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Cheryl’s Health & Lifestyle Challenge

Cheryl’s Health & Lifestyle Challenge


This year our Strategy & Partnership Manager Cheryl, has decided to change her life by undergoing a healthy lifestyle challenge. Her goal for 2017 is to lose 25kg, improve her diet and overall health & fitness throughout the year, and make this a permanent lifelong change.

Throughout her journey, Cheryl will inform us of her progress. You may even find some of her tips useful for you and your family.


Have a read of Cheryl’s diary:

23/8/2017 – 7/9/2017

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As many of you would know, grocery shopping, cooking and food preparation plays a very big part in a healthy lifestyle. It’s a big chore. Sometimes it may even seem like a production line. From the supermarket shelf, to the fridge and pantry, stovetop, hungry mouths and then it all starts again.

For me as I am the gatherer and the Head Chef I see this as an extremely important role. My family’s health begins with me, as I gather the variety of food each week ready for lunch boxes, meals and snacks. This year as I change my life for the better. I have learnt more about food preparation when you are time poor and the healthy influence I can have on my family.

The kitchen is the hub of most households. If you could take a step back in time and look at some of the conversations, laughs, family times and hours of food preparation spent in your kitchen, it would be very interesting indeed. Our kitchen has seen lots of banter, occasional wrestling, family hugs, lots of laughs and interesting conversations.

I try to keep in the habit of having bulk cook ups on the weekends, which helps during the week when we are busy. As I prepare smoothies for myself, I make extra for my family and freeze some for busy days. I chop up extra celery sticks, making them easy to grab on the go. I prepare nicely chopped fruit for the fridge, making it easy to select a healthy snack. It always amazes me that a big watermelon wedge can be sitting in the fridge uneaten, but as soon as it’s chopped up it’s devoured in minutes.  We are also quite normal in the way that we like ice-cream and treats and there are certainly some ‘occasional’ snacks in the pantry. There are complaints that echo from the kitchen when someone has eaten the last biscuit or stash of treats hidden in the corner of the pantry cupboard.  

Being the gatherer, I have to hide things so they last or so that I get some for myself. Sometimes I hide things under the vegetables, so they last the week out and don’t get eaten all at once. Later in the week I whip out a punnet of strawberries or my family’s favourite tub of yogurt and I hear, “Where did you find that? I didn’t know that was in there.” I guess I will have to find a new hiding spot now that my secret is out.

If I was to give some tips on how to feed your family, I would have to say keep it fresh, be organised and remember the secret ingredient is always love.

Until next time, happy cooking and remember to always hide just one little treat for the Head Chef.


3/8/2017 – 22/8/2017

Moving forward with my healthy lifestyle challenge, I started doing a little bit of jogging on the treadmill as part of my updated gym program. At first I was pretty reluctant because, well, I don’t run anywhere. But then, that was in my previous lifestyle before I discovered a newfound love of health and fitness. The only time I ran at all was if the saucepan was boiling over on the stove, or there was some family emergency that required a speedy inspection.

The first few attempts were slow and I stopped several times. But then I had one day where I realised that I kind of liked it. With encouragement from my trainer Shaun Booth from Yaralla Fitness, I gradually increased the amount of time on the treadmill until I did two kilometers without stopping at all. Baby steps, but I was absolutely ecstatic that I could now last more than a sprint across the kitchen.

I’m a little new to this fitness thing, but I had heard many people speak of goals and the importance of having them to assist with improvement and motivation. So I decided I would give the three kilometre run a go at the upcoming Gladstone Botanic to Bridge fun run. Yes you heard right. I decided to run it, not walk!

Part way through, I did have some moments where I thought, “What have I done? This is too hard!” My husband, a triathlete who does much, much more than three kilometers, several times a week was very supportive and came out with me on some practice runs. He helped me with technique and more importantly how to push through ‘the pain’ when you think you can’t go any further.

So the morning of Gladstone’s iconic Botanic to Bridge event arrived. As we traveled into town we could see others driving in as well, all wearing the same pink shirts chosen for this year. Hoards of people swarmed our city centre all smiling and buzzing with anticipation. There is something special about being involved in such a positive, uplifting community event. There were elderly people, children, Mums pushing their little ones in prams, Dads, and all sorts of people all proudly sporting their pink Botanic to Bridge shirts. I was so happy to see so many Mums and Dads leading by example and encouraging their children to get outside and be active.

