Archive for the ‘Musings and observations’ Category

What’s going on behind a black eye?

September 18, 2010

Wow, it’s been far too long since my last post! I’m almost at a loss as to where to start.

Hmm, so what’s been happening since June? Lots of training, of course…and a handful of injuries involving feet, wrists, xrays and black eyes (still sporting that last one). But it’s Muay Thai – injuries come as standard. Don’t they…?

The thing with a black eye though is that people stare. On the bus, down the street, in the supermarket. You name it. And when it’s a woman with a black eye they stare even more. Some double take; some slyly glance up over the top of their newspaper (just enough not to look too obvious);  and others just stare and stare, quickly glancing away in between gawps, worried you might catch them mid-fascination.

Only one person so far has actually been brave enough to ask what happened. Much to the bank teller’s relief I’m not a battered wife. Had I been one though, he would have been the only person who’d shown any kind of concern. I’d be out there on my own, dealing with it alone. Which is sort of scary and seriously worrying.

So much so that it’s making me think twice about how I support services that do such important work helping women. Services such as Women Against Violence Against Women are helping women feel safer out there and they really need our support. So that’s my promise to myself: To support these services more. I’m not entirely sure how just yet but I’ll keep you posted.

For women interested in learning how to handle themselves, my humble (unprofessional) advice is that Muay Thai is a great place to start.

And to Gabe: It was a great right hook. How could you not throw it? Just wait till next time!! Hahaaah


Fedor Emelianenko takes on Fabricio Werdum in a joint Strikeforce / M1 spectacular

June 23, 2010

Alexia(Huge thanks to Alexia Krause for this great article).

The Strikeforce event on June 26th is bound to be one for the books.

Strikeforce mixed martial arts has joined forces with M-1 Global to bring some of the toughest fighters in the world together in the cage.

This showcase has a huge title card as Fedor Emelianenko (who is actually a co-owner of M-1 Global) takes on Fabricio Werdum in a heavyweight bout that promises to entertain.

Fedor Emelianenko (also known as ‘The Last Emperor’) holds a record of 31-1. His only recorded loss comes from the fact that his fight with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka was stopped when Emelianenko suffered a gash in the opening seconds of the fight. Even though he has a loss to tarnish his undefeated streak, ‘The Last Emperor’ understands that numbers don’t mean anything when you’re inside the cage.

Fedor has been at the top as the best heavyweight in the world for the better part of the last decade. He has taken down Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović, Mark Coleman, and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira on his way there. On June 26th he goes up against Fabricio Werdum (the number nine heavyweight in the world) for a showdown that’s bound to define the two fighters and the event.

Even though Emelianenko is among the top heavyweights in the world, he will have a lot on his hands going up against the jiu-jitsu technician, Fabricio Werdum. Werdum is known as ‘Vai Cavalo’ or ‘Leading Horse’ which speaks to his wild and free nature in the ring. It looks like Emelianenko will be tasked with taming Werdum if he wants that victory.

Despite this exciting main card, the June 26th Strikeforce will feature much more heated action. In fact, many more people are looking forward to the top woman in the world, Cris “Cyborg” Santos taking on Jan Finney. Most feel that Cyborg will take out Finney pretty easily and glide on to an effortless victory (even more so considering that Finney’s nickname is ‘Cuddles’), but Finney has been known to be scrappy making the fight a good one to watch.

Plus, seeing Cris Cyborg in action is always an event in itself.

With some of the best male heavyweight and female featherweight fighters clashing on the same night, the June 26th Strikeforce event is destined to be an exciting evening for MMA fans.

Alexia is a lifelong fan of sports and fitness. Recently, she’s been obsessed with MMA. As a result, she has joined forces with MMA Industries – purveyors of widely popular MMA shirts and gloves. Alexia has been writing about the latest developments in MMA equipment for the past few years, and continues to bring you the latest news in the mixed martial arts world.

Is the ice cream still fat-free if you eat the whole tub?

June 12, 2010

Having been so, so good with my eating up until the point of competing the other week, I’ve now totally fallen off the wagon and am in the grip of trying to shake off constant sugar cravings! Arrgghh.

In an attempt to meet my cravings halfway (one that involved scouring the freezer sections of several local supermarkets) I finally discovered some fat-free ice cream. It’s even chocolate flavoured. But is it really too good to be true? And is it still fat-free if you devour most of the tub? Haahaah. (It’s always so hard to walk away from that last little bit!)

