It is nearly the end of 2019 so once again it is time to look back on what this year has brought to my life. 2019 has had lots of ups with some downs. The downs have previously been covered in past blogs. The highs have involved being promoted at work, moving into my own place again as well as competing in my first ever Weightlifting competition. I also went to Barcelona to visit my older sister who moved there in April 2018. Seeing my older sister in Barcelona and meeting her new group of friends made me feel much more relaxed about her decision to move there. I new she would be fine as she is one of those people who always manages to land on her feet, whatever the situation. I simply needed to see her there to put my mind at ease.
So, what else has 2019 brought to my life and given me the opportunity to learn? I was promoted to Duty Manager at work. As Duty Manager my primary role is the day to day running of the building, ensuring it is safe for staff and customers to use the facility. I place higher emphasis on ensuring that the building is safe for staff to work in for the simple reason that if the building is not safe for staff to work in it will not be safe for customers to use. Each Duty Manager has an operational aspect of the building that they have overall responsibility for, mine is the gym and fitness classes. It has been a bit challenging since taking over this responsibility with some instructors leaving and having to find cover along with dealing with members concerns over some classes being cancelled before I took over, however so far it looks like I have been able to overcome these challenges. It helps that the Regional Fitness Class Lead is willing to aid when needed and that before I took over, she took the time to show me how to process class KPI’s each month.
In terms of my plans to learn something new, visit somewhere new and do a new physical task every three months I have fared well. I have taken part in my first of what I hope to be many more weightlifting competitions, which meant combined two of the three objectives. I had to learn how to perform the Snatch correctly, learn a new style of training and then had to physically take part in the competition. I have also taken up DDP Yoga, which is more of a fitness-based Yoga, developed by the three-time WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page. Once again, this combined learning a new training style along with having to physically take part in the activity. As far as new places I went to Ascot for a race weekend and stayed in Bracknall. There has also been the challenge of learning a new job role and so I have had the chance to learn new skills professionally, physically and personally.
All in all 2019 has been a good year.

Graves Disease


Graves Disease is an immune system condition which can cause the Thyroid Gland to become overactive, meaning it produces too much Thyroid hormone. In the UK it is estimated that one in every one-hundred adults have the condition and is more common in women. In-fact women are five to ten times more likely to develop the condition then men according to endocrinesurgeon.co.uk. As it is an autoimmune system condition, Graves Disease causes the body’s own immune system to attack the Thyroid Gland as it confuses the Thyroid Gland as an invader. The autoantibodies attach to the patient’s Thyroid Gland and stimulate it to make thyroid hormones, resulting in a state of thyrotoxicosis. The cause of Graves Disease is currently unknown; however, it is thought that smoking can increase an individual’s risk. It is also thought to run in families and mostly affects middle aged women.
Graves Disease can mimic other conditions however a simple blood test will provide a diagnosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Graves Disease include:
• Being restless, nervous, emotional, irritable, sleeping poorly and being ‘always on the go’.
• Tremor of your hands.
• Losing weight despite an increased appetite.
• The sensation of having a ‘thumping heart’ (palpitations).
• Sweating, a dislike of heat and an increased thirst.
• Runny stools (diarrhoea) or needing to go to the toilet to pass stools more often than normal.
• Shortness of breath.
• Skin problems such as hair thinning and itch.
• Menstrual changes – your periods may become very light or infrequent.
• Tiredness and muscle weakness may be a feature.
• A swelling of your thyroid gland (a goitre) in the neck may occur.
• Eye problems.

Graves Disease can be treated with tablets, followed by radiotherapy. Occasionally surgery may be required. An individual with an over-active Thyroid Gland may not have all the signs or symptoms, it is more likely that they will have a combination of them, and they may develop slowly over a period of time.
Side effects of treatment include:
• Nausea
• High temperature
• Head aches
• Aching joints
• Altered taste
• Upset stomach
• Itchy rash
• Agranulocytosis- a sudden drop in white blood cells which can cause a persistent cough and sore throat
As with all medical conditions, the treatments can have complications. Complications for the treatment of an over-active Thyroid Gland include:
• Eye problems
• Pregnancy issues
• An under-active Thyroid Gland. If the wrong medication is prescribed or if the dosage is incorrect the treatment can cause the opposite condition.
• Thyroid Storm. This is a serious medical emergency and 999 should be called immediately.
• Arterial Fibrillation
• Osteoporosis
• Heart failure
It is important to note that just because Graves Disease can cause an individual to have an over-active Thyroid Gland it does not mean that all the above will be caused. Graves Disease is just one of many causes of Hyperthyroidism. People with the condition can live with the condition if they work with their Doctor and ensure that they follow the advice of their specialist.
Useful Links:

