We have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day. Think about that, or maybe don’t. 70% of those thoughts are negatively skewed. I must constantly remind myself that not all thoughts are important and need attention. As my psych would say ‘put it on a leaf and let it float away’. It’s also important to not try to change or control thoughts, feelings and sensations. Remember Lizzie, do not buy into them, they are just thoughts!
This year I set out to be a mindful person and athlete. I no longer could function on the ridged and ‘robotic’ level I was on, it was unsustainable and soul destroying. So far, I’m doing well to live a more mindful existence because I did the hard yards last year. Firstly, I had to believe that I could change. I had to accept that I wouldn’t get better unless I put in the hard work and practice, and know it would need ongoing attention. I had to challenge my unhealthy belief systems that had been ruling my life for almost 2 decades. Most of these beliefs relating to body image and food. Finally, I had to talk about it, shame silences people.
Society has over-complicated the way we eat. We are bombarded by blogs and social media with rules for healthy eating: quit sugar, go gluten-free, cut out carbs, eat paleo, go vegan. But taking the rules too far can lead to an unhealthy obsession with eating. My obsession with weight and food began at 16, when I started to take my cycling more seriously. I became caught up in rules and ways of doing things to achieve perfection and the balance got thrown. My theories around food started to manifest into absolute truths over the years, this would dictate my life at times, making things very difficult and sometimes triggering depressive episodes that would last for months.
The food, the weight, the obsession with health was always a distraction from other things and until those underlying issues are dealt with, it’s hard to overcome. Anxiety was my driving force, but underneath that anxiety lay my low self-worth. My identity was wrapped up in superficial things like my appearance, my physical ability and achievements. It was the keystone, the centrepiece, the crux for my happiness. This is what had to change. I had to ask myself what is beauty? How do I define beauty? What’s quite ironic is Beauty and the Beast was my favourite Disney film growing up. Such an important message to teach our younger generation. It wasn’t until I learnt how to be kind and compassionate to myself, I then was able to address and manage my anxiety and thought processes. Slowly I started to break down those unhealthy ways of thinking.
I had to set aside my physical training and address my mental training, no distractions, just my head and I, fighting and resisting like two teenage siblings at each other! The love for one another is there, it’s just hidden most of the time. I had to leave judgement at the door, and welcome compassion in. My pessimistic attitude and misconceptions about cognitive behavioural therapy had to be addressed. If you don’t believe it will work, it won’t. Just like in elite sport, the first step to becoming a champion is believing in yourself and your capabilities.
Realigning my cores values in life has allowed me to regularly draw back to them, to re- steer my ship on the correct route, my route, the route I have created.
“Journey is the value; the destination is the goal”
Questions I asked myself before embarking on this year’s journey included;
Who do you want to be?
What type of athlete do I want to be?
What do I really want out of this?
How do I want to be known and remembered?
My self-development is a work in progress. I still have bad days where my internal dialogue is unhelpful and self-destructive. I have days out on the bike where my thoughts are so loud that I must turn around and go home, my anxiety wins that day. But every day is a new day and that’s what I love about life.
To avoid deportation from the US, I have arrived early in Canada before my final race with HB Supermint (BC Superweek 7th-16th July). My visa expired unfortunately at the time I was leading The Tour of America’s Dairyland (aka: Tour of Aussie cyclists taking over the American crit scene). It was never a goal of mine to win this, but it was a shame I couldn’t hang around to finish off a fun and fast 11 days of racing with our team. My teammates Peta, Liza and Starla finished it off in style snatching the overall team’s classification on the final day, bravo ladies, execution nailed! I came away with 3 solo wins in a week, I’m hitting some great form but more importantly, my self-belief and confidence has resurfaced and I have proved to myself that I can win bike races again.
“I allowed my skill and ability to instinctively take over, with my mind being quiet”
I must admit though, it’s a different feeling winning now to previous years. My headspace has changed. I’m more focused on my processes, rather than results or my opponents. I feel grateful for the encouragement and support I have received here in the US, to experience people cheering your name, screaming encouragement whilst racing is something I’ve never had in Europe on the World Tour.
It’s always a lucky dip when it comes to host housing, however luck has certainly been in my favour this year. The global cycling community has brought me an abundance of opportunities over the past 3 years and I feel so thankful for this. I’m realising I need to start giving back to this wonderful sport and currently have some ideas in the pipeline…. Stay tuned Brunswick Cycling Club!
So how did I end up in this magical greenery wonderland called Whistler? I sent one email to Whistler Cycling Club explaining a little paragraph about myself and asked if there were any folk that would be interested in hosting me. Within 24hrs I received an email from Ken and Maureen Chaddock, keen bike enthusiasts with 2 sons, one who use to race professionally. I was greeted at the door with 2 bright smiles, that of Ken and Ben, instantly recognising they were both petite things. I couldn’t help myself, and reached around Ken’s shoulders as I towered over him and gave him a hug. “you’re just a little guy aren’t you? You must go up hills fast!”. I’m known for my frankness, even when I don’t know you. So please, don’t take it personally! Both Ken and Ben had a chuckle at my honesty and Instantly I knew I was going to fit in with the Chaddock family.
I can’t express enough appreciation for the generosity and hospitality the whole family have shown me over the past 10 days. I’ve slotted into the family quite nicely and to be honest, I don’t want to leave! It also helps that everywhere you turn is ridiculously picturesque and green. I’ve had 2 tour guides drag me around whistler and the surrounding areas, getting local knowledge on the best routes and not to mention Strava segments.
In the evenings, Maureen prepares delicious vegetarian dishes to satisfy the hungry clan. I’ve been lucky enough to bring some of my favourite recipes to the table, the beet-hommus dip a winner. Ken’s ‘crack’ as he says. I’ve also enjoyed tearing around the trails with my old team mate Gracie Elvin and her Husband Stu. Coincidently being here at the same time. What a joy it is to ride with mates. My favourite part of cycling.
Unfortunately, this brief stay in Whistler has come to an end and I reconnect with my HB Superminties tomorrow in Vancouver for ‘Tour de Delta’ starting this Friday. Can’t wait to pin a number on and find the ‘flow’ again.