Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Through another's eyes.

I got my son's school photo order form the other day.  He's in yr 7, and a big 12 years old. Whole life ahead of him, a mind yet to be completely formed opinion- wise.

How disappointing then to see the photographer, for an extra fee of course, offers a touch up of school photos upon request.

Media advertisements, articles, movies, tv shows....all sell an ideal.  Everyone is made up to the eyebrows to look 'natural' and if there are any blemishes, tattoos, or other undesirable feature, it gets 'fixed' electronically.
 To be Perfect.

Women's magazines have a diet of the week/month....a new superfood every other day, statistics and exercise of the year to help you detox, lose kilos, drop dress sizes.  "I lost 5 kilos in a week!" and the before and after pics are amazing. Just replace 2 meals a day with this great new shake and turn into a grumpy cow who is starving and inwardly seething with jealousy whenever you sit down with a shake and watch others eat their lunch.

You may lose the weight but hey presto!  It was just temporary and has come back like a young adult child who has come back home, looking for their old bedroom and bringing a whole houseful of stuff with them.

We are constantly sold the idea of what we SHOULD look like and our mindset changes.  We HAVE to be skinny, we HAVE to buy those clothes, we HAVE to look good at all times....and we get stressed because we are not tiny with little waists and big 'gazongas', we have blemishes on our skin, our hair is going grey...and we think we are not enough.  Not pretty enough, not good enough, not skinny enough. Judge judge judge.

I'm the worst one for this.  I ran a 5k funrun on the weekend after 6 weeks off for injury. I ran it in 30 mins and 5 seconds.  And I was disappointed. Way slower than my best time, and it was hard work. I was running myself down until it was pointed out to me that not so long ago, I couldn't run at all. Not so long ago, just completing 5K would have been cause for celebration. And to be able to run it after 6 weeks of no running training is something to be celebrated.

I had to look at it through another's eyes.

Last night I was doing my weight session for Lean and Strong program (Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation). I began whining. " I'm just wasting my time. I'm weak as piss. I'm not getting anywhere. I'm not good enough."

My husband and training partner heaves a heavy sigh when I start talking like this. He pointed out that improvements will come and I have done so before. So I 'looked through his eyes'.
I saw the beginnings of definition in my arms. I looked at the weights I was using, not the lightest and not the heaviest.  I looked at the muscle tremors I was experiencing after a hard exhausting workout and knew I had done as much as I could. And I reminded myself of 2 things.

Is this perfect?

Or this?

Or this?

Perfection is through the eye of the beholder. Pefection is based on personal perception. Perfection is in every one of these women.

So I'm not aiming for perfection in my own eyes.  I'm aiming for healthy.  Healthy mind, healthy body, healthy life....no matter what I look like or achieve.

* WARNING: some scenes may be disturbing*

Never ever feel you are less than perfect. Look at yourself through a loved one's eyes....and see yourself how they see you. .....perfect.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

What works for me.

Between the 12WBT, magazines, online articles and the wisdom of others and personal experience, I thought I'd share what works for me.  Maybe it will work for you, maybe you'll have something to share to add to my list.  In that case I'm all ears!!!

1. Salt is not the only seasoning.

  In most of our foods salt is added.  Since excess salt can cause a whole range of health problems, we decided to cut it out as much as we can. ...thereby (so we thought) giving us a lifetime of bland food.
But not so....herbs and spices add so much more flavour!  It makes a dish of boring meatballs into a trip to  Mediterranean, or Marrakesh. So many recipes can be tweaked in flavour to be something totally different...and delicious. Experiment with spices and bring out natural flavour of foods.

2. A cup of tea is just the thing.

  Often I will make a cup of tea and just the act of sipping  that is enough to knock that craving on the head.   If I have a chocolate craving, I'll have a Choc mint tea or a dark chocolate tea.  If it's general sweetness I'm after, I'll go a fruit tea. If it's something a little more substantial and 'meatier', I'll pour a Lapsang souchong.  Nothing like a cup of tea...once I inhale that scent I just automatically relaaaaax. Watch the milk and sugar addition though, try the flavoured ones 'au naturel' for something different.

3. Access denied.

If it's not good for me, I don't bring it in the house. I'm telling you, if I know there is a bag of maltesers sitting in the cupboard, I will fixate on it, I will be able to think of nothing else, I will overeat healthy things in trying to NOT eat the maltesers and then cave and eat them anyway. And then feel like poo because I caved in.  Easier to not bring it in the house AT ALL. 
When I watch TV or sit on the computer, I snack.  In no time at all a whole packet of whatever has disappeared.  I now keep a BIG glass of water beside me and I end up just mindlessly sipping on that.  So now I'm rehydrating, getting those 6-8 glasses of water in and I don't even notice it. 

