Wednesday, April 18

Thursday, March 15

Guest Blogger...Cancer & Exercise

This is my first guest to post on my blog.  Thanks to David Haas for contacting me.  David is an awareness program advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance in the US and he requested to share information about how exercise can benefit cancer sufferers.

Even though David is an advocate for those who suffer from Mesothelioma Cancer in particular, his message is to anyone who may suffer or may know people who suffer from the general disease known as 'Cancer'.  David's contact details can be gleaned from the above link to his Bio page.

I thought it would make a nice change to have a post that wasn't about me for a change, but still aligned to what I advocate about the benefits of health and fitness.  Sometimes, taking a moment to reflect upon other people's maladies, helps give ourselves a better appreciation of our own good health and the realisation of how blessed we truly are.

Live a Better Life Through Physical Fitness Even While Fighting Cancer

Physical fitness is known to have many benefits for anyone who participates in it. For someone who has been newly diagnosed with cancer, is going through radiation and/or chemotherapy treatments, or for those who are in remission, exercise is even more beneficial.

Exercise improves strength, endurance, and increases self esteem. It also increases energy levels, which are often depleted due to cancer treatments. Physical activity can help with depression and it relieves stress. All of these things will help you to feel more physically and mentally fit, aiding you in experiencing a general feeling of well being. While taking certain medications and treatments you may become constipated. Exercise is also known to ease this issue.

Physical activity may not be easy for some due to the type of cancer they have, the treatments they are receiving, or due to their age. Some people may have trouble moving or walking, or may experience weakness. Others may experience pain causing them to have difficulty in moving. In these cases, it is understandable that you would rather not move at all, but the more you stay in bed, the weaker your muscles become.  

Physical activity does not mean that you should do strenuous amounts of exercise for great lengths of time. Exercise is beneficial to you even if you do only a small amount to start with. If you do more than you should you may cause injury or harm to yourself. To begin getting some exercise, you can do things such as making an effort to get out of bed and walk to the other side. If you are feeling weak, have someone help you to do this. You can also sit in bed and do simple movements such as moving your arms in circles or lifting your legs, if possible.

Exercises that are common among people who are in remission from cancer or who are newly diagnosed are: Walking, yoga, range of motion exercises, gardening, dancing and light aerobics. As you gain strength you might try biking, swimming and moderate strength training. Start slow and build up to doing more as you can.  The American Cancer Society recommends that cancer survivors who are adults, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week or more.

You should discuss with your doctor, the types of physical activity you can do, before doing any type of exercise, especially if you are undergoing mesothelioma treatment, as this normally affects the lungs making it painful and difficult to breathe at times. Your doctor can help you to make personalized recommendations for your fitness plan.

By following your doctor's recommendations on exercise, and following through, you can live a better life even while fighting cancer.

Wednesday, March 7

Could This be the End of 'No Ordinary Moments'?

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness."
- Lord Edward Stanley

The Paradigm Shift…
Today as I write this, it's Monday 5th March, 2012.  A paradigm shift is happening and I know now what I need to do - what feels right for my life at this point in time. 

I’m just not sure yet where to begin.  This morning I’m suffering from overthinking.  An annoying tendency I have which rears its’ ugly head every so often.  So for me, the best way to stop overthinking and begin doing, is to put it into words and usually what happens during this process is that the pieces of the puzzle and all those thoughts floating and swimming around in my head, begin to make sense and I can then see some pattern, so that order begins to emerge.

Now I’m sounding like a broken record.  My blog is all about ‘health and fitness’, but my posts of the last six months, even though touching on this, haven’t been definitive in regard to specifics of my fitness journey, as they originally began nearly three years ago.  I have no further (fitness) insights to share with you, because I’ve reached the end of that particular road. 
I am about to embark on another slightly different road. Health and fitness is still part of that, but it becomes only one part of the equation.  Its’ importance hasn’t changed, however, but how I ‘do’ health and fitness has…is changing.  I can see clearly now how it is a part, no less important, of the bigger picture of life.

I remember the first shift.   I embarked on my Ideal Bodies Online journey back in July 2008…major shift.  I was not in a good place.  Going forward just a little to January 2009, life had changed for the better and I grabbed it with everything I had.  Doors opened and I had a new body; new confidence (my old self); increased health and fitness; new plans and limitless opportunity.  My learning curve grew exponentially and in that process I learned a lot about myself and what I was capable of.

In three-and-a-half years I’ve turned my life around.  I made a promise never to return to that period before July 2008, and I haven’t.  It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but on the whole I’ve maintained around the same weight and I’ve definitely become fitter and stronger.  For me, it’s all about being better than I was yesterday, and I am proud to say that with each day, I’m getting better (well…not every day).  Some days of course you may take a step or two back, and some days you take a step or two forward.  I’m fortunate to say that there have been more days that I’ve gone forward than back, so I’m still out in front and making progress.
My accomplishments since embarking on my ‘Fit-and-Fab-at-40’ journey have been:

-          Losing around 15kgs to sit on a weight range of 58-60kgs to culminate just before my 40th birthday with a 12% body fat on the day of my photo shoot in January 2009.

