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The first time i beat ten boats in the nationals!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Mountain Bike Training for NZ begins!

Our mountain biking group is off to a ripping start! We did our first ride last Saturday, a relatively simple fire-trail in Terrey Hills, to gauge our current fitness and skill levels. It was 14km and took us an hour and a half. Yesterday we did a full day clinic, with Northern Beaches based company, Life's An Adventure. We started at 9am with basic bike repairs, tool kits, etc. They showed us how to change a tyre, break and repair a chain, and other very useful things. They gave us some great recommendations on what take with us on every ride.

From here we moved to a nearby oval, where we practised simple bike handling skills - like stopping (without skidding!), ratcheting (for tight corners and tricky bits), and getting up and down obstacles (without getting off your bike!). While all the theory was held in dense shade, we practised on an open field, and were relieved to settle down for a BBQ lunch.

Slightly over-full (more than one of us was carrying a food-baby), we were then expected to leap up and embark on a 22km ride, covering some of the tracks we did last week. We were given opportunities to practise our skills on rock ledges, slippery steep slopes, and undulating hills. One by one, our group got smaller, as the heat, dehydration, lack of fitness, or bike failure took each participant out (we collected them on the way back)! It was extremely tough going in the last kilometre to the half-way mark, and one of our team gave it all he had, and combusted a few hundred metres from the resting point. Unfortunately he had to ride back feeling like this, and while gastrolyte and a muesli bar went some way to rectifying him, he was too exhausted to ride much in the 11km home.

To our last men standing, Di, Marina, Chris, and myself - well done us! And well done everyone else for giving it their best shot (Jenn in particular who only got off a plane from the UK on Friday night, couldn't sleep and was surfing the internet at 2am, and still rocked up on time and ready to go).

We are all riding better, and learned some new skills. Next week we test them on Manly Dam!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Gratitude Diary, why we all should keep one!

Firstly, I apologise for the formatting of this post, the page hasn't loaded properly and I am too impatient to wait for another day!! Recently I engaged a business coach, with the idea that i would streamline my business practices and thereby make the gym more efficient. After two months, i have come to understand that a business coach works on people, not the business directly. And since my little studio starts and ends with me, all our sessions have focussed on a couple of key issues surrounding my personality, communication style, and interactions with both the trainers and clients. For someone as competitive as I am, I found the criticism quite demoralising, and hard to take. In addition, some of the topics we discussed were very confronting, and I found myself unable to sleep for days after our sessions. My coach suggested I begin a "Gratitude Journal", and it had an immediate effect. A Gratitude Journal, or Diary, is simply a daily list of 5 things that you are grateful for. It can be anything from a full night's sleep, to a glorious sunny day, to the joy of watching the dogs run in the park. For me, it has changed my mental attitude dramtically. When i feel irritated (which is alot) i usually snap down on whatever or whoever is the source of the irritation (right or wrong), but because nowdays i have taken a moment to notice the positive things, i feel irritated less often, and am less likely to react in the extreme manner i used to. It is a work in progress, but it makes sense to me. In the same we train our bodies in the gym (and training is SO specific to the task you are training for), it makes sense to train our minds. My goal is a clam, peaceful, and happy attitude - it makes sense that I would train that attitude, turn it into a habit, and live happily ever after! There is a great website: That has activities and information to further pursue and achieve a positive outlook. I would encourage everyone to take one thing from it, and start today. Life is too short, right?!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

For Something as "Simple" as Yogurt

I am sure that, without exception, every parent that does the shopping with their kid has experienced this; your child systematically pulling stuff of the shelves to eat - usually in bright and shiny confectionery wrappers!

My strategy has always been to allow miss two to pick from a range of squeezy baby food, because it is usually healthy, and she likes it. Recently we have branched out to squeezy yogurt.

I look at the ingredients for everything, and was pretty dismayed when i was reading the ingredients for each and every squeezy yogurt marketed as a "kids" product. Most of them carried sugar as their second ingredient (which means, aside from milk solids, sugar was the next biggest ingredient). As a food for kids, this is unacceptable.

Australia is now the worlds fattest nation, with Monash University finding that if current trends continue, 80% of all Australians will be overweight by 2025.

That, and studies like Harvard's School of Public Health (USA): Resolved: there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases, which show a clear link between added sugar, obesity, and other health issues. At some point someone has to take this seriously.

