Everyone in Sydney is reaching for vices right now. It’s human nature, it’s normal it’s natural. But some are better than others.
Fitness has been my fall back throughout my life, and helped me get over many hurdles, including the one we are all facing in Sydney right now.
From my school days to this latest lockdown, the mind and the way we frame things is the key, and fitness can create the pathway to get there – it did for me.
Growing up in South Australia, I first went to an all girls school, which I found was a bitchy and nasty environment. I would support myself then through the stresses of it all by doing uphill running at the end of a long winding road called Waterfall Gully. It was scenic, beautiful – and tough. It made me stronger and was the building block to a lifetime of fitness and health.
In summer, during my teenage years and the inevitable first heartbreaks, I would drive 30 minutes to the beach, and run along the coast breathing in the fresh air, and occasionally doing soft sand runs. It was a way to connect with nature and with myself. Stunning.
When I went through divorce 11 years ago, I found triathlon, and that truly made me the person I am today. I had never done it or even thought of doing it (sounded so hard!), and a friend was training for her first race, and I went to the running part of her training, and before I knew it was training for the world championships.
I had to learn how to swim in the ocean for the first time, how to cycle locked into pedals, how to transition from a swimsuit to a bike, to my running gear, and how to control my mind. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I made it to the word champs in Chicago representing Australia, and although that race was my worst, I finished, I got the medals but more importantly I achieved what I set out to do. I was proud of myself.
The mind is key, and fitness to me is such an easy way to tap into the power of the mind and ensure you are in control of it not the other way around. The flow-on is invaluable, as it means you can the face anything in your life without fear, you believe in yourself and your own ability to achieve what you set out to do.
In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular cardio vascular exercise (like running, spin and so on) , boosts the size of the hippocampus, the section of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning.
A study from Stockholm proved the antidepressant effect of running and also showed fitness was associated with more cell growth in the brain. I could list many more studies that al say the same thing – fitness helps the mind, not just the body.
So faced with a second Sydney lockdown right now, I am getting right back into some sort of fitness every day. I am waking up and either sprinting, running, running up and down stairs or taking a simple walk.
I am lucky that the gym in my building remains open and I am able to book weights and cardio sessions in addition to my fitness outside the house.
A number of my friends are doing the Kayla Itsines 12 week program which is also not easy, but a lot of fun from what I can gather. She has some great principles, and Kayla insists you take before and after pics (and that you NEVER) delete any. Not a bad way to find inspiration.
And she also explains exactly how long you should walk or run for to ensure you are getting the results you want.
There are so many ways to keep fit right now and even to change your fitness and do something you have never done before. Fitness apps abound and there are so many trainers to top into online. In truth, there has never been a better time.
And the bonus I haven’t even mentioned yet is you will lose weight, and you will lose weight fast.
As Nike say, just do it. As I say your whole life will change for the better.
This is an updated version of this post, first published in May 2020.