Category Archives: exercise

Keeping abreast of fitness

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!

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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!

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Boobs are fantastic

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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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 🙂 

But boobs really are fab, be respectful though.

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Fighting Fit part 5

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Fighting Fit pt 3

So… just finished watching One Killer Punch which aired on Channel Four on 22nd November 2016.

Why did I watch it? Honestly, I don’t watch my T.V and certainly not terrestrial programming. But one of my Combat Academy buddies highlighted it as something that would be worth watching.

I assumed it would analyse self defence and the idea of bar brawls gone wrong in a very macho and masculine way. In the same way that I also have preconceived notions about what the atmosphere would be like at my first combat training session. So clearly I refuse to learn. Although I stand by this, because I also like surprises and would hate to always be right.

But what can I saw about this show =it is available on Channel Four on demand for the next month so you can watch it either on TV on another device.

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The fact is, men and women have completely different cannons when it comes to self defence and what it means. To women, it comes down to protecting yourself from unwanted advances. Men however often have prove themselves to both their friends, their peer group and complete strangers. They need to protect their friends and family as well as their own ‘street cred’. From a young age, boys are taught to fight, that strength is the currency that will get them through life.

Now what struck me watching the show, is how differently every situation was and how differently every person in that situation reacted. The show was promoted on This Morning and a big deal was made about the wife of a solider who was killed, had forgiven his killer. I was fairly dismissive of this before I watched the show. But I am jumping the gun.

The first story centered around a young man who had got into an altercation following a night at a house party. It wasn’t even the person he was chasing that was hit, and it was the fall, not the punch that was fatal. But what I found quite distressing, is the anger and resentment that the victims family still hold for him. It was filmed interestingly with the tone clearly against the young man, and his seemingly relaxed attitude to the entire situation. But he defends himself well.

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In the second, we have an altercation in a car park – it is over a misconception and someone who clearly is quick to temper. Watching the police interview, he is very concerned about appearing guilty and what the evidence is showing him. The story he offers is so very different from both that witnesses suggest and in fact the CCTV offers. Although showing compassion early on, as the evidence mounts against him he grows more insistent that he has done nothing wrong, that it was all the victims fault. The filming and recordings are weighted with no sympathy for the aggressor, his situation or the outcome.

The final, the one that the program has been leading up to, it is difficult to watch. That isn’t to say that the previous two stories were easy, I was in tears before the first story was over. But it is the way it is presented. This last one, unlike the first 2, the narrative is positively weighted toward, the perpetrator? Is that the right word? Or as the victims father calls him, the murderer. The are similarities in both men’s (prep and victim) upbringings, both having been raised by their fathers. But that is where the similarities end. One assumes, it really wasn’t explored. But both have fighting backgrounds, and that is their undoing. Their reaction to a situation was down to muscle memory. They reacted the way that they had been trained to react.

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And that really is what it comes down to in self defence. How many of us have done some sort of martial art, or learnt some fighting skills (okay mostly guys I guess) and with that comes a trained reaction. This is actually why self defence and combat training is so important. And why it is important to reprogram your brain.

It doesn’t matter if your years of Tae Kwon Do don’t even begin to translate to a real life situation, if your Kick Boxing expertise won’t help in a brawl, or your Wing Chun is not a realistic option in the real world. The fact is, you will automatically fall into a comfortable stance and if you have learnt how to punch, and punch well, then in all likelihood that is how you will react without a second thought. And that is where you get into trouble. You see, self defence is exactly that, if there is even the slightest hint that you were becoming or had been the aggressor, it ceases to be a good defence. And if there is any suspicion that your reaction was more than adequate in the given situation …. again you will find yourself in trouble.

So, I would suggest, BEFORE you find yourself in a situation that required you to defend yourself, young or old, you need to get down to a Combat Academy centre. There are plenty around the country, and it will teach you how to defence and how to remove yourself from a situation. It will retrain your reactions, natural and taught so that you hopefully are well equipped if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in such a situation.

If you want to find out more CLICK HERE

A conversation of masculinity

So, it is something I have mentioned, and blogged about before. But it is something that deserved a wider conversation. Men, and the idea of masculinity what that means.

