Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fight against female weightlifting misconceptions and celebrating femininity with heavy loaded barbell

Sitting at an English Weightlifting Championship 2015 in Leeds as a spectator and keen supporter of Olympic weightlifting and every athlete who appeared on the podium regardless of his or her club or weight category, made me feel great
about being part of the sport’s community which recognises top level fitness, functional fitness and strength built and acquired through hard work, practice, training and disciplined life.

Not all athletes, perhaps hardly any, are sponsored these days, so preparation for the competition which is often the pinnacle of athlete’s efforts is all about discipline and juggling priorities with work, training and leisure time.

Turning up at the competition whether local, regional or national is often surrounded by injuries and unforeseen events. It is rarely the ideal or perfect time for athlete, but we all learn to work around it and adapt and continue challenging ourselves.

Females whom I watched competing across two days ranged in body weight, body type and performance. All of them had two things in common; the journey they took to get here as well as the celebration they received from the sport’s community, spectators, coaches and families.

These competitions aren’t hosted just to showcase individuals but to celebrate high athletic performance, dedication and disciplined and relentless life of athletes. Weightlifting is historically associated with strong men! Misconceptions cloud over female lifters and female weightlifting as a sport discipline in general is almost frowned upon by general public.

It’s no news to any female lifters whether competing here this weekend or training in their local gym that we are rarely encouraged or recognised for our hard training and work we put into athletic performance by the society; it’s highly likely that we are commented on in a dismissive almost uneducated manner that we will be fat, big and ugly if we lift heavy weights.

This weekend I sat in the audience and watched amazing girls who not only showcased female strength but also the femininity and beauty at it’s best. Lifting shoes replaced high heels and dust from chalking up hands was the make up for a day! Instead of having a pint of lager in our hands and talk crap we all chose to be here, pay respect to the barbell and our coaches and talk “snatch” and “clean & jerk” as well as PBs (personal bests) and strategies maybe even touch on training techniques which got us on the podium and helped us qualify.

Perhaps weightlifting doesn’t attract crowds of football or athletics but it celebrates athletes performance in the same way as any other Olympic sport.

All I experienced this weekend was very refreshing, big crowd of spectators supported all female competitors just by being here, clapping and cheering them on. All weight categories were much bigger in the number of female competitors than previously experienced which is good news for sport and fight against misconceptions associated with female weightlifting.

Anyone wanting to experience hard work at the gym paying off through respect you gain by competing and facing a room full of like minded crowd should at least join the crowd and watch local or regional competition and maybe join the club for some quality coaching and training.

It’s never too late to train and compete. Weightlifting is very inclusive sport and it recognises hard work of individuals really well.

I am a girl and I lift heavy

20150215-124723-46043662.jpg

20150215-124723-46043957.jpg

Advertisements

Weightlifting competition – is it too early to compete or should you throw yourself at it?

Today was a long awaited day of my training and post injury recovery.
I attended my first weightlifting competition in Olympic lifting which includes two lifts: snatch and clean and jerk.

Over Christmas period I had no idea when I would be competing but expressed my desire to my coach; and given I just started to train post my wrist operation I wasn’t even ready for a competition (in my mind).

Early January I found out there is a competition for Novices (to weightlifting) and that this opportunity should be taken. After much deliberation with my coach; my lifting partner Thea and many other influencers in my life I got convinced into participation.

At a time my post festive body weight was around 62kgs and my training bests were 30kg on snatch and 40kg on c&j. This would be a reasonable start for a novice but I wanted to ensure that I am competing in a much lower body weight and with some stronger PBs to back me up.

So I had 3 weeks to drop a weight (at least 4kgs) and train for the competition. In those 3 weeks I spent 10 days working abroad which was a challenge as I had no access to my coach and had to ensure I eat healthy despite my social entertainment with clients.

