The time of this blog has come to pass.

Thank you for reading and commenting but i feel it is time to streamline things and start afresh as i no longer feel the need to write about so many things. Switching over for a few reasons to a simpler and more focused site.





Niger Delta / June 2009

Just returned from spending a week in Nigeria in the Niger Delta with New Foundations. This trip consisted of my dad, our good friend who is a Pastor from the States named Joey, and myself. We spend the entire time in the village/town of Enekorogha, basing ourselves at the clinic. The main things we and all others involved engaged in were seeing patients (about 250 over the week), surgical operations, preaching the word (in houses, the clinic, in church), teaching about nutrition, fixing the solar panel powered battery, as well as a bunch of other things.
I went over with the goal of making some kind of bamboo training structure for the kids and teenagers, of whom there are many. Things seem to operate on a bit of an age hierarchy, so the young kids tend to get a lot of flak from the old guys in the form of physical assertiveness.

Anyway, as is the per usual, I will explain my own personal experience in bullet points since I tend to loathe overly long winded posts.

- Canoed with two of the lads to the bush to hack down huge lengths of bamboo with a 'cutlass'.
- Made the Bamboo frame successfully in a few days.
- Played and hung out with the manic kids a lot.
- Saw a cesarean performed 4 feet from me as well as the baby and mother recovering well.
- Killed a chicken for lunch (with an unsuitably blunt knife which wasn't so nice).

- Experienced a full-on, mad-for-it, booty-shaking, hucker-bucking, 3 hour african church
- Saw a lot of the village when my friend who i met four years ago on my first trip took me to
see his many relatives and friends.
- Got told i look 15 years old.
- Accidentally formatted 4 days worth of incredible photos....

- Made a walking stick for an old lady who was using a heavy metal rod.

- Met some very humbling and next level people who make me feel like a total noob at life.

Child with bad malaria

Myself and some of the boyz

Constructing the cane out of a piece of bamboo we found

Hopefully it should last and bring some relief from her other one
Only some of the many crazy kidz, bunch of nutters!

The Chairman, his committee and us

"Off with his head!"

Lovely jubbly.

Rose, one of the healthcare workers (and a total legend) teaching about nutrition to mothers.

Some of the typical marks of a witch doctor treatment

The finished construction. Very sturdy despite appearances!

New Foundations tribute to Ronnie Coleman


Pancreatic Musings

Diabetes is a condition where the pancreas either cannot produce the adequate amount of insulin to keep blood sugar balanced within a healthy range, or where the pancreas just simply stops being able to produce insulin. These two types are known respectively as type 2, and type 1.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which usually occurs in children and adolescents, with the pancreas completely unable to produce insulin. In this type, injections and regular blood sugar testing must be undertaken daily, and permanently for the rest of one's life (although there are developments in research with cures).

The result of not keeping a check on blood sugar, are potentially serious future complications such as kidney failure, blindness, limb amputation, heart attack etc. Therefore, its important to do the job of the pancreas as accurately as possible through checking blood sugar regularly and injecting insulin accordingly throughout the day.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 14 years old after the experience symptoms of extremely high blood sugar such as blurred vision, unquenchable thirst, frequently needing to urinate and tiredness. I arrived at the hospital with a reading of 40 mmol, bearing in mind that a 'healthy' person has a maintained blood sugar of 4mmol - 10 mmol. I was kept overnight on a drip and given a cardboard container to piss into through the night since my body was still not retaining much fluids. I didn't feel massively phased by being diagnosed to be honest and didn't really internally rebel against it or anything, but rather accepted it without too much questioning. There was actually something strangely alluring about having a bag of syringes that I could carry round and use on myself in front of people at school.

After 7 years of having a condition like this, I would say that it has made me who I am in many ways. One of my biggest motivations to stay active and pursue a healthy lifestyle is because I have a real-time, constant indicator as to how I am doing. I inject about 5-8 times a day and test my blood sugar about 10 times a day by pricking my finger and applying blood to test strips. Looking at it, this does sound like quite a bit of hassle, but I am extremely used to it now. I would get asked whenever going out to a bar or whatever "why are you taking a rucksack?". I need to carry my insulin and testing kit 24/7 wherever I am, which essentially acts as my pancreas externally, with me regulating manually instead of my body doing it naturally.

