In many aspects of my life I am told to “relax,” from visits to my doctor to something as relaxing as a massage. My body is always in a constant state of tension or stress. Kickboxing is no exception to this way of life for me.
One of my initial reasons for enjoying kickboxing so much was because it was the first time in my life I could keep my brain turned off and focused on only one task. Only because the task requires me to pay attention to all the aspects, but the minute it’s time to stretch my brain goes back to its normal noisy self. I’ve been trying to re-train it for years but have continued to be unsuccessful there.
This is now one of my biggest challenges while fighting. While at this point I have a decent amount of tools in the toolbox it’s about utilizing them properly, but I am always so focused on the task I have in mind that when the person I’m fighting does something different I immediately get stressed in my head or just stay committed to my initial intention that may no longer be a great option. Because I let myself get stressed about it it also causes me to tense up more. So now I have my body feeling like I have rigor mortis I’m so stiff.
Newest goal is figure out how to relax, and stop going “oh shit” in my head most of the two minute round. I know a big part of this is just practice, as the rest of my life I can keep a million things together as once because everything else in my life is like groundhog day. I know more moves than I think, even if I don’t remember them perfectly, the issue is I forget about them until it’s too late, if I relax I will be able to think more clearly! This will also allow me to increase my stamina because I might actually remember to breathe!
Today I ran for the first time in probably close to a year. Typically my treadmill cardio consists of interval training because I don’t get bored as quick, however I felt the need to switch it up. Normally my happy place is 5.5 mph, today I started out at 6.0 mph and it was a leisurely speed so I kept increasing, ending with an average of 6.5 mph for a two mile run. I finished it off with 8.0 mph for the last two minutes to see how far I could push myself and my goal was two minutes because that’s the length of a fight round. It was extremely hard but I just kept chanting in my head you can do this stay strong and I was successful.
I have been feeling so out of shape because two minutes of fighting winds me so quick, but after today it is a reminder that my heart is stronger than ever I just have to keep pushing and try to keep my nerves calmer. I feel the time crunch with the minimum amount of classes to work on sparring to accomplish this.
I’ve been really focusing in a totally different way when I train on the bags, trying to picture it more in a real life setting and focus on maintaining speed but also hitting as strong as possible. It felt pretty amazing last night to get so many positive praises from Sensei last night with this approach! That means it’s working and I’m getting better!
24 Days until the big day!
With a little less than a month to go it is starting to feel like crunch time. I’m feeling more confident with the ability to accomplish the goal, but I have to stay extremely focused. This week starts a couple weeks of a better balance in my schedule to allow me extra focus. Started today out with a great HIIT session. The focus for the next couple weeks is building stamina / endurance.
I use to laugh that a treadmill minute was the longest minute ever, and then I started fighting and that treadmill minute is nothing now! I just have to be able to keep going and ignore everything else for two minutes.
I also fell a little off the wagon with meal prep and fueling my body with the right foods letting life get in the way the last couple weeks, this week I will also get that back in check. Fueling my body with the right anti inflammatory foods helps keep my body feeling better and minimizes crazy sensations going through my body. I’m still trying to find the right recipe to keep tingling at bay while running, I may never find it and just have to keep pretending like running is a good time. I will say it is well worth it though, I always have the best days when I do some cardio to start off my day!
As I was checking out my bruise tally this morning I feel like I can officially say I train in Martial Arts. The rest of the world unfamiliar with my lifestyle may perceive it as I’m being abused at home, but I wear the bruises with pride! To me they mean I was fighting hard or maybe just getting beat up, either way they represent the courage I had to train in a way I never imagined possible for me.
The other day somebody was asking how I can be friends with my fellow TSMMA peers as we are fighting each other. The greatest feeling during training is going hard fighting each other and hugging it out in the end to celebrate all the hard work. It may seem weird to others but it really is just about respect and support. As you train with people for weeks, months, and years you get to see the transformation each person goes through. For me it has been slower than many others but everybody has a different set of motivation and determination.
For me I’ve always dedicated a lot of my energy to things other than myself. But after realizing that I can’t take certain things for granted anymore my motivation has changed. Taking care of me is a priority now and while fighting may seem like a weird way to do that, the lessons I am learning throughout this journey are ones that will carry throughout all aspects of my life. I have changed how I look at training in all levels of classes, which is making me a better partner, more aware of the other person, and it takes a great level of trust in each other to have the most successful training sessions.
