MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 74, October 2017

“Laughter, song and dance create emotional and spiritual connection; they remind us of the one thing that truly matters when we are searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration or healing: We are not alone.” The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (p. 118)

On Tuesday morning, Mum and I joined along with the local walking group at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. Even at 9.30-10am, the temperature was already rising up to the mid-20’s and I could feel myself starting to sweat down my back. We went for an hour long walk around Casey Fields reserve and back again. I was feeling a bit socially disconnected and emotionally flat today, though getting some exercise and being out in nature did help a little.

I guess life can get pretty overwhelming for me sometimes and I can really only handle looking into the future in short-term bursts. My biggest concern is trying to find a sense of belonging with others. Financially, I’m only just getting by at the moment and writing out lists of expenses has really helped me. I have to break everything down into small, manageable components when it comes to bills and payments that are due. I just have to take one day at a time and believe that I will get through this.

On Tuesday night, I went down to YMCA Casey RACE for a Water Workout class and some hydrotherapy. This time I decided to be more prepared and brought along a drink bottle. I also decided to split my time up evenly between the steam room, spa and sauna. Of the three. the sauna is hands down the most mentally challenging for me. I’m still not used to the conditions of 70-100 degree dry heat, feeling my heart-rate elevating and trying to keep myself relaxed and hydrated. I know my limits and 10 minutes was more than enough for me tonight. But with more regular visits, I’m sure that my body will tolerate the heat easier. https://www.livestrong.com/article/…

Tonight’s Water Workout class with facilitated by an instructor named Susie and it was packed with about 18 people participating. We used a combination of noodles and underwater dumbbells in parts of the class. I found it difficult keeping my balance and co-ordination in check tonight but I was still doing my best and laughing along with the rest of the ladies. We did the usual exercises of jogging, donkey kicks, rock ‘n’ roll, side and back kicks, jumping, running on the spot and push-ups on the edge of the pool. https://www.livestrong.com/article/…

On Wednesday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. It’s not secret that I wasn’t myself today at all. Even with that false veneer on my face, it wasn’t enough to mask how I was truly feeling inside. Though I did receive a couple of friendly greetings from the trainers, my self-esteem was just far too low for it to make a positive impact on me. But I made the effort to be here so that’s something.

WARM-UP…Today I started with my Y-T-I stretches on the bench before massaging into the shoulders, lats and collar bones with the rubber ball. The awkward tension between myself and Luke had returned and I wasn’t coping well with it at all. In fact, my mind was having a field day (Why haven’t I got anything exciting to talk to Luke about? Clearly he must think I’m boring. He barely cracks a smile whenever he’s training me).

DEVELOPMENT…Today I worked on doing 5 rounds of 12 reps, dumbbell presses at 30kg as well as 5 rounds of 8 single arm rows at 22.5kg. I was struggling heaps today and my fragile mental state certainly wasn’t helping matters. I was getting myself really upset and frustrated especially after the third round or so. The fatigue in my arms was just too much to handle and I kept dropping the weights. It was embarrassing. I was thinking “What’s wrong with me today? I feel like a failure.” But the positive was that I kept trying over and over again until I finished those reps.

WORKOUT…Today I did a 10 minute AMRAP of the following exercises: 200m run, 5 ring rows, 10 push ups and 15 squats. I was already shaking and fatigued from the dumbbell presses that I really didn’t know how long I was going to last with this workout. It was another tough mental battle for me but I basically did what I could. I don’t think Luke knows exactly how to handle me whenever I’m feeling depressed like I was today. And it’s not his fault at all. Just wasn’t my best session today. Hopefully the next one will be better.

On reflection, perhaps Luke was right in saying that my performance wasn’t as bad as my negative mental state was making out. I really did nail my ring rows and squats during the workout. I think that I am gradually improving overall with the push-ups. I just think that I need more practice and more confidence in doing them. Hence why Luke decided to set me some homework in doing 3 rounds of 10 push-ups. It’s the only way I’m going to get better at doing them and not have so much fear about failing reps. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

On Thursday lunchtime, I went to an RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. There comes a point when I’m home by myself that I simply can’t cope and I physically need to get out of the house for the sake of my sanity. So I decided to do just that and gave myself some “me-time” at Casey Arc with half an hour of hydrotherapy and half an hour of RPM cycling. Considering how I’ve been feeling this week, I really need to look after myself better and implement self-care strategies back into my routine.

The RPM class was pretty small with only about 6-8 people but I wasn’t surprised being lunchtime. It was technically an express class…so five tracks instead of the usual seven or eight. But that’s also meant an increase in intensity. There were a couple of tracks that involved Interval Training (Chicane – Poppiholla) and some more easy ride/medium intensity tracks (Katy Perry – Teenage Dream). I could feel the burn in my knees, thighs and glutes pretty quickly today but I did what I could, averaging around 78-80 RPM. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Friday morning, I had my potentially last ever session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. Things started off on a high note. I walked into UFT PLAYgrounds with a positive attitude, feeling optimistic about today’s session and saying hi at the trainers as I got myself ready. But things quickly descended from there. I tried hard to explain to Luke what was on my mind but it felt like everything fell on deaf ears. He wasn’t understanding me at all and that’s not really his fault. Even I know how complicated and hard to figure out I am. I just set my expectations far too high and walked away feeling emotionally exhausted and misunderstood.

