Sunday, July 31, 2011

Can you donate $10 for Orphans?

A friend of mine is riding all the way around one of our local lakes (Lake Okeechobee) to raise money for International Orphan Support. Any donation you can make is appreciated...but all we're asking is $10. So check it out, donate, pass it on!

Here's the Crowdrise site:


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Eating tips don't work for foodies.

Know what that is? It's a picture I took on vacation. I photograph a lot of food...memorable meals, recipes gone right and wrong. I plan trips around restaurant offerings. Right now, I'm thinking of hitting up Vancouver for days of seafood and evenings of training. Food is a big deal to me. I am genuinely, at my core, what you call a foodie (gourmand if you want to sound fancier.) Starting BJJ has me thinking more deeply about eating right. Now, healthful eating is real. Almost a necessity. And I feel conflicted.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Somebody pinch me, I think I'm enjoying group activities.

And not just on an individual level. As an introvert, I'm almost hesitant to admit this, but between BJJ and church, I'm beginning to genuinely appreciate community*. One big qualifier though...there has to be a point. That point has to be easily identifiable and that "point" has to be shared. Any members that don't get the point, need to be corrected or gotten rid of ASAP.

Great organizational book. Great.

I've been a member of a lot of communities in my, race, church, dance, college, Chinese learners, and probably a few I didn't even realize. The ones that were true communities, truly supportive, truly focused and truly mindful of people are and have been amazing.

I can honestly say that after having experienced organizations that can work and function productively, I have more of a belief in what they can accomplish than ever. I've developed a genuine enjoyment of the existence of positive organizations.

*Not to say that we introverts don't need or can't thrive in communities, we just form  and join them differently (read: smaller/slower)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thought patterns tripping me up

So that basic butterfly sweep I was having issues with. I was just cleaning out my email and found a GrappleArts Newsletter devoted to that very topic. Yays:) Turns out I was getting stalled (and frustrated) during the hip switch because it just felt insanely difficult. I drilled it a few times in class and decided I wasn't strong enough and needed to go home and work on some shoulder bridging to get stronger.

It just hit me though, that considering how long I've been doing this, my build and the principles behind the art, "not strong enough" is seldom going to be the issue. (The actual issue was, as it turns out, that I was trying to brace all my weight on my head/shoulder and not putting any on my inside leg).

There are still all these weird little bits of insecurities I have left over from when I first started. These are the big ones I've noticed (and why I logically know they're not true).

  • I'm not strong enough-I've always been strong enough for pretty much anything. I used to have big issues handling my bodyweight, but FlowFit has helped with that a lot. 
  • I'm not coordinated enough-straight up not true. I've always had above-average coordination. If I'm doign something wrong, it's because I don't understand the theory behind the move.
  • I'm not smart enough-again...just not true. I used to theorize that the kind of "smart" I am wasn't the kind of "smart" I needed to be for BJJ and that I was just doomed to suffer or quit. I'm not exactly a kinetic genius, but I've got enough body awareness to learn and execute what I need to. 
  • I'm not flexible enough-Even with my tight groin and hamstrings, I'm still more flexible than most guys that train. 
What I've noticed is usually going on is that...
  • I don't understand the theory-big deal for me. Huge deal for me. 
  • I'm not being aggressive enough-I underestimate how much momentum plays a part is certain technical elements. 
  • I'm trying not to hurt a smaller partner. I'm much less concerned and more open to learning with a larger partner. 
I can't really hold them against myself. I'm working against a couple of decades of ignorance of physical activity. What I can do though, is be aware of them when they crop up and learn how to work past them. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First night back...charlie horse.

Sad spider is sad again, sadly.

Last night was one of the hardest I've had in a while. Point blank I left feeling incompetent, questioning whether or not I can do this with any reasonable expectation of success. That was almost certainly fueled by my expectation that my time off would have amounted to some amazing cementing process, allowing my body and mind to become one, awesome jiu jitsu machine.

Yeah...that totally didn't happen. What DID happen, was that I got stomped by a white belt. I know, I know...the three months I spent trying to not get worse, he was spending getting better. I know he weighs 220+. I know he's a he. I know my full guard is all messy because I'm just coming off an injury. Funny how little emotions listen to reason.

