Enjoying the Good Things of Life

I believe that it’s an important part of every training program, in fact just every life in general, to be able to stop and reflect on how you are going. It’s important to not just reach your goals and targets but also to reflect on are you enjoying the journey of life you are on? Are you reaching your goals and a the same time being able to be a good person?

It’s no good in life reaching all your goals, making your targets and achieving your dreams if you don’t take time to stop and smell the roses along the way. Appreciation of the people, the opportunities, moments and “little things” in life is what makes it all worth living…a life where you achieve all your goals can still be a life not lived fully due to a lack of gratitude and taking the time to appreciate the journey.

My Sundays are the day I am trying hard to set aside for this purpose, as a result these are my rest days from Fitness Training 2012, as a result my Sunday posts will be a bit different to other days. On the training side of things, I am happy with how my first week has gone to date. There have been some challenges to overcome, mountains to climb (metaphorically and literally) and some successes as well. This year is looking very exciting from a training point of view and I will continue to take it the only I can, one day at a time.

Sundays have become an increasingly important day for me to spend time with my wife, due to our weird work commitments it is the only time in the week we can definitely and regularly spend time together. We have a habit of going to mass at 8:00am in the morning at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in City Beach before heading out to have a coffee, whilst out at coffee we sit and talk about everything and anything we want. Sometimes the conversation is light and funny and other times it gets quite serious and intense, most weeks it actually swings from one to another numerous times during this time we spend together. The important part of this habit on a Sunday is not the topic of conversation but more of a spending time totally present to the other person and appreciating who they are and who God has created them to be. This time is one of my most favourite events in the week to the extent that I actually have it scheduled into my diary as being important and sacred time.

Today was no different, we headed out to Dome in Scarborough, one of our frequent hangouts on a Sunday morning, for our hangout time. We love going to this place because the view is brilliant with it being located right on the beach with beautiful views. As always, our conversations were great fun and really enjoyable. I appreciate that I have been blessed with such an amazing wife who I get to share all of my life with.

After finishing coffee we have headed home and we just got to hangout with each other sitting on the couch for an hour or so. We usually have a family lunch on Sunday which Melissa is currently making something for as I write this post. Spending time with family is another one of the things we do on a Sunday to stop and enjoy the good things in life as we have both been blessed by coming from amazing families. Later on today we might go for a walk in a park, stopping to enjoy the beauty of nature…something I am still learning to do as it doesn’t come naturally to me like it does to my wife.

A man that I know and really respect once said in a talk I was present at “Gratitude leads to Generosity and Generosity leads to Wholeness”. I want to be someone who lives a whole life, the way I can do this is by first being grateful and to do this I need to stop and appreciate these good things in life. The more I stop and reflect and appreciate the good things in the life I am finding the more of the things I want to achieve that are important to me are actually being accomplished.

I hope that today you will stop and make at a minimum a regular weekly time to slow down and appreciate the good things in your life. I’d love to hear about what those good things are and how it has changed your life as I am sure it would end up being an inspiration for me as well.

A Day of Recovery

Day Five – Saturday 4th February 2012.

Today I woke up and was still feeling quite sore from the mountain climb the day before. With my knee still not feeling 100% right I decided ti would be better to have an easier exercise day rather than a difficult and high intensity one.

My session today was a repeat of the one I did on Thursday which consisted of sit ups and push ups in three sets without any break in between each set. I managed to repeat the exact same program as Thursday managing 3 sets of sit ups each with 30 repetitions being completed alternately to 3 sets of 20 pushups. My arms and abs are still feeling a bit sore from the Thursday session so I am sure come tomorrow morning’s rest day this feeling of soreness will be multiplied even more.

Climbing Mount Toolbrunup

Day Four – Friday 3rd February 2012

Today’s fitness training was breaking new ground for me. I climbed a mountain, well what is called a mountain here in WA which in reality is just a big hill.

My wife, Melissa, and I had decided for our day off to drive five and a half into the south of WA to the Stirling Ranges and climb Mt Toolbrunup, one of the peaks down there which is around 1040m asl. We took with us Melissa’s three youngest siblings with us as we thought that they would enjoy the experience too. To achieve this task we left home at 4:40am, the plan was to pick up the kids and be on the road by 5:00am which was a success. We headed down and arrived at around 10:30am, the weather wasn’t looking too great with there being quite a bit of moisture and a light mist falling.

At the beginning of the ascent I was a little worried of my knee that I had injured at indoor soccer on the Wednesday night, I wasn’t sure how it was going to hold up largely because I wasn’t sure how steep the climb would be and what the terrain would be like. We started the ascent and for the first half and hour to forty five minutes the ascent was steep but it was possible to walk it without being on all fours. Very quickly I had stripped off from having my jumper on  back to my t-shirt, the knee was holding up ok but there quite a few slippery parts and a lot of lose rocks that I did have to keep my footing on. Very quickly it became obvious that I was the weakest climber of the entire group and I found myself at the back, this didn’t overly bother me as it meant that I would be able to climb at my own pace and keep my footing.

