You are Enough. 

Even when you don’t think so. 

And you, absolutely matter! 

Firstly I ask you to please remember why you started. Remember why you continued. Remember why you are still here. Remember why you get out of bed everyday.

Every person’s ‘why‘ is going to be different. And every person’s why is beautiful. It’s the why I am here. It’s the vision in your mind when someone’s asked the younger version of yourself ‘what do you want to be when you grow up.’ It’s the why that I keep pushing, each day. To Keep making a better life for myself. A better future for myself, my family. And to make my people, happy. It’s the why that I want to keep going. Need to. Don’t let your younger self down. The dream isn’t dead, until you stop trying! 

It’s the why I keep putting myself out there, again and again. It’s the why I won’t settle for a mediocre life. That I won’t settle for anything that what I’m capable of living. This makes me strive to do Something passionate with my life. And why I strive to share a passionate life, with that someone else. And also why I will never give up on that someone.

It’s the why, that I come back to the track and the field each day. Knowing I can go one better than yesterday. It’s the why, that gets me through training sessions I train so hard I puke. It’s the why that makes me want to work hard now, so my family won’t have it so hard. It’s the why that makes me want to make something of myself, so I can use that to make a difference to someone in need’s life. To the greater world. 

It’s the why, that I am writing this. To encourage you. To please, no matter how hard it gets. No matter how bad you want to throw in the towel. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing. With whatever you’ve got. Right now.

You always have one more round left! Someone, somewhere is cheering for you. And someone you don’t even know believe’s in you. I believe in you

Don’t give up on your why.

Please, Don’t give up on yourself! 

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.

Female Athletes in an Australian Setting

Australian Rules Football, (AFL) a game which has been played for over one hundred years in Australia. Born out of Melbourne in the late 1850’s. John Northey, of Swooper Coach suggests that today’s game is controlled by the corporate dollar, with the 18 team strong league, many clubs fight to increase profits. It allows participation at all levels able to be played by all levels of physicality, children both male and female, as young as six right through to veterans playing a modified game called Super Rules. AFL Community Club, 2017 says that AFL is becoming the sport of choice for diverse communities, and is one of the most multicultural in terms of participation levels, that the Australian sporting landscape offers.  It was also reported by AFL Community Club, that up to 25% of current AFL lists are from diverse backgrounds (11% Indigenous Australians and 14% Multicultural Australians). There are programs which are also enabling young talent identification and giving more opportunities to future players.

When analysing AFL and the introduction of the Women’s League, for the first time in history this 2016/2017 season, it’s important to be mindful that AFL need to keep pushing for equality and have the support behind it. As long as the women are playing the same game, they deserve the right to be paid equally. This was compared to Australian Surfing and then compared to Track and Field’s place in Australia. The following resonates across all three sports in Australian society, that females are being represented as a ‘Female Athlete’ rather than simply ‘Athlete,’ like their male counterparts.

Firstly, analysing Australian Rules football,(AFL) and exploring current topics with the introduction of the Women’s league reveals that the AFL has a large pay gap between men and women professional AFL players. But Is the sport really doing enough to bridge that gap so women unlike men, must work alongside their professional football career in order to make a living? Recently ABC online provided statistics showing that female players are being paid 125 times less than their male counterparts. It was also made apparent in the AFLW’s annual report that an entire women’s AFL team cost less that an individual average male player.

To gain an insight, AFL mega fan Clare, was interviewed. She has this to say on the issue: ‘’ With it being such a massive thing firstly, to the women in the AFL league, I think they’re doing a fantastic job this season, with the introduction of women. However, there’s still a long way to go for women to have the same opportunities as men do.’’

With so much exposure and fans barracking for their favourite teams, it would make sense that football would be a full-time job for the female athletes, like the men? Think again. The top two players of each team will get about $25,000 for the season, and then $10,000 for high profile players, and $5,000 for everyone else, for an eight-week season. All are expected to train about nine hours per week, plus pre-season. This seems incompatible with an average male player who earns just over $300,000 (ABC.net). This essentially equates to buying an entire women’s team for the cost of a single male player.

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www.instagram.com/erinphillips131 Premiership winner, Best and Fairest and mother to twins. Also plays professional basketball for Australia. But would need a second job to supplement her family if playing AFL alone.

Clare voiced her concerns on this topic by saying, ‘’As a mother of a daughter, I am very excited by the fact that women’s league has been introduced. And by the time she’s old enough, hopefully those years would have provided enough time for it to have developed and become an equal opportunity. ‘’ The problem seems to lie with broadcasting rights to women’s matches, as that’s where the big money lies. It would be expected to take a few years before the broadcasters would pay rights to show women’s footy matches, according to AFL’s general manager of game and market development, Simon Lethlean.

As long as the women are paying the same game, they deserve the rights to be paid equally. Below is what the public had to say:

AFL Fb Poll

AFLTwitter Poll

When it comes to professional female surfers in Australia, there is also a divide between males and females. This begs the question, why are female athletes valued less than their male counterparts? ‘’Viewership,’’ says Scott Atheron, Surf Coach, Manly Surf School, in my group member Andrea Kovszun’s Story entitled: Sex Sells: How Female surf athletes are using social media. ‘’The value in women’s surfing comes from their lifestyle factor, I feel like they are forced to go into bikinis and lifestyle campaigns to subsidies their value as surfers.’’It’s no secret that millennials take social media very seriously. But nowadays professional athletes have a duty of care in the way they promote themselves via social media.

