Who’s Up For A Family Challenge?

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Spring is HERE! Ok I may be ahead of myself by 24 hours but I’m just so excited about the weather warming up and I’m sure I speak for a lot of Melburnians who will be glad to say goodbye to these cold, dreary days.

Is it just me or has this winter felt that little bit longer, colder and wetter? We are a family that love the sun and we tend to go into hibernation a little during the colder months. We still keep active but nowhere near as much as we do when the sun is out.

When bad weather or illness (usually caused by the bad weather) prevents us from doing what we love, the Nichols crew become quite the crabby bunch. “I’m bored”, “What can I do?,” “When will the rain stop so I can go outside and kick the footy,” are the usual comments repeated over and over around here.

I believe that as parents, we owe it to our kids to be good role models when it comes to healthy, active living – that’s one of the reasons I started this blog so I couldn’t wait to get my family on board with the Bupa Family Challenge supporting Healthy Harold.

So what’s it all about? Bupa and Life Education have teamed up and are encouraging families to get active and healthy through a range of interactive family challenges.

Choose from one of 5 family challenges:

-All Systems Go
-Winter Challenge
-Healthier Home, Healthier planet, Healthier You
-Fun Run Challenge
-Sugar Switch Challenge

We love the idea so much, that we are going to tackle all of them starting with the All Systems Go Challenge. All of our planning was done over the weekend including set activities for each day of the week and the number of sleep hours required each night. These kids of mine better not get out of bed before 7am!

The All Systems Go Challenge is an actual module that is delivered in schools and takes children on a tour to explore the circulatory, digestive, respiratory, urinary and nervous systems.

I have always taught the kids the importance of eating good food and doing regular exercise. What I haven’t done a lot of is talk about how the different systems in our bodies work. It’s fascinating and will help the kids understand why we need to live, healthy and active lives and get plenty of sleep.

The great thing about these challenges is they allow you to sit down as a family, spend quality time together, set realistic goals and work as a team towards achieving them.

We have one kid who is passionate about sport, another not so much, and the toddler who will chase balls around the yard all day if he could. The beauty about these challenges is everyone gets to choose their activity of choice.

So the sporty kid has opted for an obstacle course in the back yard after school whilst the other just wants to play in the park one day after school this week. It doesn’t matter what the activity, so long as they’re moving!

Each challenge lasts just one week which is the perfect time to keep everyone interested and engaged.

So if you’re looking at taking on a family challenge and help create healthy habits in your house, why not join Team Nichols and head over to the Bupa Family Challenge page and register.

There are some fabulous prizes up for grabs including a family trip to Dreamworld, a Garmin Vivofit and a Red Balloon Day experience.

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I’ve Got My Health Coaching Qualification. Now What?

Health Coach

This week something really exciting happened. I gained my Health Coaching Qualification by became a qualified Nutrition and Health Coach.

I don’t know what’s more exciting, the fact that I finally have my Health Coaching Qualification, and completed it with 3 little minions or the fact that I achieved a personal goal that I set for myself.

Completing this course has been quite a personal journey for me and being able to connect a lot of the dots when it comes to my family’s wellness and my food intolerances, has been incredibly rewarding for me.

So what does the word Wellness mean to me? I believe that it is being aware and making a choice to learn to live an active, healthy, fulfilling life. No one is ever perfect, I’m the first to admit that but if we are more mindful about the way we live our lives, we will definitely see positive changes.

When my daughter was 8 weeks old, she developed eczema. The severity in which it developed, I would not wish upon any parent. The sleepless nights, the bloodied sheets, the discomfort that she has had to endure day in day out breaks my heart.

If I’m completely honest, building a bond with my little girl was difficult from the start. Her eczema created so much discomfort that she literally cried for 22 out of 24 hours. As much as I tried to help, I began to resent her. That sounds incredibly cruel I know but I was sleep deprived, my husband and I would argue and if one more person said, “Is that eczema, have you tried???” I was going to scream.

One day I sat on my bed for hours rocking her as she screamed. I too cried uncontrollably. I was not coping. I phoned my husband at work and asked him to come home. When your mental health is affected so much, how are you supposed to provide any sort of relief to your children.

When Harper started on solids, I remember sitting in a cafe with a friend and within a couple of minutes her skin broke out in the most horrendous rash all over her face and body. I held her in my arms, walked down a side alley and burst into tears.

