Where Are You Motivation?
It has been a miserable week here in Sydney with the sun only just appearing today. It has made training very difficult. Couple that with an unusual lack of motivation and this week has been less than ideal. I am usually a pretty motivated guy and now that my work/life/study balance is a lot better I have expected to be able to start putting in some really good training. Ever since last week I have been feeling off. Not only with my tri training but also when I played soccer on the weekend. It took me a good 20 minutes to get my head into the match which is not usually an issue for me. So how can I deal with this lack of motivation to get myself back on track?
I am sure at the moment that I am not stressed. I am also sure that my body is not too physically fatigued either. Instead I am just not really interested in much at the moment. I went to a football game the other night and hardly paid any attention to it. The same thing goes for university. I am just going through the motions at the moment. I am trying to work on all the things that I can control like my diet, alcohol consumption and rest. I realise how important what I put into my body is to maintain my performance. Maybe it is the change of seasons or maybe it is just this crazy wet weather we have been experiencing.
Yesterday I had the privilege of being interviewed by a great guy I know called Nick for his podcast. Nick has recently written a book with the help of Joanne Baxas called The Macca Model. It is a cheap book to buy and all money from its sale goes to charity so grab it if you can. Well during the interview we focused on three aspects: Mind, body and soul. He also explained to me how much my journey has meant to him as well as others. It is funny but when you are living it you don't always realise the impact you can have on people. It made me realise that the people who read this blog or follow me on Instagram have been reaching out to me to tell me how I have had an impact on them. It left me speechless when it was all laid out like that in front of me. It helped me to get a little motivated again. It also made me think about the people that motivate and inspire me.
So that is what I want to do. I want to single out some of the people that make me want to keep moving forward. People that have motivated me. I apologise in advance as I am no doubt going to miss people but in no particular order let's begin. Firstly my brother Luke. He always said he wanted to be a pilot. I never ever ever thought that he would actually get through the degree let alone get a job. He is now a First Officer with QANTAS. Luke's ability to chase his dreams inspired me to apply for law school. He is also probably the only person that I am truly competitive with. He brings out that desire to constantly improve myself. My wife has an amazing work ethic. She puts her heart and soul into her work. She not only gives it 100% but loves what she does. I love to think about this when I am not enjoying my training. I remember to give it 100% and to remember that I do this for fun. There are so many members of my race team Team MaccaX that motivate me on a daily basis. Their stories from racing and training and facing adversary are a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me. There is my friend Rob, but I talked enough about him last week so Ill just name him and move on. There are of course the people like Chris McCormack, Chrissie Wellington, James Cracknell and Lance Armstrong that have motivated me to improve over the years but I reckon most people would find these people pretty motivating.
But the people that I am sourcing the most motivation from these days are those people who are right now acknowledging there is something in their life which they are unhappy with and are trying to make a change. I have now been with several friends when they complete their first race or go for their first run and have people share their story with me or ask for advice. It has a huge impact on me and makes me want to keep doing what I am doing. As I spoke about last week, it takes incredible courage to identify things you are doing wrong and even more to make a change. So please, keep it coming. Continue to share your stories with me and with everyone in your circle, who knows, you may motivate someone else too.
Sorry this week it is a little all over the place. As I have said, I am not really with it this week. But maybe you can help. Share with me a story that motivates you or someone you know. Ill keep plugging away. My training is really starting to get focused on preparing me for the big races I have coming up this year.
Train hard, stay motivated and remember to TRI!!!
The Power of Yes
I recently left a job that was causing me a lot of anxiety and stress and when I posted the update on my LinkedIn profile with this website as my 'job' someone commented that I must often say 'yes'. I had never really thought about this until that point. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I have said yes to some strange or unusual things in the past which has brought me to where I am today. I also started to realise how often I hear people say no. So I wanted to write today about why saying yes can be scary but also can lead to things you never thought possible.
