Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Hand in Hand

My gym buddy has put up with a lot over the past 12 weeks.....namely, me. I'm not always the happiest little butterfly in the gym. But then he has had good practice.....we've been married for nearly 13 years.

My workout partner is my husband Troy. 

 (July 2011)

This picture was taken before I started the 12 Week Body Transformation in 2011. And no, I was not pregnant, unless you can give birth to a pina colada baby.....certainly drank enough of them.

In the beginning of my Changing of the Ways, and due to me stopping and starting so many things in the years previously, Troy was not convinced there would be a good result.....or ANY result.  But over the weeks he saw that there was a HUGE difference, not just in my body but in my confidence and by the end of the first12 weeks, he joined in, unofficially.

Since then, he has gained his PT qualification ( A brand new PT, only 2 weeks old), completed Tough Mudder twice and become a lean, mean machine. He officially joined the 12 WBT this round and over the past 12 weeks, he has been at nearly every single gym workout with me, no matter what the time. 5 am one day?  Yep he's there. 9pm the next? Yep he's still by my side.

Working out together is sometimes good and sometimes bad for me. On the many good days, it's a laugh, we race each other, we time each other, we egg each other on.  On the few bad days, he's 'breathing on me' and 'counting all wrong'...yes I am painful and pathetic when I am grumpy. And I hate myself for how I sound to him, when he is only there trying to help me be the best I can be. He is the world's most patient man, he never 'bites' back.

If we have to work out on our own because of work, or kid sport, we miss each other.....knowing that person you trust is not there to 'spot'  results in me not lifting as heavy as I could try because I'm afraid of hurting myself. I miss the chatting, I miss laughing. I particularly miss sneaking a quick perve on him when I'm supposed to be spotting him LOL.

 The workout on my own gets done a little quicker but it's a workout only for the body....not for the soul and the heart (and eyes) like it is when he is there.

( Jan. 2013)

I could not ask for a better workout partner, gym buddy, pep talker, food nazi or friend. Ok, Food nazi is a bit extreme, I really do appreciate all the times Troy has talked me down from a box of maltesers. 

I admire his dedication, his self discipline in his workouts and his nutrition, in staying 'dry' for these past 12 weeks. I am proud of how he has tranformed himself into a tall wall of muscle.  I admire all his little remembrances.....he'll have workout towels and things ready while I'm still fluffing around, he'll put new songs on my ipod for gym. 

And the BIG remembrances.....he drives me all over Victoria at all hours of the morning so I can achieve my goal of a funrun a month, he watched the children, did all the cooking and massaged my legs during and after my run up and down Mt Bogong....... he never fails to buy me orchids every birthday in remembrance of my grandfather who gave me orchids every birthday before he died.

 I love how he believes in me when I don't or can't.  And he is usually right.

My workout partner has seen me through thick and thin, in and out of the gym.  He's seen me at my worst and at my best and the words 'Thank You' just don't seem enough to speak the volumes of gratitude I have.  we make a team like no other...

Here's to the next 12 weeks........

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Finding out what is important.

I took my before and after pictures this week and when I saw them finally side by side, I felt....deflated. Where was my dramatic change?  Where was the definition I'd been working towards? Was all that hard work for nothing?

My eyes had become focused on the end product, and not on what was really important.

Ever watched a small child paint? They'll spend ages working with different colours and moving the brush different ways. They are so involved in the painting.  Then they go 'ruin' it by painting it all black or wrecking it.  That's because for them, the true value is in the PROCESS not the result. The fun is in the DOING not the HAVING.

The process is where all the learning is. The process is what we actually experience to produce a result. Ignoring the process is like looking forward all your life to your death....and missing all the cool stuff that happens in the meantime.

Society is results driven. It doesn't matter HOW I get there, so long as I get there. This can be a bad thing, look at the drug cheats in sport...all for the win, the result.

So I decided to look back on my process since I changed my life with the first round I did of 12 Week Body transformation.

I started in August 2011, heading towards illness and a lifetime of medication shocked me into thinking it might be about time I looked after myself. I was tired of struggling with anxiety and self loathing.  During that round I gained happiness, confidence, empowerment, and lost the weight and centimetres.

Since signing up that day in August I have run 5 k, 10k, 15 k and a half marathon. I completed Tough Mudder!

