Adventures, Armored Combat, Arthritis, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, Battle of the Nations, BotN, Dragon Con, Extreme Athlete, Full Contact Medieval Combat, gastric bypass, HMB, HMBIA, IMCF, Jeet Kune Do, Kali, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Running Streak, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Travel, Uncategorized, weightloss success, WMFC

Time in a bottle…

But there never seems to be enough time

To do the things you want to do

Once you find them…

All too often, time slips away from us and even though the best-laid plans are made, you still have missed opportunities.

I have been keeping up on my “50 Firsts before my 51st” birthday challenge to myself and it has gone really well.  I am actually surprised I have so many, 42 to be exact, and I still have 120 days until my 51st birthday!

So I thought today I would update everyone on what “firsts” I have managed to accomplish in the 245 days I have been 50 years old.  My last update was in March so the list has grown quite a bit.

My 50 Firsts before my 51st Updated List!

  1. Climbed the Teotihuacan Pyramids, Mexico City
  2. Ate Crickets & Ant Larva, Mexico City
  3. Fought professional MMA Fighter, Josh Tyler
  4. Did my first Facebook Live Feed, in conjunction with Readyman.com
  5. Started Crossfit @Brickwall Crossfit
  6. Did my first official Crossfit WoD Competiton
  7. Drove thru Donner Pass
  8. Camped out in my new car
  9. A 17 Year promise finally fulfilled
  10. 1st Cortisone shot in my knuckle ever (ouch)
  11. 1st credit card strictly for flight benefits
  12. Traveled to Barcelona, Spain
  13. Tried Calimocho in Barcelona
  14. Had coffee & Cake at Satan’s Cafe
  15. Fought in an actual Bull Fighting Ring
  16. Missed my first flight ever!
  17. Tried PODS from Australia (so damn good)
  18. “Acquired” my first BOTN banner
  19. First punch in the face without a helmet
  20. First pour-over in Europe
  21. Tried Kumbacha (and liked it)
  22. Ran my first International Conference
  23. First A-Line bob haircut
  24. Ran the Spartan Sprint (and survived)
  25. Received my first package from Japan
  26. Got my first Hobonichi Planner
  27. Started Kali
  28. Started my first Happiness Journal
  29. Purchased a Paipur Journal
  30. Started my first Bucket List
  31. Bought my first set of Kali Sticks
  32. Started Jeet Kune Do
  33. FIKA
  34. First Long Black
  35. First Shakerato
  36. First Gibralter
  37. First time demonstrating positions for Kali
  38. Tried Baba Ganoush
  39. Bought my first Espresso Machine!
  40. Purchased our first Dyson
  41. First Colonoscopy (and 2nd the next day!)
  42. First Affogato

So as you can see, things are moving along nicely and I am quite sure I will go above the 50 firsts before my 51st birthday but I decided to write down EVERY first, no matter what, because I wanted to be sure I had a complete list, and it’s been nice going back over them actually.  Mostly all good memories really…

Now, I know some have asked what I plan to do NEXT year.  Well, again, TIME is always fleeting and I want to experience so much more.  So the idea I have been thinking about is setting goals and trying to reach those goals (big and little ones) within a set period of time.

I know that “101 in 1001” is popular, which is to try to accomplish 101 goals within 1001 days, which is 2.75 years and would go from 12/13/2017 to 09/09/2020 (which is a very cool finish date).  But I may end up with “51 in 501” instead which would end on 04/28/2019 instead.

I don’t know for sure what I may end up doing, but I have started thinking about some of my short term & long term goals already and getting them down on paper, just in case.  If you have suggestions, please feel free to let me know!

Interestingly enough, when I was researching the dates above, I found out that as of today I am 18,508 days old.  If you look at that number and think about 1001 days, it doesn’t really seem like a long time.  But when you consider I am 50 years, 8 months and 2 days old, and 1001 days is 2.75 years, it seems much longer.  I guess it’s all in how you look at time and even how you measure time.

I want my life to be measured in moments, adventures, experiences and explorations, so the minutes, hours, days aren’t soooo important.  But I do want to keep track, because days, especially now, go by so quickly.  And while I can’t slow down time, I can slow myself down and enjoy all those wonderful things within the constraints of time. I just have to be more aware of it passing I think.

