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Fitness

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It’s 6am – cue the alarm. The calendar reminder on your screen flashes:  ‘Gym/Workout.’

You clamber from the bedcovers, complete with bed-hair bouffant, making a beeline for the kitchen and that oh-so-divine first coffee.

Now it’s time to contemplate your impending workout while scrolling through your insta feed, drinking your brew and coming to terms with being an alive human being who needs to face  putting themselves through something uncomfortable first thing in the morning – most likely before a long day at work.

Might just scroll a little longer, just to you know, get some inspiration. Probably need another coffee too.

I get it, it’s a tough gig to do something hard – like a workout, before heading off to do something else hard – like Monday, for example.

Before you know it, you’re either racing out the door with just enough time for a half-baked gym session (and a whole day at your desk to be frustrated by a lacklustre start).  Or  you may decide it’s too late now anyway, and get back into bed (frustration level= next level ).

You’re not alone. Most of us don’t bound out of bed, fling on a perfectly matched set of activewear and stride out the door with a Keep Cup and a binder of meticulously programmed workouts in tow.

But I have good news, Real People. I have compiled a bunch of techniques I have picked up from my personal morning scrolls through blogs and insta which can help set you up for fitness success;  curated especially to remove those key pre-morning workout pain points:

1 – Make a Simple Plan. And I mean simple. Seven sticky notes, Six workout styles you enjoy and which cover the bases of: strength, hiit, low intensity cardio, hard cardio, active stretching (such as yoga) and a rest day. Pop the sticky notes out on your desk, mirror or any other handy surface. Select one sticky note each morning relating to the workout you’ve decided on, and pop it to one side. Then at the end of the week, put them all back for the next week.  Talk about taking the the stress out of workout selection. 

Here are some apps you can pair with each workout style:

  • Strength: Les Mills BodyPump via their on-demand home workout app
  • Hiit: I luuurve Bodyrock
  • Low intensity cardio: take the pooch for a stroll, or head out for a recovery jog
  • Active stretching: there are endless free yoga apps. https://www.yogaglo.com offer classes as well as meditation.
  • Hard cardio: try a spin class on the Les Mills app or at your local gym.
  • Rest day: you can go for a gentle stroll if you’re someone who can’t do a full day of hardcore Netflix and chill.

2  – Set an alarm you want to wake up to: pick some super upbeat, motivational beats: Odesza and Avicii do it for me.

3 – Get a gorgeous notebook to keep track of your efforts. Personally, I am not a someone who is interested in recording how many reps at what weight I am doing for which micro body part each session. Using a notebook to record what you’ve done however, does help. It’s super encouraging to look back at all your entries after a few weeks and realise just how much you’ve actually put in. Think simple entries like:

BodyPump class – went up 0.25kg on most sets. Feel a million bucks. 

4 – The Activewear Chest: . You’ve heard the advice “lay it out the night before” a million times. If that just ain’t happening, and you find yourself groping in the dark for a pair of clean tights most morning, may I recommend: The Activewear Chest. Grab an affordable blanket box  from Kmart or Ikea, throw those cute sets all in there together – and Bam, #outfitsorted.

5 – The white sock basket. Yep, 2 feet. 2 matching socks. You think it’d be something any adulting person could master. But we all know that’s not how the world works. My solution: get a stylish, affordable basket. Fill it with white socks from Kmart or Target and pop it next to your activewear chest.

That’s it. Five simple steps – for Real People – to help set you up for a successful weekly fitness schedule.

Now I’d love to hear from you, what are your top tips to help make your weekly workouts happen?

Feature image:  Activeinstyle via FourSixty

 

 

 

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You’ve done your darndest to smash it at life in 2017, to squeeze every last delicious drop of juice out of every minute of the day, and then… you open your calendar. And it’s mid-year.

I thought, what better time to start a life-changing challenge. Really.

Introducing, the Run Lift Style Weekend Challenge Series.

Designed for using weekends as an opportunity to level-up and stay motivated, these challenges will pair two of my favourite, most life-changing workout styles: hiit, and the great outdoors.

Hiit-style workouts have helped me through every challenge life has thrown – longer than long work hours, renovations, wedding planning and all the other big life stuff that happens in between.  It’s time to start sharing the love in a real, helpful way by popping together some free workout vids that may help others. These workouts are only 15-20 mins long, but are super intense. I have written all about why they are so effective here. Yep, these workouts done regularly and paired with a clean (but balanced) diet, will get you in super shape, quick smart.

But they are also so amazing for your mental wellbeing. There has been a bunch of research about this, but really, you just have to feel it for yourself. The harder you push, the more amazing the sense of peace and wellbeing you’ll bask in afterwards.

