Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lego my Elbow

**Previously on GrapplingGirl**
"Then, while I was rolling..[on Friday], I got scissor swept, posted on my arm, and things went very wrong..." There was a sudden, very severe pain in my right elbow.

Of course, elbow injuries are very common in jiu jitsu, whether they be accidental (a post gone wrong, like mine) on intentional (the ubiquitous arm bar).

I consider myself very lucky that in my year and a half of jiu jitsu, I've dodged all injuries. In fact, I haven't had a boo boo severe enough to make me miss even a day of practice! (I'm knocking on wood as I write this).  But I know that if you stick with the sport long enough, even if you are uber careful, injury is inevitable. It's not a question of if, but when. As pain sliced through my arm, I just wished that the when could have been some other time. The Pan Ams were, after all,  just 2 weeks away.

But what happened next was scarier to me than the injury itself. Suddenly, I was having a hard time breathing and was wheezing audibly as I exhaled. I felt cloudy and dizzy and was told that I looked very pale. I focused on my breathing (in through my nose, out through my mouth). Then, just as quickly as the symptoms came on, I snapped out of it and was fine (minus the busted elbow).

It turns out that the neurological weirdness was just a reaction to intense pain (my doctor later confirmed that this was indeed the case). But it weirded me out. I called my nurse-practitioner mom who served to weird me out even further. Nausea, she said, can be a sign of a fracture, a symptom that she experienced when she broke her wrist, rib, and elbow (on separate occasions...and no, she does not do jiu jitsu).

That evening, my elbow stopped throbbing, which I took as a good sign, even though I couldn't straighten it.  I went for a run, and when I came back, I found myself unable to take off my sports bra. I wiggled and wrangled and finally got one arm out, but it was impossible to get the sweaty bosom-smusher off without lifting and straightening my right arm. Frustrated, I cut the bra off with scissors. Then things got worse. I gradually discovered that I couldn't use a fork...or brush my hair...or work the gear shift in my car with my right hand.

 Some funny pictures came up when I googled pictures to illustrate my bra trouble...

I went in for an X-ray the next morning. If my elbow was fractured, I just wanted to know, so I could rest it and eat normally again. If not, and there was any chance I could still compete, I likewise wanted to know, so I could do whatever I could to continue to prepare.

The verdict: my X-rays looked good! The doctor was sympathetic to my sport and said that my elbow should feel better in 7-10 days. He also said that competing Oct 1st was "a good probability." I was beyond relieved! I may have kissed the doctor, had that not been terribly inapporproate.

My elbow already feels MUCH better. I almost feel sheepish for overreacting and getting it X-rayed. It's looking like I might be back rolling by the middle of the week!

On misery, microbes, and mojo...

A few posts ago, I blogged that I only had 5 lbs to lose before the Pan Ams and a month to do it. I cleaned up my diet some but didn't do anything drastic. Without trying much, I fell right on track to lose about a pound a week. No big deal, right?

Well, it turns out I was tricked...bad. A few days later, right after I registered for the tournament, I casually browsed back to the weight classes, just to be absolutely sure everything was hunky-dory. Turns out, it was not...chunky dory, perhaps.

See, the weights that they had posted were for gi jiu jitsu, and they gave 5 extra pounds to account for the weight of our heavy gis. So at that point, for this  no gi tournament, I had 10 pounds to lose and only 3 and a half weeks to do it. Otherwise, once again, I would have to compete in a weight class with no limit. (It's not really fair...big guys have medium heavy, heavy, super heavy, and ultra heavy. For girls, everyone over medium heavy is combined into one weight class).

So, I planned my meals and began my diet and started losing weight...very, very slowly. I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong and I figured it out - while I was basically sticking to my meal plan, I was sneaking in lots of little bites here and there and not counting them at all. A spoonful of ice cream, a bite of Jason's sandwich, the candy jar at my school library, the samples at Harris Teeter (there are certain isles that I walk through twice!) I avoided carbs at our weekly Beaverdam post-swim picnic, but helped myself to Mike's cheese and crackers. "Crackers don't have carbs?" someone asked me. Not that many, I told myself. And the cheese counteracts it. Uh huh.

