Each year I struggle to get through winter. Credit to those who can get through it, or even go that one step further and like it, but I am a summer person through and through.
My mental state definitely suffers as the cold days start rolling in, and especially as the days shorten. Living in Perth, some people would hardly call what we suffer winter, but it’s enough to have me needing to get away.
The last few years we’ve packed our kids in the car and headed north. There’s something magical about waking up at 5am and driving out of here in search of some sunshine.
Last year we spent 7 weeks camping in Broome and it was the most incredible time. Time that allowed us to feel completely free, free from time restraints and routine, the general running of a household and even wifi. Fitness goals went out the window, but the gains were far greater.
Convenience was the other thing we said goodbye to, and something that a lot of people can’t handle when camping, but being in nature and taking our time with everything taught me a lot about slowing down in day to day life, one of my greatest challenges.
This year we decided to head to Exmouth. We packed the car on Wednesday afternoon, got to bed early, and woke up at 4.30am for our winter adventure.
I made sure I had ample snacks for the car, veggie sticks, popcorn, banana bread, nuts, protein balls, and a simple lunch of chicken, rice, and broccoli.
One thing I’ve learnt over the years of travelling is that you can never have too much food, especially when you’ve got two hungry kids! I’ve also come to learn that every stop along the way has a mountain of deep fried dim sims, nuggets, burgers, chips, and cheese sausages that make me want to vomit.
We made it to Carnarvon before night fall and stayed in a motel. The kids were stoked to have a buffet continental breakfast and stuffed their faces with Weetbix, croissants, pancakes, and Nutrigrain – things they don’t get the chance to ever eat at home (apparently I don’t feel them well enough!)
It’s times like this that I have to relax a little and just let them enjoy it seeing as it’s a rare occasion.
I was actually pretty proud of myself because a few years back this would have caused me a load of stress. Dave and I didn’t indulge and instead held off for a real breakfast. We stopped at a playground on the way out and put some bacon, eggs, mushrooms, zucchini and tomato on the bbq and enjoyed such a fulfilling breakfast by the water while the kids played.
This is an art we honed while in Broome last year, cooking every meal off hot plate of the barbecue. There’s no end to the combo’s you can put together on a barbie. The fact that there’s limited washing up afterwards is definitely a winner.
I have included a few photos of some of our barbecue creations for people to try for themselves. It’s just a matter of getting creative and trying a whole heap of different combinations of meats/veggies and seeing what works.
Exmouth was such a lovely little town and the beaches, when not too windy, were magical. The fact that you can snorkel off the shore and see so many different species of fish and coral is a winner with both kids and adults who aren’t seasoned snorkelers.
We also did a glass bottom boat tour which I highly recommend. We got really lucky and scored a perfectly calm day and the water was turquoise so everything was extremely visible. We got to jump off the boat and spend an hour in the clear blue waters discovering the magic of the Australian coral reef.
The ocean has long been one of my biggest fears, not because of sharks, but because of the unknown. Getting more comfortable with snorkelling over the years has helped me to understand what’s actually down there, and most of the time it’s relatively harmless and abundantly beautiful.
I find that anything that connects us to nature a little more is so worth experiencing.
We also managed to get the kids out of bed to watch the sunrise from the lighthouse a couple of times. With views of the waves rolling in to the west, and the sun kissed ranges surrounding you, it’s the perfect way to start what is apparently a winter day.
Hiking through the Mandu Mandu gorge was the highlight of our trip. Last year we experienced Karijini which, so far, is one of our favourite places in Australia. We would urge anyone who hasn’t been there to get there ASAP (although it’s not like it’s going anywhere – apparently it’s been around for about 2 billion years). Keep in mind that trekking through these gorges does require a reasonable level of fitness. My son loves to do parkour through them, but I’m happy just strolling through, but even that is definitely enough to build up a sweat climbing your way to the top.
Walking through Mandu Mandu we popped our 3 year old in the hiking backpack and she was asleep within 10 minutes. Man, I wish I could experience being carried in a backpack through a gorge.
After Exmouth, we headed back towards Perth, but not without a few nights stop in the beautiful Coral Bay. I really love Coral Bay, as everything in the town is pretty much situated on one small stretch of street. For those people who don’t like kids then I’d probably suggest steering clear (especially around school holiday time) though there are many quiet stations to stay at just north of Coral Bay if it’s peace and quiet you are looking for.
