Getting Started by Nat Gauld

This is the first guest post in a new series designed to show the pleasant impact that feeling fit, in all its forms, can have on your life. Since meeting Nat Gauld in 1991, she has gone from an enthusiastic participant to a fully accredited fitness instructor with more than 10 years teaching experience. Take it away Nat!

Getting Started by Nat Gauld (RPM, Body Balance, Body Pump and Pilates instructor and lover of chocolate)


Nat Gauld, in full swing, teaching her Body Balance class.

The hardest part of exercise is the same as the hardest part of writing a blog. Getting started. That first word. That first step. If you have the motivation to get out of bed and put on your gym shoes, you have cleared the biggest hurdle.

Having a goal is the key – doesn’t have to be a huge one. It can be: I want to do a 5km fun run; I want to wear that dress I spent too much money on two years ago; I want to have energy to play with my kids; I want to eat Tim Tams (an Australian chocolate biscuit) or I want to feel better about myself.

I don’t follow the theory that it is best to start an exercise program with a friend or family member – then you are not only responsible for your motivation but theirs. If they don’t want to go to the gym or go for a walk, that’s a way-too-easy escape clause for you and you don’t need it. Don’t let them lead you down the easy road out and don’t take on guilt when you want to exercise and they don’t. Once you have a routine, encourage friends to join you and you’ll make friends doing group fitness anyway!!! Group exercise is proven to have lots of benefits – social, as well as physical.

Set yourself a realistic goal, especially if you are starting from scratch – 15 to 20 minutes of any cardio is a great beginning. Case in point – this blog! And most of all don’t set foot on scales – they are your enemy. Your weight can fluctuate widely due to water or food consumption, hormones or once you start turning fat into muscle. Use your clothes to judge your progress and your recovery time – as you get fitter you will feel better faster and your clothes will start to loosen.

The first six weeks are the hardest but once you are in a routine it can become a great lifetime habit. Exercise will make you feel good – I find it a great stress reliever. I exercise in the morning before work because then it is done for the day. It doesn’t matter if your plans change during the day and you need to work late or go play – the job is done.

And remember to reward yourself for your commitment! Be it a beverage or something yummy – or even buying new gym gear!!! It doesn’t matter what you wear to exercise but new gear can be a motivator and a reward. You don’t need to look the part when you start though – go for comfort when working out. Thankfully the days of lurid G-strings over Lycra leotards are long gone. I must confess to wearing them back in the Darwin days, when we worked together, but Ange was way more sensible and more the T-shirt and shorts person! Shelling out for expensive gear is not a motivator when starting off, so wait until you’re hooked!

And reward yourself with a day off when you need it – especially if you are unwell or really tired.
Exercise is actually fun and once you start you won’t want to stop.


Nat, instructing an RPM cycling class, believes exercising should be fun … and leads by example!

The KonMari Method, with gusto!

The past few days may not have been excellent, exercise-wise, but, wow, have I achieved with the KonMari method! Ha! I can’t believe how exciting it is (yes, I am slightly mad!). Freda from livesimplysimplylive (this link should work now!) has been doing a Friday Fling to declutter her house using The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpThis best-selling book by Marie Kondo, and Freda’s achievements, have inspired me to begin ridding the house of excess stuff (hopefully) once and for all! I say it with gusto! ‘Cause I want it to be so! Aha!

Minimalism is something I’ve been interested in, and semi-practising, for years. Walking The Camino in Spain in June 2011, or “A long walk with a small backpack” as I call it, was one of my first steps to living with less. The idea for that trip formed in January of the same year, when I couldn’t find my grandmother’s tablecloth. Weeks of searching high and low in my two-bedroom rental house resulted in no beloved cloth, but I did come across a whole heap of stuff I didn’t even know I had, had forgotten I had, knew I had but had never used, had no need for anymore and so on and so on and … it was so bloody overwhelming!!

It didn’t take long for a creepy feeling to take over – my belongings owned me instead of me owning my belongings. It was like the house was choking me. The weight of all that stuff was stifling. By Google-searching ‘declutter’, I found Francine Jay’s book The Joy of Less, which I still refer to now and then. Her website is also a regular read. She inspired me to start getting rid of the unnecessary. After several (borrowed) car trips to the Salvation Army, my stuff was still making me feel claustrophobic. Rather than go nuts and give everything away, I decided to leave it all for a while so I could appreciate what I owned upon my return.