3 weeks gone by and I dropped my weight into 57.4kg which was suitable for my weight category. It was not easy and it was done in a very short window which is not recommended to anyone without professional advice on the topic of weight loss for competition purposes.

I’ve experienced many practical challenges and emotional challenges. Here is what I learnt:

1. Planning your training in a short window – I am lucky to have a great coach who is supported by an experienced female lifter and them two structured my training. I trained a few sessions with them two listening to clues and advice and while away I trained as prescribed. I upped my training and loaded a few more kgs on my personal bests in that time. 35kg on snatch and 47.5kg on clean and jerk

Advice: listen to your coach and even if you miss your prescribed lifts in the training carry on to the next one. Do lots of squats and pulls. They will do you a huge favour in actual lifts.

2. Eating, nutrition and fast weight loss
This was my bible in the past two weeks. I ate healthily (chicken, salads and mainly keeping it clean) and kept my nutrients flowing into my body. Only last 3-4 days before the competition I followed a weight loss plan through reducing calories and increasing water intake and ending it with dehydration. It was very short dehydration and period when I abandoned my eating habits. It is not advisable to do this without experienced help. It is also not something I will repeat any time soon

Advice: don’t get frustrated because of your body weight. It only matters in the competition. Training body weight is usually higher and even if you weigh in higher into the competition than you hoped you can still compete. It’s about the experience!

3. Emotions and the day of your first competition
If you think that competing is something you might want to embrace then I strongly advise you to go for it! Don’t wait for your best time and or perfect performance! The experience of competing will open up a whole new world to you and will change your view to training and training patterns.

I lifted 30kg in snatch (5kg lower than my PB) by missing one lift at 34kg. I was very nervous. Shaking was what I found myself before getting onto the podium. It was however incredible atmosphere and experience alone.

As I got more accustomed to the audience, referees and environment I felt better and my clean and jerk performance was spot on at
36kg
40kg
And 44kg

Advice: compete as soon as you can, even if it is only to participate. Every competition is different and it can teach you awful lot about you.
Jump on the opportunity and don’t wait for your personal bests to be good enough to compete.

In short this was a brilliant day. I can’t praise my coaches enough on how vital their input was to me whole 3 weeks of preparing for the competition.

Discipline is key to success. My route to success is paved with challenges and fails but as long as you don’t stop and don’t turn but carry on and learn you will arrive at the next milestone!

Milestone for me was to compete and success was to do 5 out of 6 lifts successfully.

Keep up reaching your dreams and turn them into milestones – it works!!!

I am a girl and I lift heavy

20150124-152710-55630664.jpg

20150124-152711-55631801.jpg

20150124-152711-55631895.jpg

20150124-152711-55631476.jpg

The Writers Blog Tour – Why do I write what I do?

A few weeks ago I was asked by my close friend, an incredibly inspirational woman who has shown me the possibilities of this world being endless, to join in “The Writers Blog Tour”.

Kim Brown (pictured with her amazing adventourous blog)  http://www.sailingbritican.com/ emailed me asking if she can nominate me to something completely new. We are all used to ice bucket challenge nominations and other social media viral kind of nominations. I wondered what this was going to be about and agreed to be nominated.

Firstly, I questioned what do I have to do if she indeed nominated me. Secondly, I wondered who came up with this brilliant idea of nominating people’s blogs. These are not just any blogs – these blogs must be written by women and nominated by women.

The Writers Blog Tour makes you reflect on your own writing, the purpose of it, through a set of questions to answer. Before I go ahead and answer these questions, I wanted to thank Kim Brown for choosing my blog and nominating me. I realise how known and popular she is and how many bloggers and blogs she must be reading and following. Such  nomination means a lot to me especially if you can only nominate TWO women.

Kim has been a great inspiration in my life and in my early years of living in London she played a big part! She was my boss! In fact she never likes to admit she was a boss, she always referred to me as a friend. She guided me through my first years working for her and her business partner and I spent a lot of great business trips laughing and giggling with her.

