Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Losing Dad

Losing Dad

When my daughter was conceived we found out her birthday would be August 24, which would have been my father’s birthday. She was born on August 23, but she would have hung on until the 24th had we let her. So as I sit here on the afternoon of August 23, contemplating another year of my beautiful daughter’s life and staring down the barrel of another missed birthday that we would be celebrating for my father – I reflect.

My Dad and I when I was about the
age of my son now

 Every year now, we celebrate the high of my daughter’s birthday and then the next day I wake up with a deep sadness for the man I lost many years ago when I was only 20. Not a year passes when I don’t grieve for him on his birthday or on the anniversary of his very sudden death, and reflect on the years that have passed and the events he has missed as I navigated my way through adulthood.

I remember years ago, when a friend of mine lost her dad, she asked me if it ever gets easier. My impulse response was no, but you learn to cope. I really believe that when a daughter loses their dad, they lose a little piece of their heart that never, ever gets replaced. As time has passed I have learnt to cope with the pain, but it is always present.

Over the years there have been so many little moments that have always reminded me that dad is around. I have no real belief system in the afterlife, but I have had continual reminders that he is around. By dad had a wicked Irish sense of humor. He swore like a trooper and had he still been alive, he would have had the biggest following on Pinterest for ‘Tim memes.’

I have had many reminders of his humor and his love for me. There was the time I found myself at a very random psychic expo, about a year after we lost dad. A lady came up to me and started talking to me out of the blue. She straight up told me that I had recently lost my dad and that he needed me to get a message to mum. He wanted her to know that he was surprised at how sudden and early his death was, but that he was ok and that he was with his own mum. Where she got the information from is, and still is, irrelevant to me. I instantly knew that dad was by my side and always would be.




Dad and his mother (my grandmother), Rene.

 On my wedding day I recall going for an early morning run through the Bunya Mountains State Forrest. I had spread his ashes there a few years earlier and wanted to visit him. I came face to face with a big black dog about 4km into a rainforest in the middle of a protected state forest. It saw me, we both froze, then it turned and ran off into the forest. I felt at peace (after the initial shock!). I went about my wedding day knowing that my dad was with me the entire time, feeling peaceful and happy. We all joked that he even cleared the rain that day for us, just in time!

At the end of the night, when we headed back to our cabin, a black dog passed in front of us as we drove up the hill. A few weeks later, the curiosity got the better of me and I emailed the Bunya Mountains rangers who assured me that no dogs would be in the forest as it is protected. My dad will always be there for me to visit when I need to.

Over the years I have discovered that my dad has a unique way of being there for me. For the birth of my first child, Josie, I finally succumbed to an epidural after 20 or so hours of labour. In some surreal moment of serendipity, the man sent to administer the epidural for me that day was called Tim O’Brien – this was my father’s name. My angel. Needless to say I absolutely lost my shit and my poor mother had to explain my sudden hysteria to this unwitting doctor.


There have been so many moments in my life that my father has missed and for which I feel deep sadness, like the birth of my children, my marriage and that of my brother, and even ill health. But more importantly he’s missed the day-to-day stuff like building a fence, sorting out a car, or helping with my yard. You know, the dad stuff.

My brother, Nick, walked me down the aisle at my wedding
and my Uncle Mick, spoke on my father's behalf.
For both my brother and I, it was a bitter sweet moment.
Photo credit: http://stewartross.com.au/

 
Over this past week, three of our clients have lost their dads and each time I hear of this loss I can connect deeply with the pain they must feel. And for whatever comfort this may bring I say to you this…know that he is always with you, looking out for you. He will send messages in his own special way. I truly believe this. No matter what your belief system, just have faith in your connection and love.


Most importantly, create your rituals around remembering him, or any parent or family member for that matter. For his birthday, I will have a Bundy Rum and Coke, as will my brother, and we will remember the man that took a little piece of my heart with him when he went to sleep that day at the very young and vibrant age of 56.
Dad, in his earlier years, made health choices
that ultimately led to his early death.
This contributes to my very strong desire
to help people turn their lives around
and make better choices so they can enjoy
many more years with their families. 

My brother, my mum and I. After losing dad.
Photo credit: http://stewartross.com.au/

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Surviving DOMS (that post training agony)

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Inspired by my current state, I felt the need to shed some light on this ‘serious’ problem engulfing gyms everywhere.

DOMS (which stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is a condition triggered by commencing a new gym program or a change in your existing program. It is the pain you feel in your muscles 24-72 hours after you start exercising and is also known as a ‘serious injury’ to some people.

