“I was walking home after a night out in 2014 when I fell over suddenly. My leg literally snapped. I had broken bones in my leg and ankle, I needed an operation to fix the bone back in place with a metal rod from my knee to my ankle.”
Amy Smith, 28, tells me nervously how this accident, which would start six months where she was unable to walk, was also the trigger for completely overhauling her lifestyle and ‘finding’ fitness.
The freak accident caused Amy’s tibia and fibula to snap in two, along with a spiral fracture to her ankle. Amy was in plaster for two and a half months and on crutches for five, leaving her with very little strength in her leg.
“It was so frustrating being stuck in the house all the time and dealing with the logistics of getting around on crutches!”
Over a period of two years, Amy transformed her life from sedentary, overweight and unable to walk, to becoming a regular exerciser and ThisGirlCanEssex ambassador.
“Going through that operation and not being able to move at all for such a long time, I thought to myself, ‘you should be doing something.’”
Inspired by her physiotherapist, Amy started her fitness journey with regular swims at Basildon.
“I started to feel the difference straight away; not only was my leg feeling stronger, but I felt so good after every swim!”
“I started counting and timing my lengths and felt so motivated when I managed to go one further or a bit faster each time.”
With renewed confidence, Amy’s next step was to join the gym at the centre.
She explained how with ‘nothing to wear’ she attended her gym induction in an old T-shirt, pyjama bottoms and some school trainers.
“The staff were very helpful and explained the basics, and no one seemed to notice or care what I was wearing even though I felt really stupid.”
In addition to her loss of fitness, Amy was conscious that months of enforced inactivity meant she had put on weight.
“I was always slim but working in an office made me bigger as I was completely sedentary all day.
“Then the injury, and not being able to move meant my weight increased even more and I just didn’t feel like myself. I knew I had to do something about it.”
The regular gym sessions turned into gym sessions plus classes, then, when her leg was strong enough, Amy started the Couch to 5K programme, although she said when she started she was struggling to run for 30 seconds without stopping.
30 seconds turned into her first 5k and Amy completed her first 10K in 2016.
“Overcoming my injury and changing my life has shown me that if you set out to do something, you can achieve it.
“Yes I’m still limping a little bit, but I know that without the training I’d be in a much worse situation.”
Exercise is now very much a part of Amy’s life, she tells me that it would feel ‘weird’ not to exercise now, this, in spite of the fact she disliked PE at school and was definitely not a sporty child.
But the changes to her confidence and energy and being able to recover from such a major injury are what keeps her motivated.
“I feel better in myself, both physically and mentally. I’m more confident and much less tired.”
“I really enjoy running, it gives me a sense of achievement when I can run faster or further than the time before. It helps me to relax and to process my thoughts.
“I recently changed my job. I think the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle meant I felt more confident to do this.”
And that nasty injury?
“Apart from not being able to kneel on my injured knee, I can do anything else I want to do.
“I really can do it if I put my mind to it.”
Read more about Amy’s transformation here: ThisEssexGirlCan
Find out more about getting started running here: From Can’t to Can
Join the 30:30 Challenge today at: Join the Challenge
You can donate to the Active Essex Foundation here: About the Active Essex Foundation