Category Archives: exercise

Fighting Fit

So, last weekend I went to Combat Academy, I was invited along with my Lifestyle:MK co-host Audrey who had met the brains, and brawn behind the enterprise earlier that week on a T.V show. On a Sunday morning, in a unassuming part of Leighton Buzzard which on the drive there led me up the garden path quite literally. To find out more – please CLICK HERE

We finally realised that we had arrived when we spotted people standing around in camo fatigues – is that even the right word? Berets were also employed. It all looked very serious. And I am not a serious person (despite all the ranting blogs I throw around!) so I was genuinely worried that I would immediately find a clash of personalities. There were smiles and warm welcomes from everyone, we were then ushered into the porta-cabin that serves at the head quarters. It was open with plenty of room, and the people already in the room were again welcoming. Not long after we sat down, we had another group of girls join us – who were also invited, including the utterly inspiring Rozana McGrattan who has been through so much growing up on the streets in Sao Paulo – she has released a book titled Street Girl which you can pick up easily on Amazon by CLICKING HERE (although I am sure other booksellers carry it).

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It was a lovely environment, we all talked about ourselves, that is, everyone in the room, staff, senior members, and of course, those of us hoping for a spa day (thanks Aud) and it was a really relaxed atmosphere. We felt a little closer to each other, breaking the ice. Once that was over, we had a little training session discussing common mistakes, issues and how to avoid, and what to do in certain situations. This was laying down the theory behind both predictor and prey and putting things into context before the laying of hands.

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Now, given the choice, I would have stayed out of the physical part of the day. I didn’t think I would be fit enough, that I would catch on, I was worried about my shape (I am squishy). Would I be able to do any of these things, would my leggings stay up? (the last is a legitimate concern!) And of course I didn’t want to make a complete prat out of myself in front of strangers, and worse, professionals who no doubt would be judging me.

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It got worse, after warming up, being show some simple moves, instead of being split into small groups, we would be going out in front of the rest of the group? KILL ME NOW! But the atmosphere was wholly supportive, cheers and clapping. And while you are in the moment, you actually do forget everything. It was fun, the first part of the training was about distance and how to keep the distance between you and your aggressor. Which reminded me of the boxing training I did all that time ago.

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As the training progressed, it got progressively harder, punches coming, remembering to block, and block well. Looking for openings and grappling with people who were making it harder and harder. Oh and did I mention that we also had to drop and pin someone? I am sure I am not using the correct terminology. But for those seconds (felt like hours) I wasn’t worried about what I looked like, I wasn’t pulling at my t shirt, shifting my weight, avoiding peoples stares. I was in the moment, I was doing my best, I was learning skills that I genuinely could use.

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During the time we were outside, there was a real sense of family, we cheered each other one, we congratulated each other. It felt like a group of friends, not people who to a degree had never met each other. We felt elated when we did well, we were not looking for our team mates to do badly, we were watching their techniques and cheering when they nailed it. At no point did it feel like we were being judged for anything other than how we implemented what we had learnt.

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Toward the end the session, we got to watch the instructors and regulars pitch against each other, it was interesting to see how simple techniques and ideas could be used in different ways. And inspiring, very inspiring! The day was finished off by a debrief where we all had a chance to chat and go over what we had learnt and how we felt about the day. Even though I initially had reservations about the boot camp, and given the choice, there are many, many things I would have chosen to do? I really, really enjoyed it! Four hours flew by, all preconceptions that I had when I first arrived were quickly, and thoroughly dispelled. There was no macho, regimented, army atmosphere.

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What you will find, and what I found, is a safe, supportive environment. You will learn a lot about yourself, about habits you have, what you may want to change. The thinking is based in fact, and practised. You come away with a lot to think about, and have the understanding of why, and not just how. And you feel like you made friends, and that everyone there wants to help, and support you, and for you to succeed. And you don’t get to go before a round of hugs. All barriers that may have been in place, any nerves, any apprehensions that you had when you first get out of your car…. all completely gone by that last hug.

And I am going back tomorrow for another round – wish me luck! 

Fit for danger

So last night a friend shared a diet that was followed by an actress in preparation for a film role. Having followed various links on same subject it is easy to see how quickly the initial article has been disseminated in to the wider world, with the message becoming blurred.

The reason my friend shared it was her concern over young girls coming accross this article, and more like it and influencing them. Girls look toward images presented to them in the various mediums, whether it is via social media, TV, film, magazines for idea of what they should look like. As girls grow up, they look around, outside their own immediate family, and peer group to understand what is normal, social norms, what is considered attractive.

