Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Luck or Hard Work?

Luck or hard work?

There is a common misconception that someone who looks like me is genetically blessed, lucky, small, has it easy, doesn’t have to work hard to maintain their shape. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

My mother will assure you that shorties like us have to continually work hard on our health. I have never seen my mother become complacent with her own exercise. I cannot recall a time when she has not engaged in some form of physical activity, with reasonable intensity. I grew up watching her play squash, walk greyhounds, attend classes at the gym and more recently, engage in a quality strength training program including deadlifts! She knows that maintaining her weight takes discipline, not luck – something that she instilled in me from a young age.

Someone recently said to me – “staying in shape is easy for you and the other trainers here, you are small.” Many women in the fitness industry cop the same feedback, and I think it’s important to take a moment to appreciate the commitment we make to our health. I wasn’t always small. In fact, maintaining my body weight is a work in progress.

I choose to maintain this body weight because I choose to be healthy, strong and fit. This is a conscious decision that I made and one I continually work at. I also want to be a healthy, strong and fit role model for my own daughter and our community of women at Ritual HQ.

I want to make a point of saying this isn’t just about wanting to look a certain way. Whilst I do want to maintain a certain physique, the priority for me is my health. I want to continue to increase my strength, increase my lean muscle mass and decrease (or at least maintain) my body fat. Why…? Because I enjoy the way I feel when I look the way I do now; I like feeling strong and I enjoy the energy it gives me every day.

Being really disciplined with my food and exercise is substantially beneficial to my health. I rarely get sick, I can’t remember the last time I had any kind of cold or flu, I have knocked insomnia on the head and sleep far better than I used to. Not only does it help regulate my stress levels, but also helps me balance a massive day-to-day workload with the pressures of being a single mum (with minimal ‘mummy blow outs’). I attribute this directly to my health and fitness, and to the confidence I have gained in the way I carry myself.

Image on the right. My skin is flushed and puffy due to
daily alcohol intake and I was significantly heavier
I was also extremely unhappy.
Image on the left, ten years and two kids later. 

There was a time when I was 20kg heavier than I currently am. I was lethargic, depressed, unhappy, unhealthy, I regularly got sick and had terrible sleep patterns. Needless to say my body, my health and my mind were vastly different with an extra 20kg to carry around each day!

Please understand that to make the decision to look the way I do and, more importantly, feel the way I do, is far from easy. I work my goddam arse off to maintain this body and this level of health, but you know what…I am worth it. And so are you. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.
And all of our trainers at Ritual HQ are the same. The misconception that we are ‘lucky’ dilutes the fact that we work hard to take care of ourselves – it understates the commitment and discipline we apply to our training and nutrition EVERY DAY.

Take one of our trainers, Libbie Rogers, for example:

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work in the fitness industry for nearly 7 years, but it wasn’t until the last 12-18 months that I really felt like I had a handle on my training and nutrition (and boy, has it been a journey!). Despite always having looked ‘skinny’ or ‘small’, I was FAR from healthy or happy with how I looked and felt.

“Seven months ago I started seeing a nutritionist – regularly. After cleaning up my food and setting up some personal goals, I reached a point where it became impossible for me to shift my body fat any further, no matter how hard I trained or how clean my diet was. Nothing about this process was easy, or lucky. To be frank, it was hard and sometimes disheartening.

“Fast forward a few months and some food intolerance testing later, I was told I had leaky gut syndrome. This meant cutting a large number of foods from my diet while I undertook the necessary steps to heal my gut (something that is still ongoing for me). Again, definitely not an easy task, but I’m persisting! Why? Because my health is important to me. My body is worth looking after and I want to lead by example for my clients.

“My body shape naturally falls into the ‘ectomorph’ category, which also means it is difficult for me to put on lean muscle mass. I have to work hard at this! To be honest – maintaining where I am takes two things – hard work and consistency. I also lead a relatively busy lifestyle, so prioritising my health and my training means having my meals prepped and getting my training in early. Luck definitely doesn’t get me out of bed at 4am, and it certainly isn’t easy when it’s dark and freezing cold! But when did something worth having ever come easily?”
Libbie - Ritual HQ Coach

That’s exactly right. I invest in my nutrition much like my training. I meal prep every single meal. I strategically plan out every day to ensure my energy levels are maintained and my body is fuelled. I invest in help when I need it. I have the help of a naturopath to help with my hormonal imbalances and I even apply these meal prep strategies to holidays and time away.  I rarely get caught out. I schedule all of my training and I treat it like a very important appointment. My mental and physical health depends on it. I respect this time and I value my body and its need to move, lift, breath properly and sleep.

We all joke about it, but perhaps
it's time we question our reliance on
wine to 'cope' as mothers?
There was a time when I needed alcohol to relax after a busy day. I get it, I’ve been there. I thought I couldn’t live without it. But then my goal to have a healthy body and mind, and to sleep better became bigger and I worked incredibly hard to reduce my reliance on alcohol. Then it became more about reducing the inflammation in my body. I noticed a direct correlation between alcohol consumption and pain in my body, not to mention the cellulite on my thighs, belly and arse.

I rarely drink soft drink, I rarely eat chocolate (and if I do, it’s a really good quality organic chocolate in VERY small doses), I can’t remember the last time I ate a packet of chips and I never touch Maccas or any other shitty fast food takeaway. This is a choice I make because this stuff makes me feel like crap. Why would I intentionally put something into my body that makes me feel like crap on a regular basis? And no, I don’t feel like I am missing out.

All of this being said, this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my life. I am happier now than I have ever been. My favourite food is a bloody big burger from a good quality burger joint. But this is a rare treat. I love date night when I get to indulge in a beautiful red wine and a yummy meal. But I know my limits and it’s pretty rare when I will go beyond these limits. And when I do, it’s a stark reminder of how much it doesn’t agree with my body. I really enjoy these treats because I indulge in them rarely and I go for quality over quantity.
Drop the sense of entitlement over food and alcohol and realise that it takes HARD work, commitment and consistency and you too can have the 'lucky body'. 


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