Problems Only Girls Who Lift Understand

A friend posted this on my Facebook wall today – hilarious and so many truths in here.  For someone who has always been the ‘fat kid’, it really is mind blowing to have people asking me what I’m doing, do I have any advice as to what they should do, what supp’s I take etc.

Bottom line: I lift heavy things!


What I did this week

Well…not much!  I hit the gym on Tuesday morning for my regular session with my Trainer, which in itself was a challenge.  I hadn’t been feeling amazing on Monday, by the time I woke up on Tuesday my nose was running like a tap.  I pushed through, managing to get through most of the session and haven’t been in the gym since.

This pretty much sums up my week!

Don’t know where this image hails from, but pretty much sums up my week!

It’s one thing to drive yourself when you have a bit of the sniffles, but when you can’t even pull off a full day at work cause you can’t breathe properly – then no, you cannot go to the gym!  I needed to listen to my body and let myself rest and heal – but it is a bit frustrating, as it feels like every time I really start to hit my straps, I get a cold/flu/sinus infection.

Starting to feel a little bit more human today, thankfully (although still battered and bruised from Stampede last weekend!).

Back in the gym tomorrow for PT session, hoping that she is nice-ish to me!  Given that I have been eating a steady diet of vegemite toast and cups of milky tea for the last four days, glad to see that me weight hasn’t shifted.  Fingers crossed for survival tomorrow  😉


This week’s workouts (or in this case, workout, singular)

Tuesday: PT session, including single leg squats (back foot in TRX strap, just for a little more instability!), cable flies, tricep dips

Getting down and dirty at The Stampede

If someone had told me a couple years ago that this year I would partake in my first obstacle course run, subjecting myself to mud, climbing over walls, crawling through mud that was quite possibly mixed with a good dose of horse poo – I’d have quite seriously questioned their sensibilities.  Damn, if someone had said that to me even six months ago I would have laughed at them.

But here we are, late October 2014 – and TICK!

Without further ado, I bring us to my latest in my series of “fun fitness things to try” – obstacle racing.  Sometimes known as mud runs.  Very, very muddy runs.

The Stampede - 10k, 31 obstacles and a whole lot of mud!

The Stampede – 10k, 31 obstacles and a whole lot of mud!

I have never, ever been so dirty in my whole life – and I have had a mud bath before.  Three days on, I am possibly the most bruised I have ever been in my whole life.  And what a blast it was!

On the weekend I partook in The Stampede, held in the Glenworth Valley, about 45 minutes north of Sydney.  Convinced by a work mate to join in, I found myself facing a 10k course, covering 31 obstacles.  Some of the obstacles were relatively simple – maybe wet & muddy, but not particularly difficult (hopping over creek crossings, or wading your way through mud).  Some of the higher ones were a challenge – climbing up and over a tyre wall that I feel was about 4-5m up, but in reality was probably only about 3 (it felt like a long way up hoisting myself over that to climb back down).

My favourite two obstacles were the rope swing and the giant slip’n’slide.  Rope swing involved swinging on a rope from the top of hill, to cargo net, catch the cargo net & climb down said net (entertaining to watch one of my colleagues get to much height on his swing that he nearly clocked himself on the wooden frame holding the net).  Giant slip’n’slide followed – and as the name suggests, it was a giant slip’n’slide – complete with steep section at the bottom to really launch yourself into the muddy lagoon at the bottom – people were actually getting air born off it.

Climbing over a bus.  As you do.

Climbing over a bus. As you do.

I was glad to have done this with some work mates who were prepared to work as a team – I certainly wouldn’t have made it through if I didn’t get a boost for some of the climbing challenges and a hand up when I got stuck in one of the numerous mud pools.  Although we had two runners in our group of five, they would run to the next obstacle and wait for us slow ones, so we all finished together as a group.

I was pleased to see just how far my fitness has come this year – although I don’t train cardio too much (sprint intervals once a week), I was happy to see that I wasn’t coming in miles behind the runners in the group.  I’ve also found that where the others in the team were complaining about muscle soreness in the following two days, I really wasn’t too bad – although my bruises are quite sore!

Me - before and after

Me – before and after

The bottom line

What: The Stampede

Where: Glenworth Valley, approx 45 minutes north of Sydney (near Gosford) – although as an annual event, possible that it might move around

Would I do it again: Yes!  Was a lot of fun – I am battered and bruised, but really proud of myself for getting through it all.  However, I would only do it though if I had a team to do it with – a lot of those obstacles I would not have been able to get through on my own.  Comments from a few other participants that have done Tough Mudder were that Stampede was a bit more relaxed and fun (think of Stampede as a fun run, versus Tough Mudder being a competitive marathon).  Note to self: don’t even THINK about doing this during comp season – the bruises are pretty messy!  🙂

The bruises were looking a bit shadowy the following day - by two days later were BLACK!

