The best things in life are not things

True friendship isn’t about being insperable. It’s about beng separated and nothing changes. Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. Its about who walks into your life and says I’m here for you and proves it.

Today was all about friendship, about two wonderful people in our lives giving us the most wonderful gift of their time and treating us to a day trip of fairytale proportions. Foxhills was simply equisite and while the boys played a round of golf with a cart so Riwais foot wouldn’t be a bother, Anne and I had a spa treatment then headed to the Manor house for a true English High Tea. And the magic didn’t finish there….. after a quick ride home we went to dinner at Emilles. A fabulous night of laughter, amazing company and food and wine to match our good moods. It certainly was worth changing our Eurostar for and a day of magical friendship memories, mmmmmm yes and a plan brewing to meet in Asia next year to keep us all focused over the next few months. Loving the Arrghhfeckit! Tour and its only Day three.

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Hugs were invented to let people know you love them without having to say anything

As we check out of the Sopwell my excitement builds again, just as I know I will see Kim again, my next hug will be for someone I met while on my OE in 1997. It has been a friendship from afar for over 16 years. Anne calls me Little Sis and I call her Big Sis. She opened her doors to me when I travelled and I often used her address as a base when I travelled back and forth from London. We only have a couple of days in London and despite having many offers of beds we know my body needs a break and Anne and Kevin, with their furry babies Molly and Terry are the perfect retreat to soak it all in. As they pull up it is just like the movies, squells of delight, true smiles from ear to ear and the long hug that says everything without uttering a single word.

The boys sit back and smile too, Anne jumps in the back and we non stop yabble yabble all the way to a country pub for lunch. I am so impressed to see salad and salmon on the menu and we sit back and catch up all afternoon in the most idylic setting – the pub is called the Cricketers and is dog friendly so we feel quite at home seeing all sorts of furry friends coming in after their walk in the common.

We are feeling nice and relaxed and my body is holding up well. Riwai decided to put a call out to everyone in the UK to meet tomorrow at a pub for a Sunday afternoon catch up. We are only in London for the weekend and we know it will be a big ask but it was the only way we could do it. We have a few yes’s so that is Sunday all planned.

As we are driving home, Kevin asks what our preference is for dinner. Riwai has been an amazing support crew not just here but over the last few years so the least I can do is let him pick dinner – knowing full well it will be his favourite and my least favourite Indian! Apparently no London trip is complete without a Curry and a Pint!

We have a great dinner and I must say the food was pretty damn good. An early night and a big sleep in the next day was just what we both needed. Ready to go again.

Another round of those perfect long hugs where you don’t have to say anything. We are so blessed to catch up with everyone, we were sad we didn’t have more time for those we missed, but all the same it is a great day.

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We are due to leave on the Eurostar tomorrow…. but Kevin and Anne think this should be our – Arrghfeckit Tour – They both have tomorrow off and have concocted a plan they think we don’t want to miss…… and before we know it we have rebooked the train for Wednesday.

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That was the most memorable and amazing day and up with one of the top 10 things I have ever done. I am still pinching myself and a litte in awe of who I was surrounded by, who I was supported by and how I did what I set out to do in my unique style. I may not have taken home the first prize however I have gained so much and totally feel like a winner. The judges feedback was so valuable.

And the top prize went to a most deserving and humble winner, Kim Ingleby is an amazing person and trainer and with 15 years experience and her own unique story. it was an absolute pleasure to spend time with her and the other eight magnificent trainers. It is a life changing day I will never never forget.

