If you have been in a bathroom in the United States, you have been assaulted by graffiti, someone loves someone else, maybe even phone numbers.
Australia is different. Or if you are Australian, my thinking is a bit skewed. Or maybe my thinking IS a bit skewed. You can decide that after you read.
The “loo” is clean. Australians cures for graffiti by covering the door with instructions.
Seriously or Australian Humor?
I expected to have language difficulties when I came to Australia. However, I thought I would understand icons and instruction drawings.
This poster appears in several bathrooms around Australia. This one accosted me in the airport as soon as I deplaned in Brisbane, Queensland.
“Who stands on a toilet?” I thought. “Is she hiding from someone? Is she exercising – NEXT TO THE TOILET? There must be a better place to do that! What’s up with this? Eeew! I’d almost rather read graffiti.”
Apparently, there is a problem with newcomers to Australia not understanding how to use a flush toilet, so the government solved the problem with these iconic drawings.
OK, I was not expecting that, but things are different in Australia just as they would be in any country.
But I became guarded about using the loo.
A few days later I went to Healesville Sanctuary to see the native animals. The Sanctuary is environmentally conscientious. I found this sign.
So, I wondered, “How in the world the Sanctuary recycled their toilet paper. How does that even work? How could they ever make enough paper to offer it for sale? I was sure I did not want to use it! Notice the paper is brown. Yikes!”
Highlighting a Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce Member
At almost 64 years old, I did not think of myself as “out of shape” when I started training with Melissa Bourn almost a year ago. I walked 3-4 miles a day, worked out once-in-awhile with our home gym, and exercised with my husband in the pool during the summer.
Beginning day one of our training sessions, Melissa started by asking us to stand up from a sitting position on the floor. No sweat, right?
“You can’t use your hands.”
‘Whaaaaaa? No hands? Are you kidding me?”
Why is that important, you might ask?
Melissa trains all ages, but even middle-aged to older people are not intimidated by her encouraging manner. One woman in her 70s came to her, not because she wanted to lose weight, or become a dancing grandma, but because she fell in her house and could not get up. She lay there for several hours until someone found her. As someone who falls a lot, that struck a sensitive chord with me.
Why We Chose Melissa’s Gym
The gym is behind Melissa’s house in Elderwood, making it handy for us. This saves us nearly an hour of drive time to Visalia per visit.
Although Melissa doesn’t have multiple copies of every kind of equipment available on the market, she has every piece of equipment you could imagine needing. My favorite is Bob, a person shaped punching bag.
She also does lots of floor work – meaning equipment optional. This is great because it means when we go home or travel, we can do the same exercises on our own. When I started, I could not do one push up.
She is VERY reasonable. She charges only $150 per month and we go to her three days per week. This works out to about $11 per hour session. “According to Dr. Sal Arria, president of NBFE, the average hourly rate for a trainer is $60-$70 per session. However, trainers can charge as low as $25 per hour, while some high-powered trainers earn as much as $15,000 for a six-week session, depending on geographical location and their experience.
Along the same line of PERSONAL fitness training, any of you who have gone to a personal trainer know that you might work out with 2-5 people. I used to train in Visalia. They offered an “hour” training – one half-hour of supervised exercises (scheduled with one or two strangers) and one half-hour workout on a cardio machine first. Several years ago that was $250 per month if we paid for six months. Melissa gives us an entire hour of PERSONAL training. I share the hour with my husband (our choice). Best of all we pay month-to-month with no contract.
That leads to another benefit. Constantly updating her skills, Melissa varies and tailors the routines for each session. She’s kind of ADHD, but we never get bored. Our bodies never get too used to it either, so every muscle group has to pay attention.
Speaking of muscles, since Melissa monitors us carefully, she notices our form. Many years ago when I was working out with a trainer, one of my friends met me at the gym. She watched me for a while. According to my friend, the trainer did not watch, and my form was less than stellar. Melissa pays strict attention to form. “Flex your foot more. Like this. You’re doing this. Move your hands farther apart.” If something is too hard or too easy, Melissa alters it by having us change the way we stand or hold the weight or rope. Nearly microscopic alterations in form make a huge difference in how the exercise works and feels on our bodies.
