04 March 2015 Last updated


Life Challenge Week 8: Inga Stevens

Inga thanks her fellow Life Challengers as the Challenge draws to a close

Aquarius magazine
30 Apr 2012 | 05:30 pm
  • Inga on Mt. Kilimanjaro

    Inga (on the right) climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2009.

    Source:Supplied picture Image 1 of 2
  • Ideas Man

    Inga has received some tips from the Ideas Man.

    Source:Supplied picture Image 2 of 2

Week eight, day one


The word of the day is ‘mortifying’!

My new found confidence in my fitness came back to bite me in be behind and I had to hang my head in shame in front of my colleagues at the annual company sports day.

Thinking I was superwoman and that I could take on any sporting fixture they threw at me, I volunteered to be our team representative in the ‘sack race’. Yep, you read it correctly, the kind of race where you get into a rather large sack and then proceed to jump down the track, holding the sack round your waist, in an attempt to beat your fellow competitors to the finish line. There is only one word to describe this… mortifying!

Not only did I fail miserably in staying upright (I was laughing so hard that I ended up crawling along the ground in the sack) but the MC decided to make the spectators cheer me on until I made it over the finish line – a full five minutes after the rest of the competitors.

I figure the only way to redeem myself is to actually better my time at the 10K race I am running on Saturday. Part of me is really de-motivated about the run incase my time is worse than it was month ago at the Race For Hunger run, but the competitive side of me is adamant that I will prove to myself that all this training actually does pay off.

Bearing in mind that two months ago you would have had to bribe me onto a treadmill with diamonds and hard cash, I am slightly taken aback by the fact that I have somehow learnt how to push through the mental and physical pain of running. Go figure! 

Week eight, day two


So I sent out a couple of emails to some friends of mine who I thought would be able to give me some initial (and honest) insight into how to start the process of writing a book and, equally importantly, how to get it published. My journalism tutor Nick was helpful with advice on how to self-publish if that elusive publishing deal proves to be a hard cookie to crack. Practical, yet conservative, advice which would fit in with my previous ‘control freak’ self. But I feel that my post-Life Challenge self would settle for nothing less than a signed publishing contract. Which is why I have decided to take the advice of a good friend of mine, who is himself a published author and one of the most inspirational and motivating people I have ever come across. The world needs more people like him! For all you aspiring authors out there, here is his advice. 


That's wonderful news!

You're FANTASTIC! And I'm sure doing this is a great decision that will bring you fulfillment, happiness and even more wonderful success in your life.

Yes, you're exactly right in your approach. Write the first few chapters, get them nicely bound and then send them to Publishers and also Literary Agents.

You may want to ask your amazing contacts if they know any Literary Agents and then go meet them, see if you like them and they want to take you on. Publishers sometimes take a bit more notice if you have one, but they're not essential by any means. But then, it's always good to have all the help you can, too.

Make sure your sample chapters are spell-checked and you've proof read them before sending.

I always think meeting people is best, so if you can meet any Publishers, do that and pre-send your chapters so they can read them before the meeting.

In short, I wish you huge success and know you'll do fabulously. You're a vibrant, fiercely bright and glamorous woman! So, I'm sure loads of people and companies would love to work with you.

If the Publishers don't bite, then you can use all your brilliant skills to self-publish and PR your book.

For now, just get the first few chapters down, make sure you're pretty happy with them (they don't have to be perfect) and then get them bound, and start sending away. All the while, write more and try to complete the book. Then you can decide on your next moves, and you'll be empowered, because you'll have the 'product' ready to go...and both you and others can then help you come up with strategies for that product.  

Can't wait to see the first copy off the presses! 

Otherwise known as the ‘Ideas Man’, for inspiration, check out his website at

Week eight, day three 

Dreaded BCA 

I’ve agreed to submit myself to another Body Composition Analysis on the 30th of this month as a way of rounding up the Life Challenge. I say ‘submit’ because my two previous ‘weigh-ins’ left me feeling rather despondent. Last month my fitness levels seemed to get worse and my muscle mass was decreasing which seemed impossible considering the amount of exercise I am currently doing. I am rather nervous about sharing the results on this blog as the health & fitness side of the Life Challenge has turned out to be more important than I ever realised in the process of discovering a ‘better me’. My mental health seems to be directly linked to my physical health, something I wish I had realised a long time ago. 

It also goes back to the whole ‘control’ issue that I have been battling with. My health was always something that I struggled to get my head around as I believed that it was the one thing that was in fact out of my control. I managed to control my emotions, my work, my social life, but at the time I thought that there was no point trying to do anything about my health as ultimately it was God’s will that will determine whether I get sick or not. I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried! 

Lily says that I have to keep in mind that the BCA is an extremely complex process as it will record even the slightest changes in weight, water retention, minerals levels etc. I think what she is trying to say is that a 200g fluctuation in muscle mass or fat content is actually very minimal in the grand scheme of things and that the whole process needs to be analyzed in the long term, rather than on a weekly or monthly basis. 

This concept in its self has been quite hard for me to get my head round as I would usually like to see measured and controlled results that make sense and can be quantified. Not getting bogged down by the details has always been my weak point but I am finally starting to understand the long-term benefits of not being so hard on myself. I am clearing making the right choices in my life as a result of the Life Challenge and ultimately I am starting to really believe that this is the right choice for me. So bring on the BCA; you may have reduced me to a whimpering cry-baby in the past but I am ready for you this time, no matter what the scales throw at me! 

