Hello there!

Welcome to the confessions of this former fatty. If you’ve opened this blog expecting it to be a quick fix, answer to everything, all knowing guide to losing weight , then I think this blog will disappoint you, sorry! There is no quick fix, there is no holy grail and there is no magic to losing weight.

This blog is simply my story and the summation of the years of dieting, failing and researching that have finally got me back into shape and healthy. I have gone from amateur enthusiast to fitness professional during this journey. All advice here is my own from my own experiences, both amateur and professional, and where professional/journal/medical information is used I cite all references giving those who did the graft their due. Please feel free to have a look around and also check out the Official KrissieKirby.com blog

Monday, 24 December 2012

Well that was 2012....

So 2012 had it's serious highs and devestating lows.

Triaxis 2012
Photo by Owen G Richards
All in all, most of the year has been fantastic. The band got signed, we released the new album, we toured outside of the UK for the very first time and we got to play (albeit an acoustic set) at one of our favourite festivals. These were definite HUGE highlights of the year and something I am fiercly proud of. For those of you who have been paying attention you know how much music means to me.  So for the band to have taken the steps that we did this last year, it has really been something special and worth all the blood, sweat and tears.  So a massive thank you to everyone who bought and album, came to a gig, got a tshirt or just introduced a friend to our music; you are all awesome and the reason we do what we do. We appreciate it so much.

But in 2012 I realised a number of things, achieved a few personal goals and fell in love with some new ways of keeping myself active.

Kirby & Roberts
Trouble is our middle name!
In January I took up Pole Dancing, as you may have heard me mention in the odd post. It was something that I had been meaning to do for a long time, but had always used that lame excuse of 'I don't have enough time'.  So I made time for one class a week and instantly fell in love with it.  It's hard to explain what I love about it but it gives me a new found confidence and something to build my strength for.  As anyone who works out will tell you, while we love the feeling we get from exercise it is still handy to have something to work towards the forces us to switch up routines etc.  For me a huge motivator is pole. As a unexpected and exceptionally welcomed plus point, the instructor at my pole school also happens to be a raving nutcase (in a very good way) and someone who shares my sense of humour.  She has fast become one of my closest and dearest friends and I am blessed to have met her (yes Roberts, I'm gushing about you again).
Pole Pride Showcase
May 2012

In May I took to the stage for my first pole performance.  September, I joined the ranks of the Pole Pride Performers ( a great bunch of girls and boys who are a joy to be around and are exceptionally talented), and then this month we had a second showcase at which I performed all in aid of a local cancer hospice and so far between the two shows we've raised £1600.  For something that started outside my comfort zone, I feel very at home performing on the pole.  And to top a year of poling off, in October I took part in my first professional Pole Photo shoot with the very wonderful Miss Moth Photographic Arts.  I think what I love about Pole Dancing, isn't only that it challenges my fitness and body strength but that it also forces me to seek a grace between each transition, to not just plough into trick or spin without adding some flow to the movement. It speaks to my outward front person and inner frustrated dancer.  It's a marrying of disciplines and something I will definitely be progressing further in 2013.
First Pole photo shoot Oct 2012

With Alethea Austin
I also had the great opportunity to have masterclasses with two of the world's greatest pole dancers.  In June I had the privilege of managing my first invert under the guidance of the amazing Pantera Blacksmith (who has the most amazing tattoo) and then at the start of this month I got to do two classes with the equally brilliant Alethea Austin, who (with a LOT of help from Dawn) gave me tips to enable me to do my first shoulder mount (Alethea appears in the Tom Cruise film, Rock of Ages based on the West End show). I have also signed up to gain my basic pole instructor qualification (REPs recognised) with the wonderful KT Coates. 2013 is going to be a very busy year but more about that later on ;)

Continuing with the fitness theme (well this is a fitness blog after all), I also fell madly in love with obstacle course racing.  In 2011 a good friend posted a video to my Facebook wall about a race called The Spartan Sprint. This video had me intrigued.  I watched with wonder at these people happily flinging themselves through lakes, rivers, over walls, crawling under cargo netting and barbed wire, jumping over fire pits and battling Spartans with pugil sticks to win a shiny medal.  Curious about this wondrous vision, I started to research this possible new fitness madness that I could get involved in. (As with pole again I need to have something outside of the just the usual routine to work towards or I notice I get lazy with my workouts - I am my own worst enemy as many of you will have gathered reading previous posts).  I soon realised after watching, reading and learning all I could about the Spartan series that it was more than just wanting to win, more than just the shiny medal at the end, it was about finishing no matter what.  It was about facing obstacles head on regardless of what you expect and just getting to that finish line because then you know.
Boobs and Determination
I have an abundance of both ;)

So in September of this year, OH and I donned our trail runners and with a knee injury in tow ventured to Atherstone in the Midlands to take part in our first Sprint. Yes the Spartan tag line seems convoluted, and kitsch but in all seriousness you do know at the finish line just what you are capable of. Running 6.5km over 15+ obstacles with a knee that was on fire for the last 2.5km, wading through 2.5km of river water and falling face first into red dyed ice, well that was possibly the most fun I have had in LONG time.  It was something I was looking forward to and something that I enjoyed beyond my initial expectations.  It also opened a whole new community to me and one I am fiercely proud to be a member of, The Spartan Chicked Group. I was thrilled with a bad knee and queues at the obstacles we finished with a respectable time of 1hr 40mins.

