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Do I Have Resting Bitch Face?

RBF?
A former colleague once told me I had Resting Bitch Face. RBF. Harsh but kind of true. It mostly happened when I couldn’t figure something out and didn’t want to be disturbed to a) not be found out and b) try and figure out how the hell to do whatever it was. Actually, sometimes it was when I was coding and having a lot of fun, so maybe there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to it. 

Sitting in my hotel room, basically on lock down during Bali’s silent day, I’m doing some writing. The desk area in the room was under this mirror in a corner right next to the coffee and tea facilities. I’m not quite sure if I’m in the office, kitchen or bedroom section of the room but sitting at a desk and chair non the less. 

As I pause to reflect (see what I did there?), I’d catch my reflection, not 30cm from my own face. 

My head is tilted slightly to the left (sorry, thats my right actually), my lips don’t naturally close so my big-ass two front teeth are slightly showing. I look like one those little dogs who’s tongue sticks out from their mouths just a little, they get called ‘cute’ or ‘special’. 

I stare at my face. Like really stare at my face. For five minutes. Up in my own grill.  

Is this how I look in public? Sat in a cafe, walking around, in transit, reading, picking up men?! It’s almost like a blank scared face. What is that?

The last few days I haven’t had much interaction with other travellers. A combination of the rain keeping people inside, staying at a hotel where its not so social and I am having a bit of self imposed alone time. But maybe it’s this face? Would I talk to this face?! 

I did my quick “hello passing walker” smile, which is a brief lift of the mouth. Oh gosh! I never knew it looked like that! It’s like a twitch and nothing else on my face moves. It was so brief no one would even know wha it was. 

In horror of that greeting I give to many people, I try to move more of my face. Oh gosh, it gets worse. The eyes narrow as the mouth contracts. I look like a happy crying person. Or Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. Sad eyes mixed with an overcompensating smile. Nope can’t do that again. Maybe a head tilt would improve it? Nope. Carnival clown where you put the balls in their mouths. Very inappropriate. 

I laugh a belly driven laugh at the ridiculous experiment I was performing. There it is. A natural and genuine face. Ok, so how to do that in the street? Actually laugh as I pass every human I want to casually smile to? People might think I’m spitting on them. Or breathing on them. Or a little crazy. 

Actually now I think about it, whenever I am getting my picture taken I do a little personal laugh, to create that genuine smile (in a fake way, on cue).  

Staring at my lips now I’m pretty happy with them. Not full and voluptuous but not thin or invisible either. When I smile a Cheshire cat smile (which is my natural smile) I realise my top lip goes high jump and pulls the curtain on my top gums. Ew. I think that’s actually from having Invisalign. The retainers have forced my lips into a new habit and lifted them. Is that like a bonus (side effect) after spending the 8k or so on straightening my teeth?  

I wonder if I have any of those ‘mouth quirks’ like Katie Holmes in Dawson’s Creek/every role she ever played or Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades. I walk around the room and take some notice of what I’m doing. Other than a ridiculous cartoon walk I don’t feel or see any habits there. 

Maybe I could lift my eyebrows more, look more alert? NO. They are so fair they hardly rustle any movement in the station. Four thick rippling lines are created though, like a rice patty terrace on my forehead. I try and do that one-eyebrow-up trick. My left brow can sort of do it, the right has no hope. Even for life and death I’d be a goner.   

I attempt to pull some other faces just to see what they do. 

“Concerned” face looks valid, eyes water a bit, eyebrows head inwards, bottom lip tightens and chin goes inward. Although drop the chin and you’ve got an angry face, wouldn’t want to get those confused. 

“No fucking clue” face looks on point. The mouth goes diagonal left or right, sometimes a possible click of saliva happens to emphasis the cluelessness (like a mental patient might do a random clucking noise).

Throw in a lowered brow manoeuvre to the above and you’ve got “I don’t fucking believe you”. Mouth isn’t so much diagonal but pulled straight left or right. A small smirk even appears (I don’t even know how that happens).

“Casually waiting” face, what’s that like? Oh gosh. Horrific! It’s like my Ted Bundy manifested Drivers Licence. Could scare small children. 

Not even going to attempt tears, everyone is an ugly crier. Everyone. 