Week 8, Day 4 

The Old School Bench 

Having lived abroad for most of my life, I constantly feel guilty for not having enough time to spend with my family and friends. Rather than feeling guilty for having neglected them over the last few months, I have decided to do something pro-active to help us spend more time together. 

With the help of my mother and aunt, we have arranged a massive family reunion in Finland over the summer. Cousins, second cousins, uncles, aunties, grandparents, siblings, step-siblings and parents - you name it - they have been invited. God help the neighbours when 30 of my family member descend upon the otherwise tranquil south-west coast of Finland for a weekend of family fun. 

The other reunion I am buzzing about is our 10-year university reunion which we have decided to host in the summer of 2013. With the help of a few of my best-mates from university, we have taken the initiative to put together a Facebook group to promote the gathering on our old campus back in the UK. We’ve been in touch with the university and they have arrange for us to stay in our old student accommodation and we are even planning an Awards ceremony to celebrate how we have all changed in the past 10 years. 

Naturally I am a little nervous about seeing my family and friends after such a long time but if this Life Challenge has taught me anything it is to seize the moment and enjoy it to the full. The next 12 months look very exciting! 

Week 8, Day 5 

Fierce and Fearless 

I am absolutely in awe of my fellow Life Challengers! Having met them for the first time two months ago before this crazy journey began, I am so pleased to see how far they have come with their personal challenges. 

I literally squealed with delight when I read that Karin has decided to set up her own business! Seeing firsthand the impact that a stressful career has had on her health and wellbeing, it is a relief to see she has finally found a career path that will let her balance her home-life with work. I am so proud of Paola standing up to all the haters out there. I can really feel her confidence grow day by day and I can’t wait to see what this chick is up to in 6-months-time! Noha is not only intelligent and one of the prettiest women I have seen in a while (girl-crush alert!), but it seems like the haze of self-doubt has finally lifted from her life. I am sure we will see her gracing the society-pages of the UAE’s glossy magazines for years to come! Accalia is awesome and we are all amazed with how she manages to juggle such a demanding job with home-life, exercise and a social life. More than anything, the Life Challenge seems to have taught her the importance of making time to look after herself. I love the way Bhawna has tackled her fears and phobias head on. I know that taking swimming lesson is a big step for her and it’s brilliant that she finally feels confident enough to let go of the fear. 

The biggest motivation to keep focused on the Life Challenge has come from the other ladies who have taken part in this journey. I wish them all the success they so dearly deserve and look forward to hearing how this journey of empowerment continues for them beyond the Life Challenge itself. 

Week 8, Day 6 

Ahmed has gone AWOL 

I seem to have offended my Personal Trainer, Ahmed. He went on holiday to Kenya four weeks ago and never came back. I did warn him from the beginning that I was not to be held responsible for any expletives or cursives I used during the course of a training session. Ahmed, I am sorry! Please come back! I only have three days to train for the 10K and a week till the end of the Life Challenge and I need you. If my muscle mass performs poorly in the Body Composition Analysis on the last day I will personally hold you responsible. OK, so I should know by now that the threats don’t work with you. How about flattery? You are the strongest most bestest personal trainer I have ever had. You might be the only one that I have ever had but your biceps are much bigger than all the other trainers so I can tell you are the best. Will you come home now? 

Week 8, Day 7 

Every little helps 

For some reason, I can’t stop thinking about a conversation I had with my Life Coach Patricia during our first breakthrough session back in March. The gist of it was that I somehow harboured a lot of guilt for having a relatively privileged life while there are so many people out there who suffer from no fault of their own. My ‘guilt’ was not something I was conscious about; it just all came bubbling to the surface during my breakthrough session.

Patricia and I came up with a question I ask myself over and over again: “How can I make a difference in people’s lives?” It may sound a little conceited but I realised that to some extent I actually define myself by the good that I do in my life. Whether this is purely egotistical and self-serving, I am not sure, but all I know is that I find a certain balance in my life when I am devoting some of my time and effort to people or projects that need it more than me.

I have so many incredible friends who have chosen professions that make such an impact in bettering people’s lives, and I admire them deeply for doing something that gives back to society rather than just takes. My friend Lauren worked out in Cambodia for years as a project coordinator for MAG which a not-for-profit organisation that clears landmines from war-torn countries ( Sarah is a Finnish friend of mine and she works for the United Nations Development Programme in Vientiane, Laos working to ensure that all people in Laos benefit from national development ( I have visited both Lauren and Sarah at their postings and I always return home full of motivation to do my bit for society.

Spurred on by my selfless friends, in 2009 I joined a group of 18 UAE residents who took on the challenge to climb Africa’s highest mountain, the 20,000ft Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, to raise money for a local charity called the Flying Angel Appeal ( We successfully raised AED200,000 for the cause and had the most amazing experience on the 6-day trek to the peak of the mountain.

Since the 2009 charity-trek I always had the niggling feeling that I wasn’t doing enough to get involved so I have teamed up with my brother to try and change that. Keeping with the theme that ‘charity starts from the home’ we have decided to try and find ways to improve the quality of life of some of the expatriate workers out here in Dubai. Combining my writing and music skills with my brothers cooking skills we are looking for ways to offer up free tutorials on these subjects to anyone who is interested. It may not be huge but if there is one thing this Life Challenge has taught me is that the small things matter. There seem to be plenty of organisations that already offer this platform so all we need to do is put a programme together and start devoting our spare time. We are excited about the potential of this project and hope that it brings enjoyment to everyone involved!

Aquarius magazine

Aquarius magazine

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