Why being lazy (and watching the Bachelor) is ok. For now.

It’s the second day of spring. The sun is shining and for the first time in what feels like eternity I don’t have to dress like an eskimo to leave the house. I’m pretty sure we have been in the double-digits-of-degrees every day this week. Yippie-yi-yay, am I right?

I took my group training session this morning and the gals were on fire. Everyone looked like they had pocketed the early signs of spring and popped it in their step. They did jumping lunges and sprints, squat jumps and push ups like they were gearing up for Tokyo 2020.

Despite their infectious energy and enthusiasm, when I got home I slipped into my trackiest of trackies and ate lunch (which started off with tofu and finished with chocolate), while propped on the couch (I never eat on the couch!). I watched 2 episodes of The Bachelor and one episode of Offspring. I sorted some washing and did some ironing, and for that I feel like a hero.

Laziness has me in her grasp, and has for a week or two.

 

 

video games

My fitness professional brain says “just do something – a light walk, a gentle ride, a short run, swim a few laps….”

My laziness-possessed brain says “nah stuff it.”

I’ll go to bed tonight, like I have every night this week, declaring to get up early, spend some time on my wind trainer, do a light weights session and/or test out my injury-riddled body with a short run. But I’ll wake up tomorrow, like I have every “tomorrow” of the last fortnight, with a blanket of slight depression wrapped around me, untempted by the carrot of the fresh morning air, the endorphins buzzing through my body, the potential feeling of wellness and clear-headedness and the knowing that energy breeds energy and it will set me up in good stead for the day.

It’s not fitness instructory of me to admit to this laziness.

But it is human. I’m sure it has happened to anyone reading this post at some point.

There are a whole bunch of reasons that this could be happening. And there’s a bunch of reasons I’m kind of ok with it.

 

1) I’m vitamin D deprived: For someone who usually feels the cold, I handled the Winter of 2016 pretty well. The first 8 weeks of it anyway. I felt like I shivered my way to the Winter finish line. So now I’m tired, lethargic and I’m overeating. From a Chinese medicine perspective this is a thing. Our bodies can get too much of one element and cause disease or illness and/or; our bodies can’t cope with an abrupt change in weather. Either way, forcing myself to do some gruelling fitness session may not be the answer right now. To get back on track, I’m thinking it may be as simple as soaking some of this welcome-back sunshine into my skin.

2) I’m keeping a virus hostage: For this I bear no medical knowledge, other than knowing my body pretty well. Touchwood, I’ve been super lucky this Winter. Many friends, clients and acquaintances of mine have been struck down with some pretty horrid lugies. Thankfully, in my household our Kleenex supply-demand ratio has stayed pretty consistent with any other time of the year. But with this lack of energy and a sore throat that crops up every couple of weeks, I can’t help but think that a bug set up camp in my innards and is just waiting for the right time to pounce. If my suspicions are correct, it’s probably all the more important to not push myself too hard physically and instead focus on getting plenty of sleep, water and good nutrients into me.

3) I’m adjusting my sails: I’m a goal setter. And it takes a fair bit for me to swallow my pride and back out of those goals. I often respond with shock, awe, admiration and jealousy when people say, of their once set goals (particularly of the physical variety): “No I’m not doing it now…” or “…I just changed my mind.”

It drains me mentally, emotionally and physically to readjust my goal posts.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I run the Melbourne marathon every year. And in recent times I have declared that if I run it every year for the next 4, I will become a “Spartan” (someone who has run 10 Melbourne marathons) in the same year that I turn 40. But after being diagnosed with a disc bulge in my neck earlier in the year, the long training runs mean putting extra time and energy into the pain management of that. I’m actually handling that side of things pretty well (and in fact, have been running the best I have in years) but two weeks ago my hip started giving me grief. I just don’t think I can handle having another thing to ice, anti-inflam, stretch, heat, massage or needle! I’m starting to weigh up if that Spartan goal is as significant as it once was and if there might be something as equally as fulfilling, but less taxing on my body. This soul searching and decision making apparently needs to take place on the couch. In front of D grade reality drama television shows.

4) I’m gathering stones: The Byrds sang it: “To every season … turn turn turn… a time to plant, a time to reap, a time to kill, a time to heal…” Unless I start digging up past series’ of the Bachelor – Australian and American – and my trackies become my “Sunday best”, I’m thinking this is just a little time for me to heal. I’m taking it as an opportunity to re-evaluate, reenergise and re-motivate myself with new goals and new routines. “… a time to build up…a time to cast stones..  a time to gather stones together…”

With the combo of all of that, it’s little wonder I can’t get my butt of the couch (that, and I just can’t pick if Richie will choose Alex, Faith or Nikki). In any case, I know it’s not long term. I’m confident that some time in the coming week when my laziness-possessed brain suggests that I stay in bed, my rested body will answer “Nah stuff it. Let’s go!”

 

(But if you don’t see me around… please send in some help for an intervention).

Let’s go throw a bike. (A not so perfect family bike riding adventure).

