Wellbeing is a blue rinse away

A couple of days ago I started writing a blog post about butter.

Yep. Butter.

It’s probably not a huge surprise – given my lengthy absence from this blog – that I’ve been suffering from a severe case of writers block. I couldn’t even muster a witty email until very recently (some may comment that I still can’t….).

Now I still plan to post that riveting analysis of the second best part of a cow. So you still get to look forward to that with unjustified enthusiasm.

But it’s going to have to wait.

A couple of hours ago I got a hair cut.

I’m one of those lucky people whose hairdresser also doubles as both counsellor and very dear friend. This is not a deal that Matthew really had much of a say in, but he’s been a very good sport and has kindly refrained from changing his number on me.

Anyway, he cuts a damn good head of hair. So much so that I feel a little like Don King hustling his talent (currently sporting the same haircut… coincidence?…).

Damn I'm good looking

Damn I’m good looking

So I’m sitting in the chair with my newly bleached, then blue rinsed, then shorn, then mohawked hair and I started to feel a feeling I’ve been missing in recent weeks… Enthusiasm.

It’s no big secret that I am Gollum’s grumpy cousin in Winter. Some demon takes over me that turns me into a giant pain in the ass. No amount of dairy-free, sugar-free, 85% cocoa mocklate can get me out of my slump (it seriously calls for the good stuff).

As Matthew has known me for quite sometime, and being the well adjusted human man that he is, he has developed a coping mechanism for my visits – wine.

So I’m sitting there with my grumpy cat face on and as my haircut is taking shape, my face is transforming into something I haven’t seen for a while. I think people call it a smile.

Lilac is the new blue rinse

Lilac is the new blue rinse

It dawned of me all of a sudden that wellbeing for me, is getting my creative groove on. I didn’t need those 30 hours of therapy after all! All I needed was a haircut and a blue rinse!

Creativity and in turn wellbeing comes in many, many different forms – baking, painting, singing, working, gardening, running, writing, speaking, a bit of pampering – whatever. For me, it’s doing something out of the ordinary.

And a good, colorful haircut was just what I needed to move my slump. 

Consider this a public service announcement. This is my list of ten things to get your creative juices flowing and increase your wellbeing:

  1. Get a haircut. You don’t have to go all out. Get a trim. Spruce yourself up. 
  2. Eat chocolate. The REAL stuff. As good as healthy chocolate can be. There is no substitute for cocoa and sugar. Strike me down. I said it.
  3. Write. Something. Anything. It could be your name over and over again if that’s what it takes (not judging), but writing helps.
  4. Be nice to people. I have a theory – Work hard, have fun, be nice to people. Genius!
  5. Pet a dog. If you have a crippling fear of dogs, you can substitute ‘dog’ for parakeet, kitten or miniature pony. It’s really not important.
  6. Donate to charity. Time or money, it doesn’t matter. Nothing is as good for your wellbeing as positively contributing to the wellbeing of someone else.
  7. Hug someone. Science tells us that babies benefit from close human contact. If it works for babies than chances are it works for big people.
  8. Breathe in fresh air. Even though it’s cold, and even though the couch is tempting, crisp oxygen will rejuvenate you whether you realise it or not.
  9. Finish something. This is vague. And that’s intentional. I am the grand starter of many things, finisher of none. But finishing stuff gives you immense satisfaction. Don’t judge me for quitting the crochet blanket/onesie.
  10. Be kind… to yourself. Your grump will pass and you’ll run out of recorded programmes on MySky and life will resume as normal. Breathe in. Now breathe out. And chill out.

If you want a number 11. I would highly recommend giving Hot Bikram Yoga a try. It’s not for everyone, but nothing says “get over yourself” like sweating profusely in a room that smells like mince meat with a bunch of half naked contortionists.

That’s all folks. Until next time. Enjoy the ride x

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Winter – the serial killer of motivation

It’s almost 1pm on Saturday afternoon. I’ve just managed to pry myself off the couch and out of my jammies. I’ve also just finished half a family sized block of milk chocolate… And I’m considering going back for the second half.

“Nooooooo!!!!” You cry. “How have you slipped so low???”

Not even this will help.

Not even this will help.

If you are regularly reading my blog, then you’ll know I have been absent for the last few weeks. I’m sure you noticed and you’ve been missing me.

The problem is Winter.

Well, actually, it’s Autumn but I lump them both in the same camp.

You see, I suffer from SAD. Seasonal Affliction Disorder for those of you not in the know. SAD is a quasi-scientific affliction which causes sufferers to become grumpy, unmotivated, hungry for baked goods, a giant pain in the ass to be around and blame Mother Nature for her complete lack of respect of the need for sunshine.

