Tuesday, 25 December 2018

The ripple effect of change

Well this is my third attempt at writing this piece.

I started four weeks ago with two full blogs written and then subsequently discarded like a sweaty towel after a HIIT session. Whilst therapeutic for me, they served no “publishable” purpose. I wanted to write about change and my observation of the impact it has on others around us. However, I have come to realise that I have no right to make assumptions about how others react to change.

In reality, I can’t determine how and why people react in certain ways to change, because I am not privy to the story that leads to their reaction. I don’t fully understand or appreciate the series of events and implications that cause people to react in a certain way. I am not in control of anyone’s reactions or responses to things. The only thing I can control is MY reaction.

I think as humans we can sometimes assume WHY people are reacting or responding in a certain way, but we forget that change may have played a major role in that response. It is important to remember that this reaction is valid, because it is their reaction and we have no right to take this personally or make it about ourselves.

However, during a period of significant change and loss in my world, I completely lost sight of that belief that I have always held so firmly to.

So, as I sat on a long Delta flight from NYC to LAX, with another VERY long flight before I arrive home to my children in Brisbane, feeling very grateful for the time I have had away to reflect on 2018, I can finally think clearly about the words I have been trying to get down.

2018 started as a year full of hope for me and for my team. With a new business opening and our team growing, I felt confident that our business was going to have a year of conservative growth. By mid-year, our new business in Everton Hills was holding its own, however our original business in The Gap was starting to struggle with ever increasing rent. Despite our best efforts to negotiate, we were hit with an all-time high rent increase to $12,000 per month from September 2018 that would ultimately force us to close.

We had a choice to make. Either increase our membership prices by an additional 50% to cover the rising costs of rent, or find an emergency relocation option. With an unmoving desire to remain as a small, tight-knit community gym we couldn’t contemplate such an increase in membership prices because this wasn’t true to our vision and would make the space unbearable (side note: why am I so happy to talk about the cost of rent? Because our wider community in The Gap need to know the reality of commercial tenancy in our humble little suburb).

We have always made business decisions based on one thing: does this decision align with our vision to “connect”? By moving our business to a small, local family-owned location alongside another small, family-owned business we felt confident it did. Our second test was how it aligned to our values: Inspire, Measure, Results, Teamwork and Community. None of our values were compromised and with a slight reduction in expenses, it was an easy decision for us.

Within four weeks we had relocated our business with the help of our incredible community and team. I will never in my lifetime forget those 30 hours and the humans that contributed to that transition. It was by far the hardest week of my life as a business owner and I would never wish that process on anyone, and I hope to never have to do it again myself.

Moments after this photo was
taken, we closed the doors on
Waterworks Rd.

Leaving the site that we had built our dream on, built our team on and where Tyler and I met, was a decision that was not made lightly, and I will never forget the moment when Tyler and I closed the doors and walked away on that location. It was a moment tinged with sadness but also hope for our future. All we ever wanted was a business that provided an environment for our team to connect and help other humans. We believed, and still do, that we were moving to an environment that would continue to allow us to do that.

What we didn’t expect from our members was the negative reaction to this necessary move. The loss we have experienced has been far greater than we could have ever imagined. At this time of writing we are worse off than before the move, but there is always hope.

This bog isn’t about how others reacted to change, it’s about what I have learnt about myself during this transition. It’s taken me the better part of two months to realise this is very much about ME. And until I realised that, I couldn’t move forward and start the epic task of saving our business. Had I been less selfish earlier on, things may have been quite different.

I have learnt that I am very, very human, and that fatigue and stress can in fact knock me to my knees no matter how hard I fight to keep the environment right. What I have also learnt is that my reaction and behavior can have a ripple effect.
During the weeks leading up to my time away from my business I felt desperation creep in. I started to feel severe anxiety every time I opened my emails, because it was always filled with cancellations. I became defensive and overwhelmed.

What happens when the leader of a business succumbs to these kinds of emotions? Well, I can tell you now, it makes the situation far worse. People are not attracted to those emotions and I truly believe that my feelings during that time no doubt contributed to further loss. I became defensive when people questioned decisions we were making, which then caused me to question myself. I took on advice and opinions from others instead of backing myself and listening to my own intuition.

So, what is the solution to a situation like this? Simple. Walk away. Literally walk away from the business that you believe only you can save. Just walk the hell away for a period where you can sit and calm down, reflect, and rediscover your purpose.

