The Tournament Diet

I woke up this morning and everything hurt. I guess I’m about two weeks into my training for this upcoming tournament. Good lord I am ridiculously sore. My wrist hurts. My back hurts. I’m also training everyday, and wake up exhausted – regardless of how much sleep I get. Sunday, I stuck my face into someone’s chest while performing a double-leg, and now I have a rub burn on my forehead. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a wreck right now, and am complaining aloud right now. Sorry.

Diet Considerations.

What really kills me about competing is controlling my diet. Since I started lifting weights about 9 months ago, every three or four weeks or so, I have been gaining a pound. So instead of walking around in the mid to high 190’s, I discovered one horrific morning on January 3rd that I weighed 205 pounds. What. The. Hell.

Absolutely horrified – I had not weighed this much since I lived on campus (with free access to food almost all day) my sophomore year of college – I immediately jumped onto a very strict diet. As of this morning, January 17th (two weeks after starting my diet), I now weigh 190.8 pounds. My weight class for this competition is going to be ‘Under 183 lbs,’ sooo I’m almost there, still with a good two weeks and change before the tournament.

In principle, I could cut the remaining weight in a day IFI HAD TO, but the damn tournament was so hard last year that I’m reticent to exhaust myself the day before for weigh-ins. Each one of my matches was super difficult. I didn’t sub any of my opponents; and all the matches were close. This time, I’m going for a more conservative, smarter approach.

What am I eating? Essentially, I have four different meals that I allow myself to eat. What I feel like eating at the moment will determine what I cook.

The Mighty Four Meals:

  1. 48 Almonds and black, plain coffee
  2. Chicken breast (cooked on a cast-iron skillet) marinated with lemon juice, garlic, and maybe a pepper or two.1 A ½ spring-mix, ½ spinach salad big enough to cover the other half of my plate (about three cups worth), sprinkled with a nut/seed mix, and dried cranberries. A tablespoon of olive oil for dressing, but I can eat it plain too.
  3. Three eggs and 4 slices of bacon.
  4. A cup of oatmeal, plain.

Usually, diet considerations are not a matter of increase but decrease. For most people – this is certainly true for me – it’s more important to cut out the superfluous shit everybody eats every day. No more burgers. No more eating preposterously large portions, when portions that would sate most human beings would do just fine. No more sodas. No more pizza. No more goddamn carbs – damn do I miss bread sometimes, though.

Once a week, I give myself a cheat meal. Last week’s was a double-cheeseburger. This week, I cheated with Indian food. My small daily indulgence is fruit juice. If I had a rigorous workout before the meal – the kind of workout that makes your hands and legs shake, that takes you to that dark head-space where you begin to have thoughts like, “This guy is going to have to kill me to beat me,” or “If I do one more squat, I’m going to fucking keel-over and faint (and I hope this shyster-bastard weight kills me when I fall face-first2) BUT I am going to do it anyway. Because fuck it. Because death before dishonor. Because I don’t love winning so much as I HATE losing – then I pour myself a modest glass of cranberry juice (or grapefruit juice) to enjoy with the meal.

Of course, to lose all this weight, I’m also doing an assload of exercise. But really, the exercise is to prepare myself for the tournament, not to lose the weight. I’d be doing as much exercise if I was already on weight. It’s a matter of earning some competitive advantage against your opponents; and exercise is part of that game.

Just thought I’d post an update about the tournament training, now that I’m ~12 pounds lighter than I was two weeks ago. Thanks for reading.


I spent the first hour of my morning debunking various pieces of the “Sandy Hook is a Hoax” insanity. I swear to god people are dumb enough to believe anything. Claims like these about a coverup, government conspiracy come from the same people who say that government is overly bureaucratic and inefficient. I wish they cared enough or were intelligent enough to recognize they held contradictory beliefs on the ability of our government. People need to be more skeptical.


1. I used tilapia for 4 meals or so, but I could not quite figure out how to cook it correctly. Occasionally, I switch out the chicken breast with beef of some kind. I’m looking forward to trying it with some cut of pork in the near future.

2. I really did have these series of thoughts on the 17th rep of a 20-rep set of Super Squats. It’s hard to explain, as I’m a perfectly rational human being. When you trap someone into a corner – by making them desperately tired, for example – there is a whole new set of thoughts which crop up. Close, competitive matches that bring you to the brink of your physical limitations force spontaneous eruptions of…insanity, of a kind of competitive insanity.

A very gentle, soft-spoken teammate of mine had me in a choke yesterday. It was not secured properly, but he tried to secure it as tight and awkwardly as he could. Exhausted and considering tapping, my damn lapel was covering my mouth, forcing me to breathe through my nose. Our match had been high-intensity too. Knowing I could not stay there indefinitely eating this choke, I burst from the position, fought for the top, secured and finished a triangle during our scramble. Later, he and I laughed about it after picking up the mats. “I knew the choke was not in there, but I said to myself ‘Hey, I never get here with Justin. I’m going to try to cut his chin off with his own lapel; I might as well try.’” ← His actual words.


2 thoughts on “The Tournament Diet

  1. Easiest way to cook tilapia easily… get the individually-frozen filets in the freezer section of the grocery. Heat your toaster oven to 400 degrees. Put one or two unwrapped, still-frozen filets on a piece of aluminum foil on your little baking sheet for the toaster oven. Sprinkle with seasoning– lemon pepper is good, so is fajita seasoning– and bake 12 min or so. The actual time depends on your toaster oven and the thickness of the filet but it works in general. Another option is to top the fish with pico de gallo or mango salsa in the last 2 minutes and use in fish tacos.


    • I swear it’s impossible to cook tilapia in a pan without it falling apart. And I did purchase those individually-frozen filets. As it turns out, that crap (made in China) started tasting super fishy very quickly. Tap. I had to tap. Cooking, as it turns out, is at least 14.678 bazillion times harder than Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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