The day after the exercise is nearly as important as the day of. When we started, Melissa would call or text the next day to see how we felt. If we could barely move, she changed the routine so that we did not injure ourselves. She has a basic muscle group plan each day, therefore if several people complain about sore legs she takes it easier the next session on everyone unless we ask to be pushed. After nearly a year, she still asks how we are before we start every session.
Communication and concern are Melissa’s fortés. We get texts with at-home exercises, encouraging videos, and diet suggestions.
She runs contests. For example, one contest was for people who wanted to lose or gain weight. My husband weighed in, and she took measurements of his arms, chest, and legs – the areas he wanted to work. At the end of the contest, they measured again, and the one with the most overall body changes won. Vince did not win, but he enjoyed doing it and looks forward to the next one which starts in September.
Moving from contests with each other, Melissa looks for ways to expand people’s personal best. She put together a group to train and participate in a tough muddercompetition. While wallowing in mud does not appeal to me, my husband is very excited about it and has enrolled in the October 8th event in Tulare, CA. We never know what she might come up for us next, but it’s always exciting.
Melissa became a part of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce in May. She’s busy making a difference by offering a service to help keep Woodlakers healthy. There are plenty of places people can go to work out, but her personal care and attention to detail make Melissa’s Gym unique.
Three months ago I realized that I was on an ever upward spiral of weight gain that I had to put to a complete and permanent stop – or else. I’ve been working with a local trainer, Melissa Deitz, for about six months, and I thought that would help me lose weight, but in the first three months I didn’t budge – literally and figuratively. She gave me this crazy diet trick that is working.
My appetite overwhelms me. I ATE as much as most men my age, and more than my husband on most days. Since I walk daily, I used to keep it under control pretty well, including the sweets, but sixteen pounds crept on over a year’s time, and I had to take action. Beating Bob up wasn’t doing it for me. (Bob is a dummy, you know.)
This is how I looked when I started working out – about a month into it. When I started I could barely last 20 seconds beating on Bob. Now I can wail on him for a minute without feeling pain. But that is another story. Back to the weight loss. Here is Melissa’s secret.
That’s right – a breakfast of protein. Four or five nuts and a huge glass of water, about 20 oz. This is the real crux of the diet. First thing when you get up eating a few nuts starts your metabolism. Sometimes I don’t get to it first thing, but I try.
Before lunch another 20 oz, which I attractively guzzle. It’s the only way I can get it down. For lunch I eat pretty normally. Sometimes I split with Vince. I enjoy bread, potato chips, whatever we happen to have. At dinner I watch it, but it runs the gamut. Sometimes I have a normal meal – if we are going out for an event. I skip the desert. At home I may just have a protein shake or some more nuts, and one more big glass of water sometime before bedtime. I do watch my sweet intake, but it hasn’t been hard – for the first time ever I do not feel deprived. I have probably only eaten sweets on four or five occasions, and I can keep it down to just a little. That’s a miracle in itself.
My goal was to lose 3 pounds a month for 12 months. I’m not overly heavy, but my normal weight for my entire adulthood before I turned 50 was 30 pounds lighter than I was when I started on my lifetime diet. After three months on this regime, I have lost 10 pounds, and other than a cold, which I’ve almost licked, I feel a lot better.
I’m not a weight loss guru, but I told my FB group that I was starting this, so this is my quarterly report. I do not know what your weight goals, but if you want to lose weight, this can help. Let me know what you think.
In only two months I’ve gotten so much better at it. When I started fighting Bob, I could barely tap him in the chest for 15 seconds. Now I can beat on him for a minute without being out of breath. (OK I exaggerate a LITTLE.)
I’ve learned to sock him in the solar plexus.
I can back arm him and thoroughly box his ears.
Two months ago my husband and I began training with our best friend’s daughter, Melissa, a five foot two powerhouse who has competed successfully in at least one national fitness competition. When we started I couldn’t plank, not for a second. Now I can hold still, not without a lot of groaning, for at least 30 seconds after doing two rounds of other serious exercises.
