So in January I was suddenly inspired to download the Couch to 5k app. I had started running on the treadmill last autumn and managed to keep it up instead of giving up after a few weeks. My stamina and cardio fitness have been issues for me since having to give up dance but maintaining progress has been difficult. Running is just something I never saw an appeal in. Which is odd, as I ran a lot, and long distances, up hill, cross country, as a teenager.
So anyways, back to my story, in January I downloaded the app, I decided that my first run would be on the following Tuesday. Tuesday came around and wouldn’t you believe it, so did a storm. I was undeterred and went for a run, wearing a bright yellow hoodie and an owl beanie hat to try and keep warm. To say I got wet would be an understatement. I was drenched. But what was important is that I didn’t use the weather as an excuse. Really after that introduction, it could only get better.
Well if i am honest, it didn’t really, not where the weather is concerned, it was pretty wet and windy for 90% of my runs, and I quickly learnt that it doesn’t matter how much lighting, bright colours, hi vis or reflective items you go out in… cyclists will always act like they can’t, or hadn’t see you and try and push you off the path.
As I progressed, I was finding my initial path ( the same I take to the gym at the weekend) was not long enough, so I sat down and had a look at possibilities. I am lucky, I have a river, canal and common land in what I refer to as my back garden. It means that I don’t spend a lot of time running on the road. I spend enough time as a pedestrian that running on roads has absolutely no appeal to me.
I also downloaded Strava to help me track my workouts – I wanted to see what my pace was, have an accurate way of analysing and recording my runs. And this does also seem to have helped motivate. A lot of the time, you need to figure out what works for you, what makes you tick. I found the map on this even easier to use and found a nice reservoir that I could run around… well not around. Every run I pushed myself to run a little further, and I was able to judge how far I was and when to turn around. But between the high winds which felt that I was going to be pushed into a lake or a river, and cyclists pushing me off the path (not as often as my original route) regularly, it was becoming frustrating.
Well, I have found a third route which I have done for the last 2 weeks and honestly, it is like an awakening. As its alongside a canal, so is pretty straight, and there isn’t much variation on the incline. Running around the lake, the path was so bad that I was worried about my knee or tripping and twisting my ankle. The final straw was having to walk back after my knee gave in which I am fairly sure has a lot to do with the appalling state of the path. But the path I am using now is almost bouncy and is a pleasure to run along.
Last night was my final run, I have officially completed the Couch to 5K but you know what really got me, I didn’t hit 5k! How? Well I was going with the timings and now the distance so tomorrow will be my first solo run and I am aiming to hit 5k.
So there are a couple of things that I have learnt – I do not yet have the ability to run without slowing down – I slow down for a few steps before setting off. This is mostly to catch my breath. I am not annoyed with myself, I try and go further and further between breaks and know I will get there, I am not training for anything so there is no pressure. I am a social runner – I take bread out to feed the local birds, ducks and swans.
I have learnt that some days will be better than others, and it is important to recognise when you have had a bad run. It is no good ignoring it, or glossing over it. If it was shit, it was shit. You know you can do better next time. I had a few bad runs but yesterday, my final run of the program? I smashed it! I ran further, faster and longer and there is no real reason for it. But go with the flow, don’t force it, don’t fight it. What is important, is that you tried.
What I can say, is that, outside having a pair of running trainers, and wearing high vis, making sure you are warm, the one thing that is REALLY important when running is a decent sound track! It helps you pace, even if its subconscious. Oh and leggings with a pocket 😉
Sooooo in my last post I explored the last year and what has been going on with me.
cently, I was at the gym, and I was actually really pleased with myself – both at what I was seeing in the mirror but also with improvements that I had been seeing.
I stopped myself from comparing myself to others, its easy to do, and if you are planning on hitting the gym … word of advice. Do not compare. There is no point in looking at how flexible someone is, how much stamina someone has, how much are they able to lift. There are so many variables and if you are going to compare, file it under goals. I have said it before, and I will say it again, everyone in the gym is there to work out. No one is looking at you and judging. Most people are wrapped up in their own workout and even if they appear to be looking at you, are not focusing on you!
Right, now that I have offered the same piece of advice …
A couple of things that I need to get off my chest, and I don’t mean to offend people but they are niggles that are pretty unhelpful when trying to make positive changes.
