So in January I was suddenly inspired to download the Couch to 5k app. I had started running on the treadmill last autumn and managed to keep it up instead of giving up after a few weeks. My stamina and cardio fitness have been issues for me since having to give up dance but maintaining progress has been difficult. Running is just something I never saw an appeal in. Which is odd, as I ran a lot, and long distances, up hill, cross country, as a teenager.
So anyways, back to my story, in January I downloaded the app, I decided that my first run would be on the following Tuesday. Tuesday came around and wouldn’t you believe it, so did a storm. I was undeterred and went for a run, wearing a bright yellow hoodie and an owl beanie hat to try and keep warm. To say I got wet would be an understatement. I was drenched. But what was important is that I didn’t use the weather as an excuse. Really after that introduction, it could only get better.
Well if i am honest, it didn’t really, not where the weather is concerned, it was pretty wet and windy for 90% of my runs, and I quickly learnt that it doesn’t matter how much lighting, bright colours, hi vis or reflective items you go out in… cyclists will always act like they can’t, or hadn’t see you and try and push you off the path.
As I progressed, I was finding my initial path ( the same I take to the gym at the weekend) was not long enough, so I sat down and had a look at possibilities. I am lucky, I have a river, canal and common land in what I refer to as my back garden. It means that I don’t spend a lot of time running on the road. I spend enough time as a pedestrian that running on roads has absolutely no appeal to me.
I also downloaded Strava to help me track my workouts – I wanted to see what my pace was, have an accurate way of analysing and recording my runs. And this does also seem to have helped motivate. A lot of the time, you need to figure out what works for you, what makes you tick. I found the map on this even easier to use and found a nice reservoir that I could run around… well not around. Every run I pushed myself to run a little further, and I was able to judge how far I was and when to turn around. But between the high winds which felt that I was going to be pushed into a lake or a river, and cyclists pushing me off the path (not as often as my original route) regularly, it was becoming frustrating.
Well, I have found a third route which I have done for the last 2 weeks and honestly, it is like an awakening. As its alongside a canal, so is pretty straight, and there isn’t much variation on the incline. Running around the lake, the path was so bad that I was worried about my knee or tripping and twisting my ankle. The final straw was having to walk back after my knee gave in which I am fairly sure has a lot to do with the appalling state of the path. But the path I am using now is almost bouncy and is a pleasure to run along.
Last night was my final run, I have officially completed the Couch to 5K but you know what really got me, I didn’t hit 5k! How? Well I was going with the timings and now the distance so tomorrow will be my first solo run and I am aiming to hit 5k.
So there are a couple of things that I have learnt – I do not yet have the ability to run without slowing down – I slow down for a few steps before setting off. This is mostly to catch my breath. I am not annoyed with myself, I try and go further and further between breaks and know I will get there, I am not training for anything so there is no pressure. I am a social runner – I take bread out to feed the local birds, ducks and swans.
I have learnt that some days will be better than others, and it is important to recognise when you have had a bad run. It is no good ignoring it, or glossing over it. If it was shit, it was shit. You know you can do better next time. I had a few bad runs but yesterday, my final run of the program? I smashed it! I ran further, faster and longer and there is no real reason for it. But go with the flow, don’t force it, don’t fight it. What is important, is that you tried.
What I can say, is that, outside having a pair of running trainers, and wearing high vis, making sure you are warm, the one thing that is REALLY important when running is a decent sound track! It helps you pace, even if its subconscious. Oh and leggings with a pocket 😉
Sooooo in my last post I explored the last year and what has been going on with me.
cently, I was at the gym, and I was actually really pleased with myself – both at what I was seeing in the mirror but also with improvements that I had been seeing.
I stopped myself from comparing myself to others, its easy to do, and if you are planning on hitting the gym … word of advice. Do not compare. There is no point in looking at how flexible someone is, how much stamina someone has, how much are they able to lift. There are so many variables and if you are going to compare, file it under goals. I have said it before, and I will say it again, everyone in the gym is there to work out. No one is looking at you and judging. Most people are wrapped up in their own workout and even if they appear to be looking at you, are not focusing on you!
Right, now that I have offered the same piece of advice …
A couple of things that I need to get off my chest, and I don’t mean to offend people but they are niggles that are pretty unhelpful when trying to make positive changes.
When you weigh yourself and your weight has increased. Someone telling you that your weight naturally fluctuates is true. But unhelpful. Do not just assume that it was a glitch and keep on as you have. Think about what you have or haven’t done, activity wise, food wise. And make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of complacency. I am not suggesting that you beat yourself up over a couple of lbs … as long as it is just a couple and you claw it back. But letting it slide, and not keeping it in check is a slippery slope.