Some things I still can’t do. While V is doing serious pull-ups, I’m stretching trying to hang from a bar without pulling anything up. I still have to have my tippy toes on the ground, though, and even that hurts. the other day I stretched out with my feet on the ball and my hands clenching a couple of hanging rings. I swear I lifted my body about an eighth of an inch. I was so proud I called over to Melissa to watch.
But put me behind a pair of rope handles, and I can drive those ropes into submission. Melissa tells V to watch my great form. I am so proud.
So what does all this violence do for our bodies? Melissa says our core will get stronger. So far I have only gained weight – about 4-5 pounds. My clothes still fit , and my body still looks roly poly in the mid-section, but I’m definitely able to do more harm to Bob that I ever thought possible, and that’s a treat!
BTW, I thought Melissa named Bob after her dad, but everyone on YouTube seems to call him Bob, and here I thought I was pounding “Bob,” (which I would never have dared in real life!) 🙂
Eating out has always been the primary entertainment in my family. I like to eat, and I have a healthy appetite. When I was young my eyes were too big for my stomach, but that has changed. Martha, sitting across from me, is doing the cleanse with me. Amanda doesn’t need to lose weight. She’s the President of CCSS this year, and all the weight of its world is on her shoulders. Elane has lost weight because she just doesn’t eat very much.
Today I started on a 10-day cleanse using Purium products that I ordered from my friend, Martha Infante. Unlike the woman pictured in the transformation guide, I am 63, 5’5”and this morning weighed 154. Vince took ugly before pictures of me, which I won’t scare you with unless I get appreciably better looking in the next ten days.
So far I’ve had 5 pills that taste a little minty, and are full of protein, and 18 ounces of water. Right now I’m enjoying my morning green shake that tastes a little like grass, the kind that grows in your front yard. I have a headache because my face still hurts a little from my fall, and I’m cold from drinking so much water.
My philosophy about weight stems from watching my mother struggle through her last 20 years of life, and go through a divorce because my dad didn’t like her weight (among other things.) Keeping my weight at a manageable level has always been important to me because my mother weighed between 200 and 230 most of my life. The slimmest I ever saw her when she was active was 175, and she looked great. She was 5’4”. She had high blood pressure, and at 60 lost a kidney to cancer, and went on dialysis at 72 and lived to enjoy her 80th birthday. For 20 years she had several heart attacks that would have killed most people, but Mom functioned on about 5% of her heart, her arteries clogged, and valves damaged beyond repair. I credit her long life to a great attitude about life, good doctors, and no drinking or smoking.
This summer my weight started creeping up. I lost my will to eat right and exercise. When Martha told me about a cleanse, I and decided to give it a try. If this is successful I’ll let you know.
It takes me about 2 hours to write a chapter which averages 1,300 unedited words per chapter so far. For two hours I barely move a muscle except my fingers, which are flying. In Avila I had a routine of answering emails for 2 hours in the morning, walking for 3 hours or about 8-9 miles, then writing two chapters in the afternoon and evening with just a little walking in between the two. I didn’t do any strenuous exercising.
About 2 months ago I hired a personal trainer, S.M.A.R.T Fitness, in Visalia, CA to help me get in shape in lose weight. They are not paying me to advertise for them, but what a great experience it has been! I go three days a week at around 10:00 each morning, so I have been able to keep my routine of answering emails and comments in the morning and taking care of CCSS business before I go out.
I arrive around 10:00 and get on one of the cardio machines. I like to start with the elliptical machine for 10 minutes. By the time I finish, I look pretty much unacceptable to go anywhere but home. If my hair had been combed to start, it’s wet and curly by the time I’ve done 10 minutes. Then I finish the half hour “warm”-up – really that’s a “burning hot”-up on a stationary bike. That machine has a fan on it.
