Jess Swarbreck

Jess Swarbreck

Kenzai Mind | Day 41 (Member)
Kenzai Mind
Day 41
Program progress:

Yesterdays session felt like a milestone.

I got a phone call in the morning which unexpectedly sent me from highly chilled to highly frazzled in about 5 minutes. I was so stressed and cross about it...its the kind of feeling where I'd usually head out for a long run to calm down, but I didn't have time as had to get to work within the hour. So, I decided to do my meditation practice instead. I had zero confidence that it would be a pleasant session so I set my timer at 10 minutes.

At first it felt futile but within a very short time, it was as though I could feel the stress hormones melting away- an intensely physical feeling letting go of stress and anxiety. And it wasn't as though I felt as though I was doing a particularly good job of it- just a practice day like any other. But the intensity of the effect was amazing to me.

In contrast, todays 20 minute session felt kind of blah! It was full of distractions. I wondered if the idea of a longer session subconsciously encouraged procrastination during practice. Anyway, excited to see where the next two weeks take us all.

LOVE this program!


I’ve started to notice some real benefits of meditating. The process of stepping back and detaching from thoughts and difficult emotions is super helpful for me, particularly with difficult relationships. I’ve always been a ‘reactor’ the point that my family love to wind me up. I can laugh at it but have always disliked that about myself. This process is helping me to keep my cool 😎

On my way back to France with my sister for the funeral. As you can see we’re both living in the moment right now...


I found todays lesson helpful. Did everyone else physically do the exercise?
I used this bottle and observed the thought chain attached...I found that the action of thinking about thinking in this way really interesting, and I wonder if it might be a good way to detach from anxiety.

I bought this bottle at the airport yesterday, on my way home from a very emotional trip to France. Last Monday, my beloved grandmother had a stroke which we knew she would not recover from. I went to see her and was able to say goodbye and be with her after she died on Friday. She was 92 and had a truly amazing life...working as a nurse in Palestine during the war, and later as a translator and nurse to the Sultans mother in Oman. Oh the stories she would tell!The devotion of her children, my father and aunt, as well as her grandchildren, friends and neighbours, to her, for her entire life, illustrates what an amazing mother and person she was. She kept bouncing back through years of bad falls and one or two acute health problems, but never suffered with disease, living at home till the end and never ending up in a wheelchair- two things she always felt strongly about. She was the most loving, generous, and gentle person, with so much love to give- I will miss her terribly. I'm incredibly grateful for the long life she had and for her influence in my life, I'm so pleased we were there with her at the end and that it was peaceful. So many people don't have that chance.

When I observed my thought chain attached to the bottle it took me back to the airport, where I'll be next week for the funeral and all anxious thoughts about falling behind with work surrounding that. For some reason, thinking about thinking about this made tension in my solar plexus disappear momentarily. I admit I've been avoiding meditating since Friday, instead trying to keep busy and distract myself from the sadness I feel. But I've realised there's a deep sadness which I don't need to escape from, and a level of anxiety which I do...and can! It's amazing what you can achieve from really observing your thought chains- how many years have they been active in the background, causing tension in my body which didn't need to be there? ...all this from a bottle of water?


This lesson was another great realisation. Meditation is NOT just an attempt to relax. If I can equate it to training then I can absolutely get my teeth stuck into this. Great lesson!
I feel such a great buzz around this program. Its like KB1 (or PCP) all over again!


Such a simple concept but todays lesson was quite a revelation. I've ALWAYS corrected my posture from the shoulders- 'shoulders back' my parents used to say to me, which results in an exaggerated , uncomfortable arched back. Working it up from the hips makes so much more sense. So simple!


I know its been on the cards for a long time so its great that 'Mind' is finally here. I'm excited to be starting this programme, as well as training it with Patrick and Jenny.

I've done a fair bit of meditation in the past like a lot of people here, I'm sure, but have yet to achieve the goal of making it a daily discipline. I've always viewed my workouts as a form of meditation but am looking forward to finding a better distinction between the two over the next 6 weeks.