Light bulb. I usually wear sunglasses. Maybe that helps my normal face look friendlier? Nope. Disdain. Perhaps a little contempt? Wow, I always thought I was so nonchalant with sunnies.  

After all the hilarity I’m still unsure as to how to change my face, my normal everyday wearing, ends in the word ‘day’ face. Is it because I’m just looking at myself, maybe it changes in front of others and seeing their reactions? How does everyone else have a happy face on as they are walking through their daily lives? I go for a walk around the block and notice so many varied faces. Some are happy, like there’s a little mouse running around upstairs. Some do seem to have an emotion and then there are others that are just, faces I guess. 

Maybe it’s just a solo traveller “I haven’t had a proper conversation in a few days” syndrome. I mean, I am writing about my face. But, at a time when conversation is important, I’m questioning my own attractiveness and trying to be assertive and make new friends this topic seems pretty valid. Thinking about on a bunch of interactions lately, I had actually started every one of them, each received happily. Maybe it’s not SO much my RBF but the courage and openness to start a conversation and smile that pulls the crowd in. Over exposed top gum or not. 

Are you the type of person to start conversations or do you wait for them to begin? How do you do that?

A Day of Forced Silence and Reflection

Nyepi or Balinese “day of silence” March 28 2017

Nyepi is a Hindu celebration of fasting and meditation, a day reserved for self reflection – anything that might interfere is restricted. 

I witnessed the first of the rituals on Saturday (3 days prior to Nyepi) called The Melasti Ritual. People in their village communities bring items belonging to temples to the sea to be purified. It was beautiful, hundreds of people dressed in traditional formal Balinese wear, mostly white. The men with the white head piece, white buttoned shirt and a type of sarong. The women also wore white shirts (sometimes yellow) and gorgeous sarongs. Around 10-20 men would carry structures hoisting the sacred objects and bring it to the beach, with the rest of their village in tow. They would march it right to the waters edge, some would run their hands through the water, then they would march it to the back of the the beach. Each community would sit down near their purified object. This went on all morning and evening, they spaced out groups of people so every village had a turn throughout the day. 

 Villagers bring sacred objects from their templates to purify by the sea
Over the past two weeks, I have seen hideous statues around different towns, being constructed and painted. They are called Ogoh-Ogoh. Devout Hindu Balinese villages create these demonic statues that symbolise negative elements or malevolent spirits. I noticed some looked like traditional dragons or beasts but then a lot looked like popular culture figures. Fat bogan tourists, a ‘scarlet’ woman in a short red revealing dress, even a very good impression of Heath Ledger’s The Joker with a beer in hand. It worried me about how the Balinese saw westerners. After the locals parade the Ogoh-Ogoh around the village they burn them. 

The third part of this Nyepi Ritual is the actual silent day. No lights, no working, no entertainment, no travelling and fasting. The hotel I’m staying in have taken some of the guidelines pretty seriously (then some fairly liberally1). I feel bad for the workers here as there are quite a few working (that probably don’t need to be). This morning the gym was open (I’m sure that doesn’t call for self-entertainment with the smashing I gave myself), no lights or music though (or air-conditioning, felt right at home at an Anytime really :)). All common areas have no lighting, it’s just the sun shining through windows providing light. They came through our rooms this morning and put garbage bags on the windows and locked the heavy curtains in place. It did feel a little Nazi invading or Apocolyse precaution setting at that point. Strangely, the pool is still open (I would call that entertainment) with guests yelling and splashing about with no regard. You don’t have to actually not speak, although some very devout Hindu Balinese wouldn’t. It was remarkably in two weeks not to hear one scooter, car or motorbike while I spent some time on the rooftop. The nation stops cable streaming but the hotel has provided three channels of movies for guests. There are limited (and expensive) food services on offer today but I have found it fun to prepare my own food creations with only a fridge and a kettle. It’s like glam-ping, but under a roof. 

The fourth part of the ritual is Yoga/ Brata, which basically goes all day. I have been sprouting mediation throughout my day and learning more about the practice in general. I’ve also been reading up and watching videos on key figures in the ‘industry’ as recommended by my healer from Ubud. Well, when the internet works that is, perhaps they switched that off too? 

The fifth ritual is performed by all Hindus to forgive each other and to welcome the new days to come. Then, finally. The Dharma Shanti rituals is performed (basically New Year’s Day). 