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When you are told a diet that works is 80% just fruit and veg with the images next to it of the actress having lost 12 lbs … it sounds like the perfect solution. It seems deceptively simple and easy to stick to. So of course, this will be a great idea to shift those imaged layers of fat. But it is a diet. Diets are short term. Many athletes use diets when training. You only have to follow someone like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on social media to understand the importance diet has when training. Actually please follow him, he genuinely is an inspiration.

We see it all the time as well on shows like Strictly Come Dancing, where the contestants lose weight, but what is actually happening is that they are toning up. Because they are dancing around 8 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week including the performances. This isn’t something most people will be able to replicate. It is an unrealistic look for people to attain.

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We need to change what we present to people, instead of advertising a quick fix, maple syrup diets, 80% diets that work in short terms, CRASH diets by any other name as a normal, and healthy way to get the body you want. Instead of focusing on the shape and size of the body, the focus should be on healthy living, doing things that make you happy and finding passion in your life, about spending time outside, finding a sport that you enjoy and doing it with friends, about healthy choices with food. It shouldn’t be about the size of your waist, thigh gaps, how prominent your hips or rib cage is.

The focus should be on healthy attitudes and eating, on being healthy, active and moderation. Of course there will always be sensational articles and sales pitches to do something quickly, to cheat, articles will be misquoted and torn up to suit an agenda. But if we can change the conversation so that teenagers see messages that are predominantly positive, so they are going to be able to make more educated choices about their life, so they are able to make more informed choices. So your body is not the most important thing in all transactions.

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Running from inspiration

So I did a rather waffly, self absorbed piece on fitness recently. It was my explanation that as much as I can try to excuse my weight gain on my injury, it isn’t entirely to blame. So I am making some changes, slowly but if you rush into these things they tend not to last.

I went to see my beautiful friend Ren run in the Silverstone half marathon on the 13th March. It wasn’t planned as such, I knew that she had been training to do the London Marathon later this year after smashing Tough Mudder last year. She mentioned Silverstone and since it is just up the road from me, I thought I should go give her some support.

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I used to run, cross country, long distance, with the dog… it was in my soul. I got to the track and felt…. in awe, I felt inspired, I felt sad that I wasn’t also running…. (although the course looks pretty brutal!). We walked over to the finish line to see people coming in, I wasn’t sure where Ren would come in so this seemed like a good place. I was seriously so knocked sideways by the emotions. I cannot really put into words how it feels watching people come over the finishing line, it was a collection of pretty palatable emotions from both spectators and competitors, the joy and in many cases relief as people realised they had finished.

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Now I mentioned that Ren is running in the London Marathon in a few weeks, the Silverstone half marathon is something of a ‘warm up’ for many competitors. Ren has done extremely well, and I am so proud, i may well burst by the time she makes it across the finish line. She is running for Mind – an amazing mental health charity that has helped her personally. It is important that we talk about these things, the work that is done to support people when they aren’t able to access it though the usual channels (as much as we may wish otherwise, resources are finite). They do a fantastic amount or work in the community – if you are interested please click here.

Ren has her reasons for running for Mind – so far she has shaved off her hair and done a half marathon, and as I may have mentioned is also running in the London Marathon. If you have a couple of coins to spare, I know she will appreciate it, as will Mind! Even if you can’t donate, read Ren’s story if you need any further inspiration – please click here to check Ren’s story!

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I said that I felt inspired by the runners didn’t I ? I was debating joining the Race for Life and going a gentle walk/job around the course. But being I came to this decision all of 3 weeks ago, I am going to wait until next year and try and train a little. What is difficult for me is that I am a little broken. I only have tarmac to run on, and that will only make my injuries worse. So as much as I may want to get back into running, it just isn’t feasible for me. However I have managed to find a dance class that is 5 mins away and have really enjoyed it! Great to get back into the swing of things! 

Now I want to take a moment to talk about muscle memory. It is pretty important and yet something we all manage to forget about. I have danced for a few years, and so when I went back to dance a couple of weeks ago, I found I was able to do things that I didn’t think I would be able to, purely because I have drilled certain moved over the years. I also walk for at least an hour a day to get to and from work, so I am relatively fit. Relatively. I decided on the first day of Spring to go for a bike ride. First time this year, killing two birds with one stone, the boy suggested going to the pet shop as there is a cycle path that takes us to the industrial park. I got into the ride pretty quickly however, the seat… help me the seat! And I am fairly useless at hills. By the end of the ride back, I was getting quite upset at myself and how badly I was coping. But as the boy pointed out – muscle memory. I run, I ride horses, I dance, I lift… bike riding is something I pretty much stop as soon as my booty remembers how uncomfortable it is. Muscle memory – riding is different kettle of fish. Every time you start a new exercise, you are more than likely using a different set of muscles than you are used to. So instead of being discouraged… embrace it. I love feeling sore after exercising. And it is also a great reason to mix up your exercises – using different muscles groups is great and it helps you keep motivated! 

