Life is Full of Possibilities.

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Indeed it is, I thought to myself during a recent urge to re-watch the whole Game of Thrones series. Indeed it is. For such an elementary statement it sure does say a lot. Every where we look and in some cases don’t look, there is possibility. Some come by way of things we didn’t choose, and some by ways we did. Either way, life is full of possibilities.

At the beginning of this week I felt like pure poo. Today I feel amazing. And in between those two moments I discovered that Tyrion was right, as he almost always is, and life is indeed full of possibilities.

Now Tyrion was saying the above statement in return to his crazy, incestuous sister who after her lover/brother pushed a child out of a window, thought that killing the child would be more merciful than letting him linger in a coma or living life a “cripple.” Let me make sure this is clear, we are not in that extreme of a situation here. Number one, my post has nothing to do with death, only the last five words, “life is full of possibilities.” Number two, nobody I know, or at least I hope nobody I know would aim to kill children in an effort to keep their foul relationship a secret. Speaking of said foul relationship, this leads us to number three, brothers are fun, but not my idea of a candidate for those kind of “relations.”

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Just in case you don’t watch GOT, which makes you crazy, this is the love child of the brother/sister situation. Not the child that was pushed out the window, but instead a child that you as a viewer will wish a harsh and cruel death to. He really is a little bitch and I find myself wanting to slap him through the TV every time I see him.

Just one more before I move on. These incest-y memes are too fun…

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Alright. I’ve gotten a little off subject. I do that from time to time.

The potential, the possibility for something better is almost always right there within our reach. In my case this week was filled with possibilities to discover a better perspective, a better attitude, a better understanding, and as a result of all of that, a better self.

After a post about body image which included a side-by-side photo of me at my heaviest 5 years ago and a photo of me now, I was floored at the response. My page stats show over 3,500 people viewing that post from all over the world. Australia, Brazil, France, Greece, Taiwan, Canada, Pakistan, Guatemala…how cool is that!?

I think I was more floored by the shift that post gave me in perspective. I started that post feeling so heavy both mentally and physically. I ended that post feeling really happy and proud of the progress I had made. So happy that it almost made me change the post and the tone of it. But then, I remembered that I’ve always told myself to be honest and real. To write with so much honesty that others who might struggle with the same things see that they are not alone. So I left it as it was. And each time I came back to look at the picture or to read the large amount of encouraging and supportive comments, my perspective shifted a little more. I accept the big girl label because while I am “bigger” girl I really do like the shape, the athletic tone my body is taking on. It’s still a work in progress but, as someone said in a comment, “You are not where you were; you’re not where you want to be, but you are working hard to get there.”

New perspective always leads to new possibilities.

The better perspective just naturally pushed me to a better attitude. I can mope around and be frustrated that I am not at my goal weight yet and that I am technically still a big girl, or I can be proud of what I have accomplished so far. I am strong. I am healthy. I eat well. I am active. I have a source of exercise that I love and grow so much through. I can continue to work on the things I want to change. And, I can accept that I will most likely never have a small body frame. Thick thighs and a big booty are just how I am built and I’m cool with that. I like having curves. I accept me as I am and as I continue towards my goals.

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New attitude always leads to new possibilities.

A better understanding is definitely something I found this week. The Instagram page that I talked about is a celebration of an under represented group of women in the BJJ community. I didn’t realize how deep that celebration and support and community was with this particular page. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to be overweight or larger and walk out on those mats. I know we all face our own unique setbacks and fears and such, but I can tell you from my experience it’s not easy being the biggest girl on the mats. My husband started BJJ two months before me because I kept telling myself that I would start after I had lost more weight. It’s very easy to let your weight hold you back from doing the things you want to do, the things that you should do. It’s very easy to tell yourself that because you aren’t smaller you don’t belong there and if you’re a headcase like me you tell yourself that nobody wants you there or will want to roll with you because you are bigger. Since my post I’ve talked with the woman who started the page and I was instantly in admiration of her and the community she has brought together. It didn’t take me long to see that I was trying to run from the truth that I am a bigger girl when I should have been embracing this group that I can relate to so much. I am honored to belong to this group of women. They are strong, courageous, beautiful, badass women and I think I can learn a lot from them.

New understanding always leads to new possibilities.

I feel like a completely different person than I was at the beginning of this week. That’s one of the things that I have learned to love about vulnerability. It’s always hard to tell these truths about yourself. To tear down your walls and let people see the real, and in my case, often times insane person that you are. So many times I think, “Dammit Allison, you are sharing too much.” But, the thing is that when you put yourself out there in honest ways, you always learn something new whether it’s through reflection, the therapeutic release of pouring your thoughts out, finding others that can relate to you and sharing their truths and struggles too, or people that can show you that what you see about yourself isn’t always what others see. It’s eye opening and can be life changing.

