7 steps depression

 

Funny day, really.  I’m a bit grumpy, and over life in a general sense. lololololololololol.  It took me quite a while to realise that the reason why I’ve been so shitty the past almost 2 weeks, is because I’m not sleeping through the night.  The air con in our bedroom broke a while back, and apparently I’m unable to sleep solid when my tits are sweating profusely.  hahahahahaha!

Earlier this afternoon, I was sitting on the couch with my laptop table, trying my best to wade through my list.  On top of running an international clothing line with little experience, little cash (everyone said “you need millions to start a clothing line”. they were wrong, but now I understand why they said it lol), and little sleep, I was doing my best to answer “fan mail” (I dislike typing/saying that because I sound like SUCH a douche) on my personal brand’s Facebook page.

Doing my best to quickly sift through the messages that ask for my hand in marriage, tell me I’m TOTALLY fuck-able, how sexy my thighs and ass are, and of course the occasional dick pic (blog being served on that topic next so stand by), to find the few that would be asking for help on how to win the battle with addiction or alcoholism, depression, and the like.  And of course any messages from other females.  That shit is like ice cream on a hot summer day.  What was once a rarity, is now starting to become the norm (grrrls reaching out to other grrrls to unite, pay respect, ask for help, etc.  VIVA LA REVOLUTION BITCHESSSSSSS!)

Already annoyed that I’m feeling over-tired, hungry (OK, basically hangry at this stage) and running out of time, I reluctantly replied to a message I had already replied to earlier in the week. This message was about someone looking for some ‘feedback’.  Long story short, this guy was battling depression and dealing with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis, but has a young daughter keeping him here.

I started writing back, and then said, “ugh! too much to type…. you’re making me want to start a Facebook live right now on this topic, but I’m sitting here in my underwear sweating like a hog lololol” ….

I started out by telling him that A) 5 out of 10 people have the same thoughts nowadays and that he is not alone or unique by any stretch of the mile, and that B) “they” want to keep us all in a perpetual state of unhappiness so we continue to buy shit we don’t need, take drugs we don’t need, and consume everything else under the sun to try to fill the void.

I was attempting to tell this person my life story, and how many times I wanted to blow my head off being a slave to addiction, or being fearful that I had no path or purpose, or being afraid that I’d never make enough money to do the things in life I wanted to, or consumed with sadness because I hated my job and felt like life was not worth getting out of bed…. to then falling down the rabbit hole of conspiracies, and how that woke me up, but put me into a space of fear.  To then becoming empowered, and realising that at the end of the day we are all souls just having a human experience and that life is but an illusion.  I asked him if he’d ever watched the matrix, and explained that the movie is basically a depiction of our lives as human beings.

I told him that it took me a long ass time to grasp the concept that this life is an illusion.  I first read that in a book called “The 4 Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz back when I was in high school.  I remember thinking “what the fuck is this guy on about?”.  OK- that is a straight up lie, because that is FULL Aussie talk right there.  In high school, my thought would have sounded more like, “I wonder what this guy is talking about?  This book is pretty airy fairy”.

Anyway-

After explaining hits of things in the most ADHD manner possible, leaving out massive parts of my life that have contributed to my sanity and “konfidence”, aka finding self love- parts such as implementing the 12 steps of recovery into my life, staying clean and sober, and every book, blog video, and learning experience along the way, I then got straight to it, and started typing “The 7 Steps To Kicking Depression”.

(I decided to put that epic shit in purple in honour of Prince)

As you can see from the screen shot, I was throttled to see that my unconscious competence started flowing out from within.  All these 7 tools I use in my life regularly, as well as deliver to people who are in need of growing on a personal or professional level.  But I’ve never strung them together and used them as a process to kicking depression!

Funny enough, the 7th step is what I did here today: Be of service to someone else.  

Although I was tired, hangry, had heaps of “work” to do, and other people to reply to, by taking the time to help someone else without any expectation of getting something in return, I unpacked some unconscious competence, and now have a framework to give to others to practically and strategically find some inner peace in their lives.

And wouldn’t ya know it, come to find out, my favourite artist in the world was one of the world’s biggest humanitarians there ever was.  We just didn’t find out until after he passed.  After I roll these 7 steps out to my #GRRRLARMY on Sunday (Monday in Thighland/Australia), I’ll come back and write a blog on it so the rest of y’all can get some relief too, if you want/need it.

Namaste Bitchessssssssss!

 

 

The post Creating “The 7 Steps To Kicking Depression” appeared first on Kortney Olson >> Konfidence By Kortney.

Over the course of 25 professional fights, I have only ever fought in a crop top once.  Even when I am lean, I always wear t-shirts because I am so self-conscious and embarrassed about my stomach.

Back around 2012, I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease.  I had been exercising rigorously and eating well and not losing weight.  I had been poked and prodded and tested for a million different things but no one could figure out why I was still, technically, ‘overweight’.  At this time I weighed about 77kgs (I am a staggering 5’5”to give you some measuring stick).

I sought out a new GP and she immediately said to me, these all sound like classic symptoms of PCOD.  I went and had a very uncomfortable test to confirm, and what do you know, I have PCOD.

11046277_807305482677632_4636286522002877639_o

I’m not here to write about the impact of PCOD on women – maybe a story for another day.  But my point is this; PCOD messes with your hormones.  In a lot of women, being lean is not even possible.  I actually had to go on a specific form of an oral contraceptive, just so I could balance out my hormones a little and I naturally shed a little weight.  For me as an athlete, I never look like I ‘should’.  If you had someone approach me in a bar, or in the street, chances are, they might have a hard time believing that I am a professional athlete.  I don’t have abs, I don’t have superior definition in my arms or legs, I do not look like the girl on the cover of Women’s Health magazine.

