Thursday, September 30, 2010

Look what's in my toolkit

I've just added a new tool to my kit - I've signed up for Ocsober. That's right... no drinkies for me for the entire month of October. It's a healthy lifestyle promotion, run by Life Education, but it's also a fundraiser, and I've chosen to support the Cancer Council.

So if anyone would like to sponsor me, you can make a donation on my behalf, and give me extra incentive to stay on the wagon.

Or if you're game, how about joining me and becoming an Everyday Hero yourself?

Positive steps

Aside from an attack of killer DOMS (sounds like a B-grade movie), I'm feeling extremely good this week. No surprise there - positive actions usually do breed positive feelings. But it's the familiar feeling of moving my body with a purpose that I'm loving. And the endorphins afterwards. And the mental focus that comes with having a plan, I suppose. I've been cheerful and optimistic, which is a nice change from the past few weeks of grumpiness and apathy.

In fact, the only downside is the DOMS. And the disturbed sleep, thanks to the DOMS, which causes extreme pain every time I turn over. Also? It would be nice to be able to walk downstairs.

Today's workout was my favourite kind (not!) - moderate cardio. I trained upper body yesterday so that was out. And my legs and abs are so painful, there really wasn't any other option. So 40 minutes on treadmill and elliptical it was, followed by a good stretching session.

I'm pulling out a couple of extra tools to help myself along. My first step (little pun there) will be to rummage around on the weekend and find one of my numerous pedometers, preferably with a working battery. Getting up off my butt and walking around more can only be a good thing, and I figure some extra accountability in the form of tracking my steps can't hurt.

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Acts of bravery

I've spent large chunks of this year doing some of the things I'm really good at:

1. Pretending to be an ostrich. La-la-la, I'm OK, everything's good, I'll be back to proper any kind of training in a few days weeks. And my food isn't so bad... I'll eat well tomorrow. Pass me the cake! Tighter clothes? Meh. That's just fluid, it'll be gone in a day or two.

2. Making excuses. I can't train upper body because my shoulder hurts, my arms hurt, my neck is screwed. I can't do cardio today because the weather is bad. (Spin bike? What spin bike?) There's nothing in the fridge for lunch. I'll just have to buy whatever...

3. Avoiding facing up to any problems. Yeah, blah, blah, blah, you get the idea.

So after many fits and starts and a lot of stumbles, I found myself in a bit of a mess. My cardio fitness sucks. My strength has dwindled - If I can do five pushups in a row, I'm doing well (yes, the shoulder and arms have a lot to do with that, but they're not the whole reason). And of course, there's a bit of extra fat clinging to all the places I'd prefer it not to be.

It's been a rough year alright, for a lot of reasons, but it didn't have to impact on my strength, fitness and physique anywhere near this much. I simply took the path of least resistance and let it happen. I made a decision by not making any decisions, if you know what I mean. Those kind of default decisions, where inaction really is a choice, and the result doesn't need a crystal ball to foretell, are pretty common. And they're usually prompted by fear, even if you can't actually name the source of that fear.

I'm very lucky to have a lot of support from Bike Boy, who hates to see me unhappy, and has tried time and again to help with suggestions (for which he usually got his head bitten off), by cooking healthy meals for me when I'd probably have ordered pizza, and just being there with love a-plenty. He also knows when I'm bullshitting, and cares enough to call me on it.

So after a tearful conversation last week, when he countered all my arguments with "Those are just excuses and you know it", or "What would you tell a client in the same position?", I've done some thinking and mapped a way out of this fear-fuelled cycle of stopping and starting and basically remaining in the same nasty place.

I realised that I actually don't like training at home. Huh. How did it take me this long to figure that out? I don't mind the odd spin workout, and once it's not freezing and pissing rain, I'll be happy to get outdoors too, but for weight training, I much prefer to go to a gym. So I invested in a new gym membership - and so far, so good. It's been a pretty humbling experience to step out in public and do the kind of training I'm restricted to at the moment, but I just plug in my iPod, look straight ahead and do it anyway.

There's some other stuff I'm implementing too, but rolling out of bed early and being at the gym as they open is a much bigger step than I ever thought it could be. Feels good though.

The first steps really are always the hardest. Even when you've done them before.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bad mood begone!

Bad moods have been in abundance in blogland this week, it seems. Mine has been a doozy.

Monday morning I woke up feeling perfectly OK, but after a disturbed night I crawled out of bed on Tuesday not knowing whether I wanted to cry or hit somebody. In fact, I swung from one to the other all day. I found myself close to tears several times over absolutely nothing, and must have muttered MOTHERf*cker! under my breath at my computer about a million times. My colleagues wisely kept their distance....

The frequent hot flushes - which added an extra dimension of fun - told me it was hormonal, so at least I knew I wasn't going completely mental.

The grey, cold, grim weather did not help one bit. It's supposed to be Spring... so come ON, Mother Earth.... where's the sunshine and (slightly) warmer temperatures?

And from Tuesday to Thursday the pain from my neck and right arm was building towards unbearable. I was trying very hard to count my blessings, but it was tough. A physio session on Thursday helped a bit - and so did the glass of Obi Wan.

