Saturday, January 30, 2010

Running is like walking, only faster.

Atleast that is what I tried to tell myself when I knew my weightloss and get well journey was on a roll. Trying to run when I was overweight was really painful. So I naturally thought the less I weighed the less stress there would be on my joints. But unfortunately that has not been the case for me. My hips, knees and ankles continue to hurt regardless. I do think that structurally I was not designed to run. I am flat footed, I have knock knees and my back has arthritis, not the best combination for a runner, but nonetheless I shall continue to forge forward to reach my goal. Things in the running department just have to be at a slower pace for me.
After the 5km Fun Run I was in pain for about 4 days. Ibuprofen and Paracetamol were my new best friends. Whilst I was up and walking slowly things were somewhat manageable, but when it came to sitting down or trying to stand up - that was a different story. My muscles would seize up totally and trying to stand on sore joints made me wonder if this was truly worth it. But after four days rest, my brain cells rehydrated themselves and I began to think straight again.
During my bootcamp sessions we would always start off with a warm up run and most times we do running inbetween activities. So when I started getting shin pains I thought, "give it a chance, things will come right". So I continued to push myself and I am now on week 3 of NO RUNNING. Please take heed, listen to your body. I didn't and now I feel like I am behind the eight ball. This triathlon is drawing nearer and my running, not great to start off with - is now probably worse than ever. I know my legs need the rest to recover, but running is such a unique discipline I feel like I am going to be a total disgrace on the day if I don't get cracking on the training. "Patience young Jedi".

Friday, January 29, 2010

Panthers Tri Club

I joined the local triathlon club. The gentleman at the bike shop gave me a discount on my bike by joining - I couldn't miss the chance of getting a discount, after all I am a girl. But now that meant I definately had to do a triathlon. There was no backing out even if I wanted to. I hadn't even signed up for one yet, how does one do this and which one would be suitable. Thank goodness I have friends in the know.
I had heard discussions through my bootcamp class friends. There were many small tri's around but the one that caught my attention was the TriShave Women's Triathlon. I liked the fact that is was all women, I wouldn't feel like such a "doofus". I could mingle in the swarm of other women and feel safe and protected. Also, there was a possibility of some of my friends doing this event with me. I was up for the challenge but only if my friend's held my hand.
I jumped on the registration site and filled out the necessary criteria but stalled numerous times upon hitting the send icon. My finger was like it had a mind of it's own and just would not let me press it. I stalled and stalled and stalled until finally I did a Lleyton Hewitt "C'mon". And without another thought it was gone into cyberspace. Off to TriShave World. Instantly, I was excited and scared. I SMS'ed everyone, I thought the more people I tell the more they can rev me up and keep me motivated during the initial phase.
Once I get going I know I have the will and drive to motivate myself. I am also stubborn and hate not succeeding in something once I have set my mind to it. By succeed I don't mean winning, I just like to see things through to the end, regardless of the obstacles set before me. The obstacles make me want it even more.
So now I know how to swim, I have my bike - just need to keep on practising, and I have signed up. What's next? Oh yeah, running!!! All I can say is OUCH!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Special thought for the day

I wanted to share this wonderful passage that I just only read from a book of inspirational thoughts that was given to me by a dear friend Tracy during our 2009 Christmas party. The book is called "Keep believing in yourself and your dreams" edited by Patricia Wayant, Blue Mountains Press.

There's no challenge you can't face
Challenges make us stronger.
They push us to try harder.
They allow us to be brave.
They offer us courage.
They engender hope in us.
And sometimes we go farther
than we ever dreamed possible....
just by believing that we can.
"Ashley Rice"

Piecing it together, bit by bit.

Ok, so as you can tell I purchased myself a bike. Am I scared about riding it for the first time since I was like 12? "Damn right I am". Why I here you ask, well the potential for falling off was quite high. Needing the assistance of the rescue and recovery crew to recover me from the wreckage after I had come to a complete stop was even higher still. I hate not being in control and the thought of surrendering my whole being to this metal object with wheels was a touch scary. Don't get me wrong,I absolutely love my bike. It's black and slick looking, and has great racing wheels and I even have a helmut to match. Gotta look good even though you have no clue what your doing, Oh and it has gears - lots of them.

