Bike MS: From City To Shore 2017

Bike MS

Bike MS: From City To Shore 2017

Previously I discussed the prospect of participating in the National MS Society’s fundraising event Bike MS: From City to Shore. While I made the decision not to bike it this year, I will be participating as a volunteer at the event! My goal is to participate next year as a biker, giving myself more ample time to properly train.

I will be participating with Team Grinds My Gears, led by my friend Stuart Kinckner. Stu and I have known each other since college when he started dating his wife Meloni. She will be joining me as a volunteer this year and on the course next year! Stu has a demanding career in hotel management and is a father of two but still, makes time to take care of himself as well.

Stu’s Journey to a Healthier Lifestyle and Bike MS

Bike MS
Stuart making his training a family event

“For a very long time, I never paid much attention to what I put in my body. Then you start to notice things changing as you get older. It was about 8 years ago when I decided to do something about it. I cut out sweets and sodas amongst other things. I started rock climbing and realized how much better I felt. About 2 years ago I met my friend Isaiah, a professional boxer and very much into fitness, that I realized I could accomplish even more physically and push my limits. I started going to the gym weekly and soon my visits became more frequent. Watching what I was eating and keeping up with my fitness, I felt like I went back in time. At the age of 34, I physically feel like I did when I was 18 and feel confident in my body. Growing up I was never really into sports. Now feeling like I can accomplish anything, I decided to search for a challenge. I started riding a bike actively about 4 months ago. Now I needed more of a purpose other than fitness. What better purpose than contributing to finding a cure for this horrible disease, Multiple Sclerosis. I have never pushed myself to such limits as I plan to for this cause. Take a stand with me and help support the cause.”

Bike MS
Stu and Mel living an active life together

What is the money raised used for?

The National  MS Society helps provide support for individuals and families impacted by MS. They provide resources from educational information, to mental support teams, to financial assistance, to research funding. The main goal is to find a cure and end a world with MS. Your donation can help in this research, can provide an individual with MS the medications they need to reduce further damage and cope with the disease, or even provide financial assistance for a better future.

The National MS Society is a non-profit that I strongly support as their website and resources helped me during my own personal diagnosis. Searching the internet can be a scary thing when you are looking for medical information, and multiple sclerosis is scary enough to cope with already. Initially, I was not given any information from the neurologist, because of the vast amount of resources on their site both myself and my mom were able to find reliable information and help us process the information.

Bike MS
College Meg & Mel Before a Healthy Lifestyle

Please join us in fighting for a world free of MS, whether you donate, join our team as a rider or volunteer, or share our story with your friends and family we greatly appreciate all of the support.

Donate or Join our Team Here!

 

A Multitude of Measurements

Evil Scale Measurement

One thing that is a common battle for many people in their fitness journey is the battle of the scale. I consider the scale to be the devil because it can be so deceitful. It is important any time you start a fitness journey to use a variety of measurements to track progress.

Evil Scale Measurement

My two favorite are measurements and pictures. Measurements can also be tricky if you aren’t taking them precisely at the same spot, and can also be something that goes up in certain areas depending on muscles.
This is why pictures are my top pick. Pictures don’t lie, they allow you to see all changes. You can see where you have shrunk. Where you have toned. Where you have leaned out.
During my three year journey, my body has changed so many times, while my weight after the first 4 months has held pretty consistently. I have gone down in clothing sizes, without changing weight. Now I am going through a transition where all of my clothing is fitting me differently because my body shape is changing.

Fat vs Muscle Measurement
5 lbs of fat in comparison to 5 lbs of muscle

I have been helping one of my friends with her fitness journey and she has been battling the scale more than I did during 90-day challenge. We have been fine combing all of her habits, especially meal choices. She has made many changes, that even without perfection should be yielding celebratory results.
Meanwhile, every time she weighs in she is disheartened and discouraged.
Today she sent her most recent progress pictures. Even with lack luster weight and measurement results the pictures showed vast improvements. (Out of respect for the individual I will not share these pictures until she is ready!)
What are your favorite ways to measure your progress in your fitness/weight loss journies?

