Sarah Biddlecombe,-Lifestyle Editor

From endorphin highs to setting boundaries, these are our six inspirational people to follow this January

What does wellbeing look like to you? For some of us, it’s a moment of peace enjoyed with a cup of tea, while for others it could be climbing a mountain, running every morning or settling down for eight hours of sleep a night. 

To inspire you to put your wellness first as we head into a New Year, six people share the stories of their journeys to wellbeing, from embracing and celebrating their differences to seeking therapy to learn how to set boundaries.

“I know I would not be the person I am today without the life I have led with a disability”

Rebecca Legon – Disability Activist, Brand Ambassador, Model and Presenter


Disability Activist, Brand Ambassador, Model and Presenter @rebeccalegon

Disability activist, brand ambassador, model and presenter, Rebecca Legon, was born with a rare limb deformity that meant her knee grew from her hip. She had to have her foot amputated when she was just eight years old in order to be fitted with a prosthetic leg. Having struggled with feelings of isolation resulting from a lack of awareness around disability, Rebecca discovered a passion for exercise to help boost her wellbeing and silence her inner critic, and now wants to help others to celebrate and embrace their differences.

What does wellbeing mean to you?
Wellbeing is so important for me to refocus and escape from the crazy expectations we set ourselves. I do this by exercising or walking as much as I can in Ashdown Forest (my happy place). I ground myself by trying to be aware of how I feel and what makes me sad or happy, as well as practising self-love through body positivity and having an appreciation for what I have. If I feel that I’m in a good place with my mental wellbeing, this helps me to present myself well and find a balance between my work and family life.

What do you do within your daily routine that helps to maintain/boost your wellbeing?
Exercise is a huge part of my daily routine. It clears my mind and helps me to release any stress or negative feelings to get my day started right; I wouldn't function well without the fab endorphins it gives me. As well as Ashdown Forest, I love to walk in the South Downs and surround myself with nature. It’s my escape from the demands of daily life. I’m also excited to be climbing Mount Elbrus in Russia with a group of veteran amputees – as a single mum, it will be tricky to find time to dedicate to training, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Another way I maintain my wellbeing is through my work at LimbPower charity, which I love. I manage and present exercise circuit videos for reVAMP, a 12-week fitness and nutritional course designed by PT and Paracanoe Gold Medallist, Jack Eyers, for amputees and people with limb differences. It’s rewarding to use my lifelong experience of exercising as an amputee to help others adapt these exercises to work for them and their limb differences, so they can also feel the benefits that exercise provides, both physically and mentally, for our wellbeing.

Has there been a time in your life when you felt you needed to boost your wellbeing? 
All the time! Mostly I am mega motivated and determined, but sometimes it can be a struggle to stay focused. I love yoga and meditation and my New Year’s resolution is to do more and join a class. It massively helps me to balance my feelings and daily stresses and refocus on what is important: my health and the health of my family and friends. 

I’ve learnt that it doesn't matter how many times I fall – it’s the falling that makes me resilient enough to become my best me. I accept that being perfect is unachievable and that on occasions I will mess up, screw up and make mistakes. This is my life journey but as long as I have self-respect, as well as love and care for my wellbeing, then this will filter out to the important people around me.

What advice do you have for other people who want to accept their imperfections and embrace who they really are?
From my experience, we will not be at peace with ourselves, or be happy and live a fulfilled life, until we can accept ourselves. It is not an easy journey and it has taken me my whole life to accept my limb difference. My advice to anyone who feels different is that you cannot, and will not, truly be free until you accept and appreciate what you are. I have reached a place in my life where truthfully, I know I would not be the person I am today without the life I have led with a disability. If I had a fairy godmother who could grant me the two-legged wish I longed for when I was growing up, I would now decline. I am me, this is me, and I am happy and proud to have achieved the things I have. I hope I can inspire others to embrace their differences too.

How did you come to campaign for inclusivity around difference and disability?

It was hard to grow up as a child with limb difference in the 1980s, as there wasn't any awareness around disability and I didn’t see anyone like me or know any other disabled people. Sadly, this led me to feel isolated and alone, being different to all my peers.

I would desperately try to disguise my disability by wearing baggy clothes and standing back in a crowd to avoid being noticed. This gave me anxieties that can still flair up today.

The increased inclusivity and acceptance of disability over the last few years has helped me to accept both myself and my imperfections. I am now devoted to showing others who may be struggling to accept themselves (no matter what their difference is) that being different is OK.

Why is awareness around difference and disability so important?
Everyone is different in their individual and unique ways, so we need to see more awareness around disabilities and differences. This will help others who are struggling with feeling different to accept themselves, as well as helping people to understand disability and difference, and not be afraid of it.

It’s especially important for children to be educated more about disability, and to associate with people who are disabled or different. I believe increased inclusivity will help them to become worldly adults who can lead us into a vibrant, accepting society that embraces difference.