-          Joining the Australian Army in June 2009 at the age of 40.  I embarked on a 12 month training program written by Kristin Gleeson of IBO, to prepare me for the rigours of Basic Training, taking into account my back injury.

-          Helping others on their health and fitness journey as a personal mentor for IBO which I finished up in 2010.

-          Overcoming hip bursitis and being able to run again after approx. 5-8 years being unable to run.

-          Overcoming a herniated disc injury which had plagued me since 2000 (when I originally injured my back) through exercise and a lot of rehabilitation work.  Firstly through IBO and then specific rehabilitation, encompassing core strength and stability work with exercise physiologist, Liz Nelson.  The significance of this particular achievement is signficant, given the accompanying muscular and skeletal imbalances and injuries which I’ve sustained as complications of having a back injury.

-          Joining and training in Crossfit for 6 months of 2010.  This had been a goal of mine since becoming fitter and I saw this as an opportunity to ramp up my fitness.  However, I had to concede that Crossfit became detrimental to my fitness because of existing injuries and my underlying incorrect muscular activation issues.  I also discovered at this time that I had a bone spur and beginnings of hip degeneration in the RHS hip ball and socket.

-          Becoming educated as to what good nutrition is and what works best for me.  I have to admit the ‘what works best for me’ is still up for contention, and I’m at this very moment rethinking that part of nutrition.   Or moreso, taking this a step further.  A reason for me rethinking is tied up in the way I view or ‘do food’.  It’s something I’m constantly learning about and you could say that it’s evolved and still is evolving.  I will let you in on that when I feel more comfortable that I won’t be judged for it. The proof will be in the pudding, so to speak.  I would prefer to show you with results rather than with cheap talk.

The physical accomplishments are always easier to measure, but as we all know, it’s the other accomplishments that you can’t necessarily see by looking which have the most profound effect on our lives.
I’m talking mainly about the self confidence that comes from overcoming challenges.  This and the happiness and aura that you exude is exponential in its’ effect on not only your family and friends, but people you come into contact with daily.

It’s the clarity you get about your life and the hope and excitement you have about your future, because it’s so full of possibility.  Life then becomes exciting because you are no longer a bystander but a full participant - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
It also becomes about focus…goal driven focus.  You become determined and persistent in your endeavours.

Back to paradigm shifts…and focus.
For three-and-a-half years I have been ‘on’. I flicked a switch back in July 2008 and my focus was like tunnel-vision.  I trained hard, six days a week and I followed my IBO program (I did four programs in a row) 100%!  Nothing could deter me from reaching my goals and the old Kerry was back!

For three-and-a-half years I’ve weighed not only myself on a daily basis (though I’m honest when I say it has never really done my head in too much.  I’ve looked at it as a way to monitor patterns rather than punish or reward myself) but I’ve weighed my food on and off.  I’ve tracked the calories consumed and the macro-nutrient break-up of my nutrition to ensure I’ve had the right balance of protein, fats and carbs.  I’ve tracked my BPM via HRM and calories expended in conjunction with calories consumed through nutrition via CalorieKing to ensure that I had a caloric deficit when my goal has been weight loss.  I’ve learnt bucket-loads in the process.

I’ve trained hard and I’ve trained intensely and even as recently as a couple of weeks ago my goal for 2012 was to train intensely and consistently for 12 months.  The same way and with the same intensity I have been for the majority of the three years.  For me, it’s been all or nothing. That is about to change.
Fellow health enthusiasts and bloggers…it’s time to turn that switch off and change the light bulb!

Paradigm shift…I’m fuckin’ tired!
I’m tired of being tired and overtraining (my fault entirely).   In the last month, all of a sudden I’m racking up small, niggly injuries.  Something is up.  At one stage only recently I couldn’t stomach the thought of rocking up to the gym.  Ummm… ***Danger! Danger! Proceed at your peril!***.  Is this a tap on the shoulder or what?  I’ve had enough of those to take notice.  If there’s anything I’ve learnt, it’s to listen to what my body and intuition is telling me, once I’ve ruled out the possibility that I’m just piking.

There are more dimensions to life than purely health and fitness, but
without those, there a fewer options….

Please understand - this isn’t about blaming anyone or even myself.  I think it’s a natural consequence and part of my health, fitness, and life journey.  It’s a kind of fork in the road.  A place where I stop and ask myself…”Do I continue along this path, or do I take another?”
I’m tired of having to weigh my food and myself. I’m tired of cooking separate meals for myself, my husband and my daughter and not being able to sit down at dinner all at the same time and enjoy dinners as a family.  I’m tired of thinking about cheat meals, free meals, low-carb, low-fat, blah..blah…blah! 

Of course, that’s not to say that if you’re beginning your weight loss journey that you don’t necessarily have to be doing those things.  Not forever anyway –just until you have your weight and nutrition under control and you’ve maintained for a good period of time.  I had to do it first to learn what I know now.  I’m just a lot further along the road, and the process no longer suits my purpose.  That’s it – nothing more or nothing less.
I’m not belittling what’s required at the start of an individuals’ journey.  I’m just taking the next step toward what I deem as progress.

