Schools Back.. Skerred.

In my youth I decided that university wasn’t for me. I wanted to see the world. To live in another country. To Fly Like An Eagle. That’s exactly what I did. After an extended time overseas, I finally came back to Australia for good, in 2004. I met a guy, married, worked, had three kids…. For that reason, my university journey is taking shape in my late thirties, instead of my teens.

Tomorrow, the kids go back to school for term 3. A welcomed return for me (not so much for them, because helloooo…homework – YUK!)

It’s also a week until I return to university. After having studied online for a few years (and getting nowhere thanks to not getting cross-credits) I have found that on-campus is definitely the best way for me to study successfully. The only problem is I have mild social anxiety. I do not like crowds, and I do not like being around a lot of strangers. Whenever I think about having to go in to the campus I am a combination of excitement to be learning new things, and sick to my stomach because..people.

I’m trying not to acknowledge my anxiety and nerves, but they are creeping up, sitting on my chest and pressing down so much that I can physically feel it change the way I breathe.

I don’t have any ‘university friends’ as last semester I was doing a couple of mandatory subjects that were aimed at a cross section of courses, thus not strictly in my ‘field of study’. Also, I’m not good at making friends. I love being friends. I love having people in my community, but I’m so awkward when it comes to making them. I have a knack of being really quiet and observant, until I know you. Once I do know you though, look out! You’ll never get me to shut up! It’s hard, but I’m going to try to reach out this semester.

Anywho, I’ve managed my anxiety with diet and exercise for awhile now, however my exercise has slipped. My diet isn’t terrible, and I try to stick to Gluten Free, Wheat Free as much as I possibly allow myself. I certainly don’t beat myself up when I do eat a spoonful of Nutella, but I am aware it will affect me. In the past I have seen marked improvements through exercise. Something I have learned is that I really need to do a ‘type’ of movement every day. If I don’t do it every day, my body becomes a blob. Yesterday I had great intentions of going out for a run (jog/walk/shuffle – let’s face it, what I do isn’t graceful, but it is out there!) I had on all the gear and then bam… throughout the day, my mind talked me out of going. I didn’t do it. Complete regret. Why didn’t I just lace up the shoes and go? I KNOW I’ll feel better. It’s like I self-sabotage myself by not doing it. Self-talk is huge. How you talk to yourself reflects on how you put your own energy into the world. I also believe that you can change the way you think by being conscious of the how you speak to yourself. Being present, and listening. I’ll listen to Benedict…because he knows…


Anywho, this week I am committing to three thirty minute runs (and anything above that is a bonus!). I am also starting back at dance class this week, which I thoroughly enjoy. So, whilst the anxiety is creeping up, and I’m feeling panicky, and scared to return to school, I am also going to commit to getting out and exercising, as well as being kind to myself. Because really, in the end, being kind to yourself really does matter. Regardless of my ‘friend count’ I know that I am important, and I matter.

***Shout Out to a wonderful online community. I’ve written about them before. They are known as Operation Move. A true Sisterhood. If you are into being around positive women, who uplift, encourage, and inspire, then they are your community! Come over and check them out on Facebook! I’m fairly certain that without them I wouldn’t believe in myself half as much, and I certainly wouldn’t have the confidence to move as much.***

When you don’t meet a challenge have you failed?

Recently I took part in an 80 day fitness challenge.

The idea was the exercise/move every day for 80 days in a row. Before you think that the idea is insane and rest days are important, one of the options was stretching, which worked well for ‘rest days’. It was also a fundraiser for a wonderful woman raising money for Cancer research.

I went into the challenge full of enthusiasm and had planned out a countdown of days. It looked intimidating, but totally achievable. I enjoyed moving every day, and at the beginning of the week I would set out my days and what movements I would be doing. I used YouTube a lot and am so addicted to “The Fitness Blender” and all their workouts. I got stuck into the kettlebells and the DOMS were feeling good. By about day 25 I started to feel stronger, and better. The online support group was great, and it was good to go in and celebrate movements.

