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

 

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

 

Get yourself on the list (Get it Magazine, July column)

 

Excited to be contributing the Last Word in my Get it Magazine column again. Here’s a few honest lessons in gratitude. –Sarah

Read the issue 

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Another morning, another effort to get up. The sunshine wasn’t helping my mood and I knew before I touched it, that I should refrain from reaching for my mobile the second I woke. Inevitably the first thing that appeared would be bad news.

There was a period of time that was like this last year when quite simply, I was unhappy. It’s nothing you haven’t experienced, I’m sure. If we’re lucky, we know that actually – soon, hopefully – things will be brighter, bit at a time.

During my particularly stressful period, I was simultaneously dealing with illness in the family, a confidence crisis, finance worries, challenging business associates and a hopeless feeling of helplessness. Making matters worse, I was being particularly tough on myself for how I was reacting on the phone, over email and with friends. I kept apologising for being ‘that person’ who didn’t want to bring the lunchtime conversations down, and I was aware of carrying around a negative attitude. I wasn’t feeling, behaving or showing up as the me I wanted to be.

I am all about taking charge though, and knew the only person who could change what was being reflected in my world was me. I invested time into shifting my view on areas of my life that were getting me down. Included in this effort was a dedicated daily gratitude practice, because if there’s one ‘secret’ I’ve seen work wonders in a multitude of difficult scenarios, it is the act of specifically identifying what has been good each day.

When I was a child, I was encouraged to recognise that there is always someone worse off, so to be grateful for my lot. That sentiment is largely true, although now I get that the real power in being grateful is that like attracts like.

What I – what you – focus on expands.

Some say it works like this: like attracts like, and if we focus on the bad bits like hours of miserable news broadcasts, difficult colleagues or those who have cheated us, that’s exactly what is going to show up more in our own experience.

If, however, we practice the shift to an attitude of gratitude such as, ‘I’m grateful to have the cash to pay my rent’, or ‘I’m grateful to be catching up with Leanne today because she is an awesome friend’ (among thousands of other examples), more of the positives manifest in your world.

A little bit of magic. Quite cool!

None of this is revelatory though, so what was the big learning for me out of recent challenges?

I realised there was something I constantly omitted from my own gratitude list. Me!

Your list may include similar items to mine like ‘loving partner’, ‘friends and family’, ‘cool boss’, ‘dog’ (dogs plural, for that matter), ‘good health’, ‘upcoming travel adventure just paid off’… but do you include yourself?

I have given myself such a hard time in the past for feeling miserable and worried about a whole host of things. I didn’t consider that my resilience was carrying me through and that my nous was leading me to rewarding points of realisation.

You rock. We rock! I’m remembering to be grateful for that. I am grateful for my mistakes and the times I’ve spoken without thinking. I am grateful for the falls and how I picked myself up. I am grateful for the lessons learnt the hard way that I now share to help others. I am grateful for the words I can use to communicate, share and resolve.

These days I add ‘me’ to my list, up the top with a smiley face. My intention is that this serves as a reminder for you to do the same on yours (smiley face optional).

Regardless of what kind of day or week you’re having, take five to compose your top five things you’re grateful for now. Make it bright, bold, and uniquely you.