2014 in Review

It’s already half way through January, but it’s not too late for a quick recap of 2014.

In 2014, I:

– won gold in 66kg weight class at White Belt, no-gi, at Grappling Tournaments Australia. I also competed in the open weight division, which had 17 women in it – the biggest division I’d competed in – and got to the semi-finals, losing the semi-final match by one advantage.

– started studying an Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine.

– got graded to Blue Belt.

– enrolled in University and started studying a Degree in Languages, (finally) beginning my journey to become fluent in Mandarin.

– competed in the South Australian BJJ Championships and won gold in the 61kg division in the gi, and gold in the 66kg division in the no-gi. I won silver in the no-gi open weight division, losing the gold medal match to Shantelle Thompson, who I’d seen compete numerous times in the men’s division at Blue Belt and who I admired greatly. It was a pleasure to step onto the mats with her!

 

– competed in the Synergy Pro BJJ competition in Adelaide, where I lost my matches in the gi, but got to experience some next-level grip battles that gave me a really clear idea of what I needed to work on in order to advance my jiu jitsu game in the gi.

– got High Distinctions in all of my first semester subjects for both my Nutrition and Language studies.

– trained alongside Mike Turner as he entered, advanced through and won the tournament for the Brace Light Heavyweight title. I was honoured to be part of the beginning of Trinity MMA, Coach Nick Hughes’ and Mike Turner’s project, which they conceived in order to give us the best opportunities to improve as MMA athletes through consistent and dedicated MMA training.

 

– got my weight down while maintaining great health and avoiding the thyroid and inflammatory problems I experienced in 2013, and did a trial weight-cut to Flyweight. This process involved keeping detailed records of my nutrition, hydration, weight, physical and mental fatigue, pain levels, menstrual cycles, sleep and nap times, and treatments, and identifying patterns between all of the above in order to know exactly how my body responds to these factors. It was all a bit OCD, but the information gained about my own body was really necessary in allowing me to manipulate my weight with precision, and it’s a process I am continuing to refine as I continue to track data, find new causal relationships between different factors, and devise strategies to manage or take advantage of these relationships.

– tore my quad warming up for MMA training, resulting in a car-ride to the ER department with the Turners which was at once excruciating and hilarious. This was followed by four days of constant pain and immobilisation, a diagnosis of a borderline Grade 2 tear plus a 13.5cm long intramuscular hematoma, and months of treatment and rehab.

– was lucky enough to do observations in the University of South Australia’s Exercise Physiology Clinic, as the final part of my Diploma of Fitness studies. Seeing experienced Exercise Physiologists working with people with conditions as diverse as obesity, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, clinical depression, cerebral palsy, and musculo-skeletal injuries gave me a wealth of knowledge that can’t be gained in a classroom, and really helped me to clarify my thoughts about what I want to specialise in as an exercise specialist.

– attained my Diploma of Fitness, which qualifies me to work with people who have chronic health conditions, to receive referrals from Allied Health Professionals, and allow my clients to access private health insurance rebates.

– celebrated Halloween for the first time ever, and did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – made my own costume!

 

– with the help of my loyal sponsor, personal trainer and nutritionist Dayni Baker, my friend and chiropractor Dave De Conte, my physio Rick Mondiatis, and my good friend and coach Nick Hughes, I rehabilitated my injury and successfully transitioned back into my regular training at a healthy weight, with good fitness and conditioning, and increased upper body strength.

 

– traveled to Singapore and enjoyed four weeks of training at Evolve MMA, where I first started BJJ in 2011. I got to reconnect with coaches who I had worked with in the past, meet new ones and make some new friends. I registered at the last minute to compete in the Bull and Tiger BJJ competition. My BJJ gi game improved markedly through training with Professor Almiro Barros; I revived my love of Muay Thai through training and sparring under Kru Ped and “Papa” Daorung; I had fun wrestling; and I got to spar with one of Evolve’s amateur MMA fighters.

 

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to fight in 2014 – it was something that my team and I were planning on doing in the second half of the year, but unfortunately my injury delayed our plans. I did achieve a lot more in BJJ and academia than I had expected though, and having the opportunity to train at Evolve for a month – thanks to my family – was an added bonus.

Like most people, I am my own harshest critic, so I find it useful to look at what I have achieved, instead of allowing myself to focus too much on the disappointment I feel about what I wasn’t able to achieve.

I haven’t quite clarified my goals for 2015 yet, but I do know that I want to be smarter about what I commit to this year and leave a bit more time for myself than I did in 2014. It was a really busy year – I was enrolled in three different courses at one point, while also working and training – and it often meant that I was really fatigued by the end of the week and had little time or energy for myself, let alone for friends and family. Opportunities are already presenting themselves in all areas of my life, and I just need to think carefully about what I want to invest my energy in this year.

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