Thursday, April 24, 2014

Couple Runner Profile: Dion and Liberty Milne

Losing weight and keeping fit is no easy feat, for an individual and what more a couple. Having a partner with a similar goal however, helps to make that weight loss and/or fitness journey an achievable one.

Meet Dion and Liberty, a couple who recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. A few years ago, they decided to do something about their weight gain and together, they succeeded in shedding about 70kg! It wasn't easy but they managed to do it.

Now they are trail runners! :)

1. Tell us more about this ‘Fat Together, Fit Together’ I spotted on Dion’s profile some time ago.

Libby: It started as a bit of a joke between us. With me being 33 kilo’s heavier and Dion being 40 kilo’s heavier, we were literally fat together and now having lost that weight, we are both now fit together. But now it’s become a bit of a dream of mine to write a book about it. I’d like to share our journey and experiences and show people what ordinary everyday people like D and I can do with a bit of dedication and hard work.

Dion: As usual Lib is pretty spot on with that so not much for me to say here. :)

2. Looking back, what do you think was the hardest thing about keeping fit?

Libby: In the beginning I’d say it came down to our schedules. As we were both on the same journey, we needed to work in with one another which wasn’t and still isn’t always easy. As D is the runner in the family, I at first resented the amount of time he dedicated to his running. He would be out for hours at a time which made it harder for me to fit my training in amongst work, being a mum and trying to run a household and studying as well. I think it took us quite a few months to get on to the same page in terms of our training.

I think to a certain degree, you have to be a bit a selfish when it comes to taking time out for yourself in order to reach your goals. We were really lucky and still are, that we’re doing it together so we are able to keep one another motivated and accountable.

Dion: I’d say it’s harder to get fit than stay fit especially that first 3 months where you are trying to form new habits presumably after weeks, months, years of neglect.

Lib’s right, it was all about the balance and schedule. There had been times in the past where both of us had tried at different times but it wasn’t until we got into some sort of sync and understanding how important it was to each other. So if it was important to Lib, it was important to me and vice versa.

I’d say the hardest part of keeping fit is keeping a fit mind as we can both attest to this at the moment, both of us carrying foot injuries. It has been more of a mental battle and finding some cross training activities to keep the endorphins flowing. It’s easy to see how people go back to zero fitness after an injury.

3. Did all the weight loss (and working out) lead to trail running?

Dion: Trail running sort of happened by accident with my sporting background of Australian Rules Football and Basketball. I had always had a pretty sound anaerobic fitness background (all be it hibernating for a decade) but distance was something I’d always avoid especially in pre season training. The monotony of running around an oval or on a street was just not appealing. I’d just started running 5km with a local I met through a mutual friend and personal trainer and we hit it off, where Matt Hosking has now became one of my best friends and we’ve shared many trails and successes over the past 18 months on trails. It started when we entered the Sept 2012 Salomon Series at Anglesea, a 14.6km that changed our lives forever.

Libby: It was Dion’s love of trail running that got me into it. I’ve always been a road runner who needed to stay reasonably close to home with school and kinder pick ups and drop offs. D introduced me to a stretch of trail around Torquay and Bells Beach and it didn’t take long for me to realize why he was so addicted. From there he would enter me in events where my first knowledge would be through a confirmation email in my inbox.

Cheeky bugger! I keep telling him payback’s a b#$&* and one day I’ll return the favor.

Dion: Haha we’ll see.

4. What’s so fun about trail running?  
(It’s a trick question! You have to say it's awesome!)

Dion: The people we have met have been the most enjoying aspect for me. I’ve shared so many trails with all different social, economic and international demographics who all share the same passion. I love the fact that I have to concentrate on the now and those next 3, 4, 5 steps because if I don’t I will trip fall and hurt myself. I love the challenge and the fact that you can quite often reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going from the top of a hill or mountain. Sometimes it’s amazing and sometimes it’s daunting.

Libby: I’m not sure what I like most … the scenery, the fact that no two trails are the same or the fact that you don’t have the thinking time on the trails that you do on a road run. As trails are more technical you really tend to just focus on each step and foot placement. It takes away the monotony that road running has. And like D said the amount of friends that we have met through trail running has been by far one of the greatest things about it.

5. Are the kids following your footsteps and venturing into trail running?

Libby: Both our girls (5 and 8) are pretty active and like to get outdoors. They’ve been out on the trails and love it. We used to have them babysat whenever we had events in the past but we know they’re pushing to come along and be part of the cheer squad.

Dion: I think it helps that many of our trail running friends are in the same boat with us, i.e. young families, and there seems to be a little community forming not just of the runners but also the partners and kids. We’d love nothing more than to share some longer trails with them as they grow up but if they choose not to that’s ok too, we just want to see them active and enjoying the great outdoors. We are both not fans of generation computer games.

6. What is/are your major events for 2014? Are you excited and training very hard?

Dion: It’s all about Surf Coast Century (SCC) for me, 100km on our backyard trails. I haven’t started training on trails or running yet as I’m carrying a foot injury but I have cranked up some cross training on a new mountain bike I got for my birthday / 10 yr wedding anniversary and spin classes. Hopefully after the MRI next week I’ll know more about when I can start running again. 5 months and counting.