The 10-week overseas trip, from June to August 2011, resulted in me moving to Switzerland before the year’s end. On that 900km walk, I met my partner Leo! Meeting somebody wasn’t really part of the plan, so it was all rather a lovely shock. I lost a tablecloth and gained a partner! How’s that for weird?!

My minimalistic adventures continue here too. We live in a small house which restricts what we can bring in – it’s a little slice of heaven. But fast forward three years, and I seem to have acquired enough to no longer consider myself a minimalist. How could that happen? Easily!

The KonMari method says to pile every item of clothing you have on the floor (I chose the bed for ease of access) and when you pick it up, ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?” If you love the item, you keep it, if it gives you nothing back, it’s a goner.

When you see your entire collection of clothes in one place (Kondo says to get everything – coats, hats, undies, gloves, scarves, handbags, you name it), it feels insane. Minimalist? Pfft!


All my clothing piled on the bed


All my shoes lined up, ready to be culled!

Previously, I’d separated all my clothes into the four seasons, using the Project333 method, where you wear 33 items of clothing for three months. Until yesterday, winter stuff was in the cupboard, and summer, autumn and spring in three designated drawers, awaiting the seasonal changeover.

Now, with KonMari, I have nearly all my hanging things for all seasons in the cupboard (apart from some summer dresses in a drawer. I don’t own enough hangers and will not be buying more) with belts (in a box), scarves and handbags on the shelf above the rail. In the larger chest of drawers, where the seasonal clothes used to live, are tops and t-shirts etc in the top drawer, jeans and shorts etc in the middle, and my exercise and walking gear in the bottom drawer.

This system has also freed up one drawer in my smaller chest of drawers (where I have underwear, socks, sleepwear, jumpers etc) for all the things that were getting dusty on the chest top or the little shelf beside the bed. Now my hand cream, nail file, hair brush, jewellery boxes and so on are in the top right-hand drawer, and books to read now live on the shelf, instead of the floor (yay!).


No more clutter on the chest of drawers and almost all the hanging clothes in their place. The garbage bag in the office doorway holds unused shoes

I can’t bring myself to throw away the bag of shoes just yet. I love shoes! If I remember a pair of shoes in that bag after better weather has kicked in, I’ll bring them out. If that bag remains unopened by the end of summer, all seven pairs are going.

Another exciting change is the way the clothes are folded. They’re not stacked on top of each other, like we see in the shops and most of us normally do – they’re laid on their side, so you can see every item easily from the front of the drawer to the back. No longer will there be that forgotten t-shirt at the bottom of the pile! I’m really looking forward to seeing everything I own whenever I open the drawers or cupboard doors. That may stop me from wanting to buy something new, when I’ve seen something like it at home already.


All my long, short and sleeveless t-shirts, in three rows, lying on their side from front to back


All my jeans, trousers, shorts and excess summer dresses lying on their side

Would you do the KonMari method? What do you think about the whole idea? A bit over-the-top? Or a great way to only own what you truly love?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

January 20: Indulging an embarrassing passion

I have a secret … a confession … it’s a little bit embarrassing. My partner knows about it, and he’s not happy. He can’t stand it. Well, not it … but her. Her name is Marple … Miss Jane Marple … and every now and then I enjoy watching her on television, solving crimes from the early to mid-1900s in England. Leo would rather eat snails.

So today, as the snow bucketed down all morning …

Snow on clothesline

Quite a difference in 20 hours, from yesterday’s clothesline photo

… fitfor15in15 hunkered down in the lounge room, on the little manual step machine thingy, with a tin of red kidney beans in each hand (chickpeas were upstairs!), engrossed in another Agatha Christie whodunit for one hour. Those 60 minutes passed very quickly, and I worked up a good sweat, then watched the remainder of Ordeal by Innocence from the comfort of the couch.

Ooh I love a good murder mystery, and apparently this was one of Aggie’s two personal favourites. It was disappointing to read the version on tele differed quite a lot to her original book (Miss Marple wasn’t even in it!), so I’ll be searching for that when at the library next.

Have you ever been miffed by adaptations of books for the big or small screens? Sometimes I wonder why they even bothered keeping the book’s title, because the endings, or characters, or plot – anything! – when changed, made it a completely different story.

But back to today … My arms feel sore, my legs and bum a bit tight. Overall it wasn’t too stressful … just like walking in the woods, but warmer … and with tin cans … and Miss Marple being all inquisitive and clever.

