Over 11 months she cycled 745 miles across Argentina, swam in shark-infested waters and entered a Half Ironman competition with a group of record-breaking women, celebrating their resilience and determination. She’s written about the experience in her new book, Fearless: Adventures with Extraordinary Women, in which she also talks about body image, a common theme with all of them.
“When I was 14 or 15, I was a really good competitive swimmer. It was my passion – I loved competing and was winning every race,” she says. “Then one day I looked in the mirror and all I could see were these muscly shoulders. I thought they made me look too masculine. From one day to the next, I gave it up. Literally stopped. I was doing my GCSEs – it was a stressful, horrible time, and I gave up the one thing that would have made it easier.”
“But there’s a key message in the book,” she adds, “which is: be proud of what your body can do. I’ve just carried a ridiculously heavy bag across London and I can do that because I go to the gym. I ran the London Marathon and I ran for a train yesterday. It sounds silly, but it helps me in everyday life.”
So how does she feel about her body now? “I try not to look too much,” she jokes. “I don’t look in the mirror and think: ‘You look amazing,’” although she does. “But I’m 54, I’ve got muscles, I feel strong, which for me is the most important thing.”
Louise Minchin’s new book Fearless: Adventures with Extraordinary Women is out now, Bloomsbury, £18.99.