Life is full of possibilities and we can choose to get stuck in our own heads and ignore them or we can choose to be open to change, open to new perspectives, grab the opportunities where we can, and live our best life possible. That’s my life advice for today.

Oh, and don’t have sex with a sibling. It’s gross.

Big Girl.

I feel like I have to kind of walk delicately around my topic today. I don’t want to hurt or upset anyone with my honesty. I had always said that I would be 100% honest here, that I wouldn’t sugar coat or leave things out just to be more pleasing. So forgive me in advance. Or don’t, I guess, cause I’m going to write it anyway.

Last week I see that a post of mine has been shared on Instagram. Cool. That’s my first reaction. Cool. I always love seeing people inspired or motivated from my posts and liking them enough to share them on their own feeds. However, I clicked through to discover that I was being shared as a “big girl” of BJJ.

Big girl?

Fuuuuuuuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity fuck.

Is it wrong or disrespectful of me that I don’t want to be a “big girl” of BJJ? Can’t I just be a girl of BJJ? Do we really need to have the label of “big” in there too?

To those that are completely cool and proud of being a big girl in the BJJ community or just a big girl in whatever world you live in, more power to ya. As someone who has always struggled with loving herself and her body, when I see people that are confident in their skin no matter their size, shape, etc., I always find myself wishing that I had just a shred of that confidence in myself.  But, let me say, as someone who has been busting her ass to lose weight and was finally starting to get a little more comfortable with the shape of her body, being labeled a big girl really took the winds out of my sail.

I know that I’m not a small girl by any means, but man that really sucked to see myself being labeled as that by someone that doesn’t even know me and what I’ve gone through to get to the size I am today. It made me feel like I was fooling myself to think that I had gotten out of the big girl zone.

In the last few months I’ve hit it hard, I’ve dropped 16 more lbs. and I had never felt more motivated. I was in the motha-effin’ zone. I actually called the process Allison-is-tired-of-her-own-bullshit. Tired of the stupid ups and downs I’ve gone through over the last few years as I try to knock off the rest of my weight. I was ready to kick some ass. And by kick some ass, I meant my own. To do whatever it took to be better physically and mentally. I was doing all the healthy, bettering yourself things.

But, the longer story actually goes back almost six years. For the first 31 years of my life, I don’t think I would have ever been labeled as a big girl. Well, that is kind of a lie. The first 2-3 years of my life I was a chunk. My arms and legs had more rolls than a Thanksgiving dinner.

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I’ve never exactly been what you could call skinny either. I played sports and always had a more athletic build, but I honestly don’t think I was a ever a big girl.

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My freshman year of high school. I’m #43, bottom right.

Sure if we were going off of model sizing I would have been a plus size, but for normal standards I was pretty average.

Then, six years ago I quit smoking and by the time I hit my first year smoke-free anniversary I had put on about 90 pounds. Ninety freakin’ pounds! In one year! I thought the hard part was going to be quitting smoking, but I was in for a rude awakening. Here I am, six years later and I’ve still got 34 more pounds to lose to hit my goal weight.

So, to go from that, to where I am now and to still be labeled as a big girl, man that had some sting to it. “Some” might be a bit of an understatement. I know that previously I have poked fun at myself here about being overweight, but you know, I tend to hide all my bad traits and insecurities behind humor and sarcasm. It’s just what I do.

I get that it could be viewed as hypocritical to be okay with calling myself big and getting upset if someone else calls me by the same definition. I don’t know what to tell you other than the moment I realized why my photo was shared, I was mortified. Embarrassed. And, hurt. That’s the truth and honesty I can give you. It might not be right and it might be hypocritical or shallow, but it did not make me feel good about myself. It completely fucked with my head and I’ve been trying for a week now to shake it.

And, in another bout of honesty, I’m telling you that I am really struggling with it.

I don’t want to be big. I don’t want to be overweight. I want to be healthy. I want to be at my goal weight. I want to be comfortable in my own skin and not cringe every time I see my fat arms and thick thighs and pudgy stomach. I’m not proud of how I look and as long as I’m overweight I never will be.

I am about to show you a picture that I swore to myself that I would never let the world see. A picture of me at my heaviest, exactly one year after I quit smoking. This is so hard to show because I am so embarrassed that I ever let myself get to that weight, but here’s goes nothing…

Gimme a sec…

This is so freakin’ hard to do…

Oh shit…

Here we go…

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And, now here are a few pictures of me from a few weeks ago…

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Here’s a little side by side so you can get what I’m saying…

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To go from Allison on the left to Allison on the right and I’m still labeled as a big girl. I didn’t take it well and I sure didn’t take it with pride.

