Walking A Tightrope: Braving The Unknown

Here’s the thing about young, handsome Argentinian lifeguards on beaches… they’re very convincing.

VERY.
CONVINCING.

Maybe it’s was his accent, my broken Español, or the casual way in which his eyes lit up when I said “Is that hard to do?” that I decided to go out on a limb yesterday. Literally.

(NOTE: my decision may have been swayed simply by the fact that I am competitive as f*ck, & a cute kid decided to go before me – I couldn’t wimp out & still be a semi-cool-Mom after that!)

Tightrope walking, I can assure you, is not for people afraid of falling. It’s also usually not something 36yr old mother’s who have never tightrope-walked before do at a public beach on a super windy day.

But, what the hey. My inner voice whispered seductively to me “New year, same me… let’s do this, Cass. You wanted to adventure more. You wanted to make memories & try new things. Here’s your first shot at it. And, you’re only three feet above the ground.”

Damn you, seductive inner voice. As awkward as you are, you sure are convincing. Potentially just as convincing as our new, tanned friend from Argentina. So, with a little gust of wind catching me up the backside & along the path towards the tightrope (as well as a healthy cheering on from my beloved & my bestest pal) – I kicked off my jandals & climbed a tree trunk (not very high) to the springy, stringy thing I would soon be walking – or falling – across.

Lucky for me, mi amigo nuevo, saw I was nervous & gave me his hand. Though he was there to steady me as I took my first VERY uncertain first step, he also talked me through where my line of site should be, how to relax & unravel the tension in the rope through my balance, & showed me how to have fun while completely terrified.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I used to be terrified of heights. Strangely, over the years, I’ve gotten much better with heights – but walking that uneven & unsteady rubber-band was pretty nerve wracking for me.

I may have only been three feet above Terra Firma, but it just as easily could’ve been 30 or 300 feet as far as I was concerned in the moment!

Making it all the way across, I learned a few things in the minute I spent without my feet firmly planted on the ground.

Mostly, I learned these key lessons:

  1. Be courageous
    This is seriously not as easy as it sounds. Most of us like to think that we’re daring… at least a little bit. But, in practice, I personally end up turning down opportunities to try new things for fear of what others – and even my own inner-voice – might think. I consistently tell my daughter that she can’t be good at everything. You have to start somewhere, and somewhere is usually right at the beginning. No one starts off as a master. Masters were always once beginners. So, while I might end up sounding like a $.50 fortune cookie, I reckon we should all start at the beginning. Without fear. Without judgement. But, more so, with hope, joy & a sense of adventure. Courage is contagious – pass it on.
  2. Don’t Look Down
    As my Argentinean friend told me as I started walking from one tree to another “Look only ahead, not down, not to the side.” This really resonated with me in the moment – and resonates even more now thinking back on his words. We oftentimes spend so much time looking in a direction other than that in which we’re heading that we lose sight of our end destination. Even with strong winds whipping at your back, or with wobbly footing, if you look ahead & focus on what you’re hoping to achieve – your chance of getting there inherently grows by leaps & bounds. I always tell my teams at work that, as a manager, it’s my job to provide a ‘North Star’ for them to steer towards. It’s their job to get there – whether it be swinging across Orion’s Belt or sliding through the big dipper. Keep your eyes up. Move with intent.
  3. Have fun falling
    This is something I’ve grown to embrace & love over the past few years. Falling, itself, is fun. It’s the landing, if you’re not prepared for it, or it comes too soon, that hurts the most. It’s taken time, but I’ve started to not just face my fear of falling (and, failing) but to embrace it with my eyes wide open. Most probably squealing all the way to the bottom where a soft landing (or slight thunk) awaits. Falling, like flying is all part of the journey. If you embrace each moment, you’ll find fun just around every corner.

 

So, there you have it. A small moment. But, big lessons. Here’s to more travelling South Americans on Auckland beaches this summer, helping us all face our fears – while reminding us, there’s no shame in having a helping hand to steady us while we learn.

Gracias, amigo mio. Que te vayas bien.

 

Tightrope walking!
Tightrope walking!

