Sunday, 20 June 2010

RIP mum

20/02/1930 - 20/06/2010

Friday, 18 June 2010


Well, that's my 2nd fast over. 4 hours early but I guess 20 hours isn't bad. Also, the Eat - Stop - Eat documentation suggests that the body starts to get the most benefit from the fast from around 18 hours.

Things to note:

  • Make sure I have things to do to distract me - being on the helpdesk (and thus unable to workout, go for a walk etc) isn't conducive to an 'easy' fast.
  • It will get easier in time.
  • My belly was still pathetically grateful to be fed!

Fasting - update


No really, I am starving. Not helped by one of my minions just offering to buy me a scone. Turned it down though. My stomach got v excited at the mention of food, rumbled loudly and did several somersaults. It's about to be v disappointed though, as it's got another 5 and a bit hours to go before getting fed.

It's not just me then

Just found out by chance that my mum's childhood best friend died on 20 May. I don't know that they'd kept in close contact over the past few years, but they were definitely very close into adulthood, marriage etc. My mum would be very sad if she was in a state fit enough to understand the news. I'm not going to tell her any time soon though.

fast fast fast

Fasting again today. Feeling quite hungry at the moment, so I think I shall go and make some tea in a little while.

I'm on the helpdesk all day today, so I have a feeling this fast might be harder than Tuesday's.

some smokin' kung fu

Excellent chi kung and kung fu class last night. As seems to be the norm lately, I was the only student in both classes. Sifu did tell me that he's had several enquiries from potential students, so this might not go on for much longer.

I did as the osteopath told me and rested yesterday, so my knee felt ok. It wasn't really up to kicking though, so we avoided that. As usual we started off practicing footwork, working linear movement and using open and closed steps to pivot. As ever we began training solo before moving onto partner work.

We then trained our strikes, starting with rear hand palm strikes to the high line and moving onto cannon punches to the midline. Sifu then moved us on to double palm strikes, followed by palm / punch combinations. These were all paired with appropriate attacking and defensive movements. Again we trained these solo to begin then with a partner.

We also spent some time on asking bridges, moving between the different styles of attack (closing, opening and gripping). As ever, this is the one that really appeals to me and that I seem to do quite well in.

Sifu then got the pads out and I practiced double palm strikes and punches. Getting the correct "kung fu" rhythm for this was surprisingly difficult. It's where to place / how to hold the first hand whilst the second strikes that I'm finding odd at the moment. I know exactly what to do with it for other arts, I'm just adapting to this one! I was gradually getting into it though, by slowing down the 'in-between' movements whilst keeping the strikes themselves quite fast. One to think about and work on at home though.

Yesterday was a *glorious* sunny day, and it was still hot at night. I had really worked up a sweat by the time we finished on the pads - even Sifu broke a sweat! - so I was glad to move on to force training. I live for the day that I learn what to do with my hands in one finger zen though! I expect a 'eureka' moment daily, but so far it keeps disappointing me lol.

Excellent class, really enjoyed - feel that I'm really getting somewhere now.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

If anyone is looking for me ....

.... I'll be in the fallout shelter hiding from the rest of 2010!!!!!!!!!!

Took my knee to the osteopath last night. Saw my usual guy this time. Usual Guy says it's likely nothing to do with my back / sacroiliac joint / whatever, but is the knee itself. He spent a lot of time poking around in the back of my knee - which was completely hilarious NOT - then announced that it was "a bit of a mess back there" with the popliteus muscle being extremely tight. Suspicion is that it was all that stop - start - stop traffic on the way to the hospital last Tuesday night.

So I'm on rest and ice.

So much for upping the activity levels.

I am officially Not Happy.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Run for it!

Ok, so my knee was a seriously hurty thing last night and had me hobbling round the house. Might be due to speed-walking 1 mile round the sports hall as part of a student's research project, a spin class and 175 kettlebell swings (100 x8kg, 50 x 12kg and 25 x 16kg - was meant to be 2 rounds but the knee wasn't having it!)

Thing is, because they're saying it's referred pain from my sacroiliac joint I don't quite know what to do to relieve it. So there was me with an icepack on my knee and pain spray on my back lol.

