“Whether we’re overcoming adversity, surviving trauma, or dealing with stress and anxiety, having a sense of purpose, meaning and perspective in our lives allows us to develop understanding and move forward.”                                                                                   The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (p. 74)

On Monday morning, I attended my Healthy Cooking on a Budget class at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. Today’s class was much smaller than usual probably due to the wet weather outside. Despite my usual levels of social anxiety and nerves, I was actually feeling a lot more productive and prepared today compared to last week. I was determined to get more involved and having encouragement from Kevin and Jodie certainly helped me a lot.

Today we made some profiteroles and some gougere with the choux pastry as a base. Most of the work involved using a saucepan to combine ingredients and a wooden spoon to stir them vigorously together. It was tricky at times because I’m generally not a fast stirrer and I had to consciously try to increase my speed. At least I had Kevin that I could alternate tasks with. We had to make a seperate chocolate ganache mixture as well as a chocolate filling for the choux pastry.

We also made a savoury alternative by combining bacon pieces, onion, chopped parsley, grated cheese and mustard with the choux pastry mixture. I was a bit rusty with the piping bag as I haven’t done it in so long but the puffs turned out pretty well in the oven. We dipped each of the puffs in the chocolate ganache and then filled each one with the chocolate filling.

On Monday night, I attended an RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I was feeling restless, drained and exhausted all day from lack of sleep and allowing people to drag me down over social media. So I really needed this class just to clear my head and hopefully boost my positive energy levels back up. Tonight’s class was run by instructor Claire who was really fired up, loud and motivating.

We cycled along to release number 60 which featured tracks including Rhianna’s Diamonds, One Republic’s If I Lose Myself, Rudimental’s Not Giving In and Andy Grammer’s Miss Me. There were a few sprint sections, some intense interval training and easy ride parts. It wasn’t my best or fastest RPM performance but I really put a lot of effort in especially during the last few tracks. My glutes, hips and groin were all starting to feel it so clearly I was still working hard in tonight’s class. http://www.totallylesmills.com/site…

On Tuesday morning, I went to my Flow Yoga class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I was still feeling a bit sore from yesterday but thankfully yoga is really good for joint mobility and releasing tension so I needed this class today. Instructor Michelle guided us through various poses including Flowing Sequences (Downward Facing Dog, Knee to Nose, Crescent Lunge), Balancing (Eagle pose, Stork pose, Aeroplane pose, Warrior 3) and Inversions (Shoulder Stand, Fish pose).

Michelle spoke about the power of listening, both to yourself and others. This helps to improve your mindfulness skills, mental concentration and quieting the mind. Our meditation today focused on paying attention to the different sounds inside and outside of the group fitness room (the music, Michelle’s voice, your breath, conversations, environmental noises). http://soundmeditation.com/portfoli…

On Wednesday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. I’ve honestly come a long way in the six months I’ve been training with Luke this year. I’ve struggled to find a sense of belonging and acceptance at UFT PLAYgrounds. I’ve struggled with how I’ve felt about myself. I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression, fears, loneliness and overthinking. And now I’ve pushed myself into a much more positive headspace. The physical and mental struggle has definitely been worth it.

Of course that doesn’t mean my mental illness has instantly banished. It just means that I’m able to cope with it better and use strategies to get on top of it. I’m making more of an effort to say hello and break the ice with some of the other trainers. I’m making more of an effort to connect better with Luke during my sessions. I’m learning to be okay with silence, with not having much to say, with making mistakes, with not knowing what I’m doing and most importantly, with being myself.

WARM-UP…Today I started my session by doing 20 Scorpion stretches, 2 rounds of pretzel stretches on each side of the body and 3 rounds of 8 reps single arm kettle bell lifts with leg balance. This was probably the most difficult in terms of co-ordination, body position and keeping my balance but I still managed to finish them.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I did 5 rounds of 8 deadlifts at 70kg. During the warm-up run, I was starting to feel soreness and pinching through my lower back. Past Michael would have suffered and put up with it for fear of rejection. But I knew I had to speak up about it. This was the “potential for injury” kind of pain and thankfully Luke took it seriously. It certainly not something I would lie about nor was it me playing the “poor me” card.

So I ended up doing some foam rolling and additional stretches into my lower back and glutes using the rubber ball and my own body weight. This helped loosen up the tightness in my muscles and when I resumed doing the deadlifts, my lower back felt much better. Initially my form and technique was a little off and I was doing the reps too quickly. However, with some conscious awareness, I managed to improve my deadlifts and make them more controlled. It’s all practice and I’m still proud of my efforts today.

