My first 6 months as a Youth Worker and the big picture

It’s been around 6 months now since I started work at Community Action Youth Service   which I’m not gonna lie, has been a huge change and adjustment for me in terms of my career aspirations and direction. Like I touched base on in my last post, Real Estate was an industry I seen myself excelling in for the long term, especially with my feet and presence placed firmly in our local property market. I guess we take for granted Sometimes how easily things can change for us and how that can impact our lives so easily, but really is change necessarily such a bad thing?

After launching my campaign, ‘The Good Fight Australia‘, my focus changed almost instantly from selling and managing real estate to now focusing on youth mental health, bullying, suicide, self harm and awareness/prevention methods. With media coverage around my family being so high at the time, it was difficult to not become fully engrossed in other peoples stories, situations and challenges around these issues. At the time however, I didn’t consider youth work as career prospect by any stretch.

I guess before starting work at the youth service I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and stressed to say the least, leaving my established career and wage for a period of time to focus on everything that was happening was not something I had ever been faced with. I alongside family pretty much lived off savings (which never lasts long anyway). But! One afternoon I had a random text message (soon to be a phone call) from the Manager of our local crisis youth service asking if I was available for some relief work especially given my current community engagement around youth. Next thing I know, my first trial day was organised and from that initial Monday I haven’t looked back!

Primarily focusing on Homeless Youth and Emergency Relief work, my role as a ‘Resource Worker’ is so very diverse (as our clients generally are as well). Every day is different and that in itself is something I find to be so exciting and challenging. But, with that comes tough and very real situations and conversations, some of which can truly leave me heart broken and/or shocked at times. A lot of these situations and stories creating early mental health diagnoses/illness or trends, which without the right support only leads to future struggles and issues for these young people. It’s not all bad though and generally speaking I have found that most of the time all young people need is a gentle nudge in the right direction or someone to talk to and it makes a world of difference.

Keeping things pretty brief we also have some other pretty cool programs (in house) which are facilitated by some even cooler people. Programs such as a drop in breakfast program (Project 180), a young expecting mums group (Little Beginnings), a sexual health worker, a free GP and the list goes on. To work in a team alongside such positive people and structured supports for our community can honestly be the best feeling, especially when you see how utilised these services are and how young people benefit from them. But anyway, let’s get back on track!

In my 6 months as a youth worker I have already learnt so much and feel like my self development has really been taken to a whole other level from this role in itself. I have now taken the time to reflect and realise how impacting our individual mental health is. Especially with men, both young and older. The stigmatisations and self pressure we as men put on ourselves sometimes can be so extreme that our self management can be near unbearable. I know I have experienced that myself and it sucks. I guess for me anyway, the important thing in all of this is it doesn’t matter how big or small your community is, we are all human and we feel the same things and want the same things. To be loved, accepted, appreciated, supported and thought of. I think we all need to remember that a little more regularly than we do. It’s when we remind ourselves of these things on a daily bases, we might just have the power to keep one more mother, father, son, daughter, friend, family member or community member around or just simply make their journey a little easier. That for me is the big picture, and I’m not changing that for anyone…

A year of chaos!

Hey, I can’t believe it’s been 10 whole months since my last post! Let’s face it though, it was only my second post anyway so in the grand scheme of things it’s probably not that much of a big deal right? Haha well that’s what I’m sticking with anyway. Back to business, I guess in reference to my last post (way back when) I was talking about motivation, which is something that at the time I had so much of. I thought I was unstoppable, however 2018 has thrown some serious curve balls my way.

So, let’s get you up to scratch just so your not wondering why I dropped off the face off the blogging earth for nearly a year! At the core of my life, fitness and my career in Real Estate sales were two things that absolutely held a spot at the forefront of my life. Unfortunately not long after introducing this blog, my 12 year old brother attempted to take his own life making national and international headlines. With such a high media presence and response I decided to launch an Australia wide awareness campaign around Youth Bullying, Self-Harm and Suicide awareness, which has had so many benefits and challenges to say the least. With this huge situation thrown in my lap, both personally and professionally I became instantly stunted. Pretty much everything I felt I had worked so hard for over the last five years came crashing down in weeks.

Oh and just to clarify! My little brother is ok now and my family are so very lucky and grateful to have celebrated his 13th birthday with him recently. All that aside, let’s leave this part of the story for another time! (You can click this link if you want to check out my campaigns official Facebook page (or learn more) in the mean time https://www.facebook.com/FightTheGoodFightAU/).