Too many people in my life have suddenly been taken out of the time loop we all enjoy, and many of them were unprepared.  When I stand at the gates of Valhalla, I want to know that I spent my time well, that I left nothing out, and that I made a difference to someone, somewhere.  But most importantly, that I got the most out of life, without having too many regrets.  Live. Love. Laugh. Fight. I want all of those things and more. So while some may

Live.

Love.

Laugh.

Fight.

I want all of those things and more. So while some may think all my list making and idea processing is silly, it helps to keep me on the path that I want to end on.

Death will come for us all eventually, and I am perfectly fine with that, although I would like to live well beyond this century and I think I will, if it’s possible soon enough.

But I also know the Nornir have woven my destiny long ago, and while I still have some time left in my bottle, I want to be the one who spreads it around the way I want to…

a little here, a little there…

pouring a bit of it over those who keep me wild…

just for good measure.

 

 

 

 

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Adventures, Armored Combat, Arthritis, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, Battle of the Nations, BotN, Extreme Athlete, Full Contact Medieval Combat, HMB, HMBIA, IMCF, Jeet Kune Do, Kali, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Travel, Uncategorized, WMFC

Becoming Water…

“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.” – Bruce Lee

In 1993 I went to a movie premiere with friends.  It was “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”.  I became enamored with his teachings, and wanted to learn Jeet Kune Do so badly, but at that time, 24 years ago, I was upwards of 300 pounds, and had no real aspirations of ever being anything different.

But I wanted to be.  I dreamed of becoming water.  Of figuring out what that meant.  Of transforming myself, in some way, so that I could be this lithe martial artist.

Fast forward to the early 2000’s.  I first heard of Bernales Institute (BIMA) because my SCA Knight at the time had his son enrolled there.  I knew about BIMA and had even attended a couple of competitions to watch my friend’s son compete.  I still felt the desire to become water, and it was even an analogy in my SCA training at the time, but still, it only managed to tingle the desire again.  I even bought the book “Tao of Jeet Kune Do” and started reading it.  I was fascinated but having no martial arts background it was more a study on the influence of Bruce Lee on the world than anything I could apply personally, even though I truly wanted to gain more insight.

I took a few classes at the University, Krav Maga and Aikido, but both times never stuck with either one.  At the time, they weren’t what I was looking for and were even, to a point, teaching me things that were counter to the fighting I was doing at the time.

Still, I wanted to be a fighter.  That desire has never left me.  I grew up fighting, literally, due to an abusive household, but I was always the victim, I never fought back, although I wanted to.  I just never felt I could.

Fast forward to May of this year.  I had just returned from the World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.  I had competed for my 4th year as an International athlete.  I had spent the past year trying to put the best female USA Team together, which was stressful, crazy and chaotic, even in the best of times.

I was tired.  I was drained.  I wasn’t sure I had anything left.

I’d achieved my long term goal from when I started this whole adventure, I had brought a world class women’s team to Battle of the Nations.

So now what…

I was kind of at a loss.  I’d done what I had set out to do.  We ended up 5th in the world, due to a technicality, that none of us knew anything about, but we were happy in our choices and the decisions we made that inevitably took us out of the competition sadly.

But that was it.

I came home, happily exhausted.  But exhausted none the less. Then as the new season was “traditionally” starting, which is usually in June, I was trying to decide, was 2017 my last year?  Was I ready to push for a whole new year, put my body through everything yet again, just so I could do the one thing I still hadn’t been able to do…go through another year of hell, just to fight Russia?

I thought a very long time about it.  I talked it over with Greg, my husband, who has been my number one support since the moment he met me.  Was I ready?  Was he willing?  Could I even do it one more year?  Every year I get older, my training becomes exponentially harder and the competition becomes more fierce.

In May I saw a complete 180 degree change in the way Women’s Teams were fighting.  I have been doing this from the beginning and am the only USA woman to compete consistently from the beginning.  I could see & feel the smallest changes on the field, even when I was simply a walk on fighter for the Unified team and again when I was fighting with the Netherlands.  Simple things were changing; from gear, to holds, to strategy.  But mostly, it was the experience these women were gaining.  All of us were “test cases” and we were beginning to shatter the learning curve.

For those of you who watched the fights this year, you saw a completely different fight than what you saw even 2 years ago and its only going to get harder to compete.  This year the USA couldn’t take everyone that initially wanted to make the team.  Choices had to be made, and those choices will only become harder as the year(s) progress.