I finished my session off by doing some more foam rolling and a few yoga stretches including Downward Facing Dog and Cobra pose, holding each of these for strength and endurance. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

On Thursday night, I went to my Water Workout class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne. Arriving a few minutes early, I decided to jump in the spa and use the jets to relieve the tension and soreness in my lower back (plus perve on a few guys because why not :P) before starting the class. Tonight’s class was facilitated by instructor Mary who had a very witty and sarcastic sense of humour.

We did the usual combination of underwater exercises and movements including pendulum, rock n’ roll, jogging, digging and pushing away the water, ski slopes, star jumps and tuck jumps. We also used the dumb bells to do some doggy paddling both forwards and backwards. I’m slowly gaining confidence in this area of swimming and I managed to keep my head above water and kicking my legs fast for power. It felt really good about myself. https://fitness.edu.au/the-fitness-…

On Friday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. My session today was all about having the courage and belief in myself to speak up without fear. I wanted to update my current fitness goals to incorporate some new movements including Snatches and Muscle Ups/Pull Ups. I also wanted to develop and improve upon other movements including Pushups and Box Jumps. Thankfully Luke was very receptive to my suggestions and changing up my program a bit in the future.

WARM-UP…Today’s warm up exercises included my usual Y-stretch into the upper body and shoulders, lying down on the bench with arms extended out behind me. I also did 3 rounds of 10 single arm dumb bell rows at 25kg. This was pretty tough for me particularly when I got to the 8th rep or so. I was fatiguing quickly and struggled to lift the dumb bell all the way up to my armpit. But as always, I did my best and rested when necessary.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I did a dumb bell bench press exercise with two 10kg weights. Getting the movement and technique down was probably the most difficult part but I did improve over time. I’m learning not to get myself easily distracted by external noises as well. Just focus on what you’re doing and stay in the present moment.

WORKOUT…Today’s workout was another really tough one but I decided that I was up for the challenge. I had to do three rounds of the following: 15 cal on the assault bike, 15 ring rows, 15 box jumps and 15 push ups. The last two exercises were the most difficult for me. I do have some anxiety going into the box jumps but at least Luke made the height realistic and achievable. I basically just pretended that my shoes were like rockets and I exploded up onto the box. My fear of tripping over and potentially hurting myself quickly disintegrated. This is exactly how you build confidence and work towards improvement.

The push ups were also really hard but only because my arm muscles were burning a lot from the other exercises. But I do feel like I am getting better at them. In time, I’ll be able to work up to a full push up position but for now, doing them on my knees is more than enough for me. I ended up completing the three rounds in 13 minutes and 40 seconds.

Later that day, I attended the Morning Melodies social function at Waltzing Matilda Hotel in Springvale. Today’s entertainer was Sandie Dodd who played tribute to Dolly Parton. She was dressed up in a 60’s styled blonde wig, a glittering red dress and matching red studded stilettos. She was extremely funny and even pulled out some dance moves and a Dolly-esque Southern accent. She performed many of Dolly’s classic country hits including Silver Threads and Golden Needles, To Daddy, Coat of Many Colours, Here You Come Again, Joellene, Ya’ll Come and 9 to 5. https://www.reverbnation.com/sandie…

On Friday night, I attended the first Full Moon meditation class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. The staff had spaced out blue and black yoga mats to fill the entire group fitness room with a tealight candle, questionnaire and small purple inspiration card placed down at each mat. Everyone who attended could bring their own blankets, pillows, jumpers and whatever else they needed to make themselves warm and comfortable.

The guided meditation was facilitated by instructor Michelle who also teaches yoga and pilates classes. Part of it was a progressive muscle relaxation, releasing tension, negative emotions and toxins from various areas of the body. The other part was more of a visualisation. The imagery consisted of a Japanese Garden and a temple which we mentally explored during the meditation. I always seem to feel lighter after meditating, especially when it’s done in a group environment.

After tonight, the Full Moon meditation classes will be running every month at Casey Arc and every second Friday at Casey Race. I truly hope that it takes off and brings a lot of members together. http://www.caseyarc.ymca.org.au/eve…

“I’ve gotta stop my mind, working overtime, it’s driving me insane. It will not let me live. Always so negative. It’s become my enemy. And none of these thoughts are real. So why is it that I feel so cut up and so bad? I need to take control ‘cause my mind is on a roll and it isn’t listening to me.” Jem – Save Me (2004)

“Don’t be embarrassed, don’t be afraid. Don’t let your dreams slip away. It’s determination and using your gift. Everybody has a gift. Never give up, never let it die. Trust your instincts and most importantly. You’ve got nothing to lose. So just go for it.”                                        Jem – It’s Amazing (2008)

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