To top things off, this year has been insanely taxing mentally.  I have been injured for 6 months and I really just had no self control with my food.  I couldn’t train properly, so saying yes to a few drinks became easy.  What did it matter if I didn’t feel good the next day?  Food, as per usual, became my comfort during an extremely stressful and trying time.  The end result of a visit home for Christmas, and a few months of bad eating, I have gained noticeable weight.  It happens.

When I fought the other night, even the staff who know me weren’t hesitant in telling me that I was “pom pui” (chubby) and my trainers have made it clear that my extra weight (in their opinion) is slowing me down and I need to slim down.  This may sound harsh, but they are not wrong, and once again I am venturing to lean out and be the best I can possibly be.

received_10156904958130311[1]

My point to this little blog?  Since becoming a brand ambassador/sponsored GRRRL athlete, I am calling my own bullsh*t.  It’s time for me to practice what I preach.

I tell women all the time, to not worry about the way they look.  The scales don’t matter.  Mainstream media is unrealistic.  Real life is no photoshopped.  Yet I struggle daily with this myself.  I always wear baggy t-shirts, because I am now, even more so, embarrassed about my recent weight gain.

On Saturday night, in honour of our GRRRLs, I let it all hang out.   Fat rolls and all.  I got stared at, I felt uncomfortable, and I will probably never post the video footage because I hate seeing how out of shape I look – however – it was one of the most liberating things I have done in a quite some time.  Getting in there and not caring, and realizing that my looks did not impact the way I fight – it didn’t impact me getting a win, even though I took a fight on short notice.  Being a bit chubby doesn’t stop me from being a good person.  It doesn’t stop me from being a good fighter.  It only holds me back if I let it.

received_10153868610559823[1]

Your looks don’t define you as a person.  I am not ‘perfect’, but I don’t need to be.

To all the beautiful GRRRLs out there – my biggest love to you.

For those of you that haven’t discovered GRRRL yet – head over to grrrlclothing.com and see what we’re all about!  If you want to purchase some swag, use ‘missmuaythai’ as the coupon code to get a nice 15% discount😉

I’m a firm believer in expressing gratitude for the individuals, places and events that have been meaningful to me.

Life’s short…nobody knows what the future holds. If someone is important to you, tell them. If they’ve helped you in some way, let them know. If there is something you admire about them, make their day and say what that is.

I wanted to highlight a few people who have always stepped up to the plate since day 1 (and especially recently), and deserve a lifetime of thanks from me.

Family is incredibly important to me. As my Papou once said, “If you are a tree, family are your roots. These roots help you stay strong in any storm, or stand tall on a nice day.” To me, family isn’t always blood. Family are the people who are part of the process no matter what the outcome…make your happiness their happiness, and the people in life who want you in theirs.

The love and support of my Mom, Dad, and older brother Cam, is indescribable. Not only are they a huge source of inspiration to me, but they are also the world’s best mentors. If any of us say we want to do something, be something, achieve something, we all do what we can to support that dream….while simultaneously keeping each other loyal to the goal we proclaim.

My best friend Kyle, who has been my rock, reality check, and favorite person to talk to about literally everything…. You are such an irreplaceable person in my life and an incredibly loyal friend. You don’t find people like that that very often, if ever. I admire your realness, confidence, and ability to see all sides of a situation.

My incredible sponsors: GRRRL Clothing, BRL Sports, Vermont Peanut Butter and VOmax. I have been absolutely blown away by your generosity and enthusiasm. Having the backing from companies who are eager, interested and excited about what I am working to accomplish… as well as passionate about getting to know me on a personal level and supporting my career aspirations has exceeded any expectation I ever had about the athlete-sponsor relationship. I truly believe in your amazing missions and products and am so grateful to be a part.

To everyone deserving but not listed here, thank you!

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 4.17.55 PM
logo-nonutty
19703_162671323883254_495429513_n
vomax-header

IMG_8658

While compiling information and drafting “part 2” and the ending of my last entry: ‘what happens when the guy you’re seeing just can’t’ I smashed out this little banger because I had a few epiphanies 😉

image

Can I be honest? I was just reading over my last blog post and I feel like a complete dick. I feel like a dick because I wrote about putting so much into liking someone else… And in that I’ve realised, in being vulnerable, I’ve forgotten how secure I need to be within my own person- especially when I’ve decided to wait who knows long for something that may not even happen (but I’m very hopeful 😘) – ie a relationship with C.

image

They say what’s happened to you in your past affects who you are today and how you view things: Fact.
This past few weeks I’ve found my insecurity getting the best of me and a little bit of jealousy seeping through the tight walls I THOUGHT I had built, in being hurt over and over again. My secure sense of self was diminished. And I literally felt myself spiralling in these new whimsical feelings, however not allowing myself to fully be present as I was constantly thinking about the future and worrying about “what I would do if (insert crazy situation here)” and it was only upon talking to a friend who is also male to make me realise… This kind of thinking will always make a male back the fuck off.

