Medibank summer 21
News - 2nd June 2021

Finding my tribe


My name is Erin (I’m on the right!) and I’m just your average defence wife who is a mum of two kids. I got fed up with being depressed and started to make changes. These changes built up my confidence, helped me make new friends, and try things I thought I could never do.


My husband Matt and I have been together since we were 17. He joined the Army 20 years ago and since then we have lived in Darwin, Queanbeyan, Mount Gambier, Karratha, Brisbane and are now in Canberra.


This number of moves may seem horrifying but we have honestly loved it! We’ve always seen it as a new adventure and have made the most of every posting location. However, as Matt and I get older and the kids head into their teen years it is getting much harder to move. The kids make great friends and the thought of having to make them move again is heartbreaking. Our son Aidan has been to six schools in nine years and our daughter Bianca has been to three so far.


I’ve always made friends pretty quickly but I’m starting to find it exhausting. Our most recent move was hard, plus I was really overweight and unhappy within myself. I was depressed, cried almost everyday and just didn’t know how to pick myself up. Something had to change – I could not celebrate my 40th birthday feeling as depressed as I was.


Matt and I decided to change our eating habits so we ate less junk food and sweets, cut back our portions and ate a lot cleaner. Then the world changed due to the pandemic.


With my kids at home, as part of their PE lessons we all started running together every second day. The kids would run 2km and I would run it with them. It was during this time that I also decided to use a couch to 5km app. From there I found some running groups on facebook where you could sign up to do virtual challenges and get medals. This was a huge inspiration to me to keep getting out the door. The day before my 40th I did a 10km hill run to celebrate!


By this stage I was feeling amazing! Having lost 20kg, being able to run 5km easily and regularly, getting medals for all the challenges I had entered. It was really good for my self confidence and self esteem.


My first parkrun was in November 2020 at Gungahlin. I remember being so nervous to go. I didn’t know anyone that went. I had avoided running around lots of people and even though I had lost 20kg I still had a goal to lose another 20kg so I was still quite self conscious.


Yet everyone at parkrun was so welcoming, especially when I let them know it was my first time. parkrunners are all so happy and chatty. What I loved even more was that it didn’t matter how fast or slow I was, the encouragement would still be the same. There were guys and girls, kids and dogs and even some elderly who I couldn’t believe kept in front of me the whole time! People were running, jogging and walking. Everyone was happy! I felt no judgement and felt I had finally found my tribe!


Since then I’ve met people at parkrun who I had already met online through running groups such as Running Mums Australia and Mum Runners. These girls have been so encouraging and inspiring!


What I also love about parkrun is that it has locations all over Canberra and all over Australia. So if we did have to move again I know that I could look up the nearest parkrun location and join in the first chance I got. I would find my tribe again.


I recently found out about Veteran Sports Australia and that parkrunners can join ‘Team Veteran’ through their parkrun profile. To have an organisation that can help facilitate like minded people who have had similar life experiences and challenges, it makes it so much easier. As well as the benefit of meeting people who understand your journey, being outdoors and getting some exercise at the same time is also hugely important. Mentally and physically we need this! It really is a win win situation.


I encourage any defence personnel or family members, especially when you first move to a new location, to find a parkrun. Yes it can be a bit daunting but sometimes we just need to put ourselves out there!


Since the beginning of this year I’ve lost another 12kg but my biggest achievement so far is running a half marathon in the Canberra Times Running festival in 2:29:49! I really wanted to do it while I was still 40 and managed to run it just under my goal time of 2:30.


I’m super proud of how far I’ve come but it has taken a lot of work and dedication. My manta had become the word REGARDLESS:


Regardless of my fear
Regardless of how I see myself
Regardless of how I might be feeling
Regardless of the weather
Regardless of ANY EXCUSE I might come up with
I made myself get out the door!


12 months ago I never would have dreamed that I could have done so much but here I am! What could you be doing 12 months from now?


Erin Rhodes
parkrunner A6878709

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