MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 78, November 2017

On Monday morning, I had my RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. With the recent opening of Bunjil Place, there has been a significant increase in car parking issues as the City of Casey haven’t allowed additional spaces in the area. However, I was really lucky to get one this morning. It’s pretty much become a waiting game and it will only get worse in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. Let’s hope that the council acts on the issue and fast.

This morning’s class was really enjoyable. It was faciliated by a fitness instructor named Shell who was really bubbly, positive and entertaining. We did quite an older release with songs including Bruno Mars’ Treasure, Rihanna’s Diamonds and The Madden Brothers’ We Are Done. I really gave it everything this morning, pushing the resistance up to 40-47% at times and burning just over 500 cals. I could feel my knees, thighs, hips and glutes all working hard throughout the class with Shell talking about muscle recruitment and flushing lactic acid out from the legs (Biology 101 everyone :P). https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Monday night, I did my first group Weight Lifting class with Abhishek Ashokkumar at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. Of course being my first class, I was presented with several mental barriers: meeting new people, performing a new movement, training with a new PT. The key word obviously being “new”. I really needed to cut myself some slack, be kind to myself and acknowledge that it’s okay to be nervous, shy, socially awkward, make mistakes…basically it’s okay be vulnerable and be myself around other people.

Thankfully, it was only a small group of four people: Ashu SharmaEmma McfarlaneRebecca Thomas and myself. Obviously there were already established social connections within the group. Even before the class began they were cracking jokes and this helped to ease the tension a little. Still, it’s always been my biggest challenge in social situations; feeling like I’m a part of the group. But again being my first class, this expectation is unrealistic.

Tonight we worked on doing cleans. I was literally in the deep end here however I was determined and willing to give it a go. We warmed up by doing some deadball clean lifts. I managed to do 20 reps at 30kg which is a pretty awesome achievement considering I haven’t really done much strength training at all in the past couple of weeks. Next we set the bars up to do our cleans. https://www.bodybuilding.com/exerci…

Abhi made it easier by breaking the movement down into smaller components:    1. Start by standing in a wide stance and lowering down into a squat position.      2. Next lift the bar up and over the knees/thighs, thrusting the hips back and bouncing the bar forwards, jumping from the heels.                                                3. Lift the bar quickly upwards and catch the bar onto the collar bone/shoulders, supporting the bar underneath with your forearms.

It’s a very complicated movement but with practice, I know eventually I will get the technique right and be able to perform them. Right now I managed to put an extra 10kg on the bar and lift it up to my shoulders. For someone who’s never done cleans before, it’s an achievement that I can be proud of. I did have some performance anxiety and self-consciousness at times but for the most part, I think I did pretty well to remain calm and focused. https://www.facebook.com/silverback…

On Tuesday night, I went to the Reclaim Your Body seminar held in the training room at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. The one-hour seminar hosted by Craig started off like any other presentation or lecture and then turned more or less into something of a physio session. He highlighted the fact that abdominal breathing is really important for adequate sleep, brain function and body movement.

We went through several mobility and range of movement tests involving hamstring flexibility, squat depth and lifting through the glutes. Lying down on the yoga mats, we each gave rubbed into several areas including the ribs. sternum, base of the skull and along the jawline as these generally hold the most tension and tightness. Whilst massaging into these points, we had to breathe deeply and continuously into the diaphragm.

The improvements were felt pretty much immediately with a reduction in soreness and greater ease of movement. I did feel slightly light-headed when I sat up and walked around the room but this eventually subsided. Craig was very hands on and informative with each of us and I certainly gained benefits from what he taught us tonight. https://www.facebook.com/ReclaimYB/

On Friday afternoon, I went to the Mind Body Spirit festival with Amy Amy held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) in Southbank. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling particularly mindful (excuse the pun!) going to the MBS festival today as I’ve been dealing with a lot of mental and emotional issues lately plus feeling stressed and pressured at work, feeling indecisive about where my life is heading and what I’m doing. But I’m still glad I made the effort to come out as it was a good excuse to catch up with Amy.

I always find these types of festivals and conventions draining and over-stimulating but like anything in life, you have to take the good with the bad. As always, I was deliberately being guarded and avoiding eye contact passing by all the stalls. I just find it really difficult to trust salespeople in particular who try to pressure me into buying something. No thank you! Plus being broke and in debt doesn’t help either so I really couldn’t afford to buy anything today even if I wanted to. http://www.mbsfestival.com.au/melbo…

Amy and I started off by doing the 10 minute introductory guided meditation with Brahma Kumaris. I recognised the facilitator named Angie who ran the Foundation Meditation course I was attending at Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning, The Peninsula earlier this year. I ended up not continuing with it as I didn’t feel comfortable with some of the philosophies she was teaching. However, I did the meditation mainly for Amy’s sake as she hadn’t been practicing it much.

The one positive that I gained from the MBS festival this time around was a seminar by Julie Rennie, talking about her self-love toolkit and being able to release inner demons from deep within us. She also talked about the importance of clearing negative thoughts, judgements and emotions so that universal love can flow more freely within ourselves.