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We are almost through ‘Movember’ which is an effort to get men involved in both charity, but also to help raise awareness. The tag line is ‘stopping men dying too young’ and initially started as an idea in Australia. It was initially created to raise awareness of testicular cancer but has now grown to include prostrate cancer and mental health/suicide prevention. Because something we don’t talk about is men’s health.

Why is that? In this weeks show we did try and explore this – I will apologise for repeatedly suggesting that men ‘woman up’ – taken out of context I sound heartless. But I really only mean that the idea of ‘man flu’ is frustrating to most of the population. But that is detracting from the real issue here.

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Men are dying young. Young men are the highest statistic for suicides. Men still dying, dying young, from entirely preventable situations. At the end of the day, it is because we are not talking. Because men still need to prove something, they are still held responsible for being the strong one, the one that doesn’t give up or give in. In the next blog in my #Fighting Fight series looks at ways that this personality archetype can manifest.

Men, men are suffering. It can be as simple as the ideals that are put upon them in the working world, and expectations of even what they were to work and the double standards – I explored this in a previous blog Addressing Equality. Of course this may sound vain and shallow but it is merely a symptom of a larger problem.

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Men have not be allowed to change, evolve, roll with the punches. As women, as a feminist – I, we shout for equality. We shout to be heard. We want visibility. But men, men’s roles remain unchanged. How often are men looked at with a queer eye if they work with children, are the nurse and not the doctor, stay at home to look after the children. Men are expected to be strong, to provide, to protect. 

And another quirk is that men also do not like to be easily, goaded into things… nagging I think is the colloquial term. Never a truer quote – you can lead a horse to water. I am not going to change any minds with this blog. I don’t even know if anyone will read this blog. But I just want to get this out there. Men are important. Men’s health both physical and mental is important. 

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Men get stressed, work can be hard, challenging, men can have as much trouble, work loads, time pressure, colleagues, bullying, commutes, poor relationships with coworkers, financial worries, not having much time to relax, to wind down, not sleeping well. Stress. And not talking, not talking because they don’t know who to talk to, don’t want to be a burden, would rather brush it away because talking doesn’t help. Does it. Does talking help, or is it better to come to a logical conclusion to the problem. Because that is the practical solution. 

Does it sound like I have gone around in circles from ‘we aren’t talking’ and then suggesting men don’t want to talk. Well the thing is, men also have a lot of pressure on them. They feel that they need hold themselves up to impossible standards – although who is setting those standards will be a difficult thing to untangle. 

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We all need to make sure that men feel that they are in and have an environment that they can open up. That if something is troubling them, be it mental health or physical health, they know where to get the information and they know where to go to get help. They need to know that it is okay to not be perfect, that the macho ideal is anything but. That men can let their guard down.

With that, there are some numbers that you might want to use yourself or play forward in case someone you know has a need for them at some stage : 

doesn’t appear on phone bills : http://www.samaritans.org/news/samaritans-launches-new-free-helpline-number-uk

Mind UK with links for support and urgent care : http://www.mind.org.uk/

And CALM which is a charity dedicated to reducing suicide in young men who are the largest single group in the UK at risk : https://www.thecalmzone.net/about-calm/contact-us/

Fighting Fit part 2

Well, as you may recall in the first in this series of blog posts, I was unwillingly dragged to a combat training taster session by my co host and partner in crime. If you want a refresher on what happened and my initial thoughts you can read the first blog post here : Fighting Fit.

I have since been back for what should have been 5 sessions, although on my fourth session I had to take a step back as I was knocked sideways with a bad cold. But I did feel it was important to still go – rather than stay cooped up indoors. And it meant I got to snag some great photos and video.

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Now, I am feeling reflective over what I have learnt over the last few weeks – you see no week is ever the same. The second session took place in the wooded area and was more conditioning and muscle memory, working with different instructors and basically drilling what we had learnt in the first session. It was good to do it in another environment as it stops you being able to get used to a terrain. Because frankly this is about defending yourself, so you won’t be picking your environment. Prior to this was going over the basics of the psychology and getting to know the people we were training with and their motivation for training. Because at the end of the day, what we are doing required a degree of trust. We need to know the people we are working with and against to be able to do it. We need to have some empathy and understanding of their journey and background. What led them to this place. Okay, so that might sound a little … ‘touchy feely’ for a combat environment but honestly, it works. And you do need it, you need to be able to trust the person throwing punches at you, to trust the person dropping you to the floor. It also gives you a little extra confidence – you need that to get out of the chair and walk into the field or woods.

