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Taking up a new lifelong lesson in bodybuilding

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I was down at the local track in Melbourne recently for a 5,000m seeded-race, where you get to line up alongside runners of a similar ability and ideally running a similar pace.

The plan was to see could I still break 20 minutes over the distance I used to race for real: that’s still running at a half-decent pace, just under four minutes per km sounds good when you regularly jog around at five minutes per km. I wouldn’t dare check the equivalent mile pace, the old running currency of my time.

Earlier in the day I got a call from Carol Kolimago, my room-mate at Villanova University, who moved to Melbourne a few years ago with her family. We were in college together for four years, ran on back-to-back NCAA winning cross-country teams in 1990 and 1991, when running really was our only form of training.

Carol wanted to come and watch my race for another catch up. After 30 years it’s still special to have this opportunity to reconnect with such an important part of my life, especially as I often talk to my daughter Sophie as she embarks on a similar journey at the University of Washington.

I was trying to play down the race, hiding among the men in the mixed field, and it was encouraging hearing Carol cheering for me on every lap, like we were back in college chasing points, or even chasing an Olympic dream. We still have much in common, continuing to run and cycle and challenge ourselves, and Carol has completed a few Ironman triathlons, including the Kona World Championship in Hawaii.

The common thread of endurance training continues to filter through our lives. It’s hard to lose that mindset, believing endless running and cycling and cardio workouts are the best way to maintaining health and fitness throughout your life.

I’m reluctant to let go of any part of my running, especially when I can manage all the little aches and injuries these days, even if heading out the door I sometimes feel like I’m just wearing away at my body, maintaining that lean and lightness while burning as much energy as required.

One day last year we met up for coffee, and on the way back I dropped Carol at this new gym she’d just signed up to. Like most runners, I’ve always done a bit of gym work here and there to try to maintain some general strength and core fitness, at one point in my career that included lifting my daughters Ciara and Sophie when they were very young. I still have my 5kg dumbbells at home, a few medicine balls, but didn’t enquire too much about this gym and new personal training regime Carol was going to.

Carol Kolimago taking part in a Victoria ICN (I Compete Natural) competition
Carol Kolimago taking part in a Victoria ICN (I Compete Natural) competition

Roll on a year later, and Carol has once again stepped far out of her comfort zone, leaving behind the obsession with daily runs or doing some level of daily cardio activity, and committing to a whole different mindset of looking after her body both inside and out by stepping into the world of competitive bodybuilding.

This isn’t what you might think of traditionally; this is all natural bodybuilding, where you fuel you body through copious amounts of clean, simple nutritious food while working specifically on building muscle and transforming your body.

I was keen to hear more, and talked with Carol after my race all about her competition, how she got so strong and confident in just nine weeks once she committed to the Victorian ICN (I Compete Natural) competition, where she won six categories. That alone provides all the feedback you need to keep working hard.

It’s so easy to keep doing the same things over and over again. Sometimes different in name, but essentially the same mindset with whatever activity you do, the foods you eat, and the commitment you allow yourself to give to a hobby or fitness regime.

There’s always another road race to sign up to, marathon or cycle from one end of the country to the other. If you’re programmed to rise to these challenges you just know what’s required and it’s so often just about preparing enough that you’ll be able to comfortably complete the distance. Sometimes it’s also about reawakening the competitive spirit.

Like anything else, when you see results you gain more motivation to do more, and there is no greater concrete feedback than seeing your time as you cross the finish line, reading through the results after, and breaking down the categories

I’ve always known that as we get older weightlifting is something that can benefit everyone. It helps to improve your core and posture, how you carry yourself, still none of that seemed so obvious than with Carol’s transformation and commitment to the gym.

I was inspired to pull out the dumbbells from under the bed, and be a bit more regular with my sit-up routine. I also signed up to a gym for four weeks to train with people and push myself a bit more, to commit to something different, something that is so easily forgotten at the end of the day, when the energy levels are draining and home duties like cooking dinner and relaxing start to creep into your head.

Carol is also getting the same satisfaction from training in the gym as training for an Ironman, only in a different way. Two hours in the gym working hard can deliver results in a fun environment as opposed to pounding the pavement, laps in the pool and hours on the bike outside alone, which can wear you down so much more.

There is a time and place for everything, and the safety of doing what you know over and over again can often outweigh the courage required to do something completely different. Carol also shared her nutrition programme with me, which goes along with the daily gym workouts focusing on different parts of the body each day; four meals a day including protein, fats, vegetables and starchy-carbs in every meal, even if vegetables for breakfast would take getting used to for most.