So, do I end my fighting career on a high note with achieving my initial goal?

I didn’t want to, but was I ready to change how I had trained up til now, so that I could be competitive and viable for the team?  That was really the question that I had to answer.

Certain things led up to my decision to continue for 2018.  One huge opportunity pushed me over the edge.  A fellow fighter was selling his titanium kit (that I had admired already) and I had the funds available to get it.  It cut the weight of my kit by almost half and I knew that would help me train easier.  I also knew I could sell my red kit to someone else and it would still be a huge upgrade for them as well, so the eternal cycle of armor was a beneficial push.

Enter Bernales Institute of Martial Arts…

“Flow in the living moment. – We are always in a process of becoming and nothing is fixed.  Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing.  Open yourself and flow, my friend.  Flow in the total openness of the living moment. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water.  Still, be like a mirror.  Respond like an echo.” – Bruce Lee

I had options to attend training at Jeremy Horn’s Gym.  I knew MMA fighters like Josh Tyler and even had the opportunity to fight him this year (best day ever).  But it wasn’t quite what I needed.  I have very little foundation for my fighting, something I have blogged (albeit painfully) about in the past, so I knew I wanted to find basics that would transfer to what I am doing now and have it be training my body could tolerate over time.

I sent video links of my fights, of my sport and of the USA team to Will Bernales.  I also had another friend actually teaching at BIMA, so I knew the basis of what possibilities were there.  I went in for an initial consultation and explained what MY limitations were.

I have arthritis in both hands.  That factor will be the ending to my fighting career at some point.  I know this.  I’ve accepted this and its not a world-ending scenario, especially at my ripe old age of 50.  But they haven’t taken me out yet, so I wanted to know what else I could do that would give me the foundations of that I want.

Kali was the answer.  Even in that initial consult, I learned more that could help me in 30 minutes than I had learned in a year’s worth of sword training.  I needed to learn how to move, how to strike, how to deflect and how to get out of holds. Up until now, I have relied on instinct, face-in-the-dirt experience and my size.  After this past competition I knew that was never going to be enough for the coming year.

I had to be like water, and adapt to the changing shape of this sport, because my size, my experience and my ability to suck up damage wasn’t going to be enough any longer.  If I am going to make the team in 2018, I am literally going to have to be like water, and flow. That’s all there is to it.

No more stationary ‘tank’.

Movement, skill and adaptability are the key.  I am strong, I am solid and I can endure, but I am the turtle, not the hare.  Time to get a little of both going…

So, what actually prompted this blog was the photo you see at the beginning.  Its hanging in Bernales Institute.  Its of Dan Inosanto and Bruce Lee.  Guro Dan Inosanto was one of the only 3 instructors trained to teach by Bruce Lee.  I knew the name.  I knew that when I signed up for BIMA, I had JUST missed a seminar taught by Dan Inosanto there, and that made me so sad.  But I hadn’t really thought about the connection to my past desires until last night, when I saw this photo as I sat down to wait for my Kali class.

Blame it on Fate, blame it on the prednisone making me wonky, blame it on whatever, but when it hit me, it hit me.  Everything finally made sense to me, even the stupid delays of starting classes, etc.

The timing was finally right.

I was finally at the exact point that I could become water…and understand what that meant for me.

The fact that I am finally training in a place that I have had some sort of weird connection with for over 15 years and that it has led me to not only learning Jeet Kune Do, but learning it from someone in Bruce Lee’s lineage is pretty amazing, at least to me.

History, tradition and lineage mean a lot to me and I am very proud of my fighting line and always will be.  The man that knighted me and those in that line have been instrumental in my continuing to fight, even to the point that I am now wearing his armor, so I feel a little of that blood, sweat and tears as I put my kit on every single time.

I think about those things.  I think about my line, and those that I have Knighted now, and I pass on what I can to them.  I think about what they will consider important enough to pass on when they Knight someone else of our line.  So while some never take lineage into account, it means a great deal to me and to my own personal history.

Finally understanding what it means to be water is part of that.  Its not as simple a concept as one would think, but it also is too.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words…and I promise you that photo, hanging on that wall, at 8:15 p.m. on July 12th, 2017 was worth a lot more than a thousand words to me…

I start Jeet Kune Do on Saturday…

Be Like Water my Friends

 

 

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Adventures, Armored Combat, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, Battle of the Nations, BotN, Dragon Con, Extreme Athlete, Full Contact Medieval Combat, gastric bypass, HMB, HMBIA, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Travel, Uncategorized, weightloss success, WMFC

Throwback Thursday…10 years in the making!!!