I’m tired of the fact that my workouts take so much time out of my day that I don’t get to do other things in my life because it’s not just the workout, it’s the fallout – pissed off because I don’t have the energy to do what other things I want or need to do in my life on any given day. 
I think I’ve well and truly proven myself.  Not only to others, but to myself.  It’s time to stop trying to prove to myself what is apparent to everyone else.  I’m fit, muscular and lean.  No prizes here.  So why the hell am I still doing this?  As a perceptive friend said to me only recently…”You’re a fit 40yr old trying to train like a fit 20yr old”.  He was right.  It’s time to start thinking like a fit 40yr old and accept that life is different.  It’s suicidal for me to continue pursuing a 20yr old fitness mindset.  Even though at my core, I still feel like that 20yr old.  This is my second wind in life and I intend to make the most of it by working smarter and being kinder to myself.  I can still be fit, muscular and lean.  I don’t have to beat myself up to achieve that anymore.

Where this all began…

When I finished up with my martial arts club, back eons ago, I suspect I had a nervous breakdown of sorts.  I went on to make another business mistake (that made two in a row where I chose the wrong person I went into business with) and during the fallout of those gut-wrenching failures, I decided there and then while going away to lick my wounds, that life for me would be different.  I was not going to partake in the madness of the world around me any longer…working too hard, working to be ‘rich’ (what a joke that is), and having no time to do the simple things in life which in the end became less attainable and further from my grasp.  That was around the time I fell pregnant with Philomena.  She then became another catalyst for change.  Having children for most people, as with myself, changes your perspective about life and what becomes more important.
Anthony and I decided then that life would be different.

We made the specific choice that I would stay home full-time to rear Philomena while she was at school.  I sold my car and we bought a unit in Mt Warren Park, as that was all we could get into at the time.  I did it tough with a young baby, having no car most of the time and having to catch public transport.  When you have a car, you take for granted the simple little things, like going the shops to buy necessities whether it’s pouring rain, windy, cold or oppressively hot.   Luckily, we had Anthony’s parents and a good friend to help during those difficult early years.  Since then, we’ve managed to buy a house and hang onto our investments.  I consider ourselves doing okay even on one income.  It’s a little tougher at the moment financially, but life is good.   Having a little more income through the Army Reserves has helped. Going out to work full-time to get a bigger or better house for me was not an option and still isn’t if it can be helped.  I couldn’t even imagine the detrimental effect on family life with all that stress.  I know most of the population have to do this.  We just chose and still choose, different.

So we decided that our family was going to be different than the mainstream.  Life would be quiet and Philomena would not be indulged.  We would give her our love, time and a quiet, stress-free and peaceful home life.  We would raise her to make healthy food choices, to have manners and courtesy, respect others and act with dignity.  And most of all, we would tell her we loved her and that you are never too old for hugs.  And we still do.
We are practicing Catholics and decided that though we don’t speak out about it, we would live those ideals and bring up Philomena with them.  It is our moral compass in a world where the majority of people have no moral compass and many people are lost.  I believe that it’s those guiding principles and traditions that keep us on course and keep us strong as a family and unite us.  Sometimes what we celebrate is against popular belief and it can be difficult to explain to your child why we don’t always follow what others do.  As we often say to Philomena, “just because others do something, that doesn’t mean you have to do it too”.  It’s about what is the right thing to do for us, which isn’t always easy, especially for a nearly six year old girl.  But she’s doing fabulously and as long as we explain why we do what we do she’s content.  She won’t understand fully right now, but one day she will.

So, there are rules we’ve set.  We will never allow a play station or computer games in the house.  We will never allow a TV in every room.  We limit TV exposure and encourage a lot of outside play and exploration.  The evenings are time to reduce the noise, turn down the lights, read, converse as a family and have time for quiet contemplation and then go to bed peacefully. 
I think the majority of families have lost the ability to connect because they are too busy living their own individual lives attached to technology and drowned out by all the noise, under their own roof.  They are like boarders who come out occasionally because they’re hungry and go back to their individual lives, and as a consequence they don’t know their own family. They have the inability to connect with others as well as themselves, introspectively. This also includes the inability to recognise signs and signals and lifes' sometimes subtle vibrations that reach out to us.  Society is so de-sensitised that it takes the force of an oncoming train to wake us from our state of disconnectedness.

“The most important thing is to find out what is the most important thing.”
- Shunryu Suzuki

At this point in time it’s about simplifying life when the accepted norm is to complicate life.  It doesn’t have to be this difficult.  Life doesn’t have to be that busy or stressful.  As the saying goes…less is more.
Paradigm shift…less is more.  It doesn’t have to be this difficult. 

Since moving into our new home and connecting more with my surroundings, and endeavouring to connect with family and friends at a deeper level, I’ve found that I’m yearning for more simplicity in my life to gain a richer, more satisfying relationship with it.

