When I was younger, I was actually a competitive athlete. As a result, I tend to be very goal-orientated. I said to myself, “Right, I’m going to lose weight” – and just got really strict about it.
Initially, it was a walk every morning, and I built that up into a run. I was living in Albury, and the house backed on to a mountain reserve. Within a couple of months, I was running up the mountain.
Initially, the key for me was chasing the endorphin release from exercise.
— Zac Hayes
Fast food and binge-eating were real issues for me for a long time. So, I cut sugar out of my diet completely. I reduced my carbs. At the start of the pandemic, I’d gotten into poor drinking habits, so I broke that cycle and stopped drinking.
Initially, the key for me was chasing the endorphin release from exercise. Then, when I started dropping weight, my energy levels increased. Buying new clothes online was a good feeling – expensive, when you’re dropping weight constantly, but a good feeling nonetheless.
This year, I’ve kept the weight off. I have my routines now. I do my morning run, no matter where I am, because I’m looking after me first, before I help anybody else. People who’ve known me for a long time say: “Holy crap. You look like you did five years ago, before you started the businesses.” They say I look happier – and I am. I’m content within myself.
Caryn Hanley | Founder of Buxton Hanley, an import and wholesale business. She lives in Sydney.
After leaving a stressful and unrewarding job with an international company, I threw myself into setting up Buxton Hanley. We had just attended our first trade show in Sydney when the lockdown happened. All of a sudden, I had a lot of time on my hands.
Before COVID-19 hit, I had allowed myself to become consumed with building the business. I put on 10 kilograms and was battling all sorts of health complaints, which eventually led to a hysterectomy and bowel surgery shortly after the first lockdown.
On top of that, a cancerous lesion on my back became enormous because I neglected to see a dermatologist for years. I have four kids, and if one of them needed to see the doctor, I’d get them there, but I told myself I didn’t have time for appointments of my own.
I had stopped reading, meditating and doing all the things I used to enjoy. I thought: ‘How did I let this happen?’
— Caryn Hanley
When the business stalled, I realised that my life was completely out of balance. Without work, there was nothing.
I used to go bushwalking with a group of friends a couple of times a week, and I hadn’t done that for two years. My husband and I had drifted apart. I had stopped reading, meditating and doing all the things I used to enjoy. I thought: “How did I let this happen?”
Going into hospital for the surgery made me decide that enough was enough. Initially, when I was discharged, I wasn’t allowed to exercise, but slowly I started walking again.
Next, I changed the way I was eating. Then I discovered Pilates, which just worked so well. I built myself up to the point where I was doing five sessions a week.
By the end of last year, I’d lost the 10 kilograms I’d gained and had stopped getting headaches and backache. I don’t sit working until eight or nine o’clock at night any more, but I’m getting just as much done.
I’m a lot lighter in spirit than I was 18 months ago. I feel like I have found my joy again.
My 15-year-old daughter gave me a Christmas card last year saying how proud she was of me for everything I had done, and that it was so nice to see me looking so happy. For her, the change is visible.
Figuring out fatherhood
Mark Woodland | Young Rich Lister and founder of childcare tech start-up Xplor Technologies, recently valued at $3.8 billion after a merger with Clearnet. He lives in Melbourne.
At the start of the pandemic, I found a recording of the Qantas pre-flight music on YouTube and started using it to put me to sleep. In a normal year, I’m in the top 1 per cent of global flyers. I calculated that in 2019 I travelled 516,134 kilometres, or 1.34 times to the moon.
Before, work-life balance wasn’t in my vocabulary. I’m not proud of it, but I’d leave home before my daughter, Amelia, woke up and get back after she’d gone to bed. I’d see her on the weekend if I wasn’t travelling, which was rare. I’m running a start-up and a fast-growing one, and that’s the sacrifice.
The worst thing my daughter ever said to me, which broke my heart, was: ‘You always walk away from me when I’m talking.’
— Mark Woodland
The first Melbourne lockdown changed all that. For the first time in my daughter’s life, I was working from home. It felt like a gift.
Since then, I have been lucky enough to play dress-ups, put on concerts, roast marshmallows and play heaps of backyard games with my four-year-old. Just today, we used a learning app called Osmo: we lay on the floor, counting numbers for 30 minutes in between my meetings.
The worst thing my daughter ever said to me, which broke my heart, was: “You always walk away from me when I’m talking.” And I do: I “walk and talk” with people.
Now, I try to make sure I stop and face her. It sounds really basic, but for someone constantly on the move, it’s been an adjustment.
We have created our habits, which I try to build on when I’m not with her. We go for walks together because exercise is important, or so I am told. From that, I have started training for the 100-kilometre Oxfam Walk.
At some point, office life will resume, and that’s going to be a struggle. Even when we had a brief glimpse of normality this year, I quickly found myself back in the office five days a week.
This disruption has been a blessing in disguise for my family, despite all the people around us going through a thousand things. For me, it’s been a chance to find some positives instead of being sad with the world.
Training for victory
Veronique Diallo | Group general counsel at edtech unicorn Go1. She lives in Sydney.
At the start of last year, I was stuck in a vicious cycle in my job at ViacomCBS, working such long hours that my health and productivity would suffer, then working more in an attempt to get back on top of things.
I was so busy that I started skipping meals. Often, I just felt too tired to eat. I have a petite frame, and I became underweight. I did try to exercise once or twice a week, but when I did, I would often feel faint.
Then the pandemic happened, and the media industry was hugely disrupted. I decided it was time to leave my job. The downtime in between roles made me realise that I needed to create new routines for myself.
Sydney was in lockdown when I started my new job, which gave me an opportunity to exercise nearly every day. It was difficult initially, but I learnt that variety and consistency were key. Depending on the day, I would run, walk, cycle or swim, and I saw a personal trainer on Zoom once a week.
Exercising helped me increase my food intake. Previously, I would be dizzy after a workout and absolutely exhausted the following days. Now, I’ve gained 3 kilograms of muscle and can exercise without fading away.
My partner and friends are impressed. In fact, I think they’re almost sick of it.
— Veronique Diallo
I eat what I need, not necessarily what is quickest. Eggs, cheese, avocados, chocolate and desserts are all part of the picture. My trainer encouraged me to track my fluid intake, and now I drink two litres of water a day – a massive increase for me.
Now, my mind is super-clear. My attention span has increased. I’m more efficient in my job than I have ever been, and…
Read More:Meet four high-fliers who used lockdown as a chance to change