13 weeks down!

Had my 13 week assessment yesterday and they asked me back today, so I must have passed 😄
Driving a bus is fun and boring, challenging and routine.
The actual driving is probably the easy bit. The 3 week training and induction program was intense but prepared me well. The regular performance assessments help keep me on track.
Ventura are a fantastic company to work for. They really look after and support their drivers. The other drivers are awesome – so welcoming and considerate.
The really hard bit is staying focused and present through the whole shift. Some mornings it’s like a really long meditation! Focus on the road, traffic, passengers, stops and starts, crazy drivers, pot holes… the list is endless 😱
It’s been a strange career shift and not really one that I picked – one that was almost forced on me as I couldn’t find anything else. At the end of the day it gives me a reason to get up in the morning, gives me something to focus on, I have a laugh with my colleagues and the uniform is pretty comfy 😂

What a woman!

This turned up at Tai Chi yesterday. Some of you may know the brand, some of you will know Audrey. In fact many of you will know Audrey as she used to own the wool shop in Cheltenham. Ahhhh – I hear you say! 
Audrey first started training with me back in September 2004. She was in her late 60’s and had never done any kind of planned exercise. She trusted me to be her trainer and I felt incredibly grateful to have her trust. I was inspired by her determination to do something positive for her health and fitness – not despite her age but because of her age. Almost 15 years later she has joined me for Tai Chi sessions. Once again I am filled with gratitude to have the trust of such an amazing woman. She is in her 80’s now and is still determined to try something new if it will make a positive change to her health and fitness. What a woman – courageous, determined, focused and so incredibly sweet and lovely. So blessed to have her back in my life

We had her back…

My baby gal is 5 today!
She came for a sleepover with us on 14 Feb 2015 and never went home. The first 5 weeks were a NIGHTMARE! Funny enough she finally bonded with Elly and I after she was attacked at the dog park. Curious by nature, she had gone up to a dog (who was on a lead) and the dog had bitten her nose and was literally swinging Daisy backward and forwards. She was 5.8kg’s and had no paws on the ground. I swooped to the ground (on my stomach!) and literally pulled her from the other dog’s jaw. Elly went ballistic barking at the dog and the owner, while some of my dog friends had a crack at the owner.
Shaken, we stumbled home with me trying super hard not to cry. This little dog that had kept us awake nearly every night for 5 weeks, was using the lounge as a toilet, wouldn’t eat, was being walked 4 times a day and still seemed to have boundless energy – had not bonded with us in any way. She had just been in a terrifying position and wouldn’t let me hold her close. I remember sitting on the couch and Elly laid down beside me. Daisy was on the floor, in what had become her usual aloof position. At that point, I started crying wondering what on earth I was going to do. She then jumped up on my lap and started nuzzling Elly and then me.
She hasn’t stopped loving us since. She is a dog that has so much love to give, a joy to be around and is always searching for fun. Love my Daisy Girl!

Hierarchy of Functional Aging

How often do you read a fitness blog or magazine, see something on Facebook and it’s a gorgeous girl or a hunky guy in their 20’s or 30’s and the fitness tip/exercise given is a blanket example for everyone – age is not considered. It happens all the time, right? This is my biggest frustration with the industry that I have been a part of, for over 15 years.  This is also why I was drawn to become a Functional Ageing Specialist.

Adults over 50 fall into a broad range of functional categories. We all know 70-year old’s who don’t go anywhere or do anything. We also know 80 years old’s who are energetic, having adventures and enjoying their life.  Their chronological age is irrelevant. Their functional age is important.

Where do YOU sit on the hierarchy?

14 years as a group outdoor Personal Trainer

Hard to imagine that 14 years ago I started group, outdoor, personal training sessions at Le Page Park. (My Number One member, Joanne Link started training with me that night.)  In some ways the years have flown. In others, they have dragged by at an excruciating pace! So many ups and downs – I have learnt so much about myself and those around me. In the beginning I thought I was starting a Group Outdoor Personal Training Franchise. In those early days I never understood that what was being created was long lasting friendships and a beautiful community.  It’s the community and the people that keep me grounded, give me a reason to get out of bed every morning, and give me the strength, drive and determination to be a better person every single day.

My LEGEND members have been training with me for 10+ years. They came to me looking for exercise and we have created this wonderful decade long bond with each other.  I’m looking forward to our annual Legends Lunch in November. Joanne, Margaret, Dagmar, Bill, Linda, Tor, Colleen, Graham, Tracey, Judy, Tamara, Viv, Chris, Cheryl, Marcia, Jeannine, Graham, Kate, Elizabeth, Greg and Anne.