Motivation Inspires Strength

Today officially marks one year of starting my MS journey. While I was showing symptoms for a few weeks before it is the day I officially acknowledged I had waited too long already. Acknowledging it was time to get answers because something was seriously wrong.
The following week would the first time the term MS would be used. It would be a couple more months until it was an official diagnosis.
If you had told me at that time my life would be what is has become today I wouldn’t have believed you.
Doing self-injections three times a week. Ensuring I average 8 hours of sleep a night. Trying to avoid the heat like the plague. Taking more than one medication. More doctors visits than I have ever experienced total previously.
The positives that I never imagine to come of this was pushing myself to compete in the COC. It may have eventually happened but not knowing if next time would be an option was great motivation.
The biggest surprise of all has been sharing my experience with the world through blogging.

Beginner Kickboxing Motivation Image
First class of one year celebration of MS Journey

Today I choose to keep living my busy life and keep kicking versus letting it slow me down or be sad. I push myself to new limits but also listen to my body more than ever. I have more motivation than ever to live the healthiest life possible. Ensuring I take care of the only body I have to live in.
The best way to celebrate my one-year marker is to spend my day meal prepping and push myself to do my first triple class in my Tiger Schulmann’s history. Including my first kickboxing double since I started grappling.
Today I choose to be stronger than all of the excuses I can come up with to not push myself through three hours of intense work. I also remind myself I can always be stronger than Multiple Sclerosis, no matter what the circumstances are.
I will fight for my health and to stay in control of my body. Taking care of it the best I know how.
Exercise, Training, and Proper Fuel!

Back from Vacation

I have fallen off the radar for a few weeks. Giving my body and mind some overdue recovery time was a necessity. I wasn’t anticipating taking so much time away from life and training but my body had other plans for me. Between a sinus/ear infection, and Texas heat from vacation my body was worn out and telling me to relax.
It is nice to keep a balance in life of work and play so this was my little bit of play time. My mom and I had a great vacation exploring San Antonio. I wasn’t completely inactive walking all over the city, even if it included a visit to a cafe for a 3-pound cinnamon bun. While I try to maintain healthy eating, it is still an aspiration of mine to visit as many Food Network finds as possible. Especially spots from Man vs. Food.
This happened to be one those splurges and it was worth every calorie! And a trip to San Antonio wouldn’t be complete without lots of delicious Mexican food and margaritas.

After almost two and a half weeks off from activity, it was nice to return to kickboxing this week. It was great to be on vacation! However, it was more down time than I have had in well over 6 months and I was starting to feel the effects of not working out for that long.
In many of the exercise MS groups that I am in many individuals talk about the importance of never missing a day to keep symptoms away. While my case is not that severe and my workout intensity requires a day off to recover here and there. I was definitely understanding what they were talking about by the end of my time away.
I wasted no time jumping right back in last night, giving myself new challenges.
Prior to the COC, I was intimidated by training with the guys other than on the bag, and even pads I didn’t mind just makes my arms a little extra tired. Anything involving gear and direct contact I avoided.
Since the COC I have made that jump and I’ve learned that I really enjoy it.
Last night I pushed myself further training with our Joshu during full gear. It may have been a little ambitious but it was a great training session, I got to work on some techniques a little more and got to work at a faster speed than I usually do during full gear. I always judge my training sessions by sweat and redness levels and they were both at a nice high last night.

My focus with training is to keep challenging myself with different partners and being able to focus on improving my technique. Fix some of the things I’ve noticed from my videos.
It is also time for me to focus on my strength training and build my upper body strength. I am also starting to work with some friends on helping them with their workouts and coach them as part of practicing as I work on my personal trainer material.
I am getting slightly overwhelmed realizing how little time I have until I need to complete this course work so I have to buckle down and get myself focused. I’ve always worked best under pressure so I will make it happen like I always do.
I am very excited for this venture to help others with their fitness journeys and what new things can be brought into my future.