The guy at the bike shop said to me as I was leaving with my beautiful black bike, "increase your ride time slowly and try to ride atleast 3 times a week so your legs adjust". Ok, sounds easy enough. Hold that thought while I compose myself and stop laughing. EASY, not quite.

My first ride was merely a 5km flat surfaced ride for all bar two tiny bridges. Looked easy, I ran this in the fun run. The bike guy said to keep the left gear on 2 and the right gear on a 4 or 5. Which is what I did. I was a bit wobbly almost like watching a newborn giraffe trying to stand. I do think it would have been funny to watch, however I was so tense up there I don't think I really enjoyed that first ride.

Things to take note of for the next ride were:
  • Relax hand grip, white knuckle grasp is not favourable for circulation in fingers.
  • Relax shoulders and neck, very important for turning and seeing where you are going.
  • Legs that are heavy like concrete yet wobble like jelly post cycle are the norm.
  • Feeling like you have been on a horse ride for the last week post cycle is also the norm.

How did I used to ride my bike for hours on end as a child? I don't remember things hurting that bad, least of all my bottom. It felt battered and bruised and as a result of the pain it altered the way I walked. I thought I looked like a cowboy post rodeo

So with my ego about as bruised as my behind, I made my way home. Two to three times a week, thats what the guy said. Stay focused!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Love the open water

The "Have a go swim" on the 28th of November 2009 was set to be another memorable day. It was about 40 degrees celsius with quite strong winds that came in waves over the course of the day. I was loving the idea that soon I would be in the water. There is no better place to be when the earth is at its scorching best.

Once again I had my own personal cheer squad (Stephen, kids and mum)there for support. I was going to have to start paying them shortly for their time and What would I do without them. When I doubt myself or am just feeling the nerves of an event their words of encouragement spur me on like no other.I don't know why I get so nervous, I have just always been that way. My fiercest competitor in the water has always been me. I was never happy with anything less than my best. And that was probably true for other aspects in my life. Sometimes that was a good trait but other times it left me deflated because I never felt I could live up to the standards that I had set for myself.

In the water though it was a different story. I knew I could just always squeeze out hard work cause it felt so natural. I knew I could do this 500m with my eyes shut. The murkiness of the water meant that even with goggles on it felt like my eyes were shut....literally. I couldnt wait. I wanted to see how I would go in open water. My time in a pool for the 500m distance was 8min 15 sec. Following a black line makes life so much easier in comparison to murkiness and close to zero visibility. Oh well, life is a challenge and I was going to prove to myself that I could do this.

As the starters gun went off I just thought to myself, stick to the guy on your left hand side. Keep him within view and he will set the pace to follow. What I didn't bank on was that I felt great in the water and taking the lead felt good too.He did push me all the way though. The choppiness of the water did not bother me one bit, it felt quite natural actually and I quite enjoyed not having to stop and do a tumbleturn every 50m. But you do get fatigued alot quicker too.

I started to feel my lack of stamina with about 100m to go and even though I was slightly lifting my head to visualise the finishing line I was going all over the place and that was sapping the energy right out of me. Needless to say, when I crossed the line first i was extremely excited but very tired. I finished with a time of 8min 17 secs. Not bad for no black line and murky, unchlorinated water. WooHoo. Bring on the 1km for my next challenge.

And bring on a Triathlon. I want to do a triathlon. This is my future goal and I will do it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Could this be it.

Many a time when I was training heavily for the Masters I wondered if there would come a time when my weightloss would begin to stagnate. I was aware that muscle mass weighed more than fat and I was also aware that if I had more lean muscle that I would continue to burn fat stores even at rest. So why is it I stopped losing weight so shortly after ceasing the intense training. I weighed myself morning, noon and night to see if there was some diurnal variations, I even resorted to weighing myself before I did a pee and after I did a pee. "Don't laugh, I know you have all done it". The only answer I came up with was that I had no answer. My body had just decided that it didn't want to lose anymore for the moment. And I just had to be happy with that.
For four long gruelling weeks my weight increased by 200gms and decreased by 200gms. I sat at 72kgs. Not my goal weight, but what could I do. I was still eating the same healthy food and consuming the same 1500 cals. The only thing that was keeping me on target were my measurements, they were changing - and for the better. I was losing centimetres from every where, even from my neck which was the part I was wanting to lose it from the most. I know, sounds weird, but when I was on Prednisone I ended up with a hump on my back close to my neck which I can only compare to "Quasimoto". I was not an animal or a Brahman bull I was me, Barbara Hughes.
I realised that the less emphasis I placed on my weight loss the happier I was. I was still exercising and still accomplishing things. The weightloss was a bonus not the sole driving force. I was just a happier, healthier more rounded individual. Everything else would fall into place, I was certain of it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What's next?