My TSMMA family was a huge part of my support system during my diagnosis but they continue to help me grow into a better, stronger person everyday. With a month left and each class putting me one step closer, I am getting more excited because I’m feeling more comfortable but also more nervous because I always feel the pressure of a deadline approaching.
After a few weeks of sporadic training I finally got my momentum back this week. My reward for my dedication this week was lots of inchworms, bruises, and an intense running session to warm up this morning at Sunday training. I haven’t had many MS side effects on the mat lately other than some muscle spasms here and there after a few days back to back. However running typically triggers tingling and this morning was no exception, including loss of feeling in my feet.
In one ear I had my doctors who have told me not to worry about tingling unless I lose sensation but the other ear had my Sensei talking about being strong, and since he tends to be louder that voice won and I pushed through it. I am very glad I did because I felt great after about 10 minutes of recovery.
I was finally feeling more confident during sparring today as well. Still feel like I have so much to learn but I am relaxing more which is allowing me to perform stronger. I can now recognize when I have left myself open and think about what I need to do to block the next time. Doesn’t mean I am successful but I’m feeling more confident, just need more practice to perfect.
My goals to achieve over the next month to help make me more successful, as much practice in sparring and grappling as possible, incorporating at least 3 HIIT cardio sessions a week on top of my training as well as some additional strength training, and still try to average 8 hours of sleep a week. This will take a ton of discipline on my part on top of maintaining the rest of life’s responsibilities. However it will all be worth it on June 4th, otherwise the day will be full of stress and regrets!
Yesterday marked the end of my second TSMMA 90 day challenge. This year I entered the challenge with a totally different mindset and mission to accomplish, which resulted in a different set of results and wins. Last time I wanted to see just how “ripped” I could get and see if I could get abs. This time while I wanted to get my abs back my number one goal was to regain strength and feel like myself again.
I was successful in completing both of those goals as well as greatly minimizing tingling, to the point where it is almost non-existent in any workout routine. Which that was the biggest victory of all and number one motivation to continue this lifestyle of strict clean eating.
However with a new set of goals came a new set of challenges, which was dealing with the loss of fat. I know crazy to complain about getting too lean, a problem many people told me they would love to have. However the reality for me is a life of subcutaneous injections three times a week, and the lower the fat to inject in the more side effects the injections create.
I started off incredibly strong with the challenge, having myself about a month ahead of schedule from the previous year. I was so excited and so motivated until each injection became harder and harder, and the areas that use to be the easiest were now causing me stress as well. I started to question if working towards this lean figure that I’ve always wanted to sport in the summer was worth the stress and growing welts.
The truth is all of it helps work towards keeping me healthy so I continued and will continue. It will take trial and error to master it and get them all to work together in the long run I just have to stay patient and persistent. As I continue to train to compete in June these lifestyle choices are extremely important to keep and will help me master the balance for long haul.
All the hiccups and doubts had me feeling like I really didn’t make any progress. However the end result pictures had me feeling pretty great! Didn’t tweak all the areas that were on my wish list, but I had to remember what drove me to start it and celebrate the wins! I knew this challenge would be more difficult than the last, which gives me an even greater reason to celebrate! The pictures followed a Sunday training session that had me feeling more confident than I have in a while as well, feeling progression with every sparring session. Stay focused on where you started, where you have traveled, and keep working. As my mom always tells me, life is a journey not a destination.
As I am preparing for the COC and learning how to spar and free grapple the biggest obstacle I am facing is constantly feeling like the underdog. All of my partners are far more experienced, higher ranking, and many bigger than me as well.
While my main reason for competing is to grow myself both mentally and physically, I am still a competitive individual so always losing becomes stressful. I know training with more advanced and experienced students is to my advantage because they are making me tougher and are going to prepare me better than training with somebody newer like myself. They are all extremely supportive and work to teach me new things to make me better, but they also do not take it easy on me.
Grappling is where there is more of a losing scenario, which I am becoming more and more comfortable every time I train and feel positive about getting more comfortable. However with sparring I feel like I am spinning my wheels and just feel the ticking time bomb of June 4th fast approaching. I keep asking myself what I was thinking committing to kickboxing before I even tried sparring.