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I thought this would be an easy post to write but I was so overwhelmed with emotion it has been difficult to put into words what it was like. I have started it each morning to put it in writing but then I just sit and smile with a goofy and satisfied look on my face. How do I describe this amazing feeling….. well it’s like the caramel or chocolate oozing from the centre of a warm fondant. I have tingles and that mmmmm warmth and good feeling all over. Weird analogy when I am about to describe being a finalist in a global fitness competition but hopefully you will get a sense warmth and wonderment too. ๐Ÿ™‚

I woke up super early – just like Christmas morning and lay out my uniform. My damn left wrist is playing up – today of all days! Luckily we packed my wrist brace and after a lashing of anitflamme it settles. I have a shower going over and over in my head… “I got here on my own merits” Both bakers cysts are up and my wee legs look like overstuffed sausages. It is just all a bit overwhelming… I can feel the tears coming and think of everyone back home and that because of them I am here. Riwai is being amazing and super supportive. The clock ticks over 6.25am. All my little sentiments are with laid out too and as I add one by one, I pause to savour each memory and what each sentiment means – my pretty pear bird earrings that symbolise so much, my watch and pounamu from nan, my pandora charms from my mum, dad and Riwai. My inspire and be the change bracelet and my bridge and circle of support bracelet. As I put my last charm around my neck it reads “be the best version of you”. All are super important and together they symbolise my tremendous journey to this point. I am almost ready – my tshirt reads personal trainers to watch and coincidentally is in my new categrace.com blue. I pop all my medications out of my blister pack, as my head goes briefly to the “wow they really picked me”. The irony of pill popping, crutches and wrist guards is another moment to pause, breath and take it all in. …. Riwai is putting my NZ and kiwi sticker on my crutches, i nip back to the bathroom for a last nervous pee and a double check I have all I need. These curves and crutches are about to take the world stage… More tears are coming but my final bit of strength comes from my soul mates. Riwai leans over with a bear hug and perfect kiss on the forehead. “You’ve got this babe, go do it for our LeapStars, those who have passed. We are already proud of you so what ever happens, just go have fun”.

We meet all the competitors and judges for breakfast. Thanks to social media we feel like we are catching up with old friends, we are all humbled and excited to be a part of this special day. Before we know it we are on the bus and heading down to Nuffield Health.

When we arrive the nerves pop back to say hello – cameras, lights, judges tables, the synrgy360 is magnificent and there behind it are our own named chairs. We are as ready as we can be….

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WOW – 36 hours ground to ground and we feel good. Christchurch-Sydney-Bangkok-Dubai-London! Amazing! Arrival to Heathrow was smooth as I had booked special assistance (wheel chair support) just in case and LifeFitness had organised a driver at arrivals to pick us up. So much easier than navigating the tubes and trains. Ari was super helpful and whisked us out of the airport and to the country before we could say good afternoon. I felt like Cinderella as we arrived at our home for the competition Sopwell House. http://www.sopwellhouse.co.uk/

It is such beautiful country house, nestled in the trees just out of St Albans. Ari had been a world traveller for many years and he said the best thing to do was not to sleep. The Americas Cup decider was on but not for a good few hours -we were in disbelief that we had gone from 8-1 to this race, but it was a great distraction to keep us awake long enough to adjust to the time zone properly. We headed into St Albans to look at the grand cathedral, organise a SIM card and potter. We stumbled over the most amazing pub built in 1420 – the boot http://www.thebootstalbans.com/. It was a great way to keep awake and we arrived back to the room for a magnificent and luxurious sleep – we put the tv on and woke up just to hear oracle winning….and then headed back to sleep until morning. It was blissful cx

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“Life is an adventure or it is nothing”
Just over three years ago I woke up in the early hours of the morning to our bed violentley shaking, it was like a giant had picked us slightly off the floor and was shaking us all about. As the sound of shattered glass echoed from the kitchen, I stumbled up and gingerly walked holding onto the walls as one by one everything shook out of the cupboards. I was heading to our big wooden table, that felt like it was a mile away. I made it under the table, calling out for Riwai to join me. There was no time to be under the table, he was on a day shift for our local emergency services and he was switching into work mode.. As the sun rose, we checked on neighbours and phoned loved ones, social media sites went crazy with reports of the near misses and the magnitude hitting the world papers. We had no power and with my elderly nan living in the front of us we decided it to my aunts house, as at least we could have a cuppa. So we grabbed the dog, bundled nan into the car and dropped Riwai off to the inner city police station. for work. It was a very unusual day.

