Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Holiday Choices of the Fit and ( not so) Famous

By Beck
I recently read a blog post called “How to eat Healthy Food on the Road” – it was on a BLOG called “The Shape Shifter":

I was expecting the usual stuff about someone with a busy life – away from home and how they managed to eat well.. blah blah – the usual stuff. What I actually found was the story of a bloke and his wife in Namibia finding "clean" food in remote and supermarket-less places whilst driving around for days on end in a four wheel drive with minimal food cooking and preparation facilities. I recommend you have a look it’s a good read. Coincidently I had also recently read in a book how a personal trainer who was struggling with a client who just could not work out how to buy “clean food”... she lived in New York. (WTF)

Sadly this isn't a one off. Has anyone seen Jamie Oliver's series when he went into Schools and asked the kids to identify what common vegetables were... the results were really disturbing and not in a good way. Have we so lost sight of how to eat/ use/ identify basic (dare I say clean and healthy) food – that we can’t even identify what it is???? Is it that we are so urbanised we can only eat from a packet? Now Carla and I have been doing a lot of research into this (well to be honest Carla does the research – I just get snippets of relevant information) and there is a lot of conflicting opinions on what we should actually eat. The good old food pyramid may not be the best basis for our diets. I can well understand someone saying it’s too hard and throwing their skirt over their head and marching straight towards the tim tams. But if you aren’t happy with your health and you want the best for your family be brave, stand up and keep trying.

For example today’s conversation in my family went like this:
Son: Mum – can I have a can of X (non disclosed fizzy soft drink)
Me: No
Son: (Indentifying that Dad hadn’t been listening to Mum) – “Dad, can I have a can of X?”
Me: (Ignoring my anger at being sidelined by my son – will deal with that later). “Honey – before you answer that, can you tell me would you let your son sit down and eat 9.5 teaspoons of sugar?”
Dad: “What? In that can? That can’t be right?”
Son: (Making the most of confusion so going in for the kill) “So can I have it then”?
Dad: (Always wishing to please the kids) “Maybe half a can”.
Me: “So 5 teaspoons of sugar is ok then”
Dad: “Oh no – not a good idea – no you definitely can’t have it”

I don’t blame my husband this really isn’t of interest to him. He works hard, earns money and enjoys his down time with the family. Pop Quizzes on the sugar content of random foods aren't his idea of fun. But I am the mum – and without stereotyping it just happens that the food in our home if mostly purchased by me, the meals at night – me, the lunches for school – again by me!. So when the opportunity arises for me to make a positive difference I will take it. I think I owe it to my children to make sure they don't grow up without an understanding of what is good basic healthy food and what isn't. It may not be perfect but we are trying. So get that skirt off your head and start, reading, asking and looking, and after all that – just make better choices. And if all else fails how about an African holiday?

Monday, February 27, 2012

February is conspiring against me:

By Guest Blogger Renae

The high of the *New Year New Me, New Life* is fading. The daily drudgery of routine is sinking in. February, why are you such a downer? If February was a person it would be an insipid passive aggressive whiney, talk-behind-your-back co-worker. I don’t have kids remember – no return to school joy for me. Small slips start to sneak back in, a bit less oomph into a work out, bit of extra wine in the Saturday night treat, a bite of my husband’s cake. It’s getting darker in the mornings and the extra half hour in bed, instead of walking the dog then, is very very inviting….

February has also seen me experience a few bodily insults;

Food poisoning: oh me oh my, I had forgotten the feeling when the crampy pain, nausea, cold sweat, elevated pulse and ‘get out of my way’ crescendo together….all night…..and the next day. But what else it did was stop me from training, dehydration, weakness and feeling a little sorry for ones self.
What to do when your body just won’t go? Rest, re-hydrate and rest some more. No guilt. I did take a gentle stroll with the dog once I was sure I did not need to be near a toilet. She kept looking back at me, I think wondering when we were going to up the tempo.

Plica syndrome: I have been diagnosed with plica syndrome. Now doesn’t that sound wonderfully mysterious and exotic? I had never heard of it before, and it is nothing serious, not even remotely exciting. It’s a sore knee basically, an inflammation of the soft tissue in my knee, easily helped with anti-inflammatory drugs and a really simple knee strap.

Phew. I had been putting up with an uncomfortable right knee for a while, imagining hospital admissions and arthroscopies, bone cancer and amputations (remember the lymphoma incident; self diagnosis is not my strong point). Finally off I went to the Doctor. Why did I wait so long? I didn’t want to stop training. I didn’t want to miss out on my 100km walk (52 days to go), so I put up with it hoping that it would just fix itself.

No body double or air brushing used in the production of this image.

February also brought me an emotional week that also seemed to drain my motivation, life and ability to reason. Now had I kept my reasoning ability I would have realised maintaining my clean eating and training would have only been beneficial during this time. Keeping habits actually means less things for my head to think about.

And to top things off, February, or Dreduary, has an extra day this year. Oh when will the insanity end….?

How do I get that vitality and oomph back that I had at the start of January? Well, it is nearly March and that is always a much more joyful month. But just in case, a get back on track plan: I was going to split this bit of my blog into three headings; mind, body and soul (cliché much?) but as I was writing I was finding it difficult to put the plans under any particular heading. They are all intertwined too much.

So the plan:
I will remember my reasons for eating clean and exercising, besides the 100km walk the least I can do for myself is be the healthiest I can be. This body will get me where I want to go in this world if I help it be the best it can.