And boy oh boy have I got it.

Sometimes SAD announces it’s arrival with the precise change of seasons, and sometimes it sneaks up on you when you’re least expecting it. One day you’re fine and you easily get up at 6am for your 5km run followed by your kale smoothie. The next day your favourite pair of shoes are your slippers and you don’t even remember if they were meant to be grey?

What do you mean I can't wear them outside?!

What do you mean I can’t wear them outside?!

I’m probably being slightly over dramatic (yet another symptom of SAD). It’s not like I’ve completely gone to the dogs. I’m still going to yoga 2-3 times a week, loving my weekly personal training session and climbing up some mountain every weekend. But now, when I indulge in a few pieces of chocolate and lie completely prone on the couch like a statue, I don’t wail in distress and leap off the couch and into a series of lunges. Instead, I break off another piece and sink myself lower into my butt groove.

The great news about SAD is that it’s not permanent.

The moment the sun comes out for more than four consecutive seconds and the wind dies down enough so that my hair isn’t accidentally styled into a mohawk, I’ll start feeling like a fully function human being again.

There are other things you can do to counter the effects as well. Here is my list of five things to help you out of your SAD slump.

  1. Eat comfort food. There is a good reason why they call it ‘comfort’ food. Delicious food really is good for the soul. I’m not for one second suggesting you go out and buy two litres of Coke and a packet of Twisties. That is NOT comfort food. That is called eating your feelings. I’m talking about a good, real, honest, home cooked feast. Try this Molten Lava Chocolate Cake from the Paleo Mom. I DARE you to not to feel better.
  2. Buy good looking gym pants. And then wear them on the couch. Seriously. I bought this incredible pair of yoga pants from Lululemon and they are the epitome of comfort. Lying on the couch has never felt this good. And strangely, it actually started to motivate me to leave the house. It’s like voodoo.
  3. Be grateful for Winter. Now this is tough. It can be downright impossible to find things that make you feel great about the fourth ‘100 year storm’ in one week. But there really are some things about Winter that aren’t completely awful – falling asleep to the rain outside, mulled wine, extra woolly socks, ear muffs, skiing/snowboarding (if you are that way inclined… I am not), all types of soup, and not having to make an excuse to stay in doors and watch a Simpsons marathon. See? That’s just a few to get you started.
  4. Watch Jenna Marbles. If you haven’t seen a Jenna Marbles video then I just don’t know who you are. This girl has 13,000,000 subscribers to her Youtube videos!! That is cray cray! There is a good reason for it. She’s hilarious. A couple of my favourite videos – How Home Workouts Work, Better Names for Animals and Drunk Makeup Tutorial (which, by the way, has been viewed more than 18,000,000 times!!! So I’m not the only one who enjoys it). You’re welcome.
  5. Be kind to yourself. As easy as it is to fall down the hole of “I’m the worst person in the world because I haven’t showered for two days and I’ve abandoned kale and quinoa for white bread and coffee”, you’re actually a perfectly awesome human being. Let it go. You’ll come right. This is only temporary. Buy yourself a nice pen and a warm pair of socks. Maybe get the Pharrell album and play ‘Happy’ on repeat a 100 times.

So there you go. I hope I’ve been forgiven for neglecting you. I promise to write another post soon… While I wait for my fondue to cook. Until next time, enjoy the ride. x

 

What a pain in the ass

A couple of weekends ago, I finished my first 10km race. That’s 10 whole kilometres of non-stop running. 10,000 metres of burning thighs. An average of 8,500 steps of sweaty eyebrows.

image

Now I'd like pancakes.

Understandably, I was pretty thrilled. Even more so because this time last year, if you’d suggested to me I would be running 10km I would’ve laughed, then cried and then ate another piece of bacon dipped in nutella.

I really enjoy running. This usually surprises people because running is
such a solitary sport and I am not… ahem… a solitary person.

Yet, something about running on a lonely road at dusk, with no end in sight, and your concentration on nothing more than putting one foot in of the other, is really appealing to me.

Maybe it’s because I really like the sound of my own voice and so I have ample time to talk to myself. Who knows.

A couple of years back when my dog Chuck was a wriggling ball of endless enthusiasm and energy (now she’s found smackos. We’re good), we used to take her out running. She was all paws and tongue and she generally didn’t care where we were going as long as she was glued to your legs.

On one occasion, her enthusiasm got the better of both of us.

I won’t say exactly who is to blame because it’s uncharitable to blame a cute two year old pug, but she stopped right in front of me and I fell.

