#1 – Being a legit MMA Fighter makes you LESS likely to get in fights outside the gym.
Training as a legit MMA fighter takes A LOT of time & physical/mental energy & when you spend that much time getting punched & kicked & thrown around & choked, the LAST thing you feel like doing is spending any energy fighting the idiot who cut you off or stole you weight bench. Being a legit MMA fighter makes you more mellow bc you know that you could most likely kick the shit out of 90% of the people who would try to pick a fight with you & you so develop a silent confidence & therefore let things slide. You have nothing to prove.
On the other side of this coin is the irrational, unpredictable pregnancy irritation that could become a blind rage in .2 seconds. Being pregnant gives you zero tolerance for anyone’s bullshit bc everything you do is an exhausting struggle – be that physical or mental. Being pregnant means at any given time you are 3/4 of the way to telling someone to get the f*ck away from you, to back the f*ck off, or to smarten the f*ck up (you say “f*ck” a lot while pregnant, it’s a fact). Add to this the fact that you are/were a legit MMA fighter: you are now a weapon of mass destruction primed to go off at any moment & to restrain this takes immense energy, focus, will & sugar, which in the end only adds to your irritation.
#2 – Being a legit MMA fighter gets you in wicked shape & so you get to enjoy feeling like a sexy beast.
It takes so many hours of ridiculously hard work to get prepared for a legit MMA fight & the physiological response is usually to drop body fat. The benefit of being in the best shape of your life is that you LOOK like you’re in the best shape of your life & you get to walk around knowing that your bulging muscle & obvious athletic prowess is appealing (even if only to you) but also terrifying. Being in fighting shape is the ultimate Alpha expression & you’ll feel it…even if the rest of the world doesn’t.
In stark contrast we have pregnancy.
As a legit MMA fighter, being pregnant means you’re in the worst shape of your life & most horribly, not bc you chose this (in the sense of quitting exercise/healthy food), but bc mother nature & evolution are sneaky bitches. You cannot outsmart them & you cannot outwork them. Being pregnant means that even if you eat well & workout you will gain weight (as you should). You get slower & bigger & softer & the Alpha feeling gets replaced with the Zeta feeling: a word I made up that means you’re at the end of the alphabet bc you probably feel so hideous & unfamiliar to yourself. And if you weren’t so exhausted from pregnancy induced insomnia you’d work out at 4am so you could avoid having to even see people in such a condition bc their lack of fear is also irritating. Also, bc it helps you avoid getting in fights.
#3 – Being a legit MMA fighter, especially female fighter, means people are afraid to talk to you.
It doesn’t matter how friendly & nice you actually are, if people know that you’re an MMA fighter & you also have the physique of a legit athlete, most people are intimidated by you. My experience has been that muscular women are scary in our society; add to that the fighter bit & you are an outright freak of nature. This can be really annoying, however, you can be assured that people WILL NOT say really stupid/offensive things to you (except about your muscles). They also will NEVER touch you bc they’re already convinced that you might attack them. So this perception of you, no matter how false, helps prevent people from pissing you off and/or offending you, bc they have the common sense to only say such things behind your back.
And then we have pregnancy; the time of your life when EVERYONE has an opinion about EVERYTHING about you. Your body, your weight, your overall size, what you’re wearing, what you’re eating, & worst of all they TOUCH you. Now if you’ve been paying attention you can see that so far along we have a highly irritated, most likely irrational woman that is unbearably uncomfortable with inevitable changes of pregnancy & then someone is going to comment on her changing shape & size & then follow up with trying to touch her growing belly!! It’s a disaster. To go from one extreme to the other is paralyzing bc it is such a strain to not tell people to f*ck off that it hurts your face. Like you haven’t noticed all these changes & the fact that your everything has muffin-top & your everything hurts & your everything is retaining water & your everything doesn’t fit you & everything has suddenly started to feel 20x harder to do (like stairs, putting on your pants, putting on your shoes, breathing, being alive in general etc).
Now bear in mind this is only my experience & there are plenty of great things about being pregnant (or so they say…just kidding…not really) but I thought I’d share some of my thoughts.
I’m sure I’ll add to this list.
