How I found wellness on the water


Experiencing early menopause was surprising and tough for Happiful’s Lucy Donoughue, however getting out on the water and embracing joyful motion helped her to handle a difficult relationship together with her physique

I can distinctly keep in mind the primary time I skilled the marvel of water. I used to be eight years previous, sitting on the seashore at Treyarnon Bay in Cornwall, completely mesmerised by the ocean. I watched the waves and the way the reflection of the solar precipitated the water to glitter, for hours on finish.

Rivers, lakes, and open stretches of water had the identical joy-inducing and restorative impact on me, and I needed to be close to, on, or within the water as a lot as doable. Sadly, as I hit puberty and have become more conscious of my physique and what I assumed I wanted to seem like to put on a swimsuit, I finished desirous to immerse myself and stayed firmly on dry land.

Simply as changing into a self-conscious teenager pressured me to retreat from the water, coming into early menopause emboldened me to embrace the waterways as soon as once more. Not as a result of I like how I look now – removed from it. Over the previous three years my physique has modified considerably; I expertise joint ache regularly, my limbs aren’t as versatile as they as soon as have been, and physique acceptance eludes me each time I look within the mirror, though I work on it every day.

I’ve spent so many summers over time telling myself that after I’m lastly proud of how I appear and feel, I’ll join paddleboarding, wild swimming, or one other exercise that can get me out on the water once more. Nevertheless, when my menopause arrived sooner than anticipated, it felt like a particular and surprising change after all in my life, and I made a decision that if I stored ready till I felt utterly comfy in my very own pores and skin, I’d miss out on one million issues that I do know will carry me deep pleasure proper now.


I finally took the plunge, and signed as much as be taught to paddle board earlier this 12 months. The considered beginning a brand new exercise introduced again a sense of pleasure I keep in mind experiencing as a toddler, earlier than self-doubt and poor body image crept in.

I’d like to share that I took to face up paddleboarding (SUP) like a duck to water. The reality is that in my first lesson I collided with a tree overhanging the riverbank, and went house with twigs in my hair. Within the second lesson I fell within the Thames whereas merely getting on my board, and within the third I face-planted whereas making an attempt to face. Within the fourth, I virtually stood up, however due to hip and again ache and a present lack of flexibility, I didn’t fairly make it.

That’s not the entire image although. I additionally witnessed geese flying overhead in an impressive formation as I paddled (albeit on my knees) down the river with the solar on my face. I realized that it feels good to stretch and deal with my physique with kindness as a substitute of berating myself after I can’t transfer in the best way I used to, and I’ve laughed loudly and infrequently throughout classes, and felt exhilarated after they’ve come to an finish, realizing that I’ve progressed simply that little bit since my final session on the water.

Rachel Bambrough, founding father of SUP4, has fairly actually been by my aspect all through. She’s witnessed many individuals’s journey on the water, and believes that it’s the expertise, pleasure of motion, and private progress, that’s vital. It’s not our collective realized behaviour of reaching an finish objective or ‘succeeding’, that so many people would possibly take note of after we first begin a new activity or type of train, simply to validate the time we spend doing it.


“Too many individuals concentrate on means and having the ability to ‘get it proper’, however there’s nobody option to be or be taught,” Rachel explains as we paddle. “It’s about your private expertise, and it is OK for those who take your time. Most significantly, it’s OK to fall in! Falling isn’t failing, you be taught from it.”

Being on and within the water, Rachel says, actually lets you be current. “The concentrate on steadiness, buoyancy, being utterly surrounded by nature, and away from screens and know-how, ensures you’re dwelling 100% within the second, which is a good looking and infrequently uncommon expertise in our noisy, busy world.”

The opposite profit, we each agree, is a extra respectful and self-compassionate relationship with our our bodies. Since getting out on the water once more, I’m extra conscious of what my physique looks like from day after day, what it may well and might’t do, and the way I’m getting stronger and extra versatile with each session. I’m now focused on how sure stretches may also help my mobility, fairly than how they may tone my abdomen, thighs, and bum.

“If I preserve ready till I really feel utterly comfy in my very own pores and skin, I’d miss out on one million issues that I do know will carry me deep pleasure proper now”

Beginning SUP has been the catalyst for spending much more time within the water, and in swimsuits, moist fits, and deeply unappealing swimming caps. I’ve began wild water swimming (chilly water has the impact of drastically lowering joint ache for some hours after), and I’ve tried SUP yoga, which was a good looking, if not wobbly, expertise. I additionally proceed to paddleboard recurrently with Rachel, and it’s absolutely the spotlight of my week.

Getting again out within the water has been fairly pivotal in difficult the best way I really feel about myself at this surprising, and typically tough, stage in my life. I’ve amazed myself by posting footage of SUP fails on social media – as a result of they make me smile every time I see them, and remind me of a beautiful expertise stuffed with pleasure – when up to now I’d have deleted them due to the best way I believe I look, and the worry of the judgement others would possibly make. And that in itself is a big step ahead, and a really welcome change. I’ve lastly discovered my move.

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