WARM-UP…So the start of my session actually went pretty well. I did various yoga stretches and holds for 2 minutes each including camel pose, cobra pose and scorpion pose. I reminded myself to breathe into the areas that were sore and embrace that discomfort. I decided to think about how ridiculous Kameron from the Real Housewives of Dallas looked in her bright pink vest and huge Louis Vuitton handbags which helped me to get through the pain.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I did 5 rounds of 12 front squats at 40kg. I was struggling a lot at the start as the bar kept slipping off my shoulders and put a lot of pressure on my wrists. And of course because I wasn’t doing it right, I started to get really hard on myself. Plus my mind was just overwhelmed by thoughts…mostly about what Luke thinks about me, whether I’m a good enough client, have I done anything wrong, does he even care about me. There’s been an obvious shift during the last couple of weeks and now I just can’t handle it anymore.

WORKOUT…Today’s workout involved a 100 calorie sprint on the assault bike. It was pretty tough but manageable. I wisely try to keep to a steady, consistent pace the whole time so that I didn’t burn out too quickly. As much as I was proud of this achievement, I still walked away from the session feeling empty and upset. I asked myself the most important question…”Is training with Luke doing my emotional well-being any good?” Nope!

So I basically decided then and there that I needed to take a break from him. It’s not his fault, it’s just not working for me anymore and I’m not enjoying it. Maybe I need to move on. Who knows? I’m not going to make any rash decisions right now. But I do know that continuing the way I am is not doing my mental health any good.

“So never look back, go where you’re going to. I waited a lifetime for you. So cut me some slack, I wanna see all of you. I never hold back from the truth.”              Liam Gallagher – I Get By (2017)

“There’s no time for looking back. Thanks for all your support. Slow down, all things must pass. Take your time, know the score. It’s not goodbye. So dry your eyes. Come rain or shine. I’ve all I need and more.” Liam Gallagher – I’ve All I Need (2017)

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MY FITNESS JOURNEY AT UFT PLAYGROUNDS

So I’ve been training at UFT PLAYgrounds for about a year now and I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my achievements, challenges, struggles and highlights. I started my journey at the Fountain Gate facility mid last year with my former personal trainer Nick Bradbury. Last October, I took a break for personal reasons and came back in February this year with my current personal trainer Luke Davey.

In May, the two UFT facilities merged together and I’ve been training at the Berwick facility since then. The biggest challenges have definitely been dealing with my mental demons. My inner critic/anxiety/depression had a huge hold over me, making it very difficult to relax and feel comfortable in this new social-gym environment.

I had thoughts such as I’m not good enough. What’s wrong with me? Will I ever fit in here? Does anyone really like me? Do I even belong here at UFT? I’m not like the others. I spent weeks trying different ways of overcoming these thoughts including self-help books, meditation, deep breathing, counselling sessions, positive affirmations, helpful reminders, CBT-thought challenging.

For the most part, I’m coping a lot better than I was back in May. I bring along a fitness journal which I record all my training results in and also positive affirmations, goals and things to remember. It really helps to keep me grounded and stay focused on the reasons why I’m there at UFT. A lot of it is changing the relationship with myself. Having self-acceptance. Being kinder to myself. Being okay about making mistakes and accepting my flaws. It takes time.

I try my best to give 110% effort to every session, no matter what mood I’m in, how I’m feeling physically and mentally. I just do my best, push through the pain, the struggles and the barriers because I refuse to give up, no matter what.

LIST OF ACHIEVEMENTS 2017
– Started my new fitness journey with personal trainer Luke Davey(February)
– Participated in Sunday Funday event and ran 5kms around Lysterfield Lake (March)
– Completed the 1000 Steps challenge at the Kokoda Memorial Trail in Upper Ferntree Gully (March)
– Donated to/Attended the Rope Climbs to Everest event for Alive Crusade(April)
– Started a Strength Training program at Breakaway Fitness (April-Current)
– Attended a UFT social dinner gathering at Central Hotel Beaconsfield(May-June)
– Donated to/Participated in the Do It In A Dress event (October)
– Will be attending the UFT hijacks Bounce Inc. event this Saturday night (October)

FUTURE FITNESS GOALS 2018
– Participating in the Rope Climbs to Everest event as a rope climber
– Learning new movements and techniques including pull-ups, muscle ups, overhead cleans, snatches, higher box jumps, double unders, full push ups.
– Participating in more charity events/fundraisers for UFT.
– Losing more body fat and gaining more lean muscle

Thank you to all the coaches, PT’s and clients at UFT PLAYgrounds for being so friendly, respectful, encouraging and supportive towards me

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LIAM GALLAGHER – AS YOU WERE (ALBUM REVIEW)

This former frontman of Oasis and later Beady Eye has been making music for just over 25 years which is a pretty remarkable achievement if you ask me. “As You Were” marks his first record as a solo artist and for the most part, it’s a cracker. Part of it is due to the presence of current pop producers including Greg Kurstin, Dan Grech-Marguerat and Andrew Wyatt. They have given Liam’s sound a much needed modern makeover whilst keeping his traditional approach to songwriting in tact.

