What I learnt in 2018

For the first time in ages I got dressed up, did my make up and curled my hair. Starting 2019 in style!

Hello my dears! Happy new year! I hope you had a fantastic start to it. I was down the Peninsula with my lovely Em celebrating it at Portsea Hotel. It was a great time and I’ll be writing a post about it soon. It’s been a little while since my last post and I thought with 2018 coming to an end it was time to turn back to the blog and reflect back on these extremely eventful twelve months. A life changing twelve months. At the beginning of this year if someone would have told me I would be sitting in this flat here in Elsternwick in Melbourne in AUSTRALIA writing this post, I’m not sure I would’ve believed them. Things can really change in a short space of time. One move can change your course for life. This year didn’t come off to the best start but if it’s one thing I truly did this year is find myself again. As I mentioned before, I was pretty broken when I came to Australia. I was emotionally drained and this place has healed me and reminded me of the person I am and want to be. I feel the happiest I’ve been for a while.

So without further ado, here are a couple of things I’ve learnt in 2018 and will be taking with me into 2019:

1. Go with the flow

I have always been a planner. I plan everything, I suppose to have as much control over situations as I can. I’m not quite sure why but I enjoy planning. Since moving to Australia I have noticed this mindset shift. It must be something in the water or the air air here because I’ve never felt so chilled in my life. I’ve definitely have become more of a go with the flow person and let things just happen rather than plan for everything. I do still plan a bit (can’t entirely let go of my old ways) but it’s nice to just let things be as well and let them unfold naturally.

2. Friends are everywhere

A big learning this year is you can find great people everywhere. When I moved over to Melbourne from Glasgow I didn’t have any friends here at all. The last time I had to start from scratch like this was when I moved to Glasgow but then I was going to uni and you naturally will find friends there through your halls and course. To find friends in the adult world is a different story. I keep on thinking how lucky I am to have a passion like training Crossfit and how you naturally find friends there who have similar interests and vibes as you. I have no idea how I otherwise would’ve made friends. I can’t imagine my life without these people now. I even live with one of them, Mim (I don’t think I’d survive without her). This was also proven to me once again when I went to Sydney last week and met my friends Christian and Sam. We clicked immediately. It was a bit nervy travelling alone but I think if you go in with a positive mindset and are happy to talk to people you’ll always find your tribe.

3. You can’t save people

Wow, this was a tough one this year. Leaving a relationship because of the other half fighting a battle you can’t help them with anymore. I had gotten to a point where this battle was taking a massive toll on me, more than I realised when I was in it. I tried everything in my power to help but in the end I had to accept the fact that it was not meant to be fixed by me. I couldn’t fix it as much as I tried and hoped I somehow could. It wasn’t my fault, even though I sometimes blamed myself thinking I could do more, be more supportive. I do think you can be a support and help people but what I realised is that you can only go so far, the rest is up to them. I was stubborn and didn’t want to give up but eventually came to the realisation that I had given it everything I got, I was losing myself and it was time to let go.

4. I love this planet

This year I’ve taken a giant leap when it come to my lifestyle and diet. I’ve worked so hard to minimise my waste in ways that I can control. I’ve also pretty much now taken the leap and become fully vegan or plant based. It’s what I identify more with now than anything else. At the beginning of the year I was still eating eggs and even fish/seafood once in a while. What I’ve come to the conclusion is that I love this planet we’re on and in order for it to continue existing eating plant based is the way to go. I also don’t want to hurt animals because of what I eat. I’m feeling great and do not think my plant-based diet is limiting in anyway. I feel like I look the best I’ve done as well in terms of physique too which is always a nice bonus. To look back at old photos from the beginning of this year to where I am not is pretty eye opening. It just shows that you grow muscle and train hard being fuelled by plants.

Living in Melbourne has helped considerably with this, having vegan options everywhere readily available I never feel like I miss out. The discovery of tofu scramble allowed be to say goodbye to eggs and as time has gone by I no longer miss fish or seafood that much. I’m still of the opinion that if I really want to eat something I will, I’m not going to label limit me but for now I’m very happy living this way and doing my bit for the planet. It’s a great feeling, you feel empowered every day knowing you’ve saved the planet a little bit for the environment and the animals. One thing I will say is I don’t see myself ever eating meat again, you never know, things may change but yes that door is closed for the foreseeable future.