Chron’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic bowel disease that causes severe inflammation of your digestive tract and affects your quality of life. This can lead to severe diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people. Inflammation caused as a result of Chron’s disease can spread deep into the bowls of the individual. It can be painful and debilitating which can cause life-threatening complications. At present there is no known cure for Chron’s disease, although it can be managed through:
• Medicines to reduce inflammation in the digestive system – usually steroid tablets
• Medicines to stop the inflammation coming back – either tablets or injections
• Surgery to remove a small part of the digestive system – sometimes this may be a better treatment option than medicines.

You’ll usually have a team of health professionals helping you, possibly including a GP, a specialist nurse and specialist doctors.

The causes of Chron’s disease are unknown, however factors, such as heredity and a malfunctioning immune system, likely play a role in the development of the condition. If a family member has Chron’s disease it can be passed onto the next generation, making it genetically susceptible. Many people with the condition have no known family history of the condition. Viral bacterial infection may also cause the immune system to have an unusual response as it tries to fight the invading microorganism. As the immune system fights the infection it may also attack the digestive tract too.

Chron’s disease may also have the following signs and symptoms:
• Diarrhoea
• Fever
• Fatigue
• Abdominal pain and cramping
• Blood in your stool
• Mouth sores
• Reduced appetite and weight loss
• Pain or drainage near or around the anus due to inflammation from a tunnel into the skin (fistula)
• People with severe Crohn’s disease also may experience:
• Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
• Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
• Delayed growth or sexual development, in children
If you have any of the above, you should see your GP who will refer you to a specialist to be tested. It does not mean that you have the condition, however it is always better to get checked and it turns out to be nothing then to live with the condition for years without knowing it. If, however it turns out that you do have Chron’s disease it you will need to ensure that you have regular check ups with your Doctor. Unpredictable flare-ups and regular check-ups with your care team can disrupt school, work and your social life, however it will help you to live a relatively normal life.

Useful websites:

My First Weightlifting Competition


Yesterday I took part in my first weightlifting competition. I competed in the under 89kg class of the British Weightlifting Midlands Open Series 3- 2019. Along with two female lifters I represented Be Strong Weightlifting Club. All three of us were taking part in our first weightlifting competition and all three of us made all six lifts, the only people in our categories to do so. It was also our coaches first competition as a coach instead of being one of the competitors. I have already said it on my Social Media pages however I would personally like to thank my Coach Val Craft for all your help and support not just on the day but in the lead up to it. As you said who would have thought all those years ago when we worked together at the Oasis that one day you would be coaching me in my first competition. I look forward to working with you for many more competitions to come.
As it was my first competition my goal was simple, make my opening lifts for the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. Anything after that was a bonus. I was not concerned with placings as I knew there would be other competitors in my weight class with more experience. In the past I have put too much pressure on myself to win and either had to pull out due to mental health issues or I ended up performing badly. In the end I placed sixth out of seven competitors with two personal best lifts. My Snatch PB was 52kg. My Clean and Jerk PB was 72kg. What I found so good about yesterday is that all the competitors were supportive of each other. Nobody wanted anybody else to fail, even if it meant that they didn’t place as high. There were some tactical games being played among the more experienced lifters who were competing for a place in next weeks National Championships, however it was not done maliciously.
What is next?
Today I relax, this coming training week I train with moderate weights to allow my body recover as well as a post event sports massage, then I start to set my goals for my next training cycle. Then I go onto the British Weightlifting website to look at 2020’s event calendar and work with Val to set target weights for the next competition.
Michaela New and Sydonie Brewis I had a great time lifting with the two of you yesterday. You were both amazing and I look forward to lifting with you in future competitions. Now rest up and relax, you both earned it.

