Friday, August 31, 2012

Seize the moment

I was driving home from work the other day, in a bit of a rush because I knew I'd only have half an hour to throw some food at the kids and get changed before heading back out to meet a client. I pulled up at the traffic lights just near our house, and happened to glance to my right and notice how beautiful the evening light was on the pair of old bleached dead river redgums by the side of the road.

Immediately I thought Wow. That's a great photo, right there. My next thought was: Man, I wish I had my camera with me. Of course I did have my phone, but honestly? The camera just doesn't cut it, not when you're used to using an SLR. I knew I wouldn't be able to frame the shot tightly enough - sure, I  could crop it later, but then I'd lose resolution, which isn't all that good to start with.

There wasn't time to dash home, grab the camera and get back there - my schedule was too tight, and besides, the light probably would have changed in the ten minutes or so it would take me to do that. If I'd been in less of a rush, I could have done a U-turn, pulled over into a nearby side street and got out of the car so I could get closer to my subject. But I couldn't even spare the few minutes that would take. So I sighed and resigned myself to missing the shot. Maybe tomorrow...

Then I had an "Aha!" moment.  Who says it has to be perfect? I could just take the shot anyway, and at least I'd have something. That was better than the alternative: a big, fat zero.

I lowered the window, aimed my phone and took the shot, just a second before the taffic light turned green. It's not perfect - framing needs to be tighter, the asphalt and kerb in the foreground adds nothing to the image; nor does the van over on the right there. The resolution is low and there's a bit too much sky for it to be balanced. But the point is, I GOT the shot anyway. I captured the light, the colours and the stark beauty of the dead trees - the things that caught my attention in the first place.

If I'd insisted on everything being perfect, right now I'd have nothing.

Which got me thinking about fitness.... Ha! Of course it did; doesn't everything? ;o) How many times do we miss an opportunity for a workout because everything isn't perfect?

You forgot to set your alarm and now only have 20 minutes available, so you don't have time for that 60-minute workout DVD you were going to do. Do you think Bah! That sucks - and then sulk all day? Why not do 20 minutes of the workout? It's better than nothing.

You're sick or injured and can't run for a few weeks. You could sit on the couch...or you could go for a walk. At least you're moving the old bod.

There are a million reasons why we sometimes can't do an exercise activity we would like (or have planned) to do. And it's all too easy to use that as an excuse to do nothing at all.

But when life throws an obstacle in your way and your plans go out the window, you need to ask yourself: Am I going to miss the moment altogether or do I just snap a less than perfect picture?

Are you a perfectionist when it comes to exercise?

Day 31 - Hidden

There's a desk under there somewhere....


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 30 - Card

I have this card, sent to me by a lovely friend, pinned up on my "inspiration board" next to my desk. Every time I see it, I smile. 


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

And the winner is....

I've just drawn he winner of my giveaway, and the winner of the fantastic prize is.....

Commenter number 7 - who happens to be Sara....or more accurately, Sara's Mum! Congratulations, Sheryn. You've won an e-course from Up & Running, starting on 3rd September. Sara, you'd better take your Mum shopping for some cool new running shoes, pronto.

Thanks to all who entered, and huge, HUGE thanks to Shauna and Julia for providing the prize (not to mention some great blog reading without the slightest effort from yours truly).

Up & Running

If you didn't win, but you'd like some help improving your running, just click on the banner above and get in touch with the girls. They'd love to help you find your running groove!


When DOMS attacks

An enforced break from training fills me with dread. Not that I don't enjoy staying in bed until a civilised time in the mornings, instead of arising at Oh-My-GOD o'clock when it's dark and cold and I'm cranky...

Nope, the issue is the sure knowledge that I'm going to lose some of my hard-earned fitness and that it is going to HURT when I get back into it. My heart and lungs will struggle, my muscles will burn and the after-effects will be very, very, ugly.

My recent illness saw me take almost four weeks off from any kind of activity, other than a few walks and some gentle rehab work for my shoulder - and even that was skipped most days whilst I wallowed in my snotty, wheezy misery. So although I was happy to be heading back to the gym last week, my brain was sending out all sorts of messages of dread and gloom, and I found myself feeling quite nervous about the whole thing.

The common sense part of my brain (yes, there IS one) told me to stop worrying about it, forget about whatever I was doing four weeks ago and just approach training with a little restraint. No jumping on a bike in RPM and cranking the gears up to Hell, yes, I'm so fit! So I listened to the quiet voice of sanity, dialled resistance down a couple of notches, built up speed gradually and waited to see how I felt.

Surprisingly, I performed better than I expected all around. The DOMS over the next few days was pretty ferocious, but I know from experience that you don't die from DOMS...

I've gradually upped the intensity a little over the past ten days, and this morning's RPM class saw my performance only slightly below where I was when I got sick.