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So I have bought a new seat for my bike – I will keep you updated with that and the rest of my fitness journey! 

If you want to get your hands on the leggings Ren and I are wearing – head over to Wild Bangarang by clicking here for the website and clicking here for the facebook page.

Truth behind injury

Specifically, my injury. I can’t and won’t talk about another persons injury – as if!

So, a few years ago, I came off a horse, I thought we would be continuing to the right of a bush, my horse decided at the last moment, to go left. I had a Hollywood worthy pitch over her head, landing first on my head and then on my booty (which luckily has plenty of padding). The worst thing was a. realising the other 2 riders hadn’t noticed, and secondly… most importantly to me …. how the hell was I going to get back on…. Yikes. But I managed it – I have years of experience of adjusting stirrups on the hoof so we didn’t hang around.

I didn’t really think much of it for the rest of the hack, I had bigger things to worry about, but once I got off… oh boy! Every part of my felt bruised. So off i went to the pub and enjoyed the rest of my afternoon.

Wow that was a short blog!

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But that wasn’t what I wanted to write about – shortly after my stunt dive, I developed a lump on the arch of my left foot. I am the worlds worst patient and will only go to my doctor when it becomes borderline fatal. But after six weeks, a pea sized lump was on my foot, and I couldn’t walk properly. So off I go to the GP…. I get fobbed off and asked to wait another 6 weeks. I go back to the GP and get told that I need to book an apt with another doctor at the surgery who would remove the lump under local anesthetic. Not a good patient, remember? So off I got to reception and book in an apt and duly attend in another couple of weeks for – what I thought – was an apt to remove the lump. But no, I am instead referred to my local podiatry department – another 6 weeks waiting, still not entirely sure what is going on… now I am going to have to cut this short because it is already ridiculous. I go to podiatry, I have a steroid injection directly into the lump. I go back for a follow up after 6 weeks, and get told that the injection should have been in my ankle… After another 6 weeks I go back to the GP because at each stage I had had a different diagnosis. At this point having already seen 5 medical professions, I finally see a doctor who can diagnose the issue and give me advice. Great.

During this time i have continued with my dancing, classes, workouts and walking (I walk for at least an hour a day to and from work) and consequently have managed to cause irreparable damage to the tendon on my foot, congratulations to me. It was certainly a combination of not understanding what the cause was, what the injury was, and certainly not having the right information on how to best treat it.

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So what does that mean for me now? Well frankly it means chronic pain in my foot, whereas I had previously had pain on getting up after being stationary for a while thanks to the plantar fasciitus, now I often find it painful and tender on the side and top of my foot, difficult to negotiate stairs, sudden onset of pain. Basically every step I take is painful, with the added bonus pain. It means that I stopped dancing, I quit high impact, and I slowed down.

What else does it mean….it means, that I got fat. I mean I was never thin, I was not skinny, but I had toned and honed my body so that I didn’t hate looking at it, that I would wear a body con dress and feel happy. But you know what, diet? Yeah you can have a questionable diet when you are burning those calories, but the moment you stop? Yeah that.

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Blue Weights, Green Apple, and Tape Measure

Things change, I used to run long distance as a teenager, worked with animals as long as I could remember, dancing has always been part of my life, but when you grown up, things change. Your body changes. What doesn’t change is your responsibility to your body. I am fat, I am not happy about it. And yes, I can say that I stopped my usual forms of exercise because of injury, certainly if I hadn’t had the injury I am unlikely to have stopped.

But equally, I could have paid more attention to what I was (am) eating, I could have made sure that I wasn’t putting in more energy than was being expended, especially as my job has become more and more sedimentary. I certainly should have looked at alternative forms of exercise. But I didn’t.

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This is what I am trying to say is that IT HAS TO STOP – I have literally no excuse, the pain is chronic, it won’t get better, I put up with it daily so I can damned well put up with it during some classes. With that in mind, I have signed up to a new local dance class, and I am hoping to go to a skate class as well. And you know, if the pain gets all that bad, I could even pop an anti-inflamatory…

No more excuses people, this girl, can and will stop hiding being the injury. It isn’t what makes me, it won’t be what kills me.

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