The doctor confirmed that she also has food allergies. She is allergic to pistachio nuts, cashews, egg and any foods that are highly acidic – tomatoes, pineapple, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits.

I had done so much for my little girl but nothing seemed to be enough. I needed to educate myself more and the Nutrition and Health Coaching course through Cadence Health was recommended to me. I figured that my whole family could benefit from the knowledge I would gain from this course.

It was absolutely perfect for me. I could study at home, (I signed up for the course 4 weeks before my third bub was born), it was flexible so I paid for each unit as I went along and it was informative.

So what have I learnt?

Oh there is too much to tell in one post (I promise to share my journey with you) but I have learnt so much more than I ever expected. It has made a huge difference not only to the way I view food now but it has also connected me with the greats in my life. I have discussed nutritional needs and exercise with my ageing parents that I would not have normally done had I not completed this course.

I am so much more conscious about what goes into my children’s mouths and I love educating them about it as well. Food plays a massive part in the way my children’s skin react to eczema and allergies and I feel so much more informed to make the right choices for the little people in my life that depend so much on me. There is, however, only so much I can do as a parent – at some point they need to make decisions for themselves and if they start making healthy and active decisions based on my knowledge and what I can teach them, then my job here is done.

As someone who had issues with her body as a teenager, suffered in silence with bulimia and tried just about every diet on the planet, I was introduced to the non-diet approach in this course and I must say, I’ve been converted. I love this concept and would love to talk to every single person in Australia that has ever yo-yo dieted before about this very topic. Really simple approach, but extremely powerful.

So if anybody tries to come at me with a new diet that will help me lose 5 kilos in a week or a diet shake that will get my into a bikini by summer, stay away because I’m not interested.

Don’t get my wrong, I’m always up for a challenge and pushing my body out of it’s comfort zone, but when it comes to food, diets for me, simply don’t work. It’s all about variety and nutrient sufficiency.

It was quite ironic that whilst I was on the chapter of food intolerances, I was being tested for fructose and lactose malabsorption to which I tested positive to both after years of bloating and general discomfort.

I have done a few coaching courses in my time but this one has really given me the confidence to be able to work with clients in a way that empowers them and helps them come up with solutions rather than have them prescribed to them.

Coaching is an area that has always been of interest to me and as a PT and sports coach to children, this course has really given me the confidence to take my business to the next level.

So where to from here? I am passionate about family wellness and am excited to be able to share my knowledge not only with my own family but also with other families that are wanting to make a lifestyle change for the better.

I will be starting work as a Health Coach with Essentia Health in a couple of weeks just one day a week to start with and am so excited about the journey ahead.

So tell me, what does Wellness mean to you and have you ever worked with a Health coach before?

For more information on Cadence Health and their Nutrition and Health Course, visit their website.

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Party in The Park and Win – Allambee Park

It’s that time of the week again, featuring one of Bayside’s beautiful parks.

If you live in Bayside and you’re wanting to wear the kids out after school, why not stop off at Allambee Park in Sandringham. This truly is one of Bayside’s hidden gems and it is the perfect place to let your kids run wild.

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You see this park is different to all the others. Nestled away in a quiet street off Neptune St and Sandringham Rd, Sandringham, it may look small but boy does it have a whole lot of personality.

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When you arrive at the park, you will be pleasantly surprised to find toy trucks lying around all over the park. Yes, they are there for your child’s enjoyment.

No strings attached, just hours of tonka truck action. There is no surprise to see why it’s been named the “Truck Park”.

There is a large playground fully equipped with swings, a see-saw, a plastic fort for climbing and on the outside of the playground is a dirt track, perfect for scooting, walking or riding one of the toy trucks, cars or trikes.

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A short walk form the playground is a sand pit filled to the brim with, yep you guessed it, trucks – every little boys dream.

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Although this park is not huge, it is a great venue to have your child’s next birthday party. I would recommend a 2-5 year old party here, any older and you will need something a bit bigger for activities. Li’l Busy Bodies are Bayside’s newest outdoor sports party business.

Allambe Park is located on the cnr of Neptune and Sandringham Rd, Sandringham.

