Thanks (but no thanks…)

I was overwhelmed by the response I received regarding last night’s documentary! The sheer amount of people who watched it was one thing, but the amount of tweets and messages wishing me luck and cheering the whole team on was absolutely incredible. For the three of us featured in the show, the fact that we, three female British weightlifters, made it to a mainstream TV channel for doing the sport we love is amazing. A few years ago the idea of that would’ve been unthinkable, which really shows how far the sport has come in such a short space of time. While it is still very much a minority sport, the amount of both participants and supporters is growing rapidly.We’ve even had a few people tell us we’ve inspired them to try weightlifting, which means the absolute world to us.

At the risk of sounding slightly up myself, I’d love to be able to personally reply to every lovely message each one of you have sent, but there were so many I’d be sat on my laptop sending messages for the next year! (And I kind of have that thing to do next week…) Basically, what I’m trying to say is if you watched – thank you! And if you didn’t, it will be on BBC 3 more or less daily for the next week I think, and it’s also on iPlayer. So you really don’t have an excuse now. Wink.

While we can’t get enough of the supportive messages (seriously, keep ’em coming, I think I speak for all of us when I say my self-esteem is currently at an all-time high), what we aren’t so crazy about is the few ignorant twerps making rude comments. We did a quick search on Twitter for the title of the programme, ‘weightlifting’ and our names (it isn’t every day you’re on telly for an hour, so of course you’d be interested to see what people are thinking!), and the majority response was still very positive. But there were of course a very small percentage of idiots who seemed to have missed the entire point of the documentary. However after reading for a while it became more and more obvious that these people had never done a moment of exercise in their life, or had the intelligence of a potato.

The obvious choice of slander when talking about female weightlifting is “how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong”. And maybe they’re right… in the Victorian era. To think people still think like this is laughable, we’re in 2012! This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them. Simple as that. I confronted one guy that said “we’re probably all lesbians and look like blokes”, purely to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron. And wrong. He came up with the original comeback that I should get back in the kitchen. I laughed.

As Hannah pointed out earlier, we don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.

Oh but wait, you aren’t. This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.
And here’s some food for thought – maybe you should broaden your criteria for what you consider ‘attractive’ anyway, because these perfect, feminine women you speak of probably have no interest in you either. 

What makes me sad is that some girls had this opinion too! How ironic that the title of the show was Girl Power. You’d think that young women around the same age as us would commend us for doing something different and with our lives, and putting 100% effort into it in order to make something of ourselves. But apparently we’re ‘weird’ for not constantly eating crap, binge drinking regularly and wearing the shortest, tightest dresses that the high street has to offer. Sigh…

Anyway, that’s all I can be bothered to say for now as it’s probably a lost cause. It’s the first sunny day we’ve had in weeks, and I have loads of summer clothes that I bought ages ago that I’ve not had a chance to wear yet. It is going to take me hours to decide which to wear first! See, I can do girly…

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Anticipating tonight’s documentary

I briefly mentioned in my first blog that there was going to be a documentary about Hannah Powell, Helen Jewell and I on TV tonight. Its title is now Girl Power: Going for Gold and its on BBC 3 at 9pm. And to be quite honest, I am already quite horrified about what might be shown.

We started filming the documentary in July 2011 when Hannah and I were just moving up to Leeds. I think my first session of filming was the day I moved. I’d attended the Hop Farm music festival the day before – I’d seen Morrissey that night, so I was on a high – but I think I probably looked a bit worse for wear. I also vaguely remember being pretty stressed out by the fact that I was going to have to drag a few heavy bags up on the train with me. In all honesty, I could’ve probably done without having a camera held in my face at that point in time, but I prevailed for the sake of the documentary. I’m good like that.

My next concern is the video diaries I also briefly mentioned. We were supposed to do a few a week (but I don’t think I did) and as you can imagine, outside of training, not a massive lot happened to me most weeks. As I sat there, rambling absent-mindedly about my (probably dull) week to the camera in the privacy of my own bedroom, it was all too easy to forget that it could possibly be broadcast to the entire nation. The worst part of it all is that I know for a FACT that 99.9% of my diaries were done makeupless and on bad hair days. I think I might’ve even done one in the bath once (it was an ice bath, and I was appropriately attired, stop panicking). I really hope that the editor was kind enough to cut most of the bad ones out!

Speaking of my quite regularly atrocious appearance, I am now going to take this opportunity to ask you all to kindly turn a blind eye to how fat I look in parts of this documentary. I compete in the 58kg category these days, but for quite a while last year I was in the 63kg category and sadly, I remember weighing about 65kg at one point. Weight, I know, is a touchy subject for women everywhere (except for the annoying ones with naturally perfect figures). And ladies, there is no shame in weighing 65kg. But when you are just over 5″2 and that extra stone – yes a whole stone – goes on your belly and face, it doesn’t make you feel particularly excellent. I am aware I sound very paranoid and self-concious at the moment, but I assure you that my self-esteem is completely intact. Maybe due to the fact that I’m now back down to my normal size, but present day me will almost certainly be watching the 2011 version of me in horror later. 