Not surprisingly, she was also trying to sell her book for $25. But I felt very strong and assertive today, walking away from something I don’t really need. The talk however was very insightful and reminded me of the things I need to work more on…self-belief, self-acceptance, being more patient, being kind and gentle with myself.     https://julierennie.com/

On Friday night, I attended my Vinyasa Yoga class with Jade at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I was so grateful for tonight’s class as I was in desperate need of reconnection with myself and my body after burning myself out this week. My mind was cluttered with negative emotions and I could feel how tense I was in my neck, shoulders and head so this was exactly what I needed to do tonight.

We started by doing some warm-up flowing sequences (Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Cobra,  DFD, Low Lunge, Side Angle Pose) as well as strength and balancing poses (Cat-Cow pose, Arm and Leg balance, Knee to Nose pose, Boat pose, Plow pose, Shoulder stand). I honestly did what I could tonight. Some poses were just far too difficult for me in terms of flexibility and soreness (Heron pose, Noose pose, Half Lord of the Fishes pose) but everyone else was in the same boat.

During the final relaxation pose, Jade was using a Tibetan singing bowl which is made out of hammered brass and a wooden handle is used to create the sound and vibrations. It is quite calming to listen to, clearing the mind of negative thoughts and inducing a peaceful mental state. She also used a high pitched chime to bring us back out of the meditation.  http://www.yogayoga.com/Singing-Bow…

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 77, November 2017

“Watch what you eat and what you drink, your health depends on it. Watch what you think and what you feel, your heart gets filled with it. Be wise, don’t make yourself sick.”           The Oracle (2017)

On Monday afternoon, I spent the day down in Sassafras, located in the Dandenong Ranges. Of course, being the Melbourne Cup long weekend, the roads were busier than usual today and finding a parking spot was a pain in the ass. I also struggle to adjust to driving around windy roads, hairpins and steeply inclined sections but I just paced myself through it and eventually made it to Sassafras. https://visitdandenongranges.com.au/…

We had lunch together at a beautiful restaurant called Fortnums Restaurant and Reception Venue. The venue features a large open dining space with Old English-styled observatory windows and doors looking out into the gardens and surrounding forest. There was also a bird feeding area where you could see native birds such as white cockatoos, rosallas and common blackbirds all swooping in for a feed. I ordered the sensational hot potato with a side salad. I’d highly recommend it. http://www.fortnums.com.au/

We also visited a few of the shops along Mount Dandenong Tourist Road including the Chojo Feature Trees Bonsai Nursery, the Bluestone Candle Shop and Oracle Of Sassafras. The weather quickly turned during my visit, supplying a cold misty atmosphere overhead, so it was a great day to go gift shopping. It was slightly overwhelming taking all the products in but it certainly gave me plenty of ideas. I absolutely love homewares and cosmetics such as candles, diffusers, room sprays, humidifiers, hand creams, glass lamps, soaps and aromatherapy oils. https://www.facebook.com/Bluestone-…

On Monday night, I went to my Water Workout class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. Tonight we had a younger female instructor running the class and she certainly brought things up a few levels. We spent half of it doing dynamic movements around the edge of the pool in a rectangle including running, skiing, rock n’ roll, rocking chair and baby crawl. We had to change direction a few times which increased the resistance through the water. Certainly some great exercises for mobility and endurance.

The other half was done using the underwater dumbbells. I was really struggling to hold my body weight up at times but I did what I could. We had to do as many reps as possible in one minute such as high knees, forward and side kicks and alternating arm raisers whilst jogging on the spot. It was good to see the instructor changing up the structure of the class and making it a bit more challenging and interesting. https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/a…

On Tuesday morning, I went to my Pilates Mat class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. I was really surprised to see a full class today considering it was a public holiday and a lot of people would be either going out to The Races, working or spending time with family. I found myself in neither category so I thought I’d do a group fitness class instead. Once again, Anita was instructing the class and her sarcastic sense-of-humour was firing on all cylinders this morning. https://www.localfitness.com.au/cas…

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done any sort of core exercise but I was determined to put in 110% effort today. We started by doing the usual slow, controlled movements holding the chi ball and drawing shapes with our feet extended out. The hardest part of the class involved doing table top toe taps, straight leg lowering with double pulses and criss-crosses. My core muscles were very much on fire here but I feel like I’m improving a bit more each time I do Pilates. http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/fitne…

Even before there was more awareness raised around the animal cruelty of racing horses, I was never really interested in the Melbourne Cup or horse racing in general. I just see the public holiday as an excuse to wear an expensive designer outfit with a fascinator, randomly place bets on a horse, have a “fun” day out and basically get wasted. Personally, I really don’t get it. I truly think that it’s a waste of time, money and lives.

But aside from that, I find the behaviour of the bookies and betting agencies (Crownbet, Sportsbet, Ladbrokes etc) to be really disgusting in trying to promote The Cup and manipulate punters to think that there’s nothing wrong with having a bet. It’s such a greedy, selfish and careless industry that cares more about making money than the treatment of horses! http://www.animalsaustralia.org/iss…

On Tuesday night, I ended up going out to the movies to see JIGSAW, the latest film in the Saw franchise at Village Cinemas Fountain Gate Vmax. Honestly, I was feeling pretty low and depressed most of the afternoon. I was bed-bound with the lights off and curtains drawn. I literally had no motivation at all to leave the house. And yet I already pre-purchased my ticket and didn’t want it to go to waste. But I’m really glad that I dragged myself out because it did make me feel a bit better. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3348730…

On Thursday afternoon, I had a 1 on 1 job interview at Coles Fountain Gate for the position of trolley collector and store cleaner. It’s been almost a year since I last did a job interview of any kind so I was severely out of practice today. I decided to walk in with no expectations whatsoever and basically just do my best and be myself. I was interviewed back a manager named Scott Archer; a big burly man with a serious facial expression. It didn’t take long before I started physically shaking like a leaf.

