Friday, September 15, 2017

Peak Week: Body Building v Ironman

Peak week has officially arrived! No longer is it months or weeks away, but merely days until I compete in my first body building competition! I'm more excited and less nervous than I thought I would be! As I drove to the gym this morning in Melbourne's arctic like weather, 6 degrees and pelting down with rain I saw some cyclists braving the elements and it made me start thinking about training for an ironman versus a body building comp!
When I was training for ironman I was training in excess of 20 hours a week, braving the elements, there were many a day that I resented having to train in the harsh winter conditions, but I did, because I had a goal in sight! To become an iron(wo)man! Never in the past year have I resented going to the gym, I love it so much that I actually feel upset if I miss a day due to circumstances out of my control! The gym is climate controlled so it doesn't matter if it's 5 degrees or 40 degrees, snowing or sunny! Sure the nutrition is a little harder, but again, I'm committed to the goal and as long as you have the right mindset, nothing is too hard!
With this week being peak weak I'll start water loading on Monday, for ironman I was instead carb loading! Instead of getting my bike serviced I'll be practicing my posing! I'll be getting everything ready for my comp day bag, but the list looks very different to a triathlon bag! So far the only similarities are Gatorade, towel, lollies and Vaseline! Whilst in ironman Vaseline came in handy to prevent chafing, apparently it will come in handy for next weekend for my gums so that my lips don't stick to them whilst I'm smiling on stage!! Yes that's right, I have to practice smiling too! Instead of coating my body in suncream, I'll instead be coating it in a very dark shade of fake tan!
Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with my boss, he said he was very surprised that I was doing a body building comp, getting up on stage for everyone to judge my physique, it's not who I am! Yet I beg to differ, this journey has given me so much more confidence, in so many aspects of my life, I'm actually not nervous at all about getting up on stage, nervous about nailing the poses, but not actually being on stage.
Just like ironman where I devoured icecream post race, I can't wait to eat a tub of the new magnum icecream post comp!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Another year older

So tomorrow I turn 35, yikes. I'm now officially mid 30's and one year closer to turning 40. When did this happen? 35 sounds old, when my parents were 35 they had 4 kids with me, the eldest already a teenager! As I sit here, relaxing on holiday in Bali with my almost 3 year old I find myself deep in thought on the eve of my 35th birthday. 5 years ago I celebrated turning 30 with a girls trip to Port Douglas where I'm sure each of us consumed our body weight in both cheese and wine! 5 years on I'm celebrating once again in a tropical location but girls trip has taken on an entirely different meaning as this girls trip is just me and my mini me. There will be no cocktails or cheese (ok maybe just a tiny bit). 
Is this what I envisaged my life looking like at 35, a single mum, training for a body building comp, frustrated by a career in the corporate world? If you asked me 10 years ago what my life would look like now I would have said that I'd be married with 2 kids, be in a successful career and have completed Hawaiian Ironman! 
I never did quite achieve my goal of Hawaiian Ironman, I did compete in one ironman event and after becoming a single mum I don't think I could ever find the time again to compete in triathlons competitively again. Hats off to the amazing mums who do! But am I disappointed, not at all. I'm happy that I completed one ironman and now I have found something new to train for. Something that is giving me a huge sense of satisfaction, fits in with my busy life, and I am genuinely passionate about! 
Do I wish I was married with 2 kids? Some days sure. There are days I long for another baby, a brother or sister for Mia, there are days that I wish I had someone to share my life with, the good times and the bad. But I'm happy, I'm happy that I have been blessed with a beautiful little girl, for there are so many people not as fortunate as me.
I guess some would say that I have a successful career, perhaps I do. Perhaps it depends on the criteria by which you judge a successful career. I've worked hard over the years as a finance professional, even managing to somehow strike that elusive work life balance (or have I? Does it even exist?). Yet I find myself craving something more. Do I really want to keep crunching numbers into excel spreadsheets for the next 20 years? I find myself contemplating an entire career change. Years ago I saw a physcic who told me that one day I would have a very successful business, something that would help others. Maybe she was full of shit, or maybe she was right. Maybe I need to take a leap and do something I'm truly passionate about. Maybe I should stop with the what if's and actually jump off that cliff so I don't wake up in another 10 years time with regrets.
At 35, my life isn't quite what I thought it would look like, but I'm happy. My life is good, I don't have any regrets, I choose to accept things that have happened and learn from life's lessons. Now let's see how the next 10 years shape up! Maybe I'll become hooked on body building comps, maybe I'll turn grey from the stress of a 3 year old becoming a 13 year old (the teenage years scare the crap out of me, give me a toddler any day!) maybe I'll take that leap and leave the corporate world. Who knows! As long as in 10 years time I'm still happy and healthy and loving a life of no regrets!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bouncing back from rock bottom

