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Sloppy

Sloppy. That’s the best word to describe how my karate feels these days. I look down and I’m wearing a black belt, but it doesn’t feel like my performance is at a black belt level. If there was a “Sloppy” rank in our system, I’d probably have it! 

Seems like I can’t hold a good stance for long, don’t kick high enough or hard enough, and sometimes forget the kata or self-defense moves. Tonight was one of those nights. My kicks weren’t snappy, I mixed up moves in our mid-level kata, AND my timing just felt off. Awesome.

I know that’s to be expected with my extended absence and my rehab work, but it’s still frustrating. I’m afraid of falling into bad habits that I’ll have to replace or break later. I’ve lost some ground and I’m fighting to regain it, but it’s not very fun. My mind’s ready to be back at it on a black belt level, yet my body’s being a slow poke in coming to the same decision.

I know there’s only one way to fix Sloppy – work, work, work! Workouts take more mental concentration than they did before I broke my toe, since now I’m having to compensate for the injury. And I’m gasping for breath more often. 😉 I need to pay really close attention to my techniques, slowing them down when necessary so I don’t keep this Sloppy rank forever, or even worse – trade it for a Bad Habit rank.

I think the timing will come back. I’m pretty sure the stances and kicks will improve. And hopefully, not too long from now, I won’t check to see if I really am wearing a black belt!

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Let’s Do This!

Let’s Do This!

I just heard the ref on tonight’s MMA fight say that, and I’m sure he was talking to me. OK, he was probably talking to the fighters, but it was applicable to me, too!

I’ve made my decision and I’m going for it – I’ve returned to karate! I now realize questioning my return was due in part to sleep deprivation and also in part due to a mood change because I wasn’t exercising. It’s amazing how those two factors can have such an impact on one’s mental condition.

Slowly, both those issues are being resolved. I’m now able to get more sleep, and that’s making a big difference. I’ve also committed to working out more, both inside and outside the dojo. I’ve noticed the more I work out, the better I feel – both physically and emotionally. The activity is chasing away my mini-depression, and I’m really grateful for that! People around me are probably relieved, since I’m getting back to my usual charming self.  😉

My toe still doesn’t bend much and I lost a lot of cardio conditioning while I was out. But those are just excuses to be overcome, and the only way to do it is to work hard and work often. I’m rewarding myself for every workout that is 30 minutes or more. It’s a silly little thing, but it’s working so I’ll keep doing it.

I know I’ve got a fight ahead of me. My biggest challenge is a stubborn, hard-headed, excuse-filled girl. But I know her well, and I’m pretty sure I can turn the tables on her and use those characteristics to succeed.

Well, wish me luck. Let’s Do This!

My Crossroad

I’m at a crossroad. One direction is working hard and getting back in shape. The other direction is lethargy, and probably never working out again.

It’s been 8 weeks since I broke my big toe. 8 weeks without working out. 8 weeks of lost conditioning, lost muscle tone, lost reflexes.

CrossroadIn the last week or so I’ve noticed lethargy has set in like a heavy fog, and it scares me. I really feel I’m at the point of a major decision.

Do I get off the couch, work hard, sweat, strain my muscles and fight to get back in shape again?

Or do I stay on the sidelines, making excuses, and let my body settle?

It’s a life-altering decision, and a scary one. The choice I make now may be the last of its kind. Before now, I would have said it wasn’t even a choice. Of course I’d be back full strength! Of course I’d work as hard as I could, put in the extra effort to make a comeback! Why wouldn’t I?

But now, lethargy has snuck in. All these weeks it’s been quietly feeding on my frustration and lack of physical fitness, and now it’s attacking my mental fitness.

I’m tired. Seems like I’m always tired. I’m busy. But I’m always busy. There are a million excuses I can use to sit back and let lethargy take over. The question is, will I do it? Will I just take my black belt and melt back into the couch? Well? Will I?

The struggle is harder than I could have imagined! If I don’t go back to karate, I’ll have lots of free time. If I do return to karate, a battle awaits me. So in my head, I’m struggling with the decision, yet still marveling that I could even think about not going back.

Inertia is a powerful force. I know the longer I “wait” to be in good enough shape to workout, the harder it will be to get started. Rationally, I know the benefits to returning far outweigh the benefits of continuing to sit on the sidelines. Rationally.

Emotionally, I waffle on whether I can do it or not. Do I have the will to make it happen? Do I have the mental strength to fight myself, to drive myself, to endure the struggles of making a comeback?

There’s my crossroad. Which way do I go?

Held Together by Elastic

My dad used to joke he kept Johnson & Johnson and Ace Bandages in business. Dad raised three girls, none of whom were dainty. Three daughters, three athletes, seven sports. We hit softballs, tennis balls and badminton birdies; flipped and twisted in gymnastics and diving; hit the floor for volleyballs; and ran full-tilt towards hurdles. When we weren’t in season, we were still moving.