I broke the 30 minute barrier for 5 k running a PB in 26.27 minutes. I ran an endurance funrun up and down a mountain for 5 hours. I walked for 12 hours to complete 50 kms. I learned to swim and took part in my first triathlon. I practised until I could do chinups, then nailed 5 in a row.

I went from struggling to carry groceries to bench pressing my 8 year old daughter for fun. I learned how to cook and not rely on fast food, and now love using the Japanese, South east Asian, Spanish, Mexican, Greek and Italian food influences.

I stopped looking at the ground and started to look up.

The process doesn't end, not while there is breath in my body. There is no 'end result' because I am always learning, always growing, always striving.  The process is what keeps me going day after day, seeing the small triumphs and woohoos...the things worth celebrating.

The PROCESS is what forges my mind and my body. It has been and WILL BE an awesome ride.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Dear Old Me,

I'd like to say I'm sorry it has come to this but I have to say it. Well, write it really, I just want to tell you this without hurting you or getting it wrong so I'm writing to you.

I don't think we can live together anymore.  I want to break up. I want a divorce. The only way either of us can survive is if we end this relationship for good. 

Honestly, it's not you, it's me.  I've changed. I still admire you, all you have been through, all you have ovecome.  I still love and care for you. But we will tear each other apart the longer we try to stay together. I can't live that way anymore. There isn't anybody else, I'm just so unhappy and you are unhappy too, I know. We have had so many years together that have been happy, our whole lives in fact,  and I have to say if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here today. But things have changed.

I can't pretend to like sitting down all day to watch movies. You have to have noticed I can't sit still that long any more.  I can't stay up all hours of the night on the computer or in front of the television.  I can't eat the food we used to eat anymore.....it makes me sick. I have tried to spare your feelings for so long but I can't hide it any longer.

I need to run, I need to lift, I need to feel the sun in my hair and the wind in my face. I need to move. I need to eat real food and feed my body rather than feed my sadnesses. I need to LIVE, beyond just merely sitting down until I die. And I need to show our children how to do the same. It is for this reason I have taken the children with me. They will remember you and I will make sure they know who you are.

Please forget about me and move on. I will always remember you as the one who created me, supported me, made me what I am today. I will remember our time with love. I hope you find the happiness I now have, for yourself. 

Yours Sincerely

New Me.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Food hangover and guilt

Ever had a food hangover?  I have,  more times than I care to count in the past.

Food hangovers usually hit after a night ( or day)at the all you can eat buffet, Christmas/Easter/Birthday dinner or a night of self pity with icecream and drive through Maccas aplenty. Funny how food hangovers are never with fruit and vegetables.

Food hangovers don't have to be from overeating....just from not eating well, especially after following a healthy eating pattern. I've noticed that since I've cut a lot of processed foods out of my diet, I have become sensitive to whatever those clever scientists put into processed food.....and that's enough for a food hangover.

Result: Wake up in the morning feeling bloated, stuffed, sore tummy, feeling ill and like you weigh 1000 kilos....and if not ashamed of myself, disappointed in myself. I look and feel like Homer Simpson on a bad day. I have the movement and motivation of an eighty year old sloth on valium.

So, what to do.

Well, first thing, I roll myself out of bed and drink a glass of water.  This is supposed to help move things along ( if you get my meaning) and the faster I can get that moving the better. Then it's water, water, water throughout the day.  Flush all those nasties out of my body as much as possible.

Next, I have a clean breakfast...berry smoothies are good, with a few oats added to thicken it up. The easier I can make things for my stomach right now the better!

Then, and this is probably the hardest, I lace up my shoes and go for a walk or a gentle run. Exercise, albeit gentle exercise, helps to 'move it along' too.  And like I said before, the sooner my body ditches the toxins, the better.

And lastly, to tie in with my walk/run, I think.  What went wrong?  Was it emotional eating?  Was it just poor planning?  Was it just one of those things and what can I do to prevent it in future? Was it something I ate that set off a sensitivity? One thing I will NOT feel is guilt.  It is a useless emotion that stops me from moving on.  It's happened, nothing will change that fact.  But I can change it from happening in the future.

Let's look at guilt for the moment.

Logically, guilt is not an emotion with much if any value. It keeps me in a loop of constant self loathing, getting bigger and bigger each time it goes round.  It is a weight that cripples me, making it near impossible to move forward.  So now...