Women …… HORMONES ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND BUT THEY ARE NOT AN EXCUSE. I have seen a lot of posts regarding a weigh increase due to hormones, and that time of the month. But think about it objectively. Do you eat differently? I certainly do. I have struggled massively with snacking. Its all the grazing, and frankly chocolate that I crave. And what is the obvious outcome?
Muscle is heavier than fat. Wow… yeah you got me there. That is exactly why I am not losing weight! Its all those gains…. yeah no. No it isn’t. Muscle is indeed heavier than fat. But its down to density and unless your body fat % is nice and low… so no, I personally, am fat, and my weight is down to fat and not muscle. Don’t get me wrong, weight training is amazing but you are just not going to be gaining muscle quickly unless you are eating super clean.
Telling people they don’t need to lose weight is NOT HELPFUL – it is the same as when you tell people to eat a burger. Do you know what they are going through? I have been told that I am fine, that I don’t need to lose more weight, what am I worried about etc etc I of course appreciate that it is coming from a good place. But ultimately it is not helping. It leads to complacency and that is not going to see you reach any goals.
Now everyone’s journey is going to be different – it depends on their starting point. How much you want/need to lose, why you want to lose, do you want to gain, are you more concerned about fitness, have you had to change up your workouts due to injury, are you switching from cardio to weight training, are you working toward a competition. I am absolutely down for accountability, it is a throw back to being a sports wear ambassador and it got me into the habit of posting my workouts. I mean if you don’t post it on SM, did it really happen? But it evolved into not cheating myself and showing some accountability for where I was with training.
But only do what works for you, are you posting so that you can connect with others on the same journey, is it a checklist, do you want something to look back on? You need to be honest with yourself, accountable for yourself and don’t make excuses. You can be reflective and offer a reason but only if that is going to help you understand, overcome and improve.
I guess this should be a whole, New Year, New me post.
It isn’t, it is reflective and a little bit of an apology.
When I started the series, I was fully immersed and training hard. Since then, a bunch of stuff has happened and to a degree I have probably mentioned it in previous posts. And if you follow me on SM you will already know.
A lot of it will be the same excuses I have trotted out but it comes down to, Life. Life happened. Things changed, I changed. But let us just quickly run down what has been going on before i tackle a few things.
18 months ago, I broke my wrist. At this point my training was, I felt, going really well so it really knocked me for six.
In that same period, I changed job 3 times, with 3 very different working hours and schedules. Things have thankfully settled down.
I put on A LOT OF WEIGHT
I got a PT (the last 2 are not mutually exclusive)
So lets unpack. When I broke my wrist, my consultant suggested it was probably safer for me to continue at the gym. Which I did. It was okay. But until you have an injury that limits you like this, its really hard to understand how limiting it is. This isn’t just the adjustment while you are recovering. It is how long the recovery actually lasts. I mean. I would say, even now because of the tendon injury and referred pain… I am still not 100%.
Changing jobs – so while I was at the hairdressers, I was working part time and this meant I had a greater deal of flexibility and could spend more time at the gym without worrying about time. It was great. When I changed to, ironically, working at the gym, I was working longer weeks and hours, and walking more. Now walking is something I will come back to. But one thing I struggled with, is getting to the gym. Because I was on a mid shift, I struggled to get to the gym on either side of my shift and when I was on a day off, I avoided the gym. So that didn’t help. I have since started another job which involves a lot of sitting, including my commute. Which leads me to my next point…
My current job involves little in the way of activity. With all my employment while living in Northampton, I have walked a lot, walking through town to get to the bus stop, popping into town during lunch breaks, while at the gym I spent a large chunk of my way canvassing, and working to and from work. So I have now got a job that sees me spend a great deal of time on the bus and at my desk. So yeah… not ideal.
My final point, arguably the most important, is that when i left the gym, I stayed as a member, and got roped into a PT session … and honestly I am so happy that I did. I had wanted to get a PT for a long while but seriously the money was a big issue but also finding someone who I felt I could work with.
Now, that is obviously more than a year, but it all is linked in. I put on a lot of weight when I changed jobs, not so much not going to the gym, because I was spending a lot of time on my feet, but changing to an office based job again. And what is worse, I didn’t realise. It sounds silly, I know. How did I not realise I had put on so much weight. I knew I was over weight, again something i had discussed before, and again I could pinpoint why the weight had crept on. But this was not slow, over a few years, lets not kid ourselves. I got lazy with what I was eating, and I wasn’t doing enough exercise to combat my lifestyle changes.
