Knuckling down

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 in Blog, Bondi Beach, Goals, Health, Life, Plans | No Comments

Yes, sorry folks, my blogs have been slowing down in frequency. You know when you can see light at the end of the tunnel and you’d just prefer to wait until you get there instead of fumbling around in the dark?

I have 4 more days left at my day job and last week I went off the rails a bit with writing, exercise, healthy eating and so forth. I thought I’d just wait until all the pesky working-for-somebody-else thing was over and done with before I got cracking on all my grand master plans.

But, as of yesterday, I realised that all the things that keep me sane, happy and healthy were the things I had given up. Why would I do that? Why stop jogging when it makes me feel so good? When did overeating ever work for me except in the very moment of stuffing my face?

What happens when I start dropping all my ‘good’ goals is my health starts to wane, my mood drops and my inspiration begins to fade. I’m at the point now (it only took 20 years or so) where I can recognise this change and jump back on board quickly.

So, there I was a few hours ago in the dark, quiet of the end-of-night (let’s not even pretend to call 5.30am ‘morning’) jogging along the promenade, wind in my hair, bounce in my step, lightness in my being and all was well. And it’s never more important to remember how good it all feels, how essential it is, to keep motivated and committed to your goals on the last day of summer.

Yes folks, tomorrow is Autumn and many people suffer a form of grievance. I am rejoicing! I love the coming of the cool, jeans, boots and coats, bright rustling leaves, the bailing of the Bondi backpacker, the snuggling in. And the knuckling down.

I couldn’t think of a better time of year to focus on a new life. I can’t wait to bunker down and snuggle into my new life. Just 4 more sleeps to go!

x Andy

Snuggling In

Kinda cruising

Posted by on Jan 21, 2011 in Blog, Health, Life, News & Events, Photography | One Comment

Well, I’m heading to the pointy end of preparations for the exhibition and, amazingly, all is well.

I’ve spent the greater part of the last 8 years (when motherhood was thrown into the mix) chasing my tail all day then falling into bed exhausted every night. This year I’ve been determined to be different: organised and focused, calm and centred, happy, healthy and seriously self satisfied.

I think I’ve discovered the secret. Planning and preparation! I know I know. It sounds so dull. But when you’re cruising instead of crazily flapping through each hour of every day, swallowing the boringly bitter pill of preparation becomes a happy habit.

Consider this. My son is on school holidays, I’m back at work, exercising every day (usually twice), eating well, sleeping the required number of hours and doing all the usual time-sucking chores of every day life. And on top of it all I’ve managed to pull together a massive solo photographic exhibition – without too much stress.

I’m ahead of schedule people. AHEAD of schedule. The artworks were meant to be delivered to the gallery on Saturday but they already have them in their hot little hands. I went out and saw a movie last night with my hubby, for crying out loud, instead of staying up frantic until 2am. (The Green Hornet, FYI, longish but fun).

Ok, there are a number of things on my To Do list but I have them covered. In fact I’m going to kick back with good friends and some fine wine tonight before getting stuck back into it tomorrow. And Sunday. But whatever – I’m working all weekend doing what I love. Happy days people. Happy days.

x Andy

Just Relax

Little slips

Posted by on Jan 12, 2011 in Blog, Health, Life | No Comments

I didn’t get to blog yesterday. In fact there were many things that didn’t quite go to plan.

First up I completely neglected to organise my child’s vacation care which lead to some desperate late night emails. I had a late night so slept in and didn’t go for my morning jog (because I was also disorganised and left my shoes at work).

The day continued along the same strain well into the afternoon but the great news is I didn’t panic. It’s of course fine to stray from your plans every now and again but just try to slip a little to the left instead of completely falling off the wagon.

I didn’t have my cleansing lemon juice in hot water but, hey, nor did I reach for an early morning tipple of chardonnay! I was too lazy to eat my usual healthy brekky of poached eggs, tomato and spinach but I had peanut butter on toast instead. But not Kraft crunchy – I at least reached for the organic, natural 100% peanut kind with the good fats. And peanuts are a legume for crying out loud – aren’t we all a little lacking in our legume consumption??

I also failed in my half hour lunchtime walk but I at least got outside for some fresh air, ate a healthy lunch and, if it hadn’t of been for the horrific car accident that occurred just metres from where I was sitting, I think my break would have been lovely and relaxing.

Are you getting me here? We all have bad days but try not to let them spiral down into I-couldn’t-help-but-eat-the-entire-cake-and-sit-on-the-couch-all-day variety. Just let things slip until you get back into your rhythm. Its probably even a good idea to ease up on yourself every now and again.