When you are faced with a challenging or difficult situation I think that many of us instinctively try to protect ourselves. We do this by avoiding tough decisions by saying "I don't know" or my stepping away from challenges by saying "I can't do that". I know I still do this sometimes and I know that my wife is an expert at saying "I don't know" when I ask her what she wants for dinner. When I was overweight I gave up on my fitness. I used to rationalise my weight by saying as long as I'm under 100kgs, as long as I'm under 110kgs and I eventually stopped weighing myself all together. I have always considered myself a pretty brave guy. I mean if I went to Hogwarts I would be in Gryffindor for sure! But now when I look back my rationalisations and deferrals meant that I was not being brave. I chose to ignore my own personal issues rather than face them head on. Why did I, like so many other people do that? Because it is easy. It can be easy to say no to things. To never leave your comfort zone. If you are like that there is nothing wrong with that either. I have my own comforts that even now I will not change. But I now realise there was a definitive point when I started to say 'yes. I know you are all probably familiar with my story now but it was saying yes that has made all the difference.
When I was 23 a bloke came into my life that would literally change it forever. He is pretty much the most British man alive. He came from the UK to work at the same hotel as me in Sydney. His name is Robert Woolley. This bloke is your typical English gentleman so naturally I found him a bit weird. But it turned out that we actually lived in the building next door to each other. So we started walking home from work together. As I got to know Rob, he started telling me about how he was going to Canberra to race a half-ironman so he could do a full one the next year. When he told me what it entailed I literally laughed at him. "Why the hell would you want to do that?". Come January and my 24th birthday, Rob had an idea. He wanted to sign me up for a triathlon for my birthday present. I accepted.
After I did that first race there was a shift in my focus. When an opportunity presented itself, I found myself saying yes a lot more often. Now this wasn't a conscious decision. It is just something I know realise in retrospect I had started to do. The biggest shift however came after I had been though my massive weight-loss and completed my first half-ironman. After losing as much weight as I did, most of it in the middle of Norwegian Winter, other things in my life seemed either easy or obtainable. I decided to apply for a law degree. This was something that I had wanted to study since I was a boy. It would also be the third time that I applied. To this day, the night I got my letter of acceptance is one of the happiest moments of my life. We moved back from overseas and purchased an apartment to live in. Off I went to law school and that is what I am currently studying. I have and still do suffer from anxieties and fears about not being smart enough to study law. But as I said, I know that compared to what I have been through in the past it is not that bad.
Since moving back to Australia I have continued to set myself challenges. Some of those challenges I have failed at and others I am still working towards. I am not afraid to take up the challenge anymore, I believe that I will get there. I am not afraid to say 'yes'.
I know that many people who want to lose weight probably hit the same point as me where I decided that there was nothing I could do about it. But I want to tell you all that it isn't true. You can make a change. You can start to say yes to those things that might scare you or push you outside of your comfort zone. Give it a try, who knows what you will find once you start to say yes too? By saying yes to things I have ended up somewhere I never thought I would be able to go. I am so much happier than I ever was before. It isn't easy, it isn't simple, but if it was it wouldn't be worth it.
So thank you to Don for commenting on my LinkedIn update because you made me realise just how important saying yes has been to me. Those three letters have changed my life forever!
Thanks for reading, have a crack and remember to TRI!!!
The F Word
One of the most common questions that I get asked when people want to know about my weight loss is whether I went on a crazy strict diet or if I made any drastic changes. I also find people are curious to see what I eat when I eat with them. There is literally too much information out there about food and I am seriously confused by it all. I need to start by saying that I love food ALOT. I mean I was pretty big, that didn't happen because I starved myself. I am also no nutritionist. I can not and will not tell people what to eat. I do make suggestions for things to avoid (sugar, it is evil) but now that we have gotten that out of the way I want to talk about why Food is the F word that people love to talk about and the F word that many people struggle to come to terms with.
