Unleashing My Inner Awesome

My "journey" through health, fitness and life in general

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Are Your Scales a Thermometer or a Thermostat?

ImageWhen you jump on the scales every Wednesday, or Monday, or whatever day of the week or month you choose, a number comes up. That number can either help or hinder your health and fitness goals depending on how your mind sees it.

Some people look at the number, which is a direct measurement of the effect of gravity on their physical mass, and objectively say “well, that’s interesting. It’s higher/lower/the same as last measurement. Let’s see what happens next time”. Sometimes the conversation continues with “I’m due for my period / I ate lots of salty foods this week / I didn’t drink enough water” or the like. This is like viewing your scales as a thermometer. It’s a measurement, one in the arsenal of measurements you can use to evaluate your health and fitness, and that’s all. It should NEVER be viewed in isolation and shouldn’t be used to make changes to your nutritional or workout program.

There are people who use the scales as a thermostat. You see, a thermostat measures something and then adjusts the function of the underlying machinery to keep the measurement the same. If you look at your scales as a thermostat your mindset around your weight is different. You look at the number (again, a direct indication of gravity on your particular body mass) and their head starts to spin. “Holy crap, the number is 500g bigger than last week! I know what it was, it was the extra 50g of icecream I ate! Oh god, oh god, I need to never eat icecream again, and I should cut out my carbs, especially after 6pm, and I need to use coconut water and take apple cider vinegar and I *NEED* to burn at least 1500 calories a day until I get back to where I was, and … and … and … ”


What you REALLY need to do is just keep doing what you were doing. If you’re on a program that has worked for other people, and has worked for you, and will continue to work because it makes good sound nutritional sense and has a challenging but safe exercise program, maybe you just need to keep doing it? Use your scales and weigh in each week as a thermometer. It tells you where you are at that particular given moment in time. Look at the number, consider it, and then just keep doing what you need to do. If you readjust the mechanism too much you’ll end up making everything too hot or too cold, and then you’ll just get uncomfortable. It could even be dangerous.

Make a plan, stick to it, give it time to work. That’s all. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s not for 12 weeks, it’s for life.


Don’t criticise my body.

strong back


So, this photo is obviously not me. Yet. The hair’s totally the wrong colour to begin with. But I want to talk about judgement and making comments on people’s bodies. Any people.

One thing I’ve noticed lately, since I’ve discarded the extra flab that I carried for so long, is that people now feel that they can make comments. “Don’t lose any more weight, you’re starting to look too skinny”. No, actually I’m still 2kg over my healthy BMI range (sorry to mention the dreaded BMI, but it IS a nice convenient measure that applies to lots of people). “Your face is starting to look too thin”. And the one I’ve noticed most frequently lately, “You’ve lost weight!”

No shit Sherlock! Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed! Those are the responses in my head (no, I haven’t verbalised them yet, but I’m this >< close!).

I’d like to know what makes it appropriate or polite to comment on the appearance of someone who’s either thin or has lost a lot of weight (enough to be obvious). If it’s rude to comment when someone is obese, has a big nose, has an arm or leg missing or has a physical appearance that is otherwise slightly different, why is it not rude to comment on everyone’s physical appearance? Would the same people who said to me “You’ve lost weight!” have said “You’ve gained weight!” No, they didn’t. And they’d never even consider saying “Don’t put on any more weight, you’re starting to look a bit chubby”, would they? One would hope not anyway.

So how about we start treating each and every person with respect and dignity, no matter what their physical appearance? How about not commenting on how someone looks, ever? Unless it’s complimentary. How about following Grandma’s old maxim, if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all?

On honesty, integrity and belief systems

brainEvents of recent days have brought out the amateur psychologist in me. I’ve always been intrigued by the way people think and behave. Actually maybe I’m more of a sociologist, because the theory behind human interactions is where my interest lies.

For the past couple of days a good friend has been going through a tough time. There has been bullying, harassment and generally not very nice behaviour involved. And it’s got me thinking.

I really think the people leading this online abuse are working on the assumption of a type of false consensus bias. They truly believe that everyone operates within the same belief system that they themselves come from. They are completely incapable of realising that some (very few) people in this world work from a completely altruistic viewpoint.