As I am currently in a state of severe DOMS and it hasn’t even hit the 24-hour mark since my training, I felt inspired to talk about my condition publicly.

Having just come out of a 6-month competition period where my training was very specifically designed to strengthen the big three lifts (squat, bench press and deadlift), my coach has now moved me into a conditioning phase. We are calling this phase ‘get hot for 40.’ Well, I am anyway. I’m pretty sure he is calling it ‘let’s see where CC’s threshold is and then push her past it.’

Anyway, it’s brutal and every part of my body hurts. Even my fingers!

This is completely normal. When you are living through this hell it is really hard to remind yourself that it is part of the process, let alone breathe, walk or eat. So having just stepped out of a scolding hot, magnesium bath, I thought it apt to spend some time addressing the real issues. DOMS – what is it, what will the next 1-4 days look like and what can you do to survive this torture?

What is DOMS?
The jury is out on what technically causes this pain in your muscles. There are some studies to indicate it is micro trauma of the muscle, or miniature tears. Being a current sufferer of DOMS, I can say with absolute certainty that there definitely is micro trauma in my legs right now. In fact, I have been quoted saying repeatedly this week, “nope – can’t do that – I have micro trauma!” (I have been VERY dramatic this week according to Tyler).


According to Cody Loopstra, Physiotherapist from All Sports Physio, The Gap, there is a physiological explanation for this pain.

"The process of tearing muscles while working out starts a cascade of chemical events within the small muscle fascicles that are micro-damaged from being progressively overloaded. As with any injuries, small amounts of inflammation occur – in this case Creatine Kinase (CK) – as well as the by product of lactic acid from energy output.

“The reason we get soooo sore after heavier sessions is due to larger amounts of CK being release. Warming down, or repeated exercise bouts (lower dosage) as well as massage, are effective ways of flushing out these chemicals to alleviate the pain. This does decrease over time as your body acclimatises to the load that is placed on it."
 


Cody Loopstra
BPhysio ; BExSpSci (Maj. Clin Ex Phys) Men's Health Physiotherapist Exercise Physiologist





DOMS will generally kick in 24-48 hours after your training session and can last for 4-5 days. It can hurt, like REALLY hurt. It can often be mistaken for an injury that needs rest. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve even had clients take time off work because of DOMS.

But the body needs to move. From personal experience with post exercise pain, remaining sedentary and resting will not help flush out this pain. I have found movement, gentle stretching and lots of water will provide relief.

Expect the following activities to be almost impossible:
Going to the toilet – you will need handrails either side of your toilet to help ease you onto the toilet seat. If you stay there for too long, I suggest a commando roll off the toilet is the best form of exit.
Brushing your hair – if you have completed a good quality arm day, brushing your hair or putting it into any kind of ponytail won’t work.  Get a hat and chuck it on.
Putting a bra on or off – Quite simply, don’t! Let your sistas hang free.
Stairs – this is a task that can’t be avoided, especially if you live in a house like mine with three flights of stairs. This week, I discovered you can in fact go up the stairs backwards. This requires less use of the quadriceps, which tends to really get hammered with DOMS after a solid squat session.

Survival:
First of all…I have been regularly reminded this week – you will not die from DOMS. I suggest hot baths with lots of magnesium or Epsom salts. This won’t make it go away, but it will certainly ease out some of the stiffness.
Take magnesium regularly – this helps with muscle pain and cramps, and can certainly speed up the time spent in this hell
Foam roller and gentle stretching – if you can bring yourself to sit on a roller, this will definitely help with the stiffness. Most importantly, BREATHE when you are doing this!
Move – keep moving. Stick to your program, walk, move the body, and keep the blood pumping. This will stop you from stiffening up and prolonging the pain.


Finally, acknowledge that this is part of the process and that it will pass. The pain of DOMS definitely eases after the first 2-3 weeks of a new program and ironically you will come to miss that feeling. Even though, right now, I never want to feel like this again, I know I’ll be asking my coach in two weeks to ‘step it up!’

Thursday, 3 August 2017

CC's Top Ten Time and Self Management Tips

How often do you hear the word ‘time’ thrown around? Every day? I do. People are too busy, don't have enough time, time is going by too fast, or they’ll get to it when they have the time...

Time management, or ‘self management’ is something I take very seriously. I manage my time, my day and my week with military precision. Not because I am obsessive about it, but because it is essential in my quest for a quality and joyful life.

