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Conversations with Turbo Nan, why we struggle today and how burpees can save us!

Odd combination of thought processes, but hey, that's my style!


Today I visited my 87 year old Nan. She has 5 kids, 13 grand kids and 9 great grand kids in counting. She has worked on a farm since the war days. She annually breaks a rib falling over in the paddocks because she’s Turbo Nan and won’t slow down. She is strong and hilarious! She made us have her Wake at her 80th Birthday because she said funerals are “too expensive”, so best combine them with a party to save costs (plus you can see what people would say about you!) No kidding. There was her coffin and everything. Was a lovely occasion!

Anyway, on this random visit day, we were sitting in the sun, talking about old days and watching my kids playing. Nan is full of “you should do…” statements, as most loving Grandparents are. I was getting the usual - not so- tender grilling about my non existent vegetable gardens. I asked her what it was like raising 5 kids back when times were tough and what did she feed them? Like most rural people in NZ at the time, it was beef & sheep and whatever you grew in your garden. Carrying such a huge responsibility is so out of my reality! My kids would be long starved if I had to grow them all the food! Remembering this woman, along with Pop, broke in an entire 600+ acre farm covered in scrub, by hand with a baby on her back and shooting rabbits for dinner! Reflecting on the enormity of everyday life back then I said “Nan, how on earth did you do it!?” She just calmly says back, “well…You just keep going”.

Generation bleh

You. Just. Keep. Going…. I freakin' laugh at the amount of self help/ personal growth/happiness/fulfillment books there are on the market (Lord knows I’ve read a fair few!). Our generation is struggling to motivate ourselves in every area. So authors write thousands of words formulating philosophies or little mind tricks to help you cope with your life. But maybe the solution is not so complex? Simply put. You just keep going!! I think that Nan would have repeated this mantra her whole life and never thought anything of it. Nowadays I google “how to manage 3 kids and housework”. What a joke!! I genuinely think I have a tough run some days. But yes.. I am just another human from the “Millennial” generation. Lots of chutzpa and not a lot of direction, other than 100000 different directions simultaneously! So what gives? Why are we so... lost.. sometimes?

Enter….. Burpees!!

Husband (who is a fitness instructor) was talking about why he programmes burpees in so often. “Because they’re hard out cardio and they’re just shit!” You will very often hear “I HATE BURPEES” from anyone who has to do them! They are hard slog. To Nan and so many of that generation, ‘doing’ fitness is so out of their reality. Because being ‘fit’ wasn’t a choice, it was a survival necessity. Working the land is the original 'functional fitness'. I think movement gave a huge amount of purpose to a human being. I began to formulate an opinion that perhaps we humans need physical suffering to be balanced. Not suffering in the form of torture of course (although, some people see workouts AS torture!). Some of us have to now plan brief amounts of physical hardship into our lives now via gym membership because many of us simply aren’t in survival mode anymore. We think too much and move too little.

The better life

I think of the irony of our ancestors working so hard, just go give their offspring a ‘better life’. Most of us in NZ are living this ‘better life’, yet we are struggling like mad! Depression, anxiety and stress related disease is rampant. Why? There will be thousands of theories about why we’re mentally struggling amidst prosperity. I can partly put it down to the simple fact that we have the time to think about being sad, or hurt or lost or rejected! I think about the one time I huddled up under my covers, crying to myself, thinking “I can’t cope with the demands of domestic life anymore. It is just too hard”.

I’m not playing down the incidences of broken parenthood. It is real. We are broke. Life is complicated now because of the luxury of easy survival. 100 years ago, I’m sure parents felt overwhelmed too. Starving kids because your food crop failed? How’s that for stress!? But you didn’t have the time to sit and get so muntedly depressed. Well you could, but your family would die faster. So we have this situation where our brilliance and ingenuity mean it’s now easier to physically survive, but it seems we changed the survival game to a ‘survive your own mental stress’. So what’s the point? What links do the mind and body have?


I have just finished reading Viktor Frankl’s “Man's search for meaning”.

Great short read