An Athlete State of Mind.

Athlete. Sportsperson. Active minded individual.

Elite. Grass roots. Beginner. It all counts. They are the special breads of humans, in my opinion. How do I know this? Because fortunately been surrounded by them for twenty years of my life. And have earned the honour of representing my country, in turn calling myself one of the above.

I am grateful sport chose me early on. I experienced the joy of playing multiple disciplines, for many years, multiple teams. Teaching me multiple life lessons, early on. For my parents, who drive me to countless practices, countless venues country-wide and multiple amounts of money, on supporting all of this. Supporting My Dream.

I’ve experienced some incredible, unforgettable highs From This sport. From the track. Moments you’d always dreamt of. Movie-moments.

Where it’s not necessarily the medal around your neck. But it’s the atmosphere. Its the feeling of pushing your body, to move the fastest it’s ever been, with every contraction. The ‘YES.’ Moments. Where every training session is being put to use, just to run that self satisfying 0.04 seconds faster your body has moved, than ever before. It’s the crowd’s roar.

Its the lights. It’s the architecture of the stadium. It’s the people volunteering their time to put on a race for you. The way a competitor quickly becomes a mate once the race is done. In the camaraderie of the hand- shake, post race. Picking one another rod the track with a pat on the back. Where you’re out of breath but you always, without fail, acknowledge your opponents that competed against you.

You thank the officials recording the event. And you quietly thank God. It’s the people you encounter, that you’ve never met, but they quietly acknowledge you. Your performance out there, with a simple nod or passing smile.

It’s the honour of the colours you’re wearing. Whether it be Club, state or national. It’s patriotism. Making someone out there proud. Making you proud.

It’s that feeling. I can’t put a finger on it…It’s the moments when you proved to yourself you could and you never stopped. Overcoming mental, physical and emotional hurdles in the process. The lost-for-words moments, when it all went your way. You simply can’t describe it. But you smile. Inside out. Grateful for the journey. Grateful for the people around you. The feeling of adrenaline, mixed with pure joy, mixed triumph and a whole lot of serotonin. The feeling that helped you fall in love with the sport. Just pure happy. The I’m ‘how bloody good is running,’ feeling.

I’ve also experienced the Lows. The moments when you didn’t think you could make it to the line. The moments when your body gave up on itself, before you got to be line. The moments of self doubt in pre-race nerves. The moment of pain, more than any physical injury pain. But pain in being told you’re not allowed to compete, due to injury. When you’d worked so hard to prove to yourself you could; your body simply said ‘no.’

The sacrifices. The people that just don’t get it and blame you, because they don’t understand your passion. They don’t understand your why Your way of life. That this isn’t a choice anymore – it’s a compulsion. The moments of ‘is it all really worth it?…’

But they’re all part of it. Positive and negative. The good comes with the bad. It allows you to work harder, for that brief little high. And it allows you to well and truly earn it!

The bouncing back part. The part that teaches resilience that cannot be taught in an office. Can only be taught on that ‘Oval Office,’ the track. The field. The pitch. The court.

I owe a lot to Sport. It has shaped the person who I am today. Introduced me to a whole new world, to some incredible people who have become family. Kept my physical body just as healthy as my emotional and physical body. It’s been an outlet that saved me from myself, in dark times. It’s given me goals, dreams behind my wildest imagination. And some of the happiest days of my memories.

There’s nothing like proving to yourself, that you are good enough. Exceed your own expectations, but adhering to the journey that you ultimately planned for yourself, for daring to dream in the first place.

I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to some incredible places, met some beautiful faces. And learned wherever there’s a track – there’s home, to me.

From The harsh winters of USA, Canada and England. To the overbearing humidity of training in Cambodia, Thailand, Fiji, The Cook Islands and behind; I’ve found my peace on that track. I it’s a place of ‘me’ time, my outlet. And a place I decide my future.

Most recently I was training in the United Kingdom for a period of about four weeks. It was winter there, when I didn’t have my coach. I didn’t have my squad bantering with me. Just myself, 3 degree icy winds, about seven layers of clothing, and an orange tartan stadium, layed before me. The same surface, as back home. But with a whole new set of obstacles and metaphorical hurdles.