It’s been a long time since I wrote a post & the more time that passes the harder it gets to write one bc so much stuff has happened.
So I’ll just jump in.
I’m pregnant. At this point I’m 6.5 months – so I’m pretty prego at this point.
A little fun fact about me is that I have never wanted to be pregnant. I wanted to be a mom. I wanted a family. But the idea of being pregnant scared the shit out of me. To me, pregnancy has always been the stuff of nightmares.
And not because of all the weird stuff that happens or the process of giving birth. Nothing that would strike fear into most people. What terrified me from the get go was getting fat & being out of control.
“You’re not fat. You’re PREGNANT!”
That’s what people say. I’m sure I even said those very words to my sister during her pregnancy. They are true. They’re bullshit & they are also true. And anyone listening to me talk about my intense fear of pregnancy would tell me that I didn’t have anything to worry about bc I’m so fit, & I have so much self-control, & I am driven & motivated & knowledgeable about health/fitness/food.
Well, that sounded like an absolute crock.
I spent many years living with anorexia. I was fat phobic. And I mean PHOBIC. Being fat was the worst thing I could ever be. The fear of being fat consumed me. Consumed every moment of every day for 7 years. More than that if you include my preoccupation with fat/my weight that started at about 14. Anorexia didn’t actually take over until I was about 19 or 20. Then after I started eating, I have continued to battle this fat phobia. But if we’re going to be brutally honest here, fat is still an enemy; I’m just not waging war against it anymore.
Pregnancy as a concept was a living nightmare bc it meant gaining weight, which, regardless of the reason, was my living nightmare. When I had anorexia my body was a prison; I was imprisoned by it. Pregnancy threatened the same experience & I was scared to go back to that.
The other reason pregnancy scared the shit out of me was bc it represented a complete loss of control. I figured that once I got pregnant I would set a process into motion which I would have no control over. I thought the moment of conception would unlock some unstoppable force that would render me helpless to Pregnancy. I would be a victim of out of control hormones & hunger & bloating & fat gain, & ultimately, complete misery….for 9 months.
Add to this, the fact that I’m accustomed to the life of an athlete; fit, strong, capable, powerful, comfortable in my body & in control of my body; this whole pregnancy thing was an outright threat. I was an MMA fighter. An athlete. A powerful woman. Strong, capable & fearless. Pregnancy just didn’t fit in with any of this.
I knew that being pregnant might end up being one of the hardest things I’d ever work through. I can take the pain of labor, or sore a sore back or whatever other ailment I might encounter, but giving up control over my body & knowing it was going to get bigger – a lot bigger – & therein let-go of the body I enjoyed – there’s not much in this world that would pose a greater challenge to me.
To make things even more complicated, this wasn’t just about my body. This wasn’t just losing my abs, or biceps, or number of pullups I could do or having to buy bigger clothes, & feeling endlessly uncomfortable in my skin. This went beyond: it was about losing myself.
I identify myself through my body bc I built it myself. I worked unimaginably hard to build it. I endured pain & suffering & building cycles (getting chunky for the sake of strength/power/muscle size). I looked like an athlete. I didn’t look like most girls & I embraced this. It was all integrated into my self-view & how I placed myself in the world around me.
Pregnancy was going to take that away. Erase all the hard work: the years in the gym & the years spent trying to heal from anorexia. The long arduous path to self-acceptance. It seemed like I no sooner got a taste of it & it was going to be ripped away & replaced with the most powerful force of uncertainty.
Add to this the fact that I gain weight super easily, which is a bonus when you want to gain strength/muscle but it means I gain fat easily as well. So I knew I was absolutely not going to be one of those cute pregnant chicks in Lululemon pants who don’t look pregnant from the back. Oh no. I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew it would not be this.
And on top of all this you can add a healthy dose of guilt. I felt guilty for being so worried about my body & identity when I was “supposed” to be so engrossed in the joy of creating life. It all sounds so trivial & vain when you contrast it against the process of creating your child. But the truth remained to be true: I did care about these things. I cared deeply about creating life too. I was excited & eager but completely terrified & threatened.