There was an element of nutrition that came into it, such as introducing more fruit and veg, which I eat anyway, and trying to cut back on alchohol..bonboooong.. THIS one may have definitely was my demise with seeing complete improvement.

We planned a trip away for the weekend for my eldest, who turned 8. That’s when it all headed south (literally). I believe it was around day 52. We spent the weekend away and I didn’t make it a priority. That‘s basically what it comes down to. Poor planning meant that I neglected to do any movement, thus disqualifying me from the challenge.

Now..there are two ways this could go. I miss a couple of days, pick myself back up and keep going with moving every day (because I genuinely enjoyed the feeling!) Or…. drop it and forget all about it. Going back to old habits and neglecting what made me feel good. You can guess which one happened. I fell apart. All the planning, all the moving. It stopped. Do I regret it? I don’t regret it, because I feel it’s a genuine lesson. I think the lesson I needed is to keep small goals in mind. Not grand ones. Think small, achieve big. I was able to go for 52 moving EVERY day. That is HuGE. To me, that is an achievement I should celebrate. So.. I am celebrating the fact that I was able to meet part of a challenge, and whilst I didn’t complete it to get a ‘medal’ at the end, I know that I’ve learned an extremely important lesson to me.

Starting today, I am going to plan one week ahead. No further. I will write out my workout/moving plans and stick to them. I will celebrate small victories and although the bigger picture will always be hanging on the wall, I will choose to look at the snapshots that will create good habits, and allow me to continue on a journey of life, love, health, and everything in  between.

Do you have any favourite YouTube workouts? Do you have a secret to motivation? Is it motivation, or is it planning?

Our Friendship Goes The (Running) Distance…

I have a little sister, her name is Lola.. Oh wait..hang on… wrong opening line!!

Actually, I have a little friend, her name is D….. and I lub her very much!

D and I have been friends for a little while now (thank you social media!) and we have a common interest (among many) of running. She introduced me to the wonderful, supportive, online group Operation Move and I haven’t looked back! Recently I flew up to see her for a visit, but also because she had convinced me to sign up for the Tour De Tambourine 10K run! Talk about crazy!!!

Flying to Queensland, I got off the plane and was immediately wrapped in a warm blanket of lov…..no, not love…it was humidity!! Oh My!!! That stuff is thick..and sticky!! Not used to that at all, but yay… Queensland.

Leading up to November, D and I had undertaken a 12 week training program with Operation Move, but had completed the training a few weeks before. Both of us were a little struggling with fitness, and decided we’d just spend this run as a fun run, not for any record times. This is why I think, and want to absolutely stress…. running with friends makes it fun!!!! I know that running can be a wonderful, individual time out from anybody (mostly the kids), pushing yourself to get your pace and fastest time, but running with a friend (my first time!) was soooo much fun!

tourdetamboWe picked up our race packets (so easy!) and I was so surprised that it had MY NAME on it!!! I was so bloody excited that I forgot I’d be pushing through 10k the next day!!!!

tambofriends

You know how running can be a mind game, and there is no “only” about it..if you do 1km, you do 1km, no matter how slow you go?! Well the lady who took our photos asked what distance we were doing and I made the mistake of saying “Only 10k”…both her and D corrected me, that it’s not just “only”….. remember that… no matter the distance, it counts! She also said to us “The Journey is Now” … that was really sweet. All the hard work we put in, and maybe the work we didn’t, now mattered! Not much else to do, we relaxed and drank coffee… a staple in our diet… and friendship!

We had a yummy Indian dinner, go check out the restaurant Masala Shanti if you’re ever there!

Race Day Ready …. lucky for the band aids in the cars first aid kit! I have a tricky little toe and without band aids I’m not sure I’d have a toe left …hah. tambostuffHow good does the Operation Move shirt look?? So incredibly honoured and proud to be able to wear it. This wonderful, online group of women prove every day that you can be all shapes, sizes, and ages to succeed, just by Moving!

tambocoffee

Mandatory Pre-Race Coffee It’s good for the lungs…seriously!