As for the benefits of outdoor adventure – take a peruse through some of my previous articles. My passion is clear, and my mission is to share it.

The challenge

Part One is a hiit workout you can do outdoors or indoors, with lots of modification options. For extra inspiration, this one was filmed in a very cute 70s style hotel in Monaco.

The challenge for this weekend is to complete this workout plus adding in Part Two: spend an hour “moving” outdoors – whether that’s taking pup on a beachside promenade, an urban streetscape run… or a long and challenging trail run. Rain, hail or shine.

For this part, pick something that’s outside your comfort zone. I truly believe there’s nothing like getting outside (with the right protective gear and lashings of sunscreen) to really round off your week, take the edge of daily stresses and clean your brain out so you’re super fresh mentally and physically.

Here’s Part One– tell me what you think! Breakdown and modifications below!

Beginner – 1 round, regular exercisers 2-4 rounds, advanced – 5 rounds

*Remember, with all hiit workouts, you need to push to your absolute max effort each minute – no hanging out waiting for that timer to beep. Rep to the last!

1 minute on, 10 seconds rest (use an interval timer or download a free app).

  • jumping tricep dips/ modification – tricep dips, slow
  • squat, crawl forward, standing pike push up/ modification: push up on knees or normal push up, stand up, squat
  • low jacks/ modification: squats
  • lower ab kick ups/ modification: raise legs from floor to ceiling (try without touching the ground)

What did you think? Did you enjoy this, did it help you with a quick workout with some serious kick? Would you like more?

As for Part Two, that’s up to you, please share in the comments below what you did – I’d love to hear!
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This is my year for watering the grass.

That means working really hard to not always be looking over the fence in search of lusher fields.

We’re constantly fed imagery and messaging intended to leave us feeling like we’re a humdinger of a hike away from ‘having it all’.

But this year, I want to stop and nurture the things I have. To grow those things bigger and brighter through appreciation – rather than the exhausting, constant and often disheartening search for new and better everything.

Like:

1. Friendships & Family : thinking about which friends are the ones who call, text and make an effort to catch up, and honing my energies on them. That’s not to say others get “knocked”” off – far from. We love all our friends, it’s just part of the ebb and flow of life. We all have different commitments at different times. I know for sure I have some making up to do after my huge “wedding and European holiday” year last year, and I’m loving setting up sundowner and coffee catchups.

Same goes to family – nourish the good that’s there. Think for a moment, about that person who probably texts you daily and really actually cares how you are, what you’re doing, what recipes you’re loving and whether you actually had a fabulous day. For many of us, that’s our mums.  I am one of the lucky ones to call mine a best friend.

2. Home: As is, right now. Part One of Project Bling-up our Pad is done, and we have a biiig task ahead in Part 2. But I am working to just appreciate the awesomeness we have achieved so far. Light floorboards, fresh paint in and out, those lovely cement drop lights in the kitchen that make me smile every morning. And the never-ending joy our stunning view of the river provides.

 

 

3. Love: It’s so easy to get into a relaxed-as routine just splicing in time here and there. But in those moments you do have, stop and really enjoy that warm hug – and the fact you have someone to hug at all. Without sounding preachy, there are many without even that small joy.

4. Age: It’s a dam privilege to be the age you are. Every year we bemoan getting older. Yet many people will never reach the age you are. It’s a full on thought, but it’s one I’m working on hammering home to myself. One day I will look back on my age now and say – oh to be that young. It’s all a matter of perspective, and appreciating friends of all ages. One day you will love the fact you have a younger friend who wants to brunch with you.

5. Fitness and Health: Abs not at their best ever? Or just starting a couch to 5K.  One of my favourite mantas is “start from where you are.” Then push to your best, and earn your chill.

Now, I’d love to hear from you – what are some ways you water the grass in your life? And if you did get a little something out of this post, please share below.

Happy watering!

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This is the story of the day I decided to start writing positive articles for women. It all started with a bushwalk on an absolute belter of a summer’s daY.

The epiphany happened – in a way which befits ‘aha’ moments of this kind – on top of a mountain.

To be exact, on the mossy emerald summit of the craggy slopes overlooking the hobbitscape that is the spectacular Hartz Mountains in southern Tasmania.

It was here, high on a peak, huddled on a quartz throne carved by the ages, as my eyes soaked up the soul-nourishing view, that I started to get a little bit angry at the furious gale of screeching messages all women know so well.

