You know when you just know? When the world is saying take the next step, and the stars align and it’s make or break time? Well I had that moment last year.
I had finished my Master’s degree and I had not had a holiday in over four years. I was desperate to connect with my roots and meet family I had never met before who live in the USA. I now had the time, but I didn't have the finances.
I ached to just get away, to spread my wings and free my caged mind after being locked to my books. I was rote learning and reiterating over-ingested, digested regurgitated information, pouring it out onto paper for examination, and after doing the school drop off, driving an 1.5 hours to university and working nights every day, it left me scratching the walls to find myself again. How was I ever going to get away, before starting full time work?
A few years back I had an inspired urge to connect with running organisations to cross promote my future Podiatry business. I found an app-based organisation called Running Heroes. I approached Running Heroes and offered to blog in return for some exposure to runners. Our relationship developed and they would send me shoes to trial, review and blog about. They sent me a pair of Geminis from Under Armour, and I absolutely loved the shoe!
Upon the arrival of their newest shoe, the ‘Bandit’ they alerted me to Under Armour's newest competition, Run Camp. This was a competition in the USA, just the place I yearned to go. I just knew I was going to win, I could feel it in my bones.
The competition was based on Instagram and required a photograph after your hardest run. I set out with my friend to capture all I know running to be. I kept my eye on the competition; there were some extraordinary entrants who I knew were better runners than me, had prettier Instagrams than me, but I just had that feeling that deep down, this was mine.
I waited and waited for the winner to be announced, the announcement date came and went. But I was certain, and I actually bet on myself for once in my life. I continued to have mixed thoughts; should I give up hope? Why not me? And those thoughts just kept coming. Another two weeks passed after the competition close, and I had given up hope. I went to see a psychic to get some answers about where my life was heading. She said “I see this big foot wear company, sending you overseas to work for them”. She was perplexed about what that might mean, but I knew exactly what that meant! Hope returned, and the following day I received a direct message from Under Armour telling me to check my email.
Odette was going to Death Valley! I had just won one of two spots to represent Australia to run in one of the harshest places on Earth. I would be meeting other successful candidates from around the world. I felt like all my Christmases and birthdays had come at once! So now I had to prepare, because I was a sprinter, yet this event was more like a marathon.
I had three weeks to change gears and work on my endurance running. I ran five kilometres daily to start and by the end of three weeks I had been able to get to running ten kilometres without stopping. Yet this race required me to run the equivalent of a marathon in one of the harshest environments on the planet! I did all I could do, now all that was left was prayer.
The day had arrived. I knew nothing of what to expect, everything about the event was kept secret. We had no idea of locations, where and how far we were running or where we were sleeping. After 25 hours of traveling, I woke up In Las Vegas to a 4am call time. We were loaded up into the van and driven across a landscape that turned from city lights to arid desert mountains reminiscent of mars.
I was super anxious but excited. We were blessed to have a team member that was a First Nations Native American Chief, he gave a prayer of thanks to the ancient owners of the land in his native tongue prior to our descent through the mountains. It was a magnificent and spiritual moment. The route was spectacular, I was so engrossed in the run and in the moment 20 kilometres of Earth had rushed under my feet, and I was still striding forward. I had previously never ran more than 14 kilometres; a combination of adrenaline and being in awe of the twists and turns through the ancient mountainous terrain made it seem easy.
Our cavalcade of red SUVs came to pick us up and surprise us once again. We visited the national park tourist spots that took our breath away, such as Artist’s Palette, where a rainbow of watercolor paints the mountain scape.
Time passed and we needed to find our camp site. We were driven out far away from the main roads and dropped off, left to fend for ourselves and set up camp. With no toilets and no showers, to me this was roughing it. I helped set up the tents with the other team members before the desert sun set and the cold took hold.
We sat down at our camp site and one by one we went to the confessional tent to record our ‘Why’: why we ran, why we started, why we continue, why we need it, love it, and why we believe in the run. This confessional brought us closer together as we shared our ‘why’; for some it was to escape addiction so bad that it was death or running, for others it was part of a regimented post-military life style that required dedication, determination and hard work.
I reveal my ‘why’ in next week's blog, Bad Water Part 2, where I share my story about why I run and how it has changed my life. Part 3 of this blog will return to Death Valley for day 2, one of the most life changing days in my existence.
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I’M A RUNNER: ODETTE BLACKLOCK
Article added October 17, 2017 Categories Columns, Featured Columns
THE AUSTRALIAN SURVIVOR 2017 CONTESTANT IS ALSO A PODIATRIST AND AVID RUNNER. ODETTE BLACKLOCK, PODIATRIST AND PERSONAL TRAINER, 33, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA.
