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Byron Shire
June 18, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Burn

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Mandy Burning

The Burn

What inspires you to push past your pain barrier? It’s the question that every personal trainer wants to know. What motivates you? How do you activate the mindset that gets you up at 5.30am when the alarm goes, and into a pair of exercise pants and runners? How does a person resist the temptation to snuggle a little longer in the fluffy warmth of the doona and go back to glorious sleep?

Some people just get up every day and exercise. I’d heard of these people. But I didn’t actually know any. Now I’m one of them. I’d seen them in the dark, pulling tyres through sand, or punching middle-aged men outside a surf club, or dropping for 20 push-ups. These people had found that hard to reach ‘spot’. The E-spot.

It doesn’t come easy. It comes in degrees. I’ve realised, after years of avoidance, that exercise is the easy bit. I actually quite enjoy the physical workout. I just never have the time. I’m too busy. I’m going somewhere else. I have to do something with the kids. I have to work. The biggest hurdle to exercise, for me, has always been a flabby mindset; my health was never that important. If my life was a tube of toothpaste, I intended to wring it until I was drained.

That’s no way to live, especially if you want to brush your teeth each day, or if other people in your life rely on your supply. So when I hit 50, I thought I’d better redress my lax attitude towards self-care.

Time to move. Great concept, but very annoying when trying to implement.

If you have any hope of rolling your fat ass out of bed, you need intention. Intention can’t be folded up and stored under the bed. It needs to be active. You need to find your intention every day. I often go to bed with intention, but then when the alarm summons me forward, I realise I have none. It’s like intention has fucked off while I slept.

I trick myself with a cup of tea. I figure, if I get up and have a cup of tea, I might, at the very least, develop the intention to put my pants on. Once you have pants on – you are half way there!

The next step is willingness. Willingness for me is usually not a problem. I’m a very willing woman. But I guess I’ve been willing in the wrong direction. Willing for wine. Willing for weed. Willing for carbs. Now I have to be willing for pain. ‘The burn’ as they call it. Sounds like cystitis. Ok, I’m willing to be willing. I’ll forget about the burn, and just turn up. I figure, if all I do is turn up, the rest will sort itself out.

To make myself turn up I’ve been making dawn walking-dates. Buddying up with an exercise partner. Sadly, I am never that committed that I would turn up just for myself. I turn up for other people. So in order to turn up for myself, I make sure that me not doing so would let someone else down. It’s a highly manipulative behaviour masked in selfless camaraderie.

Anyway, once I turn up, I am there for the burn. The other day a personal trainer was encouraging us to run and push past the part of you that just caves-in once the pain gets too much. It occurred to me that in order to motivate middle aged women to run, you need to speak their language. I thought a good inspiration to run might be ‘you’ve just paid $200 to get your hair done, and it’s started to rain. Now run for the car’. Or ‘you’ve left your phone in a cafe and you’re parked illegally’. I would definitely run for that. ‘You left the bath running’. And my favourite motivator, that I believe would work for most women – probably men too – is ‘you have 5 minutes to get to the bottleshop before it closes’. Fuck I’d sprint. Imagine the willingness! The Intention! Yes – the bottleshop workout. Talk about ‘feel the burn!’. The burn of your liver failing. See you on the beach.


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