It is one thing for an adult, with the ability to read a packet, and understand the risks, to chose a food with added sugar. It is another to give them to your child, who has no ability to differentiate or chose, other than by what tastes good.

A quick note, not all of the % sugar in these products is added. Sugar in it's natural context is not what i have an issue with. The grams are per serve.

Pauls: Sugar as the 5th ingredient. 8.5g carbohydrate, of which 8.2g are sugar. This product is almost 12% sugar.

Moshi Monster: Sugar as the 2nd ingredient. 10.2g of carbohydrate, of which 8.5g are sugar. This product is over 12% sugar.

Ski: Sugar is the 2nd ingredient. 9.2g carbohydrate, of which 8.5g are sugar. This product is also around 12% sugar.

Mini Organics: Sugar is the 3rd ingredient. 12.3g carbohydrate, of which 10.3g are sugar. This product is almost 15% sugar.
Yoplait: Sugar is the 2nd ingredient. 9.5g carbohydrate, of which 8.3g are sugar. This product is also almost 14% sugar.

Danone: Sugar is the 2nd ingredient. 9.4g carbohydrate, of which 8.9g are sugar. This product is also 13% sugar.

Va'alia: Sugar is the 5th ingredient. One of the better choices if you are going to choose a squeezy packet yogurt. 7.4g carbohydrate, of which 7g are sugar. This product is still 10% sugar.

For comparison's sake, Chobani: NO ADDED SUGAR! Chobani is plain yogurt, that is milk and bacteria.  7.5g carbohydrate, of which 6.9g are sugar. This product is has only 4% sugar. A suggestion for at home, buy this kind of yogurt and add a spot of honey or some fresh fruit to flavor. 

Another comparison, Dairy Farmer's full fat: No added sugar. 7.2g carbohydrate, of which 7.2g are sugar. This product is 7% sugar. The grams in this tub and the Chobani are per 100g, which is 30-50% bigger than the serves in the squeezy packets for kids (and they still have less sugar).
BINGO! Rafferty's Garden: No added sugar.  16.8g carbohydrate, of which 15.7g are sugar. This product is 17% sugar. I prefer it because the sugar is from banana and mango, and is therefor in it's natural context.

It is interesting when reading the packets, that what i perceive as the best choice is also the highest sugar. The problem for me is added sugar. At home, where we eat only natural, unflavoured, yogurt, adding fresh fruit or honey will increase the sugar content. However it also increases the fibre and nutrition content, whereas just adding sugar does not. Fibre is a digestive-tract cancer-fighter! Added sugar increases your risk of digestive tract cancers.

I have read every squeezy food packet in Woolworths, Coles, and IGA, and have added some suggestions for you when giving yogurt from a squeezy packet to your kids (captioned under each photo). The above is just a handful of what's available. For other foods, feel free to "comment" or email me ( and i will look them up for you!

Monash University Modi: Breakthrough Treatments in Obesity and Diabetes Fact Sheet

 2013 Aug;14(8):606-19. doi: 10.1111/obr.12040. Epub 2013 Jun 13. Resolved: there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases. Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA; Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

 2013 Jul;16(4):434-9. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328361c8b8.Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Ahmed SHGuillem KVandaele Y. Universit√© de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France.

 2013 Jul;24(7):1427-36. doi: 10.1007/s10552-013-0222-0. Epub 2013 May 9.Consumption of sugary foods and drinks and risk of endometrial cancer. King MGChandran UOlson SHDemissie KLu SEParekh NBandera EV. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ 08903, USA.

 2013 Aug;8(4):242-8. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2013.00171.x. Epub 2013 Apr 29.Calorie-sweetened beverages and fructose: what have we learned 10 years later. Bray GAPopkin BMPennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA

Monday, 22 July 2013

On our way home

I want to take the opportunity the thank everyone who donated to our everyday hero account, raising money for Diabetes Research Australia.
It was important to us to drum up some support, and we really appreciate everyone who pitched in. Particularly because the cause is close to us, with Debra being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (she had her 4yr anniversary 3 days ago).
Debra told us that she doesn't really talk about her diabetes, and some of her friends and acquaintances still don't know. She said there was a stigma, or assumption, that someone her age has "brought it on herself". That is, people assume that she has type 2 diabetes, caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.
So, again I want to thank everyone who donated, for not judging her, for supporting the four of us, and for making the effort to do your bit too.
We are in Lima, awaiting a flight to Santiago. We arrive home Tuesday evening, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we will sleep for a week!!
It has been an intense experience, one that we will remember forever. I am sure we will not regret our new hat-scarves....