Seems my inner voice of doom was being a bit of a drama queen after all.

How do you psych yourself up for a return to activities that you know are going to cause short-term pain?


Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Birds, bubbles, buds & burgers

Apart from training, eating and sleeping, this weekend I've squeezed in a bit of bird watching:

Spotted the welcome signs of impending Spring:

And enjoyed a relaxed birthday lunch with a friend that included bubbles:

An amazing burger:

And OF COURSE ...a decadent chocolate dessert:

Now I'm all set for another big week we go again!


Day 26 - Dream

One day....

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 25: Fresh

"Hows the serenity?"
A welcome break in the weather gave me a chance to get outdoors for some fresh air. So I walked down to the parklands, sat on a dryish patch of ground on a steep bank overlooking the lake, and had a bit of a Daryl Kerrigan moment. Very Zen.

Judgement day

Scenario: You're at the gym, working your guts out on an elliptical and you notice someone wander out of the change rooms and hop on a treadmill. They spend five minutes walking at a slight incline, then move to the mats and spend another ten minutes stretching and mucking around with a foam roller.

You finish up your cardio workout and move over to the weights area and you see that this person has pulled out a resistance tube and is doing a couple of really basic exercises with it. You're getting sweaty in the squat rack, and when you take a break between sets a few minutes later, you see that they've put the band away. They do a few more stretches and then head back to the change room. You see them come out a minute later with their bag and leave the gym.

Pfft. What a waste of time. Twenty five minutes of walking, stretching and stuffing around with a band. Who'd pay for a gym membership, just to do that? You get back to your hard-core training (because you're a total badass) and forget about them...

Have you ever seen somebody at your gym do something like that and silently judged them? Hmm.

That person was me yesterday morning. I had exactly twenty-five minutes to spare between the school drop-off and my appointment for my cortisone injection. I could have gone home, sculled an extra coffee, then driven back to the radiology place, which happens to be in the same complex as my gym. Or I could have stopped at the shopping centre and had a coffee there, browsed the Spring fashions and then driven the 1km or so to my appointment. But I chose to use the time to squeeze in a quick workout instead.

I jumped on a treadmill to get my sore legs moving (Ouchies! Thursday's training had left me with screaming hamstrings, quads and glutes) and warm up a bit before doing the exercise that was my highest priority - my shoulder rehab. I added some extra stretching because I was feeling particularly stiff. The exercises I'm doing are not impressive - in fact to the untrained eye, it may look as though I'm not doing anything at all with a couple of them. But they are essential and they are having the desired effect.

I was having a little laugh to myself as I imagined what I looked like, and what that chick with the amazing glutes over in the squat rack was thinking...

There have been times in the past where I've noticed someone doing what appeared to be a no-effort workout and made snap judgements about them. But if there's one thing that injury teaches you, it's that you can't judge a book by its cover. Or a gym-goer by their workout. Whatever.

Now when I see somebody who looks capable enough doing an "easy" workout, I wonder what their story is - Are they recovering from an illness? Do they have an injury? Did they do a massive workout yesterday and today they're doing a programmed recovery day?

The moral of this story: If we don't know a person's story, we shouldn't presume to judge them.

Are you sometimes guilty of being a judgey-judger?

Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win a fabulous online coached running course from Up & Running! There are courses suitable for everyone, from beginners to aspiring half-marathoners. All you have to do is leave a comment on Friday's post before 5:00pm AEST next Tuesday 28th August for a chance to win. Don't miss out!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 24 - Path

It's been a bit wet around here...

The outdoor fitness circuit is out of action at the moment. Unless you like to train in gumboots.


Celebrating with a splash!

This morning I have something special for you: a guest post by Julia Jones - triathlete and running coach. Alongside Shauna “Dietgirl” Reid, Julia created Up & Running online running courses for women. These lovely ladies invited me to be a stop on their Blog Tour this week (Yay!).  You also have the chance to win a great prize - so read on... 

Today Julia is talking about rocking into her fifties with a splash:

My birthday has always been a special day for me. Better than Christmas, better than Easter, better than summer vacations. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from birthdays - the special birthday breakfast, the phone calls, the extra nice treatment and the evening birthday celebration. As I’ve got older I’ve kept my birthday as my special day. Sometimes it’s friends and a dinner party, other years just me at a day spa. When the big 5-0 came up a few years ago I wanted to make it truly special.

Physically, approaching fifty felt great. I’d kept fit with running, triathlons and a regular yoga practice. Emotionally I was a little apprehensive. I didn’t feel “old” - I actually was loving life more than ever - but the years from forty to fifty had gone in a flash. I decided to give myself some natural therapy and do something unforgettable for this birthday. Something exciting, something thrilling; something that I could look back on a say “Wow, you did that at fifty!”.