She also told me the only non-weight training she includes is 14,000 steps per day; no more, and she is as lean as she was way back in Villanova and eating so much more food, building muscle , with very little muscle wastage, by working across all areas of the body each week.

It was definitely food for thought: my next goal is how to get the balance right between weight lifting and running, building up a bit more muscle to get that perfect combination to use one sport to boost another without having to compromise too much.

No doubt the balance changes depending on your goals and targets, whatever you choose to do. After just breaking that 20-minute barrier for 5,000m – 19 minutes, 40 seconds be exact – there’s still plenty of satisfaction from running, but also the wonder is my strength letting me down, and is there more I can do to reawaken and even rebuild the sleeping muscles?


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Higgins raises concerns over volume of legislation received in recent weeks

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Two Oireachtas committees are being convened at short notice to consider concerns raised by President Michael D. Higgins at the volume of legislation sent to his office in recent weeks.

In a letter to the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and the Department of the Taoiseach, Mr Higgins said an “overwhelming number of Bills” were presented for his consideration in the final two weeks before the Christmas and summer recesses.

“For example, in the three weeks since the beginning of July I have been asked to consider 19 separate Bills. Nine were presented on the one day, sharing a requirement to be considered and signed in the same seven-day period,” he wrote, pointing out that in the entire preceding six months, he was presented with 13 Bills for consideration.

Last year, 21 of the total of 32 Bills presented to him were sent in the weeks approaching summer and Christmas recesses.

“It would strike me, as President and from my years as a parliamentarian, that there must be a more orderly approach to arranging the legislative timetable that allows all legislators the time to consider and contribute to proposals before the Oireachtas without unnecessary time constraints and an unseemly end-of-term haste to have Bills concluded,” the President wrote.

“Having this vital work concentrated into four weeks of the year strikes me as being less than ideal and, I believe, unnecessary.”

Mr Higgins noted that little time was being given over in the Oireachtas to debate often “very important and far-reaching legislative proposals”.

He said the process has “been curtailed through the imposition of restrictions on time in one or both Houses”.

He said amendments put down by Oireachtas members were often not discussed, and those proposed by the Government were at times “carried without an opportunity for scrutiny or debate”.

The President noted an “unseemly end-of-term haste”to pass legislation and said a “real prospect” of having to convene the Council of State in the days after Christmas day to consider Bills had arisen more than once.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the Ceann Comhairle, told The Irish Times that the Dáil’s Business Committee and the Seanad’s Committee on Procedures would meet on Friday to consider the letter, and actions open to the Oireachtas to consider.

There have been renewed concerns during the lifetime of this Dáil about the use of the guillotine to force Government legislation through without extensive oversight, with several heavyweight pieces of legislation passed in a matter of days before the Oireachtas rose for its summer break earlier this month.

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Who do I need to notify if I move home?

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Moving house is frequently said to be one of the most stressful things anyone can do.

The massive investment both financially and emotionally can take its toll, especially if the process takes months to complete.

It is why anything that helps to elevate some of the stress along the way can be hugely beneficial. This includes addressing some of the practicalities in advance, and having a list of who to notify when you move can help. 

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

Dozens of companies will need to know your new address, whether this is an insurer who may use them to help calculate your insurance premiums or a retailer who need to know where to send the clothing you ordered online.

Without updating them, you may endure a bigger headache from moving home than you had anticipated.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, said: ‘When moving home, it is vital to plan ahead. Moving day can come upon you very quickly, particularly if there is a short time between exchange and completion.

‘Buildings insurance is the most important thing that needs arranging on your new property as soon as you have exchanged contracts.

‘Confirm your moving date with your removals firm and make a list of who needs notifying about your impending change of address – the electoral roll, the DVLA, Amazon and other delivery firms, particularly supermarket deliveries. The last thing you want is for your orders to turn up at your ‘old’ address once you have moved.

‘Don’t forget to change your council tax, while utility providers will also need informing, and given final meter readings. The more you plan ahead, the smoother the process will be.’ 

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

Tom Parker, of property website Zoopla, agreed: ‘Moving home can be overwhelming with so much to do. When it comes to notifying organisations, it’s best to divide it into digestible categories like work, household and vehicle.

‘Notifying your employer is a top priority, especially if your payslips are sent to your home. If you own a vehicle, ensure you update your driving licence, insurance providers and vehicle logbook.  

‘Make sure you also notify organisations like your broadband, utilities, insurance providers and council tax. Finally, don’t forget the small things like magazine subscriptions and store cards.’

Here we look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home.

Employment 

Perhaps one of the most important and probably most overlooked places that need to be notified of your change of address is HMRC, which needs to know for tax purposes.  

Similarly, your employer needs to know when you change address for your payroll, so that it can update your contact details.

