August 21, 2021

So this happened…

August 06, 2019

Open the gift.

So, here's a thought.....
(begat from a personal family story)

I was talking to my husband tonight about family. I observed my older female relatives did not have the opportunities I have been given. When women were barely starting to be hired by police departments in the early 70's, my dad was telling a 5 year old Deborah "You could be a policewoman when you grow up!" I probably laughed as I pranced off to my dance class. The dance class I thrived in, because I was blessed with a flexible, able, strong body. 
Many years after I left dance behind, I decided to take up dad's suggestion and I eventually became a policewoman. A process which revealed that dance ability did not translate to fighting ability, and thus the universe opened a door to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And yet another door opened to Arnis-Eskrima (Filipino stick fighting). Over the years, several doors have flung open, hiking, running, jump roping, all things physical laying down before my feet as a red carpet.
My new favorite door these days is competition. The thing I love to hate. The long days comprised of the work/train combination, the satisfaction of a win, the frustration but hard quick lesson of a's beautiful. A couple weeks ago I had a bit of a fit after a particularly challenging of those "I know NOTHING about jiu jitsu" classes. I actually messaged Valerie Worthington I felt so down. Of course she is brilliant and lent an understanding "ear" in her return message. 
That one awful class rolled into a couple weeks of soreness, tiredness, a cranky neck, a cranky back, a few menopause-y sleepless nights, and an all around rut. Last Thursday, I spoke to a jiu jitsu colleague, Geoff Real, (who is professional fighter), about the frustration of training.  I was feeling like I just wasn't committed enough. He said, "Deb, that's NORMAL." He said even the professional fighters go through a period of wanting to quit the whole thing, but it's part of the process. It was the perfect conversation at the perfect time. I went home that night and dug in forward.
I dug forward to a watershed moment tonight. The miserable parts of training and competition that we all dread, are actually wonderful gifts. My elderly female relatives did not have the opportunity to train, to set a goal and GET TO have a frustrating couple of weeks in training. They didn't GET TO dread the morning of the match, dread walking into the venue, be nervous, be heartbroken after a loss, cry because they trained so hard...These things I once thought were negatives...suddenly like a Transformer they became objects of the most immense, spectacular beauty. 
Suddenly, training through this section of the lady's life looks not like a slog, but like a robe of fine silk, because I have the chance to not only wear it, but step out on a stage and show off the quality of the construction, representing my family's women who came before me. Our band of training women are blessed. At 50-60-70, we are ladies with a hearty set of challenges, family, work, children, and of course, health. I am walking through an open field facing a gazing light and driving stakes tagged with bright neon into the ground using a 50 pound mallet.

The next time you feel tired, like quitting, like it's too hard;  sit yourself down, grab a knife, and tear open that present like a 5-year old on Christmas morning.  That's not misery, it's life throwing you a brass ring.  Look the contents straight in the eye because you CAN and drive forward.


March 04, 2019

Meal Prep

I thought a good follow-up post to my last one about cutting weight would be to go through my meal preparation.  A meme came across my FB feed a few weeks back, something like "Athletes train and eat, they don't diet and exercise..."  Good Lord YES.  Healthy eating should be satisfying and delicious and fuel for the ride, not a drudgery of steamed boredom.

I have travelled through a few phases of meal prep styles, and I've boiled down my system to something that I know (nutritionally) works for me, is something I can afford, and is satisfying.

#1. The Nutrition.  I'm not gluten intolerant and I don't have food allergies, but I know I function best when I restrict my carbohydrate intake to what is absolutely necessary, and consume copious amounts of greens.  For example, if I eat a full serving of hash browns and toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner, on a regular basis, I know (based on experience) I'll become bloated, gain weight fairly rapidly, and I'll be sluggish.

These days I choose 1-2 carbohydrate sources per week, and I portion them.  Last week and this week, it's homemade flour tortillas, consisting of white flour, oil, and salt (my grandmother's recipe) to supplement lunch/dinner, and some type of berry or banana for breakfast, mixed with walnuts.
Lunch/Dinner mainstays are always a wide variety of greens, plant-based protein, and a serving of animal protein.

Nutrition requirements are tricky.  We are all different.  My needs are wildly different from one of my co-workers. who consumes more protein that I ever could, but I know folks who swear by a vegetarian plan and are perfectly fine.

I put the "for me" in italics because this is not what I advocate for everyone as THE way to eat.   I want to stress the eating plan I follow is one I've worked out on my own, through trial and error, using my overall well-being as my measuring stick.  I've tried cutting out carbohydrates, and that resulted in low energy and an annoying craving for chips and pretzels. I've tried cutting animal protein, and that resulted in a loss of muscle mass.          

