Hanging with my good friend Jimmy tonight after training. She asked me how the past week went and how I was feeling.
I’m about to be as honest with you all as I was with her when she asked. Don’t judge me…or do. I’m too tired to feels either way.
Honestly?…. I feel like I have regressed into a teenager.
Why you say that lady?
-I’m acutely aware of myself and most things relating to myself.
-I’m obsessed about things, many things, that usually wouldn’t bother or interest me or anyone else.
-I’m super fit and feeling pretty much invincible. I’m prone to being hyper sensitive to just about any emotion.
-I’m tired ALL THE TIME. I just don’t wanna do anything anyone asks me to.
-I talk about my food, my training, my weight, my competition in Abu Dhabi and my preparation almost exclusively. There really is a lot of ‘me’, ‘my’ and ‘I’ in my vernacular. (Its okay if you wanna yawn or roll your eyes, I get it, I do too! But thats just more about me…)
-I have more photos on my phone of myself taken in the past two weeks than at any other point in the history of me owning a camera.
-I have become super self focused, yep, and it is the oddest of experiences. I don’t know if I like or loathe it, but right now, in this state, I don’t think I’m the best person to judge.
-I know I’m going to look back on this blog post/behaviour and cringe, just like I do when I look back at my teen years. Thank god there wasn’t Facebook then…
Grind week from hell started well
Grind week from hell started well, my energy was great after a rest day on Sunday. I went into the first training session feeling invincible. Feeling fresh, I went in hard, fast and gave it everything. Pretty quickly that yield from the investment in rest(meant) the session kicked my ass & the struggle started to set in. It was WAY early in the week to be feeling fatigued, though not surprising given that I’m running on fumes. Well, thats a lie, I’m eating loads but we’re just ensuring I’m burning more than I’m consuming each day so it feels like I’m running on fumes, even though I’m never really hungry. Energetic output is short lived though, an effect of cutting weight that I haven’t felt before. I have the gas tank, just not much gas in the tank, if that makes sense?
There is a LOT of walking in my weeks now. Loads. Like 100km this week LOADS to ensure the weight cut happens. And it is working. Basically we burn more calories by my continuing to move and this is a really simple way to approach that process. Walking is also enjoyable and easy on the body and can be maintained for hours and hours. As a result weight cut is perfectly on track, fitness is on track, body is feeling functional and strong (though tiny). And as a bonus I’ve had hours and hours and hours to focus and get my headspace right. Walking awards you the time to indulge in loads of visualisations, leading to loads of realisations. It has been like a long, moving meditation daily. I have found this time super valuable for more reasons than just the calories burned.
Regardless of how functional and enjoyable walking has been, working in this calorie deficit still means extra stress on the body. Trying to be smaller AND stronger than I was 8 weeks ago is a hard task but I’m excited to say we have accomplished it. Stress is still present though and is taking its toll in ways that I can’t deny and in some ways that are truly surprising to me.
I’m no stranger to stress.
I’m no stranger to stress. I don’t think any of us are really. What I am a stranger to though is this new and specific kind of stress. I’m used to being overloaded or overwhelmed by a workload but this is not that kind of stress, this is more a full system drain. This is asking your body to do more, do better, do best, yet supply it less. On the daily. Over a period of weeks. Its an entirely different form of fatigue that I am new to.
I have organised some of the biggest events for grapplers in Australia. Often all by myself. Multiple times. Competitions, camps, workshops, international travel etc etc. They have all been high demand, high workload, huge attendance numbers and high stress moments. What is predictable for me is how I will respond to that stress, how I will perform within in it and what will and won’t be difficult points within the stress. I have spent years learning to identify the straws before they hit the camels back and finding ways to turn these moments into positives. The success of my annual Australian Girls in Gi Camp is tribute to that learning process and my ability to thrive within stress. It is an event that has to be experienced to be understood and if you ever get the chance to see it, you will understand why I am not shy about saying I am bloody proud of it. It is a behemoth task, especially solo.
I can say that I have spent years and years going through the same process of learning and testing with my jiu jitsu as well as when approaching competition. For sure, I have prepared for, and competed well at, more than 50 competitions from white to black and learnt loads along the way that is benefiting me now immensely. This isn’t my first rodeo (though admittedly it is the first time I am writing about it openly and honestly).
What is different during this particular lead up is how focused I am and how much I am putting in. This time shit got real and I am finally taking myself seriously. And though I have prepared well in the past, I have never, ever worked this hard nor with this kind of unwavering, selfish, single point of focus. This alone, is quite new to me. I think this upcoming competition is worthy of it. Black belt. Abu Dhabi. Yep that sounds like the right time to get your shit together girl. And if not now, when?
So, learning what I do as a response to the 2nd biggest weight cut I have ever done as a competitor while simultaneously busting out the biggest work load I have ever done, is interesting to say the least. And yes, I have regressed to a self involved, prone to crying, super athletic, short tempered teenage style version of my self.
Sorry not sorry.
Or soz not soz or whatever the kids say these days. I’m sure I’m meant to hashtag something here…? Um…#selfiestick? #yolo?
Responses to weight cut/competition stress that I was not expecting and have caught me by surprise:
-My sense of smell has heightened to almost unbearable state. Maybe its that my palate isn’t satisfied daily by beer or chips or ice cream (not for lack of wanting), who knows but I swear I will break into that building down the road that bakes mountain bread if I ever walk past it again. The smell. Oh god, the greatest thing ever. I swear it didn’t used to smell that enticing.
