Starting Again

Term Four Fitness Challenge Review – Week 1.

The blogging about my fitness regime for the past few years has been about as consistent as the actual sessions, not at all. I have however decided that it is time to start again, but this time try to do both a little smarter as time seems to becoming increasingly precious as a get older and my commitments / lifestyle has continued to change. It’s basically time to start fresh and try to set some new and more achievable goals.

One of the things that I have learnt over the years with goal setting is that they need to challenge you but also be achievable. You need to have a definitive start and end date for the goal and be able to break it down into manageable sized actions to ensure that you actually have the procedures in place to give you the best chance of success. This is what I have decided to do regarding fitness:

Over the length of Term 4 (8 weeks) I will endeavour to exercise five days a week, week days by getting up out of bed between 5:15 and 5:30 every morning. This will allow me to get to the gym no later than 5:50am where I can do an intense workout for 30 – 40 minutes before showering, dressing and heading into school. My sessions will vary between cardio (three times a week) and free weights (two times a week).

For me to be successful in this I know that there’s a few actions important for me to commit to, the first being getting to bed at a decent hour to get enough sleep. I am going to try to commit to getting to bed between 10:30 and 11:00 each night so that at a minimum I’ll be getting 6 hours sleep, I know I can function off this amount quite easily. I also know that I have to get out of bed as soon as my alarm goes off in the morning, any hesitation and I’ll miss my session.

Part of my challenge will also be trying to control what I eat, especially the junk food. I have weakness for chocolate and chips (crisps) that I know are not having a positive effect on my waistline currently.

Posting wise, I’ll try to do a single review post outlining “the week that has been” which would include challenges and successes I have experienced throughout the week.

Week 1: Monday 9th – Friday 13th of October.

I have managed to have a great start to the Term Four Challenge with me getting to the gym on all five days and doing decent workouts.

I have already encounter see problems that have meant changing my routine. The first hindrance occurred as a result of filling in for an indoor soccer team on Monday night, all I can say is that I am so unfit!!! I felt my hamstring go quite weak towards the end of the game, this feeling continued throughout Monday evening. I have experienced this feeling before, usually during rehab. after tearing the same muscle but never without having actually pulled the muscle prior.

Knowing that my leg was in trouble, I made the call to continue with the gym but to lay off the cardio for the remainder of the week – it will be four weights sessions in a row for me!

My next hinderance occurred on Wednesday morning. I made the silly decision to stay out late on Tuesday night by going to a late movie – this meant I didn’t get into bed until after midnight…BAD MOVE! I managed to push through and get out of bed and completed the session.

My Thursday an Friday sessions were completed with minimal problems or disruptions.

Overall, I am happy with the start I have made to the challenge. I am cautious however, it takes three weeks to form a habit and this week will be vitally important in seeing me push through and set up a good routine for the remainder of the challenge.

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The Daily Challenge of Life at the Moment

I haven’t posted for a very long time on my website, it hasn’t been an intentional thing on my behalf just a fact that life feels like it has gotten away from me…

I have found it increasingly difficult over the past few years to just keep my head above water at times with the amount of “stuff” going on in my life and taking up time which is the most valuable resource a person has, after all, it is the only commodity one can’t make more of, only slowly lose it.

I love my life. I really do believe that I one of the most blessed men to ever walk this earth, I have so much going for me (and that is not me trying to boast).

My wife and children are my everything and why I try to do everything that that I am doing to hopefully become a better man, it doesn’t mean that at times I still feel that I fall short of being the husband and father that I want to be and that they need.

I have an amazing job, I am a musician. I get to go to work every day as a Music teacher at a beautiful school and get to share my  love and passion for Music and the Arts with so many young men, it really is a privilege. I am mindful though that with this privilege comes a lot of responsibility and my occupation isn’t without a cost to time away from those I love and hold dear.

Then there’s just the everyday run of life…that takes time as well.