Yesterday, April 12, 2017 was my 10 year post-op anniversary of my Roux-en-y Gastric Bypass surgery.

Had that surgery not occurred, I would not be here today.  I was told within minutes after coming out of anesthesia that I was lucky I had my surgery when I did.  In two years max, I would have needed a liver transplant and at that time, I was so fat, I could not have even been considered for the wait list.  I would have died before I could have lost enough weight on my own to even qualify to be put on a list…much less get a donor liver.

Yesterday, after going back over ALL my previous year’s blogs, looking at old photos, and remembering each year I took my comparison pictures, I felt thankful.  I felt alive.  I felt grateful.

But for the first time, in almost my entire life, I also felt “normal”.

I know I have expressed hate for this word, because I always felt like it put me into a category where I couldn’t be myself.  I couldn’t stand out or feel like what I did mattered. Being “normal” always felt off to me.  Hell I can barely type the damn word without using “quotation” marks to make it stand out lol.

Last night while Greg and I were celebrating, we discussed the past 10 years and the changes we have made.  Interestingly enough it was funny we were celebrating at our favorite BBQ place, having wings for dinner.  I told him how odd it was to think back at the days after my surgery and knowing deep down in my heart I would never be able to enjoy a meal again, yet here we were, eating a “normal” meal like everyone else around us.  We both got an order of 12 wings and we went home with half of them left.  So technically, we couldn’t even eat a “normal” (see I can’t stop) portion between us!

I never have to worry about not fitting into a booth any more.  Or if a chair will support me, or if I am too big to fit through a doorway, or to be able to pee in a regular bathroom stall.  Trips that involve flying don’t terrify me any longer because I don’t have to ask for a seat belt extender and pray that it fits.

Most of all I don’t have to worry about what people think about the food sitting in front of me, or if I order a dessert, because I look “normal”.

To many of you, any or all of these worries probably seem insane, or at the very least silly, why would someone worry about going to the bathroom and fitting into a stall?!?  Yet fat people worry about it ALL THE FUCKING TIME!  If we don’t do it consciously, it happens subconsciously, trust me.  You would be surprised the things I never thought I had to think about…until it stopped.

I can remember suddenly realizing I didn’t have to think about where to sit, or what to sit on, or be bothered with how far away I parked, or if someone would see me sitting in my car eating a hamburger.  Because now I could pass for “normal”.

Pass for Normal…

Think about that for a moment.

Even when I have lost over half my body weight, even after I have spent the last 4 years of my life working my ASS off training, putting my body through hell to train for a sport that I love, I STILL worried that I had to ‘pass for normal’.

Last night was the first time I actually admitted to feeling normal out loud.  That I could enjoy my meal, eat what I wanted and feel good about it.  Thinking back to how I felt that first year, I wasn’t sure I would ever get to last night.  But I am there.  I still have panic that some day I will wake up and be 450 pounds again, literally overnight, but those moments are few and far between.

Have I lost/gained pounds over the past 10 years?  Sure.  You can see it even looking back the last 6 months.  My face always shows when I am gaining or losing.  Right now, I am more muscle than I have been in the past but I also have additional weight too.  I am the heaviest I have been since my surgery.  I am at 230 pounds.  A lot of that IS muscle, but I am also 50 years old.  I have some work to do to get back down to my 200-210 range but I am no longer willing to put my body through the adrenal fatigue, the excessive training and the obsessive worrying about my weight that I have done over the past 10 years.

I struggled this year, with learning how to train my body the correct way and not put myself through the trauma I have in the past.  Its difficult when you are competing with 25 year old’s, and knowing that their bodies react so much differently than yours.  But with age comes knowledge and I have to learn how my body needs to be trained and not over train because I feel the need to beat every 25 year old into submission.

Trust me.  Its a daily struggle.

I also had a lot of stress this past 6 months.  I’ve had to deal with an office reorganization on top of learning how to go from being the only woman on the team to leading 9 women on our own team.

Its been a rough ride.  Its been well worth it, but believe me, my ulcer and hormones have needed a break for awhile now.  And my weight shows it.

But when yesterday came and went, there wasn’t any guilt.  There wasn’t any shame.  There wasn’t any regret.  There was just happy, joyful, “NORMAL” me.

