You Can’t Cheat the Grind

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Hard work at Absolute MMA, playing hard also with the amazing Briana Bowley.

Something a lot of people ask me is how.

How did you lose weight?
How do you find the motivation?
How do you get the time to meal prep?
How do you know all of these things?

There is one simple answer for all of this, and it is…

because I want too.

Now that may seem like a simple answer, but in all reality, it is not a simple undertaking. It is a lot of hard bloody work. Pure and simple.

There are days where my body aches. There are evenings I sit in a hot bath for hours on end, topping up the water because I don’t want to get out. Some days I sit on the couch icing my hands on and off for an hour because they ache so bad after punching things. That’s just for body aches.

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That moment after training when you can’t move.

I work six days a week so I can afford to hire people to help me achieve my goals. My MMA coach Lukaz for my MMA goals, my PT Tam for my strength and health goals, my human potential coach Briana for my head and wrapping it all together. I have gym memberships on top of this to pay for. Some days my skin itches so bad, I’m so run down and I never want to smell chlorine again- but ultimately this job is helping me fulfil my potential till I get the career of my dreams.

I also am studying nutrition, so I spend hours upon hours researching, working on assignments and studying for my own benefit. I tailor meal plans that need to meet specific nourishment goals, as well as are on a budget. This is also takes work and time.

Most importantly, I’ve learnt to say no. Some days I know sleep is in my best interest, so I have to be willing to say no to an event. Other times I need to buy something new for MMA, so those other experiences, those coffees out- I have to say no. To work with my health and fitness goals, sometimes I have to say no to those hot chips and chocolate- as much as it pains me. Again this is hard work! Is it easy? HELL NO.

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WORKING FOR THE GAINZZZZZ (Body, skill and mind gainzzzz)

So why do I do it? Because I have a goal. My goal is to get in that cage. My goal is to become a nutritionist for fighters. My goal is to help change the motherfucking world. My goals are not easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am so obsessed at this point that when I say hard work, I mean work worth doing.

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Shaving My Hair Off.

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Today I took a step in a new direction. I shaved my head. Why? Because I wanted too.

It’s funny, over the years I’ve heard so many stories about how women shaving their head or cutting their hair was meant to be a political statement, or they were losing the plot (c’mon, pulling a Britney is pretty much part of pop culture) but it wasn’t until I actually did that I understood why this is a big deal.

One of my favourite fighters is Rose Namajunas, and she sports this look too. When the world collectively lost their shit over it, her simple explanation was that her hair got in the way. That’s pretty much my reasoning. My hair was damaged, it was destroyed, it was annoying me and it was a just something that would get in the way. So I got rid of it. Good bye!

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Three different hair dressers asked me if I was sure when I asked for this. When it was done, I almost cried. Not because I was regretting it, but it felt like I was letting go. I never meant for this to be more than a practicality but when I did, it sparked something more in me.

In this action, I had cut off something that was damaged. I had stripped away something I was keeping because I had this belief that long hair was pretty. I was holding onto this expectation without even knowing, this gross and damaged part of me that society expected me to keep. When I saw my hair falling away, I got emotional because it felt like I was watching something that was holding me back, that kept getting in the way, disappear.

While I though I was just going to get my hair shaved, I actually shaved off a part of myself that was holding me back. I cut away part of the old me, so now I can let the new me grow. Sometimes you don’t even know what is holding you back until you let go of it. Trust your instincts because sometimes taking a small action, can have a greater effect than you even realise.

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“You Either Win or You Learn”

After a period of anxiety ridden burn out, I woke up on Tuesday morning, excited to train with my coach, Lukaz “The Lycan” Catubig. 7:15am training sessions, as cringe worthy as most people find them, I really enjoy training in the morning. The best part though? After almost a month of being an anxious, sick and unmotivated wreck, I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling alive. It was the third day in a row I was going to work out and it was the third day in a row I was happy to work out.