Best fun ever!
RARR Zombie!
So with the love of obstacle course racing now firmly planted in the nogging, CJ, Giles, OH and I took part in the inaugural Zombie Evacuation Race in Cambridge in October.  It was an absolute hoot.  Nowhere near as much mud as the Spartans but the main obsactle this time were the zombies and they were absolutely brilliant.  With the course being over 5km, much of which was open running through sleet and rain, the obstacles came in to force near the end of the run with the greatest being the zombies. And the knee, although painful towards the end, was no where near as excruciating as it had been before I started the rehabilitation of rest, acupuncture and slowly rebuilding my strength training programme. It's given me a new found insight into what lies ahead in my role as a Personal Trainer and has highlighted the importance of finding a good physiotherapist who will help me look after my body while I get others in shape.  For Christmas this year, OH and I have bought each other season passes for 2013 Spartan Series in the UK. I can't wait...watch out Hobbi Call ;)

CJ and me at the Race for Life
Cardiff 2012
2012 also saw my 6th Race for Life, with my best girl CJ accompanying me on her 2nd Race for Life.  As most of you know this is the main charity that I fundraise for, and is something very close to my heart, likewise with CJ and Giles.  So I am thrilled to say that over the last six years we have raised £1910 and on top of that HMRC have given £481.27 in gift aid.  I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am that people have given money to us girls who race around a park on a summer's morning/evening having a good giggle, and a knowing nod at the pink patches.  Understanding how everyone of those ladies feels for the ones they love who have suffered and lost or survived cancer makes it important for myself and CJ that we keep doing our small part. And as a whole, it's something we support as a band. So a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored us in 2012, we will be running again in 2013 and I shall keep you posted.  I hope you'll help us get over the £2000 total.

Sadly 2012 had it's serious downside. In late September we received the news that Gav's beloved cousin James McCubbin had suffered a heart attack and had passed away.  This floored us completely, not least due to James only being a few months younger than myself and had died aged 36. But also in that his wife is fighting breast cancer.  It left the family utterly devastated and in a state of disbelief.  I can hear his laughter when I think of him.  He was a man who loved life and we have to accept that he is no longer present in person, but lives on in how we live by loving life as he did and by remembering him with love and fondness. We miss you Jim.

However the year is ending on a high, the album launched to great reviews, we toured, and my first proper training client has messaged me to say she's lost her first stone in weight just by changing two simple habits in her diet and moving more.  I'm so proud of her, she's a great person and with three children and husband, and helping out at her mother's shop, she's done amazingly well proving that if you want it, nothing will stop you.  Well done, Femi, I'm so very, very proud of you :D

Before 2006                 After 2012
In my own weightloss journey I hit a few milestones. Firstly I officially ceased to be clinically overweight.  I dropped to a weight where no longer do the medical bods think that all my problems are weight related.  As anyone will tell you, who is overweight, it becomes a bit of a bind when every time you go to the doctors the first thing they say is 'oh it's because you are over weight'.  It's frustrating. I also had a mental breakthrough and it came in the simplest of ways.  For years as you know I have battled with 'Pandora' my naysaying inner voice and I struggled to find ways to get her to shut up.  After my pole instructor said it was time to put some before and after photos up on Facebook, I sucked up the corage to confront my old pictures and see the me as I was.  Boy was I in for a shock.  I didn't recognise me at all in that picture, and you can read my blog about how it felt to share that picture here. But finally saying sorry to myself and forgiving myself whole heartedly for what I had done finally quietened the voice down.  Finally she sat back and it was as if she said 'There, that's all I was after.' I know look at that picture and think, 'well done me'. And rightfully so, I'm proud of how far I've come, and though I am no longer fat, I have some fat that I would still like to lose but the weighing scales don't have the control on me that they once had and that is a HUGE breakthrough! This is now about just getting me to where I feel comfortable in myself, but for the most part I already do.  But there is always room for improvement.

So as 2012 draws to a close, I recall that for the most part it's been a fantastic year, with the band going from strength to strength, the fitness side of things really picking up, my own fitness and weightloss journey continuing in great strides what is left for 2013.  Well, I am always on a journey of self discovery and 2013 is the year that things will change greatly.  I have plans afoot that will come to realisation in the first quarter of the year.  The band will be back on the road and who knows where that will take us. I am studying to finish the final assessments of my Personal Training Cert as well as taking my Exercise to Music qualifications and pole training qualifications.  I have so many fitness quails I want to take to really increase my flexibility and adaptability to the ever changing world of fitness. I am also looking at ways to incorporate obstacle course training into basic personal training to give my clients something different to the run of the mill bootcamp style training.  All in all, 2013 is looking to be a great year, and while I am sure there will be hurdles and dips, the highs will once again outweigh them greatly.

So to everyone who has read my blog over the last year, thank you for reading my ramblings.  It is appreciated.  And I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Here's to 2013 and don't forget to be kind to yourself, you ROCK!

Much love

Do what you love to love what you do :D

Photo Credits:  Triaxis group photo: Owen G Richards
                         Kirby & Roberts: Kat Jennings
                         Spartan Pics: SpartanRace.com
                         Zombie Evacuation: ZombieEvacuation.com
                         Pole Pride Shocase and Photoshoot: Miss Moth Photographic Arts
                         Krissie performing picture: Anthony May, FestivalPhoto
                         All others property of KrissieKirby.com

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A work still in progress....

A few weeks ago my dear friend and pole instructor posted on my Facebook wall that it was about time I posted some before and after pictures of my weight loss journey. I made the excuse that I needed to scan some photos on to the computer first. Truth is, I was still fat when digital cameras become the norm and, though I tried to always be the one behind the camera, there were pictures of me in that before phase lurking on my computer and various social sites.