When you weigh yourself and your weight has increased. Someone telling you that your weight naturally fluctuates is true. But unhelpful. Do not just assume that it was a glitch and keep on as you have. Think about what you have or haven’t done, activity wise, food wise. And make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of complacency. I am not suggesting that you beat yourself up over a couple of lbs … as long as it is just a couple and you claw it back. But letting it slide, and not keeping it in check is a slippery slope.
Women …… HORMONES ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND BUT THEY ARE NOT AN EXCUSE. I have seen a lot of posts regarding a weigh increase due to hormones, and that time of the month. But think about it objectively. Do you eat differently? I certainly do. I have struggled massively with snacking. Its all the grazing, and frankly chocolate that I crave. And what is the obvious outcome?
Muscle is heavier than fat. Wow… yeah you got me there. That is exactly why I am not losing weight! Its all those gains…. yeah no. No it isn’t. Muscle is indeed heavier than fat. But its down to density and unless your body fat % is nice and low… so no, I personally, am fat, and my weight is down to fat and not muscle. Don’t get me wrong, weight training is amazing but you are just not going to be gaining muscle quickly unless you are eating super clean.
Telling people they don’t need to lose weight is NOT HELPFUL – it is the same as when you tell people to eat a burger. Do you know what they are going through? I have been told that I am fine, that I don’t need to lose more weight, what am I worried about etc etc I of course appreciate that it is coming from a good place. But ultimately it is not helping. It leads to complacency and that is not going to see you reach any goals.
Now everyone’s journey is going to be different – it depends on their starting point. How much you want/need to lose, why you want to lose, do you want to gain, are you more concerned about fitness, have you had to change up your workouts due to injury, are you switching from cardio to weight training, are you working toward a competition. I am absolutely down for accountability, it is a throw back to being a sports wear ambassador and it got me into the habit of posting my workouts. I mean if you don’t post it on SM, did it really happen? But it evolved into not cheating myself and showing some accountability for where I was with training.
But only do what works for you, are you posting so that you can connect with others on the same journey, is it a checklist, do you want something to look back on? You need to be honest with yourself, accountable for yourself and don’t make excuses. You can be reflective and offer a reason but only if that is going to help you understand, overcome and improve.
I guess this should be a whole, New Year, New me post.
It isn’t, it is reflective and a little bit of an apology.
When I started the series, I was fully immersed and training hard. Since then, a bunch of stuff has happened and to a degree I have probably mentioned it in previous posts. And if you follow me on SM you will already know.
A lot of it will be the same excuses I have trotted out but it comes down to, Life. Life happened. Things changed, I changed. But let us just quickly run down what has been going on before i tackle a few things.
18 months ago, I broke my wrist. At this point my training was, I felt, going really well so it really knocked me for six.
In that same period, I changed job 3 times, with 3 very different working hours and schedules. Things have thankfully settled down.
I put on A LOT OF WEIGHT
I got a PT (the last 2 are not mutually exclusive)
So lets unpack. When I broke my wrist, my consultant suggested it was probably safer for me to continue at the gym. Which I did. It was okay. But until you have an injury that limits you like this, its really hard to understand how limiting it is. This isn’t just the adjustment while you are recovering. It is how long the recovery actually lasts. I mean. I would say, even now because of the tendon injury and referred pain… I am still not 100%.
Changing jobs – so while I was at the hairdressers, I was working part time and this meant I had a greater deal of flexibility and could spend more time at the gym without worrying about time. It was great. When I changed to, ironically, working at the gym, I was working longer weeks and hours, and walking more. Now walking is something I will come back to. But one thing I struggled with, is getting to the gym. Because I was on a mid shift, I struggled to get to the gym on either side of my shift and when I was on a day off, I avoided the gym. So that didn’t help. I have since started another job which involves a lot of sitting, including my commute. Which leads me to my next point…
My current job involves little in the way of activity. With all my employment while living in Northampton, I have walked a lot, walking through town to get to the bus stop, popping into town during lunch breaks, while at the gym I spent a large chunk of my way canvassing, and working to and from work. So I have now got a job that sees me spend a great deal of time on the bus and at my desk. So yeah… not ideal.
My final point, arguably the most important, is that when i left the gym, I stayed as a member, and got roped into a PT session … and honestly I am so happy that I did. I had wanted to get a PT for a long while but seriously the money was a big issue but also finding someone who I felt I could work with.
