Life + Style

Pulling Off the Seemingly Impossible

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My friends often comment to me in wonder at how I get by in life taking some of the risks that I do, how I manage to pull off things one would not have thought possible, and how I always manage to land on my feet. Here’s a little insight into my ideology on LIVING…

It’s because I do what I want to and just find a way to make it work, I’m not afraid or embarrassed to ask for what I want, and don’t let the fear of “what if?” stop me. You never know until you try, you don’t get if you don’t ask, and “what if” hasn’t happened yet – and usually doesn’t. And if it does, I’ll deal with it at the time.

Rather than “what if?” I like to ask, what’s the worst that can happen? Most of the time the worst isn’t really so bad, often results in further opportunities and any issues can usually be avoided/fixed either by pre-preparation, being friendly or with money. And as much as it sucks to have to give up your hard earned dollars for a mistake, money is just money, you can always make more. I have “wasted” tens of thousands of $ fixing mistakes, but is my life any worse for it now? Actually I couldn’t be happier, so it can’t have been too bad. I try to think of it as an investment haha. Stressing over an unmade decision or unhappiness on the other hand, can cause a wealth of health problems that money can’t fix.

I prefer to go with my gut and put my trust in the universe that whatever is meant to happen will happen, and that if I’m meant to land in some kind of trouble I’m smart or resourceful enough to get myself out of it. Or will be by the time I’m done ;)

  Wearing  Femme Body Active , both pictures taken by  Mark Sullivan-Bradley .

Wearing Femme Body Active, both pictures taken by Mark Sullivan-Bradley.

Creating Your Own Success in an Unfair World

I learned very early on in childhood that life is not fair; when all my friends would get pocket money and I didn’t, when my friends were allowed to watch movies that I wasn’t, when my friends were allowed to do everything that I wasn’t, resulting in my getting kicked out of home at 15 years old for basically being a rebellious teenager and refusing to conform to stupid rules. Before you start feeling sorry for me though, know that I had the BEST teenage life EVER. But not because I whinged about it, because I accepted my situation as it was and did something to change it.

My parents main issue was that they didn’t believe I could have a job and a social life and still do well at school. I beyond believed in myself, and if someone tells me I can’t, I thank them for giving me my #1 ambition in life… proving them wrong. I worked at the local supermarket getting paid $7 an hour to support myself. My rent was $30/week to live in basically a shoe box of a room that my single bed just fit in and I had to climb on it to get to my clothes rack. I never missed a day of school. I would look at my timetable and if I saw I had classes that I knew we were just working out of a textbook, or like PE etc., I would fake illness and go to sick bay for blocks of classes and not only get all my work done for that class, but all my homework for the week and work on my assignments distraction free of changing classes every 40 minutes. This meant that I didn’t ever have much work to do outside of school, so I could work my job during the week and party all weekend. Some thought I was a little wild, I thought I had great time management, was smarter than the average conformist and was just living life to the full. Just for the record, I graduated in the top 5% of the state and with savings in the bank.

And there my will to succeed and find happiness regardless of my situation was established.

Something that aggravates me to my core is when people use sexism, age, being too tall/short/awkward/fat/ugly, too poor, or any other kind of inequality treatment as an excuse for why they are not where they want to be in life. Don’t take this the wrong way and think that I find being overlooked or mistreated for those things acceptable or that they are not issues, but you can make an issue out of anything and life is not fair. I repeat, LIFE IS NOT FAIR. It will never be fair. And the first step to success and happiness is accepting the situation as it is and then coming up with a game plan that takes this into account and still gets you there.

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I could whinge about the fact that I’m a woman and so I’ll never be able to make as much money in boxing as my male friends. I could give up on my dream and forever blame the world for “what I could’ve been” if the world was more fair. Or, I can accept the situation as it is, try to be smarter than the average person, make the best of it and still kill it anyway. Maybe I need to work a little harder or make more sacrifices but if I’m happy living my dream, a world champion and am rolling in more money than I can even spend then WHO CARES if a bunch of guys made more money than me. I have enough. Why do I need to get salty about someone else having more?