It takes a strong person to admit that they have hit rock bottom, but an even stronger one to rise to the top again. It’s so easy to portray an image of yourself that is always smiling and looks like you have your shit together when really you’ve crumbled inside. For a variety of different reasons recently I have found myself falling slowly down a hole, letting things get to me that I know I shouldn’t.  
When someone told me earlier in the week that I didn’t know how easy I had it as a single mum I felt like punching a wall, how can it be that people can judge you purely based on your financial situation.  Sure I have a successful career, but I have worked my arse off to get to where I am.  I don’t have the support of family and friends on a daily basis to help me care for Mia and most of the time I feel pretty bloody isolated.  I don’t get invited out by single friends because I’ve said no too many times because I’m home with my toddler, I don’t get invited to dinner parties with my friends in couples because I am not part of a couple. I actually like going to work because it means I get to interact with other adults, I call my dad on an almost daily basis just to hear a friendly voice when the house is so lonely and quiet once Mia has gone to bed.
I got an invite from work inviting me on a 3 day ‘Senior Leadership Retreat’ and I wanted to scream, it’s not a retreat when you sit here stressing about how on earth you are going to attend something that is intended to support your career development when you have no-one to look after your daughter, I’m under pressure to work out what I want from my career when right now I don’t even know what I want for my dinner tonight
I let these, and other things really get me down this week until last night.  For last night I gave myself a good hard slap in the face and told myself to snap out of it, I am better than that.  
I put on my bikini and heels and decided to do some posing practice, I took a photo and in that instant I saw all of the hard work that I have put into my training over the past few months.  I loved what I saw, I felt proud.  To then receive some amazing comments on insta in relation to this photo made me feel even more awesome, especially coming from other inspiring and amazing fit mummas.
This morning I looked at my little girl, a tiny human that I created that brings be so much joy on a daily basis and I smiled.  I thought about all of my amazing friends and family who listen to my problems day in and day out, yet never complain.  I trained with my coach, who always manages to bring the best out of me and pushes me through my training. I started focusing only on the parts of my life that make me happy, sure there are parts of my life that I wish were different, but why waste time and energy focusing on these. Life’s too short to be sad, it’s too short to be grumpy.  Each day is a gift, and right now all I care about is being the best bloody version of myself that I can be, an awesome mum, a happy and positive person and someone that is going to keep working their arse off for the next 4 months and get on stage in a skimpy bloody bikini and bring home a trophy. Hell yeah!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Being Strong

Strength isn't about the size of your muscles or the weight on the squat rack at the gym, its about the strength you carry within you. I use the gym often as my escape, a place to prove to myself that I am strong, as the weights get heavier and my muscles more defined I continue to tell myself how strong I am. And then I have a day like yesterday, a day where I crumbled and felt weak, I let my emotions and insecurities get the better of me.  Even a lunch time gym session didn't save me, the place that is usually my escape failed me, for the first time in months I couldn't even get through a full session, I felt defeated. A state of anxiousness had made me feel so sick that I felt weak at the gym and couldn't even stomach food.
I spent my day feeling angry, angry that I had let myself get worked up over something that I shouldn't, angry that I had cried instead of staying strong, angry that I couldn't push through a training session, angry that I let personal life interfere with my work. I started to wonder how strong I truly was, doubting and questioning so many aspects of my life. Then I got home, I cuddled that gorgeous little girl of mine and I slowly felt my strength returning, I never realised just how much strength she brings me. An early night and a good night sleep (aside from being woken at 12.30am by a toddler insisting it was breakfast time) and its amazing how much better you can feel.  A new day with new perspective, a chance to reflect on yesterday, realising that it's not worth allowing a few painful minutes ruin a day, a month, a year.  A new day to rise and be stronger than yesterday, a new day to be a better version of me, a new day to smash those weights at the gym (well maybe not today, it's actually a rest day). A day like yesterday doesn't make me a weak person, in fact it only makes me stronger and makes me refocus on what is truly important in my life.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