So, why am I saying all of this? Is it to try and justify not posting for a very long time? Absolutely not, it is merely to try and give a broad picture on where I find myself at this moment in time, after all, a life not reflected on is a life not lived and I want to continue to make sure that my life has been one lived to its fullest potential…something that at times I probably don’t live up to as much as I’d want to.

Where am I at? What is it that I am striving for and am passionate about as 2017 continues to move along.

Putting it bluntly, I want to grow and be a better person. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to look back at 2017 and have grown and developed in every area of my life. I don’t think that I will necessarily have “made it” in any of the challenges I am undertaking but hopefully I can be at least one step closer in each of these.

Being a better me…what does that mean exactly?

Well that I believe can be broken down into a number of smaller categories and sections, I have been doing this every year for the past 7 years and there have been some positive results out of it…some of my goals I am going to outline below.

Goal One – Family.

imagesWe are created to not live in isolation but to live in community and, primarily, as a part of a family unit. I love my family both my core family of wife and children and my extended family (both my wife’s and my biological family). I have always tried to keep family as the core that everything is built around, they are why I work as hard as I do, but don’t always get the right balance between work and time with them. I am really going to try this year to keep the right priority and focus, spending quality time with them regularly being totally present.

Goal Two – Friends.

UnknownI have some great close friends, they are keenly loyal to me and I know that I can trust and call on them at any time of the day. These relationships have been built over many years of time together, sharing joint experiences both happy and sad times. The past few years have been challenging to get quality time with them regularly due to the business nature of my work and wanting to spend every spare moment with my family. I am going to try and work on these friendships more, not taking them for granted, throughout 2017. It doesn’t mean necessarily spending less time with family but more trying to get the right balance between being at work and being away from work.

Goal Three – Fun.

I used to know how to have fun and have a laugh. Somewhere along the journey I’ve become a lot more serious about everything in life. That’s something that I need to change whether it’s through being spontaneous in doing something, making light of a difficult situation and just consciously trying to smile more…I think this one for me will be a big challenge but they say that laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Let’s give it a crack.

Goal Four – Fitness.

UnknownThese post are usually all focused on my fitness goals and progress. I have been exercising, but no where near as frequently or at the intensity that I’d like. This has been a result of the stresses at work and need to get in at much earlier times, combined with late nights and then injuries on top of it. All excuses aside I need to start back into a good routine as I am carrying a lot more weight than I want to be at this moment and a I worry about what the long term health effects would be if I don’t change something. Similarly I need to work on my diet. The stresses have resulted in me eating a lot more unhealthy food, sugary and salty…another aspect that will need to change in 2017.

Goal Five – Furthering / Formation.

UnknownI’ve worked really hard on some of these goals over the past years and am happy with some progress. I have managed to maintain a healthy (and manageable) reading regime of a minimum of twelve books a year (one a month) for the past four years. I’d love to read more but know that with the speed I read that it is just not feasible without having a negative effect on other areas of life.

I made the decision this year to really try and further myself as an educator. I am currently working towards completing my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment so that a Vocational Education Training (VET) Course in Music Performance may be a possibility at school. I am also looking at completing some Kodaly courses / accreditation over the next couple of years.

Musically I have started learning the trumpet, I feel that this will help me become a better band director in school through being able to share experiences and  knowledge with students…let’s see how that goes. I have also been working towards my Fourth Grade AMEB Flute performance exam…hopefully that will be done by half way through the year!!!

Goal Six – Financial.

imagesI have set some very specific financial goals. A book that I am currently reading, “The Richest Man in Babylon”, has really confirmed a lot of my previous thoughts and beliefs about savings and planning for the future. There’s been a lot of savings measures I’ve started to bring into my everyday life, trying to try the fat, as well as more structured budgeting to where money is going for saving/preparation for various planned expenses. Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll really start to see some dividends in this area of life.

Goal Seven – Favourable

A wise man once told me the importance in looking upon others with a sense of “favour” or good grace. This is something I really struggle with, always jumping to the worst conclusion as if I have been wronged. I’m really going to try and make the effort to look on every situation with good grace, showing favour and forgiveness to people always…I know this will probably be the biggest struggle for me but if I can take it one day at a time I might be able to at least improve a little.

