Staying Hydrated

Something that I have had trouble with in the past has been staying hydrated when my training load has been heavy. Sometimes it can literally feel like if you’re not training, you’re showering, sleeping or trying to fit enough food in your stomach to fuel your next session, and amidst all of this is can be surprisingly easy to neglect to drink enough. Couple this with a failure to replenish the electrolytes that allow your body to actually retain the water that you drink and fairly soon you’re dealing with dry skin and eyes, muscle cramps, headaches and reduced performance.

My training load today was quite heavy, but I managed to avoid these side-effects of dehydration by:

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How Yoga Has Helped Me


For the last month and a half, I have been doing a lot of yoga. I’ve found yoga valuable in the past. For instance, when I was just beginning to recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, yoga was one of the first forms of exercise that I was able to attempt. I could do it at home, stop any time, didn’t need any assistance, and there was no risk of becoming stranded as a result of fatigue – which could have happened at that stage had a gone for a walk on my own and become too tired to make it back.

It’s quite amazing to think of how weak I had become as a result of being debilitated by CFS. Things like chair pose, high lunges or cobras which I now perform easily as part of an active recovery really tested my muscular strength and endurance back then.

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Kelly

A little bit before I started Muay Thai, which was my introduction to combat sports, I was caught in a cycle which many girls and women will find familiar, of hating my body, wanting to be “liked”, slavishly following poorly thought-out diets, and doing hours of cardio at the gym.

Needless to say, none of this was very fulfilling. In my quest for ever more cardio, I ended up in a Les Mills Body Combat class.

The instructor’s name was Kelly, and I remember thinking that she was amazing. She was lithe and strong in a way that I had always been told that women were not, and unlike the step-class instructors she made no apology for her athleticism – no thick layer of make-up or pink accessories or feminine affectations.

Unlike those other instructors, she was also very approachable and generous with her time. I spoke to her after class and she told me that she had a background in Taekwondo. I think she may have been the first person in whom I confided about my desire to learn to fight.

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Wrestling Camp

Wrestling Camp was a great success for all involved. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and I obviously learned a lot about wrestling, and how the wrestling community works here in Australia. Rather than inundate you with a long post comprised of fan-girl superlatives, I thought I’d break the experience down into a few categories:

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I’m Going to Wrestling Camp!

In two weeks’ time, I’m going to be at the Australian Institute of Sport for a three-day women’s freestyle wrestling camp. The coach will be Kyla Bremner, a former Olympic wrestler. I found some footage of her competing, which you can check out below.

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“It’s Not Real Wrestling”

I have never called myself a wrestler, although I have been categorised as “Wrestler” before by some BJJ friends overseas, which simultaneously filled me with pride and embarrassment. (Apparently, the perception was due to some combination of my “physique” and my ineptitude with lapel grips. Maybe it also had something to do with that Greco class where I took down an 87kg guy a bit more than I should have. )

The thing is that, while I do wrestling training to benefit my BJJ and MMA, I’ve never entered a wrestling tournament. Thus, while I do tell people who ask that I do wrestling training, and for what purpose, I never call myself a wrestler. Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the world, one which commands a great deal of respect. I would never dream of sullying its name by making unqualified claims about myself.

Imagine my horror then when the subject of Bikini “wrestling” (re-)surfaced in my little sphere of influence. Something in me is strongly repulsed by the concept of women in bikinis or lingerie doing something (which some producers have the gall to refer to as “wrestling”) for the sole purpose of letting cameras capture footage of sweaty cleavages or crotches tangled up in lace or lycra.

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Confidence & Competence: Perception vs Reality

I have been thinking a lot about confidence lately, in the context of my own training. I go through cycles of feeling like I’m making great progress and solving problems, interspersed with cycles where it feels like I have run into a wall and am doing the “wrong” thing over and over again. I have come to view these phases somewhat fatalistically, accepting that if I just keep grinding, each phase will yield to the other in its own time.

That’s not to say that I don’t experience emotions in association with these states. When I feel like I’ve reached a plateau, I feel frustrated and inadequate, and I start to doubt myself and – yes – lose confidence.

Recently I’ve felt that I have been experiencing a plateau in my MMA training. I never feel that I am transitioning as fast as I want to be; I’m not winning as many drills as my team-mates; I don’t feel like I’m showing dominance in sparring or making enough progress from week to week.

While continuing to work with my team to increase my competence, I’ve been exploring ways of improving my confidence, which I consider my own responsibility.

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