Considering New Challenges

I have been taking it pretty easy since COC, mostly just because I have been trying to beat a summer cold since a few days after. I trained a few days last week but now I’m out for two weeks due to life and vacation next week. I have been looking forward to this break just to allow my body some recovery and to focus on things I have been behind on in life.
One of the most important things I need to regain focus on is the personal trainer course work. So next week while I’m away on vacation I will practice my different techniques in the hotel gym and focus on strength training. I want to get stronger to help me with my martial arts training, especially for grappling. I’m also feeling like I have already lost muscle mass in my upper body with just a short break.
There has been a lot of talk about whether or not I will compete in December, I have thought about what I would need to do to prepare to be able to pull it off. November and December are always my worst training months because my work schedule tends to get crazy. Now on top of thinking about that a friend asked me today if I wanted to join her husband’s team for the Bike MS from Shore to City. I had previously gotten the material and considered it because it is great for awareness and raising money for research. However the idea of biking 160 miles has me tired just thinking about it!

As an overachiever who likes to pile more and more on their life plate the question is: How does this affect my other life priorities? Do I have time to even consider this additional training? How is my body going to feel about 160 miles? How do I even prepare for this?
It would be really cool, another great accomplishment to achieve, and another way to keep my body active and healthy.
For now I’m taking my two week break from training thoughts and focusing on relaxing. The best an antsy busy body knows how that is!
If you have ever done an event like this what was your experience and how did you train for it?

Ending the year as a Champion

On Sunday the main event took place. I successfully completed my first Challenge of the Champions tournament with Tiger Schulmanns. I took second place in Grappling and third place in kickboxing.
The tail end of last week I was extremely stressed about making weight because I had gained weight over the last couple months, most likely from muscle gain. Sunday morning I woke up much earlier than I needed to and felt a weird calm as I got prepared, I had a clear mind and was laser focused. The calm immediately went out the window the minute we pulled into the venue parking lot.
As I was walking into the venue reality sunk in that I was about to fight in my first fighting competition and all my insecurities of not being fully prepared started to fill my mind. I got checked in, immediately weighed in with 3 lbs to spare and started to fuel myself. As everybody asked if I was ready my answer was no. The closer the time was creeping up to 10 am the more anxious I was getting and the more I was starting to pace.
Next thing you know it was time for my event and I was on the mat with Sensei Arce reviewing the rules with us. I was second up so I watched my competition go at it very intensely, as I tried not to outwardly show my nerves. Now it was my turn to get on the mat and compete, while the nerves were still very much present, once I got into position I was able to keep myself very calm and focused. As soon as Sensei Arce said go I was down to business with full determination. That determination was fueled by adrenaline and I immediately swept my opponent and got mount. “WHOA HOO!” Celebrating in my head but still remaining focused on not allowing her to get out. First two minutes is up and I am in the lead, one problem I got so excited I totally forgot we had to switch positions and get right back to it. The rest of the matches were more exhausting because I had depleted so much energy right from the beginning but it all paid off. I left that event feeling proud of myself.
Fast forward a couple hours and now it is time for kickboxing. I thought I’d be a little more calm since I had already completed one event, but sparring is something I have always struggled with both confidence and stamina so I knew this event was going to be much more challenging. Again as I sit all geared up being instructed how the event would go I tried to sit still and not alert anybody with just how terrified I was to get in that ring and fight. However again as soon as it was time to start I managed to focus my energy positively and be fueled by adrenaline. I shocked myself with the different moves I was successful with that I had never pulled off in any classes, even though we worked them regularly. After winning the first fight I find out I have a minimum of two more fights to complete, and my arms are already burning away! I lost the next fight but made a comeback for the final fight.
Competing in this tournament has brought so many emotions throughout the journey. During training I mostly felt frustrated and unprepared, due to training with more advanced students. Even though I knew that about my training it never made it easier mentally because I was constantly losing. On Sunday I experience fear, anxiety, excitement, and pure happiness. All of the hard work and frustrations encountered during training paid off in a big way. I am most proud of the fact that I got out there, facing my fears by pushing myself as far out of my comfort zone as possible. Leaving with two medals felt amazing but the real win was the valuable life lessons I got out of this. It helped bring some of my fighting and tenacious spirit back that years of life struggles had taken away. Served as my reminder that I can be successful at whatever I put my mind to and pushing myself out of my comfort zone can be great. Looking back at my videos, even in the rounds I lost I can see how far I have come in this journey and see how hard I worked and it allows me to still celebrate those “failures”.
Many of you are wondering how do I feel after pushing my body through all of these physical challenges. The truth is my body feels great, I have been stiff and recovering all week, but nothing different from everybody else pushing their body the same way. The more I push the less I notice side effects like tingling and numbness, and I didn’t experience any of those sensations on Sunday. I will continue to push my body in new ways as I continue my journey to getting stronger and pushing myself to be better. The question many have already asked is will I do it again? That is yet to be determined, as I progress in ranking it will become more challenging but I plan to train like that is the plan and will take it one step at a time. One thing I know is this journey isn’t over. I need to focus on is strength training to get stronger to help me be more successful in my training. I am thankful for my Tiger Schulmann’s Princeton family and helping me push through my diagnosis and not letting me give up on my training. Without the support of Sensei, Danielle, Joshu, and my TSMMA brothers and sisters this year could have turned out very different. Thank you for being my inspiration. This was the best possible way to celebrate a year since my diagnosis, which is fast approaching over the next couple of weeks.

