Well that was 2012….

So 2012 had it’s serious highs and devastating 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.

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 an 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).

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.

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.

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 😀

Before 2006 – after 2012

In my own weight loss 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 courage 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 😀

Photo Credits: Triaxis group photo: Owen G Richards
                          Kirby & Roberts: Kat Jennings
                          Spartan Pics: SpartanRace.com
                          Zombie Evacuation: ZombieEvacuation.com
                          Pole Pride Showcase and Photoshoot: Miss Moth Photographic Arts
                          Krissie @ Bloodstock 2012: Anthony May, FestivalPhoto
                          All others property of TheWelshWonderWoman.com