Mindfulness on Memorial Day
I haven’t been making time for introspection lately. I realized recently that I have just been falling into a routine these past weeks. It’s a much more fun routine than my old one in Chicago (working at the store, training and conditioning, and otherwise hanging out with people who love BJJ as opposed to working a job that drains me psychologically, mentally, spiritually, and even physically), but it’s still a routine. And that in itself isn’t bad; what’s bad is when the routine puts me on autopilot and I stop making a point of being mindful about my life: feeling and expressing gratitude, taking stock of where I am compared to where I want to be, letting myself feel frustration, fear, and sadness instead of overscheduling myself so I can avoid having to deal with that stuff, even though I know the only way around is through.
So today, Memorial Day, I slept till I woke up instead of setting an alarm (for the first time in weeks), and spent the morning lying in front of the TV watching The Golden Girls and The Gilmore Girls (basically any loveable, wacky girls I can find); Judge Judy and Dr. Phil were later in the afternoon. Johns Hopkins beat Duke for the 2007 NCAA men’s lacrosse title. Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall had the 4th most expensive celebrity divorce in history, according to the E! channel.
I know, watching TV isn’t the best way for me to take stock of my life. But between watching, I spent some time meditating, talking on the phone with friends, reading the books that give me inspiration, tearing up a little. (Unfortunately, just because I’m making choices that are more in line with where my heart lies, I don’t get a free pass from having to deal with the down times. And I’ve been avoiding dealing with some down times, I think, so today was the come to Jesus day.)
One thing I’m coming to terms with is the fact that the weight I need to lose to get into the 138.75 and under division for the FILA tournament is not coming off. It’s been a couple weeks of watching what I eat but making sure to eat enough so I don’t feel hungry. I think I may have reported that my weight had gone down to 143.5, but in recent days it has gone right back up again to 145. But I woke up yesterday feeling optimistic that I had lost some pounds by now, based on how I felt and how I looked in the mirror.
Then I weighed myself.
Nothing. No lost pounds whatsoever. Not even a half pound. I even regained the few pounds I lost before.
I was/am 145 on the nose.
So I’ve been frustrated and more than a little stressed, because if the weight doesn’t come off through my efforts to curb my eating and increase my physical activity, then that means two things. One thing is in my head, and one is an empirical truth.
Thing in my head: if I don’t lose weight by curbing my eating and increasing my physical activity, it means I have no will power, am weak, am fat, and don’t have what it takes to win a tournament like FILA. I mean, if I can’t even muster the discipline to drop a few pounds, then I obviously don’t care enough to win. (Relevant aside: Like many American women, I have food and body issues in spades. I have grappled—pun intended—with them since high school, and while I haven’t gone the full-blown anorexia or bulimia route, I did get dangerously skinny at one point in high school and do have lots of stuff going on in my head that messes me up vis-à-vis food. So my body and my eating habits are handy tools I can use to beat myself up with if necessary. This means that any kind of focus on weight and diet is dangerous in my hands. I kind of knew that when I contemplated dropping weight for this tournament a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t mention it because I was hoping it wouldn’t be an issue. Or I was just in denial about it. Silly me.)
Empirical truth: if I don’t lose weight by curbing my eating and increasing my physical activity, I will have to resort to more drastic measures to reach 138.75 by the weigh-in date. I have been reading some online information, and my options are: laxatives, the water trick (drink a ridiculous amount of water for a couple days before the weigh-in, then restrict my water intake drastically so that I continue to pee more than usual before my body realizes that my water intake has declined), sweating it out via sauna, steam room, and/or exercising in one of those foil-looking weight-loss suits that I always think should be wrapped around a baked potato. Um, I don’t know about you, but all of these methods sound dangerous and kind of screwed up. I know lots of wrestlers and other athletes do that stuff all the time, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous and kind of screwed up. Plus, given my history, it’s that much more dangerous and kind of screwed up.
So this whole dieting and not losing weight thing has really stressed me out. It’s making me feel like a failure. It’s making me hate myself and my body. And it’s time for me to cut it out.
I know I’m more muscular than I used to be and that muscle weighs more than fat. I know that just fighting in the weight class I’m naturally in is probably better for me anyway. Plus, beating myself up is not fair or healthy, given how much more I’ve been asking my body to do lately: conditioning 3 times a week, running after training, and as much training as I normally do. So I have decided that focusing on losing weight is where I draw my own personal line. I will do extra conditioning. I will push myself to work on aspects of my game I feel are weak, even though the natural tendency is to avoid those aspects precisely because working on them reminds me of my shortcomings. I have worked hard to get in touch with my inner bitch and translate that into aggressiveness at competitions.
But I gotta draw the line at the weight thing. People around me cut weight all the time, whether by limiting their calories, sweating it off, or both. They constantly have to monitor themselves to make weight. And I shouldn’t complain about having to lose 7 pounds, especially since a lot of those people around me are looking at having to cut 10 or more. I can encourage those people and be happy for them when they lose weight for competitions, whether through calorie restriction or through the more drastic measures. But I ain’t gonna do it myself. It will screw me up in the head. It already has. And it is motivated by fear rather than love—fear that I’ll have to fight women who are much larger than I am and fear that I will be considered large myself. And this whole vision quest has been about helping me ensure that I don’t make decisions out of fear anymore.
So, I apologize to my body and promise to love it and myself more. I will haul as much ass as I can at the FILA tournament. And I have a feeling I’ll do better as a small person in the heavier weight class, with a happy and well-adjusted frame of mind, than I would as a big person in the lighter weight class, with a freaked, stressed out frame of mind and potentially weaker body. Just deciding this has made me feel much better. Thanks to everyone who talked me through it, and who endured my borderline panic attacks and crankiness. Next time I see you all, the lardballs and chocolate-covered everything are on me.
PS: I ate about 700 calories in chocolate today. It was heavenly. But I also had a bunch of broccoli. And that was pretty tasty too. The point being: focusing on my weight this much has made me realize that I need to strike a balance between doing what I know is good for me and my body and indulging in the things that make me happy even if they aren’t the best for me. So that’s been a good lesson. All things in moderation, except for the beating myself up. That thing at a bare minimum.
Okay, in other news, I still need to move. I think part of the reason I’ve been feeling so worn down is because I spend so much of every day in the car. It’s not uncommon for me to put 100 miles on my car in a day. I know, I’m the wandering jiu jitsu chick who drove all over the country, but I decided to land in LA so I could start doing less of that. Different people have suggested Culver City, Hermosa Beach, and Torrance. I need to check the map, but I like the sound of Culver City. So I’m putting it out there again that I want a new place. I figure after the FILA tournament I will have the time and energy to devote to it.