What a wild ride 2018 has been for so many of us!
I set a goal at the start of the year; it was for the podcast to reach 100,000 downloads.
And we're almost there!
In a year of considerable change and upheaval, this podcast has become a source of stability - not to mention immense satisfaction and joy.
So thank YOU.
Whether you’ve listened to one episode or all 87, thank you for being part of it - for your support, for sharing the podcast with your friends, for leaving such heartfelt reviews, for your messages and emails and SMS, for letting me know how the podcast has helped you.
Your support of this project means more than you can ever know.
So thank you for coming along for this wild ride with me!
To celebrate an incredible year of stories and strength, I thought it was the perfect time to countdown the 5 most popular episodes of the year.
Beginning today (27th December 2018), we're counting down the top 5 until announcing the #1 most popular episode of Sparta Chicks Radio on New Year's Eve!
Each day I'll publish the episode in question (so if you're subscribed to the podcast, it will automatically be downloaded to your podcast player of choice!).
My hope is that you’ll take some quiet time over the holiday period to re-listen to the episodes.
I always take gain a new insight when I listen to a podcast for a second time, and my hope is that you do too.
So let’s not wait any longer ~
The 5 most popular episodes of Sparta Chicks Radio in 2018 are ~
#5. Steph Lowe on Nutrition, Performance & Happy Hormones
Steph is a triathlete, Sports Nutritionist and the Founder of the Natural Nutritionist, a business based in Melbourne dedicated to teaching how easy real food living and performance can be.
The foundation of her approach is a whole foods, lower carbohydrate, higher fat (or LCHF) lifestyle, which she also describes as JERF (just eat real food).
I wanted to get Steph on the show because this topic ties together with the conversations I’ve previously had with Katee Pedicini.
Given the impact that food and carbohydrates, in particular, has on cortisol (our stress hormone), nutrition is one of Katee’s major recommendations for managing your weight as well as your cortisol and stress levels, leaving you with happy hormones.
Plus, Katee and Steph are good friends, share the same philosophy around nutrition and training and have worked with many of the same athletes over the years, including several Sparta Chicks.
In this conversation, we discuss:
- the profound impact removing gluten had on Steph’s physical and mental health,
- why food is medicine,
- the benefits of adopting an LCHF lifestyle (and whether you would experience the same benefits if you are not gluten intolerant),
- the most common tell-tale symptoms a person might have that would benefit from adopting an LCHF lifestyle (listen up if you have 3.30-itis, you get hangry or if you experience cravings),
- the impact of gut health on your hormonal cycle, PMS and immune system,
- the added benefits of adopting an LCHF lifestyle for athletes (including for those who struggle with weight loss despite heavy amounts of training),
- the difference between LCHF and a keto diet, the confusion between the two and why she doesn’t recommend a keto diet to athletes,
- why carb-loading doesn’t make sense and why the intensity of your training should dictate your carb intake (not what stage of training you’re in),
- how to make the transition to an LCHF lifestyle and the ideal time to do it, and
- the benefits of fasting (and how to capitalise on what you’re already doing).
#4 Leah Gilbert on Unleashing Your Athletic Potential
Do you think of yourself as an "athlete"?
Well, if you're reading this or listening to Sparta Chicks Radio, you are and you should!
This concept of what it means to be an "athlete" and to recognise that you are an athlete was at the heart of my discussion with Leah.
Leah was a child who loved sport.
However, because she was bigger than the other kids, she felt very self-conscious of her body and, as a result, always limited the amount of effort she put into her sport (and therefore her potential).
These days, Leah is a fitness and sports counsellor who helps her clients work through the ways they mentally hold themselves back so they can achieve their physical potential.
And that’s something Leah can relate to; it was only with the birth of her daughter in 2012 that Leah's relationship with food, exercise and her body began to shift.
Leah joined me on the podcast back in February when we discussed:
- her relationship with sports and her weight as a child,
- why she started running and how she then got into triathlons,
- how motherhood was a catalyst for her to change her relationship with food, exercise and her body,
- the surprising way her public role and advocacy work impacted on her running and why she stepped away from social media as a result, and
- why it's important for you to identify as and recognise that you are an athlete.