Finally, today things seem to have equalised. I still didn't sleep brilliantly, but woke up to bright sunshine and a calm and optimistic outlook. Thank goodness. Of course, it's still freezing and the wind is blowing a gale from the north, but at least looking out from inside the house it seems more Spring-like.

I'm going to brave the wind and go for a walk shortly, then do some upper body rehab work. Then I have plans to tackle some more of my re-loved furniture projects this afternoon. Transforming some shabby old piece of junk into a beautiful feature piece is very therapeutic.

That was a bit of a rambling post, but hey; it's been that kind of week.

How can you be in a bad mood when you have this calm and peaceful view from your window?

Ignore the ratty plants. Tiger grass and cannas aren't fond of Melbourne's winter, but they're shooting like mad and will look fabulous again shortly.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Help me, Obikwa. You're my only hope.

Bad week, long story, need wine.

* I should note that this particular bottle of wine was opened last Friday. Such restraint!

** Excuse the pitiful Photoshop skills. I blame the rubbish new version that I simply cannot figure out how to use.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ingredients for a perfect Sunday morning

1. Sleep till almost 9:00am.

2. Spend 35 minutes on the spin bike with Coach Troy.

3. Breakfast of French toast with blueberries, yoghurt and agave syrup, served with coffee in my favourite cup and a side order of endorphins.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Today I had one of those "What am I going to have for lunch?" moments. Bike Boy had cooked me some chicken breast portions earlier, but we were out of my standard accompaniment, sweet potato. There were some potatoes in the pantry, but microwaved they aren't all that good, and I was starving NOW, so didn't want to wait for them to cook in the oven. I really didn't feel like plain chicken and plain steamed veg. The bread rolls in the pantry were an easy option and tempting, but nah...

I put a pan on the stove to heat and started rummaging through the fridge and pantry. Bike Boy was watching me as he ate his lunch of Asian style soup filled with fish balls and various other squishy things (so not my thing). "What are you making?" he enquired. "I don't know yet. I'm making it up as I go", was my reply.

This is what I came up with:

I heated a teaspoon of olive oil and threw in half a small sliced red onion, then once that was soft, added a tiny bit of ground cumin and a small handful of walnut pieces. I chucked in some chopped broccolini (steamed it in the microwave for two minutes first), stirred it around for a minute, then squeezed in some lemon juice. Finally, I added a glob of natural yoghurt, mixed it all around and then flung in a couple of handfuls of baby spinach.

Served up with my chicken and some green beans, it was pretty good. Next time I'd add more cumin and maybe some garlic. Everything tastes better with garlic.

...Although, maybe not ice cream.

The walnuts and olive oil made it quite filling and helped compensate for the modest amount of carbs. The lemon, yoghurt and walnuts together were just YUM.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Complaints? Don't mess with me.

I didn't intend for my previous post to sound like a big whinge. A little one, maybe... It's my decision and I'm fine with it (well, -ish). Short term pain for the greater good and all that.

Besides, thanks to flexible working arrangements and generous leave provisions, I've had almost every second Friday off, plus a week at Easter and two weeks in July in the school holidays. And I still have Cup week off, and five weeks from Christmas to look forward to. Nine day fortnights and nine weeks' leave a year? Not complaining about that.

I am complaining about this, though:

Remember those French language CDs I was going to order? Well, I did, way back on the 19th August. Is there any sign of them yet? Nuh-uh. Have I heard from the retailer, explaining the delay? Nope. Have they answered any of the three messages I sent via their website, requesting an update on the status of my order? Noooo. And this is in spite of their shipping policy, which states that goods will be despatched the same day if payment is received before 2:00pm, or the next day if received later.

They don't have a phone number on their site, and they're not in the white pages. Hmmm. They DO have an ABN and appear to be legit. I'm assuming that the item is out of stock and that their customer service skills are extremely crappy. But I'm hopping mad that they have my $49.50 and almost a month later, I have zero, zip, zilch to show for it.

I faxed them a letter of demand last week, and still no contact from them. So I've lodged a complaint with Consumer Affairs, who are now looking into it.

Take that, you #$@^!

Stop the world!

I've felt as though I'm hurtling through the days at the moment, but only getting a fraction of the things done that I want/need to. Does that mean it's time for a holiday? I wish....

I switched to part time in my dull, daytime, pays-the-bills job in 2006. Three days a week of battling peak hour traffic and being parked all day at a desk was plenty (ugh) and it allowed me time for my personal training/online coaching clients, plus enough "me time" to keep me sane. Except maybe during all those months when I was prepping for comps and building a house. Was I insane? Don't answer that.

With the dawn of a new year in 2010, it hit me that retirement isn't all that far away - I'm one of the lucky ones who can still retire before 60 (at 56, to be precise). So I started to do some future planning. I crunched some numbers for my super funds and realised that part-time hours were having a negative impact on my prospective payout. If I want to retire fabulously wealthy (or at least comfortably off), I needed to make some changes. So that made me reluctantly decide to revert to full time hours.