At about the forty five minute mark we came to our first part wear we had to scramble across the rocks. The ascent became a lot steeper in it’s incline, the lighter and more agile ones of the group just speed up the incline and before I new it I could just see them off in the distance. By this stage the mist and weather had started to come in a lot heavier and the visibility was probably down to about five metres in front and behind us, this is probably because we had very little protection. My legs during this part were really burning and it felt like it went on forever. A few times the ground levelled out and it was possible to walk again upright, I found that I couldn’t see anyone in front by this stage, so for a first time climber it take me a bit longer to work my way up the lose, slippery rocks and over the path which wasn’t too well marked. The climb continued, I felt like I was falling further behind and my legs were getting more tired, my knee was going ok just at times was hurting a little but my calves and glutes were really starting to burn.

I managed to get up to this ledge and lost the track, I eventually found it again and continued up, the weather had really come in and I was ready to go back. By this stage the others had reached the summit (unfortunately this was not the case for me) and I managed to call out to them for us to start back down.

The journey down was just as difficult as the way up, a lot of the rocks were very slippery and lose and scrambling backwards equalled a lot of crawling on my backside all the way down the mountain. Once we reached the pathway I found that going slowly was very important, I had to exert a lot of energy and control to not go too fast otherwise I would not be able to stop and in places the path was quite narrow with a long drop in front of it.

By 1:00pm we managed to make our way back to the car, tired, wet and very dirty. This session today I think is probably one of the most challenging I have done so far. Tomorrow I am sure that I will be feeling sore and stiff. Now it’s time to go and have a beer!

The First Hurdle

Day Three – 2nd February 2012

Today’s session proved to be the the first hurdle in my 2012 challenge. My alarm went off at 5:30am and I got up ready to do the session only to find that I could barely put any weight on my right knee without there being a lot of pain.

Last night we had our usual indoor soccer game, a disappointing 4 – 4 draw (the other team scored the equaliser right on the final siren). In the first half of the game I got a hard knock / jazz to my right knee when an opponent came in for a challenge on me. At the time I didn’t think anything of it, with my body warm I could still run and it caused me no problems at all. Last night things had started to stiffen up quite a lot before bed but I wasn’t expecting it to get as bad as it feels this morning. After some deliberation as to whether I should go to the gym or not I decided it would be best not to and I would workout at home in a different way later in the morning.

Today was going to prove to be a good day just to do some basic core work. I did three sets of 30 sit ups with 3 sets of 20 pushups in between the sets. Even doing this amount I felt restricted because of my knee, it isn’t a lot but I have kept up with getting something done and achieved for the day.

Tomorrow’s session was going to look different again with Melis and I planing on going hiking. I guess now a part of that will depend on how the knee is feeling tomorrow, I think it should be alright…fingers crossed!

Working Out the Stiffness

Day Two – Wednesday 1st February 2012

I decided that today’s session at the gym was not going to be a high intensity one. I do have a few reasons why I thought that this would be a great idea;

  1. I want to manage my body over the entire year and not get injured
  2. I have an indoor soccer game tonight that I will probably do a high running workload
  3. I went to the beach last night to celebrate Mary Haydon’s, my wife’s younger sister, birthday and whilst we were all mucking around with a tennis ball in the water both of my calves cramped up, my left one really badly.

The plan was to get to the gym at 6:00am before my regular coffee in West Perth with my good friend, Sam Cleary, at Epic Coffee (great coffee by the way) at 7:00am. I didn’t end up getting to bed until after 1:00am making the 5:30am alarm too early for my liking, the session therefore got moved to being after Sam’s and my catchup.

I got to the gym by around 8:25am and was ready to start by 8:35am as I needed to get changed and all that sort of thing. Today’s session, as already mentioned, was going to be a sole focus on stretching out and loosening up my tightness from Day One’s workout. I hopped onto one of the bikes, my aim was to ride at a medium intensity for 30 minutes and then follow this with a good 15 minutes of stretching. With the bike set on a resistance of 6, I set out and was managing around the 87 rpm mark with a power output of 134 watts. My legs felt like lead weights and it was difficult to keep a good rhythm, I did manage to get into the swing of things by about the 5 minute mark and managed to maintain an rpm between 86 and 91 with watts around the 134 for the entire 30 minutes. Some moments in the ride were quite challenging with my legs going through phases of feeling heavy and then fine.

After having finished the 30 minutes I had worked up a bit of a sweat, which I wasn’t really expecting, and headed over to the stretching area where I worked through all the muscles groups in my legs, each stretch I repeated twice and held for a minimum of 30 seconds.

Tomorrow’s session is planned to be a more intensive one, these first four to six weeks I am thinking of doing nothing but cardiovascular work, alternating between an intense session and then a light one. The weights sessions can wait for a little while before restarting, my first aim is to get rid of this excess 5kg I am carrying.

The Hardest Part is Starting

Day One – Tuesday 31st January 2012.

I always find that the hardest part of anything is actually starting, it seems to be something inherit inside us as human beings that we desire to change and be better but then we fall down so often when it come to following through.

