ADVENTURER Leila Javadi-Babreh just loves a challenge. Next month she is off to Lapland to compete in a 150km run.

But this month she has set herself a target which millions more of us will be aspiring to achieve – going the whole of January without alcohol.

Dry January is growing year-on-year, and is seen as a good way to improve physical and mental health wellbeing, helping people lose weight, sleep better and save money.

The national campaign is supported by Oxfordshire County Council’s public health team, which exists to improve the health of local people and protect residents from preventable health issues – helping them live safe and healthy lives and play an active role in their communities.

Ms Javadi-Babreh, 32, said she was excited to be taking on the challenge and said it would be the ideal preparation for her latest Arctic adventure.

She said: “I live a very healthy lifestyle but I do enjoy a glass of wine every now and then, so I’m excited to do Dry January.

"I’ll feel less groggy, I’ll be better hydrated – it’s a nice challenge to do.”

Ms Javadi-Babreh works as a physical activity and health manager for Active Oxfordshire, encouraging more people to become active, specialising in long-term health conditions and disability.

Active Oxfordshire is funded by Sports England and works closely with public health and the NHS to promote healthy lifestyles.

Last year, Ms Javadi-Babreh’s team assisted more than 1,000 people with diabetes, commissioning behaviour change pathways and encouraging them to join walking groups and become more engaged with the community.

Ms Javadi-Babreh is the perfect embodiment of someone who lives an active lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t partial to the odd tipple.

"I do often have a bottle of Rioja in the cupboard.

"That might be a bit of a misconception when people see me and say ‘you must be really healthy – you must be ultra-fit.

"You should try to have a good balance. In my opinion it’s more the reasons why you have that drink, and watching out for signs you are over-indulging - or having it because you’re stressed.

"For me, that’s maybe not a good idea, because when you’re having quite a low time that might be the thing that predisposes you to having more alcohol as a way to numb any issues.

"You don’t have to be strict with everything but it’s not healthy to drink too much. It causes you to become dehydrated and there are many other ways to relax.

"I’m a healthy advocate. There are national guidelines and I stay within those.

"It’s everything in moderation. It’s about looking at your behaviour. We all know in ourselves if we’re perhaps indulging too much in one thing."

Originally from Leamington Spa, Ms Javadi-Babreh worked as a barmaid while studying fine art at Warwick College.

She joked: “I knew I was in the wrong job because if anyone had drunk too much I would tell them ‘I don’t think you want another drink.’”

Instead she pursued a career in health and physical activity, helping her to travel the world, scuba diving with sharks, running up mountains, kayaking, horse riding and even enjoying salsa.

She learnt the value of self-discipline as a young martial artist, where she became a second-degree black belt and five-year English champion.

For six winters she enjoyed long-distance dog-sled racing in Alaska, encountering everything from grizzly bears to charging mooses in temperatures below -50C.

Ms Javadi-Babreh joined Active Oxfordshire 18 months ago, swapping her dog-sled for a bike to cycle from her home in Kennington to work in Kidlington.

“The cycle routes around here are amazing and it’s great to have that thinking time while you’re out on a bike,” she said.

“I really enjoy Oxfordshire and hope to be here for a while. I love art and sport so I couldn’t be better served than I am here.

“It’s definitely the place to be.”

Ms Javadi-Babreh is an ambassador for This Girl Can, an organisation which has encouraged millions of women to get active.

“There are lots of different ways to unwind and it’s about understanding those limits when it comes to sensible drinking,” she said.

“We don’t want it to become a habit rather than just an enjoyment. It’s always bringing that message back to recheck.”

Of the 95,485 NHS health checks taken in Oxfordshire in the past five years, more than 4,500 people were given tips on cutting alcohol.

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