Monday, August 13, 2012
Weightlifter Sarah Robles.
I often feel out of place calling myself an athlete. This isn't as much the case as it used to be, but sometimes I feel like I'm in a game of "Which One Doesn't Belong?" Granted, I don't feel like I'm treated this way (at least not anymore), but I still feel a bit awkward in my martial arts classes. I don't often see other big martial artists, especially women. I do my best not to show how awkward I feel with all of these very trim athletes I train with, but sometimes I would like to see another serious athlete who also happens to be very overweight.
I didn't follow the Olympics terribly closely, but I did follow the journey of American weightlifter Sarah Robles. She weighs 275 pounds and has been touted as "the strongest woman in America." I have never adored an athlete more in my whole life. She persisted through training with little sponsorship, the ultimate in "if you want it, go and get it." She placed 7th when she competed on August 5th, and I am very proud of her.
I also love her because she makes no apologies for her body size. Sarah has advocated that fitness wear manufacturers produce clothing to fit every athlete. She has been outspoken about the fact that athletes can come in every shape and size. I look at her and I see a bit of myself (not that I'm an Olympian, though!), and I am grateful that she has come to the forefront. I think this is just the beginning for Sarah, and I can't wait to see more.
Check out her blog here:
Image from thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/07/0
ic-weightlifter-sarah-robles/ ; I would recommend reading the article, it talks about how Sarah deserves major sponsorship.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Hmmm, it has been a while since I have blogged. I have not been posting a "Week in Review" blog like I should, but I am working on a blog post. In the meantime, I came across this "50 Things About Me" deal on BAZOOKABOBCAT's blog and it looks fun, so here it is:
1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
Nope! Came close to being named "Gladys" after my great grandmother, though.
2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
Haha, probably at some point over the past week. I'm like a little kid, I cry if I'm frustrated or upset in any way.
3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
It's all right.
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?
I'm a vegetarian, so none!
5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
No, and I don't plan on having any.
6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
Probably. I'd like to think I do my best to be there for my friends.
7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
I'm afraid of heights, including standing on a ladder, so probably not.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
Soy Delicious Peanut Butter Zigzag.
14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Their body language/posture--can tell a lot from that first glimpse.
15. RED OR PINK?
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
I don't like when I'm not consistent with healthy eating or exercise.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
My older brother Brian, who died at the age of 8 in a car accident (I was 5).
18. WHAT IS THE PAUL MCKENNA TECHNIQUE THAT YOU NEED TO WORK ON THE MOST?
19. ANY TATTOOS?
7 of 'em...
19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
A protein shake after my workout.
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
The quiet between phone calls at work.
22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
23. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Thunderstorms, chocolate, coffee, rose, vanilla, jasmine, lavender, and lemon.
24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
A rude pet owner.
25. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?
Wow, super tough choice. Probably beach house--preferably with a view of mountains.
26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
27. HAIR COLOR?
28. EYE COLOR?
29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
30. FAVORITE FOOD?
If I had to pick an all-time never-going-to-give-it-up item, it would have to be black coffee.
31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
Not technically a movie, but watching "Breaking Bad" on Netflix.
33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
None, wearing a purple dress.
34. SUMMER OR WINTER?
35. HUGS OR KISSES?
36. FAVORITE DESSERT?
Anything with chocolate.
37. STRENGTH TRAINING OR CARDIO?
I like to pump it up, baby!
38. COMPUTER OR TELEVISION?
39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
42. FAVORITE SOUND?
The sound of my dog eating fruit ot veggies (makes the cutest crunching sounds).
43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?
44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
I do an excellent impression of a cat vomiting up a hairball--always impresses on first dates.
46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Mountain View, California.
47. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW?
48. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR HOUSE?
49. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR CAR?
50. DO YOU LIKE ANSWERING 50 QUESTIONS?
Are we done yet?
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I came across an article discussing mindful eating, which is kind of what I talked about in my blogs a couple of weeks ago ("The Impossible").
Monday, July 02, 2012
"There is no losing in Jiu-Jitsu. You either win or you learn."
-Carlos Gracie Jr.
Me vs. "Smashlee" in the Advanced Women's division.
The above quote by Carlos Gracie Jr. hit home with me because it actually sums up a lot of this journey for me. I stopped viewing myself as a failure, and began seeing learning opportunities in mistakes that have been made. Choosing to learn instead of seeing a setback at every corner has been the key to changing my life--the way I eat, the way I move, the people I choose to have in my life--everything. Choosing to learn has made me see that my weight is truly just a number and that I need not let my life pass me by as I wait to get to my "goal."
I was going to wait until I was closer to my goal weight to compete in martial arts, but decided to go for it now. My goal was to not have any expectations, just to train hard and get to the competition and have fun, and if I did well, it would just be a bonus. The feeling I got before doing the tournament was very different from when I had done triathlons and running races. There was no hiding in the crowd. This time, I needed the confidence to focus while a roomful of people stared at me while wearing tight-fitting clothes.