In addition, your National Insurance number helps the Government to identify you and is used by the organisations such as the DVLA and HMRC, so this will need your new address attached. 

Household

There are various companies providing services to your household that will need to know about your move so that they can update your contact information.

In some cases, you may end up continuing to pay for a service in your former home that you are no longer using if you fail to update these companies.

They include your cable or satellite provider, your phone and broadband company. It is also important to update your TV licence contact details, which can be done up to three months before a move.

Vehicles

You can update DVLA via its website and within two to four weeks, you should receive an updated licence and V5C log book documents for your car. Failing to update the log book could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

You will also need to notify the supplier of your vehicle breakdown cover and your car insurer.

Insurance

Most insurers take postcodes into account when calculating premiums and the cost of insurance cover, so they will need to be notified of your change of address. 

You may need to contact those insurers who provide cover for household contents, health, life, travel and your pets.

Healthcare

As well as your health insurer, you will also need to provide your address to other healthcare organisations.

For example, if you change doctors when you move home, you will need to let your old doctor know so that your medical information can be forwarded to your new doctor. This may similarly apply to your dentists and opticians.

Utilities

Your gas, electricity and water suppliers will need your updated contact information, even if you are leaving them behind at the old property and taking on new suppliers.

It can take a couple of days for energy providers to update your information, so it is worth contacting your suppliers ahead of your move. However, you may be able to move your deal to your new property.

Make sure you take readings of your utilities on the day of your move so you can update your suppliers with these and only pay for the amounts you have used. 

Royal Mail’s redirection service may be worth considering as it forwards any post sent to your former address to your new address. You can apply for the redirection up to three months before your moving date.

Money

There are several companies and organisations that fall into this category and will need to know your new contact address.

They include bank and building societies, your pension providers, loan companies, credit card providers and store cards. If you are on a state pension, the Government will need to know your new details.

Similarly, you will need to update your address for council tax purposes.

Others include your accountant as you don’t want important tax documents going to your old address (if you are not using the a postal redirection service). And don’t forget updating NS&I with your new address if you put money into premium bonds.

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Ireland ‘one of world’s best five places’ to survive global societal collapse

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Ireland is one of the world’s five places best suited to survive a global collapse of society, according to a new study. The others are Iceland, Tasmania, the UK and, topping the list, New Zealand.

The researchers say human civilisation is “in a perilous state” because of the highly interconnected and energy-intensive society that has developed and the environmental damage this has caused.

A collapse could arise from shocks such as a severe financial crisis, the effects of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, an even worse pandemic than Covid-19 or a combination of these, the scientists says.

To assess which nations would be most resilient to such a collapse, countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability. Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities have come out on top.

The researchers say their study highlights the factors that nations must improve to increase resilience. They say that a globalised society that prizes economic efficiency has damaged resilience, and that spare capacity needs to exist in food and other vital sectors.

Billionaires have been reported to be buying land for bunkers in New Zealand in preparation for an apocalypse. “We weren’t surprised New Zealand was on our list,” says Prof Aled Jones, at the Global Sustainability Institute, at Anglia Ruskin University, in the UK.

“We chose that you had to be able to protect borders and places had to be temperate. So with hindsight it’s quite obvious that large islands with complex societies on them already” make up the list.

The study, published in the journal Sustainability, says: “The globe-spanning, energy-intensive industrial civilisation that characterises the modern era represents an anomalous situation when it is considered against the majority of human history.”

The study also says that environmental destruction, limited resources and population growth mean civilisation “is in a perilous state, with large and growing risks developing in multiple spheres of the human endeavour”.

New Zealand was found to have the greatest potential to survive relatively unscathed due to its geothermal and hydroelectric energy, abundant agricultural land and low human population density.

Jones says major global food losses, a financial crisis and a pandemic have all happened in recent years, and “we’ve been lucky that things haven’t all happened at the same time – there’s no real reason why they can’t all happen in the same year”.

He adds: “As you start to see these events happening I get more worried, but I also hope we can learn more quickly than we have in the past that resilience is important. With everyone talking about ‘building back better’ from the pandemic, if we don’t lose that momentum I might be more optimistic than I have been in the past.”

He says the coronavirus pandemic has shown that governments can act quickly when needed. “It’s interesting how quickly we can close borders, and how quickly governments can make decisions to change things.”

But, he adds, “This drive for just-in-time, ever-more-efficient economies isn’t the thing you want to do for resilience. We need to build in some slack in the system, so that if there is a shock then you have the ability to respond because you’ve got spare capacity. We need to start thinking about resilience much more in global planning. But, obviously, the ideal thing is that a quick collapse doesn’t happen.” – Guardian

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