Anyway, it was better this morning so I took it out for a quick trot round the "trim track" (who thinks these names up????) on campus cos it was a lovely morning. Got my run and my 100 reps in plus some serious protein in the shape of a faceful of insects.

Scheduled for spin at lunchtime - will see how the back / knee combo is doing then. I've also got an osteopath appt tonight, so it might be quite good if I'm quite sore when I go along.

First fast done

Finished my first fast about 5.30pm last night. I ate very lightly the previous night because I was training, so I probably fasted overall for the best part of around 28-29 hours. It was ok, except the bit where I was stuck in an interminable Equal Opps Committee meeting and my belly was making its opinion known!

Some good things about fasting that I discovered:

  • No digestive distress! When I'm under stress (which I have been a lot recently) it goes straight to my digestion. With no food, I had no symptoms. Result!
  • Training when fasting wasn't anything like as hard as I thought it might be. Admittedly I eased it this time with a sports drink - cheating a bit, I know but the aim is to wean myself off these as well.
  • The belly is ridiculously grateful for whatever it gets when it is finally fed!
  • It takes considerably less food to refuel at the end of the fast - and I really enjoyed it!
  • Fasting saves money - no trips to the shop or the canteen cos I'm bored.

Will I fast again? Definitely. Got next one scheduled in for this Friday.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Fasting (and getting grumpy)

I've decided to have a go at this intermittent fasting malarkey, courtesy of Chris over at Conditioning Research who pointed me in the direction of Brad Pilon's ebook Eat - Stop - Eat.

I could certainly stand to shed a few kilos, and I'm not going to starve to death by missing out a few meals today. However my stomach can't read and it is currently demanding to know if my throat's been cut (ie where the h£ll is breakfast???)

I'm scheduled for my first meal around 5pm tonight. I had my last food around the same time last night. Luckily I've got a spin class at lunchtime so hopefully I'll miss the worst of people stuffing rubbish down their necks.

I suspect I will be v grumpy by the time I get home though! Hope nobody cuts me up on the A1 lol.

Only me!

Only I could get a midgie bite in the middle of my new (and still healing) tattoo!!

As if the tattoo isn't itchy enough on its own!

I actually went to class as planned!

Despite my weird knee /back combo hurty thing gaving it some major hurties Sunday night and yesterday morning, I duly trotted off to krav class last night.

It was a nice night so I had a funny feeling we might be outside for a bit. Had a wee nosy over the fence and the circuits class looked like they were having a fab time in the sun lol. Right enough Lee took us outside for the warmup. We started with a run round the pitch - I actually did okay with that, pretty much kept up with the others for the first 3/4s then had to drop right back for the last 'side'. Then we did some bodyweight stuff - squats, sprint out to the posts and back, star jumps, situps and some more squats.

Our 'audience' was growing so it was back inside for the class proper. We warmed up with some combos on the pads before moving onto knife defences. I was fine with the hand strikes, but I was wary of the kicks and knees just because of my sore bits.

Lee then had to leave to catch a plane so Michael took over and we worked through some knife defences. The first was a fairly straightforward response to a highline front attack - take the attacker's knife hand off your centreline and step through to off balance them. Was a good thing we were using wooden training knives - UTP promptly tried to slice her own chin off! That kind of set the tone for the rest of the session!

After working both sides, we then added some follow up strikes to the defence, and then added in a wrist press and / or strip style disarm. From there we looked at two defences to a midlevel attack. I confess that I don't like the standard krav maga defence here; it involves pushing the attacker's knife hand away, paired with a groin strike. The idea is to buy you enough time to run off. I guess it makes sense, but I was previously taught to monitor or control the knife hand, so the thought of having a live weapon 'active' felt odd to me.

I preferred the Tactical Edge version whereby you 'clapped' both your hands over the attacker's hand and used that to gain the leverage for the wrist press. Finally we looked at defending a knife presented to your back.

UTP needed to leave at this point so she missed the best bit - eyes closed, partner attacks you randomly with the knife. I got Michael attacking me - discovered that I am way too fond of the wrist presses, and tend to forget about other strikes such as groin kicks etc.

