Breaking through

I’m getting back in the swing little by little. Back on the clean eating, don’t let my scouring the cupboards for bad snacks fools you…no matter how many times i look my only snack option is still a can of tuna. Getting back into the routine of training which is bliss quite frankly.

I had a session in boxing a couple of weeks ago where all my work on my feet and hands just came together for an hour and everything felt smooth and clean and sharp. Oh it doesn’t last that feeling, there is too much to learn, but it still felt great and was a needed morale boost. Last night I figured out what I was doing wrong on a move for myself, which was satisfying and I am starting to understand more even if I still don’t know much. If only I had any instinct for how the body works at all! Ah well, keep training and it will come.

I just quite liked this pic

I just quite liked this pic

This Sunday a friend and I travel to Liverpool for a seminar with Rosi Sexton, which is very exciting. Rosi is a superb martial artist and to encourage women of all levels and MA backgrounds to have a go at MMA she is doing a bunch of women only seminars around the country, so if it appeals to you at all look out for them. It’s a great chance to try it out before looking for a local gym. We are going because a) we can learn a lot from Rosi and b) grappling with women is different, it’s a useful opportunity for us as we only really have each other locally the rest is training with the guys.

A note about which.. training with the guys is a good thing! We are in no ways complaining, just looking forward to getting a broader experience.

Rosi Vs Gina (did you know Rosi has a Cambridge degree in maths and a PHD? Smart as F*ck!

Soo things I am reading. In non fic I’ve been munching through ‘A Fighters Mind’ by Sam Sheridan which is actually really interesting and motivational. In fiction I just read the soon to be released (the benefits of being in publishing) ‘Shadowboxer’ by Tricia Sullivan which is a fantasy novel bringing thai spirituality, adventure, other worlds and MMA together. It works pretty well and the descriptions of fighting and training are really good. I can recommend them both.


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Stalling and a heavy foot

Well, it was all going brilliantly and then my routine went out the window. Work, the publishing it all threw my routine out and I am a creature who thrives on routine. so I have had what..six weeks of not training on a regular schedule, not eating properly and problems with my shoulder made worse by the physio massaging it. It’s ok. Shit happens kids, I haven’t done much damage and I am getting back on track with a timely reminder from my head coach. I am doing all this to be a better martial artist and all the hard won improvements in training will pay off so much more if I can move better.

so my eating is being pulled (kicking and screaming) back into order, I am getting to training as much as the messy summer schedule of my life will allow and I am going through the process of reminding myself what it’s all about.


In the mean time I am increasingly frustrated with my footwork in well everything. I fell heavy footed a lot of the time and when I try to remedy that I feel unbalanced. It is quite annoying. Still, I shall keep working on it, try to figure out what the issue is and get it sorted! If I can glide in the f*cking waltz I can learn to glide while I punch.


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‘Overcoming shame’ or ‘the before and after’

I’ve been reading over at Fat Girl PHD lately, which is a bloody marvelous site. It’s made me think it’s maybe overdue the old before/after shots on here. In the name of being totally open with you all. The reason I haven’t posted them before is because I struggle with shame. I am finally getting to a point where I can almost look dispassionately at the ‘before’ pics and go ok, you know what, it mattered because I was struggling to do the things I want to do, but I didn’t hate myself and I shouldn’t feel ashamed of having been obese. It is what it is. Almost.

Now, the reason there are three pics.

2007 I am dangerously obese, it actually gets a little worse by 2008. 2010 – 2012 I go to the gym a lot, kickbox a lot and eat a little, divorce helping with the latter. Early 2012 I get down to ideal weight in my opinion, which is the middle pic. I still have those trousers, they are part of the ‘to get back into wardrobe’. Late 2012 – 2013 I gain again.  Feb 2014 just before I start work with Karl to get back down, you can see even with the gi that i’m bigger now than I was in early 2012. I’ve lost 18lbs since then but those combats are size 12 and i’m not quitefully down to a 14 yet.

I’ll talk more after the pic.


I think the thing that might be most worth noting, is that while in the middle picture I was at my thinnest since I was about 14, it’s the last one is which I am both healthiest and happiest with my body, not because of how I look but because of how I feel. These last few months since I’ve joined Shootfighters I’ve felt stronger and fitter and more confident than I can ever remember feeling. Losing body fat now will help me be better at grappling, will help with fitness and training and will have the added side affect of looking thinner. Worth remembering though I’d rather feel the way I do now than fit into those combats. Happily I expect to enjoy both in due course.


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Warrior Collective at Leicester Shootfighters

Warrior Collective came and filmed an evening at Leciester Shoot recently.

Here is the video.

And they have a lot of other good short video’s up for fans of martial arts including this one on Capoeira which is an MA i’ve always loved watching


So check out Leicester Shootfighters and check out the Warrior Collective.