Last week I blogged about the challenges I faced finding the time and energy for fitness when my children were just wee-little-cherubs (you can read it here). Now they are medium sized cherubs, it is a lot easier, so I like to combine hanging out with my family and some physical activity whenever I can. I now have a bit more time, a bit more mental stability and a fair bit more energy, but even so exercise+family can still = challenges…

Picture perfect. Discovering puddles, or ponds. Or whatever.
Picture perfect. Discovering puddles, or ponds. Or whatever.

My children both celebrated their birthdays in the last month. They were lucky enough to be given swanky brand new mountain bikes. Being family-bike-riding enthusiasts, hub and I were both pretty happy to see Sunday bearing a sunshine icon on the weather maps, and we excitedly pencilled in some quality pedal pushing fam-time.

With hub being away a fair bit of late and kid’s sports usually chewing through our Saturdays and Sundays, this bike ride became one of my non-negotiables for the long weekend. So at 2:45pm on Sunday we set out gleefully for the nearby rail trail. I made sure hub had his phone with him because I had banned myself from my own phone for the event (so that I could truly enjoy every magical family moment without being distracted by intriguing message and gaming notifications) but I still wanted access to a camera so that I could go to Instagram-town with this picture-perfect family outing.

We set off with Master 9 and Miss 7 cheerfully wagging their cute little butts in front of us as they called “we’re gonna beat you!” and hub and I sharing a knowing little smile to each other, celebrating the amazing gifts we have given the world. I am pretty certain bluebirds fluttered around our helmet clad heads and the admiring community hummed “Let’s go ride a bike” (to the tune of “let’s go fly a kite” if you missed that clever transposition) in our wake.

The bluebirds continued to flutter; the community continued to hum.

Life. Perfect.

We eventually came to a junction where we had the choice to continue on to a nearby township, complete with skate park, or turn around and head home.

Hub had a goal in mind and wanted to make it to the town. He was using the skate park as his best and only bargaining chip.

Miss 7 ummed and arred, but eventually agreed the skate park sounded like fun.

Master 9 was done and wanted to go home.

I didn’t mind either way. But was happy to split and accompany my son home.

But Miss 7 using  tears, crossed arms and stomped feet, argued against a split and wanted the WHOLE family to stay together.

Now I don’t really know what other kids are like, but my two have stubbornness in spades. I knew that if hub or I made a call, we’d be leaving one child by the side of a busy, fast paced road, in tears with foot firmly on the ground and chained to their opinion like a hippie to a tree.

You know that crass but common Aussie saying – “he had me by the balls”? I know anatomically it’s not possible for me to be in that unfortunate situation, but figuratively speaking that’s basically where they had me. It’s not the first time and sadly, I’m confident it won’t be the last.

With thanks to experience, I handed the reins straight over to my youngsters. I encouraged them to think about the other point of view, to consider being a little more flexible and to weigh up the pros and the cons of what they wanted to do. It took about 8 minutes (and about four hundred and fifty deep breaths on my behalf) and we had a change of mind.

In fact we had two changes of mind.

Master 9 no longer wanted to go home. HE now wanted to go onward to the skate park.

Miss 7 had lost interest in the skate park idea and now SHE wanted to go home.

No more bluebirds. No more cheerful Mary Poppins tunes. Just me muttering profanities under my breath about how effed up motherhood really can be.

Hub, still erring toward the skate park, now realised his opinion was no longer being accepted as a valid bid. I had to move away from my bike before I threw it.

Dip dip dip. Round 3.
Dip dip dip. Round 3.

 

Again, I told my kids I had no way of winning here and they had to sort it out: “Tell me when you’re done”.

Between them there were dropped lips, tears, bribes, manipulation, promises they couldn’t keep – it was like watching the lead up to the election.

Another 8 minutes. Another 450 deep breaths.

Three rounds of dip dip dip. Three arguments over which hand meant which direction. Three times I considered riding off on my own. Towards Queensland.

Eventually, Master 9 conceded. Miss 7 won. Homeward bound, we rode, as a friggen family. A picture-perfect-instagram-worthy-friggen-family.

Stomping on my pedals, shaking off the frustration, I had to breathe in the fresh air, admire the setting sun, take note of the toadstools, the warped trees and the rabbit holes to remind myself this was still a great idea and a great outing.

Life. Imperfectly-perfect.

One day hub and I will get the opportunity to ride as far as we’d like to ride without stopping for negotiations of epic proportions. One day we’ll cross that junction without having to even discuss going further or not. One day we won’t need the skate park as a bargaining chip.

But on that day our kids won’t want to be around us in our daggy helmets. They won’t let me photograph them, knowing I’m intending to use it as bragging evidence on social media. They won’t wiggle their little butts in front of us as they race up the nearest hill. They won’t be in awe at toadstools or decrepit trees, or ponds (/oversized puddles) and I’ll wish I could have it one more time.

Bluebirds might not flutter around us all the time. The community might not always turn into a chorus line. But while I can, I will still apprehensively excitedly pencil in some quality pedal pushing fam-time whenever I can.

 

Can't imagine the kids ever being embarrassed by us.
Can’t imagine the kids ever being embarrassed by us.

Mums and Exercise: do what you can when you can.

 

We’ve just celebrated my eldest child’s 9th birthday. It’s a well-worn cliché, but time really does fly. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I sat me and my enormous preggy-belly down in a wicker chair, in the typically first-child decorated nursery, and imagined how my life would change with his imminent arrival.

