I caught the fitness bug

Jeff Cockfield

Therapist and counsellor

A major change in my personal life caused me to switch career from financial controller to full-time addictions therapist and counsellor.  I went to university later in life, qualified and completely retrained and relaunched myself.

 

That was more than a decade ago, and since then, I have immersed myself in helping people overcome their personal challenges, addictions, mental health problems and a plethora of other difficulties that the game of life throws at people.

 

In this state of building my ability, impact and client base, it is obvious looking back that I was somewhat neglecting myself – something that is a notorious danger for people working in the therapeutic profession!

When I said ‘Preacher, heal thyself!’ it was to the Inch and the Revolutionise team I turned, to learn about design thinking and to participate in a mini-sprint to see what effect the process, group and environment would have on me.

The first ‘wow’ was the place.  As someone brought up in industrial cities in mid and southern England, to have the chance to spend a couple of days working on myself in the stunning and serene Highland scenery was a liberating experience in itself.

The design process and the primacy of emotion is something I am very aware of as a counsellor.  To participate in it as a delegate was a wonderful experience as I had other people to push me out of my comfort zone for once. 

Then the big ‘wow’ hit – the power of the group experience.  I intellectually know about the essential part a group plays in insight and development from my profession, but this was the first time I had experienced it from the inside, as a delegate.  I was able to contribute much to the group from an emotional perspective, but it was from the physical perspective that I was able to gain most.

Over the years I had completely stopped exercising, put on much weight and let these two issues greatly affect my self-esteem.  I was full of excuses; ‘I work sitting down’, ‘I am too busy’, ‘I only like beige food’ and, most of all ‘I am too old.’  When I eventually made these excuses to my new friends and colleagues I was not judged, but gently challenged and supported.  After a surprisingly short period of time I accepted the problem was only my own self-perception and resolved to act, create a prototype plan and try it out.

I am not yet an athlete, but I have gained the habit of exercise and do so daily. I practically always hit my 10,000 steps, barely thinking about it.  I have changed my eating habits – not to perfect, but good enough - and have gradually lost a, for me, very significant, amount of weight.  I have more energy and feel good more often that not.  It feels particularly gratifying to have made this change as an older man.

The best bit?  It’s not a part of the course, but afterwards a few of the younger delegates decided to rig up a ‘Tyrolean Traverse’ – a scary rope crossing of a gorge near the hotel.  I went to watch and be supportive, but then something came over me and I jumped in the harness and made it over the gorge under my own steam.  My kids would not believe it was me in the photographs!  Wonderful!

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Applied Design Thinking

The Inch Hotel

10-12 February 2021

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The Inch, Inchnacardoch Lodge

Fort Augustus

PH 32 4BL

Scotland