Lungs tight, breathing painful. Hands frozen without gloves. Questioning one’s own sanity, rep after rep. And legs on fire! But this was part of it all. No excuses. I choose this, willingly. And continue to, no mater the country, no matter the conditions.

I decided a long time ago, my destiny. That I would prove to myself that I want to take myself to as far as I can physically go with this sport. I want to be an Olympian.

And it’s been eighteen bloody years, but I certainly haven’t given up yet! As a seven year old, watching our local legend. The phenomenal Cathy Freeman compete for our country. She not only competed, but she won the 400m, at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Witnessing that moment, is where it all started. The Passion, if you will.

I said to my little self, watching in awe. Eyes glued to that television screen. Her body in moving so swiftly. Her pain in her face, in digging deeper than ever before. Her humility in her triumph and success. I wanted that. I said there and then, I am going to do that with my life one day. And I will.

And of course it hasn’t been smooth sailing. I’ve had multiple injury, illness and misfortune. They’ve been multiple coaches, politics, those ups and downs. But it’s all been worth it. It’s part of the Journey To The Dream, as I’ve always called it.

I certainly haven’t been able to keep going this far, alone. I’ve had the most phenomenal team behind me. My family, supporting each and every one of my crazy dreams. In driving me and flying me around the country and in turn the world – to support my dreams. Financially supporting me, emotionally supporting me. And physically being there to support me, whenever they can. And never saying, never to my next step.

My partner, in all his support. His unconditional support, in every definition. Not only being there, cheering louder than any voice in the stadium and being proud of it. Mentally challenging me to push myself, past all my fears. Beyond my dreams. And never doubting me, my decisions or my big dreams. Not even for a second.

My friends in understanding why I have to miss that party, again. Can’t see them on competition weekends, or miss birthdays and anniversaries due to training.

And my coaches. These special people that see more potential in me than I see in myself and continue to push me, beyond my limitations. And all the glorious, countless, beautiful people. The behind the scenes people. The acquaintances, the family friends. But also the therapists, the doctors, the supporters and people that have invested in me, that believe in This Journey.

The track continues to, and will always be my light. I haven’t given up on that goal, since. Although it may have changed slightly. I am more determined. More willing. More hungry for my goal.

Because I chose to go to that level. The ‘one percenters,’ the extras. The above and beyond. Because that’s what all adds up. It’s going to that that all and much much more! The sessions that don’t make sense, everything hurts, your mind is fighting your body – but you do it anyway, because it brings you one step closer. One step ahead of the game.

I have a goal, not dream. Because a goal without a vision is a dream.

Never give in to expeditions set by someone else for your future. You are your own guiding light.

Chose to go to your level for your goal. And keep going; For your seven year old self.

Advertisements

Your Weight, Does Not Weigh You Up

The scales. A dreaded world in an average person who is aspiring to better themself physically’s – vocabulary.

For some people, you may simply wish the number was just a little lower. For some a whole lot. And for some, realistically they wish the number was higher.

Truth is, the scales do not weigh up what kind of person you are. They do not define you. And never should dictate your happiness.

As a personal trainer, I’ve coached various people of both sides of the scale. Some needing to put on weight for health reasons, some needing to lose weight for health reasons. Some needing one of either for self esteem reasons. But there comes a point, if someone from either side becomes so fixated on reaching that magic number on the scale. Then the real ‘personal training’ needs to come into play.

Meaning, I will implement different strategies, that I too have used for myself: Train your mind to firstly be stronger than their body By encouraging a new belief system. By training the mind to know that even if someone isn’t progressing via a number on the scale; that does not mean that aren’t excelling in other areas.

This could be measurements. Bust, waist, hips and thighs, arms. 

Their body mass percentage (BMI). Meaning, even though the scales aren’t changing – they couldn’t be putting on muscle mass through resistance training. Hence, decreasing their body fat percentage but increasing their muscle mass – causing the scales to even rise; because muscle does in fact weigh more than fat. 