The idea behind fitfor15in15 is to do a minimum of 15 minutes exercise per day. For me, that means specific exercise, and not what you’d do in your normal day, such as walking to the bus, doing the gardening, or cleaning the house and so on. Making time for 15 minutes every day forms a habit, one that is hard to talk yourself out of.

If you set a goal to exercise every day, you can’t slack off occasionally and say, “Oh, it’s too cold/I’m too tired/there’s not enough time, I’ll exercise tomorrow.” That’s why I’ve chosen a MINIMUM of 15 minutes per day. Some days you feel like doing more, or have time to do more, and some days you don’t. And on the days you don’t, those little 15 minutes of knee lifts or squats or sit ups or twists – whatever takes your 15-minute fancy – keep the habit going, keep you motivated, and keep you moving.

In 2014, I became quite sloth-like. I was beginning to believe I’d been one in a former life. If it required moving, I’d get it over and done with as quickly as possible and then flop back on the couch. Inactivity was the norm, and that became scary. I’d never been a lazy person before – always on the go and happy to be that way. So for three weeks now, I’ve been moving, and am reaping the benefits already – I had to run the last 100m for the bus today, and made it.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Tomorrow is January 21. I think I’m a convert. And while some days will be good ones, like today with 60 minutes, I know some days I’ll be struggling with 15. But that’s alright, don’t you think? Recognising the struggle will make the ‘victory’ so much sweeter.

Wohlen Switzerland

Walking to the bus on the road – the snow’s too deep to take the shortcut through the fields


Both beanie and jacket hood required today!

January 13: Yoga

My friend from German school, Iva, kindly invited me to try out a yoga class at her husband’s fitness, training and wellness centre, which specialises in karate. Her husband, Marko, is a very important Dan in the karate world. Maybe, down the track, I’ll try a karate lesson at Maru Dojo?! I’m open to everything.

Last night’s yoga was a wonderful re-introduction to all the past yoga courses I’ve loved and tried. And ultimately forgotten. Some of the moves feel so convoluted, until you look around and see others doing it with style.

The teacher was lovely, patient, and (importantly for me) had a nice voice – even if I couldn’t understand everything she was saying. She was speaking the Bern dialect of Swiss German (there are also Basel and Zurich dialects). I’ve only learnt High German (spoken and understood in Germany and Austria too) which is what the Swiss read and write in the Swiss German parts of the country. (The other official languages spoken in Switzerland are French, Italian and Romansh – the latter being a very old language spoken in the mountains to the east by a small, but proud, group.)

Oh, I know, it’s darn confusing. Swiss German is officially a spoken language, not a written language. All the written materials are in High German, such as newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and so on. My partner tells a crazy story (for us foreigners) about speaking Swiss German in a meeting at work with colleagues, clients and business associates, then going back to his desk to write them an email … in High German.

The class was a little package of relaxation and energy all rolled into 90 minutes. The time went really fast. The room was just the right size, and the mood was calm. My balance is shot, but it was a great challenge and I look forward to going back again. I joked with Iva I’d like to be able to do the bridge move by December. She agreed – by December 2017!!

Here’s a photo from the yoga section on the Maru Dojo website. This is the room we did our practice (ohhh, fancy terminology and all!) and she was our teacher too.

I slept very well last night and enjoyed my morning routine this morning. Finally – a few good habits!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Starting a new habit – morning meditation and stretching

The sunrise this morning, from our bedroom window

The sunrise this morning, from our bedroom window

It’s been a while coming, but I didn’t want to start doing everything at once and feel overwhelmed. So a series of new habits are being introduced over time.

Two new habits (I’ve planned for about six) will start today. Morning meditation and stretching, and study (more on the second one in a future post).

If you need meditation or general health apps for your phone, you could have a look at this story from Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” website. Body and Soul is also a great source of information too.

I already have a couple of free meditation apps on my phone, from previous attempts to be mentally fit. (Are you seeing a recurring theme here? I am! I’ve sourced so many things – apps, gear, blogs, books etc – in order to get fit, in all meanings of the word, but have been too slack to act on them long enough to form a habit.) There are loads of meditation apps around – see which one or ones work for you.

