We are REAL women…….hear us ROAR.

There’s something bugging me.  I’ve posted about it on my facebook page a little lately.  Want to know what my current bug bear is?

I’m absolutely sick and tired of seeing the abundance of pictures on bill boards, magazines, facebook, blogs and TV, that pimp out images of women who are airbrushed and modified to within an inch of their digitally enhanced waist/thighs/ butt (insert any other body part here).

These images are posted out there with the intention to inspire other women (or more likely to sell some kind of product that is being promoted through them). But, here’s the thing, they aren’t even real versions of the models in the pictures, so to try to strive to be like them is insanity – it’s not going to end well.

I’m all for having visions to inspire, and also for having a person/role model to aspire to, but pleeeeeassssseee, let it be real and if it’s selling something, let the vision be of a person who’s truly followed and is the result of the product being promoted.

I’m no purest, I admit to having been in awe of some of these images myself in the past, but no more.  I’m making a stand.  I want to inspire all of you out there that read this blog to be healthier, happier versions of yourself.  I truly do.  I’m not trying to sell anything. I have no other ulterior motive other than to share what I know works when it comes to health and wellbeing from my own personal journey, and pass on to you so that you can unleash your inner mojo and shine.  Sounds cheesy but I can tell you right now it’s 100% the truth.

I had a light bulb moment when I was working out the other day (where many of my best ideas come to me).  I looked around at some of the 5.30am gym crew that have become my friends both inside and outside the gym, and I thought – wow these ladies are flipping impressive.  It struck me at that moment how I rub shoulders with inspiration each and every day and I’m pretty certain so do you.

Inspiration is all around us if we really take the time to look, whether it be in the gym, at work, in our street or in any of the other places where we hang out.  We are usually surrounded by roles models to remind us that we have soooo much more potential than we even realise.

This post is to sharing the story of 4 AMAZING inspiring women that I know and mingle with on a daily basis. One is my best friend (Serah), one is my neighbor and mother of triplets (Rebecca), one is a new found gym buddy who has bounced back from a hip replacement and I workout alongside most mornings (Denise) and one is a lady who my husband used to train, has lost a total of 39kg and has become a dear friend (Mhairi).  These are real women, with real stories and busy lives that strive each day to dedicate time to their health, fitness and wellbeing.

Real woman article

They all have had life throw them a curve ball in some way, but they have fought back and come back stronger.  I am honored to call them all friends and reading their stories (that they have been kind enough to share) – it reinforces to me that these are far more beautiful and motivating role models to aspire to than what any bill board or glossy mag can throw at us.

I hope that you feel the same bolt of inspiration and emotion as I did reading their stories.

They are REAL WOMEN, with REAL STORIES…….hear them ROAR.

Serah’s Story

The lovely Serah is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and I feel very proud and blessed to call her my bestie.  Over the past 9 months I have seen Serah transform in front of my eyes.  Serah has always been a completely selfless woman, always giving so much to others but often neglecting her own needs, but now she makes sure she finds time to exercise and devote to her health and wellbeing.  Here is Serah’s story.

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“For me 2012 was one of those years that you would rather put behind you and not dwell on for many reason I won’t go into, but that is easier said than done. 

I had also slowly but surely put on 12kg over a period of 2 years, which was having more of an impact on me than I think I even realised at the time.  It wasn’t fun to go out when my clothes don’t fit, and it wasn’t a nice feeling to be puffing just chasing my son up (a small) hill on his scooter. 

I had been talking about doing a half marathon for years – then one Saturday something just clicked and I decided to do it.  In fairness there were lots of Saturdays where I had the same motivation to do it – but this time I looked up a free training program online and turned it into a 14 week program that I printed off and stuck to my fridge with spaces to tick off for each training run.  I literally started off walking a lamppost, running a lamppost. 

 Some runs were easy and some were really hard, but I always came back from a run feeling proud of myself for at least getting out and doing it.  And I had lots of awesome friends around me that kept encouraging me to keep going.  I did do the half in February of this year, and I’ve lost the 12kg as a bonus and I’ve maintained that weight loss every since. 

