Thursday, December 20, 2012

and now....for the rest of my life...

 2012 was the year that I lost 31.5 kg and became a Life-time Member of Weight Watchers. I am not trying to market Weight Watchers, but I have to say that the program was a very important part of my weight loss journey, and continues to be so.

The advantage of being a Weight Watchers life-time member is that you get free visits to meetings and discount on products. But there are certain conditions you have to fulfil, such as continue to be within 2 kg of your target weight, and visit a meeting to be weighed, at least every month. The beauty of this ongoing program is it provides continuing motivation and support for me to maintain my weight.

What I have found over the last few weeks since reaching my goal weight is that it's difficult to maintain my motivation. Part of the problem is I feel I have nothing to strive for. It doesn't take much for me to skip my exercise or go outside my eating plan. I've come to the conclusion that losing weight is easy....keeping it off is a whole other ball game!

Have you ever achieved a goal and then wondered “what's next?” How do you deal with that feeling of achieving something and finding it to be an anti-climax? 

Any suggestions for long term strategies for how I can keep my weight off?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New campaign to stamp out female genital mutilation in Australia

It looks like 2013 is going to shape up as the year Australia focuses on female genital mutilation. FGM is illegal in Australia, to perform the procedure, or support the movement of girls to another country to have it done.

This week, Julia Gillard announced a range of activities aimed to find out exactly what is happening in Australia, provide education to both communities and health professionals, and review laws about FGM. The Australian College of Midwives supports this move and will be working the health minister, Tanya Plibersek to help her in any way we can.

I was talking to my husband about this the other night and he felt, as a non-health professional, that there has to be a raising of awareness of the general population, so that we not only know what FGM is, but understand the long-term implications of the procedure.  We also need to understand that FGM is a cultural, not religious, issue which in turn will help us understand how to address the problem.

What do you know about FGM? Have you come across it in your every day life? What would you do if a girl disclosed that she had had it done to her? If you are a midwife, have you ever come across it in your practice?

Image: 'haunting eyes'
Found on

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Disposable friends - would you like some?

One of the challenges of moving to a new place, especially a new country, is that you have to start from scratch with making friends. I have found this hasn't been too difficult in the past because I have met people through my children - at school, play groups, Saturday sports and so on. But with my move to Canberra, and being on my own, I am having to make a determined effort to get out and meet people.

I have found the most successful way of meeting people in Canberra has been via the Internet. There are two main places I go to that help me get out and about. The first place is HerCanberra, which is led by Amanda Whitley, based around a blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter. It caters for women, although I am sure there are topics that men would be interested in. Not only does HerCanberra spread the news of local events and places of interest in Canberra, but it organises F2F events.

This week I am going to my second evening dinner organised by HerCanberra. I am really looking forward to it because Amanda has told us we must all get dressed up. So I'm excited about wearing a new outfit which I have just bought, although I am stressing about what bling to wear with it, which is a whole other story.

My first HerCanberra evening dinner in November was great fun....probably because I drank a little too much wine! My only critique, as such, was that the age range was a tad too young for me. The women who attended were in their late 20s and 30s. They are more interested in their young kids, and I spent all evening hearing their birth stories, once I made the mistake of admitting I am a midwife. But at the same time, it was a good thing in my new role at the Australian College of Midwives, to hear about the issues that face birthing women in Canberra and Australia.

The second site I am finding to be a great resource is Meetup.Com. This online movement started off in the USA after 911, as a way of bringing people together, who don't necessarily want to find romantic partners, but are interested in meeting people they can hang out with and share interests. This movement seems to be very successful in Canberra with any number of interests groups – apparently, this is because the population is so transient, so people need a quick and effective to find out what's going on.

I have been to a couple of general meet-ups at the pub but don't particularly enjoy them. It feels a little weird going to the pub by myself, and I feel just a tad vulnerable in a large, mixed-gender group. However, I have also joined some smaller groups, such as the Canberra Movie Goers and Canberra Bloggers, and been to a few events and really enjoyed myself. I have met some great people...shared interesting conversations...and had fun. And at the end of each event, gone home feeling great about myself, but at the end of the day, have no ties or expectations to bog me down.

What it has got me thinking about is...does groups like allow us to do away with the concept of friendship, or make it more of a disposable commodity? Think about yourself...why do you have friends? For go to events...share interests...and so on. But there is a downside to friendship. It has to be maintained, which means work. Friends can demand time from you...make expectations of you...cost you money. Friendship can turn nasty...friends can use and betray you. 

So are disposable friends the way to go? What do you think?

Image: '61098'
Found on

Thursday, December 6, 2012

And so it begins....

The big news over the last two days is that William and Kate are expecting their first baby.

Sadly, Kate is suffering severe morning sickness, which can be the most miserable thing in the world, and really takes the shine off the good news. But it doesn't stop me (and everyone else) speculating that she's expecting twins, as morning sickness can be one symptom of multiple pregnancy!?