Their habits – the invidivifual could be changing bad habits such as: Walking more places than transport (accidental exercise!) Simply being outside more Often. Or creating a habit to visit the gym, Fitness class, or outdoor activity – because they’ve realised how beneficial endorphins from exercising, Really are! Eating healthier, leaner,  nutrient rich foods. Or the right portions of food for their goals – As well as simply eating enough food for the goals. And water: the good ‘ol 8 glasses per day.

Scales certainly aren’t my best friend either. I struggled a little at young age. Where in grade 4 at 10 years old, as part of a mathamatics exercise, I was made to weigh myself each week and make a comparison. I couldn’t understand why I was heavier than some of the boys in my grade. Because I was tall. Always tall. Always taller than everyone until I was about 16 (the boys started to catch up!)

Tall girls, we naturally weigh more. And that’s okay!

Nowadays, You’d think I’d be fixated on the scales on a daily basis, being a professional athlete? Wrong, I actually never weigh myself unless a coach or a form asks me to or out of simple curiosity.  It does not track my performance. Because my athletic performance is based on other areas, like: strength tests, running times and how I am feeling, in myself.

At fourteen I strutted down my first runway as a model. At 6’1” I was the tallest girl there. But during fittings, where I had to self-consciously bear-all to a room of 40 or so women, all onlooking. Who were competing for the other woman’s outfit she was made to try-on. And then be judged by four agency professionals, to whether I would be chosen to walk in that particular outfit.

I noticed here, I was physically different in other areas to women my age. Not negatively; because I knew I had something those other girls didn’t have (a few national Athletics championship titles under my belt). But being an athlete all my life – my shoulders were naturally broader, legs wider, I had baby abs. And My bum was more rounded. Also because I was brought up with a good belief system of taking good care of myself, eating a balanced diet (being Coeliac and lactose intolerant paid a part, too!). And genetics. Never forget your natural body type is probably a gift from your parents.

I Started weight training at sixteen, in our little Family home gym – courtesy of Dad’s life-long passion for health and fitness. This was to encourage my goal of getting stronger and faster as a track and field athlete. A few months went by and I gradually noticed my body made some cool changes. I developed more sculpted shoulders, and ”back gainz” I didn’t think were possible for that tall, skinny girl from the beach. My thighs got thicker, abs more chisled. I developed a little ”Beyonce-Butt!” And honestly, I loved it!

Here, I also developed what would be a life long passion for Olympic Weighlifting. Through functional training here, my skills as an athlete have only excelled! It’s one of the best ways for weight loss endeavours too; as you are using multiple muscle groups all at once, your core is constantly switched on and your whole body is being trained! In lifting,  I have found a new stress release: Just some gangsta rap and the barbell and myself.

Call me narssastic; but My body has become one of my proudest assets. Not because of the way it looks; that’s just a by-product of the hard work. But because of the way it operates to fuel My Passion. It’s broken down on me a few times with injury and illness. But the rest of the time it’s like a bad-ass fine tuned sports car.

 I have transformed myself through persistence and hard work. No by anyone else’s idealistic view of what I should look like. Certainly no man’s view, that ”I can’t possibly have better abs than him, because it’ll make them feel emasculated.” Or the notion that a woman shouldn’t be able to lift more than a man – because that’s not what society’s expectations deem as being ‘okay,’ or ‘beautiful.’

Hell No! I am proud of this body I was creating and am still working on, for my art. For a purpose. In order to make me the best athlete I can possibly be. And be happy and healthy; most importantly in the process.

The myth that women shouldn’t lift heavy because they will become ‘too masculine’ is only perpetuated by women who fear hard work. And by men who fear powerful woman.

This applies to you all; ladies. I will never be a champion Body builder (without performance enhancing mechanisms) because genetically I do not have the right length of muscle, or produce the level of testosterone to create that look. And you won’t too, trust me (unless you have crazy-good genetics!)

