HealthWise is an NHS initiative to help those with chronic illness to help themselves. It's a three month free pass for your local leisure centre or gym. You can swim, use the gym facilities, both cardio and weight, or even take set classes like yoga and Pilates.
I did the scheme a long time ago when Smix was little and the leisure centre to go to was the old Bangor one beside the police station.
Back then it was to help my depression and social anxiety, which isn't anywhere near as bad now. I weighed 11st4 and used the Nirvana gym to run, row & cycle. However I hated every second of it, so when the three month free period ended, I stopped too.
Then a few years ago I discovered my love of outdoor running. Treadmills bored me, but trying to beat my own average speed and distance made for an exercise I looked forward to rather than dreaded.
Then, out of nowhere, came M.E. Joint pain and exhaustion from every day life shut me down. In the spring there, frustrated with my weight, I tried outdoor running again. It was a disaster. I was back in bed with pains and tiredness, and now I'm getting divorced and a single mum, you can't afford to take a day off. There's no back up spouse to help take Smix to and fro from school. I have to be available. So the running was scrapped.
But I had put on some weight since Christmas last year, jumping from 9st3 to almost the full 10st mark by June. My illness by its nature makes me quite sedentary, so I close to have to starve myself to lose any weight. I didn't have enough will power to lose the weight through diet alone.
So I spoke to my GP and along with a round of hip X-rays, we agreed on trying the Healthwise program again this summer.
I decided on swimming as my exercise. The water holds a lot of your weight making moving less painful. I also sweat even looking at a gym, so I love how even if you sweat when you swim, you can't tell!
Even more exciting was the prospect of getting in the brand new £38mil leisure centre pool.
I started slowly over the summer. Smix was off school and lives with me 7 days a week, so I was mostly just going and mucking around with him whilst fitting in what laps I could.
However when he went back to school, the proper training began. I started by doing 40 lengths (1km) a day, six days a week. Then I moved onto what my current training involves. 50 lengths (1.25km) six days a week. It's about 45 mins solid swimming.
I really enjoy it and love that I can exercise again. The hard part is the getting showered and dressed afterward- that takes more out of me than the swim.
So I would recommend anyone with chronic illness to think about, or ask your own GP about Healthwise. You don't need to be swimming kilometres like me, even two lengths a day gets you moving.
Happily my weight has dropped down to 9st7 so I'm 4lbs off my Christmas weight last year, and I'm sure to make that.
Go for it!