Tag Archives: health

running for the Emer Casey Foundation (in affiliation with Peter Mac)

The Emer Casey Foundation is devoted  to raising funds, awareness and support for ovarian and uterine cancer, and today marked the day of the Melbourne leg of their annual fun run. I participated in the 5km run to do my part to raise money for the cancer awareness, plus get myself in some Sunday morning exercise. The foundation itself is devoted to increasing research into this particular type of cancer, after the organisation’s namesake died of ovarian cancer shortly after her 28th birthday in her Irish homeland.  It was her death that inspired the foundation, and drew attention to one of the less notorious forms of cancer.

The run today was (luckily) very close by to me, and happened to fall on a convenient weekend, so this year I was actually able to participate. I wanted to do it last year, since it’s a good cause and I really wanted to get a decent run in, but unfortunately my work schedule was inflexible at the time. Things changed in 2013, and alas, I was able to do it. And not only that, the convenient location meant I could walk to and from the event, as well as actually seeing the parts of my uni campus I have never ventured to before. Who knew there was actually a nice reserve at the back of campus? Or that the ovals turned into a sort of sand pit on one side? Certainly not me; I tend to only occupy 4 buildings on campus, and all of them within 100m of each other.

Since I’m still recovering from a long period of inactivity in my life (more like my whole existence), I’m still new to the whole fitness thing, so my goal for this was just to finish it. I wasn’t focused on times. I just wanted to get over that finish line knowing that I had kept going the whole time.

I succeeded in that. And I even passed a few people along the way, which was certainly a boost to the self-esteem. Even better, I got an awesome new t-shirt that I can work out in!

Of course, I finished the morning off nicely with a well-earned bath full of essential oils, and surrounded by candles and calming music.

Now, bring on the next run (perhaps I’ll be up for a 10km in a few months)!


stuck in a loop of late nights

Every night I spend at home I tell myself I’ll go to bed early. I’ll just finish this episode, or that movie. I’ll briefly browse tumblr and facebook, just to see if anything important is there, and then that’s it. I’m going to sleep.

Smiley from the sMirC-series. snoring


This never happens. I used to go to sleep at 9:30pm every night, without fail. But now my routine has become midnight at the earliest, and then sleeping until noon the next day. I don’t like this, and yet I find myself writing this post at 10pm, and I probably won’t publish it until 10:30. After that there are a still a few things left to do. Do you see my problem?

No wonder I’m so zonked during the day, and constantly craving sugary snacks. It’s terrible.

I really will change it. Even if I tuck myself in at 11pm tonight, I’ll have started to fix the situation.

I’m not a night owl, so why am I trying to become one? I’d much rather be fresh in the mornings and make use of the daylight than suddenly be able to get things done after 8pm.

I don’t want to turn this into a bad habit.

ready to start tackling my demons

I don’t know what it is about today, but I feel stronger. More powerful. And ready to take on the world. Or at least, some of the things that I struggle with in life.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had a run of bad days, and then finally today I started to get things done. And I want to keep doing that. Or maybe this is just a spot of complete luck that I feel like this. I’m not sure, but I do know that I want to kick my issues with anxiety to the curb.

I don’t want to feel like I’m being held back by my fear of failure or embarassment any longer. I’m sick of it defining me, controlling me, imprisoning me. There have been so many situations where I’ve felt it insidiously seeping in, and preventing me from doing things I’d love to do. Like maintain a conversation beyond whatever the initial input from the other person. Or  even attend that class I’ve had trouble with ever since the tutor said he expected more input from me each week.

Until last year, I didn’t even know that the terror I was feeling was even classed as an abnormality. I thought everyone felt nervous to this extent over simple things, and that they were just better at handling or hiding it. But then I was told that no, I was actually suffering a mental disorder and that it could be overcome. Ever since receiving that news, I have noticed the constant presence of fear in my life. Noticed it, but not been able to overcome it.

Every time I’ve tried to fix the things that have gone wrong in my life, other aspects have been the focus. Well, now I’m making anxiety the focus, and the reign of tyranny has to end.

I’m going to seek proper help, but until I get around to that, I’m going to stick to past materials I have about it and the assistance of the internet. So far, I’ve found the tips on two websites to sound reasonable and achievable, so I’ll start with those (as well as practising mindfulness and meditation, two things which I’ve done to help before but haven’t kept up). I will probably also get back into reading The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, which I go halfway through before taking an extended break.