Now, that is obviously more than a year, but it all is linked in. I put on a lot of weight when I changed jobs, not so much not going to the gym, because I was spending a lot of time on my feet, but changing to an office based job again. And what is worse, I didn’t realise. It sounds silly, I know. How did I not realise I had put on so much weight. I knew I was over weight, again something i had discussed before, and again I could pinpoint why the weight had crept on. But this was not slow, over a few years, lets not kid ourselves. I got lazy with what I was eating, and I wasn’t doing enough exercise to combat my lifestyle changes.
I started seeing my PT just over a year ago, and I would argue with him about the fact eating plans don’t work for me, that I know how many calories are in the things I am eating (to an extent this is true) and that I was fine. I can’t exactly remember what it was that pushed me. But I took scales into work for a coworker and jumped on myself. And nearly died. I was mortified at the weight. over 2 stone heavier than I expected. So I got chatting to a friend who also happens to work in the fitness industry and she gave me some pointers. The biggest was downloading MFP (and this isn’t an endorsement, just my own experience) and I then started logging my meals. I got a smart watch for Christmas last year (I spend a lot of time debating Fitbit or smartwatch but ultimately decided that this was better for me personally) and it tracks heart points (rate – time spent with an elevated heart rate… or cardio) and time spent walking. The recommendation is 60 mins activity per day and 10 heart points per day. Easy you would think. Right? Well on a non gym day, I would struggle to manage 45 mins / 8 HP …. so yeah, no surprise why I was putting on weight. So anyway, in May last year, that is when I changed up my fitness journey. I started tracking meals, I worked out 3/4 times a week. I averaged 1lb loss per week. Some weeks I maintained. But it was actually, was easier to do than I ever expected. It was a lot of gradual adjustments.
So, why did I go down the calorie deficit route, and not say, Slimming World or Weight Watchers. I have no personal experience of either. I have a lot of friends who have used them to lose weight. And for those who stick with it, the results and fast, and they are amazing. No honestly, they really are fantastic. However, once you stop following the program, the weight comes back and it comes back quickly. So I wanted rather, to make sustainable changes that worked for me. Do I fancy a donut today? (silly question) but then that means, I have to work a little harder. As long as I can stick in a deficit, or as close to… then it works. Of course I am not perfect, I mean I eat donuts. I drink. I enjoy myself. Now, the whole deficit thing, I am not being extreme, I am down to roughly 1400 per day. I won’t go below that. Because I still need to be able to function.
How, one thing that I have found, is that your body is not predictable, some days I weigh myself and i have lost 3 lbs. Some days I have maintained, some days I have…. put weight on. It is hard, not going to lie. When you think you have tracked well and worked hard.. and then your body appears to betray you. Its one thing that I have found particularly hard. When people say, hey its normal to fluctuate, or its hormones… its just not helpful? It feels like an excuse and honestly that is the last time i need to hear. Did I forget something, did I not work out enough. After I had been doing well on the weight loss, I started to lose traction again and I gave myself a kick. I decided to take the long way how. Now … this is a great idea. In theory. Its along a canal and in the summer, I am sure it is a perfectly nice way of getting some fresh air. I don’t suggest it in the winter as walking home in the dark is not fun. So i reset, and decided to go for a walk at lunch. I had avoided this previously because I like to have the time to decompress, but I was out of ideas. It does seem to have worked though.
Now when I say I have run out of ideas, and this is an explanation… I usually get home at at around 18:00 having left the house before 7am. This generally means that I am really, really hungry. So if I have not gone to the gym that evening, the last thing I want to do is throw some food down my fact, let it settle and then go back out. What I am trying to say, is that it is all about being smart with your time. On a typical week, I have bellydance on a wednesday, gym friday night, PT saturday morning, gym & swim sunday. This means that I have a couple of nights off, and a day to play with. Sure, I could go for a run… or spend more time at the gym, work out at home. But if you are going to start a fitness journey, you try and see what works for you, and be realistic. This works for me.
Now, I have mentioned him a few times but lets have a look at the PT issue – like i said, I had wanted to get a PT for a while, I have had PT’s previously so I knew roughly what to expect. I guess for me, part of the issue with working at the gym is that I got to know them and how they trained. When I got roped into a session with Zack I didn’t know what to expect, which I think was an absolute plus. Now to cast back to my broken wrist. When I said recovery was a bitch, this was 6/8 months after the break and Zack had an uphill struggle with me and my inability to really do much with my right hand. But another way of looking at it, is that he also helped me strengthen my wrist so I could push more.
