2013-07-14 13.30.06


Rachael is a mother, a writer, a walker, a zumba-er, a skier. Yep, she is a mover. 

Almost 2 years ago, I had a wake-up call when I decided it was finally time to address my physical and mental health. After many tests, tears, and fears, the diagnosis was PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and anxiety. A few weeks later, with the help of my psychologist I would add (bonus!) depression to the list, but that’s a story for another day.

PCOS was affecting my cholesterol, blood sugar levels (due to insulin resistance), vitamin D absorption, and my blood pressure. It was also increasing my feelings of anxiety and depression. It was time to make a change, and part of that change was to move.

I started with a walk to the nearest roundabout, the next day to the end of our street, and finally I made it around the block. Small, manageable goals were the key. I just had to start. No heart rate monitor, no fancy clothes, and no idea of how far I had gone. I just committed to 30 minutes, 3 days a week. Later, as I became fitter, I looked for variety and started exploring my neighbourhood, taking note of times, distances, and yes, calories burned.

That winter, our family went back to my happy place for the first time since my boys were born, and I rediscovered my ski legs. The rush of gliding down my favourite hill, swerving to avoid “whales”, and the burning in my legs as I powered myself forward to catch my daredevil husband and two boys (4 and 8, then). I was out there every chance I got, craving fresh air and sore muscles.

Earlier this year, needing more variety and feeling social again, I started attending Zumba classes. How much fun is dancing with your friends for 50 minutes? Learning choreography, burning calories, and laughing at your collective un-coordination. We’d also started a weekly walk around a local reserve, followed by therapeutic (ahem) coffee and sometimes brunches.

Ski season was upon us again, and this time I had an accident. Every day I am thankful that the result was only a ruptured ACL, and not brain or spinal injury. Unfortunately, my ski season was over, Zumba was over, and walking anywhere was on hold. It was during my time of being still, sitting, healing and waiting that I decided on an ACL reconstruction. Being sedentary was no longer for me, I had become a mover.

On October 5th, I had my surgery. After 2 weeks of recovery, I began walking without crutches around my home and the supermarket when someone kindly offered to take me. At 4 weeks, I began walking slowly to my children’s school. I am 14 weeks post-op now, walking normally and attending gym rehab 3 times per week. My cholesterol, blood sugar, and vitamin D are all either lower or under control since my initial blood tests in 2012. I’m also set to return to Zumba in Term 1 and back to skiing this winter.

Whatever you choose, you just have to start.

For more information about PCOS:






Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. Zoey Dowling

    Well done for getting out there the first time and especially post op! I know how hard it is to live with PCOS, anxiety and depression and I'm starting to learn how amazing exercise is for all these conditions. I've never tried skiing or Zumba but they both sound like a lot of fun! Good luck with the rest of your recovery

  2. Thank you, Jo :) It's been a hard slog these last 6 months (my accident was 25 July), but I have goals in place and plenty of exercises to support them. Not to forget to mention an amazing team of physios, along with my GP and surgeon. My next follow up appointment is mid-April and I'm determined to show my surgeon's physio that I can and will be ready for my "return to sport" assessment later this year.