It's not that I was consciously cheating, it's just that I'm really not used to restricting myself. I love to workout and I love to eat, and luckily those things roughly cancel each other out for me.

So this week I started really cracking down, and I am now finally on track. I kept planning my meals but ate ONLY what was on that list. I gave up all liquid calories except protein and fruit smoothies. And I started going to spin class, to do an exercise that was new and different to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Needless to say, I've been miserable. Yes, giving up the foods I like really sucks. But beyond that, I never realized how much of my social life involves eating and drinking with friends. The only day that I go to swim practice anymore is Fri night, the night that we all go out for dinner. Now I'm avoiding Friday night practice until October. Tonight, I was supposed to go to a pampered chef party at a friend's house. The menu read "cheesy artichoke cups, mango confetti salsa, penne al fresco, vegetable clubhouse soups and last but not least...chocolate on chocolate molten lava cake...oh, and lotsa wine!" What were the odds of me getting out under a few hundred calories? What are the odds of me choking out Kyra Gracie? I reluctantly sent my regrets and enjoyed a turkey burger (no bun), some veggies, and lotsa water at home. Sigh.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that this diet has left me less charming than usual. According to Women's Health magazine, "Cutting calories causes your level of serotonin (a feel-good brain chemical) to nosedive, leaving you cranky and unpleasant to be around." True story. I won't comment further, but I'm not the only one suffering from this diet.

So, right now I am two weeks out and have 6 pounds to go...doable, as long as I stay on my current track of misery and deprivation.  I'm feeling optimistic. Come two weeks, everything is going to turn out ok.

Then, while I was rolling yesterday, I got scissor swept, posted on my arm, and things went very wrong...

To be continued.... ::fade to scary music::

On an unrelated note:

The topic of whether or not to wash your belt has spurred some debate, not only on my blog but on others as well:

This lady blogger consulted with a microbiologist to depict all the icky bugs we roll with regularly on the mats. Let's just say, our teammates aren't our only training partners. I won't get into most of it, but you can read the whole post if you want to learn more (or if you want to remain blissfully ignorant, that's ok too. What you don't know can't hurt you.)

On the issue to whether or not to wash your belt, this is what the science geeks have to say:

"Is not washing a cotton belt a bad idea? Lots of guys just…don’t…ever.
So…this is really gross. Like…really gross. Bacteria are really good at clinging to things, especial ly S. aureus. It’s a freaking champ. Its particularly good at clinging to natural fibers (like cotton). 

Your skin has an amazing abundance of bacteria that call it home including Staphylococcus epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes and our sweat is at the top of their menu. I would imagine a sweaty cotton belt would be a perfect place for bacteria to set up shop. So if the goal is to encourage the growth of bacteria (cos remember S. epidermidis’s cousin S. aureus likes sweat too), not washing a cotton belt is a great idea."

There you have it. The choice is yours - microbes or mojo??

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Back attacks

Today I went to my third ever  jiu jitsu seminar, Roy Marsh's class on back attacks. Now, when you are thinking seminar you are probably thinking of a white collar affair where you sit in a hotel meeting room and listen to 8 hours worth of PowerPoint. They might give you a free continental breakfast, but you are there to earn continuing education hours. Of course by the end of the thing, with all the sitting and smoozing and note-taking, you are ready to choke someone.

Jiu Jitsu seminars are a little different. You sit on a mat in a warehouse or a gym. You learn some new techniques and drill for a few hours - but then you get to roll and if you are good, you really do get to choke someone. Business wear is not encouraged or even allowed. People (who typically have 3 or more tattoos) wear either a gi or fight shorts with a rash guard. You don't get free breakfast but you might take a break at some point to drink some Gatorade and eat a protein bar.

