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!
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.
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?
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.