An offering made three times a day, a little raft of food, flowers and incense
I love the idea of shutting down the country, to give the nation a break, for self-reflection and down time. While my time in Bali has all been about self-reflection, it’s come at a good time to check-in.

Why did I come to Bali? 

I came to let go. I came to let go of so many past feelings, past versions of myself, past unhappiness that I was moving forward from. In Ubud I had a number of amazing meditation experiences. One of them, I almost didn’t go because the day before I had to leave my room because the chanting and screaming from that class was unbearable. Having the courage to show up, Punnu the leader informed us that we would each go on our individual journey, and to let whatever feelings out that you needed to. The group held hands in a circle, and you breathed your way through the shakras, big inhale, short fast exhale. Holding hands with the people next to me was really hard and I felt the tension rise up and down my arms as I didn’t want to impact their experiences. But I could feel through the breathing, energy was circling around my body. When one girl started to wail, I started crying. Uncontrollable, with a little sobbing. How could she be feeling such terrible emotions to let out a scream like that? I cried because I wanted to take that away from her. It made me feel compassionate towards others on their current journey, everything that I’d been going through, other people are going through their own stuff, sometimes much worse situations. I cried for them. I also gave myself some compassion. Let it go. I cried for myself because I just wanted to stop thinking how much of a mess I felt, how lonely and confused. I just wanted to stop feeling so lost and scared. It was ok to feel those feelings, but it was time to them them go and move on. I got a few blessings, where they touch you on the top of head. It was so reassuring and comforting. I finally stopped crying. I finally let it all go. 

I came to acknowledge that three months ago I made a huge change in my life and that I was committed to figuring out my life’s path. I switched off as much as I could from home and looking at anything from the past three months. I wanted to focus on the future and the vision I had for my life morning forward. What did that look like? What did I look like? 

I came to seek answers. I saw two healers and had my birth chart read. All three confirmed I was at a key point in my life that needed changing, (and thankfully) I was on the right path to turning things around. I received other advice on how to find my life’s path, understand my true identity, my inner truth and clear away all the confusion and over thinking going on. Much more surfaced too, which I am currently reading and working on, stuff I had no idea about, and truthfully it’s such a new thing to process, like the fact I have daddy issues, who knew (least of all me it seems).    

I came to do things opposite to how I had been doing them. Yoga, meditation, solo travelling, starting conversations with people, making new friends, climbing mountains, writing, exploring, eating alone in restaurants, taking the world in differently – not closed and anxious but open and curious. It’s been so nice to surround myself with other people on their own journey. It makes me feel less crazy than at home where I feel supported by friends and family but I guess I don’t feel they really get what, why or how I’ve had such a life crisis. 

Wow. I have done a lot in my two weeks so far. Go me. 

On the outside I feel like the same old me, I think people I know would see the same person. But on the inside there is so much transforming, I really do need to meditate frequently to stay in flow! No way do I have my life’s path figured out or know what I’m doing when I get home but…. 

What I have learnt so far and what I will be taking forward with me is this: 

  • Looking after the body soothes the mind. And recognising the integration of the body, mind and soul with the earth and universe. 
  • Showing appreciating and gratitude. For showing up to do any type of practice and for the amazing opportunities that are possible. 
  • Focusing on the breath to focus on the present. To alleviate the pull of the past and future, to reduce the over analysis I do internally. 
  • Making a decision. Stop battling things out in the mind, just do something! It’s so pointless and exhausting worrying about things that have never been or will never be. 
  • Stop worrying about what others will think. Stop taking on their perspectives and expectations as my own.
  • Go with the flow. Do the things you want to do. They pop up in your head for a reason. Or try things so you know you don’t like it. Just do something or don’t, but take the pressure of yourself and just see what happens.   

How would you spend a day of silence and what would you work on? 

Assistance Required, Basket Case in Self-help About to Explode!

6 ways I got excited about self-improvement


“That’s not me. I could never do that. I don’t like being pushed out of my comfort zone. I don’t have time. That’s scary. That’s lame (or I think the people around me will think so)” …. those are the sorts of phrases that would flow through my mind when thinking about personal development.

