I was recently prompted to “write the post that was on my mind when I decided to start this blog.”
I went back over my archives and read my first post. It was February 2012. I was enjoying my first year of good health after chronic fatigue syndrome.
“Where I’d rather be now is reaching more people through my personal training business, competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, fighting in Muay Thai again both here and in Thailand, and making my debut in Mixed Martial Arts. These are the things that have formed the basis of 2012′s Resolutions, which in turn determine the actions I take each day to make these a reality.”
Since then, I moved some goal-posts. Transitioning from Muay Thai to MMA was more difficult than imagined, so my goals to have more Muay Thai fights and to go to Thailand have been superseded by my focus on grappling.
I have seen how competitive the personal training industry has become, and how much more clients need than basic exercise programs. I continue to work with fitness clients, while making myself a better exercise specialist and, eventually, a holistic nutritionist through formal study.
One area of my life has gone according to plan, and that’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Losing via ground-and-pound stoppage in an MMA fight against Arlene Blencowe last year turned out to be a blessing. It has driven me to develop my grappling skills.
Last weekend I competed in the South Australian Brazilian Jiu Jitsu State Championships – my first competition as a blue belt.
I fell sick with the flu a week and a half before the competition. A week before competing I vomited blood. I couldn’t do any training the week before the competition – apart from the fact that I felt like death and struggled mustering up the energy to stay upright, let alone roll, it would have been unfair of me to expose my team-mates to infection while they were also preparing to compete.
To make matters worse, I started holding fluid – something my body does when it’s chronically stressed. On the first morning of the competition, I had to cut 1.5kg of fluid in the morning to make weight. Normally it wouldn’t have taken very long, but my body was really holding on to it – it was hard to even get it to sweat.
I made weight, and refueled with fluid, electrolytes and carbs. I felt horrible anyway, so the cut couldn’t have made me feel any worse! The first day was certainly the worst, but I didn’t feel anywhere near 100% on the second day either. Warming up consisted of doing all of my range of motion exercises while trying to use as little energy as possible, and opening my lungs up with voluntary deep-breathing. I had a total of six matches over the course of the weekend, and I coughed my lungs up after every one!
I needed to budget what little energy I had carefully – a skill I learned from having had chronic fatigue syndrome. People were asking me how I was feeling – I couldn’t afford to think about how I was feeling, because I was feeling terrible! At one point I may have said, “um… I’m just going to focus on the mission.”
My strategy was successful – the way that I felt didn’t affect my performance, and I won gold in my weight divisions on both days, and silver in the open weight division in the NoGi. Regardless of the disruption to my routine before the competition, like any athlete I had planned to succeed. But afterwards, I was still very happy – winning two golds in my first blue-belt competition was very encouraging. Although I have a long way to go, I am at least walking in the right direction!
I look back on the person I was in February 2012, when I started this blog. There was still so much doubt and uncertainty within my own mind, which was reflected back at me by the people in my life. There was also a part of me who refused to give up on my goals, even though they put me at odds with my circumstances and the people in my life at the time.
I’m fortunate now to have good friends who celebrate me instead of tolerating me. Sport isn’t only about results in the arena, it’s about adding value and quality to human lives, and Brazilian jiu jitsu has certainly done that for me.
So where were you two years ago? Did you have goals for yourself, and if so, have you met them, exceeded them, or changed them? How does your life today compare to the life you wanted in the past?
Don’t be afraid to feel proud or to be disappointed – both of these emotions can inform your future goals in a positive way and can give you the emotional drive you need to get to work on them!