Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Your luxury item

I bumped into someone the other day who said she thinks personal trainers are a luxury item.  I was dumb struck.  Why would you think that I asked.

Well, she said.  Personal trainers are used only by the rich and famous, or those with lots of money.  Nobody really needs a trainer so it’s a luxury item.

I see, I said.  Do you ever eat take away’s, smoke, maybe have a few drinks?  Oh yes, she laughed.  All of the above.  And how much does that cost you on a weekly basis?  She thought about it, and calculated it works out to about $80 - $100 per week.  Can you do without them I asked.  Yes if I have to.  So, that makes them luxury items, and you spend a minimum of $80 per week on them.  A personal trainer would have cost you less than that.

On top of that, a personal trainer isn’t “just a trainer”.  Registered trainers are highly trained individuals who spent a lot of time caring for you, making sure you stay safe during your training sessions.  Because that is why you have a personal trainer:  someone who motivates you, and makes very sure you don’t get injured.  Someone who makes sure you learn all the right exercise techniques, and gives you advice on a healthier lifestyle.  All so you can enjoy a better life.

Be honest:  how many times have you been able to exercise but found you were too busy, it was too cold, too wet, too hot.  At least with a trainer you know you’ll get a good routine going, and stick to it.

Exercise and training is not all about weight loss folks.  Exercise makes you strong, gives you the energy to do whatever needs to be done, and improves your mood.  Now this last bit is very very important:  a good number of Basic Orange clients use exercise to prevent depression and anxiety.  When people leave my studio they are always smiling, their mood is more positive, and any problems milling in their mind when they arrived, solved.

Never, ever under estimate exercise.  Without it your bones will become brittle, your tendons and ligaments would no longer be able to support you.  You develop balance issues, your skin will hang off your arms and legs, and you are more open to disease.  The human body was made to move in order to remain functional, and the older you get the more important it is that you move regularly.

Because you see, your health is NOT a luxury item.  If you think it is just wait until you lose it.  Then come and see me.

Friday, October 16, 2015


I used to be a software developer.  Systems engineer, code monkey, solutions developer, software analyst, my title had many names.

15 Years ago that was one of my biggest wishes:  to be a software developer.  To write code and make a difference to the computers and companies of this world.  My second biggest wish was to earn enough money to drive a BMW.  To me a BMW was one of the sexiest cars around.  I stuck a large photo of a BMW on my office wall, and worked day and night to achieve my dreams:  I taught myself basic computer code, picked the brains of those who were already experienced, made a pain and an arse out of myself, multiple times.  All so I could reach my dream.

And reach it I did.  One day I was presented with an award for best software development.  I was in awe, I was thrilled.  I had made it.  Soon after I could afford to buy a BMW.
I never bought my BMW:  by now I lived in South Africa.  And in those years a BMW was the most hi-jacked car in town.  In other words, far too dangerous to drive.  I bought a little Toyota instead.

Time went by, and I learned to hate the office politics around software projects.  I became unhappy, started comfort eating, became fat.

And one day a colleague asked me:  what would you like to do if you don’t want to do this anymore?  And I replied:  I want to own a gym.  He smiled, I smiled.  A crazy idea, totally impossible, you would need a lot of money to even start a gym, and no bank would lend me those funds.

But, a little voice said inside of me, why would it cost so much money?  You don’t really need expensive exercise machines, all you need is the money to study and become a qualified personal trainer.  So I qualified, and used my last $10 to buy a boxing bag on Trade Me.  Hung this boxing bag from the rafters, and placed an ad to let people know I was there for them.  A software analyst who was ready to analyse people and exercise.

And people responded, they came to see me and said:  please train me.  Over time more and more people said hey, I like your style, can you train me too?  Eventually I had too many people, and I opened a second fitness studio.  I developed a reputation, even more people came.  These days I have a waiting list of people.  Because I had a dream, I believed in myself, and that belief was recognised by others.

If anyone ever tells you something is impossible smile politely.  Then start thinking of a way to make it possible.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My confession

It is time I’m honest with you:  there is something I do you may not be aware of.  Because if you were you would most probably be shocked.  Or disgusted.  Or amused.  Or all of the above.

I do MMA training.  Big deal you might say, a lot of young men do this type of training.  It makes them fit and strong, and increases their self confidence.  Except, I am not a man.  And as much as I hate to admit it, I’m not young either, it will not be too long before I celebrate my “half century”.

I am a middle aged female who does MMA training.  No, I do not compete, competition is simply not for me.  But I do the full contact fight training.  You might say that doesn’t count, it only counts if you compete and you are a champion.  But I think you are wrong.  Unless you have done this type of training you cannot judge it.  It is full on, and you need to be strong and tough.  Mentally and physically.

For those of you who don’t know what MMA is:  MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts.  Also referred to on tv as UFC.  It is a mixture of kickboxing, judo and ji-jitsu.  Your goal is to get your opponent on the ground, then submit them.

