In conversation

The incredibly inspiring Lottie Riddle is a 30-year-old International Fitness and Cycling Coach and Women’s Cycling Ambassador. Hannah and Lottie met on their very first day in the Oak House Halls of Residence at the University of Manchester. Here she talks about why she left the boozy British way of life for one that focuses on health and wellbeing. Her personal mission is to improve herself on a daily basis – and to enjoy the process not just the goal. She wants more women to empower each other to make the changes they want to see in their lives.

Why running, cycling, swimming and competitive sport?

I have always been involved in sports and enjoyed being part of a team – the social and competitive side of sports really appealed to me. However, whilst I was growing up and involved in team sports, the thought of running actually horrified me. Simply – I never felt the need to exercise if it was not on a sports pitch.

Fast forward a few years, to life after university when the partying was still going strong – my desire for living overseas grew stronger…

One day, I just decided to go for a run – it was painful and I honestly barely made it around the block.

From then on, I decided to make a habit of running – going a little further and a little more often each week. This coincided with a need to take alcohol out my life – too many hangovers, too many bad decisions, too many wasted days.

Maybe this is when “adulthood” hit. I decided to cut the binge-drinking lifestyle – something that had been a habit since the tender age of 15. The running was the easy part – this was harder, as it involved a complete lifestyle and social change.

At that time, I joined a friendly local running club and persuaded by those around me I decided to buy a bike…

I have never looked back. I have since swam, biked and ran my way around the world.

What is your definition of wellbeing? What helps the process?

For me, well-being is about taking the time to look after yourself. To enjoy life and feel healthy -through exercise, food, actions, mindset and time. It is about integrating wellbeing into all aspects of our lives, feeling good about ourselves and what we are doing.

I think part of the process to living a healthy well-balanced life is accepting that you cannot do it all. A big part of our culture is to try to juggle and succeed at everything. We need to eliminate these beliefs and worries. We cannot continue to rush from one thing to the next – filling our live with more and more stuff to do – work, family and friends, gym, commitments, household duties etc.

We all need physical and mental down-time and I believe this to be fundamental in well-being.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from training and competing?

So rarely in our lives, do we find time to dedicate ourselves to something and work towards a goal. Triathlon has enabled me to do that – to set goals and find the confidence to achieve them. Triathletes are dedicated to their sport. We are just amateurs, but the hard work is worth the self-value that racing gives us.

It has enabled me to step outside my comfort zone and believe in what I am capable – especially when life has not going as planned – I still have something to be proud of.

Do you have a daily practice? Are there any habits you always make time for?

I always have a plan so I know what my days and week look like. This has helped me wake up motivated and know what to do that day.
Lists, coffee and swimming are what I always include in my days. The secret I have learnt is – sleep. A lot of it, and to really prioritise it. Tiredness is bad for both our physical and mental well-being. You can always sleep off a bad or stressful day and feel renewed the next day. For me, it is very therapeutic.

What are you finding interesting at the moment that supports your development?

I believe in mentorship. It is crucial to have somebody to support, teach and guide you – somebody that can help you to analyse life. It is hard to go it alone. A mentor can come in many forms from a friend, coach or teacher that you can trust, be honest with and can help your development.

I also continually reassess my personal values. I write them down and prioritise them. This really helps to guide me and keep me fulfilled on a daily basis.

They can sometimes fall by the waist-side, but writing them down helps to give me a focus for the future and for my decision making.

When we were growing up, we never thought of ‘well-being’ as a life goal, we always assumed goals ware career or economic based. As we get older, we realise that there are many other things to value in life.

What is your sporting and wellbeing mission? Who are you trying to reach and why?

My personal mission is to improve every day and to enjoy the process not just the goal.

Through my work as a coach, I focus on supporting women to live active lifestyles. It can be challenging to change our lifestyle and habits – I believe when women empower each other they can make the changes they want to see.

To do this, we need to shift from goals that focus on looking good and weight-loss to the empowerment of the body and mind.

If you lead an active healthy lifestyle, you will feel great on the inside which will in turn enhance your external confidence.

What do you think are the main barriers that stop people doing sports and exercise?

• Busy work and family lives mean our time is so precious. It can make finding time to dedicate to something outside of these two things is hard.
• Another challenge is confidence – trying a new sport or activity can feel intimidating. It is our duty to help people overcome their fears to help the gain the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

What three tips would you give to someone thinking of trying these sports?
  1. Find a friend to accompany you to a new activity or to help you start practicing.
  2. Find a coach or teacher that you connect with. This will help you to feel confident going into their classes or groups – this will make your first time easier.
  3. Plan your time and dedicate a certain number of hours a week to your well-being.

You can find out more from the lovely Lottie here: Instagram @lottieridds