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because…all the things.

First of all Lucy and I got to do something quite exciting last weekend. We were part of a photography students third year project on women in sports and spent a couple of hours at the Shootfighters gym posing for pics. On the back of this being so much fun we have decided we could handle being famous and are available for such things. ;p We are hoping to get some copies of the pics to share soon.

Now a general eating update. I followed the first plan fairly well and I’ve lost about a stone in the last couple of months with doing that. Just eating clean and making sure I get enough protein. Today is the start of a more concentrated plan, 12 weeks of a much stricter regime designed expressly for fat cutting. I’m nervous, because it is more restrictive and will be harder to maintain for so long, but I’m also excited because I expect to see good results, which in turn will keep me on the straight and narrow. After the 12 weeks, when i’m not actively cutting, it’ll be back to the previous clean eating low carb stuff, rather than a return to pizza and cake. Of course knowing I’ve had this coming I’ve had a few days in the run up of relaxing the rules a bit and not going mad but well getting a few things that I really miss eaten so I can let them go.

Having been fat for a long time and fairly normal only for the last two years or so I expect to have to be very careful for the rest of my life, so the set up time and normalisation of healthy eating plans was a good start point.


Weights wise, I’ve had a couple of weeks where I’ve been away a lot and not made as many sessions as I need, so I’m a little behind, but I’ve fitted them in where I can so I can still move forward. This week will see me upping to 16 minutes of each super set. Then only a couple more weeks before I get a more interesting routine.

As far as training, I love being down at Leicester Shootfighters. I think on balance I prefer no gi to gi based grappling and I love the wrestling! Every time I remember something a little better or put things together a little more it’s immensely pleasing because for a while it felt as though it might never make sense and now, little by little it’s starting to.

The striking is great fun, good stress relief and I’m learning a lot. You wouldn’t think there was a massive amount to learn about punching but there is. I got some really good comments on my kickboxing the other day too, which have given me a focus and some assurance that I get hit in the face a lot because the whole strategy is wrong, not because I’m rubbish. Reckon I can work with that!


Today is the first day of putting everything into high gear. It’s exciting and I feel ready for it.

Finally and slightly unexpectedly I took my first dance lesson a couple of days ago. I’m having a few private lessons on ballroom and latin to get me up to the standard for the beginners class (which has been running six months so isn’t as beginner as all that). It’s been a bucket list thing for donkeys and I got a little nudge in the right direction (often how it happens with me). Studying MMA has already helped with the dancing a little and I’m hoping it’ll cut both ways and the dancing will help with footwork and movement. Needless to say I need to buy new shoes for the dancing. Oh no, the horror, how will I cope. ;p



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An inexpert guide…

Fitness and nutrition are those sorts of subjects.. .everyone is an expert.

It’s an endless barrage. Fat is bad for your heart, too much protein will weaken your bones and give you gall stones, you are over training, you aren’t training enough, more cardio to burn fat, cardio doesn’t burn fat, eggs will give you heart disease, red meat will give you cancer, all meat will give you cancer, just face it you are getting cancer, do weights, no do cardio, no just swim because you will destroy your joints otherwise, running is the only thing that works, running is ruining your knees and wasting many of the muscles, you must have milk for your bones but milk is bad for you, microwaves make food be not actual food, do atkins, paleo, vegan, cabbage soup or something where meals are replaced with shakes. It’s nuts. It’s massively contradictory and to some extent it’s personal, different strokes and all that.


Often when I comment or discuss my choices I get told what I ‘should’ be doing instead. I could sit and go through it point by point refuting, responding, clarifying. I won’t. I have a much simpler answer. I have an expert guiding my exercise and nutrition. An actual expert who has actually studied these things, not just read it on line or in men’s health.  I also used to be 21stone and eat primarily pizza, crisps and chocolate. So I thank you for your comments and opinions, but I am doing ok and honestly I’ll take my chances on whatever the current hysteria is about because no matter how much red meat and eggs I consume, no matter how hard I train (fitting it in around a full time desk job after all), no matter what method I use to cook my meals, I am never going to be doing as much damage to my body as I was just by being 21stone and eating a shitty diet.

We need to get a little perspective I think generally on the health industry and our diets and fitness. At this stage I will go point by point on a few general things. Before I do let me just clarify MY perspective. I was for many years very obese. I ate badly, I moved little, I was unhappy and I am fundamentally inclined (even now) to eat for comfort or boredom. I did reductil (later removed from market as dangerous) and other pills. most of the other pills, I did cabbage soup, atkins, weight watchers, slim fast, hypnotherapy (twice, the second time it was the brilliant Wizard and it helped  keep me from self sabotage). I have yo yo’d a lot. My mother has bribed me with clothes and cash. I have done every desperate thing and in the end divorce was the thing that worked. My appetite was reduced due to the stress and escaping to the gym was easy when I couldn’t stand being in the house. Of course it only got me so far and wasn’t the healthiest approach, although it wasn’t awful. Still, there is work left to do which I am doing in a more healthy and constructive way.