The event was well set up, and a great course. The only downfall, the lack of photographers on the course (We’d even discussed our photographic poses in the week leading up to the event!), and few marshals around the outer parts of the course (Oh, and the lack of bling *sob*) …Apart from that, it was a top notch event. Lots of hydration stations, although the water spraying we got at the end would have gone well throughout the course!!!
Since there were no photographers, it was lots of runfies and selfies!! So Much Fun! Going up

The hills...so many hills!!!

The hills…so many hills!!!

the hills killed, going down the hills..not so much! It was also nice to see other people out on the course from Running Mums Australia who were very supportive of their team mate who was walking/jogging with injury..I swear they clocked up heaps more mileage through doubling back!

The running community I’ve been able to witness really is a great one. As long as you’re out

ONE MORE KILOMETRE TO GO...we can do it (just don't stop on a hill - that was the advice of a pro running past us!)

ONE MORE KILOMETRE TO GO…we can do it (just don’t stop on a hill – that was the advice of a pro running past us!)

there – running, jogging, shuffling, or briskly walking…you’re a part of a super global community! There’s always someone there to encourage you to keep going, and someone letting you know you’re doing a great job, even if you’re internally struggling!

We finally got to the finish line and crossed over at the EXACT same time!!! *all of the smiles*

tambofinish

WE DID IT! …And all we got was a wrist band! I wore the ShIT outta that wrist band the next day! But seriously..we did it!!!

I’m so glad I got to go to QLD and run an event with a friend. No record for finishing. But it was all about the friendship, and going the distance.

I’m so glad that D is in my life. I’m so glad that she is my friend. Although we live in different states, our souls are still entwined.

The End.

Kara-Goucher

I apologise ….

I’ve had something on my mind for the past couple of days. Ever since I heard about the English cricketer who has gone home from the Ashes with stress-related illness. It can happen to anyone. And it does.  This is my post in response to that (which is actually pretty unrelated)…..

I think I need to make an apology. What for? You might ask… You see, at the beginning of this year I was traveling a very dark path. There were no streetlights, and there was no end. There was a street sign with the name of the street, but you would have to look really hard to read it because it was so dark. When I looked forward, there was no hope; There was no future. I was at a crossroads and they were marked Depression Rd and Anxiety Way.  The thing is…there were so many things happening in my life, in my head, and I had no way of filtering them, of sorting them out, and getting through them. From the outside looking in, it probably seemed as if I had it all. I had a husband, a home, 3 beautiful children, a stable income and a car. I was studying at uni and there was sunshine in the sky. That’s where my apology comes in. The sun wasn’t shining for me.  I locked myself away, and didn’t come out at all. I would drop the kids off to school without getting out of the car, so that I didn’t have to talk to anyone, or didn’t have to get out of my pajamas. I declined every invitation to get together and socialize because I didn’t know what to talk about, and I didn’t want to leak my sour mood onto anyone else. I didn’t want to get out of bed, and would quite often go straight back to bed as soon as I returned from school drop off. Only now, now that I am finally at the end of those streets and finally walking along It Gets Better Street do I realize, by doing this, I had the potential to jeopardize friendships I’d had for months/years. To the outsider who doesn’t know, my behavior could be perceived as uppity, and snobbish. As if I was acting like I was too good to talk to anyone. Or to good to go out and share a meal and have a drink.  The problem is. That’s not the truth. The truth is that when you are in the deepest parts of depression, nothing seems appealing. Hiding in my house all day. Looking things up on the internet. Getting lost in books. Watching tv without even seeing it. Those were all the things I was stuck in. It was like a loop and I couldn’t stop it from happening.  Just the thought of having to talk to people would cause a physical reaction and I’d cry. I couldn’t breathe at the thought someone would talk to me. I know that a lot of people suffer in silence. They don’t want to burden anyone with how they are feeling, and what they are going through. That’s exactly where I was.

