#57

When the world first started raving about the benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day, I honestly thought it didn’t seem like very much. I remember thinking at the time that as a nurse, I would have been doing more than that just walking up and down the long corridors of my hospital – and simply patted myself on the back for being ahead of the times.

Then iPhone’s began to track steps and I suddenly realised, I was extremely far from 10,000 steps daily (and had to rescind my undeserving pat on the back). As it turns out, unless you are a wardie, getting in 10,000 steps per day was definitely not as easy as I initially thought it to be. On a really busy day at work, I was only able to get in about 8,000, and even then, this was exercise my body was used to. Realistically, I needed to find my 10,000 steps in another place.

So I made it #57 on the bucket list to walk 10,000 steps everyday for a week. The idea was to prove to myself that a) I could achieve this, and b) I could make it a goal for every week from there on out.

I am slightly ashamed to admit that it has since taken me over four years to tick this bucket list item off, but it was much harder to do than I expected. In my defence, I’ve come close a couple of times! There was a friend’s hen’s week in Byron Bay back in 2017 which encapsulated many walks along the beach and to the lighthouse, and Singapore, of course, where I was one day away from the magical 70,000 step goal. But despite getting close, I could never quite make it. Until now.

I figured back at the start of this year, that if there was any time to be checking off this bucket list item, my year of healthy and happy was the perfect catalyst. So I’ve been working on it, with my biggest challenge of course, being shift work.

I feel like I use this excuse a lot, but for anyone who is also a shift worker, you’ll understand that no two weeks are the same, there is no routine. Your body barely knows which way is up somedays, and so it becomes hard to squeeze a few thousand steps, let alone 10,000.

Then about two months ago, my Mr. bought me a Fitbit as a surprise. I’d had my eyes on one for a while at the time, hoping a little digital friend would help me on my quest for healthy. I’d found that the iPhone had it’s limitations and as I started to really crack down on exercise and making healthy food choices, it couldn’t keep up the way I needed it to – and besides, it was becoming increasingly hard to find active wear with pockets big enough for an iPhone Plus.

The new addition of my Fitbit Charge 3 was a bit of a game changer. Suddenly, all of my steps were being recorded far more accurately than ever before, and I was able to really define how many steps I was taking in my day to day life, and how many more would be needed to hit 10,000.

I quickly worked out that the usual afternoon dog walk was about 6,000 steps by itself. In under an hour timeframe, I could walk 4km and add 6,000 steps to the day without impacting too much on the rest of the day, or my shift work. And so I did just that, I walked one hour every day for a week.

On the days I would walk and work, I would easily rack up 12,000 – 15,000 steps. On my days off, I would find another way to make up the extra steps – whether it was gardening, or simply walking to a local waterfall, I found my way to 10,000.

The result was an achievement of 91,978 steps taken in one week. And I was so proud of myself for being able to crack the 10,000 step per day goal. It took conscientious effect to do, but finding how I was able to make 10,000 per day happen for me, was liberating. Now I know that it’s achievable, I aim for it every week.

Having this as a goal, keeps me on track daily. And I’m surprised by how much of a difference it’s already making. One of the features of my Fitbit is to track and record cardiovascular fitness, which is a huge plus for me as this is one area I am trying to improve. When I first put on my Fitbit, it proudly displayed a poor cardiovascular fitness – which to be honest, I half-expected. Now after two months of 10,000 steps per day, I’ve advanced to the top end of fair ready to jump into the average category. And I’ve never felt more excited about ‘almost being average’. The real added bonus? I now weigh in at 75.2kg – a whole 4.6kg lighter than when I first started my journey to healthy and happy, and 200g away from my first weight goal.

The next step is to turn my afternoon walks into runs – which at the time I write this, I’ve attempted three times so far. It’s safe to say I’ve neglected the idea of running for a long time, and my body knows it. But you’ve just got to start somewhere, and transforming my 10,000 steps into 15,000 quicker ones seems like a good place to start. Now watch me achieve average!

#57: Successfully achieve 10,000 steps every day for a week – check!

d x

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#40

I’m the type of girl who loves to customise and loves what can’t simply be ‘copied and pasted’. From monogramming clutches, to rose gold trimmings on my car – I love giving anything I buy a little creative difference. While I can fall in love with trends as quickly as the next person, I can’t help but utterly love the thrill of finding a small business just as creative as my own heart, to splurge a little on something you just can’t buy anywhere else.