5. Drinking

This is a point I didn’t really saw coming. You guys know last year I only drank like four drinks the entire year and since coming to Australia I can put my hands up and say that it’s been more drinks than I can count on my two hands. It’s been fun being single and going out once in a while with my friends. We have had some amazing nights. My main reasoning for not drinking before was because of my training but to be honest I’ve never felt fitter or stronger than I do now and I really don’t feel like it’s affected it at all. I still wouldn’t go out days in a row but every now and again it’s a good time! Still not a fan of the hangover the next day but I guess it forces me to take a day off the gym too haha.

6. I love tofu and tempeh

As a lot of people are, I was very sceptical towards soy products up until this year. I was convinced it was not the best for my health and stayed clear of it as much as I could. Well, I can say that’s changed. After doing a lot of reading about it I’m no all on board and I’ve become a bit obsessed, especially with tempeh. I have tempeh almost every day and tofu is pretty great too. Both tempeh and tofu are so easy to chuck in a pan and quickly cook up on when I come home starving from training. Definitely a game changer.

7. I can make it on my own

I was in a relationship for almost six years. Six years with another person by my side, through the good times and the bad I always had him there to support me. We grew up together, chased our dreams together, found our passions together. I was convinced for a while we were meant to be together forever. I have learned that things change and that’s okay. I believe it happens for a reason. I was scared for us to end. I wasn’t sure what my life would be without him. He was my life. However, I made it to Australia all on my own and have since built an entire life here without his support. All from having nothing here. I’ve gone through hardships without having him by my side, which I always relied on and I made it through. I knew I would deep inside but I think this year I was reminded that I can do it myself, with a bit of help from my friends and family. I’m a strong independent woman šŸ˜‰

8. Australia

I absolutely love Australia. This place is a dream come true and whatever I thought it would be, it’s even better. I never thought it could be. I feel right at home here. When I came to this place and met all the incredible people I’ve met I felt like it was a puzzle piece that had finally been put into place. Like there was a place for me waiting all this time. How everyone just kind of fit me into their lives here. All these incredible people. I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve all of them in my life but I’m going to cherish all of them forever.

9. Things will be okay

I was going through one of the most difficult times at the beginning of this year. I felt like a shell of a person. I cried several times a week and I felt like my life was on hold. I was waiting for some kind of change to happen. For something to get better. The turning point was when my parents and friends encouraged me to book my flight to Australia. They realised I needed a change, a fresh start and direction in life. Once I got here everything started to change, I got to step out of my bubble in Glasgow and got new perspective on things. No matter how difficult things seem to be, if you are willing to work for it, things will be okay. It’ll get easier.

10. Training is life

Haha okay, I suppose that’s nothing new but 2018 has been a fantastic year of training! I remember sitting down writing my fitness goals here on the blog at the beginning of the year (I’ll be writing a separate post on this soon) and I come out of 2018 improved in so many ways. I’ve had time to compete in three competitions (two individual and one partner) where I’ve placed better than I could’ve imagined. I’ve mastered new skills like toes to bar, handstand push ups, double unders and improved my upper body strength considerably. I feel the best I’ve ever felt. I’m currently working on muscle ups. I’m attempting handstand walks. Things I never thought I could even dream of. I’ve lifted heavier than I ever had and wow, my running is the best it’s ever been. I’m happy to say that whenever there’s a running workout now, I know I stand a good chance of having one of the best times. Something I NEVER thought would happen.

It’s not been easy and at time I’ve been extremely frustrated with the lack of progress through periods. I’ve injured myself like with shin splints, smashing my chest just before Battle of the Bluff and I don’t think anyone in my gym will forget when I face planted attempting handstand walks haha. It’s a constant grind and things don’t always go your way but oh man, do I love it. It really is my happy place.

