Photo Credit: Euan Ryan
When you inadvertently inspire someone to change their lifestyle for the better. He doesn't realise it, but that's what Mark Beaumont has done for me. Not by attempting to cycle around the world in 80 days, which will be an incredible achievement if he does it. No, Mark did it by riding no more than 2 miles with me on Lismore on the West Coast of Scotland when we were doing the filming for Wild About Argyll.
At that point I had just turned 40 and had two young boys, the eldest 4 and the youngest 1. I had been leading a pretty sedentary lifestyle for those previous four years while I was coping with being a father, developing a business and trying to be a good husband. But I'd neglected myself. I was seriously unfit, I'd developed a mid-life paunch and was getting ill all the time.
On that day on Lismore we were cycling along the relatively flat roads to the Broch to do some filming. Admittedly, I was on a big bouncy mountainbike with knobbly tyres, carrying all my camera equipment and Mark was on a light-weight beach racer with no kit ... but ... when, after only 100 m, you can no longer carry a conversation, you feel like your lungs are going to explode and you look at your heart rate monitor and see you are peaking out at 185 BPM, and you get dropped on every minor incline ... you know ... you know that there is something seriously wrong. We made it to the Broch, slower than anticipated, and got all the filming we needed, but I came away from that island with a real inspiration and motivation to do something about my fitness and lifestyle. I mean, I was marketing myself as an adventure film maker - what a joke!
I'm now fit again and I'm really looking after myself, physically and mentally. Marketing myself as an adventure film maker is no longer a joke. I'm not getting fit to do races or compete, I've done enough of that in my life, I'm mainly doing it for my physical and mental health. I don't want to develop heart conditions, type-2 diabetes or get dementia all because I didn't look after myself and take exercising seriously.
As I'm marketing myself as an adventure film maker, I made the decision that I needed to make exercise part of my job, and that's what I've done for the last year. I try and go running and biking 5-6 times a week, for between 30 minutes and 2 hours, depending on how busy I am, and even go out running with my 5-year old while he bikes along with me - hopefully inspirig him to lead a healthy active lifestyle!
Thanks Mark, I needed it ... and you didn't need to cycle around the world to do it, you just needed two miles on Lismore!!