My Mr. always shakes his head as a new package will arrive on the doorstep, and smile as I explain what grand plan I’ve got for a hand-woven basket adorned with silk tassels – and even if it were for use as a ‘puppy toy basket’, he somehow seems to understand and lets me create a home full of unique finds and gold edged marble coffee coasters.

So when I realised there were places in the world where making your own Magnum Ice Cream was a thing, it naturally formed it’s own mental note, and a place on the bucket list at #40. Now I know that this isn’t exactly a big thing, or hardly notable for some. But my bucket list has never solely been about the big things, and if you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know the little things are just as important to me too. And this here little thing, well I’ve been dying to tick it off the list for a long time now.

Whilst exploring the endless aisles of Orchard Road’s shopping district in Singapore earlier this year, we stumbled across the first customisable Magnum Ice Cream connoisseur I’ve ever seen. Registering the mental note made years earlier, I excitedly dragged my Mr. into the shop with me whispering, “This is the place I’ve been telling you about!”. He was already pulling a paper note out of his wallet to pay for the ice cream knowing there was too much excitement in my eyes to ever have dragged me back out.

Step one of making your own Magnum involves selecting the toppings for your ice cream, and with so many to choose from, it took a little time to decide. Eventually choosing crushed cashews, gold drops (like small golden balled 100’s and 1000’s) and rose petals (it had a nice colour contrast to it…), I watched from the other side of the glass as my very own Magnum flavour was brought to life. Dipped in white chocolate, decorated with my selected toppings, drizzled with milk chocolate and made complete with a small round chocolate logo at the bottom, my custom Magnum was placed in a small container and handed to me. You should have just seen my smile.

To date, it’s been my favourite Magnum yet, and so it should have been – I designed it. And yes while I can agree that my world would have kept spinning without having stopped to make my own Magnum, it’s often these kinds of things – unremarkable in their own right – that collectively contribute to a life story. It’s like enjoying a Singapore Sling in Singapore, or posing next to the Eiffel Tower, or any of those “When in Rome” moments that seem silly at the time, but in their own way add to your story.

It’s these little things that you look back on and are always glad you did. Or at least that’s what I think, and if that makes me too easy to please, then so be it, I can definitely deal with that! Stamping embossed initials on my pj’s and making my own ice creams – I wouldn’t have it any other way!

#40: Make my own Magnum Ice Cream – Check!

d x

How can I help you?

Recently I came across a quote that really resonated with me.

Many people spend too much time trying to be the captain of somebody else’s boat. Learn to be a lighthouse, and the boats will find their way

I’m not sure who wrote it, or what their hope had been in it’s meaning, but to me this speaks a lot about being a leader. My Father will tell you that he picked me as a natural born leader from the age of three as I rounded up all the kids in the church we used to go to, to accompany me to kids church with the promise of juice and a biscuit. He’ll tell you I at the age of five, I commandeered the playground and gave every child in my pre-school class a role to play in my ‘family’ game. And at the age of thirteen, I led almost an entire high-school class down to detention in a ‘oh captain, my captain!‘ moment as a strike against the mis-justice of one of my friends (not that I condone my adolescent behaviour in this circumstance particularly).

But whether I am a good leader or not, in adulthood, things aren’t exactly straight forward and there are now more complex emotions to deal with. The first time I had to deal with this was the day I became a Supervisor at one of the restaurants I was working at when I was 19 years old. There was one lady there who had worked there for a few years before I had joined the team, and at the point of which I was placed in charge, she refused obtusely to take any orders from me.

And I understood it, I really did. Who was I to have just walked in to her world, and suddenly be given the power to make decisions about what she did or how she did it. She was older than me, and I was barely out of school. I got it. It wasn’t fair. But I also hadn’t appointed myself in that role. My boss had, and whether she liked it or not, there wasn’t much either of us could do about it.

Working with this lady taught me a lot about what it means to be a leader, and in particular, how to be humble in the role. And I will always be grateful to her for putting me through the hardship, because it has been invaluable in every leadership role I undertook from that moment onwards. It wasn’t just about me being in charge, or directing people to do things, it was about harnessing the knowledge and skills of my colleagues to bring about success. It taught me a lot about finding the balance between making orders, and incorporating my colleagues in decision processes.