Some people may know me from season two of Australian Survivor. I am a busy mother, sports podiatrist, personal trainer, Pilates instructor, and founder and coach of Urban Run.
I originally wanted to be a PE teacher. I did my health science degree but there was a lack of jobs in my area. I wanted the stability to provide for my son. I felt sports podiatry complemented my love of running.
I started running when I was four years old. I stopped running and many other pursuits when I lost my mother at 14. I remember starting to run again many years later at the age of 22. I had become quite unfit, unhealthy and I was struggling with depression. I remembered how running used to make me feel as a child and I wanted to have that good feeling back in my life again.
To me, running is empowering. I have the power to test my limits, to keep my body healthy and to venture where I want to go. They say if you don’t use it you will lose it, [and running is] a way to show gratitude to the vehicle that is my body. It helps me in my daily life, because I find it to be like meditation.
You can go [running] anywhere, any time. You don’t need much preparation. They say you always find time for the things you love. I run whenever I get the opportunity. I also join in when taking my run groups.
As a podiatrist and runner I get to test shoes from many different brands. I had never worn Under Armour before and after being sent my first pair of shoes (Gemini 2) which I absolutely loved, I noticed the competition for the Under Armour Death Valley Run Camp [in the US] advertised on Instagram. The timing was perfect: I had just finished my masters, and I had family in America I had never met and was desperate to meet. I did everything I could to make my application stand out – you can still see the posts I submitted on my Instagram (@odetteblacklock).
The Under Armour Death Valley Run Camp last year was the most gruelling run I have ever done and I learned so much about myself on that run. I became aware of the self-talk that had been holding me back over the years and the pain I endured on the run really helped me to change that. I developed a mental toughness that made me see my potential.
The only time I have a bad run or day is when I’m not listening to my body. I know then that other areas may need some attention. I usually put more focus on recovery in the form of rest, stretch and nutrition. The most important lesson I have learnt is don’t beat yourself up, as long as you continue to try, it’s a good day.
It is very important to get to hear your own thoughts and a solo run allows you to have that time. But I absolutely love to share the run with others [too], as it’s a great way to strengthen friendships. When I run with a friend or with my crew we are always beaming with positivity and good vibes.
As I just got back from Survivor I need to get my training back to where it was.
Most of the time I run with music and I always bring the beats on the UE Boom portable speaker to run crew. I will always be busting out dance moves or rapping in between sets. I love listening to hip hop when I train.
Odette Blacklock was a contestant on this year’s Survivor on Channel Ten. Off-screen she is a podiatrist, and owns Athletic Medic Podiatry Clinic in Sydney.
There is nothing worse than feeling like a sleep deprived zombie during the day and a bright eyed bat during the night. Have you ever asked ‘why is my body clock so confused?’, and ‘how can I calibrate my body to the correct time?’.
Studies suggest that as blue light beams into our eyes at night through our smart phones, screens and energy efficient lighting, it causes us to feel wakeful when we should be winding down for sleep1. Blue light from artificial sources is short-wavelength-enriched, meaning it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light, such as sunlight2. Blue light boosts alertness and regulates our circadian rhythm, or body clock, and suppresses our sleep inducing hormone, melatonin. It does this by activating photoreceptors called ‘intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells’ (ipRGCs)3. Try to say that five times fast with sleep deprivation!
The consequences of sleep deprivation can be deadly. Sleep deprivation was linked to 3,017 deaths in 2016-17, with 394 being vehicle or industrial accidents, and the remainder of deaths linked with heart disease and diabetes4. It is estimated that 7.4 million Australian adults experience some form of inadequate sleep4. So a lot of us need a solution to this blue light induced sleep deprivation problem.
The good news is that studies have found one. One interesting study measured participants wearing wavelength-blocking glasses three hours before bedtime who continued their nightly digital routine which included blue light screen time. Results showed a 58 percent increase in their nighttime sleep inducing hormone melatonin, out-performing over-the-counter melatonin supplements 3.
Lastly, it is important to recognise that our eyes natural filters do not provide sufficient protection against light rays from the sun, let alone the blue light emanating from digital devices. It is wise to choose a good quality pair of glasses that you will use frequently. So where can you find blue light blocking glasses? I found a great pair at Oscar Wylee that suited my taste and preference. I had one of the highly qualified optometrist put me through a thorough eye exam prior to picking my frames.