The Challenges of Daily Life

Well that’s what the year 2017 is going to look like. Will I achieve all my Fs? Probably not…can I give them a red hot crack and see how far I get? Absolutely.

One sure thing is that I know I will fail a number of times (look any that, another F). But it really isn’t a matter of whether or not I fail but rather what I learn from that experience and, as I said to one of my boys at school during the week, how I respond to the situation after failing / being let down. There’s a lot I can’t change in the world and the environment I live, but what I can always change and work on is who I am currently am in my thoughts, reactions, speech and relationships. If this remains my focus I know that come the end of the year I will have grown and transformed.

Will I post more often in 2017…I hope so, but hey…who knows what life is going to throw at me.

The challenges I face in life daily are really and some are big of me but through the grace of God there is nothing to big that it can’t be overcome.




Pushing it Fine

Day Thirty One – Pushing it Fine.

I am finding it increasingly difficult to find the time to write my daily post of accountability for my fitness training session. Tonight’s is probably pushing it a little too fine writing it at 11:20pm when I need to bed in bed by 11:30 to ensure I get a good five and a half hours sleep. Unfortunately I don;t think today’s post is going to be the best quality.

This morning’s session went really well, it was no record breaking effort which i had a feeling it wouldn’t be after yesterday’s ride. I got to the gym at about 6:05am and was on the treadmill by 6:15. I did my usual 20 minute run which went reasonably well, I am finding myself a little short of breath and struggling a little on the 12.5km/h setting although I think this is more due to me seeming to have picked up a cold from students rather than from being unfit. To overcome this cold and prevent further inconveniences I think I might need to buy some antiseptic hand gel to keep in my tutoring room at each of my schools as being a woodwind tutor I do need to deal with kids spit and muck…it just goes with the territory unfortunately.

After finishing my run I headed for the bike and managed to do my full 15 minute ride. Again, I didn’t set any record breaking pace only managing to get out just over 8km in the time frame. I did find myself feeling quite tight after this so had a good stretch.

Tomorrow’s session is the final 30 minute ride for the week, it will be interesting to see how it all goes. I would love to set another personal best time and push things further but I do think that I will have to overcome my mind to do this as it’s getting to the point where I don’t know how much more I have within me to really push this. I guess time will tell!

The Start of a New Chapter and Challenge

Day 29 – Tuesday the 28th of February 2012.

Today’s session is the first one where I am finally doing my full workload for the year with University going back. It’s the first time that I have study for ten years so it will be interesting to see how I go with study, fitness training, teaching and continuing my daily posts on the sessions…I love a challenge!

Todays session was a cross training running which was supposed to consist of 20 minutes of running followed by a 15 minute ride. I was up at 5:30am without much difficulty and by 5:45am was in the car and off to the gym.

I arrived at the gym just after 6:00am and by 6:05 was on the treadmill beginning my 20 minute run. I have decided that this week it would be best for me to have another week of building stamina and endurance in my legs rather than increasing distances and speeds. I have kept the same limitations as I had last week being 5 minutes on 7.5km/h followed by 5 minutes on 10, 12.5 and then 10km/h to finish. The run went quite well, my legs did hit a sort of wall around the 15 minute mark feeling very heavy and tired, the reduced speed back to 10km/h was definitely appreciated by my body.

The cycle was supposed to be a 15 minute ride aiming to see how far I could ride. My goal was to try and break the 8.5km mark inside this time as I knew that this would be a great way to start building towards breaking the 17km mark later in the week. I started off alright and was making ok distance for time averaging between 550 and 600m per minute. I couldn’t keep this speed up however and by the 10 minute mark my legs were so fatigued they just died and I needed to stop, a bit of a disappointment but showing that there is more work to be done I guess.

The biggest test for me now proves to be keeping consistent with my full work load having finally kicked in. Doing the gym sessions should be fine with them being first thing in the morning, the difficult part will be making the time to blog everyday on it. I feel it is important that I do as it is a form of keeping me accountable to doing the exercise and a record for em to look back on in the future months. Some of the posts I might end up shortening to make it easier for me to get done, I just guess it’s going to take a whole lot of organisation of my time to ensure that I get everything done.