You see, I don’t think leadership necessarily means the same as dictatorship. And when you work in a team especially, you want to bring everyones talents and best attributes to the table. That’s how you attain cohesiveness, and that’s how you attain respect. You let your team know their value, their integral role in whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve. Because you’re not a leader, if there’s no one to follow – and they won’t follow, if they feel stripped of their importance.

As a Clinical Nurse at work, I am given the responsibility to lead a team of nurses throughout each shift I work. And in almost the same ways as it was in hospitality, it didn’t start out as being easy.

I made it to Clinical Nurse quite young in my career as a nurse, which didn’t sit well with many. Having had less time out on the floor seemed to have more bearing over my perceived ability to fill the role that I expected. It didn’t matter that I had studied an additional degree, nor the hard work or overtime I had put in. The bottom line was that they didn’t think I deserved the promotion.

There were days I would be in charge, and my colleagues would deliberately with-hold important information from me so that at handover, I would appear to have a little insight to the actual condition of patients. It was dangerous, and frustrating.

I would hear about unkind words said about me behind my back, and it didn’t seem to matter what I did, it didn’t change their opinion. For the nurses that had worked there far longer than me, it didn’t seem fair – and there was not much I could do to change the hurt they felt that it hadn’t been them instead.

The only thing I could give them was someone who repeatedly displayed a gratitude to them for their own role and expertise in caring for patients, who showed a residence against the unkind words and actions, and who gave them an option to be recognised as an integral member of the team. My favourite thing to do was to ask simply ‘How can I help you?’, because I wanted know how could encourage them to take the lead and achieve greatness in their own shift. I wanted them to see that while I was their leader per say, it didn’t mean I had taken their autonomy in being their own nurse, nor undervalued their gained knowledge in the years preceding me. It took time. But the ones who couldn’t move past the hurt left, and the ones who could eventually found a way to respect it.

And I think that’s what the quote means. It’s not about trying to dictate how my team should work or how they should do something, it’s not about being the captain of their boat. Its about being the example, and the navigator to a shift in turmoil. Finding ways to problem solve, advocate and uplift the team. Being the lighthouse and safe home for the boats.

And I love that as an analogy for being a leader.

I’m not yet the perfect leader, and I won’t proclaim to be, but I do know that when power is placed in your hands, you should feel obligated to utilise it for the better. Be a lighthouse.

d x

#5: Singapore

Well there’s no doubt that 2019 has been off to a very busy start for me. Between a return trip to the Philippines for this years surgical mission (just as magical as the last trip!) and getting four of my wisdom teeth out thanks to a terrible dental abscess I obtained whilst on said trip (the not so magical part) – I managed to interweave a little wind-down holiday in Singapore.

For those who follow the blog, you’ll know that #5 on my bucket list is to travel somewhere new each year, somewhere I’ve never been before. This year I chose Singapore due to it’s close proximity to the Philippines and the chance it provided for a little bit of a wind down after a very busy two weeks operating in the Philippines.

What made this trip even more special, was the fact that my Mr. met me over there in his first ever trip overseas! I don’t think anyone could have moved faster than me as I headed down that terminal corridor in a beeline for the arrival gate to run into his arms. I was just so excited to finally be travelling with him!

By the time I arrived at Changi Airport, my Mr. had been there for a little over 3 hours arriving on a much earlier flight from Australia. For someone who had never travelled overseas before, he had already collected his bearings giving directions out to other tourists we met on the way through the terminal and efficiently navigated my tired and sore self through the airport to the taxi bay. I was impressed.

Clambering into a taxi, we were lucky to have one of the most friendliest drivers I’ve ever met. As we took in the sights of Singapore by night, he happily chatted away giving us tips on the best spots in town, and the things we must do whilst visiting. Dropping us to our doorstep on River Valley Road, a skip and hop from the centre of the city, he help lug our heavy bags up the steps of our hotel. He wished us a safe trip, and left us to check in.

Thankfully, checking in was smooth and quick process – it was about 10pm by this time, and both my Mr. and I were looking forward to stretching out after our travels. Despite our varying levels of exhaustion, we spent the better half of the next two hours catching each other up on the events and adventures of our time apart whilst I had been in the Philippines. We don’t spend a lot of time apart in our lives, and it showed. Eventually, our eyelids were heavy enough to facilitate sleep, waking only as the sun began to show itself the next morning.