I have also become OBSESSED with air fresheners, scented candles and weird ass shit that I have never cared about before. I have a huge collection of new soaps, body lotions and shower washes. I’m kind of obsessed. Everything smells AMAZING. Except, of course, when it doesn’t…
I have contemplated moving house because of the smoker next door. I have also had to avoid public transport generally…BO is actually scary. Or, even worse, Lynx users…the horror.
I am sensitive to smell to say the least.
-My mood isn’t as easy to regulate. And quick like a fkn greyhound from one emotion to the next. I can be having the greatest post -training-high walk (yeah so more walking…) listening to the greatest podcast (I binge listened through S-Town and Missing Richard Simmons this week while walking…yeah still walking) being on total cloud nine when BAM woman steps in front of me wearing horrendous musk based perfume AND walking slowly….heaven. help. her.
Oh the rage. Like a flash flood.
I’m never rude to people but wow internally is a new landscape that isn’t my usually temperament. Its bizarre to watch as witness to my own reactions to people and circumstances. They are quite different and somewhat unpredictable. Am pretty sure this is just extreme hanger.
-My obsession about food and routine is creeping into other aspects of my life.
The daily routine of being supremely disciplined is getting into my head. Its obviously a necessary part of getting the weight cut done and getting all the training I need done, done.
Strategy, process, preparing, planning, routine…its all essential for success during a lead up because we are working to specific dates and weights but this habit is permeating into my personality generally.
That level of control over all things… it is… apparently…. addicting.
My house is meticulously clean. My daily routine is specific. My calendar is a check list that nothing gets left behind on. Procrastination is not allowed…everything is very…strict…and not at all my usual vibe. I am not real fun at the moment. Very…rigid. Spontaneity no longer exists. And I miss her.
-My vanity over my own image and current look is really weird and new. And is all based around the very ego appealing concept of a PB (personal best).
I have always had an acute awareness that there will be records broken throughout everyones life times that go literally unnoticed and uncelebrated. I, for some reason, like to tune in to these moments in my own life. I become aware of them from time to time. Continual PBs (personal bests) in the mundane. Its a layover concept I have from childhood that has stuck in my head for the longest of times. Odd as it is, I often think about the fact that we cruise through life not being aware of or noting the days that we took our longest ever walk, ate our largest ever meal, rode the furthest we ever will on a motorbike, met the most amount of people in one day, learnt the most new words, made the most poor decisions…these days come and go unnoticed and I find these moments intriguing, intimidating, motivating and comforting. For example, I look at darker mental health days and wonder ‘Is this the most my heart is ever going to ache? Is this it? This is the worst?’ And it reassures me, because if it is, I can totally handle it, the experience is totally possible to live through. Even if it sucks. Conversely, I look at joyous moments and note that this might be the happiest X can ever make me, and it reminds me to enjoy the shit out of the moment. This kind of weird, record making concept helps me unpack life in many ways. My own personalised, all in my head, Guinjess Book of Records.
So it is with this lens that I am currently looking at my body throughout this process. And what I can tell you is this:
This is the fittest, strongest and leanest I have ever been in my life. Thats a fact. Its happening right now. And I earned it.
Right now, at the age of 38 I have never been this fit or ever looked as fit. It is now.
Who knew it would take 38 full years to see the very best version of myself in the mirror? And I tell you what, though I’m the least vain human you will meet in your life (about my physical self that is), right now, I am capturing a bunch of images because I don’t know how long this will last, if at all, and I truly don’t know if this will ever happen again in my lifetime, so I am enjoying every, damn, second.
If you see me taking selfies in the gym bathroom mirror, you just need move along…haha. Its my time to shine y’all!
I promise I’ll be back to normal soon enough.
-And, last but not least, I am absolutely freeeeeezing.
No body fat means no warmth. Hand me another layer please! Damn you Melbourne. Why the cold snap now?! Whyyyyyy?! Wonder if I walk faster it will warm me up? Not sure, I’ll give it 2 or 6 hours and see how it goes.
None of these behaviours make particularly proud or want to OSSS, nor do I want them to be in my life long term but whats left of the adult in me understands and accepts this is a phase and merely part of a necessary process. I might not be 100% proud or in control of how I am responding to this particular self induced stress but I sure as hell will be proud of what I have achieved as soon as I see that referee wave me onto the mats in Abu Dhabi in just over a week’s time.
I can’t wait. And I can’t wait to be adult me again.
Thanks again to my entire support crew.
Vanguard BJJ: Find them 400m from Richmond train station in Melbourne or head to:
James Tomlinson (JT) of Grapple Fitness for all things Strength, Fitness, Conditioning and confidence. Find him at: www.facebook.com/thetenacity/
Dr. Hannah for all things weight cutting, nutrition, health and sanity. Find her here: www.facebook.com/themodernamazon/
Braus Fight team for all my beautiful training gear:
Australian Girls in Gi for all my post training support and clothing (head to the AGIG store, buy the stuff and support my journey with every purchase). Find AGIG here:
The Barbelle Club for all the support for ideas, inspiration and sanity. Strength in numbers. Find them here and check out the upcoming Melbourne Camp:
Bali MMA, my team across the ocean, whom continue to call, message, video call, advise, support and coach me from afar. #BaliFamily, not just a hashtag.
Find them here: www.facebook.com/balimixedmartialarts/