I’ve been trying to drown out the tiny voice that’s been telling me I should really just try and avoid sugar altogether, but I blame the sun that finally decided to shine in Vancouver today. You can’t celebrate the first sunny weekend without ice cream. Just don’t get me started on the wine that’s crying out to be uncorked!

Back on the wagon

May 2, 2010

You don’t realize how much something means to you until it’s taken away.

I’ve been out of training for a week because of an injury to my foot and it’s been driving me nuts. Sitting still doesn’t come easily, but if I want to get back in to training as soon as possible that’s exactly what I’ve been ordered to do—rest (and ice).

I’m definitely my father’s daughter though. I remember times when he’d have broken a leg or an arm and if you didn’t keep an eye on him, before you knew it, the sling would have been ditched and he’d be back up the very same ladder (or roof!) he fell off, carrying on as if nothing had happened. He doesn’t believe in taking time off to recover and it’s obviously passed down a generation: The crutches were just annoying and I’d ditched them after 24hrs. I’d rather hobble along at a reasonable pace than crawl along with a pair of those.

I’d had enough confinement by yesterday though and left the house saying I’d only be a short time at the gym doing a quick session on the treadmill. But as I finished my sprinting I just couldn’t resist doing some lifting. Just a few weights couldn’t hurt? A little lifting turned in a full workout (!) and I walked back through the front door 90 minutes later. Walked probably isn’t the right word though; more like skipped! It felt so good to sweat again. I think people in the gym must have thought I was nuts, walking round wearing a huge grin. I just couldn’t help it; I was so, so happy to be back again.

So the next time I’m feeling a bit sick of the gym I’m going to bring myself back to how it felt this week not being able to go to the gym at all. That should be enough to give me the kick up the ass I need!

(The foot isn’t 100% but I’m done with taking a back seat. There’s a competition at the end of May that needs preparing for).

The science of pre- and post-workout nutrition

March 3, 2010

The science of a post- and pre-nutrition workoutIt seems that optimal nutrient gain is as much about timing as it is about composition.

According to a recent study, when you eat is just as important as what you eat.

To optimize gains in lean muscle mass and strength it’s vital to consume a combination of fast-acting carbs (those that cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly rather than slowly and steadily) and protein during your metabolic workout ‘window’.

Dr Paul Cribb from Victoria University recommends the following: mix 30-50g of high quality whey with 75-100g of high GI carbs (such as glucose, maltodextrin, etc.,) and 3-5g of creatine monohydrate. Drink half immediately before you hit the gym and the other half immediately following your workout.

Don’t think that a drink will produce results on it’s own though. You need good training and nutrition throughout the rest of the day to really make this work.

If you’re looking for an amazing nutritionist and strength coach in the Vancouver area I highly recommend you check out Cliff Harvey at Human Motion. Through his guidance I’m leaving for Thailand (on Saturday!) in the best shape I’ve ever been in.

Do you have any nutritional advice picked up during training?

Want to make your own sports drink?

March 2, 2010

Protein SourcesSometimes it’s hard to strike a balance between convenience and $. You pay more for something that saves you time…and sometimes things are just so crazy that it feels like you’ve very little choice other than to shell out.

With less than one week until Thailand life is spent dashing between work and training. So when I do finally arrive home, I’ve just about enough time to switch on the blender and gulp back a protein shake made from the bulk-buy, whey protein powder bought from the slightly intimidating body-buliding store.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I have time to make one from scratch. WOW. You can really taste the difference.

I’ve been using a book called Gourmet Nutrition  for most of my recipes and I can absolutely guarantee there’s a shake in there that you’ll love. Don’t be put off by the cottage cheese or cold herbal tea going in to the blender. Be brave; you’ll love what comes out. Just knowing that everything in your glass is natural will make you feel fabulously wholesome.

I also discovered a site this morning with a recipe for making your own sports drinks. I haven’t tried this one yet but, if you do, I’d love to know what you think of it.

To tap or not to tap

February 20, 2010

If it’s possible to choose between a fight or flight response, six months ago I would have opted for flight every time. Even up until six weeks ago I’d have preferred to bolt for the exit than fight back.

I can’t say that ‘flight’ is a conscious decision. It’s just that my natural response has always have been to get out of a situation before getting involved in one.

So, of course, standing my ground in a ring has been a tough mental battle with plenty of tears and frustration. But for the first time last Thursday something inside of me felt very differently about sparring. I felt what could have been aggression for the first time! (Much to my trainer’s relief, I’m sure.) Rather than counting down the seconds until the final bell, I didn’t want the round to end. Had I had the chance to get back in the ring again I would have done. To finally feel that way having wanted to feel like that for so long was amazing.