Primal Movement Patterns

For a complete exercise programme there are seven important movements that need to be included each week. These “Primal Movement Patterns” can be done in the same workout or over the course of a week in a well- designed exercise programme. These movements are:
1. Squat
2. Hinge/ Bend
3. Push
4. Pull
5. Lunge
6. Rotation/ Twist
7. Gait/ Locomotion

Why are they so crucial to any exercise programme?
As the name suggests they are how the human body moves throughout the day. Each time we sit down we are performing the Squat, when we walk, we engage in Locomotion. Shortly after we are born our bodies learn how to perform these seven movement patterns. Once we have learned how to perform these movement patterns, we depend on them for the rest of our lives.

For the body to work effectively it is important to design exercise programmes around these movement patterns in a balanced way. If your car’s wheels are not correctly aligned, you might not notice it driving around your estate. Once you start driving your car on the motorway it will become apparent that something is wrong. The human body works the same way. You might have some minor aches and pains that you learn to live with, however when you need to perform at a high level you will soon notice those minor aches and pains become a major barrier. In the fitness industry it is common for exercise programmes to focus on the t-shirt muscles, chest and biceps, and forget about rest of the body. This will lead to massive structural imbalances and lead to poor posture, poor athletic performance and will make the individual look odd.

Whatever your reasons are for exercising, base your workouts around the “Primal Movement Patterns” and you will not only look better but move and feel better.

Marathon Man


On the morning of Saturday October 12th history was made when Eluid Kipchoge become the first person in history to run a marathon in under two hours. Eliud Kipchoge ran 26.385 miles in one hour fifty-nine minutes and forty seconds. To put that in perspective he had to maintain a speed of 13.1 miles per hour. Unfortunately, this amazing achievement will not count as an official world record as it was not achieved under race conditions or as part of an official marathon race. It does however show what is possible when somebody dedicates themselves to achieving their goals, trains hard every training session and works with their coaching team to properly design and implement the correct training plan for them. Usain Bolt has shown what is possible in Sprinting with his world record 100-meter time of 9.58 seconds. Now Eluid Kipchoge has shown what is possible in endurance running.
There will be some people who will try and discredit Eluid Kipchoge’ achievement, saying that he was helped by his running trainers, pace runners, the conditions and the fact that he had a car in front of him with a laser guide to follow. My response to those people is simply this. It is easy to criticise somebody when they put in the effort required to achieve their goals from the comfort of a sofa and the protection of a computer. What is not easy is to get up every morning and put in the work required for this fantastic achievement. Eluid Kipchoge would have had to spend months at a time away from his family and friends, missing out on his children’s birthday’s, school events and probably live like a hermit to achieve this goal. He would have had to run-in all-weather conditions and go to the gym for his strength training every day even when he did not want to. This is why only a small amount of people ever reach their athletic potential in any sport. A champion does what they need to do in order to achieve their goals regardless of who is watching or winning. A wannabe will make excuses for why they are not prepared to do what the person they criticise is prepared to do.
A statement I have always lived by is, “Today I will do what others won’t so that tomorrow I can do what others can’t”

Drugs and Alcohol

Western society has a rather hypocritical attitude when it comes to drugs. If somebody takes recreational drugs, they are a junky, if somebody uses performance enhancing drugs they are cheating, if somebody uses Anti-depressants, they are judged negatively. When it comes to alcohol however people are judged as boring if they don not drink it. It seems to me that in western society the only drug a person must explain not using it is alcohol.
Why is this? Why is one drug seen as acceptable to use yet others are not? For some people it is easier for them to explain why they do not drink alcohol then it is for others. If somebody is a Muslim, then they will not drink as it is against their religious beliefs. If somebody is allergic to alcohol, then drinking it could kill them. Other people may have grown up in a family where one or more members were alcoholics and have chosen not to drink as they have seen the damage it can cause, for other people who have grown up in a family with one or more members being alcoholic they may fall into the same trap. People have been drinking alcohol since alcohol was discovered. In the Viking age it was often safer to drink alcohol then water in built up cities due to lack of sanitation, so it seems to me that it is socially acceptable to drink alcohol in western society because of how long it has been around. Alcohol is also used to celebrate success, or to make people feel better about failure. In motor sport the top three all celebrate with bottles of Champaign, if a relationship breaks down it is common for people to get drunk to forget about how bad they are feeling. If you take to two examples given and replace alcohol with cocaine people would have a very different reaction, even though cocaine is being used for the same reasons, its just swapping one drug for another.
I am not Puritanical about people having a drink. People who know me know that I like to have a drink on special occasions. I just fin it ironic that one drug is socially acceptable, yet others are demonised.