I was caught out by so many curve ball questions that I really wasn’t prepared for such as why do you want to leave your current job? Why do you want to work for Coles Services? What’s your availability like? What do you do during your days off? What are your career ambitions? Where do you see yourself in five years? The good news is that at least I was honest with my responses. I didn’t try to sell him bullshit to win points. It was a difficult interview for me and thankfully it was all over within 10 minutes. I guess I should have been more prepared so I didn’t stumble as much but it’s all learning really.

But instead of walking away scolding myself for my average performance or feeling depressed knowing deep inside that there’s no way I’m gonna get the job, I held my head up with pride. I turned up. I was punctual and neatly-presented in business attire. I was extremely polite and well mannered. I answered all of Scott’s questions honestly. And I did the best that I could despite shitting myself as I usually do during an interview. I don’t enjoy them but they give me valuable experience when it comes to improving my self-confidence and conversation skills. So even if I don’t get the job, it’s no loss on my end.

On Friday night, I attended the Family Movie Night organised by Alive Crusade at Wilson Botanic Park Berwick. To be honest, I had mixed feelings about going considering I left UFT PLAYgrounds a few weeks ago and I really don’t know where I stand with certain people there. But really it was the fear and social anxiety holding me back. Why should I care what they think about me? I have every right to be here. I’m supporting a great cause. I’m a good person and I’m going to enjoy my night. I decided to bring my mum along for support.

Focus on what’s really important to you. Focus on the people who matter most to you. Once I arrived at Wilson Botanic Park, most of those negative thoughts and feelings naturally dissolved. I was really surprised at the large turnout on the hill of the amphitheater. I honestly wasn’t expecting it. They had several stalls and food vans along the base of the hill with many families spreading out their picnic rugs and folding chairs getting ready for the movie…Disney’s Inside Out. I had some brief friendly exchanges with Jules and Joel before getting some food. https://www.facebook.com/events/724…

They had a few announcements including the drawing of the raffle, some general housekeeping and a short video about what Alive Crusade do and the ultimate goal of building The Alive Centre before we all watched the feature film. https://www.facebook.com/alivecrusa…

Inside Out depicts the feelings and emotions of a young girl named Riley as animated characters…Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. Memories are represented by coloured spheres inside of Riley’s brain and the emotions have to work together in order to keep Riley’s mood balanced and avoid conflict. It’s a really interesting way of explaining the basic psychology behind why we feel, think and act the way that we do and how mental illness can affect our feelings and emotions. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2096673…

“Life is very short, and there’s no time. For fussing and fighting, my friend. I have always thought that it’s a crime. So, I will ask you once again. Try to see it my way. Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong. While you see it your way. There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long. We can work it out. We can work it out.”                                         The Beatles – We Can Work It Out (1965)

“Well on the way, head in a cloud. The man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud. But nobody ever hears him. Or the sound he appears to make. And he never seems to notice. But the fool on the hill. Sees the sun going down. And the eyes in his head. See the world spinning around.” The Beatles – The Fool On The Hill (1967)

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HEAVY TUNES FOR HEAVY HEARTS @ Whole Lotta Love Bar, November 2017

Heading off straight after my counselling session with Ruth at Piece Together Counselling, I made the hour-and-a-half journey to East Brunswick in order to support a very important cause of mine (Beyond Blue). The gig was held at the Whole Lotta Love bar which is a 15-20 minute walk from Anstey station. All the proceeds raised from tonight’s event are being donated to Beyond Blue, a charity that raises awareness about depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide prevention. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

I began suffering from mental illness about 12-13 years ago during my final year of high school. It wasn’t actually picked up until a year or two after I graduated and I received a formal diagnosis from my GP. I’ve experienced a wide range of symptoms including feeling worthless, social isolation, loneliness, low energy, withdrawal from family and friends and not going out very often. I’ve had days whether I’ve contemplated taking my own life but thankfully that’s something I’ve left behind in my distant past.

I’ve had days where I didn’t want to get out of bed letalone leave the house. Not only did I not have any physical or mental energy to move but I had no desire or motivation at all. Finding social connection, fitting in and maintaining friendships has been something I’ve struggled with for a long time but it’s something I’m determined to keep working on. The same goes for my mental illness. I’m still on my journey to recovery. You just have to take it one day at a time.

The important thing to realise is that you’re not alone and there is plenty of help available. Having the right support network is crucial as are having coping strategies in place that work for you such as yoga and meditation, breathing exercises, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), medication, journaling, positive affirmations, adult colouring books, joining a support group, seeing a psychologist, doing basic household chores etc.