The bruises were looking a bit shadowy the following day – by two days later were BLACK!


Next on my list of ‘fun fitness things to try’: kettlebells.  Now, I’ve done some kettlebells at the gym with my Trainer, but have never spent a full hour working with kettlebells.

I dragged a couple of work mates along to a trial class with Sydney Kettlebell School of Strength for Women at Newington.  We weren’t sure what to expect or how hard we were going to be thrashed.  This is an outdoor class – which was actually fantastic on this particular day as we had one of our first hot days of the season, so was great to be out of the air conditioning.


Photo credit: PT Me Personalised Training

Photo credit: PT Me Personalised Training Uncategorised/kettlebell-introduction-class/228811

The class ended up being far more technical than I had expected – we spend the hour working on technique for dead lifts and kettlebell swings.  I foolishly didn’t snap any pictures, particular of the three of us ‘bumming’ poles in the park – in order for us to understand the idea of breaking at the hips and where our hands should travel on the down side of the swing, we were almost backed up against poles, bending forward till our butts hit the pole and then reaching through behind us to tap the pole with our fingertips.  It really did a great job of putting it in perspective how to do the swing – I have always gone too low when swinging, taking the bell down between my calves almost, rather than swinging through the thighs.  Making that change and getting the technique right made a big difference to how effective the swings were – I really started to feel it in my glutes by the end of the session.

I was feeling the bum and hammies the next day, but I think that was as result of a monster leg session in the morning backed up by kettlebells in the evening!  (Note to self: don’t do that again!)  I did enjoy the swings – I could feel that they were really working the glutes in particular, but were great for the whole body – finishing up with 5 sets of 10 swings, I started to feel it right through the whole posterior chain, into abs, core and shoulders.

At the end of the session we had our trainer, Tania, give us a quick demo of a couple of other things that you can do with kettlebells.  Watching her do a ‘get up’ (just google it!) was pretty damn amazing – particularly as she was doing this with only a 12kg kettlebell and would normally work with at least a 24kg kettlebell.


The bottom line

What: Kettlebell trial class

Where: Sydney Kettlebell School of Strength for Women, Newington

Would I do it again: Yes, as I took a couple of friends along I was offered a freebie and will be heading to one of their regular classes next week.  I also think that I would incorporate some kettlebell swings into my regular gym training – I think that they will do amazing things for the butt!



That's me - second from the right during (unweighted) warm up. Photo credit: Sydney Kettlebell School of Strength

That’s me – second from the right during (unweighted) warm up at the regular Kettlebellas class.
Photo credit: Sydney Kettlebell School of Strength

I went along to one of the Kettlebellas regular classes last week; fabulous!  You really start to feel those swings after 18 sets of 12 swings (first routine = 12 minutes; 12 swings, followed by a short sprint – repeat as many times as you can until you run out of time.  It was tough!).

Totally unlike my normal training, so it really pushed me.  Tania is fabulous, in that she really focuses on good form – even though we were doing a ‘time challenge’ of sorts, she still ensured that we were all working correctly throughout.

Will definitely be working swings into my regular training moving forward – what a great workout!


Pumped at F45 training

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to trial an F45 class at the PE Dept in Potts Point. Let me start by saying – PE Dept is a fabulous boutique gym. Great space, welcoming team, smoothie bar and well-appointed and spotless change rooms (what can I say – I judge a gym based on the state of their change rooms and bathrooms. Doesn’t everyone?). If you are in the area and looking for a new gym, I strongly recommend that you go and have a chat with them. I don’t live anywhere near them, so unfortunately won’t be joining as a regular.

Enough about PE Dept, though – on to why we were there. F45 is a circuit based workout that is always changing. I’m told that if you go regularly, sessions will shift so that some are more resistance based, others more cardio based etc – the idea is that you are continually challenged and never get used to the workout.

I’ve dropped in the F45 hype reel below to give you a taste of what we experienced (no, I’m not in there!).

For our trial class, we had a mix of cardio and resistance. 18 stations were set up that we were to cycle through three times; for the first two rounds we spend 45 seconds at each station with 15 seconds to transition between stations. For the final round, we had 30 seconds at each station and a 10 second transition. It was intense.

Can just see my head in left of pic!   Photo credit: PE Dept  (

Can just see my head in left of pic
Photo credit: PE Dept

The 18 stations included some of the more familiar things that you would know from any gym – spin bike (“get those bums out of the seats!”), skull crushers, fit ball crunches, to name a few. What made it fun were those things that I hadn’t encountered before – ropes (jumping from side to side in a skiing type motion whilst ‘flicking’ the ropes to try and create a wave), split squats with sandbags, sledgehammer swings and my favourite – although also the bloody hardest thing of the day – the knee up ‘slings’; slot your arms through two fabric slings, so you are holding your own body weight, then do knee ups – take a look at this random YouTube video to see what I am talking about. Boy, felt those the next day!

