It’s time to talk about Mental Health | Guest Writer Kym Woolcott

Looking at these two photos side by side is really an eye opener! The left photo was taken in September, 2012, and the right was taken a few weeks ago, so approximately 5.5 years difference, but that’s not all. The girl on the left and the girl on the right are 35 kilos and four dress sizes apart. The left was a smoking, regular drinking, anti-depressant taking, confident, outgoing, happy person, even though she’d only lost her brother a couple of months prior. The right is a non-smoker, occasional drinker, medication free, often quiet, withdrawn, anxious mum, even though she physically looks her best ever. This is Mental Health!

Mental Health Does Not Discriminate

This is what mental health has done to me and my body. I am EXTREMELY proud of my body and it’s capabilities, and I’m certainly trying my best to be the most positive person I can be, not to mention I couldn’t be happier that I kicked my cigarette smoking habit, BUT I wouldn’t be this size if my mind was healthy. I get many, many compliments regarding my weight loss, which I love and appreciate, and without them I wouldn’t be able to share this with such ease, because its important, and everyone should read it.

Last year was probably the rockiest year for me. In July, a young man was killed not far from my home. He and I were friends years ago, and spent considerable time together, before drifting apart when I moved out of Mandurah in 2008. He was an incredible person, and my heart aches when I think of the love he left behind.

This man’s death was a major trigger for me. He passed away on the 8th July, two days before the anniversary of my late brother, Ben’s death on the 10th July. I distinctly remember walking past the TV set on my way out to a family dinner when his face appeared and stopped me in my tracks. I’m generally very open about the fact that my brother took his own life, but I rarely go into details, and I’m not going to now, however I will be as honest as I can about this, because, as I said, it’s important.

When I learned of my friend’s death, I began experiencing all the stages of grief for Ben’s death from the beginning, some I hadn’t yet experienced. It began with denial. Did he really mean to do it? What if it was an accident?

Then, pain and guilt. Why did he do this? Was there something I could have done differently? Did I contribute to his death? And, my lowest point, anger. This one took me a long time to come to terms with, and it took a heart to heart with my mum, with lots of tears, to verbalise WHY I was so angry, which was something I couldn’t put together in my head until that moment.

Ben and my friend were the same age, well had Ben still been alive they would have been. My friend left behind two children, and had his life taken. Ben took his own. It was so hard to come to terms with, and even admit to myself that this is what I was angry about. I thought I was angry at everyone else, and I took it out on them regularly, but I was angry at Ben. And it was literally eating me up.

Did I think Ben was selfish? Absolutely not. I never would. He was dealing with inner demons that, to this day, I will never understand. But for him to do what he did to himself has always shown tremendous strength. Do I wish he was still here? Absolutely, but I would never wish someone stay alive for my benefit. I miss him. Every. Single. Day. And will continue to for the rest of my life, but I WILL make him proud.

Some of the Effects of Mental Health

The three weeks following my friend’s death were the worst of it all. I hardly ate and lost 13kgs, almost broke up my family and experienced many disgusting thoughts. I experienced a mixture of both the anger and depression stages of grief for many months following.

My mental health was, is, affected by the changes my body has experienced. I have loose skin where I’ve never had it before. I was starting to hate the person I saw in my reflection. She was like a stranger. And for a long time I felt like she was a shell of who I once was; a carefree, happy person.

So, not only was my mental health affecting my appearance, my appearance was affecting my mental health, and I was literally going around in circles. Where I once stood on the scales and hated watching the numbers continue to go up out of my control, I was now watching the numbers drop, and I felt like there was nothing I could do to stop it. I wasn’t hungry, so I couldn’t force myself to eat, as much as everyone around me tried to make me feel like I should (which actually made me want to eat even less). It was something that had to be adjusted to in my own time.

I received comments like “you’re being silly”, “you’ve become obsessed” and “you’re loosing too much weight” – none of which were helpful in the slightest. What would have been helpful would have been to have someone sit next to me, and truly listen to what was going on in my head. I felt that the people who were supposed to love me the most in the world were making no effort to comfort oeven understand me, so why should I burden anyone else with the information? I closed up, and put on a front so noone could figure out what was going on. I put my weight loss down to clean eating, and people believed me.

I was angry, stubborn, and hard. I hardly smiled, or laughed. Or, when I did, it was faked. Hardly anyone knew the truth regarding what I was dealing with internally, and some who did know treated me like my feelings weren’t justified or valued. I knew this was something I was going to have to want and push myself to get through on my own, so I decided 2018 was the time to do that.

Now is the time to discuss it!

I started to love my body, and remind myself everything my body had achieved. My body had carried my child for 41 weeks. My body recovered from a c-section that birthed that child. It has produced breast milk to nourish that child for two years and three months, and counting. It has recovered from illnesses, surgeries, injuries and beatings. It has stood back up every time life has knocked it down, and I knew now wasn’t going to be the time it held me there. I had a daughter and a boyfriend, my own little family, that I needed to make myself healthy again for – beginning with my mind, and following through with my body.