It had to involve physical activity, for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to give myself the message of being in wonderful shape. Secondly, I knew that when sport is involved, emotions are too. I wanted to have positive thoughts and feelings whenever I recalled the moment I began the second phase of my life. I wanted to stretch my limits a little, but not so much that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Out of the blue I came up with the idea: swimming the Messina Straits, from Sicily to Calabria.

I knew they held a race there every year but when I went to sign up it sold out within fifteen minutes. Then I heard about a group that would simply do the crossing with a special permit from the harbor captain and a boat to assist swimmers. I sent my enrollment in, booked a hotel and began to train.

3.5 kilometres separates Messina, Sicily from the Villa San Giovanni Beach on Italy’s mainland. During my months of training I imagined the distance between “Scylla and Charybdis” to be something out of a Greek painting. In reality there was a strong current, but with proper instructions to swim north, I couldn’t wait to dive in!

There were forty swimmers and we were divided into groups of three with a boat following each group. My two swimming companions and I, Matteo and Lorenzo, were told to stay together and use the boat for assistance if needed. I wasn’t nervous but I had those racing butterflies in my stomach. I dove into the water and started swimming and after a few hundred metres knew that I would make it over to the other side.

I tried to focus on the boats ahead of us and occasionally I’d give a look to where my two companions were. I stopped and waited for them every once in awhile, I didn’t want to swim alone. I tried to “look” under the water but I could only spot a few crustaceans and some small fish so I focused on the intense blue tones layered in the depths of the water. In some moments I concentrated on the feelings of pleasure, the gratitude I had for being in this clean water and the wonders of this planet. Then before I knew it I was only two hundred metres from the beach. While my other companions raced to the finish, I slowed down to savor the moment, sad that it was coming to an end.

Nobody put a medal around my neck when I arrived. My husband, who had followed me on the boat, gave me a kiss and just said “good job”. †But I have powerful memories of fifty years celebrated as a precious gift and it’s how I’ve celebrated my birthday ever since. Fifty-one had me finishing my first Half Ironman. Fifty-two will be a return to marathon training. Every year is still a reason for celebration, just as it’s always been.

Want to give yourself an early (or late!) birthday present? Join one of Up & Running’s next e-courses, starting on 3 September. To win a place on the course of your choice, simply leave a comment below! Entries close on Tuesday 27 August at 5PM AEST and the winner be drawn at random.

Julia Jones
Julia after her epic swim.

Julia Jones lives in Italy and is coach at Up & Running. They offer e-courses for super-new and seasoned runners tackling 5K, 10K and half-marathon runs with expert coaching, awesome training plans and vibrant community support. Julia has rocked 33 marathons, 2 half Ironmans and numerous triathlons and is a columnist in Italy’s most popular running magazine.

Up & Running

Thanks, Julia! An inspiring "fit at fifty" story is something close to my own heart. :)


Aussie Giveaway Linky
Hosted by Three Lil Princesses

Day 23 - Pair

So I'm a day late posting this one ...I was busy, OK?

A pair of IKEA vases in my favourite colour.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Check your ego at the door

So, after just over a week of my Fit & Fitter challenge, how have I gone?  Quite well, actually. Food's been mostly excellent and training is right on track. I'm drinking my water, (still) taking my supplements and taking time out at work to do my rehab exercises. I jumped on the scales this morning to find that they haven't budged at all, but I don't particularly care. I can see and feel a difference, and overall I'm feeling much better than I was a week ago.

Training has presented some challenges. For a start, I have to find exercises that I can actually do.  Whilst just about any leg exercise is OK, I can't hold heavy weights and definitely can't get a bar on my shoulders. Not to worry! Given that I've had a few weeks off, pretty much anything is doing the trick at the moment. Over the coming weeks, I'll mess around with reps and sets and change exercises to keep things happening, since I can't really increase weights.

My other challenge has been overcoming some negative self-talk, all around feeling like a king-sized wuss because I'm not heaving heavy things around. I had to remind myself that: a) nobody is looking at me; b) even if they are, WHO CARES?; and c) I'm doing what I need to do, so just shut up whining and get on with it.

Ego may still have (slightly) got the better of me on Saturday...After doing my squats, lunges, rehab work, a short treadmill interval workout and some stretches, I found myself eyeing off the stability balls. So I grabbed one and did a couple of these:

Yes! I've still got it! Hehe. That made me feel a bit better. Until the next day, when I could barely get myself out of bed thanks to possibly the worst DOMS I've ever had.

That'll teach me. Or maybe not....   ;o)


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 22 - Home

Ah, home at last!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 21 - Cool

The funky ceiling lights in the Palladium Room at Crown. Pretty cool.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 20 - Today

Don't know I managed to get through the day...