By the end of round 2, myself and the friend that I had dragged along were absolutely drenched in sweat and seriously debating crawling out of the room to safety. But we pushed through the third round and were glad that we did – we were both completely smashed, but pumped as well.

Our instructor on the day, Sienna, told us that she still does F45 training herself every day – if her results are anything to go by, this is worth working into a fitness regime!

It’s amazing how much of a boost you get from trying something completely new and challenging.


The bottom line

What: F45 as part of the Vie Active Sweat Series

Where: PE Dept, Potts Point

Would I do it again: Yes, but not regularly simply due to distance from home & work

Life, love and loss

Well, I’m back in the blogging gig. I was going strong for a little bit last year and then my world somewhat fell apart; in late August 2013 we found out that our much beloved fur-kid had cancer and potentially months to live. Then followed a whirlwind of surgery, chemo, vet visits… We were fortunate that the treatment did extend her life and that she actually wasn’t sick during her treatment. Unfortunately though, we lost her in March this year.

Waiting for the Vet with the fur-kid back in January.

Waiting for the Vet with the fur-kid back in January (I’m already a lot smaller than I was in this pic!).

Rightly or wrongly, my fitness took a back seat for those 6 months, with about the only exercise I did involving walking the dog or playing ball with her in the yard (that time was precious).In April though, I had a serious wake up call. I was sitting at the airport, waiting for a flight for a work trip – and was so, so uncomfortable in my pants that I actually went and bought a new pair in one of the airport stores. A size 16. Um, what happened to me? I had packed on over two dress sizes in 6 months. No way nelly – I swore I wouldn’t do this to myself again. I needed to get my butt into serious gear!

Since April I have been training like a machine (well, I like to think it’s like a machine. Maybe a slightly rusty, slow machine).

To kick things off, I entered myself in the Muscle Meals Transformation challenge – kicked off May 1 and managed to drop just over 9k in 8 weeks. Not too bad. A couple of re-fuel weeks across August (chilled out, but not out of control) before I headed back into another round of serious training, working with a meal plan created by my Trainer. Muscle Meals were great, but I did get sick of microwaved food after 8 weeks! (A review on Muscle Meals to follow in coming weeks).

I am now sitting at almost my lightest in my entire adult life, in the gym most mornings and absolutely loving it. I am fitter, healthier, happier, less stressed and overall just feeling better about myself. This is the longest that I have ever maintained a fitness regime – I think that it actually has, finally, become a life style.

In the last few days, I have decided to take a different tact with training and will be working towards INBA Season B 2015. Bit scary putting that in writing! Off season officially starts October 1.

This blog is going to follow my progress over the next 12 months heading for INBA, as well as tales of my fitness adventures – I am on a mission to try as many different fitness type things as I can over the next year, just to keep it fun. Going to be an interesting ride.

A new approach

Well, Michelle’s 12WBT Round 2 2013 and I didn’t work too well together.  I kicked off, full of bravado and confidence, only to fall in inglorious heap as work mounted up (again), going through a death in the family and finding out that our fur-kid has cancer.  The last month to six weeks in has been particularly rough and worrying about losing a few kilos was not high on the priorities list.

Instead, I have been taking care of myself by not stressing about what I am consuming, or a missed workout.  Generally speaking, I have been letting myself eat what I want, although overall, trying to keep it pretty healthy.

the-fast-metabolism-dietAt some stage though, I need to get this sorted and am now trying something new – “The Fast Metabolism Diet”.  Whilst the principles in this are pretty sound (ie lots of whole foods, no dairy, no caffeine, no WINE! etc), the plan itself is a four week gig.  I’m looking at it as a reset.  The book claims that you can lose up to 9kg in the four weeks – but for me who only has about that to lose entirely, I don’t expect it to happen in just 4 weeks.  But I am going to give it a damn good crack!

(I should add that I am giving this a go after a friend tried it recently and saw some good results).

The plan is based on the idea of ‘confusing’ your metabolism and that you need to EAT in order to get your metabolism firing and keep it burning.  As such, there are three phases each week, with different dietary and exercise requirements:

Days 1-2: high-glycemic, moderate-protein, low-fat phase. High in carbohydrate-rich foods, high in natural sugars, high in B and C vitamins.  Cardio training.

Days 3-4: very high-protein, high-vegetable, low-carbohydrate, low-fat phase. High in foods that support liver function (onion family, leafy greens, lemons), high in lean proteins, rich in alkalizing green, low-glycemic vegetables, high in carnitine-producing foods.  Weight training.