A Struggle to Commit

Day 24 – Thursday the 23rd of February 2012.

Today’s session was juts plain hard to commit to doing, I don’t know if it was because of a lack of energy due to my fasting yesterday for Ash Wednesday, the soccer game last night at 9:20pm or the cold I seem to have at the moment but something made getting to the gym that little bit harder this morning. When my alarm went off at 5:30am I struggled to get out of bed and got ready for my gym session, after having some thoughts about skipping the session and just going back to sleep.

I arrived at the gym right on 6:00am and got into my 20 minute run by 6:05am, I was still feeling pretty lethargic and tight from the game last night ant not being awake but started the run on the same settings that I have been doing throughout this week with five minutes consecutively on 7.5, 10, 12.5 and then 10km/h. I found it a bit harder this morning and thought about stopping at the 15 minute mark but managed to push through, my nose being blocked  was not helping my breathing…I guess that this is one of the joys about being back teaching.

At the end of the run I got onto the cycle for my 15 minute ride, I was feeling much more awake now but still was uncertain how the ride would go. This ride is the hardest one I have done so far, my legs just felt like led weights and it was difficult to even get the rpm around the 100 mark consistently. By the 5 minute mark I had managed to do just on 2.6km which is under what I needed to bring up 8km in the time period. I tried to lift the intensity but just physically couldn’t this morning so I found by the 10 minute mark I had only gone 5.5km. It was looking like the distance I would travel would at best be 8km, this did disappoint me a bit but decided that all I could do now is push. I tried to lift the intensity and managed to get it to fluctuate between the 100 and 105rpm mark, I just couldn’t get above this today for some reason. By the 15 minute I had travelled 7.93km, this is one of my worst distances over this time but today I just couldn’t do anything about it as my legs just wouldn’t move.

I am happy that I managed to commit to going to the gym and giving everything I had to the session. It is always disappointing when you don’t managed to achieve a new best or even live up to previous performances but I guess that this is similar to life where just because you put in a lot of effort doesn’t mean that you always achieve what you want immediately. It’s all in the journey of making it that really makes the person.

Back in the Groove

Day 22 – Tuesday 21st February 2012.

When the alarm went off this morning at 5:20am the last thing I felt like doing was getting up and going to do my session. I had a terrible sleep last night due to the overnight temperature not dropping very low (I think the minimum was around 24 degrees centigrade). Whilst I felt like I had no energy and didn’t want to do the session I didn’t hesitate with getting up and getting ready for the session.

When I went outside I noticed how in the space of a week the sun all of a sudden seems to be rising much later, it was daylight with the time being 5:40am but the sky still very much had that reddish / orange glow that does when the sun is just coming up. It is one of the nice things about getting up so early, you get to enjoy the sunrises and the stillness of the city as it slowly awakens from its slumber.

I arrived at the gym just before 6:00am and was on the treadmill by 6:05am, today was a cross training session that would consist of 20 minutes running, 15 minutes on the bike and then a good 15 minute stretching time. This week I had decided that it was time to increase the intensity of the running by pyramiding the speeds. I started on 7.5km/h for 5 minutes and then followed this with speeds of 10km/h, 12.5km/h and then 10km/h for five minutes each. I paid attention to how long it takes to do a km at each one of those speeds with it working out that I was running at 8 minute per km followed by  6 and 4 minutes 18 seconds for each of the consecutive speeds. My legs felt pretty good during the run and I wasn’t short of breath either, this week I will keep this routine and not increase speeds further until next week’s session to keep with my gradual building approach. Over the 20 minutes I managed to travel 3.31km at an average speed of 10km/h.

