Part of my project here on Skinny Latte Strikes Back is to share things that inspire me, in the hope that they will inspire you too.
One of the biggest inspirations in my life is my dear friend Ashley.
I first met her in October 2005, just after I had moved to Melbourne. She was the first friend I made there, and from the moment we met on that sunny Sunday at South Melbourne markets, I felt I had found a kindred spirit. We were both at similar points in our fitness journeys, and even started a little "competition" to see who could get to goal first! (she did, by about two weeks!). Having her around made the journey so much more fun, and gave me so much motivation to keep going.
I thought she was pretty amazing when I met her - but I think she's even more amazing now. A year or so after we met, she had a beautiful baby girl, Molly Grace, and while I knew she would be an incredible mother, it was still wonderful to see her blossom into being a parent and everything that goes with it. She remains one of the most positive, focused and determined people I know. Nothing is too hard for her - nothing makes her stop and give up. And she's bloody fun to be around as well :)
There are many things I love and appreciate about Ash, but mostly the fact that she has given and continues to give me unwavering and enthusiastic support in whatever I do and has always encouraged me to go for my dreams and never to settle for second best. It is a very rare thing to find a friend who is genuinely happy and proud of you for your successes, and who never judges you for your choices and mistakes.
She was my inspiration right from the start, and she still is. Not just the way she pursues her fitness and healthy body goals, but her entire attitude to life amazes me. Her grace, her humour, the way she gives so generously of herself to others, how passionate she is about the things she loves, the way she is raising her beautiful daughter.
She is everything a true friend should be, and more. And she is living proof that it really is up to me to make my life the way I want it.
Anyway, a few months ago, I asked her if I could "interview" her, and here, to my delight, are her answers! I hope you enjoy reading, I certainly did.
Thanks for doing this Ash :) First question, what do you think have been the biggest obstacles in your fitness journey?
For me, the hardest obstacles have been the plateaus in weight loss. These are the times when everything seems hard. It's difficult to persevere when you seem to see no result.
How have you worked at overcoming them?
Luckily, I have become friends with the tape measure and have noticed that while I may not be moving the numbers down on the scale, my body is changing shape. I have lost 20cms from my body whilst only losing 1 kilo! So I have built a lot of lean muscle! Yay! Also, ramping up the exercise and eating a lot of variety in my diet has helped me through plateaus.
What achievements are you most proud of?
There are so many things I am proud of since beginning my healthy journey. Here are a few:
- Doing my first fun run (Run For The Kids 2006)
- Doing 2 triathlons
- Gaining control of my emotional eating
- Getting pregnant and, whilst putting on weight, keeping a healthy balanced outlook
- Having my baby Molly and being a good mummy
- Losing most of the baby weight
- Taking up running again and doing 10 fun runs in 2008
- Taking up cycling and completing a 40km bike ride
- Running the whole 14.1km Run For The Kids course in 1:48
What are your goals for 2009?
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get out of their exercise comfort zone?
Try something new! Try something that you may not think of as strictly exercise. Something fun like salsa dancing, rowing, waterskiing, snowboarding, hiking, synchronised swimming (don't laugh, there's a class at my local pool!!)
Try something that you didn't think you could do. This may mean setting a goal and working towards it. For example, this year I want to complete the 210km Round the Bay in a Day bike ride. This is in October and whilst I may not be up to it right now, I have given myself enough time to train properly and be more than ready by the time October rolls along.
Something else I find useful is exercising with people who are fitter than me. Okay, so you don't like coming last? I LOVE coming last, as I know I am working out with the right group. As soon as I catch up to the fitness levels of the others I find something more challenging to do and am back in the last place again. Remember, it's not about comparing yourself to others, it's about pushing yourself to be the best you can be!
What would your last meal on earth be?
My last meal on earth... well, that depends on what the food is like wherever I am heading to next!! My favourite food is my mum's canneloni. I have the recipe but I don't make it like she does. Mmm....I'm getting hungry right now! I would have to chase that with some fresh mango and a slice of lemon tart.
What is your favourite way to spend a summer's day?
I love walking around markets and enjoying outdoorsy entertainment. Music festivals would have to be one of my favourite things to do in summer.
And a winter's day?
I love rugging up and exploring my city. Melbourne has so many great nooks and crannies. I can walk around all day and not get bored. I love enjoying an italian hot chocolate with whipped cream on days like these (not every cold day!)
What is your motto in life?
I'm not sure that I really have one. I guess it might be something like the words from Micah - "do Justice, love Mercy and walk humbly with your God".
What is something you've done that you would never do again?
I will never eat oven baked chicken legs again. The last time I had one there was a pocket of blood that spilled all over my plate. Ewwww!
Skinny Latte aside: I'm so glad I'm vegetarian.
And what have you done that you would love to do again?
I want to go to the UK again. I loved visiting in 2003 but my visit was too short and I was too unfit to enjoy it.
What inspires you?
So many things! But mostly people who achieve things. Goal setters and go-getters!
Where do you see yourself a year from now?
Travelling hopefully! Destination unknown at present but it will involve the UK and Europe! Make us up a bed Phil!
Tell me something not many people know about you.
Every Thursday I visit and do informal counselling with prostitutes in some of the brothels in our area. We are developing some really good relationships and I am taking one girl out for driving lessons!
How do you relax?
I like to stay home by myself and either read or just enjoy the silence. Just be.
Finally, what is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming... Oh no, that was Dory from Finding Nemo...
No, really... the most important lesson I have learned is that we are all the same. If you ignore people or treat people any way other than how you would like to be treated you are doing yourself and the world a great injustice. There are so many amazing people out there waiting to be our families. We just have to look outside our circles of comfort.
Thank you Ash!! xx