4. Respect your food and yourself.

I AM NOT A RUBBISH BIN. Idon't HAVE to clean my plate or my kids'/partner's plate. Fastest way to eat way more calories is when I 'don't waste food'. Offer them a smaller serving size, OR (and this links in to my next thing) give them more time to eat.
So I TAKE MY TIME.  Enjoy it.  I will feel full and more satisfied with less food a lot of the time, I'll savour the food and relax, I won't burp because I'm not gulping air when I rush your food.  By taking time too, children will have a little longer to eat because those little tackers can be WAY slow at eating. If I'm still at the table, they are more likely to stay at the table and eat more as well.

5.Rainbows bring smiles

Red and yellow and pink and green.......I make my food COLOURFUL.   A plate full of colour is way more appetising than a plate of brown/beige/white.  The more colour, the wider range of nutrients for my body too.

6. Size is in the eye of the beholder.

Go to an Op shop and get one of those lovely china plates from the 50's-60's.  And compare it to yours at home. It's probably closer in size to your bread and butter plate!  Our plates have become HUGE!  If I put a proper portion size of dinner on there it looks pathetically small and I feel deprived and my mind says, "You aren't eating enough".  But now put that serving size on a smaller plate, and it looks full. Mentally I think I've eaten a big plate, so I'm not feeling hungry and looking for more food.

7. Chew factory

When I'm hungry at snack time, I have raw veg.  Low in calories and takes a lot of chewing so I feel like I've had heaps to eat. Good jaw exercise and nutritious for me too!

8. BYO

I go to a lot of night meetings with dinner provided.  Not ideal for my healthy eating.  So I take my own.  And 9 times out of 10, it looks better and smells better than what is offered.  I have control over how much I eat and I know exactly what's in it. Same with lunches....take my lunch to work and listen to my workmates say" MMM what smells so good?"  Plus I don't waste time lining up to buy lunch.


 I plan ahead so I don't reach 5 pm and think " Bugger, what AM I going to cook tonight?" and end up getting HJ's because it's all too hard. If I have a meal plan, I have a list of ingredients to buy at the shops so I'm not wasting food or buying over processed crap.  I know when I'm going to gym or going for a run and what I'll do so I'm not wasting time half heartedly doing a class or exercises.  Plan ahead....it's like a map to my health and takes all the faffing about out of it.

10. You are what you think.

This says it all really......keep your thoughts strong and positive. My negative self talk can sap away all my good feelings, promises and motivation. So I feel bad and reach for comfort food to make me feel better.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Real Women

We've all seen this quote somewhere. I believe it started circulating to empower women to embrace themselves against the pervasive magazine/model culture of stick thin, unrealistic body shapes. 

But now, it's just become an excuse.

It's an excuse to eat what you want and not exercise.  It's become the flag quote to not look after yourself.  And to many, it has become offensive.

Like me.

I have never been curvy. Ever. Even pregnant I was sticks with a big belly....I was short, little and could eat what I wanted.  I gained a little after I turned 30 but not an excessive amount.

So because I wasn't 'curvy', does that mean I was unattractive?  Unappealing?  A pretend woman?  Healthy?

At my heaviest (without pregnancy) I was 57 kilos and 5 ft 1 or 154 cms. Not too bad figuratively.  But, I couldn't run around with my kids,  I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and was pre diabetic.

My " Hey let's live a little' attitude was coming true.  I was 39 and I was only going to live a little....not a long time.

I decided to make a change.  I changed what I was eating from fast food and lots of pasta to healthier options and home cooked meals through the 12 Week Body Transformation.  I moved more and made the effort to go to gym, and I found I liked it.  SO I kept going.  It wasn't all sunshine and roses though.  It was hard work.

Remember....it IS hard work, you get out what you put in. It is flattering to be told I look good, not so when I'm told I'm lucky I don't have to do anything to achieve it.  Nothing just comes to you, the things of value you have had to work for.

I also don't like being called a "gym" junkie, because I go to gym, doing something I enjoy.  I don't call anyone a "sit on your arse in front of the tele" junkie.  Our choices are different, we do different things we enjoy, neither one is right or wrong and too much of either would be harmful.

Let's address another excuse.  I'm not depriving myself. I eat healthy and watch portion sizes. I found I don't feel good if I eat an enormous meal, that the right portion size is enough. Too much and I feel sick.  I'm not starving myself to reach an ideal, I'm satisfied.