I spoke to good friend, business mentor and Founder of Nxt Lvl, Tim Bishop, on the topic of time management and this is what he had to say;

“Time management is actually self management. Your goal is to master 24 hours, one day at a time. This is an incremental project. The thing with time is that it isn’t about the past or the future, it’s about the NOW. NOW actually stands for No Opportunity Waits. Now is the best time to change your life. Not later, not when it feels ready, right now. Time is not the real challenge. YOU are getting in the way of TIME.”



Once you can adjust your way of thinking regarding time and the value of time, you are now ready to apply some very real, practical strategies to mastering your 24 hour blocks of time.

CC’s Top Ten Time-Management Rules

1.     Respect your time: One of the greatest “changes of thinking” I ever adopted was respect for my time. By allocating a dollar value to every hour of my day, I could work out how much money I was losing each day to unproductive time. What is your hourly rate (don’t undervalue yourself)? Then work out how many hours you lost yesterday to time not well spent (for example: not working, nourishing your body, preparing food, spending quality time with your family, reading a good quality book, exercising, etc.). Multiply that by seven and that’s roughly how many $$ you are losing each week.

2.     Diary system: What diary system are you using? And is that system actually serving you? There are so many different diary systems available. Is it synced with your family’s diary? Your work colleagues? Is it synced to your social diary (most likely Facebook)? If they don’t all talk to each other, you are going to feel overwhelmed. Here’s the clincher – have you scheduled time in your diary each week to review the next seven days to make sure it is airtight and that every hour is accounted for?

Every Sunday evening I go through my diary for the next week. I make sure there are no gaps in my daily schedule, and if there are, I schedule something productive or I allocate an activity to that time. I identify my three business objectives for the week and I make sure they are accounted for in my diary. I then prepare a spreadsheet for my entire family (including my children’s father) that shows everything we have on for that week. That goes on the fridge. This allows the kids to manage their diaries as well and teaches them the value of being organised at the start of the week. They refer to it often and it ensures we never forget things like violins, ballet bags, library books or homework. Is your diary system working for you?


3.     Schedule grocery shopping time: This is a no-brainer for me. How much time do you waste popping in and out of the shops each week? I have some clients who pop into Coles almost every day. I’ve spoken about this before – use the delivery options available. Every Sunday (see a theme emerging here?) I order my meat (Meat at Billys), groceries (Coles online), and fruit and veg (AussieFarmers Direct) for the week, and even my toilet paper if necessary (who gives a crap).

This works, because I know I have all the things I need for the week. I make sure I can pick up what I need for meal prep that day, then my meal prep for the coming week commences. This isn’t to say I won’t run out of something during the week and need to make a quick stop, but it doesn’t happen often.

4.     Meal preparation: Sunday is 100% a meal prep kinda day if you are serious about, 1) being organised, and 2) maintaining or losing weight. Meal prep is a non-negotiable. To maintain a healthy weight I have to eat consistently, and to do this I MUST prepare my food for the week on a Sunday. I simply do not have the space in my diary to allocate time during the week.

I asked for help. My meal plan was created for me by The Chief Life (tell them I sent you). Not because I don't know what to do, but because I wanted someone else to do the thinking for me. I needed to reallocate this energy elsewhere. And they are the experts. I will cook up all the meat I need, three days’ worth of vegetables and sweet potato, and prepare a few mornings’ worth of breakfasts. I also prepare all the sandwiches for my kids for the week and freeze them. This whole process takes me anywhere between 60-90 minutes. How much time do you lose during the week thinking about what to cook, preparing and cooking your food, then cleaning it up? I get this done in one hit. One cook-up equals one cleanup.

5.     The no TV rule: I do not turn the TV on in the evening unless my day has been completed. Once that thing comes on, my productivity goes down the drain. I’m human, I love a bit of evening TV or Netflix to wind down. However, I absolutely will not turn it on if my food is not ready to go for the next day, the kids’ bags are packed, lunches are done, admin completed and most importantly until I have a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved the following day. I challenge everyone to try this one. Throw some music on instead. Notice what happens to your productivity, and even the communication between family members.

6.     No alcohol during the week: I used to drink every day. This was how I coped after a long, difficult or challenging day at work, or simply because I’m a mum and I deserved it. This was what I told myself anyway. When I started dating Tyler, he had a “no drinking during the week” rule which I found very challenging. Regardless, I adopted it primarily for health reasons. Initially it was about maintaining my body weight, however, over time I realised that the benefits I experienced were far greater than just the change in my body composition.