It’s all about Balance.  And I realise I’ve said this before.  ‘Balance’ was used in the context of my health and fitness journey, but Balance now is all about life as a whole and how I integrate all parts of my life (and the different roles I play) to reflect this.  It’s about living life more intuitively based around of course, a healthy lifestyle.  That hasn’t changed.  I’m not about to throw the baby out with the bath water. 
However, in addition to that it’s about living a life that is more genuinely me.  Those feelings of uneasiness and that somehow what I was doing was no longer congruent with what I knew in my heart to be right for me, are what’s been surfacing in the last six months.  I just didn’t know it then.

I’ve been a gym-rat for three years.  I’ve worked out and eaten, following program after program.  It’s become too hard, too tiring and too regimented.   It’s time to approach my health and fitness lifestyle differently, and enjoy physical pursuits of old, before my martial arts days, as well as encounter new ones.   It’s time to breathe fresh air into my health and fitness lifestyle and as Peter Barr would say… to continue living (more of) my genius.
From here it’s about being ‘Fit-and-Fab-after-40’. It’s time to remove all that white noise where I take life a notch upward, but at a slower, more flowing and intuitive pace.

Could this be the end of ‘No Ordinary Moments’?...

I haven’t decided yet whether to finish ‘No Ordinary Moments’ with this post.  I don’t know.  Maybe it will just evolve as I have evolved.  In the big scheme of blogs in this world, mine is just a number of millions of blogs written by people who want to be heard.  I just don’t know if I need to be heard any longer.  Am I satisfied with living out my life without an audience?
To quote the famous Zen koan…”If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?”  If I cease to allow people to bear witness to my journey via blogging, will anybody feel the ripple when my blog ceases to exist?

Wednesday, February 29

(Being) Fit and Fabulous AFTER 40 (is hard work!)

Mua at 40

"Fitness - If it came in a bottle,
everybody would have a great body."

- Cher

Hello fellow bloggers and health enthusiasts.  It's been awhile since I last blogged and I'm happy to say that life is just dandy...considering.  I also haven't had any home phone or internet connection for one week tomorrow!  I'm using hubby's computer.

I've had a few minor challenges in the last month or so, mainly to do with training (overtraining and then lack of motivation), as you would have read in my last post.  After a small break I resumed my training, but ever since I've been plagued by some annoying little niggles. 

The first was some upper trap tension which kept pulling my neck out of alignment and I was getting headaches and increased tiredness.  So it was back to doing my lower trap activation work.  My physio also said I had Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot.  It had been annoying me for some time and I finally fessed up.  So stretching and icing was prescribed for that (that's going to take longer to heal).  And in the last week, just to prove that things come in threes, I managed to strain my RHS calf (though we're not 100% convinced this is what it was).  That means no running, and alot of massage and stretching.  It's feeling much better and I should be able to resume gentle running by the start of next week.  I think my body is trying to tell me something, and I've been listening.

So,  my training volume and intensity have changed down somewhat.  To be honest, I think it's what I've needed.  I haven't even been strictly following a program, but have rather been listening to what my body has been telling me and doing what feels best.

The funny thing is, I haven't put on weight. I've been between 133-135lbs now for a couple of months.  Up and down.  I haven't been progressing past that 133lbs.  Even with the decrease in volume and training intensity, I'm still sitting on 133lbs.  And that' where I've been sitting.  I still haven't hit my goal weight of 57kgs (125.66lbs), but I don't think it's too far away. 

But, I'm not concerned, because I have finally got my nutrition on track and having more variety.   And even though my weight hasn't changed on the scales, something is happening, because in the last week, my shorts have all of a sudden loosened and I now have to buy a new belt, because my old one is too big.  My faithful denims I haven't worn for a couple of weeks, because they now fall down too low. 

The body fat is starting to come off and I'm starting to look lean again.  It's just that last remnant of body fat sitting on my butt and thighs.  You know, the bit that is always first to go on and the last to come off?

The thing is,  I'm doing it all differently.  I'm no longer focused on training 24/7 like I have been in the last few years.  Life has changed somewhat, and I no longer have to expend as much energy thinking about my fitness.  I plan and then I do.  Not as much deliberation now.  When I'm at training I focus 100% on doing my best (even at the moment as my intensity is at around 75%, rather than 100%).  And when I finish, I focus on that part of my life that I'm experiencing at that time.  I'm getting alot better at compartmentalising different areas of my life and not stressing about each one in-between.

I think I'm starting to understand this thing called 'Balance'.

On the other hand, that doesn't mean that I don't focus at all on my training or fitness goals.  I still think about them.  I just don't obsess so much anymore.  I'm doing lots of reading in the realm of nutrition at the moment and I'm finding it quite intriguing and I'm learning new things about how our bodies respond to varying degrees of macro-nutrients. So I'm still learning things.

Interestingly, just reading my coach, Liz's latest post, brought to mind how what people think, regardless of who we are, still has an influence on us to a greater or lesser degree.  I'm finding as I get older, it's becoming more important what I think of myself, rather than what others think of me.

I know for a fact that those outside the bodybuilding and fitness world think I'm obsessive because I enjoy training and assume that because I am muscular, I'm super fit (a misconception).  Older friends and family just think I'm skinny (and they want to fatten me up).  It's interesting how others perceive you.  And here I am thinking I'm doing okay for 43, but I still have a ways to go.  Just yesterday I bumped into an old neighbour and she asked me if I was a personal trainer. But as it goes, it's funny that others will notice the best of you while your self-talk is quickly summing up the worst of you.

