My Journey, My Health, My Strength

So here is my story ….

By Shariefa England 

In 2003, I moved to the UK with a fairly healthy weight. But adjusting to a new country, lifestyle and diet with four children, I reached my heaviest weight ever which left me feeling unhappy and unhealthy. 

In 2010, I began to feel out of breath every time I climbed the stairs. I realised I had to address my weight and change needed to happen. So, as a family we decided to start eating healthier and I joined the gym.

I enjoyed it so much that I got a membership for all my daughters. We would go to the gym as a family every Sunday and did one class per week.  Later, we learnt that a friend of ours was holding a Super Circuit class once per week and so we joined that, too. As the weeks went by, we gradually became fitter, healthier and stronger. We became passionate about fitness and were eager to do more.

After a couple of years, I was the fittest I’ve ever been in my life, 3 stone lighter, although still overweight. The whole family lost weight and felt good. We developed a love for exercise and tried all types – full body workouts, weights, and spin classes, amongst many others. I squeezed in as many classes as possible in between work and family life.

By feeling fitter, healthier and stronger, I began living my best life ever. I had a burst of energy and did things I never thought possible.  Being fit and strong made me fearless and constantly wanting to take on new challenges. 

Here are a few examples of my adventures: 

Flew an aeroplane

Did the Wembley arena roof climb


Paraglided, and 

Did a 16,000ft tandem skydive with a 75-second freefall at 200kms per hour in New Zealand. 

When I touched down, all I wanted was to do it all over again – I felt exhilarated. 

With this health shift in our family, I saw how it influenced my daughters, too.  They continued with strength and fitness training exploring many avenues. 

One ran a half-marathon.  Two joined the Cross-fit gyms, lifting weights heavier than themselves and going on to win competitions.  Competed in X-Runner.  They also became involved with many sporting activities, like scuba diving, sailing and hiking.  I was and still am a very proud mother.

Then in 2013, I joined my daughters for one of my biggest challenges ever, “Tough Mudder”. From never doing any physical activities or sports besides a swim at the beach, 3 years earlier, I didn’t even hesitate to take on this challenge.

We worked out once or twice a week but had built up enough confidence in our strength to feel comfortable enough doing it. It included a 10–12-mile run/walk with 25 military-style obstacle courses.  Some of the obstacles were diving into the “Arctic Enema” which is a dumpster filled with ice, crawling through mud underneath barbed wires, and getting zapped by the 10,000 volts “Electric Eel”, were just a few of the obstacles we battled through. And we did it – every challenge was faced and accomplished.


I remarried, and my weekend exercise dates turned into eating out all weekend because my husband had no interest in exercise and loved dining out.  Yes, I’m going to blame him!  

My workload also increased, and my weekday workouts decreased to eventually become non-existent over the next 3 years, and then COVID happened.

My healthy eating stopped and so did my regular exercise routine.  I stopped prioritising my health and well-being.  I found myself feeling sluggish and gradually gaining weight again. 

So, 10 years on from the start of my journey, I had regained the 3 stone and was once again unfit and unhealthy.


For a while, I was contemplating ways to become fitter and healthier, again.  My new lifestyle had taken a toll on my health and I wasn’t happy.

Swimming has always been a passion of mine and I always wanted to improve my skills to the next level. Then the same week of talking about swimming, I saw a post on a WhatsApp group advertising ‘Her Spirit’ swimming lessons.  The universe heard me. Without hesitation, I signed up, eager to learn new techniques and improve my overall performance in the water.  

My journey has been earmarked. This time with the support of the HER SPIRIT group of ladies. 

I started to rebuild my strength and stamina alongside a fabulous group of women. 

They reignited that drive to be healthy and fit again, which is exactly what I needed and am so grateful for.

About 2 months before I found out about the swimming lessons, my daughters kept encouraging me to take on open-water swimming. I wasn’t sure what they were talking about because we are not near any beach. Then, at my very first swimming lesson, everyone talked about being open-water swimmers in a lake.  Never heard about this before. The universe was still listening to me.  I then joined them to do an open water swim, soon after.

I’ve always dreamt of doing a triathlon but never felt it was within my reach because I can’t run for the life of me and I rarely cycle. At my very first swimming lesson, I introduced myself then just heard myself telling everyone that my target was to do a triathlon.  Then found out that the HER SPIRIT group founders and members are very involved with triathlons which has now made my dream a true goal.

While doing my swimming lessons I found how very supportive, helpful and encouraging the community of Her Spirit women are.  I have a very long way to go on this journey but HER SPIRIT has made me ready for a healthier and stronger version of me, again.  

I am excited and ready to take on new challenges and have that exhilarating feeling once again with open water swimming and doing a triathlon in the radar. 

“Thank you to HER SPIRIT for relighting my love for fitness, again.”

While the community is great and supportive, I’d like to invite and encourage more women from diverse backgrounds to join and pursue their fitness goals together. 

Let’s put ourselves first and lead healthy, active lives for ourselves and our families! Healthier and more active mothers develop healthier and fitter children. We owe it to ourselves and our children to maintain good fitness levels.

So come on ladies, come on mothers, and especially come on women from minority ethnic backgrounds. I would love to see more women from my community get stronger, fitter, and healthier together.  Put yourself and your health first. 

In today’s society, mental health is a major problem and more so since Covid.  When you exercise you release the chemicals called endorphins.  Endorphins and exercise are both good for your physical and mental health.  So, let’s all strengthen our bodies and our minds.

Strong bodies, strong minds… 

Shariefa England (55)

Mother of 4 daughters

“Join the HER SPIRIT tribe of like-minded women who will cheer you on and help keep you motivated through the ups and downs on the rollercoaster of life.”

Her Spirit

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