What do you want people to know about differences and disability?
Everyone is unique and different, whether that difference is a visual one or not. Some people may feel different on the inside but look perfect on the outside – this is reality. It affects us all differently; this is real life! Humans were never meant to be the same or look the same, it is how society sees us that makes us feel different. But we are all vibrant and beautiful in our own unique ways, so we should embrace and accept ourselves however we look or feel different. We all have the right to be free and live our best lives. 

How do you boost your confidence when your inner voice says you can’t do something?
I do this by showing resilience and adapting to overcome barriers and boundaries that life sets me. My inner voice will often show its ugly head, and my mood or my hormones will determine whether I pay attention to my self-doubt or whether I rise above it. I have always wanted to prove to other people, as well as myself, that I can do the things that aren't stereotypical of my disability. That’s why I am so passionate about mountain climbing, because I face my inner voices and rise above them to push myself to my limits and achieve amazing outcomes.

Our mind is the most powerful tool we have and to be in control of it and our feelings is the key to everything. I am still working on this and probably will be for the rest of my life, but understanding myself helps me to be happy and free of self-doubt and insecurities.

Wellbeing - Simon Parker
“There is a simplicity to life when you're on a big journey like this that becomes very therapeutic and can have incredible healing properties”

Simon Parker – Travel writer, broadcaster and columnist


Author of Riding Out: A Journey of Love, Loss and New Beginnings. @simonwiparker

Travel writer, broadcaster and columnist, Simon Parker, set off on a 3,500 mile bike ride to tackle the feelings of grief and anxiety that he experienced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Filling his day with the simple action of riding his bike, while meeting new people and seeing new places, helped him get back on a path to wellbeing, a story he shares in his upcoming book, Riding Out, and below.

‘At the beginning of the pandemic, I lost my job and received the bad news that an old friend had died suddenly. I felt terrible and became anxious and depressed. I had suppressed an anxiety disorder for about 10 years, but the pandemic brought a lot of these predisposed issues with my mental health that I’d never fully addressed back into my life. I could feel myself becoming breathless and I had palpitations and headaches, and became a massive insomniac. I had to find a way of coming to terms with what had happened and the changes in my life, so I decided to turn to therapies that I knew and trusted: travel and exercise.

‘The crazy idea I came up with was to cycle around pandemic Britain to try and heal myself through exercise, and seeing new things and speaking to new people. I headed off on this 3,500 mile journey to find hundreds of other Britons who’d been through equally stressful and traumatic events over the last few years, to see if I could find little ways to try and better move on with my life.’

‘In a very physical sense, being on a bicycle allows you to busy your mind and your muscles with something other than anxiety or stress. It’s a very simple endorphin rush. We all know how beneficial exercise can be, for both our physical and our psychological selves, and exercising for 10-12 hours a day really helped me.

‘I had a lot of time to think, and I was only really concentrating on what was just around the next corner, rather than all of the unknowns that we’re still living with now during the pandemic. So much of our life is unknown – we don’t know what’s happening next week, let alone next year. But there’s something about being on a massive journey, and a bicycle journey especially, that simplifies life. You don’t get too far ahead of yourself – you’re just trying to get to the next mile, and the next place to camp, and then through to the next week. There’s a simplicity to life when you’re on a big journey like this that becomes very therapeutic and can have incredible healing properties.’

“I’ve always enjoyed exercise for the physical benefits, but it took on a new meaning for me after I had my children”

Allie Baker – Events Officer at John Lewis & Partners


Events Officer and #WeArePartners ambassador @jl_allie

Events Officer Allie is a fan of bold colours and shares all the latest and most creative looks across fashion and lifestyle on her Instagram account. She’s always enjoyed fitness and exercise as a way of boosting her wellbeing, but this took on a different meaning for her after she became a mum.

What does wellbeing mean to you?
To me, wellbeing means living a healthy, balanced and active life. 

Why is fitness important for wellbeing?
Exercise and fitness give me more energy and enhance my mood. I feel stronger and more resilient to illnesses, which has really helped me to navigate the past few years.

What wellness benefits do you enjoy from fitness?
I feel better in myself both physically and mentally. I enjoy the challenge that exercising gives me and I love the feeling of completing a really full-on workout. I don’t always like the thought of it before I start, but I can guarantee I almost always feel better afterwards!

What do you do within your daily routine that helps to maintain or boost your wellbeing?
I try to go outside for a walk every day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. I think it’s so important to experience daylight during the winter months, so getting outside at lunchtime is the optimum time for me. If I go to the gym I prefer going in the morning as it sets me up for the day ahead. I think it’s all about learning what’s right for you and listening to what your body needs.

What was your journey to wellness?
I’ve always enjoyed exercise for the physical benefits, but it took on a new meaning for me after I had my children. I started to see fitness as a way of looking after myself, and it gave me time to concentrate on my own needs. As my children have grown older, I’ve continued to build exercise into my routine. I’m pleased to see that they appreciate the benefits of exercise and fitness, and now we enjoy doing things like bike rides and walks together as a family. 

