Monthly Archives: August 2015

2015 Classic -4 weeks

I had a sickening realisation on Saturday that it’s only 4 weeks until the 2015 British Classic (less than that, now) and I feel so utterly unprepared. My training is going not so great and my eating is all over the place (I stopped having protein shakes & trying to eat lots of protein months ago, and haven’t got back to it). Wow such athlete, very dedication.

Last Monday I was meant to have 3 sets of 4 squats @ 85kg; I managed 2 sets of 4, then one grindy set of 3 before I had to give up. On Saturday I was meant to have 4 sets of 3 deadlifts at 105kg; I managed only 100kg for all of them (in my defence, it was like 32 degrees Celsius in the gym and we don’t have aircon!)

My hope for the British was to get a 280kg total, but right now I think I’d be happy-ish if I get 275kg again. I have another competition in November to try for the magic 280kg – I originally said I wanted 280kg in 2015, not necessarily at the British.

The weekend of the British is going to be a hard one anyway. I’m refereeing on the Saturday, and if my experience of refereeing at the All-England earlier this month is anything to go by, I’m going to be exhausted by the end of the day. Then I have to go to my hotel, try to find something appropriate to eat and get an early night (which will be hard given we’re travelling as a group and people will no doubt want to socialize), then get up early the next day and lift. Then drive home in the evening (2.5 hours!)

Still, I’m not dreading it – it’s going to be fun; stressful but fun. Hopefully mostly fun!

For fellow insomniacs

Going a bit off-piste today with an attempt at writing #interesting #content as opposed to my usual stream-of-consciousness posts. I had a bad night’s sleep earlier this week & had the idea to write about insomnia, especially in light of how important rest is when you’re training – and deity knows that with 5 weeks until the British Classic, I need as many unbroken nights as I can get right now!

I’ve had insomnia in varying degrees of seriousness over the last 10-11 years (yikes). At its worst I think I went about 12 weeks of only having 2-3 hours sleep a night; at the moment I have maybe 3-4 bad nights a month. When I started getting my sleep patterns more under control, I remember the absolute relief of going to work and not feeling utterly terrible. Not being able to sleep is awful – it’s bad for all aspects of your health, physical & mental. Here are some of the things I’ve used over the years to help me catch some decent Zzzs.

Good sleep hygiene

I know, you’ve seen the advice about sleeping in a dark, cool room; going to bed at the same time every night; and not using screens before bed. You’ve seen it a hundred times. Thing is, these can really work.

The easiest one to implement is no screens; yes we all love scrolling through Twitter for 4 hours before bed, but it’s not good for us. I confess I’m not great at following my own advice – my phone lives by my bed at night, and sometimes I sneak a peek; but generally I try to stay away from my phone/iPad/TV for at least half an hour before bed.

The most difficult is probably going to bed at the same time every night. If you’re 25, the idea of not staying up until 2am on Friday night is probably anathema, but at 38 it’s no big deal for me. I tend to be thinking about bed by 10.30pm every night, and lights-off by 11.30 – yes, even on a Saturday! And even on holiday too (when I was in Vegas I think my boyfriend & I were the only people within 5 miles who were in bed before midnight!)

Epsom salt baths

I am a huge fan of Epsom salts for soothing my achy muscles, but they’re also great for sleep. A 10-15 minute soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts, followed by a glass of water and a bit of quiet time before bed, and I’ll be in the Land of Nod before you know it. I buy my Epsom salts in big bags from a local old-fashioned, no-frills chemist (aka. drugstore) but you can order them online (useful if you’re buying them 5kg at a time!). You can even get lavender-scented salts especially for helping you sleep – these look awesome.

Aromatherapy

Along the same lines as the lavender-scented Epsom salts above, I find aromatherapy is great for helping me sleep. A few months ago a friend sent me this Sleep Serenity Pillow Mist from Avon, and it’s lovely – a couple of spritzes on my pillow and I immediately feel more relaxed.

I’ve also found the scent of Lush’s Dream Cream really soothing. I started using it to heal up tattoo (which it’s been great for) and now I associate its scent of lavender & chamomile with bedtime relaxation.

Meditation podcasts

One of the first apps I downloaded when I got an iPhone was Andrew Johnson’s Relax. I can’t remember who recommended it to me (it was that long ago) but it’s fantastic. It’s also available as an mp3 for those who don’t have an Android or iOS device; and while he has other podcasts specifically for promoting sleep, I find Relax to be the most…. relaxing.

Quiet Life

This one might be a little controversial, as there are studies out there saying that herbal remedies are bunk and contain little (or no) active ingredients. So this is completely from my own experience (also I AM NOT A DOCTOR). But I have taken Quiet Life tablets on and off ever since I took my A-levels (20 years ago!) as a way to stop repetitive thoughts and ease my mind. They have also really helped me sleep when I’m having periods of panic/irritability/anxiety. Who knows, it might all be hokum and I may just be experiencing the placebo effect [insert shrug emoji]

Incidentally, there’s nothing in these things that’s banned by WADA 😉

Pharmaceuticals

Above & beyond all these things, there are remedies your doctor can prescribe for you. Personally I’ve taken melatonin (a prescription-only medicine in the UK, but available OTC in other countries) and tamazepam; the former is relatively gentle, the latter is more or less a chemical cosh and should only be taken under strict guidance.

I am also taking antidepressants (citalopram in my case) which were initially prescribed in part for my insomnia, and they have really helped with the inability to sleep brought on by worry/intrusive thoughts etc.