I have been using my blue light blocking frames each night and have found that I get to sleep much faster than before.
Sweet dreams people x
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Please find the links to references and to Oscar Wylee eye care below.
Why are some people skinny no matter what they eat, while others put on weight just by looking at a doughnut? Why do some people catch every cold, flu and bug known to modern man, yet others never nudge a sniffle? If we are 99.99% identical in our human DNA, then how come we are so different?
It may have to do with the other genetic material inside of us. The bacteria in our gut makes up more of us than our own cells! Our gut microbiome has over 100 trillion microbial cells compared to our 10 trillion human cells. So when these cells communicate they have a tremendous impact on our health. You may have thought that the gut’s sole purpose was to process food, but it's also involved in a whole lot more. There is scientific and clinical evidence emerging that the composition of our gut microbiota dictates our susceptibility to, and ability to control, disease, and it even houses the largest number of immune cells in our body.
This is how I explain things to my son: think of your body as the planet. The healthy parts of the planet have a diverse array of flora and fauna that live in harmony with each other. People are kind of like bacteria, some are good and some are bad. The good live in harmony with the land, while the bad devastate the environment and the earth suffers. Your body is the same, and you have the control to feed one and starve the other. By feeding your body properly and promoting good bacteria through the right probiotics and healthy nutrition, your body and brain will be happy and healthy.
This is how I explain it to my friends: the vast ecosystem of bacteria living in our gut has access to our enteric nervous system, linking emotional and cognitive centres of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions1. When we look at the studies around gut health and disease, a clear link is observed. Diseases associated with poor gut health include, anxiety, autism, Parkinson's disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, atopic dermatitis, depression, obesity, diabetes, schizophrenia, colon cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
Taking even one course of antibiotics can permanently reduce the diversity of your gut bacteria. Numerous scientific studies have proven the beneficial effects of taking a high quality probiotic supplement, linking probiotics to weight management, higher energy levels, mental clarity and a stronger immune system. One of the best ways to maintain a healthy diversity while balancing your microbiome is a high quality probiotic – meaning one that has been tested and found effective in people.
The microbes primarily live at the end of the digestive tract. Simple carbohydrates and fats that make up our western diet, get stuck in the upper GI digestive tract and essentially leave the microbes starving. Complex Carbohydrates known as prebiotics such as Raw Chicory Root, Jerusalem Artichoke, Dandelion Greens, Garlic, Leeks, Onion. Avocado, Oats, Seaweed and Asparagus, feed the microbe community and facilitate positive hormonal regulation. So the benefit of the clinically proven probiotic also relies on feeding it prebiotics.
Essentially a prebiotic diet and a good quality probiotic are the cornerstone of
improving and maintaining a healthy microbiome within the gut.
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The best comment will win a bottle of my favourite high quality probiotic supplement of choice from Bioxyne!
Bioxyne’s Progastrim® (for gut and immune health)
Bioxyne’s Progastrim® +Vitamin C (for colds)
Bioxyne’s proTract® (for infant atopic dermatitis)
Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Annals of Gastroenterology : Quarterly Publication of the Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology. 2015;28(2):203-209.
Are you in two minds about weight training?
Let me share some advice: weight training produces outstanding all-round health and wellbeing, coupled with the aesthetics of a brilliant body. Unlike traditional steady state cardio, it delivers bang for buck and requires less time in the gym, yet turns your body into a calorie burning, anti-aging and disease fighting machine.
It’s time to replace your old beliefs on calorie burning with the new facts. Weight training preserves lean muscle mass and burns fat. The old saying of ‘calories in vs calories out’ ignores the main element that is imperative to weight loss: hormones! Hormones are what controls our metabolism. Understanding this will allow you to train your metabolism rather than training your body into the ground.
The benefits in strength training are the adaptations that the body undergoes. Strength training stimulates the release of, you guessed it, HORMONES, specifically anabolic and lipolytic hormones. Growth hormone (GH) and testosterone (T) are hormones that build muscle and make it more efficient to utilise fat as the main source of fuel, both in training and at rest. Additionally, resistance training is shown to increase insulin sensitivity. This means that the body can utilise glucose more effectively (Pollock et al., 2000), which is fantastic in lowering the risk of metabolic disease.
Weight training allows you to stay in the fat burning zone for longer. EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) is a term used to calculate elevated metabolism post exercise. According to the ACE (American Council of Exercise), EPOC is influenced by the intensity, not the duration of exercise. Heavy training loads yield a greater EPOC effect during the post-exercise recovery period. This means you burn more calories at a higher rate post weight training for longer, some studies suggest up to 48 hours!