I am well aware of the concept of the ‘Myth of Motherhood’. Women are expected to come by ‘mothering’ naturally – like vagina’s are the secret vortex of care-taking; biologically propelling all women to a burning desire to not only become a mother, but to want it above all else. And we all know that the good moms are self-sacrificing. And not only are they self-sacrificial, but happily so, bc the duty of motherhood is just that rewarding. It is so rewarding that a good mother doesn’t aspire beyond motherhood; she is so satisfied by the role of being a mother that all the other parts of her should just fade into the sunset. Silently, without protest or regret or sadness or mourning.
l I don’t drink that Kool-Aid, but I sure as hell still feel the guilt & pressure. And that’s why I’m writing this bc I don’t buy it.
Being pregnant is hard but not for those socially acceptable reasons, like the pain & exhaustion & puking & insomnia & all the rest of the physical/emotional effects. Being a woman doesn’t mean you will naturally loooooooooove being pregnant. It’s the hardest, most difficult struggle. It’s brilliant & amazing & I’m not saying it’s not worth it but it’s fucking hard.
I don’t feel like myself & I hate that. I don’t like my limitations: I threw my back out putting on gym pants. And mean out. I couldn’t stand up for a whole day. I am not this person.
And I don’t need consolations or reassurance. I’m just telling you how it is for me.
And don’t mistake the struggle for me being unhappy with this process bc I’m not…or at least not always. I chose this for myself & I knew what I was getting into. And there are plenty of moments that I do love about being pregnant & I have not one single hesitation in saying that it is totally worth it.
But for me, pregnancy has been work. I’ve had to push myself in new ways. I’ve had to dance with some old demons. I’ve had to accept myself differently. It’s a journey that’s teaching me a lot & ultimately I am grateful for all of it. But it sure as shit isn’t easy, or natural – whatever the hell that means.
Well, the past almost 2 weeks have been bullshit.
I hit mitts twice 2 weeks ago & somehow locked up my SI joints & gave myself 1.5wks of wicked sciatica.
This is how it goes with this hip problem; my whole low back is so unstable that it only takes one little thing to set off a chain reaction of pain throughout my hip/low back/quad.
It’s brutal. I tried to go for a walk in the sunshine & had to cut it short bc the sciatica was so bad & my IT band was causing pain down my left hip/quad.
So I had to cut out all leg work for 2 weeks. Hardly any cardio bc I’m scared of making it worse.
It’s an incredibly frustrating situation to not be able to do what I want to do, particularly when what I want to do is so scaled back. Not being able to go for a walk? That is just ridiculous.
I’m really hopeful that the specialist will tell me what is wrong & what needs to happen to fix it because this whole walking on eggshells around this injury is taxing mentally. I can’t just enjoy being active.
I’ve done so many upper body workouts I feel like one of the dudes from my gym who trains chest/back/traps every day of the week.
But I’ve learned from many past mistakes that if I push through this pain I will wind up suffering a more intense pain for 2x as long & that’s just not worth it to me anymore.
I’ve switched my program from a 5 day split to a 3 day split so that I (theoretically) have more time for yoga & cardio & a metabolic session….but that depends on my hip/low back releasing.
I also found trying to get 2 hard leg days per week wasn’t always possible, bc sometimes my hip was sore & needed the extra break. So I’m going to keep 1 scheduled in & then hit a second body weight focused workout if my hip is feeling good.
Hopefully at some point this week I can work legs & get some easy cardio; at this point I’d be stoked to go walk for an hour in the sunshine. Not exactly my typical ideal “workout.”
I finally got a call from the specialist & will be going to (hopefully) get my hip figured out in May, which seems like a long time to wait but is certainly better than nothing.
My intention is not to get whiney, but I’ve been dealing with this pain for over a year now; it’s gotten to the point where the limitations I face have become natural.
People invite me to do specialized training, like plyos or something, & I have to say no because if I did that I wouldn’t be able to walk or sit without overwhelming pain for 1-2 weeks.
I also still can’t lay on my left side. Or cross my legs. Because doing either one means when I go from seated to standing, I get a razor sharp, breath stealing zap of pain in my hip that prevents me from being able to take a step for about 5-10 seconds.
I also can’t turn my knee outwards or move laterally without triggering the pain.