I am not going to lie, Zack had had an uphill struggle with me, I am argumentative, lazy, awkward, I like to chat shit. I also hate not being able to do something and half our sessions have been bargaining and debating. I am sure he has spent many a session thinking about throwing the towel in with me as a lost cause. He spent a got chunk of our sessions, undoing all the bad habits i had picked up or been taught. It was harder in a way because I was not new to the gym so I had things ingrained and that takes time to undo. One thing that I really wanted to get on with, is weigh training. That is one big reason that I knew i needed to have a PT for, as well as getting my wrist back in shape! So over the last year, I have made a lot of progress and am a lot more confident than I was this time last year. One thing that did also change… I had an epiphany … similar to the one relating to my stepping on a scale… I jumped on the treadmill. Now most of you will know that ‘not even my tights run’ but I just decided one day that… I felt like having a run. So I did. It hasn’t been easy, what with the whole ‘cardio is evil’ thing I have maintained for a number of years. I have also really made progress overall with my workouts over the last couple of months and actually feel like I have been getting there rather than treading water.
There hasn’t been a point in the last year that I didn’t want to go to the gym, that I felt I should give up. There have been several points where I was frustrated and annoyed, with myself mostly. And I think that a lot of that stems to where I was before i was injured. That I think is what is all boils down to. Knowing where I was and where I let myself get to.
As it stands, yesterday I hit my goal weight for 2019, in that I lost 2 stone. I have 2 stone to lose and i have given myself the deadline of August – because this is the same length of time it took for the first 2 stone to be shed. I have given myself an arbitrary number to reach, it is based on my ideal weight for my height. So yes, it may need adjusting but lets cross that bridge if and when I reach it.
So anyways, that has been my recent fitness journey – thank you for reading! I hope that you reach your goals for the next 12 months, stay healthy and smash some personal bests!
I keep meaning to write a blog relating to my fitness journey – I mean honestly I just keep meaning to write anything at all. So this is going to be a little bit of an odd approach but please bear with me…
I was walking to work, thinking about how I am trying to be as waste free as possible, and this led me to thinking, wouldn’t be awesome if places like Lush gave you the opportunity to refill instead of having to buy another bottle, jar, pot. Specifically I was thinking about their face masks.
Now, this led me to think about how things have changed, exercises was where this thought led. These days, going to the gym is normal. How many people do you know that don’t have some sort of fitness schedule, either classes, or the gym, maybe its cycling, running. We have all realised that with our lifestyle changes, and the ease of access to quick fix food.. we need to look after our bodies. Indeed, my mother would probably be the first to point out that it is better to do this as a preventative measure.
So … this brings be around to the title. You are getting 2 for the price of one with this – climate change. We have been blissfully, or willfully ignoring what is painfully obvious. Plastic is everywhere, and it is killing the planet. In Germany, for as long as I remember, recycling is standard, taking back bottles, normal, reusing bags…. you get me? But we are all so immune to what happens to the plastic we throw away. We are all so blind to the fact that it isn’t somleone elses problem, that having 2 bins instead of one is not actually such an issue.
The plain fact is that we have gotten so used to everything being ..easy. The point for me that I realise the level of reliance on convince is when StarBucks opened a drive through locally. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time in a cafe, chatting with a friend and enjoying cake. But StarBucks (and all the other coffee shops it seemingly spawned) created the take away coffee in a way that was previously unseen.
Now I am not ANTI starbucks as such, I even spend money in their cafe’s – now i am not sure if it is because I don’t drink coffee, but a lot of the attraction is lost on me. I mean, surely you can wait to get to your destination to have a coffee if you aren’t going to stick around? But also, think about the amount of waste this generates. This alone, I mean if we are going after straws… take away coffee with it has so many elements, the cup, the lip, the stirrer, and i could go on. But does any of this get recycled? Because if you are on the go, and so desperate for a coffee fix, are you going to be able to dispose of it properly or are you going to dump it in the nearest bin?