I had no idea that amongst all the destruction and chaos that would follow, Mother Nature had handed me the most extraordinary gifts. The earthquakes reinforced my love for empowering people, reminded me of my deep respect for the power of nature and ignited an inner passion for experience, and with this enjoying every moment and discovering an inner strength and self belief I never knew I had.

At the time of the first quakes I was a Youth Coordinator for one of NZ largest government departments. I was delivering a seminar I had called ICAN – focussing on following dreams and discovering individual talents when a major aftershock hit, as the youth dived for the tables, one of them yelled out “so miss are you following your dream working with us”. The penny dropped, one small line from a stranger, changed my life forever.
I went home that night and made the decision to resign and follow my passion. On September 24th 2010 I became a full time Leap Coach in our business Leap Fitness and Motivation Ltd.

Three years later to the day I am flying out from Christchurch NZ as one of 10 finalists in the LifeFitness Global Personal Trainers Competition in London, UK. I have been nominated by my LeapStars (clients) and from over 1500 entrants spanning 43 countries the seven international judges picked me. My curves and crutches got me into this amazing industry and now I have the opportunity to showcase my uniqueness and wellness beliefs.

Buckle up readers – this is going to be one hellava magnificent adventure.

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This year was the 10th series of the 20 Weeks body and lifestyle competition. What an epic and amazing series it was. It was my seventh series and every year it just keeps getting bigger and better.

This unique competition showcases the individual journey of an entrant in pursuit of a mission they have chosen.

The judges recognise best changes in each category rather than just the best. It allows for anybody with a goal – big or small enter and do well. It allows trainers to offer a holistic style of training that can be tailored to an individuals needs.

Last week we celebrated 49 Leapstars completing in the Catch Fitness 20 Weeks Body and Lifestyle competition. It is my busiest month of the year. The last few weeks August involving testing and report writing, before submitting measurements, fitness tests, inside health check, testimony and photos to nationwide judging panel. Over two weeks they read every entrant across the country and decide the finalists and winners in 17 Categories. Then the entrants night of nights arrives. It is my most favourite night of the year as we see the transformation from the gym to the glamour and glitz they all deserve. We all attend a Black Tie awards function in the Grand Hall of the Chateau Hotel and then we take over a restaurant to celebrate the success of every LeapStar entrant.

There as simply no way we were missing out on the night. I never go in expecting winners or finalists, not because no one deserves one but simply because I believe every single one of my entrants has already won. I love celebrating their success and transformations. I am often asked who my favourite is or who do I expect to be a finalist. When asked I feel like a mother who is being asked to favour one child over another. It is a near impossible task as everyone has such a different set of results, a different set of circumstances that arrived them as a LeapStar, a different reason to share good news and celebrate their individual success. During the 20 weeks I get to see the transformation and bring it together in a judges report . I told the head judges this year, I am sorry if they are not in the correct order or we have submitted more than required, but I write my reports for my LeapStars to showcase their remarkable journey.

Last Monday night arrived into the Grand Hall and it looks exquisite – thank goodness I had waterproof mascara as the team looked amazing, and I kept hearing myself say “I did that, I helped shape that”. It was simply fabulous. I was so overwhelmed that I nearly missed our first finalists being named. What an evening, as were heading to the restaurant it was all surreal – We had seen Leap 18 LeapStars up on the big screen listed in 25 finalist spots We took home seven winners titles. I was totally overwhelmed in a uber proud and excited way. Then when the night seemingly couldn’t get much better it occured to me that this series the judges got us, they got what Leap was about in this milestone 10th series. They could see that we don’t do ordinary and we don’t focus only on weight donation. We focus on being healthier, fitter, stronger and happy from the inside and out. Seeing our entrants being acknowledged for that was the best feeling in the world.