Fun class though.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Finally, some movement

Sunday morning I was determined to do at least some training, so the Other Half and I headed out to a local park for a run. I can't possibly match his sub-27 minute 5k pace so I let him belt off and do his thing while I did my own. At the end of the day, we probably expended around the same effort!

On the way home he finally expressed an interest in learning to swing a kettlebell, so I broke out the 8kgs when we got in. Showed him the two handed swing and let him loose .....

.... still waiting for him to finish 20 swings!

I honestly thought he was going to puke. There was me happily cranking out 50 swings, some single and double kb presses and the poor guy was floored. I guess the kettlebell is the great equaliser lol. If I sound unkind, it's only cos the Other Half had mocked me as he ran past me earlier.

On the more serious side, I guess I'd forgotten how challenging the kettlebell is. It works both as a resistance and an aerobic / anaerobic exercise. Certainly made me feel a wee bit better!

When Other Half abandoned his kettlebell for the shower, I moved on to my 100 reps. Pushed the boat out a wee bit and went for 120 - did 30 pushups, 30 crunches, 30 bodyweight squats and 30 star jumps.

what weekend?

I started the weekend with great plans for the training I was going to do. Quite frankly that went straight out the window when I overslept on Saturday! I'd had the choice of two classes to go to - either circuits at the Combat Ready gym or some 'Fun in the Park' with Rannoch. Got up so late, I effectively missed both. I did need the sleep though.

I decided to go over to my mum's instead, get some more packing done in the house then go and visit her in hospital. I figured this would give me the chance to do something different on Sunday.

So off I trotted. Got loads done in the house, even checked out the loft (not that I'm tall enough to actually get in it!) and the shed. Then my phone rung. My mother had taken another turn for the worse and could I go asap. Good thing I was at her house; it meant I got to the hospital in about 10 mins instead of anywhere betwen 20 mins and an hour.

Belting up the corridor to the ward I met her bed coming the other way. She'd had another respiratory arrest and was back off to the high dependency unit. On the plus side she was conscious and talking, on the down she was seriously

Once she was installed in the HDU I stayed for a while. She was restless and talkative which kept disturbing the oxygen mask so I decided to head off and let her sleep.

Went back to visit her briefly on Sunday. Half her things seemed to be missing in the hasty move so I wanted to check what had turned up and what hadn't and also to take some things away for safe keeping. Her chest was much clearer, not so much crackling or coughing. She was still awfully confused though. She told me that my dad had been in to see her - he's been dead for about 15 years. She was quite fixated on the police - I saw she'd had a naso-gastric tube fitted and wondered if it was some sort of reaction to the discomfort of having that put it. Nursing staff also told me that she'd been quite stroppy and nasty with them.

Overall staff were pleased with her progress, but at 80 I think the overall prognosis is not that good.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

knees the thing

Popped my troublesome knee along to the osteopath last night. My usual guy was busy so I got the director chappie instead. Nice how he gets the bigger, comfier consulting room lol.

Anyway, turns out the knee isn't the problem at all. This doesn't really surprise me, as I'm not generally (touch wood etc) bothered by my knees. It seems that the hurty bit is in fact referred pain from an issue in the sacroiliac joint. Some pummelling of this area and I was good to go.

Of course these things inevitably get worse before they get better, so the knee is complaining mightily this morning! I'm sure it will settle by the weekend.

Never made it to kickboxing last night of course, but I did get my Jungle Gym set up and had a wee try. It's basically a much cheaper version of the TRX suspension device. I'm sure it will be lots of fun!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

training update

Unsurprisingly I haven't trained over the last two days. I had intended to go to krav class on Monday but had slept v poorly the night before and was too tired to even drive. Last night I had great plans to use my new Jungle Gym but those were superseded by going to the hospital. Hoping to make it either to kickboxing tonight or else break out the kettlebells.

My right knee is troubling me a bit this morning, and I have no idea what with. I'm guessing maybe I slept on it funny last night, or else it's from all the driving last night. We got caught in very heavy traffic before the Forth Road Bridge and a 20 min journey ended up being over 45 minutes. Very stop-start-stop right the way onto the bridge.

still ticking

Went to see my mother last night. She's quite poorly but still ticking at least. She has pneumonia - which doesn't surprise me in the least - and stopped breathing due to all the phlegm that had gathered on her chest.

