Monday, 24 March 2014

The triumph

Monday, schmonday. It always creates the same emotion in most people's minds, start of the new work week and the definitive moment whereby the weekend surely ceases to exist. However Monday is a perfect day to reset your mind, your body and most importantly your thoughts. Effectively it is our new years day every week except you can make habits that last a year.

So how was your last week? I don't know about you but I love my Sundays and the chance to reflect on what has been without it I can forget what I have done, what I've accomplished, what things I need to deal with and that in itself I know stops me from maintaining focus. The last Monday that I wrote I shared with you some exercises to get the body moving, some potential tests you can do to ascertain your fitness levels and a reminder that all accomplishments great or small need to be remembered. Today I want to share with you a few things, at first they might not appear at all connected but I think you'll come to know my reasoning for discussing them.

For those of you who tried a diagnostic test, a portion or the whole of my workout listed in the previous post, how did you go? Some of you might be thinking, what now? It is super important that you think about how you feel after a workout, especially where your head space is at. What excuses did you make for yourself during the workout? 'I can't possibly do 2 more repetitions' or 'someone is using those weights now so I can miss that exercise' or 'I don't have time I'll make up for it in my  next workout'. These internal monologues that are apart of our health and fitness lifestyles are what depict our success with achieving the results that we want. Time and time again people will jump up and down and say that a personal trainer, health nut or genetically gifted human being insulted their core by suggesting they were too lazy to exercise or to change habits but let's be really clear here. The truth hurts.

It doesn't matter whether it is keeping healthy and getting fit or if its associated with any other habit if someone tells us something that we innately know to be true of course we are going to get upset by it. Getting upset is the easy part, the difficult part is doing something about it. I am not referring to crash diets or promotion of anorexic or bulimic ideals here, I'm referring to the hard slog, good nutrition and a regular exercise program that maintains healthy functioning of the body.  For the record, good nutrition is NEVER referred to as a diet.

Easy for me to say right? I'm climbing Mt Everest and I'm super fit and have been my whole life- probably the assumption that some have landed me with. Fair enough, I can understand how some may make the connection, however you would be wrong. Yes I grew up with a sporting family who instilled in me the importance of sport as a means of physical activity, socialisation and a way to develop good lifelong skills like teamwork however this probably is really where it ends. I have a brother and a sister, my brother is a freak of nature, he literally could decide he would be able to get into the Olympics for an event and the following day you'd be hearing about him in elite sporting teams. It is frustratingly annoying. My sister, better than me at football, a natural talent where I was a trained talent, me- I guess I just fell in love with sport. Did falling in love with sport make me healthy though? No.

Whilst I have been active for my whole life I have battled with the concept of body image the same as the person beside me. At 14 years of age I was playing various sports at representative level, football being my sport of choice, I always considered myself to be fat. I had absolutely no real idea about what size I was or that size is more determined by society's idea and that in fact society for the best part didn't even know what they liked when it came to the female form. Fast forward to 17years of age and I am competing at State Trials for football. I distinctly recall my thigh muscle rolling over my knees, the notion of wearing a dress- didn't really cross my mind, I didn't feel comfortable about people seeing my legs. Little did I know my legs were my greatest asset and if we had been in 2014 instead of 2003 my legs would have been the sexiest things going...not that a teenage boy would admit that. Either way I still had decided I didn't like my body based on what society spat back at me as the 'ideal' body image. My whole teenage years I scarcely recall not being on a diet or feeling bad about eating something that I knew would have an adverse reaction on my hips.

