Sunday, September 02, 2012
"I can't do it."
No word in the sentence has more than 4 letters, but those 4 short words have stopped us from trying and doing so many things throughout our lives. Just the thought of the sentence causes us to lose some momentum when we are trying to decide whether to attempt something. It excuses any attempt to try because we have already shut down the idea that there is a possibility of success. I wonder how many thousands of times I have uttered those 4 little words, shutting out the possibility of trying something new, of pushing my limits. When "I can't do it" is followed up by "It's too hard," then the impossibility is really nailed in.
I still find "I can't do it" occasionally floating through my brain. Instead, I try to say, "I am open to it. I will try my best." I have decided that I would rather show up and risk making an ass of myself than to relegate myself to the realm of "can't." Nothing is too hard. It may be damn hard, but not impossible. When I started losing weight 2 years ago, I fully acknowledged that it would be very difficult. Furthermore, I learned to embrace the difficulty, learn from the mistakes, allowing new doors to open with botched attempts.
The "I can't do it"s started up again when I started Jiu Jitsu. Watching the guys fly across the mat, toss each other around, torque their bodies in seemingly impossible ways, I almost didn't want to try it. When I expressed hesitation, my good gym pal Nick assured me that I could just do what I could and that eventually I would be able to do the moves. I still didn't totally believe him, but started Jiu Jitsu anyways, feeling awkward for months. The concepts of Jiu Jitsu are finally starting to sink in, about 9 months after starting. I felt more confident during August than I have since starting Jiu Jitsu. All of a sudden, moves that seemed physically impossible are coming together. I finally have enough strength and flexibility to pull off more moves.
A couple of weeks ago, my coach Nate grinned as I launched myself, rolling backwards across the mat doing back rolls. "See, and you thought you couldn't do those." We were working on a technique another day that required a lot of flexibility, but I was able to do it. "Remember when you thought you couldn't do that?" The next day, we practiced a technique where you throw your legs overhead, grab the opponent with your legs, and spin around. Had you asked me last year, I would have shook my head and said, "No way will I ever be able to do that."
Damn right, I did it.
I try to limit the fear-based "I can't do it" from going through my brain, and remember that I have accomplished seemingly impossible feats. Don't get me wrong, we all have limits, but they cannot be uncovered unless we say, "I'll give it a shot."
I am actually more fit now than when I was thinner and doing triathlons. I overdid the wrong kinds of exercise before, exacerbated my arthritis, and was always in pain. I was also incredibly inflexible. Now, I am not at all saying that triathlon training is bad, but endurance event training did not suit my body. Martial arts training, as rough as it can be and with how long a training session may last (sometimes 2-3 hours), I am more fit now and in less pain than ever before. I am also the most flexible I have been in my entire life. So, despite the fact that I have not lost a lot of weight since starting Jiu Jitsu about 9 months ago, the fitness gains have been incredible.
When I was in school studying kinesiology, I proposed that the benefits of regular physical activity outweigh the benefits of weight loss. However, if one is truly consistent with exercise, the body composition cannot help but change. This usually means that someone who is overweight will lose weight. Well, this has certainly been the case with me. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason when I lose weight. Basically, I try to eat reasonably, and more importantly, eat ENOUGH to support martial arts training. My exercise routine doesn't have anything to do with weight loss, I just lead a lifestyle that is focused on martial arts. I train about as intensely as the pro fighters at my gym, so it is not unusual for me to train 2-3 hours a day 5 days a week.
I had no net weight loss in August, but did lose a few inches. My upper body is starting to look pretty defined and my shoulders and neck are actually rock hard. That is not terribly surprising, since I work my neck and shoulders intensely when defending in Jiu Jitsu. During August, I was consistent with strength training for the first time in a while. I have also started doing more cardio workouts, such as Turbo Jam. I will continue with this routine, switching up my workouts as needed.
I am not setting a weight loss goal for September. Actually, I don't think I will set specific weight loss goals any more. My body seems to know what it's doing, so I will let it do it's thing and I will lose the weight eventually. In the meantime, I will keep doing all of the things I can't do.
So what is it that you can't do? Figure it out, then do it.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Group picture of Jiu Jitsu class taken Saturday. We had a record-breaking 4 women in class.
During Jiu Jitsu class this week, a couple of the guys were talking about how they admire women who do Jiu Jitsu. They said they understood how intimidating it must be to walk into a class for the first time. It's intimidating for a guy to start doing Jiu Jitsu, so it must be even more so for a woman. Then we proceeded to get manhandled and tap out constantly. Jiu Jitsu can be extremely discouraging and humbling at first, and continues to be both in waves throughout the journey.
Yet we keep showing up.
I appreciated that our guys conduct themselves in a way that encourages women to keep coming back to class. I haven't dealt with many problems at my gym, and zero problems at all with the "regulars." I appreciate not only that they don't act weird about women, but also that they are not condescending. My guys roll with me like they would any other person--going harder when I go harder, going easier when I go easier. It sure was intimidating as hell to start doing Jiu Jitsu, and I was nervous almost every day for the first 8 months or so. Now I really feel like I'm "one of the gang" and have a roomful of friends every time I show up. Not only can I hang with these guys, sometimes I even kick their butts. I had a very fun week overall. Everyone in Jiu Jitsu was a little goofy this week, and very high energy. I made it to class 5 days and everyone was on fire, which means I got tapped out a lot, but also learned a lot.
I was surprised to see how much leaner I look in this picture (I'm in the gray shirt walking away from the camera).
