Harlem Shake – my take

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Ok, so while I have been out of action I have noted an increase in chatter on the interwebs about a new dance “craze”called the Harlem Shake.

So what the heck is this Shake and why are people getting on board…

Essentially it is a 30 sec clip where one person is dancing (if you can call it that in some clips) and everyone else in the shot is oblivious to their actions. The bass then drops and the scene cuts to everybody now going crazy and dancing often in costumes and with questionable dance moves.

Here is one of my personal fav’s, it is of a group of firemen apparently in a truck, it makes me smile.

So why is this so popular, it seems a little odd, incomprehensible to some – honestly, I watched a few of the clips people had put together and was a little baffled, but as I continued to watch a few things became clear.

1. As adults we don’t often do crazy fun stuff for no reason anymore, not like when we were kids. This is a way to be stupid and have fun with friends.

2.You can still be anonymous if you like while it is online, i.e the use of masks, costumes etc.

3. It is bite size entertainment. It lasts for about 30sec, easy to make your own and upload, and for viewers you can have a brain break and a laugh while at work, without feeling guilty.

4. To me it is a little metaphorical peek into the social dynamics of group behaviour and society…  i.e the trendsetter or early adopter  – having fun not worrying about what everyone around them is doing, then the trend hits everyone else and bamm!, Hmm perhaps I am over analysing this too much 🙂

I think these trends like flash mob, gangnam style dancing, Ellen dancing, etc are important, they remind us that we need to stop for a moment, not take life so seriously, relax and have fun like no one is watching – Just like when we were kids. it also means that we are moving, not sitting on the couch and if it means having a dance, I’m all for that!

Cheers Lin xox

Ability & Potential

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It is not about what we can’t do, but what we can.

I really believe that the mind and the power of positivity is essential in realising our potential. What we are capable of, what we can achieve in our lives is dependant on our attitude, and honestly if we dedicate our minds,  our will, leaving behind personal prejudice about what is possible we can reach what we think is not.

I think that sometimes we give up too early on our personal quests, whatever they may be… and that when we listen to what others say is possible, what is impossible, or improbable, we then limit our minds and our actions by others standards.

When we limit ourselves in our minds eye we begin to put the brakes on, we begin to believe the limit – we lose sight of our potential.  Personally I used to believe that I would never be fit enough to run, cycle or compete in a triathlon, that I would always be fat… I listened to my own negative self talk and that of others. I limited my mind in believing that a whole life was possible.

Then when faced with the prospect of changing my life  or dying from obesity complications, I decided that I would listen to people who had won the battle. That choice changed my mindset – the barriers came down. Sure there are times when I fell, heck we all but LIFE IS about learning to fall, then learning to get back up and keep going anyway.

This video of a young teenage skater reminded me of this lesson – It is not about limiting ourselves, it is about choice – making a decision to seek the edges of what we are capable of and living that life.

10 Tips and Tricks – Staying Motivated

motivational-quotes-14It is hard to stay motivated to exercise and on track all the time. People struggle with this all the time, I had major struggles with motivation in the last 12 months. For much of the year of 2012 I was not able to train at the level that I had obtained in the year of 2011. I missed exercise, that feeling of setting goals and achieving them and as many of you are aware due to a number of surgeries, medical complications and fatigue, I felt like 2012 went incredibly fast and many of my fitness goals were unable to be met.

Welcome in 2013. Understandably every new year many people want to get fitter, lose weight and shape up. Many people have these goals as a New Years Resolutions, so my question to myself is “How committed are you to your goals this year Lin?

Honestly, How committed  I am to my quest of losing another 10kg and becoming the fittest I possibly can be? Am I willing to turn of the tv and leave the house in all sorts of weather. Will I get off the couch and get to a training session. Will I sacrifice that ice cream, chocolate, cheese or wine to make sure I am fuelling my body well? Will I commit to ride to work getting up earlier and pushing on days when it would be easier to drive?

My motives or motivation WILL influence my practices. How I play out my year will determine if I make my goals of weight loss, fitness, half marathons and triathlon’s. But getting back my fitness and maintaining it will take discipline, it will take planning, and it will need to be fun!