They’re the messages that are with us constantly: from the time we gleefully unwrap Baby’s first Barbie and our young brains sponge up tween magazine articles on ‘The Tiny Shorts Not Made for Anyone with an actual Butt You Need Now!’ to our adult world where social media ‘fitspiration’ lunges across our news feeds. They’re the messages telling us that booty is in … but so are skinny jeans; Beyoncé is hot but check how fast Miranda has ascended back to Angel-wear post-bub; sculpt those bun-muscles… but mind you don’t look like a bloke now; love yourself, (here ‘reward’ yourself with a cake-pop) but be sure to make that mocha skinny.

I mentally hurled these messages off a nearby precipice that day, and decided… actually, I love my body (bear with me here – this has nothing to do with appearance, quite the opposite).

It happened when – all other thoughts smothered by the summit’s regal silence – I focused on what my body had achieved by clambering 20 sweaty kilometres to relish this vista. I had a sudden clarity about what I went through to get myself here; that my body, through consistent effort to stay fit and strong, had allowed me to slog through slush, scramble over rocks and finally grip slimy rock handles to hoist myself to the peak.

In that moment, I had just a little flash of anger at the stubborn subculture that persists in encouraging put downs of the amazing skin-sealed apparatus that allows us to hug, savour, sense, run, climb, swim, sweat… and maybe even bake babies. My body brought me to this ancient, beautiful place, allowed me share it with someone important to me… then scuttle back down to savour a steaming hot latte in the local town.

It also got me thinking, firstly, of those around us who, for health reasons or due to life challenges cannot enjoy the things human bodies can do, let alone have the luxury of thinking about how they look.

Secondly, imagine the energy, creativity and contribution that could be unleashed by women worldwide from a celebration of the strength, health and functional fitness that allows us to enjoy life, rather than the time-leeching fixation on re-moulding our bodies to fit into the ever-changing demands of anonymous critics.

I decided, that day, to do my part to try and banish the discouragement that stops women celebrating their bodies’ forms and functions. I decided that, every now and again, I would write a piece to put a tiny plug in the noisy gale, allowing even one or two women a moment of quiet to reflect on an alternate view.

Pop culture is fun, fuels discussion and allows us to be creative, be inspired to move and live a healthier more fulfilled life, and connect in more ways than ever before. But it’s important to remember to pick and choose the media messages that resonate with us, and that come from a place of love.

And when certain less constructive voices start to increase in volume, stop, hit your mental mute and start thinking about what your body allows you to do each day.

Now, I’d like to hear from you – what was it that’s help you flip society’s critical perspective on our beautiful female bods?

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If you were to peruse my scenery-saturated instagram, you could be forgiven for thinking I grew up in a bach* clutched against sea cliffs in a picturesque New Zealand coastal town – days spent running the bluffs and nights toasting salt-frosted skin by the fire under the night-blush of the Aurora Australis.

Or perhaps in a snow-wrapped Canadian town. Complete with woolly sock and fleece jacket-padded wardrobe.

In fact, my fiery passion for the outdoors was only fairly recently ignited.

While I have been a gym bunny all my adult life (Pump class? You better believe I sweated as hard as any wilderness warrior), wild-haired bush-woman I was not. The notion of snowy breaks was pretty much limited to iced coffee dates.

Then one day several years ago, a training buddy invited me to be the runner in a team adventure race in my current home state of Tasmania – a state which is also home also to some of the world’s most spectacular forests, beaches and sea-carved coastline.

The event included kayaking, running, cycling and mountain-biking. The run was 32 kilometers over two days, over some of my home state’s most challenging terrain: think steep climbs, followed by quicksand-like soft beaches, followed by more steep climbs. Basically a pain sandwich. At that stage the longest I had run in my life was about 12 k.

Eight weeks of killer runs up steep local and one adventure race later, and my life was never the same again. I was hooked. On forest trails, on the kind of people who treasure and spend their leisure time in it, on the almost-spiritual hold it now has on me.

These days, it’s kind of the norm for me to plan a run up a local mountain with some friends of a weekend. I never feel more of who I am than while my shoes chomp leaves and squelch mud underfoot, the scents wafting up to my nostrils, an intoxicating mix when blended with some of the freshest air in the world and Lord of the Rings-worthy views characteristic of Australia’s most southernmost state.

I didn’t start small. I went from zero to one of the most challenging runs in the country.