There are so many elements to recycling, why we need to do more, but it feels as if we are doing less, but lets stay with fast food – not long ago, we would bring in lunch and maybe have a treat on a Friday and go get something locally. Now, it is normal to pick someone on our way in, say a coffee. At lunch, go to SubWay, Greggs etc and for our way home? Why not pick up pizza or a burger. This is not only extremely wasteful but how much more additional packaging is needed? Even if you go pick up lunch in a store, a prepacked sandwich, a drink, it is all packaging that isn’t needed. And let us now forget how expensive this is.
Honestly like most things, exercise, recycling, climate change, cutting meat, it isn’t about a grand gesture that seems difficult, insurmountable, and your brain breaks figuring out where to begin. It is about small gestures, don’t have that coffee, use a paper or metal straw, cut down meat to a day or 2 a week, try getting off the bus stop early, try working out with a friend. I am not preaching, it is merely personal experience. So many people come accross as … all or nothing. A gym instructor at a previous gym once told me that if i wasn’t in the gym at least 4 times a week, why bother. If you are not completely over hauling your diet, why bother, if you are not sorting and washing every recyclable… why bother. Well the answer is that, collectively small changes amount to big changes and if everyone made a couple of adjustments it would really make a difference.
So I am basing this on the above image. This image is an argument that i have been having over the years, both directly and indirectly.
You see, the comeback to announcing that you are fat is ‘..but your pretty..’ Not every time, and maybe the wording is slightly different, but the intention is the same. I know some of you will not use the word fat as it is not fair to label people. And honestly, I commend your postive action. I am not merely a fat girl. I am more that what I present to the world or rather the first impression that I leave. However, please don’t stop me from using it. If I am using it to describe myself – it is what i need to do.
You see, as per the other posts, being told that you are not fat, you are perfectly fine, you have nothing to worry about. These are damaging things to say to a person. What you see in the mirror is completely different to what others see. I might think that I am not too fat, but I then stand next to a slender friend and what can I say? I am fat.
I am going to keep using the word. Fat. It is important and empowering. By using the word, I am giving it meaning, and strength but I am also owning it. I am fat and I am the only person who can do something about it.
Telling someone that they are pretty when they are discussing their weight, shape or dress size is extremely unhelpful. Have they asked about how they look, have they dropped a hint about wanting a compliment? Or are they just having a moment of clarity or honesty. Are they explaining why they don’t want to have a slice of cake, or that they won’t be joining drinks after work, or why they have switched to a packed lunch.
If someone is making changes, by all means take an interest but make sure that you don’t make a big deal about it. If someone is trying to make a change, having a spotlight shone can be damaging and their motivation or willpower can evaporate. Swinging words around like diet, likewise can be unhelpful. Don’t start wading in with some magic pill that worked for you, because it worked for you. It may not work for someone else. And be aware of why someone is making lifestyle choices. Often we are given ‘quick fixes’ we are told how to drop a dress size, or lose a couple of stubborn pounds.
What is most helpful, is being honest. Not to the point of rudeness. Don’t start expressing that a person shouldn’t be having that snack, or wearing that dress, or asking how much they have lost. If someone says they are fat, let them use the word. Lets not sugar coat it. It is a word, and an explanation. I personally, am carrying too much fat on my body. Until this has been resolved, I am fat.
To summarize, I am fat, I am pretty. These are not mutually exclusive terms. It would be better if we could all learn to separate the two.
So, it has been a while since I last posted, and I do have a bunch of posts that I should publish. However I have a review that deserves to see the light of day within the month so here we go!
As you may be aware, or if you have a look through my previous posts… I am not the best at reviewing products, However, after much soul searching (bargaining with my bank account) I finally took the leap and bought a new sports bra from Valkyrie Fitness . I had it on good authority that they would be a good fit. Now I have tried bras from all over, Nike, Reebok, Wild Bangarang, Primark, Sainsburys, in the hope that one of them would work. I end up either spending over £50 for a sports bra that binds me so tight I can’t breath, or around £25 for one that barely covers my breasts. In all fairness to Primark, they are value for money, but are good only as a cover for a standard bra.
So.. let us get down to it. I have 34FF breasts, because of this, it is generally impossible for me to find sports tops that cover let alone off support. So you can understand the trepidation as I waited for it to arrive. Well, I took myself off to the gym, figuring the best ay to give it a go would be during an actual session. And I tried it solo which is not something I would normally risk.