So we started from the knees and I took KickboxerInstructor's advice of someone taking the top and someone taking the bottom (as to not waste time with unrealistic grip fighting). I went for the bottom since this guy was stripping my grips like crazy and pretty aggressively. He pinned a thigh to the ground, passed my guard and ended up in half. I'm honestly floored by how bad I am about making decisions on how to get out of side control/bottom half. Well, he started passing with some nasty shoulder pressure and I tapped to that alone. I don't think I've ever done that with ANYONE, but I felt pressure on my neck/jaw that felt like, had he decided to apply a bit more, would have cracked my face open or injured my neck.

We reset.

I was feeling a lot of strength and quick, hard movements from him, so I fell to guard again. He started to pass and normally, I take the few extra moments my long legs give me to set up grips for foot tweakiness has almost completely eliminated that time, so as soon as he started to pass, he was able to get a knee up and smash my left thigh down again. Pass again. Lapel grip. Mount. Choke. Futile defense. Tap.

We reset.

I decided it was time for me to try to start from the top. After grip fighting he fell back with me in his full guard. I started passing and he set up a sweep which failed. I fell to the side and got him in my guard. CHARLIE HORSE. I winced as he smashed my left leg once again. Some other stuff happened and choke. This time though, it wasn't set up properly and I decided not to tap. Then he started doing something that completely caught me off guard. He started pulling my upper body up off the mat and pushing it back down while holding the choke. Did it about 3 times. I can't say it did anything to make the choke tighter or correct, but I tapped just to avoid being someone's choking experiment.

Next roll was with BlondeBlueBelt who I absolutely adore. After a musclee roll like the previous one though, I read his usual helpfulness as patronization, which I think was totally in my head. He defended my beloved triangle from mount properly, which no one has ever done before, so I learned of a new hole. He then submitted me in two triangles because of arm placement mistakes I was making when passing open guard, which he later pointed out and explained.

I felt light-headed and dizzy, so after we lined up, I spent a few more seconds with Blue, going over what got me caught in those triangles. I left immediately...the earliest I've ever left on a Friday. Said goodnight to no one. No waves through the glass while walking to my car. I noticed that the sun was still up, which I knew meant I was leaving crazy early.

This though, is what I love about blogging. Up until I sat down to write, I'd totally forgotten about drilling with NewBlondeWhitebelt and his gas issues and me telling him about my...incident in a very quiet gym when I first started. I'd forgotten about BlondeBlueBelt mistaking my commentary on his beard for me offering him a beer (gotta love mouthguard-ese). Writing it out also got me thinking that I may need to talk to dude about wrenching chokes. On top of that, I'd forgotten that I need to work on staying tight in butterfly sweeps and the spider guard sweep I'd learned from a purple just before the boot. I covered a lot of specific things that will be good for me, but I forgot them all last night because of a very uncomfortable round.

So I guess things will even out as I, out of necessity, learn to branch out beyond full guard and deal with stronger, heavier, musclier opponents.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Do you shower too hard?

I was going to ask if you shower too much, but considering I shower both too frequently and too aggressively, I decided to change the title.

Two weeks of not training is enough time to feel like your life has reset to pre-training status. Long story short, I feel fat and clean. Amazing, since I've only been showering twice a day recently. So no gym contact along with a case of some very uncool mat-nasty has me reexamining my showering practices.

A Dornbracht shower. Ain't it purdy?

So I'm going to roll with The Part Time Grappler's theme of skin care. I ran across this article on showering frequency and, not surprisingly, those of us on the North American continent spend WAY too much time getting clean. What DID surprise me though, is the recommendation that medical personnel not shower immediately before a procedure since washing with non-antibacterial soap just disturbs colonies of skin-critters as opposed to getting rid of them. It also recommended against the "Japanese" exfoliating rag I've been using for...years now. I love the thing. I even got my brother one because where he lives in Japan (strangely, where nobody had heard of said rag), towels and washcloths go funky overnight and this thing holds almost no water. Apparently, I'm doing my skin more harm than good by shredding off the upper layer twice a day. Dah well. Back to the washing board.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Of Recipes and Recovery

Onward and upward in the quest to eat more vegetables. Today, I'm filling out my work lunch rotation with an improv dish...fresh tuna and mushroom casserole spiked with sweet peas and spinach.

It's pretty simple and you cut back on the salt by making the "soup" from scratch and using fresh tuna (gives it less of a fishy taste) instead of canned. I shaved a lot of the time off by not pre-boiling the noodles (works with lasagna too). You just water down the sauce some after you pour it into the casserole dish.