The album plays to Liam’s strengths both as a vocalist and a musician, fusing elements of 60’s psychedelia, 70’s rock ‘n’ roll, 90’s indie rock and brit-pop. His musical influences include the usual suspects of John Lennon and The Rolling Stones but I feel like he’s also matured and broadened his horizons a little including classic rock bands The Doors, The Kinks, The Monkees and T-Rex.

The album opens with lead single “Wall of Glass” which features a brash harmonica solo, gospel choir and loud powerful drumming. “Greedy Soul” is equally as bold and upbeat, showing that Liam’s tough no-bullshit attitude is still very much in tact. “Bold” and “When I’m In Need” on the other hand give us a glimpse into Liam’s softer, more reflective side.

However, “For What It’s Worth” is perhaps Liam Gallagher’s best song to date, mainly because of how vulnerable and honest his vocals are. It comes across as a public apology to his brother Noel, declaring that…For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for the hurt. I’ll be the first to say, “I made my own mistakes”. He wants to create a truce and end the bitter sibling rivalry once and for all. Time will tell whether Liam keeps his word.

Elsewhere, there are more solid ballads including Paper Crown, I Get By and Come Back to Me as well as the laid-back, experimental track “Chinatown”, which is very left of field for the English rocker and yet still sounds lovely thanks to the soft strumming acoustic sections. The regular album closes on the track “I’ve All I Need” which is another personal track, focusing on Liam’s self-assurance and resilience as an artist.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/as-you-were/id1247914170

JB Hifi: https://www.jbhifi.com.au/…/as-you-were-deluxe-edit…/459473/

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 73, October 2017

On Monday night, I attended my Body Balance class with Kaz at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Over the weekend, I’ve been dealing with a number of personal issues which have accumulated to the point of feeling emotionally shutdown. I feel very conflicted in how I want to proceed. The fact that I’ve always been a highly sensitive person who overthinks, doesn’t have a thick skin, gets easily upset and can’t handle criticism from others has lead me to this state of low mood and depression. I feel lonely and confused as to what people think about me.

So tonight is all about releasing these negative thoughts and feelings that no longer serve me and getting back to looking after myself. I feel like I’ve improved heaps especially with the Pilates section. I try to follow on and do the best I can even with my hips and core muscles burning. It just takes a lot of practice and doing what you’re capable of. Never give up.

Tonight we did the following exercises from Release 77: Tai-Chi Warmup (Overhead circles, bow and arrow), Sun Salutations (Forward fold, downward facing dog, plank, crocodile, baby cobra, low lunge, open twist), Standing Strength (Chair pose, tree pose, Warrior 3), Pilates (Table top, Bridge pose with pulses and bicycle, Criss-cross crunches, Side plank elbow to knee), Hamstring Stretches (Wide-legged forward fold, Staff pose) and Relaxation (Japanese Garden guided meditation). http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/cl…

On Tuesday afternoon, I spent some time with my Mum. After picking up my anti-depressants from the GP, Mum and I went to Cranbourne Park Shopping Centre to do some shopping. I could feel myself hitting rock bottom emotionally as things began to spill out of me. I was that depressed and low that I felt physically numb and empty just sitting at the table at Theobroma Chocolate Lounge Cranbourne. You can only keep that fake “everything’s fine” facade on for so long. I’m 31 years old and I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.

So many things have been affecting me in a negative way like my lack of friends/social life, the relationship with my PT, not having the confidence or self-esteem to stand up for myself, being unable to find my dream career or work out my direction in life. I think that I’ve become way too comfortable living at home with my parents that the prospect of moving out seems overwhelming and unbearable.

On Tuesday night, I attended my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. It was pretty obvious during tonight’s class that I was struggling to keep up more than usual and I also had to take slightly longer rest breaks from tracks. I honestly wasn’t surprised considering how mentally and emotionally overloaded I’ve been over the last few days so I really need to cut myself some slack. The fact that I was still participating, still working hard, still doing the best I can and still walking out dripping in sweat should be something to celebrate and be proud of.

