Tag Archives: challenge

The Climb

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Yesterday was exactly one year since I couldn’t finish a fun run. I was doing the Maitland River Run and a surprise asthma attack had me sidelined at around the halfway point, waiting for a medical chap to come with Ventolin to my rescue. I had to make a decision: Do I do the run again this year to prove I can, or do I do something else?

I did something else.

Not because of fear or anything like that. But because, quite simply, I knew if anything went wrong again, that there wasn’t any real first aid stations along the course. It took ages to get medical help, and I was totally unimpressed that one of the official photographers told me he couldn’t help me and that I should walk up to the drink station, which was around 500 metres away. This isn’t an event I want to support.

So, the something else.

Mount Tomaree is a very big mountain. It’s near Nelson Bay. The gradient of the hike is Level 5 – very steep and difficult. But it promised stunning views, and I am generally up for a physical challenge. And so, off we went.

Within the first 5 minutes, I was panicking internally. This was steep, and we were nowhere near the summit. In my head I was trying to come up with the words to say that I couldn’t do it, and trying to justify to myself the reasons for not finishing this attempt. But while I was thinking all these things, my legs were pumping away and my feet were happily doing their ‘one in front of the other’ thing. It’s like they were not aware that I couldn’t do this, and they just kept right on going.

Something I see often, and have experienced particularly when it comes to running, is that your brain will give out long before your body does. You’re mind will challenge what you’re doing and tell you NOOO but if you don’t listen to it, your body can and will just keep going. It’s funny because it’s my mind that makes the decisions to do this stuff, but it’s my body that does it and it’s my mind that tends to be the first to back out.

But I digress.

The walk starts on paved ground. Then it changes to mega steep metal stairs and walkways. Then it changes to steps cut into the rocks. There are more metal stairs and more metal walkways, then more rock steps. And the whole thing just keeps going and going. But it goes somewhere. Directly up. Up and up and up.

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As the ups became steeper, I realised that I was doing it.

And as we got nearer to the top, the views got better.

One more step of steps. One more metal walkway. One more twisting path. And then!

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Amazing. Totally worth the climb.

But to be honest, we didn’t spend a huge amount of time at the top.

Because that’s not what the joy was.

The joy? Getting there.

Setting a challenge and completing it.

When we were at the top, I wasn’t really thinking about the views. I was thinking about these feet of mine. That have been to hell and back, rebuilt, relearning, and now doing the best they can to keep up with the goals and ideas I come up with. I was thinking about the way I was ready to pack it in before I’d even started. I was grinning because despite my brain and my feet, and a killer leg day on Friday, I’d done it. We’d done it. And I hadn’t struggled anywhere near as much as I had assumed I would.

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One of the reasons why?

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There she is, right next to me.

And so, Maitland River Run, you didn’t defeat me last year. And instead of coming back to prove it, I took on something harder, something more challenging, something that has brought me undone in ways you never will:

I took on myself.

 

 

What would you do?

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I’ve come up with an idea.

It’s based in that feeling. I don’t know if it’s a feeling only I get, or if other people get it too, so bear with me and I’ll flesh it out for you a bit.

You know that rising jittery feeling you get in your tummy when something you’re scared about happens? Or even looks like it might happen? What about when all paths seem to be leading to you having to compromise on things that you have avoided because they make you anxious? Are you like me, and refuse to do things because you honestly don’t think you can? Or, commit to doing something, then pull out at the last minute because it’s just too scary and confronting?

These are the things that have governed so much of my life. And at 38, I’m calling bullshit on those things. They are valid – this is not about saying you shouldn’t be scared or anxious or any of that. Because those responses are always valid. You’ll get some gurus who tell you that fear is irrational, I call bullshit on that, too. Fear is totally rational. It’s generally based in experience, or research, or gut instinct. Three things you cannot refute.

But what if it didn’t control your life. What if?

