WITH the sun out, there is no better time than to get your ‘guns’ out.
As technology has been making our lives easier, both at work and in the home, have you ever stopped to think of the impact that this convenience could be having on your health?
One of the most obvious places you might have spotted the effects is on your waistline.
Being simply ‘unfit’ can have a greater impact on your health, both physical and emotional and in the short and long-term.
Whether you realise it or not, people are moving much less than they used to and it ultimately comes down to the world becoming increasingly automated.
As a farmer and mother, Louise O’Neill, Meckering, has seen these effects herself and through her business Groan and Tone as a health and lifestyle coach, she is focussed on getting people in rural and regional areas moving more for the benefit of their health, but also for their family.
Like many foreigners who fall in love with the Australian bush, Louise left her homeland of the United Kingdom with the intention of travelling for about six months, but she ended up working at a physiotherapist in Northam and then met her future husband Warren who introduced her to life on the land.
She has since ventured out on her own by starting up Groan and Tone earlier this year.
Louise now travels to clients between Northam and Cunderdin and also offers online training sessions.
She said people in the country often felt they were limited with the exercise they could do because they were either too far away from the gym, didn’t have enough time and didn’t have any equipment to train with.
But Louise helps people to see past these barriers so they can exercise without leaving their home or the farm.
As a self-confessed “goal geek”, she said the key to achieving results in fitness and creating a lifestyle change started with goal-setting and this was the first step with new clients.
“It’s about letting someone ‘brain dump’ to help them figure out why they want to make a change and it’s amazing what can come out,” Louise said.
“Sometimes it can be emotional or confronting, but I believe that unless you strip it back and really seek your ‘why’ to find the reasons as to why you want to get fit, you won’t stay accountable and achieve your goals.”
By reaching a goal, no matter how small or big, the sense of achievement provides encouragement to keep going.
With this logic in mind, Louise guides her clients to set one-day and one-week goals which help them achieve a long-term goal such as to lift a certain amount of weight, lose body fat, gain muscle or run a marathon.
Through her work with Groan and Tone, Louise wears many hats to help people improve their lives - she’s a trainer, lifestyle coach, a listening ear, someone to vent frustration to and a friend who isn’t afraid to physically push people to the edge.
The deeper she digs into the reasons behind why someone wants to be healthier, Louise often gets more than she bargained for, but it encourages her to help more people.
Louise defined health as “a complete state of physical, social and emotional well-being” and she incorporates this into her holistic approach to fitness.
“The physical side is the importance of moving to get muscles strong and increase your fitness level but with that comes emotional well-being with the chance to release,” she said.
“For those who like to exercise with other people, they gain that social well-being but there are many people who prefer to workout by themselves which is fine too and they usually find that social aspect somewhere else.
“I find that especially in rural areas the reasons that people want to make a lifestyle change are usually emotional rather than physical, but physical changes might still be part of it.”
Louise has seen emotional transformations through fitness in front of her own eyes time and time again and for many people the release can be quite surprising.
She said it might seem like a cliché that using all of your power to belt a punching bag or slam down a ball can be an effective way to vent out some emotional tension, but actually doing it is another thing.
“It’s amazing the changes I can see in people from just one workout,” Louise said.
“I have had clients suffering loss in their family or going through some really tough times and this gives them a chance to get it out in a safe environment.
“Seeing people physically push themselves in a safe way is a great thing and they might end up crying or laughing uncontrollably.
“Many people don’t realise they have such bent up frustration or sadness which has built up over time but when pushed to the limit, it is amazing what can come out.”
Louise said there were many reasons that prevent people from exercising - maybe they don’t know how to start or what to do, lack motivation and energy or simply just don’t have the time.
“One of the reasons I do goal-setting is to get rid of all the ‘excuses’, which isn’t a negative word because there are valid excuses, but making goals helps to provide motivation and accountability,” she said.
“The most important thing is getting people to move and 10 squats are better than no squats.
“Just find 20 minutes a day to move, then start some workouts and make sure you enjoy what you do otherwise you will find reasons not to do it.
“Think about what you have around the farm or house.
“Five kilograms is still five kilograms whether it is a piece of wood, a brick or a dumbbell.
“If you are going to check a water trough, think about what is in that paddock and what you can do - squats, step-ups and push-ups on the trough, or push-ups on the fence if it’s sturdy enough.
“Maybe park your car further away so you have to walk or even run part of the way and next time park a little further away.
“Perhaps while you’re waiting for the field bin or truck to fill up, do some lunges or squats.
“At this time of year people spend a lot of time sitting down, either in the header, driving around the farm or even for holidays and even relaxing during some time off.”
Louise said that sitting down was happening more and regardless of the time of year, people were moving less.
“Sitting is considered the new smoking now - no matter what we do, we need to move to get oxygen into our brains,” she said.
“We can’t survive without oxygen, it’s the biggest fuel for the body and the only way to take in oxygen is to move.
Louise said it was ironic that many farmers don’t look after themselves the same way they do the farm.
“Farmers spend so much time making sure their equipment is right like servicing the header, checking water troughs and ensuring their sheep are in the best condition because it is their income,” Louise said.
“But they do not spend as much time making sure they themselves are in good condition to run the farm because there is no point in having all that great equipment and stock if they are not in good shape to work it.
“Your health is your wealth - it doesn’t matter what you do, if you are not healthy, you cannot bring in that wealth.
“Exercise is also a good opportunity to do something outside of farming which can be done on the farm.”
Louise is a woman who practices what she preaches and has set herself a goal for next year to run a marathon.
“I will find it hard but I think that’s why I love it because I have to give it everything and once I hit a certain mark, everything is working at full capacity.”