As a midwife I cannot help wishing that she'd be a poster girl for normal birth. How cool would it be if she had a waterbirth at Buckingham Palace! However, I have a horrible feeling her elective cesarean section is already booked!

Image: 'Royal Wedding of William and Catherine Duke & Duchess of Cambridge'
Found on

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Book review: Lives we leave behind by Maxine Alterio

Lives we leave behind is the latest novel by Maxine Alterio. Maxine is a principle lecturer at Otago Polytechnic, in Dunedin, New Zealand and is extremely well known in academic circles for her work on reflective practice and story telling. I have used her academic work extensively in my own studies, but this is the first time I have read any of her fiction.

Lives we leave behind is the story of two New Zealand nurses, Meg Dutton and Addie Harrington, who travel from New Zealand as young, naive, Kiwi girls seeking adventure, and wanting to do their bit to help "the boys" in the First World War. They are thrown together as they share a berth on the hospital ship Maheno, which takes them to Egypt for their first posting. At first it looks like they will never have anything in common. Addie disapproves of Meg's frivolous approach to life, whilst Meg thinks Addie is a stick in the mud. But the horrors of war and their own personal traumas forms a deep and abiding friendship.

The story of Addie and Meg is very engaging, especially as Meg falls in love with a British surgeon, Wallace Madison. You just know it's going to end in tears, but keep hoping that Meg gets her happy-ever-after. Addie has her own romantic challenges as the men in her life are permanently changed by both physical and psychological impacts of war. 

However, for all the personal stories that thread themselves through this book to entertain us, it is the background history and detail that captured my attention, which I feel is the real strength of this book. Alterio has done an amazing job of researching the experiences of Kiwi nurses in the First World War. The use of language, historical fact and medical details transport you firstly to the hot, stinking military hospitals in Egypt to the freezing battlegrounds in France. Being a nurse myself, and having a great interest in history, I can attest to the authenticity of Alterio's writing, which is extremely easy to follow, and doesn't bog you down with detail. Yet at the same time, little touches here and there alert you to the amount of research that Alterio has carried out.

I highly recommend this book which not only entertains but also educates, and brings the reader's attention to the dedication and bravery of these unsung heroines.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's not about the winning, it's about the finishing...or is it?!

 Last Sunday I took part in my very first triathlon. was a baby one - 200 meter swim, 8km bike ride and 2km run - but it was bloody hard work, and a major workout for me..

The morning didn't start well. I had to cycle to get there and developed a puncture about 2km away from the start. Actually, I was a tad relieved thinking I'd have a legitimate excuse not to do it...but blow me...there was a cycle repair man who changed my inner tube in about 20 seconds flat, to my disgust.

We were split into age groups, and my group, 40+ women were the last group of people to start. The first leg of the race was the swim in Lake Burley. I have to admit to having a number of concerns about the quality of the water...and what lives in the lake! I had visions of emerging from the water...not like the beautiful Ursula Andress rising out of the sea in James Bond Dr NO....but more like a green lake monster...with limbs missing and being horribly deformed like I had an overdose of nuclear poisoning. However, the water was beautifully clear, warm and very refreshing. And I didn't get attacked by any eels or other underwater iggly wigglies, so that was a bonus.

Within seconds of the swim starting I knew I was in trouble.Everyone was powering away with their frantic crawl and I was gliding along with my geriatric breast stroke. The distance wasn't an issue for me but speed was...I was at least 10 minutes behind everyone else. So needless to say, I was last out of the lake and already had no chance of catching up.

The change over to cycling was the next nightmare. It took forever to get my running pants on because I was wet, and I got twigs and leaves stuck to my shoes...knickers...not at all comfortable. The cycle ride wasn't too bad. I was pretty pleased with how well I did around the course and was celebrating that I was catching up until the official told me that I had to go around a second time....

By the time I got to my run, I could hardly put one foot in front of the other, so mostly walked the first kilometer. I ran the second kilometer because it was all down hill, and my darling friend Deborah Davis, ran with me for the last 500m, which made all the difference.

The result...I came last!

I knew I was going to be last, from the time of the swim, and the thing I was dreading the most was the pity clap as I crossed the finish know what I mean...when everyone thinks...oh well, we'd better give that poor woman a clap because at least she finished...even if it was half a day after everyone else!!

Thankfully, by the time I crossed the line, everyone had lost interest and gone on to prize I didn't even get a pity clap.

What I took away from this experience is that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.  At the end of January this year, I was flat on my back with a partially prolapsed disc...and I still have permanent nerve damage to my right leg. But here I am...nine months later...a tri-athlete!

The other thing that struck me was that there are all sorts of shapes and sizes and abilities amongst us women. I tell you...those all-in-one running suits don't hide a thing. So if you have a teenage girl worried about her body, take her to an event like this to show her what real women look like...and what we can achieve.

But if one more person says to's not about the winning, it's about finishing, I shall poke them in the eye!!!!