11. Screw fear

Fear, the thing that can hold you back from living life to the fullest. The “what if” and being scared of the unknown. How many times haven’t we let fear stop us from doing something? I know I’ve been guilty of it. In 2018 something switched. I went to Australia despite the fact I was absolutely terrified, I had no idea what was waiting here. All on my own. I entered my first individual Crossfit comp, Rainhill Trials in Manchester. I was terrified. I entered two more comps down here in Australia even though they scared me too. I booked my first solo trip over Christmas to Bondi. I had never travelled alone before. I went on a couple of dates with guys I didn’t even know, despite I was worried it was going to be awkward.

If it’s one thing I’ve learnt through all of this is it’s okay to be scared or nervous. It’s a completely natural thing. What is not okay is to let it dictate your life. The more you break down these walls and limitations you set on yourself the less scary it gets. My solo trip to Bondi was nowhere near as scary as moving over to Australia on my own. I was nowhere near as nervous at Battle of the Bluff as I was at Rainhill. You learn from each experience and you grow more confident and stronger with each little win over the fear. When that voice of doubt comes creeping in I think, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” and if it happens, so what? It’ll be okay and you learn from it and move on. The big reward of doing it and is that you may win so much more. If I hadn’t booked that one way ticket, I wouldn’t be here where I am now. I would’ve missed out on so much just because I was avoiding a little period of fear and discomfort.

Those are some of things I’m taking away from 2018. I feel like I’ve grown a lot this year and become so content and happy in myself. I have this inner calm and confidence I haven’t felt before. I feel like I’ve really become me again, not even again, I’ve found myself and become a new and better me. I’ve found people who appreciate me for exactly who I am and where I feel loved no matter what. I’m lucky to have them spread all over the world and thankfully I’ve got social media to turn to whenever I want to speak to them.

I walk out of 2018 as if I’ve run a long marathon and finally crossed the finish line. It’s been filled with ups and downs. Relationships ending, being single for the first time in almost 6 years and a new life beginning. New adventures on the other side of the globe. I feel like 2019 is going to be an exciting year.

Happy New Year my dears. I’m hoping it will be bring more content to this blog. I can’t promise anything still but I’ll do my very best. I want to find that spark and passion for writing again.

M xxx

This feeds my soul

I had to take a photo in front of this shed, painted in one of my favouriteĀ colours!

The tour guide

Talking Tastebuds by Venetia Falconer back in the UK is one of my favourite podcasts. If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to it, you’ve been missing out all this time because it is amazing. It is about food and it’s role in our lives and influence over our wellbeing. Venetia is an incredible lady and you should really go and follow her on every single social media platform out there. She’s a strong advocate of sustainability in every single sense of the word, from promoting a vegan diet to reducing waste in our every day lives and more recently she’s been using her platforms to promote sustainable fashion. A lady using her social media influence to really do some good in the world, I love her for it. Thank goodness there are people like her on this planet who care but also have the power to influence others to care.

Wow I went off on a bit of a tangent there! Back to my point, in Venetia’s Talking Tastebuds she has set questions she asks everyone who’s a guest on her show. In the most recent series, series three, there was a new addition to these questions which was “What feeds your soul?”. I love this question and yesterday I had a moment when I felt that this right here feeds mine.

It was a pretty normal day, the class in the gym had been a killer! As usual we started off with a strength piece, which on this day was two front squats every minute for 10 minutes. EMOMs (every minute on the minute) are one of my favourite things to do in the gym and I managed to do it with 140lbs which is just over my bodyweight. The last three rep max I tested was 143lbs, so I was really happy that I could do 20 reps at 140! To finish off we had two cardio pieces, they looked pretty alright on the board, however, one thing you learn from Crossfit is that the simplest looking pieces are the ones who floor you. This is exactly what happened.

First we went on the bike for five rounds trying to hold a 72 rpm for as long as possible every two minutes. After that I felt like I was going to throw up. Then after a bit of rest we were on the rowers, 1 min on and 1 min off trying to accumulate as many metres as possible for five rounds. I rolled off the rower after we had finished. All my energy was gone. We were all lying on the ground, contemplating why we do this to ourselves! Usually we do extra work after the class but I don’t think anyone did, no one moved for a good half an hour from their spot.