Thankfully I had planned a holiday long before we made the decision to relocate. So, I was already committed to some time off, otherwise there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t have walked away – the business needed me, right? Wrong. The business needed me to walk away and clear my head, reconnect with my own personal vision and purpose and remind myself that everything’s going to be ok. Because it will be. As Dan, a Ritual HQ Coach and one of my very dear friends said to me in a text – “It is written – RHQ will succeed”. He is right, it will. We will.

I have gathered an incredible tribe of humans. By the technical term, they are my staff. But in reality, they are also my family and they have absolutely got my back. When one team of humans comes together and lives true to one very clear vision, we can ride out any storm.

What changed my perspective on how I was feeling about things? Connecting with a very dear friend and ex-client of ours while in NYC. After an epic comedy show and waaaaay too much pinot, this all-time favourite client and friend gave me the penny drop moment I needed. Sometimes a change in product doesn’t always suit the expectations of the consumer, no matter how tight the culture or the community. We didn’t believe the change of space was as big a deal as others found it to be. I just needed to hear that. Thanks, Bek, that brief time with you was both magical, memorable and incredibly valuable.

I have just returned from the holiday of a lifetime that I truly believed at the time of leaving, couldn’t have been more poorly timed. But isn’t it interesting how the universe delivers you EXACTLY what you need when you need it? We just have to take the time to unravel it.

I spent the first few days in Disneyland with my children and my mother. Could I afford this trip? Absolutely not. I borrowed every cent and I’m still not sure why the bank loaned me this money. I will never forget standing in the middle of Disneyland one night watching the fireworks and the fake snow falling around us, with a child on either side of me holding my hand, with tears running down my cheeks thinking how lucky I was to be able to live that moment with my children. I will never forget the pang of guilt and gratitude when my daughter turned to me mid-holiday and told me we “never hold hands this much”.

It was worth every cent to create those memories with them; I will never forget it. It was so special to travel with my mum who I don’t get to spend enough time with and see a completely different side of, and realise that my sense of adventure, generosity and genuine desire to have a crack at everything comes from her. We have so many stories to share from that trip and have created new rituals as a little family that didn’t exist before this trip (more hand holding and more dancing in our PJs).

After my children and mum went home, and I moved onto NYC with Tyler, there were some pivotal experiences there that needed to happen for me. One of those moments was the 9/11 memorial. What a fucking massive dose of perspective that is. When your business is crashing and you think your life is on the brink, go and spend a few hours in the 9/11 memorial. I cried more in that few hours than I have in a long time.

Another one for me was the Empire State Building. As cliché as it sounds, standing at the top of that incredible building you realise just how small and insignificant you are. And more importantly when you look at the speed at which they built that building, you become acutely aware of how quickly you can turn something around.

This trip was a life changer for me. Did I switch off? Sometimes, yes, but I love what I do and I love my team, so there is no resentment when I receive a message from them. Or from a client. I respond with love and it comes from a genuine place. I don’t have any desire to cut myself off. But to be able to step away, have a few sleep ins and create memories, that’s all I need.

Most importantly I was able to reinforce to myself that I have the right battle buddy by my side. Tyler and I slip beautifully into our strengths when we travel. It reinforced for me that this is something we can do better as business partners – identify and work to our strengths. So, 2019 for us is a regrowth cycle.
With the right battle buddy,
anything is possible. 

One week after starting this piece I sat with my bestie and talked business. We both have finance backgrounds in business. Her more so, and for a much longer period of time. Having experienced huge loss this year, she put it so practically for me. It’s time to get back in, roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and ride out this growth cycle. It’s not a death cycle (even though it feels like it right now), it’s a growth cycle. Thankfully, both Tyler and I are quite comfortable with getting our hands dirty and working hard. Plus, when you have a team of people who work so hard and believe so deeply in their cause, you have no choice but to succeed.

2019 will be a beautiful year and upon reflection, we will know that 2018 was our greatest year of learning.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

The five reasons why you may struggle to lose body fat

One of the greatest frustrations we experience as coaches is watching our clients try to lose weight, or rather body fat, unsuccessfully. They might be training regularly and consistently following our advice about good quality strength programing and healthy eating, but the weight still won’t budge. It can be hard to watch.

Are you one of the kazillions of Aussies who try to lose weight relentlessly but have no luck? Or have you lost it, put it back on again, lost it once more, and now see it slowly going back on again?

Is it any wonder Australia has an unhealthy relationship with food, one of the highest obesity rates and major issues with consistency? There are often some fairly simple, but not so obvious reasons as to why weight loss can become very challenging for some. Perhaps one, or all of these, apply to you.

I wrote this one with some help from my own naturopath, Trudy Cadoo. Trudy helped me stabilize my own weight after many years of fluctuation and struggle, and I often send clients her way who are having their own troubles either losing weight or maintaining weight loss.