 Spooning gone terribly wrong

This seminar was on back attacks and I learned a TON! Most of it is written down in my jiu jitsu journal (which I hope will one day be worth thousands if not MILLIONS of pennies). But here are a few take home points:
  • To win via back submission you must do 3 things: take the back, maintain the back, and finish the back choke
  • My personal weakness is maintaining the back - I'm fairly good at getting to the back, and I'm fairly good at finishing if I can do so before my opponent has time to defend. But I have some trouble maintaining position and realized a couple of places where I leave too much space or fail to predict my opponent's movements
  • There is a third hook. I am a lady so I will not comment anymore on this. But if you would like to buy a 3rd hook t-shirt, contact Roy or Team ROC.

Really, you are never safe from a back choke. Wherever you are, someone is almost always behind you. And if that person went to Roy's seminar, then you, most certainly, are doomed.

Goodnight, all!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Getting ready for the Pan Ams!


These past few months, I've begun training for my first international tournament - the no gi Pan Am games. Now, those of you who have known me for a while, know that I can  be a bit hypercompetitive - meaning that I'm a nice lady until I am racing, fighting, or playing a board game against you....then, well, it's balls (or ovaries) to the wall.

 As a swimmer, I absolutely lived to race -  in practice, meets, and open water races. I was not a bad loser per se, but I'd do whatever possible to win, to the point of peeling jellyfish off my legs without stopping or knocking people into buoys if they cut me off. (Now, before you go calling me a pugnacious jack ass, you should understand the kind of role models I grew up with. In one of my fondest memories from childhood, I sprinted out of the water winning my first open water race! when my own mother dove underneath me, so that she would cross the finish first. All's fair in love and racing, right?).

That was just the beginning. Risk, a delightful little game of world domination, had to be banned from the Rice household one Christmas Eve. It was not a silent night and it sure was not a holy night, but dammit I refused to go to bed to wait for Santa until my troops had slaughtered Europe. My father felt the same way about conquering South America so the battles continued until my mom took the game away.

In running, well, even though I knew I was't built for  it, I did everything I could to beat the tiny, dainty girls at their own game...and absolutely loved their look of surprise when I was called up for an award, looking like I could bench press the rest of them.

Of course I've grown to like jiu jitsu more than I like swimming, running, and board games it's no surprise that I absolutely LOVE jiu jitsu tournaments. I compete as much as I possibly can.  Sure I try hard to win, but that's not my only focus. I also try to learn something, support my teammates, and make friends. And, yes, when I lose, I make sure to lose gracefully. Really, I do!

The Pan Am games will be a tournament of a different level and I am excited as hell. My instructor and a few of my teammates are also competing and it's been fun going through our own little training camp. We've been refining our technique, maxing out our cardio, and visiting other schools to roll with some fresh people. I can tell you, I've learned a ton. Training has become very deliberate and intentional. I've learned what the weaknesses are in my game and  now I focus on improving these spots every time I roll.

Something else that will be different about the Pan Ams is that I will actually have a weight class, as long as I keep my hands out of the cookie jar.  Until now, I've been pretty content to compete with the heavy weights for three reasons - 1) I like the challenge of it; 2) often there are not enough women at local tournaments so weight classes get combined anyway; 3) I really do like cookies.

But, I only have 5 lbs to lose and a month to do it. I've decided that the easiest way to cut back on calories without feeling hungry is to eat more protein and cut back on carbs. So, for the past week, the only carbs that I have been eating are in fruits, vegetables, salad condiments, and beer. All this healthy eating has me feeling pretty good athletically, but it leaves me dreaming about bagels and cupcakes. (My friend posted "Three bald eagles" on her facebook status this morning. I read it as "Three bagels eaten," and logged off the computer in a fit of jealously).

I can keep this up for a few more weeks, but after that I am going to begin the search for the perfect cupcake - one moist and chocolatey and with frosting so sweet that it hurts your teeth!