Instead I do LEARNING. Our eyes are put on our face and not our butts for a reason.....looking forward is the way to go, instead of looking behind.  So I find out why it happened and what I can do to prevent it.  Was it poor planning?  Emotional eating? Food I am not used to eating anymore? Was it an out-of-my-control type of thing?  An example is when my father was in hospital emergency recently for 8 hours....those vending machines don't deliver much in the way of clean eating. I come up with strategies to prevent these things from happening again as much as possible.

And I carry on with my day, drop the guilt and make the plan. And if one plan doesn't work, then I make another.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


I have been reading a lot lately, stories, articles and books about runners and people who have overcome huge obstacles to reach their goal.  One just reached in and gripped my heart.

A father, at the request of his son, pushes him through a funrun.  After hearing his son say the run made him feel like he was not handicapped, this magnificent man ran again.  And again.  And again.  This AMAZING man and his son completed the Ironman in Hawaii....an Ultra distance event and one of the hardest in the world.  And he carries his son all the way through it.

Dedicated?  YES.  Inspirational?  UNBELIEVEABLY so.

This team has accomplished so much....not for the fame or the glory, but just to do it. It made me think how hard would it be to get up and go training day after day, to swim dragging a dinghy with your 45 kilo son in it, to ride balancing him on your bike, to run pushing his chair.  Not only to do all that but really COMPETE.  What drive does this man have? What's his secret?

Well he is just dedicated to his son. He is passionate about his family.

And that's the secret isn't it.
Pushing myself when there is noone else around.  Doing it when there's no immediate payoff. Working hard because it's what I do, not what I pretend.

Having dedication towards whatever I do will keep me going even when things are going wrong. Those qualities will keep me working out even when the short term results are disappointing me. It keeps me going when it hurts and feels like it's too hard. Being dedicated gives me the map to improvement, no matter how long it takes.

I woke this morning to the news of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. I watched the explosions with tears and a heart in shock. This is an event that runners have to qualify for....often considered the pinnacle for marathon runners. All those people are dedicated to their running, to getting into the Boston marathon, and then to finishing it.  No matter what, they would cross that line. This something that all the participants have as their goal and this morning they lined up at the start line, ready to run the funrun of a lifetime, after all the long training sessions, the pain, the mental toughness, the strict nutrition....they were finally going to see the culmination of all their efforts.

Footage shows racers running with the end in sight...the finish line just within their grasp, their dreams coming true, when the first two explosions went off.  And just like that, lives lost, injuries so terrible they defy thinking about, dreams shattered. Chaos instead of success. Overwhelming grief and fear instead of elation. All I could do was pray for those there.

But I am willing to bet anything you like that those runners will be back next year. They will be back in training, back on the roads. There will be much to overcome, so much I can't imagine it....fear of it happening again, injuries and so much heartbreak and sadness. Dedication will push those people back into their runners and back into the race. That's the dedication I want. That's the dedication I am working on.  In the face of the horror and sadness that I woke with today, it is good to remember the words below.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

By the power of Greyskull......

If there's one thing I've learned along the way through changing my life from the Maccas Monster to the clean eating machine it is now is that I truly do have the Power.

I have the Power to make a choice.

It seems insignificant really, I make choices all the time really. Boots or Converse? Which pair of earrings? Which way will I drive today? Will I eat now or later?

 I don't always OWN the choices I make though.  I used to think my choices were someone else's problem.

  •  I ate a lot of junk food because I didn't have time to cook, I was too busy running around with work and kids etc etc.
  • I didn't exercise because I was never the 'sporty' child. So I couldn't be a sporty adult, everyone said so.
  • I ate chocolate because GODDAMIT I have PMS and you are really TICKING ME OFF with your JUDGEMENTS!
 Hmmm.....Now that I've grown up and put my Big Girl panties on, I can see how I just wasted my Power. Making it someone else's problem meant I didn't have to take any responsibility for what was happening to me. I was in effect, a giant baby, waiting for everyone else to make my decisions for me. I used to wish things were different.  I WISH I had more time.  I WISH I wasn't so pudgy. I wish, I wish, I wish.

I wish I was a real person.

But just like He-Man, without the instant tan and flowing locks ( what is IN that sword, some sort of nuclear reactor?), I found the Power. It was completely by accident really.  I was on the internet wishing again for my life to be different to what it was.  I couldn't stand myself any longer. And I stumbled upon the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. Instead of talking to my husband about it and therefore talking myself OUT of it, I did it.....I used the Power and CHOSE to sign up.

