Friday, January 13, 2017

Being Kind to Ourselves

I use this phrase a lot when I work with people who want to make long-term, sustainable changes in their life, the kind of changes that will dramatically alter their health and their future.

They often interpret this to mean they don’t have to live up to their health commitments, that they can go off-track and sabotage their food & exercise prescription simply because they “ didn't feel like it” or were “having a bad day”.

This is entirely opposite of what I mean.

Being kind to yourself, really taking good care of yourself, starts with a decision that is not negotiable and a willingness to be realistic about what is good for you.

Imagine: you've had a really stressful day at work, your boss is cranky at you, co-workers are being more difficult than usual and you have a splitting headache on the way home from work. 

Dinner consisting entirely of chocolate and cheese, possibly wine, and staying up late to zone out in front of the television may seem like an easy option. “ I've had an awful day,” you tell yourself, “I deserve some pleasure, I can’t be bothered doing anything else.”

So you eat some non-nutritional food and flake out on the couch. Your headache feels worse, you feel sluggish and tired but instead of going to bed, you stay up too late watching television, exacerbating your tiredness.

Imagine that this is your child, or your best friend.

Would you deliberately ignore their needs, or make excuses for why you wouldn't help them feel as good as possible, especially under difficult circumstances?

I bet you wouldn't.

Imagine: you've had a really stressful day at work, your boss is cranky at you, co-workers are being more difficult than usual and you have a splitting headache on the way home from work.

“ I've had an awful day,” you tell yourself, “so I’m going to make sure I drink plenty of water when I get home. I’ll make myself a quick vegetable omelette and I’ll make sure I get an early night.”

The first scenario may seem like the easiest option, and by certain criteria it may be, but since when has easy meant better. 

The second option means you actually change your situation for the better. 

You contribute to your health rather than detracting from it. 

You actually meet your real needs, rather than giving in to what it is you think you want.

Making your life a little easier the next day and helping yourself to feel better - THAT is being kind. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Honour Your Body, Your Life, Your Self.

Dr Karl is on Triple J this week with a guest, talking about the science of weight loss & this is a topic close to my heart.

You may not know this but I used to have an eating disorder & probably a fair bit of associated body dysmorphia (when you have a distorted view of how your body looks).

When I was in high school, I learned to be bulimic; other girls showed me how you could throw up after eating to not gain weight. I thought it was a magical formula until I found myself living a miserable life. Then I started to make the changes that made the difference to save my life.

This, combined with my Mum being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes around the age I am now (early 40’s) made me sit up & take note of my health.

I did not want to follow in my Mum’s health-footsteps.

It didn’t happen immediately, but I started on the path that has led me to become a Fitness Trainer & Health Educator.

I know how it feels to not want to exercise, to complain about working out, and when I was training to be a trainer, I still remember the time where I actually started to enjoy working out.

That feeling of “yeah!” after a workout has stayed with me and once you get that, you don’t want to give it up.

Now I’m glad I went through that process because I empathise with clients who do the same. Although now I allow them to bring their ‘don’t want to’s’ and complaints, (they can even swear a lot), but they still do the workouts.
And they feel so much better at the end.

I also remember the point in my life where I realised I was choosing exactly what I wanted, so why couldn’t I choose what was good for me.
So I did.

I started eating better and actually enjoying it, moving more & feeling great for it.

When I had my son 11 years ago, I put on 40kg. Four Zero.

It was no mystery, I ate EVERYTHING, and then I ate theirs. When I had a 3.6kg baby, I had to take stock and decide; did I want to keep these extra kilos that made me feel so uncomfortable?
Was this related to my eating disorder so many years ago?

I made a conscious decision to love my body, to fuel it well & to exercise. If my body never returned to its previous state then so be it, but I was damn sure I would do everything possible to treat myself well & be happy with the outcome.

A lot changes in a woman’s body after children & we are so exposed to unrealistic images in the media (celebrities don’t even look like they do in the magazines!!).