Here are my top five reasons.

Incorrect training style
A lot of people attempt to ‘burn off fat’ just with cardio, and don’t engage in any weights training for fear of bulking up. This works initially, as any movement will help the body start to burn calories, but the inevitable plateau will hit and suddenly the weight loss will stop. Additionally, your body is not only burning body fat but also lean muscle, which then gives you the skinny and saggy look. This is not ideal as we age, trust me. That person will give up and the weight will pile back on.

Weights training helps the body to grow lean muscle. Lean muscle supports the metabolism and helps to keep it firing. With the correct programming, the body can experience EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) for up to 30+ hours. This means your body continues to burn calories long after the exercise ends, unlike cardio alone where EPOC is far less effective. Training inefficiently is another one we see a lot of in the gym. Coming in way too many times each week and just training for the sake of ticking it off. Get yourself a well structured program, written by a Coach who is an expert at this and get your life back! Everyone has time for exercise, if it well structured and results driven.

Grab a coach and learn how to try effectively and efficiently.
This is a game changer. 

Sleep plays a MAJOR role in our body’s ability to lose body fat. This is mostly due to the effect poor quality sleep has on the various hormones in the body. When our quality of sleep is impaired, our body releases greater levels of cortisol during the day. Cortisol breaks down muscle tissue, so increased levels of cortisol from poor sleep or stress will ultimately break down lean muscle, which will ultimately affect your body’s metabolism.

Poor sleep will also affect your body’s appetite and hunger, and you may find yourself craving carbohydrates (the simple carbs in particular) more than normal, which will in turn affect your body’s insulin levels. Sleep deprivation can also decrease the body’s glucose and insulin sensitivity, putting the body at greater risk of developing diabetes.

Trudy Cadoo talks about stress and cortisol:

“I'm not sure there is any way of avoiding stress these days, it's all about the management. Lifestyle, physical and psychological stresses put constant demands on the adrenal glands. Symptoms include fatigue, hypotension, lowered resistance to stress, salt cravings, hypoglycaemia and lowered immunity. People with a high level of stress can show an altered level of cortisol and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone – an endogenous steroid hormone). I find cortisol to be a major contributor to overall hormonal imbalance and weight gain in many women in clinic. Stress management techniques, healthy eating tips to support the nervous system and overall wellbeing, combined with core nutrients and herbals can make a world of difference to someone under stress.”

This is a biggie and I blame the fitness industry for this one. There has been so much confusion over the years about what to eat and what not to eat. Eat carbs, don’t eat carbs. Eat fruit, don’t eat fruit. Diet food, low fat, high fat, no sugar, all of the sugar. I could go on and on. I believe this confusion has led to many humans eating well periodically, then getting frustrated, and then having a blow out before starting the process all over again.

What if we just simplified this and went back to basics. Meat products, loads of vegetables and fruit, good quality fats and lots of water. Forget the processed food, just eat simple, eat colorful and learn to love food again. Understand the three macros (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and how it’s important they work together. Don’t restrict calories. Stop dieting and don’t chase fads. If someone suggests low calorie, run for the hills because the minute you go back to eating properly, all of the weight you lost will pile straight back on again. We also fund that under eating will eventually lead to storage of body fat, rather than loss. And your body will start to rip into the lean muscle for fuel. Not the outcome you were looking for.

An important point to keep in mind is that genetic factors can play a major role in the body’s ability lose body fat, and until we fully understand our genes we may be pushing shit up hill. This is why I really believe there isn’t one diet that suits everyone. Here’s Trudy’s explanation on how your genes may be affecting you while you don’t even realise it:

Go for colour!
The tailoring of treatment to patients has always been a fundamental feature of functional and complementary medicine. Now, advances in genetic testing mean we can determine how a person's genes may influence their health as well as identify more suitable treatment protocols to help optimise overall health and wellbeing. Some people are genetically more prone to having a weight problem. Your genes influence how much total fat, saturated fat and carbohydrates you can tolerate. Your genes influence how much fat you absorb from food, how much body fat you can create, how effectively you can burn body fat, the best type of exercise for you to burn body fat, and how prone you are to rebound weight gain.
Understanding these genetic influences enables you to make the best choices around diet and exercise for successful weight loss and long-term weight loss.”

Hormones are one of the biggest factors I see affecting women. I can generally tell if a woman’s weight loss is being affected by hormones simply by looking at where they are carrying their excess body fat. This can be managed and controlled with the right help and support and can often be managed without seeking medical intervention.
Trudy says about hormones:

Oftentimes, thyroid is considered when weight is creeping on and this could certainly be the driver as the thyroid has a key role in regulating the metabolism. Other hormones may need to be considered, including insulin, leptin, cortisol as discussed under stress, and sex hormones – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.   

