putting in. I still use one to this day.
Little by little the kgs came off and the distances got longer and longer. I started being able to cycle up some of the smaller inclines and with each victory more motivation was found. To this day when I launch out the saddle to power over some of those slopes, I have a little chuckle as I remember how far I have indeed come from those early days. Once I’d lost a bit of weight, I joined a swim squad. I was horribly self-conscious about what all those elite swimmers were going to think of my less than perfect body. Turns out, they didn’t care. They were all incredibly supportive and slowly but surely my swimming started coming on. My weight kept dropping and my confidence grew from strength to strength.
Then came running… Those who know me know that running and I have a love / hate relationship. At first it was frustrating, but I have since learned to make peace with my rate of progress. Each person in their own time. Running taught me patience and humility. You will find some of the most amazing places on this planet if you’re just willing to use your legs to get there. Yes, I more often that not end up keeping the sweeper company and coming in last. But I will never let the fear of being last stop me taking part in an awesome adventure.
My journey is far from over, I’m still finding new and interesting ways to challenge my limits and set new goals. Next year I’ll be taking on my first ultra-distance Trail run, and while it terrifies me it also fills me with immense excitement. I’m excited to try the next great challenge I set out for myself. To push those boundaries, to prove to myself that there is still more that I can achieve.
Yes, there were good days and bad, there still are. That is life. No journey is ever smooth sailing all the way, but if you keep your eye on the greater prize, you find the will to keep moving forward.
Simply, I smile because I’m blessed to do what I thought was impossible and love doing it. I may not be the fastest, but I know I’m doing what I love and having an absolutely blast out their living my best life.
I smile… 🙂