She is the one person I am sure she found a real purpose in life. She left a profitable business where she was very respected and loved for her marketing ideas and out of a box thinking and sold out everything her and her husband owned only to sail around the world with him and their gorgeous 3 year old daughter Sienna. It was not easy for her to follow her dream and indeed the UK media and public were very judgemental about her decisions to sail around the world with a young child.

As it stands she is living the dream! I am positive plenty of her bad-wishers are very jealous now! Her blog is very descriptive and very real. She reflects on her journery around the Greek islands, her and her daughters encounters whether bad or good and is very honest about how things are in her life. Along her journey she meets incredible people, tries out cuisines and all that can be found on her blog. She also describes her troubles of owning a boat and sailing it almost non-stop as well as cooking and living on board. Very well written and of course well worth a read and following. Keep it up Kim!!!

My Writers Blog Tour Interview (Jana Korpova)

What am I currently working on?

I have a few posts in my “Draft”, so to be honest I have always a variety of articles which are being currently worked on. One of them which keeps me busy is about long term impacts of life with no processed foods and sugar in your diet. I am in my 5th week of a 12 weeks mission where I am trying out living without certain foods and also returning back to training (weightlifting and crossfit). All my observations are recorded on a daily basis from week 1 till now! It’s an incredible change for me and I would be excited to publish a post on this topic.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I never thought of this! To be truthful I started a blog because many of my friends said I had something to say. Well, I always do. In real life I won’t get unnoticed. But, back to the question. I think I differ from others by being real and honest. It is very hard in fitness blogging or health blogging to be unbiased and honest. I think my articles reflect my own personal project which was changing my body and lifestyle.

I also believe that there are similar blogs by women out there, but they are almost professional fitness people, advisors, PTs, nutritionists etc. But I am not!! I am actually a full time employed “city girl” and thus my approach and reflection of reality is of a real busy person. Being healthy in a full time job based in the office is very hard! I understand that myself and reflect upon it in my blogs.

Why do I write what I do?

My writing is dedicated to those who struggle with finding a way to change their life from what it is to what it can be. There is too much information out there which I found to be following myself which is incorrect or irrelevant. My aim when I started this blog was to de-clutter and prove on my own body and in my life what worked, works or doesn’t work.

Purpose of every article is challenge misconceptions about diets, weights, fitness, weightlifting and other health myths and support the cause for healthy living through living it myself.

How does my writing process work?

With my full time job, busy life of a London girl, passion for travelling and actual training I find very little time to write. I have too many drafts opened, but my process usually starts with a conversation with fellow athletes or a coach or even with my dad who is a coach.

I then take the idea of what we discussed and either challenge it or support it with my post. I only write if I have a real personal experience of such subject or matter.

 

Continuing the tour…

I nominate Collette Pryer and Caity Haniver. They are both aspiring athletes whom I met on my humble and short journey through fitness, crossfit and weightlifting.

<img src="https://iamagirlandiliftheavy.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/20141124-231710-83830878.jpg"

Collette and her blog https://fit2ublogs.wordpress.com on how to live life without sugar outlines not only health benefits but also her true and honest experiment of her and her husband changing their lifestyle. Colette is my great friend and since I’ve met her she was supportive and always had words of encouragement. Her full personality of knowledgeable nutritionist and athlete is reflected in her writing style of her blog.

<img src="https://iamagirlandiliftheavy.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/20141124-231651-83811508.jpg" alt="20141124-231651-83811508.jpg"
Caity is another strong woman I've met not long ago. Her blog
http://dontgivemeflowersgivemeabarbell.wordpress.com/ on female equality and fitness are a reflection of her own journey as a professional athlete. From gymnast to a weightlifting and crossfit coaching. Caity with her beautiful personality and determination to succeed portrays an ideal strong woman of 21st century to me. Her personal journey of ups and downs, learnings is reflected in her blog.

This concludes my tour!