Too many people thinking they can change the world by sitting around complaining about it. I hope you can, but my life experience says you won’t. That’s not to say you shouldn’t make individual effort. I believe in leading by example. Treat people the way you want to be treated, even if they don’t reciprocate. If you’re not paying top dollar shopping at your local family owned business, don’t whinge that large corporations are taking over the world. If you only date people you are attracted to, don’t whinge about unsightly or overweight people not being able to get jobs. If you don’t walk around the streets at night finding homeless people to offer your home to, don’t whinge about the world not caring about homeless people.

There are always options for people who are willing to find them. I’m not saying it’s easy or obvious, but it’s never impossible. Some of us are far luckier than others. Some of us need to take far more risk than others. But never think you can’t succeed in life because of life not being fair. Go get it xx

Avril

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Outfit: Top – Misguided | Skirt – Armani Exchange | Watch – Mido Watches | Bag – JLew Bags | Other Jewelry – Gifts and Markets

My Biggest Lessons of 2016

 Photo: @lakescreates

Photo: @lakescreates

It’s the second last day of the year today (or the last, depending on where you are in the world), and my Instagram feed is full of posts celebrating achievements and amazing adventures of the year gone by. And I LOVE reading this stuff… hearing about what people have managed to pull off is super motivating for me now. The possibilities of things you can do in life excites my mind. But I didn’t always see it this way. There was a time where even if I was happy for the person, these sorts of posts would make me feel like I was falling behind the rest of the world and just couldn’t keep up. Now I’m a little older, wiser and as a result have a confidence in myself that allows me to see this as inspiration rather than a highlight of my own short comings. So rather than talk about my year’s achievements (which I am pretty super proud of), I want to share what I learned instead that helped me reach them.

“You’ve got to start somewhere to make it anywhere.”

 Generally, by the time you get to know about most successful people, they’re at a point where they’re killing the game. This means that unless you knew them personally way back when, it’s very rare that you get to see the what actually happened in the early days to get them to where they are now. We assume they have some kind of freak talent or maybe stumbled upon a secret formula that skyrocketed them to stardom on their first or second attempt.

But my big discovery of the year was that most people are actually not good at things. If you really enjoy something or realise you have what you think is just a minor talent for something, chances are you are more skilled at it than 95% of the population. There are so many things I never thought I’d be able to do years ago because I only saw the “best” and compared myself to them assuming they were always like this. It wasn’t until I trained alongside or immersed myself more closely with these people that I realised where they’d actually come from, and observed the work they put in day in day out to create these opportunities for themselves.

And there’s nothing wrong with being at the bottom; the least successful person in the room, or the gym. Because, that means that everyone around you is a little bit smarter or more successful than you. And hanging around with, learning from and being inspired and motivated by these kinds of people is the fastest way to not only improve yourself but put yourself in the land of opportunity, or “right place, right time” as they say.

“Never compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20.”

Don’t take for granted your little achievements (especially when you first start out with something) or be embarrassed because they seem small compared to the people at the top of the game. People will judge the magnitude of your achievements by the way you portray them. If you’re like “OMG I’m so happy I got 6 people reading my blog post yesterday! That’s like 6 people more than myself that actually find what I have to write about interesting!”, then people will be like “Wow congrats!” And when seeing how happy that makes you, will help you spread the word and help you grow. If they weren’t one of the 6, for sure they’ll be number 7. And if they were, they’re probably thinking “Only 6? How are more people not onto how great this girl’s blog is?!” and go tell all their friends about you. But if you’re like “Ohh I only got like 150 people reading my blog post yesterday”, (and then make some kind of excuse for why you would have more under some other circumstance or whatever), people will just think you’re a failure. Because you think you’re a failure.

