Yoga is as yoga does

I go to a yoga class now on Wednesday nights.  I tried a teacher at the end of January – I went for three weeks and decided her teaching style was not for me.  So google to the rescue – I found another teacher and her website really appealed to me.  Tonight was my second class with her – and I’m hooked!

There is a large range of abilities in the class, from me – not much flexibility and balance – to very advanced students who look like the proverbial pretzel at times.  She already knows my name – and checks on me and makes sure my posture is right and I’m “comfortable” – though her definition of comfortable is not the equivalent of lying on the lounge.  We can use blocks, belts and cushions to make sure we can either do a particular pose safely or do it in a modified manner.

We begin with relaxation, then a 70 minute yoga class, then 15 minutes or so of deep relaxation in the end.  I just kept my Heart Rate Monitor on during the 70 minutes – and burnt 295 calories (and 40% of those were from fat).

And what’s more important I feel so energised and relaxed at the same time.  I’m so glad I didn’t give up on yoga altogether – it was just a matter of finding the right teacher for me.

12wbt Blog Challenge – Week 2 – Positivity

So this weeks challenge is to look at what are you actually TAKING up? What are you giving yourself? Are you learning something new? Taking up a new sport? Giving yourself a social life? 

Where do I start in answering this challenge?  When I first started reading the posts on the 12wbt Facebook page at the end of Round 2 2011 I really couldn’t understand some of the things people were talking about – especially about how the program was about so much more than losing weight. I had 75 + kilos to lose and that’s all I cared about as I prepared myself to sign up for Round 3 2011.  Little did I know how much confidence, determination and self esteem I was going to discover in myself.  Little did I know how much knowledge I was going to gain about myself.  Little did I know how much knowledge I would gain about the science and psychology of weight loss. And little did I know how many wonderful friends I would get to know, who would support me, encourage me and help me to be a better version of myself.

Last night I returned from a weekend in Thredbo with 23 other 12wbt Sydneysiders – there’ll be a long 😉 blog post about it later this week, but in the meantime I’m going to share some of the weekend with you as an example of the positive things about being on this program.

Here I am on Saturday morning with three other 12wbt Sydneysider members.  We’ve just gotten off the chairlift and are getting ready to start the walk to the summit of Mt Kosciusko.  I have never really been good at team sports, always worried about letting the other members down because I’m not coordinated enough or fast enough, and for most of my life, not skinny enough.  I’m really proud to be part of the 12wbt Sydneysiders team though.  I know that my best is always going to be good enough, and that I will get support and encouragement to do better than my best.

After about two hours of walking a moderate grade track, here I am at the top of the mountain. At times it felt impossible and at times I just wanted to stop and lie down on the track.  But instead I would look at my Heart Rate Monitor, and look at my current heart rate and know that I could keep going – that the difficulty was in my mind – not in my legs or my cardiovascular or respiratory systems.  I was determined and willing to push myself to my limits.   Over the last few years before 12wbt I had forgotten how much I love a physical challenge, and what a great sense of achievement it is when you achieve what you set out to do.

And here are some of the Sydneysiders I walked with to the top of the mountain.  It was my legs, my fitness level and my determination that got me there – but I don’t underestimate how empowering it was to walk with these fabulous people.  Just chatting to someone about all sorts of things distracted my thoughts when the current incline looked impossible.  Their encouragement as we reached each milestone helped keep me positive.  And of course, if it wasn’t for one person in particular in the photo – I wouldn’t have even been there.  The generosity of a 12wbt Sydneysider member to share her dream with us was the reason I was even there having “conquered” the mountain.

I had packed my swimming cossie for the weekend – because I liked the idea of going to the leisure centre after the walk to chill out and relax in the pool.  And it turns out another seven Sydneysiders did too.  However, they were also keen to try out the water slide.  I wasn’t I have never been on a water slide before.  Partly because I am such a scaredy cat and partly because I have a fear that I’m just too fat and I’ll get stuck. Before I knew it my friends had convinced me to give it a go.  So I did.  I was so scared!  I screamed the whole way down – and I wish now I had my Heart Rate Monitor on, because I bet it would have been over 200 beats/minute! With the support of good friends I faced one of my fears.

And I love this photo.  I don’t see a woman who is severely obese, instead I see someone who is just so excited to have faced a fear and survived. And I love the look on my friend’s face – sharing joy in your life more than doubles the joy!