“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It’s easy. Nothing you can make that can’t be made. No one you can save that can’t be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time. It’s easy. All you need is love. All you need is love. All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.” The Beatles – All You Need Is Love (1967)

ANKL…Tonight’s opening band was this four-piece Progressive Alternative Nu-Metal band from Ballarat, Victoria. I was really impressed by the performance, delivering plenty of epic technical guitar riffs, long solos and powerful monolithic vocals in the vein of Rage Against The Machine and System of a Down. You can check out tracks from their self-titled EP here: https://ankl.bandcamp.com/

RED LOTUS…This was my first time checking out this female-fronted four-piece Melodic Alternative Metalcore band and I really dug what I heard. Vocalist Stephanie rocking long Alanis Morissette-esque hair sung in a near theatrical metal style with beautiful angelic cleans and raw piercing screams. Musically, there were plenty of intense guitar riffs, pounding drums and softer melodic touches. They played several tracks from their recently released “Illuminate” EP including The Farthest Shore, Midnight and new single Me, Myself and I. https://www.triplejunearthed.com/ar…

THE AVENUE PROJECT…The last time I saw this Melodic Hardcore/Punk Rock band was a few months back during their EP launch at BANG! Once again, the boys put on a fiercely entertaining performance with lots of wild movement on stage and emotional, heartfelt lyrics screamed with loads of energy. They played several tracks from their Havoc EP including Kaoss, Anarchy, Sediments and Crustaceans plus a cheeky cover of the classic Dropkick Murphy’s song I’m Shipping Up To Boston with a few people doing some Irish jigging down the front. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/h…

SPECTRAL FIRES…Unfortunately, I didn’t end up sticking around for this Melodic Hardcore band but be sure to check out their Wayfarer EP here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/n…

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​TURN SOUTH (SINGLE LAUNCH) w/ Spectral Fires, Clove & Blaire @ Sooki Lounge, November 2017

I’m not gonna lie…I had a few moments where I was really struggling mentally tonight at the Sooki Lounge. It came from multiple sources. Not feeling financially secure. Dealing with a high amount of stress at work. And trying to overcome the big black cloud (Depression, social anxiety, insecurities, self-doubts, introversion, not fitting in socially, lack of self confidence) inside my head. But the easiest way to deal with mental illness of any kind is to not let it win.

So even in those fleeting moments where I felt like people were ignoring me or I felt socially excluded or I wasn’t enjoying myself and got bored, I focused my attention of things that I can be grateful for. Like every single person in the venue who recognised me and made the effort to come up to me and say hi. Appreciating the music from great local bands and having well functioning senses. Being able to afford petrol and door entry. Being able to drive myself to Belgrave.

For the first time in months, I managed to stick around at a local gig until the end. Usually I would bail early before the headlining band and I’d have a reasonable excuse for doing so. But sometimes I just couldn’t handle the levels of depression and anxiety. But I was really determined to push through those difficult moments. It was worth the energy.

BLAIRE…Tonight was my first time checking out this young female singer-songwriter and I was really impressed by her performance. Her voice was really lovely, in the vein of Amiel and Gabrielle Aplin with a low tuned electric guitar as her companion. She played several original songs including Smoke Signals, Small Town Syndrome and Tremors. https://soundcloud.com/blairemusicm…

SPECTRAL FIRES…It’s been quite a long time since I last saw this Melodic Hardcore/Punk Rock band play. They delivered plenty of intense, awe-inspiring energy with vocalist Jack keeping that cheeky grin on his face and yelling with loads of heartfelt passion. The boys played several tracks from their Wayfarer EP including Left Behind, False Step and New Resolve plus a cover of the classic Nirvana track “Heart Shaped Box”. http://spectralfires.bigcartel.com/…

CLOVE…I had a lot of anticipation going in to see this Alternative/Pop Punk band and they truly smashed their set tonight. Quite a few people were playfully moshing and jumping around in front of the stage and getting involved with mic-grabs galore. Their songs are powerful, honest and very uplifting with many emotional sing-a-long moments. They played several tracks from their Grey EP including Tend, Waiting and Negatively Geared. https://cloveau.bandcamp.com/

TURN SOUTH…It was a really fitting decision to base their single launch show in Belgrave itself and it’s literally close to home for the band. This was a very special evening for this three piece Indie Rock/Punk band with lots of family members and friends in attendance. There was plenty of fierce, animated and positive energy on stage from the boys with lots of people in the crowd getting involved during their set. They played several older and more recent songs including Choice, Vague, Sad Sun, Holes and of course their latest single Belgrave Line with Clove vocalist Mark doing some guest vocals. https://www.triplejunearthed.com/ar…

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AVENUES END (EP LAUNCH) w/ Grace Ivy, Pockets & Reside @ Rockstar Bar, November 2017

After this week, I was starting to feel a bit rundown today possibly due to the sudden, abnormal shifts in the weather or just over-exerting myself. However, I didn’t let this stop me from coming out to the Rockstar Bar in Frankston. I needed social interaction more than anything tonight. I felt really thankful to be included within Reside’s group of friends. Of course the curse of being introverted is not knowing what to say or what to talk about but it didn’t matter. I was still accepted.

I found amusement in having to sneak in some food from Maccas into the venue through the back gate in the smokers area. We also had a good laugh at Jessica Simpson being far from subtle in her music video for “These Boots Were Made For Walkin”. It’s good knowing that band members still care about me as a local band supporter and as a person as well. It’s easy to forget that when your mental illness gets the better of you.

