I have had an interesting week here. Some high highs and some low lows. If you remember a few weeks ago I wrote about how I was less stressed after changing my work situation. Well I resigned from a job that was causing me a lot of stress and more than anything was having a huge impact on my confidence. I am a pretty confident guy and I was employed to do something that I knew a lot about. My performance however never met the demands placed on me. In fact I was constantly told what I was doing was wrong even though I was certain it was right. This went on for months and I knew that it had an impact on me. I knew that my confidence was shaken. I could see it at uni. With my degree a big component of our mark for each subject is class participation. I love the sound of my own voice and I also love public speaking. However from the start of this semester I was often too scared to speak up or give my opinion on things because I was worried about being told I was wrong. It is completely ridiculous. However, this week I got a real smack in the face about exactly how bad it was. For the first time in my university life I failed an assessment. This has literally never happened to me before. I am a kind of arrogant guy but it is something that I have never even really considered possible. It isn't even because of the subject being too hard. Not at all. It was just the timing of it. The assignment was submitted the Friday before I resigned from my job on the Monday....
I have now been out of the job for about a month and this week before I got the assessment back I was actually noticing that I was starting to speak up in class a bit more. I was getting through all my uni work and all my training and doing work comfortably and was finally starting to feel like myself a bit. The same thing happened with my training and racing last year after the dreaded Western Sydney 70.3 where I exploded. If you aren't aware of what happened read my race report here. For weeks after the race I was not training well and was scared to race. It wasn't until I went out and swam, biked and ran well that I got my groove back.
It is amazing how much external factors can impact on us and even more amazing how different people deal with things. I know for myself, when work was getting really bad I used my training as an escape. I would ramp up the intensity so I literally couldn't think about it. However now I am in the repair phase and instead of my training it is my study which I need to work on. Not because I am struggling academically, but because I am not the sort of person to fail. Now did I fail because I didn't understand what I was doing? Did I fail because I didn't put in the effort? Did I fail because I was distracted on other things? I am not entirely sure. I know that when I see what I submitted I am not happy with it myself. In fact I am disappointed that I submitted something of that standard. It would be like going out to race and walking the run. Not because I physically couldn't run but because I was too busy thinking of other things to focus on the race. I don't do things unless I give 100% to it. I am looking forward to building on this experience and making sure that I do not drop the ball again.
I am choosing to use this negative as an opportunity to grow rather than let it get me down too much. I like the idea of using an issue as an opportunity. Of making lemonade when you are given lemons. I am just over half way through my study and I think that can often be the hardest part. With my training, I am coming into cold, dark winter and it can be hard to maintain motivation and discipline. By being aware of what has been happening I am able to make the necessary adjustments to get back on track.
This is also the first week where I have been watching what I am eating. It is amazing how motivated I am not that I am being careful and tracking my food. I am hoping to maintain this motivation for the next 2 months. I also participated in my first ever park run yesterday in Sydney Park. I managed to do the 5km in 18:45 and there was a serious hill in the middle of it. I was happy with the race and it was just nice to go out and compete with others. As far as I was concerned there were only 2 people racing. My brother Luke and myself. I am not really competitive with others but man I am competitive with him. I was super happy to come in ahead of him but I was even happier to see him enjoying the race and starting to do more and more. I want him to do well. I just want to do better than him (I can't help it).
So I have some things to be working on this week. I mentioned that I was meant to be racing a triathlon this weekend. I noticed on Sunday last weekend that I had a little niggle in my leg so decided not to do it. I found out the swim was cancelled so I consider it a blessing that I decided not to race.
I am happy that I am starting to feel like myself again. I am also grateful for the lows that I have experienced this week. I really believe that if we have no lows we have nothing to compare the highs to. Onwards and upwards! There are big things to come!
Stay positive, train hard and remember to TRI!
