• Michael Mclaren

The Client's Story - Nabila Afilal.

A Journey to Inspire?


Doing Something For Others While Doing It For Yourself.


Michael, as some of your readers may be aware, I’m dragging myself up a mountain in a few weeks to raise much needed funds for a mental health voluntary support group; BIG (Bury Involvement Group).


Although it’s been on my mind for a number of years, both to raise money for BIG and climb Toubkal; the biggest mountain in North Africa and the largest mountain in the Arab world, life has gotten in the way.


You know what it’s like, you might change jobs, you might change career, you might have challenges at home to iron out, not to mention ones love life; there are a multitude of things that go on which might influence when you do the stuff you really want to do, or achieve in your personal life.



So, what’s the answer to the big WHY?


Why BIG?


Well, I think we all know someone who’s struggled with their own mental health and we can all appreciate that our health system can’t sustain the level of need that Mental Health management requires.


We can get our support from anywhere, close colleagues, family or friends but it’s an understated fact that it is much easier to talk to someone who doesn’t know you and this is where our consultant’s and support groups come in.


Consultants cost plenty as we know but they can assist with the technical, which BIG is fortunate to have on side, and the people you might meet in support groups, which don’t cost, who can empathise with you personally and get why you can’t physically get out of bed or want to brush your hair, that in itself can be motivational.


Why Toubkal? Why not?


It’s a similar height to Kilimanjaro but it’s closer to home and I understand the Moroccan culture. I also speak French and some Arabic which is helpful if you get yourself in a pickle.


So, logic and safety played a part in the location of choice…. The food is also great and when you’re hungry half way up a mountain food and sustenance is so important!


The BIG Effort


My early struggling efforts would probably stem from lack of gusto to actually take the plunge and book the trip for fear I couldn’t physically do it.


When you book, there’s no turning back!


However, to get to that point, as I said, I needed to be confident in myself that I could achieve such a massive trek….and more importantly enjoy it; I want to end the trip with a thirst to do more.


I love being outdoors but it’s not feasible to be out there everyday so I figured I needed to ask for help.


This is the point at which most people in need, whether you suffer from mental health difficulties or relationship hurdles or even at work, restrict their own ability to grow, metaphorically speaking, and then get stressed out.


I’d argue as a nation of Brits we struggle to ask for help in any format. We are getting better, but it’s still an uphill battle.


We struggle on with our stiff upper lips and we are determined to get to our ‘destination’ by hook or by crook without any help because no-one needs to know we struggle or we might find it hard.


The quicker we accept that asking for help isn’t a bad thing, that it isn’t something that’s to be frowned upon, the quicker things will be done and I can think of a number of high profile people in the news of late that might want to start thinking along those lines but we won’t go there today!


Asking For Help From The People Who Can Help.


So, what did I do? I asked for help. I got myself an awesome Personal Trainer to get me where I needed to be, and safely.


Michael has been great, not because he knows what he’s doing but because not only do we think and process things in a very similar way and this is an important point, we can also have a laugh.


I may digress into the importance of human interactions but much like when we were at school if we didn’t like the teacher there’s just no way on earth we were either going to listen or take in what they’re teaching.


So, I didn’t have any issues here, but having known Michael for some time, he’s a very positive person and I knew the training sessions were not going to be boring or repetitive which is in itself, motivational.


Pushing Boundaries


So, I have booked the trip and I’ve got myself some help but training x2 times a week in a gym will only get me so far.


It’s always recommended that training for hill walking entails actual hill walking. Your muscles will be worked in a slightly different way, much like running on a treadmill versus running on the road.


The road is not perfect and neither are hills or boulders; they certainly don’t look like a step box last time I check anyway! I suppose I could always get Michael to throw a bucket of water at me one session to get that 4D effect but I’m not sure the other gym goers would approve...hmm…or the cleaner!… and so I have embarked on more hill walking now the weather is at the very least drier than it has been, albeit rather windy, and that’s not the lentils speaking.


What I have realised whilst doing these hill walks is that the indoor training has been paying off.



I have greater stamina, which is amazing as it contributes to the level of enjoyment but even more important, the hard bits like the steep inclines, boulders and loose ground have become more manageable as I’m stronger not only in upper body or legs but more importantly in my core. I think, for me, the only thing missing is lung capacity. In the past I have found swimming to help, not only does it relax me but it has two secondary benefits. It helps increase lung capacity and it assists in stretching out muscles.


I have struggled with really tight muscles in my calves during my training. I am fortunate to know people who can help; your body can only go so far without it. Epsom salts and cold patches are good friends. So, stretching is very much a key part of my training to try and minimise and hopefully avoid injuries.


In the earlier months of training I had said to myself I would pick up running again. I’ve done it maybe 3 times, it’s not great, I know, it was a substitute for swimming.


There’s no excuse to be honest but I’m going to blame time. I have my limitations and now I have an excuse in my tight calf. I don’t want that to be another torn tendon, it’s too much to risk.


Yoga. I love yoga but again time commitments are very stretched, no pun intended.


How do you squeeze more time into your day – now I’ve had this lesson and it involves spending less time on social media, which admittedly I have reduced this as I’m a good girl and I do listen…and there’s that ‘but’ again, sometimes I’m spinning and that’s nothing to do with stationary bikes. Maybe I need to get myself a PA ha!


Have Fun & Accept Compliments!


Best bits are the fun bits, and you don’t need them everyday but they certainly help to shimmy you along the pathway to success..


Fun can come in all guises but my favourite is spending time laughing with friends, laughing is definitely the medicine for all things; by now you’ve probably realise I like to chat too, so well done for getting this far.. haha!


Not everyone gets a high from compliments, some shy away and others judge them for a mechanism to get something from you; it’s a bit poo if you’re wired that way but learning to receive compliments can do a great deal for your self confidence and be very motivational.


Compliments are nice so there’s your open invitation people.


Remember…Find your motivation, Ask for help, Have fun and Accept compliments.


You can read more and support Nabila's cause by heading through to her Just Giving page, HERE.