Diabetes has really helped me clean up my diet (post below not counting!!) and given me a further reason to keep moving and active throughout my life. It is kind of an internal laboratory I can use to experiment with different foods, seeing the direct effect of starches and sugars within minutes. You might 'know' that a french baguette has a glycemic index of 95, but I can see the demands it places on my body when I eat it and try to balance it with insulin. I know just from experience that a melon is an absolute bitch to counter correctly, and so I know what a healthy pancreas has to do to keep up with what people are eating. Fruit can be quite demanding on the insulin, but the effects something like some cake or pastries can have on your insulin demands is another level. From eating that half a cake and entire vienetta (admittedly not an average desert!), I was feeling the effects of it and having to act accordingly right through to the afternoon the following day. To see what some people eat as a daily lifestyle really scares me to how hard their body is working, and also how amazing the body is at dealing with the amount of crap some people put it through.

Don't worry though, this isn't going to turn into a rant about how people's health are going down the drain, or how Oprah Winfrey is winging out free KFC for her American viewers in an effort to promote health.
Having diabetes has given me an increased sense of responsibility in keeping on point with my health on a daily basis, spurring me to pursuing better nutrition and to train daily. It's become like brushing my teeth. However, in the first few years I had some really struggles with it, and still do depending on my situation, such having to make my own food in China last year rather than die an early death from the local cooking. However, now unlike before, I don't get overly depressed from a month of poor control, but deal with it better and acknowledge that life is a learning process and this is just an element of that for me.

It seems to be quite a popular and perhaps western ideal that the fewer responsibilities, the better, that freedom comes from being free from responsibilities. Staying at home playing video games without a plan for a job or study, or taking off "Into the Wild" to utterly detach oneself from society's expectations (awesome film btw).
Its pretty attractive to be independent of responsibility, or further from that, accountability. People who don't look after their health in a society where it is possible to, are neglecting the most immediate responsibility given to them from birth.

Aside from this though, the challenge to such a notion: "is it not our responsibility, to seek responsibility?" By this, I mean that instead of pursuing freedom through trying to live as independant, 'free souls', is there a kind of obligation and merit to taking on responsibility? The ideas of becoming bogged down by mortgage, getting to work, writing that 3000 word essay, getting up to feed the baby, are all fairly unattractive in themselves. But they are the responsibilities required to fulfill greater ends: keeping a roof over your family, supporting the family, getting a good degree, taking care of your kid.

Within the culture of parkour is an almost universal notion of altruism, of helping others. Sometimes I lose perspective that I am in the minuscule percentage of the world who have the privilege to train and do what I do, whilst most of the world are struggling to feed themselves, or working 40+ hour weeks to pay the bills and support their family. I actually find that through parkour, I have become very precious with my time, hating to be interrupted when training hard or having to sacrifice a planned session for something else. This is just my personal experience, and I actually think its fine to be like this to a degree because certain things need to be done. For me staying active and well is primary. But being honest, how altruistic am I, or you? I have heard so many people talking about the freedom parkour brings, and it does in a way for sure, which is very positive. But in order to 'be altruistic', responsibilities must be beared. Responsibilities to not put yourself first and to widen your net of responsibility further, bearing more upon yourself, but also being involved in more than your own microcosm world of training.

This is something that I struggle with. Through 7 years of fairly steep learning, I have learnt to fully accept and bear the responibility of being diabetic and accountable only to myself for my health. What used to get me down such as poor blood sugar control in a certain month still happens, but I more readily accept it and learn from it. If someone told me before I was diabetic that I will essentially have to do the job of one of my organs for the rest of my life, regulating my blood sugar non-stop, I would have found that difficult to take in. Now though, its fine.

Can the same be applied for other things? I think so. Tasks or responsibilities that initially seem daunting or highly unattractive, over time can be beared and accepted more easily, until it is like brushing your teeth, or regulating your blood sugar.