I started seeing my PT just over a year ago, and I would argue with him about the fact eating plans don’t work for me, that I know how many calories are in the things I am eating (to an extent this is true) and that I was fine. I can’t exactly remember what it was that pushed me. But I took scales into work for a coworker and jumped on myself. And nearly died. I was mortified at the weight. over 2 stone heavier than I expected. So I got chatting to a friend who also happens to work in the fitness industry and she gave me some pointers. The biggest was downloading MFP (and this isn’t an endorsement, just my own experience) and I then started logging my meals. I got a smart watch for Christmas last year (I spend a lot of time debating Fitbit or smartwatch but ultimately decided that this was better for me personally) and it tracks heart points (rate – time spent with an elevated heart rate… or cardio) and time spent walking. The recommendation is 60 mins activity per day and 10 heart points per day. Easy you would think. Right? Well on a non gym day, I would struggle to manage 45 mins / 8 HP …. so yeah, no surprise why I was putting on weight. So anyway, in May last year, that is when I changed up my fitness journey. I started tracking meals, I worked out 3/4 times a week. I averaged 1lb loss per week. Some weeks I maintained. But it was actually, was easier to do than I ever expected. It was a lot of gradual adjustments.
So, why did I go down the calorie deficit route, and not say, Slimming World or Weight Watchers. I have no personal experience of either. I have a lot of friends who have used them to lose weight. And for those who stick with it, the results and fast, and they are amazing. No honestly, they really are fantastic. However, once you stop following the program, the weight comes back and it comes back quickly. So I wanted rather, to make sustainable changes that worked for me. Do I fancy a donut today? (silly question) but then that means, I have to work a little harder. As long as I can stick in a deficit, or as close to… then it works. Of course I am not perfect, I mean I eat donuts. I drink. I enjoy myself. Now, the whole deficit thing, I am not being extreme, I am down to roughly 1400 per day. I won’t go below that. Because I still need to be able to function.
How, one thing that I have found, is that your body is not predictable, some days I weigh myself and i have lost 3 lbs. Some days I have maintained, some days I have…. put weight on. It is hard, not going to lie. When you think you have tracked well and worked hard.. and then your body appears to betray you. Its one thing that I have found particularly hard. When people say, hey its normal to fluctuate, or its hormones… its just not helpful? It feels like an excuse and honestly that is the last time i need to hear. Did I forget something, did I not work out enough. After I had been doing well on the weight loss, I started to lose traction again and I gave myself a kick. I decided to take the long way how. Now … this is a great idea. In theory. Its along a canal and in the summer, I am sure it is a perfectly nice way of getting some fresh air. I don’t suggest it in the winter as walking home in the dark is not fun. So i reset, and decided to go for a walk at lunch. I had avoided this previously because I like to have the time to decompress, but I was out of ideas. It does seem to have worked though.
Now when I say I have run out of ideas, and this is an explanation… I usually get home at at around 18:00 having left the house before 7am. This generally means that I am really, really hungry. So if I have not gone to the gym that evening, the last thing I want to do is throw some food down my fact, let it settle and then go back out. What I am trying to say, is that it is all about being smart with your time. On a typical week, I have bellydance on a wednesday, gym friday night, PT saturday morning, gym & swim sunday. This means that I have a couple of nights off, and a day to play with. Sure, I could go for a run… or spend more time at the gym, work out at home. But if you are going to start a fitness journey, you try and see what works for you, and be realistic. This works for me.
Now, I have mentioned him a few times but lets have a look at the PT issue – like i said, I had wanted to get a PT for a while, I have had PT’s previously so I knew roughly what to expect. I guess for me, part of the issue with working at the gym is that I got to know them and how they trained. When I got roped into a session with Zack I didn’t know what to expect, which I think was an absolute plus. Now to cast back to my broken wrist. When I said recovery was a bitch, this was 6/8 months after the break and Zack had an uphill struggle with me and my inability to really do much with my right hand. But another way of looking at it, is that he also helped me strengthen my wrist so I could push more.
I am not going to lie, Zack had had an uphill struggle with me, I am argumentative, lazy, awkward, I like to chat shit. I also hate not being able to do something and half our sessions have been bargaining and debating. I am sure he has spent many a session thinking about throwing the towel in with me as a lost cause. He spent a got chunk of our sessions, undoing all the bad habits i had picked up or been taught. It was harder in a way because I was not new to the gym so I had things ingrained and that takes time to undo. One thing that I really wanted to get on with, is weigh training. That is one big reason that I knew i needed to have a PT for, as well as getting my wrist back in shape! So over the last year, I have made a lot of progress and am a lot more confident than I was this time last year. One thing that did also change… I had an epiphany … similar to the one relating to my stepping on a scale… I jumped on the treadmill. Now most of you will know that ‘not even my tights run’ but I just decided one day that… I felt like having a run. So I did. It hasn’t been easy, what with the whole ‘cardio is evil’ thing I have maintained for a number of years. I have also really made progress overall with my workouts over the last couple of months and actually feel like I have been getting there rather than treading water.