The horn sounded and off we went, an ocean of pink participants all heading towards Goondoon Street. Now my running is slow. I don’t think I will ever be a threat to Usain Bolt. My aim was just to finish and run the whole way, and not walk at all, including the hills. Part way up Goondoon Street I saw that steep little section ahead of me and thought, “You are not going to beat me today!” I jogged to the top puffing and panting with the desire to stop at the top of the hill and it was overwhelming! My husband egged me on and explained that this is just the lactic acid build up and it will feel better as soon as you continue down the hill. He was right. After that hill you feel like you can smell the finish line.

We continued and as I was jogging I heard the loveliest encouragement from behind me, from a Dad to his young boy. He was saying “It’s okay, you can do it! Look! We’re not far from the bridge! Just a bit further!” The little boy was having a whinge (as kids do), and the Dad was encouraging him to finish so his son could experience the wonderful feeling of achievement at the end.

So we neared the finish line. It’s amazing what a lovely sight that is when you’re feeling so exhausted. I crossed the line with my husband who almost bowled me over with the biggest hug. My daughter came sprinting over to give me a hug and a high five. We all hugged, laughed and cheered. I choked back tears of joy and accomplishment.

So apparently, my goal for next year is to beat my time from this year. I’ve done it now, so there’s no looking back.

Well done to the thousands of active people that participated in Gladstone’s Botanic to Bridge. What a wonderful community event to be involved in.

I look forward to joining you all again next year.

Have a listen to Cheryl’s amazing progress thanks to her PT, Shaun (7th August 2017).

Shaun Booth PT – Yaralla Fitness Centre & Cheryl’s Healthy Lifestyle Challenge

14-7-2017 – 2-8-2017

For me this year is all about challenging myself, becoming more active and trying new things, which has led me to share my Mt Larcom experience with you.

Every day as I drive home I see the tip of Mt Larcom off in the distance as the sun sets over Gladstone. It’s actually a lovely sight and quite an iconic leisurely activity for those that reside in this region.

For me it has been something quite different for some time. On a number of occasions my husband and daughter have asked me if I wanted to climb Mt Larcom together. Every time I have declined. Once they even climbed it themselves with some friends without me because I didn’t want to go. I felt slack like I was letting my family down. For me, Mt Larcom became a reminder of how unfit and out of shape I had become. I’ve always had clunky knees that haven’t served me as well as they should, so this just added to the excuses I came up with for not climbing Mt Larcom.

After losing some weight this year and getting fitter and healthier, I decided to make this a goal for half way through the year. I will always remember the shriek of delight from my daughter and the smile on my husband’s face when I asked, “So, would you like to climb Mt Larcom together soon”?

We set off on a Sunday morning with hats, sandwiches, water and our most suitable climbing shoes. I must say this walk is not to be underestimated. It took us about two hours to get to the top and an hour and a half on the way back. We stopped a few times to catch our breath, drink and just mentally regroup. When you are nearing the top it seems to take forever to reach the final stage of the climb. Then at the very end there are actual boulders to be navigated. The worst thing you can do at this point is look down and realise how high up you are.

Once at the top we just sat together and soaked in the stunning view. My husband pulled out a surprise bottle of non-alcoholic champagne to celebrate my achievement. At this moment I may have had a few happy tears. I was so happy to share this with my family who understood what an achievement this was for me.

Now when I drive home down Dawson Highway and see Mt Larcom shining in the afternoon sun, it resembles something completely different for me. I feel a warm feeling of satisfaction rather than disappointment.

It doesn’t matter whether your goals are small or large or if they are different to those of anyone else. There is nothing like that sense of achievement when you have put your heart and soul into something.

17-6-2017 – 13-7-2017

This week I returned from two weeks away on holidays. The majority of this time I spent away on a family holiday in Northern Queensland. I’m going to be really honest here……….I was terrified! Terrified of breaking my routine and falling off the wagon as I have done many times before, after being on holidays. Unfortunately it just seems too easy to eat badly and forget about staying fit and healthy when you are away from home. Not necessarily!

I am absolutely thrilled to say – I did it! I had a holiday and did not fall off the wagon. I had a few treats, and had a couple of days in a row at one stage where I didn’t exercise. But I kept my healthy thought process going, which is now part of my life. I managed to fit exercise into my holiday which I have not done successfully before.

I did a lot of walking around Cairns, visited an amazing aquatic centre and did some laps, went walking and jogging along the Esplanade in Cairns, climbed what felt like a thousand stairs to the top of Castle Hill in Townsville, visited a trampoline centre with my family where I showed off my trampolining skills from when I was a kid. I even took my gym program card and did a weights session at a gym in Townsville.