A huge fear of mine is that I am uninteresting. There, it’s out there. I don’t know where it stems from or why (so it’s definitely on the to do list of things to work on). A quirky little fault I am learning that I have is, the things that I want the most, I manage to fuck up or talk myself out of going after (“That’s not me … I could never do that…” catchy theme song, you know it?!). It’s a nasty habit that I am starting to overcome (slowly). You’d think the way to solve a fear of being uninteresting would be to do, learn and achieve interesting things right? Makes total sense!

Since most things starts with a Google search .. interesting came up as “arousing curiosity or interest, holding or catching the attention”. I wanted to be, I am trying to be, someone that people are curious about, professionally and personally. I want to be someone that attracts people to want to talk to me, have a conversation with, fall in love with (a blog for another time!). To be that person, I was going to have to be absorbed, fascinated, captivated and engaged in the world, other people and (god forbid) myself.

Here’s some of the daily practices I started to really get cracking on my own development:

1. Learning input. 

Like food to fuel to the body, I changed my learning habits to fuel my mind.

I’m someone who regularly has headphones on listening to music so it felt easy to swap some of my time out with podcasts. Like a sponge in an infinity pool I started to get into reading books (yes, old-school paperbacks and stuff on my Ipad), saving articles on my phone, listening to docos on YouTube or Netflix, you name it. At least once a day. I was so open to anyone who had perspectives on career change, ‘finding your life’s purpose’ how to ‘get out of a rut’, how to change habits, psychology and philosophy topics… anything anyone was recommending me knowing I had quit my job and was looking for a change.

Being a massive reader already this wasn’t really hard for me to get into. But since what I was reading was predominantly love stories or set in the Middle Ages or in medieval times, getting in a few motivational topics or learning more about the world around me was definitely going to be worthwhile. Ha, the themes I was a feeling my mind with were quite opposite to my personal journey (the liberation/oppression of women, how to be happy in this day and age/how to just survive or freedom from ‘the man’/pledging loyalty to a king you don’t believe in). I’ve reserve these books for bedtime or beachtime.

Learning doesn’t always have to be information either. Actually, putting the book down or taking the headphones out, meant learning about other people, listening to conversations, shit even interacting with people, the horror! HA. But seriously, doing that, just being more aware of what’s going on around me, getting out of my own head and not shutting off the world was pretty important. It also helped me be more creative too, coming up with characters, story lines, music lyrics. The world is fascinating when you choose to be in it.

2. Learning output.

I found it helpful to write notes about some of this stuff to make sure I avoided the age old “yeah ok, that was insightful. What do you do with it?”. I’d revisit the notes every now and again, even listen to podcasts over and over to hone in on a message I really liked. Like any teacher or coach will till you, you have to keep repeating it to practice it, to learn it.

It’s so cool as well, as soon as you say you are interested in podcasts, people seem to come out of the woodwork with recommendations and suggestions. Then you start to talk about ideas and concepts, arguments and perspectives with them and socialise some of your own actions and thoughts about topics. It’s so nice sometimes to hear your own ideas come out of your mouth you didn’t even know of.

Learning about new topics and current events, I’ve started to have conversations with friends that I don’t think I ever would have in the past. Friends I have known almost twenty years, our friendship is expanding because we are talking more about society, politics, trends, culture. I’m sure others already do this but for some reason because I didn’t know anything about any of these topics I felt more confident to now ask questions and I genuinely wanted to know other people’s viewpoints on things. This was a massive shift for me as another fear I have is seeming stupid around other people. But I also learnt you can be curious without knowing anything and learn something new if you are genuinely want to learn about someone else.

3. Figure out and follow your interests. The real ones. 

I have an A4 piece of paper listing a bunch of things I have started or tried over the years but not picked up for a while. As an embarrassing example, there is a piano at the foot of my bed that I’ll admit to keeping in my room to look artsy in case a gentlemen fellow finds his way to my boudoir… yup could I be any more of a try-hard hipster?! Once upon a time I played every afternoon after school, I made up songs, worked out the notes to my favourite songs and sung loudly to hits from Les Miserables while I had the headphones plugged in. When playing become less and less frequent (boys happened) and when my mum continually wanted to throw it out I took it off her hands. I’m slightly compelled to play it. But … I’m not. When I was looking at this time of personal development and revisiting my interests the piano wasn’t one of them. And that’s ok. I realised that not every interest I have EVER had, has to be the ones that lurk around twenty years later.