I slept better. So many people tell me they sleep better after they drink. I challenge this theory. Your REM cycle is NOT operating in a natural rhythm if you’ve had alcohol before bed. You are challenging your hormonal levels, your adrenal gland is under the pump, and so if your body is already experiencing stress you are adding to this overload. You lose epic amounts of productivity.

So many people claim they work better with a wine in their hand in the evening, and again I challenge this. How can you possibly be working at your optimum capacity if your thoughts and head are clouded with even one standard drink? There’s a reason you can’t drive after two! Finally, my mornings are clear, focused and precise when I don’t drink the night before. My eyes are clear, my brain is fired up and I’m present for my children, my team and my clients.

7.     Chunk it down: This is a very important strategy. Do you chunk your day into blocks of time? Start by chunking your day into one-hour blocks, then allocate the appropriate activity into each hour in your diary. Work out what chunk works best for you. I work in 15-minute chunks. This is ideal for me, and although it’s quite extreme it helps remove many undue stresses from my day. Some activities take two blocks of 15 minutes, some take four. Some take one (for example – shower and get dressed).

I know this sounds crazy, but by allocating what I need to do to each block and then most importantly STICKING TO IT, I rarely run behind time. Yes, I move fast all the time and yes, I walk in the door bang on when I need to, but it’s done calmly, with precision and a clear of understanding of the objective for the next 15-minute block.

8.     Allocate social media time: One of the greatest time suckers of our world today is social media. I won’t rant on about this too much because we are all painfully aware of how much time we can waste on this, however, it can also serve a very important purpose in our world. I’m not suggesting you remove social media from your world (please don’t! You will miss all the important updates from Ritual HQ!), but I am suggesting you allocate some time to it throughout the day rather than coming back to it all day whenever you have a moment spare.

I give myself three blocks of time during the day – morning, midday and evening. It has really freed up my time and allowed me to be a lot more present with my children. What it has also shown me is how bad we are as a society with this. My poor man gets drilled for being on his Facebook all the time now because he automatically starts scrolling whenever he has a moment’s pause. Sit at a coffee shop and look around, or at a bus stop, or any number of public places. You will feel a deep sadness when you notice the lack of connection between human beings.

9.     Systems, Systems, Systems: What are your systems for life? How do you make sure your washing doesn’t spiral out of control, your kitchen is manageable, your lawn is mowed, the rubbish is out, the pets are cared for, all whilst maintaining a full-time job as well as the kids and their 600 activities, your exercise routine and good nutrition? You need systems. You need to understand that it is ok to schedule when you do your washing, when you fold it, when it gets put away. You need to accept that sometimes this may mean really strange hours!

Systemise your kid’s contribution to this. My kids know that when they wake up in the mornings, they may find a list of chores. They have the dishwasher, pets to feed and groceries to put away.  What day is homework day? All these basic responsibilities should be listed on their weekly schedule. Ensure they happen the same day each week and you will all fall into a productive groove.

Monday night is my washing night. Washing goes on when I walk in the door at 7:15pm. Then at 8:30pm I hang it out on the clothesline (yes – in the dark). Tuesday afternoon I bring it in after school pickup and ballet drop-off. Tuesday night I fold it once the kids are in bed and they put it away the next morning with the help of our nanny.

10. Acceptance: You are probably reading all this thinking, why the hell should I have to be so strict with my time and my diary and my systems? Where does life fit into this? It’s time to accept that our world has changed dramatically over the last few years. At Ritual HQ, one of the most common reasons why members say they can’t continue with their membership is because they don’t have TIME. We think that everybody is time poor, but I would like to challenge this.

Everybody has the same amount of time allocated to them, yet we all value our time differently. I run my world like this for a reason. I treat this as an important part of my job. Why? Because I don’t want to live in a constant state of anxiety, stress or overwhelm. I don’t enjoy feeling like that when I know it is a direct consequence of how I am managing my time. I want to get to the weekend and enjoy some downtime, some social time, without worrying about all the things I still have to do.


I want to be happy, healthy and fit, and I want to look and feel a certain way. To do this, I must allow myself time to achieve this and manage my children’s needs. I am the CEO of my household and I take this role very seriously. I enjoy my weekends immensely. I’m stress free and full of love for the world around me because I am doing a superb job of managing my world with consistency, systems and good ol’ fashioned preparation. Most importantly, I want to be the best possible mother for my children and to do this, and manage my business, my relationship and my life and continue to serve our community and my clients, I MUST manage my self and my time.