For this tournament, we had a 10 minute time limit, and it was "submission only." We just had to get the other person to tap out, instead of worrying about racking up points. I earned 2 medals (2nd place); the 1st place winner was a woman who was a blue belt with 2 years of experience and who has won several tournaments, so needless to say, she deserved to win. I really believe there is no shame in losing to someone who is significantly better.
Needless to say, I had a great experience with my first Jiu Jitsu tournament. It was one of the best days I've ever had, just taking into consideration everything that lead up to it. It took getting over body image problems, developing self-esteem, and taking control of my life. I was surprised that I never got particularly nervous in the days leading up to the tournament, or even on the day of when I got there.
I admit, I was not looking forward to weighing in at the event, but it was not like the old days in gym class where my weight was shouted out, followed by snickers. They just weighed me and wrote it down. Once all of the women got there, they realized that all of the women had less than a year of experience, except for one of them. I had heard about Smashlee (her name is actually Ashlee, but she is called Smashlee for a reason), who has dominated several tournaments and has a reputation in the region for being one of the best female martial artists. She did not have an opponent to compete in the Women's Advanced division, because she was the only advanced woman. I was asked if I would be willing to go against her. So, nothing like trial by fire--I agreed to do the Women's Advanced division against Smashlee.
I did not know what to expect since I had never met Smashlee. We had our first match almost right away, since the advanced people got to go first. Well--yeah, she was really good. All I could do was try to defend against what she was doing, and every time I tried to get to an offensive position, I made it worse for myself. This is usually how it goes when I roll (spar) with blue belts. They have earned a blue belt for a reason. She got me to tap by getting me with an arm bar. We hugged afterwards and I congratulated her. Now she has another first place medal for an advanced division, which is good for her future as a mixed martial artist, so I am happy for her.
The second division I did was the Women's Absolute, in which all of the women competed. I was told I would go against someone other than Smashlee for as long as possible. The first woman I went against tried everything she could to get into an offensive position, but I was making her play my game. When I got around to side mount (controlling from the side), I heard the whole room go "Ooooh!" I knew she could not win. I got her with a submission called Americana, which is a crank on the shoulder. I was ecstatic to win.
My next match was, unfortunately, against my own teammate. I won by getting a submission called Kimura (another type of crank on the shoulder), but was not thrilled about beating her.
Then, after all of the women competed, it came back down to me and Smashlee for first place. I felt a lot more warmed up at this time and was hopeful to do a bit better. The match started and it took her much longer to get into a really good position. We battled it out for quite a while, but I could not get her off of me. She finally got me with another arm bar. She said I did not make it easy for her at all, so that in itself is a little bit of a win. Smashlee was very gracious and actually gave me the rash guard that she had won, which was very sweet (she also won a raffle, so I thought it was very nice of her to share the wealth).
Smashlee got first place, and I was second. Considering she was the only blue belt woman there, I felt good that I had beat out the other women (although I really wanted my teammate to do well; she did not earn any medals). I consider earning 2 medals to be a very successful first tournament. My coaches were proud of me. My parents and brother were there, and I was happy I could share the moment with them.
Me being asked if I would go against Smashlee in the Advanced Women's division so she could have an opponent. Oh sure, why not, I make a good punching bag.
Getting smashed by Smashlee.
My second match, which I won.
After my first win.
Getting a hug from Dad after my first win.
My third match, the second match that I won. I felt a little bad because she is my teammate.
Smashlee winning by arm bar for first place.
Getting my 2nd place medal for the Women's Absolute division.
When I saw the picture of me hugging my dad, tears welled up in my eyes. I don't know that I have ever seen myself look that happy. It was way beyond winning that made me that happy; it was that I had the nerve to show up and find out what I'm made of. I have really nailed in that my weight does not determine how I live my life nor how I feel about myself. I was going to wait until I was closer to my goal weight to buy a tight-fitting rash guard. I bought one a few weeks ago. I was going to wait until I was closer to goal to buy Gi pants (traditional martial arts pants). I bought some over the weekend. I was going to wait to compete. I am glad I didn't because I discovered that not only can I show up and do it, I can do well. I kept thinking of all of the things I would do when I reached my "goal"...and then I realized I am already living it. If you think, train, and act like an athlete, then you are a real athlete.
"You miss 100% of the shots you never take."
I have been doing Jiu Jitsu for about 7 months now, and the moves are finally starting to come together. My teammates have been an invaluable source of support. I never would have competed if they hadn't encouraged me and told me I had talent. I guess I had to hold a medal in my hand to learn that I am actually good, not just some chick who is showing up and being humored. Now I want to up my game a bit. Smashlee was very nice, but next time, it is on.
June was a pretty good month. I was pretty focused on getting ready for this tournament, so I did well with eating for the most part, and trained hard. I lost 7 pounds in June, one of the bigger weight loss months I have had in a while. The weight loss was pretty painless--okay, Jiu Jitsu is not painless...but you know what I mean --because I just aimed to eat reasonably and work out a lot. I finally feel settled into my "new" way of eating and have adjusted to my new appetite (that is, a self-regulated appetite).