I will remember how great I feel when I am on track.

I will kick myself in the butt, suck it up, and become the warrior woman I see in my mind.

This quote helped me see my body in a different way, when it is put like this, why wouldn’t you look after your body?

“You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” ~C.S. Lewis

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hard Core…..or just hardly able to move

A post by Carla

So you may have noticed that I have been very quiet lately about running.  That, dear readers, is because I have sustained an injury that I have been struggling with since December.  Unfortunately, I have a butt injury.  Yeah….okay…..that is not exactly the truth but it sounds far more dramatic than the real diagnosis which is gluteal tendonitis and sacral torsion.  This injury stems back to the Bruny Island Ultra Marathon that the S7 did back on the first weekend of December.  I chose to do the first leg of the run which was 16km.  Unfortunately the first 11km was on a dirt road which, while breathtakingly beautiful, was also sloped.  So I was running with one foot hitting the road lower than the other and thus putting my hips on an angle.  I pulled up with a sore hip that day that just would not go away.

When I finally went to find out what was going on I was told not to run.  While I pretended to the S7 that I was shattered, I was actually secretly delighted because it gave me the perfect excuse to spend the summer focusing on strength training and trying to 'lift like an animal' [Humungousaur's words….hasn't happened yet but I remain hopeful].

So anyway, the point of this post is to wax lyrical about the ignorance of youth and how we take our nimble, able bodies for granted when we are young, only to come to a screaming halt somewhere in our late thirties as we approach middle age and start to suffer injuries.  Joints wear out, tendons start to protest, toenails fall off, and muscles just ain't what they used to be.  At any given time, at least one member of the S7 is nursing some sort of injury.  It doesn't help that most of us are pretty hard core and refuse to stop training.  In fact I often joke that even if I was in plaster I would still ask to train the remaining able limbs.

So I did stop running, but I did not stop weighted squats, plyometric work or spin classes which have all triggered my tendonitis off just when things seemed to be getting better.  This is my own fault…I take full responsibility.  This brings me to my next point.  I may be an average middle aged stay at home mother….but I have an elite team of professionals helping me to achieve my health and fitness goals.  WTF????   How on Earth did that happen????  Twelve months ago I just had a gym membership… I have 'people' [you know as in 'get your people to talk to my people'].  So let me introduce you to Carla's team of awesomeness……

Personal Trainer
Well firstly, of course, there is Humungousaur who keeps me on the straight and narrow.  A particularly patient man who humours my many athletic whims such as 'I want to be able to do unassisted pullups' and 'I want a 6 pack by the end of the summer'.  He never responds "Are you out of your freaking mind?"  he just smiles his little bemused smile and says "C'mon then".  And then he uses my goals to torture inspire me whenever I am hurting really bad and in a hole and about to die needing a little bit of motivation.  As much as I hate to admit it, Humungousaur also has a really annoying habit of always being right…I don't know how his wife puts up with it…..

Sports Masseuse
That's right, I have a sports masseuse.  Let's just call him "Mr Hurts so Good".  Now I have actually written a blog post about him and I don't want to give too much away.  So lets just say that Mr Hurts So Good was instrumental in fixing my shin splints.  He also has an uncanny knack of feeling your weaknesses through your muscle definition [or lack thereof].  For example, The Machine went in for  a massage for sore calves after a speedy run and left with instructions on how he needed to develop his glutes.  Mr Hurts So Good does not advise me like this because seriously, where would he start?

Sports Physio
Yes, I have also seen a Sports Physio over the summer holidays for a shoulder issue that has now [thankfully] resolved.  Humungousaur actually picked up the problem [always right remember?] which was that as I started to lift heavier, I would roll my right shoulder forward.  This along with too many tricep dips triggered off some tendonitis [again with the tendonitis - bit of a theme here, isn't there?].  Nothing some massage, taping, and proper technique [enforced by Humungousaur] couldn't fix.

Lastly I have my lovely Osteopath, Miss Magic Fingers, who has been helping me with my hip and sacrum.  The hip issue I know was the result of the Bruny Island run but the sacrum problem goes back to my last pregnancy.  Once again Humungousaur picked this up [always freaking right remember?] and expressed his concern that something was going on in my lower back.  I have to admit that I am a bit in love with my Osteopath and her Magic Fingers.  I can walk in hurting and leave pain free - what's not to love??   I did suffer a moment of panic when she suggested we start pushing our appointments out from weekly to fortnightly and now every 3 weeks.  It sort of feels like breaking up.

So there you have it, behind every fat middle aged woman trying to dominate the athletic world is a team of people working on her sore, battered body so that she can live to turn up to another training session.  But at the end of the day, I would far prefer to have these people in my life keeping me fit and healthy than a team of medical people tending my 'dis-ease'.  Sometimes reaching your fitness and health goals is difficult [and sometimes downright painful] but the secret is to never give up, never lose sight of your end point, and to keep on trying.

In case you can't read this quote from Arnold Schwartznegger, it says "Strength does not come from winning.  Your struggles develop your strengths - when you go through hardships and decide not to surrender. That is strength".

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beck and Carla get Phat

Jen Hendershott is an IFBB Fitness Pro, 2 times Ms Fitness Olympia, and Ms Fitness International Champion.  Jen is also a personal trainer with a huge online fitness community….but even more than that she is amazing, dynamic, inspirational and has a personality that can set a room on fire.