So what if our bodies aren’t the same as pre-kids?
Are we going to be miserable for the rest of our lives?
Missing out on all the joy & richness in our lives?

A flat stomach is not an achievement.
A life well-lived, full of love, adventure, curiosity & laughter, sure is.

I want that for you.
If you have never exercised or unsure about how to start, please get in touch.
I'm here to help.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wisdom of the Elders

I attended a beautiful funeral service this week to honour a man who spent his 90 years on this planet creating a wonderful legacy; his family.
He was my partner’s grandfather and although I had only known him in the last couple of years of his life, he welcomed me & my son into the family as though we had been there forever.
Despite his deteriorating health, he still loved coming out to family dinner every Sunday night and was always interested in what the kids (his great-grandchildren) had been up to and what was new in his (now adult) grandchildren’s lives.
I had more than a few opportunities to chat with this lovely man about his past and I recall him telling me how he built the house he & his wife lived in for over 50 years. He was 25 at the time.
I was super-impressed by this and told him so. With modesty typical of his generation, he was a little surprised that I considered this a notable achievement.
“But Pa”, I said, “some 25 years old these days can barely function as adults in the world, let alone build their own house!” He considered this and quietly acknowledged that perhaps it was an achievement, but certainly not one to brag about.
(Can I tell you, if I BUILT MY OWN HOUSE, I would be writing that in fairy lights across the front of the building!!!)
I never knew my grandparents & am acutely aware of the power, wisdom & love they can have in our lives & the lives of future generations.
There are so many lessons & much wisdom from the elders in our families & wider circles, even if some of it is never spoken aloud. Look for the lessons, then do your very best to live them.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself

I came across the work of Patricia Lynn Reilly many years ago & her poem, Imagine A Woman In Love With Herself, resonated so deeply with me that I return to both the poem & the meditations when I need a reminder of unconditional self-regard, to embrace wholeness rather than perfection.

I shared this poem several years ago and found it resonated with women (and men) who had never heard it before and over the coming weeks, I will re-share it with you.

I especially love reading this poem out loud because the stanzas that hold the most meaning can be the most difficult to speak aloud, but the process of doing this is powerful & working through the accompanying meditations is transformative.

Patricia Lynn Reilly writes in her Introduction, “our beloved planet is in desperate need of women who have moved from self-loathing to self-love, from self-criticism to self-celebration. Women who design woman-affirming solutions to the challenges confronting human kind as it enters the 21st century. Women who use their personal and communal resources to give birth to images of inclusion, poems of truth, rituals of healing, experiences of transformation, relationships of equality and households of compassion. Women full of themselves!”

Isn’t that wonderful?

For the next month, enjoy this fabulous poem, delight in each stanza & if you find one that especially resonates with you, get in touch & I’ll send you the accompanying meditation.

I’m putting together a workshop based on the poem; if you’re interested, please get in touch.

Be full of your Self!

Big love,

Friday, May 20, 2016

Beautiful Reality

I went to Wanderlust last weekend with a brilliant bunch of great people, including some big people in small bodies, (which is how I usually refer to children).

It’s a Mindfulness Triathlon which, instead of the usual swim/bike/run, was  5kms walk or run, just over an hour of yoga and meditation to finish.

Melbourne turned on a spectacular day and the walk along Beaconsfield Parade was a great opportunity to catch up on news & share stories. The big people in small bodies also enjoyed playing peek-a-boo from inside their prams.

Doing yoga with 2700 other people, all on our mats, ready to move in a conscious & joyful way had a profound impact on me. When the instructor pointed out that we were all here for a purpose, that we were all connected at that moment, I felt tears in my eyes.

Connection is more than just being with people, to feel connection even with yourself, you really need to pay attention.

I felt part of the bigger whole, I felt connected to each of the people around me, and it felt beautiful. There were people of all shapes, sizes and levels of flexibility who were doing their thing in the sunshine. This got me thinking later about what we think of as real, in terms of our health, fitness and body image.