However, in reality, when I look at other women my age in normal, everyday society, I know I'm part of a minority.  And I'm damned proud of it!  I like being different.  And if other women think I'm too muscular, so be it.  As I've said before...I'd rather have muscular arms than tuckshop arms, any day!  I've had them (tuckshop) and let me tell you, I didn't feel so special.

So I'll just keep chugging along and working on improving my fitness, keeping lean and growing a butt (muscle)!  Like Liz, I think I'm a fitness generalist and I'm really keen on trying different types of exercise genre, whether that be training for strength, power or endurance.  I like to mix it up. 

After so many years of martial arts (power and endurance), it's been a nice change to do different things.   And even though I miss martial arts (I've had to put it to bed for now due to time constraints and also injury), the many years of training have no doubt put me in good stead and have paved the way to pursue fitness in differing ways.

Even with all my little niggles, I'm still a work-in-progress.  Yes, it takes hard work to be fit and fabulous after 40.  But you know, I don't have any medical problems that trouble me.  I don't take any medication for anything.  I don't drink or smoke and don't feel the need to, because I'm quite high on life without them.  I mostly have food under control, though I don't think it's something we all completely master.  We all have our 'moments'.

I have energy to keep up with my nearly 6yr old daughter as well as do everything physical around the house.  I put to shame fellow AA reservists half my age when it comes to fitness tests (and that includes men too) and I have to say, I secretly enjoy putting them to shame! 

I know that if I need to dig deep physically, I can.  And for me, it's important to know that whatever challenge I face, I can handle it.

The best part is, I'm excited because I may be getting older, but I'm getting fitter (and I'm enjoying getting mellow too)!

Thursday, February 9

When Analytical and Creative Collide...

"I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious."

- Albert Einstein 

I suspect that I am experiencing one of many vicissitudes of life.  Unbeknownst to be, it's been taking place for about six months now.  It's been slowly building, though I've only been in a state of anxiousness for about two to three weeks.  I even considered seeking some professional help today, but I managed to calm myself down and organise my thoughts and look a little more deeply into my feelings to ascertain where all this anxiousness was coming from.

In my latest post I admitted that life is too good...and it's wonderful actually.

So why am I so anxious? 

Regardless of how well we think we know ourselves, at times even we can confound ourselves.

Why is it hard to seek help when you're seen as the strong one?  I think it's because when you're a high achiever, you have that expectation of yourself that you will always find the solution.  And you project a persona of such strength, coolness and calmness that others around you naturally assume you have your shit together 100% of the time.  Nothing could be further than the truth.

Most of the time I actually do have my shit together in a general sense.  Though there will always be areas of your life that need work.  Not every part of your life can be in balance 100% all at the same time.  There's always stuff we're working on in our lives.  Sometimes we drop the ball and then it becomes a mad scramble to regain control.

If you haven't noticed, the feeling of my blog has changed in the last six months or so.  I haven't much written about anything resembling health or fitness.  I've been struggling in the headspace department.  The fact is, I've got to a stage where I've figured out what I need from my training and nutrition.  There are no longer any surprises.  It's fairly simple really - train hard, train consistently, eat clean, and!  I know what works for me and what doesn't.

Yes, there will always be more to learn when it comes to training and as my body gets stronger, but the routine of fitness is no longer a mystery.  It's so simple I could do it my sleep.  And that's where the problem lies.  Why is it we like to complicate the simple? 

I read somewhere recently that human beings abhor a state of equilibrium. That it's in our nature, and we derive pleasure from constant change, whether subtle or otherwise.

Order and routine in my life I need.  Without it, nothing would get done.  And action ensures that I am achieving my goals and getting things done.  I'm a person of action. I love making plans and I love seeing and analysing the results.  I would not have achieved what I have unless I was a person of action.

Yet, I am also a very creative person and sometimes routine stifles my need to be creative.  This is where the analytical side and the creative side collide.  And this is what's happening at the moment.  I think I'm in another creative phase in my life.

I haven't touched my pencils or paints for over five years now.  Ever since Philomena was a baby.  I miss that creative outlet, but as long as I have other creative pursuits in my life that's okay.  Creative for me is gardening; house planning and design; interior design and decoration.  It's a world filled with creative licence - colour, form, balance, style and form.  And most of all, it's about creating surroundings that embue your very essence. 

It's been the vege garden, the composting; the trees, birds, butterlfies, family, friends and food; decadence rooted in simplicity; the tree swing; sharing good conversation and laughter; observing beauty in doing simple, every day tasks; contemplation of all things beautiful and sublime.

It's about self expression and having your life and your home speak who you really are. 

It's about realising your dreams as a kid (being creative) whilst supposedly maintaining your visage as an adult (stifling creativity and imagination).  Striking a balance is a constant challenge.

So here I find myself, craving passivity yet at the same time having the need to create order and discipline in my surroundings. I do this now, so that I can indulge in the decadence of time-wasting, observation, daydreaming and contemplation that creativity demands.