3. Nicole Bunyon on Fear, Self-Talk and Running Mums Australia
Nicole is a ultra and trail runner who founded Running Mums Australia (RMA) in 2013.
RMA is an Australian wide network and community for mums who love to, or are interested in, running.
You can’t go to running or triathlon event in Australia without seeing a woman sporting their distinctive logo!
While RMA shares many women’s stories, I wanted to turn the tables (and microphone) and Nicole and share her story.
She joined me in June and shared:
* how she started running as a child and has fond memories of exploring the trails near home,
* how being diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer) changed her perspective, and why it’s so important to trust your gut instinct,
* her first marathon and what she learnt from that experience,
* why she set up RMA,
* the importance of self-talk and the mantra she uses during her races, and
* her experience with the Imposter Complex.
Nicole is also an ambassador for several running events including Ultra Trail Australia so we discuss whether she feels the weight of expectation or pressure to perform as a result of her public profile in the sport.
2. Katee Pedicini on Structuring Your Training For Hormonal Health
She was the most popular guest on Sparta Chicks Radio during 2017.
She was one of the most popular speakers at Sparta Chicks Unleashed.
She’s also an expert in one of the most fundamental and important topics we’ve covered to date on the podcast.
Katee Pedicini runs Holistic Endurance in Melbourne.
She has a degree in Exercise Science who specialises in managing fatigue, stress and hormones in endurance athletes not only for performance but optimal health and happiness.
In 2017, she joined me to discuss stress and its impact on your body (you can find that conversation here).
By itself, I know it doesn’t sound like a particularly sexy topic. But when you dive into it, you quickly realise the impact that stress has on your hormones and, as a result, in every aspect of your life from your training, racing to your overall happiness.
In June 2018, Katee returned to the podcast to dive deeper into two important aspects of hormonal health:
* how peri-menopause and menopause can impact on your weight, training and racing
(if you’re in your 20s and 30s and are tempted to tune out, please don’t. Katee will explain why it’s important for you to know this information now — and quite frankly, after this conversation, I can honestly say it’s information I wish I knew in my 20s).
* why you should consider structuring your training around your natural cycle.
As Katee points out, prior to menopause, the body has a natural cycle which suits certain types of training (or recovery) at certain times of the month and we should take advantage of that in our training.
Katee has become my personal go-to guru for my health this year and an important part of my support team.
Even if you take one or two things away from this episode, your hormones, training, racing and general happiness will be better for it.
#1. Rebecca Stone on Chronic Pain, Mountain Biking & Motherhood
Perhaps a surprising 'winner' of the most popular episode of 2018, I think Rebecca's story reminds each of us that where there's a will, you'll find a way - no matter the odds stacked against you!
Rebecca is a midwife, a mum, and someone who loves racing her mountain bike for 24 hours - all while living with fibromyalgia.
In 2010, after 9 months of severe pain which ultimately left her unable to work, drive or walk for more than 5m, Rebecca was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
A chronic condition, fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and sensitivity throughout the body.
There’s no cure and it is difficult to treat.
Getting back on her beloved mountain bike plan was part of Rebecca’s initial treatment plan primarily for the mental health benefits.
But she soon realised that due to the release of endorphins which shut down the pain receptors in her body, Rebecca experiences less pain when she rides.
Since returning to cycling in 2011, she has gone from strength to strength.
And now, the mother of a 2-year-old toddler, Rebecca finished 2nd at the Australian 24 Hour Solo Mountain Bike Championships in 2017 and 2018, as well as 6th at the World 24 Hour Solo Mountain Bike Championships held in Scotland in 2018.
She joined me back in June - in what is now the #1 most popular episode of Sparta Chicks Radio for 2018 - to discuss:
* what fibromyalgia is and her experience with the condition,
* how returning to cycling was part of her initial treatment plan (for the mental health benefits even more than for the physical benefits),
* her doubts about whether she’d be able to return to racing after her diagnosis,
* how she rode her road bike until she was 32 weeks pregnant and her mountain bike until she was 38 weeks pregnant,
* what she loves about racing the 24 hour event,
* how she handles the critics who have questioned whether in fact she has fibromyalgia in light of the results she’s been able to achieve, and
* what having fibromyalgia has taught her and why she thinks she’s a better athlete because of it.