Like many soon-to-be mothers, the images I had in my mind at that moment, in that wicker chair differed considerably to what became my reality.

Prior to falling pregnant, I worked full-time (in a job I wasn’t really enjoying), I also worked on the weekends and some evenings as a fitness instructor and gym supervisor, I ran religiously four mornings a week and my husband and I “pumped iron” every second evening and most Sunday mornings.

When I was picturing my life as a mother, I accounted for a little downtime on the fitness tools, but was feeling meekishly confident I’d be pounding the pavement – pushing the pram I’d bought specifically for jogging – and bench pressing well before my baby boy started rolling over.

Didn’t QUITE go to plan.

Breastfeeding was a bee-atch. He’d feed for anywhere between 40-70 minutes (I have it documented) and even then he wasn’t entirely content. And according one of the dozen or so books that I had within an arm’s reach at any given moment, he was only supposed to be awake for an hour at a time. That didn’t leave me much time to change from my vomit covered tracksuit into some appropriate activewear (thankfully that craze hadn’t gained full flight yet) and head out for a jog.

The one time I did manage to test out the jogging-viability of my so called jogger pram, I ended up injuring my ankle, because the force required to steer the thing one handed (I think I was using the other arm to wing-clutch my tender milk jugs) threw any proper running technique I had into disarray. Not to mention I had to stop every 50 metres to pick up a dropped shoe/rug/rusk/beanie/teddy/drink bottle/other shoe.

Jogger pram became a regular pram from that day forward.

One night a week, my well-meaning parents would come by so that hub and I could go to the gym. Whilst it was supposed to be an evening of carefree bliss and fitness induced endorphins (and gawd 9 years on, I am truly questioning WHY THE HELL DIDN’T WE WAG THE GYM AND DO SOMETHING MUCH MORE COOLER WITH OUR TIME?!), it was far from it.

After cleaning up from dinner (of a cold steak and overcooked vegetables) which my husband and I had tagged teamed between bouncing a screaming child, I handed said screaming child over to my parents. They had a look on their face that said “really, we’re really doing this?” and I’d wave goodbye, close the door, pretending to be all gym-bunny-mummy, get in the car, practically in tears and tell my husband we had 30 minutes tops before my anxiety really hit the roof.

We’d flail through some sort of workout; me usually walking a slow pace on the treadmill (because you know, you shouldn’t wear an evil sports bra with all that constriction and underwire when you’re breastfeeding, and if you sweat the child may not feed from you afterwards because you taste different…… HOLY MOTHER, my poor what-to-expect-when-you’re-expecting brainwashed mind!!) and my husband,  would usually be bicep curling and shoulder pressing as best he could with my hurry-up-we’ve-got-to-get-home eyes drilling into him.

Needless to say, gym nights didn’t last long.

I tried to do some work outs at home. But after 45 minutes of rocking a 6 month old boy (who weighed about 8kg) off to sleep and then commando rolling out of his room, I was hardly in the mood for aerobics oz style. So I just ate as many spoonfuls of milo I could in the 40 minutes I had before he woke up (read the books: 40 minutes isn’t the “ideal” amount of time for a 6 month old to sleep).

 

chips mouth

We welcomed my baby girl into the world when my son had just turned 2 years old. The pram remained joggerless, the gym nights remained absent and I continued to eat milo from the tin in my darkest moments.

Eventually, I started going to the gym one, maybe even two mornings a week. The kids went into the crèche where the staff were unperplexed by a screaming child, I wore a sports bra and raised a decent sweat (and my daughter didn’t resent me for the taste of it).

I started working as a fitness instructor again.

A friend invited me for a short weekend jog and I’ve been jogging 2, sometimes even 3 days a week ever since. (Actually, just recently I even amped it back up to 4 days a week. Look. At. Me. Go.)

My husband and I don’t pump iron together because we aren’t wankers anymore but we cherish any opportunity we have to go for a nice long walk.

My boy is 9 years old. My daughter is almost 7 years old. While I celebrate all the wonderful, amazing things that my children have brought into my life over those 9 years, I also celebrate the fact that I have waded through some pretty disappointing-not-as-I-imagined-it-moments.

Some people have babies that they can take for jogs in the pram (and they must have better jogger prams). Some people have babies that will sit and watch while their mums do exercise. Some people have babies that sleep for longer than 40-bloody-minutes at a time so they can handle a few rounds of an in-home workout.

But some people don’t. For some people getting a sense of regular wellbeing back into their lives takes YEARS.

If there is a reason I am passionate about women’s health and fitness, this is it. Ignore Pinterest and its booty circuits and “don’t stop when it hurts, stop when it’s done” kind of quotes. Shield yourself from Instagram accounts that flick you before and after body shots, #fitspo images and 15 second exercise clips.

Ignore what you once could do, thought you could do, imagined you would do.

And just do what you can, when you can.

Because time really does fly and one day the jogger pram will be sold, your dinners will be warm and the Milo will be just for hot milk drinks on a cold winter’s night. One day, you might even be able to do more than you could have ever imagined anyway.

Good vibe, good view, good cider.