No matter how hard I have tried to ignore her, she's always been there, lurking, waiting, a phantom of my past scratching away in the background, and I was desperately ashamed of her. I wanted her to disappear, to vanish into the digital ether, never to return and show me what I had done to myself.

I guess I just wasn't quite ready to look at that before picture and say 'I'm sorry' to myself for being that unhappy and for letting it all get so out of control. I'm not sure what I was running away from at the time, and at the time it must have been very painful and important. I suppose part of it was losing my Grandfather to leukaemia but this downward spiral had started way before Grampa became ill.  No this started before then, but now, over six years since the before picture was taken I'm hard pressed to recall what was making me so miserable that I had pretty much given up on myself. The only good constant at the time was (and thankfully still is) my solid marriage to possibly then most understanding person I have ever met, my beloved hubby. Everything else, well it's a bit of a blur and all a bit hazy.

However, yesterday I sat with my finger hovering over the post button on Facebook with the comparison before and after picture, shaking at the prospect of allowing the social network world see how I used to be, who I used to be, the mess I used to be. And here I sat, scared of the judgements that would be dished out.

I should, and do know better. There never was any question of people being judgemental. In fact, quite the opposite. The comments I received were amazing and I am sincerely grateful to everyone who posted.  As my American cousins would say, I was feeling the love. And then it struck me. I needed to say sorry to myself, for putting my 21-30 year old self through all that unhealthy behaviour.  I know I've often talked about not listening to that voice when she rears her head but have I actually, properly said sorry to myself? Not until today, I hadn't and I meant it. I sat here, looking at the 30 year old me in that before picture, struggling to fit her hands in her jeans pocket and said how sorry I am that I screwed our 20s up. How sorry I am that I didn't look after us, and that we have come out the other side smiling, happier and far healthier.  And Pandora and I have had a good sob. Yes she will have her moments when she creeps up with her self doubt and snide remarks at how rough I might look after a gig night, but she's/we/I am only human.

So here it is, the before and after picture.  The before on the left taken in Boscastle in April 2006, and the after (although I still have another stone I want shot of) picture taken in June 2012. There is still work to be done, inside as well as out, but everything is on the upward spiral, and life is good.

Be kind to yourselves, always

much love

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Knee Rehab... it's going to take time!

Apologies in being remiss in updating this blog over the last two months.  It's been a busy ole time on the music side of things with the release of the album and the first dates of the tour that I've not had a moment to stop and post anything.  I must do better ;)  However, when logging in today I found I had a post fully written ready to go that I had completely forgotten about regarding my knee and the rehab that I was under taking to get myself fit again.

Rest? Really?
So come back in time with me now, to Sept 9th, the Spartan Race had finished and I was in agony with my knee. So much so that I started to put in some serious research and time into how best to cope with IT Band syndrome and how to heal myself. In the end I consulted my physiotherapist as, to be frank, he's the person who is going to know best.  His advice, REST, acupuncture, REST, massage, REST, specific exercises and, oh yes, REST.

Me to a tee!
For those who know me well, you'll appreciate that me being told to take it easy and get some proper rest is like telling the sun to stop rising, it's just not going to happen. So to hear my physio say, 'you have no choice, it's rest, massage, physiotherapy and acupunture, or you seriously pose a risk of never being able to run more than 4km again, ever', was utterly heartbreaking to hear. Devastation set in and my entire mood took a downward turn.

I live for exercise. It regulates my hormones like nothing else, it staves off the red mist that descends (far less frequently than it used to), it stops me reaching for the snack jar because it keeps me in a happy, positive frame of mind, it actually surpresses my cravings for sweet things (which is great), and it generally makes me feel good.  Everything in my day is made much more positive and joyous by the inclusion of exercise. Plus I love it. I enjoy getting all sweaty after a good cardio session. I love lifting weight and seeing if I can push myself harder.  I love doing plyometrics and seeing how far I can really take my anerobic threshold. I just plain, flat out, LOVE to exercise.

But that week and the week after, I spent much of it in a low funk. I even cried. I'm woman enough to admit it. I cried like a baby, at the prospect of not being able to compete in the Zombie Run that was coming up at the end of October.  I cried at the thought that my new found love for mud and obstacle course racing would be over while still in its infancy.  I cried at the thought that it might put the block on my dream to become a top class personal trainer in the UK.  I cried, a lot.

BUT, after my first session of acupuncture, my knee seemed to feel, well, normal.  Now I know after one course of treatment that it isn't going to be cured (and there is a distinct possibility that this IT band irritation will never be wholly cured), but my god what an amazing difference.  Seeing these weird little needles sticking out of your leg is a little..hmm..odd. And feeling them being twisted or stimulated every 5 minutes, again just plain odd. But my physio was right on two counts, 1) I slept like a baby the night of the treatment and 2) the pain comes back excruciatingly but only for a few hours and then you feel like you could do a marathon.

However, I was a good girl and I took his advice. No running at all for 4 weeks, which was hard, but eventually I didn't run for 7 weeks.  I was not allowed to do any weight bearing exercises other than body weight and no sqauts or lunges were allowed in the 4 weeks rest period.  Anything to decrease the repetative strain, as essentially that's what it is. OK so that meant TurboFire was out as well, likewise Insanity. So only the upper body portions of P90X? Yep that was good.  So what else could I do to maintain exercising and fat loss, without being tempted to get on the treadmill and squat like my life depends on it with a 30kg barbell?  Well, said my physio, get in the pool and swim! So back to swimming I went.  I haven't been swimming since I did a severe sprain of my ankle back in 2007.  So I sucked up my pride and  reinstated my membership at my old gym.  This serves two purposes anyway, as once I had the all clear I was able return to my old pump, combat and attack classes that I love so much and I have missed them.  And also pole dancing was still allowed (Get In). Add to that pilates to continue to strengthen my glutes, frequent sports massages, foam rollering and more acupuncture, and the path was well set for a full recovery. *crosses everything and prays to whoever is listening*.

