I’m Andrea, a married mum of two girls who are my absolute world. In September 2016 my youngest daughter started school and left me feeling somewhat lost! My girls are only 16 months apart in age and the eldest started school the September before that. So I suddenly felt like a phase of my life was over. But this wasn’t the only thing that left me feeling low that year.

18 months ago I had a very nasty flare up of psoriasis on my scalp. I tried everything I could possibly think of to clear up this flare up. Nothing seemed to work. I felt awful, even though people couldn’t see what was happening under my hair, I felt dirty and the itching drove me crazy! I was also losing hair in small amounts. My scalp felt like the Rocky Mountains with the build up of dry skin. So, one evening I covered my scalp in coconut oil and went to bed hoping that, the next morning, I would wash my hair and some of the dryness and flakiness would be relieved. What in fact happened left me distraught. As I washed my hair, clumps and clumps of hair came off my scalp. Where I had been sleeping, hair that had fallen out had become tangled into the hairs that were still attached to my head and my hair was a matted mess. I couldn’t get a comb through it and so I had to hack through huge sections of hair with scissors to try and untangle it all.

Over the new few weeks I lost more and more hair every time I brushed or washed it.

My confidence fell away as quickly as my hair. My only saving grace was that the bald patches could be covered up like you would with a comb-over. With my youngest daughter now at school, this should have been the point where I started looking for a job to give me some independence back but the thought of meeting new people and going for job interviews was unbearable.

I had been thinking about taking up a spinning class again for a while now. I had only been a handful of times before, but I had enjoyed it and had wanted to start going again. I had a friend who went to a class and so I approached her and asked if I could join her next time she went. I went along, despite being nervous to meet new people with my confidence being so low and looking back now this was the best thing I ever did. As tough as that spin class was, the buzz you get afterwards gave me the pick me up I needed and I kept going back.

As the weeks went on I started to feel so much better in myself, I could see my fitness levels starting to improve. So I decided to take things a step further and start training with one of the personal trainers, Anna, who helped me with the basics of circuit training to give me the confidence to join in with the normal circuit classes. Anna then introduced me to weight training. I was sceptical at first. But the more I got used to it, the more I enjoyed it. Time went on, my fitness levels continued to improve and my hair started to grow back slowly. Whilst waiting for my hair to grow back, my fitness progress gave me a sense of being in control of how I perceived myself. I didn’t just see the state of my hair, I saw the changes in my body — for the better. The weight training gave me a sense of achievement, which is a confidence boost in itself.

So why do I want to promote fitness to mums? Because I’ve experienced first hand how fitness can positively affect you mentally not just physically. Being a mum can be the biggest emotional roller coaster of your life — the ups, the downs and the sometimes feeling like you’re just not good enough. When you’re feeling those low points, if you can get out and go for a walk, a run or smash a gym session I promise you will feel so much better for it. Not only do you claim some much needed time for yourself but you will also get that sense of achievement and even mental strength and it’s that mental strength that will see you through the tough times of being a mum. You never know, you might end up feeling like a Supermum instead.