As I was leaving the gym chatting to PC I thought it was too nice of an evening to just go home so I suggested we should swing by the beach for a cool down walk. He liked the idea and decided to drive us to a beach he’s been talking about for a while called Gnotuck Beach, in Aspendale, which is further down the coast.

We got there and straight away I was blown away. Shoes were taken straight off. The sand was almost snowy white and so soft as I let my feet sink into it as I stepped out onto the beach. How good is that feeling of silky smooth sand between your toes? The water was turquoise and gradually went darker the further from the beach you looked. The sun was slowly setting on the horizon with the clouds looking like beautifully fluffy cotton candy, shifting colours into soft pinks as the the sun was gradually disappearing. We could’ve done without the wind but even with it, you couldn’t complain at all. It was breathtaking and I probably took a million photos because every second the lighting and colours changed slightly and I wanted to capture it all. However, photos just never do justice to sunsets in my opinion. I tried my best.

With a little protein shake to tie me over to dinner (any form of fuel was welcomed after that workout, I felt dead) and the beautiful scenery, I felt myself slowly coming back to life. My energy came back and I just wanted to skip, jump and run out of nowhere. I dipped my legs in the ocean and skipped in the sand. PC must’ve thought I’d gone a bit crazy but I just felt this spark and love for life in that moment, being on that beach and I thought, this is what feeds my soul. Being on the beach, by the sea with a friend talking about life. It’s in those moments you feel like you don’t really have any worries and you’re there in the moment taking it all in. This was especially needed as I the evening before had been feeling a bit down about mum, for some reason I was missing her a bit extra.

As we were walking there I was saying to PC that one of my goals when I worked at lululemon, which I wrote down for our vision and goals you have to do as en employee was to live in a house like the ones facing the beach we were walking on and waking up to that view every day. What more could you need? You could roll out of bed onto the beach every morning. It may feel out of reach at the moment but so did Australia for a long time and I somehow managed to figure that one out! One can always dream.

M xxx

What is being healthy?

I promise they weren’t both mine!Ā 

Some pictures from the weekend where we celebrated Mim’s birthday! She first had some friend’s over for drinks at her house, then we headed to a bar in Bentleigh called Sonder bar which had an amazing outdoor area in the back and we finished out night at Village Belle in St Kilda. A huge crew from the gym were there and loads of Mim’s lovely friends. We had such a good night celebrating the amazingness that is Mim. I’m so lucky to have her in my life, she just spreads so much joy and good vibes everywhere she goes.

Since I’ve started drinking a bit more than before and going out I’ve been doing a bit of thinking and reflecting recently on what being healthy actually is. Drinking alcohol brings up so many thoughts and dilemmas in my head. At the end of the day it’s poison and it really doesn’t do anything good for you but yet we still do it. It’s so odd! Why? Well, some drinks can taste good but I think there are drinks that are equally good or even better that don’t have alcohol in them. Okay, I admit it, it can be really fun to feel a bit drunk and go out and dance with all your friends. It’s more a social thing than anything. A lot of people have been saying, good Maddie, we thought you were being a bit too restrictive on yourself, you need to let loose. It’s more balanced this way. Is it a good thing I’ve started drinking again? I’m not sure and I do struggle with the thoughts of what it’s doing to my body. Not that I’m out several times a week. It’s been three times in the last month but compared to nothing for eight months, it’s a lot haha.

So what is living a balanced or healthy lifestyle? Like I said, before I came to Melbourne I hadn’t had anything to drink since my birthday in August, that’s eight months without alcohol. I didn’t miss it one bit, then all of a sudden since I got here it’s changed. I’m nowhere the party level I was at during uni but going out three times in a month for me is a lot. It’s been so much fun. One thing I definitely haven’t missed are the days after. Not that I’ve had a really bad hangover so far but I hate wasting days and let’s just say they’ve not been the most productive Sundays of my life. At the same time, I guess we can’t alway be super productive and once in a while we need to slow down.