Would we like to spend a weekend training with her????  HELL YES!!!!!!

Thanks to the amazingly generous team at Flush Fitness - our favourite supplements provider and the company who stock Humungousaur's store UFN, Carla won a double pass to attend Phat Camp in Melbourne.  To say that we were excited would be an understatement.

However it wasn't all champagne and streamers because even more terrifying than the requirement to pack your bikini and competition shoes (oh dear…) was the fact that we would have to share a room for the weekend.  The horror did not end there…….we were heading off into the 'burbs of Melbourne with no Lygon Street clean eating options, forcing us to find food worthy of eating in front of Mr Universe [more on him later] and other gym junkies.  How would we cope???

SESSION ONE - Friday night [cardio and seminar]

Registration was where we realised that women of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities had come together for this amazing experience.  Carla was delighted to discover that Jen had achieved so many amazing things despite being even shorter than Carla [sorry Jen] which is no mean feat.

For those who don't know, Carla [being an ex nurse] is a germaphobe and we quickly discovered that Jen likes to use the floor... a lot … and also requires people to partner up with complete strangers who are extremely sweaty.  At any point Beck expected Carla to flee into the corner of the room breathing into a brown paper bag, but she coped remarkably well.

Beck, on the other hand, went into a state of catatonic fear when the dancing broke out.  We discovered why Jen has been described as having the best choreography in the industry - that girl can bust a move!!!!  She also has gymnastic abilities that left our jaws on the floor!  Unfortunately for Beck, this meant that Jen had no qualms getting campers to prove they had 'the moves like Jagger' in the middle of a room of strangers.  Amazingly, Beck managed to avoid making eye contact with Jen so fellow campers never had to suffer through Beck's rendition of the Tassie two-step.  Let's just say that Jen is an amazing dancer, as were many other camp members.

Previously we have steered clear of airing our dirty laundry on the blog but it is now time to reveal publicly that Carla has a little problem.  She is a self confessed supplement addict and was therefore absolutely delighted to discover that Flush Fitness had a trade table at the gym and were supplying campers with freebies all weekend!  Pre-trainers, protein shakes and Xtend were provided in abundance allowing people to try flavours they had not tasted before and develop new addictions loves [like Blue Raspberry Xtend….mmmmmmm].
The gorgeous Jen in front of the tubes of Xtend where Carla spent a lot of her weekend….[image from Flush Fitness]

SESSION TWO - Saturday [cardio x2, strength x2, seminar x2]

While the camp was held in an awesome gym [Re-Creation Health Club in Caroline Springs], it has to be said that Jen has an amazing repertoire of strength and cardio exercises that require minimal equipment and yet left many campers feeling absolutely smashed.  Carla was surprised to discover, after doing 100 pushups on her toes in the warm up, that there were many, many, many, other variations of pushups that one can do.  She may require counselling about this sometime soon.

Beck, on the other hand, found the one exercise that she truly excels at…..picking up a very sweaty Carla and piggy backing her down a 50m sprint track [Yes that's right….indoor sprint track….awesome!].  Beck knew she would be fast and so overtook the teams who had started before her.  The only thing she didn't contemplate was a wall mounted fan at the height of Carla's head.  A last minute cry of 'DUCK!' was the only thing that saved Carla from rhinoplasty.  This exercise took Carla and Beck's relationship to a whole new level as Carla the germophobe doesn't really 'do' touching.

BTW, Jen Hendershott can SPRINT (as well as dance…and do gymnastics….some people just really do have all the luck).

SESSION THREE - Sunday [cardiox1, strengthx2, seminar x1]

Sunday morning saw a whole group of campers arrive walking in a very awkward fashion, many of them clutching sore body parts or packets of panadol.  We quickly perked up, however, when we discovered that even better than supplement freebies from Flush Fitness, are freebies served by Mr Universe himself, Warren Clampit.  It wasn't the pre-trainers that had our hearts racing as Warren addressed the group.  We are sure we speak on behalf of all campers when we thank Jen for suggesting giving us the order to hug Warren and thank him during the course of the day.  Who were we to refuse????  Warren is a truly lovely person and an absolute wealth of knowledge on Flush's products and all aspects of supplementation and body building….at least that's what we have heard.  We were too transfixed by his physique to actually concentrate on what he was saying.

During the strength session we teamed up with the only other Tassie Girl at camp - the sensational Steph from Planet Max in Hobart.  Beck loves to lift and it was abundantly clear that Steph knew her way around a weighted bar, so Carla put on a brave face and tried to hide the fact that she was suffering.  Once again, Jen wowed us with her amazing ability to give a whole room full of women a great workout using minimal equipment.

It was Carla's turn to gloat in the afternoon, however, when we did legs.  Carla firmly believes the LiftBigEatBig motto that "if you can't fix it with squats and fish oil then you are probably going to die" and was delighted to get her "arse to the grass" Phat Camp style.  Happy Days.

Phat Camp was an absolute blast.  Not only was it truly indulgent to get to do 8 training sessions in a 48 hour period, it was also great to be trained by a female for a change [sorry Humungousaur].  The fact that that female was the energetic, motivational, knowledgable and all-round awesome Jen Hendershott just sweetened the deal.  Jen amazed us with the freedom with which she generously shared her time, her knowledge, her experience and her story.  She was unflagging in giving every camper the attention they needed.  Her passion and dedication to health and fitness was clearly evident and inspirational for all those who attended.

