Monday Gym Soreness

I very recently moved to Reading from London (more details may come soon), therefore I left my old gym to join a new one – BuzzGym. Well, I have to say that the change of scenario kind of refreshed my motivations. As I have no specific goals – I still can’t run on tracks, I don’t want to do any bikini or body building competitions or any other kind of competitions, sometimes I’m afraid that at some point I’ll lose my motivation when lifting weights.

Monday gym soreness, gym soreness meme

And then the Monday gym soreness starts and I feel better. The best way to kick off the week is to live with gym soreness! When you’ve lived with chronic pain for 4 years it’s so rewarding and relieving waking up and feeling the so-called ‘good pain’ :)

Your body always speaks to you. With the chronic pain it told me something was very wrong with me, but today it’s only saying it’s happy to improving its range day by day!

BuzzGym is a very cool place. I haven’t found my ‘spaces’ yet, but I’m confident that it’s only a matter of time. I am so get used to my training habits and circuits at my old gym that I feel a bit lost now in such a big gym floor with a number of new and awesome machines, and many more people attending.

Have a wonderful Monday gym soreness everyone!💪🏻

Taken at BuzzGym
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Accepting ourselves whilst ageing

I was under certain medications for three months – nothing serious, it looks like I’m fit as a fiddle.

Anyway, now that I’m gradually recovering from the mess this treatment made to my body and mind, I want to share with you what happened meanwhile! I think this is my personal message to try accepting ourselves just the way we are, and to accept the changes by rationalising them.

So here I am in late October and November, all bloated and with a massive water retention going on. (And yes, these are my first bathroom selfies ever, and yes, I’m sporting a Jetpack t-shirt). I’m not flexing or posing or holding the breath. This is just me in my worst shape ever.

accepting ourselves - stef bloated water retention

I gained 5kg in a month or so, about 15 days after I started taking those pills. Before these three months, I thought that the wrinkles I could see on my legs was cellulite. Then I found out what cellulite looks like for real because it popped out overnight whilst under this treatment. I also experienced tiredness, massive and terrible mood swings, headaches, legs soreness, and bloating. For a comparison, these are some pics of myself before starting the medication # – ##, and one week after I started with the pills (their effect kicked out 8 days after this photo).

I felt terrible. I couldn’t control all those changes in my body, not to mention the mood swings! Reducing the calories intake to minimise the weight gain wouldn’t make any difference, as it was clear that I didn’t gain fat, but just water. I excluded food with yeast and dairy from my diet as much as I could, and that helped a little bit to avoid extra bloating.

The psychological side effects were worse than the body ones, to tell the truth. I felt down and happy, I cried and then laughed, I was nervous pretty much all the time because I was feeling uncomfortable all the time.

I then tried to rationalise what was happening to me. It would last just for three months, and those were short-term side effects. Many people told me they couldn’t even notice the difference, a part from my tummy definition that was obviously gone. Someone noticed that I was moody and my waist got wider, though.

I also took these three months as a moment to realise that I’m not in my twenties anymore. I hate that. Despite I look much younger than I am, I won’t be (and look) young forever, and my fast metabolism will abandon me at some point. The greedy-eating-all Stef will have to start eating responsibly, doing more cardio (which I hate too) and, like all of us, start accepting ourselves the way we are – evolving, ageing creatures.

This is also why I’m sharing these pictures. I’m currently transitioning out of the medications timeframe and I have already lost 3kg. I don’t know if I’m going to be 48.2 kg again, but looking back at those past months I hope to have learnt the lesson to take it easy and be less tough with myself.

I will never stop fighting the ageing, though. I refuse to surrender. I see many people ageing and being in a great shape nevertheless. I’m thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger or the lady at my local gym who I think is 80 or something and she’s still such a badass with kettlebells and dumbbells. Ageing will be never an excuse for me to get lazy and unfit.

22/12 Edit and pic update

Pic update, tranformation, get fit, water retention
Pic on the left is dated between October and November when I was under medications. Picture on the right is me 3 weeks off the medications. Note that the day before on the right picture I had a whole pizza and a £4 Italian gelato!

I lost 3,5kg of water retention; my tummy is more flat and I feel better now.

Still 1.5kg to lose but I’ll think about it after Christmas! 😇🍽

Taken at London, United Kingdom. Find more on my Instagram Stories too!

How yoga helps Olympic referees

Not many people talk about Olympic referees. In fact, the Olympic athletes are not the only ones that have to face the stress and the Olympic pressure – with all the expectations related to them.

Pristovakin, Olympic referees

Despite the Olympic referees are often seen as the enemies of the athletes, they’re not evil people. They are meant to check on the athletes and make sure that all the rules are respected, that’s it.

In modern sport, the referee’s role is becoming more and more important, due to the number of challenges requested by the team in many sports (es tennis, volley etc), and the extreme fast and powerful actions that someone has to oversee and check. On top of that, we have to add the many TV cameras that are always ready to “tell the referees off”, and the fact that either teams managers, athletes and the audience feel free to complain every single referee’s decision.

It goes without saying that today, if you chose to be a referee, you haven’t picked an easy, serene life.

To avoid the risk of referees going burned out, the International Volley Federation got its referees ready to face complicated and critical situations that may happened during a match.

This decision follows the idea that the professional experience is not always enough to allow referees to manage complicated situations in an easy way. Olympic referees have to be able of coping with their emotions and the athletes/audience’s. To achieve that, referees have to be mentally trained.

The Federation has hired a Swiss sport mental coach, Mattia Piffaretti, who have trained the volley and beach volley Olympic referees with the help of five disciplines: yoga, meditation, role games, breathing exercises and visualisation techniques.