Next year there are 8 new Legends joining the party. Chris, Meredith, Kaye, Ron, Jeanette, Glynn, Belinda, Monique. I am so grateful for your faith in me and your trust to take care of your fitness needs.

Cheryl, Chris, Jen – Thank you for sticking with us through the dreadful months of having cancer. Today I feel so grateful for your strength and health.

More babies are on the way with Raquel and Clare due early next year. It’s such an honour to be given the chance to train members through this important stage of their lives. So many babies over the years! Michelle and Kate stayed through 2 babies. Alice through 3!

We have had many ups and downs over the years, but every time we get a little stronger, our ties strengthen, we support each other and get on with it. It was devastating last year to have our beautiful Jane taken from us without the chance to say good bye. I am sure she would have been smiling to see 18 of us at her memorial service, paying tribute to the gorgeous woman she was.

To my current members thank you for continuing to trust me with your health and fitness.

To those members that have come and gone it was an absolute privilege to share our community with you.

Looking forward to the next year and all the trials and tribulations it brings, along with all the laughs and good times.

Let’s Crumple!

Have you ever thought about how you fall over? We don’t really like to as our brain will assume pain!

Have you ever watched kids fall over? They tend to crumple. They hit the ground, their hips touch their feet and they bounce back up again. Their brain isn’t sending their body any messages about previous falls. Their joints are flexible, their muscles can spring back.

Watch an adult fall and they tend to go down like a tree being felled. They go rigid with fear and the thought of pain. Muscles and joints are tight and don’t have much flexibility. Often the hands come up and fingers are damaged, wrists and broken, noses are knocked, glasses are smashed. This is something we really want to avoid right?

Have you heard the story about the man walking in the bush with some friends? An experienced bush walker who, one day, felt a stick scratch his leg. This was the message his brain told him. A few kilometres later he dropped to the ground. It wasn’t a stick but a deadly snake bite. His friends got him to hospital and he survived. A few weeks later he was out in the bush and felt a snake bite his leg. He panicked and went to hospital before the venom poisoned his body. Except it wasn’t a snake – it was a stick. Our minds are powerful. They can find fear – whether it is real or not.

So back to falling. Can you stop yourself from falling? Possibly. If you are strong enough, co-ordinated enough or balanced enough. It can still happen. It happened to me 4 years ago when I had a nasty ear infection. There was nothing I could do about it! If it is going to happen you want to be able to fall with the minimum amount of injury and bounce back up again. You want your mind to see the situation for how it really is and not play to the fear of how it might be – like the snake bite story.

The best way to do this is to practice. Every chance you get have your ankles close to your bottom. There are heaps of ways to do this. To get started try these options –

  • Think Asian squats whenever you can. If you can’t get down there do a modified version to help loosen up your ankles and hips. Stay there for as long as you can.
  • Hop off the ground from a seated position without using your hands. If you need to use your hands that’s still ok.
  • Fall in love with Turkish get ups. Lay on the floor and come to standing without using your hands.
  • Squat low and deep with a straight back, bringing your bottom as close to your ankles as possible.
  • Pop your shoes on by lifting your foot up to your hips – that’s a good balance exercise in itself!

Give it a try. I would love to hear about the things you do to get your bottom to your ankles and the difference it makes to your flexibility.

May we learn to crumple like kids 😀

Sit for cognitive concentration, move for a conversation.

Hello 😊

How did you go with Pants on, pants off – stand up!?

How about trying this?

Sit for cognitive concentration, move for a conversation.

We have all heard that sitting for long periods of time is bad for our health. So bad that it has been compared to having the same impact on our health as smoking. From this ‘standing desks’ became very popular!

However, it is not sitting that is the problem – as standing has not fixed it. The problem is not moving.

 Why are sitting and standing so bad for us?

  • The impact on our bones is insidious.  It feels like our bodies are coping and then it seems like ‘all of a sudden’ they can’t.  It takes time for our bone density to drop so we call it “ageing”. It’s not really – it’s just repeating an activity for a long time before the impact shows itself….
    • As we age bone density and strong bones are vital.
  • Our muscles are 75% water.  The water needs to be moved around our body. When we are sitting or standing the water cannot move, having a significant impact on our lymphatic circulation.
    • As we age a strong immune system and good heart health are essential.
  • What’s scary is that they have found the same decay in astronauts as someone who sits down for long periods of time – loss of muscle, loss of bone and lack of blood flow. Astronauts come back from their mission and spend months building their bodies back up again.
    • As we age we must be like astronauts. If we sit or stand for long periods of time we need to build our bodies back up again.

I encourage you to find your inner astronaut and focus on strengthening your body.

If you want any help or guidance please just ask!

What nutritionists disagree on. 