Thanks to Flush Fitness, Beck and Carla spent the weekend getting Phat.  We loved Phat Camp, and Jen, and we have told the S7 to start saving…..Phat Camp 2013 is ON…….who else wants to come????

Monday, February 20, 2012

Did you really just say that???

By our guest blogger Renae

My husband has been noticing the change in my body shape. 
It went down something like this; I was doing my “I’m wearing big pants dance” which is very similar to my “I’m wearing my (bright, burn your eyes out) green pants dance”. By pants I am talking undies.  By dance I am talking waggling my rear around a bit like a duck.  This is not a sexy thing, it is a ‘look at me being stupid (but incredibly adorable) thing’, and I like to make my husband laugh, and oh does he laugh a lot (at me) in our marriage.

Me and Bridget J, would get along just fine 
Why do I even own big undies? Ummmm….. people give them to me…. (By people I mean relatives, not just random people handing out pants.  Not my husband, he wouldn’t dare give me bloomers.  He has great taste in clothes, underwear, and women….).  Why do I wear them and not turn them into dusters….I can’t turn down a bargain…. I love doing the “I’m wearing big pants dance” and well, they are quite comfortable.  OK, I buy them myself sometimes, and I’m proud.  Secretly my husband loves it too, he just won’t admit it…..

So, back to the story; on completion of my big pants dance my husband says, ‘You can tell you are losing weight’.

Me: full of delight and glee and expecting some lovely words about muscles and curves being noticeable, a comment about the peach like quality of my gluteus maximus, an admiring word about the lack of wobble in my thighs…

Husband: ‘Your tattoo is shrinking; soon it will just be a black blob.’

Me: WTF?

I have a tattoo or few. The one he was referring to is on my lower back (Sorry Beck I am going to be one of the 70 year olds with a droopy tatt or two.  But it did look bloody fantastic for many many years prior to then and still does).  This is the type of tattoo that is also referred to at times as ‘butt antlers’. You get the picture.

This is not me, my tramp stamp is not as literal as this, nor as large (Image from  
So now we get to the point that I am trying to make – When is a compliment not a compliment, but a WTF moment?  Se below examples, I have been collecting these.

“You look great, what have you been doing to get fit?  Oh I could never neglect my family to spend time exercising”

“Wow that’s a lot of exercise, it’d be great if exercise could get wrinkles out of your forehead”.

“It’s a shame your wrists / calves / butt / double chin (Insert body part) is not responding to all this work you are doing.”

“What, you eat that crap, you’ll never have any energy?” (salad and chicken)

“Oh your poor husband, you never cook him cakes or biscuits.  Here take these biscuits home to him.  I’ll bake some more next week for him”. (Yes really)

Have you got any ‘WTF did you just say to me’ moments?

The big walk is 9 weeks away, and I think I will be wearing my big pants for it.  But for now fundraising is taking up some time. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Travel and Training Dont Mix???

By Renae our Guest Blogger

This week I had a set back. I left my normal routine to travel for work. I guess I had grown a little ‘cocky’ about how well I was doing and so didn’t make a plan for how I was going to eat and how I was going to exercise whilst I was away.

Airports for me have traditionally been places where I ate crap whilst reading a crap magazine or two whilst waiting and always involved a Krispy cream (original glazed) doughnut.
In an airport I felt like I had diplomatic immunity, I was anonymous, what I ate at the airport left my mind as I left the plane.
This trip I avoided the Krispy cream, but did let portion control slip away, let alcohol and chocolate back on the menu and let exercise slip.
I have more work travel coming up, so I have decided to get my shit together and sort this ‘travel cornucopia of food’ and ‘laxity of exercise’ out! I need a travel and training plan, and your help to get one together.

The situation:

Thursday arvo I flew out to Melbourne, for a skill training day at the Peter Mac cancer hospital in Melbourne, I was then flying home Saturday evening. I was very pleased to be staying at a friend’s house for both nights.

The issues:

1) My normal routine totally out the window
2) Catching up with a friend whom I have not seen for a while has a celebratory feel to it – which habitually for me involves food and alcohol.
3) Limited resources of clean food at airport
4) I did not discuss that I would be travelling with my trainer or the ‘A-Team’.
5) Food supplied for whole group at training day and I am too timid to specify a food request. When I’m hungry and the choice is a chocolate biscuit or nothing…..well I’m not going to go hungry.
6) Laziness in a new place to put on sports gear and go out the door (I did take my sports gear, didn’t wear it though)

The solutions:

1) Suck it up, be adaptable, I have on my CV that I am adaptable to new situations, so I need to just do it! Make a new ‘travel routine’.
2) Start a new way of celebrating when catching up with friends – offer to cook them dinner.
3) Pack myself some handy snacks in my handbag, some nuts or a protein bar.
4) Discuss travel and exercise options with trainer. (duh me)
5) Make food requests at upcoming functions, it is not unusual these days, and there is usually a space on the registration forms for this.
6) Make myself accountable to you guys, the A-team and myself. Next travel is coming up in March – I will tell everyone what I plan to do whilst I am away. I exercise at home, therefore I don’t need gym access when I travel

Any other ideas that people have for a game plan whilst travelling and remaining in training mode will be welcomed with open arms and much joy, so let’s hear them!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Over 40 Part Two: Life is not over so stop whining and just get on with it.

