This started as a blog about training together as a family, in part to inspire other women & families to get involved. As female participation in jiu jitsu has increased, as we have grown as athletes and as we learned that families training together aren’t such an anomaly, the blog has evolved. Jen gets personal with posts on ambition, challenges & achievements in BJJ, CrossFit & with nutrition, while Tom's posts are more educational, informative and analytical in regards to training. On occasion you may hear from the kids.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bodily Identity

I have been packing on the pounds lately and starting to feel the consequences of the additional weight during BJJ training.  The warm up is stealing more of my breath than it used to and I can maintain fewer rolls back to back.  Granted, the extra weight is an asset when I am on top.  Jen calls me a bully when we roll and constantly reminds me of my unmovable juggernaut status.  She is not the only one I have heard those complaints from.  Before I shed the pounds I have one question.  Are our personal identities determined by our bodily identities?  Mass media constantly bombards us with images of the modern ideal physical form.  Even geeky Hollywood actors like Ashton Kutcher are showing up on the covers of Mens Fitness sporting six packs.  Stallone, Arnold, Bruce, Chuck and Clint were the only buff actors I can recall from childhood and muscles seemed limited to only action heroes.  All types of bizarre exercise apparatuses that promise us the perfect body have been thrust into our living rooms via late night infomercials.  We have seen all sorts of exercise programs become popular only to be replaced by the newest trend.  Spinning, Zumba, Jazzercise, Tae Bo, Boxercise, Cardio Kick Boxing, Pilates, Yoga, Circuit Training, Roller Blading, Jogging, and even CrossFit.  I will probably get kettlebells tossed at me for including the last one as a fad, but it is true.  There are a lot of people jumping on the CrossFit bandwagon who could give a rats ass about functional training, they just want to look good.  There is nothing wrong with that, functional training will give you results.  When I was younger I spent years training like a body builder in hopes that I would have the body of a Greek God.  That type of training gets constantly dismissed now due to its lack of functional training but it did get results.  To get bigger you have to constantly add weight to increase strength.  Strength is an attribute to any athlete including the Jiu Jitsu player.  We should not rely on our physical attributes (speed, strength, flexibility, size) to compensate for technique, but they are necessary tools to have in your BJJ tool box.  Due to CrossFit and MMA trainers, we are all getting to appreciate old school functional training of yesteryear's strongmen and the gym rats of the 50's and 60's.  Calisthenics, Olympic lifting, and body weight exercises which were the staples of an exercise regimen decades past, have reemerged as the holy grail of training wisdom. 

So, is our personal identity dictated by our physical identity?  I do not believe so, but it is an important factor.  I often heard athletes compare our bodies to vehicles.  Sayings like "You need to put in good fuel, it takes longer to warm up with age but once it gets going it is as good as it ever was".  The thing is, you need to take time to stop for an oil change, to rotate the tires, make a plan to remodel the chassis; in the mean time you know that you are driving around in a clunker.  Can you be at your personal best and be out of shape or unhealthy?  Why do we let ourselves travel down a self destructive path and avoid eating right and getting proper exercise?  TIME is a huge issue, we are all busy with work, extra curricular activities, holidays, birthday parties, school, church, temple, etc...  Often training takes a back seat to family activities and it is a lot quicker to eat lunch at a restaurant than it is to plan and prepare to a take a bag lunch to work.  TEMPTATION, yes I am weak when it comes to salty snacks and Jen claims to be tormented by the cookie Gods.  LAZINESS or being too TIRED, we have all been there.  Jen wakes up at 4 AM for CrossFit several times a week while my lazy ass sleeps in until 7 everyday.  I believe one of the biggest culprits for me is HABIT.  I like to eat.  I like to eat whatever I want and how ever much I want.  My attitude was if  I trained hard I could eat whatever I wanted.  This stems from years of the before mention weight training.  I was told to eat as much as I could when ever I could.  Protein shakes, weight gain shakes, 6 meals a day etc...  If you wanted to be big, you ate big and trained big.  I have not trained big in 15 years but that same mentality of eating big still resides with me.  Granted I have learned portion control and try to eat some what clean....occasionally.  The bottom line is SELF DISCIPLINE  is the key to being healthy and fit.  It is one of the key components of any martial arts training.  I included the picture of me at various weights, I know the drill of what has to be done, I have traveled the 50 pound spread between 150 and 200 many times over the years.  I am most comfortable at 165 which is a reasonable goal.

Posted by Tom

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