Earlier this year, I participated in the inaugural Flying Brick Bellarine Sunset Run with a PT client of mine. It was a very unique event and certainly worth shining the light on. This is the second, in a short series of my fun-run reviews.

Distances offered: an “extended” half marathon – 21.8km and a 10.7km. (my client and I took on the 10.7km).

This run was heavily and from all accounts, successfully, promoted amongst the Bellarine locals and holiday makers (it sold out within 5 weeks). Organiser Dion Milne shares an attitude to running (trail running in particular) that is akin to my own – just get out and have a go (the waiver included a clause to the effect of I am willing to stop and walk to appreciate the scenery that the Bellarine coastline has to offer – LOVE. IT.). This outlook, combined with his own personal story of depression led Dion to initiate the event, encouraging people to use running as personal outlet for emotional stress and to raise funds for Headspace. From what I am told Dion was very dogmatic, enthusiastic and passionate to get the event up and running (pardon the pun) and his efforts were well worth it.

For a regular early morning runner, starting a gallop at 6:00 PM was both novel and annoying.  Even though my approach to running fuel is far from scientific, I did have to be conscious of what I ate during the day. And, as I pulled into the Portarlington caravan park to meet my running partner, I had to protest against the thought of opening a cold cider and spending the evening on the beach.

The 21km runners started off near the Portarlington pier while us 10km runners had to make our way to St Leonards. A bus was available if you prebooked and paid for your seat, but I had a husband and kids who were willing to do the drop off (right before they tucked into some fish and chips for dinner mind you… biastards).

The vibe at St Leonards was great, with lots of people huddled around in the Flying Brick running singlets that had been available to purchase. I had underestimated how good they would look and rather than doing what Personal Trainers probably should do (rev up my client, help her warm up, give her a pep talk, sing Eye of the Tiger… ?) I spent a fair bit of time discussing my annoyance at not purchasing one. It has become very evident to me that judging people’s running attire is my go-to pastime to calm any run event nerves or bolster up any wavering energy. JCNI startline

Before our starting siren went off, the lead runners of the 21km event had to plough through us. And plough is the most appropriate term; they had a bit of sand to trudge through before hair pinning up a hill and negotiating their way through a slightly oblivious 10km crowd. If I was a front runner of a 21km event, I may have been a little p.i.s.s.e.d at this point. But thankfully, I’ll never wear that crown, so I’ll continue my running career in blissful ignorance.

As we set off, it was obvious that my opportunities to assess, critique and admire others runners’ gear was going to be limited. The narrow track was pretty busy and crowded with 10km runners starting off and the remaining 21kms runners coming through. There was a lot of hopping, passing, slowing down and speeding up. It interrupted any potential conversation my running pal and I tried to have. Some of the 21ers took the crowded track quite literally in their stride and just dealt with it; others were a little frustrated at us piddley shorter distance runners and barked for us to “move over”, “hurry up”, “get out of the way”. Pfft, I don’t think they read all the clauses.

It took a while for the field to spread out a bit, but when it did it certainly was worth admiring the scenery. The gentle beach breeze fluttered at our side and the setting sun was slowly making tracks for the majestic You Yangs. The path, mainly flat, was a mix of slightly sandy and bitumen. The camaraderie amongst runners and the support from sidelines (warning, you run alongside a few caravan parks where deck-chaired settled campers clap while simultaneously drinking wine, beer and champagne) was one of the best I’ve come across. I haven’t personally met Dion, but I feel like his attitude towards running/exercise/life was somehow engrossed in the runners and spectators alike. jode scenery

Drink stations on the Bellarine Sunset Run were unique, innovative and respectful to the surrounds. It was made very clear in the lead up that disposable cups would not be provided on course and that runners had to either carry their own water or drinking vessels. Drink stations were on course to fill up camel packs, drink bottles or well cupped hands, but collapsible cups were for sale pre-event for about $3. These amazing little inventions fitted tidily into the palm of one’s hand when not in use. I’m all for a bit of environmental-friendliness, so think that this was just a super idea. (Mind you, if I had to carry one of these “amazing little inventions” on the marathon, I envisage myself piffing it at a well-meaning spectator anywhere between 28 and 40 kilometres).

Whilst most of the course was reasonably flat, there was a bit of undulation in the final kilometre. However, the anticipation of the finish line (directly below) was enough energise us up and over and down the other side.

The finishing chute was pretty exciting (I haven’t run through a non-exciting finishing chute yet). We were awarded with a pretty snazzy anchor shaped medal and the Flying Brick tent was only metres away for me to finally have that cider.

This is what my running colleagues had to say about the run:

“Being held in the evening, and my first Fun Run in 18 months, I was a little daunted to begin with. It was hot out on the course, but the scenery got me through. To get across the finish line was the best feeling in the world. I will be back to do it again next year.” Jodie, 10kms (that’s Jodes in the pictures above 🙂 )

“I totally loved the Sunset run. The course and the view was spectacular. The atmosphere was amazing and the enthusiasm of the residents at the caravan parks was fantastic. The organisers and volunteers did a brilliant job. I loved the fact that it started later in the day because it gave it more of a party atmosphere than early morning events. The only negative was the lack of toilets on the course, but overall it was an awesome event that I will definitely do again.” Jo, 21kms.