By Beck
Ok so I am on a bit on a tangent. I passionately believe that women are the most under rated people in my home (oops I mean our culture). Women will put everyone before themselves and as we have discussed earlier many people will find that they have hit 40 and all of a sudden ten years have gone, your fitness is bugger all and there is no time left in the family for your needs. If I do nothing else in my life (this week) but get the message across to a handful of women to change this situation I will be happy happy happy. And let’s face it so will you, your husband and most probably your kids, cause guess what they will thrive on your happiness too. If you feel better about yourself you will have fun again doing things you would ever imagine.

Let me explain. Every year my kids do a surf School with 42 South Surf School in Tassie in the summer. It started when my youngest son was only 4 years old and my husband had to go in the water with him. He had no choice not that he minded and in fact he had a ball. So every year since my husband has been assistant Surf Coach and has loved it. I hope that my kids will remember this in years to come as it’s been really special times for our family. This year however we did a 3 day School and as we were “hangin out” with the (actual) coach a fair bit he offered me the chance to get in the water with a board and catch a few waves (dude).

Carla may have The Machine - but I have The Coach!

So I had the chance to say: “no -I could break a hip” or “no- I am just happy watching” or “no -I couldn’t possibly wear a wetsuit” or “No – I am too old”, but instead I said “Hell Yeah it’s only been 20 years – like riding a bike” ( LOL).
(Started to reconsider this when Gary the Coach asked my wetsuit size my son said “really big or even bigger than that” – I forgave him but did try to drown him a little later......)

So off I went, suited up (in public) board in hand and off to Surf School. I had a great time, sadly (or fortunately) the waves were small – but who cares. I was having fun doing something absolutely mad and fun with my boys and guess what I was not alone. There were other mum’s out there too – none of us under 40! So no we are not too old, life is not over and yes we can still have some mad crazy fun – just for the hell of it (and Dad’s too).

Really - what good reason could I have for missing this!
Ps - thanks to one of the other "Surf Mum" for letting me take her photo - you are a legend!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Re-gaining Fitness through Pole Dancing

By Guest Blogger - Mardi Ball
Hi, I am Mardi. A dispense technician by day, and a mum and domestic slave by night. I am nearly 40 years old, and feeling the best about my body than I have in years. I wish I could say that it was due to diet, determination and willpower. But, to be honest it is due to something that I started in curiosity, have fallen in love with, and now am determined to conquer.

Now would you believe me if I told you it was Pole Dancing?

Well it is. A young friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in doing it with her as she knew I loved dance music and was a little “out there”. At the time I really wanted to do it, but the cost, excuses for needing to be home with the kids and all the other put offs such as my body image, stopped me from doing it. Then I started to notice the changes in her shape and listening to her rave about it made me get off my backside and enrol in an 8 week beginners course at Pole Divas Mornington. Thankfully there was one starting within two weeks, so I booked and paid to avoid the chance of me pulling out. As luck would have it the first class was on my 39th Birthday!. I conned a young colleague from work to join me and she brought her 18 year old sister. So there I was, the eldest in my class surrounded by girls nearly half my age.
On entry into the studio I was in awe. The mirror walls, mood lighting and 2 storey high poles was very daunting. Thankfully for us the class before us had a few “normal” shaped women in it, and my nerves relaxed a little. Plus of course the low level lighting hides all sins. Our course was being held in the upstairs studio where the poles are only normal ceiling height (and for other sessions can be unlocked to spin).

After an intense warm up to loud dance music I was feeling the most out of shape person in the room. I was sweating profusely, having a mild asthma attack, and then there was the lack of pelvic floor muscles when attempting jogging on the spot or star jumps. Every jump had me in fear of embarrassing myself by a sudden leak!. My mind and body was wondering if this was still a good idea.

But then we donned our heels and were taught to walk like sirens, with our heads held high, and caressing our bodies as we went. Now as a sloucher from way back, I decided that this was going to be very good for my posture and maybe in the long run, my self-esteem. I mean how many of us can confidently walk around with heels, and now we were expected to dance and look sexy in them.

So far I was feeling every bit my age and looking like I needed to lose a good 10 kilos before I would resemble anything slightly sexy. But then we started the tricks. Our teacher was a young lady in her early 20’s with a body that even I was drooling over. The ease she displayed on the pole made it all look just so simple until we had to replicate her tricks. To my surprise, I could do it. Maybe my age and my determination to not look like the oldest fool in the studio was now working to my advantage. Plus the years of carrying around children and groceries was now paying off. My large thighs had now found their calling in life – to cling to a pole! And, when we thought we could take no more, it was time to cool down. Yes, the relaxing part. Who was I kidding? These women make Hitler look tame. Crunches are something I have never been good at and here we were being forced to crunch, hover and push those muscles just a little bit further. And, then it was over and we all felt a little exhilarated at our new found talents and left wondering how we would feel tomorrow.

Whilst the muscles took a good 24-48 hours to really feel the pain, the bruising running up and down my legs was evident before I got home. These bruises I would soon learn would take a good week to heal before the next lot appeared. Thankfully as the body got use to each new position the bruising reduced, that was until we tried something new.

Each session involves a warm up, revision of the tricks learnt in that level, new tricks, a short dance and cool down. Each lesson lasts one hour, the quickest hour of the week, but probably the most intense and rewarding. Week seven of the course involves a casual evaluation. The teacher establishes which students are wishing to go up to the next level and ensures that they are at a confident level to continue their journey. It is generally recommended that each level is attempted at least twice to ensure that you have the strength and confidence to move forward. Sometimes it is possible to slip through on one attempt but the challenge at the next level can definitely be felt.

