Tuesday, September 11, 2012
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
-Henry David Thoreau
I am not anxious about aging. My best days are not behind me; they are ahead. I truly believe that life is what you make it, or rather, life is how you perceive it. I feel like I am getting way better with age. I finally have the independence AND the wisdom to enjoy it. I have learned (and will continue to learn) who and what needs to be in my life. Challenges present learning opportunities--even when the challenges really suck--instead of road blocks. I have learned so much about myself over the past couple of years. Today I start my 34th year of life, and I plan on it being the best year yet.
Last night, I got done working at 11 p.m. and then I popped in a yoga DVD. I finished just after midnight, ringing in my birthday with an excellent yoga session. While I was practicing, I thought about what I would like the next year to bring. I made some promises to myself for the next year.
I promise that I will never apologize for being who I am. I have struggled throughout my life with not feeling like I'm good enough, whether it be centered around my body or my achievements. Now I know I am just fine the way I am, and no one will ever make me apologize for or feel bad about being myself.
I will not berate my body. I will embrace the fact that I have a body that can move freely and can be challenged. I am not trying to get my body to look a certain way, I am trying to get my body to function a certain way. If my body is functioning in the highest health that can be achieved, then it does not matter what my current weight is. This slow process of weight loss will be most beneficial in the long run. In the meantime, I will live my life to the fullest without worrying about the number on the scale. It is guaranteed to go down eventually if I keep working hard.
I promise to make each day the best it can be. This means that I fully enjoy the good days, and keep in mind that a bad day is temporary.
Today I will celebrate my birthday by treating myself to a massage, and then lunch with mom, and then spend the evening with my Jiu Jitsu pals. I am having a healthful start to this "new year." The best part about it is, I ENJOY being healthful and the choices that lead to healthful living come naturally now. Binge eating and sitting around are now unnatural to me and rejected by my body and mind. I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life, and will only keep improving.
I wish a most joyful day to you, too!
My motto this year:
Image from http://chixinabasket.tumblr.com/
Sunday, September 09, 2012
...of writing this blog.
It's been like The 3 Stooges 'round these parts this week. First, my dog apparently whacked his tail on something ("happy tail") and then proceeded to chew off the tip of his tail. Normally I try to treat simple stuff myself (I am a vet tech) but it was clear he needed antibiotics. So, we went to the vet on Friday. He now has a giant cone of shame and a bandage on his tail and looks rather pathetic. Now we just need to hope it heals up well and that he doesn't end up needing amputation.
Poor Dugan...the best treatment for happy tail is to put a giant cone on their head and make them very sad...
I went to Jiu Jitsu right afterwards. I proceeded to stub my pinky toe on the mat during practice. It really hurt, but pain is kind of par for the course in Jiu Jitsu. Well, it continued to hurt enough that I stopped rolling (sparring). Later that day, my toe turned a lovely shade of violet, followed by the surrounding area turning blue.
I started icing it right away and it doesn't hurt too bad. I did figure it was wise to hold off on doing Jiu Jitsu on Saturday, although I still went to the gym and did power lifting. I had to laugh because I was trying to be so careful with my foot and wore shoes during lifting, and then took off my shoes before stepping onto the mat to chat with the guys. The first thing that happened was that one of the guys rolled onto my foot. In any case, the bruising has gone down significantly and it is only mildly sore with certain movements. I am hoping to do Jiu Jitsu Tuesday (my birthday), and it should be okay, although I'll probably wear my wrestling shoes.
I went and watched some of my gym pals compete at a Jiu Jitsu competition last night. It's always fun to hang out with them outside of the gym, get to know them a bit better. My best friend Kristina came with and watched as well. The guys told me I should beef up the story about my foot injury, maybe say that I was fighting off ninja thugs and hurt it while doing an awesome move. Hmmm, it does sound better than, "I stubbed my toe on the mat..."
One of our guys representin' at competition on Saturday.
I don't mean to whine--it was just an entertainingly accident-prone week. This week was decent eating and exercise-wise. I did have a couple of days of PMS-charged eating that I regret a bit, but I got a grip and got back to normal eating pretty quickly. Got in some good workouts, got in 2 strength training sessions, got in my planned cardio, and some good yoga and stretching. The routine feels great.
My hope for this week is to have an enjoyable birthday week with friends and family, and to not get injured or let anyone else get hurt! We'll see how it goes. I really hope you didn't get injured while reading this blog!
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!
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