GRACE IVY…Tonight’s opening act was a young female singer-songwriter along with a male keyboardist. Listening to her vocal performance, it very much reminded me of singers such as Sia, Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse. She has a very powerful voice with long, soft wails and jazzy type tones. Musically, she combined elements of alternative pop with funk, soul and groove. She performed several original songs as well as a cover of the Bruno Mars’ track Treasure. https://www.facebook.com/GraceIvyMu…

POCKETS…This four-piece Indie Rock band from the Mornington Peninsula were immediately impressive with lots of fun, upbeat and positive vibes to their songs. They have very strong influences to bands such as Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes and Augie March which I really dug. Vocal duties were split between Dan and Jarman, both delivering some compelling, uplifting performances. Musically, they incorporated several musical styles including ska, roots, indie, pop and psychedelia. The band played several songs including Don’t Believe Me, Solar Flare, Memory Eraser and a cover of R. Kelly’s Ignition remix. https://soundcloud.com/pockets_the_…

RESIDE…So tonight was the second time I’ve seen this Alternative/Pop Punk/Emo band play and their set was equally as strong and wild as last time. Each of the band members were bursting with a fierce energy on stage, with shared vocal duties between guitarist Liam, bassist Sale and guitarist Ariel. They managed to encourage the audience to come closer to the stage as well as sing and clap along during their set. The band played several tracks from their debut EP “Closing Doors” including Fidelity, Last Night Driving and Home. https://reside.bandcamp.com/album/c…

AVENUES END…Unfortunately I didn’t end up sticking around for this three-piece Alternative Pop band as I have to get up really early for work tomorrow. Make sure you check out their new EP “It’s Not All Bad” which can be downloaded and purchased here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/i…

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 76, November 2017

“With persistence, courage and the willingness to learn and grow, we are often capable of achieving far more than anyone – including ourselves – might ever have expected.”               The Confidence Gap by Dr. Russ Harris (p. 244)

On Monday morning, I had a full body aromatherapy message by my friend and workmate Shannon Currant who is currently completing her Diploma of Beauty Therapy at Chisholm Institute of TAFE in Berwick. I was honestly really grateful that she asked me to participate in her assessment because a) Hello! Who doesn’t love a free message? and b) I really wanted to help Shannon out. After filling out a questionnaire and consent form, I was ready to go.

Unfortunately, we had to deal with loud construction vehicles working outside which was literally shaking the whole building. But once I was on the massage table, it didn’t bother me as much. Plus the soft chimes and swamp noises playing through the speakers was a welcome distraction. I thought that Shannon did a really good job, making sure I felt comfortable and relaxed the whole time and asking me if the pressure was okay. She was very professional about it and I’d be happy to participate again if she needs me.

On Monday night, I went to an RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. My emotions were still running pretty high after receiving an unexpected message on social media. It seems that I truly can’t handle criticism or anyone having a go at me because reading that message hurt me so much. And I had to admit that I’m partly to blame for this. I fuck things up without intending to but it was a sign that I need to cut the cord and let go. So I decided to do the mature thing and own my shit. It’s time to take responsibility.

Tonight’s class was vital for me in releasing these intense negative emotions festering within me…anger, guilt, hurt, shame, depression, disappointment. No matter what anyone thinks about me, I have to keep focusing on doing what’s best for me and looking after myself instead of wallowing in self-pity and playing the “Poor Michael” violin. I can’t let other people stop me from living my life nor can I please everyone. All I can do is learn from my mistakes, apologize, hope they accept it and move on.

Despite this emotional storm going on inside my head, I was pleasantly surprised with how well I did tonight. There were seven tracks from several older releases. The fitness instructor Janine who was filling in for Claire recognised me when I walked into the cycle studio and immediately I felt a little better about myself. I pushed myself over 130 RPM which I haven’t done in a very long time during the racing sections and up to 90 RPM during the internal training sections. It was pretty much giving a big FUCK YOU to all the negativity that’s been holding me back in my life. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Tuesday morning, I visited Bunjil Place for the first time since it opened last weekend. It was designed by Francis-Jones Morehan Thorp and cost $125 million dollars to build. The architecture both inside and outside the building is very impressive. There are major influences made to Aboriginal art, culture and past history. Bunjil itself literally means creator deity and is represented by a wedge tailed eagle, which the building is shaped like from an aerial view. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunji…

There are also some throwbacks to the styles of Art Deco and Art Nouveau with the use of spiral staircases, large expansive curves, block rectangular forms in the windows and simple, clean lines. The combination of natural materials such as the abstract timber sculptural forms in the foyer, dark grey woolen carpets and plush leather/suede seating works really well as does the use of large glass panels around the entrance. This maximises the amount of natural light coming into the building and provides spectacular views of Fountain Gate.  https://www.bunjilplace.com.au/abou…

The facilities inside of Bunjil Place are all ultra-modern and state of the art. These include an 800 seat performance theater, a 200 seat studio space, a 350 seat function centre, art galleries, meeting rooms, a multi-level library, a cafe, an outdoor plaza, an open foyer and customer service centre. It is a major improvement and necessary upgrade compared to the now outdated council buildings over the road. https://www.bunjilplace.com.au/venu…

On Tuesday afternoon, I had a formal one on one consultation with my potential new personal trainer Abhishek Ashokkumar from Silverback Training Co.. We spent most of the session talking about past experiences, who I am as a person, my short term and long term goals, what I want out of my training and how I’m going to get there. It felt good being able to express myself, be honest with Abhi and unravel what I truly wanted from the complex depths of my mind. My fitness journey so far has been a turbulent roller-coaster ride but I have no regrets and I wouldn’t change any of it.