Last week, a drunk middle-aged guy I’d never met came into the pub where I work and started chatting with me and the other bar staff. Nothing unusual, but a bit later on I noticed that he was whispering, laughing and looking up at me with his mates. As I walked over towards them he asked me ‘are you going on Gladiators?’ to which they all burst out laughing.

I’m not sure if it was just in the UK that Gladiators was a major Saturday night family TV event. It’s basically a game show where fitness enthusiasts take on challenges against body building ‘gladiators’. Anyway, I was quite taken aback. This wasn’t a friendly question in any sense, it was clearly hilarious to them, but I wasn’t in on the joke. What do you mean by that I wanted to ask, but I felt self-conscious as to what the answer might be and somewhat lost for words. I’ve worked in pubs a lot so am used to customers being drunk and inappropriate, but nobody had ever crossed a line like this before. As someone with pretty low self-esteem it took me a couple of days to work through the way this guy had behaved towards me.

The same guy came in last night and sat in the same spot, with a view the whole way down the bar where staff have to stand. He clearly knew he’d gotten under my skin last week, and he wanted more. There was more whispering and laughing through the evening and when I ignored that, he started shouting a famous line from the show, ‘Gladiators, ready, contenders ready’ at the top of his voice to his friends. My blood boiled. There was no way this wasn’t body shaming- this was fit-shaming! God forbid, a woman have muscles and wear clothes that show them off.

Hats off to the manager who took action the moment I told her what was going on, the bloke sheepishly apologised and stopped what he'd been doing. He gave me a bit of attitude when I refused to serve him later on, to which I didn’t hold back. I told him he was a bully who'd insulted and embarrassed me, and that he'd be lucky if I ever served him a drink again in this pub. His response, predictably, was pathetic. He was shocked and didn't know what to say. I felt glad that I’m at an age where I could handle it and take him down a peg or two. But I was amazed, after the strides feminism has taken recently, at the number of bystanders to this incident. There were even two women there who tried to stand up for him, one saying 'aw its his birthday', the other one 'I don't think he meant it the way you took it'. One of his male friends complained to the manager that I'd 'gone off on one' at him, although she was having none of it.

So there we are. Here's to standing up to bullies!

K Run DONE! 

I've LOVED Kenzai run. Having been a runner for basically ever, I've been wanting to do this programme for a while but was always in two minds in a funny way. Running has always been something I do alone (or with my dog) and I didn't love the idea of that special time being interfered with. So stupid really! Anyway, its been amazing to do. I've enjoyed the way it hasn't made me change my fitness routine too much- its fit in with my life more easily than other programmes have and in that sense has been less of a challenge. Not always what one wants but for me, at this point in time, its been a perfect way of bringing back focus.

The biggest take aways have been from the lessons from which I've learned loads. Running techniques aren't something you get taught as a personal trainer unless you specialise and I've felt huge benefits from focussing on form, and lots of other little tips.

I haven't been focused on timing my runs, mostly because I dropped and smashed my phone on a run several months ago and am back on an old one without all my apps. I've basically stuck with 2 routes I knew the distances from before and have worked on estimates around those. I've enjoyed the sense of freedom thats brought but sorry I don't have more stats to bring to the table. I did the final run in just over an hour (but there is a massive, steep hill at the start which takes about 10 minutes to jog/walk up!) and I'm pleased with that.

Thanks to Kate P for encouraging me to crack on with this with her, and to the rest of the group, and to Patrick for their comments along the way.

And finally big kudos to Malia and Patrick for probs my fave programme since PCP. Its been AWESOME!

🍅 tomatoes

Had to blog about my tomatoes as it’s the best crop we’ve ever had, I can barely keep up! Have resorted to roasting them to use as bases for sauces or soup. So much water in them, I don’t need to add anything apart from some garlic and herbs, roast and then whizz up. Delish!
Running going well. Got caught in the rain today and took this silly selfie to prove it!


