As Mother's Day approaches, I honestly couldn't feel more proud of my mum and everything she's achieved. You may recognise her from the This Girl Can advert - a bold campaign to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that fear of judgement is a barrier that can be overcome.
My mum, Sam, only started running by chance when she went on a spur of the moment jog with my stepdad, John, and brother, Alfie, in August last year. Back then, none of us realised what impact that single run would have on my mum and, indeed, our family. Fast forward just eight months, and I can now say that my mum has been on TV - she's been on billboards, too - because she was one of the 45 women that Sport England is celebrating and using to represent women across the country through This Girl Can.
So, how did it all start? I'll take you back to the beginning...
My family has always been sporty. My brothers play football, and my stepdad goes to the gym. I used to play football when I was younger but gave it up to focus on my A Levels. My mum was the same - she too was active when she was younger, but as time went on, exercise slipped off her list of priorities.
The gap between my mum and exercise grew wider when she had children, as she was worried about spending time on herself rather than us. But this couldn't be more wrong. In fact, exercise is what has brought us closer together, especially since my mum took up running last summer. Now, whenever I'm back from university, I try to join my family at parkrun which organises free, weekly, 5k runs at our local park in Bournemouth.
Running - something which both my mum and I thought only athletes did - has become our hobby. We both went for a run the day I left home to go to university. I remember the morning so well - I was stressed, anxious, and had about a million things to pack! Then, just as I thought my head was about to explode, my mum popped into my room and asked whether I fancied going for a run. It was just the stress relief I was after, and something which I'll always feel grateful for - spending quality time with my mum on one of the most important days of my life.
Since then, my mum and I have spent any free time we have together running, going to Zumba classes and showing off our dance moves around the house! Sometimes, when we're both bored at home, we switch on the radio and have a boogie in the lounge. Zumba is such a great workout, and it's fun! We also went for a run on Christmas morning. Yep, a run on Christmas morning - and we did it before we opened our presents. No-one in our family thought we'd do it, but we proved them all wrong. We saw many people out walking that morning, and we all welcomed each other with a 'Merry Christmas'! It was a very surreal experience.
Nowadays, my mum and I keep each other motivated by sending silly text and picture messages to each other. We both have a real sweet tooth and love cake. So, to motivate ourselves to go for a run, we sometimes send a reminder to each other that if we workout now, we'll be able to have a little treat afterwards. We try our best to stick to a run to cake ratio of 2:1 - although sometimes this proves tricky!
We can, and you can too...
My mum's not an athlete. She's not a catwalk model, either. She's my mum, my best friend and my biggest inspiration. Exercise has added another layer to our relationship - it's provided a new, fun way to spend quality time together. She's encouraged me, and thousands of other women across the country, to believe we can. And you can. So, get up, call someone special and finally go for that run, Zumba class or bike ride together. You never know what may happen!