Anyone who has had weight to lose knows that it’s a battle to choose to face every day. The easier option is to turn tail before the fight even begins – to announce defeat to a relentless opponent that is far easier to submit to than to hold your ground against.
When I had my first thoughts of writing about my excessive weight, about three years ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Factiously Fat-o-wacking to the day of Fit: The beginning of a better end.” The end of course being a more literal reference to the size of my generous posterior. It begins with the end in mind..(and yes I have also read Stephen Covey) this particular end was much larger than it needed to be and in need of some serious toning.
So yes I am a fan of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland movie (and of course Lewis Carroll’s book) and enjoyed the fabulously vigorous Futterwacken by the Mad Hatter on the Frabjous day. While I have no ambitions to have my head spinning at the top of my neck, giving my body a thorough workout to get it into better shape was definitely on the cards.
My fat is my Jabberwock, a relentless scary creature hanging around and although I have on a few occasions managed to slay it with the Vorpal sword of dieting and exercise, it keeps getting reincarnated. So my journeys down this Fat-o-wacking path had been largely unsuccessful but knowing that the creature could be slain kept my hopes alive.
I had been decently sized up until my late twenties when a series of unfortunate events drove me to emotional eating. Everyone has their poison and mine became food. Drink me! Eat me! Oh yes I will thank you very much for asking. I knew though that with each tasty morsel I was feeding my adipose tissue.
My adipocytes were sucking in fat at a furious rate due to the lovely snacks I was imbibing. They were in a state of hypertrophy and getting bigger by the day. What I did not know was that they were heading for hyperplasia. If only I had known I should stop before reaching that tipping point.
Just like those pesky Gremlins when they get wet – fat cells in the right conditions begin to multiply and once they have they never die! It’s like the scariest horror movie ever. You can’t kill them and they are always hungry. They are just waiting for the next dose of fat to feed themselves. The only way to control them is to not give them what they want. Weight loss makes them shrink but they hide in the dark always alert and waiting to grow again. It’s a war where the enemy is always watchful.
Knowing that being overweight means that I have in the region of 75 billion fat cells is a very sobering thought – I picture them like regiments of fat globby creatures with lots of little mouths waiting to be fed. Feed me! Feed me!
The way to a better perkier end is therefore the path to emaciated fat cells on the Frabjous day that I intended to call ‘The day of Fit’. My Kuk Sool Won martial arts journey however has taught me that there is no specific day just like there is no spoon. There is only more practice, more training, the next martial arts goal. My mindset needed a radical makeover and I needed to think profoundly differently about exercise and how I approached it.My focus changed from the Jabberwock slaying to finding an activity that connected with both my physical and spiritual nature and I found that in the dojang (even though I still think owning a Vorpal sword would be pretty cool)! The numbers on the scale are no longer a fixation and instead challenging myself to achieve new fitness targets is. Going to Kuk Sool Won class thrice a week does not feel like a chore, it feels like an opportunity, mainly to prove to myself that with the correct focus so much more is possible.
I am doing things now that I didn’t think this middle-aged body of mine could handle and because it’s thoroughly enjoyable and there is great camaraderie with my fellow students at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin school, the Jabberwock has gone into hiding with it’s tail between it’s legs. My super friendly and highly skilled instructors have also been very encouraging and keep me motivated. When I get bruises from my training buddy Vineela during sparring she grins at me like the Cheshire Cat and tells me she is making me stronger. The morning after a tough class with Ma’am Shagasi last week, Ramya my other training buddy, sent me a message to say that she was impressed with my stamina. She in turn has motivated me to do more push-ups.
Training together is a circle of growth for us all.
I am steadily winning the weight loss war and just like Alice discovered Wonderland, with Kuk Sool Won a whole new world of physical and mental accomplishment beckons.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.
My fifth Kuk Sool Won lesson and my anxiety levels still peak before class. Punctuality is something our instructors and I take seriously so I am always at the dojang at least 10min before the lesson begins.
My eyes are drawn to the brown belts in training. Eyes focused, mind clear, hands fast and stance low – that’s what Master Saidi calls their attention to. Such control and flexibility is wonderful to observe.
White belts unite
Time for my class to begin and I find my spot on the mat. Beside me a tiny and completely adorable toddler takes his place to begin his second class. We are separated in age by about forty years but in the dojang we are the same. White belts – the lowest rank.
I meet another mature white belt student who has just returned from an extended overseas trip. She is delightful and just as anxious as I am because her long absence requires her to refresh some of the skills she has already been taught.
We plough through techniques and forms together. It’s great fun and we have a sense of accomplishment completing the introductory stances and moves in unison.
A lesson about beginning
One of my favourite stories as a child was Alice in Wonderland and her conversation with the Mock Turtle about lessons came to mind:
‘And how many hours a day did you do lessons?’ said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
‘Ten hours the first day,’ said the Mock Turtle: ‘nine the next, and so on.’
‘What a curious plan!’ exclaimed Alice.
‘That’s the reason they’re called lessons,’ the Gryphon remarked: ‘because they lessen from day to day.’
I am glad that these kind of lessons don’t apply in Kuk Sool Won class. I need all the teaching and practice I can get!
I am mindful of my self-talk. Don’t think because you’re brave enough to start that it’s going to be easy. Don’t think that overcoming your lizard brain means that there will not be further obstacles or naysayers or moments of self doubt.
This might not work but I’m doing it anyway. “We don’t have to be great to start but we have to start to be great.” to quote Zig Ziglar. We all have something awesome inside of us to share but if we don’t start then nobody will ever know. You need to begin to unleash the awesome!
The next goal
We stop our practice to observe the brown belts. Even with their advanced skills the Master still corrects certain postures and hand positions. They are still learning too. In martial arts there is no finish line – only the route to the next goal.
I find this comforting. As much as we learn there is always more to know. Master Saidi tells us there will be tournament practice and that he expects the white belts to go to tournament too. This is a bit of a surprise as it’s less than 2 months away! A new learning goal is set.
We get to bow out at the end of class and we stand on the tape in rank order – white belts last of course. My spirits have buoyed. Even the longest journeys begin with a single step.
Have you taken your step?