So this last weekend I have gained

  • the feeling of being a successful team member.
  • the knowledge I could achieve anything I set my mind to if I am determined enough.
  • the ability to face my fears.
  • the understanding that I don’t have to do everything alone.

Next weekend I am meeting up with another Sydneysider member – and with her help I am going to learn how to ride a bike at the age of 46, after never having done so. (Are you impressed by the absence of the word try in that sentence?) And her generosity of spirit, along with attending a running clinic and doing some stroke correction lessons means I am going to enter my first triathlon in October this year.

I am going to start a new sport – Orienteering – I used to love that at primary school.

I am going to try out Cardio Tennis – I used to love playing tennis as a teenager.

If the opportunity arises I am going to try doing a low ropes course.

And I am going to start making plans to reconnect with my old friends, the ones I’ve been hiding from because I’ve been embarrassed about my weight gain.  I don’t have to wait to get to my goal weight to in order to look like my old self in order to socialise with them again, because I already feel like a better version of myself.

And those are  the positive things I have gained in my life. So much more important than having lost 26kgs.

12wbt Blog Challenge – Week 1

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  What makes you, you?

I am 46 years old and married to Mr G since 1987.  We have two children, 13 year old Master G and 10 year old Miss G.  I have a 29 year old step-son Mr G junior, who has two delightful daughters.  I am just one month younger than Mr G junior’s mother, so I am old enough to be a step-grandmother.  My mother, Mama,  lives in a granny flat on the first floor of our house.

We live in the Blue Mountains, about an hour and a half west of Sydney. I am a full time primary school teacher in South Penrith, and really love working at the school.  All I ever wanted to do since I was four years old was be a teacher, so I count myself fortunate that I can do what I love to do every day.

I was diagnosed with a chronic illness in 2003, and unfortunately I let that illness define who I was for many years.  Until 2008 in fact, when a new specialist helped me to turn my life around.  As a result of the illness, I gained over 75 kilos from 2003 to 2007 – because I made choices which were not healthy, and the illness made it hard for me at times to realise just how bad the choices were.

I was a Weight Watchers leader from 1997 to 2006 and thought I knew everything there was to know about weight loss.  It wasn’t until I started following the Crunch Time cookbook and doing the preseason tasks in the Round 3 2011 preseason that I let go of all the guilt associated with gaining the weight as a former Weight Watchers leader, and realised I had an awful lot to learn about the science and psychology of weight loss.

During the between round times and the Round 1 2012 preseason I have rediscovered just how determined I can be – and how much I love a challenge.  Many thanks to all the members of the 30+ Crew Eight Week Challenge for helping me find the real me after all these years.

2. Why did you decide to do the 12WBT?

I found about about the 12wbt just as round 2 2010 was about to start – a friend in a yahoo group – who may well be reading this – hi Kelli 🙂 – posted about it.  I went straight to the website and signed up to get the email when the next round started.  Stupidly, when the emails came I hit delete.  I had two negative thoughts. Firstly, how can I transform this morbidly obese body in just twelve weeks.  Secondly, how can some one who has never been overweight know anything about the psychology of losing weight?  (I was brainwashed by ten years of Weight Watchers membership.)

The emails kept coming and I kept deleting, believing I was beyond a transformation.  Then in August last year Michelle Bridges was on the cover of the Women’s Weekly, and the article inside brought me to tears one night.  This is an excerpt from that article,

After 20 years as a personal trainer, she finds herself in a growth industry — literally and metaphorically. And spurred on by what she calls a desire to “help people live their best lives”, Michelle is on a mission, taking on the national obesity epidemic one waistline at a time.

Her mantra is that each person is the master of their own destiny. That whatever life has thrown at them, ultimately it’s up to each individual to write the narrative of their life.

I cried when I first read that statement.  I decided that night to join the upcoming round.  The next day I joined the gym.  Eight weeks later I met Michelle for the first time and couldn’t control my emotions – no surprises there really.  How do you begin to thank someone who has helped you to turn your life around?

There was no decision involved in joining Round 1 2012 – its what I needed to do for myself.  I will continue to join every round until I am at my goal weight, have completed a half marathon and then completed at least one round of lean and strong.