The ones that you perceive to be good at stuff just love what they do and are insanely hard workers. You can literally succeed at anything if you work hard enough or try enough times. I’ve seen it… people that just relentlessly try and try and modify and try every different avenue until they eventually get a break through. Not many people see this side of success, and think just because they have a great idea or try something once that it will work. Then when it doesn’t, they give up way too easily. So, if you have talent as well as a solid work ethic, there is a high chance you could very well become the best. Believe it.

Up until this year, I actually believed that because I only started boxing when I was 25, I would never realistically be able to become a world champion. I mean, there are girls who had been doing it since they were like 8 years old! Especially when I started sparring with some of these girls and they were kicking my ass. But it wasn’t long until the sparring was very competitive, and sometimes I was even the one doing the ass kicking. We were helping each other to drastically improve and the quality of the sparring was becoming cause for comment in the gym. The thing that really changed my whole mindset, was when someone pointed out that even though my oppositions had started 1 to 2 decades earlier than I, if you do the maths this meant that I was improving at a rate 5 times faster than what they were. Boom.

To recap…

  • Starting small or at the bottom is ok. Just start.
  • Surround yourself with people smarter than you.
  • Use others’ success for inspiration and don’t lose focus on your goals.
  • Work hard.
  • Celebrate your achievements.

I hope to see you kicking ass in 2017!! Happy New Year (and THANK YOU for reading my blog posts!) Feel free to comment some of the things you’ve achieved this year and give me some inspo going into 2017! 

Avril

The Story of Boxing and I

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“Aren’t you scared of being punched in the face?” Is almost always the response when people ask about me boxing competitively. And I guess it is an odd combination given my international pageant titles (Las Vegas International Model Search 2016 and Miss Swimsuit USA International 2014) and sideline modelling career haha, but to be honest its not really something I am concerned about. I mean, no one enjoys being punched in the face haha, but you don’t get into the ring just to be a punching bag; the aim of the game is to punch without getting punched, to master the art of movement. So I guess you could say that the likely possibility of getting punched in the face is just extra motivation to train hard, be smart and untouchable 😉

For me, boxing is like a cross between a game of chess, poker and the ultimate fitness test. It crosses tactics, trickery, mental and physical strength in a way that no other sport does. Not only do you have to work your opponent out and come up with a constantly changing game plan in just milliseconds, you have to be able to have the physical ability to carry it out, on your own. I remember years ago watching combat sports thinking, “come on, just scoot around and hit him there with that punch” or whatever, and its not until you’re in the ring yourself and realise that the fighter probably knew that, his trainer knew it too and was screaming it at him from the corner, but he just couldn’t physically do it haha.

The training you put in to prepare for a fight forces you to learn a lot about who you are as a person. As not just a boxer but a trainer also, I can bear witness to the fact that the way people train is generally how we live every other part of our lives too. To actually step into the ring and fight takes guts and commitment, which gives you the opportunity to strengthen your character and be the person you want to be (whoever that may be) and have that attitude transpire into all other aspects of your life.

People often ask me, “why boxing? Why not muay thai? Or MMA?” and the fact is I actually started off doing Muay Thai when I was 16. A guy grabbed my butt at a party so I turned around and punched him on the chin, incorrectly of course, and almost broke my thumb. Haha, but my unrestrained hostility was apparent enough for his friend to come up to me afterward and suggest that I join his Muay Thai class the next week, so I did. I trained in Muay Thai on and off for years, and from when I was about 22 I even started to take regular trips to Thailand to train there. Though late in 2012 I broke my foot in training, which was just one of a number of constant training injuries. At the time I was training with a coach that had a strong background in boxing and so as a way to stay fit until I could kick again, he started to teach me not just technique but also the tactical side of boxing.

Until then, I never realised how different the 2 sports were and how much more you need to think in boxing. Muay Thai is literally just 2 people standing in front of each other and a test of who is tougher can react faster. In boxing you have only your hands, so you need to be a lot smarter and fitter to manoeuvre your whole body around the ring. I always laugh when girls tell me they’d rather do kickboxing over boxing because they want to work their legs… I’m like, “girl, you have clearly never boxed properly” haha. I have never had more compliments on my butt and legs than since I started boxing. And no, I don’t “squat” (outside of rolling under punches) … well rarely, and not more than like 15kg anyway haha.