Sorry about the mini-delay this week but I have been pretty busy with uni work and I also wrote my first article for news.maccax.com. So feel free to head there and have a read. For me the build up to Bintan is well and truly underway and I am starting to see some good improvements. Mostly in the pool at the moment and I think this will be important in Indonesia. What I really want to achieve is to make some serious gains in my running. It is going to be HOT in Indonesia and to make sure I have the best chance of success I want to try and get as lean as possible before the race. Now I am embarking on another 'weight-loss journey' of sorts. But this time it isn't about a number on a scale. It is about making myself as light as I can be so that I am able to deal with the heat as well as possible. So what I know from my experience, and I am sure it is the same for many others, is that the last 3-5kgs is often the hardest to lose. So that is what I am going to write about today. I would also ask if any of you reading this who have any good tips for losing the last few kgs please leave them in the comments section below.
I very comfortably sit between 77 and 79 kgs. If I back off my exercise I might go up to 81 or 82 and when I really ramp up the training I have gotten as low as 75. The lightest I ever got was last year after a 10 day camp at Thanyapura, Thailand. The heat definitely played a significant role and the cold weather here will not make it as easy. One thing that I do not focus enough on is my diet. While I do not eat terribly, there is room for improvement. Why have I focused on it so little? There are a few reasons. First, I love food. Pasta, rice and bread are probably my favourite things to eat and when I do eat them I eat a lot. Most nights when I get home I am bloody hungry which means that dinner is often my biggest meal of the day. Another reason why I have never focused too heavily on it is that there is literally too much information out there about what is right/wrong. Sugar, no sugar, carbs, no carbs, vegan, vegetarian, paleo. I study law, I do not have time to sit down and read about all of these different 'secrets to success'.
So how am I hoping to have success this time? I have given my wife an honorary position. She is the 'food police'. Dez has recently started paying attention to her portion sizes and without increasing her exercise has managed to drop some significant weight. So at night from when she walks in the door, she decides how much I get to eat. We do try to cook healthy food as much as possible and I eat vegetarian 5 days a week. So I am hoping that by making Dez serve me up smaller servings I might start to drop some weight myself. To double down the chances of success we are also going to start making less food with the idea that if there is less to eat I won't be tempted to go back for more. I am not sure what would be the ideal serving size for someone of my size would be but I will go and research after finishing this.
During the day I will be responsible for monitoring my food. It is hard at uni to try and find something that is both vegetarian and healthy. This is where I struggle the most so I will try and start taking some of my own things to eat. I could eat salad but quite frankly I hate salad as a meal. Again it is a work in progress and something I am hoping to learn about over the next few months and then try and share with all of you as well!
As far as my exercise is concerned I think it would be beneficial to try and include a weights session at least once a week. I usually like doing weight training but I find the fatigue has an impact on my tri training. The training volume is quite manageable at the moment but I am also aware that as we get into winter my immunity might suffer so I don't want to get sick or injured.
As I mentioned at the start this is something that I do not know enough about. I know that going from 85kgs to 80 is a lot easier for me than going from 80 to 75. So I will ask again, if you know of any good resources (that preferably aren't too long) please let me know.
Ill keep it quite short this week. I am racing next weekend so I will hopefully have something to share about it next week. I am also going to try and provide updates with how I am going with this for the next few months so I hope you all enjoy.
Train hard, stay safe and remember to TRI!