There hasn’t been a point in the last year that I didn’t want to go to the gym, that I felt I should give up. There have been several points where I was frustrated and annoyed, with myself mostly. And I think that a lot of that stems to where I was before i was injured. That I think is what is all boils down to. Knowing where I was and where I let myself get to.
As it stands, yesterday I hit my goal weight for 2019, in that I lost 2 stone. I have 2 stone to lose and i have given myself the deadline of August – because this is the same length of time it took for the first 2 stone to be shed. I have given myself an arbitrary number to reach, it is based on my ideal weight for my height. So yes, it may need adjusting but lets cross that bridge if and when I reach it.
So anyways, that has been my recent fitness journey – thank you for reading! I hope that you reach your goals for the next 12 months, stay healthy and smash some personal bests!
I 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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
So I did a rather waffly, self absorbed piece on fitness recently. It was my explanation that as much as I can try to excuse my weight gain on my injury, it isn’t entirely to blame. So I am making some changes, slowly but if you rush into these things they tend not to last.
I went to see my beautiful friend Ren run in the Silverstone half marathon on the 13th March. It wasn’t planned as such, I knew that she had been training to do the London Marathon later this year after smashing Tough Mudder last year. She mentioned Silverstone and since it is just up the road from me, I thought I should go give her some support.
I used to run, cross country, long distance, with the dog… it was in my soul. I got to the track and felt…. in awe, I felt inspired, I felt sad that I wasn’t also running…. (although the course looks pretty brutal!). We walked over to the finish line to see people coming in, I wasn’t sure where Ren would come in so this seemed like a good place. I was seriously so knocked sideways by the emotions. I cannot really put into words how it feels watching people come over the finishing line, it was a collection of pretty palatable emotions from both spectators and competitors, the joy and in many cases relief as people realised they had finished.
Now I mentioned that Ren is running in the London Marathon in a few weeks, the Silverstone half marathon is something of a ‘warm up’ for many competitors. Ren has done extremely well, and I am so proud, i may well burst by the time she makes it across the finish line. She is running for Mind – an amazing mental health charity that has helped her personally. It is important that we talk about these things, the work that is done to support people when they aren’t able to access it though the usual channels (as much as we may wish otherwise, resources are finite). They do a fantastic amount or work in the community – if you are interested please click here.
Ren has her reasons for running for Mind – so far she has shaved off her hair and done a half marathon, and as I may have mentioned is also running in the London Marathon. If you have a couple of coins to spare, I know she will appreciate it, as will Mind! Even if you can’t donate, read Ren’s story if you need any further inspiration – please click here to check Ren’s story!
I said that I felt inspired by the runners didn’t I ? I was debating joining the Race for Life and going a gentle walk/job around the course. But being I came to this decision all of 3 weeks ago, I am going to wait until next year and try and train a little. What is difficult for me is that I am a little broken. I only have tarmac to run on, and that will only make my injuries worse. So as much as I may want to get back into running, it just isn’t feasible for me. However I have managed to find a dance class that is 5 mins away and have really enjoyed it! Great to get back into the swing of things!
Now I want to take a moment to talk about muscle memory. It is pretty important and yet something we all manage to forget about. I have danced for a few years, and so when I went back to dance a couple of weeks ago, I found I was able to do things that I didn’t think I would be able to, purely because I have drilled certain moved over the years. I also walk for at least an hour a day to get to and from work, so I am relatively fit. Relatively. I decided on the first day of Spring to go for a bike ride. First time this year, killing two birds with one stone, the boy suggested going to the pet shop as there is a cycle path that takes us to the industrial park. I got into the ride pretty quickly however, the seat… help me the seat! And I am fairly useless at hills. By the end of the ride back, I was getting quite upset at myself and how badly I was coping. But as the boy pointed out – muscle memory. I run, I ride horses, I dance, I lift… bike riding is something I pretty much stop as soon as my booty remembers how uncomfortable it is. Muscle memory – riding is different kettle of fish. Every time you start a new exercise, you are more than likely using a different set of muscles than you are used to. So instead of being discouraged… embrace it. I love feeling sore after exercising. And it is also a great reason to mix up your exercises – using different muscles groups is great and it helps you keep motivated!
So I have bought a new seat for my bike – I will keep you updated with that and the rest of my fitness journey!
If you want to get your hands on the leggings Ren and I are wearing – head over to Wild Bangarang by clicking here for the website and clicking herefor the facebook page.