Now all I need to do is work out how I can schedule both order and discipline as well as creativity in my life.  Now that is the real challenge - finding that balance.  I wonder whether I will ever find it again soon.  Because there have been times I have been content, and I realise that contentment is that balance I seek.  And it wasn't that long ago I was content - only last year in fact.

Right, I'm on strike.  I can't face the thought of training or thinking too seriously about what's required for me to push through this current training and nutrition rut.  I mean, I haven't fallen off the wagon, but I'm just over the energy of being so 'on' all the time and my headspace is just not conducive to training.  So unlike me.  I need a break.  I'm not doing anything stupid.  I no longer binge or feel the need to comfort myself with food.  I've grown up a bit now.   I just need 'time out'.   

Of course I also know that 'this too shall pass'.  Fingers crossed it shall pass within in few days, and I'll have worked out how to schedule into my life on a regular basis, both order and creativity. Ahhh...I feel so much better already. 

Tuesday, February 7

When Life is Too Good

Sunday Breakfast on the back patio, eating pancakes and drinking tea - pure decadence!

The last week which saw my 43rd birthday was what you could perfect...mostly.

This is what it's been like the last couple of weeks. Undulating between perfect and frustrating.  The thing is, it's all my fault.  Life for me is fantastic, but sometimes we can fail to see it when life is just TOO good!   That has been me lately.

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling very tired.  Self-inflicted overtraining.  I go too hard too quickly.  I pulled  back the reins though the tiredness and frustration remained.  I haven' even felt like training this week and dragged my sorry arse to the gym yesterday!  I still managed a mostly strong weights session, though squats are frustrating the hell out of me at present.  I'm still a novice and it's a learning curve.  It's not a great head space, and so unlike me, but when that happens I know it's time to stop and take a step back and look at why.

Knowing myself so well now, it's a constant battle to maintain balance in my life.  On one hand I like to train and go hard; keep the house tidy, stay on top of all things domestic, and yet on the other hand I like to relax and have time to smell the roses.  In order for me to maintain this equilibrium, I have to schedule times within my week and month to ensure that I keep it all humming along nicely.

With Christmas, New Year, and with all the rain, things have slipped behind on the domestic front and with such a large yard (which I wanted), it's more labour intensive, and I have a back log of work to catch up on.  Another mountain of weeds; washing things like bedsheets and furniture covers, etc which had to be delayed due to all the rain.  So that's just life, but it all just got a bit overwhelming for me.  It's times like these that I realise I need to physically stop and take stock of things.  Training, as much as I love it (except or the last week), sometimes has to be put on the back burner so I can get all the other stuff in my life back to a happy medium and humming along.  When I've got all this squared away, then I find I'm back in a better place, headspace wise and can then focus 100% on my training AND enjoy it!  When I lack motivation in my training, I know it's time to slow down for a while. 

So today I'm not training.  I'm catching up on house and yard work and preparing my stuff to start back at Army Reserves tonight.  At this very moment I'm sitting out the back patio listening to the whipbirds calling, lorikeets screeching, birds chattering, the chickens scratching in amongst the plants, classical music, and while I'm drinking coffee.  I'll grab 10 minutes of some quiet reading when I've finished this post, and then I'll be hanging out more washing, cleaning the kitchen and getting some much needed housework done.  I feel better already, and I'll return to training tomorrow morning.

The Lighthouse, Byron Bay

Breakfast Fresh Cafe, Byron Bay

Last Friday couldn't have been anymore perfect, and secretly, I think I need a whole week of doing what I did on Friday...sweet F'All!  I lay on the beach reading; pottered around Byron Bay shops and ended up at Mary Ryans Bookstore/Coffee Shop and spent about 2 hours in there looking through books and reading - it was pure bliss!   I bought two great books - 'Principles of Home - Making a Place to Live' by Kevin McCloud (the guy who hosts Grand Designs on ABC TV), and 'A Slice of Organic Life' by Sheherazade Goldsmith.  Anthony and I in amongst that had some lunch and in the afternoon we met up again and had a great coffee (Campos coffee) at the Breakfast Fresh Cafe (pic above).  We then drove up to The Lighthouse and the walk was great and the scenery spectacular and refreshing!  Anthony and I then drove back through the hinterland and finished the day late into the evening, eating pizza at Mt Tamborine before going home and falling into bed.  It was THE perfect birthday!

Come Monday morning I was despondent and not looking forward to going to the gym!  The warning bells are sounding and it was time to take note.  Mind you, apart from squats I had a great session and did my best pull-up session.  I decided to ditch my resistance bands and managed 4 sets of 5, 4, 4, 2 reps of unassistd pull-ups.  My best yet!  My lats are nice and sore this morning.

So this morning I'm taking some time out to get some much needed 'other stuff' done and I'm taking a little time out to stop and enjoy what I already have.

I've been frustrated because my weight hasn't budged beyond the 60kg mark and I've been whinging and complaining to myself (and Anthony...and Liz...sorry Liz!), but you know, things aren't so bad when I put it all in perspective.  I am the first to admit that I am too hard on myself sometimes and I expect too much of myself.  I need to lighten up!  And I need to remind myself to lighten up.  I also need to organise myself alot better than I do.