My mother is absolutely horrified I chose this sport to train in.  All her life she has tried her best to teach me knitting.  And crocheting. And cooking and baking.  Only to find her precious daughter can be a violent, aggressive creature who chooses to fight her way out of a difficult situation.  Not debate or politics, but hard fists.

But let me tell you a secret:  I have never received more respect or friendship than I do in the harsh world of MMA.  When you fight against someone and give it your all you expose your soul.  They will see your good side, and your bad one.  Your weaknesses are quickly exposed, as are your strengths.  When you throw all your strength and stamina into a round you can’t hide.  Everything you are is right out there for the world to see.  And that is a humbling experience, one that causes a tight bond between you and your training partners.

So the next time you watch a champion MMA fighter on tv or in real life, know this:  they have trained 6 days a week, 4 hours a day to be the best they can be.  All so you can be entertained, and they can prove to the world that their spirit is the strongest.  Because it is survival of the fittest after all…

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Winter is coming

Game of Thrones fans will know what I mean when I say:  winter is coming.  But when I say winter is coming the meaning is a lot more sinister than a bunch of wussy white walkers.

You see, I have Raynauds.  It is an auto immune condition that doesn’t just sound weird, it IS weird.  It was discovered by a French physician in the 1800’s so it has been with us for a very long time.  The cause is unknown, and all it means is this:  I am allergic to cold.  Yes you heard right, at the age of 47 I developed a severe reaction to cold weather.  Bummer, I guess New Zealand was the wrong country to move to… when placed in cold conditions my blood circulation comes to a stop.  My body revolts and reckons hell, who needs circulation anyway, it is over rated.

When this happens my hands and feet change colour in a spectacular way:  my fingers will be snow white, my knuckles purple, and the rest of my hand bright red.  I use it to scare the neighbour’s kids whenever they stray onto our property.  If I don’t get into warm surroundings it will spread to my toes, they go black and be so painful that I could swear they are about to fall off.

Should I still ignore these warning signs I will become nauseous.  The blood vessels to my stomach will shut down, and rolling waves of nausea are my reward.  Next step is the slowing down of my thinking, brain freeze is the real deal here, and I struggle to remember my name.  Yeah, that is my excuse anyway.  Normally a sure sign to find a warm spot somewhere.

For a long time I felt very alone with this condition:  most people I speak to have never heard of Raynauds.  Allergic to cold?  What are you, a freak?  Yet as time went by more and more people contacted me to let me know they too suffer the same discomfort.  Imagine spending most of your winter feeling nauseous, weak, and your toes and fingers in pain.  Lucky for me we have inventions like puffer jackets, heat pumps and alcohol.  They all do a great job of making me feel more comfortable.

I practice combat sports where bare feet are expected.  Not a problem, we have a solution for that as well:  my kickboxing trainer allows me to keep my shoes on in practice, and in ji-jitsu I can keep my socks on.  I wear thermal socks that are normally used in sea kayaking, and possum gloves for my fingers.  Three layers of thermal or a puffer jacket for the rest of my body, sorted.

Raynauds can be managed, and a semi-normal life lived in winter.  I may look like the abominable snowman but I’m warm and happy!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Putting the pause back into men

There are a lot of things that people don’t talk about in perceived polite company:  sex, puberty, going bald, etc.  Taboo subjects best ignored.  But did you know that the quickest way to clear a room full of men is to loudly mention the word “menopause”?

That little word makes eyes go round, faces go red, and many a man will look for the nearest exit.  Why that is I have never fully understood.  The average male will be happy to talk about sex, so what is the taboo around menopause?  Because all it is boys, it’s another hormonal phase in a woman’s life.  It will happen to your wife or girlfriend or daughter whether you like it or not.

And don’t think as a male you are exempt.  Even men are affected by this menopause.  Yeah no kidding.  Men call it their midlife crisis, we call it MANopause.  You become restless and irritable, and start longing for the good old days.  Maybe buy a Harley Davidson or sports car to prove you are not affected.

For a woman this part of her life is very important.  It signals the end of her reproductive years.  Just the thought of it can cause regret and depression in women who never managed to reproduce.  It is also the cause for hot flushes, dry skin, and yes you guessed it, weight gain.  When menopause comes to get you it will pad your hips, your bum and sometimes your stomach.  Your metabolism slows down, and suddenly losing weight is no longer as easy as it was 20 years ago.

The only thing that accelerates is hair growth.  Girls, you will grow hair in places you never even dreamt of.  And this hair grows at a pace that would put Usain Bolt to shame.  You will experience hot flushes but I find them quite nice in winter, it keeps me warm when the frost is biting.

