What have I done to prepare for this tournament?
After my dignity-burning loss some six months ago, I started training twice a week at an Olympic lifting / strength & conditioning gym called Atomic Athlete. One of my trainers calls me a bit of a success story for his gym, saying “I’ve never seen anyone make the kinds of gains Justin is making.” Todd, the name of this trainer, of course really means to say “I’ve never seen anyone who started with the strength of a 130-pound girl go on to become as strong as a normal, reasonably athletic male at 185 pounds.” This is a criticism I gladly accept. And I would like to go on record saying that (a) sandbag get-ups and (b) front squats are what pedophiles are forced to do in hell for all eternity (as punishment, obviously).1
[Hold on. *Time passes.* Sorry, I got sidetracked writing an email about why “finding a parking spot in a statistically unlikely place then getting immediately picked up by the shuttle (another allegedly statistically improbable event) which takes you to your class – all this happening while you’re late – does not count as evidence for god. But I’m back now.]
Of course, I also train Our Gentle Art regularly. Monday and Wednesday are technical instruction, generally with a few rolls after class. We have two classes on Tuesday, both of which I generally attend. First is technical instruction for beginners.2 Then there’s a hard sparring class wholly separate (and beginners not allowed, of course) which I attend as well.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I managed to do some extra exercise as well. Before I began doing jiu-jitsu – what, some seven years ago now I guess? – I had an obsession with running. While I was never particularly good at it, I was nonetheless diligent. Running 3 to 5 miles has never been particularly difficult for me, and I like to have at least that approximate level of fitness going into the tournament. Methinks I’m there now.
The biggest challenge for this tournament, for me, was controlling my diet. I eat like I have tapeworms. I eat like I’m about to be sentenced to death on the electric chair. No really, as I type this, I’m reading about the symptoms of “Kleine-Levin syndrome” and I’m pretty sure I have it.3 I’m polyphagic, I know it. Maybe I have one of the genetic disorders (!) listed in the Wiki article I’m reading.4 Or perhaps I have a leptin disorder of some kind.
Wait, I’m getting sidetracked here. When I was a runner in my late teens, early twenties, I walked around at ~170. Then I went to my second bjj tournament (I had been training for like 8 months or something at that point), and discovered that I had gained 20 pounds! I had no idea. All my clothes still fit. What the hell happened?
Okay, so I have been getting stronger as a result of Atomic Athlete and had been noticing I was gaining about a pound every few weeks. A pound every few weeks over the course of six months adds up. I got on the scale and discovered, in the early morning hours, I weighed 202 pounds. What the hell? This is the heaviest I’ve been in my entire life – my exclamation four weeks ago. After lunch (which was a double cheeseburger with grilled cheese sandwiches on both sides of it to replace the buns5 – not a joke) I swore I would go back down to my normal weight.
Instead of eating 6000 calories a day, I cut it down to 2500 or 3000. So it was 48 almonds for breakfast, a “JJW-sized” lunch, a shake before training, and an objectively healthy salad for dinner. Saturdays were my cheat day, but I tried never to do anything too exorbitant as the burger-between-grilled-cheese-sandwiches. And I slowly lost all the weight required. I’m at 188 right now, hovering on that comfortable area a few pounds above where I need to be.
So wish Your Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer good luck and fare thee well, my audience. I have put in my work; I will do my best; and I hope to come in on top.
1. I don’t believe in hell. Monday and Wednesday afternoons are about as close as I care to venture into the red, unknown depths.
2. I heard Caesar Gracie say something in an interview today with Ronda Rousey which resonated with me: “Sometimes a teacher, always a student.” Up until the limits of my mental abilities, it is important for me to understand something a little bit better today than I did yesterday. Jiu-Jitsu is the art we build from lessons over the course of years.
3. If not, I’m ready to diagnose myself as a hypochondriac right now.
4. If this is the case, my problem is actually my parents’ fault.
5. Yes, I actually ate that. Eating a cheeseburger with grilled cheese sandwiches instead of buns is actually not as amazing as it sounds. And (b) I felt really guilty eating that, afterward. I don’t know why.