Wednesday, January 19

Hitting the Wall...

"Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.”

- Ralph Marston

This week I'm taking a Recovery Week. It's been a while since I've trained this consistently for a length of time with such volume and intensity. I've been highly motivated from the start of this new program, and it's only been in the last week or so that I've noticed that my mental game has started to drop. For me, that's a warning sign.

I've been pushing myself to go to the gym, but knowing that once I arrived, I'd be fine and put in, like I always do. But last week the cracks were starting to show, and my body has been giving me some curry in the last couple of weeks, with a build up of tension in the upper body, plus I've had a few more adjustments because of headaches, which I rarely get. this week as I said, I've taken as a recovery week, as the prescription from my coach was just to keep moving and just do group fitness classes. A rest from weights and anything too high intensity. Sounded good.

Come Monday, I wasn't in a good place mentally. Actually, I was really struggling. And with all the running around getting Philomena all ready for prep, it was going to be a full week and hasn't helped. Anyway...Monday I didn't train. I was physically and mentally exhausted, and I hadn't trained since Friday...more warning signs.

Tuesday I ended up doing 20mins of high intensity intervals on the cross trainer before a Body Balance class. Nothing too strenuous (or so I thought), but afterwards I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. When I got home I sat on the recliner still in my gym gear, and didn't move for one hour. I struggled to get out the chair, and didn't really want to, but things had to be done (like get a shower). The exhaustion was just so overwhelming, and I felt it in every part of my body. That's when I knew I'd hit the wall.

My body is so full of tension right now, and everything I do is a real effort. I'll have spurts of energy (enough to do the basic stuff and clean the house) and then just crash. I've been through this before. I know when my body needs to rest. So I'm resting.

I had a massage today. Instead of being relaxing, it was painful, because I had so many sore points all over my body. But I needed something before a chiropractic adjustment. My massage therapist was awesome though! They now have one at our gym, and she really knows her stuff. So I've booked for another massage session on Friday afternoon. By then, my adjustment would have settled things, and I'm hoping for a more relaxing outcome to the massage.

So in light of my current exhaustion, I'm avoiding any further cardio or weights for the remainder of the week (note to Liz), and will just be doing Pilates and similar types of group classes, as well as activation, stretching and relaxation work, and maybe some gentle walking. I don't want to make too much of a dent with my weight goal, so I think one week should be sufficient before I'm both physically and mentally ready to put in where I left off. What I do know is that unless I have complete rest, it will be detrimental to my progress.

That's about it for me really. I have nothing profound to say. I'm just very tired at the moment and resting as much as I can, which isn't always easy with a 4 year old in tow. However, tomorrow is Philomena's last day of daycare before starting school on Monday, so I will get a rest then, and a much needed haircut. Friday, Philomena is having a sleep over, so I will have lots of time to rest and recuperate in amongst a couple more appointments, of which one is my physio. And in-between I plan guessed it.. rest.

So nothing exciting from me this week to report. Just need to put my feet up and take a break.

Wednesday, January 12

We Can Rebuild...

It's a little ironic.

I was thinking of the title and thought how apt it was considering all the devastation that's going on in Qld. Humans are survivors and a resourceful bunch when we're put to the test.

However, when talking about rebuilding, I was also thinking about my physical self. Unlike the Bionic Woman though, my body parts are all my own (so far).

I think as women, we are definitely a resilient lot. I know for certain, that I, like many other women have our share of health and fitness challenges, especially when reaching the age of 40+. Most of the women I know carry some type of pain or health challenge...hip injuries, shoulder injuries, back injuries, adrenal problems, fibromyalgia, hormonal and muscular imbalances, etc, etc. I don't think I know of one woman who doesn't have some time of health challenge. But you know, we keep soldiering on and keep putting on a happy face. We keep overcoming and excelling, in spite of our challenges and imperfections.

Why was I thinking about this?

I was reflecting on where I was two and half years ago. If I could have looked forward in time back then in 2008, I wouldn't have believed that I could be where I am today in 2011. I liken my journey to something resembling a 'renovation' of soughts.

Firstly, I had to strip away alot of the surface debris...the physical stuff. Along with that I also had some emotional debris to come to terms with, mostly from my past. I made great progress. Life was great. I set down what I thought were great foundations. And I rebuilt my physical and emotional self.