I had a great chat with Cinamon after the class and really opened up to her about how I’ve been feeling. It really needed to unload everything that’s been weighing me down lately. I’m so glad that Cinamon has a sympathetic and non-judgemental ear and can understand what I’m going through. Some people don’t get mental illness no matter how hard you try to explain it to them and that’s something I just have to accept. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Wednesday, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. Today was a tremendously difficult day for me after weighing up everyone’s opinions and advice on whether I should stay or should I go? Joel Perryman provided a welcome distraction by doing a brief interview with me about why I started training for UFT PLAYgrounds. I was also reading a chapter on “The Power of Self-Acceptance” from Dr. Russ Harris’ book The Confidence Gap. Kind of appropriate for me right now.

I don’t think I was fully prepared for the difficult conversation that was about to unfold between Luke and myself. It was time to take off the “everything’s fine” mask and get real about what’s been on my mind. I was physically shaking and feeling nauseous just listening to what Luke had to say to me. It was tough hearing those harsh truths it because I can’t seem to handle criticism of any sort. I do take a lot of things to heart, misinterpret things people say to me and get myself upset unnecessarily. I’ve just always been a highly sensitive person and I have to accept that.

Whilst part of me wanted to storm out of there and never return, I decided to do the mature thing, sit with the negative emotions, process what Luke said to me and try to learn and grow from this experience. I’m tired of running away from my problems. At times like these, I think that it’s really important to remember all the positive qualities that Luke possesses (He only wants the best for me. He wants me to improve in all aspects of my physical and mental health. He is friendly, encouraging and motivating). I’m holding onto hope that things will get better.

WARM-UP…I started the session by doing several yoga pose holds including camel pose, lizard pose and cobra pose. This was mentally tough for me as I was still feel like shit about what happened over the last few days. But continuing to beat myself up and calling myself a terrible person is not a productive way of dealing with this. I made mistakes. I took things Luke said to me the wrong way. Does that make me a terrible person? No, I don’t think so.

DEVELOPMENT…Somehow I managed to redeem myself here and explode out of that depressed, miserable mindset that I put myself in. I put the cards on the table and continued to open up to Luke which really helped me feel better. Today I did 5 rounds of 8 reps front squats at 50kg. Instantly my mind protested “Oh shit! Not front squats again. Remember what happened last time?” But I told my brain to shush and pushed myself through it.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was doing those front squats today. Despite my left wrist hurting, I still managed to get my technique right: t-rex grip on the bar, elbows and chest lifted, bar sitting on the shoulders. My squat depth was generally pretty good though I did struggle at times and noticed my heels lifted up a bit. But overall I walked away feeling like I did a really good job today. I turned negatives into positives which is exactly what I was hoping for. Things can only go up from here as I continue to get stronger and better.

On Thursday night, I went and saw Blade Runner 2049 at Village Cinemas Fountain Gate. You’d think I’d be used to going to the movies by myself at my age (All by myself, don’t wanna be all by myself anymore…) but evidently I’m not. I did make a few attempts to round up a few friends to come along but they all pretty much failed. It’s always been a huge struggle for me. It’s both frustrating and depressing but the reality is that I can’t control people’s lives or how busy they are or whether they’ll come or not. All I can do is ask.

Still I decided to not dwell on it too much and just focus on enjoying the movie. I’ve been waiting 15 years for this sequel to come out so I’m not going to wait for someone to go with, I’m really not. I have to remind myself that there’s nothing wrong with doing activities by myself at all. It’s just an acceptance thing really. I brought my copy of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which is very appropriate considering that’s the source material for Blade Runner. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101…

On Friday morning, I had my second Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. I felt like I was in a better place today mentally and emotionally since I sorted things out with Luke on Wednesday. I was reading “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson to help facilitate a positive mindset and give myself some gentle reminds before I started my session.

This part in particularly spoke volumes for me…”On the contrary, when you’re in a bad mood, life looks unbearably serious and difficult. You have very little perspective. You take things personally and often misinterpret those around you, as you impute malignant motives into their actions.” (p. 81). Yeah I took things the wrong way with Luke last week and realise now that his critique is not personal, but used to improve my technique, performance and abilities. He’s only trying to help me, not put me down or treat me like shit.

WARM-UP…This morning I started my doing 5 minutes on the balance board and then three rounds of the following: 8 leg curls with the resistance band, 8 single arm kettle bell lifts and 8 “hey boys”. I was struggling a little getting my feet into the resistance band and almost getting myself tangled up in it but I decided to be patient and kind with myself instead of beating myself up like I usually do. I’m only human and overall, I did pretty well with these movements.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I did 5 rounds of 8 reps deadlifts at 77kg. As much as I kept trying to bury my frustration, it was continuing to pop up today as it took me many attempts to get my technique, form, movement and pace right. Plus the pain in my lower back and hips was annoying the hell out of me. There was the possibility of me breaking down over this but I told myself that “Take your time Michael. You can do this. I refuse to be defeated. I will not give up.” I took in all the advice and constructive criticism Luke was giving me and eventually I was getting it.