“Not even peak sporting fitness can compare to the wellbeing boost I've gained from helping others to flourish”

Liz Johnson  – Paralympian and Founder of The Ability People and Podium


Paralympic Swimmer and Inspirational Speaker @lizjohnson_gb

Paralympian Liz Johnson founded The Ability People, a disability-led employment consultancy, and Podium, an online jobs platform for disabled freelancers, to help tackle the disability employment gap. As an added bonus to empowering talented and skilled disabled people to achieve their dreams, her own wellbeing has flourished, too.

‘Up until a few years ago I was competing in Paralympic Games, European and World Championships. After winning handfuls of medals, including gold across all three, surgery for an injury finally slowed me down and I decided it was time to retire from competitive swimming.

‘Now I run The Ability People, a disability-led employment consultancy, and Podium, an online jobs platform for disabled freelancers. Both organisations were born out of necessity rather than a career plan. When I retired from swimming I still had my hand in sport as a commentator and mentor to other athletes, but learning about the disability employment gap made me want to do more.

‘Disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed. While I’ve been lucky enough to reach the top of my game it infuriates me that disabled people don’t have the same equity of experience and achieve success in other sectors and I felt compelled to do something to help.’

‘It’s about making a difference in a new arena, helping employers who are committed to becoming authentically inclusive and empowering disabled people to fulfill their own career goals.

‘I lived my dream as a Paralympian. Now I want other talented, skilled and passionate disabled people to achieve theirs. Because believe me, they’re more than capable. Not even peak sporting fitness can compare to the wellbeing boost I've gained from helping them flourish. I'm feeling more driven and fulfilled than ever.’

“Wellness is about knowing what works for you, and listening to your body, mind and mood’

Lottie Monk – Home Designer at John Lewis & Partners


Home Designer and #WeArePartners ambassador @johnlewis_lottie

Home Designer Lottie loves using clean lines and a muted palette to create aspirational and modern living spaces. After trying multiple routes to achieving a sense of wellness, she now understands the power of a good night’s sleep for boosting her wellbeing.

What does wellbeing mean to you?
Being happy, healthy and stress free – the dream!

Why is sleep important for wellbeing?
Sleep aids wellbeing in so many ways, both physically and mentally. When we sleep it repairs and renews all the cells in our body to get us ready to go again the next day. 

What do you do to ensure you have a good night’s rest?
Fresh sheets, calming scents, my eye mask, switching my phone to ‘night mode’ and ambient lighting. A trip down to the gym for a jacuzzi, sauna and steam doesn’t go amiss too to help me sleep.

What do you do within your daily routine that helps to maintain or boost your wellbeing?
I’m a lover of lists, so nine times out of ten I’ll write my to-do list for the next day before I go to sleep so that it’s out of my head. Plus, as a Home Designer, I’m a great believer in the concept of a tidy house, tidy mind, so keeping on top of household chores really helps me. When I’m getting ready in the mornings I burn either my NEOM diffuser with the energising scent, or my citrus candle to help awaken all my senses.

What was your journey to wellness?
I tried lots of different things to achieve that sense of ‘wellness’. It’s about knowing what works for you, and listening to your body, mind and mood.

“I’ve come out of therapy knowing what my boundaries are, and I’m able to recognise when I need to practice self care”

Beckie Poar– Beauty Guide at John Lewis & Partners


Beauty Guide and #WeArePartners ambassador @johnlewis_beckie

Beauty Guide Beckie believes that when it comes to self-care and wellbeing, we should do what makes us feel comfortable, rather than following beauty trends. After having therapy this year, she’s discovered some new wellbeing benefits of self-care.

What does wellbeing mean to you?
It means being content and at peace with yourself.

Why is self care important for wellbeing?
I think it’s so important to have a moment of self care at least once a day to enhance our wellbeing. Whether it’s drinking a cup of tea in peace, or relaxing in a bubble bath, just taking some time for ourselves can bring us contentment. 

What wellness benefits do you enjoy from self-care and beauty?
The wellness benefits that I enjoy from beauty are endless! Makeup makes me feel more confident and I can create different looks depending on my mood. I love skincare because I know I am putting great things onto my skin, as well as having a moment to myself. There is no better feeling than taking your makeup off at the end of a busy day.

What do you do within your daily routine that helps to maintain/boost your wellbeing?
I start my day with exercise followed by a nice shower using products that energise me and get me ready for the day ahead. Before bed, I take my makeup off with a lovely cleansing balm and lather myself in relaxing oils. I also spritz my pillows with sleep spray to make sure I get my beauty sleep.

What was your journey to wellness?
I actually went through therapy this year and have learnt that self care and wellness can be more than just a bubble bath and a face mask (even though I love both of those things). I’ve come out of therapy knowing what my boundaries are, and I’m able to recognise when I need to practice self care, even if that's just having a day on the sofa to watch cheesy films. As we head into the New Year, I intend to keep practicing the things that I’ve learnt.

Related Articles

The best lunchboxes and water bottles
Our pick of the best lunch boxes and water bottles
Read more
Learn yoga at home
How to learn yoga at home
Read more
your capsule home gym kit
Your essential home gym kit
Read more
More stories