Now, I’m going through what is called the upward turn stage of grief, and boy I’m so glad I’ve made it to this one. I wasn’t too sure I’d get through those months, but I did thanks to the amazing people I surround myself with daily. I spent way too long receiving comments like “you look great” and responding with an ungrateful “thanks”, because I knew in myself that I didn’t deserve praise. I decided, when I was ready, that I needed to be honest about this.

While my diet is a hell of a lot better than it was 8 months ago, my mind isn’t, so it’s not fair to put my weight loss down to a change of diet, which is what I was palming it off as previously. But if you’ve read this far, now you know the truth, too. It’s important to look after our vessel, but let’s not forget to cherish the mind and soul inside it. I will never stop thanking the amazing people who stood by me during my lowest moments, who listened to me dribble, watched me stumble and fall, and who were always there to pick me up. You know who you are.

Please, please, look after you. You are important. You are incredible. And the world deserves you. Please know there is always someone who will listen, even if you don’t make any sense – trust me, I know. And regardless of what size is stated on the tag of your clothes, it does not equal your worth. You are beautiful, and perfect, just the way you are.

Kym xx

Chicks Who Lift | Guest Writer Michelle Wong

We live in an image obsessed world, and in most cases the ‘perfect body’ is what’s portrayed to us on the cover of a magazine. Whether it be the infinite ‘slimness’ on the Vogue cover, the ‘happy family’ featured in New Idea, or the current winner of the women’s INBA bikini model in Women’s Health magazine. We all perceive ‘perfect’ according to our own reality, lifestyle and choices.

I’m not writing today about the ‘perfect body”, the one that many celebrity fitness gurus have made their fortunes selling to the masses, I’m writing about a strong and healthy, female body.

Here’s an idea. How about, as women, we work on our physical strength so we can increase our metabolism, (yes, that means burn fat) live a longer and healthier life by deterring heart disease and bone disease such as osteoporosis, and live independently for longer, without the assistance of carers in our senior years. All this, above and before the cool side effect of carrying the children/shopping with ease, (whichever your lifestyle) and looking smoking hot in a bikini.

Yes, I own a gym, and many of our clients come to us to assist with, ‘the now body’ but I like to think about how we’re helping them and their families in their future years. This is why we as a gym and me personally as a woman, am so passionate about women lifting weights.

There is no arguing with the science behind the body’s reaction to weight training, increased bone density, more efficient metabolism, increased strength and reduced risk of day to day injury. However. The general consensus still seems to be, “I want to get skinny, I should jump on a treadmill.” Ladies, PLEASE LIFT SOME WEIGHTS AS WELL! *Insert bonus side effect of feeling empowered through strength and firm muscles

So, why don’t women want to strength train?


Cardio is to the female fitness industry, what the airbrushed model is to the fashion industry. It’s an iconic, extremely well-marketed, (*insert Lorna catalogue here) symbol of all that is good health, and apparently leads to the ‘ideal’ female body. I am in no way discarding cardiovascular training as an integral part of your training program, but it is exactly that; part of an overall program. A program that is also made up of healthy eating, mobility work, stretching and of course strength training. It is the latter that will ultimately lead to the round booty, to the sculpted shoulders and the firm, strong arms.


I still have a giggle to myself when I remember my first ever PT session with a trainer. I pointed to a picture of a female bodybuilder on the wall and said, “I don’t want to look like that.” Today, I can reflect on his polite smile, and simple answer of, “No you won’t”, as I am now educated and realise that to look like ‘that’, would require years of disciplined isolation training for several hours a day, along with the strictest of diets. Ladies, I can assure you, a daily workout in the gym using weights, will not result in you becoming a muscle-bound beast. It will result in progressive muscle development, strengthening of bones and an overall firming-up of the body.


My background is in teaching, 15 years of it in fact and one thing I can assure you is this: With complete lack of; or the wrong guidance, instruction and introduction to something new, anything can be dangerous. Sadly, with an inundation of gyms, all catering for the masses, the initial induction to the equipment and training is barely sufficient. Whilst many people share the well-popularised, ‘Gym-Fails’ clips for hilarity and entertainment, I look at them with a sense of bewilderment at how bad the industry is failing many of it’s clients. At our gym, it’s simple – safety first with solid foundations.

Most of my clients are mothers, mothers that have to tend to children or pick up babies, none of which can be done with injury or a sore back. Girls, my message here is simple – choose your gym wisely, get a good trainer who cares about you personally and prides themselves on the correct technique of lifting weights safely and appropriately for your lifestyle and goals. Done correctly, strength training will actually reduce the risk of injury as your strong muscles work to do as they were designed, that is support the skeleton and act as levers and pulleys to get daily tasks done.

In a nutshell Ladies, strength training is HUGELY beneficial to your everyday life and future self. You will not become ‘manly’, (a sadly misused phrase that I personally hate, but use here are a relatable reference point), you WILL feel strong, you WILL notice a significant ‘firming-up’ of your body, and you will totally be a ‘chick who lifts.’