I've been back doing the nine-to-five things five days a week since April, and let me tell you, it doesn't leave much time for anything else. Especially when you add on two hours plus for travelling every day. The work is OK, the people are fine, the travel kills me...but the lack of time is driving me nuts.

Long story short, I stepped back from PT-ing for a bit. I just had to try to achieve some balance, and find a routine. Hey, I did this full time thing for twenty-seven years, so I know it isn't impossible. Things are settling now - I'm finding time for some projects on the weekends, and we're doing a few social things. And with the daylight hours extending and temperatures rising, it will get even easier.

So I'm starting to take on clients again. I have a couple already, plus a few more prospects, and I'm really enjoying getting back to what I love. I even woke up yesterday without the usual Blah. It's Monday attitude and headed to the office with a smile on my face.

The sun's shining this morning, and I'm running late once again, so I'm off out into the world. Later!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

It may not be the Windsor...

...but Bike Boy was pretty happy with his special Fathers' Day afternoon tea.

Ladies' day out

Yesterday was lovely. Being chauffeured to the city in a luxury car was definitely a cut above a trip in your average taxi. And several cuts above enduring the train service from the far-flung outer suburbs. Our chauffeur, Brian, was polite, punctual and professional, as you'd expect.

The NGV was fabulous. Not just the European Masters - although it was a particularly good exhibition - but we discovered the History of Lace exhibition in one of the upstairs galleries (lovely!) and re-discovered some old favourites too, including our one and only Rembrandt.

The Fashion exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre is well worth a visit if you're in the city. Gorgeous outfits from the 19th and 20th centuries ...not a huge number of exhibits, but beautiful all the same. We wandered through the other exhibition spaces while we were there, enjoying revisiting the Heidelberg School painters and the Sidney Nolan collection.

Then we got the giggles when we came across some very kitsch Australiana - intricately decorated emu eggs and epergnes, adorned with spear-carrying aborigines, kangaroos, swans, tiny horses running around tracks, detailed fern fronds, snakes and more Aussie objects than you can poke a stick at. Amazing skill, but hilarious at the same time. I can't find any pics online of the ones we saw, but this one from the National Gallery in Canberra is along the same lines, only much less ornate:

We strolled up Collins St, window-shopping all the posh shops where we couldn't even afford to buy a button, let alone a whole garment. We browsed around Luis Vuitton (the shop even has a doorman) and laughed at some of the shoes on display at Miss Louise (blingy skulls on your six-inch heels, anyone?), before arriving at the Windsor, which has to be one of the best examples of Victorian architecture in our city:

I doubt the top-hatted doorman's uniform has changed much since the hotel opened in the 1880s.

The dining room at 111 Spring St has been lovingly restored.

Of course there were cucumber sandwiches amongst the offerings:

I didn't take a photo of the dessert buffet, with its chocolate fountain, but I can say that we were very restrained, only visiting once and managing not to take one of everything... Our waiter asked whether we were celebrating a special occasion, and when I replied that it was my friend's birthday, he disappeared and came back with this:

We finished with a champagne in the Cricketer's Bar before Brian arrived to drive us home - through the pouring rain, which had set in by that time.

*sigh* Every weekend should be like this.

I almost forgot: if you're in the city around 4:00-6:00pm on a Saturday, pop into the Cricketer's Bar and grab a drink and a seat by the window. It's the perfect vantage point to watch the endless parade of wedding groups posing for photos on the steps of Parliament House. We saw blue, pink, black (3), burgundy, turquoise (2), gold, champagne and pale green bridesmaids in the space of about 30 minutes. Very entertaining!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Pretending to be posh

I'm heading out for the day, got a lovely girls' day out planned with my best friend as a 50th birthday treat for her. Yay!

We're being picked up by chauffeured car and whisked away to the National Gallery to have a wander around the European Masters exhibition first up. We also plan to catch the 100 Years of Fashion exhibition over at Fed Square, and may stick our noses into a few other gallery rooms too. There may be some champagne involved along the way, and possibly some retail therapy, before we head to the Windsor for afternoon tea. If you've never had arvo tea at the Windsor, you really should - it's an experience.

We have an hour to spare afterwards before the car arrives to deliver us back home, so we may waddle into the Cricketer's Bar for another champers or two. We did think we might walk around the city, but the weather is absolutely vile, so sheltering in the nearest watering hole is probably much wiser.


On the less cheery side... I just heard about the BIG earthquake in Christchurch, which of course is where Sara lives.

I'm sure she has more important concerns than updating her Facebook status, but I'm going to be worrying (and frantically checking via my phone every five minutes) till she does.

If you get to read this, luvvie, PLEEEEASE text me if you can and let me know you're OK.

Edit: All's well with the Kiwi contingent. That's one lucky city - pretty bad damage to property, but a remarkable lack of serious injury.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My week is chockers... work, some social outings (yay!), some tradesmen to deal with (will this ever END?), Fathers Day shopping duties to squeeze in, plus I really need to clean up around here. Even by my low housekeeping standards, things are a bit of a mess.

I'm also nursing my strained (or whatever) trapezius, and sitting at the computer after doing the same all day at work really doesn't help in that department.

I'm around; just not blogging much.