This ‘fight back’ mode seems to also be translating in to Jiu Jitsu training. Rather than opting to tap if someone has something on me, I’ll fight with every inch to get out.

I’ve been waiting to turn this corner for nine months and it feels great to have arrived. However, it has come with a downside: my reluctance to tap. As a result, in the past few weeks I’ve passed out cold from a choke (an odd, if not entirely unpleasant experience) and, frustratingly, succumbed to an old rib injury after battling to (successfully) escape an arm bar.

With only two weeks until Thailand it’s an incredibly annoying injury that’s sidelining me during a time when I want to be going all out. But I’m taking the advice of people who know better than me and laying low for a couple of days. I don’t do ‘sitting still’ very well but it’s time to get a perspective on things. For nine months I’ve trained hard to be in a position where I can step in to a ring in Thailand. That time is nearly here. If I have to take it easy for a couple of days in order to still get there then so be it.

Perhaps it’s time to watch something of those fight films I’ve had lined up for so long.

14 days to go and counting. Bring it on!

Mental preparation

February 2, 2010

I originally thought I might write an update on last week’s ‘countdown’ but, in all honesty, it’s been very similar to the previous week (aside from a bruised nose from sparring – mental note: chin down, gloves up!)

So, instead, I thought I’d write about what I’ve mostly been experiencing this week: Fear.

It was only yesterday that, while stretched out on the gym mats, the enormity of Thailand finally sunk in. For nine months, life has been about eating well and training hard. Thailand has always been so far away but now only five weeks remain. Everything I’ve trained for is only a matter of weeks away; weeks that I can count on one hand.

I sunk my forehead on the mat and took a few, very deep, breaths, trying to get a handle on the mixed emotions jostling away inside: Fear, excitement, intimidation, motivation. But among all those, the one thing that stood out was how much I really, really, REALLY want this. When I step in to the ring, I’m aiming to win and if I can knock her out all the better (for someone who doesn’t normally fight it feels kind of odd to say that, but I think my mind is beginning to finally believe the words that are coming out).

It’s both physically and mentally tough, and so, so far out of my comfort zone that my body and mind are dragging one another to a place where neither one of them are entirely at ease yet. The whole thing has been a journey and a life-changing one at that. The pivotal point is only weeks away and the seriousness just kicked in.

So here’s what I’m concentrating on to help prepare for the fight:

  • Knowing myself and my strengths so that I can be confident in my combinations
  • Stop focusing on what my opponent might do and focus on what I’m going to do
  • Build my aggression to the point where pain doesn’t matter…but not so far that I burn out
  • Believe in the victory and visualize it. Say that it is going to happen. The more I say it, the more I will believe it
  • Not be put off by my opponent’s mental game; just focus on myself

If anyone has any other tips on preparing for a fight or for competition, I’d love to hear them.

Reality check

January 6, 2010

Well, I guess that’s it. The final payment for flights has been deposited and our itinerary received. It’s official: On March 6th we’ll depart for Phuket for ten (incredibly) intense days of Muay Thai training.

Until then, we’ve only nine remaining weeks in which to sharpen our skills and elevate our cardio to a level suitable for lasting several rounds in a ring (although if it’s up to me I’ll be going for a knock-out in the first!)

Speaking of which, a recent email from my training partner, Emma, gave me a heavy dose of reality. It contained a detailed eight week sparring schedule, starting with light kicks and punches to full-on knees and elbows in later weeks.

I’m not going to lie, sparring still terrifies me. After my first sparring session almost eight months ago I was fighting back tears of shock from being hit and having to hit back rather than just run away (which was my first instinct!) But you can’t run anywhere in a ring so I’d best get used to it.

I’m honestly not sure how I’ll fare, I’m really quite scared. One thing’s for sure, any practice now will be invaluable when we get to Thailand. I’ll just have to make sure there’s plenty of tiger balm on hand to soothe the inevitable bruises…plus a rewarding massage after a hard day’s training, of course.

I’d love to hear your tips on how to reduce the terror of sparring.

A quote

December 14, 2009

I found a quote today that I’d love to share.

Despite being nearly 100 years old I feel it’s still relevant to so many aspects of life, especially all the conflicting emotions and experiences of our journey leading up to Thailand.

Do you take inspiration from any quotes? I’d love to hear them.

Theodore Roosevelt, 1910:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement.”