Honestly, I’m still in a state of transition right now and buried beneath a massive “What If?” cloud when it comes to where I want to head next. Most of that is being able to let go of the past and confront the fear of change and uncertainty of the future. But otherwise I walked away feeling assured that Abhi could be a good fit for me. He is highly knowledgeable, no bullshit, funny, passionate, caring and training clients for the right reasons. There’s also no pressure to make a decision either way nor do I have to worry about any dreaded lock-in contracts. Certainly a lot of pros and green lights there. Now, I just have to be ready to start. https://www.theyardfitness.com.au/

On Tuesday night, I attended a nutrition seminar at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. It was just a small intimate gathering of five people inside one of the training rooms on the pool level. Nutritionist and Dietitian Marnie Nitschke facilitated the seminar, talking about whether things like coconut oil, probiotics, A2 milk and activating nuts are good or bad for your health. She also discussed the top 10 trendy diets, explaining what evidence each of them had and why they don’t work. These included Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar diet, the Paleo diet, the Detox Diet, the Blood Group diet, Raw Food diet, High Carb Low Fat diet and the 5:2 diet. http://www.everydaynutrition.com.au/…

The biggest problems with these diets are the lack of scientific evidence, not being sustainable in the long term, are missing key nutrients that are needed for the body to function correctly and are usually far too restrictive and unrealistic. It all comes down to having a balanced diet high in plant based foods plus eggs, fish, nuts, yogurt, cheese, milk and meats. And everything else in moderation. Nobody should feel guilty about eating a slice of cake or a chocolate biscuit, just don’t eat the whole packet in one go. https://www.caseyarc.ymca.org.au/wh…

Because the seminar was running slightly overtime, I was a few minutes late getting to my Body Combat class but thankfully I didn’t miss too much. Took me a while to get into the rhythm and not feel uncoordinated but eventually I got there. Cinamon mixed the tracks up again, putting in a Braveheart battle theme with a bow and arrow movement and The Prodigy’s Spitfire which included lots of dynamic lunges and side kicks. I always seem to walk away from a combat class feeling like I worked hard and that I really enjoyed myself. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Thursday night, I caught up with my friend Amy Amy in Thornbury. Getting off at Croxton station, I walked down Darebin street and met Amy at a pizza restaurant called Il Pizzaiolo. Thornbury is not an area I’m very familiar with but I was well prepared with directions in my head and in my pocket. I love admiring the older styled houses that are still preserved including Californian Bungalows, Queen Anne and Federation. I noticed that there were quite a few political posters up for the upcoming local election as well as support my marriage equality.

The Il Pizzaiolo is a traditional Italian pizza restaurant and for the most part, I had a very pleasant experience there. I decided to play it safe and order a Margarita pizza as the other options weren’t very appealing and were difficult to understand let alone pronounce. We then walked around the block to the SPAN Community House Thornbury in Clyde Street for the Om Chanting Circle class. There’s nothing that says getting out of your comfort zone by being in a new suburb, a new venue and meeting a new group of people.

As expected, my social anxiety was pretty high initially as meeting new people is a huge trigger for me. But eventually it did simmer down. Once I’m able to feel comfortable in the space and recognise that these people have good intentions, then the anxiety doesn’t have as strong effect on me. And the truth is that the people in this group were all friendly, kind, loving, compassionate, non-judgemental and open minded. Pretty much the types of people I need to be around more often.

The Om Chanting meditation class was facilitated by Paul “Paulie” Daniele. Red plastic chairs were positioned in a circular formation with two chairs in the center forming an inner circle. Essentially we had to chant om continuously for 40 minutes. That prospect for me was pretty concerning as I wasn’t sure I could last that long. But the good news was that you can take a few seconds to recover before breathing in again and knowing that everyone can go at their own pace. I did find that my throat was straining at times but that’s probably because I’m not used to doing it.

It was a really beautiful experience. During the reflective discussion at the end of the class, I described it as being inside a towering cathedral with a large choir of people all chanting together. You can literally feel the vibrations and the energy generated from the sounds we were all producing. There was a large range of harmonic frequencies that could be heard during the meditation from deep brassy tones to high pitched angelic-like tones. Very much brought my back to my days of studying Physics back in VCE.

Overall, I’m really glad that I made the effort to travel all the way out to Thornbury to see my friend Amy and to experience a different form of meditation than what I’m used to. Getting home was unfortunately a major hassle as I had to deal with replacement buses from Caulfield to Dandenong. Things went smoothly until I was forced to depart at Clayton station and was essentially left stranded there waiting for another bus. Getting close to Midnight, I didn’t want to take my chances waiting around for a bus that may never arrive. My gut instinct told me to call my parents to pick me up and that’s what I did. Thankfully I got myself home safe and that’s all that matters really. https://www.facebook.com/mindfulbod…

On Friday morning, I went to a Body Pump class with Gina at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. It’s probably been about six months or so since I last did a Pump class as I was already doing on-going strength training with my PT. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done any sort of weight lifting so I knew going in that I was going to be pretty rusty and needed to go easy on how much weight I should be putting on the bar. It really didn’t take long before I started to feel the burn and the muscle soreness in my arms, shoulders and lower back.

It was really lovely of Gina to give me a greeting as I really didn’t expect her to remember me let alone my name. She also pointed out that I was the only guy in the room but this didn’t bother me. I’m used to being in female dominated fitness classes. We did a combination of deadlifts, rows, back squats, overhead power presses and shoulder lifts with the barbell and some bicep and tricep curls with the hand weights.