I remember the exact moment my disc crunched my sciatic nerve. I remember the exact moment that lightening bolts of pain shot down my leg and into my toes. I remember the exact moment I said a lot of swear words that would embarrass even the most unsavory of characters.

And there went my plans of running a half marathon. Just like that. In the hyperextension of a knee.

Over the next few years I tried every therapy available to satisfy the chronic, often excrutiating and constant pain running through my leg:

Tramadol = Nothing says “hire me!” Like throwing up on the first day of your temp job. Hello hallucinations.

Physiotherapy = That gel is cold and I’m paying you how much, to do what?

Bowen Therapy = Still not entirely sure what this does but I think its working?

Chiropractor = Should my spin be pointing in that direction?

Acupressure = Should I be bruising like that?

Acupuncture = Have I mentioned I don’t like needles?

Orthapedic surgeon = You’re telling me I just have to “learn to live with it”?!!

image

Yes, that IS an ice pack on my ass.

None of this worked for me. And for the past few years I learned to cope and accept that I would never run in the way that I wanted to.

When I changed my lifestyle though, I changed my attitude.

For too long I’d been satisfied that pain would be the master of me and I was sick of it.

So this year I started running again.

I started small. The odd kilometer here and there. A hill walk punctuated by a burst of runnning. Some vertical hikes up the sides of mountains.

Then one day I went for a run and realised that at 7.5km I was at the longest distance I had ever run!!!!

And that Saturday, I ran my first 10km.

Sure, it turned out that the run was part of some medical conference and it didn’t appear it was open to the public (“who’s enjoying the conference?!??!” Ummm what?). Sure, it meant getting up at 5.30 in the morning on a Saturday. Ew. Sure, I came last.

But I did it. And I felt unstoppable.

It sounds bizarre, but I talk to my pain. I treat it like a member of my extended family. I can’t choose it. And it may always be there. Sometimes it overstays its welcome. And sometimes I need a glass of wine and a panadol to help me through it.

But now I know that I’m the boss and it doesn’t have to own me… Well now I can train for that half marathon aye.

Enjoy the ride x

What a bunch of losers

I am not a person who wins things.

When I was four years old, I won an Easter egg painting competition. That’s been it for almost 27 years.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I mean, I’m totally ok with it. Who really wants to win a years supply of red onions anyway? No thanks.

It’s gotten to the point where I enter competitions for the thrill of knowing I’m not going to win. Win six months supply of adult nappies? I’m in! The chance to win a free Eiffel tower tattoo on your back? Hold me back!

My luck is just not great when it comes to competitions.

I do have very good luck at being the person at a restaurant who will have their meal forgotten though. Or, the person most likely to be on the flight where the pilot will have to slam on the brakes at the end of the runway. But near death experiences aside, actually cool competitions where you want to win and feel a sense of success, pride and accomplishment? Nope.

Over the last six weeks I’ve been participating in the HR Biggest Loser with my amazing workmates. We each put in $10 a week and were subjected to weekly weigh-ins (“For the last time – Leave the scales where they are!!!”), substitutions (“I’ll have a glass of red thanks, there are too many calories in white wine”), and weird food experiments (“Chickpeas in cookies are a crime against nature”).

Early on it became less about the money to be won and more about how we were going to celebrate at the end – mostly this involved a lot of talk about a bucket of KFC chicken skin or two litres of ice-cream.

As we continued through the six weeks, we formed something of a support group for each other. It wouldn’t be unusual to hear a conversation in the lunch room go something like this:

Workmate #1: I am going to do terribly in this weeks weigh in. I completely lost it and ate a bunch of curly fries on Saturday (said with head in hands).

Workmate #2: You’re going to do absolutely fine! One little blowout won’t ruin all your hard work. And if anyone is going to do terribly, it’s me. I demolished a cream donut in front of the TV on Sunday. I didn’t even regret it at the time. That’s me out of the competition.

Workmate #1: No way! You’re doing so well! You’re totally going to win.

Workmate #2: No YOU’RE going to win. You’re the best.

Workmate #1: No YOU’RE the best.

For an outsider watching with a bag of popcorn, I’m sure it was just as entertaining as the show, but we actually lost weight the healthy way – check out this depressing article about the show – and without the psychotic, soul destroying personal trainers.

Now six weeks on, since we began in January, the eight of us collectively have lost about 30 kilograms (about 66 pounds or almost five stone). Everyone worked incredibly hard and it’s paid off.

The most amazing thing is… I won! I’m still shocked. I lost 8.17% of my body weight and I can hand on heart say that the chickpea chocolate chip cookies are delicious.

