Finding the motivation to maintain an active lifestyle is easy for some but challenging for many. ahm’s Strategic Initiatives Lead, Carmen Deane, has always loved and participated in sport, but says it wasn’t always a pre-requisite for a healthy life – mental health can be just as important.
Starting structured sports as a youngster, Carmen says it has given her a strong focus to stay active.
“Mum says when I was around six or seven years old, I would be swinging around and jumping off walls, so she enrolled me in gymnastics so I could be active in a more organised fashion!”
Carmen and her siblings were always involved in sports growing up. At one point, they were all at state representative levels in one or two sports. Asked what part of her sporting career she’s most proud of, Carmen says it would be representing Australia in the World Athletics Championships.
“I came 4th in the 400m hurdles for my age group, which was amazing. Although I didn’t make it onto the podium, coming 4th is something I’m extremely proud of.”
Carmen also competed in heptathlons and was given the chance to compete in the world championships.
“I chose to enter the 400m Hurdles instead due to the highly demanding heptathlon training regime. It’s seven events over two days of competition, so that’s a lot of disciplines, with 100% commitment to each.”
Although this part of her life has a strong focus on her physical health, she says it’s important to note the impact exercise has on mental health.
“What’s underrated is the mental effects of even the smallest amount of movement. It has a huge impact on our mental state,” says Carmen.
“Being active doesn’t have to be something we dread, instead it’s about incorporating incidental exercise whenever we can. Everybody’s lives are different, so it’s about finding what suits you, what you can make work, and what’s realistic.”
It’s no secret that staying motivated takes hard work and dedication. Carmen says the key is having open conversations with family, friends and ourselves.
“Talk about why you’re going on this journey and what your goals are. It’s important to be open with people so you’re not pressured to fall back on your progress. And be honest with yourself. Understand and remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place.”
Everybody’s lives are different and people are not always in the same phase in their journey as someone else’s. Carmen says this is important to remember.
“We have to appreciate that not everybody has the same level of ability, skills or experience. However, it takes the same amount of time and effort. We have to go out there and do it. Make it fun, make it a way to connect with friends and family, but just do it.”
Medibank offers its employees a variety of flexible options, which allows Carmen to fit in time for exercise.
“Our FlexBetter arrangement is extremely helpful. When I was training, as well as during competitions, Medibank was very supportive of how I scheduled my days. That part of my life was important to me, so my team and managers felt it was imperative to support and encourage me. That alone made me more engaged and mentally healthy.”
For those who are just beginning their wellbeing journey, Carmen has this to say –
“Make sure your goals are smart, applicable to you, and that you understand what your trigger is. Remember why you’re on the journey and why you started in the first place. Start gentle, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”