Here is a link to a PDF document of the Women’s Weekly article I mentioned above

3. What are you hoping to achieve through the program?

  • To establish for the rest of my life good healthy eating habits.
  • To establish and maintain good exercise habits.
  • To have a strong and confident mindset.
  • To pass on these good habits to Master G and Miss G.
  • To weigh 77kgs again, and maintain that weight.
4. Why have you decided to blog about the 12WBT? What will be the main focus (eg, food, exercise, a bit of everything?)
For two reasons, it is both a diary and a journal.
Firstly, as a diary to keep a record of what I am doing, so I can constantly remind myself about what it is I need to do, and how to go about doing it.
Secondly, as a journal where I think out loud on a keyboard.  Part of my chronic illness has been episodes of clinical depression, and I have found out the hard way that if I dwell on thoughts they can overwhelm me, so its best to get them out of my head and on paper – or a computer monitor.
5. How will you be exercising this round? Gym, home, outdoors or a mixture?
 A mixture – which I think is the best thing we can do for our bodies and our minds.
  • My core will be the gym – I go at 6am each weekday morning for BodyPump, RPM + a swim or a workout in the gym.  My fitness trainer has just devised me a beginners weights program, and I’m surprised how much I like doing it.  I also do Sh’Bam and am going to give BodyBalance a go this round.
  • I also will do a  Zumba class once a week – love Zumba.
  • Three times a week I will go for a run – I’m doing the C25K program, and can currently cover just over 3 kilometres in 30 minutes walking and running.  I prefer to do this outdoors – and with my #runningbuddy – but the treadmill will do – no excuses!
  • I also do a yoga class once a week.
  • Then to mix it up, I will join in with the Outdoor Boxing and Circuits as often as I can with the Sydneysiders Crew.
  • Weekends and school holidays will see me going for bush walks and walks along the Nepean River.
  • I also have DVDs and a treadmill and some weights to use at home whenever the urge hits!
6. What is your greatest strength that will help you?
I am determined.
I had forgotten about that until being a part of the 30+ Crew Eight Week Challenge reminded me of the fact.
That was one great thing I have taken from ten years of Weight Watchers membership.  I had lost 27kgs with Weight Watchers before becoming a leader, and then being pregnant with Master G.  At my first back to goal meeting for leaders in 1998, when Mr G was a couple of months old, the leader of the meeting asked how I was feeling.  I said I was scared of not getting back to my goal weight.  Her words had a big impact on me, she said “Don’t be scared. Be determined”.  She wrote the words scared and determined on a whiteboard, and crossed the word scared out.  I realised then I had a choice about my feelings and my behaviour.
7. What are you afraid of?
Do I dare write spraining my ankle?  I wrote that in the first week of the blogging challenge last round, and then did it twice in ten days a couple of weeks after that! I do know if it were to happen again I would react in a much different way.
With that in mind, I shall say if I am determined I am not afraid of anything.
8.  What are you looking forward to the most over the next 12 weeks?
  • Sweating and watching my HRM as I maintain a high heart rate during my training.
  • Being able to run five kilometres.
  • Lots of yummy food.
  • Finding a yoga class and instructor that suits me.
  • Being able to shop at a regular clothing store by the end of the round.
  • Doing the fitness test – and scoring “intermediate” in every aspect.
9.  What is your downfall? Food? Exercise? How will you overcome this?
A negative shift in my mindset.
I will overcome this by
  • Not dwelling on negative thoughts.
  • Not beating myself up if I make a bad decision.
  • Not putting up with excuses from myself.
10. If you had to pick one word to motivate you over the next 12 weeks, what would you choose?

Fall seven times. Stand up eight.

Well I’ve just had a horror of a week.  And the worst part is its not going to get better any time soon.  It is not appropriate for me to go into details on this blog, as it is very personal and complicated and involves another person who deserves privacy. And it is all tangled up with my chronic illness, and my weight problems.

And in terms of my adherence to 12wbt principles, I made some very bad choices.  Wednesday night and Thursday night I indulged in some binge/comfort eating.  I can’t remember the last time I ate like that, my emotions were really controling my decision making.  After returning from my yoga class, (which I was very disappointed with – I have decided to seek out another teacher and say goodbye to $70) – Wednesday night I made the pizza – sweet potato and capsicum, yummo! But emotionally I just wasn’t satisifed.  So I kept on eating all night.  Finishing with a 100g block of dark chocolate.