I get that the group that shared my photo doesn’t know what I’ve worked hard to achieve over the last five years and they just called it like they saw it. I guess technically I am a big girl. Still wasn’t an easy truth to swallow. Especially with it posted for the world to see. I guess in some sense, I can’t really complain too much. I’m the one putting myself out there on social media and can’t expect not to be labeled.

When I started writing this post I was trying to figure out how in the world I was going to pull myself out of this funk. I tend to use the things that frustrate me as fuel for motivation, but over the last week I just can’t shake the label that was put on me and I have just sunk deeper and deeper into a funk. Last night in class I felt so uncomfortable and ashamed of my body and found myself wondering if my jiu-jitsu peers labeled me as a big girl too. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, to escape. I rolled one round and left.

I had in my head that this post would be ending in a different way than it is. For the last week I’ve justified my poor eating choices as a way to cope with my sadness. I haven’t been able to shake my depressed feelings. I was hurt and pissed and in my head.

And then I saw the side-by-side picture in this post.

I’ve never done that before. I’ve avoided that picture of me at my heaviest for a very, very long time. I was so embarrassed of my size and seeing and remembering how awful I felt during that time was just not something I cared to relive. So to see it now and see the progress I have made, that I am very proud of. Big girl or not, that side-by-side shows a lot of hard work and a lot of lost weight. 56 pounds to be exact. Sadly, what the side-by-side picture doesn’t show is the heaviness that comes from being an extremely unhappy, scared person, the person I was as left side Allison, and how much of that mental weight was lost too. I wish you could see that kind of progress in a picture. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

I feel so much better than I did at the beginning of this post. I honestly wasn’t expecting that. So now, hopefully I can push forward with new motivation. I think it’s going to start with that side-by-side photo on my fridge.

Ass-up.

Is ass-up a legit word/term?

I ask because my husband has made fun of me for the last 13 years for using the term “ass-end” to describe the backside of a car. What sounded completely foreign and hillbilly to him was completely normal and common for a girl who grew up in a world of dirt track racing. I mean I guess now I can understand a second look, cringe-y type of reaction to hearing phrases that included ass-ends being loose. Especially if you didn’t grow up as a racetrack brat and spend every weekend either in the pits or in a garage surrounded by men and their cars. Until thirteen years ago I never gave a second thought to my beloved ass-end label.

It seems in my transition from racing geek to jiu-jitsu practitioner I’ve tapped into my hillbilly vocabulary once again and traded the term ass-end for ass-up. Let me give you an example.

“I hate going inverted because I embarrassed to be ass-up in front of people.”

True story. I have had some pretty serious fears regarding anything in jiu-jitsu that requires me to go ass-up. As someone with a large booty and a negative body image, the thought of going ass-up/inverted, (I put inverted there for those who might be looking for a more sophisticated and technical term.), has been a fear I have many, many times refused to confront.

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It’s kind of a two part ass-up fear. Fear #1 – Ass on display. Fear #2 – Ability.

Ass on display is pretty simple. I hate my butt and the last thing I want to do is go inverted and put it right up in the air for the world to see and possibly right in someone’s face.

Ability.

Fucking ability.

My ability to go inverted is “challenged” due to both my lack of flexibility and to the size of my ass. Lifting it up and over my head is a task that should probably only be left to devices like cranes or a hoist of some kind. Plus, my ability to wrap my brain around the right movement and getting my body to do it correctly have shown to be quite challenging.

Between the ass-up fears, shortage of flexibility, and lack of ability to execute it, inverted was something that I thought just might not ever be a part of my jiu-jitsu game. That thought was always followed with a little bit of sadness. There are certain moves in jiu-jitsu that I love, that make me feel all super jiu-jitsu-y and inverted is one of them. Plus, since I’m working my guard game a lot right now, inverted can be a great way to regain your guard. I also told myself long ago that I don’t want to prematurely decide that something will never be a part of my game before I legitimately give it some effort. If I’ve learned anything over the last year and half, it’s that you might surprise yourself with what you can learn to do if you put in the work and effort.

I eventually made the decision that I’m just going to have to get comfortable going ass-up. That’s all there is to it. I’m going to get so good at inverted that my nickname could be Ass-up Allison.

Um, eww.

Maybe not.

That kind of name just doesn’t sound right for the 37-year-old mom type. Or for anyone not in the porn industry.

I thought maybe I could work on it in the comfort and privacy of my own home and get a little more comfortable with ass-up before I start throwing it out and attempting it in class. For about a month my large, living room ottoman has been my inverted training tool. I sit on the floor, facing the ottoman, at the left edge. I put my right leg on top of the ottoman, roll to my right shoulder, walk my feet over the top of the ottoman until I am to the right edge, and then circle my hip back around to sitting. At first I had to hold onto the bottom of the ottoman to help me get into the right position, but I don’t have to do that as much anymore. Yesterday I started working on it both with the ottoman and without. It ain’t pretty, but there is definitely some improvement and the movement doesn’t feel so alien to my body.