Post competition, I’m continuing with my healthy lifestyle. It was always so much more than about the weight. The removal of processed food and refined sugars has actually changed my life (cue – Oprah moment). Without trying to be cheesy – it just comes naturally – I win everyday when I have more energy, can run faster, sleep better and get a thrill out of making delicious treats like beetroot brownie! I’m not going to lie though, it felt amazing to win.

Sometimes it’s great to win. It’s absolutely ok when you don’t. It just means that when you do, it will mean so much more.

To B-Lal, BooBoo, Flick, Miss M, Sneilson, Flossey, and Miss Page – I totally dig you guys. Thanks for the fierce competition. You’re all losers in my book.

I didn’t eat my two litres of ice-cream, just the two scoops for me. Enjoy the ride x

Inaugral HR Biggest Loser - Winner 2014

Motivation is a pair of shorts

Motivation comes in all forms. For me, it comes in a pair of shorts and a fancy pair of socks.

I’ve been feeling pretty proud of myself lately. My change in lifestyle has been going really well. I’m now a fully committed healthy person.

Recently, I made myself a cauliflower pizza base with capsicum, spinach and tomato while Jeff had his pizza with seven different meats, three different cheeses and on a deep dish base. I swear mine tasted EXACTLY like real pizza…… Ok, you got me. It didn’t taste anything like real pizza, but it was YUM!

Just like a bought one!

Just like a bought one!

I also signed up for a gym and a bunch of personal training sessions. I will mention at this point that in the six years I have lived in Wellington, this is  the sixth gym I’ve joined (not all at the same time), so let’s not get excited yet, there’s still a chance I could flake out.

In addition to the pizza substitutions and my new gym bunny status, I’ve also been experimenting with a bunch of foods that until now I’ve been too scared to try. Foods like kale, black rice and silken tofu. Maybe it’s because I drunk the Koolaid, but these foods make delicious meals. Look, I’m as surprised as you!

All in all, I’m pretty impressed with myself. So what better way to celebrate the impressiveness that is me, than by buying some new gym gear.

It’s scientifically proven that buying new gym gear makes you want to work out. You can understand that this is a huge relief to me to hear given the small fortune I have just forked out at Lululemon for the latest, greatest and swankiest new gym gear. You can’t argue with science.

Now I know that Lululemon have gotten themselves a bit of a bad name. They seem to be constantly embroiled in some controversy or another. I’ve read more than one article referring to them rather unpleasantly as akin to a cult. The Scientologists for yoga fanatics if you will.

But for all that, damn they make good clothes.

Unfortunately for my rapidly diminishing bank account, Lululemon has opened up an outlet right next door to where I go to yoga. Every Saturday after yoga class I stop in there to have a quick browse and walk out with one of their brightly colored, reusable bags with at least a $20 pair of socks and a top that says “Running is my ohmmm” stitched on the inside. It’s an addiction. It could be worse I suppose, it could be crack, or chocolate.

There comes a time though when if you you’re going to take this whole health and fitness thing seriously, you need to own a pair of shorts. And you have to leave the house in them.

I’ve always been reluctant to run or do any sort of exercise in shorts. It makes me feel kind of exposed. It’s bad enough that I’m all flailing and gasping when I run let alone being half-naked while doing it. If I wasn’t so clumsy I’d happily run in a onesie.

On my latest trip to Lululemon I decided to get brave. If millions of people around the world can wear shorts, then so can I.

The pair that was recommended to me came in a variety of bright fluro colours. The battle was half won. When I went to try them on however, I noticed something that seemed a bit unusual. Shorts with built-in undies. That just made me feel weird. I’m not a harlot! I didn’t think this was going to work out. Despite my deep seeded discomfort, I tried them on (double undies thank you very much).

Goodbye paycheck.

Goodbye paycheck.

Well strike me down. I have never known comfort such as these shorts. The freedom… The perfectly stretchy waist band… The soft, breathable fabric… The sneaky key pocket! I was pretty sure they’d actually make me run faster and longer too.

I bought them. And then I bought another pair in black. Soon I may be the owner of three pairs. What do you know, they DO make me run faster and longer.

I exercise almost everyday, whether it’s yoga, running, walking up hills or going to the gym. Just the thought of putting on my snazzy running shorts is enough to motivate me.

Feeling comfortable in gym gear is one of the biggest hurdles to exercising in my opinion. Buying gym gear doesn’t have to be expensive, an ordeal, or a significant purchase (socks can do it!), but you do have to feel good about yourself.

Buy a new t-shirt with wicking in it and see how quickly you try it out because your curious to see if it really does absorb all your sweat!

Until next time, enjoy the ride. And by the way… I love my built-in undies.