Sunday, 27 March 2016

I am in the worst shape of my life.

My level of fitness has always had ups and downs, it comes with the territory of doing sports and competing in weight division driven martial arts.  The last couple years have been a pretty steady decline with only momentary blips of increase that quickly fade and end up even further down the chart. 

I've dealt with a plethora of injuries, many of which were to my brain (and knees and wrists and shoulders and who know's what else, I've lost track of all the joints I've damaged in some way or another).  Most of them you can just rest / physio and carry on some x weeks later and you're fine.  

Concussions don't work that way.  The current accepted treatment is to stop all physical activity until initial symptoms are gone.  Then slowly follow the return to play protocols which are basically baby steps in level, with steps back if you get any symptoms again.  Here's a nice chart for the curious.

Now, there's nothing in there that says "eat all the things" while you're not doing any exercise, but when you'r depressed b/c you can't do shit, and you have no idea how long it'll be this time to get back on the mats, and your a dutch emotional eater, it's what happens.  At least to me anyway.  I've resisted it sometimes and have made grand statements on myfitnesspal a couple times saying i'm done with that destructive behaviour, but without fail when something happens (another injury, or a special event, or party, or a work lunch that is full of badness(delicious badness)) I derail and we're back to eating all the badness.   So, that's a really bad combination that's been happening on and rarely off for the last sayyy 2 or 3 years.   

There have been moments of clarity, like prepping for old man worlds, but then I landed on my head, and go a concussion.   Then again shortly before our vacation to cali/vegas for training.  Then I got need in the head 1/2 way through the trip and got another (minor) concussion.  I'm pretty much in the clear from that one. I was able to do a bunch of snow shovelling, and have been teaching classes and whatnot so I'm at about stage 3 of that recover chart, with likely hitting 4 this week.  But, to be honest, I'm terrified of going back to rolling, and the eventuality of competing.  

Having a concussion sucks and dealing with the post-concussion symptoms/syndrome is different for everyone.  Some people are fine after a couple days,  some people, it's weeks or months, some people it never goes away.  In the MMA and Jiu Jitsu community, there have been a few pretty public cases.  TJ Grant was supposed to be fighting for the light weight title, but he got a concussion training jiu jitsu back in 2013 and hasn't been seen since.  Jared Weiner in 2014 had a pretty scary string of concussions that he's lucky to have fully recovered from (  I HIGHLY recommend you watch/listen to the podcast he did with take it uneasy (   

For me, personally, the concussions I sustained 2012 and 2014 were the worst. They were the hardest impact(s)  and left me off the mats the longest.  I've had 2 since then as well, but they were more minor and were from impcts to the head that 99% of the population probably would have noticed.  But I did, and still dealt with the symptoms for weeks.  So of the symptoms I've struggled with over the years from the concussions are:  headaches (of course),  depression,  irritability, weird moodyness, inability to focus,  trouble making decisions (even minor ones like, what am I ordering to drink at dinner) and forgetfulness.  

Speaking of focus, let's get back on track, this wasn't supposed to be a blog post about concussions and how shitty they are (SPOILER: they really suck, and need to be respected, or you'll end up like me).  It was supposed to be a bit of an accountability post.  This is me, telling you, that i'm in shit shape and i'm ready to claw my way out of this injury and concussion induced funk and get back to some semblance of shape and fitness.  

I haven't had the great luck with going public with my goals / plans / challenges.  Not that long ago I was going to do 30 days of fitness where I did jiu jitsu or lifting or something every day for 30 days (not a big deal for most, but coming back from an injury it's a good way to get back into the habit of fitness).  I got a concussion on day 3.    But keeping them quiet doesn't usually work either, because last time I tried that I tweaked my knee shortly after I had my goals all set up and since I hadn't really told anyone, my extra shitty moods took everyone by surprise.

But, I'm a very goal driven person.  I NEED goals / milestones to motivate me.  My eventual goal is a return to competition,  but I need to set some smaller short and medium term goals to get there.  So here they are:

1.  Get my weight under control.  Short term: -28 pounds.  Medium/Long term - 40 pounds. Maybe one day crazy goal: -52 pounds
2.  Get my fitness back.  It's a lot more the just weight.  My cardio is abysmal and I am mega week.
3.  Get my confidence back. Confidence might not be the right word, maybe trust, maybe whatever the opposite of fear is, who knows.  This one's the hardest, and also the most important.  It's a weird balance between respecting my body/brain (the limitations, the potential for injury/concussions(which, get's higher every time you get one btw)  and still going out there and training / rolling / eventually competing again.  

I probably should have reversed the order of that list because it's basically reverse order of importance.  But it's also in order of attainability the way it is now I think.  Also I think they will cascade into each other,  getting my weight down will lead to improved cardio /fitness by nature and improving both of those two will help me gain that confidence back.

So, there you have it.  I am going to TRY to keep a bit of a log of my progress, I would love to say "I'm going to post weekly updates"  but honestly, that's probably way to ambitious with how busy I am with work / training / teaching.  You have my permission to hassle me if you don't hear from me though, please do in fact.

I'm taking suggestions for blog post topics as well, aside from these progress updates.  So if there's anything you want me to write about let me know!  I'm toying with the idea of an "Ask a ref" type post series where people can send me questions and I'll answer them and/or get answers from my referee friends about particular situations, scoring questions and so on.  

PS:  If your dealing with a concussion, or any injury and want to talk to someone who can relate, hit me up anytime.  I've been through the ringer and back a few times and I can likely relate to what you are going through.  

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 Lastly: Thank you Redstar Kimonos for always having my back, no mater how low I got and even though I'm probably the least active competitor on the team these days.  I WILL put these amazing gi back on the podium soon.