The exhilaration and astonishment from the past fortnight's events had only just begun to subside and I was already looking for something else to quench my desire to compete. Not because I wanted to try and win anything else, but rather I just wanted to feel those emotions attached to accomplishing something you thought you could never do.

Friends of mine at bootcamp were going to compete in a 5km Fun Run at the Regatta Centre. I wanted so badly to do it but I had not run that sort of distance since I had competed in the 14km City to Surf as a teenager. But what the heck. I never thought I could lose 20kgs and I did, this was just another thing I thought I couldnt do and I was going to prove myself wrong.

My twin son Kurtis also wanted to do the run with me. I think he had felt a sense of pride watching me overcome obstacles and wanted to do the same. I was so proud of him. We started together but within a kilometre I had to tell him to run like the wind. He was chomping at the bit to get going but Im sure he felt an obligation to stay with me. I was happy for him to enjoy his run and see how he would go.

I was struggling. Every fibre of my being wanted to stop and just turn around and go back after 1.5km. My lungs were burning and every stride I took felt like I had those 16kgs (weight to date lost) back on my shoulders. One of my friends Kim stayed with me for a while and kept giving me motivation to continue. I honestly thought I was able to motivate myself but it was quite clear that when things got a bit unfamiliar and tough my brain would try to revert back to its original way of thinking. Was I going to let it, NO WAY.

I decided to walk for a bit. This was the best decision I had ever made. Not only did it give my legs and lungs a much needed reprieve, but I was also able to focus on the fact that I now only had about 2.5kms left. I could do this. So up went the tempo from a walk to a slow run and I just stayed focused on my breathing. In, Out, In, Out. And with every step, I was a little closer to the finishing line. So much so I caught up with Kurtis who was trying to recover from a stitch.

After a couple of minutes walking we picked up our pace and caught up with Kim who had slowed down her pace to wait for me. The remainder of the run went by quite painfully I must admit. Even though my pace had not slowed any further, my calves felt as though every pint of blood in my body had settled into them and they felt heavy. Very heavy!

Kurtis once again took off and finished the race with a good sprint to the finish, and Kim and I gave it all we had right towards the end. I was so happy I finished it. I don't know my exact time but I think it was 31 minutes something. It doesnt matter really, I finished and that was all there was to it. I could tick off another accomplishment. I was on a roll.


My husband is a cheeky man. He is also very proud of me and always wants nothing but the best for the children and I. As he was driving home from the Sydney Aquatic Centre he rang the local newspaper and spoke to the head editor and told them about what I had achieved. I guess they must have thought it was a bit of interesting news because 2 days later I had a phone interview and made the back page with other competitors from the area.

How cool did I feel? About as cool as a cucumber. I didnt want this year to end. This feeling far outweighed all the hard training sessions and the times I doubted myself.

Everytime my husband Stephen holds my silver medal, all he says is "This is the closest I am going to get to a silver medal". But he has already won a gold medal, its the love I hold for him in my heart.
I am having trouble downloading the article so I have cut and paste it instead, here it is:
60 PENRITH WEEKENDER, October 23, 2009