I won’t lie, there was a moment were I thought that it just wouldn’t fit. Where I just wouldn’t get both breasts in. Sorry to be quite so blunt. But it is what it is. Well after a brief struggle, I managed to get into the bra, adjusted and off to start my work out.
Edit – I have now been using the sports bra for over a month, and in fact took the plunge and bought a second sports bra which arrived on Monday. I can honestly say that I have not found a more comfortable bra and given that I am not … how do you say, a standard fit? I am impressed that it firstly, fits, and secondly, works.
Not going to lie, it is not made for cardio, I won’t be wearing it to a zumba class in the near future. But honestly for a standard workout, including warm up, weights, yoga, etc it is … at the risk of sounding like Flanders, like wearing nothing at all. Which is also, as those ‘blessed’ with larger breasts, will find a rather strange feeling.
Now if you are interested in buying one for yourself, head over to Valkyrie, either using the link above or on Instagram by clicking : HERE you are best going with your usual dress size, the material is stretchy but secure. And for those with a more endowed chest, the trick to getting it on quickly and simply, is pulling the back down before the front 🙂
Also have a bonus picture of me in a Valkyrie baseball cap – when you have short hair…. you can look rather androgynous in the wrong gear…. whoops 🙂 That said, I do love it and had a bunch of compliments so it is now in my bag going forward!
So in a recent post I explored (albeit briefly) the no existence double standard that suggests that women can (and do?) star at a man’s crotch with impunity, but if a man looks at boobs he is a pervert. I won’t really bother going over this again, it is a waste of time and energy.
But I would like to take a moment to discuss boobs. Boobs to a degree are seen as public property. That goes no matter what size you rock, or whether you have a small child latched onto the nipple.
It is almost as if, as a community, we are all predisposed to have an opinion. For the record, I have large boobs, I grew them myself. And most of the time I hate them. I have been propsitioned by men on my walk to work and offered money to touch them, I have been attacked, man handled, groped and had items shoved inbetween, under or over them. I have had long discussions about their size, as if the cup size makes a different to most people. The assaults on my boobage is not gender specific and certainly not often able to be excused on alcohol.
Every set, and often, the individual boob, is different. In the same way dress size, or weight is a bad way of generalising. So what might work for one, will not work for another.
A prime example is a conversion that cropped up on a friend’s facebook following something she posted that may or may not have been directly related to, boobs. It then descended into the ‘first thing I do when I get home’ discussion. Honestly, I LOVE not wearing a bra. Not because my inner feminist loves to spit in the face of patriarchy but refusing to wear the constraints passed down to me… or whatever bollox is behind bra burning. And let me ask you, can you afford to burn bras? I certainly cannot! But of course there was the argument for not wearing bras, that it is better for the boob etc. I pointed out that honestly, if I had smaller, or better positioned boobs, if I had boobs that didn’t run and try and hide in my arm pits at every opportunity, I would in fact not wear a bra. I spend more of my free time braless. Or rather, most of my time at home, after all my chores have been done, and I have no plans on leaving the house, braless.
At this point, not a single person had volunteered their bra size, and again all boobs are different so even a larger cup size does not mean that they would not be comfortable without a good underwire. But me? Nope. And of course someone chimed in to suggest I wear a sports bra. Because they are supposed to be more comfortable. Nope. Sorry no. When you get to my cup size you are pretty much just strapping things down to minimise any movement and therefore minimising pain. But I do know plenty of people who do wear them, they are generally speaking, wireless and this is a large part of the appeal.
Now, I am trying not to repeat myself, but again, everything is individual. so what works for one may not work as well for another, when seamfree bras became mainstream I was so excited, the promises of comfort and support without things digging in or hurting. Yeah… no. They work great over a normal bra for extra support (or like me you just hate sports bras and aren’t planning on doing much cardio. I am going on a tangent. I was pretty offended that someone who had no idea about my personal situation or preferences, lifestyle or frankly, anything, would make a sweeping statement on what I should be doing in such a condescending way.
BOOBS ARE NOT COMMUNITY PROPERTY.
Unlike, say.. suggesting that wearing a pair of jeans to work out in might not be such a good idea.. when it is something so personal. But we all seem to have an opinion. We are all obsessed. We all love boobs, or have boobs, or are fascinated with them because you don’t really understand the attraction but… aesthetics ?
