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, 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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!