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Take a pic of the kids running, walking, riding or scooting around the dirt track and post it to my Lil Busy Bodies IG or Lil Busy Bodies Facebook page using the hashtag #lilbusybodiesparties

One lucky person will WIN 20% off their child’s next birthday party with Li’l Busy Bodies.

Each week there will be a new activity for the specific park featured so get the kids out, and visit this weeks featured park – Allambe Park.

The most creative photo will win 20% off a Li’l Busy Bodies party and the judges decision is final. The winner will be notified by email.

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7 Essential Cycling Tips for Every Rider

Cycling
When the triathlon season is over, it is not uncommon for triathletes to lose a bit of momentum. I know my husband falls into this category. There was a period of limited exercise over a 3 month period recently due to a demanding job. His love of cycling has seen him get back on his bike and using cycling as a means of transport to get to work each day.

Cycling is a favourite pastime for many people. It provides many health and lifestyle benefits and is a fantastic way to travel to work. There are a number of bike retailers, like 99 Bikes out there that can set you up with a superior cycle.

There are also many tips that cyclists can use in order to stay safe and have an enjoyable cycling experience. Here are 7 essential cycling tips for every rider.

1. Use High Quality Clothing

Correct cycling clothing will help make your cycling experience far more enjoyable. The proper apparel will help protect you from scrapes and bruises, regulate sweating, keep you warm and make your experience far more comfortable.

2. Pick The Right Seat

Choosing the correct seat, or saddle, for you is one of the most important parts of purchasing a bike. It needs to be comfortable enough for you to sit on for long periods at a time. It also needs to be ergonomic and allow you to assume the correct posture to prevent back problems.

3. Use Correct Shoes

Trainers aren’t the most ideal shoes to use whilst cycling. They are far too flexible, allowing the foot to move whilst cycling. This can cause lower back and hip problems later in life. A proper cycle shoe is far more rigid, allowing for greater power and will prevent health issues.

4. Learn How to Maintain the Bike

Maintaining the bike is an essential skill for all cyclists. By learning to take care of the bike, will make it last longer and you will get more pleasure and enjoyment out of riding it. At the very least, learning how to change a tyre will save you money and a significant amount of time.

5. Be Road Aware

Cycling on roads can be tricky; knowing the road rules will help prevent a lot of angry road users. Staying in the bike lane, or as close to the side of the road as possible will help minimise delays for other users.

6. Stock Up On All Your Gear

Ensuring that you have all the gear that you need for cycling is important. This can include water bottles, sun screen, phone holders, and a lock and chain for when you dismount. Putting all this in your cycling bag will make your next journey a lot easier.

7. Wear A Helmet

Probably the most important piece of advice is to wear a helmet. This is required by law in some countries, so always make sure that you double check before taking to the road. A good quality helmet will also help protect you should any accidents occur whilst you’re out cycling.

There are many tips that cyclists should take on board before going out for a spin, but the most important tip is to just have fun. Cycling is a fun activity; enjoy the fresh air, the feeling of the pedals and the sunshine.

One final tip, if your husband, wife or partner has a passion for cyclying and they say that they will be gone for 2 hours, double that as it’s usually much longer.

Are you a cyclist? What are your essential tips for cycling?

This post was written in collaboration with 99bikes.

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Breathtakingly Beautiful Baw Baw

Taking three young children to the snow requires commitment, patience and courage. Actually, can I change that to patience, courage and commitment?

If it’s a family friendly mountain you’re after, Mount Baw Baw definitely gets the thumbs up. It’s far enough from Melbourne to feel like you’ve gone away yet close enough to be able to enjoy a day trip if that’s what you’d prefer.

Beautiful Baw Baw

Last weekend, we packed our bags, said good-bye to the hustle and bustle of Melbourne and head to the slopes. A long earned family break was welcomed by the hubster and I and we are so grateful to the team at Mt Baw Baw for such a fabulous opportunity.

Mount Baw Baw is just 2.5 hours from Melbourne, (3 if you include a stop with the kids which I highly recommend). The roads are windy for about an hour heading up to the mountain and if you or any of your family members suffer from travel sickness, then motion sickness tablets are essential.

We picked a pearler of a weekend to go. Only a week earlier, the Victorian Alpine region had very limited snow and the snow machines were working over time.

That was until the Antarctic Vortex blasted across the east coast and delivered what experts say is our coldest icy hit in 15 years. Perfect for snow lovers!