What we see in the media isn’t real.
Hollywood & celebrities exist to pretend; their job is to
sell stories, images and ideas that aren’t real for the purpose of marketing.
One way they do this is by marketing a sense of dissatisfaction with our own, not always glamourous, non-photo-shopped, messy, real lives.  There’s even a marketing term for this, called a ‘pain point’. Hit someone’s ‘pain point’, the theory goes, and they’ll buy what you’re selling as the solution to their problem.

The problem with this is when the marketing convinces you that you have the problem in the first place. Hands up who had heard of a thigh-gap in 2000? Hands down if you understand that it’s not an achievement.

I’m all for feeling your best and looking your best but not at the expense of your sense of self, not when your happiness depends on a number on a scale or on the tag of your clothing.

What about the sass in your step, the fire in your eyes, the spark in your soul? These are all so much more important that the size of your dress.

Tying self-worth to body image can be dangerous. If you’re eating fresh, healthy food, exercising 3-4 times a week, are active enough to keep up with your kids and live your great life, then your body is perfect as it is. 

You are amazing.

“It is only through extensive and continual conditioning that an intelligent human being comes to see herself as an ornament, whose first priority is the attainment of a slender body, rather than as a complete human being who has myriad other concerns and unlimited potential”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It was one of those weekends, you know the kind, where you have a whole lot of cool stuff planned with the kids and friends and it all just lines up beautifully.
Except it didn’t turn out that way.

Small Darling had a sore foot, so we missed my gorgeous artist friend’s stall at a night market. Instead we had our traditional Friday Dinner & Movie Night that we’d missed for a few weeks.

Lovely Partner planned on playing cards with friends on Saturday night and that fell through so we all headed into town to see the Infinity Swing and Noodle Night Markets at Fed Square. Also a lot of fun but I could tell LP was upset that his original plans didn’t work out.

There was some grumpy energy in the mix as people came to terms with not getting what they wanted and frustrations were close to the surface. 10 year old boys also seem to have little concept of people around them or consequences and I found myself in Grumpy Mummy Mode, saying to SD “That’s it, no dessert for you. You know better than that! What were you thinking?” (He was tipping water over the edge of a balcony where people could have walked through & been soaked).

Kids can be great at expressing how they feel and don’t always have the ability to regulate their emotions but then again, the same applies to us grown-ups too.

At one point in the evening I caught myself thinking “why did I bother? SD is behaving badly, LP doesn’t really want to be here” and I paused. I took a deep breath and realised I also had some unmet expectations about how this weekend was panning out.

I expected my child to be grateful for the excursion and my partner to be delighted that he got to spend the evening with me. Usually both of these things are true; my son often thanks me for the fun stuff we do together and my partner does enjoy spending time with me.
So none of us got exactly what we wanted or what we had planned for.

What we did get instead was an unexpected adventure together & we each learned more about ourselves & how we react when people or situations are not as we would have them be. That’s a weekend of winning in my book.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Chicken & Spuds a’la Hobbs

My beautiful friend Shellee Hobbs gave me this recipe, it’s easy and delicious.
It doesn’t take too much effort & is such a hearty winter warmer or dinner party hit that feels like you went to So Much Trouble!

6-8 chicken thighs, skin on
3 red capsicums
5 red onions
2 heads of garlic, separated & skin on
Dried & fresh thyme

Marinate chicken in a few teaspoons of dried thyme, olive oil, salt flakes & pepper
(I use a large ziplock bag to smoosh all the ingredients together to coat the chicken)

Part boil the spuds till they start to split.
Chop up capsicums & onions into wedges.
Drain spuds & once cool enough to squish with your hands, throw in a bit of butter & salt.

Place spuds in a roasting pan, chuck in capsicum, onion & garlic.
Drizzle with oil and place chicken & fresh thyme on top.

Bake at 200 degrees for an hour, drizzling pan juices over the top halfway through.
Serve with steamed greens & enjoy!