These kind and generous souls do things for other people in the complete understanding that they will receive nothing in return. They believe that a healthy community flourishes when everyone helps everybody else. They do not come from “what’s in it for me?” but from “what can I contribute?” Unfortunately due to its rarity, this belief system can lead to problems such as those I’ve been caught up in recent days, where the person being bullied becomes confused. They also believe that people are like them, and can’t see that some people don’t see the good in anyone and basically operate as if everyone is out to get them. This can lead to the frequent breakdown of friendships, relationships and the sense of community, and eventually the person is left with themselves. And often they never particularly liked themselves in the first place, so the outcome isn’t good.

There are counselling and motivational techniques available to help people in these situations, but they will only work once the person themselves realises they need help. Unfortunately the world still contains some sad souls who think and behave in this way and honestly believe they are right. But it would be a boring old world if we were all the same, wouldn’t it?

Looking back

floodsOn Friday this week it will be our 5th wedding anniversary. The first 2 were relatively uneventful, in that way that wedding anniversaries are. I’m sure they were lovely and loving and all of that, but that has been overshadowed.

Our 3rd wedding anniversary was spent overlooking the most devastating scene I have ever personally witnessed. Ever optimistic, I booked our usual room in the Sofitel hotel in Brisbane CBD. It’s where we spent our wedding night, and we’ve started a tradition of staying there each year.

But 2011 was just a bit different. We woke on our anniversary morning to find the hotel swarming with armed forces personnel, who’d been stationed there. I walked to work through the eerily deserted streets to see staff from shops and offices reinforcing windows with tape and pushing sandbags up against doors. Roads were closed, but I managed to find a way across the river. Arriving at work (a large maternity hospital) where at the time I was working in the IT department, I ended up being seconded to transport babies to the Gold Coast hospital via ambulance. At that point the hospital was on emergency power, and all patients who could were being evacuated.

I remember vividly the trip to the Coast. Me and my little bubba in the back of an ambulance, and as it was school holidays the theme parks were absolutely packed. I felt like screaming at people, did they not know that just down the road was mass destruction and loss of life? How could they PLAY under such circumstances?

And then driving back to the hospital in a taxi, the reality hit home when the taxi driver wanted to drop me off away from the hospital so he didn’t have to get too close. We’re a block from the river you see, even if it’s up hill, and he wasn’t sure he’d get home. At that stage I hadn’t even given thought to getting home to my house. Friends had been totally cut off and were uncontactable, at that stage I didn’t even know if they were alive, only that they had no power and no phone.

It was surreal. The weather was a perfect summers day, low 30s, clear blue skies (the rain had ironically cleared up completely), and the only sign of anything different was the fact that from the hospital you could see the river. About 7 metres higher than it was normally!

But the big thing to come out for me that time was the community spirit. When the river came down enough to let people through to my old home, I went to help clean up. With thousands of others. Armed with shovels, compressors and high pressure water hoses, sledgehammers and gloves, we spent days cleaning mud, knocking down saturated gyprock and generally helping. Even businesses were getting down to it. At Bellbowrie where I was, the local Pizza Hut and Dominos took turns to deliver pizza to the workers and residents. A car would turn up with food from both companies on the back seat, and they’d walk around delivering it. People who weren’t physically capable of helping drove around with kegs of drinks and sandwiches. People with power and water invited complete strangers in to shower and eat.

It renewed my trust in humanity. On a daily basis bad things happen to good people, but deep down I cannot lose faith that people are genuinely good for the most part. Some individuals aren’t, but most are.

My wedding anniversary will forever involve tears and reflection. I look back with thankfulness to the day I married the love of my life, and gratitude that I was not directly affected, and compassion and empathy to the people I know and strangers who are still recovering from this event. And this year I hold my breath and hope for the people in many areas who are threatened with devastating bushfires that have already destroyed lives and homes.

Gratitude. I think that’s the point of my post. Every day, I try and find something for which to be grateful. I’m feeling a bit whingy at the moment because I injured myself, and I can’t run for two weeks. TWO WEEKS! That’s too long! But it’s not really. It’s only two weeks, and in the big scheme of things it’s not a long time, and it’s a pretty minor thing to be annoyed about. Really.


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