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My Coach, Lukaz “The Lycan” Catubig

This burn out period got me good. My normal 5am/6am wake ups, turned into 10-11am. My normal 4-6 days in the gym, turned into maybe 2 or 3 sessions of me dragging myself in to work out. It was a period that may not seem long on the calendar, but to me, it felt like an eternity. Two days before this burn out hit, I had just achieved one of my biggest goals and I was on top of the world- but hey, as life goes, sometimes you got to take the setbacks. Once my flu/cold symptoms disappeared, I was still left with this overwhelming feeling of panic and anxiety, that I just couldn’t kick.

This is isn’t the first time this has happened, it has happened many times before, but this time, things were different. Normally this set back period would take me back to square one, I would give up my goals and just go back to the binge eating wreck. What was different this time? Mixed Martial Arts aka MMA.

Through MMA, I was able to subconsciously implement safety nets- like my nutrition. Since I had adapted and made sure I had set all these contingency plans in place, it meant that instead of eating crap and binge eating through this down period, all the food I had in my house was easy to prep and extremely nutritious. Through MMA, I was able to learn to breathe, to focus and to meditate, I was able to at least try to bring my mindset to a more positive place- even if it was just for a brief moment in the day. Also the biggest way MMA contributed was my support network- seeing those who I had met through MMA, also the people I looked up to, keep crushing it, made me more motivated to get through this difficult period. Not only this, I witnessed one thing that really flipped my anxiety on its head- I saw my coach get knocked out.

Before his fight, I was anxious, I couldn’t help it. I’m naturally maternal so when I see somebody I care about put themselves in harms way (even if it is their job!) it gives me a physical reaction. Well, he got knocked out- definitely not the result he had wanted, seeing somebody go down and not knowing how hurt they are really ramps up that adrenaline! He got up, he recovered and by Monday morning, he was back in the gym. He accepted the loss, realised his mistakes and took it in his stride. This was not going to stop him and it was realising this, it inspired me to keep fighting for what I want.

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The after effects of Tuesday’s training.

What are my goals? To get into that cage. What do I have to do to get there? Get in the best shape I can and build my skills up so I can get to that point. What are the biggest obstacles? It’s not going to be the woman I step into the cage with, it’s going to be myself. It’s up to me to put in the work, it’s up to me to battle my demons and it is up to me find the best ways to overcome obstacles. Does that mean I’m going to have to work hard? Yes. Does that mean I may have to make some sacrifices? Definitely. Is it going to be scary? Damn right it is going to be, hell it already is terrifying.

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First day back in the gym, actually wanting to be there!

At the end of the day though, it’s not about winning every battle, it’s about keeping going because you never really lose, if you take those lessons and use them to learn.

How to Ask for Help

There is something to be said about being a strong woman. As well as being a big woman. The advantages is that people see you as being as sturdy and capable. The disadvantages? People seeing you as being sturdy and capable.

Doesn’t help in parade around in clothes like this 😂

When you have made a name for yourself as a strong woman, or even a strong person, asking for help can be difficult. Hell, not just difficult, it can be fucking terrifying!
Admitting fault, admitting weakness, breaking down in public, accepting help- sometimes these can be the scariest things. Asking for help? Now don’t even go there.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is this concept so scary? Often it’s because we are afraid to be let down. We are afraid to feel vulnerable. When we are 4 years old- if we fell down, or something upset us, we would let our emotions. Cry, scream, ask for help, ask for cuddles…all these things but as we grew up, suddenly this behaviour was no longer acceptable. We didn’t want to be called “babies”, the older kids didn’t cry, so we wanted to be like them.
Emotions left unfelt can destroy us from the inside. The more we ignore them, the more we bottle them up and the more push them away, the more they will fester and eventually burst. What could’ve started as a simple feeling of frustration because we refused to ask a loved one to clean up their dirty dishes, can result in a full blown gut wrenching argument because you feel let down.

One of the healthy ways to unleash that pent up rage. Ask for somebody to hold pads for you!

My biggest issue is this; I don’t ask for help. When I feel alone, when I feel anxious, when I feel depressed or even just a bit overwhelmed- I refuse to let people around me know. Often this would turn into me trying to run a one woman show. Sometimes it would turn out fine and I could get through without a public breakdown- other times it turns into me trying to hold water in my hands and when it turns to that, it goes down in a fiery wreck. It hurts me, it hurts those around me and it causes so many setbacks.
Well no more. I’m not going to be afraid anymore. I’m finally stepping up and asking for the help I need. This fear of asking for help has stopped me from learning, it’s stopped me from getting professional help to deal with my anxiety and it’s held me back for so long. I am trying to set up my future so I’m going to ask for help, from you guys, the people that have made it this far into my blog.