I have now been pole dancing for 9 months and am amazed by what I have achieved. Looking back to my first night I would never have thought that I would be doing what I am doing now 9 months down the track. I am constantly being asked by customers and friends how I am losing weight. As far as the scales are concerned I have not lost a thing, but my body is very muscular and I guess I have dropped from a 12/14 down to a 10/12 depending on the cut.

My biggest achievement though is my stomach. I would be lying to say that the left over child “pouch” has gone. It is still there, stretch marks and all, but it is flatter and the muffin top nearly gone. And then there are my chicken wings, you know that flabby piece of skin under your arms – well that has gone. I will quite happily take on any of my children in arm wrestle. My general fitness has improved tenfold. I guess I am a little more conscious of what I am putting in to my mouth and I am trying to have at least two alcohol free nights a week. I have found my cravings for sweet foods have gone and I have more energy than I have had for years.
There is definitely a stigma involved with pole dancing that it is only for the young, slim or those looking to enter into the sex industry. However this is fast changing. More women my age should take the challenge and give it a go. Most studios run pole teasers which are 3 weeks in duration and show a variation of classes on offer. If you are just after general fitness and strength there are pole power classes which involve no tricks. There are also pole flex classes which assist in the muscle flexibility that is required. Then of course there are the static classes or for those that have completed a static class, the spin classes where the pole spins. Most studios also offer one day workshops to improve dancing such as pussycat funk or burlesque. Then of course you can always take one to learn the art of lap dancing if you are looking at a skill to put a smile on your partners face.

I promise you that pole dancing is something that you will enjoy. Sure it is not for everyone, but from a fitness perspective your core muscles will get a very thorough work out. Even those pelvic floor muscles are reaping the benefits. It is a very addictive sport and one which you will happily find time to practise. I have now purchased a pole for home in the hope that I can avoid repeating some levels of pole. For me it has paid for its self already with two levels only being attempted once – phew!!!!

My partner loves his mates knowing that I pole and my boys are constantly flying around it. Slowly some of the mums at school are taking up the challenge and looking to give it a go. Where else can you go and learn to body roll, grind, chest or booty pop without a male audience. On week eight of each course you have the opportunity to bring a female friend to watch, and they will be amazed by your achievements. There are often opportunities for family and partners at open pole nights to see what you are up to.

So go on and let your inner diva out. Do something for you. I promise you will notice changes in your body and even your sex drive as you will begin to feel more confident about your body and its ability to move!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Over 40 Part 1: Why do porn star sells protein and more ramblings of a grumpy old woman

By Beck
Aghhhh if I read another fitness magazine which has a gorgeous 20 something in it braying about how she managed to lose 5kilos off her already lithe frame I am going to puke. In fact I refuse to fund anymore stories about the beautiful people of the world and their mission to remove 1 cm of fat from any part of their supple flesh. I guess this is my own fault – recently I decided never to buy a women’s magazine because they just rehash the same crap about the latest craze diet of some ultra famous glamour and I then endorsed the purchase of fitness magazines. Well that’s over too– all of this non magazine buying will result in some extra coin in the purse which is great and to be honest I can’t see that I will miss much. Obviously I was not the target market for these magazines so like a friend who keeps ignoring you at a party I have finally learnt just to walk away.

(But just before I do walk away – I ask the following question –has anyone else noticed that the models in the advertisements are getting to look more and more like porn queens? Just a question – it may be just me....and no I haven’t got a secret hobby of watching porn)

So this leads me to my current topic... theme...obsession..... “Life as an over 40 woman wanting to get fit”. We have already established that there aren’t any magazines for us – you can go with the two genres I have mentioned above which don’t work or you can start reading Weight Watchers or Seniors Living. The first is a little soft for my taste and the second – downright scary. So I suggest 2 places 1) Face book and 2) The world of the Blog.

( Ok- here is the cover of my first magazine Senior's Fitness)

By the fact that you are reading our blog suggests you are reasonably computer savvy so will be able to find your own way to many interesting things to read. But I will give you a few of my favourite Face book Sites which will also lead you to some associated blogs:

Strong is the New Skinny (or SINS – for us in the in crowd LOL)Whilst they use thin models in their photos I applaude their emphasis on doing weights over cardio to lose weight.
Fighter Diet (She is AMAZING... freakin scary but amazing... only go here is you are HARD CORE, seriously I mean it - she scares me sometimes.)
Get fit over 40 ( Duh- this is pretty self explainatory and inspiring for us older ladies, as we say being over 40 is no barrier to anything!)
Fit Mums and Bubs (Ok so I don’t have a bub anymore but I am in awe of the women who didn’t sit at home eating chocolate for 5 years like I did).

(Would love to hear if any of our readers have sites/ blogs they love too – just without the skinny 20 year old porn chicks please).

So I am going to continue my theme for a while (until I run out of semi interesting things to say or until Carla hurts me).
So if you are:
1) Over 40
2) Have some serious weight to lose... and I mean the type that requires holding up so you can dry underneath it when you get out of the shower... stay with me... we are on a journey to revolutionise the world that we exist and need to be heard and in doing so revolutionise and our lives!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Carla has left the building…….[and been replaced by a hormonal monster]

This post is just a little intimate and may contain a little TMI [too much information] so if you don't want to know intimate details about me and my reproductive system it would probably be a good idea to close this window now.