I'm enjoying reading the lessons on this program, particularly ones that remind me to keep pushing on through the runs, and indeed through life :)

I'm currently working my way through the final few weeks of a five year course in nutrition and as is often the way with long term projects (so I'm told), these final few weeks feel like I'm crawling up hill through mud! It's weird, the tricks the mind plays on you in situations like this. I'm getting good grades and yet my confidence levels are super low. I've been excited about reaching this point since day 1 yet suddenly I'm terrified about whats next.

It's a similar story with my fitness. I'm probably the best shape I've been in years, yet I look in the mirror and feel rubbish. I struggle to get the out the door to my lacrosse practice (my all time favourite thing!) or for my runs. I don't feel the need to psychoanalyse myself too much but I imagine it has something to do with feeling daunted at the prospect of life changing, albeit in a way I've planned and worked by arse off for.

Anyway, my point is, I've been 'metaphorising' the lessons where I can to help me keep moving forwards. Like a lot of people, I don't enjoy running up hills for example, and its something I've actively avoided. But the simple pointers like shortening my stride and leaning into the hill make it so much easier. And giving myself permission to go a bit more slowly makes a difference too.

My mantra has been a simple one but its a goodun, see above! :)

Checking in

Just checking in after a busy week away on holiday. Just back and stealing a day to continue painting the outside of our house, hence my speckled look in this weeks photo.
All going well but need to get back on track with the diet after a pretty relaxed week on that front whilst being away. Had some beautiful runs through the hills of France though :)
Hope everyones doing well!

Day 1 - K-run!

Finally, I'm getting started with K-run which has been at the top of my Kenzai list for over a year!
I've been a runner for many years but have never really improved- I'm a plodder but I love it.
This photo was taken of me a few weeks ago and I don't like it- every time I see a photo of myself running, I'm reminded at how poor my form is. I've had that pigeon toe since I was a child and, it always comes back when I least the only way is up!
Good luck everyone!

After a great start to the ranger challenge, family stuff kept me from finishing the final few days and i’ve struggled to write a blog since. I wanted to explain why I disappeared as realise it must have looked like I just fizzled our by now! Here’s what’s been going on...
After a very short illness we lost my mums dear partner. It’s a shocking and desperately sad time, one of if not the toughest of my life.

It’s strange, the way i’ve come to rely on working out, I would have thought i’d be pushing it harder than ever now but the past two weeks i’ve actually slowed right down. I’ve stopped my triathlon training altogether and even my runs with the dog have become slow walks round the block which take ages. It’s nice to have the time and space to think and absorb I guess but i’m wary of letting it go on too long. I’m feeling better after a weekend of warmth and sun and planning to make a plan tomorrow to get everything back on track.

Tough times but it’s great to have Kenzai as a unique layer of support- I know I can always log in for a bit of support and encouragement.
I was inspired to write this blog by a trainee called Aparna who’s been coping with a terrible loss but now bossing KB1 with a small human on her back 😊

Glorious England

Soggy work out with Bo today. She came in and shook muddy water all over the kitchen before i’d Had a chance to dry her 🐶🙈

Still loving the ranger workouts and feeling fit although the diets been lax whilst on holiday in France.

I attempted to swim in the pool which was 11 degrees- thought it’d be ok in a wetsuit but how wrong I was! Seriously painful. Invigorating though, I managed 2 lengths. I’d love to upload the video Ben took of it but there’s too much swearing 🤣

Hope all the rangers are doing well!

I was having a tough day but feeling better after an hour of Kenzai blog commenting. I'm finding it tough balancing everything at the moment. It's the nature of flexible working and part time study but its a balancing act thats always taken continuous effort and adjusting. But today's got me really wound up for some reason.

It's funny, I get really stressed out when I'm forced to change my plans at the last minute- today it was that I was needed at work longer than planned. But as it happens, its made me crack on with the short time I had and I've managed to get a fair bit done anyway.
I'm sure I've read about the busiest people getting the most done. I guess that's cos they don't have time to procrastinate.
It's going to have to be a late night workout this evening but I was feeling much stronger during yesterdays work out and swim so thats good. Hope you're all doing well, Rangers!

Jan 8th, 2018



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