Stopping in at Starbucks on the way to the MRT, we caffeinated and cream cheese bagel-ed before setting out to Sentosa Island. In true tourist form, Universal Studio’s was first on our list of places to visit. Deciding to fly over to the island in style, we caught the sky cable cars from Vivo City Shopping mall. The cable cars gave us a spectacular birds-eye view of Singapore and Sentosa Island on a 10 minute trip across the bay.

After getting a little side-tracked by the amount of things to see on Sentosa, we finally arrived at Universal Studios Singapore. The theme-park weaved us through five major movie sets, each area adorned with it’s own rides and food stalls. And like any good adventure park, they had a show in the water-sports arena which we both loved (spoiler alert: watch out for the sea plane!). For any Aussie’s reading this, Universal Studios is very similar to our Movie World, and worth visiting!

Looping through Universal a couple of times, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring a little more of Sentosa Island – after all, the sun sets late, and there was still plenty of it. We followed the signs to the eastern side of the island, to see the beaches of Palawan and Tanjong. The stretch of beach between the two destinations made for a really lovely afternoon walk, with a pitstop to walk the suspension beach at Palawan. From a tower located on the other side of the bay, we took in the 360 degree surrounding, appreciating the cool vantage point it provided.

Speaking to almost everyone before our trip, the two words to describe Singapore were clean, and humid. And I truely believe those two descriptions will neither cease to be true, or ever change – because Singapore was just that. Not that we minded in the slightest – in fact, upon returning home, we were met with the same kind of humidity, so it wasn’t too much outside the norm. And while we appreciated the air con when we crossed paths with it, we grew accustomed quickly to the balmy glow.

The beach club at Tanjong Beach provided us with a quick rest spot before beginning the walk back to the cable car hub. Ordering a cider and an iced tea, we watched the sun start to set over the ocean. We had only been in Singapore for one day, but we were already willing to adopt it as our home – and even more so after our dinner back on the mainland in China town (hands down the best Chinese to date, without being in China!).

Navigating throughout Singapore is a dream. The whole city is both well-signed and well-organised, which makes it easy when you’re a visitor. When travelling in Singapore, the EZ-Link card is your best friend. Between my Mr. and me, we spent less than $90 for the week in travel costs (inclusive of our tour-like taxi ride). Getting from one side of the city to the other, cost us $1.83 each – which I think to be excellent as far as public transport goes.

Masters of the Singapore transit by day two, we headed out away from the city centre to Singapore Zoo – allegedly one of the best zoo’s in the world. Stepping out of the MRT, we caught the zoo’s tourist bus for $1 to it’s entrance and excitedly headed through the gates. We did both the main zoo, and the River Safari (which was my personal favourite given my love for all things Giant Panda) and it wasn’t hard to see why the zoo was held in such high regard world wide – this place was simply amazing. We loved every fur, scaled and feathered moment.

We filled the third day with an array of activities and sight seeing – determined not to miss anything. From Madam Tussauds, to flying down the Sentosa Luge (four times I might add); venturing out to Siloso Beach, and then back to the mainland to visit the infamous Gardens by the Bay by dusk – it was busy day.

Getting to admire Gardens by the Bay whilst in Singapore, isn’t just recommended, I almost think it’s a rite of passage for any traveller in this part of the world. This place is the heart of the city, and a beautifully vibrant one at that. Watching it come to life as the sun dipped behind the horizon was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my young twenty-something years. From exotic blooms in the Flower Dome, to the hauntingly beautiful Cloud Forest with misted greenery – there was only one other place that could out-do the both of them.

The Supertree Grove is likely to have been the first picture you see when you ‘google’ Singapore. Giant metal infrastructure created to resemble trees, cascade over you as you walk through it’s valley and it takes the cake. Intwined with greenery, the Supertree’s come alive with colour once the sun sets, set alight with a flick of a switch – like glittering Christmas tree’s, but on a whole other level.

Without knowing, my Mr. and I had stumbled upon the perfect place to eat dinner and watch this happen. Sitting at the base of the biggest and most central Supertree, we lay on our backs to watch the Garden Rhapsody. For fifteen minutes we watched the tree’s change colour, lighting up the night sky and sparkling effortlessly in harmony to it’s music. For a girl who thinks twinkling fairy light to be spectacular – this was a moment of happiness in it’s most pure form (easily pleased, I know, but I can’t help it).