Well then, once I was in, I CHOSE to commit to it, I CHOSE to attend gym 6 days a week and I CHOSE to not give up when it got a bit harder.

I was on a  roll.  The Power consumed me!  I was making choices left, right and centre. With food. With funruns. With EVERYTHING. And every choice I made, the Power grew stronger.  I reckon now I could give He Man a run for his money!

Now, when I'm feeling frustrated, lost or defeated, all I have to do is remind myself...I have the Power to change the situation. I can choose to find a solution and get on with it. And that is an amazing feeling, enough to motivate me, and recharge the mojo. It doesn't just stop with choosing clean food over junk, or choosing gym over bed but it is in every facet of my life. It is in my work, my relationships, my house....and the ripples go further than I ever dreamed of.

It's noone else's problem. And I don't WANT it to be someone else's problem. Now I have the Power, I sure as hell don't want to give it up easily.  Using this Power got me to run a half marathon.  It got me into and through Tough Mudder. It led me in a funrun up a mountain. It was strongest when I did my first beginners triathlon, after just learning to swim. Now why would I give up something that has given me so much strength, so much achievement and new experiences, so much FUN?!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


It is with huge sadness I see the news on Margaret Thatcher's death.  Not for her passing so much, as we are not connected in any way, but in the way some people are choosing to celebrate her death. And inside, I am shocked that people would take open delight in someone's death to the point they cannot even pay a little respect to the passing of their life.


But why should I be shocked?  Respect is something that has been diminishing over the 40 years I've been alive, and I'm sure others older than me would see a far greater difference. It had me wondering why and then it hit me.

We can't even respect ourselves anymore. There is no self respect.

I can speak with authority on this....as I had no self respect. I joined in parties and drank myself stupid. I made stupid mistake after stupid mistake. I stayed in a violent marriage for five years.  I ate crap food constantly until my health was affected. Those are just a few.

I didn't think enough of myself to walk away from any of those things until it was almost too late.

Now, I see things very differently, and it was through the 12 WBT program that changed that. Just think, it took me 39 YEARS to finally find my own self respect. 39 YEARS before I thought I deserve more for myself than what I was doing, that I deserved to stop harming myself in a myriad of ways and start to look after myself.

Self respect means to believe in your own worth and dignity.

Easy to say but hard to do! Believe in myself? Believe I am worth something and of some value to others? I had no idea. But I found it accidentally along the way.  When I started caring for my health through watching what I ate and learning how my body felt while moving and exercising ( and after exercising.....day after workout pain anyone?) I found self respect.  When I started using self discipline, my self respect began to grow. My confidence grew and I remember the day I finally looked, REALLY looked at myself in the mirror.....and could meet my own eyes.

Self respect has made looking after myself a joy, not a chore.  It has made me achieve and recognise more than I ever did before.  It has given life with meaning to what was before merely existence, a waiting out my days until it was time to die.  It has brought me true happiness.

This has been my greatest lesson learned and one I am passing on to my children...not through words but through my actions. You see if I want a change to happen, a change in  the level of respect in the world, it has to start with me.  If I don't have self respect, how can I have respect for anything or anyone else?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Wake up.

Lately I've been in a haze...a haze of whys. 

Why am I doing this?  Why am I eating healthy all the time when all I want is a plate of chips and a beer? Why am I at gym at 5 in the morning and not still tucked up in bed? Why am I bothering?

This week my parents came down from Queensland to visit. Always a good time, lots of food, catching up, laughs. We took my youngest to the Zoo and had a glorious day. Until lunchtime.
Just after lunch my father, my strong, still working, certainly- not -old father had some pain down his left arm. Some significant pain, enough to stop this man, who would rather suffer in silence than worry anyone, and make him sit down. Enough to send his left hand numb and make him sweat.  But it passed and he insisted all he needed was a lie down.

Later that afternoon,  my parents came over for a home cooked dinner. As soon as Dad stepped in the door, the pain was back.  Worse. Numbness in his hand, hard to breathe a little, intense pain getting stronger, clammy sweats, poor colour.....are you connecting the dots like I did?  The ambulance was called and I went off with my strong, rarely sick father to hospital, my mother ( with her disability was unable to get into the ambulance) and husband coming close behind.

