Monthly Archives: December 2016

Posting for inspiration

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Asking for it

So, as an introduction to this blog post :

Myth: Wearing revealing clothing, behaving provocatively, or drinking a lot means the victim was “asking for it”.

Fact: The perpetrator selects the victim- the victim’s behavior or clothing choices do not mean that they are consenting to sexual activity

Two-thirds of rape survivors know their attacker; more than a third of rapists are a family member or friend of the victim. The statistics are even more extreme on college campuses, where 80 to 90 percent of sexual assaults involve students who know each other

Jaclyn Friedman, sexual assault educator and author of What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety, told Cosmopolitan.com via email. “There is evidence that rapists choose victims based on how vulnerable they’re perceived to be. Will they go along? Will they make a fuss? There is literally zero evidence that rapists choose victims based on how sexy or sexual they’re perceived to be. None. Not one study. If that old toxic myth were true, someone would have been able to prove it by now.”

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 It is the myth that a woman dressing in a provocative manner, or one that drinks, or any other behaviours that might suggest in a non verbal way that she may have loose morals, will be a more likely rape victim. This is harmful in several ways, and I want to explore this in the hope that it might help further dispel the myth.
The first way that this is harmful is that it tells girls that if they dress in a certain way, they have to be expected to be treated in a certain way. This might be directly, through family and friends, or indirectly in society, via pop culture. This gives the girl low expectations but also might lead her to make poor choices for a number of reasons.
The second way is that it tells girls who are not dressed in a provocative way, or not drinking, not going out or generally behaving in a way that society dictates as ‘unladylike’ that she will be protected. That it will never happen to her. 
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Now if you look at both side by side, it is equally destructive. In the first instance the rape or assault may go unreported because the victim doesn’t feel that anything wrong happened, or that she will not be believed. In the second instance, the victim may not have skills to protect herself, and may let it go unreported because she isn’t sure that anyone would believe her. On one hand, we have a victim who feels that she should have expected it, on the other a victim who feels she shouldn’t have expected it with exactly the same result.
And in both cases, society has trained the victim to accept that the reason she was attacked is through something she has or hasn’t done. Victim blaming, which is abhorrent but easily done, you list the things that led up to the attack. What were you wearing, what did you say, what did you do, did you drink too much, say too much? What could you have done differently? What would you do differently? And this is compounded by the treatment you receive at the hands of professionals (although they may be compassionate) but then you have society at large. The fact I even used the phrase ‘loose morals’ says a lot about how little society has not moved on. And because of this a victim will not want to say anything to family and friends, so there will not be the support network you might traditionally have. 
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I know many women who have been attacked, assaulted and in extreme cases, raped. The worst thing is, the figured I quoted at the beginning of the post, they are not lying. In most cases, the victim not only knew the attacker. But knew them well. Not in a passing, barely know his name, but enough to trust him.
A friend recently recounted an episode that thankfully was a near miss as her partner called, but she got into a car with someone she considered a friend to get a lift home instead of getting a taxi. A friend who proceeded to drive in the opposite direction to her house although he knew exactly where it was. She was tipsy but she was not drunk, and has since questioned what happened. Why as she picked, what was he thinking, how can she possibly trust her friends? This was someone she had trusted enough to have in her house on several occasions.
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Personally, I had a bad experience as a teenager which little experience of men. A friend, older, kept pushing boundaries, every so gently. Subtle even, to see what my limit would be. Thankfully, as inexperienced as I might have been, I did managed to extract myself from the situations with no physical damage (I can’t say mental as it has taken years to undo but I won’t go into it). But it makes me wonder how many other women, girls, might find themselves in a similar situation? And this was before the internet, mobile phones. So in a way I was less protected as I had no way of getting help if needed. But it also meant that I was able to cut him out of my life pretty easily.
Something that happened a couple of years ago, again makes me see a pattern of boundaries being tested. I was waiting to be served at a bar, suddenly a hand is touching my bottom. Not over my clothes, no, a man whom I hadn’t even noticed, let alone spoken to, had taken it upon himself to force his hands literally into my knickers. Why did he do it? I mean obviously it was because I was a little drunk, I was wearing a corset, full length tutu and pink wig, that must have been what made him think it was a great idea, or that I would be up for it. On my way to the bar, I was asked a few times if I was celebrating an impending wedding.. hen night maybe. Did this guy think that I was up for one last hurrah before getting married? (for the record, I wasn’t, I had dressed up for a themed burlesque show). He was drunk, he probably didn’t really think things through. My reaction was to immediately grab his hand and twist it up behind his back. Then calmly order my drink and take it back to my table. He spent the night stalking me. Because I was obviously a willing accomplice? 
Do you see what I did in that last explanation? I am trying to legitimise and justify the guys reaction. Because that is what you do when something, good or bad happens to you. You try and rationalise it, make excuses, explain it. 
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This is not okay, there is no stereotype for what a victim of assault or rape looks like, there is no stereotype. The fact is, you are more likely to be targeted by someone you trust and because of that, your defences will be down. Of course many, many people are attacked by complete strangers, but again this is not dependant on time of day, area, activity. It is a crime of opportunity, like many crimes. So to try and work out what you did wrong or could do differently is unhelpful.
The fact is, what you wear, how much you drink, how you get home, who you speak to and in what way, will have no bearing on your potential to be a victim. So we need to bury the myth that the way you dress has any bearing on you as a person. We need to stop searching for visual clues and be more understanding. We need to make sure that we are opening our eyes, and listening, and stop being so judgemental.
For anyone who may have been a victim of a crime and isn’t sure where to turn, this website may be of some help Victim Support UK and it is worthwhile looking locally as there are often support services and groups organised by local charities and or NHS trusts.
One last thing…… simple words…. ‘I believe you’.

Fighting Fit part 4

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

As always, if you want more information CLICK HERE

MENtal Wellbeing : Male Body Image and Mental Health

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With Movember coming to a close – this week I’m looking at men’s mental health.
Mental health issues for men is a growing problem with the Royal College of Practitioners reporting an increase of 66% in male hospital admissions.
It may be surprising (to some) but if you happened to spy on a men’s locker room – you’d see the guys checking each other out. Not in a sexual way, but merely as a way of sizing up the competition as it were. How muscular are they? How big are their genitals?… Friends may take the mickey or even praise each other on the size of their manhood!
However, in more recent years, what was previously classed as locker room “banter” is now starting to affect a guy’s mental state. Body image for men has some similarities as those for women but also some big differences – one of which being…

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