Grappling Round 1
Check out my Facebook Page for Videos of all Events!


Final Stretch

The final stretch is here, only 3 more days until the big day! After pushing Friday and Saturday morning I took the next couple days off to get some extra rest and let my body recover. The problem with all that resting, it had a negative impact on my sleep schedule.
Working out helps me release all of my daily stresses and extra energy which allows me to sleep more sound. Between my determination on achieving goals at work for this week and the realization of how fast approaching the tournament is I had my body in stress sleeping mode! Last night I ended break time and got in two hours of training, I got quality sleep back in my life.
I also am reminded the importance of proper water intake daily. As soon as I drop below 100 ounces of day I retain water and put on extra weight. It is amazing how much the body fluctuates from just water weight. Yesterday I drank 140 oz of water with same eating habits and dropped 2 lbs from the day before. I am trying to maintain the higher end of my weight class but I have gotten a little too close for comfort.
I constantly encourage people around me to drink enough water, but recognize that actually executing can be a challenge. It requires a commitment throughout the day as well as focus. I find I am most successful when I bring a gallon or 100 oz container with me to work so I can see where I am versus keeping track of the ounces by adding up my number of water bottle refills. Which is exactly what I will be doing to commit myself to drinking my gallon each day to prevent anymore last minute stress. I will stay focused on this habit because it helps with my energy levels, my workout performance, and keeps my skin clear. I joke it is my most successful skin care regimen but it is 100% true.
The hardest part of the next three days is going to be keeping my nerves in check and believing that I can do this. My favorite way to distract myself, keep myself busy with other things! Like spending sometime catching up on things by the pool!