ELLIE

www.instagram.com/elliejeancoffey – Face of Billabong and Roxy Australia, but not in the top 100 surfers in the world.

Athletes use platforms such as Instagram or Facebook to boost their image and share their stories, making them more attractive to brands, sponsors and viewers. Andy makes a great note in her piece by going on to say ‘’We are left with the issue , in this social media, millennial world, if women want to cover that gap, they must be perceived, first and foremost, as athletes and not as Instagram models.’’ If sexuality is the main qualifier for popularity in women’s professional sport, rather than their physical achievements and performance it will never be seen for what it is, a professional sport.

This doesn’t apply to surfing alone. When reviewing male and female track athletes there seems to be also a notable discrepancy. The current fastest women in the world, is Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica. After winning an Olympic Games in 2012 and being the current reigning world 100m champion. For her world title race, she was reportedly paid US$60,000. In comparison to Usain Bolt, undoubtedly the world’s most successful sprinter and is number 32 on Forbes Highest-Paid Athletes list. For the same race, at the same championships as Fraser-Pryce, Bolt was paid an astounding US $120,000.

This is what the public has to say:

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When discussing these surprising facts, with Track and Field guru Mike Hurst, who was a former Daily Telegraph journalist and coach of 1988 400m Mens and Womens Olympic Finalists as well as the current second fastest man in Australia, over 400m, had this to say on the issue of pay equality in Track and Field: ‘’Shelly-Ann Fraser pryce clearly hasn’t spoken up enough. I’m surprised, I thought there was parity in the IAAF World Championships.I think people need to have a voice, I don’t think track and field athletes have a voice.’’

Mike firstly gave his insight on how females are compared to male athletes in Australia by saying: ‘’Are they recognised as being great athletes in their own right? Or are they being forced to portray themselves in bikinis or whatever? I think in Australia track and field athletes are very well respected. I think popularity will come with performance. But there are some people who just don’t resonate with the media. They don’t resonate with the public.’’ To change this and move forward, Mike offered the insight that if women support their own processes, and own campaigners, they will have  a much more powerful lobby, and will be able to achieve much more, like they should do in comparison to their male counterparts at the same level of competitive sport.

Just like Australian surfing, it’s been notable that Australian female track and field athletes feel the pressure that they need to over-sexualise themselves on social media, to be more attainable to potential sponsors. ‘’Followers,’’ and ‘’Likes,’’ has progressively become a trend for these women and a point of conversation, to make them feel esteemed over their competitors. This has nothing to do with performance and does not make sense.  Mike also discussed this issue and whether men have this same pressure, by saying: ‘’I think it works both ways, but not in the way the women do.’’

Moving forward, in order for women to seek equality he said, ‘’There should be a professional athletes association, for Track and Field. There should be one for all sports. And there should be one for Olympians overall. He suggests it’s the athletes and the sports that have got their act together, through strong leadership and not just winging or bullying, that the future is bright for them.He commented on the new structure of the women’s Suncorp Super Netball league. ‘’I think what netball has done is fantastic. However the problem is, you put the product out there, it is not a seller’s market, it is a buyers market. If the public buy the men and not the women, the people who organize the women’s game need to have a very strong look at why it is not being marketed correctly, promoted correctly – the media presence may not be strong enough. They need to do something about it. ‘’

That is the expert opinion. In order for women’s sports, in an Australian male dominated sports society it is important that the athletes keep rallying for change and don’t remain complacent on important issues and seeking quality. They deserve to be seen as professional athletes and not just ‘’female Athletes,’’ as women at the top of their game.

 

Athletes Not ”Female Athletes”

Welcome to The Changing Game podcast! This is where five students take a closer look at the rise of women’s sport and key issues in the female sporting landscape.

In this episode Susannah Walmsley will firstly chat with our special guest Mary K from Ladies Who League. The group will look at key moments in women’s sport from the fans perspective and hear from an amazing panel of women’s sport advocates. The pannel made up of Andy Kovszun,who is Content Producer at Fitzgibbons International, Phil Wishart from the Office of Sport, Susannah Walmsley, a professional basketball player with the Sydney Uni Flames, Stacey Speer hosting the podcast, who is an American football player and works in marketing at Gridiron NSW. And myself, offering perspective an internationally ranked Heptathlete. 

My chosen focus for the podcast was the quote regarding the AFL Women’s league ”AFL need to keep pushing for equality and have the support behind them to make these talented athletes,seen as what they are. Athletes, rather than ‘’Female Athletes. As long as the women are playing the same game, they deserve the rights to be paid equally.” In final editing of the podcast, due to time restraints the team decided to focus my discussion about equal pay as a professional athlete, and athletics in Australia in comparison to USA College Athletics. Rather than the AFL discussion which was made in previous takes.