Is this what a “balanced” lifestyle is? Is this what a healthy relationship with fitness is? Training hard during the weeks and having some drinks during the weekend? Rather than being strict and not having any alcohol at all? I didn’t drink before because I didn’t enjoy it and I thought it was unnecessary. At the end of the day we don’t need alcohol and it is after all poison. It doesn’t do any good. However, yet some say restricting yourself and putting boundaries to what you can and can’t do isn’t healthy or balanced either.

The same goes for food, everyone says a nice indulgent meal is good once in a while. I love going out for food and whilst I adore a Thai curry for instance I know it’s not the best for my body. Is that healthy? Eating good the majority of the time and then having some indulgent meals too? Looking solely on what it does for your body, maybe not. Eating nourishing and healthy meals would surely be the best way to go from a health perspective but would it really be that fun then? The next issue would be if you never had cake or a meal out, wouldn’t you feel like you’d be missing out? Would you feel restricted? Feeling restricted and not ever caving in to cravings could potentially lead to you binge eating at some point rather than just having a little bit of cake or having that takeout and not stuffing yourself because you don’t know when you’ll next have it. That’s why diets really don’t work. You can’t eat that restrictively for the rest of your life. I suppose you could but you’d be missing out on a lot plus I’d be mega impressed if you managed to always eat that way. I’m not saying it’s impossible but it’s hard work.

I feel since I got to Australia I’ve probably loosened up a bit. It’s a new place with new people and so many incredible places to eat. At times I’ve thought I might be a indulging a bit too much. Especially with so many incredible vegan places around! However, it’s part of living as well and I know that in time I’ll probably find a better balance once everything settles down a bit more. I suppose it also depends on what my fitness goals are and how I want to feel and I guess look. I could shape up and eat a bit better, not have those drinks at parties on the weekends when I do drink but I do also want to live a little. I’m not sure how long I am in Australia for and I want to make the most of it while I’m here. I’m still training about 6-9 times a week, eating health the majority of the time and I’m not out super often drinking. I guess in a way my life at the moment is more “balanced”. There’s a bit of everything. Is balance healthy? Do you guys see where I’m going with this?

I guess from a health perspective I was better before. I’m not saying one way is better than the other. What I’m trying to get to with this post is, health and finding the best balanced lifestyle is not black and white. It’s very much a grey area and you need to find what works for you. Your lifestyle varies also throughout your life where you have moments when you’re on a roll with your health and fitness and sometimes it takes a little dip. It’s not all a straight line and things happen. It’s okay, as long as you’re aware of it. I think I was probably a bit too harsh with myself when it came to healthy eating at times but I’m always learning and improving. I think now I stress a lot less about it all, as long as I’m the majority of them time eating well I’m happy.

What are your thoughts on what a healthy lifestyle is or being healthy? I didn’t really come to a conclusion but I thought it was worth bringing up because I feel like it’s something people struggle with a lot. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear them.

M xxx

Hello old friend

When I arrived in Australia I was in a bad place. I’d been through a lot personally the past year. Things not a lot of people know. I had fought a tough battle for a long time. I didn’t realise how much I’d been hiding from my thoughts and feelings. I’d kept them tightly locked up somewhere in the back of my mind. Trying to keep it together. It didn’t always work but it was my coping mechanism, just keep training, just keep on smiling, just keep on acting like everything is okay. Truth be told, I was heartbroken for a long time.Ā I felt close to tears a lot of the time, close to breaking. I cried a couple of times a week. I walked around with a heavy weight on my chest constantly. I caught myself panicking at times, having to stop and take deep breaths to avoid having a meltdown. I couldn’t open that door, not in the middle of the street or in the gym or anywhere else. I didn’t want people to ask questions (yet a lot of friends around me knew things weren’t right and asked). It was tough but I don’t regret what I’ve been through. It had to be done and now I’m here.

One massive realisation I’ve had since stepping out of my situation in Glasgow was how I completely almost stopped listening to music when I was alone. My walks used to be powered by music, my time at home as well but instead I turned to podcasts. Podcasts were my way to escape my thoughts. Instead I could focus on someone else’s life, thoughts and conversations. They saved me from thinking. They saved me from reflections or overanalysing what I was going through. I’m an expert at overthinking things and worrying. I listened to so many podcasts just for the sake of listening. I just needed something to quieten my thoughts and distract me from that heavy weight on my chest. I needed an escape from my life and the situation I was in. They helped me live in denial and get through the day.