Next run I’ll review is the Great Ocean Road Full and Half marathon….

No giraffes, no Charleston, but a good run.

2 weeks ago a group of friends and I headed to Werribee in Victoria for the My Physio Werribee Mansion Run. I hadn’t heard of it before, but I was grateful that someone shared the info with me.

It seems that there is a fun run on any given weekend if you are keen enough. I am a bit picky with what events I enter, as sometimes it seems a bit silly to pay money to run somewhere, when I could do it around home for nix. But, in saying that, an organised run event is a great way to stay motivated, see different parts of the world, connect with other people, push yourself a little harder than you might on home turf and, if you’re a mum or a dad, score yourself a few kid-free hours away.

With running as my fitness go-to (albeit it a strange choice for me, check out this blog from the archives) I often get asked about the various runs I have done. So, in a bid to offer my thoughts concisely, and clear the writer’s block that has had me cursed for a few months now, I thought I might provide somewhat of a personal review on the runs I have participated in. (N.B: it’s pretty limited.). I’ll kick off with the aforementioned Werribee Fun Run.

Distances on offer: 21.1km, 10km, 5.5km, 3.5km, kids 1.2km

(I ran the 10km with a few friends and some other pals did the 5.5km).

This event offers a great range of distances and as such, there were varying degrees of fitness and abilities participating on the day.

Just coming into the starting area (car parking is ample) is pretty fascinating, as the majestic mansion sets a unique backdrop for the run and the gardens provide fantastic, curious surrounds (take the family; great place for a picnic post-run).

The running surface was probably my favourite aspect of this event, as it was so varied. One minute you feel like you are running through the English gardens of Downton Abbey, then you’re transported to the Australian bush (the surface is a little rocky and uneven – we did see a few fall prey to a rolled ankle). You come to a bridge which looks sturdy enough, but half way across when the thing starts to rock and bounce, you momentarily think this run could very well be your last. After a pretty nasty hairpin and a short-but-steep hill, you’re out in the open and trudging along a fairly lengthy (feels lengthy) and exposed stint on an unforgiving concrete path (my least favourite part of the course). The only thing exciting about this leg was that I had the feeling we were running along the back of the Werribee Zoo and I was anticipating a giraffe, zebra or elephant sighting. We didn’t see any exotic animals and now that I have my bearings I’m thinking there was never any chance of it.

You loop back around, covering much of the same track you headed out on, except for a set of stairs that is bound to set any PB-seeking runner back a bit of time. (NB: I’m not a PB seeker, but the stairs were still not a welcome sight). The finish chute was exciting, with plenty of space for family and friends to cheer you across the line. A band or some music wouldn’t go astray here, just to add to the vibe. (Imagine how fitting a jazz band would be! Charleston anyone?). Your efforts of the morning are rewarded with a medal.

The run is only in its second year (I’m told; haven’t actually fact-founded that info) and like many other fun runs the organisers will have to work on balancing the books between maintaining viability and getting too many runners on the track. Because of the out and back nature of the course and the overlapping between the various distances, space on the track was pretty limited (back in my field anyway, I’ll never know how much space the front runners have in any event). But it made it friendly and intimate and I always like to check out people’s running apparel anyway.

There were a few sponsor tents there to stock up on gear, grab a massage or buy yourself a gym membership. There wasn’t much in way of food vans on offer (coffee van probably made a killing), but like I said, a picnic in the gardens afterwards would have been a very lush way to end the day. Otherwise head into Werribee – we had a highly-rated-by-all brunch at the Black Seed Café, just to clock up a few extra kid-free hours.

werribee groupflipped

I asked some of the girls for their feedback on the run – check it out

It was a fantastic event with beautiful surrounds. It was my first official run and it was a great experience to be a part of it and a great accomplishment to complete it. – Loretta 5.5km

Finishing an event like this makes all the mornings and training runs worth it. It motivates you to keep going and gives you confidence to better yourself each time. It was great meeting new people. I love the social aspect of running and the friendships I make because of it. Time with friends away from the kids makes it feel like it’s time for myself. – Liss 10km

I love that we experienced it as a group, the scenery was beautiful with perfect conditions! I struggled with the hills and stairs and even though I felt like I was dying I pushed through it and it felt like more of an accomplishment. I also loved that I found a burst of energy to sprint across the finish line. – Nicole 5km.

Next post – the Bellarine Sunset Run.

 

 

Coward’s Punch of the road is unacceptable.

A good majority of my facebook and instagram posts lately have been in reference to the cycling community and the response to the gut-wrenching, devastating, infuriating and unfathomable incident that saw the husband of my good friend viciously knocked from his bike. You can read some of the details of the incident here.

Not only is the incident sickening, but so too is the mindset that exists towards cyclists.

Over the last few years we’ve seen uproar over the king-hit; aptly now referred to as a “coward’s punch”, thanks to tougher penalties, increased media coverage, zero tolerance approaches and greater community awareness. The “cowards punch” is a punch made without warning, allowing no time for preparation or defence on the part of the recipient (Wikipedia).