So having had 5 courses of acupuncture, regular massages, lots of foam rollering, and no niggles when I eventually made a combat and some pump classes, I decided that I would now test the knee with a 5km cross country obstacle course race being chased by zombies....because that's what you do to test if you've recovered of course.  But more about the Zombie race in the next blog.  Thankfully the knee, although it did irritate and the searing heat of the IT band inflamation started at about the 4km mark again, the recovery period afterwards was far quicker.  Straight on with the ice patch after the race, knee elevated for the rest of the night at home and the next day no pain when decsending the stairs.  After the Spartan Race it took almost a week for things to go back to normal, now it's taking less than a day.  This is serious progress.

Last night was the real tester.  I hit the gym for the first time in now almost 9 weeks (I ended up with a very bad cold after the Zombie run so thought it best not to train especially with gigs the following weekend - play it safe).  I decided to go straight back into my old routine (but adjusted my weights down as I've lost some of my strength), just to see how I'm doing in the recovery stakes and thankfully I ran for my full 10 minute cardio blast on the treadmil (doing just over a mile) without a twinge.  I did some weighted squats, lunges and single leg deadlifts and still no twinges. So all in all, the rest did me good.  There is still some way to go as I'd like to do the Super Spartan next year and if my knee allows the Beast as well so that I qualify for my Trifecta. But we shall see, something this injury has taught me is that if I want it badly enough then I have to be patient and let my body heal properly.  So for the interim I'm sticking to the 5k races, but it feels SO good to be active again. It's been a hard lesson to learn.

Anyhoo, until the next entry! 

Be kind to yourselves,
Much love

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Mud, mud and more mud!

So we did it! We arrived a little under an hour before our heat and we registered for our first ever Spartan Sprint :D

The registration process for the event is a very well oiled machine.  With waiver forms in hand all signed and ready to just be handed in, we were given our timing chips to attach to our shoes so that we didn't have to worry about the effects of water/mud and various other substances on HRMs and the like.

Having picked up our timing chip which also acted as our bib and with our numbers inked in indelible ink on our foreheads (for the pictures apparently), we handed in our keys to the key drop and prepared to warm up. And that's when disaster almost struck! I was doing some high knees and I turned over on my ankle. The crack was as though I landed on a twig, but no that was my ankle going crunch. Luckily it wasn't a major sprain just a slight twist and with some quick stretching it seemed to be fine, and what tiny twinges of pain I had dissipated. Had there been instant swelling and bruising, or any pain when I applied body weight onto the ankle, I would have withdrawn from the race.  However, there was nothing immediately apparent, and we had another 25 mins before the start of our heat, plenty of time for me to do a self diagnostic as were and check that I was still race fit. Thankfully, all was well. So time to Spartan the f*** up and get to it.

We lined up, amongst likeminded men and women, all ready to tackle whatever the course threw at us. The master of ceremonies took as through what we faced, and for the brave amongst us who were undertaking the Super Spartan they were told they'd have to do the course twice and with a brick on the second time through, 2 tyres instead of one, and 2 sand bags on the carry instead of one. As the course was a double for the super we worked out that we had roughly a 6 to 6.5 Km course to get through.  (The Super is over 12km). With the cry of 'What is your profession?' and our obligatory 'Aroo! Aroo! Aroo!' we started over the line and we were off.

Mo Mud!
Various obstacles that we faced along the way included balance beams, wading through LOTS of river water (over 2km in water), low walls, high walls, carrying sand bags and tyres, cargo nets, spear throw, crawling through mud, and on one occasion under barbed wire, holding bricks up for a set period of time, rope ladders and all with lots of mud from the previous racers and ourselves. But they saved the most evil obstacles till last.  As we turned into the home straight, we were faced with a pit of ice under barbed wire, that we had to crawl through...and it was dyed red! As soon as we come out of the ice pit it was the rope wall, and the surface of the inclined wall is like tarpaulin, so slippery when wet, and muddy. We tried to get up it, my god did we try but alas no, so honour burpees it was. In fact on the entire course I only did 2 x 30 burpees which I was really pleased with. (The spear throw had a rule, 1 throw and if you miss you do burpees...I missed but that's fine, if you recall I'm one of those weird people who like burpees)
Updating Facebook!

Around the 4km mark my knee started to give me some problems, so I'm not out of the woods with the old IT Band syndrome just yet and no doubt my physio will give me a telling off on Wednesday ;) But damn it this was something I needed to do for me and my great gods did I enjoy it.

Caked in mud, we finished our race, removed our chips, collected our medals and made our way back to the car to clean off, obviously had to update all social networking site, put civies back on and grab some food.  A quick jolly back over to the main arena saw us bump into one of the most inspiring fitness aficionados that I have ever witnessed. Doing a double take and saying to OH 'isn't that Jessie Pavelka?' lo, it was indeed Mr Palvelka in all his chiseled glory, with that dazzling smile.  What a thoroughly lovely man, he even obliged me with a photograph. I came away starstruck, utterly starstruck.