My classmate Cassie--at the beginning of summer when we started training together more, I thought we wouldn't get along. We've become good pals and training partners and I have watched her mature greatly.
North-South Choke--if there was ever a reason to do planks, here it is.
I did 3 strength training workouts, which is my weekly goal. I also did a couple of Turbo Jam workouts, and I have missed doing those. They really help my abs. Yesterday, a friend of mine who hadn't seen me in a couple of months told me I was looking good. I do feel like I have a lot more muscle definition, and yesterday I wore a tank top that didn't fit me a few months ago. I am excited to see my body change over the next couple of months with consistent Jiu Jitsu training, regular and varied strength training workouts 3 days a week, and some cross-training. I have also been trying to do a 30-40 minute workout before going to the gym (provided I got enough sleep the night before), such as Turbo Jam, kettlebells, abs, or some combination thereof. I want to increase my aerobic capacity, so I am hoping that will help. I did a workout before the gym twice last week and it was great.
Eating was decent this week. I tracked consistently and am glad to be back to consistent tracking. Yesterday I overdid it a bit, between going out to lunch with some Jiu Jitsu pals and then going to a friend's for dinner. Overall, I only overate by a couple hundred calories, so I never worry about that when it happens 1 or 2 days when I'm training consistently. The scale hasn't budged in a while, but with my muscles becoming noticeable more defined, I will give it a few weeks before I adjust anything.
Now, all this talk about women and Jiu Jitsu is timely, as MMA star Ronda Rousey has been in the spotlight over the past couple of weeks. This woman is amazing--Olympic judo winner, mixed martial artist, and confident and strong. She is one of my current SHEROS. Goes to show that women can bring it just as much as men.
Have a great week, friends!
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
A little over 2 years ago, I saw the number 298 on the scale. I found this number utterly overwhelming. I knew I could not keep letting that number climb, but I didn't know where to begin. I already enjoyed exercise, but I was debilitated by a bad right knee and could hardly do any exercise. On the other hand, I knew my knee would probably get better if I lost some weight. So, I slowly started picking away at my eating habits and my thought processes. I started to learn how to stop feeling guilty about everything and to love myself instead.
For the first time in my life, neither food nor weight define me. Being an athlete defines me. My life revolves around exercise and training, not around the number on the scale. I have "only" lost about 60 pounds in 2 years, a number which I know to many may seem rather small. However, at no point have I made any major effort to "diet." Those 60 pounds have come off by making small changes and without me having to turn my life upside down to lose the weight. The weight will continue to come off, and for that I am happy...but then again, I have learned to be happy despite my weight.
Near highest weight (290+ pounds in these pictures).
Most recent progress pictures (although it is from March 2012--gotta get some new ones!)--around 240 pounds.
The biggest life-changer over the past year has been Jiu Jitsu. There is the workout factor--Jiu Jitsu works everything...and I mean everything. I trembled and gasped like I never have before when I first started. Grappling is unlike anything else, and rolling (sparring) against another person adds intensity that just isn't there with other workouts. I feel stronger and am more flexible than I have ever been.
I have also found that I am actually a decent grappler and did pretty well in my first competition, taking second place in my division (the winner was a woman who was significantly more experienced, but I crushed everyone else on my level). I had shed the "I'm the fat girl" mentality and started training and acting like an athlete, and the guys at my gym treat me like an athlete. Anyone who thinks they are too heavy to be an athlete has to remember that it isn't how others view you, it's how you view yourself. It's like I've said before, if you think and train like an athlete, then you are an athlete.
The best dudes around! I wouldn't haven't gotten this far without these guys in my corner.
You truly can be an athlete (and a winner) at any weight. More pictures from the tournament in this blog post: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
I don't want to think of where I would be without SparkPeople. I started in a very dark place, and picked away until I started seeing glimmers of light. From there, the light started pouring in. I can't wait to see what I can accomplish over the next year.
Very proud moment!
Sunday, August 19, 2012
I have been trying to hammer out a blog for a couple of weeks and it just ain't happening. So, I will post a super-quick update blog.
I just haven't felt much like blogging recently, but I hadn't realized that I hadn't written an update blog in about 6 weeks, since my Jiu Jitsu tournament. I have mostly been in a holding pattern...no change in weight (hey, still better than going up), eating has mostly been good, still pretty consistent with workouts. I was a little down for a couple of weeks, and there was some overeating involved. I tend to get depressed in the summer, like most people do in the middle of winter, but have been feeling more myself again.
I have also undertaken a massive reorganization project at my house. I have mostly cleaned out my basement, which has been a monumental task, and mostly cleaned my front and back porches. My goal is to have my house completely in order by the time fall starts, and I am well on my way to that goal. I will talk more about the organization in another blog. In any case, I am very happy to be more organized and to get rid of stuff I don't need.
Jiu Jitsu is going well. I feel like I am continuing to improve and am retaining more information when we learn new moves. I could stand to be doing more strength training, as I have only been averaging 1 strength training workout per week. My goal is to do at least 2, ideally 3 strength training/kettlebell workouts each week. Despite not being very good about formal strength training, my upper body is actually getting pretty ripped. This is partially thanks to Jiu Jitsu and I have been doing modified pull-ups at home, which seem to be helping.
Anyways, just wanted to post a quick blog with an update. So, yes, I am still alive. The blog post I was working on is mostly about this organizing I have been doing, will hopefully post it this week.
Hope all is well in your worlds, SparkFriends!
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.
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