If not for a couple of friends who gently persisted on being a friend and never giving up, I would still be in that pit of despair. They listened without judgement, they asked questions, and they were there, often just through a small phone screen. So……to all the people in my life, both on screen and off who felt the brunt of my struggles. I am sorry. I’m sorry if I bought you down. I’m sorry if I ignored you. I’m sorry if you thought I didn’t value our friendship, because I do. I do so very much.  There may be nothing that can turn things around, but just know… everyone has their journey they’re traveling. Sometimes it just takes one friend to ask the question and make sure everything is okay. Just be there. Be present. Know it’s not personal, it’s the person.

I also want those people who may be reading this and are still walking along those Roads and Paths marked with lights that have blown out… I am here for you, and you will get to the end of it. It might not happen tomorrow, it might. Either way, you are not alone. Never, ever, ever…. And remember YOU ARE IMPORTANT.. even if you don’t believe it.

 

IF you’d like to know more about how I was able to turn myself onto a better path please feel free to ask. I’m more than happy to share my story. It might just be similar to yours!  You can email me at sydneygen04@yahoo.com

I don’t think my journey is over yet, in fact I know it’s not, but I am glad to see a lot more streetlights burning bright. Let’s turn some on for you, too!

R U OK? – It’s OK To Say NO

Today is once again, R U OK day in Australia. This initiative started as a movement to raise awareness and open channels to help people struggling with life. According to the RUOK website www.RUOKDAY.com:

The R U OK? Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging all people to regularly and meaningfully ask ‘are you ok?’ to support those struggling with life.

R U OK?Day is our national day of action on the second Thursday of September (12 September 2013), and dedicated to reminding people to regularly check in with family and friends. We also have Resources for You to use throughout the year to help you ask ‘are you ok?’ regularly of family, friends and colleagues.    Stephen Fry

You might remember that last year I wrote a blog post about it, and at the time, I was NOT OK. You can read all about the reasons here: R U OK 2012.

Since then I have had many struggles, up and down, and I am still working through them, but for today, I can say, “I am OK”. Who knows what tomorrow brings. My anxiety peaks and waves, comes and goes. Some days I feel like I can conquer the world, and some days I feel like I want to hide out in my room all day and not talk to anyone.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because I want to ask YOU the question: ARE YOU OK? R U OK? ARE YOU ALRIGHT? Nothing is ever black, and white. I know nothing can ever be solved with a cup of tea, but it sure can ease a burden! Let me be your tea-maker. I am HERE for you. I will listen, I will not judge, and I will not set out to solve the worlds problems. Sometimes all you want is a friend to listen and acknowledge, not judge, not try to solve the issues, or tell you where you might be going wrong. I am your friend.

Not AloneIf you don’t want to talk to me, just know that You are NOT alone. With the progress in social media and the access we all have to the internet, I have found that you are open to a world of opportunity and hope. If you have anxiety about being in public situations, you can be comfortable in your own home and reach out. If you don’t like the way you look and it makes you depressed, you can be behind a computer screen asking for advice. You don’t have to put yourself in situations that may cause you to be even more “not OK”.

So, today, at this point in time, why am I feeling OK? I think it has something to do with finally seeing a psychologist. It took me a couple of goes, and it’s not always first one is the best choice, but the one I have been seeing was not trying to read my head, or solve the worlds problems of why I am the way I am. We were simply letting it be and working with how we can work with that. It’s hard work, and it’s not all roses and sunshine, but the one thing I have learned is, FriendsEveryone needs someone to talk to. By talking about my issues with someone who was non-judgmental, my whole attitude changed. I’m no longer holding onto feelings inside myself, and no longer taking it out on my loved ones. Again, not always having great days, and yes I regress, but I know that I’m getting better. You can too. All you need to do is ask the question.

I hope you are aware that you are not alone. You will be OK. There is help available. If you go to one doctor and they say they don’t believe in ‘depression/anxiety’ then go to a different doctor. Start doing Yoga (I know it sounds naff, but it did help me!). Start exercising, even just a 15 minute walk outside in the fresh air will clear your mind and help.  If you want to send me a private message, then please do. My email is: sydneygen04@yahoo.com .