No sparkle here, just lots of glow!
All in all, a bloody good day. I lost my sparkle, met a fitness idol, had a great day with OH and faced my fear of heights head on scaling that cargo net and high wall. I feel quite accomplished. They say on the blurb that 'You'll know at the finish line' and you now what, you do.  You know that nothing can beat you if you really give it everything you have, and even if you fail at something there will be another way around the problem. What you know at the finish line is that you CAN do it and more, that you are strong in mind, body and spirit and that this community you've found yourself in all believe that and understand it too. You know at the finish line exactly who you are.

With Jessie Pavelka

Clean and proud Spartan Chick!
So next on the agenda is a visit to my physio and to really work on getting the strength and flexibility back in my IT band, I have a routine to film in pole tomorrow with my class, then I can start training for the Zombie Evacuation run in October,  and after that in 2013 the next sprint and maybe the super, and possibly the beast ;) Well, why not eh?

As always, be kind to yourself
Much love
Officially a Spartan Chick!

Spartan Up Buster!

About a year ago a friend of mine sent me a video on Facebook, all about a series of obstacle course races that happen across the globe.


I watched in wonder at this madness that had people crawling through pits of mud, under barbed wire, and grinning like utter loons while doing so. What was this wondrous thing, and was it available in the UK?

Well it turns out that, yes, the Spartan Series and Tough Mudder are both in the UK. For those of you who follow this blog, you know I love crazy ways of keeping fit and what is more crazy than taking on a series of obstacle courses over varying distances in a metric tonne of mud? The Sprint is the smaller of the three main Spartan races, and is a 5km run with 15 or more obstacles. If there is an obstacle that you just can't complete then you have the option to do burpees. And this will come as a huge surprise to many but I fricking LOVE burpees. Plyometric and strength conditioning with core stability all in one fluid movement, what's not to love?

So here I am, typing on my trusty iPad, in the car enroute to my first ever Spartan Sprint. Am I nervous? A little. Am I excited? Hell yes. I'm all about embracing the fear and pushing yourself that little further.  Now to just get through the never ending stream of roadworks on the M50/M5 and we're all set ;)

For all my fellow chicks who are losing their sparkle this weekend, good on ya girls, I'll see you at the finish line :D

Will blog with pictures if I survive ;)

As always, be kind to yourself
Much love


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Well I’ve been a bit lax....

...in updating both blogs, sorry.  It’s all been a bit hectic for reasons that will be apparent if you head over to the sister blog of this page. And this blog is going to be rather long, sorry in advance!

So fitness, weight loss and personal development; where do I begin? Last time we spoke I had hit that Valhalla of mental states where I was finally happy in myself. Unfortunately that took a turn back to old habits about two weeks ago and I’ve kicked, screamed and clawed my way back out of the maddening abyss that is low self esteem to regain my place back in the sun.

It all came to a head on Saturday last weekend (my wedding anniversary as well, my poor OH, how he copes with all this is anyone’s guess). We had decided to take the day as a complete rest day, no gym etc.  We went shopping in my nation’s glorious capital and planned to have a slap up meal and then on to the cinema to watch The Dark Night Returns.  In TK Maxx the horrors descended with alarming pace.  I got hot and flustered, my temperature raised and my temper flared.  It’s not pretty when the red mist of self loathing descends. It’s quite scary not just for me but for my other half.  Sat in the changing cubical I had those thoughts again; the ones where I want to punch myself hard and take a knife to my fat.  Those thoughts of utter worthlessness and the voice that screams at you to ‘grow up and act your age, stop trying to be something you’re not’.  I thought those feelings and thoughts were long gone, but they reared their head in alarming fashion. And I became so scared, really very scared, then very angry.  On leaving the changing room I handed the assistant everything, looked at OH and said that I wanted to go home. So we left Cardiff and headed homeward with me sobbing my heart out.

What brought on this apparent sudden U turn in my mental state, I can pinpoint pretty accurately. The weather in the UK has been awfully drab, wet and humid which doesn’t instil smiles and happiness in the most positive of people, recent photographs of me performing haven’t been complimentary at all, and the IT Band issue has hampered my training. I’ve felt very frumpy and frustrated. Add to that my disappointment in myself with returning to old habits of secret binge eating of chocolate and crisps, and I guess it was just waiting to explode.  I’m glad it happened when it did and not 3 months down the line when I have every possibility of it spiralling out of control.

Half way home, I asked OH to turn the car into an out of town shopping complex and we had a lovely wander around, I bought myself some new trail shoes for a new goal I’m setting myself and we had our slap up meal of grilled chicken and salad (the waitress looked at us daft when asked for no potatoes or sauce) and then dessert was my small salted popcorn at the cinema whilst watching Batman (great film, go and see it if you can and if you are a DC fan like me, spot the different story threads from various graphic novels ). The red mist started to lift a little, and Pandora’s screaming tantrum lost a little of its steam.

The one thing I’ve learned on this journey is that you have to be honest if you’re going to journal about it. So that’s why I wanted to write about it here.  I think this whole blog has been so cathartic that it’s made me realise there is a light at the end of the very long tunnel, and though there are light switches along the way, sometimes there has to be a power cut to help you refocus and march to the next switch and turn the light back on again. The light isn’t fully back on yet, I know from experience that it takes a few days but there’s a flickering ember on the filament and that tells me the power is there just building up in the background so a little time and it’ll be back to full wattage.

Team Triaxis
Apart from that, everything else has been amazing!  Well apart from the ITB injury – grrrr.  We had our Race for Life (CJ and I) and we did really well considering I’ve not been able to run more than 3km without the knee giving in. We completed the 5km course in exactly 30 minutes.  So happy with that, and CJ was a godsend, being that little voice of extra motivation when my knee really started to hurt.  We raised £711.50 which I’m thrilled with, especially as OH’s cousin is going through treatment for breast cancer right at this moment. Cancer Research UK is a cause very dear to me as is, so it’s important that I keep doing these races.  One day we will beat it.