Once again, we cooked some pretty epic breakfast and dinners on the caravan park barbecue. It’s great that they detail their barbies so well so you can always trust that it will be ready for your arrival.
We spent all day at the beach for the 3 days we were there. There is a really large shallow bay area which is perfect for kids, but there’s also sections of reef that are as close to 1 metre from the shoreline and there are so many species of fish to admire. It’s also great for stand up paddle boarding or kayaking as it’s very calm because of how protected it is there. It also means that it gets nowhere near the amount of wind that Exmouth does.
As nice as it is in paradise, challenges still arose for me daily.
Usually these came in the form of children fighting or whinging, so it was important for us to create time for ourselves.
I didn’t do it anywhere near as often as I would have liked, but I got a few chances to go and sit on the beach on my own and do some meditation. I’m relatively new to meditation and have been using the headspace app for the last year and a half. In that time, I’ve noticed the most profound effects.
I’ve changed so many things on my health journey over the past 7 years, but the one that I’ve experienced the most positive effects from is definitely meditation. I’ve struggled with different forms of anxiety over time, initially it was from not taking good enough care of myself and really burning the candle at both ends in my early 20’s.
After having kids it was from mothers guilt and worrying over whether I was doing right my by kids, then, as I discovered the foods we were eating were causing a lot of negative effects, I found a whole new source of anxiety as I tried to change our diet and was under constant stress trying to work out what to feed us as I stripped away things like wheat (which even though I thought we weren’t eating much, we were in fact eating it for most meals in the form of toast we ate with our eggs in the morning or Weetbix, sandwiches for lunches, and sometimes pasta for dinners).
I reckon I spent a couple of years in a state of anxiety trying to work out what the heck to eat for every meal.
The fact that all the women in my family suffered from anxiety reinforced the idea that I was predisposed to anxiety and probably couldn’t do much to change that.
I had always rolled my eyes at meditation, mainly because I thought it meant sitting cross legged in absolute silence for half an hour or more. I hardly had a spare two minutes, how was I going to find half an hour?
There was a point that I couldn’t go on with the perpetual state of anxiety, so I decided to give headspace a go after a few people recommended I try it. Boy did I have a total misconception about meditation!
The effects were almost immediate for me, but now that I’ve been meditating for almost 2 years, I’m now seeing the long lasting effects from a long term practice.
Towards the end of our trip we decided to start having cold showers after listening to a Wim Hoff podcast on one of the long drives. It’s so invigorating ending a hot shower with an icy cold blast.
There are reportedly many benefits, including stress reduction, boosting immunity, and weight loss, but the things I noticed were that I was sleeping better and feeling more energetic. I also realised it was way colder doing it when we got back to Perth in the depths of winter. Even so, we have kept on with it and it’s now been over a month and I’m feeling great.
I definitely have a love hate relationship with them though, I dread jumping in because I know what’s coming up after that beautiful warm shower, but I never regret it. The best part about starting them in winter is that it’s only going to get easier as the months get warmer.
On the way home, our last stop was Geraldton for lunch and a quick play in one of the best playgrounds I’ve had the joy of playing in (yes, I did say ‘playing in’, because Dave and I are both big kids, much to our children’s delight).
The playground is right on the beach, so after a few handstands and some play time with the kids we decided to jump in the ocean for probably our last time in a while seeing as we were heading back to Perth winter.
It wasn’t the warmest weather but I think because of cold shower training we were a lot better equipped to handle the cold, that and the knowledge that it could be our last ocean swim for a while.
Holidays can be really difficult to keep on track with your health goals. I used to just throw in the towel at the start of a holiday and think “screw it, I’ll just enjoy myself and start again when I get home”.
The problem with that attitude was that I was never completely enjoying myself because I wasn’t feeling great due to the unhealthy food I was eating. Couple that with a lack of exercise, and you come home from your holiday feeling glad that it’s over so you can get back on track. These days I have a happy medium where I’m organised enough not to throw healthy eating out the window, but still free enough to loosen the reigns and enjoy myself.
If you want some help to plan your next holiday so you don’t have to compromise your health goals, book in for a free consultation so I can equip you with everything you need.