My biggest issue is keeping my shoulders pulled back and not hunching over the bar too much as well as touching the ground softly. But it’s certainly getting there. I may have been really breathless and fatigued by the end of my 5 sets but at least I got it done and gradually felt myself improve once I let go of that internal frustration. Like Luke said to me today, I just need to “relax” more. Easier said than done! Another big positive was my ability to get the plates on and off the bar. It’s getting better and I’m no longer being harsh with myself about how long it’s taking me. Progress is progress no matter how small.

WORKOUT…Today’s workout consisted of doing 3 rounds of the following: 200m row, 20 butterfly situps, 20 Russian twists and 10 hollow rocks. Even during my first round, I knew that the Russian twists were going to be my greatest challenge. I struggling to keep my balance, legs lifted and deal with the pain in my hips and lower back. But giving up never crossed my mind.

Every rep I got through with an achievement for me. That was my approach. Just get it done and I did. Luke recognised that my attitude towards this workout was much more positive compared to last week’s push-ups and I walked away feeling proud of that performance. Sure it was really difficult at times but I didn’t let it defeat me. That’s strength, resilience and determination right there.

On Friday afternoon, Mum and I visited the Dandenong Market. We bought some more flowers (yellow and dyed chrysanthemums), which are very cheap and better quality than the ones in the supermarket. We also bought some Christmas cards and fragrant soaps before having a bite to eat at the Cafe Marketto. The food here is always really good and decently priced. I ordered the Aussie Breakfast which consists of scrambled eggs on toast, mushrooms, spinach leaves and a rasher of bacon.

“Why am I like this? Trying to get my head stronger. My friends fucking hate me. My heart has grown cold and so lately. Everything I touch turns to stone and fades. And I feel a weight has lifted. And I feel the waves crash over me. Don’t lack or feel deflated. I found comfort in being free. Move forward keep your head up. You will find your home. Just don’t give into pain. Move forward there. And you will find your home. You’ll find your home. You’ll find your home.” Reside – Home (2017)

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BLADE RUNNER 2049 FILM REVIEW *Contains Spoilers*

Blade Runner 2049 is the long-awaited sequel to the original Ridley Scott classic released back in 1982. Considering the past history of the Blade Runner franchise from numerous script rewrites to production issues and huge delays in release, this could have been a total disaster. But thankfully the sequel wisely avoids the temptation of simply rehashing storylines from the original.

Director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) had some huge shoes to fill in delivering a worthy follow-up film and for the most part he succeeds. Taking place in Los Angeles 30 years after the events of the first film, the story focuses on Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a LAPD cop who like Deckard before him has to terminate or retire replicants (android versions of humans).

This film both builds upon the Blade Runner universe created in the original and makes plenty of references, nods and flashbacks to it. The dystonic cityscape of Los Angeles seems even more dark, hazy and over-populated due to the “Blackout period” that occurred in 2022. The only sources of light comes from the bright-neon strobes, flashing company logos and holographic models that populate the city below.

The first half of the film concentrates on Officer K’s case on hunting down the remaining Nexus-8 replicants and finding the identity of a mysterious child. He lives in a ragged apartment with his virtual girlfriend named Joi (Ana De Armas) who acts as both a lover, companion and assistant in keeping his sanity in check.

We learn that the now defunct Tyrell Corporation has been taken over an evil, god-like engineer named Neander Wallace (Jared Leto). He claims that the replicants he manufactures are safer and can obey humans’ commands. Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) is Wallace’s right-hand woman, an assassin and a Nexus-9 replicant.

We also get a deeper look into Officer K’s past and childhood. He soon discovers a few explosive revelations of his own involving a certain date carved on the bottom of a wooden horse ornament. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) doesn’t make an appearance until the last third of the film but it’s very much worth the wait.

Everything about this film is such a delight to behold. From the high-tech, dazzling visuals, intense action sequences, atmospheric soundtrack and great acting. At 163 minutes, the film does drag at times and could have done with some editing, particularly in the slower, more contemplative scenes.

I really appreciate all the references to the original film including artificial vs. real animals, the Voight-Kampff machine for testing replicants, flashbacks to Rachel and hints at Vangelis’ Love Theme. I do wish parts of the story were fleshed out a bit more especially since there’s been a 30 year gap between films but overall, I really enjoyed this sequel and I’m glad that it’s finally come out. 9/10

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​PARKWAY DRIVE (COVERS SET) w/ This Life I Live (EP Launch), Valhalla & He Who Seeks Vengeance @ BANG! October 2017

It really takes a lot for me to justify making the effort to attend BANG! events these days. There are multiple barriers to overcome. Paying $20 entry on a host list. The average turnouts and mixed vibes from the crowd. Knowing that I struggle to fit in socially especially in a nightclub environment. The long distance of travelling out to the city and back home again. Feeling exhausted and emotionally drained from the rest of the week.

