Ange Wallace discovers health and happiness in the deep blue sea.
Ange Wallace’s search for health began by listening, not to others, but to her own body.
A great believer of living life well, her day begins with a walk up Mount Maunganui to watch the sunrise, a swim in the open ocean and, if the conditions are right, a spot of spearfishing.
“I live for my mornings,” Ange says. “I relish getting to bed early and having something exciting to do the next day.”
Throughout her life Ange had endured joint pain and fatigue, with no definite diagnosis or treatment solutions despite repeated testing and investigations.
“I would hit the wall and be super-tired all the time,” she says. “I had debilitating back and joint pain. While I never really let it stop me doing anything, I was living in constant pain.”
After a serious bout of illness a couple of years ago, Ange was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.
“It was quite illuminating really,” she says. “Together with steroid treatments and surgery for skin cancers, I came out of that period feeling really bad, and it was clear I was just not thriving.”
Ange decided to make changes in her life, and the first was to stop drinking alcohol. “I was a typical Kiwi, going out on weekends and drinking with friends. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that if you have gut issues, then drinking is probably not good for you.”
Choosing not to drink was something Ange had been thinking about for a while, and a decision which she says changed the course of her life.
“It was like I shed a skin, it was a mindset change, I haven’t had to use willpower at all. I’ve gained everything and a life which is so much more me and so much more meaningful.”
Around the same time, Ange took up swimming. Growing up she always loved the water, and yet it wasn’t until swimming was her only option as an active pastime due to injuries that its importance came into perspective.
Ange concedes she didn’t even know the sport of ocean swimming existed when she first donned a wetsuit and dove into the sea, adamant that swimming would be the therapeutic solution she was seeking.
“Ocean swimming is all-year round. It sparks my sense of adventure, and I like the fact it’s a bit crazy. You never know what’s going to happen. Being in a pool is predictable – ocean swimming isn’t exercise, it’s adventure.”
“When I’m in the water I don’t want to be anywhere else, and it’s nice to have that.”
Ange relishes the friendships she’s made joining the Seamen Ocean Swim Squad (SOSS) and is grateful for the daily banter and camaraderie. There’s also the spearfishing club, and No Wetsuit Wednesdays, where she says the cold immersion benefits her immune system.
“Swimming has opened up to me a bunch of people who get up at crazy o’clock for an adventure,” Ange says. “I’ve met such a lot of like-minded souls, all from completely different backgrounds, which I love.”
Ange says exercise is a by-product of the activities she takes part in; the priority is enjoying nature, catching up with friends, and having fun. The ability to change her life’s path is down to sheer determination and also an intricate understanding of her own personality.
“I want to do whatever I want to do, when I want to do it. If anyone had told me what to do – to stop drinking or to start swimming – it never would have worked. After being so sick I realised myself how important my health is so I decided to take it seriously.”
Ange’s love of the ocean also sets the scene for her business What Lies Beneath, which provides ‘client feedback with depth’ for the business to business sector. The name reflects the ocean and the business world, which are both full of unknowns but with understanding are not nearly as scary as people think.
Ange says her life now is really simple. “I know what makes me feel alive, and that’s what I want to do and where I want to spend my time.”
Ange’s tips for making a change in your life:
- Discontent is fuel for movement. Challenging times are not bad, they are needed to provide the catalyst for positive change.
- Choose one aspect of your life to change at a time and put all your energy into making the change a success.
- Focus on what you can do, give it a go, and do what you can towards your goal, no matter how little it seems.
- Get out of your comfort zone – literally. Get up and take a walk, even if it’s in the rain. You will feel so great!
- Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Just think – this is my life, this is my priority, and this is important to me.