4722 6693
FROM Prince Frederik of Denmark
capsizing in the harbour to 100-
year-old grandmother Ruby Frith
breaking the record in shot put, the 2009
World Masters Games were arguably the
most exciting yet, with over 28,000 people
competing across Sydney last week.
With baseball, canoeing, kayaking and
touch football all held in the Penrith area,
local residents got their fair share of the
Local touch football team, the Penrith
Over 50s, scored silver in the Games, and
player Charlie Chrisostomos said the whole
team was pleased with the fi nal result.
“We made the fi nals so that was a good
effort for us,” he said.
“This was our fi rst time competing in
the Games and because it was being played
locally, that made it very easy for us so we
were pretty happy with how we went.”
Locals who competed outside of the area
include Luddenham competitor, Barbara
Hughes, who scored a silver medal in the
50-metre backstroke for swimming.
“It was the most exhilarating experience
to be involved in the event, you just feel on
top of the world and to get a silver medal
Story Stacey Hicks
was just the icing on the cake for me,” the
35-year-old said.
Other successes included a local hockey
team achieving gold and a Penrith netball
team achieving bronze.
“We had absolutely no idea that we
would do any good and thought we would
get smashed in all the games,” said netballer
Carolyn Morley. “But with determination
and team building, we surprised ourselves.”
The Games were marred, however, by
the unexpected death of an international
canoeist, aged in his 40s, who suffered from
a heart attack on the Nepean River during
the 21km canoe marathon last Wednesday.
World Masters Games Chief Medical
Offi cer, Jenny Saunders, said the organising
staff were saddened by the man’s death, but
all necessary precautions and actions were
taken to try to revive the man.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I did it.

My day began at about 0500hrs as my nerves were just eating me alive. I had hardly slept a wink as thoughts of false starts, coming last and making a total fool of myself flooded my every thought. Eating breakfast was the farthest thing from my mind yet I knew I had to stomach atleast two WeetBix in order to stop the waves of nausea becoming all too consuming.

I had my bags packed the night before but that didn't stop me from checking it for the one millionth time. Goggles, check. Cap, check. Swimmers, check. Courage - oh bugger, where is it? I know I had packed it too. Maybe I had put it somewhere for safe keeping and when the time was right I would find it.

I travelled to the pool on my own that morning, feeling that I needed to be at one with my thoughts. I couldn't bear the thought of trying to figure out what I needed to do with my children when I had enough trouble trying to keep my own thoughts straight. Luckily, I have the most understanding husband and he knew how important this was for me.

Arrival at the pool was about 4 hrs before my race, but I didn't care. I was able to relax and feel totally inspired but all those competitors who were still swimming and competing at the tender age of 100+. What was I afraid of? These competitors motivation and drive to continue being the best they could be made my search for "courage" come to an end. I had found it. What was I going to lose? Nothing, when I had already gained so much. I got my life back, competing here was just the icing on the cake.

Barry turned up not long after me and we spent some good quality time just chit chatting about things. About how far I had come, all the things I had accomplished and how proud he was of me. That meant so much. He too had gone on this journey with me and I guess he was feeling the nerves too. This swim was going to be a testament of not only my strength and determination but also his patience and willingness to get me to my goal as well.

As I looked around and found myself surrounded by my family and friends an hour later, I realised how lucky I was to be blessed with all of them. They stuck by me when at times all I wanted to do was run away screaming. I am sure I wasn't the easiest person to live with.

The time came for the marshalling of my race. Barry handed me a letter and told me to read it when I got down there. I gave my kids, husband and mum a big ole kiss and made my way down. With every step I made closer to the marshalling area the louder and faster my heartbeat resonated in my ears. I could hardly hear the swooshing of the pool and conversations being held around me. It was just incoherent mumbles.

I got my name marked off and set out to read my letter. Barry is not a man of many words but this letter brought a flood of tears to my eyes. It made me realise that he had more faith in me than I did. He knew I could do this, and after reading it I knew I could too.

The actual race itself went by quite quickly. One minute I was in the water getting ready to take my starting position and before I knew it I was at the other end looking up at the time board. At first it didn't register, when I looked to my left I saw only one other person at the end with me, and then it all hit. My race was the fastest heat. I came in at 34.15 seconds. If the screen said I had come second in my heat that meant I had come second overall. OMG, I came second. I couldnt believe it. I was second for my age group in the entire Masters in the world. I felt like I had won the Olympics. Well, this was the closest I would ever come, I was on top of the world.

Finally my hearing came back and I could hear my children, husband, mum, Barry, friends screaming out how proud they were of me. I was so happy, ecstatic, overwhelmed. I was not able to wipe the smile from my face for hours. So I went home, had a nice dinner and a glass of red and relished in the joy of having accomplished a Silver Medal for my first race. But, the job was not done. I still had the 50m Freestyle. I knew it would be harder as this is the race that everyone wants to compete in.

My aim was to hit sub 30 seconds. Was this possible, "NO", but I got close. 30.83 was my time. Was I still proud of my achievement "YES". What I had overcome in the last 9 weeks of training had proven to me that anything was possible. Now whenever I thought to myself "I can't do this", my retort back would be "Of course you can".