Sprains, muscle pulls, bumps, bruises and cuts were the norm in our household, much to my mother’s chagrin. She would have preferred ballerinas. Oh, we did that too, but only when we were young. When we got older, our competitive streaks took over.

Recently, as I wore an Ace bandage on my ankle and searched for my wrist brace, I thought of Dad and wondered what he would have said of me taking up karate at the age of 46. I can see him shaking his head, then slowly grinning and saying, “Why not? I’d expect no less from one of you girls.”

These days, instead of smashing my knee on hurdles I’m blocking punches, being dumped on my butt, and having my wrists twisted in ways they don’t want to twist. When I was 20, I was made of elastic and would have shaken it off and done it again. Now, at 50, I think fondly of those days but reality says they are far gone. Now, instead of being made of elastic, I’m being held together with elastic!

I should own stock in Aleve. I have a physiatrist who greets me with, “What’d you do to yourself now?” My Swamp Water and Biofreeze are close at hand. And I’m the proud owner of three ankle braces, a wrist brace, several Ace bandages, multiple ice packs, and a heating pad (with a very important auto-shut-off feature, since I often fall asleep on it).

I have strengthening exercises for my wrist, my ankle, my neck and my core, courtesy of the physical therapists. I use the penetrating heat of a tanning bed as balm for my sore muscles.

True, my limitations are gaining on me, but I’m too stubborn to give in. Some days I’ll win, some days the aches will. Either way, I’ll continue to train.

But for now, it seems I’ve come full circle. I’m once again keeping Ace Bandages in business, just like when Dad was around.  And weird as it may sound that makes me smile…just a little bit.

Realizing I’m Not Superwoman

It’s a hard realization to come to – that I’m not Superwoman after all.

All these years I thought I was tough. That I could do anything, push through any injury by sheer force of will. Mind over muscle, so to speak.

And then I broke my toe. Not just any toe, but the big toe on my right foot. And not just broke, but BROKE. As in “snapped sideways, busted open, looking like it got caught in a lawnmower, requiring surgery and a pin to set it properly” broken.

Broken toe set with a pin

Believe it or not, I didn’t request the pink bandage – the nurse chose it. It’s perfect!

It didn’t really hurt when I broke it, and it didn’t hurt much after the surgery. Superwoman doesn’t feel pain, right? So I didn’t think too much of trying to work out less than 2 weeks after my surgery, even though I was still in a boot with a big bandage protecting the stitch and protruding pin. 

I took the boot off and hobbled around a bit. I settled into a kiba dachi to do basics with the class. I even used a yoga mat so my feet wouldn’t slip! I twirled my new bo around; the temptation was just too much for me to pass up. I did maybe half of the 90 minute class. I was a little sore when I finished, but I had a broken toe so I wasn’t surprised.

And then… Then I discovered I’m not Superwoman, and what a disappointment that was! Much to my irritation, the next afternoon my foot and ankle puffed up and the pain kicked in. I spent the weekend on the couch watching movies and drooling from painkillers. Talk about a wake-up call.

It was difficult, but I had to come to terms with a few things:

1) I had a serious injury and I needed to heal before I worked out again.

2) Sometimes mind over muscle fails. That Bible verse, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” is sometimes true, whether you like it or not.

3) And the worst realization of all…I’m really NOT Superwoman, darn it!

Honestly, I didn’t like any of those revelations, but there they were and I couldn’t ignore them. I’m not a superhero, and I had to heal. It was back to the sidelines for me. I still attended classes, but instead of working out I watched or helped teach.

Yesterday, almost 5 weeks post-surgery I did another Superwoman check because, of course, I’m still not convinced she doesn’t live in me somewhere. This time I went slower, with the memory of last time’s pain and some monitoring by my instructor to keep me in check. I did a very modified workout. Stretching and crunches, basics in a standing position, a little bit of “tai chi” self defense, and some no-step weapons kata.

Mentally it made me feel like Superwoman. Physically, I didn’t have her power and speed, but I did OK and I made it through today with minimal pain. I’m now lounging on the couch, but this time no drooling, no ice pack, no hydrocodone. I’m calling that a success!

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not Superwoman. Actually, that’s not true — I’m a work in progress. But if I can’t be her, she can be my role model, right? And while I’m waiting for my toe to heal, I’ll do my best to remember that I have to go at Michele’s pace instead of the pace of a lady in a blue leotard and boots. That’s contrary to my personality, so I expect I’ll need several reminders. But if I behave myself and remember who I am, eventually I’ll be back up to speed and acting like I’m the real Superwoman!