Instead of putting her feet up after leaving the BBC Breakfast sofa in 2021, Louise Minchin is traveling the world climbing mountains, participating in triathlons and free diving under ice.
In 11 months she ran 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 writes about the experience in her new book, Fearless: Adventures with Extraordinary WomenIn which she also talks about body image, which is 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 I was winning every race,” she says. “Then one day I looked in the mirror and all I could see were those musky shoulders. I thought they made me very manly. From one day to the next, I gave up on it. Really stopped. I was doing my GCSEs – it was a stressful, dreadful time, and I gave up the one thing that would have made it easier.”
“But there’s an important message in the book,” she adds, “which is: Be proud of what your body can do. I just carried a ridiculously heavy backpack across London and I can do it 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 show off too much,” she jokes. “I don’t look in the mirror and think: ‘You look amazing,'” though she does. “But I’m 54, I have muscles, I feel strong, which is the most important thing to me.”
Louise Minchin’s new book Fearless: Adventures with Extraordinary Women is out now, Bloomsbury, £18.99.