Thursday, January 21, 2010


What a day. I was so excited. Susan and I were going to Homebush to register for the World Masters Games and recieve all our paperwork. The excitement I felt I could only compare to what an Olympian would feel just before their race. I knew the Masters games were popular but I didn't realise how popular.

Susan and i got to the venue just before 0900hrs. We went into the main arena and lined up with about 40 other people to start our registration paperwork. All went without a glitch and we recieved our backpack, lanyard with competitors pass, drink bottle and timetable for the events. After leaving the main arena we thought we would go buy ourselves some memorabillia however all attendants said that stalls would not be open until 1500hrs when registrations began. This was lucky incident number one. We actually signed up 6 hours early. Yee Ha.

So we returned to the main arena at about 1400hrs after lunch to sit and wait for the stalls to open. Within half an hour or so, officials for the games starting locking these main doors and placing signs up stating the opening time. Funny thing was we were on the inside and Susan and I with about 100 other competitors were ushered in to the main arena as though we were something special. Lucky incident number 2.

Could this be the beginning of many great things to come. Boy, was I in for the shock of a lifetime.

It's coming up

So today was set to be the day. I knew it was going to be a hard session in the water. I had, I think about 2 weeks to go to the Masters Championships and I must admit I was feeling pretty damn good in all aspects of my life. My back was hardly hurting at all now and i was feeling strong. People were now commenting about how fit I look, versus how much weight I had put on, and gees "You look puffy".

So anyway, back to the reason of this post. I knew it was going to be hard. Barry would give me my session a week in advance. I was scared. I was doing 4x175m Freestyle and 4x175m Backstroke all at about 85%.

I started off with the Backstroke seeing as it was my favourite stroke and knocked those out reasonably well I thought. I was finishing each 175m Backstroke with enough breath to continue talking to Barry and my best friend Susan. Anyone who knows me knows I like to have a good gas bag...

The Freestyles were set to be another story. The first one came and went without too much hassle, the second had me feeling light headed. Now the third one was a doozie. I remember touching the wall and looking up at Barry and Susan and wondering "why are there two of each?". My body had gotten the shakes so bad all I could do was walk about 2m to a bench at the end of the pool and there i sat for a little bit. That was until someone turned on the saliva tap in my mouth.

I felt so unwell but wishing at that point I had not eaten baked beans and toast for breakfast. The thought of that making its way up was just TOO MUCH. The bathrooms were too far away and I knew that I didnt have the energy to get there anyway so the closest thing were some bushes. Luckily all I did was heave. My stomach started to settle after some water and a couple of Glucodin tablets, courtesy of Susan. I can recall just sitting at the table back at the other end of the pool and Barry giving me 15 minutes of respite and then being told I had one more to go. God love him!!

I requested another 5 minutes of rest and then churned out the last 175m and thanked God it was over. I had done it. I had almost spewed and survived. Nothing was holding me back.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Acres of Diamonds

" Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas;
they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them
Russell H, Conwell.

The Black Line.

Never thought I would be so happy to see it again. The black line that used to be the thorn in my side as a child was now my best friend. I found comfort and respite from all my negative thoughts. The weightlessness I experienced in the water took me back to the days when I felt on top of the world. I was able to just be me in the water. I didn't have to pretend to be happy or put on a brave front, when at times all I wanted to do was crawl into ball and hide somewhere. This long lost friend of mine was giving me back what I thought I had lost. "ME".

The following 9 weeks would see me accomplish things I never thought possible at the beginning of my journey. I went from training 2 days a week to 3 and 4. Before I knew it I was training 6 days a week. I was swimming 3 times a week, doing 2 bootcamp sessions with Barry and I continued with my personal training sessions.

The weight was shifting, slowly but surely. All the clothes I had bought because I was larger were now not fitting. Thank goodness I spent alot of time in tights and sweat shirts. I really began to notice it in my swimmers. What were once tight and pulling were now getting so loose I could have used it as a drag net at the beach. Time for a new cossie. My reward. YAY!!!

When my best friend and I would compare notes about training sessions she would always say to me "I have worked so hard I was nearly vomiting". I thought it must have been because she was doing heaps of reps on the track, that would make me tired. But I always wondered why I never felt that way. Clearly I wasnt pushing myself hard enough. Time to up the anti.