Our finalists list is as follows with our winners underlined;
Adventure – Emma Alldridge
Balance – Anna Wright, Sarah Taylor and Guillermo Ocano
Cardiovasular changes – Rebecca Richards, Sarah Taylor, Dale Watson
Entrants Choice – Josephine Dove, Evan Taylor
Flexibility – Shannon Moore
Lifestyle – Dale Watson, Emma Alldridge
Maintanance – Bernadette Smith
New Mums – Sarah Taylor
Opals (Over 60s) – Cathryn McEwan
Overall Entrant – Lou McLeod, Kerrie de Haan
Strength – Amy Billingsly, Lou McLeod, David McLeod, Dave Race
Top Job (special mention) – Kerrie de Haan, Flora McCormack
Tutuman (Under 16) – Hannah MacDonnell
Upper Body – Evan Taylor

And we had a futher 31 other amazing entrants they also changed their lives and have opened new doors of opportunity. A special meniton to our entrants choice Wendy Davie who was voted by the tribe as an inpiration this series.

Congratulations to all our entrants and their support crews. We know your all all winners in some way in your own lives. And despite all the hard work, ups and downs, good bad and the ugly we will be back in April 2014 to do it all again and we hope you will be joining us ๐Ÿ™‚

This last month has been ridiculously taxing on me and those around me. We are about to attempt our forth go at treatment for my RA. Meanwhile I am on double dose of steroids and antibiotics. However with my health in limbo I was reminded of three great quotes I first heard while on my Aspire course at Outward Bound last year.

1. You have the ability to achieve great things. Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the damn thing yourself ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. How to really be alive! Live juicy. Stamp out comformity. Spend a day in your pj’s dream of gypsy wagons. Find snails making love. Develop and outstanding appetite for books. Drink sunsets. Draw out your feelings. Amaze yourself. Be ridiculous. Stop worrying. Make yes your favourite word. Marry yourself. Treat yourself like you would your bestie. Dry your clothes in the sun. Eat mangos on pavs. Keep toys in your bath. Spin yourself dizzy. Hang upside down. Follow a child. Celebrate an old person. Send a love letter to someone. Be advance. Try endearing. Invent new ways to love. Transform negatives. Delight someone. Wear pyjamas to the movies. Wear pyjamas to the supermarket. Allow yourself to feel rich without money. Be who you truly are. Believe in everything. You are always on your way to a miracle. The miracle is you!

3. Life should NOT be a journey to the grave, with one the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well presented body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body throughly used up, totally worn out screaming “wahoo it was worth the ride”

So despite being up and down and inside out I decided to push to the limits and turn the damn light one! Instead of letting the negative overwhelm me I picked myself up, dusted myself of and made the decision to concentrate on living. I took a week off work and planned a retreat – not for me but for 20 of my clients. I wanted to live, leap, love and laugh… and so we headed off to Hanmer, where we did just that – entertained, loved living, enjoyed exercise, appreciated alone time, and played positively. We laughed, giggled, smiled and laughed some more. we themed it up as kiwiana to spark up memories and and easy conversation. It was a super, enjoyable weekend in the fresh and rainbows.

I love smiles and seeing a genuine smile and even better laughter woft through the air – it truly puts me in my happy place. Somehow (with a stack of help) we pulled out a kiwiana themed extravaganza and it was epic!

I witnessed my mission in life unfolding. I set out every morning to inspire one person to find and share their good news and discover their inner sparkle. When everyone left today I jumped in the shower and cried (partly cos i was tired) but mostly because I was so happy and overwhelmed by what we had achieved. i witnessed an inner sparkle and happiness it in all 20 of those who shared in the weekend … And I could not be happier.. the bonus to hear the stories, share the food, fun and laughter and watch what should be a mismatched group from school year end 1966-2002 bond as if they were never not friends. OMG it was AMAZING!. Everyone made my weekend magic. i saw the stress melt away and everyone’s shoulders relax as if a weight had been lifted. it made me feel super proud, we didn’t want it to end. We really are a tribe! as i sat back and watched them all and sipped on hot chocolate for breakfast (only at leap lol) – every ounce of hardwork, stress, late night planning, aches and pains, doubts and own frustrstions about my own health melted away.