Over to you ladies!

I am a girl and I lift heavy

“All in One” long term measuring of your weightlifting performance, body weight, clothes size and major lifts… conclusions which will shock most weightloss theories

Past few days I spent collating information and data jotted down in various diaries and notepads I had started and never finished since October 2012 and searching for email conversations with my coaches related to my progress and data.

Putting together a table and chart which covers a lot of (at times) random information was a big ask on myself, but I have finally finished it and my own findings and statements below are the result of a long-term (22 months) data and information recorded in a simple excel format.

The graph 1 which I produced from this data is somewhat less easy to read so I decided to break it down to main comparables in a series of graph for example “body weight” vs “clothes size” to prove that the myth of” weight loss diets mean smaller clothes” is just a myth!

What was I recording:

Body Weight / dress size / front squat / back squat / dead lift/ snatch (lift) / clean and jerk (lift) / injuries

main chart

A few conclusions from my initial graph are as follows:

* The most body weight (in kg) I’ve lost in the measured period of 22 months was staggering 17kg!!!

* My average body weight in those 22 months was 62.18 kg

* The longest injury free period was 4 months at the very beginning of the measured period where I weight 70kg and lifted a very small % of my body weight. Another 4 months of injury free period was early this year Feb – May 2014, the time I was hitting heavier weights and started crossfit (April 2014)

* I had over two months off from training due to my broken foot which is the injury incurred during Tough Mudder 2013

* My lifts started to improve this year significantly after joining crossfit box in London and I also dedicated a lot of time to weightlifting and became coached by Rich Kite

* My body weight is creeping up slightly, however my dress size dropped to UK 6 even though I am 5 kg heavier than my lightest 54kg when I was size UK8

 

Graph2: Body Weight vs Clothes size

When I was at my heaviest 71 kg my dress size was UK14. This was not due to my whole body being fat, but predominantly my body shape being “pear shape” which meant my hips were very wide and I carried a lot of fat on my hips, tummy and on my back.

After 18 months I was weighing 54kg but my dress size was UK8. Today I weigh 58-59kg and my dress size is UK6. Muscles weigh more than fat!

graph 1

Graph 3: Clean and Jerk and Front Squat have direct correlation

The below indicates a few key points for my training. Front squats are important in your clean and jerk olympic lift. There is a direct correlation between the weight squatted and the weight cleaned. No wonder that part of my weightlifting training session is front squat.

Muscle memory: You can see that I had no lifts recorded last summer (2013). It is because I was injured and couldn’t lift or train. Though muscle memory remained pretty strong and my return to lifting was pretty strong too. More on muscle memory can be read here: http://www.dna-sports-performance.com/coaches-zone/muscle-memory-a-coaches-perspective/

c&J and front squat

As I dig deeper into my analysis of my figures I will be publishing more articles on my form and performance over 22 months period.

I am a girl and I lift heavy x

Emotional roller coaster of crossfit and weight loss

Past few days were very emotional for me. The ups and downs of building career in the financial world while devoting all of my free time to weightlifting, crossfit and weight loss have just started to show their true colours. It’s not easy and I almost want to give up.

The most frustrating of the past few days was making a decision not to compete at the European Inferno in Cardiff. My first ever competition in Crossfit and I had to pull out of it 2 weeks before it’s taking place due to my wrist injury.

hand

How did I arrive to this decision?

Through tears, through number of conversations with my training partner and team buddy for the said competition, through lots of resistance from my side, through a few physio sessions and hard training sessions checking my current abilities and most importantly through a lot of physical pain in my wrist.

Why did I decide to pull out?

It was probably the most sensible decision made in the past few years. I am not a person who enjoys sitting on the side lines and assuming a spectator spot especially if I trained hard to compete in the competition I will end up attending as a supporter and not athlete. The excitement of competing drove my training and influenced my programming, so this was not the easiest of decisions to make.