The cycle this morning I found quite challenging largely because I couldn’t get into a good rhythms today. I got the speed up to 100rom and sat for most of the time around the 105rpm, I just couldn’t get it to sit consistently above this rate. I don’t know whether the increasing the intensity of the run had an effect on my legs but there was something this morning that just stopped me being able to push through. I did have some problems with the bike as with the effort level self resetting back to one from six on a couple of occasions meaning I had to keep watching and correcting this which was very annoying and probably one of the factors that played into not being able to find that rhythm. I did manage to ride 8.1km in the 15 minute time slot, whilst not a new PB it’s still an alright distance to have covered in the 15 minute time period.

A Slow Start with a Strong Finish

Day 19 – Saturday 18th February 2012.

I find that Saturday sessions can be the hardest ones to commit to getting done, largely because my routine on a Saturday is different to every other day. Throughout the week I need to be up at 5:30am and have my bag packed the night before to ensure that come 6:00am I am at the gym ready to do my session. Saturdays is a bit trickier because, for starters, the gym doesn’t open until 7:00am and then there’s the fact that I actually don’t need to rush as much as my first commitment for the day after the gym is a private clarinet student at my studio at 9:00am. The change in routine always ends up throwing me out, I would much prefer and find it easier if I could keep to the same time to be at the gym everyday.

I struggled out of bed by 7:00am today, my alarm went off at 6:30 but I didn’t manage to answer the call straight away as I knew I had some time up my sleeve. I deliberated doing a different session where I could just do some light abs work and tried to tell myself that I wouldn’t have enough time to get a session in as i hadn’t gotten up at 6:30am. After I’d finished being stupid I managed to get myself ready and in the car by 7:15 heading towards the gym.

I arrived in Subiaco and was on the treadmill for my 20 minute run by 7:30am. As with my runs over the last week I wasn’t going to push myself too hard with this due to me not wanting to injure myself as I continue to come back from my sore right knee. I set the treadmill on 7.5km/h and ran for 5 minutes before increasing the speed to 10km/h for the 15 minutes. I couldn’t help but think of my mate Mike Haydon as I was doing my run because he is doing a lot of running exercise at the moment, it always motivated and inspires me when people I know are determined to do better and improve their lives. By the end of the 20 minutes I had run 3.1km, I know it’s not an incredibly far distance but for a first week back into running I am happy with it, next week I will change it up and put some more intensity into it.

After the run I headed onto the bike for a 15 minute ride. On Thursday for my 15 minute ride I managed to get out 8.2km which then motivated me to set a new PB yesterday over the 30 minute distance. I wanted to put everything in today to see if I could beat my previous best over this distance so quickly brought up my work rate to being around the 110rpm. I managed to hold this rate throughout the majority of the ride with my lowest rpm being 106 in the first five minute bracket. By the 5 minute mark I had ridden 2.8km, whilst this was good and was on track to be over the 8km mark by the end of 15 minutes I felt that I could go even harder still. I raised my work rate to 115rpm which I managed to hold for the next 5 minutes and got the result of having ridden over 5 km by 8 minutes and 13 seconds and over 6 km by the 10 minute mark. I knew that I was in with a chance to beat my PB distance at this point with me only needing another 2.2km inside of 5 minutes, I started wondering if I could break the 8.5 or even 9km mark inside the 15 minutes. I brought up the 8km mark with the time just over 13 minutes and 30 seconds, the question is was wondering is how far could I ride in 90 seconds? I raised the intensity with the rpm fluctuating between 120 and 130rpm, by the 14.5 minutes I had passed the 8.2km mark I really wanted the 8.5km mark by the turn of the 15th minute. As the clock ticked over to 15 minutes my distance was 8.46km, I had just missed the 8.5km!

Whilst there is some disappointment in not having made the 8.5km mark I am really happy with the distance I managed to travel, it is a new PB and I am sure that there is much more room for improvement still to come.

Today’s session has again proved to me the importance of discipline and committing fully to something regardless of feeling. I had a slow start and real didn’t feel like doing today’s session, trying everything I could to get out of it. By the end of the session I was feeling very satisfied, I had set a new PB over 15 minutes on the cycle. It made for a strong finish to a day that started with such a slow start.

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