I will always remember this holiday. The one where my daughter was delighted that I was joining her at the pool. The one where my husband was impressed, because I was one of the only Mums doing twists on the trampolines. The one where I was close to tears of joy as I jogged along the Esplanade with my husband on one side of me and my daughter on the other.

2017………The year I changed my life forever!

I hope everyone had a wonderful school holiday break. I look forward to updating you on my journey again soon.

30-5-2017 – 16 -6-2017

As I progress through the year, my healthy eating is becoming second nature to me. I’m learning that preparation is key and being organised makes things run a lot smoother. I’ve always prepared most of our meals at home and generally eaten fairly healthy food, but now I plan ahead a little better than before.

Weekend cook ups have become a regular thing when we don’t have too much on for the weekend. I find it so satisfying to look in the fridge on Monday and see the dishes of food sitting there waiting for my family to devour. They love the weekend cook ups, as I usually have more time to prepare them, so the meals are more imaginative than the slap together meals during the week. I’m quite busy throughout the week as many Mums probably are, and find the ready to go meals make it easier for me to get to the gym and handle anything that arises during the week.

Each night I try to prepare lunches for the next day. I’ll admit that this doesn’t happen every night as planned, but when it does the mornings just run a lot smoother. More thought goes into what we are all eating the next day, rather than throwing something in at the last minute. I love seeing my daughter’s delighted reaction when she has something different that I’ve spent a bit of time preparing. Here’s hoping she eats it and it’s not still in the lunch box when she gets home.

I’ve also been finding that preparing the little things can really help as well. Boiling eggs to keep on hand in the fridge, chopping up the watermelon, cooking a double serve of vegetables to go with meals, cook extra fish or chicken fillets so I can add these to lunch salads.

It’s looking like there is a simple message here. If you can be organised, as a result, healthy living just comes naturally. Sounds easy right?

I wish you all a happy and healthy week ahead. I hope I’ve inspired everyone to get cooking and enjoy the smiles around the dinner table.

19-5-2017 – 29-5-2017

Last week I made a decision to put the scales away for some time. The truth is I’m finding the target weight is getting in the way of my progress. When I take the kilos out of the equation, I’m actually feeling pretty good about what I have achieved so far.

To measure my progress I have selected a pair of pants as my next goal. I can squeeze into them, but they’re definitely not comfortable. When they become comfortable and then loose, I will surely see the progress anyway.

I’ve also decided to focus on just enjoying my activity more. When I think about it, I am enjoying feeling stronger, enjoying seeing the familiar faces at the gym, enjoying looking and feeling better. Then there are the endorphins that are evident when I get goose bumps part way through my workout. I understand what these are now. Who would have thought?

I’ve discovered that I really enjoy having a day where I just enjoy a workout that is not necessarily on my program and not measured. I truly believe there can be a bit of stress involved in the constant focus on your results. Did I lift more last time? My heart rate wasn’t high enough. I’m not on fire this time. Targets are a great measure but sometimes it’s good to also have a day where you just go for it and enjoy the workout without worrying about your performance. You might be surprised how well you perform anyway.

So, for this next phase I’ll be focusing more on the positives of my ‘Healthy Lifestyle Challenge’ and I encourage you all to do the same. Positives such as newfound energy, more appealing reflection in the mirror, the influence on family and friends, improved confidence. The list just goes on.

Until next week, enjoy getting out there and feeling fantastic! See it as a pleasure, not a chore.


9-5-2017 – 18-5-2017

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve put some thought into my physical capabilities. This year is all about changing my life for the better and this also comes with dealing with the challenges of physical capability and self-doubt.

I’m 44 and even though life apparently begins at forty, I’ve certainly got a couple of ailments and I’m realising that things don’t seem to bend and flex like they used to. But, in saying that, according to my trainer Shaun Booth from Yaralla Fitness, I have come a long way since the beginning of the year.

Here is some feedback and very helpful tips from my Personal Trainer, Shaun:

Cheryl is coping well. Her threshold for discomfort is getting better and her strength is improving each week. She is slimming down as planned and is on track with the program as far as the game plan is concerned. She is starting a new stage this week which is exciting. I’m keen to see her get a little bit more competitive with herself heading into the second half of the year. This will help with her training and to combat any low motivation that can creep up. 