Once that light bulb moment hit me I felt freer, but also a little unsettled. If things like the piano and drawing weren’t current interests then what the hell were they now as a thirty something?

I honestly have no idea what my interests are. I run and gym (they are just part of my routine), I love music and reading, I love travelling, live music and going out to new bars. BUT that’s kind of it. I sound like every tinder profile I’ve ever read. Throw in I’m “down-to-earth” and “I like going out or staying in” and I sound like the rest of Australia summed up on their as little-effort-as-possible created profile.

Writing has been one thing I’ve always loved doing. Actually I’ve always envisioned being a writer, different things. I started a writing course, started two blogs and giving it a go to see if the vision is a dream or could be a reality.

This isn’t even yet about passions (that’s another blog too!). This is getting real about the things you ‘have always wanted to do’ and haven’t and leaving them behind. It’s about seeing what could be an interest if you commit to giving it some time.

4. Is how I am living right for me? 

Your environment kind of matters and what you surround yourself with. What am I spending my money on? What is it supporting? What is in my room, what’s in my house? Am I surrounded by things that are the way I want them or the way it has always been?

These questions are what go me to start looking into the state of the world environmentally and how the way I was living was consciously or unconsciously impacting the plant. That’s where I started to looking into climate change and veganism. I signed up to millions of not-for-profit Facebook pages to see which ones affected me the most, which ones aligned to my values. I started to look for jobs within those and volunteering positions to learn more about how they work and their cause. I ended up with a volunteer role with one about climate change, where I’ve been working a few hours a week for them on an upcoming campaign. Immersing myself in that world has provided great insight into possible future career aspirations or personal pursuits.
One day I was getting out of bed and looked around my room. I had the usual surrounding me, pictures, clothes, books, travel memorabilia. When I looked around again I realised some of the stuff I had had for ten or fifteen years. Some of it wasn’t the stuff of a thirty something year old. Who knew?! I did a bit of a clean up and deep dive into what I was holding onto and why and I felt fresh and free to surround myself with new influences and things of significance.

A few tweaks like this have just refreshed how I feel about myself and my footprint in my community.

5. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. 

If I had a dollar for every time someone gave me this pearl of wisdom, I wouldn’t have to worry about figuring out my next career move. But to be fair, its pretty spot on.

While I was opening up my mind to new information to learn and engage with the world, I needed new experiences to challenge and captivate me. Get me out of my head and trying new things.

On a whim and the lure of cheap flights, I booked a trip to Bali. I was going to try Yoga, meditate, climb mountains and see beautiful things. The booking part and the concept of travelling solo didn’t frighten me. The scary thing was the Yoga bit. When I work out, I like to sweat. And I mean S.W.E.A.T. Get me a mop to clean the gym floor, red face, tennis grunting, hose me down and for god sake sake stay away and keep guard of your nostrils…. S.W.E.A.T. But I was determined to give it a shot and see what the fuss was about. If I hated it at least I knew because I have never done one session in my life. Never.

But it doesn’t have to be the big things either. I’m not suggesting challenging comfyness has to be about expensive things, jumping out of planes (done it BTW) or rash decisions.

I’d been learning a lot about entrepreneurship and wondering if that’s where I might dabble my interests. As a kid I always wanted to run a business, and now, I’d love to work in a fun start up, started by moi. So, I signed up for a free seminar and networking event. Me! In the past I would have made someone go with me or I would just never have signed up. I have to say, the best part of the whole thing was the networking. I even got to the stage of exchanging emails. Unheard of! I think I just liked being in a room with people who also didn’t know what they were doing (or if they did, they had no clue about where the fuck to get started). It was just so comforting to know it wasn’t just me questioning the meaning of life! Surrounding myself with other people was the best to get away from friends and family who didn’t understand what I was doing or have their lives figured out. Maybe how I overcame this was because I was truly there to figure out my story and learn those of other people, it took away the angst against meeting people and having awkward conversations.

Especially for this part, when fear popped up, I continually asked myself “What really is the risk of not doing it?” and “Do I really want to be in the same place I was before?”.