 The congratulations messages I got from friends (such as Lotty) afterwards made me cry – completing the half for me was a big deal as I am really not a ‘natural’ runner in any sense of the word and to achieve something that was a hard goal for me was such an awesome feeling. 

 I’m keeping the weight off now by making sure I still do 3 runs a week which I enjoy – it’s not hard work as I have a base level of fitness.  What’s great for me though is that it’s not really about being a set weight but just feeling fit enough to keep up with my son, and feeling good about myself in what I wear.  I’ve found that going for a run, or even a brisk walk to work through something is such a positive way to move forward – because once you are finished you always feel so much better and that’s motivation in itself!

 

Mhairi’s Story

I met Mhairi a few years ago when my husband Brett started training her in the gym for her wedding.  We’ve been friends and gym buddies ever since.  Her energy and positive outlook on life are a constant inspiration to me.  Not only has Mhairi lost 39kgs but she has also maintained that weight loss for many years now, even on a recent year long trip round the world where she came back looking even healthier and fitter.  Here is Mhairi’s story.

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“I was always fairly ‘normal’ (in regards to my weight that is J) and growing up I went through the usual baby-fat / chubby stage that most people seemed to go through, but generally for my height (5 ft 2) I was a healthy weight range.

When I was 21 a very good friend of mine died in an accident and looking back that was the start of my new, unhealthy life and over a 12 month period I managed to pile on 35 kg’s – and on a 5 foot 2 frame that wasn’t a pretty sight, and was hard to hide.

My lifestyle was terrible.  I ate and drank all the wrong things, and generally way too much of it. I was also out drinking most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights – and with that came the ‘munchies’ and scoffing down McDonalds or KFC after a boozy night, and then again for breakfast to work through my hangover!  And to top that off there was exercise or lack thereof because I simply didn’t do any. Not a single thing.  I may have walked occasionally, but certainly nothing regular.  I just ate and drank.

What changed for me?  I’ll never forget this moment for as long as I live.  I was walking down the street, walked past a guy and looked at him and out of the corner of his mouth he said to me ‘fat b*tch’.  I was absolutely mortified.  So I decided to take a good hard look at myself.  I knew I was getting bigger, but kept telling myself I wasn’t really that big.  It was hard to admit because a) I’m quite stubborn and b) I was embarrassed that I’d let myself get that big.  (I was even making my own clothes because I was too self-conscious to go shopping.)

Losing weight was a long process.  It only took me 12 months to pile all that weight on but it took a bloody long time to get rid of it AND it was hard work.  I completely over hauled my diet and fitness – whilst still trying to maintain a social life and feel like I was still living a little.  So I joined Weight Watchers, started exercising and making better, healthier food choices – all the while still enjoying my mid 20’s.

I lost most of my weight over an 18 month period but then hit a plateau.  When I got engaged I decided to find myself a personal trainer to help me loose those last few kg’s.  Getting a trainer (a good trainer) was one of the best things I ever did and without a doubt shaped so much of how I now exercise, eat and think about food and my general wellbeing, health and fitness.  One of the first things he said to me was ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’ and this couldn’t have rung truer for me.  So, he taught me how to mix it up, how to really push myself (to the point where I wanted to vomit and could hardly walk down stairs) and turned me into a fitter, stronger and healthier version of me. My trainer was actually Brett – Lotty’s husband (Thanks Brett).

These days, what I eat and the exercise I do couldn’t be any different.  90% of the time I eat ‘clean’ which essentially means nothing processed or refined – just lots of fresh ingredients (meat, fruit, veg, diary and plenty of good fats).  I am a real foodie and love cooking so I do treat myself occasionally – but I’ve also learnt how to adapt those recipes into a healthier version, but still tasty (that’s the key).

Exercise is a huge part of my life now.  I love it and I’ve found I love running!  I try to run 5 times per week, mixing that up with a bit of high intensity training (or whatever crazy workout Lotty has created that week).  I’ve also run a few half marathons and next year I’m signed up to run the New York Marathon.

Overall I have lost 39kg’s.  I am the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been and this is what continues to drive and motivate me.  For me it’s about lifestyle, not some quick fix deprivation diet that you can only sustain for a short period of time.  Finding balance in my life which allows me to still enjoy everything I love, is the key!”