Libby: I just completed the Roller Coaster half marathon last month and have the You Yangs 30km coming up in July, and I’m in a team to do a leg of the SCC although I must admit the 50km distance for this event is very tempting and challenging to say the least. My goal for the year is to do a full marathon and I’ve been training for that since February. I was hoping to do that mid year but I am sidelined at the moment with an ankle injury so we’ll have to see how the recovery goes but if not mid year it will definitely be at some stage throughout the year. The program I’m doing has me running 4 times a week and then weights or cross training in between so it keeps me pretty busy and tired as well. *wink, wink*

(I’m pretty sure that wink is for me and not Dion!)

7. Libby, do tell us about your gym and how it came about.

Libby: Health-e-bods really came about from my own weight loss journey. I’ve always struggled with food and exercise and if I’m completely honest, I still do to a certain extent. However, what I found out while I was losing weight and becoming fitter was knowledge. Knowledge about food, exercise and I ultimately found what worked for me. Knowledge is power and if I can pass even just a bit of that on to someone in a similar situation then that makes it all worthwhile.

This led me to do my cert 3 and 4 in fitness through the VFA and become a fully qualified personal trainer, by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And that led me to the creation of Health-e-bods. Health-e-bods has three components to it. The health side in terms of nutrition and diet are some things that I will always be studying in order to increase my knowledge. The E is for the exercise component which is in the form of group training sessions and one on one sessions, and the bods is the body transformation that is achievable when you combine the first two components together.

I have a private fitness studio that we put into the front of our house where I can train clients and also have access to an outdoor training area.

Health-e-bods whilst predominantly being a training business is something I am hoping to grow and evolve so that. It will not only be about the training side of things but I would like to see it transform into a training/wellbeing/lifestyle business.

(So, when can I sign up for a free torture training session ...)

At the Roller Coaster Run 2014.

8. What is your advice to couples who want to keep fit together?

Dion: If this makes sense, you can’t do it alone. You need support but equally you can’t rely on someone else to do it for you. There are times when I’m sure Lib thinks oh god, it feels like I’m always running but she knows I’m a better husband and father if I’m running. Sacrifice a little to make it work and don’t cry time poor as there’s always someone busier than you making it work for them.

Libby: I think you need to realize that as much as it can be a couple journey, ultimately it is a personal journey and you need to find what works not only for you but for each other. We’ve been fortunate in that we can sometimes manage to run together (sometimes I think that’s how we catch up on each other lives) or we can do a training session together or I can take D through a PT session. Try as best as you can to get on the same page when it comes to your fitness and goals - work out a schedule that sees you both achieving your goals otherwise you’ll just end up resenting the other. When you find that balance it really can be quite defining for your relationship. It certainly has for the two of us and we are both happier not just as individuals but as a couple.

Dion: Don’t get all mushy on me, Lib.


9. Libby, as a PT and a wife, do you resort to tough love on Dion, like “No TV until you complete your 100 sit ups!” or “No cuddles until those 1000 planks are done!”?

Libby: I'd have to say that so far Dion makes a pretty willing client. Although I do recall some whinging when we did our last boxing session. Hahaha! In all honesty though and in fairness to D, he has only started training with me for the last couple of weeks as he begins his preparation and training for the SCC in September.

The beauty of having a gym at home means that we can't escape or become lazy as it literally is right on our doorstep. He makes a pretty hard task master though when the tables are turned and he pushes me through a session. I guess it's that old saying.....payback's a B&$@£.

I must admit though I'm liking your idea of no cuddles till the workouts are done.

10. Dion, tell us about Surf Coast Trail Runners’ upcoming #traillove gathering, Lady of the Trail. I understand it will be a chance for the men to slave crew for their women.  

Dion: Well Vonsy, the run will kick off on Sun May 4th from the Big Rock picnic ground at the You Yangs on Branch Rd Lara at 9am. This gathering is all about creating a safe network for the women of our group to introduce them to other trail running women where they may be able to organize group runs without telecasting it to the social media world especially mid week. It’s all about us guys doing an overdue role reversal where the ladies enjoy the trails while us blokes look after the kids and make some brunch on their return. The trails should be enjoyed by women, men and children and we should all be able to feel safe doing it and if Lady of the Trail plays a role in doing that we’ll be happy.

We are really hoping to see you there Vonsy and looking forward to see if your other half has your culinary skills. I’d just like to acknowledge Lib in her support of me putting a lot of time not only in to my trail running but also the SCTR’s thanks heaps I couldn’t do it without her.

(Oops, I haven't RSVP-ed the event, have I?
If you followed Gary's interview with the SCTR founders, I'm expecting Matt to serve me pancakes!)

Thank you so much for your time, Libby and Dion. I hope this interview inspires more couples (or individuals) to work together towards a happier and fitter life together. Taking the first step is always the hardest, but it will get easier.

Follow Health-e-bods on Facebook and join the Surf Coast Trail Runners for some fun running!


  1. Great interview!

    Thanks for sharing :-)

  2. Great work guys! 2 truly inspirational people that I am glad to call them friends.