After such a successful end to 2011 with my Get In Shape Challenge I have set my self the goal to try and replicate that effort throughout the entirety of 2012. I managed to get myself down to the weight of 77kg over the 13 week period of the Get in Shape Challenge and get down in waist size to comfortably being a 31 from a 34. I put on a decent a mount of lean muscle over that period and could easily bench more than my own body weight. After having a few months off I have put on a bit of weight, I am now 83.8kg and back out to a 33 waist – I reckon it’ll be possible for me to get this off pretty quick this time though and get back to smashing out some more PBs.

The first month of 2012 hasn’t been the greatest start, although to be fair I have had a strange knee injury where I was getting shooting pain through my leg radiating both ways from behind my knee throughout most of it so I haven’t been able to do any real exercise. It is really times like these that I am so grateful I have a very generous brother who is a physiotherapist.

Today’s gym session was the first one of the 2012 Healthy Life Campaign, my all encompassing goals and mission for the year 2012 across all areas of my life. I have gotten big on writing down my goals, I might actually do a post on some of the areas and goals I am striving to achieve by the end of 2012 in the next few weeks.

I am going to try and write a post every day on my sessions, I have decided for 2012 the Healthy Life Campaign Fitness part will be posted under the sub-category of Fitness Training 2012 (I know not too original but it makes it easy for people to understand what it’s all about). I am not sure what form these posts will take yet, some might be just a description of the exercises and the PBs that I hopefully will start to set whilst others might be more of a focus on reflections I have had at the gym or on the road doing my sessions as I have always found that the time I spend working out can be some of the most contemplative times I have. Whatever form the posts take I am hoping that if you read them and enjoy them that you’ll comment and share your thoughts and encouragement. My whole reason for doing this is to keep myself accountable to the training sessions (I am aiming for 6 per week with one day rest). I’d also love to hear any suggestions on good exercises or ways I could improve on my regime and fitness, after all, I am just a pretty basic guy and am not a professional sportsman or qualified personal trainer. One request that i would have though is that if you are going to comment on anything to please keep it positive and encouraging. One of my best mates, Mike Haydon look up his website later here, undertook a challenge during last year where he was experimenting with his sleep patterns. It was a very difficult task for him to stick to and he had lots of people telling him he was stupid and bucketing him for it. This challenge is going to be tough for me so I don’t want any negativity from people, basically follow the rule our mothers al taught us “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all”. 

With all that in mind let’s get back to the first session….

My alarm went off this morning at 5:30am, after quite a bit of thought to not do the session until later today I finally got dressed and headed off to the gym. A large part of the reason why I managed to do the session today was because of my wife, Melissa. I had told her that I really wanted to make today day one and get out of bed to do the session, when my alarm went off and I was deliberating going she gave me the filthiest look when I had said I wouldn’t go (probably because I had woken her up with my alarm) that it was the tipping point for me actually committing to the session.

I arrived at the gym just after 6:00am, I am gong to focus on my cardio fitness, especially aerobic,  over the next 4 to 6 weeks before getting back into my weights regime as well. I started on the treadmill with a light job for 5 minutes to warm up before going off to stretch for 10 minutes. Stretching this year is going to be an important part of every session I do, I have found I really have hit the age where my body can’t do what it used to when I was 18 years old (I am now 30).

Today’s session and the ones this week I have planned to be light to medium intensity, I just want to ease myself back into it without being too extreme…or so I thought. I got back on the treadmill and did 2.5 minutes on 7.5km/h, I then increased the speed to 10 km/h for 5 minutes and then up to 12.5km/h which I held it on for 12.5 minutes making the run a 20 minute run. By this point I was already feeling quite tired, my fitness levels from last November have significantly dropped (which I was aware of).

I headed onto the ergo for a light 5 minute row, I figured that I wasn’t going to try and push out a 10 minute or aim for the 2.5km mark as I have done before, it was supposed to be a light warmup session. I started the ergo and brought my stroke rate up to 33 strokes per minute and a 500m split hovering around the 2.04 minutes. I managed to hold this throughout the five minutes, although by the end my split had dropped to 2.10 minutes per 500m. My legs were absolutely burning by the end of this time, I had only a five minute ride to get through as well and my first session would be done.

I headed over to the cycles and began my slow ride with the effort on 6. I wasn’t going to try and go for any blistering times or massive distance, I just wanted to get through the five minutes without stopping. By the 2 minute mark my legs were dead, they felt like lead weights. I kept pushing and managed to get to the five minutes have ridden 2 km in that time with an average energy output of 128 watts.

As soon as I stopped cycling I felt physically ill, it’s been a long a time since I have trown up from a workout session but I seriously thought today was going to be the day. I headed off to the change rooms and straight to the toilets. I didn’t end up bringing anything up but I did have to rest on top of the toilet, just sitting for a good five minutes before picking up my things and heading home.

I am really happy with today’s session the big test will now be tomorrow morning and me being disciplined to get there again. I don’t know how I am going to go with tightness, I guess that’ll equally more stretching at the start of the session, but am looking forward to what the year will bring!

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