Body fat percentage: officially in the ‘fit’ range

I have been pretty quiet on the blog lately. I could blame my Academic workload. I could blame my equestrian endeavours and its competitions. However, I am an honest person and I’ll tell you the truth. I simply haven’t been … Continue reading

Surfing has given me strength

First successful surf

First successful surf

I remember my first successful surf fondly. I was so eager to stand up that eventually I did, but I also remember feeling as though I stood out for the wrong reasons. Not for being uncoordinated and unbalanced, but because I was older and not exactly athletic. The anxiety I felt when being handed my wetsuit (would I have to change in front of these buff surf coaches?) and feeling weak as I carried the huge foamie to the beach (cue out-of-breathness). It made me want to be “good” at surfing all the more, just to prove to any critics that I could.

Ultimately, BED hit me after my first successful lesson and I got even fatter. But when you’re severely depressed and grieving, you really don’t care how you pull yourself through each day. We all need comfort. Unfortunately, mine turned into an eating disorder that made me even more depressed because I hated the way I looked (and felt). I hated myself enough to stop eating, and that’s when I knew I needed something else to focus on – other than hating myself.

"Boardie" - the beginning of a new stage in my life

“Boardie” – the beginning of a new stage in my life

That was when I decided to get healthy and see a psychologist, and go out on a limb and commit myself to surfing by buying my first surfboard. I’ve learned a lot about myself since deciding to surf. I know I have someone inside me that is confident and able to paddle through the impact zone, but also someone that feels confident enough to change into a wetsuit in front of buff surfer dudes (albeit awkwardly). Surfing has given me endurance and strength I never would have found in the world. I have my rough periods; the day the doctor “updated” my eating disorder was a day I felt like I had tinnitus – the words Bulimia Nervosa rang in my ear – in fact they still do because it doesn’t feel right. I am not Bulimic, yet I have Bulimia. I feel very disconnected from this diagnosis. I do not throw up food so how am I Bulimic? Again, the surfing has helped me re-establish my sense of identity and give me a place where I am safe.

The journey is still just beginning...

The journey is still just beginning…

Now I am fitter and healthier than ever before. I surf and I workout. I still struggle with eating like a normal person, but the important thing is that I try. I’ve given my psychologist the sack and I’m relying on my own strengths to heal myself, because thanks to surfing, I have power.

My journey is still just beginning…

Am I fit? Yes…But no!

This blog has been a chronicle of my journey from kook surfer to a beginner surfer on the cusp of becoming a beginner-intermediate. It has gone from when my disorder was loud and affecting my everyday life to now when it only pops … Continue reading

It’s a mental and physical thing

Wipe-outs. We all have them. At any stage in your journey, you might have them on every single wave. I don’t mind wipe-outs. (They’re just a good opportunity to go for a dip in the ocean.) Since my surf lesson … Continue reading

Push it; push it good

Challenging yourself is a lot fun. I like to always try new things and see how I can incorporate new activities into my work-outs so that my body doesn’t just become ho-hum with whatever we’re doing…or I’m doing…Pardon the disassociation … Continue reading

Running fitness is (yet again) spoiled…

I’ve been sentenced to time out of the water again, this time with a bad case of sinusitis. Snorting in nostril-fuls of icy water probably isn’t a wise idea but I really miss being in the ocean. It’s been a week and I’m going a little crazy.

My face feels like it’s been slapped by a dolphin and my chest feels like my horse has sat on it!

I was getting really good at my breathing with running a couple of times a week, so I’m so disappointed that (yet again) my running fitness has been spoiled. It’s taken me a week to feel up to sit up at my computer and type this. I’m hoping it’s a sign I am on the mend. I admit that I pushed myself a little too hard. I was exercising through the initial stages and now my body is weak and fighting against me.

What are some ways you can suggest to maintain fitness even though breathing is a little difficult? I’ve been doing V sit-ups and squats, but the only running I’ve been doing is to the toilet to paint the restroom in vomit. (Sorry for that image by the way…) I had a hell of a fever for a few days and it made me rather ill.

Are there any tips or home remedies you know of that I can use to get better quicker so I can back into the water?

Wave runner

Jess Tuckman

Jess Tuckman, by Checkered Photography

When there is no surf, we need to keep our fitness levels up for when the decent swell does come, and if you’re like me, you’ll get bored if you don’t burn off your excess energy. Running is an accessible and simple solution (although it just isn’t as exciting as surfing). I find that if I just run at one pace for a few miles then it is boring and not really that beneficial. When you surf you are working your body at different rates depending on what you are doing. If you are just paddling around in between sets, you are not going to be working as hard as if you would be if you were paddling for a wave. When you run, alter your speed and also try to plan a route that has flat, uphill and downhill. As well as working your body at low- and high-intensity you will also be using muscles differently.

I don’t get as bored by this type of run and to spice it up a bit more you could also add in some press-ups, sit-ups, squats or any other exercises at different points in your route.
Happy surfing x.

Jess Tuckman is a surfer from Cornwall in England. She began surfing five years ago and regularly competes in UKPSA.

Back to basics

I’ve been swimming lately to strengthen my paddling muscles. No, I don’t actually know what those muscles are scientifically named. All I know is I need them to be better than they used to be if I’m ever going to stop being chucked over the falls (which is doing my confidence no favours, by the way).

I’m great at swimming if I’m submerged. I can scoop this arms and flick my booty with enough style and speed to swim competently. But this freestyle business…is a lot harder. I don’t like the traditional technique of being face down and taking a breath on the side every second or third stroke. I can’t master it. I never could at swim class as a kidlet, and I probably still can’t (if I actually tried). So I keep my head up. Sure, it makes my legs have to work harder but it’s a good thing I have thighs of steel from my horse riding. I’m not bothered by my “contemporary style” of freestyle.

But it’s slow. And hard. I go for a twenty-to-thirty minute swim and I am bothered. My heart feels like it’s going to be expunged. My breathing is shameful for somebody that is supposed to be chronicling her fitness journey. (Hangs head in shame.)


Today I was paddling my surfboard(s). I arched my back and powered through the impact zone without being a) pummelled or b) thrown off. I could really get some speed up! My demented freestyling has helped build some strength so I am singing praise for the aquatic exercise that is freestyle. Woohoo! Although, I need to build more endurance strength because albeit that I had more oooomph in my stroke – my body didn’t agree that it was a wise idea to paddle and paddle and paddle and paddle and paddle and paddle through all those breakers. Cue the expunging heart.

My surfing can improve away from the waves. While it’s improving, I can rebuild some confidence. I was lifted high by two waves today, but only one chucked me. I managed to ride the other one with a wobble and a gulp of sea water as it broke with me down the line. As for the rest of my waves, I just caught white-water. What better place to build confidence than back where the babies surf. At least I look like I’m an okay surfer in the white-water instead of a bad one.