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Learning the art and science behind boxing was what made me interested in actually fighting for the for the first time. I mean, how else to put my new knowledge to the test? Sparring is fun, but the adrenaline, the learning process, and the ultimate challenge really comes when you are in that pressure situation of an actual fight. After the first time I was addicted, so it was only natural to have 10 more, and I don’t plan to stop there. So far I’m up to 11 fights, with 8 wins including 1 TKO.

I’ve been lucky enough to have trained with some of the best in my time, starting with Chris Carden from Platinum Boxing Club on the Gold Coast (Australia), Mayweather Boxing Gym, UNLV and Top Rank in Vegas, and for the past month I’ve been training at the World Famous 5th St Boxing Gym in Miami (Florida), which has been amazing to say the least. Everyone has their own different style; there is no one way to box. So training with guys at the top of their game is not only super motivating, but if you keep your eyes, ears and mind open you can always learn something from everyone that you can incorporate into your own style. That never-ending learning process keeps me hooked.

The second question is usually “so does it hurt getting punched in the head?” At the time, no. Well, not for me anyway. There is so much adrenaline pumping in a fight the only thing I feel is if I can still see and breathe or not. I tend to be so focussed on the job at hand that all other pain senses switch off, until the next day or hours after the fight at least haha. I have had many a black eye, generally from sparring more than actual fights, but nothing a bit of make up can’t cover up and a couple of paracetamol can take away the pain. Give me minor black eyes any day over the deeply bruised shins, knee, hip and ankle injuries, broken toes, limps and tennis elbows I’ve had from Muay Thai and would no doubt endure from MMA! 😉

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So that is why I fight. But I get that jumping into the ring to compete isn’t for everyone (come on girls, we need more of you in the sport haha). Though I can assure you that it is the best, most fun and most effective fat burning workout I have ever done; I have never been fitter in my life. Which is why when writing the BodyBAM exercise programs (my holistic online fitness program for women that is launching next week!!), I included so many boxing workouts… You will be having so much fun you wont even realise how hard you’re working 😉 Check it out now >> www.bodybam.com 

Enjoy xx

Avril

Work Smarter Not Harder

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In mid-2014 a few little unanswered health problems prompted me to go and see a naturopath. After getting to know a little about my self and lifestyle it was her diagnosis that the root of my problems was most likely just due to stress. When she suggested it, I laughed inside my head. I mean, my life is hardly stressful… I am healthy, fit, have supportive people around me, a successful business, I travel lots and generally have it pretty good. Of course life comes with its problems, and I’ve had my fair share of “down days”, but I try to always be positive just keep on trudging through. But on further questioning, she was quite certain that this was it. She asked me if I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the amount of things I thought I had to do and felt like I could never get everything done? On that, she had me nailed… this was me all over. But I had never considered it as “stress” before, I just told myself I wasn’t productive enough, and tried to work harder. Apparently this is the first part of chronic stress, which can lead to anxiety and depression, a road I definitely did not want to go down.

So here’s a few tips I implemented throughout 2015 that changed my life and actually saw me start achieving my goals:

– Write down your goals in order of priority. Not that I’m generally one for New Years resolutions, but New Years Eve 2014/15 saw me laying by a pool in Vietnam with my manager and she was writing down her goals for the coming year… so I thought I’d do the same. It was then I realized that there were waaayy too many things on that list, and most of them had been on there for at least a year or 2 already. I needed to prioritize them and even let some go, at least until I had completed some of the more important ones.