I got fully back into the swing of things late at night and ticked off quite a number of things on my exhibition To Do list. The bad news is I only had 5 hours of sleep, having to get up early to jog this morning. But it’s all relative. Many people in Queensland and other regions, including young children, spent the long dark night trapped on the roof of their houses, surrounded by swirling moats of death and destruction. I’m sure all our thoughts are with them.

x Andy

Floating Heart

Tears & tenacity

Posted by on Jan 9, 2011 in Blog, Health, Life | One Comment

And just when you think all is bouncing along beautifully the pressure builds slowly and, after the tiniest pin prick, your happy bubble bursts.

Yes folks, I’m not afraid to say I spent a solid amount of time alone with my salty tears on a gorgeous Saturday night whilst most of the town was out enjoying Sydney Festival First Night.

No need to start bringing around home-baked cupcakes to cheer me up though. All is well and I’ve come out firing on all four cylinders on this sunny Sunday. I’m generally an annoyingly positive person but I tend to suppress my stress and, mixed with a pathetic level of sensitivity, this can lead to tears and trouble at the slightest bump in the road. Do tell, you say?

Well, as Dan was helping put the final touches on my exhibition invite he asked a simple question to which I responded in a slightly flat and sarcastic tone. As we usually get along lovingly (revoltingly) well, Dan was a bit upset with my remark and (without me knowing it was pre-planned) went off to our friends house (in truth, it was to do an errand for me). And then went to check on his best friend currently in family crisis (which he rang to tell me).

Somehow, working alone at home, I interpreted this as being on the verge of divorce. A little dramatic I know. This prompted me to tears and I sulked off down to the beach and sat at the south end sobbing. I know I’m in trouble when my ‘heart tears’ start. The ones where I’m trying to suck air into my lungs, too quickly, too forcefully and WAY too dramatically. My strategy is to try and work these tears (and breath) down to my stomach where I begin to feel grounded and calm again. About a 10 minute process all up. While this ridiculous weepy workout is going on I’m dredging up all my fears, self-doubt and worthlessness. I’m going hammer and tongs with all the old chestnuts…’what’s the point of art?’, ‘why am I here on this planet anyway?’.

Eventually I pull myself together somewhat and walk along the sand for an hour so, only losing it in short, pathetic bursts now as I drag my sorry arse home. Dan is there waiting for me, worried (as I left my mobile at home), and after having another short spack attack and storming around for a bit I finally talk. After 15 minutes or so of simple explanations, confidence building and reinstating the reputation and importance and poor old art, we are all good again.

And the moral of the story folks?

Don’t forget to eat your dinner. Yep, especially if you’re a bit prone to hypoglycemia like me (ie. getting grumpy when you don’t eat). Eating dinner at 10pm is NOT OK. At times of pressure you need to take even greater care of yourself.

And of course it’s ok to have bouts of self-doubt, anxiety and a few tears when you’re only a couple of weeks again from a major life event. We all experience pressure. We learn from facing our fears. But dabbling in dilemma should only set you back temporarily. You should come out of these times fortified, refreshed and determined. I’ve had a fabulously productive (though puffy-eyed) day and look forward to updating you with details soon!

x Andy

Akira Cracks It

Getting out there

Posted by on Jan 6, 2011 in Blog, Health, Life | One Comment

What a very good morning!

As you know, part of my new health goals focus on fitness. I’ve always been active – when younger there was dancing, ice-skating, footy and cricket with my brothers, 80′s aerobics (yes, hot pink lycra tights and leg warmers), a bit of gymnastics and active participation in school sports.

But despite all this, these days I have a natural tendency to sit on my bountiful butt with a book rather than hit the gym. I’m not one of those crazily-coloured cycling types, nor someone who revels in group Saturday sports. I’m not a high metabolism, bouncy person exuding energy and spunk. Those who know me I think will agree I have more of a calm, cruising kind of vibe. And I’m pretty sure I don’t have a metabolism at all.

When the alarm starts to bleat at 5.25am my whole being screams nooooooo. But after a few minutes of rebellion I coach myself out of my blissful bed and into my exercise attire. And sometimes the struggle to get going is totally eclipsed by the glorious outcome. These are the mornings when it all comes together beautifully into some kind of exercise utopia. Let me explain what happened during my jog this morning.

Firstly, my son had a sleepover so I got an extra half hour of sleep. Oh happy days! Then miraculously my body got into it’s jogging rhythm immediately due in part I’m sure to Massive Attack’s Safe From Harm. Then, as I hit the north end of Bondi Beach the big-boat rowing boys began preparing for entry into the waves. Oh the JOY as 6 lean, bronzed men give themselves a high-wedgy exposing their wondrous, toned buttocks. This apparently has something to do with a less slippery or more comfortable seating position out on the high seas but I like to think of it as some peacock-like display for my personal viewing pleasure.