I kept waiting for it all to sink in and throw me into the pit of despair I had always fought when I would gain or lose weight or when my numbers weren’t as good as I thought they would be…

but it never happened.

I’m alive.  That’s pretty fucking amazing.

I’m an athlete.  We go through plateaus and barriers and we figure it out.

All of this is…

NORMAL.

For the lack of a better word…I am normal.

And while it still rubs me the wrong way when I say it…its ok.

Just this once 😛

 

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Adventures, Armored Combat, Arthritis, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, Battle of the Nations, BotN, Extreme Athlete, Full Contact Medieval Combat, gastric bypass, HMB, HMBIA, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Travel, Uncategorized, weightloss success, WMFC

My own shell…

Last night, after we saw “Ghost in the Shell”, I made an off handed comment about how I would pay ALL my money to have an ass like Scarlett Johansson, and I didn’t think any more about it.
This morning I woke up, got my coffee, stepped into the shower and started washing my hair first thing. I do this usually with quite a bit of pain in my hand, and during the hot shower, I press my fingers against the hot tile wall and pop my fingers to gain some relief after they have been submersed in hot water for a few minutes, so as to help with the flexibility. Its my normal morning routine.
Today, like every other day, I did this routine, only to find that my pain was not there. I popped my joints and nothing. I realized then that when I got my coffee, again, no pain in opening the reuseable K-cup or the coffee canister.
No.Pain.Whatsoever…
Its been well over a year since I could say that. In all honesty, I don’t know how long its actually been since my left index finger didn’t throb in pain constantly.  Its just become part of the aches and pains that are my life.
The photo at the top shows how much I could bend my index finger before the shot, what the finger looked like after the shot with the X-ray and then finally, this morning, making a fist.
Today, I realized that I will endure more cortisone shots in my other two problem fingers when I need it, and not think twice.  Its crazy how you can forget chronic pain, even when you are in the midst of it, because it just becomes your norm.
Just like always wishing I had someone else’s body.
We’ve all done it, I would love to have Angelina’s lips, Scarlett’s ass, someone else’s hair, tits and whatever else…yet when I stood in that hot shower, water cascading over me, shampoo sliding down my back, I was so happy.  I kept making a fist because I could.  That was something I couldn’t do yesterday and today I can, thanks to modern medicine and great insurance coverage.
In that moment I realized I honestly don’t want anyone else’s anything.  I have worked so hard on the body that I have, wishing for something else doesn’t really pay due homage to my efforts.  I work my ass off, literally, almost every day to achieve what I have right now.  Is it perfect?  No.  And honestly, I could work out every minute of every day and I would still NOT look like Scarlett.  Or Angelina, or anyone else but me.  Even when I weighed 450+ pounds, I was still simply Amy.  Good, bad, ugly or beautiful…its still just Me.
So the next time I see a perfect set of tits, or quads I would die for, I can absolutely appreciate them, and believe me, I do…but I also will give myself credit for what I have achieved…and that is perfectly OK.
Too many people think you’re conceited or vain when you post a selfie, or show off your muscles….or even post a workout.  Its not any of that, its proving to yourself that your worth the effort, that the work you have put in is making a difference.
When I post comparison shots, it doesn’t matter who likes them and who doesn’t, because its for Me.  So that I can see the difference, because believe me there were so many years I was too ashamed to even have my photo taken, that I wish I had now.  Just the other day I was talking about the only cruise Greg and I have taken together…there’s one, maybe two photos of the entire trip.  Period.  Because we were too fat to enjoy our trip, or go on excursions or even wander the ports we visited, because we were so exhausted just moving our bodies.  How horrible is it that we didn’t even want to take photos of the trip!
So never again will I wish I had someone else’s body, I put in enough work on mine as it is and for 50 years old, its pretty damn good, regardless of its little quirks.  And I still have goals to reach.  So until I can put little micro nano beasts inside me that fix everything that’s wrong, I think I will stay with the tried and true method of hard work, exercise and trying to be as healthy as I can be…
With the occasional sugar cookie…
Just remember, no matter how you look, how you feel or how life is treating you…there’s ALWAYS someone who would do anything to be in your shoes.  Focus on how to make you a better you…and don’t worry so much about wishing you had someone else’s ass 😛
The Bad Ass Valkyrie
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