Day four saw us visit Little India bustling with life and colour; Merlion Park – which was unfortunately down for maintenance (all the more reason to come back, right?); Orchard Road and it’s renown shopping precinct capable of overwhelming even me! And Clarke Quay – a colourful gem on the doorstep of our hotel.

Clarke Quay was our pick for dinner, and a lively place to finally squeeze in a Singapore Sling (when in rome…). Although the rumours of alcohol being outrageously expensive in Singapore ring true, the beauty of it’s alter ego is an all-day happy hour on Sunday (and Tuesdays in some places). Ergo, picture my Mr. and I enjoying two well-deserved cocktails on the edge of the river at sunset at a fraction of the price, and all the more happy for happy hour.

From Clarke Quay we caught a ferry out to the Marina Bay – which I recommend doing at night for the best views of Singapore. Big city lights adorned the horizon in every direction, and as I rested my head on  my Mr.’s shoulder I knew this was a moment I would always remember, and a perfect end to our last night in Singapore.

With one more destination left on the itinerary the next morning, we caught the MRT to Marina Bay Sands – also perhaps a staple google image to appear in your Singapore search. The famous hotel is comprised of three tall buildings with a large ship set atop it’s roof. The icon draws many guests in from overseas and boasts a large infinity pool which  is perhaps the most ‘instragram-able’ pool in the world. And we were heading up all stories to see Singapore from the top.

While the original plan had been to do this by night, plans were changed when a private event stole our thunder and occupied the deck for the only night we had available. So we had had to settle for a daytime viewing – which really can’t be complained about. It was the most wonderful way to say goodbye to a city we had fallen in love with. And as we made our way down to plant our feet back on the ground, we mentally right-clicked and saved the birds-eye view of Singapore under places to come back to one day soon.

If you want to see pictures (and you definitely should!), you can head to my POLARSTEPS travel tracker. All the details and itinerary destinations of our trip are there, including travel costs and some handy tips for visiting Singapore.

And if you wanted to see how we fell in love with Singapore in eight minutes, theatre-style – you are more than welcome to head over to my YouTube channel!

#5 – Travel; everywhere I’m able, and a new place every year: Check!

d x

Falling into range.

Body mass index. Name a more feared set of words when it comes to the weight loss world. I’ll wait… (although I would accept that ‘gimme fifty burpees‘ may come close).

Sitting in with my doctor back in January for my once yearly, much detested, checkup – we started talking about weight. Partly because I’d happen to found a bit more of it than I should have over Christmas (or the whole of 2018 for that matter) and partly because there is even more reason to lose it as I age closer to my midlife crisis point.

Being the daughter of my father gave me a lot of great things in life, but in terms of hereditary gifts – the ol’ “Eddie” genes as we call them, didn’t leave me much to brag about.

My father is the third generation on the ‘Eddie’ side to have suffered a heart attack by the age of 50… and inclusive of his own brother, my uncle, one year ago… the only one to have survived. This means, I’m next in the firing line with the only advantage now being that I know it’s coming.

My doctor kindly pointed out that we had an opportunity to change the odds in our favour if I was willing to make a few new choices and give myself the best chance at seeing 50 years (oh, god!) through. Undoubtedly I wasn’t all that excited about more lettuce in my diet, but he had a good point and I’m not one for ignoring good logic.

Now, breaking every womanly instinct and manner, I’ll tell you I weighed 79.8kg as I looked down at the scales between my toes that day – which for me, is the largest I’ve ever been in my young life. The horror must have been written all over my face as I had sat back down, because my doctor smiled gently and said, “Try to look at it this way…It’s the perfect starting point”.

And while I felt a little like bursting into tears the whole drive home, something seemed to click inside me driven by a sense of determination to not be the girl who had a chance to change and didn’t. No one wants to feel large, and I really did that day.

At a height of 166cm, my increase in weight had ensured my falling out of range from the green healthy bar into alarmingly orange ‘overweight’ area. And as a side note, I truely believe the person who created the BMI charts was male, because no female would have ever named the next range up from healthy, “overweight” – it’s far too harsh. But whether I liked it or not, it was a universal truth thanks to every BMI calculator out there, and perhaps the obtusely orange overweight indicator staring me in the face was the kickstart I needed.