Still reading??  You've just earned yourself 5 hardcore points!

I've had a lot of time on my hands over the school holidays, and lately I have been thinking a lot about how sorry I feel for Humungousaur.  Not only does he have to cope with my total ineptitude in the gym and all the bitching, whinging and whining that comes with training 8 women in one session, but if you do the maths it's not hard to conclude that on any given training session at least one of the S7 is going to have PMS.

Now it is possible that during the last decade when I had babies and toddlers I was just so sleep deprived that I didn't know what day it was let alone what time of the month it was, but it seems to me that the older I get, the worse my PMS becomes.  I am talking total alien invasion by nasty, evil, angry, dark, infuriated hormones that seriously make me contemplate locking myself in a room for 48 hours for the safety of mankind.  I actually asked my GP about this [PMS…not being locked up] and she said it is very common for PMS to get worse in your late 30's and early 40's…..great news [not]!!!

Humungousaur is always telling me that tapping in to my inner anger will help me while lifting.  The problem is that I am sort of a puppy loving, herbal tea drinking, yoga practising person and I don't really 'do' anger and rage.  That is until that little hormone fuelled time window once a month where everything and everyone craps me off and all the rage I have suppressed for the other 26 days of the month bubble to the surface.  Thus the only positive side of PMS is that I can sometimes use my rage to my advantage in the gym.  I have run some of my fastest times while in a PMS fury on the treadmill…often because The Machine looked at me the wrong way, or even dared to exist in the first place.
Rage….it's irrepressible
The other absolutely infuriating thing about PMS is that while I normally have a lot of discipline and self control when it comes to eating, during PMS all bets are off.  If it's there, I am going to eat it.  If it is not there, I will probably hunt it down and eat it.  I have to admit that there has occasionally been a 24 hour window where I have probably consumed my normal weekly tally of calories - ouch!!!
"Step away from the what ?????"
However, the news isn't all bad [unless you have PMS while you are reading this in which case everything is probably bad and you are going to want to bitch slap me for the rest of this paragraph so log off now].  Research would suggest [and by research I mean I discussed this with other members of the S7 so it is totally scientific] that eating clean and exercising, while not erasing PMS, will actually shorten the length and severity of the symptoms.  So what I am suggesting is that rather than cancelling your PT session because you fear for your trainers life lest he p*ss you off and you lose control in the weights area - go to the gym, go to a class, go for a walk - channel some of that energy into something positive.  I guarantee that the dark cloud you carry above you into the gym will have gone by the time you leave….or at least be looking a bit less black and scary.  Similarly, when you get the urge to stuff yourself stupid [oh dear God please tell me it's not just me who feels that way], go for it….but only with 'real' food that is going to nourish your body.  Knock yourself out eating as much 'clean' food as you can, because I guarantee you it will do nowhere near the damage to your body or your mood as pizza, chocolate and alcohol will.

Are you consumed by PMS rage? Do you have any strategies that you find helpful?  Is there a cure?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dear Body....

By Guest Blogger Renae

Any management type course I have ever attended (it’s not many, and it’s not been for many years) describes a method of delivering a criticism in a ‘positive sandwich’. So that is, say something positive about the person, then the negative aspect and then finish with another positive statement about the person. Bit like this;

“I really like the way you answered the phone yesterday. You have no qualities that make you suitable for this job, either professionally or personally. You put matching socks on today.”

From this example you can see how effective the positive sandwich is in my opinion and how good a manager I am.

The point of this ramble is that I have used this positive / negative / positive approach to this blog today and I am addressing it to my body. See if you can spot the negative bit…..

Dear Body:
You need a pat on the back, when we first started doing this exercise stuff we could only hold the plank position for 5 seconds (embarrassing). So to think of doing it for 20 seconds hurt our brain (and our abdominals), but it was the requested amount of time on our warm up. We concentrated on improving our plank 5 seconds at a time. And now dear body, we can plank for 35 seconds. That’s an improvement of 700%, that’s bloody marvellous! Just because someone else can plank for 2 minutes, so what, they will never have the pleasure of improving by 700%. So a big pat on the back to me from me.

Dear My Body
Please stop losing fat from our boobs and take it instead from our butt and thighs.

Dear My Body:
Thankyou for bouncing back and responding so well to healthy clean eating and exercise, even after years of abuse and neglect. You never fail to astound me with the changes you can make. We will ‘smash’ this 100km walk in 73 days.

Did you spot the negative bit?

The point I am trying to make is to be proud of your achievements. Notice when your body changes: you did that! Your hard work changed your body. That makes me feel wonderfully powerful and in-control of myself. Sure I’m not lean and mean, sure I can’t do a pull up, and sure my workout is someone else’s warm up. But I can improve myself by 700%, and even more to come. These Bodies of ours respond so well to some love and attention. Don’t compare yourself to others, the only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday.

Friday, February 3, 2012

80 is the new 20

(Well at least she doesnt have a tattoo)

Today I start my series on looking at exercise and the over 40's- stay tuned I have 4parts to this series (so far) - its a bit of a pet topic

By Beck
I am sure we are all aware of the increasing number of old people and our aging population issues. There has been much media hype about the need for nursing homes, hospital beds, ambulance services and traffic issues with the abundance of motorised wheel chairs that are about the hit the streets. This is not addressing the most important issue though- will there be enough gyms to accommodate the huge number of people who have retired from work and have all that spare time to work out?