As you’re all now aware (to my own amusement), I can be a very angry person anyway. This is often because I basically can’t eat anything. Bold letters were necessary there. There is in fact, a direct correlation between how much a person can eat and how happy they are. Take Victoria Beckham for example – has anyone ever seen her so much as nibble on a grape? Have they ever seen her crack a smile either? And c’mon, it isn’t like she hasn’t got anything to smile about. She’s a millionaire, lives in sunny LA and she’s married to Becks. I wouldn’t STOP smiling. So there’s your proof, so you can forgive me for being potentially rather grouchy in parts of this documentary. I think there’s a bit where I fight with my sister for having a takeaway, which in hindsight is a stupid thing to argue about, but when you’re starving and your sister sits there stuffing her face with McDonald’s, it really does feel like you against the world. 

Aside from the aforementioned potential disasters, it should be quite a good piece of film! In the bio which can be found on the BBC 3 website, it says “We see how they cope with living away from home for the first time, serious injury, a relentless training schedule, travelling the world and being under the spotlight. Finding out if it’s possible to balance being a serious athlete with growing up, getting an education and falling in love”. I’ve not seen it yet myself, but they must’ve edited it very well because as I recall it, it was a year of the three of us running around saying and doing ridiculous things (and the odd bit of weightlifting). 

Look out for it tonight (July 22nd 2012) on BBC 3 at 9pm! Please feel free to comment on here to let me know what you think, alternatively you can message me or Hannah (unfortunately Helen isn’t on it) on Twitter  – @ZoePabloSmith and @hannahpowell92 and give us your feedback.

Enjoy! 

Five things that have been annoying me this week

Its been a long week so far. I’m tired and irritable, and my face hurts due to wisdom teeth coming through. Therefore I thought I’d let myself have a bit of a rant, and anybody that wants to read it can. I’ve limited myself to five points, purely because nobody in their right minds would have the time, patience or interest to hear me going on about stuff that I don’t like for any longer than that. So here, in no particular order, are five things that have bothered me over the past few days or so.

Mosquitos

I thought I’d ease you into this post gently, by talking about a universally-hated creature, created for the good of absolutely nobody. Of course, I am talking about the mosquito. I woke up the other morning with a few itchy red bumps on my legs. Coincidentally, I hadn’t realised that I was itchy until I’d seen them. Then, of course, I just had to scratch. And typically, they have been bothering me ever since. 
The existence of the mosquito is pretty much the reason I don’t believe in God. Why would anyone with all the power in the world choose to create these irritating little tyrants purely to suck on the blood of humans causing them hours of endless pain and frustration? While your counter argument may have something to do with that old thing we call the food chain, you should know that I really don’t care. I am pretty sure that whatever is eating mosquitos would not miss them if they were to disappear off the face of the earth. There is other food. Food that doesn’t make the most annoying, high pitched buzz in the middle of the night while you’re trying to sleep, making you fear for your life as you lay paralysed and blind under your duvet. 

Harem Pants

The worst part about these is that, if worn correctly, they can look really nice. However not if you have a bigger bum and hips than waist. In fact, I am finding I have the same problem with any sort of shorts/jeans/trousers. But I have recently discovered harem pants to be the biggest offenders. I found an old pair in my wardrobe the other day that I hadn’t worn in about 2 years, and decided to give them a go. I soon remembered why I had stopped wearing them though. Surprisingly, they slid up easily over my legs and bum (which is a rare occurence when you do weightlifting), but the high waist was way too big. Consequently, it fell straight back down to my hips, creating an unsightly fold between my hip bones. I looked like an obese person who’d lost a lot of weight and was left with loads of skin that just sagged downwards. This is not fashion. I felt like the genie from Aladdin. 

Abuse of the English language

By English people, this is. I think we’re just going to have to accept that Americans will forever be drinking from faucets rather than taps, throwing things into trashcans rather than bins, removing ‘u’s and replacing ‘s’s with ‘z’s. Why fight it?
Fair enough, language is always changing and developing, and new words are always being invented. But there is no excuse for words such as “dench”, “reem” and “wooldy” – what the **** even is this last one?! I keep seeing it pop up on my Twitter timeline and every time I’m like… what?! What does it mean? How would I even pronounce that?! Seriously, if you have any idea please feel free to inform me.
I have been known to use the odd abbreviation such as “lol”, “noob” and “wtf”. But creating new, nonsensical words when we already have perfectly good ones which mean the same thing? Inexcusable. And you know who I blame? ….