A fellow TSMMA friend of mine reminded me yesterday the reason why I feel at a disadvantage and how it truly is my advantage. Two childhood friends, that have known me as long as I can remember, this week commented how they just can’t picture me fighting. These things serve as my reminders of the importance of me staying mentally strong because this is new and so far out of my comfort zone that it is going to be challenging. Win or lose I am going to come out of this a stronger person, and will teach me many lessons making me better in other aspects of my life as well.
As I sit in the Neurologist office waiting for my 3 month follow up and MRI results, I can see other individuals doing their “circus acts” throughout the hallways, and it reminds me just how fortunate I am in my journey. It is also a reminder of how important it is to stay strong on the things that I can control in the situation, especially through nutrition and exercise.
Many people including my doctors have told me that starting out healthy is my biggest win in this lifelong battle. I am happy that I have always been self aware of the risk of obesity for my future and that I made the commitment to taking care of myself three years ago. I have always kept my weight under control for that reason but I would go from getting healthy and dropping, to regaining regularly. Because of this people always assume that I am just naturally thin and it all comes easy.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! If I could live on a diet of pizza and dessert I would. However I know I can’t so I don’t and I just keep myself strict the majority of the time so when I want those things as a treat I can have them. When I am at a social event I can eat without the judgement.
During the first week of the 90 day challenge I went to a work meeting where literally everything served was carbs, I knew what the menu would be so I packed lunch, some laughed, some complimented, but while they were all half asleep after lunch I was feeling great! Two weeks into the challenge I stopped tingling regularly during my workouts and had way more energy feeling the best I had since June. Proper nutrition for me at this point is no longer about looking my best, but about feeling my best.
Today my visit was suppose to be to review my “baseline” MRI done last week, used to check future progression of the disease and evaluate how the Copaxone is working. However I got a very pleasant surprise of not only is there no new progression or lesions from last year’s scans, my current lesions are resolving and I don’t have to be monitored as often! This shows me the impact of a healthy lifestyle in conjunction with the meds is truly the best recipe for success. I know I have to take my immunosuppressant for the rest of my life but for everything else my only medicine of choice is going to be self care.
One of the hardest obstacles I have dealt with throughout the journey of living with MS is how often I get sick. I use to get sick maybe once or twice a year, usually just during seasonal changes. However since going on an immunosuppressant I have been sick 4 times in 6 months. It seems to have leveled out, especially as I managed to dodge flu season! However when I get sick it still hits me harder and takes me longer to fight it.
I have been feeling down all week because on top of being sick, my work week was very long and busy so I was off my entire training routine. Listening to my body and slowing down is a very different life for me but a necessary one! It is so important that I get as much exposure and practice to fighting to be successful in June, however if I don’t rest I could wind up causing more damage to myself. By the end of the week I kept saying I haven’t worked out at all this week. But truth is I still trained for 3 hours and did some squats and core stuff sporadically throughout the week, which is considered to be a healthy amount of exercise in a given week!
This week marks the final week of the 90 day challenge. Time to step it up a notch, finish the last week strong, and carry it right into the rest of tournament training.
My max number of hours training so far as been 10 hours in a week, I truly am striving for the full 6 days of training (12 hours) with additional cardio and strength training on the side. This is where I have to remember to listen to my body. My number one commitment to myself for this challenge was that I could not let my sleep suffer. Previously I could live with 5 hours of sleep a night for a couple of weeks and just make it up on a day off, this is no longer a life I can allow myself to live.
My typical day involves me waking up at 7 am to get ready for work, I leave my place just before 8 am, work until 630 pm or 730 pm. Sometimes I get an hour break occasionally I get no break. After that I train until 915 or 1030. Which gets me home between 10 and 11 pm, depending on how much time I spend socializing with my friends! When I get home I still have to eat, shower, and prepare for the next day. Pack my gear, pack my food since I typically bring 5 of my 6 daily meals to work with me. And try to get myself to bed by 12.
My days off consist of laundry, dishes, and meal prep! And occasionally a social life and cleaning my apartment is in there too.
This type of scheduling makes it very challenging to fit in the extra workouts needed to build up my stamina and strength. Right now I have been trying to focus on little things that can make a big impact. But also doing things like Epsom salt soaks and baths to relax and help my body recover.
So far in the four weeks since starting tournament training I’ve had to take two couple day breaks due to the side effects my body was feeling or being sick. It’s frustrating to take the time off especially since I’m use to not slowing down in life regardless of what is going on. This is going to be one of my most valuable lessons throughout this challenge; working on proper balancing of my life schedule as well as knowing when I have to stop for a minute and take care of me!