Input vs Output: What I learned from the Commando

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Not going to lie, took this picture to make my Mum jealous

 

Now, like many households in Australia, had “The Biggest Loser” make it’s way into the night time television viewing. While the show has it’s many problems, you cannot deny that the trainers on this show have become somewhat celebrities amongst the Australian media landscape.

I, along with many, many other people (particularly straight women and gay men- but let’s not leave anybody out) have found themselves a bit hot and bothered over trainer “The Commando” Steve Willis. His chiseled body, gruff voice, tattoos, alpha male demeanour and no-nonsense attitude grabbed our attention, and often stole the show (I mean who can forget the iconic scenes of him swimming back onto the beach pretty much dragging a boat and the time the ladies of black team did a favour for us all and got him to work out shirtless).

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Sorry, not sorry. Picture credit: http://bit.ly/2h59XLR

So when I saw he was doing a Q&A session at the Aus Fitness Show at the “Healthy Living stage”- a stage mainly reserved for nutrition and wellness talks, I was honestly a little surprised. Nethertheless, my good friend Michelle (no, not Michelle Bridges), urged me to go and listen. We sat in the front of a crowd that (not surprisingly) was mainly full of women around the ages of late 20’s-early 50’s, and I could not help feel intrigued about what he was going to say. I honestly can say that I didn’t really know much about him, other than what we’ve seen on The Biggest Loser.

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Dropping that knowledge

Right from the top he was honest. He said that nutrition was not his field of expertise but he would try his best to answer any questions. When nobody raised their hands, I knew it was my duty to break the awkward moment. I asked him a simple question about getting adequate nutrition for training and some advice on how to ensure this- well I was surprised by how he answered. The depth of insight this man has into leading a healthy lifestyle, not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually was evident in the way he responded. He was well read on philosophy, experienced in human interaction and relationships, and gave a message of living in balance and harmony.

There were a few major lessons that struck me. The first one was the concept of living to your purpose and how we sit so much in our comfort zones, and the detriment of focusing on the material, rather than taking the risk and immersing ourselves in the hard work of reaching our goals and dreams. He talked about how we are not willing to put our best foot forward and to just grind it out. As well talking about how we often will not take the risk because we want something automatically in return. What if we do all this hard work and there is no reward? Well, we as humans need to realise that rewards aren’t as clear cut as we expect and sometimes we need to do something because it needs to be done, not because we are going to benefit from it. I saw this as, why should I do the heavy lifting now? Why should I make a noise, stand up for whats right and try to create change? What if I don’t benefit from this now? Well, the louder I shout now, the more I do now, means that the future don’t have to do it. Another way to explain it; why should I put my weights away at the gym? I don’t get anything from it…well if you do it, then it saves somebody else having to do it and that’s just being a good person.

He also talked about input vs output; how life is constantly moving and that we are always focusing on our output. How hard can I train? How much can I complete? How much work do I have to do? As much as this is important, a lot of us can’t focus on the input. Physical things like sleep, food, recovery, rest days- these are as important to our progression as all the things we do in the gym- if not more. Our mental and emotional input; days off, taking time too do the things you love, taking a break from the world- these things will make your mental and emotional output so much stronger. We cannot receive if our hands are full, but in the same aspect, if we swing too far the other way, we become overloaded and if we are constantly taking, taking, taking…you won’t be able to lighten your load to move forward.

Another interesting point he talked about was the rate of progression, about building foundations. He equated it a squat- if somebody does not have the functional movement pattern to squat, then they are going to struggle to run, as the primal movement patterns are similiar. If we do not build a foundation, or take time to learn the basics, we cannot expect to move forward adequately. This same concept can be applied to so many things. I see this in martial arts, I teach this in swimming- if you don’t have a grasp on the basics, then you are going to struggle to take on the complex. If you don’t know how to read a nutritional label- then how can you expect to make more healthy choices? If you don’t learn how to look after yourself, then how can you expect to take that time to do it?

As a humans, we spend so much time caught up in our lives that we forget some of the basic lessons. Yes, this man made his fame on a reality TV Show, but in his life, he has constructed a path for himself that has allowed him to keep rising, to keep moving forward and living a life that is fulfilling. He has put in the work as well as taken the gifts that the universe has given him. I can honestly say that his depth impressed me, and that his talk was the most fulfilling part of the Aus Fitness Show. I hope this can inspire you on your day too.