6 Races, 6 Medals.
There will be more!

So where am I currently?  Well after my episode on the weekend, I dusted myself off and started afresh almost immediately (no sauce or potatoes remember?), instead of waiting until Monday and thinking ‘Hell, I’ve blown it all anyway I may as well wait until Monday’. No sir, not me.  This time I got myself back together, and stopped the slip becoming the slide. So since then I’ve gone cold turkey on the chocolate and crisps, and to be honest today was the first day I’ve thought ‘ooh I fancy...’ but I’ve dug my heels in.  It’s just not worth it. Since Sunday I’ve been back to clean-eating; lots of vegetables, lean proteins, brown rice, fruit and nuts. Water is the order of the day, and lots of it.  And within five days I noticed my skin was much clearer, I have more energy and I'd lost the weight I had regained through my binge eating plus and extra pound for good measure.  My body fat is finally sitting at exactly 30%, only another 5% to get shot of so I’ll be in the healthy range.

I have sought physiotherapy for the injury and it was as I thought, I have IT Band Syndrome. My symptoms have been caused by something we in my pole school have affectionately termed ‘lazy arse syndrome’.  The medial gluteus has ceased to take on its correct function and a couple of the muscles in the quadriceps have taken control instead, so the leg chain is all out of kilter.  I have a weak posterior Medial Gluteus on the right hand side (for all you anatomy buffs out there). And instead of that dictating the movement of the leg chain, the body has opted for the strong muscles to take over.  The pain that this ‘cheating’ creates is unbelievable.  It’s like someone scraping a razor blade on the lateral side of the knee. Because the work is being done by the quads, the IT band has shrunk slightly and starts to rub on the outside of the knee joint, hence the pain on the top of the tibia. However, treatment is simple and it doesn’t stop you doing the vast majority of your workouts, just running becomes painful after around 3km, so no running for me for a while until the IT band resumes its correct position in the leg and I do some interesting Pilates based leg exercises to strengthen my gluteus. I just have to be patient and not try to run before I can walk (quite literally in this case).  I’ve switch the treadmill for the cross trainer but I have an appointment next week to see if I can resume short 1.5/2km runs to see how the IT band is doing.

Pole has been going from strength to strength, and that’s not just figuratively speaking.  I have conquered the cross ankle and cress knee releases after overcoming my fear of just letting go. I have mastered the Eye Opener (or Hello Boys) and Lady garden wrist seat positions, Crucifix hold is in place and I’m now inverting and did my first inverted crucifix with Dawn’s guidance.  We have also started a Choreography and Sass class and have the most fun doing routines to some cracking rock tracks.  My upper body strength is on the increase all the time.  I love pole, it’s the best fun ever.
I’ve taken on my first client with weight loss coaching. She’s a wonderful, amazing and talented woman and I’m thrilled she’s asked me to be her coach.  In many ways she’s been a great help to me to regain my focus as well.  After all I can’t be a coach to someone if I’m not leading by example?  I’m really excited about helping her fulfil her goals.  She’s so determined and positive; she’s a real breath of fresh air. 

I’ve completed the nutrition element of personal training (very happy with that) and have just received my advanced anatomy and physiology course book as well as the dates for the taught section of my Advance Training Approaches module.  Once those are complete I only have two remaining modules and I qualify as a Certified Personal Trainer.  While I’m building my client base I will start working on the three modules to progress to Advanced PT and the Level 4 module in Obesity and Diabetes. I have a plan written out and so far, apart from the hiccup in Nov 2011 where we had to pay for a new kitchen roof, all is on course for 2013 to be the year I start the Personal Training arm of the new venture in full swing.  I am beyond excited.

I've also set myself a new goal.  I've joined the Spartan Chicks and am gearing up to compete in the Spartan series of races. These are obstacle races set over varying distances.  The Sprint is over 3miles, the Super over 8 miles and the Beast over 12 miles, there is also the Super Beast which is marathon distance (26.2miles) and the Death Race, an endurance event over 48 hours and no real know distance mixing mud, obstacles, metal agility and stamina. Yep I'm going to get myself muddy in the name of fitness and fun.  Mostly because I want to do them, but secondly because why the hell not?  I'll start out slow with a few Sprints, and work my way up. And, if all goes well fitness wise, I'd like to attempt the Trifecta in 2014 and the the Super Beast and Death Race in 2015 - when I'll be celebrating hitting 40 ;)  So something to aim for.
You better believe it!
Strangely putting all that down in this blog has made me smile and appreciate that I’ve done a lot of late and I have much to look forward to.  I’ve been through a small rough patch but ultimately in the grand scheme of things everything is still very positive. The injury will improve with care, my self esteem is back in the increase and even the weather has improved slightly (for how long is anyone’s guess).  Told you this blog thing was cathartic. Here’s a little motivational poster I found on the day I had my attack of the horrors, it reminded me that sometimes we need to look back to appreciate where we are going:

Be kind to yourself, even when that voice shouts and you can’t hear anything but her.
Much love, as always,

Saturday, 2 June 2012

By Jove, I think I've cracked it.....

Well, when I say cracked it, I don't think I've figured out a definitive 'this is what you should do way' of ensuring you feel comfortable in your own skin, but for me personally I've had a bit of a breakthrough.