A million things flew through my mind in a nano second. Is this it? I haven't said I love you enough.  I haven't hugged him enough.  I haven't told him all the things I want to do or shown him yet.  I haven't heard all his stories. I haven't had enough time with him.......

The EXTREMELY GOOD news is he is fine. More tests to go but he has been tentatively diagnosed with angina pectoris.....which if you know of or want to look up is basically an early warning alarm system for heart failure.  My father and our family were extremely lucky.  We got this warning, and can now take steps to work towards reversing it. We got a second chance.

This answers my whys.  Why am I doing this...so I don't have to run the risk of not getting a warning. Why am I eating healthy?  So I can avoid this outcome all together and not suffer the pain and illness I could otherwise encounter. Why am I at gym?  So I can see my children and future grandchildren and not have them face life without their mother or grandmother. Why am I bothering?  Because I want to LIVE.

I used to think I could live forever. Then my friend died of complications that progressed from breast cancer in her early thirties. 

I thought life was unstoppable.  Then I gave birth to my 4th child, unresponsive and not breathing, only due to the skill and God she was resuscitated and with us nearly nine years later.

I thought I could beat death and not have to worry about what I ate, after all, I wasn't fat or overweight by much.   Then, after a shock diagnosis of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and pre diabetic condition, I realised that I may not live as long as I wanted to.

I thought my father could live for ages, after all, he was still working in a job that requires a lot of heavy lifting and movement, he's only 64 and he's fairly active in the community. Then I watched as he faced something out of the blue that wouldn't go away, that scared the bejeebers out of myself, and my parents too I'm sure. All of a sudden, life didn't seem so predictable.  Or safe or long.

Now my whys are answered.  Instead of saying Why, I'm now saying

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

I believe......

With so much information surrounding health, fitness and healthy lifestyle, it is easy to get lost in all the advice, hints, tips, superfood of the week and new scientifically proven way to workout at your best.  I developed my philosophy statement, my list of beliefs to help me stay focused and not distracted and disjointed by all the different theories and scientific 'discoveries' and to be able to stand up for what I believe in, clearly.  I'm not saying that all theories and magazine stories are wrong, or harmful but I needed a clear path ahead of me, to get to where I am going.

It has taken me some time, quite a lot of time really, to sort out what I believe about healthy lifestyle and nutrition, especially since I get asked about it by friends.  You know those questions, "why DO you go to gym? Why not have another glass of wine?" So, here it is.

I believe what I eat and do for myself, teaches my children to eat and do for themselves.
I believe I am responsible for my choices and actions.

I believe that eating clean unprocessed foods fuels my body the best.

I believe consistency and persistence in working out is what wins in the end.

I believe everyone who has their basic needs met ( shelter, clothing, income) can take steps to improve their own health and nutrition if they are prepared to accept the responsibility.

I believe all bodies are different and react differently to weights and nutrition but is not an excuse to avoid weights or good nutrition.

I believe good health is more important than a number on the scales or on the tag of my jeans.

I believe setting goals are the signposts to keep me on track and help give me purpose.

I believe in taking minimal supplements for health and our nutiritonal needs are met through good nutrition.

I believe the mind is the real powerhouse behind whether I can or cannot.

I believe knowing and accepting my weaknesses help me find solutions to turn them into strengths.

I believe choosing healthy over my previous lifestyle is better......

I believe having fun and going out doesn't equal getting smashed and eating poorly.

I believe a little bit of chocolate won't kill me but a block of chocolate will affect me negatively.

I believe a healthy lifestyle gives me true happiness, without material belongings or wants.

I believe that one day I will like eggplant if I keep persisting in eating it.

I believe my body knows what it has to do to operate effectively and efficiently.  I just have to get out of the way.

I believe there are no excuses, there are always options to eat well and move more.

I believe parents are responsible for educating themselves about their childrens nutrition and health. After they turn into adults or move out of home, they are responsible for themselves. Until then, children need a parent, more than they need a friend.

I believe in supporting a healthy lifestyle, not apologising for it or hiding it.

I believe food is not the enemy.

I believe there is always more to learn and practise and achieve.

I believe that while I can do this alone, the way is easier with support.

I believe I find and create my own motivation.

I believe while I may not be the best or the fastest, I am better and faster than I was and continuing to be better every day.

I believe there is no real reason to climb mountains but I do it anyway.

I believe I have one shot at life and I want to make it count.