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Now the third session, that session killed me. I guess the honeymoon period was well and truly over by this point. Kid gloves off and we were thrown into a beasting session which involved a 10 min warm up. Which damned near killed me. I don’t consider myself unfit. But there are different types and levels. And I just was not keeping up. Which made me kick myself. The session was more drilling and concentrating on the basics – but if you think for a moment that when I say drilling it was the same as the previous session, or the first? Not at all. For example I have had different instructors each time, and even rotated instructors while in training. And the same lesson can be taught in different ways. At no point are you allowed to get comfortable. Because, just in case between paragraphs you have forgotten, this is combat training. We are training so that we are able to defend, protect and remove ourselves from violent situations.

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I will also admit something here, I went out on the previous evening, and may have stayed out a lot longer than intended, and drank more than intended. So I did think that I was struggling because of this, and was also very glad I didn’t throw up. However, it was very, cold, windy a little wet and I wore just a t shirt after the warm up did a very good job. I spent the following week sick as a dog which led to last weeks having to sit out the session as I could barely breathe, or stand. So my advice, do not drink the night before, and wear a base layer to protect from the elements.

Like I said, last week, I missed out on training but I was able to see as a spectator what you are put through, and actually something that surprised me, most encounters from engaging to floor are about 30 seconds. There are longer encounters. And I am certain that as we progress we will be challenged more. But that most encounters will be over or rather, can be over so quickly is something to bare in mind. It is also surreal because I know that when you are drilling aspects, it feels like minutes because you are trying to remember what to do, what position to get into, how to safely get to the floor and what to do when you are on the floor – how to have the upper hand, how to do it all without expending too much energy and avoiding damage.

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Now, onto yesterdays training session. Well… it was actually grading for one of the instructors – in that it was the end of her instructor training so was being graded to see if she was at a level to become a full instructor. It was brutal. The day was brutal. I only experienced a small portion of what she went through but I was done. I was finished. My comfortzone was in a different time zone. I was spent, I was finished, I was left holding onto the fence at one point because I wasn’t sure  that I trusted my own body to hold me up.

Every part of me was soaked through, I spent more time on the floor than I every expected to – I wrested, bucked, pulled and pushed people of varying sizes around, dropped them, was straddled, gift wrapped them. I found that my body was not physically able to keep working at the pace required of me. Again, I don’t consider myself unfit, I know I am far from where I should be, and know I rely on a quick recovery time to get me through. But yesterday showed me that I need to up my game. I need to be much more physically fit. At no point was I told that I am unfit, not up to the challenge, that I should train more, or harder or that I was letting anyone down.

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I want to make that perfectly clear – the distress and upset is all me, I am letting down myself, and also the instructors who give up time and put a lot of energy and effort in to the sessions. You do need to be relatively fit to do these sessions, this is just common sense, these are not 45 mins in a sports hall. These are a couple of hours outside, running, punching, throwing down. It is very intense – and I wanted to go back to what I was saying about trust. You will get screamed at, you will get shouted at. It isn’t pleasant, you won’t like it, you might cry (hands up, I did) but this is why it is so important to have trust in your instructors. You need to understand why they are doing it, and where it is coming from. That they are not picking on you, they don’t dislike you, they aren’t judging you. They just need to make the situation as real as possible, to make you understand what it might be like, that being cute, or giggling won’t help you.

I am just getting ready to go to the gym, I have bruises all over my legs, my thighs are agony. But I am glad I went, I am glad I am going, I am happy and proud to say that I am training to become an instructor and cannot wait to see where that journey will take me. I am going to make sure that I increase my cardio (clearly walking everywhere isn’t cutting it!).

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But I cannot express how supportive the instructors, and everyone else at the Combat Academy are – as much as the military aspect of the training is hard, and so against my own personality, it is necessary. But at the end of the day training is a small part of it, the psychology and theory is as important and helps you put everything in place. And the general support you get, your confidence grows with every hour you spend there. Every instructor having varying techniques. It is not standardised and this means that you are getting a much more rounded session each time. You are learning why people think a certain way, what leads them to a certain answer, it helps you make your own educated decisions and gives a broader understanding outside your own life experience. Every instructor is a different body type, height, training level  you name it – it means that you really don’t know what to expect and this again adds to the realism. And frankly I think the fact that everyone is so open, and caring makes the training much easier.