I suppose a lot of it has been to do with the accepting that I'm not wonder woman after all, that I can't do everything and also that I need to just let certain things go, drift off and not worry about them so unnecessarily. It's been quite the breakthrough 12 months since I decided that I needed to start figuring out what exactly it would take to regain my inner peace.  It rarely bothered me as a kid what others thought of me yet through much of my adult life it's been of massive concern.  I'm still not 100% sure why that is, and if Freud were still alive he'd probably ask my to take a seat and tell him about my mother. But really I think the most of it stems from my weight issues.

And this is where the biggest leap forward comes into play.

2 weeks ago I was sat on the sofa having my usual banter with the hubby and discussing the day's happenings when it dawned on me... I'm really comfortable being 12 stone in weight. I'm not displeased, berating myself, calling myself names, I'm not fat (well technically I'm still overweight according to medical definitions but I'm in the best shape I've ever been in my adult life), I'm active, healthy, in a size 14 (straight off the hanger I might add) and doing the things I love to do.

I actually realised that I might not lose anymore weight, body fat yes and maybe a couple of pounds but I will gain muscle, I will be smaller but I'll still weight roughly the same. And that's OK, in fact that's perfectly fine and I'm happy with that.  I look in the mirror and she's gone, the hephalump, big tonne Bess who stared at me for so many years, and Pandora is really quiet, no snide quips, no derogatory remarks.  I look in the mirror and for the first time in a very long time I actually see me.  And she's not half bad.  This is a massive leap forward, I'm utterly accepting of myself and though I might still want to ditch some body fat (but that's because I want to have that sleek muscular look) the number on the scale is finally meaningless.

So this breakthrough comes, and I decide that to really ensure I'm looking after my new found mental equilibrium that it's time to just do some final adjustments on my food habits.  Mainly sugar.  I have a reaction to it and I break out in spots. I'm pretty sure it causes my skin oil to increase production and I can always tell when I've had a lot of sugar as I have an outbreak.  So out went the daily treats and now it's a couple of squares (literally 2) of chocolate, maybe some berries and cream, and possibly on the odd occasion a Krissie friendly cake from Starbucks, but otherwise the rice cakes with chocolate and the ginger truffle squares have all been ditched (plus as they are all free from, they cost a bomb too). The decision on the sugary treats was reached last Friday when the last of the cakes in the cupboard were eaten.  We just decided not to buy anymore.  So last Friday (May 27th) that was that.  I get on the scale yesterday morning (to check my body fat percentage more than anything) and BAM, I've lost 3lbs in weight and 2% body fat.  GO FIGURE!

I'm now at 165lbs, I've lost a total of 85lbs.  And to top it all off, I'm 1lb away from being no longer clinically  overweight.  For the first time in 15 years, if that last pound drops off, I'll cease to be overweight officially.....

That's made my day, that has. Oh and I managed 40 full press ups on Tuesday this week, not all in one go of course, I did a set of 10, then did my cardio drill, then did 10 repeated my cardio drill and so on and so forth.  Which reminds me tomorrow I'll update my workout page.  BUT, and this is the huge thing. If I do ever get to 10stone 10lbs (150lbs) then great but you know what, it's absolutely no biggee if I don't.  I really am finally happy in my own skin and I don't think it's the number on my scale, that's not important anymore.  I think what's helped me reach this milestone has been all the research into eating habits, thought processes of why I was turning to food, learning to let go of issues new and old and ultimately realising only I have the power to make myself happy or sad, and I choose happy every time.  Nothing beats this feeling.... not even chocolate.

As always, be kind to yourself, you deserve it.

Much love


Thursday, 17 May 2012

We're all prone to injury and stupidity....

For those of you who follow my madness on myfitnesspal, you'll have all heard me mention that I've been exceptionally intermittent with my trips to the gym.  The reason for that is that I aggravated my iliotibial band a few weeks ago.

A few factors have added to the aggravation but the main reason that my knee joint was slightly out of kilter is that I clattered my foot on the steel frame of my piano stool when practicing a move on my pole at home. I badly bruised the outside of my right foot and in doing so I then started to compensate for the pain in my foot by what is called over pronation. In other words instead of walking naturally, I unconsiously placed more empahsis on rolling the foot inwards so the pain on the outside of the foot wouldn't be felt.  It's something we all have a tendancy to do - you've hurt your elbow so you rest your arm slightly over in the other direction to stop it hurting, but you often don't realise you've done it. Having no idea that this is what I'd done I carried on training and also started running outdoors.

Great read - recommended
A few weeks later I started a new training programme and one that I recommend as it's full of great ideas for excercises that you don't necessarily need a gym for. In this programme there are lots of compound exercises, such as romainian single leg dead lifts (you have a dumbell in one hand and your stand on the opposite leg, you then bend from the hip and touch the dumbell to the floor) and Bulgarian split squats (you have one leg up on a bench and you squat to drop the back knee to the floor - tough little blighters). There is also the overhead squat, and this was where my stubborness came back to bite me on the arse. As I back squat 35kg, I in my finite wisdom thought 30kg for overhead squatting would be fine! WRONG! Instead of dropping to 10kg and perfecting technique, I went all guns blazing with wrong form and did 8 reps at 30kg. Needless to say I soon dropped the weight down (to 20kg, i should have gone lower) and did another 8 reps. I honestly thought my shoulders and knees were about to implode. I instantly did what I do when something doesn't feel right or I don't like it, I decided I couldn't do it and settled on omitting it permenantly from my programme. (Have I mentioned I can be stubborn and obstinate?) I'm also happy to admit when I've gone too far or done something daft, and going that heavy on a new move was just plain stupid.  What I should have done is researched the move on youtube before I tried it in the gym and dropped the weight to the lowest barbell of 5kg and worked up as I have done with everything else - and that is something I recomend to you if you are doing any strength training without a PT (I'd advise you get a PT first as last as they are worth their weight in gold but if you can't youtube is an amazing tool and perfect your form before you move up the weights)