Why am I learning to ask for help? Well see below!

I am trying to raise some funds to help me with my future; to help pay for mental help and coaching. To go towards a program that will help me get through those mental barriers. Also to put towards replacing my broken laptop, so I can work on this project a little bit easier. For any donation, big or small, I will be giving those who donate a digital booklet that has some of my favourite vegan recipes. These include some breakfast, meal prep ideas as well as some baking. I will include all the calories and macros as well. It can be as little as $2 or as much as $10. 

If you can’t (or don’t want to- because that’s cool too) please share this post or leave some lovely comments if this post has helped you. And if you need help? Feel free to reach out! I’m happy to play agony aunt or find somebody you trust. Asking for help is a strength that is unlike any other.

How I Learnt to Cha-Cha.

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Okay, I am not very good at the cha-cha. I think, I may have done one or two classes in Latin Hip-hop that have had one in it, but I’m not brilliant at it. When I say I know how to cha-cha though, I am not talking about the actual Cha-Cha, but a figurative one. Not the dance, but the state of mind that is knowing how to handle a cha-cha. One step forward, two steps back in life; that is the cha-cha I am talking about.

Last Tuesday, I woke up feeling strong. I had just hit my goal of getting under 100kg’s and I was feeling like a beast. I made it to a 6:30am MMA Fit class with my coach, then I went back to my other gym to hit my bike sprints work out. After a great sauna session, a coffee and a good lunch, I went to work and felt absolutely great. Got home, had dinner, had a shower and went to bed feeling awesome. Wednesday morning, woke up, felt reasonably good. I got ready for University and went on my way. A few hours later, I started getting an awful pain in my stomach- it was so bad that I knew I had to head home and sleep it off. I had no idea where this pain was coming from, but by the end of the day I was a weepy, sore wreck.

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Wise words girl! Great Self-Care!

Thursday, I woke up and my body felt ravaged by what felt like the flu and immediately I got emotional. I had started the week on top of the world, and now I was heading to the end absolutely wrecked and it was so upsetting. I had all these plans and now I was bedridden and having to start again. All I could do was sit on my phone and scroll through the internet. The world around me seemed to burning down, so much hatred and also, I felt awful too. I could not stop crying and my anxiety was at a all time high. My body was not holding up it’s deal and my brain was angry at everything for it.

Then I realised, what goes up, must come down. While I had been looking after my body- I had been neglecting my mind and soul. I was hanging all my feelings on my physical accomplishments, but I was not taking the time too breathe and look after my soul. I believe that life gives us all the lessons we need to grow and it is up to us to pay attention to it. Before, any set back like this would’ve been a complete derailment but now, I am even more focused than ever. While my body heals, I’ve been able to work on my mindset and really focus on my projection for the coming weeks. I am an emotional person and for me, when I stifle my emotions or block out the world, eventually it finds a way of getting in, so when it does, it crashes over me. I need to allow myself feel all the lows and highs, to take notice of the world around me and too really embrace all things in life; not just the positive.

“Optimist- Someone who figures that taking a step backwardafter taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha.”― Robert Brault

 

So instead of seeing one step forward and two steps back as a negative, I now know, I need to cha-cha….I need to dance in the rain.

#NotYourCompetition: How This Simple Hashtag, Has Changed My Mindset.

Even if you have a basic exposure to feminism…okay, basic exposure to Beyonce, you would have heard of the notion of women seeing each other as competition. If you are a woman or around any group of women, you most likely have either been on the receiving end or witnessed how women act when they feel threatened by another woman’s success.

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How Iconic. Gif taken from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/beyonc%C3%A9s-first-in-depth-interview-in-years-is-all-about-feminism_us_5703dc89e4b0daf53af0e765

Let’s be honest, how many times have you seen a woman with a really banging body and thought to yourself, “oh my god, I hate her,” or seeing a woman achieve something and felt a pang of jealously. These feelings often to lead to us bringing down other women, trash talking and running your mouth about these other woman. This is where women get the reputation of being “catty” or “bitchy”.

