It has been such a privilege to be a part of Jo’s journey and watch her develop in strength and confidence. Today she shares a little more of her moving journey.

I’ve been a Mum for 16 years and I’ve spent a huge chunk of that time dealing with kids medical issues. I have a 16 year old son with Noonan Syndrome which brought heart and developmental issues into our lives. He has also been recently diagnosed with Epilepsy. My 13 year old daughter was born with a genetic condition called Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency and, after years of struggling to keep her healthy, she had a liver transplant at age 8. We’ve been extremely lucky with her and she’s had no further medical issues but does face the fear of organ rejection at any time.

I’ve had my own health struggles, years of chronic, life threatening asthma and battles with depression and anxiety. Through all this you’d think I would have invested as much time and energy into my health and well being as I could. Sadly that didn’t happen. I was trying so hard to look after everyone else and left myself until last. Of course I ran out of time before I got to me.

In the past I’ve really enjoyed going to the gym but had never really found a form of exercise that I really loved. This lead to quite a few yearly gym memberships that I ignored after 4 months. Don’t even ask about sports, I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to them!

It was time for me to get healthy again, I was seriously overweight and as unfit as I’d ever been. I was as surprised as anyone when I decided (for the 3rd time in my life) that I might like to run. Yep, I’ve tried before and went too hard, too fast, had the wrong shoes and just generally had no idea what I was doing. This time I found Operation Move at exactly the right time! This team is full of people at all stages, walkers, beginner runners, all the way to marathon runners and beyond! Every single one of them supports the others, offers advice, virtual hugs and sometimes the odd cup of concrete. It’s perfect!

About 1 month after I started running, I managed to win myself an entry into the Sussan Women’s fun run 5k event. When I started training for this distance, a friend told me about Parkrun, so I went along to Diamond Creek and gave it a shot. I was hooked from that first visit. Everyone was so supportive and it didn’t matter if you ran fast or slow or even walked. It was all about getting out there and moving!

Parkrun is a free, timed 5k run every Saturday morning. There are 2,640 events around Australia and they are full of supportive people who want everyone to join in and have some fun! It’s not a race, it’s a run and everyone is really just wanting to beat their own time. That’s the bit I really enjoy! I also love the feeling of getting up early on a Saturday morning, when the rest of the family are still sleeping, and doing something just for me! It starts my whole day off right. I wish I could talk everyone into going along, there are people who finish in under 20 mins, some in 40 mins and others who walk and get back within the hour. Everyone is supported and cheered across the line!

My road to health is changing my life and the lives of my family. It has been 4 months since I started running and I am now running up to 6k and at least twice a week, hoping to bump that up to 3 times a week as I consider this crazy idea of running a half marathon in October! I now choose to get out of bed earlier on a Saturday morning than I do during the week! For a person who loves her sleep this is a big thing but so very worth it. Hubby and the kids love to get out for walks with me and it’s nice to talk and laugh as we go. We rarely walked to the park last year and now we take the long way just to get some extra walking in! We’ve changed our eating habits and are teaching the kids how to eat and move to be as healthy as we can be.

Sometimes I get sad because it took me a long time to get to the place where all of this could happen but then I remember what we’ve been through and remind myself that we do the best we can with every situation, we can’t always do everything at once.

Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. You are truly inspirational. Your time is now Jo!!!

  2. Oh what a hard road you have had! You are wonderful and worthy of time for you. Hopefully I will see you through that half in melbourne with encouragement from right beside you... Until you leave me for dead that is ;) xoxox

  3. Wow Jo. We watch people turn up each week, celebrate them finishing 5kms and especially love when they get a PB. You have reminded me that everyone has a back story and is covering those 5kms for different reasons. Thankyou for sharing your story. If you ever doubt the strength you have, re-read this. You are amazing. PS. Don't let go of that crazy idea Jo. You have already knocked over 5 minutes of your 5km time in just 2 months = awesome.

  4. Good on you Jo, such an inspirational story, I'm a gym drop out too.