After that interesting take on squatting, I resumed with my split squats, deadlifts etc, a 3km run, used the foam roller, stretched and ended my session. I felt fantastic, overhead squatting dissapointment aside. The following weekend I was at one of my LRP events and on the first night of lots of walking up and down sand dunes etc a searing pain encompassed my right knee. I've not felt pain like that ever. On the flat I was fine, but walking uphill, downhill and attempting to run, I was in utter agony.  The pain eased after the event was over and things went back to normal. I decided that I would give my limbs a rest form the gym for a little while and concentrate on pole for the performance and as life was getting in the way.

I got back in the gym at the end of April and did a 2km run. Towards the end of the run my knee started to aggravate again. Two days later I purchased a pair of new shoes and it was by wearing these flat shoes that I realised that the outside of my right foot was a little painful, and that's when I thought that I had possibly been over pronating my foot. I looked up over pronation and true to form there was the symptom that proved the fact, the lower end of the IT band being caused aggrivation but the knee joint being slightly out of place. Having done heavy weights, ran and treked all over the sand dunes of South Wales while turning my foot in slightly had added to the irritation that was leaving me in agony.

So having made the concious effort to realign my foot and walk correctly, ensure that I foam roller every day and have had my IT band seen to it's all looking good for a full recovery.  I got in the gym yesterday and did a 2.5km run and not a niggle in sight.  This pleases me immensely as I have my annual Race for Life coming up in Juy and I'd like to best my result of 30mins 30seconds for the 5Km from last year.

So the programme restarted on Tuesday, I did a cardio intensive programme on Wednesday and I'll be strength training on Friday (tomorrow).   Must remember that slow and steady wins the race, and if i'm injured I can't run for charity or attend my pole dancing class. Must stop getting too over excited by the new shiny things ;)

Anyways, be kind to yourself always
Much love

So I faced my fear....

I know I've been harping on about it for the whole week over on my Facebook page but this is something huge for me, well I suppose it's something huge for anyone who has battled with their own self image.  But last Saturday my pole dance school put on a Birthday Showcase to celebrate the studio having been open for a whole year.  Students, seasoned performers and our instructor all put on a show to raise money for Ty Olwen Trust (a hospice for palliative care in Swansea).

We raised the amazing amount of £600.  I am so very very pleased to have been a small part in that.

Getting your legs out in tiny Daisy Dukes for all unsundry to see isn't my usually idea of fun. As you all know from reading this blog I've battled with my own insecurities when it comes to my body and how I (and vainly how others) perceive it. I think it's fair to say we all do, make and female alike. So to not only wear revealing (for me) attire and then to pole dance in said attire to an audience of almost 100 people?? Yep that's a scary prospect. Armed with Rainbow's Lady of the Lake, and adopting the stage name Annie Rage Dio (yeah I know, I couldn't help myself), I donned the denim hot pants, my slashed Iced Earth T and with lots of hair flying about the place I danced a fairly ok routine for 3 and half minutes.  And I actually enjoyed it.
Yep that's me on the pole giving the horns

I am exceptionally proud that even though nerves had rendered me a wreck for the best part of 3 days on the run up to the performance, I still sucked it up and did it.  It was remeniscent of taking that first step into the gym and fearing that everyone was looking at and judging you.  Only difference is this time everyone IS looking at you. You are on your own, it's just you and a 50mm thick, 10 foot tall piece of steel on a platform. As I had said to my fellow students, you can put me on a stage in jeans and a tshirt with mic in hand and I will feel the utterly at home, it's MY stage and you will pay attention. But this, this was something else. 

On the pole you are exposed, there is only your body and how it moves to wow the audience with. There is only your strength and poise to gain approval.  BUT and this was the thing I learned the most from doing this, there is also confidence. Attack it as though it's something you do everyday, and suddenly, what nerves? They flew out the window and I realised, 'hang on I'm enjoying this, and the crowd are whooping and appluading' and I didn't fall off. (Thankfully).  Things I have learned from the day are: if you forget the moves just keep moving and flicking that hair; point your toes more; straighten out the legs for a smoother line; and build on upper body strength further. But I am very pleased with how it all went.  And I am exceptionally proud of my fellow students/performers and of Dawn for being an inspiration.

As for the new target well, I didn't hit my weightloss target but I have lost 3 inches all over in the last month so that has pleased me and I haven't put on an weight either.  I have started a new training routine which I've only managed to complete 4 sessions of end of March and then ended up with a sore knee (due to something else not the new routine) but that's a blog for another day.

2012 for me is all about embracing the fear; fear of those things that sit in the back of the mind; those things that you look at others doing and think 'if only'. This year I've been making it my mission to say 'why not?' Why not me to be the one to take the bull by the horns and start learning a new skill, why not then take that skill and run with it at a performance level? And that's exactly what I did. I have many people to thank for helping me embrace the fear on this the first of my challenges that I've set myself and they know who they are.

So hello personal acceptance with my body, hello new found confidence about performing in public and not solely relying on my voice, hello to the me that I've been looking for for quite some time.  I always knew you were in here somewhere.

So what's next in my challenges for this year.  Well.... I'll tell you more on it another time ;)

Until then, be kind to yourself, as always
Much love