I know for myself that as soon as something loses interest for me, when it stops being fun and starts being dull – I AM OUT. With this in mind I thought that I would brainstorm what helped me stay motivated at my peak in 2011 and what kept me going in 2012 when I was on a modified program.

1. Variety, Variety, Variety – Just like location in real estate I believe that changing up your routines, finding a number of activities you like will assist in keeping attitudes fresh and sparking interest. I like to mix up different activities, running, hikes, cycling, swimming, cardio sessions, weights, yoga, boxing, rock climbing. And within each choice you can change distances, difficulty, times. Our minds love new things and it helps to keep a sense of freshness in our lives.

2. Routine, Routine, Routine – While it may seem contrary to what I have just written, there is also a time for being consistent,  having routine and repeating some routes, distances, reps, times etc. This allows us to know what is expected, and compare our results over time. Our brains can take a breather, zone out and know what to expect, and how we will likely perform – this can especially be important when using exercise as stress relief, the brain and body know what to expect so it feels easier to get out the door.

3. Measurement & Data – I love to collect data in relation to my goals and fitness. I find it helps me compare my results over time. It helps me determine how far I can push, how much I’ve improved and what I need to work on. Not all people are turned on by data, but for me it is an important tangible outcome that I can see. You don’t need a fancy watch, most phones have apps that track distances walked, calories burnt, Or just noting the time and distance can work… In addition to that weight and body measurements are great at tracking changes in your body. I encourage doing both given the scale doesn’t show centimetres lost.

4. Planning & Prep – Having everything laid out and ready to go can make things a little easier to get out the door. Having the iPod, and Heart Rate Monitor charged are key for me. If either of these are flat, I know I am less likely to get out for a run. Similarly making sure my bike is in good working order, that I check tire pressures the night before means I will likely ride rather than spend the time pumping my tires while the sun is up. Prep reduces excuses.  Planning your workouts and increases in distance, weight, reps etc shows you what you are working towards.

5. Keep a Positive Mindset – No victims in the house please… If you don’t want to go, you will find an excuse. I often have to talk myself up. I remind myself how much I love it, that I have never regretted working out (even when I have thrown up after going to hard). I used to live with a victim mentality, it is an easy mind set to slip into… I have to remind myself to never give up, keep pushing and stay strong. If you can’t run, walk, if you can’t walk – lift some weights, can’t do that, find something you can do. A former colleague and a bit of a fitness guru (Mary Anne) is an inspiration to me, she is currently injured and while it gets her down on occasion (as posted on FB) she continues to push and do what she can, swim, lift weights and whatever else she can do to maintain her fitness. She does the best she can, with what she’s got until she can do more… There is something in that for all of us..

6. Time – You DO have time to work out… No matter who you are and how busy you are it can be done. Take every opportunity to move, maximise your time where you can. Perhaps this could mean cycling to work, it may increase your commute a little, but it’s maximizing time otherwise spent sitting on your ar$e. No time still, how much time do you spend watching TV? Cut that out and notice all the time you have to engage your brain and your body. I can hear some people say, but I have kids, it’s hard to leave the house – well take them with you, the park is a great place for step ups, a short walk, kicking the soccer ball. Can’t do that – well stay at home turn on the TV and grab a yellow pages phone book and do step ups on that for an hour while you watch that show – no cost, at home while the kids are in bed.

7. People – Sometimes I like working out by myself, other times a bit of camaraderie and competition is fun too. I love group training. I go to an outdoor group fitness training club through a group called Step into Life. This works for me on a couple of levels, a little competition, accountability, like-minded fit people who encourage your goals, and a positive exercising environment where everyone is encouraged. This is better than a gym as you are often paired with people and you talk to them!! If group sessions aren’t your thing, find a team, or a club, or just a friend who you can play with!

8. Events – While I acknowledge this is not important to everyone, for me having something to be working toward is helpful.  It could be an organised running event or bike ride, fights or gradings in boxing/martial arts or even a weekly game in team sport. Events and time framed performance can make sure that the other training you are doing during the week and in the lead up is focused; it helps create context and meaning.

