Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kickboxing.... 151 pounds and 6 months later

One of the interesting things that I've noticed over the past six months or so, as various people see me and react to the changes they've seen in me, is that a lot of people don't have a true picture of what it really takes to make the changes I've made in my life. I've written several times in this blog about my issues with the health and fitness industry, particularly how it preys upon unsuspecting and easily influenced people in search of quick solutions to complex problems. I think part of why people don't fully understand what it takes, is that the health and fitness industry would be happy to have most people believe that all they have to do to get into shape is to go for a 30 minute walk and they'll be fine. Now, I acknowledge that my journey started with my inability to sustain a 30-minute walk, and I do respect the fact that we all have to start somewhere. But what I find particularly intriguing is the fact that many people think that there's some quick-fix -- a little known secret that helps make this sort of transformation occur. A few weeks ago, I wrote about my secret to success: good old hard work, intense focus, and an unshakeable commitment to myself and my success. Many people I've encountered don't realize that I actually DO work out six days each week. I eat like a champ. I train like an athlete. Losing 151 pounds in just over a year and a half takes more than simply going for a walk for 30 minutes a day. This is tough stuff to do, and actually doing it has helped me to realize why so many people struggle with this issue. It's incredibly hard work. But it pays off.

You may recall my blog where I first wrote about fitness kickboxing that I've been doing with Sebastien. It was cool to punch and kick my trainer. It was very cathartic and an incredible way to decompress after a stressful day at work. It provided me with an intense cardiovascular workout that I never anticipated getting. And more than anything it was fun. It was even fun enough to record a video of one of our training sessions and share it with you! Take a quick peek and check out how I was doing 70+ pounds ago...

Since Seb first introduced me to fitness kickboxing, I've also started taking a weekly class with Shelley -- the manager at the gym, who runs a great group class that is an amazing workout. She has helped me to refine and hone my skills. My technique has been fine tuned, my cardio endurance continues to improve, and my confidence grows. It grew so much that Sebastien and I even started sparring. Yes, after several months of me kicking and punching him with training pads, Seb started kicking and punching back. And that was a whole different experience.

Punching someone is one thing. Being punched back is something completely different. I quickly lost my confidence with kickboxing because I not only had to focus on executing good technique on all my forms, but I also had to think about how to be on both the defensive and the offensive at the same time. Kickboxing with Seb became more of a mental battle than a physical one, and I started not enjoying it as much. So, we've not been sparring as much as we used to, but on the weeks when we do my assessment, we make sure we have some fun and get in a few rounds for kicks.

This past week, we made two recordings during our session. This first video is me going through some forms on the training pads with Seb. Remember, this is 6 months since the first video, and what I love more than anything is the sound of my fists and my legs hitting those pads... the crack! sound makes me very happy.

video.

This second video is Seb and I doing a quick round of sparring. Our typical session would be several of these rounds (each running about 2-3 minutes) with breaks inbetween. I was a bit hesitant to record this one, because sparring still feels foreign. Correction: being punched and kicked and having to punch and kick back still feels foreign. But after watching it a few times, I now realize how much I've improved and how cool this stuff really is. I also now see myself being physically aggressive in a
way that I never thought possible -- not only because of my personality, but also because of my physical inability to be so. Well, now I can. I can kick, punch, grunt and shout with the best of them, and damn, it feels good.

video

So, my regular training and kickboxing classes have brought me to this point. As of this week, I've lost a total of 151 pounds, and well over 70 inches of body fat. I can run 20K on the treadmill, and will being training for a series of 5K and 10K runs in anticipation of my half-marathon in October 2010. This past week, I also had a workout during which I did 1000 crunches. Why? Because I can. But getting here has taken intense hard work. This is not the result of daily 30-minute walks. Yes, that is where I started, but I quickly had to turn up the intensity to get to this point. And what keeps me going? What motivates me to crank out a 2.5 hour workout on a Sunday afternoon? What keeps me focused on workouts where I burn close to 1700 calories???

Remember the cracking sound from each punch and kick. Listen to my grunts and shouts and I punch and kick back. That's what keeps me going. The incredible feeling I get after one of these sessions keeps me motivated. The fact that I've come so far keeps me focused. And the prospect of what these videos will look like in another six months is what keeps me inspired.

This is what hard work looks like.

Kia kaha.
Stay strong.