Diary of a spectator at heart (Get it Magazine, September column)

 

I’m having the Last Word in Get it Magazine – this month I reflect on lessons learnt about the real value of getting fit. –Sarah

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My man, Cooper, has told me − affectionately of course − that I resemble a dachshund when I run. You know, a ‘sausage dog’; a cute one, I’m assured. He knows me well, which makes this quite funny because it’s probably true.

I’ve never loved the gym, and I am not a runner (I have been known to jog into Uncle Dan’s though). My aversion to running started way back in grade one. Six years old and attending a small school in Cairns, cane fields rustling in the breeze out the back, all of us were marched onto the oval to run. All the way around in the heat. I hated it. Right there the stubborn Taurean was officially born, and unfortunately for all PE teachers to come, I was to be the one they’d never convince.

My wise mum got me involved in something she knew I’d like – ballet. It was my extra curricula thing. Sadly, at 16 it became apparent my ankles didn’t have the strength, so I took up tennis. I enjoyed it, especially when I discovered I could win by perfecting my serve to ace my opponent, eradicating the need to, you guessed it – run! Resourceful, I am.

Let’s be honest, most of us especially when we are young, care not for fitness but about how we look. I thought I was blessed with a fast metabolism and the ability to eat anything (Muffin Break treats daily and Uni dinners of pasta, cheese and tomato sauce – fail, fail). If the skirt didn’t fit right, I’d go on a walk every morning for a couple of weeks and be fine. That didn’t last.

I was lucky to have Cooper to encourage me all these years. He’s an all-round fitness nut (my opposite). I’ve dipped in and out of gym, Body Combat, Yoga, Body Balance, walking, Barre; I’ve tested fitness classes, diets and supplements, achieving varying degrees of satisfaction. Drudgery, all with the aim of gaining some kind of ‘perfection’. Until I realised that it’s not just about what I look like. Slow-learner, I am.

While I’m sharing wisdom, here’s what else I found out along the way: long term weight maintenance happens because we make better choices and exercise more often than not. Also, active life = good mood, feeling motivated and inspired. So simple!

Recently I saw Andrea Corbett share her moving story. She’s ranked in the top five international female body builders in the world. A former school teacher, she told of how she hit a majorly tough spot in her life and was living on anti-depressants. She didn’t want it to be like that, and following a serendipitous turn of events she says, “I found body-building, and it saved my life”. Her mantra hit home: fitness means looking and feeling good.

I gathered a group of girlfriends to grill them on the topic, and we concluded that without a doubt some (not all, obviously) periods of depression in our lives have coincided with a lack of exercise and unhealthy life choices.

I am a spectator at heart. A very good one too. Once, my friend Julie and I turned up to a footy game to cheer Cooper on, feeling proud for being there in the first place, only to realise we were watching the wrong game. #girlfriendfail

I am a better spectator than athlete. But, despite the foot-stomping, procrastinating and initial disinterest in the gym, this ‘spectator’ does finally get the true meaning of living a fit life. Sexy, skinny selfies might be cool, but now and in the long term, the value in getting healthy is really about the happiness payoff. That’s the advice I share with my younger friends, and the experience I discuss with contemporaries. It’s never too late to get active, to find something you enjoy doing and make it a habit. I’ve just spotted an ad for ‘swing fit’ in my neighbourhood (swing dancing, to be clear). Health. Happiness. Fabulous. It seems running may not even be required.

Read the September issue of Get it Magazine

 

Mindful travel musings in Malta

Often I just want to run away from a computer, overwhelmed by eight hours or more in front of one for work.

Other times, when without apparatus to scribble down my thoughts, I long for anything that will enable me to record ideas.

Writing is an outlet and my love, and I never feel more inspired than when I’m travelling. If I’m constantly thinking and on sensory alert, am I being mindful on the road?

Despite the media craziness and the threats that would have us believe we are barely safe to leave our or homes, I am at peace when I’m exploring somewhere new.

It might sound odd that I suggest travel is the best opportunity to actually practice mindfulness – on the road we’re always looking around, getting involved with the senses and quite possibly on a device like a laptop or phone. The mind can be busy.

However, I think we can experience mindfulness in an almost pure form while travelling and feeling new things; experiences, sights, sounds, smells and tastes. I feel blessed to be able to see the beauty in things too, without judgement. Difference is interesting, often charming.

I suppose awareness is the trick. And then, life is definitely beautiful.

I’m currently on a crowded bus in Malta that’s ferrying customers of all ages along the Sliema strip towards the capital Valletta, and then out towards where we are based in il Żurrieq. I struggle to maintain balance, holding on for dear life up the front of the bus and scrambling to tap my thoughts down into my iPhone’s Notes app. It’s around 7pm and this particular August day’s sunset has begun it’s decent across the harbour. All I can think is:

How enchanting, I wish I could share this with my loved ones [who I wish could be here as I know they’d appreciate it].