9. Rest – I am including this because if you fail to rest you run the risk of injury and not allowing your body to heal properly as you build it up. Sometimes I find this hard. When I am in the zone, I want to push everyday… But disciple in training means listening to your body and a rested healthy body will ensure your mind and body are ready to meet the challenge and be consistent in your program. Burnout will only lead to more time away trying to recover from an injury and becoming disheartened.

10. Do what you love… Honestly this is the key, it comes back to the idea of fun I spoke about at the start. When did we stop “playing” like children and start “working out”.  If you don’t like running, please do something you love. This does not mean sit on the couch and eat junk food because you love to lie about and fill your gob with imitation food!!  If you love team sports, join a team. For pity’s sake figure out what works for you, what turns you on, floats your boat… Don’t do it because you think everyone will admire you, or it is the “cool” exercise of the minute if you hate it, you just won’t last and it will likely further disenfranchise you and stop you developing a solid fitness base. All that being said, trying different exercises is a bit like eating your veggies as a kid, you have to try it and give it a go sometimes before you know if you like it…

Alright that’s it for me…Mega long post ekk!  I mean there are heaps of other things I could say, use music, wear fun new clothes, reward yourself ra ra rah…. But honestly even with all these tips, the people who are most likely to stay with a program are those that are internally or intrinsically motivated; i.e Motivated from within –  it has to do with their attitude and perception. I believe that finding the pay off for ourselves and embedding that into our psyche allows us to draw on inner strength when everything else fails.

Till next time, Lin xox

Livestrong – the Problem with Heroes

I love cycling, and after losing over 85kg, I actually enjoy participating in the sport and not just watching the various Tours on TV. Over the years I have followed the cycling and the Tour that tops them all, Le Tour de France… I used to watch the tour with my Dad when I lived at home. We would sit up together and discuss the stages, riders, teams, conditions – everything… In the years I lived at home we watched Lance ride his way to many, many victories.

Right now in the midst of all the controversy that is surrounding Mr Armstrong I don’t know what to feel. I am numb. I like many, many others I believed that Lance did not dope, part of me desperately still wants to believe this. There has not been any blood test evidence to my knowledge that shows he did, but there is evidence in the form of testimony from team mates and those in the inner circles. I am still not sure how I feel about the way it was collected or motives people may have… But all that aside Lance has been stripped of his titles.

I have seen many, many, many hateful comments on FB and other sites directed towards Lance, and I get it – I don’t participate in it, but I understand that people are hurt, they feel betrayed and that their trust has been broken. If I am honest, like many I feel a little foolish for believing all the prior claims of innocence, but part of me is still holding onto that; and here is where it gets complicated.

In Australia we have a habit of cutting people down to size. It is called “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. If someone is seen in Australia as getting a too cocky or confident, Aussie’s have a habit of turning on them. What I see happening to Lance is partly this , but also there is more to it. The issue is that people trusted him. He said I beat cancer, I trained hard, I got my body into shape, I can win, I am a winner, I am an example. And Yes he did all those things.

Using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) doesn’t change the facts that he beat cancer, trained like a machine or got into shape – but it does change his wins, and that he traded on those wins to earn money from endorsements and position himself as an example.

Personally to me Lance is an example, PED’s or not. He did beat cancer, he did train hard and drugs or no drugs he was, and is, an amazing athlete. He did amazing work with setting up Livestrong and providing hope and help to millions of cancer survivors around the world. Sending a message of hope and health and being an example of this has not changed in my eyes. I won’t hate on Lance and I won’t call him names, and this is the reason. I placed him on that pedestal, I put him up there in my own eyes, and this is my point…Heroes are people too!

What, you cry! – Yep it’s true, I know it is tough to believe, but they are. Heroes are flawed human beings just like the rest of us. I have made some mistakes in my life, Thank God most people don’t know about them. Lance made some mistakes, and for me that does not negate all the good in his life. I can’t call him names, I can’t hate him, because as a human, I am just like him – flawed and imperfect. I have heard all the arguments about role models being held to a higher standard, and I get that – but seriously at the end of the day he is just a person with thoughts, feelings and open to temptation, just like me.