I also strongly believe the way we react to what’s in front of us, is by extracting parts of our past and gluing it together for an ‘appropriate’ response- and by ‘parts’ I mean the GOOD and the BAD. For instance, I was in a situation where I was seeing an older guy- let’s call him M. So we started as friends with benefits, we hung out ALL the time like 3 sleepovers a week. And he was never wanting the ‘label’ like ever. Absolutely not. But the vibe was there. Everyone said M was the ‘eternal bachelor’. And One day we woke up and he said ‘nope don’t want this anymore. Let’s be friends though.’ So I got to sit back and watch him go out with other girls, his house was on the way to work, so I’d drive past on my way to work and see different girls’ from the town’s cars out the front. A part of me believes that if I had of gotten the “label” that it wouldn’t have happened. So my reaction to C not wanting the label right now…. Makes me think back to this time with M. It makes my skin crawl… Even the THOUGHT of C sleeping with anyone else just like the times I saw girl’s cars outside of M’s house. Even though c has told me he’s not seeing other people, my reaction to the ‘not having a label’ thing is the same as when I was being shut out by M. I feel like sometimes I’m on edge and I don’t know how to trust- because really, all we have is a benchmark of all the shitty relationshippy encounters we’ve had before OR we see the outside of what our friends have relationship wise. That’s ALL.

It’s hard to learn to trust someone new. It’s even harder to trust someone of the opposite sex when you’re so used to being shit on over and over again (great analogy ha!). I’ve now realised trust goes way beyond keeping secrets. Trust is HARD. And it’s a process.

image

Now, I’ve never been someone to take things slow- I’m all about instant satisfaction and going like a bull at a gate. But this time, I’m learning patience.
I choose to wait with patience and with trust as I learn it day by day and take things as they come. I really just need to chill the fuck out and just realise that I know enough about C to know that if he didn’t want to talk to/ see me he would NOT. As I said in my last blog, I personally feel that he does what he can with what he’s got within his boundaries. And the truth of the matter is: I like him more than he likes me, simply because he’s not looking for the ‘label’ like I am right now…

But I end this intermission-style blog entry, the same Way I ended the last one; by signing off and saying that I’ll keep waiting around and keep tracking the mini wins for my own brain bank 😇. Oh, and just to learn to chill the fuck out and learn to trust a little more. Xo

I’ve had several random conversations with different people lately about language, how we use it, how we interpret it, and the challenges people face when they are bi or multi-lingual. I was delving into this topic with a friend of mine who spent his childhood in Greece and moved to Australia at the age of 10, not knowing a single word of English. You absolutely would not know that English was his second language now, he is ridiculously fluent. However, I was curious if it was still a challenge at times. For example, when he’s in his head, is it in Greek or in English? When he dreams, is it in Greek or English? I truly thought the subconscious would revert to the mother-tongue but, according to him, 90% of his thoughts are in English as that’s what he’s now constantly surrounded by and communicates in. The exception was interesting though. He pointed out that there are times of frustration when an English word doesn’t actually exist to describe / explain a thought or feeling, but the word does exist in Greek. My brain does like to go off on tangents when I get thinking about things like this and this one conversation took my mind into a bit of a rabbit hole…words / language and the interpretation of them. How is it that one word can mean so many different things depending on context, inflection, facial expression, tone…I could go on! When I say the word, it means one thing to me but something completely different to the recipient. Our words are one of our primary methods of communicating, yet they’re so open to interpretation, particularly in the age of ‘texting not talking’!

This then led me to pondering one of my all time favourite words: judgement. Not to forget its various forms: judge, judging, judgemental etc. I could almost guarantee that if you hear one of these words, particularly if it’s being used to describe you or someone else, you will attach a negative emotion to it. But why? The dictionary defines judgement as: the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. There is absolutely nothing negative in that. Human beings, by their very nature, judge! All day, every day, we are taking in information and making it mean something ie: judging! It’s one of those crazy words though, and I wish there was another word for what most people make judgement mean that more accurately described it. Perhaps there is in Greek – I should ask my friend!

So, the usual interpretation of judgement is: to form a negative opinion of someone or something or to look down upon (condescending). Something I hear people say about themselves quite often is “I don’t judge” and it never fails to make me laugh (because I just judged their comment about themselves as being ludicrous!). Of course you judge! You judge CONSTANTLY and…it’s perfectly ok! How else would you make decisions, determine if you like or don’t like something. Where I judge judgement to be not ok is when you believe your opinion is “it”. That your acceptable standards should apply to the whole world and the whole world should comply. When you decide another person should behave in a way you deem to be acceptable, based on your judgement or when you form an opinion that a person is below you or less than because of their behaviour or choices, that, to me, is (insert appropriate Greek word that describes this action and doesn’t exist in English but is what people term as judgemental). One of my favourite expressions ever is “LIVE AND LET LIVE” and I am so grateful for the diverse, challenging and interesting experiences I have had in my life that have led me to be an incredibly open minded and accepting person.

I love the plights for equality but I am of the firm belief that, until we get to a stage where we no longer have to discuss it, we have not achieved it. This is another topic for another day – and one I’ll get equally passionate over but my point really was that acceptance is king. My blanket rule is: live your life however you choose. Unless you’re intentionally hurting other living beings, your choices are your choices and, quite frankly, fuck those that condemn you because you’ve made a choice they wouldn’t make themselves. I only ever want people in my life that I can be 100% truthful with. Friends that I can tell ANYTHING to and, whether they would make those choices themselves or not, they will not love me any less for mine. Our diversity is what makes us a complete society. When we learn to love each other for our very essence, our differences become fascinating, and things to learn from, not “good or bad”. When we do away with the condemnation, the belief that our thinking should be everyone’s thinking, and get back to just loving each other, the fight goes away.

Language really is interesting. Judgement is a fun word to play with, I wonder when it got such a bad rap?

I am constantly fascinated by the crazy. Not just my crazy, EVERYONE’S crazy! I know you know the crazy I’m talking about, it’s that thing that happens when you choose something you know is going to have the complete opposite effect of whatever it is you’re working towards – in any area of life!

