Jenny Valentish has been devoted to dancing around the void for many decades, first in the pub and then the boxing ring as a kickboxer. Jenny is the author of the acclaimed Woman of Substance: A Journey into Addiction and Treatment and her new book, Everything Harder Than Everyone Else: Why Some of Us Push Our Bodies to Extremes.
About the book: There is a part of human nature compelled to test our own limits. But what happens when this part comes to define us?
When journalist Jenny Valentish wrote Woman of Substances, a book about addiction, she noticed that people who treated drug-taking like an Olympic sport would often hurl themselves into a pursuit like marathon running upon giving up.
What stayed constant was the need to push their boundaries. Everything Harder Than Everyone Else follows people doing the things that most couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t. By delving into their extreme behaviour, theres a lot that us mere mortals can learn about the human condition.
The athlete using childhood adversity as grist for the mill. The wrestler turning restlessness into curated ultraviolence. The bare-knuckle boxer whose gnarliest opponent is her ego. The dancer who could not separate her identity from her practice until at deaths door. The bodybuilder exacting order on a life that was once chaotic. And the porn star-turned-fighter for whom sex and violence are two sides of the same coin.
Their insights lead Jenny on a compulsive, sometimes reckless journey of immersion journalism.
* CONTENT WARNING - Drugs, Sex, Self Harm, Cutting Weight, Eating Disorders, Obsession, Suffering, Addiction.
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Who is Jenny?
Growing up in Slough
Being a journalist and an author
Writing her 4th book - Everything Harder Than Everyone Else
Being interested in the mental side of endurance
Her starting point for the book
The link between addiction and endurance racing
Asking the question - how far can I push myself
Pushing your body to the extreme
The anticipation of entering a race and the anticipation of getting a drug to get high
Getting a sense of validation from other people
Why balance is over rated?
Having obsessions from childhood
How her obsessions changed when she got into her teens and early twenties
Finding kickboxing, and training 5x a week
Finding a positive obsession
Starting to research the book
Finding people who would trust her
Why am I doing this thing - which puts a lot of pressure on my body?
Super elite athletes and their link to past suffering in childhood
Suffering as an adult athlete and being able to push through the pain
Why certain sports attract certain personalities
The rise of women taking up strength sports
The feeling of POWER and women wanting to take up physical space
Social Media Project - #YouLookLikeAMan
Her journey in kickboxing
Taking on her first amateur fight
What it was like being in the ring….
The fear of getting back into the ring