I am going to try to:

  • Challenge negative thoughts where it is reasonable, and try to focus on what I want to happen, instead of what I don’t want to happen (for example, instead of worrying about how I really don’t want to my mind to go blank, I’m going to think about how I would like to know about a person’s job)
  • Where this isn’t possible, just let the thoughts come and go, without buying into what they are saying. This can easily be done by placing them on leaves in a stream or on clouds, and watching them float by, thus putting a distance between what they’re saying and what I’m actually focusing on
  • Recognise and label unhelpful thinking patterns, so that I can see when I’m heading into trouble. No more catastophising, attempts at fortune telling or mind reading.
  • Keep in mind that people’s actions are more related to them and the mess in their heads, than in what I’m doing or not doing
  • Grounding myself when I’m getting overwhelmed
  • Look around me, instead of focusing internally during anxiety-provoking situations. I will actually pay attention to small details, instead of just staring off into space.
  • Fake it til I make it. It actually helps, when you put enough effort in.
  • Face my fears. Slowly, I will put myself in social situations and work my way up to those things I find truly terrifying (being the centre of attention by making speeches, holding social events).
  • Try to do what I want, instead of what I think others want. I’d love for it to all be as simple as saying that I don’t care what others think, but that seems an impossible goal since identity is, in a way, an outward concept, and dependent on how others see you. While you see yourself one way, the opinion of the masses is likely to drown that out, and your identity becomes formed by the general consensus.

There are probably more techniques I can try, but for now, these should help.

Starting today, I am composed of fight, not fear.

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more beautiful than I think

I saw this video the other day, and I’m pretty sure it rings true for everyone. Not just women.

As humans, we all see ourselves differently from the way others see us. Part of that is interpretation, part of it is just that when we look at ourselves we are looking for different things.

Interpretation of physical looks is influenced by so many things – varying cultural standards for beauty, each person’s own individual hang-ups, the personality that flows out of a person, the expression they wear and the acts they perform. Beauty goes far beyond symmetry and clear skin. That radiant smile, those gorgeous lines that appear when you laugh, the way you automatically drop your change in the donation box – these are aspects of beauty that mean far more than the commonly held beauty ideals we measure ourselves up against. And as this video shows, the teeny little flaws we often obsesses about often go unnoticed by others. No one notices that mole (which so many people draw on their faces anyhow), or the creases of experience and joy that flicker out from the corners of your eyes. They just see the happiness in your expression and the light beaming out from your eyes.

We can see all this in others, but when we look in the mirror, we go hunting for our flaws. It’s a sick little game we play, a twisted version of hide and seek. “Where is that horrible wrinkle? Those unsightly freckles? The disgusting pimple?” we ask ourselves, as we run our hands over our faces like pirates looking for the X on a map. And then once we find it, we try to disguise it with make-up, but of course we can never be satisfied. You can’t unsee what you just saw, and  even if it’s hidden, the knowledge of it’s existence traces it’s outline for our eyes anyway.

What I found most interesting about the Dove Real Beauty Sketches video, is how far the distortions of our faces went, and how incorrect they were. The ‘pretty’ versions that other people saw were much closer to reality than the nit-picky flawed faces the people claimed to see in the mirror each day.

I am just like all these women. I don’t like what I see, probably because what I see is not attractive. Even if that is not what I actually look like.

So I am going to take a vow. I vow to recognise that the image I see in the mirror is not me, and to truly believe than I am more beautiful than I think.

Join me, if you will.

completing Kikki K’s happiness journal

I bought this journal in February and have been slowly working on it since then. The advice at the beginning is to progress slowly – doing maybe one chapter a month (there are 12). Since I started late, I haven’t exactly been following that guide, and instead did 2 tabs in the first month, half of one in the second and then had a massive gap until yesterday. I’m still in the third tab, but I’m nearly there.

The first section was devoted to gratitude, and involved finding things that you are grateful for and thinking up ways to express that gratitude. I had a plan for doing this, but only managed to get through one of my expressions of gratitude (a typed letter to a friend). I had another one planned, but I’m not sure if I’m still grateful for that. So I guess I should move onto the next one – baking a thankyou cake for my mum. Perhaps I can do this for Mothers’ Day next month.

The next section was about taking control. It involved planning my week and identifying what activities I’m doing that are no longer giving me pleasure or use, and I can cut out. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m throwing all housework out the window. But I planned an ideal week which made time for it, along with uni, work and exercise, but still left me with some down time (which is incredibly important to me. Without it I get a little overtired and emotional). For the first couple of weeks, I did try to follow this guide. But then my work roster started to get stuffed around a bit (the problems of having a different schedule each week) and I joined the committee of one of the clubs at uni, and that began to consume a lot of my time. So something had to suffer, and unfortunately, it was uni. I cannot function without enough chill time, which is what most people would have compromised in this situation, so my already scant uni timetable became a lot smaller.

Section 3 is about doing an attitude audit – the powers of optimism vs pessimism, and reducing the amount of things you worry about. The theme actually reminds me a bit of the serenity prayer –

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

By focusing on what worries you, the journal then asks you whether that will bother you in a months time or a year. And also, if you can do something about it. If you can, do it. If you can’t, why should you worry about it? Que sera, sera. And then reminds you, once again, how your attitude affects the outcome of events.

This chapter is one I really should pay attention to. I have a tendency to go into things with a negative outlook, and feel like I am doomed to fail (a phrase I have actually used several times in the last year). So, naturally, when it came to an example of an event where a pessimistic outlook had altered the course of things, I was rife with stories.