Oh boy.

What had I done. The World Masters Championships sounded like a great idea up in my head and in conversations with my best friend - who had also signed up. But what was I thinking. I had really only been to the pool in the last 18 months about 5 times. Did i really think I would measure up or atleast put up a little challenge to others in my swim heat. These where questions that had no answers yet, but I was going to try damn hard to put up atleast a little bit of a challenge when the time came to compete.

My personal training sessions with Barry continued only this time they were kicked up a notch. Sessions intensified as my stamina and strength improved. But I liked it. I used to finish my sessions feeling totally overwhelmed by how tired I was. It would take me atleast 15-20 minutes to recover after each session and be able to talk without panting. I clearly remember after one session returning home feeling tired only to wake up the next morning being unable to put on my bra because my arms felt as though they belonged to someone else. As the next couple of days passed, that feeling progressed everywhere else, oh well NO PAIN NO GAIN.

I was going to be one lean mean fighting machine.

Photo of me in June at the beginning.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sick of being sick.

I felt like I was jinxed. About a week after I twisted my ankle, I came down with the laryngitis. What was going on with my body? I was such a fit teen and although this back condition started fairly soon after having the twins, I think I was still fairly fit in my 20's. But what was happening to me now in my 30's I could have only classed as unfair. I felt like every step I took forward, something would happen that would set me back even further than when I started.

Once again I had to get focused and re-motivate myself, but this time it was easier. I had just had enough of it all. I was sick of being sick. Sick and tired of being asked how I was feeling and just falling into the pattern of the same old line " yeah ok, but my back is sore". I didnt want to be defined as that person you didnt want to have a conversation with because their illness was all they talked about.

So I got tough and expected nothing less than 100% of myself and if something hurt while I was doing it - I could stop, but I had to find a more suitable alternative right away. Likewise if I got sick, I just had to get back on the training road without too much delay.

So, needless to say when I returned to training my stamina was almost back to square one but this time I came back with a purpose other than to lose weight, I wanted to compete in the World Masters Games held here in Sydney. This was my goal and I had 9 weeks to train for it. Talk about cutting it fine.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Trip a trip a stack.

Up in the lower Blue Mountains, air still and cool, birds cheeping in the background.
My first bushwalk was looking set to be a nice adventure. It was the first time I had met some of the women from Barry's bootcamp. They all looked so fit but better still they were so nice.They made me feel so welcome, like I had been part of it all from the start.But within me I felt so insecure and totally unsure of how I would stack up. I knew I wouldnt be able to keep up - a total contrast to when I was younger.

I remember starting the walk thinking "How beautiful this is?", and how I felt totally in control of my pace. But believe me it didnt last long. I was situated towards the back of the group if not at the end. So all I could see was the backs of everyone else and hear their conversations.I remember hearing laughs and giggles and my heavy breathing. As the walk continued my breathing got heavier and louder, and their discussions became softer. Not because they were not talking but because they were moving ahead in leaps and bounds. About every kilometre Barry would stop and let us all regroup and he would make sure I was okay. I answered "Yes" after a couple of puffs of my inhaler and the walk would continue.

On I plodded and within a short distance I remember losing sight of all (gees they were super fit), but one lady Sharon stayed one step of me and kept on asking me if I was okay and that she would keep me company. The regrouping continued for another couple of kilometres until at one point I remember saying to Sharon "I feel like I am going to twist an ankle", and literally within about 5-10 minutes of saying that, that is exactly what I did.In my head it all felt like it happened in slow motion, like watching a sequence out of the Matrix. If someone was watching I am sure it would have looked funny, but when I hit the ground I heard a snap - and then PAIN.

Everyone came running to my aide. I am not sure what was more bruised, my ankle or my ego. I am sure it was the latter. Barry and all of the ladies wanted to end the walk and help me out but I wouldnt have been able to live with myself if they all missed out on their walk. I got up and said I was ok (after some hollering and wailling like a big girl), and felt good that they all continued their activity. Sharon insisted on helping me out and she kept me company on the way back to the cars.

On our way back we left our fellow bootcampers a message on the driveway with our water bottles and also some broken twigs. We thought we were very clever.