I’ve listed some resources that you can go and check out and maybe gain a little further information and maybe some help?

Take-The-First-Step

RESOURCES:

Beyond Blue

R U OK Day

Dancing with the Black Dog – A blog

and just remember:

You__ve_got_a_friend_in_me__by_pocket_full_of_posy

Doing Things I Said I Would Never Do….

So basically, I’ve gone and done TWO things I said I’d never do!

ONE: I joined a gym (and I’ve been going!!!!)

TWO: I have been running on the treadmill (and not hating it!)

Slinky on a Treadmill
Slinky on a Treadmill…. your argument is invalid…

We’ve recently had one of those 24 hour gyms open in the neighbourhood and I know a lot of people who have joined it. I always said, “Oh I can’t join a gym, I’ve got no time..or … What would I do with the kids? By the time it’s evening, I’m stuffed!!”  So when I saw another local gym set up a booth at the local shopping centre I was intrigued… because the big sign said “LADIES ONLY AREA” and “CHILD MINDING” … ding ding ding!!! Two definite things that have always made me err at the thought of a gym. I curiously went up and spoke to the girl, and was surprised at all they were offering! Some great deals on joining, no need to pay until Spring, child minding included, reasonable hours, good location, classes at perfect times, and NOT THAT Expensive!!!!  If ever I was looking for a sign, I thought I’d found it! I took the information and went home to discuss with my husband. It would be a decision that needed to be jointly made, and the budget adjusted accordingly. He was very supportive and agreed I should go for it! So, a couple of days later I signed up! That was Friday… I was excited to get rid of the excess 10kg I’ve put on in the last year (gasp…yup….I’ve let myself slip A LOT!). I want to fit back into the jeans I have just waiting to be worn!! I want to feel better, and to not be so lethargic.I started on Monday, and besides a minor hiccup yesterday (Wednesday) of dropping a ceramic bowl on my toe and my knee being sore from a little hyper extension on the elliptical (btw elliptical, we are no longer friends) I have been going every day, straight after school drop off, so there’s no excuses!! The girls enjoy going to the children’s corner and it has everything they could want or need, including a friend they already know!!!

That brings me to the number two thing. I always said Treadmills were boring… I guess I said that when it wasn’t Winter, and it wasn’t cold and rainy outside!!!! I’ve eased back into my running by starting the C2K program (Couch to 5km) although I skipped straight to week 2. I’m not a hater of the treadmill anymore, and I know that once I’ve shed a few kilos and not as heavy, I’ll feel much better about hitting the road again. I still like being outdoors, and feel I run farther when I am, but for the meantime, I’ll use the nice cosy gym ones (equipped with tvs and internet!!).

What I look like - funny running picture

So there you go. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and I’m gymming it. I haven’t even been to the ladies area yet! I’ve done some ab work in the general area, and just stayed in my little zone!! Everyone is there for the same reason, so yeah… I don’t even care!  Hopefully, in a months time I’ll start seeing significant changes. My mind is already starting to swirl itself back into possibilities. Making things a lot clearer. I’m excited again. I have my fitness eval and program write up next week… then we can get onto some strength activities, as well as losing the fat! Now.. if I could JUST get onto that housework that forever evades me.. or do I evade it?!!

In other news.. I have “The Greatest Athlete” obstacle course coming up next weekend. I’m scared witless!! It’s going to be fun, but Oh My!!!! Definitely the “weekend warrior” here! I’m also pretty pumped about the following weekend when the WHOLE family completes the The Swisse Color Run ! Hubby and I did it last year and had a load of fun throwing colour at each other, we thought this year it would be fun to take the kids and let them have fun too!! I’m off to get some ‘goggles’ for the girls and maybe a drop sheet for the double jogger pram!? I’ll update with pics once these events have happened!! In the mean time…. thanks for reading!

Be Safe – Sparkle & Shine – Be Happy

Emazoning it…. Learning to walk before I run

This week has been a topsy-turvy week in the SydneyGen world of things-that-happen…..