After I’m exhausted already, Dan or Eddie is ready for me, and they are the most wonderful trainers I’ve ever had. Don’t tell them that. I tell them both that they are mean, and they are. What is wonderful is that they customize the workout to what I need, but didn’t know it. Yesterday Dan had me doing push-ups. I can’t do push-ups. I couldn’t do them when I was 15, and I still can’t. Can’t is not in their vocabulary, so they cheat. Dan wrapped a belt around my middle. I put my hands on a big tire, stretched my legs behind me and spread them for balance. The first time I lowered myself about an inch toward the tire, and he had to pull me up with the strap. After about 4 puny starts, I started trusting him to be able to pull me up so I wouldn’t fall flat on my face when I went down. I went all the way down to the tire. He still had to pull me up, in fact we had to stop and put on a wider strap because the narrow one dug so hard into my belly, but I actually got down by myself. Of course, he told me that I did it. I know he cheats, but it’s ok.
Eddie worked on stretching my legs one day. I thought I was going to die. Really. My legs don’t stretch. I can put them up at a 90 degree angle with great pain. He rested my heel on his shoulder, cupped just above my knee to keep it straight, and gently pushed my leg forward until I yelled 8/10 on the pain scale. What I meant was 11, but ok, I settled at 8, and he held it there for about 2 minutes, I think. I couldn’t breathe it hurt so badly, but pretty soon, I was breathing deeply in and out, and I could feel my leg becoming more comfortable until the main level was 0. Then he moved my heel, just slightly and the pain came back, but it was bearable. He did some more horrible things to my legs before letting me up, but amazingly, the next day I wasn’t even sore. That was a couple of weeks ago. The next time he did it, he could actually move my legs much farther, and much easier without so much pain.
In the month or so I’ve gone there irregularly I’ve lost 5 pounds, and I feel great. I know that the great amount of sitting that I’m doing isn’t quite as harmful as it would be if I weren’t exercising. I no longer have sciatica nerve problems like Steinbeck had because he wrote so many hours a day. I get out with people, sometimes seeing people I know. I’ve made new friends and been inspired by what they are doing with their bodies. For many it is almost like physical therapy.
After an hour of torture with Dan and Eddie, I limp drive home, have lunch, and settle in our little trailer to write for two hours. I go to that place because it was so successful while I was in Avila. It is quiet. I take my cell phone, but not my home phone, and Puppy Girl and I go out and sit for 2 hours. She either sits behind my back, beside me, or puts herself to bed.
After about 2 hours of writing, then we go for a 2 or three-mile walk to loosen up again. I haven’t been able to write two chapters a day while I’ve been home, but that’s ok because I got such a great head start while I was in Avila. My characters are coming along meeting all kinds of challenges. It’s a fluffy chick flick kind of romantic book since I am going to get it done in one month, but I’m loving it. Two of the three women are now in love, and there have been some romantic love scenes, even. By romantic I mean mostly dialogue, in which the guys say all the right things (of course-it’s a chick flick not a guy flick). I’m not too graphic, so you all will have to use your imaginations. I even think my mother would have enjoyed it. That’s a little bit of understatement sarcasm. My mom lived on romantic novels. I had so many of them when she died, I didn’t know what to do with them. They have no economic value, trust me. But I digress from the value of exercise on improving your novel-writing.
Exercising gives me time to talk about my book with others and see what they think of it, or imagine the next scenario. Today I recited the plot to my friend Sally as we walked several miles. That was fun, and we both walked a little longer because it took a while to tell the story. I saw my friend Bev, who I hadn’t seen in years, at the gym, and told her that the story is partially set in her condo at the coast. That was fun. Dan, my trainer, didn’t even know I was writing a book, so I had a chance to casually market it even before it’s written. Not that Dan is EVER going to read a chick flick romantic kind of book, but it surprised him that I was writing something. It’s always nice to surprise your trainer. They are always surprising you with some new torture. Uuuuuuuggggggg! GRUNT REAL LOUD – It makes the trainers take it easier on you because they think you’re at your limit. I cheat too! hehehe
My conclusion is that exercise is essential to writing. People tell you stories that you might end up using in your story or in another story, and you feel better and stronger. You have a chance to interact with folks, and tell them what you are doing, and so far people have been surprisingly interested, and it’s just a chick flick. Just think if I was writing an amazing historical fiction! Maybe next time! 🙂 5-6-7-8, just two more. Give me one more. Oooh, I’m SO SORE! (But my fingers are unscathed and happy!) 🙂