real life

The woman who walked herself out of a "mid-wife crisis".

A mid-wife crisis comes suddenly. And yet, it takes many years to build.

Like a messy Tupperware cupboard.

First, there are a few mismatched pairs, then only a couple of things go together. And then nothing works. And all you’re left with is a big mess.

That was life for Di Westaway.

These days, the 56-year-old is a successful businesswoman who has summited countless mountain peaks and raised almost $20 million for charity.

But at the cusp of turning forty, things were very different.

Di shares how her life took an incredible turn, on I Don’t Know How She Does It:

“I was just in an absolute rut. I was miserable. I was overweight. I was unfit. I just wasn’t able to squeeze in any sort of self-care or any exercise or anything for me, it was just a matter of surviving.

“I was in a bad marriage, it was quite a dysfunctional marriage at the time, and I just knew if I didn’t do something, I’d go under. I was approaching forty and of course those of us who’ve got there … that’s a serious thing for a woman and you think that life ends”.

But Di’s life was just beginning. A friend asked her to climb a mountain. It involved focus, preparation, fitness and friendship.

“It had never entered my mind that I’d do something like that but I was so desperate that I said ‘yes, that [sounds] like a great way to escape’ … it was a very big failure, we didn’t summit … but what I learnt about myself, what I learnt about adventure … was extraordinary and I became the fittest I’d been in years and while the mountain climb was a fail, the epiphany I had after that journey was like, ‘I can’t go back now, I have to do more of this and I have to see if other women want to do it’.”


And they did. As it turns out, there were many women facing their own ‘mid-wife crises’ … or who were just as keen to get out and get together.

Di put a notice in the local school newsletter to see if any mums wanted to get together for evening walks after they put the kids to bed. The response was astounding and soon, her adventure walking business Wild Women On Top was formed.

“No woman goes to do anything with just one purpose in mind, you need to integrate many purposes and walking with your friends in nature integrates fitness, it integrates mental health, it creates therapy because you’re always brainstorming for each other. You all share the same problems.”


After what Di calls a ‘failed’ attempt to conquer Mt Everest (she still made it to Advanced Base Camp), she decided that raising money for the Fred Hollows Foundation was going to be “her Everest”. And so she set about a charity walk called Coastrek.

Since then, tens of thousands of people – mostly women – have come together along Australia’s coast to join her in completing their own personal challenge and to raise money.

Alissa Warren and her team with Di at Coastrek. Image supplied.

But Di doesn’t just give to charity, she gives to every woman, every day by remembering how low her life was.

To any women in the midst of a mid-wife crisis, she says, “hang in there. Tough times pass. Reach out to women in your community and seek out communities of women that have healthy lifestyles, they say 80% of your health is determined by your community and your environment.”

Perhaps Di Westaway’s greatest summit wasn’t a mountain quest on earth, but a mountain quest in her mind.

She conquered it.

And may she continue to hold the hands of countless other women who aim to conquer their own summit.

Di Westaway’s latest book is “Natural Exhilaration”, you can find out more about Di at @diwestaway

You can follow Alissa Warren on Twitter @alissawarren

I Don't Know How She Does It is the podcast that unearths amazing women and asks how they do life.  Listen to the full interview here:

You can find all our podcasts in iBooks at, where you can also subscribe to all our other shows in one place.