My doctor had said the weight loss didn’t have to be drastic, or immediate, but to just aim for 75kg at first and see what happens. According to the BMI chart, ‘Healthy’ for my body sits somewhere between 50 and 68kg apparently – which seems like a lot, because it is. And I think there has to be room in there for common sense, because when it comes to being healthy, I feel like this can never be rightly limited to a numerical boundary. There are different aspects to being healthy, and not all of them revolve around weighing in at a certain amount. While my goal is to lose weight because I do need to (doctors orders, not just mine!), more than anything else, I’m just trying to fall back into healthy – in more ways than the BMI chart dictates.

So now, in my year of ‘happy and healthy’, I’m choosing to do things a little differently than anything I’ve done before. I’m introducing five habits to my life in the aim to establish a health as the motivator, and weight loss as it’s beneficiary. The goal is to find a cohesive regime for my body that doesn’t focus on getting to a specific numeric weight, but rather editing the edges of my daily routine to change unhealthy habits into better ones, and to see that transform into a healthier body – inside, outside and love-handles included.

FIVE HABITS TO CHANGE A LIFE

  1. plan and schedule
    This is a big one for me, and perhaps simultaneously the easiest. Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I am a planner. I love lists and schedules, I live daily by them and love the structure they give to my life. But being a nurse means no two weeks are the same. It can be hard to fall into a rhythm or routine when my work life is both sporadic and unpredictable, interwoven with night shifts. So sitting down every Sunday night for an hour, be it at home after dinner, or on my tea break at work, I plan my week ahead. This helps me allocate time to exercise and plan meals for the next seven days. It gives me a road map to follow, and once I have it, I find an odd comfort in having a game plan. It also works to relieve a lot of the stress I have around all the things I want to do in providing a time for them. Planning and scheduling makes me productive and accountable, and I love it.
  2. do 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day
    I think of this habit as a way of becoming a better dog-mum first and foremost. Being the owner of two golden retrievers means there is always plenty of energy in the house. From the moment I arrive home from work, Igloo and Millie are running loops around me. It’s not always easy to want to go for a walk – especially after a long day. But the reality is that I’m a better dog-mum if I do. The added bonus? It’s the extra exercise I need too. I’m starting out with something easy and achievable. Jumping into trend-led workouts has never really stuck for me, so by starting out with something that’s catered more to the little golden loves in my life makes it an easy starting point. The more intense stuff I can integrate later. And the more I do it, the more I actually find walking to be therapeutic. It’s fresh air, at sunset, with the ones I love most (my Mr. included). It’s fast becoming one of my favourite things to do.
  3. keep a food diary
    Now not to advocate for counting calories as such, but logging my meals into My Fitness Pal, has helped me to decipher what foods are actually not as good as they seem! It also has helped me work out better portion sizes and keeps me in check when it comes to meals and avoiding overeating. It’s human nature to feel better about eating a Krispy Creme when you can’t see the calories that accompany the iced-wonder, but when you have to account for it later, you start to really think about whether it’s worth it. I am loving being held accountable for what I eat, and with the gentle push the app provides, I’m making healthier choices when it comes to food. Its rewarding to be able to look back at your day and realise you gave your body the nourishment it thrives on. And it’s even more rewarding when your body starts to feel it too.
  4. get enough sleep
    I used to be notorious for not getting enough sleep. As I said before, it’s hard enough being a nurse to find routine, but sometimes finding enough hours to sleep between one shift to the other can be even harder. Then there’s errands, housework, and the weekly parental dinners – and before long, sleep becomes almost illusive (especially so when you have a racing mind like mine bursting with ideas and plans). So lately I’ve been making conscious effort to go to sleep earlier, I aim for 8 hours and feel so much better when I achieve it. The extra z’s also help with my digestion and I find myself less bloated in the mornings. The body just works better on a good night’s sleep – and although I already knew this to be a fact, feeling the difference really seals the deal.
  5. make your own meals
    Over the years, I’ve always been a fan of easy meals. Off the shelf, processed, cook for 20 minutes and voila! But often these meals provide little nutrition and altogether, turn out to only add to the waistline. A couple of months ago, I found a website called DietDoctor which is a Keto Diet based collection of recipes. And while I don’t exactly use the website for it’s intended purpose as I don’t plan on sticking to the fad diet, I do love that the recipes on there are low carb. It has been such a game changer when it comes to choosing healthier meal options, and when they taste as good as they do – there’s really no turning back to all things processed. There are ingredients in some of the recipes I’d never even think to use, and with the intended use of healthy fats over saturated ones, you barely feel like you’ve missed out on anything at all – which gets the tick of approval from my Mr. We’ve picked up a few favourites so far like Chicken Pesto Casserole, and Cheese Garlic Stuffed Chicken Breast, but with more than 50 more recipes yet to investigate, we’ve got dinner sorted for quite a while to come.