I have never felt so full of energy apart from when I was a kid.  It's great to feel so full of bounce and KNOW I can bounce away and still feel great. Even better if you can out-bounce your own children. :)

So, what does a real woman look like?

 REAL women are everywhere.

REAL women are from all walks of life, with all different experiences.

 REAL women come in all shapes and sizes.

There's only one identifying feature of a real woman.....and while blunt, it's a message that needs to be said.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Exercising a Persistence Muscle.

 Have you ever sat and watched your child?  I'm talking about birth up to about 12 ish....do you remember what they were like?  Couldn't crawl, couldn't walk, couldn't run, couldn't push themselves on the swing......

And then all of a sudden they could. But saying all of a sudden really does them a disservice.


My youngest is 8 and has just started gymnastics. She can't handstand or cartwheel yet but every single afternoon after school, she is out in the yard trying, over and over and over and over again. Incessantly. And I am summoned every few minutes to see how she has improved.....every tiny little success she has, she recognises it and demands recognition! And you know, she IS getting better.  Doing the same thing every afternoon for an hour or so at a time in the sun, resting every now and then is teaching her body how to move, her brain how to recognise and refine the movement . The following is a Youtube clip, not of my child but these guys are just trying over and over and over!

Well, it's pretty much the same for us.

At some point growing up, we've come to believe we should be able to do things first go.  And if we can't, well then, it's just impossible. So we teach ourselves to just not try anymore. It can't be done.  We can't run.  We can't do gym classes because we are the most uncoordinated person in the world, we can't ride a bike anymore, it's been years, we wouldn't remember how..

Well I was one of the I can't do that anymore people. Over the past year particularly I have challenged that..."I can't swim", well now I can (in my own fashion!), "I can't run"...well now I'm beating my personal bests in funruns and loving running. " I can't do a handstand".....I was challenged by Tanya Carter, a PT and instructor in North Queensland and an old school friend of mine.  She started a Handstand a Day in February On Facebook and challenged me last year.  I declined because " I can't do a handstand"  Well now I can. 

Check out this link.....
On Feb 1 I walked up a wall to do it. 
On Feb 2 I flung myself against the wall.
On Feb 11 I did one all by myself.  For the first time in well over 30 years.  And by just doing one a day  (with 5000 attempts some days LOL) I have gone from "I can't"....to "I can."


So what are you holding yourself back from with the " I can't" loud in clear in your mind?  How do you KNOW you can't? How many times have you tried?  Edison had hundreds of failures before he got the lightbulb....he could have thrown up his hands and said " I can't. It's impossible." But he persisted.

We talk a lot about exercising our willpower muscle and our physical muscles.  How about our persistent muscle?  Why not challenge that to work a bit harder? 

So I challenge you...think of something you haven't done since you were a kid and you think you just can't do now.  Could be a handstand, cartwheel, diving to the bottom of a pool....anything we just did naturally because we could.  Give it a go.  And another one. And another.  Keep trying until you can get it. And then announce it to the world!  Celebrate your success!

Would love to see what you can do!

Saturday, 9 February 2013


My new mantra for this round.  COMPLETE not COMPETE.

I've signed up for Lean and Strong. I did that last year and loved it, especially at the beginning.  I felt STRONG!  I was learning what my body could do!  I was succeeding!

Then the photos started coming in.

The pics were amazing.  Gorgeous, fantastic, inspirational men and women showing off their hard work....me included.  But then that nasty little voice in my head got involved.

" She's got way better abs than you."
" No way you'll ever get definition like that."
" You don't belong in this group, you're don't look as good as these guys"

And on and on.

It destroyed me. I gave up. The self hate came back, all because I was comparing and my natural competitiveness was rearing it's unhelpful head.  The stupid thing was it was all LOOKS I was basing my comparison on.  When it came down to weights I was comparable or outlifting some of these people. When it came down to getting the job done, I was exactly the same as all these people...we were all working hard.

But I let the self talk win.

This round.....I've changed my focus.

It's all about getting the job done. I am able to do the work. I have the knowledge that everyone develops differently....like in weightloss, everyone loses differently even if they do the same thing.  Our bodies all behave differently.  So hating myself because I am unique is counterproductive and blinds me to the things I should be proud of, what I can achieve and my own personal bests.  I can cheer on everyone else's achievements then without that little tang of bitterness " I could never be that good"...because my main goal this round is NOT to be the best out of everybody.

It's to be the best out of me.

COMPLETE the program to the best of my ability and self discipline. And leave the COMPETE side alone.

  Because when you compete against yourself, you're already a winner.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013



As part of my previous 12 WBT I had completing Tough Mudder as my 12 month goal...and it is DONE! I thought I'd share what Tough Mudder was like for a little newbie like myself. Plus, a little surprise on the side!