Overcoming Hesitations

Since tomorrow marks one week until show time, last night was my last opportunity to get some extra training and sparring in. I did my first late night Friday training session after training in my two normal intermediate classes. It was great to get the extra time in but extremely exhausting.
However I used the night to overcome one more step in my training, sparring with guys. To date I have only sparred with my female peers. However last night there were only two of us and it was an important night for me so I overcame that hesitation. I started with one of the guys that is newer to sparring like myself to get a better feel for what it is like to spar with a beginner since all the ladies are more advanced than me!
Once I made the initial jump everybody got excited and eager to train with me for a round. It was a great experience because they were gentle but pushed me. Encouraging me the whole time and helping guide me to work on different areas I lack in, especially kicks. I definitely lost steam at the end which is going to be the biggest obstacle for me to overcome next Sunday especially depending on how many rounds I may have. I need to make sure I stay focused on the task and not how exhausting it all is. Easy to say, extremely hard to execute!
This weekend I will continue conditioning, however the rest of the week I will just do my normal weekly classes. Proper rest and eating will be important as well. I have myself at my ideal weight to be on the higher end of my class but not worried about cutting it too close. While I can’t say I’m feeling much more confident, last night was a great way to end the intense training!

Reality

Throughout this journey of dealing with MS and being fit, I have to try to decipher what is a side effect of a chronic disease versus what is just a normal side effect of working out. The hardest part knowing when it is necessary to slow down, especially training amongst a group of strong peers that train with arms in slings, fractured tibias, sick, and the list goes on! Sensei Billings creates an amazing environment that as long as you show up, he will help you work around any limitations and still train hard. Which is why we are all comfortable showing up when the rest of the world thinks we are crazy.
With MS one of the biggest obstacles is dealing with extreme fatigue. For me I have always been great at living on borrowed energy and then I just crash for a day and start over, however when MS fatigue hits it is not that easy. Last year this was my first clue that I easily ignored because… ah it’s just my hectic life and I just need to figure out how to restructure my schedule to keep going. Going into the tournament this was my biggest fear because it is the one thing I can’t ignore. I still have to attend to my other life responsibilities including being a highly functional leader.
I have read some other people describe their MS fatigue and I can relate similarly to it. The reason why it is a concern is because it becomes crippling. I can sleep for 12 hours a night for an entire week and still feel like a walking zombie. I lose some cognitive function having trouble focusing and becoming forgetful, which becomes frustrating for me because my memory is my one my greatest life strengths.
The last few weeks I have been feeling a little sluggish and trying to chalk it up to my body adjusting to working out extra hours. I have been averaging about 9 hours of sleep a night so giving myself sufficient rest. Last week I really started to feel like I couldn’t ignore it, no matter how much I slept I still just wanted to sleep more. Yesterday for the first time in 7 months I completely forgot to do my injection for my MS medication in the morning, even forgetting to take it out of the fridge on Sunday night. These are details I never forget, so it has become a true reality. In the end I had to sacrifice my grappling training to get home earlier otherwise I would have been off schedule for the next two weeks.
As the summer progresses and it gets hotter this will become more intense. I will need to find the right balance of still getting to enjoy my favorite season, keeping to my routine, and managing this side effect without more medications.

Two Weeks to Go!

Today marks exactly two weeks until the COC, and was the final day of Sunday training. Although I still have some additional grappling time, tomorrow will be my last day of being able to spar in a class, which makes it all feel so real and the nerves are starting to set in.
This week is my last week to push as hard as possible in training both on and off the mat. My goal this week is to train as much as possible, so the following week I can continue training on the mat, but limit the extra workouts and get as much rest to allow my body to be it’s strongest for the tournament.
Today I took a few really good hits to the gut, which made me stumble and slow down. As much as it is easy to want to ignore, it is also very challenging to put into action. I am very stubborn, and usually when it comes to being purely determined I manage to pull off things that seemed impossible. Channeling this side of me is going to be the most important part of June 4th. That means training to make myself uncomfortable and work to push through it.
I am glad I have some extra time to work with grappling, some days I feel great and other days I train with the more advanced students causing me to feel like I completely suck.
In beginner I now pick things up much quicker than I previously did and that helps me realize that I have grown. Especially when I am able to demonstrate the moves on Sensei! One of the “perks” of being the small one in class you get to demonstrate the reality of an attacker being larger.
Focusing on these small growth measures helps me stress a little less. I want to know that I have given it my best effort at the end of the day and with any other approaching deadline I keep asking myself have I done enough?