I’m not even upset about these things anymore because it’s been my reality for so long.
That isn’t to say I’m not fed-up & sick of fearing the pain & being limited in my movement. I’m just so accustomed to it that I don’t even think about it anymore.
So, I hope to have some answers by spring & to have a course of action planned out to fix whatever is wrong in there & that’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps I could even be pain-free by next year!
I don’t know exactly how long it’s been since I made the ‘official’ decision to step back from MMA but I can tell you that things have been going pretty well.
The whole purpose of stepping away from MMA was to heal; I’d been struggling with this excruciating injury for 1 year & while at times it seemed to get a little better, there was always that inevitable set-back that resulted in me hobbling around in unrelenting pain. Usually, that set-back was found in wrestling/jits or kicking people (sparring).
The worst thing would have been to take this step back, give up the sport I love & dive head first into my pity-party (catered by the bulk candy section of Safeway) only to not get better. That would’ve been the worse case scenario because not only would I be sitting there in pain, feeling sorry for myself in hideous sweat pants, but I would also be no closer to understanding or fixing whatever was causing all the pain.
I am happy to be slowly getting better. I still have setbacks but nowhere near the degree I had when I was training for my sport everyday.
I’ve been able to add full leg workouts to my regimen, which was a bonus because it had been about 10 months since I’d been physically capable of training my legs, which was depressing because I’d actually built myself some impressive looking legs (hello quad sweep). I know that sounds like a weird thing to care about but I’m weird like that. So my legs lost most of their power & definition because my hip couldn’t handle external loading.
My leg workouts now are not what they used to be. I did plyometrics at home about 2 weeks ago, which resulted in muscles so sore I debated wearing Depends diapers so I didn’t have to try & squat down onto the toilet.
It’s been tough to reintegrate leg workouts because I have to do sissy leg workouts: I am used to single leg pressing 270lbs & doing step ups with 180lbs…or something like that. My point is that my legs were strong & now if I do the leg press (which I’ve only ventured to 1x because I’m not sure that my hip would be happy) I do single leg @ 90lbs. Mind you I do about 20-25 reps each set, but that doesn’t help me feel like any less of a wuss.
There is no place for ego in my workouts.
I’ve continued to box as a form of cardio & simply because I love pad work/bag work. I have to make sure that it’s set up in my week appropriately or else that still bugs my hip & SI joint.
I would say this has been the biggest challenge for me; having to structure my ‘intensity’ so that my hip isn’t over-loaded through cardio/leg work/boxing on an ongoing basis. It’s really annoying.
But honestly, I should have been doing this all along as it was this lack of appropriate structure to my training which led me here (most likely). I went too hard, too often. The problem is that I like to train hard: if I’m not sweating & pushing myself to the outer edge of some limit, then I don’t enjoy it as much. It doesn’t satisfy me.
I know this is wrong. When I do plans for other people, I focus exclusively on periodization & making sure there is ample rest & recovery to body parts/systems. But I didn’t prioritize this for myself. I was chasing the athletic edge and even though I know that athletes need rest in order to attain & maintain their edge, I still refused to apply it to myself. I was too caught up in pursuing ‘better’. I obviously think I’m pretty fucking special.
Now I have no choice but to do this or I can’t walk properly & I’ll initiate a chain reaction that can take up to 2 weeks to stop & that means 2 weeks of horrible pain & extreme physical limitation.
But I am learning; now when I feel something funky going on in my hip or SI joint, I back off. I rest or pick something that doesn’t stress the joint. I still push a bit hard but I’ve learned where that threshold is.
Do I miss my sport?
Do I wish I was still doing it?
In some ways, definitely. But in other ways, I do not. I put up with a lot of things while I was fighting because I had a goal. Each fight presented a new opportunity, so I followed it. It was a natural progression that kept me focused & looking ahead. But my gym was going through some significant changes & it was impacting me significantly both personally, & as a fighter.
Going to the gym was as much passion as it was a job; I had to show up when I didn’t want to, both for myself & my training partners. It’s an expected piece for any legitimate fighter. But the changes taking place at my gym were making it increasingly difficult to show up & I felt like I was compromising parts of myself that I wouldn’t normally compromise because I had no where else to train (I wasn’t going to move).