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#METOO, Fat Girl problems and how MMA gave me body Autonomy.

TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT

The hashtag #METOO is starting to appear every where and for a good reason. #METOO is a way that people who have experienced sexual assault/harrassment are speaking out, showing out in force that they have also had these experiences.

As the statuses pop up along my newsfeed, it breaks my heart. As I walked on the treadmill today, I saw on the News the anchors talking about Weinstein and it seems not a day goes past, where I saw an article or a post somewhere that pertains to sexual assault. It’s horrific and it’s anger inducing.

Now, we often focus on how the sexualisation of women, rape culture and how women can prevent this from happening to us. It always comes back to the victim, but why is this so? I have never been that traditionally beautiful girl. I have always been fat. I have always been deemed to have an unattractive body by society’s standards, but it has not stopped me from having experiences like other women. I have been groped in mosh pits, in city squares and at school. I have been catcalled. I have been pressured into sex. My so-called unattractive body never stopped that.

Another thing that women are told to do are to take up self defence classes. As a woman who trains Mixed Martial Arts, I am confident that I can defend myself in most situations…but what about emotionally? What about being cat-called? Sure if a guy grabs me from behind, I’m sure I can fight back…but really, how often is that the case? I can’t punch somebody in the face for cat calling, as much as I would love too. What about the women who are guilted into sex? Who are pressured by people they trust? Learning how to escape a choke won’t automatically fix that.

The body does strange things when it is faced with certain situations. What if your body responds against your will? What if you freeze? Hell, what if something is slipped into your drink? How can you defend yourself then? There are so many what ifs, and a self defence class won’t change that.

What can we do? We can speak. We can hold our sisters hands. We can hold people accountable. We can reclaim ourselves. Now as much as I said a self defence class may not be able to help, what I have realised is that Martial Arts helped me gain my voice. It help me love my body and realise that nobody ever has the right to violate it. Learning to love yourself can be an amazing tool. It can help you heal, it can help you understand, against what society tells you, that you deserve respect, that you deserve your autonomy and that if anybody violates that, then that is always their fault, never yours. You are never “asking for it”.

Not everybody can speak for themselves. Not everybody has the courage to stand up. Not everybody is able to put #METOO on their social media…and that is absolutely fine. For those of us who can though? For those of us who can stand up and yell. For those of us that will scream until our lungs hurt…..please do.

I know I will…and if you can’t, I will shout it out louder for you.

We need to start holding people accountable for their actions. Let’s stop making it the role of the victim to have to prevent things like this from happening again.

“Struggling in the Right Direction”

Every now and then a phrase will get stuck in your head. When I heard Sid Garza-Hillman say the phrase, “make sure you are struggling in the right direction”, it really made me think.

There are many quotes about struggle, but all of them embody the theory that if there is no struggle, there is no progress. I think though, this is similar to “no pain, no gain”- sometimes those phrases are bullshit.

Pain is the body responses too trauma, sometimes trauma is good. The way we build muscle to put it simply is to put trauma on our muscles so they tear a little and grow back bigger and stronger. This is a good pain, but say you are doing squats. The weight is too heavy and it’s putting too much stress on your body. You are going to get hurt. Now that is bad pain. It’s important to know the difference.

Just like the concept of struggling. If you are moving forward, progressing, even if it’s slowly, then that is a good struggle. It’s hard to get up at 5am, it’s a struggle, but if it leads to a pay off, then it’s worth it. That’s a good struggle. But what if you are stuck in the same patterns. It’s possible to struggle and not move forward. If you find yourself in a worse position, if you are moving backwards or becoming stagnant, then you are not struggling in the right direction, that is not a good struggle.

Why is it important to differentiate between these states? Well it’s important to recognise our patterns. If we are able to see where we can improve, see where we can turn that struggle into progression…it will make that struggle worth it.

Here’s a way to think about it. If your personal trainer gave you the same work out every single session, didn’t change at all, by now it would be easy, but you wouldn’t be reaching my potential. By pushing forward we may find the sessions harder and harder, but you will get better and stronger, so in the end, that struggle was worth something.

There is beauty in the struggle, just make sure it’s going in the right direction.

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.

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.

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