For toning and weight loss, it really is a no brainer. Weight training builds lean muscle which elevates your metabolic rate, improves insulin sensitivity and reduces inflammation. It balances your hormones, stimulating an anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and fat targeting hormone response. Improvements in cardiovascular health are found to have an equal degree of benefit and this is coupled with a strong and lean physique.
I still love cardio for its mind clearing, endorphin hitting and cardiovascular benefits, but I always ensure I am weight training. Keep active and your body will thank you.
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Pollock, M.L., Franklin, B.A., Balady, G.J., Chaitman, B.L., Fleg, J.L., Fletcher, B., Limacher, M., Piña, I.L., Stein, R.A., Williams, M. and Bazzarre, T. (2000). Resistance exercise in individuals with and without cardiovascular disease benefits, rationale, safety, and prescription: An advisory from the Committee on Exercise, Rehabilitation, and Prevention, Council on Clinical Cardiology, American Heart Association. Circulation, 101(7), pp.828-833.
Do you want to exercise but couldn't be f*#ked? Do you ever scroll through Instagram and end up feeling temporarily motivated to drink kale smoothies, eat clean and run your first half marathon, but when you really think about it, you couldn't be f*#ked?!
Well the truth is, a lot of us feel this way. It's been suggested that 90% of diets end in failure and only 25% of us stick with our exercise routine.
Studies have found that barriers to exercise people face are lack of time, lack of energy, or that they find their exercise program too challenging, too hard to follow, or too boring. We all know those excuses are another way of saying “I couldn't be f*#ked”. And we don't need a study to prove it .
Why don't we exercise when we know the benefits will improve every aspect of our life? What keeps us on the couch, in the car, and fixed to the screen rather than on the run, in the park and pumping our motivational music? It’s that tug-of-war in the brain, that delayed gratification, and that unpredictability. It’s that convoluted process, the getting to, form, in and out of. It’s the cold, the heat, the uncontrollable elements. Yes, it's more excuses.
So what can make us un-f*#ked? What can motivate us to get things done? Action. Suck it up. Sink or swim. Not the answer you want to hear? Sorry.
Let's say it: simple motivation is bullshit! Mel Robbins identifies hesitation as the culprit killing all of our good intentions. When we hesitate about getting up at 5am to go to the gym, our brain goes into protection mode. She explains the well-known phenomenon called ‘the spotlight effect’. This is where your brain magnifies risk to pull you away from something that seems to be a problem. Hesitation is this effect taking place, a decision that blocks us from action.
So basically you need to hack your brain to get over this hurdle of hesitation or remain f*#ked.
Mel says we need to change our decisions. Her life's work is focused on the five second rule. Her work started when her world fell apart at 41 years of age; she was unemployed, having lost everything financially. She admits to being trapped in the ‘knowledge action gap’, and continues to explain, “We have knowledge of what to do, and then hesitation hits and paralyses us”. Mel changed her life with the five second rule. She counts 5,4,3,2,1 and then executes what she wants before her brain kicks in. It activates the prefrontal cortex in your brain, requiring more focus to be more courageous and get you moving.
This five second window stops self-sabotage and can change your life. It has helped thousands of people around the world in a plethora of aspects in their life. But for us wanting to start that new exercise routine, this is a must try.
Please share your experiences using this technique or let us know what blocks to exercise you face.
Please click the links below for more information.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity. Physical Activity for Everyone. 22 May 2007.
If you don't record or post it, did it really happen?
Have you ever found yourself wanting to be in the moment, be present, be with out distraction, be in awe of the place that you are in and observing, Yet in the back of your mind the need to capture it on your smartphone is looming "just a quick insta story to let people know about this fabulous experience" the need to let others know you have an interesting life, the need to connect with others that might feel the same.
So here in is the conundrum. It is estimated that we upload over 1.8 billion photos per day. Yet the average amount of conscious decisions an adult makes per day 35,000.
So if a picture is to speak 1000 words, what makes yours a wise decision to double tap on?
Being present with people or events that are dear to us Vs posting to a population of strangers is the question we may pause to ask.
Did you ever notice how highly successful people such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs wear the same out fit day after day, after day? They understand and value the limited number of conscious decisions we are able to make in one day.
If your decision making processes are being bombarded by popping out of your present state and on to your phone, having to decide how to snap, filter and hashtag. It may be so much more beneficial for your head space and even future success in life, to brush the smart phone and stay in the moment.