You are the weakest link - Goodbye!

For the past couple of days I've struggled with a general feeling of unwellness (is that a word?): slight headache that felt as though it originated from sinus pressure, general aches - quite separate from the killer DOMS I inflicted on myself with Saturday's workout - crushing fatigue and a big old case of the bleurghs.  Great. I've just got over the cold from hell and now something else is attacking?

Then a vague memory stirred. I've felt this before...when I attempted that elimination diet a while back. I'm pretty sure what I was feeling were withdrawal symptoms from one or more of the foods that I don't tolerate well. Either that, or a response to eating that particular food, after having cleaned up my act a fair bit over the past week.

The problem is, I haven't been logging my food at all, and I can't for the life of me pinpoint what the offending item might be. I think I need to get my act together and re-do that diet - and this time see it through. I'd really like to say goodbye permanently to my nutritional "weakest links".

I'll have to psych myself up in preparation - after we get back from our holiday next month. No way am I avoiding all that delish Malaysian and Vietnamese food. Meanwhile, I'll just have to be a bit more vigilant about the things I'm eating over the rest of my 28-day challenge. More fruit and veggies, less splidges of this and sprinkles of that.

Has anyone ever successfully identified a food intolerance or allergy? How did you go about it? Enquiring minds want to know...


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 18 - Inside

Inside the spirit house that Bike Boy picked up in Bangkok.... complete with dead spider.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 17 - Faces

Fit & Fitter Friday update

My Fit & Fitter challenge is going well. Given that today is only Day 4, I can't report on any major progress, but I'm happy with my day to day achievements so far.

Nutrition has been tidied up, which basically means shovelling in more veggies, cutting down on starchy foods and paying attention to portion size. No junk, no lazy meal options (a Vegemite sandwich is not the ideal lunch, in case you were wondering) and bye-bye to my evening bottle glass of wine. I've even remembered to take my supplements.

As predicted, training has been less than exciting. Rehab exercises and some short walks have been the extent of my efforts, thanks to mostly vile weather and my respiratory problems, which stubbornly refused to vanish on demand. Today I finally feel as though I can breathe normally, so it'll be back to the gym at last tomorrow morning. Cannot WAIT.


I have some new and exciting adventures ahead on the shoulder rehab front. Well, maybe not really exciting... I've just been prescribed a cortisone injection into the subacromial bursa. While the injection itself may not be fun, I am looking forward to reduced pain and inflammation, and being able to really get stuck into some strengthening exercises for my weak upper back and external rotators.

Getting back to doing overhead presses, pullups and so on is probably a long way off, but at the moment I'll settle for being able to get my bra on and off without behaving like a circus contortionist. Or wash my hair using both hands.

Injuries. Eesh.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 16 - Food

Not what I ate for lunch...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 15 - Ready

Spring is a-coming. Man, I am SO ready!

Product review: Harvestbox

I'm always on the lookout for quick, on-the-run snacks that are actually made from real food. Of course I have a repertoire of recipes that I use on a regular basis, but sometimes I just can't be arsed don't have time to prepare things in advance. And while I love fresh fruit, it's helpful to have a little something on hand that won't go off and stink out my desk drawer or turn to putrid slush in the bottom of my handbag.

So when the lovely people at Harvestbox offered to send me a sample of their product to try, I jumped at the chance. What a brilliant idea! - Snacks mailed right to your desk. A box like this turns up in the post:

Inside are four sealed containers with a different mix in each. The range is huge. 

My four varieties were:

Bear’s Picnic
Canadian maple cashews, roast peanuts.

By the Beach
Macadamia, coconut, brazil nuts, mango

Strawberry Sundae
Strawberries, banana, sultanas

Fruit & Nut
Roast hazelnuts, flame raisins, dark chocolate

I tried the By the Beach mix first, and those are the nicest dried mango strips I've ever had. Whenever I've tried it in the past, the texture's been like bits of old dried leather and the taste has been pretty nondscript. Not these! Tender, still moist and most definitely tasted like mango. 

I taste-tested all four varieties and loved all of them. If I had to pick a favourite, the Bear's Picnic might just win by a nose, although the dark choc chips in the Fruit & Nut combo were right up my alley.

The cost seems reasonable too, at $7.95 a pack. That's just under $2 per snack; not bad at all - especially when you don't even have to go out to buy them. And the website seems easy to use, so they get bonus points for that.

The verdict? I give them the thumbs-up.  Keep in mind that nuts and dried fruit are quite high in calories, so in general need to be eaten in small portions. Luckily, the Harvestbox servings are quite small, and would be fine for most people as a snack option a couple of times a week. 

Disclosure: This is not a paid post. I did receive samples of the product to review, however no monetary remuneration was involved.