Woke up determined to do better.  And I did, until I was cooking dinner for myself and my family.  I managed to polish off a packet of Swiss cheese slices while getting dinner ready, and Swiss cheese isn’t even on the ingredient list for Penang Chicken!  Late that night I thought another 100g block of dark chocolate was a good idea.  I know, why was it even in the house?  Well, I bought it that afternoon while buying the chicken because thought I was over the emotions, and initially I was only planning to have two squares.

Friday was much, much, much better.  It did end though with another 100g of dark chocolate. (They were two for five dollars on Thursday at the supermarket).  Good news is I know I like Lindt “Passion fruit intense”.

Woke up this morning knowing I can make choices to make today better.  Its going okay so far.  I’ve got a list of strategies ready to make sure if my emotions get out of control I can do something besides eat to get them to go away.

Could not resist including this picture.  Master G and Miss G both do Taekwondo.  Their instructor is a big fan of Chuck Norris – seriously, forget Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.  😉

This picture makes me smile – big time.  Mastering a martial art is all about self discipline, Master G has shown me that the last few years.

Could you ever imagine Chuck inhaling a whole packet of Swiss cheese slices, or three 100g blocks of dark chocolate over three nights because he was feeling sad about something?

Chuck Norris fact of the day: Chuck Norris can teach an old dog new tricks.

Preseason Task – Number 8

So I’ve measured up!

Chest – 125cm

Waist – 141cm

Hips – 137cm

L Thigh – 81cm

R Thigh – 78cm

L Arm – 38cm

R Arm – 37cm

I know its better than the beginning of last round – but I can’t seem to find those statistics right now.  Will update this post when I do.

Now here are my before photos from September 2011 (on the left) and February 2012 (on the right).





The good, the bad and the ugly

Just a very quick post – you’ll understand why very soon.

The good – fitness review with trainer at gym yesterday.  Last time he took my weight and measurements and other stats was late August 2011.  I am still wearing the same gym clothes.  He was delighted to see a 20kg loss and a reduction in all but one measurement – my left bicep – go figure?

The bad – its the day before Season 1 2012 – one sleep to go – and I have yet to do tasks six, seven and eight.  Hence why this must be a quick post.

The ugly – fitness review yesterday.  My resting heart rate is now 79 beats per minute – and that’s less than ten minutes after finishing a BodyPump class – woohoo.  The ugly part is it was 139 beats per minute in August 2011.  Was I a ticking time bomb or not?  And my metabolic age – still 61! I’m 46 years old, and biologically I’m 61.  He said its normal for there to be no movement there yet.  Well, there’s a milestone to look forward to – my metabolic age being younger than my chronological age.

Now its time to get serious about those last three preseason tasks.

How old do you feel?

“That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.” Forrest Gump

That’s how it started for me way back in 1992.  I just woke up one morning and decided it would be a good idea to go for a run.  Unlike Forrest, I just went around the block. Once.  But it didn’t take long before I was doing thirty minutes or so most mornings before work, and ten kilometres twice on the weekend.  Many times since I’ve stopped running last century I’ve wanted to take it up again.  But I’ve kept making excuses.  But not any more.

I am a runner again.


JFDI and an app on my iPhone called ease into C25K.

I’m up to Week two, day two.  And I can do it. I just have to focus on breathing, not taking too long strides, weight forward and not crossing my arms in front of my body and I can do it! (Many thanks to the 12wbt Sydneysiders members who gave me those tips.)  It has helped enormously that I have a #runningbuddy – you may have seen her comments on this blog.

So my next step is to do Week two, day three, and just keep on going.  I have signed up for a running clinic later this month, where my running will be videoed and I will get feedback on how to improve.  And I found out yesterday that Michelle Bridges is adding 10km and Half Marathon training regimes to the fitness programs on 12wbt.  I am so happy about that.  My goal is to run the 10km of the Blacktown City Fun Run in June this year.  Next goal is to run the 14km of the City2Surf in August.  If I am ready I’ll start the half marathon training in Round 3 2012.  If I’m not ready, I’ll do that in Round 1 2013.

It’s more than just a way to burn calories and lose weight.  It’s something I really enjoy.

That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For n particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going. 

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