I am disappointed if it’s true, I am sad, angry, numb – all that business. The problem with heroes is we expect them to be perfect in every way, we expect them to be human beings without flaws – in fact we demand it… and then we get pissed off when they don’t meet our expectations.

The problem with heroes is we expect them to be super human, so when they fall short of our expectations we experience a range of emotions, we get disappointed, angry and hurt. So what do we do with that – The Human race will always look for a champion of a cause, a hero…Perhaps the trick is to look at people around us and be inspired by them, but not idolize them. Perhaps the trick is to live our lives in the best light possible, become our own heroes, an example to ourselves, proud of ourselves; and whilst we can be inspired by others, encouraged by others let’s not lose sight of the fact that being a human is a messy business.

Till next time – Lin xox

Spring…

What a marvellous day today… I woke up at 8am – unheard of for a shift worker, and unlike myself I could not get back to sleep. So remembering that it was the first Saturday of the month (and coincidentally the first day of Spring)  I toddled off to the farmers market up the road to make the most of the glorious blue skies, and get some bread, pesto and delicious tarts… Don’t worry they were lemon tarts so goes towards the fruit count right. 😉

Well after that, and buying some fresh flowers for the house, my house mate Lynn and I (yes same name different spelling) set about planting all our new plants for the balcony. Seemed fitting it being the first day of spring. We had to make another trip to Bunnings Hardware for 2 more bags of soil though…we did add up all the pots litreage and got a bit more but apparently you have to compensate for soil compacting – lesson learnt.

As smart as I am I decided to finish the job in bare feet. And after I (klutz) bashed my foot into a 10kg bag of pebbles, and then the steel rail that holds the air conditioner unit in place, I realised that my feet were the colour of the ace of spades… Not to worry I found the perfect solution, a scrub with the ex-boyfriends toothbrush – cathartic and practical.

When we finished the planting we topped the afternoon with some lovely green tea and the citrus tarts on the balcony (pic above)… Just before heading to work… Bring on Spring!                                                                                                                             ( Ps; Sorry about the quality of the photos, just used the iPhone before work.

Keep Smiling, Lin xox

The “Boyfriend Cake” Flop

I haven’t posted this for tea and sympathy, It is more about being true and honest in this blog; and my journey. That being said, sometimes, some cakes, well they just don’t work out.

The ingredients you thought were there at the start, turned out to not be the true ingredients that you thought you were working with. Fortunately I realised this sooner than later. In my case the BF couldn’t keep up appearances or subterfuge any longer, the cake was cracking at the sides and had turned into a fruit cake – a fruit cake that was full of alcohol – bringing out a very different man to the guy I first met.

So after a few less than ideal conversations and being spoken to with anger and disrespect I ended it. He wanted to gloss over the issues and said I was stubborn, I said that being spoken to with contempt by seasoned drinker with anger issues was not something I was willing to compromise on, he could call that what he liked – but we would not be getting back together.

Saying goodbye wasn’t hard actually, I felt strong and know that I am worthy of more – Honestly the disappointment came in the form that he wasn’t the right guy and back to square one; but I do believe that I am happier single than in a bad relationship. So my focus is on continuing to live and love life, taking a break from dating and just enjoying every moment.

Testing all this stuff out has been tough, maybe tougher than losing the weight (mmm, maybe not) but I am proud that my self-esteem is strong, and that I continue to learn more about myself and relationships across all areas of my life. Being true to who I am is really the best feeling.

Have a great day, I know I will,  till next time – Lin xox

The Boyfriend Cake…

I haven’t posted in quite a while, sorry about that. There have been many many things going on with life and to be honest up until my tonsils came out 1 week ago, i really had limited energy and used every moment of it to just get by, sleeping enough to recuperate and go back to work for my next shift. Sounds a bit doldrum like – but it is the truth.

Something funny happened a few months ago. I was still (in a much slower capacity) dating and had met someone online that I thought I would give a chance at a real life date. So we met up… and it is still going well, almost 3 months in now and I would suppose that he has the title of boyfriend (BF seems like an odd term at my age) Honestly he has done pretty well at being around sick Lin for the last few months, and in recovery stage post surgery as well!

