Last night I registered to compete in the 2013 IBJJF Melbourne International Open. I’ll be competing in the Adult Novice Light Feather Weight Division.
To be honest, I’m going to feel like I’ve got the gold medal as soon as I make the weight for the competition! 🙂
I decided to cut down from my usual Featherweight division to the Light Featherweight after the Pan Pacs. There isn’t any BJJ-related or competition related reason for this. I don’t think my skills are at a high enough level yet for size and strength to really matter (well not an additional 5kg or so anyway). And while I love the focus that competitions give me and I love the experience, I’m not really that hung up on winning or getting medals or doing everything I can to give myself any advantages.
I guess the main reason I want to cut down a weight class is that I want to show myself that I can.
I’ve been struggling with weight problems for my whole adult life. When I turned 17 and came to Australia, I had no clue about diets or fitness or health, I didn’t even know how much I weighed. The last weight I could remember was in 2001, I was 51 kg after falling really, really ill with a very high fever and I got pretty skinny after that. From then on, it was a downward spiral and the kilograms just started piling on, especially once I started working. I did heaps of overtime work and ate a lot of pizza and take away food and I didn’t have time for exercise (not that i ever did any exercise before anyway). At my heaviest weight, I was once 59kg.
Sadly, I was in a lot of denial for most of that time. I caught a lot of flak from everyone and it made me resentful and angry. It’s hard to explain but though I knew I wasn’t some skinny bikini model person, I honestly didn’t see myself as fat. But everyone around me did and had no problems in telling me. It’s really hard and painful getting judged and criticised for my body by everyone whom I loved and whom I thought loved me enough to see past my appearance. And for the life of me, I could not see it as something that they were doing out of love. I had no health issues and I wasn’t obese or even overweight and my fitness while not great at the time was also not bad. So to me, they were doing it purely out of a body image/beauty kind of thing.
I don’t want to turn this into too much of an emo blog post so I won’t dwell on this too much, but yes, for years my self esteem and self confidence got whittled down to nothing.
Over the years, I’ve read many articles and advice and opinions meant to empower women, that they should be confident in the body that they have and don’t let people judge them over looks. Some say that unless your health is getting affected, don’t change your body. For a long time, I could relate with those kinds of messages. And it made me bitter and angry and resentful at all the people who were judging me based on my body.
Anyway, I don’t know what changed in me but I did start seeing my body for what it was. I mean I always knew it was not the best body that I could have but there was still that denial there. But slowly over time, I realised I could do better, I could take care of my body. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s cause I started doing more training and realising the limitations of my body. I don’t know what it was, but what I do know is that it came from within myself. It wasn’t all the external pressure or the years of people telling me that I’m fat.
I know this because for years, I’ve been trying to lose weight because of those criticisms and every time I exercised, I would remember all the hurtful words that was said about my body and so I hated exercising because it just made me really mad at everyone I love.
But these days, I don’t feel that anymore. It’s hard to explain and I’m certainly doing a bad job of it lol! But it’s sort of like in the process of training, I started to see that I could do things that other people, no matter how slim or toned or beautiful or perfect their bodies were couldn’t do. Sort of like I started to see myself for my own strengths and that I wanted to push that. One thing I realised about myself is that I don’t give up easily. So I decided I’m going to make that my thing and I want to see how far I can push that and how strong I can be mentally.
So anyway, I’m dropping to a lower weight class because I want to prove to myself that I can. And to all the people out there who might be like me, who have been in denial about their weight or bodies, who feel resentful because they’re getting pressured to change, I would like to say this: don’t change if you are totally 100% fine with how your body is, no matter what other people are saying (unless your health is in trouble of course). But if you know deep deep down inside that you could do better, you should do it. Not because your health needs it, or you feel like you need to have some stereotype body or weight. Not because your loved ones are telling you to. All those ‘motivations’ don’t work, at least they didn’t for me. Do it to show yourself that you can.
At the moment, I’ve still got a couple of kilograms to go and about 10 days to cut it. I don’t know if I will make it but I’m going to try absolutely everything I can to make it happen. Not because I need to get to that weight (well technically I do need to since I’ve registered and paid!) but because I want to show myself that I can do it. No matter how hungry I feel or how much I’m craving sugar and snacks, no matter how tired my body is and how much my muscles ache, I’m going to conquer it all because while I may be fat and I may weigh more than I should at my height and I may be physically weak, I don’t give up!
The interesting thing will be if I can still manage to do any jiu jitsu moves (or even just move my body) after 10 days of heavy weight cutting. But like I said, the moment that weigh-in scale tells me that I’ve made it, I’ve already won my own imaginary gold medal. 🙂
Oh and sorry for the lack of photos or drawings in this post. I’m feeling way too hungry to draw right now. :p