Wongy x

Images by Lion Fox & Co
Images by Lion Fox & Co

Michelle is an educator, passionate about improving the health and well-being of children, families and classrooms!

You can follow her journey at…

Family First Fitness


Positive Parenting: How to Achieve Great Behaviour by Raising Your Words Not Your Voice | Guest Writer Leonie Clements

Parenthood can be extremely rewarding, enlightening and enjoyable. Yet at times it’s hard to see the rainbows and fairy dust through the thickness of thunderstorms and hail. Parenting can be demanding, frustrating and exhausting. As parents we have the most important role of raising the next generation, yet most of us begin our parenting careers with little preparation through trial and error. The challenge for us all is to raise healthy, well-adjusted children in a loving, caring environment.

Positive parenting is an approach to parenting that aims to promote children’s development and manage children’s behaviour in a constructive and non-hurtful way. Positive parenting is based on good communication and positive attention to help children develop their skills and feel good about themselves, isn’t that how we all like to feel? Children who grow up with positive parenting are likely to develop their skills feeling good about themselves; they are less likely to develop behaviour problems.

There are five key points to establishing great behaviour through positive parenting.

First Key Point

The first one is ensuring a safe and engaging environment. Young children need a safe play environment, especially once they are on the move. Accidents in the home are the leading cause of injury in young children. By providing a safe environment means that you can be more relaxed about allowing your child to explore and keep busy through the day. An environment that is safe and full of interesting things will promote brain development and other sensory skills which will then reduce the likely hood of misbehaviour. Bored kids look for trouble. Supervision is always a must.

Second Key Point

The second point is creating a positive learning environment; parents need to be available to their children. This doesn’t mean being with your child consistently, it means being available when they need your help, care or attention. When your child approaches you for help or to show you what they have done in their play; Stop what you were doing and spend a few moments with them. Encouraging your child to try to do things on their own will help them to become independent. I’m now talking about the pre- schooler who can pack away their own belongings not an infant that needs you to feed them safely….so no bottle propping. Encouragement and positive attention will help your child to be motivated to learn. When you see your child doing something you like, tell them, praise them. By showing your child you like what they are doing they will be likely to do it again.

Third Key Point

The third point is using assertive discipline. Assertive discipline involves being consistent, acting quickly when a child misbehaves and teaching the child to behave in an acceptable way. When parents use assertive discipline, children learn to accept responsibility for their behaviour and develop self-control. Children are less likely to develop behaviour problems if their parents are consistent and predictable all the time. You can value your child’s individuality and still expect reasonable behaviour. When your child is misbehaving or having a tantrum/meltdown; it’s best for you to remain calm and avoid yelling, name calling, threatening and smacking.

Fourth Key Point

The fourth point is having realistic expectations. Parent’s expectations of their child will depend on what they consider normal for children at different ages, remember a two year old with limited language will not have the same understanding or physical skills as a four year old. Children are individuals and develop at different rates. Children need to be intellectually and developmentally ready before they can learn new skills, such as toileting on their own, feeding, or dressing themselves. Seek professional advice if you are unsure. Problems can arise when parents expect too much too soon from their children. Don’t expect your child to be perfect, we all make mistakes and learn from them. Most mistakes aren’t intentional.

Fifth Key Point

The fifth point is taking care of you! Parenting is easier when your own personal needs are met. Being a good parent is not about being with your child 24/7/, your child should not dominate your entire life. If your own needs as an adult are being met, it’s much easier to be patient, consistent and available to your child. It’s important for parents to have realistic expectations of themselves. It is good to want to do your best as a parent, but trying to be a perfect parent will only lead to feelings of frustration and inadequacy. Don’t be hard on yourself, everyone learns through experience.

Leonie Clements

Registered Mothercraft Nurse, Sleep Consultant, Lactation Educator and Creator of Motherhood Coaching Services

Gently guiding and supporting you on your Motherhood Journey

About Leonie

I’ve loved every minute of my journey of over a lifetime of experience with the unique families I have met and their individual bundle of joys. I started from humble beginnings as a Child Care Assistant then progressing towards my Mothercraft Nurse Training at Ngala. From the amazing education I received at Ngala I was able to sit state exams and become registered with the Nurses Board of Australia (now known as APHRA) to have a formal National and International Qualification of caring for Antenatal & Postnatal mothers and their children 0-6yrs old. I am qualified in all areas of child development including sleep behaviours, feeding and nutrition along with communication.

I have been privileged to work with Child Protect Agencies, Women’s Health, Education Department, Disability Services, Mental Health & Well Being and the Department of Health. I have continued my journey by obtaining a Cert 1V in Training and Assessment that enables me to run parenting groups and lecturer in the areas of knowledge that I have. I recently received a Certificate in Lactation Education which is assisting me to reach the level of IBCLC. My life wouldn’t be complete without my supportive family of three beautiful children and an amazing husband.

References to this article have been taken from Triple P Positive Parenting Program