So back to the topic in hand. The diet industry.

First of all it’s just that. The whole health, diet, fitness thing is an industry, it needs to make money so it needs to ensure just enough of us are successful that people believe the hype, but the majority keep failing and backsliding so we keep trying new things. The primary purpose of the fitness industry is to make money not to make us healthy. Something to remember when contemplating your next steps. All the magic pills are designed to work just well enough to make you dependent, the protein powders etc can be useful if used sensibly but should not be a fundamental part fo your regime. I use powder as a shortcut to top up my protein intake, it’s not a meal replacement (slim fast etc) it’s not a magic powder to make me stronger faster (sorry maxi muscle) it’s an easy way to top up certain nutrients rather than adding in an extra meal. I’m not keen on eggs first thing in the morning, total yogurt mixed with powder fills the protein requirement. Use them by all means but be aware of what they are actually replacing and why you are using them.

People are different. Our bodies are different, our desires and habits and routines are different, our tastes and the things we enjoy are different. Of course I am going to recommend martial arts/combat sports, I love them, they bring me joy. I am not going to suggest people run because frankly I hate it and it’s never worked for me. The sensible advice really is try a bunch of stuff a few times and stick with what you enjoy most. The sticking is more important than the activity.


Equally with food, I enjoy meat and eggs and green veg. Low carb is easy for me because it leaves me lots of things I like to eat and a way to manage my food that suits my timetable. I don’t however like fish much, so while I acknowledge it would be good to eat more fish my PT accepts that it’s not going to happen and doesn’t push the issue. We work around it because having something I can do consistently is more important than eating so many grams of a specific thing at a certain time.  We set principles I have to adhere to and I do that. Other people work better from a diet plan, all the meals written out in advance in full, some have particular dietary needs or issues to be considered. Find something that works and that contains mostly healthy whole foods and you are probably ok. I think it can be agreed that trying to avoid processed food is always a good thing. (see point one on the food industry).

Clubs like weight watchers etc have a value, if you find group support helps great, go for it. The problem with them is they offer all sorts of alternatives to supermarket versions of things ‘low point biscuits’ etc and that is dangerous because it doesn’t actually challenge you approach to food. It’s offering you a way to lose some weight without really addressing the way you eat. I could rant about this for hours, but instead I’ll say, if you find support groups helpful use them, but be aware and cautious about how you are dealing with eating patterns.

In short, the best thing you can do for yourself if you want to be fitter, healthier, slimmer, stronger, is exercise you enjoy and eating mostly fresh food. That’s it.

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Heavy thinking

There have been some superb posts recently on diet, weight, body image etc. I thought i’d share a few favourites.

A slightly snarky look at food fads and the ‘wisdom’ of the internet. The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater.

And on weight, BMI and the dangerous approach of healthcare reducing us all to a single stat. Female Bodies: A Weighty Issue

Generally a pretty good site for information and body image positivity… Fat Girl, PhD

how researching nutrition on line makes you feel.

how researching nutrition on line makes you feel.

While Juliet E McKenna is best known as a fantasy writer, she is also a long term martial artist and has written sensibly on a number of subjects. Her site is worth checking out for articles like this one on the Nigella restaurant incident and why fighting back isn’t always easy.

This video of a girl beating a number of Jui Jitsu opponents was posted on Leicester Shootfighters facebook page and is well worth a few minutes of your time.

While he’s not been training for a while Alasdair Stuart’s achingly honest Judo Diaries are my go to when I feel frustrated or doubts set in.

Thanks to Alec McQuay for this article by Henry Rollins

Please add your favourite links on nutrition, training, body image etc in the comments.

balanced diet


Edited to add more links from friends.

From Sarah Cawkwell, one from the Huffington on guys struggling with body image and a really personal one about bad mirror days that certainly speaks to me.

Simon suggested the nutrition and protein product site Monkey Nutrition, for those who are interested I use The Protein Works, largely because they do good flavours.

My PT Karl suggested EliteFTS

The lovely Jan suggested Nerd Fitness which I just fell in love with a little bit. I had that Wolverine figure! She also pointed at Fitocracy for those who like the social media dynamic.

Max suggested this video on discipline and this excellent article on The Pleasures of Drowning.

For those of you who like to run (I hate it, there will be a post on that shortly) there is also the Zombie Run App.

Thanks to everyone who has given their suggestions. I shall refer back to these when I feel frumpy, unsure, uninspired or am just having a really bad day with my hair. 🙂

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