Women’s Wellness Workshops at Sport Science and Finding Balance…

This year the Sport Science Institute is presenting a series of Women’s Wellness Workshops and I wanted to blog about them and tell you what they are about… and bring value from the workshops to our readers wherever you are. These workshops are packed with women, and they are not all super athletes by any means. Just regular folk who want to know more about being healthy, and you don’t have to be a member of the gym to attend… just head over to their website and you can find all the details there.


The event was sponsored by Future Life and we were gifted with a box of cereal… we are not a cereal family by any means… because when ten of you sit down to breakfast… well a box of cereal wouldn’t go very far at all. That being said, I love their energy bars and toss one in my backpack whenever we go hiking and I don’t have to think about any other food for myself. The other sponsor was Granny Goose bedding and they had a grand prize of a cosy duvet and linen…

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Photograph used with permission of the Sport Science Institute

Workshop #1: Getting the Balance Right

The first workshop was in April… and there were two speakers: Clinton Gahwiler, a sport psychologist and Dr. Dale Rae a sleep scientist. The workshop was aimed women, from all walks of life, who would like to figure out time for work, rest, family and all the other responsibilities… and still have a little time left over to play. It was a great evening, I learnt a ton of practical tips… and I am going to share some of tips I learnt down below…

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Clinton Gahwiler, Sport Psychologist

I first met Clinton when I started the Healthy Weight Program last year and he really helped me get started and break down some of the road blocks in the way of my fitness journey, I was eager to hear what he had to say. He opened by giving us a musician’s metaphor: “Life is a mixing desk, and we need to get the balance right. Each song is totally unique.” And immediately went on to say that sleep is the poor relation when it comes to finding balance in our lives and the first thing we let go of when we run out of margin. We need to consider our season of life and what matters to us now. We only have a 24 hour day, we tend to lower our standards and respond to the loudest shout when it comes to getting things done… this is way too random and we need to be much more strategic when we are moving towards balance. There is a wide gap between our ideal list of things to do and our non-negotiable minimum, which is really the very least we can get away with doing. We need to be brutal in minimising the gap… and compromising on sleep is not the way to go!!! When we look at the gap between or ideal to-do list and our non-negotiable minimum, there are many obstacles to closing the gap… perfectionism, people pleasing, low energy, lack of planning, to name a few. The best way to close the gap he suggested were: leave open spaces, manage your boundaries better, and be reasonable.


Dr Dale Rae, Sleep Scientist

The first time I met Dale Rae was on World Sleep Day, where she expressed that our problem with a lack of sleep was a far bigger problem than we ever acknowledged. She began her presentation with some excellent quotable quotes to encourage you to sleep.

Sleep is my hobby. Maria Sharapova

Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for training I do to be absorbed by my body. Usain Bolt

It’s not just the quantity of sleep that matters, but the quality. Michael Phelps

If I don’t sleep 11-12h a day, it’s not just right. Roger Federer

She went on to say that if you are concerned about the amount of sleep you are getting, then you need to pay attention to that… stealing time from your sleep is not finding the balance. She didn’t get too far in her presentation before the questions started flying, quite simply… everybody wants to know about sleep.

She did an outline of the architecture of sleep… slow wave sleep is important for physical repair and recovery. REM is for mental alertness and psychological recovery. We are so dependent on REM sleep that our body will grab it the next night if we don’t get enough, and quite simply, without REM we will die. The consequences of disturbed sleep are really dire, take a look at new moms for instance, they are folk with very disturbed sleep (by definition), develop insulin resistance and experience often extreme weight gain.

An alarming slide from the presentation.

She emphasised that medication was not the way to go when you are trying to improve your sleep quota, sleep medication suppresses REM sleep and provides poor sleep quality. Exactly what you are trying to correct. Otherwise, while athletes nap for recovery, we nap because our night time sleep requirements are not being met… we are chronically under slept. If we nap for a short time we might feel energised, but if we nap for too long we may well wake up in the middle of a deep sleep cycle and feel dreadful.

Basically, improve your sleep health and improve your life… the reason we don’t feel well the first night that we try to improve our sleep is that our body goes into recovery mode, we are literally detoxing our body of “lack of sleep”… we feel dreadful and tell ourselves that more sleep feels awful and continue to build up our bank of sleep debt.

Sleep hygiene is all about having good sleep habits: Responding to our natural day/night cycles; Avoiding blue light, which is designed to make us more alert, at night… so no phones, and no screens; Choose a paperback rather than an e-reader for deeper sleep; And be realistic about how much sleep you actually need, determine your sleep sweet spot. Basically, there are lots of little things we can do to improve our sleep… we need to just reprioritise our sleep.

Workshop #2: Women’s Running Matters: Healing, Hormones and Health

Photograph used with permission of the Sport Science Institute

The next Women’s Wellness Workshop on Running Matters is the evening, on running and I will definitely be blogging about this in the near future. In the meantime, if you want to grab a ticket and attend the details are over here….

My Fitness Journey From the Start

This is not a sponsored post. I have been working out at The Sport Science Institute of South Africa for the last year and a bit, and I know that a lot of you have been following my journey back to fitness. Over this time I have become the Brand Ambassador for the Healthy Weight Programme. It sounds alarmingly important… but it just means that I have been given full access of all the facilities and resources, available to a typical member of the Healthy Weight Programme, for free. I am not paid to write for them, but I think my journey back to fitness, is one that will interest our readers, and so I have been documenting my story as I go along.

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