MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 60, July 2017

On Monday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. Today I felt like I was really productive, in the right mindset and trying hard to improve my technique. It’s getting a lot easier to open up to Luke now. The awkward tension is slowly dissipating. I even took the opportunity to be really honest with him post-workout. We basically exchanged hard truths and it felt good. I feel like if something is weighing heavily on my mind, I need to express it. Luke can’t read my mind and it’s better than pretending everything’s fine. It builds trust and it creates transparency.

WARM-UP…Today I used a rubber ball into the hips and lower groins, lying down on my side and on my back. Next I did some forward folding stretches over the box and also did a cowboy walk down the track. The exposure to how stupid I must of looked didn’t even bother me today because I was so focused on the burning through my knees, groin and buttocks. I’m slowly letting go of what others think about me and that’s a really good thing.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I worked on my back squats again, doing 5 rounds of 5 reps. This time, I was trying hard to improve my technique of sinking down low enough and keeping my chest lifted up. It’s a difficult balance to maintain but because I was only lifting about 40-50kg, it was easier to concentrate on my form. It wasn’t perfect but it was much better than last time and I didn’t leave beating myself up and feeling a failure. That’s success right there. Luke also decided to play some Britney Spears which certainly helped me keep focused.

WORKOUT…For the workout, I ended up doing some sled pulls and pushes along the green track. The first round was at 20kg. Luke was explaining that this was meant to be a sprint and therefore I’d want to be moving as fast as possible. My first attempt wasn’t the greatest but eventually I was getting better at it. At 30-40kg, the fatigue was kicking in hard and I really couldn’t move that fast at all. I was also a little too conscious about bumping into something going backwards and kept checking over my shoulder but otherwise I did okay.

Completing the workout was an achievement for me. The fact that I was out of breath and unable to talk shows that I did put 100% effort in. However the truth is that personal bests, records and times aren’t things that really motivate me that much. I don’t define myself and my progress by a number. It’s what makes me unique in the world of Crossfit and Strength Training. People may think that I’m crazy or not serious about my training, but that is far from the truth. Showing up, not giving up and smashing out a workout is what defines me. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

On Monday night, I attended my first class of the Foundation Meditation course at Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning, The Peninsula. Finding the place wasn’t too difficult despite the lack of streetlights. Walking into the main building and reception area, I felt a little intimidated and cautious about being here. Then I noticed that all of the staff there were all wearing white garments. Oh god, have I just stepped into a spiritual/religious cult? Is this a convent or a mental hospital? Thankfully none of these things…so far.

I filled in a registration form at the front desk before proceeding upstairs to my class. The large room contained a screen featuring a diagram of focused light rays on a red background and a collection of 9 red chairs all arranged in a uniform pattern. My anxiety began kicking in now and of course I was the first to arrive. I met the facilitator named Angie, removed my shoes and found myself a seat in the back row. The other students then back flowing into the room before the class began at 7pm.

The class contained a mixed of theory and practical elements. We learned about the different types of thoughts including positive, negative, elevated, ordinary and waste. The last one, waste, makes up 90-95% of our total thoughts and include things from our past (blame, bitterness, regret and guilt) and our future (doubt, fear and worry). Angie described thoughts as a flow of energy out into the atmosphere and that having awareness of what we are thinking and experiencing is really important in order to overcome and change it.

We also learned about the acronym for SOS…STOP (Having the realisation/awareness), OBSERVE (What it is that you are thinking?) and STEER (Steer my thoughts in a more positive direction. For example, what are my best qualities?). Finally, we discussed the four stages of meditation. These include Relaxation (relaxing the body), Contemplating (thoughts are taking a positive turn e.g. I am happy, I am peaceful), Concentration (just experiencing or feeling), Realisation (deep internal stillness and having very few thoughts). http://brahmakumaris.org.au/events/…

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to a Christmas in July social function with the Narre Warren Walking Group at Cardinia Park Hotel in Beaconsfield. I was still feeling a bit restless from last night but getting out was exactly what I needed. The bistro was pretty cozy though the heater was on full blast and making me more drained than usual. The two long tables were buzzing with conversation and it seemed like everyone was happy to see Mum and myself there.