One thing I will say, is that conversely, and with express consent by all parties, I have had plenty of discussions with other women regarding boobs, comparing and discussing issues we either shared or were unique to us. We are encouraged to check our boobs to ensure that there are no changed. We should be aware of our own boobs, shape, colour and encourage our partners to be aware. But please, please do not assume you know anything about boob life until you have lived boob life, and be aware, your boob life can and will be a different life to your friend, cousin, coworker or neighbours 🙂
So after an extended break from Combat Training, I went back last week (8th Jan 2017) and I can be totally honest…. I was terrified. I had been pushing myself at the gym but am finding it difficult without a P.T or gym buddy. However, recently I have found that I wanted to go to the gym. I have been honest in that I enjoy working out but often when you work long hours, over several different projects – the need or desire to just have down time can be a difficult call to ignore.
But I digress – Combat training. I had tried to up my cardio because I had felt after the last session that this was letting me down. More so than the strength. My stamina, and endurance was going to hobble my ability to continue. So I made a real effort to work harder and faster. And hoped it would make a real difference.
Well… I should not have been surprised when I found this was just not the case at the first session of 2017. You see, at the Combat Academy, they sessions are never alike. There is never a real indication before the day of what will happen, or who in fact will be there. I have managed to avoid classic self defence classes prior to this. I had had some martial arts training (see Fighting Fit part 4 ) and done enough boxing to be relatively confident that a self defence class would hold no interest. The stereotypes around them do nothing to help my feelings toward them.
So of course, there I was thinking that it would be lots of cardio, jumping up from the floor, running, jumping, changes of position. No. Well. Now really i should have seen this coming. In my last session it was made very clear (more so than in previous sessions) that old habits would be broken down, and I would become .. I want to launch into some speil about fighting machines which says as much as the type of movie I watch as anything else. But what we are looking for is breakthroughs and confidence. Where I will laugh or giggle to deflect from my short comings, real or imagined – this needs to stop as it hinders training and pushes back the breakthrough.
Last week, well last week we went back to basics, we concentrated on grapples, on distance and what to do either to bridge the distance and to gain space. We also were reminded of Mohammed Ali – you know… float like a butterfly? Lots of dips, weaves and avoiding. We also worked on kicks or knees. What did I learn? First to change the knee and placement because all that happens is that you end up with a massive cumulative bruise on your knee. And that I needed to work on back strengthening exercises. Ironically i had started doing yoga as part of my workouts so this was a simple fit. Once I could actually move again.
Something that again was addressed was that killer instinct. I guess I am wording it wrong, I don’t mean the will or want to kill or end a life. But the ability to engage in the moment and put aside any feelings of self consciousness, or girliness, embarrassment. That worrying about what you look like, sound like, what others think… it is not something that should be on or in your mind at that moment. The point is that in combat training it is a safe space and place in which to practise real life scenarios. And if you can’t get into the correct mindset there and then… what is the possibility that you will be mentally prepared to do so if you happen to find yourself in such a situation.
That is as simple as it gets, when I am being shouted at, pressure tested, when I am getting punched on the nose because I dropped my block. It isn’t because I am being belittled, or berated, or payback. It simple is to try and make sure that in a situation where it might we be do or die, I don’t black out, breakdown or freeze.
So I really do encourage your all to hunt out your local Combar Academy, and get down there to try it out. It isn’t a case of people being mean to you or trying to change you fundamentally. It is teaching real life skills in order to protect you.
I have been trying to write this blog post for the longest time but I have struggled with the right way to approach it. And I guess this close to the New Year is a good time to do it!
As you may, or may not be aware, I have separate I.G account which initially started off as my personal account (away from my makeup posts) and have somewhat merged into a fitness diary of sorts.
And my news feed had also become much more fitness orientated. But I don’t feel bad about my weight or body shape, fitness level when looking at my feed. Instead it inspires me. I daily see people pushing themselves, sharing their tips, tricks and fitness journey’s and see the physical rewards.
When you post photos of your own workouts, pre/during/post and garner positive comments which makes you feel great. But not only this, people tell you that you are inspiring them?
Well this encourages you to continue posting on IG, because you are being rewarded with positivity and feel that you are also helping others. This in turn means that to get things to post, fresh photos, you need to get back into the gym. And that helps you move along on your fitness journey.