Rebecca’s Story

Rebecca is my neighbor and a working mum of 4 year old triplets. You’d think she wouldn’t struggle to find the time or energy to workout and dedicate to her health but no sireee– Rebecca  has lost all her baby weight and some.  Her dedication and motivation is without limits, she is up every morning at 5am and off to the gym.  Here is her story.

Slide1 “I am a mother to three gorgeous 4 year olds – Molly, Emily and Joshua – yes they are triplets!  As you can imagine life is pretty busy running around after three kids but what has really helped me to keep on top of things has been taking the time everyday to look after my own health and wellbeing.  I have been able to do this thanks to my amazingly supportive husband.

It hasn’t really been until the last few years that I have really taken my health and fitness regime a lot more seriously, mainly so I can keep up with my frantic lifestyle, but also as some ‘me time’ or sanity time.  Almost two years ago I started running after believing I couldn’t run because of an old netball injury from back in college days, however this seemed to have come right.

I started after watching my husband complete two half marathons, and joined a friend who was getting back into running following the birth of her second child.  I guess you could say I caught the running bug at this stage!   Around the same time I also started attending rpm classes.  Until this time I had been really just doing weight training and using the cross trainer at the gym, but with my new found love of running and rpm, plus with a clean eating diet I dropped from 72kg down to 60kg.  This had not been my intention – I had just wanted to get back to my pre-preggy weight of 66kg so the extra 6kg was a bonus.

I slowly found old bad habits of overeating starting to occur less and less frequently as it would make training the next day uncomfortable after eating too much.  I also noticed that during my pregnancy I had developed a gluten intolerance so completely cut gluten out of my diet.  More recently I have completely cut out sugar from my diet – initially just to try it, but after reading so much about how bad it really was for me I decided to cut it out completely.  Having said this, I do let myself have a treat if I want it – for example having dessert if my husband and I go out for dinner, all in moderation though and making sure I enjoy it, savour it, and get back into clean eating the following day and not turning one treat into an invitation for a complete binge of anything chocolate in the house!

Last year I completed by first half marathon, six months later I completed another half marathon and took 6mins off my time from my previous effort.  I then completed another half marathon in Nelson earlier this year, I wasn’t overly happy with my time (although still well under 2hrs) but I blame the fact that half of the course was uphill and off road.  So I decided to enter another race a month later determined to improve my time – and guess what I did – I got a Personal Best – 2 mins faster than my previous PB, and 8 minutes faster than the same race the previous year, I was over the moon.

Rebecca today with her cute little threesome who turn 5 this month. Healthy and Happy

Rebecca today with her cute little threesome who turn 5 this month. Healthy and Happy

So what drives me – my kids – I want to be around to a ripe old age to see them grow up, have their own families and share their lives with them!  I also want to be the best parent I can be and in order to do that I do need sanity time each day – for me a way to get this and to keep healthy is to train!  I have also surrounded myself by people who inspire me with their own training – be it friends, a personal trainer, rpm instructors and ‘real people’ rather than glammed up, air brushed models you find on the internet, magazines and TV.  One thing I have learnt through my journey is that everyone is different – everyone will have an opinion on what you should and shouldn’t be doing, but at the end of the day you know how your body responds best to different workouts, foods, styles of training so listen to your body!  Having said this it’s also important to be open minded and prepared to try new things.  Most of all, make sure what ever you do, you enjoy it!  If you don’t enjoy it you’ll never stick with it!

I do train everyday – yes I know I need to have a rest day and I am constantly reminded of this, but I love my training, and because I do so many different types of training I do feel that I counter balance the tougher training session with lighter sessions.  In order to train like this get up at 5am so I am home in time for my kids (ideally before they wake up, although recently they have been getting up earlier and earlier), but in time to help them get dressed and have breakfast with them before heading off to crèche and work.  So what do I do?  I have two weight training programmes which I do twice a week each, I do rpm twice a week, I run twice a week – at the moment I do an interval training session once a week and a long run once a week on a Saturday morning, then to counterbalance all this I swim the day following my long run, and I also try to get in yoga session once a week.  I have just started doing a few body weight ciruits at home with the kids – it’s great as it encourages them to get moving and it includes them in my workouts too – plus it’s a great source of entertainment and laughter for us all.