When a cyclist is purposely tormented, threatened, provoked or struck by a car, I consider it the coward’s punch of the road. It doesn’t matter if you a driving a Morris minor or a 4-wheel drive, you’ve immediately got more muscle power than anyone on a bike.

Getting angry at a cyclist for the way he or she manoeuvres around traffic or hazards on the road, and using your car as a way to frighten, shock, send a message or make your point, is bullying and cowardly. Supporting the belief that that cyclists need to be taught a lesson by way of driving aggressively or carelessly around them is just as bad.

We wouldn’t accept the same behaviour from truck drivers towards cars. We wouldn’t accept trucks tailgating, overtaking at close range, throwing rubbish or hurling abuse, sounding the horn abruptly or over a long distance or leaving so little space at an intersection that cars have to jump up on to the sidewalk. It happens, I’m sure, but we don’t accept it. We’d see the truck driver as the bully, the bad guy, the arsehole, the reckless driver.

So why any different when it’s car versus bike?

Just like motorists, cyclists have endless quick-thinking decisions to make on the road. Sometimes cyclists do make bad judgement calls. But so do car drivers, bus drivers, truck drivers, motorcyclists, tractor drivers, policecars, ambulance drivers and pilots.  The only difference between cyclists and those drivers, is that on the road cyclists have no time for preparation or defence against a road rage attack. There is nothing, nothing, between them and the brunt of a vehicle. They are vulnerable, defenceless and will undoubtedly come off second best.

If you use your vehicle to send a message to a cyclist you are delivering a coward’s punch.

Slow down when you see a cyclist.

Give cyclists space.

Overtake when it is safe to do so.

And stop supporting the notion that the coward’s punch of the road is acceptable.

(And it’s time that this behaviour received the same attention as the Coward’s Punch. A Coward’s Punch can carry a maximum jail sentence of 20 years. But driving dangerous causing serious injury? – 10 years. )

Hundreds of riders gathered for a solidarity ride in support of Christian Ashby and the #andacyclist movement
Solidarity Ride. Hundreds of riders gathered for a solidarity ride in Ballarat to support Christian Ashby and the #andacyclist movement

A comment about Wellness Coaching that’s too big for the comments section.

A good friend and colleague of mine posted an article on Facebook recently about how exercise can help to treat chronic disease. (You can check it out here).  I took an apprehensive step up onto my soap box to highlight the important role that Wellness Coaching can play in that process too.

My buddy wanted to know my thoughts on the issue but I decided my response would be far too lengthy to write in the comments section (not to mention the frustrating grammatical limitations of not being able to put in paragraph breaks. Here’s hoping one day Mr Zuckerberg creates an “essay” button to neighbour “like”, “comment” and “share”).

Hence, I have taken it upon myself to respond by way of a blog post.

To begin with, let’s start with what Wellness Coach actually is.

The godfather of the current coaching movement, W Timothy Gallwey (who authored a number of books about improving sports and business performance) concisely defines coaching as “the art of creating an environment, through conversation and a way of being, that facilitates the process by which a person can move toward desired goals in a fulfilling manner.” (M. Moore et al. Coaching Psychology Manual 2010, p3).

In Wellness Coaching the clients’ visions and goals, obstacles and apprehensions are listened to, without judgement. The definition of their ideal personal wellbeing is constructed, and plans, completely created by the client themselves, are put into place.

girl looking into wilderness

If we consider the article that my friend posted, let’s presume “Sue” is told by her doctor she is overweight and at risk of developing diabetes, a chronic illness. Appreciating the benefits that exercise can have on that condition the doctor refers Sue to an exercise facility to work with a trainer to get her more active. The trainer writes up a program for Sue that involves some light resistance work, some light cardio work and suggests that Sue attends the gym three times a week and tries to do a 30 minute walk around home on the other days of the week.

 

The doctor has done a great job in trying to reduce Sue’s likelihood of developing diabetes through physical activity. The trainer has done a great job in prescribing exercises suitable for Sue’s presentation.

But has anyone really asked Sue?

Sue works 5 days a week. She has a sick husband at home. Sue also has a small hobby farm that she needs to attend to and she has grandchildren that she babysits on the weekend. She knows her health needs attention, but she can’t possibly do what the experts have told her to do.

Enter the Wellness Coach.

If Sue was my client I’d be asking her how important her health is to her and why it is important to her. What areas of her life would change if her health was better? What wouldn’t change if she stayed the same? What does she imagine life to be like as a healthier version of herself; how would she feel; what would she do; how would she behave; how would she walk, talk, work? What can she do to create that life? I’d be asking her how confident she is about making lifestyle changes that can improve her health. I’d ask her to tell me what she wants her results to look like in 12 months’ time and 12 weeks’ time. I’d ask her to tell me what she could so this week that might work towards that 12 week goal.

As a result of “creating the environment, through conversation and way of being” Sue may tell me that as a healthier version of herself she has more patience and understanding when caring for her husband. She might tell me that with less weight, she feels confident enough to attend some of the local community events and that means she feels more connected to people and has more support around her. She might tell me that with more patience, less weight, more self-confidence and more community support she has the time and energy to play with the grandkids on the weekend and can take them to special outings because she isn’t worried that she is embarrassing them. She might tell me that this week she can take the long walk around the paddock to feed the sheep.