But navigating a relationship at this age and stage of my life is quite different to other stages of my life, and it is different again to dating. Whilst dating I had in my head that I wanted to be in a committed relationship, but the reality is different again to the expectations, and with that comes a lot of personal reflection and self assessment.

I am learning that a Relationship is essentially expectations of self and others, negotiating these expectations and understanding that time will impact on the trajectory of the “us” that springs forth.

I am a fairly forthright person and believe that truth in love and kindness is what is needed (with a good pinch of timing) but it is a bit like baking a cake, there is a recipe (proportion / ingredients) and a lot of mess that makes a good cake and time will tell if the cake is going to rise to the occasion. The same goes for us I suppose. It is fun, messy, tiring, exhilarating and yep the cake is still baking… But I will sit back and enjoy the process, and enjoy getting to know the me and the him in the “us”.

Till next time, Lin xox

When the going gets tough

Remember that 80’s song that Billy Ocean sang, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going, when the going gets rough, the tough get rough… Argh Billy, you are the best who would have thought that your cheesy love song would get me through my tough run this morning. Thanks mate 😉

So let me tell you a little of my latest training run. I was supposed to meet up with my running group on Sunday morning, but with work it didn’t happen… This meant that I had to squeeze the run in sometime and soon. I decided that After my Sunday night shift I would go out and pound the pavement for the 14k that I missed. I got home from work around 2:30am and was out the door roughly 15mins later. It was cold – super cold actually with the mercury hitting 2 degrees Celsius (or 36 Fahrenheit)  it was close to freezing out, but there was no wind so it wasn’t unpleasant, plus I knew that within the first 2km I would warm up enough.

I did a simple out and back track, given the hour of the morning I like to stick to roads and paths that are well-lit and not isolated. After talking to friend that runs earlier in the week, I decided to try a tip he gave me (thanks DW). I have had trouble trying to regulate my pace a little or speed up when I feel myself slowing. He suggested that I visualise myself running just in front of myself, and speed up to beat the me in front… Well I am happy to report that this worked, especially on the 3rd km which is always my toughest.

I often visualise and see the course laid out in my head, play mind games of how far till the next point and visualise good running form, this helps me in a number of ways, to stay distracted, to change posture and not slouch, and to complete the run.

I was running, loving it and all was good, I was enjoying the beat myself game and running at a good consistent pace for me, actually at my best overall pace yet (matching it from last season) Feeling good I turned around at the 7km mark and headed back… it was all good until I started the eleventh kilometre. I completed the 10th well, but then felt like my body hit a wall,, my legs were heavy, I felt zapped and I just kept telling myself that I only had 4k’s more… I was using all my metal arsenal to keep me out there. Fat Lin was screaming at me to give up, and walk a short cut home, But Fit Lin kept trying to hush her and say you have already done 10km what is another 4…

I was on struggle street – Big time… I kept saying to myself, this is tough, my legs were heavy as rock and I felt that I was running through mud (tough mudder is still a few months away) but then, somehow I heard Billy Ocean in my head. I was listening to some Dance music at the time, all my running playlists are hand-picked mind you, designed to pick me up and push me forward. But Billy, oh Billy – you came to the rescue… I heard his little love song and the chorus was ringing in my ears and It helped me push through. It wasn’t the only thing that helped, I also decided that finishing was more important to me than my time. This gave me permission to run at the slower pace (a pace that I couldn’t seem to speed up beyond anyway) and get the job done.

I did make it home, did the full 14km… and even though it was a little slower than I would have liked, after stretching and rolling out I was very pleased that I did not defeat myself and used the mental toughness that I have been building up to get me home…

Now to start visualizing running further again next Sunday… The battle is in the brain sometimes 🙂

Keep running, Till next time – Lin

Coping & Routine

We all have strategies that we utilise to cope with navigating our world. I was discussing this idea earlier in the week and reflecting upon some of my personal practices.

Coping mechanisms can be healthy and unhealthy.  Having a big night out with a few too many drinks and bad moves on the dance floor can be good to let off some steam, drinking by yourself every night not healthy… Eating a bowl of ice-cream after  hard day not too bad occasionally; eating the tub, a large pizza and a packet of cookies (in one sitting), not so good.

