Jess Swarbreck

Jess Swarbreck

Kenzai Member

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!

Week 2 ranger workouts

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!

Day 2 ranger challenge

Was at work 7am-7.30pm and nearly put the 3km run off till tomorrow and then remembered dem ain't the rules.
Get it done. Don't complain. It's not hard. It makes you feel gooooooooood

Ranger challenge day 1

Baseline results:

8km run: 49.33
Push ups: 53
Crunches: 80
Pull ups: 0

That was tough! It’s shown me where 6 months of focusing on weight loss (for my wedding) has got me fitness wise. Can’t even do one pull up 🦋

Onwards! 💪🏼

Triathlon training

Just signed up for 2 triathlons a couple of weeks apart in June.
One sprint and one olympic distance. Never done the longer one before so a little apprehensive but doing it with my sister so know it will be fun!
Need to renew my swim membership and get cracking. A little daunted as have been off games recently with a bad back (self inflicted as I overstretched it during a game of cereal box master...don't ask!)
First run today after over 2 weeks and very relieved to say it felt good. Saw these creatures en route- farm boundaries round here are seriously lax!

Greens initiative day 2

Not to blow my own trumpet or nuffink but I’m on a bit of a roll with this leafy greens cooking.
Tonight I cooked up some onions (the ready chopped frozen kind again) with garlic then added frozen broad beans and kale. Added a tin of tomatoes and a veggie stock cube and some water and cooked for 10 mins.
A lot more edible than my usual attempts at kale. Maybe I was just really hungry as looking at it now, it’s not so appetising! 🤷🏼‍♀️

Brain food

This week I read a compelling study about how eating leafy greens every day slows the aging of your brain. It’s given me the push I needed to get back into eating veggies which I’m not the biggest fan of like spinach and kale.
Tried a really nice recipe tonight- onions, garlic and wilted spinach. Easy to cook as I had some frozen ready chopped onions (a life hack I’ve always had an unnecessary issue with but for no good reason I’ve decided) and actually delicious.

Jan 8th, 2018





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Kenzai Blast: Beach Ready