– Realize that you can’t do everything well at once. I was never going to be the standard of boxer or DJ that I knew I could be with the limited time I was able to commit, I generally didn’t have the time to take on bigger, interstate modeling assignments, and I was never going to get my other business projects completed with my time and headspace being so cluttered… and while running my WickedBodz Fitness Centre at the same time. Something had to give if I wanted to be successful at ANY of these things. It was hard to make the decision not to compete in boxing last year or to pursue other potentially lucrative offers BUT, using the some of the other tips below, I was able to learn to “work smarter, not harder” at WickedBodz; giving me the time to finally complete BodyBAM (my online fitness program launching in Feb), and create Mathie Athletic, my luxe women’s fitness wear line that will launch this week!! And now that those two things are finally ticked off my list, I actually have the time to properly commit to boxing, modeling and my music in 2016. You will have far more success putting 100% into everything you do if it means doing one thing at a time, than 90% into a bunch of things… 90% is not enough when your competition is putting in 100%.

– Make a list of everything you think you need to do. I do this in the Notes of my iPhone; I’ve had a never-ending list for the past 7 years. Take each thing off that list and categorize it into…

  • A’s: things that absolutely MUST get done asap, no question
  • B’s: things that need to be done, but that are not urgent.
  • C’s: things that you should and would like to do, but if you didn’t the world is not going to fall apart.

Within the list of A’s, make the things of highest priority A1’s. Also make the things you have been avoiding/hate doing A1’s. These get done first.

You will never get to your C’s. I almost never even get to my B’s! Unless they eventually became important enough to become A’s they just don’t get done. I used to think this was such a disorganized way of thinking and living, and wonder how one could ever get ahead in life with this attitude! But the funny thing is that the past year I have felt more productive than ever, and yeah I still have my stressful days now and again, but it’s not constant. Because without even realising, you will always MAKE time for the things that excite you and that you want to do.

Every few weeks or months I scroll to the bottom of my to-do list where the B’s and C’s are, and most often I find the B’s have either already been done (they must have become A’s at some point) or are still just B’s and that’s FINE. I usually find the C’s are now irrelevant and never really even needed to be done. Seeing this made me aware of how many unimportant things I had been trying to squeeze into my day that important things (things I didn’t want to do) were falling by the wayside and causing me more unnecessary stress down the track. Now that I don’t waste whole days doing God knows what, I can actually get to the bottom of my (A) list and have time to do FUN things!

– Use your “thinking hats”. Allocate and schedule set times each week to do certain types of activities (and only them), and try to avoid doing more than 3-5 different activities in one day. Different types of jobs/activities use different parts of our brain and require different ways of thinking. eg. Doing the accounting uses a different head space to training clients, which uses a different head space to designing, which is different to marketing, answering emails, socializing with friends etc.

So you can imagine if the activities of your day required you to be jumping back and forth from one “thinking hat” to 10 others, you’re going to be pretty mentally exhausted by the end… exactly how I was feeling. Even though my workload wasn’t as huge as some, it was just poorly structured and was overloading my brain. Sometimes I’d feel like I was sitting there staring at a wall for 20 minutes, getting distracted by anything and everything before I could even focus on the job at hand.

– Make time each day for yourself/self reflection. Some call it meditation. Even if its just 15 minutes, reminding yourself of your goals, envisioning where you see yourself in 5 years and taking the time to acknowledge what you have already achieved so far is SO important to staying on track.

– Have something to look forward to each day. This is the fantastic advice of my best friend Veronika (follow her on IG @veronikalarisova) who is the most productive and inspiring person I think I have ever met. Whether it’s a personal training session, a lunch with friends or whatever; knowing you have something you really enjoy on the cards for the day helps to motivate you to get out of bed in the morning and push through the other “less fun” parts of the day. Fun things make us relax, and when we are relaxed we can delve deeper into the layers of our brain, right down to deep in the subconscious where we are most creative and PRODUCTIVE.

If I have to finish by highlighting the point that I find most important, it would be to make sure you do something fun everyday – comical considering this post is about being more productive and working, but as a workaholic, that’s my hot tip! 😉

Avril

What to Wear to the Polo

What to wear to the Polo? About month ago, I was asking myself the same question! So I contacted my friends at The Birdcage Stylist help who were kind enough to save my ass and help me out!