And so I really do want to try to change my attitude. So this month, my goal is to really put that into practise.

a selection of more recent pages

Another thing I love about completing this journal, aside from the self-discovery and exploration it provides, is the chance to decorate it. It’s kind of become a bit like a scrapbook of motivational quotes, inspiring photos and helpful tips for a few things I struggle with. I think this is perhaps where most of the time I spend working on it goes. In the picture above, the two pages on the right are ones I completed over the last 2 days, whereas the ones on the left are just a part of the happiness journal (the top left being the cover).

So basically, I get to participate in one of my hobbies at the same time as working on myself.

making my workouts fun with Hip Hop Abs

For the last few weeks I’ve been doing the Hip Hop Abs program by Shaun T, though not very religiously. Due to work commitments, emotional ups and downs and various other intervening factors I’ve missed a few days, plus I stopped following the calendar because it didn’t feel challenging enough.

Especially the cardio workout. Well, level 1 at least. I’ve done level 2 a couple of times and that at least makes me feel tired. In fact, I’m probably ready to do more level 2 workouts, I just haven’t because I can still get  a better burn from the level 1 routines where I’ve actually got the moves down. Until I master the moves in level 2, it won’t have as much effect.

But boy, when it works, it is so much better than my previous fitness love (the 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels). That workout was painful for the whole 20 minutes, but left me with similar results to Shaun T, though maybe I had slightly more strength. But the hip hop dancing in Hip Hop Abs makes it feel a lot less like a workout, and the minutes can pass without me noticing. Plus, instead of yelling at you to push yourself, Shaun T just smiles and tells you to funk it out (which actually works – making the painful moves more dancey changes your focus from the pain to the fun). For some people, the yelling might work, but I find it not nearly as effective as encouragement. But I’ve always been like that.

Not that Jillian Michaels is a tyrant. These DVDs are elective, so she isn’t as harsh on them as she seems on The Biggest Loser. But she still demands a lot from you. And I would definitely still recommend the 30DS. I just got sick of it after doing it for a long time.

I think next I want to try P90X, if I’m game.

But for now, I’m happy to have workouts that have good music and lots of fun. Even if it means a little compromise on my leg strength.

a fan of Mrs Mays products

Mrs Mays products came to Australia only in the last couple of years, and since discovering them I have been obsessed. I was never much of a nut eater, but the classic crunch range (of which there are only a few I have managed to locate – cashew, almond, pumpkin seed & pomegranate-raspberry) have me eating them non-stop.

Pomegrante Raspberry crunch – my favourite

I think part of the appeal is that they are quite healthy and the simplest ones only contain 3 ingredients. There’s the nut, evaporated cane juice and a dash of sea salt.

Mostly, it’s because they just taste so good. I hate salted nuts, so this swings right up my alley, since they’re almost sweet, despite a little salt-kick.

But I recently had some friends over and a bowl of the almond crunch out, and these were the first to go. Although that might have been mostly me…

But they are undeniably addictive, and for once it’s something that I feel ok being addicted to.

the girl with more problems than dollars

Everyone has their issues. Some we can accept and admit to freely, others we try our very hardest to deny.

At times we feel guilty over these problems (the usual starving children in Africa guilt trip), but really why should you feel guilty over things that you struggle with? Sure, your shopping addiction may seem trivial when a child is struggling to stay alive, but that doesn’t change how real and painful it is for you. All it does is increase the negative set of emotions you experience by adding guilt and shame to the mix.

There’s a quote from The Perks of Being A Wallflower which captures this perfectly:

“even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.”

But then there are the times when you feel that your battles are all that you are. Which is kind of how I feel now – defined by the issues I struggle with daily. Right now it seems they are everywhere I turn, and I am blinded by them. It feels like my whole identity is composed of all my problems stitched together.

I know on a rational level that this isn’t true – humans are far more complex than that. We are made up of cells, hopes, dreams, literature, art, passions, love, friendships, hobbies and so much more. But at times like this when I am drowning in my sorrows, it feels like the first parts of me to surrender were the other identifying characteristics. My conversations all run around the same topics, my thoughts swoop like vultures over the carcass left behind when I’m exhausted from fighting with them. Of course, there are techniques of dealing with them which do not involve fighting or avoiding them, but sometimes they are hard to put into practise.

I speak, of course, of mindfulness. Psychology is in love with this tactic right now, and indeed we are being told that regardless of our situation we should set aside a few minutes for this exercise each day. But when your thoughts are flickering through your head so fast you can’t even grab on, how are you supposed to just let them pass you by without leaving an impact? The same ideas thud, thud, thud at the inside of my head, and, like my high school English teacher always said, repetitively “beat in the message”. You can’t get away from something that is being screamed at you over and over throughout the day.

But I suppose that is why it is so important to practise mindfulness – so you can learn to filter out the white noise of these nagging thoughts, the same way you do the chirping of the birds in the morning or the radio playing in your car.

And maybe then we won’t have to own up to all our problems to people, because they will cease to be such major dramas in our lives. Because this sure isn’t something I want to identify as.