Days 5-7: high healthy-fat, moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, low-glycemic fruit phase. High in healthy fats, higher-fat proteins in moderate amounts, lower-glycemic fruits, lower-glycemic vegetables, moderate amounts of unrefined carbohydrates, thyroid-stimulating foods, foods rich in inositol and choline.  Relaxation – yoga, massage and the like.

One of the key requirements is eating every 3 hours or so.  Kicked off this morning with an ‘Oaty Berry Smoothy’ – pulverised oats, frozen berries, water and cinnamon.  Flavour was good, but texture was not – so I microwaved it and turned it into porridge!  Much better.

Overall, I’m not sure that I would stick with the plan as prescribed in the book forever – the three different phases each week require a fair bit of thought and planning to keep it all straight.

So we’ll see how it goes.  You can do anything for 4 weeks, right?

If you fall off the wagon…

I remember reading somewhere years ago, if you fall off the wagon, don’t turn around and burn the wagon.  Get back on and keep going.  I’m trying to remind myself of this at the moment… I fell off the wagon today and it feels like the wagon is racing off into the distance without me.

Ha!  Maybe I should start running to catch up?

Diet today fell in a spectacular heap.  Toast for breakie… thick toast.  With peanut butter.  Eek.  May have been some hot chips for lunch.  And a sneaky beer at 4pm here in the office.  Hmmm, I can feel the heat from that burning wagon on my back at the moment.  Which feels kind of nice, cause it’s miserable and cold today.  Oh dear.

Another cheesy analogy; I read once that if you drop your phone on the ground, do you pick it up and throw it down again and again and again until it breaks?  Well, no (unless you really don’t like your phone).  Same thing with diets and clean eating – why do we have one bad meal in a day and then think buggar it, I’ve already ruined today and keep eating badly.  It makes no sense.  Yet I do this.  And I am sure that other people do this too.  Surely I can’ t be the only nutty one out there?

So.  About to head home, to steak and veges for dinner.  And to try and catch that damn wagon.

The three P’s.

If anyone has studied business or marketing, you might be familiar with Kotler’s 4P’s (although someone did tell me recently that apparently there are seven now – boy, does that make me feel old!).  It occurs to me through this fitness journey that there are a new set of P’s, although by my reckoning just three (who needs seven?!).

Plan, Prep, Perform

Three key legs and if any of them breaks, it’s all over.

three PsPlan  Sitting down on the weekend, working out what I am going to be eating for the week and the training that I will be doing.  Yes, I am following the 12WBT plan at the moment, however I am customising each week’s menu for convenience and personal taste.  I’m also taking the time to work through the Shopping List to ensure that I’m not over-shopping – what ingredients can I sub in for each other so that I don’ t have to buy a tub of ricotta/cottage cheese/etc for a single recipe calling for one tablespoon?

Prep Literally food prep – go do the grocery shopping, pre-cook anything that I can on the weekend.  As silly as it sounds too, making sure my gym gear is all washed and ready for a new week!  (It will derail good intentions pretty quickly if you want to head to the gym only to find all your t-shirts stinky in the washing basket)

Perform As Michelle Bridges would say, ‘just f-ing do it’.  Get your butt out of bed and go to the gym.  stop dialing the pizza joint, put down the phone and cook the damn healthy food that you have purchased.

1 point for planning and prep’ing – 9 points for actually doing.

Bad days and a good support network

Yesterday was a bad day, work wise.  One of those days that results in you sitting at your desk around 3pm, head in heads, wondering how it all went wrong.

Normally a day like that would send me into F it mode.  I don’t care what I eat/drink today.  One day won’t matter.  Gym – um, no.  I am just so stressed out, I can’t cope with worrying about it food and diets and weight…

I did have a brief moment of that and snuck a few squares of chocolate.  Then somewhere in my angst, I found some element of balance.  I had planned on going straight home and inhaling the better part of a bottle of wine.  Somehow, I instead found myself at the gym for a quick session.  It’s true what they say about exercise making you feel better.

Got myself home, only to find that we didn’t have mince for the planned meatballs for dinner (kind of a key ingredient!) and promptly announced that I wanted pasta for dinner.  Husband, god love him, instead of challenging me simply said, “OK, if you want pasta, that’s fine.  But you need to cook it.  I’m going to cook steak and veges”.  The petulant five year old inside me sulked for a moment and then realised what he was doing.  He then went on to point out that if I have the steak & veg, instead of pasta, then I can have a glass or two of wine – guilt free.  Smart man, that one.  So steak and veg it was.

I had my wine.  And I enjoyed it.  And I lost a kilo in the last week.  Feels good and feels so much better knowing that I am doing this in a sustainable way – I’m not depriving myself, just metering the ‘F it’ moments!

Last night made me realise just how it important it is to have a good support network – without it, I would have spent a rather drunken night chowing down on pasta.  Sometimes you just need a little nudge!