 WARNING!!!  This post will be photo heavy!

Penguin Punchers 2013...BEFORE

 Tough Mudder Summer 2013 was held at Phillip Island.  It is a 20 km obstacle course similar to military courses, and it tests not just your physical strength but your mental strength.

We were a great team....the Penguin Punchers, made up of friends and my husband's work colleagues. We were fired up and ranged in fitness from regularly doing weights and running to occasionally working out.  I must admit, I was pretty nervous.

What I found is that ultimately some level of fitness is required, particularly upper body strength.  If you can pull yourself up and over a fence or wall, then you'll be right. The terrain was so rough, it was impossible to run safely.....we saw lots of injuries.  That's the other thing....YOU WILL GET HURT! Mostly bruises but there were several broken bones in other competitors and I heard of one poor Mudder being airlifted out with a broken hip......

So as best as I can remember and not necessarily in order here are the obstacles we faced.....

1.  ARCTIC ENEMA...First up after a run.  Jump into a shipping container filled with crushed ice and water, halfway through, you have to fully submerge to get through it. Literally takes your breath away!

2. BERLIN WALLS....these popped up twice in the course.  Climb up and over 2 walls, each approx 10-12 ft high.

3. Kiss of Mud.... Noice.....crawl through the stinkingest mud under barbed wire

4.  Underwater tunnel....duckdive under a series of 3 double barrels lashed together.  Least it got the mud off!

5.  Mud Mile...spoke to soon.  Lierally a mile of trudging through mud then climbing over rocky, muddy 6-8ft walls that never seemed to end. And those walls are responsible for my bruised tailbone and inner thighs.

7. Dirty Ballerina....leap over 4 ft muddy trenches in best ballerina style

8. More muddy water to trudge through....slide down and slip in

9. Logs....climb over and crawl under a series of logs to get through

10.  Bale bonds....this happened a couple of times in the course too.  The first was just 2 huge rolled hay bales high, the second was formed into a pyramid 4 bales high.

11.  Walk the plank....Leap off a 5m plank into a dam.

12. Hold your Wood...carry a log by yourself  or in a team around a marked course

13. Trench Warfare.....crawl through pitch black underground tunnels

14.  Greased Lightning...Slip n Slide!  Sounds good but it is HUGE and a few of us were injured here with hidden rocks underneath it.

15. Spiders Web....up and over a cargo net strung between 2 trees.

16. Electric Eel....crawl through muddy water with electric wires hanging over you, giving you random shocks

17. Boa Constrictor....crawl through pipes half filled with water

18.  Funky Monkey....monkey bars over ice water. Not straight!  They slope up and then down and the rungs slip in their sockets...

19. Ladder.... a big 5m high wooden frame to climb up and over..

20.  Everest...this is a HUGE half pipe that you have to run up and hope like hell you can either reach the top to grab hold or someone else can grab you.

21.  The final obstacle....ELECTRIC SHOCK THERAPY!  Run through a slippery muddy path, littered with small hay bales through electric wires that deliver random shocks.

 Now I didn't get off scot free.  Dropping down after the last Berlin Wall, about 3 km from the end I rocked back on my ankles and heard a sickening CRACK.  Then pain.  I couldn't stand but I was NOT going to give up.  I rested a few minutes then hobbled the rest of the way.  My husband Troy helped support me so I could cross the finish line....

But I DID IT!  The resulting injury was not a break thank goodness, but hurt ligaments which has meant 3 weeks off running and other high impact exercise :(

The feeling when you get that beer and headband and sit with your teammates, knowing you've accomplished something difficult, physical and left you exhausted....it's indescribable. Now I feel strong.  I feel I can DO anything! I kept up, I climbed like a demon and even injured and in so much pain it took my breath away, I could still find something deep inside me to push through and complete it.
 I would never have imagined doing this a year ago, even 6 months ago I was having doubts.  And being able to share it with my husband was brilliant.
 Penguin Punchers 2013 After.

But what about the surprise?

Well, as part of Tough Mudder which supports Legacy, a charity for war widows and their families, I decided to make it mean something.  I set about one week out, just on Facebook, asking for donations to Legacy and I would in return....shave my hair.

Well I raised $735 to date and went from this curly haired Wonder Woman ( with Wonder Kate and Super Tracey)....

  to being lovingly shaved by my husband.....

to having a mohawk for Tough Mudder....( which is WAY fun!  Mohawks ROCK!)

to completing the shave in it's entirety....

And I loved every single minute of it :)