I’m pretty fussy when it comes to listening to other people talk, especially when they’re trying to make you relaxed. I suffer from Misophonia – literally meaning a hatred of noise (more on that in a future post too, promise) and suffer extreme reactions if people make ‘unnecessary’ noises such as lip smacking, loud inhalations of breath, or you can hear saliva in their mouth.

But my most severe reactions come when people speak with a very trill, high pitched, sickly sweet, exaggerated ‘s’. I’ve noticed when these relaxation/meditation voices want to make you feel relaxxxxxxxed, often they make the ‘s’ sound last longer than normal (for example “let go of your thoughtsssssssssssssss, think of peacccccccccccccccce, close your eyessssssssssss”) and when that s sound is very high and hissy like a snake, my immediate reaction is to want to smash the phone and then punch the perpetrator in the face. Ten deep breaths (not breathssssss) and relax (not relaxxxxxxxxx) … Ha ha, yeah, I can make a joke about it here, but for me, honestly, it’s not a bloody joke!

Anyway … back to the task at hand …

Meditation. It’s hard! The mind wanders but that’s all part of the plan – to bring your thinking back to focusing on your breath. I try to focus on my nose and top lip, where I can feel my breaths going in and out.

The meditation app timer was set for 10 minutes (normally the apps give you options of say five, 10, 15, 20 minutes etc), the music or natural sound options were pleasant and I chose a track, the guide voice was turned off, I got into a comfortable position on the floor (which quickly became uncomfortable) and off I went.

A few minutes in, I started thinking about my friends in Adelaide, then I noticed my hair was tickling my neck. Focus, focus … After six minutes, I couldn’t cope with my hair any more and tied it back with the band on my wrist. Much better. Made it to the end! Then I switched to the five minute meditation and did leg stretches on the floor. Wow, my hammies are tight!

Doing this 15-minute routine really got me into ‘wake up’ mode and hopefully will set the scene for a productive day. Well, it’s worked so far – it’s 8.46am and I’ve already written a post.

Do you think you could set your alarm 15 minutes earlier tomorrow for some meditation and stretching, before you have a shower? You don’t even need an app or music – set a timer for 10 minutes and sit still. Then set the timer for five minutes and try to touch your toes with straight and spread legs. No fast movements, it’s all very calm, and hopefully you’ll be feeling abuzz with added energy and clarity.

I’m really looking forward to making this part of my morning routine. Want to join me?

Wishing you a great day.

January 11: 15 minutes after half a bottle of wine

Is it wrong to exercise after drinking half a bottle of red? Most likely.

I finished my last glass about an hour ago. The exercise mantra has been hanging over my head all day, and it’s Sunday, “the day of rest”, but because I only need to find 15 minutes each day, I’ve been putting the whole thing off until the last minute, knowing it can be done.

The idea behind fitfor15in15 is doing a minimum of 15 minutes exercise per day in 2015. Today I did 15 minutes. Yesterday I did 30, which included a few minutes for falling over. Hey, I’m building a habit here – there’s bound to be ups and downs!!

But I know I CAN DO 15 MINUTES EVERY DAY, eeeasy, even after a few wines (sorry exercise Gods!). And it was all made up in my head. I grabbed my trusty chickpea tins, found a space, didn’t bother turning the radio on, and I worked out for 15 minutes using the timer on my phone.

There were squats with boxing punches and attempted planks (didn’t even last 15 seconds, my stomach muscles are still so sore from three days ago) and sit ups (I’ve realised sit ups with your hands on your head beside your ears are much harder than sit ups with your hands in front of you. Aha! I can do a sit up!) and squats with a dip and a twist, and arm raises and … and … basically I looked like a nob.

It was probably like a Jane Fonda workout from the 80s, minus the leg warmers. I even bothered to take a photo. Because you love a riveting photo, right?

Bicycle leg movements with opposing elbows. Riveting ...

Bicycle leg movements with opposing elbows. Riveting …

The left knee is going green thanks to yesterday’s bruising, so I did, like, two push ups, but I’m nowhere near as worried about that injury as I am about the damn left ball of my foot. Why does everything on the left side hurt? Am I a leftie? You should hear my left shoulder crunch when I lift that tin!

Like all hypochondriacs, I’ve done some self-medicated googling and think I have Metatarsalgia, thanks to wearing my furry snow boots after Christmas. Hopefully Metatarwhatsamathingy sounds worse than it is. It feels like needles are going into the bones when I walk, especially near the third toe on my left foot. But I won’t go on *yawn*. Fingers crossed it goes away soon.