As a Personal Trainer I come across self-doubt in people that can halt your progress if you let it. An internal voice saying you can’t do it, or you will fail will have you doing just that before you even try. Don’t be afraid to try and stumble.  Even monkeys fall out of trees. Young children will have a go at anything without self-doubt. It’s something that we were all encouraged to do as we grew up. Just try to find the fun in trying. 

When training you may find that the fear of injury will be present to some extent. Overcoming this can be a hurdle.  When you hold back or try to prevent injuries out of fear, your body can start to do weird things to save itself.  This can take a natural movement and make it unnatural, and potentially create a new injury out of compassion. 

Another important part of exercise, especially resistance training, is your mind and body connection.  Focus should always be on moving the muscle group, as opposed to moving the equipment. Ego and misunderstanding can get in the way, which can lead to your brain telling your body what to do to perform the task.  Moving your muscle for the exercise is a safer option and will give you a better result. Visualisation of the muscles being used, for example in the mirror at the gym, will help.  It’s much easier to connect with something you can see. 

On the plus side, more muscle = higher base metabolic rate.  The higher BMR you have, the more calorie expenditure your body will have just going about your daily activities. At the end of the day, with the right balance of resistance training to strengthen the muscles and to promote muscle growth, you can take an out of balance body and bring muscle into harmony.

More strength means less trips from the car to the house after shopping.

Thanks to Shaun Booth Personal Trainer and to the team at Yaralla Fitness Centre located Cnr Bell & O’Connell Streets, Gladstone.

I hope you can find your healthy lifestyle! We are all capable.

Until next time,

 – Cheryl

25-4-2017 – 8-5-2017

So happy to say, I believe I am actually changing my life now as I planned at the beginning of this year. The last couple of weeks I feel like I’ve overcome some hurdles. I’m feeling strong and empowered.

Naturally, I am starting to see results in the way I look, but the biggest changes are in my mindset as I put my new tools into use. I am learning about consistency, about allowing myself to have a treat without beating myself up about it and how to enjoy exercise and use it to make me feel fantastic.

Over the weekend I sat with my daughter and we were discussing food. I then asked her if she would like to keep a food diary for the week to have a closer look at how she is eating. In my mind the purpose of this was to let her see for herself how her diet looks, if she is getting enough healthy food each day and to teach her lifelong healthy skills. She embraced the idea and went about drawing one up for herself.

Later that day my husband told me something my daughter said to him. When she was showing my husband her food diary he asked her why she had decided to do this for herself. Her reply is something I will never forget. She said ‘Mum inspired me to do it’. Even as I am writing now, I am fighting back the happy tears. One of my reasons for changing my life for the better this year was to be a good role model for my daughter. I do believe I am well on the way now.

I hope I can inspire anyone wishing to make a big change in their lives. If it’s something that is really important to you, you can do it!

7-4-2017 – 24-4-2017

Over Easter I took some leave and had a great time with family and friends. One of those breaks where you have a lot of fun and not much down time. Forget reading a book or having a nanna nap during the day. There was too much fun to be had.

We went camping for several days and I have to say my new found energy served me well for this trip. We went fishing, kayaking, walking along the beach front, collected shells and played on the beach. Lots of fun in the sun and different activities that you wouldn’t usually do at home.

I think one of the nicest things about camping is seeing how much fun the kids have. They make friends in an instant and the technology takes a back seat while their imaginations run wild. One morning while we were away, even before breakfast my daughter was set up at our camp table playing cards with the neighbour’s kids, all still in their pyjamas. Where else would you see that?

Whilst having a break, as you can imagine my usual routine was quite interrupted. For me this meant I had to work exercise into our holiday activities and think outside the square a little with my diet. I actually enjoyed taking my exercise outside, with the weather being beautiful at this time of year. I discovered that if you put your mind to it, camping food can definitely vary from meat, onions, more meat and marshmallows. I whipped up a meal with rice, vegetables, pork and curry which my family enjoyed just as much if not more than the usual hearty camp food.

Most of all over my break, I just enjoyed that quality time you spend with your family when you are on holidays. Interesting conversations, laughter, sand between your toes, having the time to just sit down and listen to each other, which are all signs of a great holiday break.

Until next week, I hope you all enjoy some quality time with your families over the public holidays.


Cheryl at Yaralla Fitness Centre with PT Shaun Booth

Cheryl and Megan Leane Dietitian



READ some of Cheryl’s previous entries HERE. 

Thank you to station sponsors Megan Leane Dietitian, Yaralla Fitness & Vicki Tobin-Platten from Simply Psychology


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