Motivation Comes in Many Forms.

I feel like my little slump is over. Yay!

This past weekend, my husband and I went to Kansas City to watch some professional jiu-jitsu “superfights.” The whole weekend really opened my eyes in a few areas and gave me some new, much needed motivation.

We will start with the bad first. I have gained enough weight that I couldn’t wear any of the clothes that I wanted to. I mean I could, but I would have been so uncomfortable that it would have been a miserable time. It was so frustrating and I was so disappointed in myself that it kind of lit a fire under my ass to stay on track and follow my eating plan. Anytime I feel like indulging in food I shouldn’t, I’m just going to remind myself of how awful it felt go through almost my whole closet and not feel comfortable in any of my favorite clothes.

img_0008

At this moment I’ve dropped 7 lbs. over the last three weeks and I’m very happy with that. I also recognized that I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to weight loss and nutrition. There is just too much information out there and I was constantly changing my eating plan because I was so unsure that I was doing the right thing. I finally paid someone to come up with an eating plan custom designed to my weight and my goals. I’m pretty excited to see the results of it being put into action.

The second source of motivation came from simply watching all of those jiu-jitsu matches. I had no idea that I would learn so much just from watching. I could pinpoint mistakes I am constantly making in certain positions, where I go wrong a lot of times, and areas that I could definitely put more work into. There were so many “ah-ha” moments that I couldn’t even count them all. It made me so excited to get back on the mats and work on the things I need to.

The women, to me, were especially inspiring. As a woman, seeing other women get out there and show what women are capable of in jiu-jitsu, always amazes me. It makes we want to be better and put more effort into growing in jiu-jitsu. The women’s matches were some of the best of the night and they showed some of the best sportsmanship of the night. I left there wanting to be those women.

The last bit of motivation came from getting a chance to hang out with two SFC black belts Saturday night and talk some jiu-jitsu. Both gave me great advice on a few things I’m currently struggling with.

I had a discussion with one on how I should be training and where my focus should be as a blue belt. It was almost like the blue belt bullshit cloud I had built in head was gone almost immediately. I just have to quit overthinking every situation that doesn’t involve jiu-jitsu (worrying about what other people think, feeling stupid and getting embarrassed, etc.) and put all that energy into focused training instead.

The discussion both my husband I had with the second was mostly focused on not feeling bad for using your own personal strengths: pressure, flexibility, speed, etc. It was a great conversation and I walked away from it feeling so much better about myself and my jiu-jitsu. I sense a second, more detailed post about this topic in the future.

1640cdee6fc7c597af3df259d3722d95

I ended the weekend so excited to go to class on Tuesday. And, it ended up being a great class.

I had my tasks, my position I’m currently working on and I ended up getting to it in three different rolls. I made my mistakes and learned how I messed up and I’m already anxious to get back and try again so I can fix the details where I went wrong.

For the last few weeks I’ve been slowly trying to build up my cardio from the time off. When I first came back I was trying to roll every other round so I could get a break between each round. Last night I just kind of said screw it and rolled three rounds before a break. I felt like death, but it was a good kind of cardio-death. I know that if I want to improve my cardio, I need to push it to the next level. I feel like I achieved that last night.

I had zero issues with asking people to roll. That’s always been one of my biggest setbacks. I even asked two people that I’ve never rolled with before.

It was just an all-around great night. I’ve got my head out of the self-induced bullshit clouds and I’m excited about the my jiu-jitsu future.

Better.

Coming back to class after such a hard time is tough. It really is.

FullSizeRender_3_large

For maybe the first time ever, I was really dreading class yesterday. Like not wanting to go dread. As I was going through my usual pre-class routine, shower, braiding my hair, brushing my teeth, my anxiety was slowing building up. It killed me that I was feeling this way about class. Jiu-jitsu has been such an important part of my life for the last few years and even in rough times I looked forward to getting back out there and trying again. It’s always been hard, but it’s never been something that I dread to the point of not wanting to go. Maybe feared a little, definitely had anxiety, but never just plain ol’ not wanting to do it. As someone who really does love jiu-jitsu, it’s a hard feeling to process and understand what it means.

Those last four words are a lie. I know what it means.