C’mon, if I can find 15 minutes to make the thighs burn on an unmotivated day like today, you can find 15 minutes too, yeah!? (I’m so glad I did – I feel even more light-headed now!)

For some better motivation talk, how about you read this article instead

Wishing you a great day.

And lay off the vino 🙂

January 10: Jogging in the forest can be dangerous

Not bad weather here today, so finally had the chance to go jogging (or shuffling as I like to call it) in the forest near our house – my first shuffle of the year.

The view to my right when I run up the lollypop stick, heading into the forest

The view to my right when I run up the lollypop stick, heading into the forest

This 4km path is like a lollypop – I run up the very long stick, around the left perimeter in a sweet little loop, and then back down the stick again to home. It’s a pleasant mix of wide road and trail running, surrounded by farming fields, and it’s also reasonably flat.

It looks dark in there! Will I be in for a surprise?

It looks dark in there! Will there be a surprise?

I like running on the dirt path more than the beginning of the ‘stick’, which is a mix of gravel and bitumen sections. The bitumen part goes past one of my favourite working farms, which usually has cows you can pat. Sorry, I was so into the run, I forgot to take a photo of the calves. Next time.

On the left turn, once in the forest proper, the mood was lovely. Didn’t have any music today but that was no great loss. (I use the MapMyRun App on my phone to track the distance and split times and normally run with tunes, but today it wouldn’t play anything). It was peaceful.

A wonderful place to run. Got to keep on eye out for all the tree roots though

A wonderful place to run. Got to keep on eye out for all the tree roots on the path though

The second kilometre was flat and a bit muddy, but very doable and pretty.

There's a few of these bird houses scattered through this forest

There’s a few of these bird houses scattered through this forest

After 2.7km, I picked my way carefully through more mud and I could smell the finish line. I had this lollypop loop licked … but the trail had the last laugh. Timber!! I was really starting to shuffle along at this stage, clipped a rock in the path, and went down knees and hands first. After walking for a while to catch my breath and stop laughing, I arrived home after 31 minutes. Maybe without the walking (and falling), I would have finished in about 28 minutes. So that’s something to aim for next time. And lifting of the feet, oh yes, that’s something to aim for too.

Over she goes! Lucky I was wearing long pants, so no grot in there luckily

Over she goes! Lucky I was wearing long pants – no forest dirt in there

Hello and welcome to a crazy idea that could possibly work

fitfor15in15 … Get fit for 15 in 15 … Get fit for 2015 in 15 … Get fit for 2015 in 15 minutes … Get fit for 2015 in a minimum of 15 minutes per day …

Ok everybody, now that the concept behind this blog is out there, are you interested in this challenge? Create a healthier 2015 (if you’re not already feeling healthy, that is) by doing a minimum of 15 minutes exercise a day.

It’s a catchy idea, and hopefully one that sticks in your head in an effort to boost your fitness and health in 2015.

I think about doing exercise all the time! How good it would be, how great I would feel, and eventually how I’d be pleased with the results.

But then something called procrastination, laziness, indifference, care factor zero, or whatever you want to call it, kicks in and takes over and I don’t do anything.

So this year, I’m taking a catchy phrase and making it my mantra. Fit for 15 in 15.

I’m not a health care expert, I have no qualifications in fitness or exercise, I am just an ordinary person who wants to be motivated this year to do something a bit more challenging and hopefully boost my fitness levels so I can run for the bus without running out of breath.

If you have any ideas, would like to contribute or just want to join in and make your own plans for a fit 2015, then please say hello.

All it takes is a minimum of 15 minutes per day. It could be 15 minutes of lifting soup tins, doing squats, knee raises, an exercise class on YouTube, star jumps or sit ups, going for a walk or a jog, or a combination of any of these ideas – set yourself a goal to do at least 15 minutes a day. It doesn’t matter what time of the day – before work, during your lunch break, after work, before you go to bed – whenever!

The first step is always the hardest. Forming a habit will make this easier. By doing at least 15 minutes a day, every day, you form a habit. Hopefully one you will enjoy! And by making it a requirement, a must, a desire, a wish, a joy each and every day, you can’t be tempted to say “Oh, it’s raining, I’ll go for that jog tomorrow” or “I’m feeling tired today, I’ll start next week”.

Something small or large, every day, for a minimum of 15 minutes …

Are you interested in making it your mantra too?