In other news...I'm clear to train again! I went to Dr. Fox today to get cleared to wean myself off the boot and start training again. I made my way back and he introduced me to a visiting doctor. He then explained that I hurt my toe training "for UFC". Doctor #2 laughed it off as a joke.

"Ha...I'm serious...I don't joke about that stuff."
"Oh wow..."

It was my third appointment since I started seeing him and I figured this visit would be similar to the others. Testing the bones to see if there was pain. Some nice banter about training. Oh-ho was I wrong. Little did Megan know that today it was time to clear out some of the scar tissue and adjust the clicking in my toes. He explained to me in his usual, calming tone (he has total yoga-voice) that he was going to manipulate my toes in order to remedy some of the clicking issue. Cool. He demonstrated how he was going to grip my toes and bend them away from the rest of my foot. Cool. He then stood up and I thought to myself  "hmm...I wonder why he's standing up. He probably did that for better leverage. Wait. Why does he need better lever...AHHHHH!!!!" I didn't actually scream...well, I did, but I swallowed it. After that though, my toes move more smoothly and the articulation is better than in the non-injured foot. Woo!

And now...dancing cats.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Toe shoes, Sombo or tape?

Me and Bootsie at work. I've been wearing crackle nail polish to coordinate and make a statement about the state of my toe bones

***Update...I got the toe shoes and you can read about them here***

So I SHOULD be getting the all clear tomorrow to be rid of the boot () and go back to training. I'm getting a little (and by that I mean a lot) tired of taping my'm considering footwear.
I've heard good things about wrestling/sombo shoes, but then just had someone suggest those toe shoes that people have such a love/hate relationship with.

I'm really curious to see how my training has changed after some time off. Sure, I've been itchy, but I've always found breaks in the learning process to be a great way to take a step back, let your mind cement what it already has and to clarify direction. We'll see.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Healthy Foods I actually like

So I've been checking out some of the nutritional guidance at Precision Nutrition. I'm on part 4 for the free tutorials for women and fat loss and I'm proud to say that I seem to have discovered most of their tips on my own...I uh...just haven't been following them.

Five hours a week of exercise? Check. Better fats and more protein? Check. Not starving yourself? Done. They even suggested my exact protein shake recipe. My big problem has just been that I've been slipping on portion size and have stopped replacing carbs with vegetables. So...I need a little reminder on healthy foods I really like...

You win this round.

Broccoli...eating a broccoli omelet right now. I love the taste of it when it's overcooked
Spinach...even in its non-creamed state, it's good stuff
Asparagus...LOVE it baked (over baked) with lemon and olive oil
Nuts...pecans, cashews and pistachios only need apply
Herbs of all kinds...extra flavor with greenery points!
Fennel...cooked only. Cooked. Only.
Anything out of the sea...seriously...anything.

So yeah...making a small change back to where I used to be. Dinners that are based more on greens than potatoes again. Hopefully I won't miss the red creamers too much.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Freemind Upgrade!

To keep this blog as readable as possible, I keep my techniques in a separate database using Freemind's mind mapping software.

Well They just upgraded and fixed a lot of the bugs that used to irk me. Notes no longer automatically pop up if you hover over a cell. The interface is cleaner overall and you can edit them using HTML. The preview pop up is pretty nice too. As far as keeping a technique journal is concerned, it's definitely the best solution I've run across.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I haven't hit my learning groove.

Seriously...less than a minute ago, it hit me that I haven't yet hit my BJJ learning groove. It all still feels somewhat awkward and bumpy.

I miss training. I know what I want to improve...what I want to specialize in...what I'm ignoring because I know it's just going to be an uphill battle (taking the back).

Not sure what that means, if it's a problem, or if injury fatigue is starting to set in. My best guess is that I've hit a point in my training where the newness has totally worn off and I want focus and a game plan and direction.

On a side note, I'm really starting to worry about my foot. I've been in the boot for a week and I still have shocking pain if anything bumps into my big toe. (Thankfully the two baby-fractured ones seem to be healing ok.) It's terribly ironic that I hurt it the same day two purples and a brown belt gingerly walked me through the mystery and intimidation of stapling passes. All I want to do is drill them and I think it's going to be a while before I can do that properly.

If BJJ teaches you nothing else, it teaches you deep, internal patience.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Confessions of a Feminist Nutritionist

Seven years in and protein shakes are starting to get to me once again.