It means is that I’m in my head. That’s it. Jiu-jitsu didn’t change, my thoughts and the pressure I’m putting on myself changed. I have plenty of excuses to throw around. My weight gain. My time off. My blue belt pressures. My shit cardio. My age (Hello, 38!) But, excuses are annoying. I actually felt irritated at myself as I sat there thinking about these things. There may have even been an eye roll.

No more excuses.

 

I played a broken record in my head of only positive phrases in hopes to force out the stupid excuses and make believe pressures I’m putting on myself. By the time we walked into class I was in a much better place mentally than when I was at home. I might have felt like I was going to vomit because the anxiety was there, it’s always there, but I had at least replaced the excuses and self-shit-talk with positive affirmations. That sounds so cheesy. Cheesy, but hey, it works.

By the time class was over I felt much better. Still a little eh, but better.

43f865659424e5ffea26e240b95bbe08

One of the biggest things I need to get into the right mindset for jiu-jitsu is focus by having tasks. When I find something that I want to work on, a technique that I can focus on, I leave all the headcase bullshit behind and worry instead about that technique. For example, for months I was obsessed with crucifix. At first it started with just getting to crucifix from side control. Then it was trying to maintain and control. From there it evolved into finding different entries to it. After that it evolved into finding submissions, using bait to get what I want, or faking a submission from there to set up a second submission. I started each roll with a “task,” getting to crucifix, and it made me focus on learning, not on feeling stupid for making a mistake or rolling poorly. During that time, I almost looked forward to making mistakes so that I could learn from it.

So, now, thanks to help from an awesome person, I have a new task to work on and a new focus. And, it helped me tremendously last night. I felt ten times better, I was able to focus on the rolls and learning instead of being in my head and overthinking about things. Like I said, I still feel a little eh, but I feel like I’m on the right path.

I look forward to this being one of those times where when I come out of it, I’m going to be so proud of myself for fighting through and not giving up.

1474513_763549493659891_1334425329_n_large

Feeling Blue.

How do you make someone who does jiu-jitsu disappear?

Give them a blue belt.

Ba-dum-chhh.

images2

If you have been doing jiu-jitsu for awhile, chances are you’ve heard the cautionary tale of the disappearing blue belts and the blue belt blues. I’ve heard it many, many times. I didn’t fully understand it until yesterday.

At white belt, you think what could possibly be worse than this? It’s only got to get better, right? Right!? Surely things get easier. Surely the frustrations become less and less. Surely I will quit getting smashed and destroyed at some point?

Well, if you are me, and I’m assuming like most new blue belts, it is almost surely that you will be wrong if you think that’s the way it’s going to go.

Wrong, wrong, wrong-ity-wrong.

As a new blue belt I can tell you a secret. That blue belt does not, I repeat, does not come with any special powers. You might get a little boost of confidence at first. A proud-of-yourself boost for sticking with something so hard.

images

I had that. A little blue belt skip in my step. A new motivation to get in there and work hard. It was very short lived. What mostly came with my blue belt was pressure. Lots and lots of self-made pressure. And, I seldom live up to the expectations and pressure I put on myself.

It’s funny how much value we put on a piece of colored fabric. I went from someone who didn’t know shit and was accepting of that to someone who didn’t know shit and suddenly wasn’t accepting of that. All because that thing that holds my gi together changed colors. I felt like if I had a blue belt, that meant that things would start to get easier. That I was going to say goodbye to my white belt struggles.

Psh.

Hello, blue belt struggles. You’re a much bigger bitch than I was prepared for. I’m more in my head than ever. My biggest pressure and fear being that anyone is going to look at me at any moment, point to my belt, and call me a fraud.

I feel like a fraud.

I feel like I deserve to be called a fraud.

I feel like I want to throw my belt in the trash, because the thought of me as a believable blue belt is absolute garbage.

I totally get the blue belt blues and discouragement. I get the want to quit. I get the new pressure and the new frustrations that come with a blue belt. I soooooooooo get it now. In two and a half years I have never wanted to quit as much as I did yesterday. I got smashed and destroyed (and an added bonus of a bloody nose) by a first day white belt, in front of a line of people watching our game of pass, sweep, submit. I was mortified. M.O.R.T.I.F.I.E.D. I felt like a giant failure. A failure to myself. A failure to my belt. A failure to SFC, like this guy was going to laugh at the quality of skill there if he could beat a blue belt on his first day.