There were a few times I struggled to keep up especially during the bench press sections and I even had to skip a few reps to recover but I did what I could. We also did some squats and lunges, core crunches and yoga stretches to finish the class off. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

“We were talking about the love we all could share. When we find it, to try our best to hold it there with our love. With our love, we could save the world, if they only knew. Try to realise it’s all within yourself. No one else can make you change.”  The Beatles – Within You, Without You (1967)

“Child-like. No one understands. Jack knife. In your sweaty hands. Some kind of innocence is measured out in years. You don’t know what it’s like to listen to your fears. You can talk to me, if you’re lonely you can talk to me.” The Beatles – Hey Bulldog (1969)

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 75, October 2017

The past few days have been really difficult for me to say the least. I can already feel that I’m in a state of transition right now after walking away from my current personal trainer Luke Davey last Friday. It was an extremely tough decision for me as I was hoping that things would get better and that we could turn a corner somehow. But the reality is that I just wasn’t happy training there anymore. No amount of self-help books, positive affirmations and friendly exchanges could cover up how I was truly feeling inside…uncertain, depressed, frustrated, misunderstood, conflicted, upset and hurt. I needed to move on.

Does it make me a bad person to want to change personal trainers? Hell no! I don’t think so. My biggest problem has always been worrying what other people will think and how they will react to my decisions. Am I making the right choice? Am I being too sensitive? Am I giving up too easily? Nope. I’m simply doing what’s best for me. From my perspective, there’s no bad blood between myself and Luke at all and I really appreciate everything he has done for me. He has helped me achieve many of my fitness goals. He has challenged me physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve learned lots of new skills, movements and techniques.

So no, I don’t regret any of it at all. I just hope that Luke can accept and respect my decision as well. I’m really proud of myself for being open and honest with Luke as well as ending this PT-client relationship on respectful and peaceful terms.

Here is a list of achievements I’ve made with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness:

  • Losing 20kg of body weight (from 105 to 85kg)
  • Building up lean muscle in my arms, legs, glutes, hamstrings, back, buttocks etc.
  • Learning the correct techniques, forms and movements for doing deadlifts, back squats, front squats, bench press and dumbbell bench press
  • Completing many AMRAPs (As Many Reps As Possible), EMOTM (Every Minute on the Minute), 3-4 rounds and time based workouts
  • Learning how to do stretches, box jumps, push ups, ring rows, using the balance board, kettle bell swings, single arm kettle bell lifts, squats, walking lunges and burpees
  • Improved my squat depth and weight lifting ability
  • Learning how to deal with anxiety, depression, fear, stress, overthinking, self-doubt, self confidence issues and believing in myself

On Monday morning, I went to my Yin yoga class with Kelly Wallis at Now, Yoga. in Narre Warren South. I kinda embarrassed myself this morning as I expected to see Kelly the moment I walked into the studio but instead saw another lady at the desk and instantly assumed that she was filling in. Whoops! But I let that moment go pretty quickly. It was moderately full class with about 10 students or so. I haven’t been to one of Kelly’s classes in a long time and I’ve missed her style of teaching.

Today there was a lot of focus on doing long holds and supported variations of poses including Standing Forward Bend, Yogic Squat, Sphinx pose, Puppy pose, Cow Face pose, Reclining Single Leg Spinal Twist and Child’s pose. And for the first time in the eight years I’ve been doing yoga, everyone had a literally chuck a temper tantrum. Normally, I hardly ever give myself permission to act silly or make lots of loud noises but today was the exception. And it felt great…releasing negative emotions like anger, frustration, guilt, shame, regret is so important and trust Kelly to come up with the idea. It was brilliant! http://nowyoga.net.au/

On Monday night, I revisited The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham for the first time since August. It felt good being back here. In some ways, it was the ace up my sleeve if things went pear shaped at UFT. You can call it jumping ship but I have honourable intentions behind it. I truly believe that I deserve to train in a place where I feel supported and encouraged by everyone there. Part of me will miss being at UFT PLAYgrounds but I know in myself that I’ve made the right decision in leaving. I have to keep moving forward. https://www.facebook.com/TheYardStr…

Tonight I did a Bootcamp class with two other girls, Eliza and Ebony, and it was run by Stacey Kett. We warmed up by doing some kettle bell swings and runs up and down the carpark. It honestly felt like I was doing the beep test back in high school PE class. Next we did a series of movements at 25 seconds each including KB squats, bar knee tucks, KB swings, squat bar jumps, KB high lifts, plank holds with KB touch and push ups.

The final part involved an eight round TABATA doing plank holds. I was pretty much shaking and pouring with sweat at this point. My foam yoga mat was covered in it. But that meant that I really worked hard tonight. None of the tough emotional issues from last week were going to bring me down. I also feel like I’m improving heaps with my push ups, squats, running and plank holds.