It was a moment of sanity influenced by professional fellow athletes who like me, once were injured (if not more than once) and knew that I am not fit to compete and would only injure myself more in the process and that would cause a long-term injury with inability to train AT ALL for at least 6 months.

Benefits of that sober moment when you DO THE RIGHT THING despite this being the MOST PAINFUL decision:

1. Avoiding further damage to my wrist and potentially preventing more injuries

2. Allowing current injury to heal properly

3. Refocusing for another competition (October 2014 – Inov8 Trials in Manchester) with my training and programming

4. Learning to listen to my body’s signals

5. Becoming a spectator at the fantastic event which will allow me to breathe in even more motivation for my future competitions

As my emotions were running high and consumption of sugars on a day of making a decision was significantly higher than usual, the positives of all bad situations appeared on the horizon and I decided to look up, wipe my tears and follow the ray of light shining from the end of the tunnel.

The good news which arrived included my first ever photo shoot for Women’s Health magazine and a good training session in crossfit with mastering of my 1st strict pull up ever!

10556320_10152606863278899_7202011931310591598_n

Onwards and upwards with setbacks being new comebacks.

I am a girl and I lift heavy

Supporting from the side lines! Envy and jealousy of competing in Crossfit

photo 3

This weekend I was privileged enough to watch Kim (my training partner) and team from my Crossfit box competing at mixed team event Wild West 2014. What a weekend that was!!!

It was Kim’s first crossfit competition and given that we are only training at crossfit for 3-4 months she was doubting herself and her abilities. Little did she know that she is absolutely capable of competing with athletes who are crossfitting for longer than her.

This post is not all about her, but she more than deserves a mention and she should enjoy the glory of the weekend – she was amazing to say the least! Well done and congratulations from many who know her are in order:

Kim’s PB on Deadlift – 130kg

photo 2

Personally, I have gained a new perspective over two days  spent shouting from the side lines at her and at the team; and also having some very good conversations with friends and new friends.

As I am close to Kim I was privileged enough to get a taste of her excitement during the build up to a competition. She was always sharing her doubts with me but also her successes, which I am unsure if can be told about other athletes. She made me feel as if I was part of her special weekend, which again made me feel more than involved.

Deep down, and initially, I was frustrated from my persisting injury and also jealous that I couldn’t be part of that amazing team and was “just” a spectator. As the event went on, my initial feelings changed considerably. All teams and all athletes involved in the weekend were absolutely amazing and more than anything they inspired me. So jealousy was gone very quick and pride ane excitement kicked in! Overwhelming feelings that crossfit community is a very competitive one but welcoming too. I didn’t feel out-of-place being a spectator and amongst strong and fit girls I felt “at home”.

Kim, Danielle and I in between WODs

photo 1

There were 100 teams consisting of 4 athletes which were 2 male and 2 female. All 100 teams did amazing job at 6 WODs spread over 2 days. The location was excellent, the venue was well set up, the rigs were of a good quality and atmosphere was of that comparable to CF Regionals which I watched online. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was one of those events which I would love to attend again as a spectator.

So, how can  supporting from the side lines be any better than spending the weekend in the park or even doing some exercise?

Firstly and foremost, this particular experience helped me gain a new perspective on my personal goals and targets. Girls who competed were in a commendable form and female of all ages looked very strong and fit. Healthy and fit was the best description for the mixture of body shapes, types and abilities. Very inspirational for me as a beginner and newbie into crossfit and lifting.

Secondly, the atmosphere of the competition was friendly between athletes as well as spectators and it taught me a lot about crossfit community. Embrace everyone’s effort – be it the first time competitor or a seasonal athlete! We all are competing against ourselves to be better than yesterday, stronger than yesterday and healthier!

Lastly, I’ve learnt that I have a lot to learn and a lot to conquer, but I found that all of us are conquering the same. Competitions are a great place to test your abilities and benchmark yourself against others, the adrenalin adds a lot to your performance and you might find (as many athletes have) that the atmosphere of that environment might help you with your PB or PR and you might even be able to do kipping pull ups under pressure of the team!