Travelling forward into adulthood I got a nice shock but still not much of a change, you see it wasn't until I was 18 and I met people beyond my hometown that I understood there were far more realistic views on what a women should look like. Nevertheless college life created the 'college spread' where mass amount of weight was gained due to decent fat content in every meal and sooner rather than later I was on a fruit and vegetable diet for 15 weeks falling asleep from lack of energy, constantly craving food and exercising more than I ever have. Despite this lack of energy and constant craving I was told by my friends that I looked fantastic, and so I should because I had dropped 15kgs and was now at 60kg and 168cm tall. I sure looked skinny but I wasn't healthy. I was hungry. Unfortunately the positive feedback reinforced the negative habits and I kept thinking a diet like this was good idea. It wasn't until I had my first serious relationship where I started to loosen the reigns on eating, admittedly I did what every man and woman does- I became comfortable and I relaxed, not a bad thing necessarily. The difference for me was I was dating a guy who ate 3 full plates of food for dinner and was frequently unimpressed if I left him sitting at the table eating on his own- so there was a spoken and also insinuated concept that I would never stop eating till he did and if I misread that it would end up in World War III. Part the way through this relationship I was playing and training for my premier league football team and it all got too much, I couldn't keep up I became lazy and began using my spatial awareness and knowledge of the game to intelligently prohibit the amount of running I needed to do as a midfielder. Thankfully though fate stepped in and gave me my health quite a few months later when I moved towns, saw myself in a mirror naked and hit rock bottom. I hated what I looked like, except now it was because I was a very unhealthy size (almost a size 16 when I had always been a size 12 easily). This is when I organised my own personal trainer, paid $180 a week for sessions as well as going to the gym, playing social touch and doing classes in order to combat the 25kg I had then put on and the horrendous weight-90kg- that I had reached. For all of that I have this to say:

Getting a personal trainer was the best thing I have done in my life. Yes I was insulted at times, but I knew I needed someone to break my excuses and complaints because I couldn't do it on my own. I hadn't been able to by myself and I certainly didn't know how to get there. I can frequently remember during a session 'hating' my personal trainer but then loving him afterwards for pushing me as hard as I needed to be pushed. It is in these moments that I learnt my own psyche and that I had to figure out on my own how to overcome my own excuses. Your right going to the gym and deciding to randomly do even 200 jump squats to a normal person seems crazy but it isn't- I learnt that I have to break things down in chunks and when I am tired I count backwards so the task seems smaller. I know that if I do a half baked effort of a jump squat that I feel no accomplishment because I haven't actually finished 200 jump squats. Therefore there simply is no benefit for me in excusing my own behaviour, mentally or physically and this is why I will correct and repeat the repetition if I make an error. Without Ben (my personal trainer) I wouldn't have been able to go to the gym and tell my mind to shut up when it was getting loud with excuses, I wouldn't have been able to break through my pain barriers and I certainly wouldn't be looking at climbing Everest or celebrating maintaining that weight loss for 5years now.

So, this is what I think a lot of people don't understand about health, fitness and society's attitude towards it-

If we satisfy our excuses we are cementing our desire to stay exactly as we are. We cannot pity ourselves and we certainly can not request the pity from others if we are not prepared to do things for ourselves.

There are several fitness people in society at the moment, the Super Mum from the US, for example, who promote a healthy lifestyle. Personally I think if a woman can have children and make time for her workouts and produce such a fit, healthy body then she should be commended and not ridiculed. Those in society only ridicule because they haven't come to terms with what it means to be so dedicated and motivated towards something. Super Mum understands what I have learnt, excuses can not exist where you want to see success. We say that as a society to ourselves around academia why not around health? If we are afraid to tap in our own minds and find our own weaknesses then we need to be prepared for CHOOSING to be the way that we are- mentally and physically.

Now the same goes for writing, I'll say it before and I'll say it again....sometimes people cannot see the good in the work that you create, sometimes it takes a knock back again and again (just like life and our mass attempts to diet our way to our better selves) but it is what you choose to do and how you choose to react that depicts your success.

So at the end of this what do you take away to feel triumphant about?
  • The accomplishments of last week- things you did well at work, with family, in relationships, new skills you learnt, things perhaps you were trying not to do (smoking for instance). Remember the small things are just as significant as the big things.
  • The way this week has begun
  • The good you have in your life now
  • How you feel in your mind, body and soul.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Please stay tuned for a special post on Wednesday :)

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