From what I saw the general etiquette seems to be similar to that of the races, minus the fascinators. There were many hats, though this is the current trend and not a requirement.

I could generalise most women into two types of outfits; beautiful designer dresses, or something that would resemble a ridiculously stylish, sexy riding outfit, the latter of which won the Fashions on the Field. Regardless of which was worn, I feel like the general style was a lot edgier and more hipster that a regular racing outfit… Which I loved! I felt perfectly dressed in my Camilla and Marc dress, which you can actually rent for a smidgeon of the price tag from The Birdcage Stylist… and lets be honest, its not like you can wear a dress like this again.

I teamed it with nude accessories, and just a note… wedges are a MUST on the grass! 😉

(And please excuse the hideous state of my hair, the rain destroyed it! Haha)

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Check out more amazing outfits The Birdcage Stylist has on offer here:

http://www.thebirdcagestylist.com.au

Instagram: @thebirdcagestylist

My Sunday Style - May 31, 2015

Sunday is often the only day of the week I get to get out of my gym gear, so lately I’ve been making the most of it! Today’s Sunday style consisted of shimmery black, high-waisted tights and a crocheted crop, both from one of my favourite online stores, Sabo Skirt. Winter has hit here on the Gold Coast, but we’re pretty lucky – it’s hardly what the rest of the world may call a “winter”. The pants were quite a thin material, so they was the perfect amount of cold protection without being too hot. Even though the top looks woollen and wintery (as much as a crop can I guess haha), it’s made from acrylic, so it doesn’t have that uncomfortable scratchy feel that wool does or shrink in the wash! 

I wore it with flat tanned boots that had grey embellishment to match the top, and had a hooded back leather jacket for if I got really cold – though it never did. Could easily be dressed up with gold jewellery, heels and a blazer or jacket to wear out at night.

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Get them here:

Pants – http://saboskirt.com/shop/product/stretch-pants

Top – http://saboskirt.com/shop/product/tuscany-crochet-crop—grey

 

Xx

Avril

3 Ways to Dress Muscly Shoulders to look Slim and Elegant

Since I started boxing 2 years ago, one of the most noticeable changes in my body has been the increase of muscle tone in my shoulders. At first I hated it; I thought it looked masculine, and tried to avoid doing all the necessary strength work required of anyone who wants to take the sport seriously. But then I discovered that it’s all in the way you dress. I was still wearing clothes to suit my old body shape, and once I experimented with a few new styles, I started to love my shoulders.

1. Show off your hips. By accentuating/enhancing the look of your hips, this will balance out the width of your shoulders as well as making your waist look smaller to give you a more womanly, hour-glass figure… Win-win! There are a few ways you can do this. Wearing a fitted/tailored skirt/dress that shows off your lower shape and pulls in closer to the knee will accentuate your hips (as in my outfit post below). Or, wearing a skirt that is tight at the waist and flares out over the hips. Either way, high-waisted skirts are definitely your friend here.

When it comes to bikinis, I like to wear the ones with tie sides, because it gives the illusion of a little extra width on my hips.

2. Strapless or spaghetti-strap tops and dresses are generally not your friend. They draw attention to your chest and shoulders and can make your shoulders look bigger. Halter and tank tops, particularly with thicker straps break up the shoulders and chest and will make your shoulders look smaller.

3. If wearing high neck tops/dresses, try to make sure they don’t cut in too thinly across the front. As you can see in the one I am wearing below, it sits quite wide across my chest, so it’s basically just my arms out the side. Showing more skin will make your shoulders look bigger.

Let me also add that posture plays a huge part too. Stand tall and pull your shoulders back as far as you can, but without puffing up your chest. If you struggle, regularly doing some chest and shoulders stretches will help. My favourites are to put one arm straight out against a wall (palm on the wall) and then rotate my body away from the wall. Also, if you try and clasp your hands behind your back, then straighten your arms and lift them up behind you.

If you have any other tips please comment them below… I would love to hear them! 