I get it. I’ve felt it, I’ve been a victim of it. These emotions come to us because we are made to see our own inadequacies. When another woman succeeds, it makes us question why didn’t we succeed? Often as well, there are such limited places for women in a lot of spaces, that when one woman succeeds, she wants to maintain her spot and by bringing down other women, she feels she maintain her power.

Well. This shit has to stop.

I found GRRRL clothing back about 6-7 months ago, but over the past two months I’ve really embraced the philosophy that comes with it. That women are strong and deserve to take up space and that other woman are not your competition. They run various campaigns along these lines, and #notyourcompetition has really resonated me. It was easy for me to say “yeah, other women aren’t my competition” but it wasn’t really tested. Well until now.

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Got to love GRRRL Clothing!!!

This week, a very amazing woman, a really good friend of mine achieved something that was once on my goal list. While it was no longer on my goal list, seeing her achieve it, made those old voices and feelings start to stir. A year ago, I would have felt an intense animosity and jealously towards her, then I would have brought myself down for not making that achievement. This time, I decided that I was going shut that down. This woman was my friend and she has worked so hard for her recognition. Not only that, now that she has achieved this goal, it shows other women that it was possible to achieve. Her success paves the way for other women to follow her. Once I was able to put my mind back on to the concept of #notyourcompetition, I was able to be happy for my amazingly talented friend. Not only did make me feel better, this mindset allows for growth of the community.

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This is my fabulous friend Nadiah, she is the aforementioned woman. See how much I admire her! She is my friend, an inspiration and sister in KRUMP. The only time she is my competition is when we battle (and she kills me off!)

I have a friend, I have lots of friends. I am around amazing people constantly. Their successes do not threaten mine, just like my successes don’t threaten ours. The more we build each other up, the more space we take up. Next time you see somebody achieve something, instead of getting jealous or feeling threatened, look at how their success can inspire yours and most importantly, BE HAPPY FOR THEM!

Thinking Big: Goals Rather Than Dreams

On one of the rare occasions that I am not at the gym, work or home, I like to spend time indulging in my other hobby; dance, in particular, KRUMP. Now KRUMP is what brought me here to Melbourne and really lit the fire under me to move over here because the KRUMP community in Melbourne is absolutely amazing. Such a supportive and passionate bunch of people. I have also come to know many others in the street dance community, and back when I was quite new into dance, I came across a dance crew named Raw & Rugged.

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Back just before I started this journey, they are ignoring me because they were the enemy team, not because I suck (I’m actually alright at KRUMP) Photo credit: SHUTTERMAIN
The leaders of the Raw & Rugged crew (AKA R&R) have been a big inspiration to me in the world of dance, and their passion for dance as well as bringing dance and opportunities to people and children that may have not had it otherwise is absolutely inspiring. Bridgette and Junior Afu’ie are the kindest, most humble people you will ever meet and their achievements keep racking up, (look up Raw & Rugged on YouTube if you want to see them in action), so when R&R had a final fundraiser/viewing for the routine at Hip Hop International (one of the biggest crew comps in the world, held over in the USA), I could not resist going along to watch.

Now one of their biggest challenges was taking over their kids crew, a darling bunch of kids who are immensely talented with the passion and heart to go with it. Most of the kids families could not afford to send them over, so R&R reached out to the community to help fund raise to make this kids dreams come true. Alas, they were able to hit their fundraising goal and, along with the main crew, are right now in the States about to represent us over in HHI! (YEAHHH GO R&R)

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Look at these amazing kids, I pretty much cried when I saw their routine!

Anyway, at the event, Bridgette said something that struck such a chord with me and I cannot get it out of my head. I may not be repeating exactly, but this is how I heard it:
“Make your vision greater than your resources”.
Now let’s repeat louder for those in the back,

“MAKE YOUR VISION GREATER THAN YOUR RESOURCES”

Why did this strike such a chord with me? Well it made me think about the concept of dreams versus goals. So often we say “Oh I wish this could happen” or “My dream is to ____” and when we use words like wish or dream, we create a vision that’s more a fantasy or something whimsical. On the flip side, when we use words like goals and plans, it creates a more realistic vision. Ever heard of the concept of stop dreaming and start doing? Well this is kind of along those lines.