The numbers that the doctor sees are intangible to Sue. The imminent risk of diabetes doesn’t actually mean that much to Sue. The plan to go to the gym and start walking regularly is unrealistic and unattractive to Sue at the moment. She has no connection to this prescription.

Wellness Coaching however, has unlocked that the relationship with her husband is important to Sue; that feeling confident is important; that feeling connected to and supported by her community is important; that being more present with her grandchildren is important. Changing Sue’s health is now anchored by her values and a vision of herself – that is far more relevant than “numbers” or “risks”.

Sue’s plan to walk the long way around the paddock is her plan towards better health. It fits in with her lifestyle, her time, her interests and her priorities. Not the Doctor’s. Not that trainer’s. It may not produce results as quickly, but it is more likely to be something that she can do indefinitely.

With regular coaching (until Sue reaches a state of “self-efficacy” – where she can manage her wellbeing independently) we’d layer more actions on top of the ones she has already established and feels confident about continuing.  And ta-dah! Sue has made changes to her health so the Doctor is happy. Sue may eventually even feel enthused enough about joining the gym, so the trainer is happy. But most importantly, Sue is happy.

So in summary, of course I support the article that suggests exercise  is a great prescription for chronic illness.

But it doesn’t matter what I think.  The person with the chronic illness needs to think it’s a good idea too. And Wellness Coaching can help initiate that thinking and nurture the change that comes from it.

Yeh, there’s no way that was going to fit in the comments section.

PS: If you’re a visual kind of person, this clip is a great way to summarize coaching.

Set-backs, psychology and surety. So long 2015.

2016 calendars are now in the 50% off bins; a sure sign that 2015 is so last week. Poor old twenty-fifteen has been tossed out quicker than a toddler’s pair of underwear on an unsuccessful toilet training day.

Black pudding has busted out of the stalls as the superfood for the coming year, Miley Cyrus looks set to become our adopted Aussie after being seen ON. OUR. SOIL. with one of the Hemsworth brothers (I knew I should have learnt how to twerk) and the world can’t decide if flirting with a sports reporter is hot or not.

I however am still reflectively stuck in ’15. It was a pretty good year all-in-all. Here’s what came my way.

In twenty-fifteen I refined my definition of fitness. Having been in and around the fitness industry for 15 years or so, I feel like I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve been the gym junkie, the group-fitness groupie, the hard core workouterer, the event-addict, the yogi and even a bit of the lazy. Fitness means different things to different people. I’m pretty settled that my interpretation of fitness is:  to feel well. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially – feel well. Feel balanced. Feel at peace with yourself. I’ll be bringing a whole lot of that attitude to 2016 with me.

In twenty-fifteen I found out that chronic pain sucks. I’ve been fortunate enough to skim through my 36 years of life without a broken bone or any major physical setbacks. But in 2015, I got a taste of what it feels like to have chronic pain. It’s depressing. It’s annoying. It’s encompassing. It has the capacity to suck out all of your enthusiasm and zest for life. But at the same time it has taught me to slow on down. Take a breath. Realign goals. It’s going to be ok. My own personal goal for the coming year includes a hell of a lot of stretching, gentle strengthening and back-to-basics movement.

In twenty-fifteen I learnt a whole lot about headspace and change and wellness and psychology and communication and people. Rewind about 19 years and I was in my last year of secondary school aiming to get a reasonably decent score. Psychology was one of my strongest and most favourite subjects. If I could have somehow time travelled my now adult head onto those naïve shoulders, I just may have gone on to study it further. The universe maybe had other plans and through a few uninteresting twists and turns I ended up in fitness. Not a bad route though, because this year I have combined my love of the two. Stacks of reading on nutrition psychology, change psychology and some enthralling studies in wellness coaching has made my world go BOOM! In 2016 I am going to bung on a whole lot more about the mental and emotional side of making health-related changes. planned

In twenty-fifteen I found out that I am right where I am meant to be. Professionally, I was tested a few times last year. I found myself at a couple of cross-roads where I really had to evaluate my career. However, every option I considered, every thought I had, brought me back to the health and fitness space. It really cemented that this is what I love doing. I am exactly where I am meant to be.

 

So, there you have it. 2015. Done. Dusted. Time to hang that 2016 calendar on the toilet wall, cook up some black-pudding (is there a vegetarian option?), pop on some “Blurred lines” and practice my twerking.

Retreat from the post-Christmas war zone. I repeat. Retreat.

It’s post-Christmas. And at this time of year, both from other people and in my own mind, I hear a lot of “Oh I have eaten so much”, “I feel disgusting,” “I haven’t done any exercise.”

Overindulgence of alcohol, gifted chocolates that absolutely must be eaten, little bowls of sweets on the tables and countertops, dual servings of every meal and a variety of desserts to tempt even the most astute dieter, has left many of us feeling a little worse for wear.

Yep we’ve all got the I-feel-like-crap-sure-my-clothes-have-shrunk-don’t-know-if-I-can-ever-run-again thang going on.