But if you’re the sort of person who looks at stunning photos of other people’s magical-looking wilderness adventures, I want to encourage you to start your own adventure campaign. Because if this blog inspires one person to adopt a little more outdoors – with the incredibly positive trickle effect I know it will have on every other part of life – my job is done. Here are some ideas for starting out:

  • Take half an hour one morning this week, get a coffee, find a beach just a little out of your way and stroll. Feeling really frisky? Take your shoes off, dip your feet in, and enjoy how the shivers run up your calves and wake up your mind and body alike.
  • Find a local track. One of those trails that runs just a hair’s breadth behind suburbia. Leave your headphones behind. Listen for the sound of small creatures. Try and spot one.
  • Set yourself a photo challenge. Each time you head outdoors, find something beautiful to capture. It doesn’t have to be a movie-worthy vista from a mountain peak, or a perfect glassy lake. Maybe a carpet of pine leaves, or a Monet mimicking multi-coloured mossy-spotted rock. Post that insta-worthy image and be proud. Don’t worry about what most people might think – you never know who it might inspire.
  • Take your night-time hot chocolate and a woolly rug outside. Look up.
  • Challenge yourself a little more, next time.

You may or may not end up running or hiking 30, 60 or 90 kilometres across demanding stretches of rock.

Or maybe you will.

But I urge you to start small, in your adventures.

Or not. Follow in my mad size nines and go straight to Big if you wish.

But whatever the scale, the more adventurers among us, the greater the consciousness about the need to relish and preserve this grand and vivid world.

*small house, or beach hut in New Zealand. One of my favourite countries.

 

 

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As abruptly as the thick, cheery-coloured bed socks appear on the shelves at your local department stores – about a day after the blow-up pool swans disappear – southern hemisphere winter has arrived with a chilly gust up the nostrils.

For those of us who fight a morning motivation war with our inner hibernating polar bear every season, launching from a blanket mountain to zip through dark sloshy roads to a 6am class or gym session in winter can sometimes be that touch too tough for dwindling motivation stores.

Here is a wrap-up of colourful and butt-kicking things that are brightening up my winter training, while keeping me motivated and inspired.

Go home, and go hard.

You can set yourself up with a bright, bling home gym with everything you need for less than takeaway lunch these days. I’ve set up a room off our rumpus/garage with a sandbag, dumbells, kettlebells (16kg and 20kg) and a mat.

You can get dumbells and kettlebells from Kmart. (I recommend going for super bright colours to jazz up your grey days.)

 

bright kettlebells and dumbells

For yoga mats, go for quality like this one from Lorna Jane. Pink and navy plus inspirational slogan? #Sorrynotsorry, but it has to be done.
Screenshot 2016-07-09 21.11.09

Now, just add one of these in-your-living-room programs, tailor-made for your new home gym; uber-fit trainers with great form and online support communities:

  • Tried and true, rock your body: Bodyrock – free, new workouts daily, wide range of programs depending on your level. I do the advanced offerings, like HiitMax, and Elevate, and they’re a killer.
  • Holy stokes: I have earmarked this lady, Kira Stokes, as one to watch. She has workouts on Booyah, where you can sign up for 30 days, free.

Join a (fitness) cult

Well, one that’s good for you! Any of us who have ever joined a really challenging fitness program have probably jokingly accused by a friend of joining a ‘cult’ – but if there’s ever a time you need a cheer squad who’ve also drunk the cool-aid, it’s winter.

 

Sufferfest virtual cycling class video
Sufferfest. Winter cardio = sorted.

Right now I am loving Sufferfest targeted at cycling buffs who punch serious ks – but perfect for those of us wanting to take winter training up an average heart-rate bracket. You get all the fun of a spin class (darkened studio, power tunes), paired with awesome footage of some of the world’s toughest cycling races set against spectacular scenery. The challenge is to match your cadence to the rate shown on the screens, through changes in pace, resistance and gear.

A true test of your inner-beast, expect to feel a little unwell if you’re doing it properly, but the post-class endorphin high is well worth the sweat-lake under your bike. Download the videos to your ipad, or join a class if you’re lucky enough to have one near you. Complete with tongue-in-cheek Sufferfest ‘cult’ terms – participants are called “sufferfarians; and you can become a “knight” if you suffer through consecutive videos– it will definitely bust you out of the winter doldrums.

A weighted vest

This piece of equipment deserves a special little mention of its own (maybe with a little evil glint in my eye while I do 😉 ).

Humans move less in winter, fact. You’re far less likely to make righteous choices (like non-rockstar parks to get a few extra steps in) to add in incidental exercise. To counteract this, try adding a lightly weighted vest (you can get this 4.5kg one here, I’ve just bought one, stay tuned for a review.) to your hiit workouts or runs.

Look hot, stay warm

I’m on a permanent mission to add more colour into my life. I do think Australians are pretty conservative when it comes to injecting bright colours and patterns into fashion, home style, and activewear.