I’m going to use a really common example to explain “the crazy”. I like to feel good. I like it when my body is calm, happy, stress free. I like it when my skin is clear, I have endless amounts of energy and I feel vibrant and healthy. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, when I eat sugar or processed crappy foods, I feel the OPPOSITE of all of these things. So, why on earth would I choose to do it? The crazy!!! I actually laugh out loud when I hear other people talk out their crazy because it just sounds so goddamn ridiculous. The lengths we go to in order to justify the crazy is, well, it’s crazy!

I recognise my crazy when I procrastinate on doing things like housework, cleaning the car, writing out a schedule, keeping a “to do” list, preparing my meals…ahhh, I could go on and on. All of these things, when they’re done, help me to feel amazing, in control, on top of things, calm, happy, you get the point. All of these things, when they’re not done, mean I’m in chaos, stressed and out of control. So, how and why does the crazy win out?

I believe we all have areas where the crazy takes over at different times in our life. I don’t know about you, but I think when I get the crazy in one area sorted out, it seems to pop up in another area. I’m all for challenge but, come on! Surely, at some point, you can just have it all together, even if it’s just for a little while. I honestly cannot think of one time in my life where the crazy hasn’t existed and had its wicked way in some area of my life.

Maybe there’s meant to be a little of the crazy in our life at all times, just to keep us on our toes 😉

I have a confession to make…my body is completely whacked!! At times I find it  amusing, sometimes annoying, mostly intriguing. Ok, maybe time for a little context…I have made some TERRIBLE choices over the past 10 or so years! Yes, everything happens for a reason and yes, our past shapes our present but, I think it’s also important sometimes to look back, acknowledge and learn!! What I mean by terrible choices is, I chose not to put myself first, I chose to let other people dictate how I felt about me, I chose to give my power away, I chose to let the people pleaser in me take over (to my absolute detriment), I chose to doubt myself, I chose to let the negative voices take over and, for the longest time, I chose not to do a damn thing about it!

How does this relate to my whacked out body? Oh my goodness, in every possible conceivable way! The above choices led to my internal environment being an incredibly stressful place to live. I didn’t actually want to spend time with me, I didn’t want to hear my own thoughts and, I kind of checked out. I detached and started floating through life. Existing but not living. It’s not a fun place to be. This is something I think almost everyone can relate to at some point in their life. I’ve definitely checked back in, and am now riding the wave of what happens when you start to reconnect with your body. Absolute fucking turmoil!!!

I’m talking 3 outbreaks of shingles, severe adverse reactions to the anti-viral medication prescribed for shingles, massive weight fluctuations, fluid retention like you wouldn’t even believe, digestive issues, fatigue…..ahh I could go on but really, what’s the point? The point really is that my body is currently teaching me a massive lesson. It’s saying ‘please don’t ignore me, please put me first, take care of me, nurture me, strengthen me and love me’ and I’m inclined to listen right now!

I do feel like I’m rambling a little but I also promised myself that I would just be real on here and this is where I’m at right now. My body’s currently in a hyper-reactive state where everything has an instant positive or negative effect! Acupuncture has been fabulous…the chinese herbs the acupuncturist gives me – eek! Well, the last lot instantly did the complete opposite to what they were supposed to do…but it’s a learning game, and if you don’t try, you don’t know! I’m loving spending time with my own thoughts hanging out in a sauna, hot yoga has become a regular part of my regime. I used to just smash out my angst in the gym but lately, my body flares up every time I work out so I’m listening and giving the weights a rest (as hard as it is!) and focussing on things that help me reconnect with my body. Meditation, yoga, even the acupuncture helps with this. This is what’s important. When was the last time you really listened to your body? Paid attention to the little signs it’s giving you? You know that little twinge we call a gut feeling? That’s the one I should have paid attention to in the past and the one I trust with everything now. We know more than we realise…we just have to trust it.

So here I am with my very own space on the big wide world of the interwebs. Blogging is something I’ve thought about doing for a really long time, for a number of different reasons. What made me bite the bullet and actually do it? One of my best friends and someone I admire enormously is a hardcore blogger….she’s raw, real and lets it all hang out – the good, the bad and the UGLY! This is actually something that’s somewhat of an anomaly in today’s world of what I call social media personality disorder: where everybody is putting their best foot forward, showcasing their bright, shiny moments and hiding away when times are tough. The biggest difference between this and what my friend does, for me, is that when I read her stuff… I relate – on many different levels! I don’t judge her, I respect her and sometimes, I have those moments where I think “oh my god, it’s not just me!!”. When she puts it all out there, even if she only does it for her, someone, somewhere reads it, identifies with it and it has an impact that she may never even see or feel. How awesome is that? When we only share the bright shiny moments, we paint such an unrealistic picture of ourselves that we then feel the pressure to live up to in real life and, inadvertently, we actually put pressure on other people who may feel inadequate or less than. Not for one minute am I intimating that anyone should feel responsible for how another person feels when they read something you’ve written. I just think we could all take a leaf out of my friends’ book and keep it real because, in doing so, we actually come together, relate and support each other through the amazing times as well as the down times.

So, long story short, that’s kind of what put the bullet up my arse to start blogging. My friend made a comment on her blog about how journalling keeps her grounded, on path, and moving forward. I totally get that and it’s exactly what I need to be doing! I could journal privately but I get so much out of reading other people’s thoughts, who knows, maybe someone, somewhere will get something out of reading mine :) One thing I promise is that it will be real, it will be raw and you’ll probably judge me at some point! Haha…..but you know what? That bit’s on you 😛

When I went home for Christmas last year, I’m not going to lie, I was tempted to stay.  The lull of the beautiful beaches and sunsets had lost its fade and I was missing having some consistency in my life.  I get homesick – A LOT.  I watch my fight family at home kicking goals and I want to be there kicking goals with them.  My niece is growing up quicker than I can fathom, and life on the island has more challenges than I thought possible.