6. You can’t do it all the time!!!!!!

There is the possibility of self development overload. Self judgement, reflection, visioning. It can get exhausting. Trust me. Sometimes you just need to sit on the couch and watch something without doing ANYTHING else. Sometimes you just need to talk about something in a one dimensional way without questioning its purpose in the universe.

So I know you’re curious, am I more interesting now? I’m afraid the uninspiring answer, is that it’s a work in progress. But being more open to the world, engaging in things of interest and trying new things are captivating me. They are holding my interest so some of that is bound to rub off and start shaping a bit more of my own identify, what I am really about, what truly matters to me.

But like all things worth it, it takes time. And developing yourself should take time so you don’t just cut your hair, have an affair and blow all your money searching for stuff that’s inside you anyway.

How are you opening your mind and facing your fears? 

Healing Starts with Health

I love that line from the movie How to lose a guy in 10 days “you want to lose weight, stop eating fatty!”. Tony Robins continually says in his podcasts “if you haven’t lost the weight and you say you’ve tried everything you haven’t. That’s a story you’re telling yourself. When you have lost the weight, you have tried everything because it worked”. 

I hadn’t tried everything and it really was as simple as wanting a healthier body by thinking about what was going in how I was moving it. Plain and simple. 

I’ve been a long distance runner for a number of years, I love big walks on the weekend and go to the gym five mornings a week. I was pretty fit but there were a few stubborn kilos that lurked around my belly and I was determined to shed them and gain some much needed confidence lost from my Heathrow injection back in 2005. Looking back at journals since then my body was a constant theme and source of personal judgment and unhappiness. When I thought about that, I’ve basically been unhappy with my body for over a decade. How ridiculous!

Me at my heaviest, in 2007 then in 2010. Never again!

Across about eight weeks, this was my journey:

Research and awareness

I didn’t want to go for a diet or a fad that promised quick results, I wanted to change my relationship with food and truly understand how to nourish my body.

Being free and open to new information, I started speaking to a few Vegan friends. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened that I hung out with a few over a short space of time. I was asking them about their reasons for being Vegan, how they felt, if they felt they were missing out on anything, how their energy levels were doing etc. They came from the perspective of a love of animals, the health benefits of not having animal products in their bodies and the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. 

The following few days, I was deep in documentary land learning about animal agriculture, studies on populations eating plant-based diets and studies of diseases being positively impacted by a change in diet away from animal products. It was intense. To be honest some of them felt like heavy propaganda and I admit to being swept up in their emotional messages. Fork over Knives, Food Matters and Cowspiracy are good ones to start your own documentary spiral. 

I spoke to a dietician friend of mine knowing I needed to get to the other side of the nutritional debate. All my research was coming up empty as to why you shouldn’t follow a plant-based diet. Speaking with her she agreed there wasn’t a lot of sexy research out there to disprove the vegan diet and we discussed the arguments in some of the documentaries and what research they were basing them on. There was a lot to be said for how people chose facts and figures for their causes. She gave great advice about checking information sources and ‘experts’ when validating research and advice. While I wanted to remain evidence-based I was curiously pulled toward the plant-based diet.

My motivation for this switch in lifestyle was for health reasons and environment reasons. Health meaning reducing my risk of cancer and other life threatening diseases like heart attacks etc. Environmental reasons means refers to overconsumption and animal agriculture. 

Overconsumption to me means mindless consumption, wasteful creation, useless single use products and the disastrous impact of plastic. Some changes I made were coffee – I got a keep cup and used that rather than being a part of the horrible statistic of 1 billion cups being throw away each day in Australia. Not only was reducing my cows milk consumption doing wonders for my body but I felt better knowing my Keep cup choice was doing wonders for the planet. I started to freeze bananas for smoothies in tupperware containers rather than use glad wrap, just put fruit in the crisper rather than in bags or glad wrap, started taking green bags to do my groceries and stopped using straws and went to restaurants that used paper forks and containers if I was getting takeaway. Or just not get takeaway and enjoy being in an establishment catering to you. All these small changes were not only making me feel like a better human by being more conscious about my choices but they were helping me think about my food choices, be more prepared with my meals or changed where I ate when socialising based on their ethical and eco practices.   