I'm told that she did a quite spectacular swan dive when she arrested, and scared the bejeezus out of the nurses! Certainly didn't do much for me either, getting a phone call like that!

More worryingly however is that despite me being told that she has vascular dementia, this information appears to be missing from her notes and ward staff seem completely unaware of it! I have spent the last 2 days trying to resolve this.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

just when you think ....

.... that things can't get any worse, you get a phone call from the hospital!!!

Apparently my mother had a respiratory arrest this morning. Thankfully she still had a pulse etc, and they were able to get her breathing again. The staff nurse who called told me that she seems to have recovered and is now conscious and talking. They are going to move her to a high dependency ward later today.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Life's full of little ironies

Last Wednesday I had to go to the hospital with a lawyer to get my mother to sign some important papers while she still could. After that was done, I had a wee drive down memory lane, basically revisiting some of the places where I grew up. I drove past the house that one of my best friends at school used to live. I haven't seen this girl in actually quite a long time - we lived totally different lives after we left school.

The ironic part? We bumped into each other at the hospital yesterday - her dad is in the same ward as my mother. Go figure, eh.

new tattoo

Somewhere along the line, I seem to be having my teenage rebellion about 30 years too late!

I started colouring my hair about two years ago (partly as a dare and partly as a result of finding my first grey hairs!), then added a go faster blonde streak as a bet. Then I totally topped myself by getting my first tattoo last year. I liked it so much I got more. I got my latest on Saturday - it's a stylised tribal dragon on the outside of my right calf:

I love it but it remains a little bit tender ....

Friday, 4 June 2010


I ended up surrounded by a bunch of podiatry colleagues (one of our allied health sciences teaching areas) at lunchtime today. Told them about my new Vibrams. They did not approve. Which is to be expected really since some of them specialise in orthotics lol.

I don't care - I like my Vibrams :=)

a wee treat

This week I treated myself to a pair of these:

They are Vibram Five Fingers KSO. The idea behind them is that they mimic walking and running barefoot as much as possible whilst protecting your feet from grime and broken glass etc.

Yes, they look very odd.

Yes, they are actually quite tricky to put on.

And yes, they are actually very comfortable to wear.

I love to be barefoot as much as possible, and current thinking is that it's better for your foot to use all those bones and muscles as they were designed! Certainly a lot of the people that I have trained with swear by them ....

Awesome kung fu class

Still the only chi kung and kung fu student so still getting that brilliant value for money lol.

For the first time in ages my stomach was behaving itself and I even had my thinking head on the whole way through both classes, so it ended up being a really really good night.

In chi kung we started with the pushing mountains pattern and worked that for over 100 repetitions. Boy, were my arms and shoulders feeling it after that! Then we did the art of flexibility. Dancing crane is still a bit of an issue, but the rest was all good.

From there it was straight into kung fu footwork. I was a wee bit heavy on my feet to start with, but then we speeded up a bit and it got easier. We largely stuck with linear movements but also started to incorporate some open and cross-steps to allow us to pivot off the centre line. We practiced this solo and with a partner then moved into striking practice.

For striking we started as usual with the open palm, front and rear. Next we worked front and rear punches to the mid-level. We worked the focus pads for practice. Shaolin style kung fu really likes the smallest focus pads you can get; this is to help develop accuracy. I was really pleased with how my accuracy and power have developed over the past month. Sifu told me that there was really noticeable improvement. I've always reckoned that I was relatively slow in striking, relying on power more, but Sifu said that I'm actually pretty fast. So that was nice to hear!

We then looked at defensive patterns, working the brush and thread palm to the middle level. After some solo practice, we worked that with a partner.

We also did asking and bridging. For me, this is the bit that's probably most like my previous silat training. It combines footwork, tactile sensitivity, 'yielding' with your opponent's attack in order to return it etc. We got onto some quite complex gripping style moves, and those just totally made sense to me because they were so similar to the movements I've been used to in silat and other South East Asian styles.

We finished off with some force training. As ever I got my hands in their usual 'mess' for one finger zen but this time I think I've nailed what I do wrong. Let's hope I remember it for next week!