Just over 12 months ago, I made a choice to change my life. I suddenly had an ankle that wouldn’t let me down. And I had realised that unless I worked on my health – seriously worked on it, getting my weight under control and increasing my fitness – I was signing up my family to the heartache of another sudden death.

So, I made a choice. And it was a choice. I had two options: keep going how I was, convinced that my body wasn’t able to do anything to help me and to continue to be lost in grief; or just test out what my body could do, and turn that grief for my mum into a motivator.

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It was not easy. It. Was. Not. Easy. Not at first. But slowly, it became routine. Get up, go to the gym, walk slowly on a treadmill. Or get up, get my shoes on, and walk slowly around the block. I started where I was, probably at less than where I was, so convinced was I that I couldn’t do anything. But the thing is, I started.

Which leads me to now.

Throughout this experience, the biggest thing that has held me back has been fear. Even now, when I know I can do all sorts of stuff. It’s almost like a habit, to doubt myself and come up with reasons to be scared.

But imagine what we could do if we removed fear from the equation.

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I have deemed this November to be NO FEAR NOVEMBER. I’ve challenged myself to turn off that fear reaction. Because ultimately, I still have those doubts about what I can do and how far I can push myself.

#NofearNovember is about doing things anyway, until I find out that I can’t do them.

We’re 9 days in to November, and so far?

I’ve gone to a different class at the gym, with an instructor I don’t know, and been totally fine.

I changed plans and rescheduled stuff, and been totally fine.

I organised a confronting Christmas gift for beloved (big shout out to Style By Divine and Pearl Davies), and been totally fine.

On Saturday I’m taking on my first Park Run. And I’ll be totally fine.

The thing is, I’m still scared doing these things. But I guess there comes a time when you have to again, make a choice. Be stopped in your tracks by fear, and regret the fuck out of the things you don’t do.

Or.

Do them until you find out that you can’t.

#nofearnovember

Are you in? Use the hashtag and show me what you’re going to take on. Or, search it on your social media to see what I’m up to.

A HUGE thanks to Josephine, Suzi and Alice who have all gotten behind me with the Variety Fun Run – you can still donate, the link is here!

 

Challenge: Powercamp.

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You might recall my post regarding Spin class – a bit of a beginner’s guide to doing one of those bike classes at the gym. Well, today’s post is about Cross Fit. I have done four of these classes now, at my brilliant gym Planet Fitness at Charlestown. As an aside, this is the gym to go to if you’re nervous about the gym. The people are lovely, it is welcoming and completely non-confrontational. You can wear your fancy pants gym gear or, like me, you can fluff about in tights and a shirt that is way too big. What you wear is not important. The main gist at Charlestown Planet Fitness seems to be that if you get through the door you’re a bloody champion. And I like this attitude.

So, the cross fit classes at Planet Fitness are called Powercamp. Planet Powercamp. You can check them out here.

Here’s the Hot Tip list for Powercamp:

1. Don’t wait until you think you can do it. Just do it. You will see all ranges of fitness, ages, sizes, genders and clothing at a Powercamp session.

2. The activities for the session will be written on a board in a tone of pink that I initially thought was menacing, but now recognise as a bit of a line in the sand. Part challenge and part dare, the list that you are greeted with each session changes, seems long at first but as you move through it the satisfaction of making a mark on the floor for each round is awesome. Because you will get through that list.

3. What if you can’t? My biggest challenge has always been the head game. I get so stuck thinking I can’t. But I can. And when there are things on that list that I am not yet able to master, there are options to change it around. However – it’s surprising how quickly I’ve starting thinking that it’s time to add plates to my bar, or to rope my trainer into helping me to knees-to-chest hanging from a bar instead of lying down. The reality is in a class session there is a range of abilities and fitness levels. And the people who run the classes, they know this. So there is always, always an option to get the same benefit from the exercise but in a different way that is appropriate to your current level. So yes. Yes, you can.