It was a totally euphoric and in that moment I realised the weekend was going to be one of those life changing, game player moments. Kiwiana weekend extravaganzas really are good for our health! It guided me believe in me again, put those ducks back in a row and ignited the passion to continue to inspire others to find their good news which I totally know ultimately makes me uber excited and happy.

so a big and special thank you to all those who came and took part and all the little bits and bobs you did to pull it all off. A huge shout out to the Leap team Lou &.Emma. You two are amazing and thank you so much for all your behind the scenes contribution. thanks to the workers house crew Susie, Shannon, Sarah, Evan & David. Seriously couldn’t have pulled it off without you! To all the other helpers particularly on Meal Prep and then Sunday… Thank you – my wrists held up & i got a sleep in….

My biggest hug goes out to a very special hug and thank you to my amazing, patient husband an soulmate. you are always in my corner and supporting me to run with my gut and intuition, craziness often prevails and pulling off effortless can mean chaos behind the scenes, but ultimately your support really does allow me to be me and change the world one smile at a time xx

Ps both days the most amazing grey mist appear rainbows each morning, reminding me
Next time i am questioned by my peers or asked why on earth would a “sick person” in so much pain do such a ridiculous things…. I can reply….”everyone wants happiness, no one wants pain. Because you will never see a rainbow without a little rain”

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Today this pic popped up in my news feed. If I was looking for a sign this was it!

Twelve years ago I was sitting in a harbour view restaurant sharing a Monday after match lunch with two senior engineers and three key stakeholder clients. . The British Lions had just lost to the Wallabies. Dad had taught to me to always support the All Blacks or anyone playing Australia so I had worn my red suit jacket and red boots to create a great conversation starter with the five boys.

Last night the British Lions fought a hard battle down to the wire against the wallabies in Briabane and won!

Over the past few weeks I had been feeling a little incongruent and had been feeling myself slip into worrying about what others think. I was feeling compelled to conform and follow the sheep. It is so silly as I have the most wonderful group of people around me who believe in what I do, sadly a few sheep in wolves clothing had been throwing me off.

The win and atmosphere in Brisbane reminded me of one of two of my wonderful bosses/mentors I had overseas…..

1. My very British ex military, rugby mad Investment Banker who said in my last week as his project assistant – “Don’t change Cate, the world needs more honest hard working kiwis. One day you will make a great role model and remember everything I put you through. Don’t quit when it gets too hard…. Keep your chin up and fight for what you believe in!
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2. My very traditional Australian, also sport mad and talented Mechanical engineer who took me out for lunch at one of Sydneys finest during the 2001 British Lions Tour. I had led my first ever $10mill project on time and under budget. “Cate, you have changed Sydney and our sector for ever, all these blokes will think twice about saying no to having a woman on their team. The clever ones chose you while those fuddy duddys are kicking themselves for saying No. In the future you make sure you ignore the lambs, vultures, monkeys and soothsayers! Follow your instincts and dare to be different. Roar like a lion! And if you don’t study engineering you promise me you use your talent to kick ass!!

So to all those bosses out there – dish out some praise every now and then…. It may just change a life or an entire sector without you ever realising it. Who would have thought all these years later what pearls of wisdom they both had both offered me…

I am not an Investment Banker or even in finance and I didn’t go on to study Engineering but I am sure they would be both pleased to know I am kicking ass, being a role model and roaring like a lion.

Oops nearly forgot …….a huge thanks to those boys at lunch all those years ago at Aria – thank you for the banter, picking up the tab because you felt sorry “my” team lost and setting me up with a wonderful lifetime memory. Every four years when the British Lions tour I will be a reminded its ok to stand out from the crowd and Always Be Me!

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