Teena Gates has earned a reputation as an ‘adventurist’ after losing more than half her own bodyweight on a journey from morbid obesity to Everest Base Camp. In her book ‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’ she candidly explores the mental battle that ensued in losing weight and ‘getting off the couch’ at 23 stone. Today Teena continues to push her own personal boundaries as well as motivating some of the largest corporate teams in the country with her inspiring presentations. The veteran broadcaster continues to climb mountains and travel on new adventures around the world. She has kayaked white-water rapids on the Nile in Uganda, swum without a wet-suit in the icy Barents Sea between Norway and Russia and camped on a frozen lake while hunting the Northern Lights by Husky Dog Sleigh. Teena is encouraging a whole new generation to ‘walk their way back to fitness’ with her #Dream,Dare,Do campaign. She acknowledges that not everyone wants to climb a mountain; but she truly believes that we all have our mountains to climb, both in our personal and professional lives. How we prepare, plan and believe, is a measure of how we succeed.
What is your health & fitness background?
In 2009 I weighed 23 stone and needed a stick to walk. I was totally in denial about the
damage I was doing to my own body, until I needed vital surgery for a gall-bladder complaint
and was told I was morbidly obese and unable to undergo surgery. In the next 5 months I
lost 4 stone, had my gall bladder removed, and then decided to finish the job properly and
lose more weight. Along the way, I fell in love with mountains and discovered fitness for the
first time in my life.
You have set yourself some huge challenges, how do you keep yourself motivated?
I need a goal, something to work towards. I set myself challenges. For me, much of the
excitement is planning the journey. If I don’t quite make the full distance, I never see it as a
failure, simply a dress rehearsal for my next attempt. Although in fairness, while I lack
speed, stubbornness usually gets me to my destination! I don’t always like going to the gym,
but I realise that the strength and fitness I build there allows me to have endurance when
I’m enjoying my favourite sports in the great outdoors. I am a new convert to Cross-Fit and I
love the feeling of power that I have from lifting heavier weights. I have trained with
Kettlebells since I first started my fitness journey, and that means I was throwing weight
when I was 23 stone. I am living proof that women can lift weight and it doesn’t build bulk,
but tones, builds strength, endurance, and speeds up the metabolism.
Of all of your adventures and achievements which stands out the most to you and why?
I’ve climbed to Everest Base camp, achieved a technical climb on Island Peak in Nepal,
climbed in the Alps and recently came back from injury to make it to the summit of Mount
Elbrus in Russia, the largest peak in Europe; but it’s a small mountain in Wicklow that
provided the most life-changing moment for me. Spinc Mountain is a pleasant hike with no
technical difficulty, but it was my first climb, and for me, it was my Everest. It took me 5
hours of puffing and panting and forcing myself to keep walking. When I got to the
observation platform over the Upper Lake of Glendalough and looked down on the valley I
burst into tears to see how far I had come. I wasn’t just thinking about the distance, I was
thinking about the life journey I had been on, and all that had changed.
How do you balance your career, personal life and your health & fitness goals?
Balance is the key to happiness for me. I am a creative person and having recently set up my
own business, I find it difficult to put down the words and start working on the numbers. In
the past year I have needed to find a new kind of discipline to make me go into the office
and work on my invoices when I’d prefer to be writing or hiking in the hills! I am trying to
apply the same technique to the office work, which I apply to my fitness goals. I am actually
very organised, because if it’s not simple, I won’t do it. I use a wall-planner and a spread
sheet and divide my time in advance. I fell off the wagon with my eating towards the end of
the year and it was a struggle to get back on track, but the same method is the only thing
that works for me. I set out goals, plan each stage in advance, and track my progress along
the way. I think it is really important to acknowledge your own successes.
What advice would you give women that want to start out on their own health & fitness
Don’t wait for tomorrow, start today. If you wait for the perfect moment when your
swimsuit looks nice, or you’ve already ‘lost a bit of weight’ or ‘tackled a few things’ – you will
never get started. Don’t over complicate it. Just put on a pair of track-shoes, open the front
door; and walk out into an exciting new world that is out there waiting for you. When the
fresh air blows away the cobwebs and you realise you’re enjoying the soft Irish mist in your
face, then look around and see all the help that is available. There are clubs and volunteer
organisations everywhere, as well as gyms and online programmes. There is a wealth of
support available; you just need the initial confidence to take that first step. So open your
front door and step outside – one foot in front of the other.
Website and blog: www.teenagates.com