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!

Wednesday, January 11

How Hard Do You Train?

Is it just me, or am I just getting old?  Yes, I'm getting older and my body can't do as much physically, but crikey - some days I feel like absolutely shagged!  I think about women who work full-time and workout and I wonder how they do it.

Yesterday I started my day at 4:40am.

You see...I took my daughter and nephew to the Qld State Library yesterday.  I knew it was going to be a long day, and prepared all my food and Philomena's food the night before.  I knew I wouldn't feel like working out, considering it was a strength training day, and at the moment these sessions are pretty taxing.  So I decided to do my training before.  My sessions ATM including about 20mins rehab, take 2.5hrs, so I needed to get to the gym early and have time to come home and pack our bags, etc before heading off.  I also have to eat before a strength session and I like to eat no less than 1hr before I train. 

By the time I got home it was around 6pm after dropping off my nephew, etc, etc.  It was good that I got in my early morning session.  I was in bed by 8:30pm last night.  I could have gone to bed earlier if I didn't have to eat dinner.

Anyway...for those of you who work full-time, and in your 40's and have to train early in the the hell do you do it, day-in-day-out?

Now Liz did warn me that my sessions would be very taxing and I needed recovery-time.  Well at first I just shrugged it off, but now I get it.

When I first start a new program I'm so excited and motivated and I imagine myself doing all these amazing, adrenaline-pumped, crazy workouts where I'm pushing myself like mad, and then I go home and do all the other stuff in my life that I plan each day and what others consider a normal part of being a mother, wife and general Mrs Fix-it...and...I'm still smiling and bouncing off the walls.

But often when I get home, reality kicks in and all I feel like doing is reclining on the couch and having a good old snooze....for the rest of the day!  Then reality kicks in once again - I rest for about 10mins and then I get up and push-on.  You know?...what most mothers do.

My strength sessions start off with a 5min warm-up on the X-trainer, then 10mins at moderate-high intensity. I then do my rehab and begin strength training after. My new program entails four simple exercises - Squats, Press, Deadlifts, Pull-ups. I then finish off with a 15min moderate intensity run, just to make sure my legs are depleted. 

Seems pretty simple right?   How hard can that be?  Apparently it looks simple, but hugely taxing on the body.  I can testify to that.

So what is my mindset?  To be honest...I dread my strength sessions!  You know why?  IT'S FU*KIN HARD WORK!

But I also know that once I'm inside those gym walls, I'm rockin'! 

I have a certain pre-training ritual.  When I put on my gym gear (my super hero outfit) I'm getting ready for action.  I shower,  pull my hair back for training; I prep my gym bag, throw on my runners and sunnies and I head out the door.  I must listen to my favourite work-out track on the way to the gym - it gets the juices flowing.  When I get to the gym there are two vital things I MUST HAVE before I can begin.  One is my training diary and the other is my I-Pod.  Without these two things, my mojo is compromised!   If I forget them, I swear and curse myself over my stupidity.  Sometimes I have to go home to get them if that's what it takes.

I walk downstairs to the main training area and I do a quick sweep of the entire floor to get a feel of the mood of the place.  Atmosphere for me is really important for my workouts.  I thrive on that energy that everyone gives off.

I go to the toilets and get out all my stuff.  The last thing I do before I head out to begin is I put on my headphones.  Once I put my headphones on, I can't hear anyone or anything.  I AM NOW IN THE ZONE!    I don't need to know what everyone is saying - I shut out all the noise.  I just  feed off the energy.

When I train I don't talk to anyone.  I might just smile or give a nod.  I completely zone out. 

Regardless of how I feel, I cannot slack off!  In fact, I like to give it my all.  I like to train hard.  I like to do one better than I did the last training session.  If I'm really fatigued or feeling flat, then the minimum I expect from myself is to maintain what I did the last session.

If I'm not in a ball of sweat - I'm not training hard.  As in Pauline Nordin's photo above, you don't look pretty when you workout!  That's how I like to train - hard.   Hard for me anyway. Because my thinking's only temporary.  If I train hard and give it my all now,  I can go home and relax.  But out of the minutes and hours in the day, whatever it is that I'm doing, the time required isn't all that long, and then I can rest when I'm done.  So I put in.  I don't think of my whole workout on strength days.  I just stay in the present and give my all to whatever set or reps I'm doing. 

The hardest part of my strength sessions at the moment is that last run.  My legs feel a little wobbly to start and I just want to go home.  Sometimes I entertain the idea that I should cut down the time or the speed, but then I know I would be cheating myself.  It's just a psychological thing.  It's all in my head.  My body can handle it quite alright, but it's just my head telling me otherwise.  And like I said, I can't not do it.  I must at least equal or better what I did last time.  How else am I going to progress?

So regardless of where you are when it comes to fitness training, be honest with yourself.  How hard are you training?  Don't compare yourself with Jo Blo next to you.  Compare yourself with your last effort.  Always put in your best.  You'll get days where you feel like shit!  If that's the case, congratulate yourself for turning up.  You've conquered the first major hurdle by getting your arse out the door and training.  Because if you want to know how to get fitter, faster, stronger, better, all you have to do is better than you did yesterday...rinse and repeat!

Wednesday, January 4

2011...Our Secret Place & Connecting...

"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child.
There are seven million."

~Walt Streightiff
Please mosy on over to my other blog...Recipes in Richness.

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