So what’s next?  I’m not sure – I’d love to do a marathon but I love having so much variety in my workouts I don’t know I have the dedication to just run!  I’d also like to do another half marathon and get my time down to 1:30 – will just keep up those intervals and longer runs and you never know!!!”

Denise’s Story

I met Denise through the gym. We had seen each other there every morning for years but got chatting one day and found out we have so much in common and have been firm friends since. 18months ago Denise had a hip replacement op after years of suffering debilitating hip pain – this might have held some people back but not Denise.  Denise is one fit, foxy, fabulous lady and would you believe she turns 50 this years – no neither would I – but it’s true.  Here is Denise’s story.

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“I’ve always been a really active person all my life playing netball, tennis, squash, aerobics I joined Les Mills gym (in Wellington) in 1990. At 30 I had to give up along with tennis and squash due along with my Personal Training sessions at Les Mills to the agony from chronic knee and groin pain. This was diagnosed as arthritis (wear and tear of the hip joint). I learned I developed this through medical misadventure post an operation on my leg at the age of 11. My sister (6 yrs younger than me) was in hospital with me also, as we both had a cyst removed from the back of our left knee. The surgeon put our whole leg in a cast which then led us to develop an abnormal gait. Who would have thought it would have led to this?

I swam for a year to help manage the pain and walked with my husband plus went on the cross trainer at the gym. I also tried many natural ways of trying to keep the pain at bay with massage, visiting naturopaths, chiropractors and continued to do research on nutrition. I resorted to nurofen and the odd voltaren when the pain got really bad but was adamant these were only taken when absolutely necessary. I made several visits to the hip specialist however he refused to operate until I turned 50. The pain was debilitating and often I would cry and get depressed however I kept going and never gave up on exercise. I developed a very prominent limp also and just endured the comments people would make.

Long story short, 18 months ago, at the age of 48, I went back to the specialist and thought I would have to beg him to operate. I was at the stage I wanted to chop my leg off and I couldn’t wait another 2 years. Fortunately due to technology, he was able to lock me in a date for the operation on 16 December 2011- woop woop!

Post Op I was in pain for about 6 weeks. However on day one, I was walking and determined to stay fit, slim and be pain free. I am really disciplined and have always been very focused on healthy eating combined with exercise. I’m in the gym at 5.30am pretty much every morning.

February 2012 I decided I needed to work with a personal trainer to get healed so I could embrace my new hip and get a new program at the gym. I wanted someone experienced who knew about hip replacements and am so grateful that I chose to work with Greig Rightford at Les Mills. Greig has been such an inspiration to me and become a true friend. He took me right back to basics, as I had no idea that none of my muscles were working correctly. We both shared a strong interest in nutrition also.  He had his own major setback also with breaking his neck October 2012 and he continued to exercise and carry on also despite his disability (and believe it or not since then has run 5 marathons and an ultra distance race across the Sahara dessert).

Feb 2013, Greig gave me the tick to progress from hip rehabilitation and on to body conditioning. It was through my own sheer determination and encouragement from Greig, that got me through. Exercise was difficult and still painful at times but I kept at it. Greig would also give me exercises to do whilst on holiday so I kept up my routine and kept healing. Greig also introduced me to Ben Lind, massage therapist and since March 2012, Ben also has been a true inspiration to me also with his nutritional advice, wonderful massage technique and yoga stretches. I’m so grateful to have a wonderful husband plus two other very special men in my new life.

I think I’m the fittest I’ve ever been, and have come to realise more and more about how important it is to eat well. My pantry looks like a vitamin shop and I continue to do research on my health. I also love helping people that have an interest in health and fitness.  I continue to work hard and Greig is continuing to push me, changing my programme all the time as I want to get stronger and look hot when I turn 50 at the end of the year! He’s even got me doing interval bike and running sessions which are new to me.

Early 2013, some lovely other Les Mills people just started coming into my life. Meeting Lotty has been a bonus as she has inspired me with her training and her nutrition. When you realise you have something in common with others who have also endured setbacks, you realise it’s because of their positive attitude that you’re drawn to them and this is what gets them through and this makes you feel good and makes life so much more wonderful.”

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