Disagreement arises as there can be no option that suits everyone. Back to our car analogy. Not everyone wants cruise control, leather seats or a 2-seater car. This is where we must acknowledge our differences and tap into our intuition to decide what is best for our individual needs. Every single one of us is different. There can be no nutritional rule that is one size fits all. However, the destination is the same. We want to live healthy lives – filled with energy, vitality, sleep and most importantly we want that to last for as many decades as possible.

Fruit – no fruit, one piece a day, eating certain fruits, eating in abundance

It’s all about the fructose. How much natural sugar do you need?

Coffee – no coffee, one a day, four a day, not before bedtime.

Caffeine is a drug that gives us a lift. If that’s a craving or an addiction I would suggest that’s not a healthy option.

Chocolate – not as confusing as you may think.

General agreement is that the occasional small piece (30 to 60 grams) of dark chocolate is ok. Again, if you feel an out of control need for it – walk away!

Alcohol – the guidelines on alcohol are actually clear….we just don’t follow them.

How does it make you feel before you drink? During? Afterwards? A hangover is the body telling you something. Loud and clear it is saying TOO MUCH.

Meat – I’ve been a vegetarian since my teens so it’s something I feel quite passionate about. Even those that say we need to eat meat talk about portion sizes of 100 grams or less, organic or grain fed meat and cook to retain nutrients. On the other side (you knew it was coming!), meat production is responsible for most of our environmental and climate problems. Animals are treated in an incredibly cruel and inhuman way. Our antibiotic crisis is caused by our desire for meat. Most of the antibiotics made are for livestock. It’s a financial disaster if your livestock are sick. This then means that the animal flesh you are eating is packed full of antibiotics….. then when we are sick we have become immune to the effect of the antibiotics. General agreement is that we are heading for an antibiotic crisis that’s caused by consuming meat and our environment is suffering.

Gluten – hype or real?

Opinion varies greatly here. What is agreed on is that our grains are infested with chemicals. Roundup is sprayed on the weeds, which is then absorbed into the soil which the plant grows in. One of the nasty chemicals in Roundup is Glyphosate. This is a poison that is in the plants that we digest – not good! To add to this livestock are fed a high grain-based diet, which is then slaughtered, wrapped in plastic on Styrofoam trays, cooked and eaten – increasing our gluten and glyphosate intake.

I encourage you to try a gluten free or grain free diet. If you feel better that is a clear indication that your body prefers it.

Carbonated drinks – to sparkle or not to sparkle?

It all comes down to your gut health. If I’m out I will pick sparkling water over alcohol, juice, tap water….. I don’t go out very often 😬 Again base your consumption on how you feel. I know that after Soda stream bubbles I feel quite unwell – that’s an indication for me to avoid it.

Dairy – for decades we were told that dairy was necessary for bone health and we ate it in abundance for strong bones. Turns out that in Australia we have one of the highest amounts of dairy consumption and the lowest amounts of bone density. An alarming co-incidence…… Cows produce milk like humans do. It’s to fatten up their young and make them healthy. It’s packed full of nutrients for a healthy calf. Not only are we drinking that as adults, we have a lot of dairy in every meal – milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, cream….

By the way “we” doesn’t include me. My grandmother had a dairy farm when I was growing up. One day my mum hand milked a cow and gave me the cup to drink. It was warm and disgusting and was the last time I drank cow’s milk!

Butter and cream are packed full of fat. The experts all agree – fat is good for us, but too much fat will make us fat – clearly!

Cheese is curdled milk, packed with Casein which is an opiate. It’s addictive and can make you sleepy…

Coconut – took the health world by storm as the latest and greatest.  It is very high in saturated fat compared to other fats so use small amounts….. as a guide I feel very unwell if I use too much – it’s a good indicator!

Protein – for a long time we were fed (excuse the pun!) the belief that our protein must come from animal flesh. Animals don’t naturally have the protein we need in their flesh. They eat plants and build it which we then eat. It’s entirely possible to bypass the middle man (or cow, pig, chicken, fish) and eat the plants yourself, getting your protein direct from the source.

Despite all the guidelines I would suggest that you use your own intuition as a guideline. Be inquisitive, be curious. Question the beliefs you have around food – where did the belief come from?

It’s your body and we can no longer blindly assume that governments and corporations have our best interests at heart. Be a critical thinker! How does your body feel when you are eating? How does it feel afterwards? Do you feel good, positive, energetic, happy? Or do you feel heavy, sleepy, lethargic, sick, guilty?

Your body needs to love the food that you are eating not the quick fix euphoric high but a long-lasting feeling of wholeness and good health.

When it comes to food I have a high amount of discipline. I am not easily swayed to pick foods that do not fill my body with optimal nutrition. Stop rolling your eyes! I know that most reading this are now thinking I am boring and my food is limited and restrictive. For me it is quite the opposite. My freedom comes from my discipline. My discipline means I wake up every single morning feeling energised and excited about the day ahead – that s my freedom and I love it!