4. Bounce factor. This is, for me, a two bra class. Actually, life in general has become a two bra event, due to my escaping boob skin. But yes. You will bounce. But the thing is, nobody gives a damn. Nobody is watching you. They’re just getting through their own cycle of exercises to the best of their own ability.

5. Satisfaction rating? High. When I walk in and see the workout for the day written on the board, I confess that I panic a little bit. But when I am done? When I know I have given it everything I have? When I see that I am getting further and faster and better technique? And when I am dripping wet with sweat and my legs are aching and I’m gulping on my water bottle like it’s a nectar from the gods? There’s only one word. Proud.

Powercamp is 100% less scary than it sounds. For me it comes back to the head game: knowing the skills I have, the fitness I have, and pushing that knowledge further every time.

It’s not easy. But if it was, would it really be worth doing?

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Cross fit. Have you done it? Would you do it?

Yes I Can.

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I started doing this thing at the gym. Powercamp. It’s crossfit. Something I’ve wanted to do for ages and my trainer said it was time to give it a go, so I did.

For most people this would be another step forwards in their getting fit journey, as wanky as that sounds.

For me?

Good grief, what a frigging challenge.

Not so much the actual doing of Powercamp, but what goes along with it. New people. Unfamiliar routines. A different trainer running it. Today was session number three and I finally hit the panic wall.

What was different today? Well, number one, I was tired. There was meant to be some shitstorm weather here last night so the fur babies slept with me. Yes they’re cute, but how much sleep do you think I got?

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Number two, the exercises I didn’t know how to do outnumbered the ones I did know how to do. And number three? We had to work with a partner.

Cue rising panic.

To my credit, I didn’t do what I wanted to do. I stayed. Did a different warm up on the rower, so outside of the Powercamp room. And I have to right say how amazing the trainer was – she didn’t give me the option to leave, instead she directed me to something that would give me some headspace to refocus myself. When I’d rowed and calmed slightly, she came over and told me I’d be working with another woman. Rising panic once again – what if I slowed her down, what if I wasn’t as fit or as fast as her, what if what if what if!!!

But here’s the thing.

There was a list of about eight different things we had to do, and we had to (between us) complete 100 of each thing in the time limit. And together, my partner and I almost finished the list. We missed the skipping (which was good as I had a full bladder) and the planking. But we did a lot of that list. More than I thought I would get through.

Here’s the other thing.

As we worked together, I actually enjoyed it. And I liked the partner work out. And I kept up with her.

I finished the session and went to meet my personal trainer, who asked how it went. I told her about panic and why. And she delivered a firm but wise slap to my brain. Told me in no uncertain times that I need to get my head together and realise that I am fit and strong and able. That she wasn’t going to let anyone put shit on me, and reminded me that at this gym, nobody puts shit on anyone anyway (She’s right, by the way. If you’re a Novocastrian, check out Planet Fitness at Charlestown).

And so I had a bit of a think.

The reality is that in 12 months I’ve dropped close to 40kg. I’ve gained muscle and strength. Life is so much easier now. I can do so much more. The size of my clothing has changed dramatically, my rings don’t fit, oddly enough my glasses now look enormous and even my shoes have become slightly too big. I can see those things and I feel a little flicker of pride every day because of it.

But the un-seeable things. My fitness. My confidence. My belief in my own ability. Trusting myself and my new body (even as a work in progress). These things, I am struggling to accept.

After being so unfit for so long, it’s hard to remember (let alone understand) that things are different now.

I don’t know what the solution is here. I get the feeling it’s a practice thing – I need to remind myself that I can do things. That I am totally able. That even when my Aspy brain wants to panic, the reality is that I am more than physically able to conquer the challenges that Powercamp presents. I need to remember reality. That it’s going to take time to get used to this body and it’s fitness and strength.

And I need to remember how much I’ve achieved.

It’s hard. But I’m a stubborn cow. So my new mantra has become this:

Yes I can.

Yes I can.

Yes I can.