Now not to make this seem like a ‘super depressing’ post or anything (sorry in advance) but if that crazy roller coaster wasn’t already enough for me, this year I’ve also experienced close relationship breakdowns, financial hardships, a driving suspension, a physical/mental breakdown, accommodation instability and a complete career change (just to name a few of the bigger things). On a positive note though, these experiences and situations have really made me appreciate the power of our mental health, how  important it is and what we need to do (as men) to keep ours on track.

Anyway! Time to fast-forward. Looking back at the last year of chaos for me, I have learnt so many life lessons and undergone (what I see as) intensive personal development. With such huge changes and life lessons around me, my motivation for fitness, health and my personal well-being all suffered drastically. As we know, when we have motivation It can be so awesome and can make your goals seem so easy! It’s how to make sure you don’t loose it that’s the hard part.

10 months of hurdles, changes and excuses is what I let get in the way of my motivation and now it’s time. I’m digging deep, I’m hustling hard and I’m ready to get mine back again and hopefully grow yours with mine along the way.

My fitness and wellness journey just took a big holiday, but it’s back. You are now officially updated and it’s time to get to work!

Talk soon…

Murray

That first ‘iconic’ before and after shot

Motivation? Something we all say we need more of. But what exactly is it and how does being motivated actually change how you do things. This is something I believe only you can find out for yourself, however, I sure as hell can share with you what has motivated me so far and hope it helps you find a little piece of yours. One thing I know for sure though, it wasn’t quite as simple as just taking a photo…

Let’s rewind back to 12 months ago, basically I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and to be honest half of the time it wasn’t because I was necessarily hungry, I was either bored or used food as my main form of comfort. Sometimes I would eat up to 4 or 5 decent sized meals a day and multiple unhealthy snacks in between. Not to mention I would never eat breakfast and usually wouldn’t eat until around 10:00am daily. Yes, I’ll admit I also frequented the fridge throughout the night usually on more than one occasion.

So what was my turning point? There initially were a few significant factors that pushed me slowly in the direction of making my healthy lifestyle change. One of the main ones was my health, at 22 I was taken to hospital with a severe case of Atrium Fibrillation (an irregular and rapid heart rate) that lasted for a little over three hours and reached a total of 204 beats per minute and had no intention of slowing, due to this we had no choice but to stop it. For the following 12 months, further relatable issues surfaced. Amongst other more generalised health issues, this one, in particular, was linked back to my weight and lack of health.

With depression and anxiety being a big thing in my family, I wasn’t surprised to notice that over time these symptoms were coming my way. With an extremely busy lifestyle and my self-worth starting to fall a little faster than before, I started to realise that in order to feel better (both physically and mentally) I needed to start somewhere. Day 1, at 142 kg (Photo on the left) I decided to do what I really did not want to do, have my photo taken. This for me was not only to be used later on as a comparison for my journey but also a reminder of where I physically and mentally never want to be again. It was later that week I initiated contact with a woman by the name of Belinda who became my short-term life and motivational coach, with her direction I knew that from there, the rest was up to me…

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Now 8 months on I have just (literally two weeks ago) reached my third goal! Punching under 110kg my second shot was taken at the total weight of 109kg (Photo on the right). For me, I have always seen others use ‘that first iconic before and after shot’ and have wondered what it would be like to physically see the change and transition before your very own eyes. Well two weeks ago, for the first time, I had that feeling and what an amazing thing it was!

Well, I have to start somewhere right?

Well, here we go, this is where my ‘blogging journey’ begins. You’re probably already thinking yep, this is just another one of those feel-good motivational blogs about this guys ‘health journey’ and all that wonderful stuff. You’re probably right to some extent, however, this blog isn’t just about my weight loss and wellness journey. I have designed this site for men much like myself who have always struggled with both their body appearance and confidence levels on a daily basis. More importantly though, our mental health and the struggle we as men deal with within our society on a regular base. The hustle has never felt harder and been more real for me then what it has been the last 6 months, but relax! We have plenty of time to go over all of that.

On that note, I better get the quick (always boring) introduction out of the way. My name is Murray Benton, I have just turned 24 and have been married to my wife Jess for 3 years now. We live in Gympie Queensland and I work within the Real Estate industry for Century 21 Platinum Agents. Recently I have transitioned from a direct sales role into our Client and Office Relations Manager’s position and love what I do. As of two weeks ago I am now a dedicated student of the AIPT (Australian Institute of Personal Trainers) and working towards my Certificate IV in fitness and qualification in PT…

Ok, I think that will do for now with the formalities!

At my current best - 108kg

When I started my fitness and wellness journey only about a short 12 months ago I weighed my absolute most, at 142kg I felt the worst I have ever felt in my life. Both physically and mentally. I was drained and nothing seemed worth working towards anymore… But that’s one of many stories to come.

Thanks for checking The Healthy Hustle Blog out, I hope to see you more!

Regards,

Murray