But considering the lineup of bands was really decent tonight, I decided to come down and support them. Whilst my introverted nature and social awkwardness was ever-present, I still managed to make somewhat of an effort to socialise and I even bumped into a few old friends of mine that I hadn’t seen in a while. Besides that, I really don’t do BANG! anymore because I simply get bored easily there and it’s not a venue I feel like I belong at.

HE WHO SEEKS VENGEANCE…I’ve been meaning to see this Frankston-based Melodic Hardcore band for a while now but as usual, life gets in the way. I’ve been supporting the vocalist Scott Masson since he used to front Behold The Defiant a couple of years back. Their performance tonight was highly entertaining especially when they brought out some inflatable beach balls and tossed a few black tees into the crowd. It was a simple yet effective way of getting the crowd involved during the set and it worked wonderfully. Their tracks were really tight with some epic guitar riffs, heavy breakdowns and brutal vocals. Check out their music video for debut single “See You In Hell” here… https://www.facebook.com/hewhoseeks…

VALHALLA…Tonight was my first time checking out this Adelaide-based Post-Hardcore band. I thought they played a really solid set tonight though the crowd reaction was painfully disappointing. I actually felt bad for them considering they made the effort to drive down to Melbourne for this show. However, they should all be commended for handling the negative response well and not letting the lack of applauds discourage them. You can check out their singles “Outrage” and “The Promise” here… https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq…

THIS LIFE I LIVE…This was the band I mainly came out to see. I was super stoked to see this Melbourne-based Melodic Metalcore band finally drop their debut self-titled EP after two years together. They have worked tremendously hard to reach this point, pulling out a polished performance with lots of raw emotion and honesty. The boys played several tracks from that EP including Ronin, The Petty One and Plot 33 plus a cover from The Ghost Inside featuring Adam Pedersen (Atlantic) dropping some guesties. https://thislifeilive.bandcamp.com/…

PARKWAY DRIVE COVERS SET…Unfortunately, I didn’t stick around for the Parkway Drive covers set but you can check out the original tracks from the album “Horizons” here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/h…

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 72, October 2017

“Overcoming self-doubt is all about believing we’re enough and letting go of what the world says we’re supposed to be and supposed to call ourselves.”        The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brene Brown (p. 115)

On Monday morning, I participated in the Do It In A Dress charity event at UFT PLAYgrounds in Berwick. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this event but most of it was self-generated inside my head. I’ve had self-confidence issues most of my life so wearing a dress in public is a massive step up for me. I’m putting myself out of my comfort zone, supporting an important cause and being a part of something bigger than myself. I ended up putting about $10-15 in small change into the money box plus I made an online donation a few weeks ago.

Past Michael would have caved into the fear and ran for the hills (Fear of being laughed at by others, fear of being embarrassed or humiliated, fear of being rejected or socially excluded). But Present Michael is much stronger than that and the reality is that most of those things won’t actually happen. Every personal trainer, coach and client will be wearing a dress of some kind so therefore I won’t be standing out for all the wrong reasons. Plus this event is meant to be fun.

The event was organised by personal trainer Sheena Mabilangan. The aim is to raise money towards educating young girls in Uganda and Sierra Leone who can’t afford to go to school or aren’t allowed to simply because they are born a girl. So the idea is to wear a dress for the girls who can’t. You can find out more information about the cause and the Do It In A Dress event here: http://www.doitinadress.com/

WARM-UP…So this morning I did my usual flowing sequence of yoga stretches…thread the needle, pigeon pose (10 on each side) plus five minutes standing on the balance board. I decided to vent my frustrations about work to Luke because it was still plaguing my mind from yesterday. It was a very exhausting and stressful day for me but I got through it without having a mental breakdown or bawling my eyes out.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I worked on my single back squats, doing 5 sets of 1’s and getting up to 95kg. I got myself a little confused at the start as I wasn’t sure if we were doing 4’s, 2’s or 1’s. But the biggest challenge for me was keeping my chest lifted up during the ascent. Part of it was a mental battle of being able to handle the pressure of the weight on my back but eventually I got it. It was just navigating the period of adjustment to lifting a heavier weight than normal and concentrating on getting my form correct. But I was still very proud of my efforts.

WORKOUT…Today’s workout involved doing 3 rounds of the following movements: 20m sled push, 10 squats, 20m sled pull, 10 squats and a 200m run. Whilst the first of the workout was definitely tough from a strength and fatigue perspective, the run was the thing that got me the most. I do feel like I am making some significant improvements though. Remembering to breathe, keeping my chest lifted up and arms in a swinging motion. But eventually, I just run out of gas and that’s when the heavy panting and breathlessness begins. Still I managed to smash the workout and that’s what really matters. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

On Monday night, I decided to take a second bite of the cherry and came down for an Ultimate Bootcamp session at UFT PLAYgrounds in Berwick. By this point, I was feeling rather worn out and mentally exhausted from the weekend and this morning, but I was determined to put myself out there again in my One Girl school dress. I know that most people at UFT are more than happy to put themselves out there and having an extroverted personality certainly helps but for me, it’s certainly a lot more challenging exposing myself like this.