Poor Sifu though - I had more questions than a quiz book last night! He took it in good part though.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Difficult times

My 80 year old mother has been in hospital for just over 3 months now. On Friday past I was told that they have finally diagnosed her with vascular dementia following a series of TIA (transient ischaemic attacks) or 'mini-strokes'.

Although I wasn't entirely shocked by this, it's still upsetting news. Because of the way the illness has impacted on her mobility (she can't walk unaided) she won't be able to go home. Yesterday I had to go to the hospital with a solicitor so that she could sign power of attorney papers and then I had to start packing up her house.

A lot of the time she is very lucid but others she is very confused, muddling up people and events from the past. Yesterday she asked me if I'd been in touch with an aunt who has been dead for about 30 years, and about neighbours she hasn't lived beside for even longer.

She doesn't know about the diagnosis yet - staff think this is best as it would probably upset her even more.

Starting to pack up her house yesterday was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but unfortunately it needs to be done. I will put her things into storage whilst everything else gets sorted out.

This week's classes


Frankly, Monday night's krav maga class was a bit of washout. No fault on the part of the instructor or of the other students - totally my own issues.

I've been under a lot of stress recently, and stress for me nearly always goes for my stomach with sort of irritable bowel-like symptoms. I had a run in with my mother's council landlords just before I left for class that really frustrated me and then impacted on training.

I was pretty gutted (pun not entirely intended there, but I'll go with it) cos it was a nice evening and Lee took us outside for a run round the main rugby pitch. I did manage a wee smile to myself as I toddled around, remembering the times I've stood opposite the main stand to watch games. Right enough, Boroughmuir RFC have totally revamped the ground since I was last here but the pitch hasn't really changed.

Anyway, I was dead slow and stop at running, even more so than usual. Then we were asked to do some 'bounding' type exercises but after the first set or so it was obvious that my 'gastric distress' wasn't about to let me do much more. So I did what I could.

Then we moved onto class 'proper', working releases from wrist grabs. We started off outside but after a wee bit too much attention from kids we went back inside. It was ok when they were sitting on the wall watching but it wasn't ideal when they started coming right up to us.

From the wrist grabs we then added some hammer strikes then developed into defending against two attackers. My head was mince most of the way through so not one of my more stellar performances :(


Spin class at work today. It was a good workout, and I didn't feel like upchucking during the sprints. After the disaster that was the previous night's krav class, I wasn't sure how my insides would hold up, but it was fine.


I had the day off yesterday to go over to the hospital, so missed out on spin class. I decided instead to go along to the kickboxing class at the Combat Ready gym. Again I wasn't sure quite how things would hold up, but it was fine.

We warmed up with some skipping then moved onto the warmup proper. We did sets of:

20 kettlebell swings
20 pushups on the kettlebell
20 squats with the kettlebell

and as a special treat on the last set:

20 crunches / sit ups with the kettlebell

Sets were interspersed with lots of lovely star jumps.

Onto the class proper and we worked a jab-cross combo on the pads for timed two 2 minute rounds. Each person did 3 rounds with a 15 second break in between the rounds. After the 3 rounds, we swapped pad holders. I was initially working with two other girls, but after the first few rounds Bear tapped me on the shoulder, announced that he had "broken his partner" and would now train with me lol.

After about nine rounds of the jab cross, we ramped things up a bit with a front kick-jab-cross-hook-cross-turning kick combo. Three rounds of that each and finally we were into a cooldown which consisted of working covers against outside attacks and parries against straight attacks from our knees. After 1 round each we then moved into a sort of 'free fighting' drill but again from our knees.

A bit of stretching and then we were done.

Really intense class - I was so sweaty when I got home I was straight into the shower!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Flow restoration workshop

On Saturday I spent a happy day at the Flow restoration workshop organised by Rannoch Donald of Simple Strength.

The workshop was presented by two highly experienced physios who have been using kettlebell training to promote rehab and recovery from injury. Both Keith and Jonathan talked about their own experiences of using and adapting kettlebell drills to overcome their own physical issues, as well as covering some of the problems that can arise from PPKT (p*ss poor kettlebell technique).
We talked a lot initially about the body part most commonly injured by kettlebell training - the skin! If you've train with a kettlebell for any length of time, esp if you do volume training, you will develop blisters and then callouses on your hands. Keith covered what causes the blisters, how they progress and heal and how you can treat them. Chalk, apparently, is NOT the answer. Anti-perspirant is supposedly the way forward. I have yet to try this though.

