Day 12: Fear And Loathing In Muay Thai

fear

 

Last night I coached kid’s jiu jitsu, then made my way across the dojo to the in-progress Muay Thai class, as I usually do on Tuesday and Thursday. The bags were all in use, and there was no one left to work pads with, so I stationed myself a the wall pad for the duration of class. It was sufficient for working strikes, except knees, which I quickly learned to throw in air.

After class, I sparred for the first time. I’ve never sparred striking before, except a little boxing a long time ago. I did 2 rounds, and got banged up  a little. My neck and feet are stiff, but that’s okay. We weren’t going hard, and I had gracious training partners who took it easy on the new old guy. I’ve wanted to spar for a while. During advanced class, I’d usually work combos on a heavy bag in the corner, staying out of the danger zone of the sparrers, in awe of the ease at which they stalked, parried, counterpunched. I knew one day it would be me, but I was afraid.

I was afraid I wasn’t ready, I was afraid of getting hit. I wasn’t worried about looking silly or making mistakes, but I was afraid of pain-which never came.

I knew when I woke up on Monday morning that I would spar that night. I was overthinking it-fear was the mind-killer. Overthinking and being in my head gets me in trouble in martial arts as well as the rest of life, doubting my choices and thinking self-condemning thoughts  when I screw up. Like T-Swift says, I gotta shake it off.

I did it, and it was no big deal. I put so much value in it, put it on a pedestal, and in the end it was a fun exercise between teammates. My fear was bigger than the threat, but it was my beast, and I slayed it. Maybe next I can focus on something more challenging, like not getting so worked up by other motorist’s inability to use turn signals, which is also typically not a big deal.

Hotel Toilet Mirror

I’ve been preoccupied lately, and haven’t been exercising. At first this was from a back injury, then, to be honest, I just straight up didn’t feel like it. I have a lot of changes in progress and to come. I have been neglecting my health, and I’ve put on weight. I have not been watching what I eat.

 

I’ve put on weight.

Lindsay has remarked on it, and it felt like nagging at the time.

Last week I was traveling for business, and ate out for every meal. There was an oddly-placed mirror in my hotel room, and I caught a frontal view of myself on the toilet, bad fluorescent light and all.

It would be an understatement to say I did not like what I saw. I’m glad I was level-headed enough at that moment to not descend into self-loathing. I take responsibility, and it’s my responsibility to fix it. I’ve always had body image issues a complicated relationship with my body, but this was different-there was a legitimate problem. In addition to being fatter (why dance around it?), I looked tired, my face was red and splotchy, and I seemed a few years older than I am. My face was bloated. It all came rushing back- the skipped workouts, the unplanned lunches, the excuses.

The day after I came back, I started a diet. Nothing crazy, a little portion control, mild carb control, more whole foods-mostly vegetables. I start the day juicing (3 carrots, 3 stalks celery, ginger, 1/2 cucumber, apple/pear, yields about 16oz juice) and scrambled eggs. I have a HUGE salad for lunch (except Sunday-we eat  lunch at church). If I get hungry between lunch and late afternoon, I’ll do a grassfed whey protein shake. Dinner is veggie heavy. We don’t really do desert, and I drank 1 beer on Sunday night, my first since Wednesday. I’m also drinking a gallon of water a day, which is getting easier.

 

I know from experience that if I am not crazy strict about my diet, it will be easier to follow. I won’t get the same results as, say, a raw vegan plan, but that’s not my goal. I want to eat better so I can live better.

 

I haven’t started exercising again yet (tomorrow), but holy crap- I feel great! I’m peeing a lot (A LOT!), but it’s a minor annoyance. I haven’t gotten sluggish in the afternoon. I think I’m getting enough calories, and my brain isn’t foggy. I know it has only been 3 days, but I feel like my body is doing what it’s supposed to do.

Also, I can drink coffee because I love it, and not gulp a ton of it down without tasting it because I need it to not fall asleep while driving to work. This is good all around.

 

I’m excited about taking my body back. I’m not perfect, and I’m trying hard to not curate a false online presence. I struggle and screw up. I forget things, and sometimes I’m shitty to people, but not as consistently as I am to myself. I deserve better. I know what I am capable of. I can do this.

 

 

 

Five Years

I’ve had a lot of anniversaries lately- 14 years married, 10 years since my mother passed, and now I commemorate another.

April 15th marked 5 years since I started my Brazilian jiu jitsu journey.

I miss my old team at the Jiu Jitsu Institute in VA. I haven’t spent as much time on the mat as I’d have liked, and many of my old training partners have surpassed me in rank and skill. However, I’ve surpassed everyone who didn’t start. I know I’m progressing, and I’ve had classes lately where I was able to effectively impose my will and execute the techniques I had planned. If I keep training, I will learn more and have more hours of mat time. This will be a good thing. Westside Jiu Jitsu, where I’m currently training, is a great school, too. Everyone has been welcoming and supportive. My 6-year old, Stella, started training again, and she’s enjoying it.

My life has been enriched by jiu jitsu, as I’ve written before. I am confident this will continue to be a part of my life, and I will one day be a black belt.

So, cheers to five years. Sure, I wish it were ten, but I’m glad it’s not one year, or worse still, eventually.

 

Stepping my game up

After a nearly a year without consistent jiu jitsu instruction, I’m finally back on the mat. I’m working on my conditioning-grappling cardio is tough, and different from other kinds of fitness. I’ve started swimming to supplement everything else. Swimming makes my back feel great, too- hardly any  pain on some days. I’m also working on growing my repertoire of submissions and the tactics to get there.

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