I'm still in pretty good shape.  I'm looking good and feeling healthy and fit.  I have a beautiful family and home and lots going on in my life to occupy me.  I am truly blessed.  So enough of whinging and complaining!  Time to get on with it.

Thursday, February 2

What's your Favorite Daily Escape?

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy. 

~Edward P. Morgan

I'm currently reading 'Rock the Casbah' by Robin Wright.   Robin Wright is a foreign correspondent and TV commentator who has covered the middle east for 40 years.   It's non-fiction and is about the undercurrent of change in the Middle East and how the people of the Islamic world are transforming the political landscape through simple, but powerful acts of rebellion with the help of technology.   Who said Facebook was negatively influencing society?  In this instant, it's inspiring the downtrodden and repressed to gain a public platform and a voice to be heard by the rest of the world, overthrowing corrupt and cruel politial regimes.  It's right up-to-date, and goes into the events of the removal of Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak and how it started on January 28th, 2011.  Powerful stuff!

I've also got 'Nicholas Nickleby' to read by Charles Dickens.  I've only ever read one of his novels, 'David Copperfield', and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  So I'm looking forward to starting that one.  I'll probably have a couple of books on the go at the same time.

Last night I enjoyed my favourite daily escape.  AW is away and Philomena was asleep.  It was quiet and peaceful.   I just had the soft glow of the lamp on and some classic music playing in the background.  I was in my comfy recliner with a cup of tea and a good book! 

I intend to make this a regular thing and I'm hoping I can convince AW to turn off the TV at night so we can all do some reading as a family.  Now that Philomena is beginning to read, I would like to make this something we do each night.  Anthony has been doing more reading lately too, so it shouldn't be hard to do. Philomena really enjoys listening to classical music as well, so I'm hoping this will have a more calming effect on her before bedtime.

I even have plans for the future based around reading.  We're currently doing up plans to build in the house and we're going to put in a fireplace!  It will sit between the lounge and dining rooms to warm the living and dining areas.  So this is my dream.  It's another thing I've always wanted.  I won't get my library room, but I'll get my fireplace.  I can't wait one day to be reading books on the recliner, with a hot cup of tea by a warm fire during winter!  Funny how these little things can inspire you.  You may not think it gets cold in Brisbane, but I'm a cold frog and it gets quite cold here where we are.  The house sits in a gully and we seem to trap the cold air.  I had the heating on in September, it was that cold!

Anyway...if you're into reading and have some good recommendations, I hope you'll share!

And...I'd like to know what you do and whether you have a favourite daily escape and how you escape!

Monday, January 30

Health...Your Moral Responsibility?

Today I was listening to RN on 612ABC radio. It was an interesting program with some diverse topics.  One particular program hosted by Amanda Smith, called 'Body Sphere', discussed the topic of 'Diets'. Now it followed the usual path that any topic about diet usually follows, and that is - different types of diets and the reasoning behind them.  There were interviews with various people who had followed various diets, and so on and so forth. 

What I found particulary interesting, and what really tweaked my interest was the word Diet, and how it comes from the Greek word 'Diatia', meaning 'a way of life, mode of living'.  Hmmm...interesting.  Interesting because diet in the modern sense is anything but, a way of life.  The word 'Diet' is seen as something painful that has to be endured in order to lose weight. It typifies something short-term.  But when you look at its' true meaning, to me, a way of life is long-term, which should be wholesome and balanced.  Not something we struggle with, but something we deeply believe in...we embrace and which our life engenders.

And what really caught my attention was the reference to Ancient Greek culture and philosphy and how ones' health was seen as a moral responsibility!  Wow!  If only the people of modern society saw it this way, how different would we be living our lives and how much happier we would all be?

It caught my attention because I agree wholeheartedly.  Our health is our moral responsibility.

It really annoys me when people complain about their (bad )health.  It's usually those people of whom it is mostly self-afflicted and who have never taken responsibility for their own actions and what they choose to put in their mouths, and what physical action they have failed to take.  Who blame other people, circumstances, genetics or whatever as the reason for their failing health.  They are the very same people who ridicule others for leading 'moderate' lives, yet will rely on those people to take care of them in their declining years.

Now I'm not talking about those who fall ill due to no fault of their own.  Life is life, and bad things happen to good people, regardless of whether they lead a healthy lifestyle or not.

What I'm talking about, and annoys the hell out of me is that our hospital system is overburdened, that society is becoming more unhealthy...popping more pills...shoving more food into their mouths...doing less and eating more, yet they wonder why they become ill.  It annoys me that in their older years that it's the ones who do take responsibility for their health, whom they've laughed at and ridiculed for leading moderate lives, who end up having to care for those who just don't give a shit!

I think it's so damned selfish and I wish people would wake up to themselves, take responsibility and become contributing members to society, rather than being a drain on it.  And I don't just mean the 'larger society' out there, but within their own family and network of friends.  How much more can we participate in life and be of genuine service if we are fit, healthy and happy!  And how much happier would we be?