We arrived at the mountain at 12.30pm and what a truly magical experience it was for the kids. They had never seen snow before and it was snowing when we arrived. The looks on their faces was one that I will remember for years to come. It was sheer excitement.

Our host for the weekend, Kim Whitehouse welcomed us with open arms, quite literally. Every opportunity she had to help out, she took, and it made our arrival the most pleasant of experiences.

The apartment wasn’t quite ready so we thawed out in the local restaurant with hot drinks in roasty toastie comfort.

It was all too exciting for the kids and as the snow melted outside with the afternoon sun, my heart was melting watching these two enjoy their very first snow fight.

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We checked into the Altitude Apartments and were pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness and cleanliness of our accommodation for the weekend. There were several stairs to climb to get to the top so I was mindful of supervising the kids going up and down at all times.

There was a double bunk which was a novelty for the kids and our fearless 4 year old was the first to grab the top bunk for the weekend.

The master bedroom was also spacious with a queen size bed and plenty of room for a port-a-cot. There were built in robes, plenty of heaters throughout and a clean bathroom with huge shower.

Once we were settled, we head across to the ski hire place and got fitted for skis and a snowboard by the friendly staff in preparation for our Super Saturday Snow session.

It’s amazing how quickly time flies. Before we knew it, dinner was upon us. On the mountain, there is the option of the restaurant or bistro to dine in.

We enjoyed a beautiful dinner at the restaurant, albeit quick as the kids were starting to get a little feral.

The meals were so good that the hubster gave compliments to the chef about 4 times and praised the cheap prices of the meals for a snow resort. A main meal was on average $22-$30.

As dinner was still digesting, we whisked the kids back to the apartment, into their thermals and off to bed. After such a big day, we were certain that the kids would sleep in until 7.30am.

That wish was shortlived. They were up at 6.30am and in their snow gear faster than I could say snowman. Trying to tell two eager kids that the mountain didn’t open until 9 was not an easy task so we head down to the snow for some toboggan action before the kids had their ski lesson at 9.30.

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Now I’m not going to sugar coat things and tell you that the weekend went completely smoothly and it was happy families the whole entire time.

The kids were due to have their first ever ski lesson at 9.30 on Saturday morning. With everyone dressed and ready to go, we made our way to ski school. Kim was there to greet us with her warm, friendly smile. She is seriously the nicest host anyone could wish for.

At 9.25, Miss H decided that her gloves weren’t quite right and went into absolute meltdown mode. She was screaming, there were tears and lots of stamping of the feet. As I turned to the hubster for help, I see him skiing off into the distance. I turned back to console the 4 year old when suddenly, the 5 year old decides that he needs a toilet stop before his ski lesson.

Within a minute, both kids are busting to go to the toilet and the baby, who happened to be in a carrier on my back, decided to poo his pants and start screaming at the top of his lungs.

Kim, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU. You seriously were my saviour.

I wouldn’t wish the snow to swallow anyone up but I seriously wanted it to be me at that moment.

Only one of the kids ended up having his lesson which he absolutely loved and I took the other 2 home for an overdue nap. At 2pm, I enjoyed a private snowboarding lesson then had an hour on the slopes with no distractions whatsoever. It was absolute bliss.

The kid was a natural

The kid was a natural

One of the highlights of the weekend was definitely the tobogganing. There is a great area allocated for this and the kids ABSOLUTELY loved it. Even the one year old giggled all the way down. These kids have no fear I tell you.

There is also a kids playground set up called the Frozen Snow Play Park which the kids really enjoyed. Just quietly, so did I. There was even a large igloo that I happened to stumble across that was big enough for me to take refuge in for about 2 minutes before the kids found me.

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We didn’t get to see the Howling Huskies, we simply ran out of time but we could certainly here them. A great novelty for the kids. They take people for tours on the mountain and have special times for the kids to pat them. It is definitely on the bucket list for the next time we go.

If you are Melbourne based and looking for somewhere to go for a day trip, I’d highly recommend taking the family to Mount Baw Baw.

For any other ski, snowboarding or tobogganing enthusiasts, Mt Baw Baw is a must. It’s extremely family friendly and very affordable.

Have you been to the snow this season yet? Ever been to Mount Baw Baw?

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Copyright 2013 Fit Mother Hubbard