Friday, 19 July 2013

Other Adventures

We spent yesterday shopping and getting a celebratory massage, before getting on a train (and then bus) to Cusco. We returned to the same hotel, where they had laundered our clothes, put our bags in our rooms, and ordered pizza for us! FYI the hotel is Casa Adina, and they are all through South America, and we understand why!
The beds are massive, and we were grateful for the shower, clean clothes, and massive bed for the night.
No rest for the wicked, however! We had our wake up call scheduled for 5:45am, and have spend the rest of today on the bus to Puno. It is an 8hr drive, which we have taken 10hrs to do. We have stopped a number of times to view Inca archaeological sites. We also made it to our highest altitude, at over 4300m. None of us are on the medication anymore, so we must have acclimatised!
We just passed through a town called Juliaca, which is unlike anything we have seen so far. The guide says over 60% of Juliaca's population is from elsewhere, and involved in illegal activity (such as smuggling). We didn't stop. It was quite depressing, dirt roads, piles of garbage, dead dogs on the side of the road, and house s made of mud-brick that were slumped and eroded.
We have an hour more to travel, before we reach Puno. Although a tourist destination, it is a more dangerous population than elsewhere in Peru. We will have to be vigilant with our pockets and our hotel rooms.
Debra has bounced back well, no longer horizontal! The training certainly paid off in our speedy recovery.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Day 3 - The Longest Day

After writing last night i packed myself up and headed back down the trail we came from, hoping to help Deb with her pack on the last part of the hike. I "coo-ee"d and heard a reply, but after about a km i still hadnt reached them, and i was pretty tired. So i had a rest, and asked a porter who was coming past. He said they were 2min away so i set out up the stairs again. I found them, but that same porter i passed had already taken the pack! So i just wandered back with them. They made it before dark.
Today was a 16km hike, over another 4000m pass. The difference was that we started higher, so instead of climbing for 5k we only did 2k. I think it also helped that we didn't realise that it was so high, until Lobo told us at the top.
Then we had a long downhill, with uneven stairs, which was really tough on our toes and knees.
Our journey was broken up by archaeological sites peppering the road. I think I counted 5. One was a refuge and store house, and another one was a temple where they mummified the royal class (in the foetal position) then inserted them back into "mother" earth (put them in a cave).
We then followed the ridge, winding in and out of valleys, through more spectacular terrain. We saw some wild alpacas, which was pretty cool.
From there we had a loooooong downhill of about 1.5hrs. About 30min from then end (after 9hrs hiking), we had the choice of 30min to camp, or 45min past some Inca farming terraces. We chose the latter, and I am glad we did, because from a distance you couldn't appreciate how imposing and enormous they were. There was still a working irrigation system, and a hut that was in tact apart from missing its thatched roof.
Tomorrow, we get to do it in the dark... 2.5hrs in order to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu.

Day 2 - Challenge Day

Day two is often tooted as the toughest day of the hike. It is only 11km, so I had difficulty imagining that it would take that long, no matter how hard it was.
Well, it did, and it was. As I type, Deb and Sandra have still not made it to camp (our guide is with them). Before lunch, we climbed 1000 metres, on ancient, 800yr old steps. Did I mention it was raining? Well, it was. We were high to begin with, about 3000m. So breathing and climbing that quickly was difficult.
Where we stopped for lunch was icy cold, surrounded by snow, and encased in cloud. Needless to say lunch was hot and good.
We still had further to climb before we reached "Dead Woman's Pass" (actual name). It was slow, many of our little group were I'll, seeing spots, or had headaches. I could just feel the pressure of my chest, trying to suck enough air in. Jenny and I set a steady pace, and after an hour or so we were at the top. It was spectacular.
We stayed long enough for a muesli bar, and a couple of "coo-ee" s, and watched the rest of the group for a little while. However Lopo had told us not to wait because of the cold, and we discovered he was right. We layered up and headed down the other side to camp.
Going downhill was a relief for a couple of minutes, and then it was also slow going and tough on our legs! The trail is in excellent condition, but slippery, steep, and very uneven. It took us almost 2hrs to complete the final few kilometres.
On a brighter note, that's the toughest day done with!
Hopefully the girls make it in before dark.