#2 What can you afford?  You lose the budget battle if you buy a lot of stuff that requires 6-8 hours of preparation,  but you don't actually DO the prep, is a busy place.  On the other hand, meal delivery can be legitimately extremely expensive.

My happy medium is prepared foods.  There is a large Chaldean population in El Cajon, here in San Diego County, thus a large variety of Mediterranean grocery stores.  I shop at Valley Foods and buy their prepared salads, then portion everything into glass containers (Amazon).  The overall cost is a little more than I would spend of I made everything from scratch, much less than delivery, a prep time that takes 1-3 hours.

#3 The Satisfaction.  Once again, you lose the budget battle if you decide to go hog wild on steamed broccoli and plain canned tuna on your prep day, but at lunch head for In N Out because you can't face that sad, flavorless vegetable.  It's possible to prepare meals that taste good and are satisfying.  Unless you're competing in a figure contest and need to trim every last bit of fat off your body, add some sauce to your food!  If you like to keep things basic with rice and chicken, portion out some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and paprika or salt.  You'll look forward to your meal, and like I stated at the beginning, this is fuel!  Eat up, be satisfied, and be ready to go forth and conquer.

My meal plan is roughly as follows:

1/4 cup of walnuts, crushed
2 teaspoons cacao nibs
1 large banana OR 1/2 cup of blackberries
1 package of Acai (unsweetened!)
Cinnamon to taste

1 cup Iraqi Salad (cucumber, tomato, onion)
1/2 cup Hummus
1 tortilla

1 cup Tabouli Salad (parsley, garlic, tomato)
1 cup Eggplant Salad (eggplant, peppers, olive oil)
1 serving of protein, this week it's chicken breast
1 tortilla

1/4 cup roasted-salted cashews.
I always keep two hard-boiled eggs on hand.

Some of my foods are dual purpose.  I use the crushed walnuts and cacao nibs as a replacement for granola.  I LOVE granola, but it's loaded with refined sugar.  The banana sweetens up breakfast just the right amount.  The walnuts also serve as a protein-fat source.  Hummus is a source of protein, carbohydrate, and technically it's a "dip," so the cucumber salad gets a boost of flavor.  Parsley is high in calcium, and is also an excellent source of greens.  Eggplant takes on the flavor of whatever you add, and the texture is hearty.  I cooked my chicken breast in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt, so it's going to be the perfect flavorful lean meat with those salads.

This is the finished product for this week:  The top box contained two flour tortillas and two hard-boiled eggs.  The right column contained Iraqi salad and hummus.  The left column contains Tabouli salad and Eggplant salad, and the small containers are my cashews for snacking.

The containers can be found at "Prep Naturals" on Amazon

Take care!  Happy training.

February 24, 2019

The Cut Decision

To cut or not to cut, that is the question.

Here is my thought on cutting weight for a tournament:  if you can achieve your goal weight via reasonable meal preparation and modest calorie restriction, then go forth and conquer.  If a cut requires you to strip down to the skivvies of celery, canned tuna, water, a minimal at best personality, and no breakfast before stepping on the scale on game day, you may want to rethink your weight class.

Game day requires your best, mentally and physically, not your lightest for the sake of being in a certain weight class.  If losing pounds means you are losing necessary muscle mass just to make the scale happy, you're walking up the downward moving escalator and getting in your own way.  Muscles keep you strong.  Muscles carry oxygen.  Love them.  Feed them and keep them happy. Game day has enough obstacles between staying healthy, the drive there, and remaining calm.  Adding yourself to that cauldron of challenges will give you a flat souffle'.

My everyday walking around weight varies between 145 and 150.  When I compete, I fight Middle, which requires me to be under 152 with the gi.  If I stay with Middle, I can cut down to a walking around weight of 140-145, which means my training stays efficient, well fueled, uninjured, and FUN.  I can eat breakfast on game day without agonizing over the number on the scale of destiny that decides if you step on the mat.

I've cut to Light before.  There is NO light in Light.  It's bloody dark and miserable.  Light is a cut down to 135 so I can make the 141.5 cutoff.  Light is hilariously sad, small, meals.  Light is no breakfast on game day. Light is Deborah walking around tired, feeling exhausted, and not training as efficiently as possible.  Light sucks.  If training is not fun, then what's the point?  I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Arnis because they are exhilarating and energizing.