My 24 Day Challenge: Baby Steps

Let’s Go Back to the Start

When I undertook my Advocare 24 Day Challenge I wasn’t looking for an easy way out. Okay maybe I was. But, no matter how much I was hoping for a magical weight loss plan, I knew deep down that my true goal in just over three weeks would be to break some of the bad habits that have been part of my daily life for a long time.

To say the first week was a challenge would be an understatement of massive proportions. Not snacking between meals, giving up my 10am chocolate fix and trying not to eat AFTER dinner was hard. Really hard.

After the first week was over, I had three more days of a fairly strict “cleansing” regime to complete. Having the first 10 days with an eating and action plan fairly planned out worked really well for me. After that however, I lost a bit of passion and direction on the plan. I never stopped eating healthy and I picked up the pace on my exercise regime, but without something stringent planned out for me and a coach in my corner – I wobbled a bit when it came to staying the course.

I know my personality and I know I get the most out of plans and goals when I have someone looking over my shoulder and cheering me on. Someone helping me plan out my meals, pushing me with my exercise and (in the end) reminding me of my goal. Stepping outside of my comfort zone in relying on myself as an individual instead of part of a larger team (I’ve always played team sports) was an experience that forced me to grow. I’m glad for it.

It is now Sunday and Friday of last week was day 24. Yesterday we went out to dinner for the first time in months and I chose something healthy but also splurged on curly fries. Any guilt? Nope. Yesterday morning I did and intense hour-long boxing session and then followed it up with an hour of cross-fit. Today I am walking around like an 80-year-old and my muscles are screaming at me – but all in a good way. I love working hard and feeling the changes as they happen.

All in all, my 24 Day Challenge was a step in the right direction. A baby step. Now it’s up to me to make sure the changes I made during the past month become lifestyle changes. I will never be one of those people who can eat only chicken breasts and broccoli. I love cheese too much. And a cheeky glass of wine. Happily though, learning to eat smaller portions and only when I’m actually hungry will be great initiatives for health and longevity in my life moving forward.

I started the past 24 days as a healthy, fit person. Today, looking in the mirror, I see someone who’s healthier and fitter. That’s awesome.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and fun-filled summer ahead. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me along the way and who continues to do so in the days and years ahead. As I always say to others when they ask for fitness advice “It’s easier to STAY in shape than to GET in shape.” Treat your body right. Smile. Laugh. Dance.

Life’s too short not to enjoy every moment of it.

My 24 Day Challenge: Day 19

Setting myself up for disaster

In my last post pertaining to my 24 Day Challenge I wrote about the necessity to set yourself up for success if you want to achieve a goal – especially a lofty one like changing your lifestyle. Losing weight is hard enough mentally, so setting yourself up for success by feeling good about making better decisions is super important. Having others tell you they notice your hard work is paying off is like a cherry on top of the proverbial cake (that I won’t be eating any of anytime soon – well, maybe just a tiny slice!)

So, when I met this weekend head-on knowing full well that there would be temptation everywhere in the form of cotton candy at the school fair, wine at the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Open Day and amazing treats at a BBQ, I steeled myself to know that I wouldn’t and couldn’t be perfect. Thank goodness I set myself up for a little disaster – because I fell for everything. Hook, line and sinker.

The wine at the Helicopter Open day was gorgeous (all 3 glasses of it), the cotton candy at the school fair was yummy and the cheesecake (a small slice with fruit) at the evening BBQ was divine. And the Dorito’s, don’t get me started, it might only have been a handful but they were beyond yummy. The day was like a free-pass to fail. And I grabbed it with both hands and carried on like someone who was having their last meal on death row. At the end of the night I even snuck in the gobbling down of my favorite lemon tart from the French Cafe down the street. And, I guitily loved every morsel while I was eating it.

Needless to say, I ate too much last weekend (yesterday to be exact). Worse still, I ate too much of the wrong things. I’m starting to think that going into the weekend with a mind-set that was already focused on “I know I’m going to fail” meant that I was going to go the whole-hog regardless. And man did I feel like one afterwards. I actually felt uncomfortable physically when we got home but since I’d already broken my diet with flair I kept on snacking. My stomach was so damn full and I lacked any energy. It’s not surprising that I fell asleep in a heap on the couch before 7pm. Yikes!