Because I love being outside, I love exploring my home country and others when abroad through running, walking and hiking, I was saddened by all the destructive things we as humans have done to the world. Because of overpopulation and the explosion and exploitation of the meat and dairy industries, I no longer wanted to be a part of fuelling those industries as much as I was. 

Since my interest in a plant-based diet was to see how it would feel to benefit my health and reduce my personal impact of animal agriculture on the planet, I decided to give it a go. I did it on the condition (from my friends warning also) that I was going to ensure each day I got the requirements I needed and I stayed doing it for the right reasons – not to promote some unreasonable and unsustainable lifestyle.  


Trial and error

The first say, three weeks on a plant-based diet were the hardest. I was constantly hungry. Constantly unsatisfied in the way that the food was delicious but my stomach felt like a cavernous hole that could not be filled. I was finding cooking a fun novelty looking up new recipes and balancing the nutrients required in my body each day, I felt like a scientist! Past that three week hurdle I started to become satiated and felt I had more than enough energy to keep me going through the day. 

I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables, legumes, grains, beans, all the good stuff. Breakfast is a green juice or a protein rich smoothie. Lunch is a salad or wrap and dinner is a stir fry, curry, stew, soup or vegetable based salad. I prepare what I’m going to eat for the week to balance out the dietary requirements and not be wasteful with ingredients.  

Breakfast juices based on spinach or kale. So yummy. Not everyday, alternate days.

So am I Vegan? I wouldn’t say so no. Predominantly my everyday diet is plant-based but I’m not restricting my lifestyle by being completely strict. For example, my flatmate and I cook each other dinner once a week. I cook her a Vegan meal and she cooks a meal of her choosing. The first time she cooked a delicious Chinese beef and broccoli dish I ate the meat and it was yummy. Another time she made a prawn and seafood dish and both times I didn’t feel like I had been missing out on anything. Interestingly my body was the one to react because it started to let me know when it didn’t agree with foods, fatty foods or seafoods especially because the food I was eating was so wholesome. On another occasion out with friends for cocktails, the only option for a share plate was a cheese and meat board. I’ve always loved cheese so I got involved and it was delicious. Because my reasons to reduce animal products are for health benefits and the impact on the environment and not cruelty to animals, on occasion I feel ok to say yes to this WITHOUT guilt and actually, with pleasure. 

Reading this you could say “once you start to allow animal products back into your diet it’s hard to keep saying no”. Not for me. Because I was feeling great inside and out I had no guilt in instances like the above. My relationship with food and my body was evolving and I am so much more aware of what it needs, when and how much is too much. 

Moving because it feels good and and as part of a routine

Granted, I had the extra time to work out but it also changed the way I looked at getting around and opportunities to not be lazy. 

My routine included continuing to hit the gym with my gym buddy at 6am, five days a week. We combine cardio with strength and weight sessions. We love F45 so when not doing that we took over our local Anytime gym and made up our own sessions using an interval timer. Training with a partner is SO motivating for me, while it’s definitely a chance to catch up we have trained for so long together we know each other’s abilities and continue to test each other and encourage each other to push past boundaries.  

On those weekdays I was walking at least 7km also, walking home after the gym. I actually loved this time because not only was it my time to listen to podcasts and learn new things, I was walking new paths that I have never explored before. Ten years living in Sydney and I’m only now starting to know every street like the back of my hand. It’s made me really start to love my hometown. 

 I’d often walk a few other kms per day, around the beaches of Bondi, into the city, to a cafe or even to meet friends, I’d take a change of clothes for the opportunity to walk. Interestingly I had dropped a weight on my foot (20kg fucking yes ouch!) which meant running past about 5km was hard, so walking was a huge part of my cardio.

The weekends were a little bit more relaxed, at least one walk, and a run when my foot was back in action. 

To be honest my exercise routine hadn’t changed drastically. The extra kilometres, I feel were what was making a difference. People kept asking me “aren’t you bored just wondering around?!?!?” I didn’t see it like that at all. Listening to podcasts or reading a book while on the treadmill was stimulating my mind as much as my heart rate. It was also fuelling my creativity. I would have to stop frequently to write something down or rush through the door and start typing on my laptop as sweat blinded me from my forehead to get an idea or a story down into words. Working on my body was bringing energy to dormant functions I had abandoned for years. 