Exercising is a healthy option, often under utilised and under estimated. Studies have shown that even a simple 30 min walk each day can help in improving mood and decreasing some of the symptoms of depression. I wrote recently about not being able to run (which is my personal preferred coping mechanism now). When this was off the table, I slipped into some unhealthy coping strategies and ate more than I usually would, in particular foods that I attempt to limit.

Part of the reason that I believe that I went back to older patterns quicker was that I hadn’t re-established my exercise routine after surgery in February. I wasn’t back to training until April, the routine wasn’t solid yet, the routine didn’t have enough time to solidify prior to the confluence of life situations that lead to me feeling overwhelmed. Here is the key… Pattern and Routine.

Pattern and Routine are essential for us to be able to navigate through each day and keep our emotions, thoughts and feelings in a state of relative order. To be in a space of emotional safety and allow us to move through life and cope with what the world flings at us. When our pattern and routines are not established, take a hit or become disrupted we can fall back into easier or older coping mechanisms.

Recently, when my “Perfect Storm” of stressors rose up it wiped me, my running and my exercise out. This lead to falling back into old thinking and patterns – Honestly, this scared the crap out of me. I have worked hard over the past 4 years to move the weight and change my patterns of coping. While I didn’t completely fall off the wagon or relapse – I felt a little out of control and that I was trying to hold onto water with it only to run straight through my fingers.

This got me thinking – There will likely come a time when I am faced with another “Perfect Storm” of stressors. That is just the way of the world; we cannot (despite trying) control all the factors of our lives. This has pushed me to think about extending my coping mechanisms and routines to include other healthy coping mechanisms on a regular basis.  This will allow me to build into my routine new coping mechanisms and use them on a regular basis, so, that if the day comes that I am not able to run or walk, or move as I would like, I will have another healthy way of working through the stress, thoughts, feelings and emotions. It is a bit like exercising a muscle, the more you train and work that muscle the stronger it becomes. I need to exercise new coping strategies, make them strong and build them into my life.

So my question to myself and one that you can ask yourself is this; What do I enjoy that can become a solid practice in my life  (part of my routine) that will allow me to cope and deal with the stressors of life in a healthy way?

Some ideas for me to explore are having focusing methods and projects,  understanding meditative practice better, and incorporating reading and writing as reflective practice.

I would be interested in reading your ideas or thoughts about this so feel free to leave a comment.

Till next time, Lin.

Hard Days Week… No excuses

It has been a tough 10 days. A few little setbacks along the way, some soul-searching, and a reality check have all been in there.  I had a great fun day with friends today and I am doing ok, but instead of a hard days night it has been roughly 10 days worth of crap. But the point of this blog post is not to gather sympathy, it is to be real with myself and my readers…

I may blog about some of the crap that has gone down later in the week; and while it is safe to say while I am doing a lot better with all the obstacles put in my way, I have fallen off the food wagon a little.

I am writing this post, because some people assume that I have all of my food and eating patterns together now. Well people, that is a fallacy. I still have my days where I lean towards eating through emotions…Most of the this behaviour is in the past, But compounded issues on issues resulted in me taking a side step into this dangerous territory.  Ice cream is not my friend, and it slides through my band like hot butter. With all its evil sugar, carbs and calories.

The hardest part is I am not supposed to run at the moment until I get a medical clearance (Thursday can’t come quick enough)… And running makes me feel good, helps me deal with stress and as I have stated many times re-aligns my head. No running equals Naughty Lin trying to come out to self sabotage with ice-cream and carbs. Not helpful.

A friend had on her Facebook the other day this little gem of a statement (thanks MAE)

This is truth… It is about making wise choices everyday.  So what if I can’t run at the moment… I can walk, and I can walk for hours if I need too, I can lift weights, and go to yoga… Running may be my favourite exercise, but I can go low intensity for a while. Everything else is an excuse, I have had enough excuses for a lifetime, I am done with them… So my resolution, me being accountable to me (and anyone who reads this),  I intend to choose wisely again, focus on me again – and let all the other crap fall to the way side.

Till next time, Lin xox