Don’t expect my generation to be sitting round playing bridge and baby sitting the grandkids, if you need me Facebook me a message and I will get back to you when I have finished my daily cross-fit session and I will see if I can fit some time in before aqua aerobics.

With our increased life expectancy and new understanding of the phrase “if you don’t use it you lose it” – there are going to be a lot of old people hanging out and working out in your local gym, (sadly of course many of these people are going to have saggy unattractive tattoos because they really didn’t think that large dragon-on –the back tattoo through when they were 20).... but in the gym they will be.

There is already increasing publicity for mature aged athletes doing amazing things at 70, 80 and 90. Only recently a 92 year old man completed the London Marathon (which pleased me no – end because it means I have 50 years before worrying about doing it). Recently when the S7 were doing the Bruny Island Ultramarathon we came across a (perhaps) 70 year old SOLO competitor.. yes I said SOLO. He ran the entire 64km. Pumped with race adrenalin we cheered him every time we saw him- his effort was freaking awesome. I actually think he was starting to hide from the 2 car loads of loopy women who were screaming out the window every 2 kms... in our enthusiasm we might have become a little scary..

He is just one example of people who have embraced aging and have (literary) run with it. Just because you may be 40,50 or 60 is it time to sit down and vegetate. I think not my firends there is always something you can do- whether its a walk to the shop or a ultramarathon – old age is no longer an excuse for butt sitting!

Post script to the S7 when I said there was no “out clause” from training, I meant it – you might now realise it was a life long commitment, you will still see me at aged 80 singlet top, headband and lucky for you – no tattoos.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Biggest Loser: Reality or Ruin????

A post by Carla

If you watch commercial television then you are probably aware that the 2012 season of 'The Biggest Loser' started last week.  What you probably don't know is that in the world of health and fitness Blogs, there has been a veritable sh*t fight over the show and the role it is playing in 'ruining' the fitness industry.  I could probably write a thesis on this topic but as 1) I don't have time to write it and 2) you probably wouldn't have time to read it, let's keep it short and sweet.

  • Firstly, there has been outrage over the whole 'singles' theme and the perception that the show is perpetuating the belief that obese people are unlovable.  It is true that the contestants are all obese and single.  By their own admission, however, the contestant's self esteem has suffered because of their body image….this in turn affects the way they relate to other people.  That isn't rocket science….nor is it the producers stating that the reason these people are single is their weight.  I wonder if they had a 'Biggest Loser Cat Lovers season' there would be a backlash about obese people being portrayed as crazy cat people.  In recent seasons of TBL, there has been a theme (couples, families etc) and this is just another theme in which people with similar backgrounds are grouped together.  
  • Secondly, there has been huge criticism about the Biggest Loser being an 'unnatural' environment.  The contestants live on site for the duration of the show and their focus is solely on eating clean and training.  There are no outside distractions such as work, children, housework etc.   Let's be honest for a moment here…..who has tried to lose 5kg and found it pretty hard going????  Now imagine trying to lose 50 or 100kg.  In my humble opinion, the only way this is going to happen is in an unnatural environment.  If it was dead easy to lose vast amounts of weight at home by ourselves then we'd all look like sports models, wouldn't we??  Hopefully, their time in this intense environment will help the contestants to unlearn old behaviours and gain the skills to continue their journey on 'the outside'.
  • Thirdly, the show has copped flack for giving mums and dads at home unrealistic expectations about their own weight loss programs at home and the goals they might be able to achieve in the same time frame.  I find this a bit offensive to be honest because viewers aren't idiots……we all know that the contestants are in an unnatural environment [see point two] in which their focus is purely on weight loss.  I also think that while the amount of weight lost can sometimes be amazing, the amount of exercise the contestants are doing to create a calorie deficit is also amazing.  It's pretty simple maths - if the contestants are eating clean and exercising for hours every day, they are going to lose more weight than viewers at home who are not eating as clean and training as hard.
  • Fourthly, there has been criticism that the show has ruined the reputation of personal training.  I absolutely disagree with this.  Sure, the trainers are all hand picked to complement each other and provide their own 'dramatic' element to the show.  For the most part, however, shows like the Biggest Loser are responsible for educating the general public about what PT's do and how they can help 'normal' people achieve their goals rather than just being available to the super elite or rich and famous.  Sometimes their methods/sessions might be a bit 'out there' but for every crazy and pure 'entertainment value' exercise session there are also sessions involving just pure hard work with cardio, weights, boxing etc.
  • Finally, there has been in depth discussion on the negative repercussions the Biggest Loser has on members of the S7….namely that their inappropriate feelings towards certain personal trainers on the show render them unavailable to the world between 7-8pm, four nights a week, for the entire duration of the shows season.  On this matter I don't feel qualified to comment given the very real threat of danger to my health by 'outing' said S7 members and their celebrity trainer crushes.
As much as we love Humungousaur, The Commando holds a special place in the hearts of some S7 members

At the end of the day, the contestants selected to be on The Biggest Loser are in deep trouble. They have life-threatening morbid obesity and often have multiple medical problems.  These people are ticking time bombs in our community.  If appearing on a reality show like The Biggest Loser can help them to deal with any or all of these issues then I can only see the show as a positive thing.  And if the Australian general public is educated and inspired in the process, then even better!!!
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