Habit forming behaviour

Working on my health and fitness has been an exact Slight Edge transformation. New daily habits have compounded over time to achieve desired results. To be clear my goals weren’t strictly to lose weight. I wanted to be strong, healthy and fit. The weight was a by product of what I was eating and my exercising.


Results keep you on track 

Early 2016 to Early 2017. And I’m still drinking my beloved beer!

In two months, I had shed around six kilos. That’s huge for me. I was feeling it in my clothes for sure, shorts were falling off me and tops were getting baggy. Getting ready to go away I bought a bunch of new clothes at sizes 8 and 10 where I am usually a 12 or 14. The feeling was, and is euphoric being able to wear clothes like they were intended and feel confident and dare I say sexy! I feel like I have plateaued, this seems to be my new weight. Hovering just under 62kg. I love it. Like a snake shedding a skin I feel a wave of freedom, happiness and confidence in this body reborn.

Friends and family keep asking me how my “new diet is going”. They ask me if my “diet” or all the exercising is attributed to my changed body. I think it’s a combination of both. I use inverted commas because I think they see it as a phase where as I see this as my lifestyle. People challenge me with “when you return to work you’ll get back to old habits” or “because you aren’t working you have more time to work out”. Some of that could be valid but FUCK! What a way to support someone who is trying to improve their health and happiness! I challenge back though that I know what good and happy feels like so I won’t want my body to go back to the way it was. Because I am not feeling restricted with what I am eating I don’t feel like weight will come back on because I have changed my food and lifestyle choices to support a body and fitness right for me. 

Once your lifestyle promotes your health and a body you love, you HAVE done everything you can to get the results you want. 


Have you been, or are you on a journey to improve your health? What have you done to change your relationship with food and exercise? 

Reflect, Revive and Rejuvenate


Redesigning my life…..
The Christmas break of 2016 felt Like I was closing a chapter. My last day had been a huge mix of emotions, but anchored in certainty of my decision. My farewells weren’t goodbye but a ‘see you soon’ and I had a new confidence and boost of energy of my impact there, my achievements and what I really was capable at my next role… whenever or wherever that might be! 

The new year felt exhilarating. With endless options of what to do for the year and avoiding the post-break come down my friends were going through returning to work, it was time to get started. 2017 life redesign. Sam 2.0 as some were saying. 

It was time to start answering; “what do I want my life to look like?” and “who do I want to be?”. 

Not easy questions really, but I started with a framework (I like structure!) to split things out and get really focused. I had previously read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen, and I love the seven principles from the book and how he breaks down key areas of your life to apply them. I really identified with the concept of breaking old behaviours and creating new daily habits that compound into whatever results you are looking for. This really appealed to me because I can be disciplined and work hard, I just need direction on what to focus on. When you are on a self discovery journey, and you start googling self development with thousands of promised instant results and short cuts, deflecting those impossibilities with the Slight Edge mindset means you are committing to yourself that it won’t be easy, it will take time but it’s worth it. A better you and a better life is worth it right? 

I felt each area needed reflection on where I was and a vision of where I wanted to be. From there I would create a goal and start working towards achieving it. In order of where I put my focus, I have been working on:

Health 

Personal development

Finances

Relationships

Career

Happiness

Impact

As I write this thinking about my first post, and how emotional and confronting it was to put those feelings out there, this one feels almost emotionless and pragmatic. I have laughed at myself that I am project managing my life at the moment, but without a starting point or a bit of structure, figuring out what to change and how is very overwhelming. I think what happened, from the end of 2016 to the start of 2017, that intense clarity of “things have to change” went way beyond motivating – it became a requirement. I was no longer motivated to change my life – it had to happen. I was going to make it happen, and I am making it happen. If you’re on a similar journey you will know when that happens. 

I invite you to read The Slight Edge, it certainly has changed my life. I also invite you to continue to learn how I used it to change the areas above. They are a journey in themselves, all continuing at present. 

While I had time off Jan to mid March to explore these areas, I appreciate this option might not be available to everyone going through something similar. It wasn’t how I had planned it either. I’m certainly not advocating people leave their jobs but it has been so immensely valuable. Truly giving myself the space and freedom away from pressures and challenges meant I really was surrendering to the experience of redesigning my life.