But everyone today has been really supportive and encouraging about the cause and the way I look in the dress. The last thing I wanted was to be put down, mocked and laughed at. But that’s what anxiety does…creates the worst possible scenario inside your head when the reality is it’s probably not going to happen. Like I said to Luke Davey this morning, just tell that fear to fuck off!

This was my first time doing an Ultimate Bootcamp class at UFT. I was feeling a little nervous as there was a lot of other classes happening at the same time. It was just a small group tonight which I was comfortable with. We warmed up by playing a game of stick master followed by flip the tyre. I found both of these really fun and thankfully this helped to release some awkward social tension I was having.

Next we had to do 3 rounds of: 1 minute row, 1 minute rest, 200m run, 1 minute rest. I’ve never really been a competitive person even in a group training environment. In fact, the most important advice I’ve ever received is this “Don’t worry about anyone else. The only person you should be competing against is yourself.” I was having some issues keeping up at times but I didn’t care. I just did the best I could to keep a good, consistent pace.

The workout involved a 25 minute AMRAP including 50 kettle bell swings, 50 kettle bell lunges, 50 burpees and 50 hollow rocks. This workout absolutely killed me. First of all, I’ve never done a 25 minute AMRAP before tonight so that in itself was a huge challenge for me. Then there was the mental pressure, fatigue and struggle to keep going. It got harder and harder for me to hold that kettle bell up but I didn’t give up.

I got kinda sensitive towards the end but reminded myself not to take things personally. There were times when I really needed to rest in between reps because I was physically exhausted and burning out. I honestly didn’t care what anyone thought because I was still giving it 110% effort even during the last few minutes. I AM GOOD ENOUGH! And I should be proud of myself for not only getting through this workout but the whole day in general. http://www.uftplaygrounds.com.au/ul…

On Tuesday afternoon, I had my third appointment with Dr. Yasmin Baliz at CNS: Comprehensive Neuropsychological Services in Narre Warren. Today was my final day of assessment for the Autism Spectrum Disorder and thankfully it was nowhere near as stressful or brain-straining as last week’s session was. I had to fill in a number of questionnaires ranging from 30-60 questions each as well as another verbal response test.

The first questionnaire was the DASS (Depression Anxiety Stress Scales) which thankfully I’ve done before with a previous psychologist. This was all about measuring my moods and emotional states. There were two other paper questionnaires which had the options of: Strongly agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree, strongly disagree. The statements were all situation based and if it applies to me. I also had to do an online questionnaire featuring the options: Never, sometimes and always. http://www2.psy.unsw.edu.au/dass/ov…

Some of the questions where only hard because I tend to get indecisive about which option to pick and whether it’s the correct response for me but you just have to go with your gut and try to be as honest as possible. The verbal response test was mostly easy but at times I do have trouble explaining myself or coming up with a coherent answer inside my head. Part of it is certainly overthinking but the other part is finding the right words to say. But Dr. Yasmin was patient and allowed me time to think if I needed to.

And now it’s a 3 week wait until my final feedback session whilst Dr. Yasmin prepares my report. It was also a huge relief to know that I am able to pay the report off in installments rather than in full. $500 is a lot of money to fork out but I do believe that it’s worth it in terms of improving my social skills, personal development and emotional well-being going forward into the future. And if Dr. Yasmin can offer me any additional support services to help me then I’m all the better for doing this. http://www.cnspsych.com.au/

On Wednesday morning, I had my second Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. It was a challenging day for me considering I was still recovering from Monday. The soreness in my lower back became a huge distraction for me and unfortunately it gave my inner critic plenty of opportunity to kick off and make the session harder than it should have been.

WARM-UP…I felt that it was really important to be up front with Luke about the soreness and pain I was still experiencing in my lower back before starting. So he got me to roll out and do some pretzel stretches to help release and ease some of the discomfort. I also did 3 rounds of 12 single arm balancing deadlifts with the kettle bell. The pain started flaring up again towards the end of the second round and I was beginning to get frustrated.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I worked on my single deadlifts, doing 4 sets of 1’s at 105kg and one set of 1’s at 110kg. I was really struggling hard even putting the plates on the bar and starting at 40-60kg. The negative thoughts began flooding in as the soreness began to intensify in my back (God this must be so painful for Luke to watch. This is not my best performance at all. I’m taking far too long and even lifting 60kg is really hard for me today. I don’t think I can do this).

But thankfully I managed to silence my inner critic and somehow find the fire within. It was really tough but with Luke’s help, I managed to slowly shift my mindset, get the posture correct, chalked up my hands, put maximum effort into my deadlift and feel confident about it. Luke knew that I was capable of lifting more and so I smashed out a single 110kg deadlift which is a PB for me. I could have lifted heavier but knew that this was my limit for today and next time I’m sure I could hit 115-120kg.