When I started to lose weight I did not make any significant changes to my diet. I started training and noticed that the weight would fall off. I actually thought that I had finally cracked the code of weight loss and it was going to be easy. It lasted for about a month before my weight loss plateaued and I realised I would have to make some changes. Allow me to paint you a word picture of what my diet used to be like. Weekdays was usually no breakfast, sometimes a ham and cheese croissant or a bacon egg roll, 3-4 large soy flat whites a day, a schnitzel roll or a plate of pasta for lunch and the dinner was pretty much always take away (lots of it). I used to go through a case of beer a week too. Weekends I would always go the big breakfast and probably throw in another meal either chips at the pub or share a pizza while watching the footy. I drank a lot and I was actually proud of my ability to eat all of my food and then most of everyone else's as well. When I started working out regularly I just kept doing the same thing.
Once I was having success only to have it stop I realised that maybe it was time to make adjustments to what I was eating. I found that there was a really great recipe section on Livestrong.com so me and Dez decided that we were going to start cooking more and watch what we ate a bit more too. As I mentioned before, I love food and at this point I did not eat vegetables at all (except chips). I didn't know anything about nutrition or calories but had seen a recommended daily calorie amount. So I set the search paramaters to low fat and set an upper limit of 500 calories per serve for my dinner. For breakfast I started to have a slice of bread with ham or maybe a bowl of cereal and one coffee. Lunch was often a couple of small chicken rolls I would put together myself. Off I went. It was hard. Really really hard. I decided that I was going to stop eating 'bad food' like burgers, pizza, all my favourites. I was working out twice a day and I was hungry. I became cranky at first and had many many mental struggles with myself to stick to it. This is something that I can still struggle with today. But it got easier.
Now as I have said, I never give nutritional advice. But why I think I was able to manage my new way of eating was because I never considered it a diet. There was no end date, no 16 week limit. I wanted to change how I ate forever. I once saw an interview with a nutrionist and she said the best guide to a diet was if you can see yourself doing it for the rest of your life then you will likely be successful with it. I am not saying that a trendy dinosaur diet or a diet where you drink juice or only eat 5 days a week won't work. I am saying that I believe you will be a nicer, healthier person if you do something that is sustainable for a long time.
So we went on our new food journey and I lost a lot of weight. It was then that I started to train for sport. Training for sport and training for weight loss are completely different. When you do the volume and intensity of training required to compete for endurance sports you may struggle with a limited diet. I however was ignorant and paranoid. Food had this hold over me. If I ate something I knew I shouldn't I would be moody and depressed. It still happens sometimes but not as bad anymore. So I was eating my normal diet but training a lot more (not necessarily volume but intensity and almost exclusively cardio) and I was getting tired and lethargic. I started looking on the internet and there was so much information. One of the constant threads was to eat a balanced diet, get your servings of vegetables. At this time I was watching River Cottage, a UK series about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his adventures as a self-sufficient farmer. One of his series he went vegetarian for 3 months. I was intrigued and I knew I needed to eat more veggies. I sat Dez down and suggested we go vegetarian for a month. I know I married the right woman because instead of laughing at her carnivorous husband she agreed on the spot.
Our vegetarian adventure began. Like with any change to your diet it was hard to begin with. I struggled to feel full and struggled to find good recipes. I love cooking but I had almost no idea how to cook vegetables well. We persevered and discovered some great meals. Amazingly, I started to feel good. I wasn't as fatigued and I was training well. At the end of the month I was excited because I now named some vegetables as my favourite foods, I was energetic and in the process I had dropped about 5kgs. I went back to eating meat, but I started eating more and more vegetables. Currently I eat vegetarian Monday to Friday and then go back to meat on weekends. I won't get into the ethical issues of why I do this but I find it is a good balance for me. I like doing it and I think that is why it easy for me to do it. I don't think I could go vegetarian all the time and I know there are many plant based people who would disagree with me that I could. I simply am not that interested in it to devote that much time to it and I really like eating meat. I also eat meat during the week when I go out for dinner with friends or something. I don't want to be difficult for my friends as it can often be when dieting.
