Welcome to Not Just a Man’s World. My name is Ammi. Well, it’s not my name, but that was my childhood nickname which a few people still use.
I’m a woman in my late twenties and I started this blog in an effort to share my thoughts, knowledge, research, failures and successes with others like me. You can learn more about the blog elsewhere – this page is about me.
I look around and I see that lots of women my age seem to:
- spend their weekends watching TV
- spend their evenings working late to impress people they may not respect
- have a few drinks most nights that sometimes makes them feel bad the following day
- drag themselves to the gym three times a week to spend endless tedious hours on the treadmill
- be constantly on the latest fad diet to prepare for this party or that event, and
- spend most of their lives sat at a desk, in the car, or on a sofa.
This is, of course, a gross exaggeration. In fact, there are plenty of women out there who don’t do these things but despite this the media and numerous online diet and fitness sites continue to use the points above to define the female stereotype. As a result, I’ve found that those who don’t lead active lives treat me as if I suffer from some sort of gender determination issue. Plenty of women do the same things that I do so I shouldn’t be an oddity.
When I first started doing some of the activities that I love I struggled to find women-specific advice and support. Over the last few years this balance has started to change but the inspiration for this blog was to collate some of that information and to share the things I have learned about women-specific problems related to my active lifestyle, both through experience and through research.
So what things do I do?
I go to the gym. In fact, I’ve got a free-weights gym in the garage. But I don’t use a treadmill or those little pink dumbbells that seem to be placed in commercial gyms to make women feel like they are doing exercise without pushing the status quo. I pick up the big, black, iron plates stacked up in the corner and load up the bar.
When I first started this blog I had recently worked up to a 35kg (77lbs) bench press and a 70kg (154lbs) sumo deadlift. By the way, I’m 5’6” and weigh around 51kgs (112lbs) and I’m improving all the time – to find out how I’m doing check out my Powerlifting Progress posts – so if you think lifting heavy weights will make you big and bulky then the pink dumbbell brigade have definitely done their number on you.
Viewing the world from two wheels
I love my bicycle but I don’t go in for doing a leisurely ride every so often. Instead I do regular long distance rides on my treasured road bike. On a sunny Saturday morning, I could spend anything up to 8 hours on the quiet back-roads of my beloved rural Lincolnshire.
In fact, my idea of a great holiday is a romantic cycle tour in Normandy, covering 50-60 miles a day between picturesque French villages and eating local food.
Having met my short-term goal to cycle 100 miles in the summer of 2009 I moved onto a new goal of time-trialling. Given that I had been a long-distance cyclist up to then and steep hills and lactic acid had definitely been my stumbling block this rapidly proved to be quite an education. I’m not sure the time-trialling will last really…
I would love to be a Figure Athlete – a natural female physique competitor. However, apart from there being limited contests in the UK (as far as I can tell), I was born with a dislocated hip and the resulting operations carried out while I was under the age of two mean that I am far too unbalanced in my symmetry to compete and I have a huge scar on my leg which won’t help the aesthetics.
Instead I satisfy myself with endlessly striving for the ultimate figure for personal satisfaction (even if parts of my left quadriceps are in entirely the wrong place).
My body is a temple
In addition to all the activities, I’m always looking for the ultimate clean diet so that I can live a long and active life. However, my genetics are stacked against me: in my family there is a history of leukaemia, cancer, a hereditary auto-immune disease and a genetic blood disorder, so the prognosis doesn’t look great. I am determined to fight the natural order of things and diet is one of the ways I can manage the risk.
I am particularly interested in the Paleolithic diet, which is the theory that we thrive on the diet that our genetic ancestors lived on: meat, fish, berries and leafy vegetables. Before I got the desk job, I took a degree in archaeology, specialising in Palaeolithic and American archaeology, so I guess I’ve got a slightly different approach to this than most nutritionists.
Other stuff that occupies my time
When I’m not spending huge numbers of hours tied to my desk at work (whilst loving the things I do that I’ve written about here, I still have to pay the bills at home), I’ll do most things that involve spending time outdoors.
I enjoy rock-climbing, though the unpredictable English weather means I do this less often than I would like. I’ve tried my hand at mountaineering but find that this is difficult to cram into the week long holidays that I’m currently constrained by.
And my favourite activity? Spending multiple days in the great outdoors. As I mentioned earlier, I have started cycle touring but before that I already did a lot of multi-day walking in the wilderness (Scotland or the Alps), and I still try to fit in at least one walk each year.
I don’t use a tent – a tarpaulin stretched over walking poles is good enough - and I happily cover 20 miles a day on average. And for the whole week there is rarely a shower or toilet in sight. You quickly learn to really appreciate the creature comforts at home.
Fingers in multiple pies
I’m not an expert in any of my activities. I lift average weights, but I keep putting the weight up. There are people who cycle more than I do, covering greater distances at faster speeds. There are some amazing rock climbers who climb some of the hardest grades imaginable and I am not one of them.
However, I have in interest in improving at all these things and being proficient in all of them without ever focussing on one to the exclusion of all other things. I listen to the experts, and through trial and error I find what works for me, and what doesn’t.
I continue to insist on enjoying my life the way I want to enjoy it and ignoring those who tell me I can’t do anything because I’m a woman. You can find out more about why I do it here.