We then looked at shoulder issues. This was really good for me. I had a nippy shoulder issue a couple of years back; damage to the AC joint and a tear to the bicep as a result of badly-applied lock. This has made me very wary of certain movements, esp with weight. As a result I am utterly PANTS at the Turkish get up. It's not that I lack the strength to carry this out, it's a lack of confidence. Keith and Jonathan taught us some excellent drills for training both the muscles and the brain. These were a total lightbulb moment for me and I think finally proved that I no longer have a physical issue in either shoulder. The osteopath has been telling me for months that I have excellent flexibility in both shoulders but I've clearly never entirely believed it .... Now I have drills that I can use to rebuild my confidence. Totally worth the cost of the workshop for these alone.

From shoulders we moved onto knees, and ways that we could adapt the standard kettlebell swing to promote healthy movement in the knees and legs. Some of these required major co-ordination .... kettlebell - meet shin lol.

We also covered some weighted drills for the lumbar spine.

Things I liked about the workshop:

  • Lugging the kettlebells up 2 flights of stairs to the room we had been allocated.

  • Lugging the kettlebells back down the same 2 flights of stairs after Rannoch got us shifted to a bigger and cooler space.

  • Meeting up with the "usual suspects"!!

  • Shoulder drills!!

  • Gerry's ability to take photos of me 'supervising' (as opposed to 'doing') then posting them on Facebook and my line manager totally ripping me for it!

Because the workshop was presented by physios, elements of it were certainly geared towards the needs of therapists. The way it was done though meant that the information was still valid for my own personal practice. Also Keith and Jonathan are not your standard, physical risk-averse physios. They are both v much about giving people 'permission' to take risks with their bodies (within reason obviously) and to experiment with things like kettlebell training. They were also both v approachable.

Good way to spend a Saturday.

Solitary kung fu

On Thursday I was the only student at chi kung and kung fu class again. If nothing else, I'm certainly getting my money's worth from Sifu just now lol.

For chi kung we spent more time on the art of flexibility. I definitely need to spend more time practicing dancing crane - my knees really don't like it much. We also did lifting the moon which we haven't done much recently. I still can't quite match the movements to my breathing.

We then segued straight into kung fu footwork. Sifu told me that at this stage it's ok to focus on linear movement. In solo practice I was really keen to change direction and move off at angles, but actually I don't need to worry about that too much yet.

We also worked open palm strikes from the front and rear hand. For a while I couldn't figure out the issue with the kinetic chain on this. I knew there was a problem with the way I was synching my waist movement - Thursday I cracked it! I've been using a silat style gelek movement which rotates (or maybe even chambers) the hips in one direction first then quickly moves in the other. In Shaolin kung fu, you don't need that first movement. Once I clocked what I was doing, it was way easier not to do it!

The other thing I'm working on is breathing. I'm used to a sharp exhalation through the teeth on striking, often with sound effects. In kung fu the exhale is there but it's chi kung in style, ie open mouthed and without the accompanying sound effects. Sometimes I'm so busy avoiding the sound effects I forget to breathe out altogether!

Basically, there's a lot to think about and co-ordinate in this style of kung fu. This is because it's taught as a holistic art. When I get it to work, it's great though.

Anyway. In striking practice we've started to work on speed as well. From open palm, we moved onto looking at front kick, moving forwards and backwards. Backwards is interesting. I don't like bow and arrow stance going backwards, esp for kicking. In this situation, I instinctively prefer the false leg stance where the weight is more on the back leg. Sifu says this isn't wrong. It's not what he asked for, but it's not wrong!

After some solo practice of defensive movements, we looked at integrating defensive parries with footwork and strikes. So we had retreating footwork along with brushing away a palm strike, folllowed by two attacking palm strikes. That made much more sense when practicing with a partner, although under pressure I always revert to previously learned footwork!

It was a good class, especially learning to integrate skills previously learned separately.