Who is the Healthy Herd?
My name is Liz Graney and over my roller coaster of a life I have been lucky to have had many adventures with food and fitness. Sometimes I have had struggles but havent we all. This blog is aimed at sharing with you some of my challenges, my life and my favourite food, fitness, well being and nutrition tips.
The Back Story of Healthy Herd
Let me give you a little of my back story to explain where I have come from and my motivation for The Healthy Herd (weird name I know but I will explain, I promise).
Growing up I was always active: I used to swim every day (sometimes twice a day with various competitive clubs), I used to ride at every opportunity and compete when I had the chance, but most of all my aim was to join the Her Majesties Armed Forces. I was in the Army Cadets as a teenager and eventually become an instructor with the Air Cadets (another long story). I had a passion for food and grew up where in a home where food was always cooked from fresh and vegetables were grown on an allotment. I was so slim and ultra fit that food was never an issue, but of course that would change in the future.
I went to college and studied to come a chef and restaurant manager for 2 years, then eventually joined the Army in the Womens Royal Army Corps and became attached the Army Catering Corps. This is however where my journey started to take a side road. being so great at sport I became popular with the PTIs and soon found myself swimming and riding more than cooking. Of course I didnt complain, who would? All of this activity at a very high level lead to me having some fairly serious knee issues though and I eventually found myself on a medical discharge, broken and with my dreams shattered.
My First Business
At this stage I all but gave up on my dreams of being a chef and getting my own restaurant. My fitness at this time was pretty poor as I was either using crutches or a walking stick. However I took what I knew and together with my then husband who was a DJ I created my first business – Black Cat Party Services. Black Cat was an events management company and events organising business in a time before wedding planners and party organisers. We had clients in Germany, Luxembourg, France and across the UK. I ran this for 10 years before becoming divorced and sadly having to split up the business. We had some great times and during this period I had my first two kids – two boys who I will introduce you to another time.
The Next Step
I was a little lost for a time. I took a job in a large local independent school as an IT technician using what I had learned from running my own business mainly online. It wasn’t log however before I ended up teaching swimming (I was already a qualified coach) and setting up a computer club, riding club (in partnership with a local riding school) and helping out with both ICT and PE lessons. I already had a background in teaching and coaching from my sports experience and loved working with the kids. It was just too close to my old life though. So I took a chance, not for the first time nor the last and moved to Surrey where I set up myself as a professional event rider! A dream I never thought I would accomplish when I was growing up and dreaming of ponies, horses and riding for a living like so many horsey girls.
I was lucky to spend over five years riding every day, sometimes for 6 hours a day, going to competitions and living in the countryside. At this stage I will explain I was born in North London a far cry from the very rural Surrey Hills. My family moved to Somerset when I was only five though after I had suffered Meningitis and step father had an opportunity to take over a new depot in Taunton. This was where my love of the countryside and horses really begun. I started riding at an early age and would often go out with my step father who had been a Royal Marine and learnt to ride himself in the forces. I never dared to dream that one day it would be my life, full time, every day, in all weathers and through all sorts of challenges and fun!
After five years a one or two more injuries to add to the broken body I decided to retire. There were many other reasons but basically I wasnt getting any younger and I had lost my mojo, my confidence wasn’t what it used to be and I realised for the firs time that I wasn’t immortal! I had just ended another relationship and a toxic one at that but I came out of it with Barak my loyal Weimaraner dog and a desire to do something different again.
The Plough Restaurant
Some 15 years ago I was lucky enough to walk into a small village pub with a beautiful timber frame low ceiling restaurant. The previous landlords had just done an overnight disappearing act and the owners were losing thousands of pounds every week. I was staying with friends locally and had been into the pub in the past (on one occasion meeting my future husband but not that I knew it at the time). I got talking to them and when they discovered my background some years ago in catering and events management they made me an offer. After sleeping on it I decided to take over the running of the restaurant and events in partnership with them to turn the business around so it could be made profitable again and eventually sold!
It was hard work with 18 hour days and 7 day weeks. The locals would not come in and it had an awful reputation. I had to completely gut the kitchens and stores, create a new menu and start a major PR and marketing campaign. Most of the staff either needed training or replacing and for the first few months I did wonder what I had got myself into. However with time, patience and solid foundations which are essential for all improvements whether that’s business or personal we gradually turned the corner. Our live music nights were popular, our gardens started to fill at weekends and in the evenings, the restaurant started getting bookings and slowly but surely the locals started to return.
There was a but coming though. I was starting to make myself ill, seriously ill. I ended up in hospital with exhaustion and suspected stomach ulcers. It was around this time that I met my now husband too. He saw how much I was putting into the restaurant and warned me I would kill myself if I didnt start to look after myself. After six months at the restaurant it was finally profitable and even paying a generous wage to myself and the other partner. It was crazy times though as I still had one horse (Misco) at a livery yard down the road and I was actually paying someone else to ride him for me as I had no time. I was cash rich, my bank manager loved me but I was time poor and my body was rebelling.
Then one day I woke up and couldn’t move my leg! I was paralysed! I was taken to hospital and ended up with my leg in plaster as it had gone into spasm. Long story short I ended up in a wheelchair unable to walk and suffering with exhaustion.
A New Life
I was forced to make the heart breaking decision to give up the restaurant. However at the same time I got engaged and found out I was expecting our daughter.
I took a few years out at this time to start to recover and spent many hours in hospital over the years. I must have done a grand tour of the hospital departments by now. I had x-rays, scans, blood tests and more. I discovered I was partially deaf and honestly didn’t recognise myself. I couldn’t walk any distance and was actually registered disabled.
My new husband was at this time actually a teacher trainer and with my coaching and training back ground he suggested I retrain as a teacher. This actually lead to me creating EAG Consultancy, becoming a qualified teacher and starting to offer one day workshops, short course and online training. My topics included business startup, marketing, website design, digital marketing, bookkeeping and more.
EAG Consultancy became a multi award winning business both regionally and nationally. I developed a waiting list for my training courses and one to one coaching of over 18 months at one stage. I was still using a walking stick at this stage and we had had our baby girl Izzy. I was however gradually getting better and slowly getting fitter.
Return of the Herd
Of course it wasnt long before the need for horses and other furry beasts returned to my life and that is a story for another time!