And thats my five habits! While they aren’t big changes to my everyday life, they are are giving me a good foundation to start building a healthy life upon. I can already see the changes in my thought patterns and energy levels. I’m less emotional, and more driven to make these second-nature. And this week weighing in at 76.5kg, affirms that something is working.

So here’s to healthy habits, happiness and seeing any challenge life throws at you as the perfect starting point.

d x

#39

At this point in my life, my strengths and weakness are becoming pretty clear. And not that I like to focus on my weaknesses by any means, but this blog entry relies on one of my biggest – balance.

Since I was little, my balance has never been my strong point. I can elegantly trip over my own feet standing still, and while that sounds like a unique talent, I assure you it’s never been beneficial.

I’ve tried everything from skateboarding to surfing, but I’ve just never been able to figure it out. Perhaps I’ve never really given it enough of a go, but after watching a documentary on bones at the age of sixteen, the fear of falling with my wrists out first has ever since had me fear unbalancing the wellbeing of my radius’.

But as all things go in my life, this determined bundle of ambition I call myself can’t seem to ever give up on the hope of one day not being capable of losing balance on flat ground (or in a room full of people at Pilates).

The thing is though, if you don’t keep trying, you never will learn something new. And I’ve grown to learn that the moment you believe you can’t do something, is the moment you quite literally can’t.

I met someone the other day who told me she couldn’t snorkel because she hadn’t ever had lessons. Now I’m not sure I’ve met one person who’s ever actually had a snorkelling lesson, so I was confused by the notion at the time. Put the mask on, breathe through the tube, swim. Granted it takes some getting used to at first, but I’ve always thought the process to be pretty straight forward.

The entirety of our trip at Isla De Potipot in northern Philippines, she refused to snorkel the beautiful reefs surrounding the island because she’d already made up her mind that she couldn’t. She was scared she would fail at it, and despite us all offering to teach her how, she declined.

And the more I think about it, the more it really stands out to me as a lesson on never imprisoning yourself in accordance to what you think is not possible. She missed out on a whole under water wonderland that day, and while she had every right to make that decision – I just couldn’t understand it.

So I guess when it comes to balance, why should the fact that I have none of it mean I should corner myself in. The reality is, I’m happy to fall off, over or out, if it means experiencing something new. Sometimes you just have to give something a chance and see where it takes you. To hell with the wellbeing of my radial bones, right?

Ergo, bucket list #39. Learning to stand-up paddle board (SUP, as it will from here on be abbreviated to).

It’s always been something I’ve wanted to try. I live close to the beach, and on the ocean’s softer days, it’s home to many people aboard SUPs. To stand on the roof of the ocean, under blue skies and sunshine, had always struck me as being the dream.

On the fourth day of being at Moreton Island last year, we had woken up to a windless morning. The sea was calm, and clear. So my Mr. and I decided to hire a couple of SUPs and give it ago. The added bonus was that I figured falling off into water, would turn out to be a much softer break fall than concrete.

I must admit that while I knew my balance and lack thereof, would keep things interesting, I didn’t anticipate just how hard it would be to stand up, let alone remain upright.

In the time it had taken my Mr. to help me push my board out, head back to the beach, grab his board, head back out, stand up and paddle over the small breaking waves – I had barely accomplished kneeling on all fours.

He could barely control his laughter in between shouting encouragement my way as I put on a show that could only be likened to Bambi’s first steps. With wobbly legs and a whole degree of arm-waving, I finally stood up after far longer than I care to admit.

From there things got easier. Turns out standing up was the hardest part for me, the rest was relatively straight forward. While the occasionally lump in the ocean unsettled my balance, I never fell off. However I will admit to a fair bit of yelling, “Don’t come near me!” and some use of my oar as a jarring stick whenever my Mr. would teasingly come too close for comfort.

After we had paddled ourselves up the beach and back, we decided to spend the rest of our last hired hour laying on our boards. From the depths of the clear blue waters, we had been spotted by a pod of playful dolphins. Sitting on my sup with a smile as wide as my face plastered on, I watched them swim, dancing through the ocean as if it had been rehearsed especially just for us.