The meals were a little on the expensive side but I honestly couldn’t complain about the service or the portion size. I ordered the calarami with chips and salad. It was extremely filling to say the least. The conversations around me where polite and I did try to engage with a few of them but it was hard maintaining my focus. I find staying in large social groups to be exhausting after a certain period of time and I was ready to leave by the 1.5-2 hour mark. Still I’m glad I came. http://www.cardiniaparkhotel.com.au/…

On Tuesday night, I drove down to my friend Michael McLaren’s place in Bayswater to pick up my Oceans To Athena hoodie. Most people would think I’m either nuts or dedicated driving 45 minutes to an hour just to pick up some merch but I had another reason for coming down. Social connection. Something that’s been really lacking in my life lately. So the long drive didn’t bother me at all and I knew how to get there, considering it was very close the The Barn Live.

I chilled out in Michael’s living room with his girlfriend Holly, roommate and his friendly dog Obi. The wall heater was on and I was sipping on a cup of green lemon tea whilst listening to the conversations. I didn’t stay too long as I intended to go to my Body Balance class straight after. However, when I was driving back to Narre Warren, I was feeling noticeably drained and worn out. Plus the peak-hour traffic didn’t help matters. Even if I did make it in time, I’d be rushing to get there and honestly it wasn’t worth the stress. Sometimes it’s better to listen to your body and do what’s best for you at the time.

On Wednesday morning, I attended my Restorative yoga class with Kim Lousada at Now, Yoga.. Honestly, I haven’t really been functioning well the last couple of days. My sleep patterns have been terrible. I’ve been feeling unmotivated, restless and worn out. And I’ve also been feeling quite down and depressed about my life. So this class was exactly what I needed today. To walk out of that studio feeling revitalized, refreshed and joyful. It’s the reason why I continue to do yoga because of all the benefits I get out of it. http://nowyoga.net.au/

Today we did a series of supported variations of poses including pigeon pose, wide legged forward fold, side stretches and butterfly pose using bolsters, blocks and blankets. My hips were noticeably tight and so pigeon pose really helped in opening up that area and increasing the stretch. I didn’t go too deep with it today but it still felt good. Kim used a quote from Bruce Lee about “becoming like water” which means adapting to changes in life. She also read the quote “This too shall pass”, which is a Persian adage referring to feelings and mental states not being permanent. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/163…

On Thursday. Mum and I spent the day out in the city together. Firstly, we had an 11.30am reservation at the NGV The Tea Room for tea and lunch. We ordered the devonshire tea with scones plus a selection of finger sandwiches and two desserts. It’s not very often that we dine in style so we made the most of it.

Next, we queued up to purchase tickets to the Van Gogh and the Seasons at NGV inside the Great Hall. The queue was ridiculously long but that was no surprise considering the exhibition ends this week and it’s also the school holidays. It took us just over an hour to get to the front of the line but I bemused myself by overhearing conversations around me and checking out some male eye candy.

The exhibition began with a short video explaining the life and a brief history of Vincent Van Gogh. He was born in Zundert, Netherlands on 30 March, 1853. Starting out as an art dealer, he soon followed in his father’s footsteps in turning to religion and becoming a Protestant missionary in Belgium. However, this venture was short-lived as his true passion for painting quickly emerged in 1881. His brother Theo supported him both financially and compassionately during his art career.

In 1886, Van Gogh moved to Paris, getting himself involved in the avant garde and impressionist movements. His paintings were heavily influenced by the likes of Emile Bernard, Paul Gauguin and Claude Monet. Van Gogh suffered from mental disorders including depression, loneliness, social isolation and several psychotic episodes. This lead to a fight with Gauguin, which resulted in him chopping off his own ear. He was later admitted to Saint Remy, a local psychiatric asylum, before shooting himself in the chest with a revolver and dying in 1890.

In terms of his artwork collection, the exhibition was divided up into four sections representing each of the seasons: Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. Van Gogh correlated each season with particular moods, feelings, colours, people, animals, flowers and other landscape features. Autumn featured large trees and woodland as well as shades of browns and oranges. Winter featured dark renderings, shadowy figures in snow fields and willowy peach trees. Spring featured blossoming orchards, cows and farm workers. Summer featured wheat fields and varying tones of yellow. Van Gogh also did a series of still life paintings featuring vases containing sunflowers, roses, poppies and irises as well as collections of fruit. https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibiti…

On Friday morning, I had my counselling session with Ruth at Piece Together Counselling in Narre Warren. I decided to invite my mum along again today for support. Today I talked about how unmotivated and low I’ve been feeling this week. Beginning with my PT session with Luke on Monday, I had the courage to speak up about what truly motivates me and be assertive about it. Both my mental state and the colder weather has affected me as my energy levels have quickly depleted during the day. Physically, I just haven’t felt like going out at night unless I really had to.