Pressure here. Pressure there. Pressure fucking everywhere.

All because of a different color on my belt.

A color. A freaking color! Do you realize how stupid that sounds!? But, it goes even further than that. It doesn’t just sound stupid, it IS stupid. It is so stupid. Why do we give a color so much power? So much control over ourselves and our worth? And, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I don’t know how accurate any are, but I have seen a range of statistics that say anywhere from 40% to 80% that make it to blue belt will quit.

So, how do we overcome these blue belt blues and keep going?

I’m going to rely on what has gotten me this far. I’m going to keep showing up. I’m going to do my best to learn as much as I can from whatever experience I have, whether it is a victory or a failure. I’m going to work on not leaving whenever I get embarrassed or in my head. I’m going to try to stop comparing myself and my skills to others, especially when we aren’t even comparable. I’m going to keep setting both long-term and short-term goals to keep me moving forward. I’m going to take the frustrations I encounter and use them as motivation and fuel to become better.

Those statistics can kiss my ass.

Keep Moving Forward.

Little by little, I’m starting to find my way again. It’s so crazy to me how hard it is to build up cardio, lose weight, and gain mental toughness and then how quickly it can all go to shit. It can be very discouraging and very frustrating.

I think the biggest struggle has been the weight gain. That seems to be the thing that gets to me the most and messes with my head more than anything. Life is difficult when you aren’t comfortable in your own skin. I’m not comfortable in my gi or what I have on underneath it. I’m not comfortable with my movement. I’m not comfortable rolling with people because I’m in my head about how my body feels and looks.

Losing weight, as I get older, some days feels next to impossible. I can recall hearing this throughout my life, but never fully grasping just how hard it is, as a woman, to lose weight beyond a certain age. Most of the time it doesn’t feel like my efforts show on the scale or my body. At the beginning of this year, for two months I ate about as perfectly as you can, exercised regularly, and my scale didn’t budge. For two fucking months, people! Apparently if your hormones get out of wack, weight loss becomes about as impossible as picking a lock with limp spaghetti.

It’s bullshit.

If I want to lose weight, I have to be willing to eat perfectly, reduce my carb intake to 5% of my daily calories, I religiously track everything I eat, to maybe lose a few ounces each week. Maybe. I’ll also go weeks without even losing anything. In my twenties, if I lived the lifestyle I do now, weight loss would have been so easy in comparison.

CDiZDqbWEAENgjZ

I’m not saying I hate you…but, I kinda hate you. I kid. Once upon a time I could lose or maintain weight with little effort and eating pretty much whatever I wanted. Embrace your youth, ladies.

But, here’s the deal. This is what life has dealt to me at this moment and I have to play the hand as best as I can. It sucks. Getting older sometimes sucks. But, it’s better than the alternative. It’s been so frustrating to gain weight knowing how hard it is going to be to take it off. What I gained in a month, will take me half the year, if I work really, really hard, to take it back off. I have to be willing to accept that a few ounces a week is a loss, even if I feel like it should be more. I have to not let myself get frustrated at the slow progress and give up. Progress is progress, right?

One of my biggest struggles with my gi and how it fits, are the pants. They are so tight on my ass that if I squat or bend they will slide off. I get so embarrassed about that. I was so pumped for class yesterday. All day I was excited to keep building forward momentum towards my new goals.

And then, I put my pants on.

Instantly my mood went to poo. I felt so uncomfortable and so frustrated with how tight they felt. I was worried that others would notice or you know, the ultimate fear, that my pants would rip in class. My brain’s usual go-to in situations where I’m extremely uncomfortable is to escape. I wanted to take those pants off, go upstairs, and go to bed to escape it all. It was so tempting. However, I said out loud to my husband, “This is the last time these pants will be as tight as they are right now. I just have to get through it and each class they will fit a little better than the class before.”

Keep moving forward. That’s the goal. Keep moving forward, even when I’m discouraged. Keep moving forward, even when I’m frustrated. Keep moving forward, even when the scale doesn’t move. Keep moving forward, always.

Chalkboard-Weight-Loss-Quotes

Yup. I must remember this.