Push the boundaries, and add in some brights, like those below from Activewear Brazil below. Victoria Secret Sport also have some gorgeous bright tights and sports bras.

tropical activewear tights
‘Tropicala’ tights by Activewear Brazil. Photo via @activateliving

 

I’m still deciding which bright tights I’ll be treating myself to, let me know what you think! (stay tuned for a full post on,luscious winter activewear)

I would love to hear from you – did this post inspire you to get moving? What are your top tips for tackling winter fitness.

 

 

 

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A few years ago, I had a life-changing encounter with a Czechoslovakian chick.

Her name – Zuzka Light. But don’t be fooled by the name. She is not ‘lite’ in any way. She is Hardcore, and she claimed to only work out 15-20 minutes per day.

This  longtime distance running addict found that concept hard to believe; Largely because we’ve all had it drilled into us at some time or another that the only path to fitness nirvana is the tried and true beige-coloured cardio+weights programme. No beelines to hot booty.

But it turns out she Zuz was on-trend before her time, recording what later became known as HIIT* workouts long before gyms dedicated to this style started springing up, one giant bleeping digital clock at a time.

But while the initially renegade HIIT trend has spilled over into every mainstreet gym, I have not been able to find a really good summary of why it works which I can share with people who want to know. In less than a couple of minutes. So here goes my effort at a summary.

Using short (30 seconds to one minute) long bursts of intense (anaerobic) exercise, interspersed with 10-15 seconds rest, or simply going hard through a set of exercises as fast as you can in a set time (now commonly known as an AMRAP, widely used in CrossFit), you achieve the same results as an hour of weights at the gym (minus chit-chats, mid-workout shake-breaks or stopping for a selfie).

Given that this style of workout doesn’t require heavy weights – only your bodyweight plus minimal equipment of you have it (like a kettlebell, sandbag and some dumbells), how is this possible? Here are the three main reasons:

  • Intensity counts more than the length you workout: a properly done half hour HIIT session with weights can easily burn more than an hour-long run.
  • You burn more fat: you are working your muscles intensely at the same time as getting an intense cardio effect. Done properly, a HIIT workout should push your cardio boundaries into that place where you’re focused on sucking in enough O2 to get you through the next rep.
  • The burn keeps going: the reason why you burn more fat, faster, is also due to the “afterburn effect” – you’re metabolism remains elevated for hours after the workout, wheras with long cardio, it returns to normal pretty quickly.

All this would make you wonder why anyone would bother with long stretches of cardio.

Notsofast with ditching your longer, slower sessions. They still have many benefits, building your endurance, still burning fat, plus all the mental health benefits of being able to clear your head at the same time.

Plus, doing exercise that intensely everyday is a recipe for burnout.

Enjoy a paddle board on a Saturday, a bike ride, or active rest watching The Project on the cross-trainer.

For me, I still love my running, and in adding my morning HIIT sessions have found that they compliment each other – I am stronger up hills due to HIIT. In turn, the mental and physical endurance gained by long runs helps my brain endure a heavy HIIT session.

I would love to know, have you tried HIIT? Do you think it’s the ultimate workout, or do you still enjoy mixing it up? Comment below.

*high intensity interval training

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There is a wanderer in all of us.

As children, dusk playtimes are the dreamy backdrop allowing us to be whoever, and whatever we wish; creating stick(sword)-protected battleship forts in humid summer garages and quarter-acre plywood fence-framed Sherwood forests.

We can’t wait to be grownups – then we will be really truly free to be knights and ladies, princesses and pirates.

Then here we are. Crowns and armour greyed and sapped of sheen and use by fluorescent-lit cubicle mazes.

As children, we weren’t satisfied to step on grass and snow, or even smell it. In our mouths it went, full sensory overload the only satisfactory outcome.

But I have discovered there are means and ways for us to wander, pockets of time can be stolen back for adventures. Despite bills and washing piles.

We just need to take a good hard look at some of these Grown Up Rules.

No one said you have to go to bed after dinner-and-TV. No one said you can’t go outside with a sleeping bag and stare at those crazy stars. The same ones pirates would be looking at.

No one told you you can’t be Robin Hood; take someone who has no-one out for the day, for a walk in a park… or a local forest.

Feel the leaves crunch underfoot and sniff their strangely sweet perfume of decay.

There is no rule that says you can’t go on the swings after 12. Playground workouts are back.

And wear a tiara, in miniature on a pendant around your neck, or around your wrist, to remind you as you tap away, that you are a right royal wanderer, stealing time and dreams back like a little sword-wielding pirate.

And now, it’s over to you. How do you continue to be a childlike wander, in your everyday life? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy wandering, princesses and pirates.

 

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