When all the ladies returned from their walk I was totally astounded at how they were not even out of breath. My ankle had swollen some but I was more embarrassed than anything. I remember waiting for them all to leave and just bursting into tears in front of Barry. He assured me that all would be okay and that I would recover and live to see another bushwalk. And I have. But back then I thought that nothing good would ever come out of me exercising. I had somehow assumed a "sick role" and the mentality attached to it would be harder to break than the physical limitations.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Food Glorious Food.

Okay, so lets start by recapping what I said in the last sentence of the last post. "I thought I ate a good mix of stuff and drank enough water".Hmmmm, good mix of stuff - my carbs were accounted for (chips,pasta,chips,bread,chips,rice- followed by more chips, oh and McDonalds). Water was almost in everything I drank - Coca Cola, Tea, Coffee (6 a day to be exact). Thats heaps of water! RIGHT! Nope.

Now being a good little girl from ethnic background I was always taught to eat everything that was on my plate. And if you didn't eat it was because you were sick. So as always I complied. Having Prednisone (steroid used to reduce inflammation) on board didn't help either. All it made me do was eat. So now you see my weight gain had been attributed to lack of exercise, medication, ravenous eating and a sedentary lifestyle.

I knew I couldn't be trusted to do the food stuff on my own, so i enlisted the help of Lite n' Easy. 1500 cals was all I could eat a day for my weight, age and level of activity. I thought that was heaps. And it looked like heaps when it got delivered. It wasn't until I opened up each individual pack that I remember saying to myself " What the?". My brain had become so used to eating large meals that normal portions looked like something a toddler would eat. And to make matters worse I now had to eat breakfast...BLAH. But, if I was going to do this I had to do it right. And that meant not only eating healthy, but drinking water as well and changing my minds habits. No more complaining and no more finding excuses.

So every week when my meals got delivered I ordered my next weeks meals straight away. This became the norm for the next 5 months. The only thing that was hard about it all was having to cook meals for the family. So I kicked the temptation to eat their food whilst I was cooking it by nibbling on a carrot or celery stick. It helped. Every day it got easier and easier and I no longer wanted to eat anything that stood still for long enough.

I knew I was on my way.

Oh the pain !!!!

Apart from childbirth, I never knew I would experience anything like this - and worst still it was self inflicted. Everything hurt, even things on my body that had no nerve endings hurt. My lungs screamed out for oxygen and possibly even a fire extinguisher because it felt like they were on fire.
I remember having to jump up and down on this little step that Barry brought and having flashbacks of a midwife saying to me "it is very important you keep up with your pelvic floor exercises after childbirth". Now was the time I wish I had listened. So I just had to keep jumping, squeeze tight and wish for the best until it could be held no longer. Not being shy about these things I would let Barry know that there may need to be a "mop and bucket to isle 3" moment and he would graciously let me have pitstops along the way thank goodness - not many but atleast I got a couple :).
Barry, bought some boxing gloves and focus pads to our sessions and I loved it. Not only did it give me a good outlet to release pent up anger and stress but what a great cardio workout. I could hardly speak. Actually, I couldnt. My mouth would be so dry from just trying to breathe I had trouble trying to close it. It was as if someone had emptied a bottle of talcum powder into it.
Being quite a talkative person I do believe Barry knew when I was tired as I would stop talking and just look at him with total disbelief that he was asking me do something like this. All he would do was smile and give me a pat and say "Your doing good, keep it up".
The session would end with me literally on the floor feeling like a beached whale. I was so exhausted physically, however inside my head I was buzzing like a butterfly trying to escape from its cocoon.
My next plan of attack was my dietary intake. Oh boy, I thought I ate a good mix of stuff and drank enough I couldnt have been further from the truth.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What was I thinking?

I woke up the morning of my first personal training session in June excited, anxious, ready to start this journey of mine. My first dilemma however was "What do I wear?". I didn't think to go out and buy myself an outfit that would remotely help me feel fit. So I put on an old pair of black bike tights that were too small - but I figured thats why they called them TIGHTS :), and one of Stephen's t-shirts. Up went the hair in a pony tail and I whacked on a cap. I was ready! Or so I thought.
My first class was a fitness assessment. Oh boy! This was to be an eye opener, but even with all the dread I held in my heart i was really ready for the answers. I needed to see where I stood and what it was going to take to get me where I wanted to be. I can remember looking at Barry (the trainer) and thinking lets get on with it. I am sure he felt my anxiety and as such he proceeded gently and cautiously so as not to bruise my already battered self image.
The fitness assessment went as follows:
  • Flexibility - +1
  • 50m run - 10.4 seconds
  • Push Ups - 20
  • Sit Ups - 30
  • Chin Ups - 0
  • Steps Ups in 2 min - 53
  • Beep Test - 3.7
  • Rating - Cat 7

I only found out recently what the Category 7 stood for - VERY POOR. I thank him with all my heart for not having given me the "very poor" status as I think it may have just crushed all my hopes. I thought there were 10 categories, not 7!!!

