Category Archives: Exercise

Serial Say-er to Serial Do-er

Have you ever had a moment where you felt so tired of hearing yourself say the same things over and over again?

Your trademark ‘one day I will’ lines.

Your rehashed stories of your golden days complete with wistful look into the sunny Insta-haze of the past.

Your explanations for why you are where you are and not where you want to be. [<<That’s a tongue-twister.]

I have plenty.

One day I’ll travel to…

It was so much easier being…

Oh I can’t yet because I’m…

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you DO need to cut yourself some slack and be kind to the one person you’re stuck with for life: yourself. You DO need to practise patience because the best things in life are worth the wait. You DO need to consciously sacrifice what you want for what is best for your life. Sometimes, you do.

There is honour and dignity in doing those things.

My gripe is with hearing myself SAY things that I have very little intention of DOing even when the ‘sometimes’ are behind me. Waiting for the conditions to be perfect before I begin. Trying to accumulate as many certificates as possible before I practise. Repeating my flimsy excuses when I encounter early setbacks. All normal in the life of a serial say-er.

One summer, I decided to learn how to swim properly. No longer was I going to be flailing in the shallows like some bewildered upside-down hedgehog. So I signed up for swimming lessons at the local pool. This all sounds very impressive and do-er like, doesn’t it? It was a long road though.

Believe it or not, I read a book about swimming before I set foot in a swimwear shop. I even got a friend to draw me some diagrams of what I should be doing if I ever (miraculously) made it into a pool. This was me being a serial say-er.

I made it to 8 lessons and from a combination of embarrassment and the ever so convenient excuse of life getting too busy, I never went back.

Same thing with piano lessons. Same thing with a 12-week workout programme. Same thing with a diploma in business and management. Get really excited, get all the gear, buy new stationery, hit a roadblock of any description and that’s it.

Those are examples of things I actually got started on. There are plenty more on the heap of abandoned dreams. Dramatic maybe, but true.

So many times I’ve heard it said that it is hardest to get started. I say it’s hardest to keep going when the initial buzz has worn off. To keep working out when you’ve plateaued. To keep eating healthy food in a month full of birthdays. To keep (this one goes out to all the approval-addicts like me) practising your favourite piece even when there’s no one applauding your efforts.

It’s time to stop getting that high from talking about a future accomplishment and DO.

Not just start but do and do and do and do and do.

Become a serial do-er.

By all means become a serial say-er of things already DONE.

I have officially written my second blogpost.

I have completed my workout for the day.

I have bathed my child. Oh wait, that shouldn’t be on the list of things you say but don’t do. Oops.

What have you DONE?



Fall Fashion


My September Issue involved a bit more fall fashion than I hoped for. Shortly after my last post in 2012, I had a nasty fall (an accident) which altered more than just my wardrobe for my favourite season. My right shoulder got dislocated. One arm a hand longer than the other. No big deal right? Ouch but they can just click it back in and you’re good to go. So I thought. After slotting my bones back in place as best he could, my emergency doctor cheers me with the fact that the majority of shoulder dislocations recur and they get less painful after the 10th time or so. Good news for me though, I could be recommended for surgery because my shoulder dislocated in a particularly gruesome manner. Not exactly the comfort I was expecting. Throughout my ‘recovery’ I was the pet shoulder-trauma case study for the local teaching hospital. Glad to be of service to mankind but I wish it could have been in a less painful way.

I had the mandatory fixed sling wrapped around my body which I rocked under my top for 4 weeks. Autumn was the best season for this as I could layer with flowy fabrics and disguise the lack of an arm. Small, everyday things became mountains to climb and I slowly learnt to accept the overwhelming amount of love, care and support I was shown. My students had no complaints about my left-hand writing, my bosses were kind and my friends cheered me up no end. My husband and I grew a lot closer. He washed my hair, dried and styled it. That in itself deserves a medal. He also helped me bathe, get dressed, hardly slept because he kept propping me up so I could sleep in a seated position, opened doors, cut my food up for me, did all the household chores we normally share, put up with my bouts of depressed sobbing, helped me re-focus when I thought of all the short-term ways my life was being affected and encouraged me to go ahead and start my diploma in management like I wanted. This was definitely a big lesson in marriage and love.

Fast-forward through physiotherapy and winter to the time I stopped working full-time to focus on my diploma. Apparently, the risk of me having another painful dislocation was too high as the things holding my bones in place were mere threads now. I ended up having surgery, and going through 4 weeks of a fixed sling again with new opportunities to accept incredible love and support. I learnt a lot of German, met brilliant people, regained strength and movement in my right arm, learnt how to write again, conquered a lot of fears, passed an exam, enjoyed a brilliant summer of getting healthy and now on Day 43 of Insanity, can do a full push-up.

Things wither and nearly die but with seemingly small amounts of faith, hope and love, they can come back to life.

Little by little, things change.