As ever, don’t do anything without talking to your GP (or other healthcare practitioner).

What are your sleepytime tips? Have you ever suffered from insomnia?

Well so far no family members have freaked out about my tattoo, so I can only assume none of them are reading this. Which is a relief!!

Getting used to having a tattoo is weird. Every time I see it, I inwardly go “Oh! Oh yeah!”. And then I spend ages just looking at it when I’m sitting on the loo or lounging around the house with no trousers on (we all do that, right?)

I went back to the gym on Monday after an 11-day break to let my leg heal. Deadlifting even with the tattoo covered felt a bit sore, but I’m not worried about scraping it when I’m wearing leggings. I was really weak, though – I had 4 sets of 6 squats @ 70kg on the board, which I did, but 48 hours later I’m still soooo sore.

I went to spinning today in the hope that it would relieve my DOMS a bit (I know right?) and not surprisingly I’m even more sore now!

Last Thursday I had an email from the GBPF technical controller letting me know what slot I’m refereeing at, at the All-England Championships. Guess who forgot she’d signed up to referee at the All-England Championships? Hi. Luckily I’m free on Sunday, so I will be there, refereeing the men’s 93kg class! Oops. Good thing I have a car now, so nipping up to Northampton for the day isn’t a big deal.

A slight caveat before I start today’s entry: I have no idea if anyone from my family reads this blog. If they do, they’ve never mentioned it. But I’m going to mention stuff on here that I haven’t told my family, so I run the risk of shocking & scandalizing them.

So in advance: Hello family member! If you’re reading this, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t talk to everyone else about it, as it contains information I’d rather tell the rest of my family in person. Thanks!

As you might know from reading my blog, I try to practise body positivity (with varying degrees of success). I’m also currently in the early stages of what I think is a mid-life crisis – turning 38 was hard for me, and 40 is looming in less than 18 months time. I’m sure life does begin at 40 – hell, I remember being utterly freaked out by 30 – and once I’m 40 I’ll wonder what I was so worried about.

I didn’t really start to get to know the body positivity concept until I was over 30, and one of the things I learned was that my body is my own, to do with what I want. Your 30s are definitely late to learn this, and sometimes I feel sad that I didn’t really twig before – that my body was my own thing, and my life is mine to do with as I please, were not principles taught to me in childhood. I won’t go into what was taught, but bodily autonomy wasn’t explictly a part of it.

So when I started learning all about self-love, acceptance and loving oneself, this aspect seemed quite radical. Sometimes I still find it hard to fathom – you kow when you change your hair, and someone says “But what will your boyfriend think??” That voice is stil pretty loud in my head. But I’m gradually squashing it down and learning that I can choose to do things with my body that I want.

Bearing this in mind, plus my mid-life crisis feelings… On Saturday I got my first tattoo.

If you’re a member of my family, I imagine you’re going to stop reading now. You’re going to miss the good stuff, though!

I’ve wanted a tattoo since I was probably 20-21 and I even had a design for one. But it never happened, although I did get a lot of piercings in my 20s. I think what’s prompted me to get one now is seeing so many awesome tattoos on awesome fat babes, many of whom I follow in Twitter and am inspired by every day. I also joined Instagram and discovered a treasure trove of tattoists’ accounts, showcasing not just completed tattoos but designs available.

I’ve had an idea of about a year that I wanted a tattoo of a pigeon, because I love pigeons. Why pigeons? Well they’re intelligent, resourceful, misunderstood survivors (they live pretty much everywhere on earth, often in terrible conditions). They also look beautiful. I’ve had a bit of a pigeon obsession for years, learning the names of all the different colours they come in, following the antics of pigeon celebrities like Camp etc.

One of the tattoo studios I was following on Instagram posted up a painting by an artist called Elmo Teale, of a carrier pigeon. I saw it and thought: that is exactly what I want. I had originally intended to get a totally custom piece, but this design was perfect (plus it’d be “my” design once it was tattooed, not re-used like regular flash). So I made an appointment, went to see the artist, and:

The placement is really important to me too. I like most of my body now (even my poochy, saggy tummy) but my upper legs have been the last things I’ve made peace with. Before the age of 35, I never wore shorts – I thought my legs were too hideous (I have a lot of cellulite, thread veins and large upper legs with fat knees). But in recent years I’ve been able to say fuck it, and have worn shorts in summer as much as I can. I even bought shortie dungarees a couple of months ago! This tattoo is another gift to my legs; sure, they may be large, but large legs equals a large tattoo!

Because of the placement I’m going to have to be careful with it when lifting (I haven’t been back to the gym since I got it done yet!). There’s a real possibility of fucking it up by scraping the bar against it, so from now on I won’t deadlift while wearing shorts. The only exception will be at competitions where I have to wear a singlet with short legs, but I will be as careful as I can. And there are always touchups if I do scrape it too much.

Overall I’m so happy I got it. It’s a little shocking to look down and see it, still – after 38 years with a naked thigh, seeing such a large thing on there is weird. But soon it’ll be a part of me, and I can’t wait to show it off in shorts once it’s healed fully.

Tattooing my body feels like a great way to honour it. The plus size people I see with tattoos look so beautiful. Drawing attention to your larger body with beautiful ink is a radical act (the larger canvas helps too!) I’m really proud to be (eek, it feels weird to say it!) a tattooed person