I am super excited for my first every competition in 19 days! I am hoping to get back into my training today after my third physio session!

I am a girl and I lift heavy

Injuries, frustration and getting over them

I’ve now taken 4 days of rest although work stress of past few days feels like equivalent of 300 burpees for time.

My thumb and wrist are definitely suffering as a result of poor snatch grip and consequent irritation without proper days of rest dedicated for recovery.

My training partner had a wise chat with me tonight and highlighted the importance of resting even though it is super irritating not being able to train.

There are only 3 weeks left till our first team competition and I am getting a bit stressed about these past 5 days of rest, but she seems extremely relaxed.

My eagerness to train and get back on track is probably commendable but in the same time it is detrimental. First step to positive recovery is realising just that! It might be frustrating to have a few rest days but it will prove beneficial once injury is healed.
Repetitive and poorly healed injury will keep coming back.

So Kim suggested even further rest perhaps one more week. I have booked a physio for Monday so that I can plan my next week of training around what she says.

How to get over your injury related frustrations:
1. Share them with your coach and definitely your training partner
2. Keep light exercise going especially if injury is not on your abs keep working on those even at home – that definitely makes me feel happier
3. Accept that this is a scheduled rest and that you will get stronger and better soon
4. Keep your food intake relevant to your output. Just because you are not training and are frustrated don’t hit the comfort foods – it will be harder to get back to clean eating
5. Sleep, rest and other happy activities are blessing in disguise. I did the ice challenge and had a lovely dinner at my friends house – that kept my mind of not training tonight

Keep positive thoughts!

20140717-235830-86310993.jpg

Late Night Workout

Great find! I definitely recommend this for busy working ladies as well as busy travellers like me to keep little workouts going even late at night after busy day!

12 Months of Lent

Long week + late night at work + “Whoops, it’s 8pm and I’ve barely moved all day” = Time for this little Late Night Workout that I found on Pinterest from happyhecticlife.com. And let me tell you, it looks a lot easier than it is—my heart rate was up and I was sweating in no time.

Via happyhecticlife.com

View original post

7 days Ab Challenge

After completing the whole30 and commencing re-introductory stage while on business in Spain, I have set myself another little challenge. The Ab Challenge.

As I have my first ever photo shoot for women’s health magazine in less than 12 days I decided that apart from training (which is very hard to keep up while I am travelling and working relentlessly on a completion of my biggest project) I will also work on my abs and strength of my core.

Abs are important (not solely aesthetically) to me as I need my core strength for my weightlifting performance and crossfit.

I spent a few days browsing the Internet looking for the challenge that’s different but will bring results.

I found this one http://m.skinnyms.com/7-day-ab-challenge/

Let the ab party commence!

Before and after update on my abs to come in 7 days!
Note: this is not the only exercise I will be doing and my food intake during upcoming 7 days will also be strictly controlled ! I want that photo shoot to turn out darn good!!!

With any challenge I ever do I always ensure that:
– timeframe (days) are realistic – always review your calendar and activity i.e if it falls on longer holidays then it is probably not a good idea to start
– I understand all the moves and moves so that I don’t injure myself
– my objectives as to why am doing it are clear
– my food matches the objectives and training output – don’t starve yourself it is not going to make you stronger!
– my mind is ready for the challenge
– I am committee to it 100%
– my training partner knows about this extra training taking place AND involve her too
– ALLOW for a REST day and recovery
– I can finish the challenge
– take before and after pictures to compare the results and progress

And to keep me going in my mission, training and challenges I will be looking at a lot of motivational quotes. A few good ones are to be found on Popsugar.com http://www.fitsugar.com

I am a girl and I lift heavy! What’s your excuse?

20140716-013453-5693133.jpg

20140716-013704-5824511.jpg