After every match, the Olympic referees gather in a hotel near Copacabana to talk about the mistakes that might have made, doing yoga, breathing routines, and walking on a rope.

“The referees are showing a large dose of calm”

Said Fernando Lima,  General Secretary of the Volleyball Federation.

This does not mean that the referees are going to be infallible, while doing that.

“We are human, and we can make mistakes”

Stated Pristovakin Roman, a 38 year-old Russian referee. Pristovakin brilliantly managed to deal with a blatant challenge by the Brazilian star Alison Cerutti, during the Olympic opening beach volleyball match. Pristovakin successfully went through this ‘crisis’ by mastering breathing techniques. Pristovakin explained these moments:

“The most important thing is breathing, to find the calm. I always try to appear calm, but inside of me I’m not. It is a good way to handle difficult situations”

In a nutshell, the next time you see a referee in trouble, think of the psychological preparation that they may have gathered to deal with the stress overload.

Photo credits: FIVB

Lo Yoga in aiuto degli arbitri olimpici

Pochi (o nessuno) parlano degli arbitri olimpici. Gli atleti non sono gli unici a soffrire l’atmosfera olimpica, carica di stress, di attese e di attenzioni nei loro confronti da parte del pubblico.

arbitri olimpici, yoga, preparazione psicologica

Spesso visti come nemici o controllori degli atleti, gli arbitri – olimpici e non – stanno dall’altra parte della barricata, durante le manifestazioni sportive.

Nello sport moderno, il loro ruolo è ancora più importante rispetto al passato: velocità aumentate, moviole in campo, telecamere sparse in ogni angolo durante le gare, atleti e pubblico che continuamente protestano in campo e fischiano le loro decisioni: il ruolo dell’arbitro è quanto mai delicato.

L’esempio della Federazione di Volley e i suoi arbitri olimpici

Per questo motivo, la Federazione Internazionale di Pallavolo ha deciso di preparare i suoi arbitri ad affrontare le complicate situazioni che si possono verificare nel campo di gioco.

Alla base di questa scelta, vi è il pensiero che non basti l’esperienza, per gestire simili situazioni: è necessario, per essere un (bravo) arbitro moderno, essere mentalmente solidi.

La Federazione ha, quindi, conferito l’incarico ad uno psicologo sportivo elvetico, Mattia Piffaretti, il quale ha preparato gli arbitri seguendo un metodo formato da 5 aspetti essenziali: yoga, meditazione, giochi di ruolo, respirazione e tecniche di visualizzazione.

Dopo ogni partita, gli arbitri olimpici si riuniscono in un hotel poco distante da Copacabana, per discutere sugli eventuali errori commessi durante l’arbitraggio, fare esercizi di yoga e di respirazione e camminare su un filo con le mani unite.

“Gli arbitri stanno mostrando una grande dose di tranquillità”

Ha affermato Fernando Lima, segretario generale della Federazione di Pallavolo.

Ciò non significa di certo che gli arbitri, così facendo, diventeranno infallibili.

“Siamo umani, e possiamo sbagliare”
Afferma Roman Pristovakin, 38enne arbitro russo che, durante il match inaugurale di beach volley ha gestito, mediante tecniche di respirazione, una plateale contestazione da parte della star brasiliana Alison Cerutti.

“La cosa più importante è respirare per trovare la calma: cerco sempre di apparire calmo, anche se dentro di me non lo sono, è un buon metodo per gestire le situazioni difficili”

Chiosa Pristovakin. Insomma, la prossima volta che vedrete un arbitro in difficoltà, pensate alla preparazione psicologica che possono avere dietro per affrontare quel carico di stress.

Photo credits: Wall Street Journal




Sport injuries: the athletes’ different pain perception

People who practice sports know that sport injuries are part of the game. Olympic athletes know that better than anyone else, as they’ve got a different pain perception.

Kerry Strug, sports injuries

It’s not easy sometimes to pinpoint an athlete in pain, if you’re among the audience. Athletes are quite skilled in hiding their pain and sport injuries, especially when they’re performing during a competition.

It doesn’t matter if these sport injuries and the pain related to them affect the athletes’ performance – if an athlete get injured while competing, they will never let you know.

Studies have shown that living with a physical pain is mostly a matter of mentality. Professional athletes are mentally trained to embrace the pain when they stumble upon minor sport injuries.

One of the aspects that experts are trying to figure out is how the pain perception changes when the athlete gets injured during a competition versus sport injuries gotten whilst training.

When an athlete is in agonist trance, their mental focus on their effort can be so huge that it could rise up the pain tolerance. In fact, during a match this pain perception could be much higher than during the ‘regular’ training days.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, if an athlete – in particular an Olympic athlete – gets sport injuries whilst competing, but they eventually find the mental strength to continue it until the end, despite the pain.

An unforgettable example of this is Kerry Strug’s story. Kerry was the US gymnast who, during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, led her team to the gold medal in vaulting, despite she damaged her ankle ligaments during her previous vault.

“At first, I hadn’t realised the seriousness of my injury. I understood that only later. The sound I heard were the ligaments getting damaged.”

These are Strug’s words after se won the gold medal.

A study of the University of Heidelberg (Germany) showed that many athletes have a higher tolerance to pain compared to ‘normal’ people. Strug’s story, like many other athletes’ stories on sport injuries, are a perfect corollary.

At Rio 2016 Olympic Games there’s an athlete in particular who stood out in this painful (and touching) aspect. French sailor Bouvet was brought to his boat in wheelchair. Bouvet was unable to walk due to a terrible sciatica, nevertheless he decided to honour the race at any cost. Chapeau to Bouvet and to all the athletes who every day face sport injuries to finish their competitions!


Photo Credits: Sport Illustrated