After much debate and conversation, I decided that I would be foolish to quit now.  I had already given 2 years of my life to this, and I thought I had found myself in the care of one of the greatest coaches in the world.  He was going to make me a world champion.  He was going to turn me into one of the greatest female fighters to date.  I believed it, and so I returned.

I used the month I had at home to treat existing injuries, to spend time with my loved ones, and to eat drink and not train.  That’s right.  A whole months of no training.  I thought I would go mad, but I didn’t realise how badly I needed it.  24 fights over an 18 month period, my body and my mind was exhausted!  I slept.  I drank.  I ate. I let my body heal itself a little getting ready to come back for the year of my life.

10296752_128083110907469_9041691243800596582_n
12347982_1136993906312561_5494955233548455310_n
12647127_127996737582773_1725929672893400910_n
12647535_128082397574207_4209633582664191468_n

I was so motivated when I returned; I was ready for anything. 2016 was going to be my b*tch!  My friends knew it, I knew it, I felt like the whole world knew it.

Now of course, when you take a significant break from training, your first week back SUCKS.  You wonder if you’ll ever be fit and strong again, even though you know that EVENTUALLY it will happen.  And it did.  Sooner than I had expected.  It literally took me about a week of solid, hard training which really surprised me.  The rest had done my body wonders.

We were all set for me to head to Sydney to make my MMA debut.  March 12.  We were ready. Surely enough, not 2 weeks into camp, I broke my finger.  Not, in the way where you have kind of broken you finger.  I was kicked in the hand, had my finger dislocated at a 90 degree angle, snapped off the top part of the bottom bone and fractured the middle bone.  For realisies.

12573697_128013884247725_3179750676425318068_n

While I attempted to train around my hand, my motivation dwindled.  I kept pushing forward and the next thing I knew, my gym was shutting it’s doors.  Everyday I woke up thinking ‘what the hell is going on???’

As my team mates moved on, and in my heart I knew I should too, I waited for our coach to return to no avail.  Eventually I had to make a decision.  Where to from here?

A friend encouraged me to head over to Dragon Muay Thai as he had some great time there with two brothers who he knew would look after me.  I didn’t hesitate.  I needed to get back in shape and get ready to fight again.  My hand was about a week away from being able to put in a glove again so there was no reason to not start pushing hard.

When I went for my first session at Dragon, the trainers recognised me immediately.  I had fought and beat one of their fighters last year.  A well know girl, Nung Ning.  They immediately asked me if I wanted to fight and I told them that I couldn’t.

I wanted to scream yes, but I was stalling.  I still didn’t know what was going on with my other coach.  Was I allowed to book a fight with another gym?  I hadn’t heard a word from him yet I still felt like I was betraying him so I waited.

I decided to take off to Vietnam for a week.  I was scheduled for a visa run anyway, and my friend had told me about this amazing facility in Saigon.  I figured it might be a good chance to do a little travel and a little training and to see my friend who had just finished her time in Phuket.

The reset was EXACTLY what I thought I needed.  I got to train with some amazing people who welcomed me with open arms.  The coaching at the Saigon Sports Club is incredible and I don’t say this because they asked me to, or because they are giving me anything.  They had one of the most decadent facilities I have ever walked into, with carefully selected coaches all so willing to work with me and pass on their knowledge.  I was in heaven!

I made sure to take some time to explore a little, including a visit to the War Remanents Museum and a trip out to the Cu Chi tunnels used during the Vietnam war.

1273720_180000112382435_6576239223231138772_o
11063419_179983385717441_3021818035804757337_o
11167801_179991222383324_3899640516557117272_o

When I packed my bags and returned to Phuket I felt ready to come back, but I still didn’t know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do.

I had weighed my options carefully, options both in Phuket and in other areas of Thailand and beyond.  I had seriously considered the other MMA gyms in Phuket and after some long chats with a friend, I was reminded of why I was here.

I came here to fight.  I came here to become a Muay Thai World Champion.  Had I strayed too far from the real reason I was here.  This time spent away from home to not achieve what I came here for?  Was it all a waste?

I finally had decided that returning to Muay Thai was the best option for me.  It was probably too late, especially at my age, to be changing to MMA and I was already in Muay Thai land so why not go back to what I know.

As I started to prepare for my next Muay Thai fight, a women causes a bike accident causing me to fall off my bike.  Nothing too serious,  but enough gravel rash to stop me from grappling and sparring for a few weeks.  Yet another set back.  Frustration was consuming me and I had a little meltdown to one of my friends.  I just couldn’t believe that it was the end of March and I had done nothing but gain a few kg’s this year.  What was I still doing here?

Then, out of all the strangest things to have happened so far this year, I was offered a sponsored spot back at AKA, for both MMA and Muay Thai.  That was really what I wanted.  But was going back to AKA going to be the right call?  A lot of my reasons for leave AKA, were no longer reasons.  It seemed on a social level that people were very happy to have me back, claiming it’s where I belong.

AKA

Out of all the stories I’ve heard in Phuket, I don’t know that this has ever happened.  That a gym re-opened their doors to a former fighter or that one has returned.  It’s very unusual for Phuket.

It certainly was something that took much consideration.  It meant I could fight Muay Thai and still explore the MMA path.  It appeared to be leaving doors wide open.  Management seemed eager to have me back, for a variety of reasons, but after much debate and lengthy conversations and negotiations, I agreed to return.