These kids, their families did not have the resources to send them over to the USA, along with some of the other dancers in the adults crew. They simply did not have them, but their vision was to head to the USA and compete. Instead of saying, oh well, maybe next time and allowing themselves to be satisfied by their achievements so far, they put together a plan. They looked at what resources they did have, and set out to make their vision a reality…..AND THEY DID! Trust me, they are over in Arizona now with all of the dancers. How cool is that?

Well how does that relate to us? Well I know it relates to me. There are so many things that we say that are excuses as to why we cannot start working towards our goals. Money, time, injuries, opportunities….yes these are very real life issues but when we do not even try to set a goal and cast it off as wishful thinking, we are quitting before we’ve even begun.

Make your dreams big, then turn them into goals. That new job? Plan how you can get it. That fitness goal? Research and find a way to smash it. Life is not easy and we will most likely never have 100% of the resources needed in order to make a vision a reality right this second, but if you make that vision greater, if you step out of that comfort zone now, then maybe it’s just enough of that boost to be able to go out and find the resources you need to make that vision a reality.

Why Will Power is Bullshit

Will power. This is a term that gets thrown around in so many walks of life, but the instances I hear it most bandied around are around two intertwined topics: food and excercise.

Use your will power to resist eating that whole block of chocolate. Use that will power to make you get up at 5am to go to the gym before work.

C’mon, use your will power.

As you can see, I use hilarious names as well as great songs to encourage me to get up or to get ready for bed.

Well, hate to burst your bubble celebrity trainers, will power is not really that easy. Motivation, discipline and healthy habits- yes, these things exist, but it isn’t as simple as “use your will power.”

It took me a year to get in the habit of going to the gym and working out. It took me a year to make sure that I eat well and log my food. It took me a year to develop healthy training, sleeping and eating habits. A whole damn year, and even then, I slept in this morning- well laid in bed on my phone not wanting to get up (but eventually I did get to the gym.)

Bad habits and lack of motivation are tough things to break, but it can be done. My advice? Figure out your triggers! I can’t buy certain food and have it in the house, because I have no self control. If there is a packet of chips, a tub of Over the Moo caramel ice cream or a block of chocolate (hell, even a crusty loaf of bread) you can guarantee it won’t last more than a couple of hours. 

Not something I would’ve been excited to eat a year ago- but now I love this stuff!

I don’t even want to think about how much money I’ve wasted over the years on gym memberships that I’ve not used past the first few weeks or the amount of “work out at home” articles and videos of downloaded and not used past a few days. I’m inherently lazy when it comes to things I don’t enjoy. Actually, I’m a serial procrastinator so I figured out that accountability and fun is the way I can motivate myself.
I have two personal trainers; one for MMA and one for general strength and fitness. My strength and fitness trainer Tam keeps me accountable, with one weekly session and 3 programs a week. He also helped me tailor my nutrition. So just that accountability is enough to keep me motivated and also to give me direction, so when I get to the gym, I know exactly what I’m going to do when I walk in. My other PT, Lukaz, has made me fall in love with MMA and I also now attend his classes. The love for MMA along with my motivation to improve (because you know, consistently getting punched in the face is good motivation) makes me attend training. Keeps me on my grind.

Sometimes being punched in the face is motivating enough- Thanks Coach!

So what is my point exactly? Very few people have “will power”. If you want to change your habits, instead of beating yourself for not feeling motivated or for not having will power, figure out what makes you tick! Figure out your triggers and then try and find solutions. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help too. Coaches and PT’s, nutritionists and all those sort of people, even therapists and counsellors are there for a reason- even just finding people on YouTube or Instagram (or a blog- wink wink) can help you find your road to success.

I’m only a year into my long term plan to achieve my goals, but knowing what you want is the first step. Don’t buy into all this will power shit. You aren’t weak, you aren’t lazy- you may just need guidance so don’t be afraid to admit it.

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