I will keep you updated on my journey – if you want to check out the academy here is their website : Click Here

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Nasty Gym Expectation

As some of you may be aware, I have a little bit of a legging obsession. Primarily WIld Bangarang leggings. And as I am trying to be more healthy, get fitter and generally spend more time in the gym, it was important to me to have work out wear that makes me feel good. Now that isn’t to say that I treat the gym list a fashion parade or that I feel that I am being judged, or care what other people think of me when I am working out. I may be vain, I may be shallow…. where was I going with this? 

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When I first started working out, I was wearing my full length leggings from Wild Bangarang but I quickly found that I was over heating very quickly – which is impressive as I really only do cardio to warm up and cool down. I concentrate on weights – and as much as I love getting a good sweat on, in this weather, when your legs just feel sticky? No thanks! Luckily, I am a member of my local DW Sports gym, which gives me a discount in their stores, so I shot upstairs and picked up 3 pairs of capri in pretty short succession and felt an immediate difference in my workouts. Including the need for shaved legs. Whoops. Yeah not so good! But like I have said previously and in this blog, Wild Bangarang are a firm favourite for me, comfort and design wise. So I was super pleased when I heard that they would be rebooting their fitness line, and every more impressed with the designs being added to the line. 

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So, yes, I had to go give them a go – I picked a ‘Gymnasty’ design that is a new, in house range that comes in 3 different designs currently. I also went for the ‘fit top’ to see how it stood up size wise, I haven’t managed to find one on the high street that fits. They all look so tiny! I wear a sports bra (for obvious reasons) and tend to customise my tops and i like to wear crop/sports tops over my sports bra, both as added support but also to break up the monotony/obvious bra-ness. 

The design is really bright, the photos do not do it justice, I love the graffiti effect, and that there is no real, repeating pattern on the legs or top. The capri are really comfortable. They went on easy, and have a drawstring waist which gives you additional security if needed. I was so pumped putting them on. They look fabulous! I initially picked up the top and worried that it wouldn’t fit over my double F’s but it did. A lot more comfortably when I got to the gym and popped it over my sports bra.

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I am writing this, after having worn it just the once, and doing a weight training session rather than cardio. So I can’t really tell you how they hold up when running, or sweating a lot, or much in the way of floor exercises. But I did a lot of moving around, bending, twisting, floor work – they didn’t budge. Unlike some of my other capri’s that I have felt the need to adjust or that sit really low on the hips? They sit quite high and you can easily flip over the waistband for comfort or preference. The material is easily comparable to others on the market, although I do find the material a lot smoother than some of my others. And this isn’t a complaint, I didn’t feel unsafe or slippy while wearing them. 

The sports top is another beast entirely, I was pleasantly surprised by the double layering on it. There has certainly been some thought in the comfort and design of this top. It isn’t your standard ‘sports top’ that is really a bralett in a lycra material. They are double layered and although not a perfect fit for a larger cup size (lets be honest, unless you go to a specialist shop, you are going to have to roll with it!) it really is comfortable and gives a much needed pop of colour to a gym kit. I would recommend buying separately and checking your back size when buying the top as it may not be the same size as the capri! 

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I am overall, really impressed with Wild Bangarang’s fitness offerings, and am going to have to have a look at the other designs, one thing that led me to the Gymnasty range in particular, is the fact that you can easily mix and match all 3 colour ways. Which I intend to do. 

Now, I did share a picture of my, wearing the capri and top combination on I.G – although I haven’t had the guts to wear it to the gym without a vest covering my modesty. I doubt it will be long though, because honestly, I feel so good wearing this combination I will want to flaunt it. I would encourage every one of you to go out and grab a pair, you will see why I am so happy I took the plunge, it does wonders for your self confidence! 

Now before I share that photo, a couple of links for you! 

CLICK HERE for the Wild Bangarang Fitness Range

CLICK HERE for the Wild Bangarang Fitness FB Page

And if you want to follow my fitness journey, as well as other weird and random posts, I am on IG as Anythingbutthegirl 

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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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