It's all about the mindset

As I trained with my coach today I heard the words come out of my mouth "I can't do it" my coach's response was a simple "yes you can", and of course he was right. I could do it, sure it was hard and I struggled and had to pause during the set but I could do it and pushing that hard is what will make me stronger. It's too easy to tell yourself at times that you can't do something, and if you have that mindset then you won't. When I was in labor with Mia I never swore or screamed but I kept telling the midwives over and over again that I couldn't do it, again they responded simply with "you can, and you already are". So why is it so easy to place self doubt on yourself, to let your mind takeover and tell you that you can't do something. It's the mental strength that I need now more than ever, both in training and in life in general!! I know I can train hard, but at times it's easy to drop reps from a set, or lower the weight between sets when you are feeling fatigued, but that's just letting myself down and not maximizing my limited training time. 
I also know that I'm a good mum, yet the last week self doubt has crept in here too. Evenings have been a battle to say the least with most nights ending in tears, the toddlers and my own. Yet again it all comes down to mindset, I can let myself become frustrated and overwhelmed and tell myself I can't deal with this. But that just exhasterbates the situation, instead I need to remind myself that I've got this and I am a good mum and this is just a phase (at least I pray it is).
Amusingly though if someone else tells me I can't do something, my reaction is the complete opposite, I make sure I can, so as to prove a point, it's my stubborn nature! So from now on I'm going to treat that voice inside my head as a complete stranger when it tells me I can't do something, and in the wise words of my coach simply respond with 'yes I can' and just get on with it. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The feeling of resentment

Every day I set my alarm to a time that has a 4 at the start of it, a time that many would still consider to be night time.  I get myself ready for work, enjoy 5 minutes of peace and quiet as I drink a coffee and then I do some chores or catch up on work emails before its time to wake up my daughter.  I enter the toddler’s den and as she stirs and roles back over she grumbles “get out of my room mummy”, I sometimes wonder if she really is a 2 year old and dread to think what the teenage years might be like.  I then commence the 15 minute battle to get her out of bed and into clothes, often one item of PJ’s remain on underneath clothing as I have learnt to pick my battles, pony tails and shoes can wait until day care when the bear has fully awoken from her hibernation.  We drive to day care, at times still often in the dark, I give in and let her watch Peppa Pig on my phone.  As I leave her at day care I get a severe case of the mummy guilt, every single time, even though I know she loves it there, is well cared for and is happy.  I still hate walking away from her, abandoning her and going to work.

I go to work, power through as much as I possibly can in the hours that I am there, for I don’t have the luxury of being able to stay back, I have a little person waiting for me to pick her up at the end of the day, waiting for her mummy to return and give her a hug.  I squeeze in a gym session during my lunch break, this is usually my only chance at me time for the day, my colleagues may see it as a fitness obsession, for me I see it as my sanity.  I race out of the office each day, feeling guilty that I have left before my team and my co-workers, I drive to day care and am greeted by a huge smile and hugs from my gorgeous little girl, again I feel a pang of guilt that she has been there so long.  We then get to drive home in peak hour traffic, concentrating on driving whilst keeping the toddler entertained so to avoid melt down mode.

When we walk in the door each evening, it’s dinner, bath and bed time routine, there is no time for fun and play.  On a good night this is easy, we chat as she eats and has her bath, we cuddle over bed time stories and we kiss each other goodnight.  On a bad night the bedtime routine is full of screams and tears and can at times last hours, on these nights I feel frustrated, I’m all alone and these can be the longest and loneliest nights.  I feel guilty that I want her to go to sleep because I still have a million things to do, dishes, laundry, more work and I don’t want to be up all night, I need sleep too.