I have also adjusted my workout regime. I truly love exercise, but there are just not enough hours in the week to get in everything I want to do. I decided to pick one thing--Jiu Jitsu--and focus on it. Fortunately, Jiu Jitsu hits everything--strength, power, cardio, and flexibility. I try to squeeze in a couple of strength training and/or kettlebell sessions and get in some other cross-training, like running, Muay Thai, or other cardio a few times a week. If I skip a run to walk and have lunch with a friend, then so be it--exercise is supposed to be fun, not overtake my life. Following this schedule has been great this month because I didn't overdo the exercise and it felt much more laid back despite the intense training for competition.
The other news is that it is over between my boyfriend and me. I had been thinking about breaking up with him because I felt like there were some lying and manipulation issues, and something was just really "off" about the guy. Family and some friends kept saying I wasn't giving him a fair chance, and of course in retrospect I should have trusted my gut, ignored the people telling me I was expecting too much, and broken up with him. It really sank in how much he was playing my emotions and how I have been duped for the past 6 months. He was just using me to get through his divorce (and of course, I should have dumped him the moment that I realized he had lied about being divorced, but he had turned it around to make it seem like I had misunderstood him in the first place. Ugh--manipulation). He knew just what to say when I brought up issues to keep stringing me along. Well, I finally decided I was going to break up with him a little over a week ago; I had not said anything to him about it. I guess he did the work for me because I have not heard from him at all in over a week. Although he seemed to come across as withdrawn or depressed, I believe he knew exactly what he was doing. Everything he did was calculated and he molded a "relationship" to suit his needs. I believe he moved on when he realized he couldn't get his hooks into me. There are no condolences needed, I knew he was a jerk and kept him at bay, so I did not have any feelings for him. While I should have trusted my gut, I am not hurt from not hearing from him. I just hope he stays away. So, even smart tough chicks get duped sometimes. I got duped, but at least I was not blinded. Fortunately I stayed level-headed enough to know something wasn't right and while I gave him beyond a fair chance, I had the self-respect necessary to dump the loser.
So I did not mean to end this blog on a bad note. I am not upset over breaking up with him, so no worries. I am very satisfied with how things are going in my life. I know myself well enough now to know what I am capable of and to know how I deserve to be treated. I am going to keep training hard, eating well, and surrounding myself with awesome people. July had better be ready.
Because it's hard to have a bad day when you have a handful of kittens...
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Picture of some of the Jiu Jitsu guys after class last week. I'm behind the guy in the "Aloha" shirt.
I am participating in my first Jiu Jitsu competition next Saturday. I have never actually competed in a sport before. I have done numerous triathlons, duathlons, and running events, but it is fair to say I wasn't competing against anyone except for myself. This time, it will be just another person and me on the mat. One will win and one will lose. I hope to have fair competition, that is, not to be against someone who is significantly worse or better than me. It is likely that all of the women will just be lumped together regardless of weight or skill level. At least my weight serves as an advantage in this case. I have been working hard, the guys have been doing extra training with me, and I feel as ready as possible.
I have decided I am going to stay at my current gym. I have a lot of friendships there and we are a team. After talking to some of the guys, if I feel like someone is being unnecessarily rough and is going to cause an injury, then I will get up and walk away. One of my instructors felt bad that I have ever felt unsafe. Until I can really stick it to them on the mats, I guess I will have to open my mouth more.
I had a good training week. I did Jiu Jitsu 5 times for 90-120 minutes each session. For the first time, I handled that level of training without feeling really sore. However, I have also been avoiding overdoing exercise otherwise. I did Muay Thai class on Tuesday, have done some walking, and did a power lifting session.
In Jiu Jitsu, I was also happy because I got a submission on a guy who is a blue belt (in other words, way better than me) and on another guy who is significantly more experienced than me. I was especially happy to get a submission by Rear Naked Choke, because it can be difficult to get, and I got it on someone who is really good. I don't do Jiu Jitsu just to get people to tap out, and I don't feel all that great about getting submissions on people who are newer than me. However, if I get a submission on someone a lot better than me, then it means that my skills are really improving.
Rear Naked Choke. Image from http://martialarts.about.com/od/training/s
This week was pretty good eating wise. I didn't go overboard on any days and tracked every day. I have made more of an effort to avoid wheat and dairy--I kind of got off track with that for a few weeks--and I definitely feel less bloated again. I haven't lost anything in a couple of weeks, but my body feels the strongest it has in a while (if not ever). I'll just keep on keepin' on.
I am not feeling nervous about the competition, at least not yet. It is what it is and it will be a learning experience. I am looking forward to bonding with the Jiu Jitsu guys more outside of class, too. In any case, this week I will be training hard and eating clean! Now if I could just get some of this fat to tap out...
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