Lucky for me though, I exercised A LOT last week and kept it up over the weekend. So there’s not as much damage done as there could have been – I’m hoping I broke even. That said, I took a definite step backwards as far as seeing my bikini body return goes. I’m not going to let it get to me though. I know I am a creature than enjoys good food and an occasional wine. With summer on its way the prospect of a lot of social engagements (the calendar is full for the next 4 months) I will have to try harder to really remember that lifestyle changes are just that. Indulging now and then is perfectly okay as long as it’s paired with a positive outlook and a good long run outside. I can do this!

Here’s to the sunshine ahead…bring on Thanksgiving, Christmas and La Niña.

My 24 Day Challenge: Days 13 – 18

My 24 Day Challenge: Days 13 – 18

So I haven’t written about my 24 day challenge for almost a week, and there’s a good reason behind that – I got bored of it. Yep, like most dieters I started out all guns blazing and then lost my proverbial “oomph” to keep going at such a cracking pace. I didn’t ignore the diet or even slip treats into the days to throw me off the set plan, but I just didn’t find it sitting at the top of my priority list this week. And, maybe that’s a good thing? In hindsight, having a busy work week, dealing with issues at my child’s school and being very busy house hunting has meant that I haven’t been obsessing over my weight or what I’ve been eating. I’ve been constant in my efforts to do my best to reach my goals – but by not fixating on food, I’ve probably done myself a favour.

After 18 days of the 14 day challenge, I am feeling leaner and slightly lighter. My clothes are fitting better, I’m walking taller and with more determination and (the best of thing of all) people are noticing! I had one of those “did that person really just say THAT to ME?” moments this week. It happened on Thursday. One of the guys that works in our contact centre, a SUPER SHY man who I always smile and wave at in the all but whom I’ve never yet had a conversation with, ended up making a cup of tea next to me in the communal kitchen.

As always, I smiled. He nodded. And then, just as I took a sip of tea, he said (and I’m not kidding here, honest!) “I really love your style. Tell me, before you worked here, were you working at a modelling agency?” I didn’t mean to, but I spit my tea all over the bench. And then choked on my laughter. I answered him with a “You’re WAY too nice! I only have jobs where I’m stuck indoors behind computer screens!” to which he responded with “Well you’re tall, confident and beautiful.” WOW! It came from the most unexpected of sources, but that dude made my week! When I told my husband he rolled his eyes and giggled – what a line!

That same night I ended up in my local boxing gym for a quick class beating around the bags to get some calorie burning in since I’d had a pretty lazy week to that point. A regular who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks said “Wow! I saw you and had to do a double-take! You’re really doing well.” Wow, twice in one day a man macked on me and made me feel like I was walking on clouds. So, to say I’m seeing the results is exciting – but having others notice too is a real boon to the old self-esteem after seemingly hibernating over winter and getting into bad eating habits. I’m no Cindy Crawford or Kate Moss, but every girl can use a little boost every now and again.

What have I come to learn about myself and about diets in the past week then? That the old adage is true: calories in equals calories out. If you cut down on excess calories AND exercise on top of that, you really can enjoy treats – not just every single day. I’ve also learned that just walking with a bit more confidence helps others to take note of your newly found confidence. And I’ll need all I can get when I dress up for an entire day as a “sexy golf course officer” (I get to write and issue fines to guys who infringe on my rules) for 150 corporate men in one month’s time (I’ll also need tequila – just to super charge that confidence!)

But the golf day is still a ways off. Tomorrow will be a crazy day and it’s just around the corned. We’ve got back-to-back-to-back-to-back things on including the first true BBQ of the season. It will be a real test of my endurance and strength to “just say no” to overeating and eating the wrong things. We shall see how it turns out, but I’m positive if I set my mind to being good as far as food goes, it’ll all be gravy.

So to speak.