I'm posting this partially to remind myself to come back and read this when my eyes are a little less fatigued. It's a timely article for me, since, years before starting BJJ, I decided to start eating better overall to lose weight. Well...I ate less and lost weight, but I was eating only about 1200 calories a day of not-so-good food. So the weight came off, and I was working out, but I don't think I qualified as healthy. So I'm kicking around a new challenge in my harder than under eating or working out too much or learning Mandarin or stepping on the mats for the second time (it was way harder than the first). I want to find the place in me that has a balanced relationship toward food. The place that understands that food is both nutrition and pleasure and abuses neither.

Here's the speech I'm reading through. It's long, and good. It's a pretty academic read, but it makes an effort to bridge the gap between movements centered around body image and actual programs to create change. Here's an excerpt...

Social justice advocates from all fields have made important critiques of:
  • media representations
  • publicly disseminated scientific knowledge claims
  • and body-related practices and domains of knowledge such as medical science
This is important, because we are avid consumers of health- and body-related information. There are industries – such as the pharmaceutical industry or what I call the fitness-industrial complex – that profit from our bodies and from particular discourses.
And it’s especially important because it’s often the people who are most marginalized who have certain regimes enacted upon their bodies.
In other words, it is essential to have a critical social justice framework that takes up questions of ability, aging, racialization, access to care, etc.

I'm not announcing starting a diet or a goal or reaching a point of dissatisfaction. It's more that I've reached a point of decision to pick up a journey I started ten years ago. Funny, at the time, when I made a lot of permanent changes in my attitude toward food and eating, I thought I'd "finished". It's crazy how few things in life are ever, really "finished".

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Adjusting to a BJJ body

Your body changes a lot when you train regularly, especially if you weren't previously active. Rougher skin, more muscle, less fat, more flexibility...and that's not to mention all the changes that can come from injury.

Several weeks back, I went out with my best friend to test out her newest photography gear. This is a sample of what resulted.

Trudy's photographed me many times before, but usually under more prepared circumstances...either I'd done my makeup and hair or my appearance was softened by the happiness of travel or peace of restedness. I'd never before been photographed wearing regular clothes, the emotional weight of a day's work and no makeup. On the way downtown, I had brief apprehensions, but I thought to myself that there was no reason I shouldn't be able to handle being photographed in my "natural" state, even knowing the pictures would be up for public viewing. For the first time, I didn't try to undo the strain of a day staring at spreadsheets, highlight my eyes or wear a top that camouflaged my short leg to torso ratio.

Once I saw this photo (my current Facebook profile pic) the very first thing that struck me was how much of jiu jitsu I could see on myself. I've always been self-conscious about my mid-section, and I saw a trunk that had been thickened through months of hip escapes. I saw short nails and thighs that are the thickest they've been in a long time.

I'm not gonna lie, I'm not 100% happy with where my fat content stands right now, but jiu jitsu has allowed me to accept my body in ways I haven't before.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Would you choose BJJ over your toe?

I guess the question is, which one? Maybe? No? Honestly, probably not, but I just heard about this story of Randy Couture's trainer, Neil Melanson, who, instead of facing a year off training, had his problem toe amputated.

Hard core. Redefined. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Most grabby position...

Inspired by a post I read on Sherdog about reasons not to train with women...freaks aside, what position do you find yourself getting genuinely accidentally grabbed in?

I've heard a lot of complaints about full guard (a guy bracing on your chest to posture up), but I've had more issues when a guy takes my back and goes for a lapel. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Men who won't roll with women...

So a couple weeks back at open mat, I noticed that my partner, who I've rolled with for...months now, had mysteriously disappeared mid drill. I figured he needed to tape a joint or something, so I stretched and watched some of the other guys drilling. A few minutes later he came back...

"Hey Megan. I have to tell you...when my wife's not here, I can't roll with you. We've been married for 20 years and..."

I explained that I had no problem. I'd rather a guy be up front with me about any issues they have rolling with women (don't know how to hold back, don't know how to control themselves, psycho significant other, girlfriend that trains, whatever) than to go through with it and risk injury, drama, or uncomfortable situations.

It got me thinking about what reason for not rolling with women WOULD actually get to me. The only one is the idea that they couldn't learn from a woman. Even men who don't spar for religious reasons don't bother me as much. While I don't like it, I'd rather someone manifest their abstention in their personal behavior than trying to restrict mine.

I'm curious as to whether lesbians have the same issue. I know of a few that train and have sparred with a couple and imagine it works the same way. Partners just assume gyms will be full of big sweaty guys.