Remember, everything you do today impacts the life you lead tomorrow, so make your decisions count 😀


Nutrition still confusing?

Did you make it this far? Have you been following the agreed recommendations in my last post? Do you feel better?

If you follow the principles that everyone agrees on you will be healthier. What does that mean to you? Is it sleeping better? Having more energy to get through your day? Not having cravings and making food decisions you later regret? Having a body that you can look at the mirror and smile back at?

Back to the car analogy. If you follow what all nutritionists do agree on you have a car you can drive. As for all the additional extras there are a few things that a lot of ‘experts’ disagree on. Before following their advice, I ask myself a few questions first.

⁃              Ask yourself “What’s in it for them?”. If it’s someone suggesting, you should snack more often, and they work for a muesli bar company, chances are they want you to snack on their muesli bar.

⁃              Do they work for or are they sponsored by the food industry or a food corporation?  I was reading this article ages ago about ‘healthy eating’ and five out of ten of the suggestions were dairy based. Being curious like I am (plus I don’t drink milk and have had limited dairy for decades) I read the small print and then the very fine print. The article was written by the Dairy industry….

⁃              Do they say at any time to “eat in moderation”. That’s always a warning beacon for me. One person’s moderation is another person’s excess.  One glass of wine is plenty for me to be singing and dancing, for someone else it may be a nightly habit.  When the food is genuinely healthy and nutrient dense, moderation is not required. If you are paying attention your body will let you know that you have had enough.

⁃              Is their opinion the opposite of what you have heard before? Are they saying the food is healthy when someone else has said it’s not or the other way around? I always question this kind of contradiction. Beans and legumes, soy, eggs, potatoes have been in and out of favour for years. It’s kind of like red cars that are sometimes popular and sometimes not. More importantly ask yourself – how do I feel when I eat this? I know that if I don’t wash, rinse, soak and cook my legumes properly I don’t feel great.  A lot of nutritionists in the U.S. say to not eat soy products. If I lived in the States I wouldn’t eat soy either, as their GM foods don’t have to be labelled like they do in Australia.

⁃              How much scientific research is there? At university I did a major in Social Research Methods – this makes me deeply suspect of ‘research’! Check out how many participants there were, what year it was done, how long did it run for, who sponsored it, what age, gender, ethnicity?? Don’t even get me started on the placebo effect (thanks Dr Joe Dispenza). As humans we have a huge amount of instinct. Tap into that before blindly believing in the research – it’s more powerful than any study.

⁃              Read the small print. I love the trash magazines that scream headlines out like “Alcohol is healthy”, “Chocolate is good for you”. That headline is just to sell the magazine or get you to read the article. Have you found that you stop reading when you get to the conditions – select wine that is organic, red, 1 glass a night – as it doesn’t say what YOU want it to?

Question everything… I hear you say that it takes times to do that and you don’t have the time – do you??

Do you have time for illness, to be sick, to be terminally ill, for radiation, for chemotherapy, for a heart bypass, diabetes caused impotence, blindness or gangrene? Hospitals are for sick people. Let’s focus on prevention and health.

I certainly don’t want to be a drama queen…. however, a little time may literally save your life and the life of those around you….

Once we see ourselves as “old”….

Do you ever have those moments where you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and wonder who that person is? My Dad, who is 72, always jokes that “some old bugger is staring back” at him. It’s because he doesn’t feel that he is “old”. He still feels young and energetic, youthful and vibrant. One of his ‘secrets’ is that he is always moving.  He rarely sits still, and I am super pleased that I take after him!

If you trained with me for long you know that I think the ageing process is given way too much focus. Once we see ourselves as old, we slow down and become old. Last year this fascination led me to study and I became a Functional Ageing Specialist via an institute in the States.

In June I went to a 3-day conference in Orlando which was all about Functional Ageing.  It was an awesome experience to be surrounded by people who are creating powerful change to the ageing population.

So much of our ageing process is about perception – how we view ourselves. Have you ever thought about how YOU view yourself? How often do you complain about feeling old or blame something on your age?

With huge population growth in the over 50’s, there is so much more research into slowing the ageing process down. It’s exciting and empowering.  There are so many things that you can do to not only create a long life, but to also create a long life that you are fully engaged in and enjoy every moment of.

I would love for you to join me and help create an ageing population that is active and living with passion.  Can you imagine such a world?

I would love to share what I have learnt with you. Some of it you may read – some you may not. If it helps to create a few new healthy habits, that in turn create longevity for you, then an IMPACT has happened!

If you have any questions or ideas I would love to hear from you.