As soon as I put on music the thoughts went all over the place. It was scary. I couldn’t stop it. It was just me, the texts, the melody and my thoughts. There was nowhere to hide. Music made me feel and I couldn’t bare to face what it made me feel. I felt like it would break me. There were some days I would allow it and everything would pour out of me. There was one weekend I remember a while back where I spent a full day on the sofa crying just listening to Ed Sheeran on repeat. It was like a cleanse. Then once that was done, it closed the door again and moved on. Goodness it sounds so dramatic when I’m typing it now but it was the truth. The truth I didn’t want to share with anyone because I know what it would sound like. Deep down inside I knew this wasn’t sustainable. This wasn’t healthy anymore. We want to be there for people but for how long? To what extent do you want to sacrifice your own sanity and wellbeing? A big learning for me was you can’t fight someone else’s battle for them. It’s not me who’s not enough, it’s just not my battle to be fought.

Going to Australia was not only a dream of mine for so long but it was a way out of the situation. I needed to go. I didn’t have a job and I was so down I didn’t even realise how bad it was. I needed change. I didn’t realise then how much I needed a new spark. Australia has been that. It was going to change everything, me going away it would give space to find our way back to one another. To the couple we used to be but it didn’t end up being that way in the end. I realised there was no way back. For me there was only forward and I needed to do it on my own. I found people who made me feel amazing and realised I’ll be more than okay. It’s funny how you meet certain people and it feels like you’ve known them forever. You click from the first conversation. I realised I’m not actually going to be on my own because I’ve found them and with the strength I gained mentally from this new place, I knew I’d be okay.

After only a couple of weeks or so here I for the first time during a walk was listening to a podcast and I found it distracting. I couldn’t concentrate on what they were saying. I couldn’t understand why, I’d never experienced this before the entire time I’d been listening to them. Then I realised, it was my thoughts. I was thinking and enjoying my thoughts. They were light and happy. They weren’t heavy or making me feel anxious as before. I actually welcomed them and wanted to listen to them. I paused the podcast and for the first time in a while on a walk I put on a Spotify playlist and I loved it. It felt so good to hear a voice singing along to a melody and how it made me feel. I felt again and it wasn’t difficult, it wasn’t painful. I actually smiled and looked over the sea and I felt gratitude and happiness. I know a lot of the pain I’d been carrying around was not my own but someone else’s and once that was gone I was slowly feeling old Maddie coming back. Don’t get me wrong, other days I’ve cried listening too but it’s been part of the healing process and I’ve welcomed it. It hasn’t been an unstoppable waterfall but a lighter stream, which then ran out.

One day in the gym one of the coaches asked me why I’m always smiling all the time and I realised I was. I was smiling all the time and not because I tried to put a brave face on. It was like old Maddie, old smiley Maddie. I was just so happy to be there. I had come far in such a short period of time.

I wake up now feeling light. Not every day is easy but I feel excited and music has never sounded better. Every day here is a new opportunity for me. I’m happy for every moment I have with my new friends and being here. I’m not saying it’s a dance on roses all the time and I’ve still got things to process but I feel like I’m on track for the first time in a while. I’ve got so many exciting things happening and everything I had dreamed of for Australia, I’m living it now. I was terrified to go but now I realise it is what saved me. I couldn’t have done it without all my supportive family and friends. Thank you for supporting me through one of the most trialling years for me ever. I couldn’t have done it without you. I love you more than you’ll ever know.

They pushed me to go. They cheered me on when I booked my flights and made sure I did it. Probably because they could see I needed it. Thank you for seeing I needed change and helping me to make the move. Even though it meant me going far away. I miss them all every day. I really do but right now Australia is where I want and need to be.

I’m happy to say I wrote this entire blog post listening to music! Florence + The Machine’s song Patricia is a new favourite! Oh music old friend, it’s nice to enjoy you again.

M xxx