After a week in, still training at Dragon for a Muay Thai fight, and getting back into the ground work at AKA, all around my gravel rash, I discovered more aftermath of my previous coach.  My original opponent for April 12 had pulled out, and all the local stadiums were full up with female fights.  I asked if we could fight in Patong and the coaches at Dragon paused.  “Gemma.  You remember last year, you come and book and fight, but then you go to Australia and the promoter can not replace you.  He is very angry and doesn’t want you to fight there anymore.”  What. The. Freaking. Hell?

11015775_1629717300637585_838337848613880864_n

I had tried to get a fight last year but I was told it wasn’t happening.  I pestered and pestered for information and nothing.  It seems like my previous coach had booked at fight for me and withdrew me 2 days before the fight.  The promoter couldn’t replace me and was so angry that he never wants me back again.

When I returned to AKA, I asked one of the head Thai trainers if this was fixable, and he basically said it wasn’t.  Even though it wasn’t my fault, there was not point trying to fix the situation.  “It’s just the Thai way” he said to me.

Last week I fell horribly ill with a virus – we assume it was influenza.  It’s officially the sickest I’ve ever been in my life and I am still recovering now.  I slept for days and had multiple IV bags of fluid to speed up the process but it really took me out.

12973267_1724827824459865_7477974985924415557_o

Is everyone reading this on the same page?  Could you follow the chain of events?  Admittedly, writing this made my head roll a little!

Everyone always says “it’s so cool!  You’re living the dream”.  I just wanted everyone to see what the reality of that dream can really be like.

I am so grateful to be out here doing what I am doing.  It’s something many fighters dream of and I fully understand that.  But it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be.  I don’t go to the beach everyday because I don’t have time.  I’m not enjoying cocktails at sunset and this year has definitely not been my ‘dream’.  Being a fighter is hard work and doing that while living in Thailand comes with its own unique sets of challenges – I’m proud that I’ve managed to navigate my way through most of these things.

I still don’t know what this year has in store for me, and after spending the last week laid up in bed, ridden with a virus, I haven’t had time to get back into the swing of things yet.  I’m on the mend and looking forward to heading back to training next year.  Things can only get better from here!

11998956_517978825021786_893077609619915996_n

12 months ago, the Unit 27 Group (best know for the Unit 27 strength and conditioning centre in Chalong) announced that they were in the process of building a fight facility.  It was no surprise to me that this would happen given that they already owned a gym (Primal Fitness), a health food restaurant (Muscle Bar) and have the only CrossFit certified box in Thailand (CrossFit Phuket).  It seemed that the martial arts route was the next logical step.

I decided to watch and see what was to happen with this new facility as coaches and location were yet to be announced.

As the year progressed, it was announced to the public that James McSweeney was set to come and run the facility.  Not only would he be fighting out of the Fight Factory, but he would also be the head coach.

I was having a difficult time at AKA and after months of back and forth, I made the decision to risk it and go train under James.

James has an extremely impressive resume, boasting world titles in Muay Thai, K1 and MMA.  He was one of the first successful TUF contenders after Dana White pulled him from the K1 circuit to go into one of the earlier seasons.  Not only is James a world class fighter, he is considered, by many, to be one of the greatest coaches in the world.

12087294_1662364547372860_6180820767635323143_o

When I went and joined James, UTFF hadn’t been completed so we worked out of Unit 27 as we, the UTFF Fight Team, helped finish the inside touches on the building before the soft launch.

We spent days building wall panels and laying floor, and creating space for the 32 foot cage that was on it’s way from Chang Mai.  The interior of the building was white and the floor was a custom fit, 1 piece of material, that had been cut to the exact specifications of the building.  This was to avoid bacteria forming in the cracks of the matting below and making it facility easier to clean.  Staph is a common issue in MMA gyms, and James was hell bent on avoiding it.

12063477_1664636490478999_3755507254027622088_n

Classes started slowly, firstly with Dutch Muay Thai, as we waited for new coaches to be flown in and work permits to be issued.  It was a process.  But classes grew quickly.  James had a solid reputation for coaching and people wanted to learn from him.  The difficulties most people faced was the intense nature of the classes.  James has a very old school approach to coaching and he coaches people in the exact same manner, whether they are a beginner or a professional athlete, it makes no difference to him.

People struggled not being able to take water breaks freely, because despite being in a climate controlled environment, it still gets hot and people get thirsty – fact.

I think many people particularly enjoyed the drilling aspects and the unortodox, yet effective combinations we were taught.

12294768_1672495269693121_7656685758650722969_n

As the boxing and BJJ programs took off, more people flowed through the doors, but again, some people struggled with the old school mentality.

For me as a fighter, it was not something that bothered me.  Training my mind to control my body was one of the most valuable things I will take away from my experience at UTFF.

Unfortunately as the new year rolled in, some internal politics began to create issues and James stepped down as the head coach and removed the “Sledgehammer Striking” class from the timetable.  Unfortunately this was the most regular class on the schedule and the most popular.  Numbers quickly dwindled, as did the overall vibe within the fight team.

The boxing program was strong, but unfortunately the one class a day was not enough to keep customers interested and the BJJ program was so new to a street already with strong ground programs that it was unsustainable.

As James left for Poland to fight for the KSW Heavyweight title, the decision was made.  On March 8, UTFF closed their doors for good and shortly after announced that it would be used as a new facility for CrossFit Phuket.