I am definitely finding out that as I grow up, more responsibilities are coming my way. I used to really run from the idea of perhaps having to get a mortgage, saying that "ill just live in a van or something". And it still does turn me off, but if its part of a greater good, then its something that I can accept. With a year left of my degree before I try and do something with myself, I am responsible for being the one to get off my ass and engage with the world and pursue something worthwhile. I am no longer fully independent, with responsibility for another person with my girlfriend in China, which is great. I am sure things will just increase and pick up speed as life goes on, which I guess is otherwise known as growing up! With this process, I think there also needs to be a healthy and frequent dosage of 'manning up', and getting on with life.

How do you view the relationship between your 'freedom' and 'responsibility'?


Optimum Nutrition

We all know how important a good diet is in life, and when coupled with correct and intelligent training, can help lead to massive gains in all kinds of training goals such as weight loss, strength building etc.
With this in mind, it is important to keep a check on what we put in ourselves and to research optimum ways to fuel our bodies in order to promote longevity and health.
In the constant, relentless pursuit of optimum nutrition, I believe I have come up with a way of covering all bases in terms of what the body requires to be lean, resilient, strong and able.
Supplying an impressive 1900 calories, this is a great post-training meal or just daily way to keep the excess weight off. Our body is like a car, we need to give it the best fuel possible if we aim to perform well.
Bear in mind, this is one portion for one person. It is important to eat the whole thing otherwise you don't get the right mix of vegetable oils and saturated fats, and...stuff.
Behold, the cake-ennetta...
I'm sure Bruce Lee missed something here...


Arbitrary life update:

Been putting off writing anything for a while, mainly because not much has happened which is worth writing about after Libya to be honest. Be that as it may, I feel that 2 months without writing anything is pretty poor form on my part, regardless of how few people are interested anyway.

At the moment I am in my last few weeks of term for my 3rd and penultimate year of university, so predictably I am just pushing through with essays, revision, and keeping on top of other bits and bobs before finishing up for the academic year. So in terms of that, the work is going ok and I am keeping on top of the Chinese in general, viewing it as a real investment for the future which I envisage will be predominantely in China.

In terms of training, its been a bit of everything to be honest. I have been climbing quite a lot during my time in sheffield, pretty much exclusively in an indoor bouldering wall down the round from me, much to my shame when the Peak district is just an 8 mile bike ride away. I am just poor at planning for a whole day of something!
So my climbing has been going ok and steadily improving I feel, and also parkour/movement is going ok. I have been a bit of a lone ranger with training after my time in China. I just got used to training almost exclusively by myself and still seem to enjoy it more than with other people, which is something that I need to work on before I become a complete recluse I think.
Been trying to work on slightly more extroverted movements rather than just retreating into drilling precisions and simple movements, so I have been trying to push out a wee bit and do things a little more challenging, albeit still simple stuff overall.
Strength training is good and fun. I have stopped doing certain reps and sets and rest times with things and instead go out to find a playground for example, and concentrate on perhaps doing 40 minutes of dynamic pulling movements in a very free way, just doing any and all kinds of movements I can think of just using the arms for pulling muscles.
Routine kind of looks like this:

MON: Pulling (dynamic), movement, drills
TUE: Squats, deadlifts, climbing/resting/running
WED: Pushing, movement, drills
THUR: Squats, deadlifts, climbing/resting/running
FRI: Pulling (max strength), movements, drills
SAT: Pushing, running/movement/climbing/whatever
SUN: running/climbing/movement/resting

Admittedly, I miss the occassional session at the moment when I am trying to smash a deadline or if life in general gets in the way, but thats what I aim for each week at the moment.

Plan for summer:
20 - 29th June = Nigeria.
Making a bamboo playground for the kids in a village, going out with dad and 3 others, should be full on hectic steez!
20 - 29th July = Iran.
Family holiday to Iran!
5th August - 18th September = CHINA.
Going to see the lady in Shanghai (will have been 6 months) and do something productive. Definately want to hook up with as many people as possible for training and chilling, so anyone in the oriental area, get in touch!

Site of the moment: Always Be Ready

live long and prosper!