If I could SUP and swim with dolphins everyday, I would – because I’m really not sure how it ever gets any better than that, even if it does take me a small lifetime to stand up.

Balance or no balance, never let your weaknesses define what your capable of. There’s always a way if you will it. You can always do something extraordinary.

#39: Learn to Stand-up Paddleboard – Check!

d x

#66

When I was 12 years old, I broke my wrist riding a scooter down a hill. Granted that it could have been partly my fault given I had been sitting on the foot ledge rather than riding it properly, but you just couldn’t have convinced a younger me that this wouldn’t have ended in disaster at the time. Nevertheless, one fleeting 15 second ride led to a 6 hour wait in hospital and whole lot of not swimming in the middle of summer thanks to one very unfashionable cast.

When I was 13 years old, Dad let me drive the family run-around car back into the garage after we had finished washing it. It was one of those things that sounded like a good idea at the time, but later left you thinking why on earth did we do that. Because there were two things that went terribly wrong in the space of a few seconds. The first was that I forgot where the brake was; the second was that my soap-covered feet had little grip. Slipping on the accelerator was bad, crashing at a decent speed into the foundation wall of our two story house was worse, but forgetting where the brake was and plowing straight back into the wall a second time was downright priceless (in the most expensive way). This stunt also landed me in the emergency ward with a nasty gash to my forehead, and the requirement of a tetanus injection.

When I was 14 years old, I let my friend teach me how to ride her motorbike. I’d never ridden one before, nor did I really know how they worked – so naturally, this also seemed like a good idea. I actually hadn’t been doing too badly, the worst only happened when we decided to stop. You see, there’s a throttle on the handlebar and if you relax your wrist in the form of twisting down (don’t ask me how), you can find yourself tangled in a barb-wire fence pretty quickly with half a metal barb sticking out of your ankle, and a rather large third degree burn curtesy of the exhaust. Back to the hospital, and eight weekly burn dressings later – I never touched another motorbike.

When I was 15 years old, I let a boy push me down a grass hill in a shopping trolley. Was I sober? Yes. Was I smart? Not that day. Hitting a rock halfway down caused the trolley to capsize to the left crushing my elbow under both the trolley and myself. The stomach-turning crunch of my poor bones landed me a return trip to hospital, this time for a surgery and nine months of rehab. I still can’t look at shopping trolleys without cringing.

The point of these three stories is to show you that things with wheels and me, well we’ve never really gotten along. I purposely have never taken on a skateboard for obviously reasons, and have more than a few misfortunes to tell when it comes to my cars. The reality is, there would be less havoc in my life if the wheel had never been invented. But the greater good prevails, and as it turns out, they’re pretty useful in anyone else’s opinion.

But despite having sworn off wheels for the most part, there has always been one more set of wheels I’ve always wanted to try…

At #66 on the bucket list was to ride an adventure ATV, and call me crazy, but despite my unfortunate history with all things round – I’ve always been mentally prepared for the injury I would surely entailed completing this bucket list item.

When planning our trip to Moreton Island last year in November, I stumbled across an advertisement for riding beach ATV’s through the islands notorious sand dunes. Better to stack it on a balmy sand island rather than out in a balinese jungle, I thought. So I convinced my Mr. in no time (who is most definitely pro-theinventionofwheels, and master of all of them!) and we booked it in.

In an unlikely turn of events, I can confirm I managed to ride one without injury or a hospital admission… maybe wheels have taken pity on me and my battle scars after all. In fact, in comparison to the three tourists riding in front of my Mr. and I, who undoubtedly were more of a liability than even me, I think I did quite well. And I most certainly enjoyed every second of racing through the sandy figure-eights built low into the sand dunes, and over the tops of the berms.

Moreton Island is such a beautiful part of the Australian coastline, and to see it from behind the handle-bars of an ATV was such a great experience. Zooming along the shoreline on the beach at sunset is something I will remember as being one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen. Even with the most wonderful of descriptive words, I couldn’t out-do seeing this place in person. It’s just simply something you’ll need to add to your own bucket list.

There is video proof of my successful ATV adventure in my latest holiday vlog, so if you wanted to check it out in live motion, you can click here.

And as for my war with wheels? Well, I’d like to believe that perhaps we finally made peace in paradise.

#66 – Ride an Adventure ATV: Check!

d x