Xx

Avril

 

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Top: Abercrombie and Fitch US$19

Skirt: Armani Exchange US$39

Necklace: Bardot AU$29.95

Shoes: Steve Madden US$59.95

The Power of Positivity

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“When one door closes another door opens”

I generally try to always look for a positive in every situation; I have learnt that it makes me a happier, nicer, more successful person. So when it was 2 days before I was taking off to Vegas to compete in an international pageant for US$50,000 prize money and I got home from work to try on my hand-made, designer evening gown that had arrived that day and I couldn’t even get it up over my knees, I was sitting on my bed at 10pm at night, exasperated and trying to find a positive … and that was the best I could come up with.

So thinking how my next door was going to open, my next thought was “I wonder how a brand new, equally as amazing dress is going to pop up out of thin air within 24 hours when I don’t have time to even go shopping or look around?” I actually wasn’t thinking sarcastically haha, I was thinking that in awe at how the universe was going to pull off something so crazy… Sounds stupid I know, but that’s how my positive mind works. And would you believe it but it just did. It’s now 40 odd hours later and I am on a plane to Las Vegas with a dress I couldn’t be happier with, and even better than the original.

The power of positivity…

So the next morning when I had a client cancel, (thanks Tabatha if you’re reading this haha), I raced home to call the designer, send some pictures and figure out a plan going forward. There was no point in getting angry or playing the blame game, because that doesn’t solve problems and by this stage, I had only 24 hours. The plan was to express post it back to her in Sydney, she would fix it up and send it international express post to Vegas, and it should (hopefully) arrive 1-2 days to spare before the big night… Not even stressful 😐

She asked me to cut a split in the too-tight skirt part of the dress, so that I would be able to get it on and we could see how it fit otherwise. To my flatmate’s horror, I chopped a big split right up the front to reveal the beautifully figure-hugging, watermelon coloured underlay. After taking and sending off a million photos, I took another look in the mirror and thought how stunning the dress looked in 2-tone with the underlay now revealed. When I mentioned this to the designer, she couldn’t have been more helpful in organising a tailor to get it all stitched up properly, and taken in in the right places to transform the dress into something even better than the original, and by 730pm of the night before my early flight!

I could have cried about it, blamed everyone else around me, felt sorry for myself and ended up just re-wearing an old dress, or wearing a borrowed dress that wouldn’t fit me as well, or that I didn’t like as much… But if you’re not giving your best on that $50,000 stage against 50 other confident, stunningly beautiful girls then you may as well not compete. Instead, I put my negative thoughts aside, I made a plan A, B, C, D and even a plan E and refuse to let it beat me. And now I’m sitting on a plane to Vegas with the most beautiful dress pinching myself to check that my doors closed and opened the way I think they just did.

See, the power of a positivity 😉

Seven Steps to Success (at anything)

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It took me years to work out how life works, so I thought I’d share what I learnt and make it a little easier for you! For example, I have been doing modelling competitions/pageants for more than 6 years now. I started out sometimes placing, sometimes not. But once I started winning, I almost always won and most recently I just won the biggest swimwear pageant in the world, Miss Swimsuit USA International. It’s these attributes of learning how to be successful that I applied to not just my competitions, but in every other area of my life too, my fitness training, boxing, business, relationships… everything.  Want to know my winning formula?

1. Make Goals. Without goals, you have no direction and nothing to achieve. The more specific (and realistic) you make your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. Years ago, I used to train just to “look good”. Which was fine initially, but once I reached my goal, I found it very difficult to stay motivated. Unless I had a shoot or fashion show coming up, self control often went out the window and laziness would take over, which is not ideal from an overall general health perspective. When I took up boxing, this added a whole new dimension to my training. It was no longer about just doing “enough”, it was about going over and above in my diet and training to be the best I could possibly be, and I am tested when I spar or fight. So when you make goals, I find it helps to make them specific, with a time-limit and a way of testing yourself on them; eg. to run 400m in under 1 minute, or to make half a million $ this year. When you reach your goals, make new ones!

