I have gone through a lot of changes for BJJ. The lifestyle is completely different from what most people experience in their day to day lives, and I would not change back for anything. My habits are better, my mood is happier and my health is the best it’s ever been. There is this one thing that keeps annoying me though, and it’s that $%^&*#! number staring back at me when I step on the scale! However, should my mind even be on losing weight for Jiu-Jitsu?
I know, I know… I’ve heard every variation of encouragement that goes along with complaining about weight. I understand that it’s not about the number, and that my main concern is my athletic health, diet and training. It is, however, an age-old measuring stick that women live by to know if they are doing something right or wrong when it comes to keeping their exercise, eating, and general health in check. Even though I manage those things quite well, compared to how I used to, I still cannot break through the giant wall that is getting rid of those few extra pounds.
Cutting or Losing Weight for Jiu-Jitsu: Disclaimer
A word on cutting weight for jiu-jitsu, gaining or losing weight for jiu-jitsu, and all other weight control styles, mantras, mottos and philosophies: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or even somewhat of an expert on health, beyond knowing what the latest crazes are that pop up on my Facebook wall. I am though, very opinionated about how I live my life and feed my body, so I’m excited to share some of those details. Please just take what I do as an example, and not a suggestion. Feel free to let me know any tips you have though! 🙂
A New Belt Brings New Outlooks and New Goals
Since getting my Blue Belt back in December, I have been focusing on taking my health and my training more seriously. Even though I’ve already been participating in Jiu-Jitsu for over 4 years, I now feel a brand new sense of responsibility to myself. It seems to be obvious to focus on the number that is my weight, seeing as though it’s the most common measuring stick. I know that when I am lifting heavy weight, I gain. I’m not currently lifting heavy though, so a drop on the scale should indicate a loss of fat, assuming I am keeping well hydrated. I’ve come a long way from where I was originally, but I’m hell bent on being the right weight, and feeling fantastic to compete at that weight.
A BJJ Girl’s Thoughts on Her Weight-Class
I currently compete at the female Middle Weight-Class, which is 152 and under. With my weight vigorously holding its ground right above 140 pounds, it’s very difficult for me to drop down and make weight at the 141 pound Light Weight-Class with my Gi on, without dehydrating myself and dooming my stamina. Sticking with the girls at Middle-Weight provides a great challenge, however I feel that if I can make it over the hurdle of losing just a little more, I can be the bigger and stronger competitor at the top of her weight-class, instead of being the girl that is littler than most.
My Jiu-Jitsu Diet
For the past month, I have adopted a new diet, and a more rigorous training schedule. I’ve always been motivated to eat as healthy as possible, and now I’m forcing myself to live up to my own expectations. I’ve cut my diet down to lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, with the processed snacks and fast food thrown out the window. A friend of mine gave me a delicious smoothie recipe that has been getting my day going right, and I make sure to bring a healthy lunch to work, before having a piece of fruit and some protein to give me energy for training. For those interested in the smoothie recipe, it is as follows:
Spinach Banana-Berry Breakfast Smoothie:
Half-cup of Frozen Blueberries
Half-cup of Frozen Mixedberries
One Half Banana (or a small one)
Half-cup of Skim Milk
Half-cup of Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
Big Handful of Raw Spinach
Two Tablespoons of Flax-Seed Meal – I got this stuff: Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal. It leaves me feeling full, provides healthy fats and oils, and supports digestion health (source: Flaxseed Benefits)
Diet and Health Books:
I do a lot of reading, and I have come across several books that have given me some insight into how to structure my diet to be lean, while still allowing me to perform when training. My systems and habits are still evolving, but these are some texts that are influencing me right now:
The Gracie Diet, by Rorion Gracie – A very interesting read that also gives a lot of context on the history of our art, and what the originals did to maintain themselves. A lot of what is said here could be considered controversial, as it goes against the general norm by pledging from experience instead of “science”, but line of fit, healthy Gracie combatants is proof enough that there is a lot to following how they eat. What I got most from this though, is there is no other way to eat than eating clean.
The Body Sculpting Bible for Women, by James Villepigue – This book would very much be considered the “Anti-Gracie Diet”, as it focuses much more on the science of the food you are putting in your body. It doesn’t necessarily stress eating clean, but simply finding the necessary nutrients your body needs, and delivering them appropriately. This book is more for those focusing on building and toning muscle than performing in martial arts, but it provides a great view of athleticism from the ‘gym-rat’ perspective.
The 4-Hour Body, by Timothy Ferris – If you are familiar with Timothy Ferris, you know you should manage your expectations. Nobody can be in peak-physical condition with only 4 hours of effort per week. Getting past the title and the manipulative subtext though, gives a very interesting look at how one can improve their day-to-day living, lose weight, and gain athleticism by following some uncommon practices that have a lot of common sense.
The 4-Hour Chef, by Timothy Ferris – Another Tim Ferris book, but one that is much more rooted in reality. This book has a lot of information that doesn’t completely stick to cooking and dieting, but there are total gems here nonetheless. There are great tips on healthy cooking that tastes great, kitchen hacking ideas, shopping rules, and even some survival information that I was delighted to learn. All in all, a very necessary item for anyone taking their diet and cooking seriously.
Moral of the Story: Keep Improving
The number on the scale is just a mental battle. I know full well that it’s not something that should be concentrated on, and I make sure to remind myself that when I check it 5 times a day! 😀
What really matters, is not actually losing weight for Jiu-Jitsu, but what my eating and exercise habits are. Is everything that I put into my body good for it? If that is the case, losing weight for Jiu-Jitsu is as simple as sticking to the plan, and continuing to improve my game, technique and cardio by training more and more.
The human stomach is a place to breakdown the fuel I need to be a badass; not a garbage disposal where the remains of my indulgent pride should go to slow me down. You can quote me on that ;).