“Aside from the hormonal changes of peri menopause and menopause, women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may also experience weight gain. Hormonal changes in your middle years can also cause your metabolism to slow down, leading to weight gain. As well as dietary recommendations, natural herbs and nutritionals can help you keep your hormonal system in balance.”

Alcohol Consumption
Yes, I am going to talk about alcohol one more time. If you are not prepared to give up alcohol for a period of time when trying to lose weight, be prepared to also give up on your weight loss goal. The two do not complement each other. When consuming alcohol, your body is going to try and use the calories in the alcohol first. You’re then going to eat some kind of crappy food, which your body will not have the ability to metabolise. You are also pouring poison into your body, which is going to increase the appearance of fatty deposits under your skin (cellulite), specifically around your thighs, lower back and tummy.

Don’t believe me? There is enough research and evidence to support this, but here’s my suggestion. Give it up for twelve weeks and watch what happens to your fat loss. Do a solid detox during this time and give your body and organs a chance to heal. Around the six-week mark, expect people to start commenting on how fresh your skin and hair look.

Weight loss or body recomposition can be extremely frustrating for many of us, especially women. But here’s the part you probably don’t want to hear. If you need to lose weight, there is no quick fix. It takes hard work, commitment and a genuine acceptance that,
a)    it needs to happen, and
b)    you will need help and support.

Often, the hardest part of this journey is accepting that it needs to happen. Accept the truth about where you are now and acknowledge that it is time to make some changes. The road may not be easy for you, but it is absolutely worth it and you deserve to experience life in a healthy weight range, full of energy and beautiful health.

Our Twelve Week Challenge starts this weekend at Ritual HQ. If you would like to start the process of changing your body composition, with the right help and support, then reach out as we have limited spaces available. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The Working Mother - what it's really like

Working Mums

There are a lot of things you don’t find out about motherhood until after you’re committed to this child birth/baby thing. I have been in the thick of this many times thinking – why the hell didn’t anyone tell me it was going to be like this?

Like, how much is labour going to hurt? Well hot damn, nobody could have quite prepared me for that level of excruciating, vagina tearing pain.

But hey, I survived. If you want to know what it’s really going to feel like, come chat to me. Oh, and just so you know, you don’t actually forget what it feels like. That’s just another story we get told, BUT it is totally worth it and I 100% would not change a thing about the delivery of my babies, except maybe the 26-hour labour with Josie.

Ever since I became a mother I decided to never lie about what it was actually like because I really felt like, had I known, MAYBE I may have been more prepared. So, if someone asks me, they get the truth. I also recognise that as mothers we don’t want to necessarily let on how hard we are finding this motherhood journey for fear of looking like a failure.

Or for fear of being judged.

Screw that, if you want to honestly know the ins and outs of what it’s going to be like, come chat to me. Disclaimer – I may turn you off having kids forever.

However, I wouldn’t change the gifts it’s given me for the world. My kids are my life and I love them more than I ever imagined possible, but here’s my blog on what it’s REALLY like to be a working mother, with a few quotes thrown in from some of the mums in my Mums Who Lift community at Ritual HQ.

I remember thinking, before having children, that once they were ‘out’ I would be able to work from home and raise my babies. I had visions of me sitting calmly at my desk while my baby slept angelically in a cot beside me with gentle music playing.

In my mind I was going to have a roaringly successful Personal Training Business while nursing my baby. Then, after six or so months I was going to head back to my job at the bank full time and it was all going to be fine.

I couldn’t have had this more wrong if I tried.

What quickly became apparent to me was that I urgently had to redefine what success looked like. Success no longer looked like me strutting off to my city job with my six-figure income, stilettos and pencil skirt, and immaculate hair and make-up. Success was now getting to midday and managing to go to the toilet and take a dump without a baby screaming from another room (or managing to do this without taking the baby with me in their Baby Bjorn carrier because they can’t be put down that day). Maybe throwing toast in my mouth (because you can hold toast in your mouth while breast feeding a baby and juggling at least one other task) and MAYBE brushing my hair.

If I was really having a good day, I might even manage to get out of my pyjamas and – wait for it – put on a bra! Nobody told me that whilst breast feeding is absolutely beautiful and an incredible thing to do for your baby and their health, it is actually very challenging (for some of us it hurts like HELL in the early days) and will consume hours of your day. I recall one witching hour feed lasting nearly two hours. Oh, and witching hour is another term I had never heard of. This is the time around dusk when babies turn crazy. Fact.