After a few, lingering deep breaths Prince fills my ears and gets me prancing down the promenade to the south end of the beach. As I begin my 10 minute stretch to the melodic Portishead, Ra the sun god lets loose with a stunning display of beaming rays. Then it’s time for my dreaded soft sand lap of the beach but Underworld kicks me into gear with Born Slippy and I’m beginning to think there’s some sort of divine intervention into my iPod shuffle function.

And then, could it be true, I’ve perfectly timed my return to the north end as the boat boys disembark, wedgies even higher if possible, and I’m suddenly skipping the last 50m stretch.

The moral of the story is, even if you don’t have a session filled with bare-bottomed beauty, top tunes and the magnificence of Mother Nature to enhance your workout, it is always worth the effort. It’s not so much the physical outcomes of getting out there but the wonders it does for your mood, confidence, attitude and general wellbeing. And research shows you continue to carry the benefits with you well into the day.

So peeps, get out there!  Hit the gym, the beach, the bags or, preferably, the north end of Bondi Beach at sunrise (trust me on this one).

x Andy

Bondi Beach Big Waves

Just desserts

Posted by on Jan 5, 2011 in Blog, Health, Life | One Comment

Today is the wedding anniversary for me and my man, Dan. We’ve been very happily married (truly) for 12 years and together for 14 which I think is quite an achievement. And what a perfect day to cogitate what happened last night when a well-scheduled night of working on my impending photo exhibition (more on that soon) turned into an impromptu dinner out with Dan and a friend, Nicola.

Not 24 hours ago I had the conversation with Dan re my new healthy eating plan. We’ve been through this before, I’m embarrassed to say how many times, where I ask for his support with getting through the tough times. Let’s call them the chocolate consumption challenges. Sometimes the sudden souffle seductions. Or the great tiramisu temptations. You get the picture. I love my desserts. I often eat them first so I’m not too full to savour the sweet moments.

I’d said to Dan that because of my magnificent levels of motivation there would not even be a need to assist or intervene this time round. But I was wrong of course. At my very first hurdle (divine dessert menu) I employed some very impressive marketing techniques and self-talk strategies to convince myself that the Meringue Nest  filled with Expresso Ice-cream, Sweet Peaches, Chocolate Sauce and Berry Coulis was somehow part of my healthy eating plan. Seriously folks. I truly believed my cunning, dessert-devil, self.

And then my beloved Dan stepped in. He just whispered a little question about what I was doing that burst my dessert bliss bubble. I struggled with myself. With him. I got angry (pitiful I know) and then I turned that anger into motivation. I almost spat at the waitress that I’d have a chamomile tea instead. And when I’d sipped the last of it I felt great. Really great. The tea was actually wonderfully tasty, soothing and cleansing but of course it was the small battle I’d won that was the sweetest part. Perhaps not quite as delicious as the chocolate fondue my friend had but the after-taste has been long lasting and I’m going to apply the same techniques tonight during our anniversary dinner at one of my fave Bondi restaurants. Which, come to think of it, offers one of my top three dining delights – their famous hot, rich, chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce, chocolate shavings and a quenelle of thick double cream.

Lucky my man will be by my side.

x Andy

Table Temptations


So far so good

Posted by on Jan 4, 2011 in Blog, Health, Life | One Comment

Well. Day one of the new year replete with the usual morning shenanigans of making lunches, work preparations and bad traffic (though, hallelujah, its still school holidays so not too bad yet).

I’ve been ticking daily goals off my to do list and it FEELS SO GOOD. Instead of just getting through the day in a whirlwind of What The??, I get to the end of the day with a list of tick-adorned accomplishments. Yay me for!

On the down side it was the first day I’d managed to get on my shiny new scales that not only tell me how much I (over)weigh but also how dismal my hydration levels are, high my body fat %, how lame my bone density is and how little muscle mass I have. They then tell me how many KJs I can eat a day to maintain this abysmal level of health. Oh, but I exaggerate (something I really took on after living in Ireland for a wee while). The good news is I’m really not far off ‘normal’ according to standard health measurements, the bad news being I’m going for that elusive ‘last few kilos’ that those in the same predicament will tell you is not easy. However, I’m totally committed (easy to spout off when you’re downing a yummy cappuccino – my one treat every day).

As my focus is trying to be real (even helpful or inspirational) through all this, I’d like to give you possibly my best tip of the year. Go to Aldi (yes, Aldi cheapskate shopping centre) and buy their bathroom scales. These are the ones that measure all the guff I’ve noted above and they only cost $20 (and are on sale for $14.99 at the moment). You may be thinking that at this price that must be el cheapo crap but Choice crunched the numbers and these came out on top (well, no.2 but the best but a slim margin were $170). I can only hope they weren’t made by poor slave children in some 3rd world country but, assuming this is not the case, it will be the best $15-20 you will spend this year if you are trying to get healthy.

Anyhoo, Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s off to work I go…

x Andy

Fiji Smile