12783706_1712613585681289_2184459432378273276_o

I won’t ever forget the way I felt when I went to collect my things.  The cage was gone, the floor ripped up and the process of removing the wall panels had begun.  Before this I had felt indifferent about things, confident that I had options should James not return.  But in that moment, thinking back to the literal blood and sweat that went into that building, to seeing it all destroyed, it was gut wrenching.  I was just so sad at the abrupt way things had ended – I still am.  I am fortunate that doors opened for me that I had never expected and am able to move forward.

Fortunately, Unit 27 agreed to continue my sponsorship under their umbrella as an athlete and they still provide me with excellent S&C training to supplement my other training.  My official announcement of where to next is coming.  Stay tuned!

It’s been a frustrating few months being out of the ring, losing fitness and gaining weight!  Especially given my first two years you couldn’t get me out of the ring!

Unfortunately at the end of my time at AKA, I had done significant damage to my left knee.  Surprisingly no stress fractures in my ankles from all the running, but something was seriously wrong.

When I went to UTFF, we originally agreed to stick with the Muay Thai and expand my horizons.  We were looking at fights, mostly in Europe, and the offers were a plenty.  While we knew this was the path we were going to take for the immediate future, we were still training my grappling game in preparation for my transition to MMA in the new year.

12642920_1170918629586755_4572517558987132739_n

The change from Thai style to Dutch style was significant.  Dutch style was more suited for MMA and for fights in western countries.  It completely opened my eyes to the way I look at Muay Thai and fighting.  It was so great learning different things every day as most of our classes were spent drilling with a partner.  A nice change from the same routine that I had been in for the past 2 years.  The aggressive Dutch style suits me, but there is still a lot about the traditional style that I will always love and I really hope moving forward, I can try to merge the two styles together a little.

12294768_1672495269693121_7656685758650722969_n

As my training load increased, so did the pain in my knee.  I was training though a ridiculous amount of pain and was beginning to have issues in everyday movements such as sitting, and walking.

We booked a fight locally for me, just to test out how the Dutch style was working for me and what was in my “DNA” (as my coach liked to say).  As we got closer to the fight date, I was still awaiting information and then eventually my coach tells me he has pulled me from my fight.  He didn’t want me fighting injured and the pain in my knee was affecting my basic movement in training.

In that moment I had a mini meltdown.  I was so frustrated, and homesick – my best friend had just visited and her return home sparked an insanely emotional response.

I was due to go home for Christmas anyway and he tells me to take a break, don’t train while I’m at home, just rest my mind and my body and come back ready to work.  I agreed that it was the best thing for me.

I had scheduled an appointment with a sports doctor for my first week home.  I wanted to try some PRP treatments in my shoulder and my knee to alleviate some of the pain.

After a round of MRI’s and other sporadic testing, we discovered the problem with my knee was worse than I had expected.

12592300_128076824241431_7459952823482541902_n

Immediately the doctor advises that I need surgery.  To repair the meniscus (a common injury in athletes) and to shave off the back part of the knee cap to create more space for me knee to move, to prevent the knee cap grinding against the meniscus.  On top of that I had a crack in the left side of the knee, what he described as the “shock absorber” most likely damaged from all the running I had been doing that year.  PRP was an appropriate, but temporary remedy.

My shoulder, as I have been told a few times before, needs a reconstruction, but more notably, there was  cyst sitting near a nerve which was affecting my range of movement.  A very intimate gathering with a very long needle (to aspirate the cyst) followed by two shots of cortisone, saw me a week later lifting my arms above my head and having both my biceps touch my shoulders.  Magic!

After some much needed R&R, time with my family and friends, a few extra kgs from Christmas, and a renewed sense of motivation, I was ready to come back to Thailand.

12347982_1136993906312561_5494955233548455310_n

We hit the ground running and agreed it was best that I take an MMA fight at this stage.  We were set to go to Sydney, March 12, to make my debut.  I was nervous, but ready for the change.

As we pushed the pace in training, I fell victim to my first injury for the year.

In a round of touch sparring (exactly as it sounds, because no one is wearing any protective gear, not even gloves) I threw my ‘jab’ out only to be kicked in the hand. A sharp pain ran up my hand and I looked down at my hand.  My little finger was bent back behind my other fingers at a 90 degree angle.  I won’t lie. I screamed.  I clutched my hand and I screamed as I dropped to my knees.  My coach ran to me and everyone was at a loss as to what to do.  Neither of my coaches wanted to touch it, but leaving it at such an extreme angle while we waited for an ambulance could have made it worse.  Along comes one of our students; a Danish man, and also a coach.  He is confident he can put the digit back into place and I’m not arguing.

I will never forget the sensation of my finger, popping back into its socket.  It was such a bizarre feeling, yet oddly enough, not extremely painful.

As we went to ice my hand, I could help but cry.  “What about my fight!?!?!”  Confident that my finger would heal itself, my coach tells me not to worry and that I will still be able to fight.

A week later my finger is still extremely swollen and blue.  I head off to have some x-rays and the damage was more extensive than we had anticipated.  I was requested to wait to see the Orthopedic Surgeon.

I turns out that I had broken off the top part of the base bone and fractured the middle bone.  I was being told I could potentially need surgery.  I know what you’re thinking… it’s just a pinky… wouldn’t it be easier if we just cut it off?  (My thoughts exactly!)

701918_1702609153348399_8627508231503370450_o

8 weeks of not using my hand.  Fortnightly x-rays and visits with the surgeon along with a sexy white plaster to boot.  Great.

I kept training to the best of my ability but staying motivated was difficult. I gave myself specific goals to work on that didn’t require the use of the left hand.  I worked on my south paw stance, and I worked on my head movement.  Both of which have improved significantly over the past two months, but it has been a frustrating time.