Some days I really wish I could say to those who tell me I'm 'too skinny' (though they wouldn't know the difference between skinny and lean and muscular), or laugh at how healthy I eat, or ridicule the fact that exercising is a priority, that I don't drink or smoke, to go and get f*cked and take a good look at themselves in the mirror and ask just how long they think they'll be walking this earth, because their health is questionable and getting worse due to their own lack of responsibility and self-righteous denial of their current state of bad health.

Anyway...I've had my beef.  It's been stewing for a long time.  I know little will change, and people will continue to make bad food and lifestyle choices and blame others for their ill health. 

The question is...'do you think your health is your moral responsibility' or do you view it differently?  My view might seem too simplistic.

Sunday, January 15

Reflecting...3 Years On...

Me holding a pair of Sai - 16th January, 2009

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."
- Confucious

Tomorrow, 3 years ago I achieved a major goal. 

You would probably say that you already know what that goal was, and that in a nutshell I reached my goal of losing weight and regaining my fitness at the age of 40.  And that was my be 'Fit-and-Fab-at-40'.    And I did it!  Pretty simple really.  Lots of people do it.

However as we all know, achieving goals isn't just about the 'physical goal' of what we see on the outside.  You and I both know that achieving goals is about the change that happens and the person you become through that process of striving to achieve your goal.  It's about what happens to you on the inside...inside your head and inside your heart.

It's also about what happens around you.

It still amazes me how, that once we make a decision and we truly commit, what the universe provides for you in ways which you never anticipate in the way of doors opening, and opportunities presenting themselves.

I count my blessings often when I reflect on where I was 4 years ago, living in quiet desperation.  Overweight, debilitated, unhappy and feeling hopeless.  My saving grace would come in the form of a little girl, whom I decided, was the best reason to commit to change and become the role model I dreamt of being.  Thank you to my darling girl, Philomena for giving me a reason to change.

The best part that came from all of this, after a great period of uncertainty in my life where I went through the loss of my martial arts club and those treasured friendships; my hopes and dreams and then loss of home, and business failure - trying to find my place in the world again and that passion I'd felt as a martial artist, was my husband telling me that it was nice to have 'the old Kerry' back.  That old Kerry who was strong, determined, confident and lived life with passion.

So here I am. 

I may be the old Kerry in persona, but I'm definitely a new, upgraded Kerry with a body that tells me that I'm no longer 20yrs old, but over 40 now.  Life is now about achieving my physical goals with a different approach.

I would have to say that my biggest achievement is overcoming my injuries.  How proud of myself, that I have defied what would stop most people from having an active and healthy life in the form of a back (disc) injury.  Many give up.  But I believe that you have to exhaust all avenues and search for solutions and the right people to help you.  That is what I did and I continue to do.  And I worked hard...I still work hard.  Once I made that decision, I did all my rehabilitation exercises without fail.  I still do. 

That is why, three years on, I'm stronger, I'm fitter and I'm in better shape than I was back then.  And I'll continue to get stronger, fitter and better.  It's such a liberating state of body and mind to know that I am physically able to do just about anything I choose to do (within the confines of my injuries).

Today, 15th January, 2012,  I'm about 2kgs over my normal weight back in 2009 (58kgs), pre-depletion.  At 58kgs in 2009 I didn't look half as lean as I do at 58kgs, three years on.  That excites me!  

My before & After Shots over
During IBO Program - Start Prog.1(July 2008), Finish Prog.1, Finish Prog 2 (Jan 2009) - Over a 6 month period

I'm proud to have achieved something I always wanted to do, but never did.  Of being in the Australian Army (Reserves) and the hard work I did in getting my body in shape to enlist and then complete my basic training.  The whole process has been one of the most challenging...physically and emotionally, that I've ever encountered.  It (Australian Army) still continues to challenge me in its' ability to constantly throw me curve balls, humble me, and regularly throw me out of my comfort zone.   Some days I wonder why the hell I do this.  But it makes me appreciate the simpler things in life and how wonderful my life is.  Especially when I'm sleeping out under the stars on hard ground with only a sleeping bag and thin piece of plastic to protect me from the elements, and I haven't showered for days.   It's times like these I count my blessings.

One of my goals is to do another photo shoot.  However, it's still another two or so years away.  That's just more time to work on building muscle and keeping lean.  I'm curious to see what five years of training is going to look like, not just from an aesthetic point of view, but from a strength and fitness point of view.  Of course, the pics must still be artistic.  It's just trying to find the person that can get the shots I want and understand what I want to achieve.  I've got lots of ideas and I look forward to one day being able to bring those photographic ideas to fruition.
Me with my coach, Liz Nelson in April 2011.
This is at my leanest and how I want to maintain 12 mths of the year.
I managed to maintain this up until about September 2011.

Me (and Philomena) on Christmas Eve 2011

There's just one other thing.  I must admit that the hunger I had when I lost that initial weight in 2009 is not there.  It's not that I've grown complacent.  It's just that I've grown content.  But in that contentedness there's always the realisation that in order to continue to make progress and maintain that leanness that I strive for I must remain vigilant and work hard at being disciplined. 

Today there is more balance and acceptance in my life as I strive for my goals.

Life is is great...and it just gets better!

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