So when people comment on my IG news feed (which they do) or ask about the photos I upload… it is about accountability. As it is for many of us. It is a way of documenting our journey as once the photo is uploaded, it is date stamped. You can see where you are and where you were. And you also have a reason to keep posting. Because people are waiting to see what you are going to do, wear, they are waiting for your next post so they can continue a conversation. They are waiting for an inspiration. It can act as a motivator.
So yes, of course the entire episode is self centered, self promoting, it is vain. I won’t argue with you about it. But I would counter argue that it is great, because it is a way of encouraging people to get out and work out and that can only be a good thing (although like all things, only when done in moderation) and it is a great resource, you can find like-minded people, you have access to lots of different people, companies, be it meal ideas, clothing, fitness tips.
But at the end of the day, it is about accountability, to yourself. It doesn’t matter if someone you follow on IG who lives half way accross the world notices that you haven’t posted for a few days. It doesn’t matter if you are not eating the healthy meals you ‘liked’ when they appeared on your news feed, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t buy any of the cool workout gear that you see in every other photo when scrolling down your feed.
Because at the end of the day, fitness, like anything, is personal. You need to do things for yourself. Not for likes, not for publicity, not for any other reason that I could list. But if you want to use IG as a tool in your fitness journey, as a journal of sorts, it comes with a bunch of benefits!
Well, since I have a couple of weeks off from training, I am being more than a little reflective about what the Combat Training means to me, personally and generally.
You see, as I briefly looked at in my last blog in the series, self defence is to a greater degree, different depending on your sex. Men will find themselves in a protecting situation either protecting their friends, family or pride. Women often defend themselves against predators, against sexual assault or domestic abuse.
Now, in my formative years, leaving teenage years and becoming an adult, I spent a lot of time with a group of guys who were all very interested in martial arts. They trained with me, it was interesting and they wanted me to be able to protect myself. It often involved jumping out of stairwells at me or having a foot land on my head at random intervals (although let us be fair, I don’t think there will be a real life situation where this will happen) and at no point did they suggest I couldn’t do something based on my gender. Although equally they were very protective when we were all out.
That said, I remember them coming home more than once having been attacked on the way home, and I don’t think, on reflection, that their years of martial arts training helped them. Not that they would ever admit it. But their ego and confidence rubbed off on me, I am a fast talker and have often found myself in situations where I have engaged my mouth before engaging my brain. False bravado. But, as close as I have got, and my absolute refusal to back down if I know that I am right… I have never, ever been in a fight with a complete stranger. Nope. Never been attacked. I have got close, and even jumped into a taxi in broad daylight when I realised that I was being followed, and that the direction I was going would lead me to a very quiet part of town.
But I digress, like i have just said, I have never been attacked by a stranger. Most women are attacked in domestic situations. That, is to say, I have been a victim of domestic violence. I grew up in a household that suffered heavily with domestic violence. So you could say, I should have seen the signs. But no, there were really no signs. Or none that I was prepared to notice.
It was one of the men that I had known for years, it was one of the men that had protected me on nights out, who had taught me to defend myself, correct form, how to punch. It was the same man that I had had a relationship with, who I trusted.
I honestly don’t really think about it often, I compartmentalise. And it was only on thinking about my last training session, and how broken I felt following it. I was thinking about something that was said, about training my reactions so I am able to react in a positive way if I ever find myself in a situation that I have to protect myself.
And what happened when I was attacked? Well, let us be frank. It was not a slap, it was no a shove, and lets remember, I had trained with this man before. I still have a pain in my breast bone from when he hyper extended a punch directing it to my spine. Training. So, it wasn’t just a tap. It was a full on punch, that I was no prepared for, or expecting. It wasn’t during an argument or an exchange.
I shut down. I totally, and utterly shut down. I had no response, I lacked the tools to be able to deal with it. I didn’t train for this, because this was done out of maliciousness and not in a safe spce.
This is why self defence training, combat training in ‘real life’ situations is important. It is why I will keep going. I will keep pushing myself. It is why I am working hard at the gym so that I am able to participate more fully in the sessions. Because what happened to me, that attack? That was exactly what the training is talking about. It isn’t about same spaces, with comfortable mats on the floor, with a referee and people cheering you on. With a bell to announce the start of the round.
The Combat Academy will continue to challenge me, it will probably break me, I will try, I will keep training in the gym to work on my fitness. And I will do this, so I know, so I am prepared. So if I do find myself in a situation I have no control over, I am able to react.