Pictures clockwise from top left: At a concert 3 days after my fall with my sling disguise. My left-hand handwriting. The first long autumn walk that didn’t hurt too much: a blessed birthday. The diploma underway. Hospital food served by wonderful nurses. My lovely hospital room where I received so much help pre- and post-surgery.

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Just as I was settling down for a nap this evening, my husband casually drops the news that the London Marathon ballot results arrived today and he’s running it WITH ME! My disbelief turned to horror after a round of questions brought up no trick or lie. He then was surprised that he never mentioned the fact that he entered my name into a ballot for the biggest run happening in May 2012. Here’s a fun fact: Most people try up to four times to get a place on this coveted marathon route.

I know we talked about him doing it with his flatmates from university and I vaguely remember a day in May (just before the one and only race I have done so far) when he said he took the plunge and entered himself, grinning widely as he thought of the challenge that lay ahead. Apparently, he entered my name with his when he made his bid and somehow failed to tell me all those months ago.

I must admit to feeling weak at the knees thinking about the training we will need to do but my wonderful personal trainer assures me that it’s possible. I went from zero to a 10k in a matter of 4 weeks thanks to my husband’s patient coaching and I hope I can go from here to just over 42km over the next 6 months. I truly enjoy running because I accomplish something new each time and with my best friend to share the victory. It might be gruelling but I can’t wait! What a surprising surprise!

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Muffin Top

I did my best TV chef impression yesterday, amazing one and all with neatly segregated ingredients ready for demonstration and my utensils all to hand. We were about to put dinner together but we needed an incentive to move from the chatter to actually doing something. Almost as if on cue, fresh blueberry muffins popped out of the oven casually spreading their aroma across the kitchen and possibly making our neighbours jealous. I set them aside saying the magic words, “For later.”

Quickly, we agreed on combining rocket leaves, mango cubes, avocado spheres (thanks watermelon scoop!), sauteed mushroom quarters, finely sliced red onion, diced red pepper, tomato and chunks of feta to top it all off with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts. That was one MEGA salad. To contrast, we had mini pizzas no more than one hand-span across made with love and the best combination of my baking supplies from various German shopping mishaps.

As you can see, I decided to go for the ‘rustic’ pizza look rather than perfect circles. I made the bases with garlic and basil so opted for a smooth slather of unseasoned tomato paste once they were part-baked. My husband finished topping them with peppers, mushrooms, the yummiest salami, onions and tomatoes and a very generous sprinkling of mozzarella so we had MEGA mini pizzas. Note to self: Take over before the cheese stage.

None of our guests complained about the artery-clogging potential this meal had when we eventually wound down to tea and muffins. I deliberately made these muffins ‘skinny’ using half the oil and sugar than a regular recipe would have called for. They were definitely subtly sweet so I might add a teeny bit more sugar next time. I remembered my mother’s trick of using yoghurt instead of milk and they turned out deliciously soft and fluffy which usually means a whole block of butter has gone in.

Here’s what actually went in:

2 large cups of plain flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, half a cup of caster sugar and 3 teaspoons of vanilla sugar mixed together. In another bowl, I lightly beat 2 eggs, 1 cup of yoghurt and a third of a cup of vegetable oil. I then folded this into the dry ingredients with 1 cup of washed blueberries and it went in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes at 200ºC. I think I might make a cream cheese frosting to go on top of the leftover muffins but maybe my husband should take over now and I should go swimming, whatever that means.

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Just Keep Swimming

I pity anyone who sees me swim. I had lessons as a child but I was more preoccupied with my rainbow-hued costume than actually learning how to swim. One thing I did master however, was floating on my back, using virtually no energy and staring at the sky while I magically drifted along. On the last day of our swimming course, all our parents were invited to come see our progress as we swam two lengths of a small pool. Some were better than others but none were as stupendously brilliant as me. I started out with no problems, kicking off the edge, gliding for as long as possible but I soon hit trouble. Panic gradually took over with each furious kick, smashing my way across half of the pool in my version of the front crawl. My arms and legs exhausted from this unusual amount of co-ordinated activity, I simply turned 180º and back-floated my way to the end, exhaling every breath that I had been mysteriously storing up until then.

My downfall was in my apparent inability to breath out the air underwater that I had frantically gasped in with every 3rd stroke. There’s only so many gasps a 7 year old’s lungs can handle. I didn’t take this to heart because I was the best back-floater in my class. My older brother failed every time he tried to switch from a front crawl to a back-float, rotating 360º to find himself face-down in the water again. I was so proud of my rare skill, having fine-tuned the art of turning and relaxing so well, that I began to focus on the clouds and pick out shapes to humour myself on the slow journey to the end.

While at a lake recently, I looked up to see Snoopy back-floating his way across the sky and somehow I feel even more validated. In my case, the idea is to just keep floating. At some point, I’ll reach the end.

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