It's Friday, your friends invite you out for an after work drink. You don't really want to do it as you know you have other matters to attend to. You hear that voice inside your head saying "it is important to keep up appearances and be social". You agree to go for a drink. Your first instinct is to grab a cold beer but you are worried it will have an impact on your important objectives for the evening. Still it is necessary to be seen so you order a glass of soda water and lime. At least they see you with a drink in your hand. You can feel the itch of the costume under your work clothes, pressed hard against your skin. How long do I have to stay for? There are some serious matters for me to deal with tonight. You engage in small talk, not really paying too much attention to what is being said. Your mind is on the task ahead. As soon as it is possible you slip away. Sometimes you do this quietly, other times you say goodbye. Its time to get serious. You are alone. You gather your things. You rip off your work clothes and reveal your uniform underneath. At last! You are free, free from wearing a mask that you wear around people. Free to be yourself. You feel that anticipation that comes right before you do something that you know is going to hurt. Your heart rate picks up a bit. It is time. You start your Friday night workout.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a superhero. All of those who know me will know that I have a slight obsession with Superman. So it should not be a big surprise that I like to think of being fit and healthy as similar to the lifestyle of a superhero. What do I mean? We spend most of our time wearing tights, we are awake when most of our friends are asleep and then we are tired during the day while other people are wide awake. We don't drink as much as some of our friends and we are often leaving parties or the pub early. I think that sounds like the lifestyle of a superhero. I am not saying that there is anything super about it. But I am often surprised by how impressed other people are that I am able to maintain my training with all the other demands that life throws at me. This has become much easier for me in the last month as I have reduced my working hours and am instead focusing on my law degree. However, I still spent two years working, studying and training for triathlon. It can be done.
I understand how hard it can be for people. We work all day, hard. When we finish the last thing we want to do is go to the gym. A great trainer I know called Andrew Read explained that stress can be just as draining on the body as physical exercise and he is absolutely right. There is nothing worse than trying to fit in quality training when you are stressed or exhausted.
So what do I do? One of the things that I think has enabled me to train effectively with all the demands that I have is my time management. I have incredibly strict 'life rules' which I follow. For example I do not do any study after 6pm. I also try and minimise travel. If I have a swim and bike session the same day that I am at uni I will normally take my swim stuff to uni with me and swim on my lunch break and then have my bike gear ready to go so I can grab it quickly or have the trainer set up so I can jump right on it. In fact I rarely don't have training gear in my bag. I try to manage all my training while my wife is at work or at the gym herself or out with friends. By doing this I manage to stay married by avoiding hours away from her when I don't need to be. As for uni work I try and get that done either on the train or in the early morning. I am an early riser but I don't like to train in the morning so instead I use the time to get my school work done.
I often miss out on some things that I would like to do like have beers with mates or go out for dinner. But it is a sacrifice that I am happy to make because it enables me to maintain the healthy active lifestyle that I live. I saw a great quote once that said 'I don't have time is the grown up version of the dog ate my homework'. So next time you want to start getting a bit more active take some time to stop and think about what is it that takes up all of your time. Is there nothing you are able to sacrifice to fit in some exercise? Maybe you too could start sneaking away from Friday drinks for a quick gym session instead of downing a few beers. Try being like Batman and leading a double life. I promise you don't even need to wear lycra if you don't want! It isn't that hard once you get the hang of it and it is amazing how impressed other people are.
Onto my training. I had a mini breakthrough this week with my running. I found a different way of running/got the hang of the mid foot strike and saw a he improvement in my pace. I am going to have to work on it though as my calves are a bit sore. But if I can master it I expect to see some big improvements in my run splits. Other wise I am still working towards Bintan and will also do a little Olympic Distance race in a few weeks as well. A huge congratulations to everyone who completed Iron Man Australia over the weekend and it was great to see Sam Appleton beat an impressive field at Busselton 70.3 for another win this year. Sam does a great blog of his races which I will like here. Check him out on Social Media and give him a like/follow.
Have a good weekend of solid training everyone and remember to TRI!
Thanks to everyone who shared their stories with me last week. I am happy to say that I am back to feeling 100% again and am back in the swing of things.
I saw a friend of mine put a post up yesterday about how despite losing a lot of weight (over 40kgs) they still look in the mirror and feel disappointed. Man, this struck a chord with me as it is a feeling that I know only too well. So I thought I would deal with what I think is a very serious issue this week. Now I have written in the past about not worrying about the number on the scales and that there are better measurements of fitness. This however is more to do with self-image and the tricks that your mind plays on you. As always, I am no expert, I am simply writing based on my own experiences (you would think I was a law student or something).