Reality TV shows and its ‘produce’

Yes. These are the culprits for attempting to destroy not only our language, but our entire country it would appear. The Only Way Is Essex being a classic example. I’m choosing to pick on this show because it seems to have the biggest idiots. Whatsmore is, somehow, they’ve cleverly managed to market these morons so well that ‘idiot’ has become the new ‘cool’. And even better, teenagers/young adults/fools everywhere are really buying into it and looking up to these idiots as role models! I can’t go to Bexleyheath without seeing hundreds of 15 year old Joey Essex wannabes. If you’ve watched the show, you will realise that no good can come of trying to emulate Joey Essex. This kid can only just about string a sentence together, and even then, half the words are just made up. Are these words only catching on because people are just humouring him, like you do to really little kids who can’t speak properly yet? 
That said, in his defence he seems fairly harmless. Mostly because I sincerely doubt he has enough brainpower to cause anyone any harm. However, the cast of Geordie Shore are more or less entirely what is wrong with the country. I will admit, that I do find them fairly funny in their own, strange little way. Its the men that annoy me most – they strut around acting like they’re God’s gift to women all the while treating them like dirt. To add insult to injury, they do it whilst sporting the most over-waxed eyebrows I’ve ever seen – they’d put most GIRLS to shame. It would seem that the entire point of their existence was to have sex with as many of their female counterparts as possible. And sadly, it seems that the rest of the country are following the example given by these ‘men’, who should think about crawling back to whatever cave they came out of and carry on evolving.

Idiots on the Internet

My final, and possibly most controversial point so far. Lately, I’ve been finding that more and more people have been tweeting me replying to my tweets. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when people tweet me and I’m usually happy to reply. But when people are rude and stupid, it really grinds my gears. If you don’t agree with something I’ve said, fair enough. But at least be polite enough to put it in a diplomatic way! The problem with that is, the majority of the people I’m talking about probably aren’t actually intelligent enough to even know what diplomatic means (or even that I’m talking about them). In fact, I’m only confident enough to make this point on here because I know that most of the people I’m talking about either can’t read or will have given up after the first sentence. Mostly, said people will make a completely unrelated, irrelevant and invalid point… leaving me sat staring at my screen, shaking my head and questioning my faith in humanity while thinking “what was the point in that?!” Are you trying to get a reaction? Or do you just want me to notice you? Well, congratulations. I officially think you’re an idiot. Would you like a badge? As you may have gathered, if you’ve done this, I probably don’t like you. 
When someone with an IQ higher than five makes a valid point, I’m happy to talk about it. Until then, please, just don’t even say it. To make it even worse, these are the kind of people that usually add about nine x’s to the end of the message. Just to make it that little bit more irritating. 

So there you have it, one gigantic rant about everything. If you have a problem with it, make sure to check your IQ before making that point to me, there are many sites on the Internet where you can do that. That’s if you can operate Google effectively. 

No time like the present…

So today, I decided I’d start writing a blog. And here it is.

I spent the morning brainstorming ideas on how I’d start this off… And to be quite honest I came up with nothing. So, although I imagine you’d already have to sort of know me to be reading this, here’s a bit about me:

I’m Zoe, I lift weights. I’m going to the Olympics. I live in south east London. I like shopping, clothes, girly magazines, comedy, music and food. I hate walking. I’m scared of spiders and driving. That’s pretty much it!

You’re going to have to be patient with me as I’m a complete noob to the blogging world. I did a few blogs once on my lifting career but there’s only so many times you can say “I went to the gym, I picked some things up and put them down again” without it getting old.

It all started with a wave of inspiration this morning. I was sitting at my computer desk, happily drinking tea in my Batman PJs when there was a bang at the door ( – is there anything worse than having to answer the door sporting the I-have-just-got-out-of-bed look?). It turns out I was needed to sign for a delivery which just so happened to be an Xbox360 with Kinect!

Months ago, when I still lived in Leeds for training purposes, I never thought I’d want to see an Xbox again. I was living with 4 boys and one of my best friends, Hannah, who are also all GB weightlifters. Us two girls were, on a daily basis, subjected to the sounds of FIFA and F1 every time we wandered through the living room, which needless to say, we absolutely despised. Especially as we only had one TV in the house and it was being abused with FIFA.

Hannah and I debated on replacing their man-games with more ‘female friendly’ ones such as Zumba Fitness, just because to us that would’ve been hilarious, but we decided that idea would have gone down like a lead balloon. But as of today, I am the proud owner of my very own Xbox and I will zumba if I want to.
Although this story seems to have gone off on a tangent, I assure you its all relevant. Sort of.

I texted Hannah to let her know she would be zumba-ing with me this weekend as she’s coming down to stay for a bit while she works as a technical official at the Games, and automatically envisioned the pair of us dancing like utter twatheads in my living room. I smiled at the thought, and wondered what people would think if they could see the two of us. My next thought was “maybe that’s not such a bad idea”. We’ve just finished filming a documentary for BBC 3 – the working title was ‘Iron Maidens’ and its due to air this weekend. It was great fun to be part of, we were each given our own handicams to film video diaries and anything we deemed interesting or funny enough to be seen. Although the documentary is filmed and all handicams returned, there’s still loads of stuff I’d love for people to see! And there, ladies and gentlemen, was the inspiration for my blog.

So I decided I’m going to start to filming and sharing random bits of my life that I personally find interesting or funny, and documenting stuff in more than 140 characters. This might be the biggest fail ever, but I’m willing to give it a go.

PS, I’ll keep you posted on the zumba video.