I have been wrestling with menopause for the past 3 years.  I started a bit early, and that is ok with me.  And have found that the fitter I am, the less it affects me.  Take a break from training and hot flushes will be haunting me every night.  Stay as fit as I can possibly be and I hardly notice the difference.

I have had to change my diet.  More vegetables, less snacking, watch my alcohol consumption.  Because no matter how hard I train my body is determined I gain a bit of weight.  Short of starvation that is exactly what is going to happen, and I’ve made peace with it.

I will continue to take this world by storm, menopause or no menopause.  So boys, next time you hear this magic word stick around and listen, you might learn something!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Do you have culture?

Everybody has a weakness.  And I’m no exception:  I love cheese, I LUV yoghurt.

I’m in my element at a cheese and wine party.  But even more so when it comes to yoghurt:  creamy yummy yoghurt with strawberries, or lemon, or honey.  I use yoghurt as a quick “in between” snack, or as a pudding at the end of a meal.

Wow, you may think, she really does eat healthy.  So before you think that, STOP.  I went to the store last week, and found a whole new range of yoghurt’s on display.  They looked great, the container screamed “buy me”, the text on the packaging claimed you could not get healthier, eat this yoghurt and you will find eternal youth.

I picked up the container and read the ingredients.  And came to one shocking conclusion:  there was not one item, that’s right, not ONE item, that was natural.  I was looking at a long list of preservatives, thickening agents, stabilizers, citric acid, you name it.  I realised I was no longer looking at yoghurt but a chemical shit storm.  Am I disappointed?  Very.  The packaging made you believe this product is healthy whereas in reality it is anything but.

The next time you by something that claims it is healthy do yourself a favour, and look at the list of ingredients.  If you can’t pronounce the list, or it contains only numbers (those are preservatives), ditch the product!  If the ingredients are not natural, neither is the product.  Eating it will probably cause all kinds of allergic and/or auto immune reactions.
Which brings me to my next suggestion:  do you really want to eat something that is in a package?  Because that means it has been made in a factory.  And factories never contain good wholesome-ness.  What would happen if you ate products that were alive at some stage?  Like vegetables, chicken, beef, pork.  I tell you what would happen if you ate those products, and this is based on experience over the years:  you would get more energy, don’t feel the urge to snack as often, your stamina will increase tenfold.

So folks, let’s ditch the packaging and go back to the “good old days”.  The times when people cooked meals from raw products, and the only container in sight was a milk carton.  We live in a quick fix and “have no time” society, but if you don’t have time to eat healthy then you will have to make time to die.  Which would you prefer?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

That's Life

Life in my little household has been a bit hectic lately:  hubby has been in and out of heart hospital, he’s had insulin dependent diabetes for most of his life through unfortunate genetics, and it has not been kind to him.  Some of my friends are battling parkinsons and cancer, and my loving cat Brutus will visit the vet this week, suspected kidney failure.

There is plenty to keep me busy but is also reminds me that you should never take anything for granted.  Not ever.  Because the things you love can be taken away from you faster than you can blink.  And this includes your health.  People have lost money and homes, and recovered.  But once you lose your health you will have lost everything.
And this very thought takes me to something I see every day:  the main Basic Orange studio in Queens Drive is right behind McDonalds.  I drive past most mornings at 8 am, and the queue of cars waiting for a Maccas takeaway is almost spilling over on the street.  Every day.  And let me mention the “lady” who drove out of McDonalds the other day in her oversized car.  Big girl.  Almost ran over a pedestrian because she was so busy shoving hot chips into her mouth.  Then turned around and gave another handful to her toddler strapped in the back seat.  If you are reading this and know you are that person, I hope you are ashamed of yourself.  It is one thing messing up your own health, that is your choice, but to also mess up the health of your child?  Criminal.

I know this does not apply to you, you don’t visit Maccas and have a good diet and exercise plan.  Right?  But pretend for one moment this was not the case:  you DO visit fast food places on a regular basis, you are overweight, and couldn’t care less about exercising.  It will not be long before you become sick as well.  You could get diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, the list is endless.  But it will be something.

Not a big deal I hear you say.  We have medication, good hospitals, kinda-free health care.  But you forget that a condition like diabetes (or cholesterol, or high blood pressure, or obesity) accumulates over time.  Before you know it you will have lost your vision.  Maybe an arm or a leg, people with diabetes don’t have the best circulation in town.  Next to fail will be your heart, and the rest of your organs don’t want to miss out, they will not be far behind.

The point I’m trying to make here?  My husband had no choice about his diabetes, fate decided for him.  But you, you do have a choice.  Do you want to end up a sick person because you were too lazy to exercise, or do you want to live your life to the full?

I know that should you become ill you will follow a healthier diet and exercise regime.  You have no choice.  But why wait until you reach that stage?  What did you say?  Because it will never happen to you?  Yeah right, join the queue, it’s a long one.  Never, ever take your health for granted.  Take care of yourself now, for soon it will be too late.