Weight training – if done right; with excellent form only improves strength, increases metabolism to aid with weight loss and digestive function, improves muscular endurance or hypertrophy; depending on how you are lifting. As well as your body’s natural function and reduces the risk of illnesses such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Phew!

I can proudly say I am approximately 8kg heavier than that skinny girl on that runway, those years a go. And I’m genuinely Happy with that!

I am the fastest I have ever been. I am lifting the heaviest weights I ever have. I am the healthiest I have felt. I’ve been fortunate to have run for my country; twice over. And I have a gorgeous partner who loves me regardless of what I weigh. I don’t think he even knows, or cares to know.

 But – most importantly – I feel the happiest. 

The number on that scale does not define me.How I perform on that track and that field, encourages me. How my actions make other people feel their best, makes me feel my best. How I feel – mentally, spiritually and health wise. That’s what Defines me.

Personally, I am constantly striving to create my best self. Whatever that is; is always evolving and being worked on. I aim to never settle and vow to continue to work on myself, every single day – as I encourage you all to do.

It’s important in this world – with so Many opinions and expectations on how think, how to look and how to feel, being thrown at us daily. To not just believe what’s being thrown your way. Take the time to do your research and make up your own mind. We must not be complacent with the way the world operates and strive to keep learning, always.

It’s okay to not look the way that society deems to be is aspirational, but to be happy whatever skin you are in!

So, I encourage you – do whatever you can, wherever you are, with whatever you have – to create your idealistic self. Not anyone’s image or expectation of you. Your vision, your dream. Go get it!
And never stop wanting to better yourself or let any number define you.

Body Building a Legitimate Career.

I’ve been curious about the hard-core world of body building since the first time I saw my Dad practicing a ‘’Double-bicep’’ pose in the mirror. He was an amateur body builder in his glory days and finds great joy in telling me his stories of competition journey, the different equipment they would use back then and his brief moment of fame, in shaking hands with the Greatest of All Time, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The world and the sport have both progressed, since Dad’s hay-day and I took the time to sit down with an up and coming body builder from Anytime Fitness Macquarie Park, John. John explained he has been a body builder since his early twenties and at twenty seven years of age, he hasn’t looked back. He firstly begun lifting weights to gains size for his chosen sport, Martial Arts. But then soon, found a passion for growing muscle and the rest was history.

When asking him about what he has gained from his competitive body building career he begun by saying ‘’you gain your first essence of control.’’ ‘’You find your limits, and you develop mental toughness.’’ That’s some very interesting knowledge, shared by someone with the mental drive, to purposely dehydrate themselves 24 hours before stepping on the stage for a body building competition. The athletes do this to ensure they look most vascular on stage. Which is one of the three categories they are judged on, along with Symmetry and conditioning.

John shared that he has met some interesting characters, during his time training 6 days a week twice a day; on his body building journey. We discussed the temptation involved within the sport to make it easier for himself: performance enhancers. Many others competitors, just like John choose to inject themselves with performance enhancing stimulants such as testosterone or human growth hormone. This is legal in some categories of body building, but John remains ‘’All Natural’’ competing in the ANB (Australian Natural Body Building) category. He is constantly on a strict diet, but not the typical athlete’s diet that you’d think. John indulges in a high-protein high-carbohydrate loaded meal plan, with the goal to eat six times a day! This is to maintain his impressive triple figure scale weight. Because John trains so vigorously, he maintains his muscular physique rather than putting on weight around his waistline.

John went on to explain it is an ‘’ongoing triumph,’’ to maintain size. As he works as a laborer during the day, it can be easy for him to lose weight, unintentionally. ‘’I’ve got to remember to eat someday,’’ he jokingly explained, of his demanding physical lifestyle. Most body builders are fortunate to make preparing for a competition their full-time job. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for John, whose work demands a nine-hour day, sometimes six days a week.

John had some great final advice to give to young athletes, desiring to make body building career of their own: ‘’Leave your ego at the door, constantly challenge yourself, do not think. Act.’’ Sounds easier than it looks to us.
If you or someone you know is interested in embarking on their own muscular-growth journey, you can find out more by visiting: http://www.anb.com.au