If you are considering the cut, take a hard and honest look at your current weight vs your goal weight, your ability to achieve your goal weight with meal prep, and your allotted time frame.  Weigh yourself once per week.  I had a pretty good cold recently and thought I had lost several pounds, due to lower than usual calorie intake, just based on how loose-fitting my clothes were for a couple days.  I thought, Oh! I bet I am way below 140!  Turns out I lost a whopping 2 pounds and was holding strong at 145.  For those who are fit and strong at a solid constant weight, consider staying there and plan for a conservative pound shaving.  Go into your fight healthy, excited, and energized.


February 04, 2019

The Power of the "What If.." and the "How About This..."

Tiny phrases move mountains.

What If....I tried?  And failed.  Good! (to borrow a phrase from Jocko Willink).   What If, I tried again, and trained for it?  And did it again?  And made it?  To the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  To the top of Mount Whitney.  To the finish line.  To the 6th pull-up.  To the mat.  To the promotion.

Want to change your life?  Take up the advice of short words and phrases.  Pretty consonants dotted with delicate vowels lead you down paths of delight and wonder.

And thus I dive in once again to training for competition.  I've done enough prep for various events in my life to know better than to throw my efforts at a project half-hearted.  My last big project, the sergeant's exam, took a little mental prodding until I finally had a moment of clarity, asked "but....what if?", put my head down, and did what I knew I could do.

Now I ask twice for my arts.  The Battle of the Bayani on March 2, and the Pans on March 20?  What if....

I am putting my head down now and tossing my being into the process big wave style.  This one is (thankfully) not made up of barely digestible pages of policies and procedures requiring copious doses of creative study techniques designed to weave information into my kinesthetic head.  Rather, the following weeks will be dominated by meal prep, drills, workouts and classes that are planned literally down to the minute, and a new thing:  visual technique review.  I've never been a "Dude I saw this move on You Tube...!!" kind of gal, but my work schedule is graveyards until May, so I'll have extra downtime at night.  I can't physically drill in uniform, but I can visually drill techniques from class (which I'll video) between radio calls.  The times I am not physically working toward the goal will be spent mentally working.

Part of my success in the sergeant process was allowing some obsession.  I had notecards, notebooks, practice tests, and a study group.  The physical sensation I carried with me was that of being shrouded in a sheet that blocked the distractions.  Drinks with friends?  No.  Lunch with my favorite date, aka, Vanity Fair magazine?  No.  Kindle?  No.  No to all of the above.  I knew this was what it would take.  I had done the process once before but I didn't "leave it out there."  To succeed, one must  be willing to step into the Corvette, put on side blinders, glue the doors shut, pop the clutch, and drive full speed to the center of the mat on game day.  

I am inviting that sensation now, surrendering to it.

Here is a pic from class a couple weeks ago.  I had the wonderful honor to roll with Mike Fowler, who was extremely enthusiastic to share his knowledge and proved to be a solid technician.  Till the next update.  Go forth and conquer.

January 14, 2019

Are You Being A Crappy Boyfriend To Your Training?

Well, are you?  Are you returning calls?  Are you listening when she talks?  Are you looking her in the eye?  Are you buying her dinner?  Surprising her with small gifts, for no reason?  Are you remembering birthdays and such?  Are you paying ATTENTION????

Well, I thought I was.  But life is a fluid vehicle; priorities shift, wax, and wane.  Some elements demand your attention, like a psychotic mistress.  They step in like Glenn Close with frizzy hair and crazy eyes, and declare, "I won't be IGNORED Dan!..."

So there I was Spring of 2017.  I had just learned my score and subsequent (hilariously low) ranking on the sergeant's exam at work.  The process was arduous, time consuming, annoying,  long, way too long.  I was frustrated and I swore up and down "I'll NEVER go through that process again!"  Suckers were thrown into soil.  Tantrums occurred when no one else was looking.  POII is the life for me!

But time heals all annoyances, and also assists the brain in erasing the memory during the times the brain knows better than the heart.  Time whispered to my mind, "Okay, so, make her forget about the hours and hours and hours of studying.  She really needs to be a sergeant!  Can you do that?"  My mind responded, "Oh TOTALLY!  I am so on this!  I think you passed by enough.  She had that mega-fit back in May, but it's November now, and I think I can make this work."  My heart, none the wiser, listened when the brain spoke up and moved the chess pieces inside my anatomy.