We’re suddenly very down on ourselves; firing guilt bullets into our souls more efficiently than a household of boys with Nerf guns on Christmas morning. We’re vulnerable. And there’s an army of warriors coming our way to help the battle.

banana anger

For me, the fasters are at the front line. The fasting warriors tell me that I have eaten enough food to last me at least a week. I can absolutely survive safely and happily on green tea and water for the next the next seven days. That will induce homeostasis.

Marching not far behind is the juice cleanse brigade. Ready for battle, roaring “Juice for breakfast, lunch and tea! Carrot juice, celery juice, kale juice! Juice! Juice! Juice!” The more liquid goodness I can pour into my body the more un-liquid goodness I can eliminate. Juice me back to normality.

Hot on the tail of the juice brigade is the old faithful calorie counters. Download that app. Stat. It’s worked before, it will work again. Simple equation of calories in versus calories out right? Can’t be that hard, annoying or time consuming.

This war zone is also littered with guerrilla fighters. I’m getting Morse-code messages from undisclosed locations persuading me to quit sugar, dairy, grains and all manner of things I love. But I’ll feel amazing and my skin will glow and I’ll have so much energy. All things I’m not really basking in right now.

Whether it is through our own conditioned responses, adverts breaking up the non-rating period television shows, newspaper articles disguised as health sections, women’s magazines touting the latest celebrity diet, social media posts or even our local gym: they are all coming at us. Ready to help us fight the post-Christmas self-hate.

But I’m retreating. Christmas is as Christmas is. A time of year when many of us eat and drink more than what we need. And yes, we may immerge feeling a little out of kilter. But I am not rolling out any armies. I am not in any fight. I’m not going to war with myself.

This is what I am going to do.

I am going to breathe, walk, jog, stretch, catch up on sleep, read some books, eat fresh foods, drink plenty of water, listen to hunger queues (rather than the pop of a champagne bottle) and ignore the onslaught of sponsored ads that promise all manner of feeling better-ness.

Post-Christmas should not be a warzone. There should be no attacks, no interrogations, no prisoners.

It was Christmas. It was ace. Move on.

I love Christmas, I love it not. Diary of a crazy Christmas person.

Christmas is one little week away and I find myself in a flurry of competing emotions at this time of year.

I loathe greed and excessiveness, but yet I want my kids to have everything that’s on their Santa list and damn, that dress is pretty… I want it. I’m getting it. And some new sandals to match too, thanks.

I love the school holidays. Not having to make lunches, brush hair, sign homework diaries and rush out the door. Until the kids start fighting at 8:41am, then I hate school holidays. The kind of hate where I want to pick my fingernails off one by one.

I love Christmas parties. I love being social, having some drinks and maybe some more after that. But I hate hangovers. I hate them. Almost as much as I hate school holidays at 8:41am.

The abundance of food at this time of year makes me uncomfortable. I admit to having a pretty dicey relationship with food and the silly season sends me into high alert. But I love preparing Christmas treats and I just ate chocolate melts for lunch. But I hate myself for it.

Yes. It is exhausting.

on floor

I enjoy integrating health into what is renowned for being a season of overindulgence. I love being creative and making tradition-breaking goodies. But I also hate being “that” person; the one who brings the cacao and spouted buckwheat “mint slice”  to the table and wants to start Christmas morning with a run.

I look forward to spending time with my family; my nieces and nephews, seeing the kids playing with their cousins, drinking wine and laughing with my sister and our parents. But of course, put three family units in a house together for a few days and there’s bound to be some tension crop up at some point. I don’t cope with tension very well. And all I’ll have to calm my nerves is a gingerbread house made from quinoa. Damn it.

But Christmas will come and I think if I can stop trying to please all of my demons at once, I might be able to enjoy it, even with the undercurrent of moral, emotional and ethical see-saws rocking inside me. To get through Christmas, I almost need to balance those see-saws a little bit, or enjoy the thrill of them crashing to the ground occasionally.

We’re lucky. The kids get a lot, I get a lot and there are many that are not as fortunate. I’ll focus on being grateful. I’ll give food, clothes and toys to the needy in an attempt to somehow make a small ripple in a big ocean (and in selfish honesty, to help alleviate some of my own guilt).

The school holidays, will, at times be shit. The kids will fight. I’ll yell profanities. But it doesn’t mean they are destined to be lifelong enemies and it doesn’t mean I have failed as a mother. There will be laughter and cuddles too. And I just have to hope like hell that it’s those moments they remember.

I’ll enjoy the few Christmas parties I go to (one actually, I go to one). And I’ll probably enjoy it enough to not need another party for 12 months.

Food is good. Yes, we live in a society where there is a ridiculous and unnecessary amount of it. Chocolate melts for lunch probably aren’t ideal, but I know enough to understand that that won’t be regular faire every day of the coming year.

Cacao and sprouted buckwheat, probably goes pretty well with Bailey’s on ice. Just like a balance between health consciousness and luxury indulgences.  smoothie cheers

My family will individually or collectively, annoy the beejeepers out of me at some point over the Christmas break. And there’s a good chance I’ll be driving them crazy at some point too. Thank goodness for cacao and buckwheat slice, with a side of Bailey’s. And laughter. And Christmas morning jogs. And chocolate melts at lunch time, sisterly chats and card games. And little cousins causing mischief together. Thank goodness for what I have.

Christmas. I got this.