After the Bootcamp class, I had a brief chat with Abhishek Ashokkumar from Silverback Training Co. about the possibility of him becoming my next personal trainer. Honestly, I was a little nervous and weary as I normally am meeting new people but I felt comfortable enough to tell him about my goals, my mental health issues, what happened between me and Luke and why I want him to train me. I’m looking for someone who is compassionate, supportive, encouraging, patient and kind. Hopefully Abhi can deliver on those fronts. One step at a time. https://www.facebook.com/silverback…

On Tuesday morning, I had my feedback session with Dr. Yasmin Baliz at CNS: Comprehensive Neuropsychological Services in Narre Warren. I was feeling a bit nervous waiting for Yasmin to arrive the reception area with my mum sitting across from me. Today was the day that I’ll find out either way whether I sit on the Autism Spectrum or not. We sat in the same room that we were in during the first appointment, with the same white plush leather sofas, black glass coffee table, fake palms and artificial cricket/tadpole noises from the Rainforest Room next door.

So the moment of truth…I’ve been officially diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, which is essentially a mild form of Autism. Characteristics for diagnosis include difficulties with social interaction in groups, poor social skills, difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication, prefers routine and predictable environments, prefers independent activities and finds sensory environments to be overwhelming. It was a lot of information to process in that session but thankfully there is lots of support and resources out there to understand it better. http://www.cnspsych.com.au/process….

Yasmin left me with the “The Autism Spectrum Information Booklet” and will be posting me out the report on my results from the assessment. I feel better knowing that there is an underlying cause for my thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviour particularly in social situations that were often difficult to explain to others. There is a strong genetic component with a cousin on my Mother’s side also having Autism and there have been signs since childhood that I may be predisposed to it. But at least I know now so it’s like a veil’s been lifted. http://www.autism-help.org/autism-h…

On Tuesday night, I attended the Mental Health & Wellbeing seminar at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Sadly there wasn’t a big attendance at tonight’s event with most staff members taking up the semi-circle of folded chairs but I still felt like I got a lot out of the presentation. https://www.caseyarc.ymca.org.au/wh…

The first presenter was a guy named James who is a personal trainer and an ambassador for Beyond Blue. He has suffered with depression and suicidal thoughts since the age of 13, going through periods of low self-esteem, self harm, substance abuse and denial. It took him many attempts to overcome his depression with several relapses and various psychologists but eventually he pulled through it. His strategies include finding a psychologist with similar values, being open about how you’re thinking and feeling and doing productive activities such as reading, going to the gym, hanging out with mates. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/conne…

The second presenter was Dr. James Collard who is a clinical psychologist and representative from CBT Australia. His talk on mental health was more in depth and academic, exploring where emotions come from, the biological, social and psychological aspects, the effects of depression and anxiety, dealing with anger and problem behaviours and using self-care strategies to help cope with mental health issues. He provided quite a few examples from young clients and parents who he has worked with over the years which I found to be quite relatable. https://www.cbtaustralia.com.au/

On Thursday morning, I attended my Body Balance class with Wendy Lynne Perrow at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. It was a really great feeling to walk into that group fitness studio and be welcomed by Wendy as soon as I stepped onto the mat…”It’s lovely to see you again Michael. Welcome back.” Sometimes that’s all you need, that acknowledgement, to know that somebody else cares about you and it’s what I needed in that moment. Truthfully, I’ve missed Wendy’s classes as well.

Today we did release number 69 which featured the following exercises: Tai-Chi Warmup (Overhead circles, Wide legged arm sweeps, Soft blocks), Sun Salutations (Forward fold, Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Baby Cobra), Standing Strength (Warrior 2, Sun Warrior), Balance (Aeroplane pose, Dancer’s pose), Pilates (Double arm and leg extensions, Double D, Threading the Needle), Twists (Seated open and closed twist, Butterfly pose) and Hamstring Stretches (Staff pose with legs crossed, Wide Legged Forward Fold) and Relaxation. https://grandnat.co.uk/what-already…

The thing I really appreciate about Wendy’s classes is her patience and guidance, allowing us all to take different options if we need to and not worry if the poses or movements aren’t “perfect”. She always has a way of making the class enjoyable for everyone and when it comes to the Relaxation, she is the undisputed queen of Guided Meditations. Her voice is so gentle and calming. I could easily drift off to sleep if I wanted to! https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…
On Friday morning, I had my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. So today’s class was a little different than usual. Firstly, it’s a longer class at 55 minutes and there was many more people participating, probably around 30 or so. There was also a small group of women down the front who were loud, extroverted and singing along with the tracks. I made the choice to not let them bother me nor do I necessarily have to be like them or copy what they’re doing. Just focus on being myself and doing my own workout.

There were quite a few challenging sections in this morning’s class especially doing dynamic lunges and front kicks. It always messes with my balance and I find it difficult to keep up the pace. But otherwise I was doing fine. I put a lot of effort in and could feel a huge emotional release during the jab boxes. You just get to the point where you’ve had enough of dealing with negativity and people who bring you down. So it felt good getting all of that out of my system today. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

“I can’t fake it, it’s never enough. It’s got a hold on me. Left behind here, I can’t keep up. Come get a hold of me. I was thinking if I could be tough. You’d wanna hold onto me. I will be your home, keep you warm when it’s cold. I will try to be what you need when you’re low. I can only promise the girl that I am. I’ll do anything that I can.”                              Broods – Recovery (2016)

“Something tipped me over. Someone knocked me down. Emptied out my inside. Poured it on the ground. A cavern for a body, The deeper darker kind. For all I hear are echoes, Repeat inside my mind. I thought the shade around me, was making me feel blind. I thought I was a hero, but I was just a child.” Broods – Worth The Fight (2016)

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