Without redefining success, the feeling of failure was imminent, and this came regardless. On a good day, the thought of taking on any kind of intellectual work was so far from my mind because the fatigue from sleep deprivation would swamp me like a dark wet blanket. Did you know that sleep deprivation was used as a form of torture by the CIA as part of their interrogation techniques? I can confirm this would work.

Daycare is certainly an option and one I indulged in after the first year. But we need to be realistic about the cost of daycare (whilst factoring in the cost of your sanity). At one stage, my income was only JUST covering the daycare fees.

For me these days, now that my children are no longer babies, a successful morning is managing to get both kids to school with their hair brushed and shoes on both feet…on time. An extra successful day is when I manage to brush my own hair. I don’t always have successful days! Even now.

One of my mums in my Mums Who Lift community sums this up beautifully – the guilt, plus the mornings, plus the juggling act. Amelia says:

“I feel like most of my parenting stress is trying to leave the house for a specific time x 100 when you have to leave the house to get to work and they dont want to get out of bed let alone get ready.

“I can never stay late at work to finish something like I used to as I have to get home to pick them up. I feel guilty during school hols because they go to holiday care and then feel I need to arrange stuff for us to do on my days off when actually they probably need a boring day resting at home (they whinged, fought and complained all day Monday at the activity I
d planned for them).

“The days I work I feel like we
re all on a conveyor belt with not enough time to get dinner in, showers, homework and some reading before bed. And I only work three days and have a partner (I have no family here though). I cant imagine what fulltime and single parents have to deal with.”

My two are regulars at my workplace,
mostly out of necessity

These days, I do somehow manage to run two businesses, manage a team of nine, hold a relationship together, manage a separated parenting arrangement and seem to have two relatively well balanced kids, albeit extremely busy kids! But like all of us mums who work excessive hours and manage kids, it comes at a cost and for many of us it is precious time with our kids. I know I have missed a lot of time with my children, however I do have some non-negotiables that ensure the quality is always there.

We also had to learn to work at a level of speed and precision we never imagined possible. Time management skills needed to go to another level and we had to accept that down time or rest time was a luxury that no longer existed. And if you seek this kind of time to yourself, resentment mounts. The other thing I didn’t realise is the pressure that compounds your day when your kids go to school. Suddenly you have a thousand letters to read, music lessons, extra tests, parent teacher interviews, newsletters to absorb, parenting apps, parent reps, volunteering activities, fetes and play dates to navigate. Oh, and birthday parties. Nobody prepared me for this, or the pressure of school holidays, but that’s another blog.
I have been lucky enough to integrate my work into
the kid's school so I can be more present for them in
a more creative way. 

Single mum Lisa explains her world and how it has played out now that her children are a little older:

“I learned that I cant do it all, and I was going to fail everywhere unless I reframed. I was lucky enough to buy extra annual leave for holidays for a few years – and then had one week per hols with them. That was my bargaining chip for holiday/before/after school care. And they were fine with this deal. And I gave up on giving a shit what anyone thought. 

ve worked stupid hours for so long but despite a few horrors (armed burglar in the house with my son whilst Im at work, occasionally forgetting to pick them up or where I had left them, and regularly not getting home til theyre in bed). I also found the bloody joy in watching them look after each other and learn to help me run a house.

“And all my guilt about having to juggle 80-hour weeks and single parenting whilst on a massive IT project was washed away when just weeks ago I apologised to them for my long work hours when they were little, and they both had no idea what I was talking about!! No memory of my absence!!!! This is forgiveness for sure!!!!”

Interestingly, despite discovering all of these things along the way that I had wish I had known, I can now laugh at my naivety. I also know that there is nothing you can say to a mum to be to prepare them for any of this. If a mum had tried to warn me about all of this, I would have nodded, smiled and thought to myself, “yes, but it won’t be like that for me.”

And here is one final thing nobody prepared me for – the depth of love I feel for my children. This hit me harder than anything I could have ever imagined. Every time one of my children gets on stage to dance or sing or play an instrument, or hit the sporting field to do something, I literally weep. Nothing prepared me for the fear I would feel watching one of them cross the road for the first time, or the mumma bear instinct I would experience when my child got picked on at school or how much I would miss cuddling my tiny babies now that they were bigger, despite those years being some of my hardest years. Nothing prepares you for any of this and I guess this is probably a good thing. Because had I known how hard it was going to be I would have missed out on the unconditional love I give and receive now every day from these two tiny humans.


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Ritual HQ locations

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The Gap
Brisbane 4061, QLD.

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Everton Hills
QLD 4053.

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