So this has become a lot longer than I meant it to be. The point that I want to make is that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to food. The human body is an incredible thing. It will adapt. I stand by the advice that if you can do it forever you will be successful and I admit that i do not like 'fad' diets. But I will never tell someone they are wrong for doing it. I quite simply am not qualified to do so. What I do with my clients though is make them keep a food journal for me. I make them tell me everything that they eat to make them accountable and play on their guilt a little bit. If they have to tell me that they ate a doughnut when they shouldn't have maybe they will avoid it.
I think that if you are going to try a major shift in your diet you should seek professional advice first. I also think that food is on off the best things in the world. I love eating and I love talking about food. But when you start talking about food in this way people start to get cranky and it is why I call it 'The F Word'. It is almost like religion and politics these days. Instead, lets create an open dialogue about food and accept that everyone is different. Not preach to people or get angry at them because they do something different. Food is meant to bring people together not separate them.
So this weekend, talk to a friend, family member or neighbour about food. If you are vegan talk to a meat eater and do it without an agenda. Lets make food fun again. Im going to go now and have a snack before I go to bed.
Stay safe, eat with friends and remember to TRI!
Ok so this is the latest in the week that I have written my blog but I promise I will do it on Sunday again this week. So for that reason I will keep this one nice and short. In Australia we are in Autumn and it is starting to cool down a little. Unlike the two years that I spent living in Norway there isn't a huge amount of difference between the seasons. I mean it does get cold but we don't have to worry about snow or ice or any of that ridiculousness you deal with in other parts of the world. I am just a bit soft and find it hard to get into the pool when the weather gets to single digits. So I always think of Winter as a good opportunity to mix up your training a little bit.
As a triathlete I suppose that I am quite lucky that I get to focus on three different sports instead of just one. I however, like any other competitor, like to try something different. For me I play soccer during winter. I have played soccer for most of my life. It was the first team sport that my parents signed me up for. Now before I go on I have a confession to make. I am a terrible soccer player. Not the worst in the world, but for someone who has played the sport since they were 5 I should be a lot better. But that is besides the point. I think soccer is a great opportunity for me to be a bit more social with my sport. Hang out with a great bunch of blokes and I think that the sprinting nature of running actually benefits my triathlon running at the same time.
There are some set backs to this as well. In 2013 when I had moved back to Australia I has spent the better part of 6 months preparing for Cairns 70.3. I had raced my second 70.3 in Canberra and gone 4:53 so I thought I would aim for a 4:45 at Cairns. So I went into Winter and was about 3/4 of the way through the season and about 3 weeks out from the race when I got taken out from behind. I went down hard and landed hard on my ribs. Yep you guessed it, I busted 2 ribs. I couldn't run, could barely run and don't even ask about swimming. I decided to just leave it and hope things would be ok on race day. Long story short was that I got the race done, but I could barely run as I had a stitch and couldn't breath it out.
I went into the 2013 soccer season being able to hold 5:00 pace and came out the other side being able to 4:45 pace. I am now in my third season since moving back to Australia and I still love the variation in my training. I still do my regular triathlon training throughout Winter but just take out some sessions for soccer training and games.
So whether you are a runner or a triathlete or just trying to get in shape why not try mixing up your training a little bit? If you train alone, why not try a team sport? If you play team sport maybe head to the gym to do some strength work that might improve your performance.
Anyway I hope you all enjoy your Easter weekend. Don't eat too much chocolate but feel free to relax a little if you want to. We can't be good all the time.
Happy Easter, get some training done and remember to TRI!!!
I lost 50kgs though triathlon and completed the 2016 70.3 World Championships. Aiming to hit 4:05 for a 70.3, the same time it took me to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I want to bring as many new people to the sport as possible. Whether you are fit and active or want to make positive changes to your life.