The next day we start this all over again, this is my week, this is my life.  I find myself multiple times a day feeling resentful towards the other parent, the one that tells me that they are as much of a mum as I am.  The one that is absent all week, that goes to work, does their own thing and then comes along on the weekends and gets to have the fun times.  The one that says they miss out on so much but doesn’t do anything about it, the one that never messages to ask how their daughter is. The one that doesn’t worry about going to work and getting the dreaded childcare phone call to pick up a sick child, the one that doesn’t have to go about day to day life caring for themselves as well as a young child.  The one that doesn’t contribute financially to the care and wellbeing of their own child, the one that calls me selfish yet continuously puts themselves and their needs ahead of their child’s.  The one that believes that being a good parent is just about having fun, that routine isn’t important.  The one that chooses to hate the mother of their child, rather than being mature and having a co-parenting relationship that enables the best care for their child.  I allow myself to feel so anxious every time  receive a text message from him, for I fear that every conversation results in some form of conflict, I'm too scared to have any form of discussion about the care of our daughter. I have come to fear the conflict so much that I choose to avoid it and find instead I start a war inside myself, every day angry and resentful. I hate that I allow myself to feel this way.

This is my life, every day I provide my daughter with the best possible care that I can, I face the attack of the mummy guilt on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.  I provide routine and discipline, I don’t get the luxury of always being the fun parent, I do the hard work all week with no support, only for someone else to come along and take away my opportunities for quality fun times.  I hope that one day my daughter is old enough to realise that being a good parent is more than just providing fun times, it’s providing care and support every single day, emotionally and financially.  It’s about having fun, providing education, teaching right from wrong, being strong at times and not giving into the toddler demands, even though sometimes it would be far easier. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

When someone tells you that you can't!

Mia has a series of Peppa Pig books that are about members of her family, My Mummy, My Grandpa etc.  My favourite page in the My Mummy book is where Peppa says “My mummy can do anything she puts her mind to, especially when someone tells her she can’t” damn straight you cute little Peppa Pig!  It seems Mia and Peppa have something in common (aside from their love of George!) they both have determined mummies who CAN do anything!  So you could only imagine my reaction recently when finding out that a colleague had told another colleague that there was no possible way I could win my competition in September.  Not, “it will be difficult for her to win”, or “she will have some strong competition”, but rather “there is no possible way that she can win”.  This then sparked a healthy debate that somehow led to a bet between colleagues around my ability to win or not to win (apparently there is now a whole betting syndicate that has started up!).  Little did this colleague know that by making this comment he has only spurred me on even further, given me the motivation to push that extra 10% each day.  I can guarantee that come September I will be taking to the stage the best possible body that I can, I will be working my butt off (literally) over the next 6 months to ensure that I give myself the best possible chance at winning.  But I’m not doing any of this for anyone else, I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone other than myself.  For this comp is all for me, whether I win against other competitors on the day or not I will always be a winner against myself if I know that I have given it my all.  When I used to compete in triathlon I always knew that if I crossed that finish line with nothing left in the tank then I couldn’t have done any better. This is a completely different world as it’s not about how fast I can go or my endurance, rather I am going to be up on stage in a bikini and heels in front of a panel of judges and an audience (yikes!) and I will be judged on my physique up against other amazing girls.  But there are some similarities to my triathlon days, preparation is key, even more so, if I don’t give it my all during the next 6 months then it will show up on stage. I need to remain mentally strong, push myself in the training and be committed to the nutrition. And of course practice make perfect!  Just like focusing on swimming, cycling and running technique is extremely important I am going to have to practice posing like there is no tomorrow, for posing will certainly not be my strength.  But like in triathlon, I was able to turn swimming from a weakness into a strength, I am hoping the same can be said for posing. 
So I’m not angry or disappointed that someone has doubted my ability to win, in some way’s I am happy, it has sparked a new fire inside me, one that is going to push me to the max and if I do manage to win in September then perhaps I owe a big thanks to this colleague (perhaps!).