On Thursday morning, Mum and I went down to do some shopping at IKEA Springvale. I absolutely love visiting IKEA mainly because I see it more as an adventure rather just a typical “just looking” shopping experience. The layout of the departments is very unique compared to most other large retailers with a top level dedicated to showrooms and interior displays and the bottom level dedicated to homewares, lighting, decor and furniture.

It’s one of those things I only do a couple of times per year and I find that they’re always changing the layout and introducing new products into the store as well as traditional IKEA staples. You start by “borrowing” a large yellow bag and a trolley, and move your way from one section to the next. There was plenty of bargains and cheap impulse purchases to be had…artificial plants, candles, coat hangers, dish brushes, lamps, bath mats, peelers, spray bottles, watering cans, throw rugs, cushions, towels, lint rollers, drinking glasses etc.

The IKEA Restaurant and Cafe is very American Cafeteria styled as you grab a food tray and work your way along the different cabinets…desserts, drinks, hot food, pastries, coffee and tea. Being close to Christmas, there was a festive promo area set up in front of the checkouts with everything from wrapping paper and napkins to decorations, lights and soft toys. And of course, Mum and I could leave before having a $1 hotdog. http://www.ikea.com/au/en/store/spr…

On Thursday night, I went to my Water Workout class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. As usual, I decided to spend about 20-30 minutes before the class doing some hydrotherapy on my lower back to ease off any soreness and release any tension. I’ve also started contemplating using the sauna on a more regular basis. The most important thing about sitting in a sauna is to gradually build up heat tolerance over time. Tonight, 5-10 minutes was enough for me but I did my best to relax and embrace the humidity inside the room. https://www.naturalhealthmag.com.au/…

Tonight’s class was run by fitness instructor Janine and it was a small class of only 6 people. The structure was a little different to previous classes in that all the exercises were done using basic interval training in mind…50 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest. We did several aqua movements including: jogging, rock ‘n’ roll, mermaid, ski poles, star jumps, tuck jumps, pendulum, donkey kicks and running. http://woman.thenest.com/water-aero…

On Friday morning, I had my third Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. I still have mixed feelings about my progress and performance today. My emotions definitely got in the way particularly during the workout and certain things really got me down after leaving. But at least I can say that I put 110% effort into it. Every struggle is real for me. I don’t put it on and I don’t bullshit. But that doesn’t mean I’m weak either. This is something that I genuinely hope Luke recognises in me.

WARMUP…Today I started by doing some stretches into my shoulders and pectoral muscles on each side before doing 3 rounds of 10 plank holds with shoulder lifts. I also did 2 rounds of 10 kettle bell overhead lifts.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I returned to doing dumbbell bench press, 5 rounds of 8 reps at 30kg (15kg x 2). I started off really shaky and found it hard controlling the movement of the dumbbells but over time, I was slowly getting better at it.

WORKOUT…There was so much going on physically and mentally for me during this workout that I didn’t even think I could finish it at one point. I did four rounds of the following: 350 row, 20 pushups, 15 ring rows and 10 box jumps. I was absolutely fine on the rowing machine. It was more of a mental challenging of wondering if I was going fast enough and being able to handle the fatigue building up.

The pushups were easily the hardest for me. I did really well during the first two rounds before things became almost too much for me. I was getting very hard on myself for collapsing onto the foam mat and missing reps. Tears were mixing in with sweat as I contemplated whether I could finish this or not. I was worried about disappointing Luke and basically felt embarrassed about my performance. I just struggled heaps with it.

The ring rows were really tough also but nowhere near as bad as the pushups. I did have to stop a few times to recover and shake the physical fatigue out but otherwise I did well. The box jumps were easily my strongest area. No longer did I feel anxious about tripping over the box or letting the height intimidate me. The fire within really unleashed here as I literally stomped onto the box. I think it was me releasing a lot of pent up negative emotions and saying “I can fucking do this” with my body language.

On Friday afternoon, Mum and I visited the Cat Cafe Melbourne in the city. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about replacement buses or rushing to get there on time. I really wanted to use my hour session wisely and let it all sink in. The cat’s there are all so beautiful and for the most part placid. This was exactly what I needed after how upset and stressed I was feeling about my training session this morning. A welcome distraction to wind myself down.

They had a selection of slices, cakes and biscuits all with cat designs on them as well as some coffees and teas. There is also a gift shop downstairs which sold everything from toys, cat nip and a drinking fountain to notebooks, magnets, pens, diaries, games and plush soft toys. I really enjoyed myself today and I’m glad that my friend Amy Amy suggested this place to me. Highly recommended for all cat lovers. https://catcafemelbourne.com/

“In my defense, all my intentions were good. And heaven knows a place somewhere for the misunderstood.  You know I’d give you blood if it’d be enough…For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for the hurt. I’ll be the first to say, I made my own mistakes. For what it’s worth, I know it’s just a word and words betray. Sometimes we lose our way.”                                                                           Liam Gallagher – For What It’s Worth (2017)

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