Our youngest has been hit with a horrible sickness, and her usual vibrant self is nowhere to be seen. It’s taken 2 doctors visits to finally diagnose tonsillitis, so with the proper medication, I’m hoping we all get some sleep relief soon! Speaking of sleep…. an interesting thing happened to me last night.

I attended a free (absolute BARGAIN) one and a half hour session with Emazon (Stand Your Ground) thanks to the wonderful girls at Designed 2 Fit gym.  If you haven’t heard of Emazon before, she’s been on The Biggest Loser, and Australia’s Next Top Model. From her website: Emazon travels the country as a keynote speaker, presenter and coach. STAND YOUR GROUND is the renowned mind body workshop that has toured the country for over 5 years. A provocative and unconventional insight into our health, weightloss, self image, personal authority and self destructive behaviours.

Anywho… for an hour I got to put on some very cool red wrist wraps, that immediately got me into the ‘zone’ and belt out some boxing and get my mind into some focus points.. basically, I got to forget about the world and my life for an hour and a half. Whilst I really enjoyed the boxing aspect of it, and the way that Emazon made you micro focus, I got the most of the session at the end. She ran us through a breathing technique and relaxation, which of course I loved, as it w photo IMG_5234_zpsb9ac3a6a.jpgas very yoga-esque. Then, she spoke to us about some ‘techy stuff’ to do with our bodies, brains and functioning. As she was speaking I was listening and nodding along. Everything she was saying I was thinking, “yes, yes, yes that’s me, yes” … I don’t get enough sleep. I don’t sleep at the optimum times, I don’t handle my body correctly, and I’ve definitely done too much too fast in everything, to be able to maintain a proper, consistent form of living and weight loss.  I asked a question about how “us mothers with young ones” are supposed to get the “eight hours” sleep, when it’s a fantasy. The answer wasn’t as complicated as I thought. If I can’t get the eight hours, then it’s more beneficial for me to be asleep between 10pm-1am in the ‘deepest’ part of sleep. That means I start a going-to-bed ritual a lot earlier than I usually do. I turn off technology, I calm my brain down, and make it a habit to sleep sooner, rather than later. Surely that can’t be too hard!!

At the moment, I’m really unhappy with how I feel I’ve let myself go. In the last year I’ve gained 10kgs and I can feel every little bit of it. Interestingly though, instead of thinking I have to go hell-for-leather and start immediately.. it was pointed out, that in order for our bodies to not rebel on us, or go into shock, we have to ease into things. So, with that in mind, I am not jumping straight onto the 1200 calorie eating plan again, I am not going to attempt to run 8kms again, instead… I’m going to slowly ease my calories down to 1200 over the next two weeks, and I’m going to start walking as much as I can. This is my ‘say it out loud’ and I’m hoping you’ll hold me accountable!

I was very lucky to have a wonderful stranger gift me a ‘group session’ that she had won in the lucky door prize. I thought I was going to cry!! It’s those small things that need to push me. Last night I saw some people I hadn’t seen in a very long time, it was like a mini 12wbt reunion. I was so happy seeing them, and realised that by isolating myself, and not seeing them I have not been ‘surrounding myself with things that help’ … These were girls I climbed the highest mountain with (literally) and they’re the type of people who will gently push and encourage and you listen, because they’re going through exactly the same thing you are! So in saying that. I am also going to work out how I can afford regular gym sessions, one-on-ones and group training.  I’d love to go to the Emazon convention in October, but some things are beyond reach… for now.

emazon

Middle and Center for the Team Photo!!

Err so what was this post all about then? Ummm.. it was just me wanting to express that A: I don’t like the way I am right now. B: I know I can change this. C: I will change myself slowly and surely. D: I recommend you look up Emazon and check her out. E: The girls at Designed 2 Fit are awesome. F: I will surround myself with people that help me be the best version I can be. G: Tonsillitis in littlies sucks H: I don’t need to get through the whole alphabet because this post is long enough.

Until next time….  Stand Proud and JUST Be the Best You Can Be!