Stepping back from fighting has brought a lot of freedom to my life. I have more time available to enjoy a variety of activities. I have more time for family & friends. I train differently at the gym & this change has brought new energy & focus into working out. I also don’t workout for hours on end. I enjoy boxing (or kickboxing if I could kick) for the love of the sport, not because I feel pressured to nail down a new skill/ability. I do what I do because I want to, not because I have to & that’s very liberating.
Most significantly, I am in the least amount of pain that I’ve been in since December 2012 & that is priceless to me. Constant pain starts to wear a person down; it dulls life.
And, as it always does, the process I’ve had to embrace through healing myself physically, has been mirrored in other areas of my life. Once I decided that I could no longer tolerate the ongoing experience of pain & that I had to stop & listen to my body & listen to myself, I have found that I have less tolerance for situations or people in my life that bring negativity.
Letting go of MMA was about saying, “Just getting by isn’t good enough anymore.”
Letting go in life is much the same because whether you are living a life you love or loathe, you are the only person responsible for this & the only one with the power to change it.
Story of my life
I recently read an article about how people are “perplexed” by women with muscle.
There are a few things I don’t agree with about the article (how it was written) but as a female with more muscle than the average female, I can attest to being treated a bit differently due to other females finding my muscularity intimidating.
For a long time I chalked this up to me being paranoid & narcissistic, but last year I gained a new co-worker, who accompanies me to various meetings around the community & has, therefore, received countless comments & questions about my physique after I leave the room. From strangers & my own co-workers. People don’t want to ask me, perhaps they think it’s rude. In reality, I think it’s ruder to steal sideways glances & to have me catch you staring at me & then NOT say something.
It doesn’t bother me though, I actually like it. If my purpose in life were to blend in I’d buy a hairbrush, straighten my ‘fro & would only have hide-able tattoos. I also probably wouldn’t have chosen to engage in hand-to-hand combat with another chick in a cage or ring in front of hundreds (or more) people for fun.
I’d actually be more offended by people NOT noticing my physique, because I have put an unbelievable amount of work into building the mass I have. Like it or hate it – this body took a lot, & I mean A LOT, of work.
And when you’re standing across from someone who wants to punch & choke you into submission, looking intimidating isn’t a bad thing. When I’d put on the extra weight to build some more muscle, I had to have a mantra to deal with the fact that my pants didn’t fit right & that my muffin top was more like a tiered cake, that mantra was that I was wanted my physique to scare the shit out of my opponents. Even though an impressive physique does not win you fights nor represent cardiac conditioning, endurance or strength (contrary to popular belief) I still wanted to look like I could smash.
So this brings me to my original inspiration for this post: chicks at the gym who won’t smile back at me bc they’re intimated by my physique & my work ethic. I used to take this personally, like I must be doing something “bitchy” so I often go out of my way to smile at other females at the gym bc I am not insecure. If you’re thinner or prettier or fitter – I’m cool with that. I applaud your work. I am not threatened by that, but many females get freaky competitive & so I think the assumption is that I am going to be that way.
But when I smile at some of these females, they won’t smile back! I give them a few attempts but if you throw down the bitch vibe, I’m going to go Alpha Female on your ass & then we can’t be gym friendly. Offer is now off the table. And if you’re throwing in a glare, which the person who inspired this rant does, then I really gotta up the Alpha just to make sure you understand the pecking order..as well as the fact that, while I never would, I very well could, literally, throw you face first into a wall.
What is my point? Nothing – I’m just getting really sick of this attitude I continuously encounter at the gym.
I don’t want to hang out & discuss Paleo recipes, or whatever bullshit you’re into, I just figure if we’re going to share space 3-4 days a week, we can say, “Hey” & smile & then get on with things.
But in the event that you want to glare at me, regardless of whatever your ridiculous she-problems are, you best be prepared for me to go O.G. on you (Original Gangster/Original Gym-Goer). I have been going to the gym for about 12 years (the high school years were a joke but I was still there & want the credit) & there are certain rules you abide by & that includes not giving the shit-eye to the OG’s of the gym just bc they lift more than you & your boyfriend combined.
End of rant.