Mum was also really concerned about how I’m going to cope being alone in the house next week while she and Rod are in Queensland for their anniversary. At least I’ve managed to put a few plans in place for myself like my Movie Night, PT sessions, yoga, fitness classes, meditation, art galleries, gigs, reading and puzzles. Plus I’ll be cooking for myself which I’m sure I’ll manage. I’m just going to stick to easy to prepare meals with few ingredients. It doesn’t have to be Masterchef.

On Friday afternoon, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. I was rushing from place to place all morning and had no time to slow down, relax and have lunch. Plus a lot of negative stuff was building up inside of me and had to be released somehow. Honestly, I did have good intentions walking into today’s session but everything just quickly went downhill fast during my workout.

WARM-UP…Today I started by doing some standing forward bends, stretching into the sides and touching my toes. Yoga really has helped in regards to improving my flexibility. Next, I had to do 3 rounds of 8 single arm kettle bell deadlifts, essentially going into a Warrior 3 pose and having to balance my leg behind me. My balance was pretty terrible today but I kept trying and eventually got the hang of it.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I worked on my deadlifts again, this time doing 5 rounds of 3 at 90kg. Luke was giving me plenty of hints in order to correct my posture and technique whilst lifting. I was trying so hard not to take these critiques personally but my mental illness proved stronger today. I was starting to get frustrated and impatient with myself but my lifts were improving with each round and I tried hard to make each rep count.

WORKOUT…Today I used a Strongman Yoke for the first time, which is essentially a large metal frame that can be loaded up with plates. At first I was doing okay and slowly adjusting to the swaying motion of the side bars. I was finding it difficult to keep myself centered whilst lifting it up and also trying to pace myself with the walk. When it came to the last reps of the workout, I was lifting around 80kg or so and it was getting really tough on my neck and shoulders.

The physical and mental pressures were both bubbling up inside of me and I was ready to explode. I couldn’t shut my negative thoughts off (That’s not good enough, Don’t drop the frame, You’re a failure) and then it came out: I AM NOT A FUCKING FAILURE! I made a beeline to the nearest box and sat down, hands over my face, shedding a river of tears. I felt so embarrassed in that moment a) for letting the pressure get to me and b) for making such an uncharacteristic outburst in front of Luke.

The truth was that I was really angry at myself and I basically letting my mental illness off for interfering during my workout. I’d had enough. Part of me was also trying way too hard to please Luke and not disappoint him. I wanted to be “good enough” in his eyes and yet I felt like I couldn’t do anything right today. He assured me that I should be happy with the effort I put in but of course I wasn’t in the mindset to believe him or care. I just want you to be proud of me. I’m sorry that I failed you.

On Friday night, I attended my RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. This was a very last minute decision as I felt like I needed some high intensity exercise tonight rather than sitting at home or going out to a gig and replaying today’s events over and over in my head. I needed to release these internal demons and rid myself of this “I’m not good enough” mindset bouncing around inside my head. I needed to feel better about myself mentally.

Tonight’s class was instructed by Matt who was filling in for Natalie Blanch. It was a mixture of releases 40 and 72 which included the tracks Seal – If It’s In My Mind, It’s On My Face, Jennifer Lopez – Do It Well, The Cranberries – Zombie, Seven Lions – Falling Away and Andrew Rayel – Rise Of An Era. It was hitting around 70-80RPM for the easy ride sections, up to 85RPM for the standing cycle sections and 110-130RPM for the racing sections. http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/cl…

I immersed myself fully in the workout, taking in the trance and club songs as I was pedaling and imagining the cycle studio becoming something like a nightclub with green laser lights and DJ’s on the decks. It’s amazing what exercise can do for the mind and body. I was able to quieten those loud negative thoughts from earlier today and just focus on cycling. I always seem to sweat heaps in these classes which is a really good thing because it means I’m working hard. https://greatist.com/fitness/13-awe…

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