It’s at this point it occurred to me – after Cooper and I spent hours today creating travel content (videos and photography) we are proud of – that while the likes of us are sometimes frowned upon for the time we spend staring at a screen, we might be the mindful ones.

Other digital nomads understand where we’re coming from, and if you don’t, consider for a moment that we are not just playing around on our phones and being entirely anti-social; we are consciously paying attention for the beautiful moments. We are capturing them in the best way we know how: those landscapes, experiences, history, stories, that we can share to be inspiring, helpful, entertaining or informative (perhaps all of the above).

That’s what most travel bloggers intend. We are consciously seeking the photo, video, words that might inform and educate your next decision or judgement on any given destination.

In this way, those of us being conscious about creating and capturing are being mindful. And trust me, we are grateful for these moments because we are aware of just how precious they are.

We are also mindful to put the devices down and enjoy too. There’s nothing that irritates me more than people wandering mindlessly about, noses in phones, not realising they are holding up a huge crowd behind them or missing out on something their friend is saying to them.

But, sometimes when inspiration strikes, you need to take advantage of a 40 minute bus ride and get those words onto paper (or into a phone, whatever is handy).

Next time you find yourself confused or irritated at someone with a camera who looks like they’re trying to capture ‘just another shot for Instagram’, have a little faith that maybe they are not just another selfie-obsessed tourist; maybe, just maybe, they’re on a mission to inspire, educate and inform, like we are.

Or perhaps they’re chasing a dog, as we do too (caught this little guy on camera this afternoon). But that story for another time.

What do you think about this and how do you practice mindfulness on the road? Would love to know, drop me a line in the comments.

via GIPHY

Getting the chop (Get it Magazine, August column)

 

Happy to be back and having a say – the Last Word to be precise – in Get it Magazine. This month, wisdom in a haircut. How? Read on to find out, and click the cover photo to read the digital edition of this lovely mag. –Sarah

Every few years as the seasons change I find myself casually eyeing photos of short hairstyles – cute bobs, messy beach crops and sexy layers. Infrequent browsing becomes more determined, and the excitement of a new do dawns.

I inevitably commit. Let’s cut this long boring hair. Yes!

I browsed, bookmarked, and was even clickbaited by InStyle UK when the magazine declared the look of the year is a “hot platinum blonde buzz cut”, as showcased at Paris’ Haute Couture Fashion Week in July by Katy Perry, Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss.

Those ladies are never wrong. We should all do this, right? There’s nothing like a rebellious visit to the salon where you announce to your gleeful stylist, ‘Let’s do this – I’m ready for a change and to let the world know I’m not afraid – you have my blessing to CUT!’

I showed up on time, gave the salon dog, Dolly, a hug, and then produced my efficient Pinterest board full of inspiration and examples. My stylist smiled and nodded. I felt confident.

Other blondies will understand the process – colour first, then toner, wash, condition; all the while gossiping, flicking through magazines and scrolling Instagram (trying not to pick out too many more photos that demonstrate how we might like to look at the end of this big event).

The scissors appeared and the chirpy apprentice primed her phone in order to Instagram my transformation. The examples I shared showed a choppy blonde look that fell a little above the shoulders. My hairdresser went to start at that length, but during a moment of miscommunication when I wasn’t entirely paying attention (I was actually filming Dolly for Facebook because I am a [crazy] dog-lover), a lot more hair came off than I expected.

The bob was chic and shapely. But oh, it was short.

Some of you reading this know me and you’ve likely heard me preach about how change is great – go for it, put yourself out there, quit the job you hate, fall in love, move overseas, go travelling, adopt a rescue dog, cut your hair off… all excellent ideas.

The crisis of identity that followed was kept secret, except from Cooper my long-suffering better half. He offered support. ‘You look ten years younger,’ he said. Bless him. ‘Yes’, I thought, because I haven’t had this cut since I was 15!

At this point all I could see was long hair – film, television, magazines, my own selfies. Long hair, everywhere.

This all happened right before we went on a holiday and in hindsight part of the problem for me was trying to style a brand new cut while using harsh hotel hair products. My hair wasn’t moving. I defiantly refused to be in photos. I didn’t look like me. I consider myself to be quite ‘low maintenance’, and was surprised by my reaction. I took to Google to try and make sense of it all. Psychology Today explained: “Because it is so visible, hair becomes a part of a person’s identity. It helps define the persona you aim to create… Hair can also influence the way you define yourself to yourself, as an extension of your identity”.

By the time I returned to my day job, I had started to master the look. I was even warming to the new me. My manager tentatively complimented the change, and followed with a story about how he’d once thought he was doing the right thing by acknowledging a colleague’s cut only to have her promptly burst into tears. #firstworldgirlproblems

Now I’m back though. The ‘brave’ one with the cute crop (and hair trend of 2017?); the blondie who does things most others won’t [are not crazy enough to] do. People seem to like it. I do now too. Did I lose my identity? Yes, for a bit. Was it worth venturing outside of my comfort zone? As I always say, definitely.

Read the August issue of Get it Magazine online