And remember: “A goal without a plan is just a wish”

2. Believe you can. Having the right mindset is everything in this little game called life, and if you can’t see yourself as a success, you’ll never be a success. True story. Since my big win at Miss Swimsuit USA International, probably the most common question I have been asked is “did you expect to win?”, which is when I realise that even though I didn’t “expect” it, the whole week I never really considered any other possibility. I didn’t think “oh she’s got a better dress than me” or “oh she looks better than me on camera” or “I think I’d be happy just to place in Top 10”. Even though all of these things may have been true to one girl or another, I just focussed on what I had to offer and never really thought of myself as anything other than being the winner. If you compare yourself to everyone else around you and look for reasons as to why they are better than you, you’ll never be the best. If you look at everyone around you, find your point of difference and exude positivity and the confidence that you have at least one little thing going for you, people will see that confidence, be attracted to it and start to believe it too. And when other people believe in you, it makes it even easier to believe in yourself.

3. Solid work ethic. Recognise that not everything comes easily, or is going to fall in your lap. Get off your ass and get stuff done, even when you least feel like it. When you don’t know the answer, find it out. If it doesn’t work the first time, try a different way. Find your weaknesses and turn them into strengths. And don’t stop until you reach your goal.

I learnt this lesson recently with a boxing fight I went into. After easily winning my first two fights, I underestimated what I would need to put in to continue to win. When I was tired (often) I would let it get the better of me, and become mentally weak in my training. Although I still improved my skills, my work ethic suffered and I believe this to be the reason I lost the fight; when I stopped for a break, I gave my opponent an opportunity. Which is why even though my next fight is not even on the caledar yet, I have been training harder than ever, especially when I don’t feel like it!

4. Prioritise. When you seriously want to achieve a goal, you must make that one thing priority. Contrary to what others may tell you, forget about “having a balance in life” until you reach your goal; you can’t have everything at once!

If someone told you they would give you $5000 not to eat crap for a month (or whatever steps you needed to take to reach your particular goal), would you do it? I bet you would. But people are willing to go and pay that and more for procedures like liposuction, before they’ve even put in the effort to try and get in shape naturally. Fair enough if you’ve done everything you can and are still unhappy, but for those that the lack self control to just eat properly, consistently, work out your priorities!

5. Dedication and Commitment. When you are amped about a goal, it’s easy to put in the extra time and effort to get there. But dedication and commitment is about working hard beyond the honeymoon period. Anyone can be an expert at something if you spend enough time studying or working on it, Bill Gates says 10,000 hours.

When I first started working as a personal trainer, it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, because it was nothing like anything I’d ever done. There were so many things I completely struggled to understand or remember, I was put in situations way out of my depth. I thought about quitting. But I didn’t, because I visualised where I wanted to be and committed myself to my goal. And now 5 years on, I’m thankful 

6. Positive support network. This is more than just cutting the negative people and influences from your life, but also surrounding yourself with people that will help you get where you want to be. When I decided I didn’t want to be a wild party girl anymore, I stopped hanging around all my closest friends, who were also my encouragers and instigators. Yes, at first it was a little boring, but you find fun in other things and make new friends and strengthen other relationships by doing new activities.

Having a mentor, preferably one who is at the top of their field, is essential to fast-track success. Be willing to let them harshly critique you without taking offence; remember they have made the mistakes you don’t want to. The thicker your skin and more open your mind, the more successful you can be. Take everything on board, do your own research and ask as many questions as you can.

And one more thing – do things for other people. Like, go out of your way, without expecting a thing in return. Not only will it make you a better person and one that others will want to be around, but every now and again, one of them might want to help back. What goes around comes around.

7. Intrinsic Motivation. This is the one thing of all the above that will make or break you. You either want it or you don’t. This is the passion, the burning desire you must have from within to want to achieve whatever goal you have. If you don’t really want it, you probably won’t get there. So find your passion within your goal, the thing that really drives you, why you really want it, how it will make you feel when you get there.

Not set yourself some goals and go kick ass!!!!