What I didn't realise was that those foundations weren't as strong as I thought. I mean, I'd come a long way. When I started in 2008, I had hip problems, mainly in the form of bursitis, which dogged me for some time. Along with that I had (and still have) pretty decent muscular imbalances, favouring the RHS of the body; weak glutes; lower back/disc related problems stemming from a back injury sustained in 2000. And on top of that, I was about 15kgs overweight and had no energy. It was some time before I could even jog on a treadmill. It had been five or more years since I'd run. And I started my Ideal Bodies Online program with a pre-weights program to ease my body into using weights again.

So began the process of rebuilding in 2008. That's where it all started. I rallied around me my support team...IBO; my physio; chiropractor; bowen therapist; masseuse. I used all of them to help rebuild my body. I found out what the problems were, and I set about systematically overcoming all of these things. I applied myself - I trained 110% - I did my exercises religiously - I asked questions - I tuned into my body and I started to heal.

And I was rewarded for my efforts...a new lease on life!

In 2010 I hit a plateau when I found newly discovered chronic injuries (RHS hip degeneration & bone spur). I was devastated. The injury hit me real hard, not just physically, but mentally. I was dogged by self-doubt for alot of the year. I put on weight again, and was back feeling horrible, and wondering how I got back to that place. I mean, in hindsight, it wasn't actually back there - back to 2008. I was definitely not the same person, but I'd felt my foundations had crumbled a little. I lost focus and a little of that sparkle.

So I had to do alot of reflecting to work out where I needed to go. I didn't want to go back. The only solution was to move forward. However, I knew that in order to move forward I had to go back to the basics again. I had to rebuild (again), but this time I needed to address issues that I hadn't addressed, which had me going backwards physically. And...I needed a bit of an ego check.

Half way through 2010, I began to rebuild. I added another support team member to my rebuilding exercise physiologist. Someone who, in her words, could take me from 'physio back to performance'.

In a period of around six months, I have gone from going backwards physically to being at my best physically, fitness-wise and structurally since when I originally injured my back.

I'm running now regularly, 2-3 times per week on the treadmill without hip stiffness or pain. It doesn't seem like a huge thing, but what that tells me is that I've strengthened the muscles around my hip and pelvis sufficiently, not to have any residual pain or tension. My chiropractor is ecstatic at how much more stable my pelvis has become, and often comments at the remarkable change he's seen, and how as a result, how much stronger my back is, since my orginal injury. My RHS glute no longer grinds continually with the weakness it had. No more rolling around in pain on a baseball, trying to alievate the aching in my glutes, since I've learned to activate my glutes instead of my hip flexors.

I've doubled the amount of weight I'm lifting in my deadlifts since starting, and I'm now squatting the most I've ever done before...and I'm still very much a beginner at this stuff. And all with good form and technique.

The muscles in my traps, shoulders and back are no longer tied in huge knots and full of constant tension, since I've been learning how to activate the correct muscles (my lower traps instead of my upper traps).

As of today, I'm back under 60kgs! Woohoo! I'm about two and bit kilos off my goal weight, and determined to get back to a lean 57kgs.

So to those who are dogged by setbacks and problems, I urge you to keep persisting. It doesn't happen overnight, and you'll hit a snag every now and again. But just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep looking to the next step.

Now, I haven't overcome all this stuff yet. I'm still doing alot rehab, and I'm always hopeful that I will completely overcome. But, I'm getting stronger...I'm getting fitter. I still experience annoying niggles and little pains, but I accept that as part of making progress. I'll keep chipping away, and keep working on the next thing on my list to eliminate or to build.

So take heart, because WE CAN REBUILD!

Saturday, January 8


"However, men are not perfect in any aspect of their lives, no matter the amount of time, effort, and energy they put into their search for perfection. The virtue of perfection is that it is always just beyond a man's reach.
This is good. If perfection were attainable then it would have no value - there would be no reason to pursue it. In this light always know the strengths and weaknesses of yourself (and your enemy). Always be aware of the easiest way to accomplish something. Do not strive to do something difficult because you seek favour in the eyes of others."

- Miyamoto Musashi, 'The Book of Five Rings'

Sunday, January 2

Self-Mastery is the Key

Photo by Josef Hoflehner

"He who controls others may be powerful,
but he who has mastered himself is mightier still."