That very night I could hardly walk. The pain in my back was excruciating. I felt deflated - how was I going to cope with doing exercise if my back couldnt cope with an easy fitness test. I went to bed that night and cried. But when I woke up the next morning, although my back was sore the defeatist attitude had gone into hiding and there was a tiny spark of the old Barbara resurfacing. I got up, took the kids to school and went for a swim with my friend.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This is it.

I can remember making the decision to lose weight as scary yet totally exciting. I knew that this was more than likely going to be difficult, what I didnt realise was HOW difficult. I signed up for a gym and a trainer from the gym and sat down for the inevitable questions "What has prompted you to sign up?, What are your goals?". I knew I had the right answers but were they achieveable?
I started going twice a week, once with the trainer and once by myself and also swam once a week. Only swimming 500m at first - stopping every 50m. When I went to the gym however I felt quite intimidated by all the fit people. It started to not be enjoyable and I was lacking the enthusiasm to continue going. I tried to resolve this by going at a quieter time but I was just not comfortable at all.
My best friend who had seen me go through all my up's and down's suggested seeing her trainer who did bootcamps out in the open air. She felt he would be better suited to me and my needs and that the classes were not about "whose outfit was better" rather helping each person find what was right for them. Even with all of that I still felt intimidated by being around other people and felt I needed the one on one class.
When I met Barry for the first time I remember thinking to myself "This is the man who is going to change my way of thinking, this is the man who is going to help me lose weight and do it carefully". I remember thinking "This is it".

March 2009 - The Day.

This was me on my 35th birthday. I was 88kg. This day brought great joy as I got to see my brother Mario (green and white stripe shirt) after some years, and it also brought great sadness and desperation to see how much weight I had gained. When I saw this photo on the view finder of the camera something snapped inside me and it was then at that very moment I knew things had to change.


Guess I should start by telling you all about myself. I am actually 35, closer to 36 but feeling more now like I am 18. I started swimming as a child due to Asthma. Found out that even though I hated it at the beginning - I was pretty good at it. Made it to State Championships within a year and Nationals when I was 12. By the time I reached 14, I found swimming to be "so last season" and quit.
In between then and 2008, I finished school - well to Yr 11, travelled a bit, found the man of my dreams (Stephen) and became a mother to the lights of my life - boy/girl twins Kurtis and Taillah who are now almost 14 and Kyle who is 11. I also finished my nursing degree in 2006 - which had been a goal of mine since I was 18. Tough going but I DID IT.
When my twins were born I had a very sore back for a couple months afterwards which didn't seem to want to go. Saw my GP and after Xrays and scans they found inflammation in my sacroilliac spaces. Referral to rheumatologist saw some more tests being done and initial management with medication. This made me feel like I had a constant headache which I wasn't happy to settle with so I stopped the medication and didn't go back. I figured that I had to take everyday as a new day and try not to overdo it.
That is until 2008. I guess 4 years of a degree, running around being a mum and working took it's toll. My back got worse and I just couldnt manage it anymore and intervention was needed. I returned to my rheumatologist (with my head held quite low) and new medications were given. They worked but the side effects were not pleasant. My hair thinned, I bruised, my memory wasn't crash hot and the weight gain was horrendous. 20kg in 6 months. EEEEKKKK!!!!!
So the GET WELL and WEIGHT LOSS journey began and who knew there was going to be some added benefits along the way.
Stay tuned!!!!!! The story will continue. I promise :)

Your hard work will be rewarded.

"The path to a dream is paved with sacrifices and lined with determination. And though it has many stumbling blocks along the way, and may go in more than one direction, it is travelled by belief and courage and conquered with a willingness to face challenges and take chances" Barbara Cage