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And then there’s this kid. Makin’ it look all easy.

I finally in the last week or so have been attempting it in rolling. The first few times were complete and embarrassing failures, but I have had a few successes too. I ended up actually hitting it to regain my guard a few times and I find myself looking for opportunities to use it in rolling. My favorite was someone try to attack my leg and I went inverted and much to my surprise ended up in a mounted triangle. It may have been a total experimental accident, but hey, it worked and I got the submission.

“Total experimental accident,” my jiu-jitsu motto these days.

It may sound like a goofy, white belt-ish motto, but what I love about it is that it’s proof that I’m putting myself out there and trying new things. I’m not just relying on what I know and what I’m good at. I am seeing what works and what doesn’t. I’m failing and making mistakes and learning.

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I’ve still got a lot of work to do to overcome my ass-up challenges and fears, but seeing and feeling the little bit of progress I have is always a big win. I know that it’s those little steps of progress that lead to success and as long as I am persistent and keeping working at it, I’ll get there.

Ass-up.

Inverted.

Whatever vocabulary I choose, I hope we are going to be good friends one day.

If You Are on the Treadmill Next to Me…

I noticed something pretty awesome last night in class. Something about myself that kind of surprised me.

I no longer roll with a competitive mindset.

Like, not at all. It’s surprising because I am the person that makes everything a competition. I mean it’s not like I call people out and shit talk or anything like that, it’s just all a competition in my mind. Like a secret competition where the other opponent doesn’t know we are competing, but I am activating my beast mode to win even when winning isn’t the purpose.

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I might* be a little* competitive.

*Might is laced with sarcasm.

*Competitive is putting it lightly.

I think it’s a combination of my own special blend of personality and my mom pushing me hard throughout my life. She never gave me any doubts that I couldn’t be the best at what was in front of me and she never let me go half ass into something.

It was whole ass all the way.

As a kid it drove me crazy. As an adult I am so incredibly thankful for that push. Not only have I accomplished a lot in my life, it also created an adult that puts her best into everything, works hard, and never gives up. However, it did kind of create this competitive monster that hates to lose.

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I knew this part of me was going to be a real bitch to navigate in jiu-jitsu. I knew that it was going to make me avoid things just because I don’t want to lose. I could see myself getting better about my competitiveness little by little, but that it was always still lingering in the shadows. Think of it like the good Kermit/evil Kermit meme.

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The good side of me would say, “Just learn, Allison! Just learn and focus on improvement.” But then, my little competitive monster, my inner evil Kermit would say things like, “Only roll to win. If you lose you should be embarrassed. Avoid playing any kind of guard because you suck at it. Only work what you are good at.”

It’s so limiting to have that mindset. You would think having a competitive mindset would help propel you forward and in someways it definitely does, but it can also really, really hold you back on so many different levels if you let it consume you. You definitely have to learn to use your competitiveness for good and for improvement and figure out when it’s time to turn it up or down.

Last night, I noticed the competitiveness doesn’t take over my thoughts anymore like it used to. Good-bye evil Kermit.

I mean good-bye just in spirit. I am not saying good-bye to the memes, they are too funny.

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119Good stuff.

So anyway…every roll last night my focus was on one thing – getting better. Learn. Put yourself in the areas you need to work on. Mess up? Good. Now you have a better idea of how to execute the move. Mess up again? Good. Figure out what you are doing wrong. Adjust. Try it again.

One of my favorite moments last night was me failing a sweep several times over. (Competitive Allison probably never thought she would use the word favorite and failing in the same sentence.) I tried this one particular sweep several times in one roll and I failed every single time. A year ago I would have probably been beating myself up for a failure like that. That was not at all the case last night. After the roll was over I tried to dissect and diagnose the problem. I thought back to the many times I’ve been swept with this particular sweep and replayed what was happening when I got swept. And, bam! There it was! The solution, the piece I was missing in that technique. I had solved my problem and couldn’t wait to get back in there and try it again. It was fun to sit there and problem solve and figure something out instead of stressing and beating myself up over my failures.

I lose my extreme competitiveness and suddenly jiu-jitsu is so much more fun. Coincidence? I think not!

It really is quite amazing how much more fun jiu-jitsu is when your focus is on learning and getting better. It makes you appreciate and even seek out the failures because you know that each failure of a technique gets you closer to success of a technique. And, those successes, when you finally nail a technique, it is the most amazing feeling.

Competitive Allison still has a place in my life. I like her and her drive and persistence. I also like being able to finally recognize that not everything has to be a competition and that I can channel my competitiveness into bettering myself, not just bettering other people. It’s a good place to be.

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