- Lao Tsu

The moment we've all been waiting for...2011! It is finally upon on us, and for some, not a moment too soon.

Everyone I've spoken too, and those who have expressed what it is they want for 2011, have high expectactions of it. I am no different. So I have set my sights, and as far as expectations, they're not too different from last year. The difference is whether those expectations will come to fruition. I have a better feeling about this coming year.

For me, it's all about self discipline. However I like the word Self-Mastery. I was trying to find the chinese characters to best depict the meaning, and I found mó liàn (maw lee-en), which is the pin yin translation . The meaning was translated as "a form of discipline which suggests training of the mind and character, aimed at producing self-control, obedience, etc." Or "tempering oneself or turning yourself into hardened steel." In short, it came out as 'Discipline, Training, Tempering Character'.

I always think back to my younger years training in martial arts, when I trained very hard. I had much more mental strength and self-discipline back in those days. That's what I love about martial arts. But there is just so much more. It's not just about the physical and mental aspects, but most importantly, true martial arts involves the cultivation of the mind and intellect, character and spirit.

Anyway...self mastery is truly something I think we all strive for.

So this year I strive for self-mastery, and hopefully in the pursuit of such a worthy goal, I will in the process, achieve those specific goals I set out to achieve. And if I don't...well, that's okay. It's the striving and journey that make it all so exciting.

Now for the specifics....

  • Reach 57kgs in weight
  • Maintain within 2kgs of 57kgs the entire year
  • Run 2.4km in under 12minutes on my BFA (basic fitness assessment)
  • Do 40 push-ups on my BFA
  • Complete the CFA - 15km forced pack-march carrying 25-30kg pack
  • Complete RDJ (run-dodge-jump) with webbing and weapon
  • grade to Levels 5 & 6 in Wing Chun

By having a 'weight' goal to reach and maintain, the idea is to remain 'lean' all year round, which is my ultimate goal. It is in the hope that by maintaining a lean state, and training hard continually, I can continue to see improvement and change in my body shape.

I must also stress that the above goals, I should add 'injury-free'!!! This is very important. I have not been able to complete some things due to my hip-injury, so if I can actually achieve some of those goals, it means that I have made significant gains, especially in regard to my hip/pelvic stability and core strength. I've been able to run on the treadmill consistently in the last month without any hip stiffness or pain! That is a major achievement for me for 2010 and an indicator of how much stronger I've become in the last 4 months or so!

On the flip side, I don't train with the goal just to 'look good'. For me, the visualise aspect is motivating, but even more importantly, improved strength and fitness must go hand-in-hand. I don't believe in forsaking one at the expense of the other. Unless I'm getting stronger and fitter, what is the purpose of just training to 'look good'?

This year, I will have less on my plate in some ways, and I've managed to clear some things to make room to concentrate on achieving my goals. Philomena is starting prep this year, so that means I have five days of uninterrupted training time! I intend to use that time well.

But I have to be more organised this year too, as AW will be travelling more. So this year I will be dropping a few responsibilities, in order to allow time to not only train consistently, but also to take up the slack to counter the big changes for both Philomena and AW. It's important that I'm there this year for them (when I'm not training). I should also finish my employment training for the AR, and be a fully trained private by the end of this year. I'm much more relaxed now about the AR and am enjoying it immensely.

I want to give it my all this year. I may even become more hermit-like in my habits. I need time to go within and look a little deeper within.

Because in 2012 I have made some definite plans, and I need to have things in order and humming along nicely before I embark upon 2012. I plan to return to study, and finally achieve something I've been dallying with on and off for over 10 years.

I've put in my application for a 'Bachelor of Arts in Languages in Applied Linguistics', majoring in Mandarin Chinese. I want to finally become fluent at this language which I find so fascinating. So I'm hoping that I get in for the first lot of offer rounds for Griffith Uni come the 13th January. If I am successful, I plan to defer for 12 months. At this stage, I've applied for full-time study, however, I'm hoping that the part-time option is put back on the table during the course of the year, as I think this will be more conducive to a better life-balance for me.

So that's it for me. There's my plans and goals for 2011 now put out into the universe. And even though Self-Mastery is the key, for me, it is fruitless unless everything is tempered with Balance.


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