November 2017.  Wellllllll.  Maybe I'll try it again.  The nano-sized question and answer session that started to repeat was "Do I have another sergeant process in me?.....Yes."  Done.  Yes I did.  And I did it.  I threw myself into the process.  No, I HURLED my being into it.  I am nearly a 100% kinesthetic learner, so when my first two weeks of study appeared to be an utter failure according to the practice tests I took, I researched how kinesthetic folks get through law school.  I changed my methods and they worked!  My schedule went something like this:  Get up, coffee, go to work, (graveyards at the time), study at work.  On my days off it went: Get up, coffee, jiu jitsu, or arnis-eskrima if it was Sunday, then study at the library until they closed, then study at the Starbucks until they closed, then study at Manana's Mexican Restaurant until they closed.

From November 2017 to February 2018 I did this.  The amount of study material that made up the required reading was monumental.  And, so. dry. just. so.       dry.  Policies.  Procedures.  Discipline Manuals.  One book that was one guy's take on leadership, and included good information, but was about 100 pages too long.

But, got 'er done.  I passed the written exam (barely).  Then I dove into the interview portion, and thanks to the awesome people in my study group, the awesome people that listened to me recite my "this is why I am qualified for this job" speech ad nauseam, and several more hours of prep time, I passed the interview, but this part I passed with a banner of flying colors.  I landed in a prime position of 19th overall in the sergeant candidate field.  I was promoted in the first round (there are usually three per process).

Back to normal, right?  Back to training.  Right under my nose, the intensity of my training shifted gears.  The enthusiastic "kick" I usually had for class was pulled from it's assignment, repackaged, and then moved to the section of my brain that loves to ingest mundane information.  I resumed a normal workout schedule, but I was really just going through the motions.  Ha!  or lack of motion.  I was getting passed, swept, pounced upon.  And I was letting it happen.  I was committing a huge disservice to my training partners, and myself.

Classmates came to my rescue around October of 2018 and pointed out in no uncertain terms I needed to step it up, and step it up right now.  One told me my pressure was practically non-existent.  Another told me my level of aggression was ghost-like.  My arnis instructor told me my stick-fighting was just shy of being wholly effective, because my strikes were coming up short.

I listened.  I reevaluated, and realized the months of studying and directing energies elsewhere had siphoned away my kick.  I had been ignoring my training.  I had ignored the details of the game, the details that MAKE the game.  I laughed out loud as I thought to myself, I've been like a crappy boyfriend to my arts.  Phone calls have not been returned and I've missed ALL the special days I was supposed to remember.

The road of refocus however, is wonderful and truly joyful.  Years ago I went mountain biking in Fruita, Colorado, which is known for single track.  Miles and miles and serene, clean, winding single track.  Resetting the training mind became a simple project of riding down the clean singletrack, and letting that track lead me to the room where the dimmer switch was temporarily turned down low.  I reopened trunks in my brain that had been partially closed for a few months and threw the contents all over the floor.  I let the dust fly in my face.  I let the bouncing balls hit the walls and knock over the lamps.   I turned the lights up high and ripped the curtains off the windows off the windows.  I let the light in one day, and just like that, training came back into sharp focus.  I looked training in the eye and started listening with committed intent.

The intent has led me to new paths.  My pressure is present and improving.  I commit to a constant low hum of aggression in my training during each session.  Being aggressive is not always natural for me, but when I call on it, she comes to dinner.  I started assisting with the children's class at Fabio's.  I started an Open Mat session at my substation.  I have taken on my very first student for private lessons.  The well is full and now I am compelled to not only keep it full, but to share the contents.  

February 13, 2017

Look, It's Right There.

I just finished watching a documentary about a cult.

I am saddened to my core by the number of people who believe their "answers" will come from a guy with a bad hair-dye job for the mere cost of a several hundred thousand dollars.  Oh!  And within, one week's time.

The answers, the reasons, the purposes, are right in front of you.

The answer is, go do something.  Right now, or tomorrow.  Go...volunteer somewhere.  Go....take a jiu jitsu class.  Go...have breakfast with your parents just for fun.  Or, decide you are going to batten down the hatches and train for a marathon.  God, people, you don't need a shiny guy in a shiny suit to give you an answer.  

The reason?  Because this is not a dress rehearsal.  Because as much as we all plan about next year, retirement, the far future, Reality has her own plan.  Reality might flip a switch and drastically change your life in the next month, or not, but at the end of the day, what if your breakfast this morning with your loved ones was the last?

Your purpose?  Inspiration.  Influence.  In committing action, you will create a sphere of purpose.  Many of the people I count as being influences in my life probably had no idea of their impact, but they were committed to their actions and they shaped the people around them.

In unrelated news, I signed up for the Pan Ams in Irvine.  5 weeks away.