When I was going through my weight loss it was very difficult to notice it. Yes my clothes stopped fitting and I had people telling me that I was getting skinnier. But when I looked in the mirror I couldn't see it. It wasn't until my clothes arrived from Australia and literally nothing fit me that it sunk in that I had changed my body. Even today, I still look in the mirror and see my faults, not my successes. My wife tells me I am being ridiculous and I think I know that I am. But what can I say? It is hard not to see your own faults. I mean, if I have a big weekend of eating and drinking I am convinced that I am going to put all my weight back on. It is absurd. I know it is irrational, people tell me it is ridiculous, but it is a fear that I have. I am happy to admit it. I am terrified of putting all the weight I lost back on. It is one of the things that motivates me to train the way that I do. Do I overdo it? Yes, I think sometimes I do. Is it healthy to train too much? No, I don't think that it is.
I will say to anyone that asks me, you can't go through a massive physical change without there being some psychological issues to deal with. It is hard to look at yourself in a new way. I mean if you have spent years staring in the mirror and HATING what you see it isn't simple to just stop. This is seriously dangerous. While I do not think that I am on an extreme end of the spectrum I know that if I was a different person it could lead to some serious issues like eating disorders or other addictions. I see people from both ends of the spectrum do it. Whether you were overweight or maybe you did have an eating disorder, you come to a sport like triathlon, which is extreme, and you go hard. I think many people simply exchange on addiction for another.
That is why I think it is important that we are able to talk about this stuff. Not only to your friends and family. If you are someone who is going through a hard time, be it after losing weight, or being too skinny or even because you think you are fat, do not be afraid to ask for help. See a professional. I think there is a certain stigmatism around seeking professional help. To demonstrate hoe important this is, I will admit to you all that I have had counselling several times in my life. I am not saying this to try and get sympathy or anything. Instead I want people to be comfortable with the prospect of doing it themselves. I do not tell people this about myself and I have just told a lot of people I know and a lot of people I don't know this about me.
Even if you don't want to see a professional talk to your friends and family. Make sure you have a strong support network around you. You would probably be surprised but these people are often worried about you too. My Mum is constantly obsessing that I am not eating enough (until she sees me eat). I even had a girl I used to coach tell me she was worried that I had an eating disorder. By opening up to these people about your body image issues you include them in the process and are able to get the support you need.
I know this is a very serious issue and I am not really someone who has the right to tell people to go seek psychological help. But I am someone who has dealt and is dealing with facing my demons every single fucking time I look in the mirror. I do not want this to be something that people are embarrassed about or ashamed to admit. I mean honestly, even if you want to anonymously reach out to me I am happy to help. Because this is an incredibly serious issue that I feel needs to be addressed. No one liked to talk about mental health. I don't like to talk about it either. But maybe by starting we can stop people from feeling depressed and alone, from hurting themselves or pushing themselves to the extreme. Maybe by starting a conversation about this we are able to promote a healthy lifestyle with balance?
One of the things I love the most about triathlon is that it is the most inclusive sport I have ever participated in. With the exception of a guy trying to rape my leg in a swim one (not really, he just got a bit rough and I kicked him in the chest) there is little to no animosity. People want each other to succeed. It is something I have never experienced in any other sport I have played. Lets incorporate that aspect of inclusiveness into our everyday lives. Lets deal with the issues that people are embarrassed or scared to admit. Lets deal with the elephant in the room. Body image can be one of the most horrible issues to deal with. So lets deal with it together.
So sorry this week is a bit deep. But it is something that I feel very strongly about. As to my training, I have been training really well this week and I am meant to be doing a 10km running race tomorrow. I am hoping to set a new PB for 10kms however while I am writing this it is pretty wet and I am not so sure whether I want to do it in the rain. I am also sad to hear that Challenge Gold Coast has been cancelled. It sounded like it was going to be a great race again this year.
Anyway thats enough for today. Stay safe, talk to each other 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.