I’m finally back training at full capacity.  I’m getting my cross training in at Unit 27 and am thoroughly enjoying CrossFit (I don’t know how it took me so long to get into it!) and I am kicking pads at Dragon Muay Thai.

12783706_1712613585681289_2184459432378273276_o

I’m finally scheduled to fight again, April 12 and it could not come any sooner.

I’m a little nervous about returning to the ring.  My conditioning and fitness is not great so we are pushing as hard as we can.

Nevertheless I’m excited.  To get back to what I came here for.  These past 6 months have been a bit of a detour for me, but like always, I have no regrets.

MMA is not off the cards for me, but for right now I just need to be fighting again.

Bring on April 12!

For those of you reading my blog last year, you will remember my post about being single in Thailand.  I thought I had left that piece a little unfinished so here is the follow up.  Why do I chose to remain single.

A hot topic of conversation when I chat to friends at home is whether or not I have met anyone special out here.  I would be lying if I said that I haven’t.  There have been the odd guy that has come and gone that I have clicked with, or had chemistry with. Even coming back this year I had allowed myself to be led down the garden path and fooled myself into believing that I had met someone special.

So what’s the biggest challenges they ask?  The problem is that they all eventually go home, they are inappropriate to date, or they are “working on themselves”.  A combination of some or all of the above is not uncommon.

When you live in a holiday destination, unless it’s another expat, the people you meet are only here for a short while.  It’s difficult enough saying goodbye to the good friends you make that leave, but I couldn’t imagine really falling for someone who had a return ticket home.  Expiration dating – it’s not really for me.

Expats out here are also a different breed of people.  Phuket seems to attract fighters, health nuts, retirees and a few crazies.  Once you live here for a while, your reality and perceptions skew a little too, so even dating an expat can have extreme difficulties.  I deliberately go home once a year to remind myself of what the world is like outside the little village of Rawai.  I sometimes go to my friends at home for their opinions on certain situations because I question my own judgement sometimes.  Am I being a rational human being here or is my own perception skewed?

So what is the alternative situation?  Someone who comes out here and stays for 3 months; 6 months; a year even.  Why not date someone like that?  I believe the words once said to me about a 3 monther was “he could be really good for you!”  It’s undeniable that there might have been some truth in that, but again, to me, it’s still expiration dating.

If we remove all of these factors, the biggest thing that comes into play is my career.  Finding someone who understands the demands of the work I have to put in.  Someone who will understand that when I am cutting weight LOOK OUT!  Someone who understands that I don’t want to party every weekend.  That I watch what I eat.  That I want to just go home most nights and crawl into bed early.  These are usually pretty off putting – and I don’t blame anyone for that.  I can’t imagine dating a fighter and not fully understanding some, or all of these things.

wpid-fb_img_1439694178130.jpgWeight cutting last year

So the obvious go to is – why not date a fighter?

Most of the fighters I meet I train with – this can be tricky for a number of reasons – but what a lot of people don’t realise is that when you start training with guys, you become one of the guys.  You’re no longer a girl, but a training partner.  Someone you kick and punch and choke and it’s totally acceptable.  You move into the “dude” zone quickly, eliminating the possibilities of a dating situation.

Given that the gym becomes your dating pool, it leaves you in an awkward situation where, you’re one of the guys, who has no real free time for legitimate dating, so if you’re like me, you give up and submit to the daily grind that you love so much instead.

12604786_560009194152082_1058186074666467927_o

On the flip side of this, being the female in the situation, makes it even more difficult.  No matter where you are in the world, unless you have a fully established a committed relationship, dating within your gym looks dodgy for females.  I never wanted to be that girl.  Dating a trainer can make things even worse.  They can abuse their position should things go wrong and no matter which way you swing it, I will always be the the one that comes out with mud on my face.  (This is not to say that it NEVER works, I know many successful couples – this is just my personal opinion).

Living in Thailand has significant periods of loneliness when you are single.  Fortunately, I have enough wonderful friends to fill the void, along with a grueling training schedule.  I don’t really think about dating too much.

When I wrote the first draft of this, I thought that I wasn’t opposed to the thought of dating – and should the right person come along then that’s a bridge I will cross.  Unfortunately, after breaking most of my rules recently, I have realised, I still feel the same way about dating in Thailand.  It’s just impossible.

I love my life – and my feminist side screams that I don’t need a man to fulfill myself – and I don’t.  But to all of those wondering why I have actively chosen to remain single – this is why:)

12042648_1015932201762066_3597583369496435913_n

I am so stoked to announce my new official sponsor – GRRRL!!!!

“GRRRL is a brand new type of clothing company.  We make real clothes for real grrrls who simply don’t care about what anybody else thinks.  We celebrate everything female. For every woman.  Recognising that all real grrrls come in all kinds of different shapes and packages.  At our heart, we exist to bring all grrrls together to claim not just equality but our rightful sisterhood.”

12291267_1038561032832516_864362490245376858_o

When I heard about this new line of clothing brand it was instantly something that I wanted to jump on board with.  I was more than happy to buy some of their clothes but they have brought me on as one of their sponsored athletes which I think is just incredible.

GRRRL really lines up with the way I feel about women in the media and in society in general.  There are a lot of pictures and advertisements that tell women what they should look like. Being based in Thailand, I have been subject to fat shaming because I am not a skinny little Asian woman like they think I should be.

I am a proud athlete, who – yes – sometimes struggles with the way I look – but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me.  My body works.  I am grateful for that.  I am achieving things in my life that are not possible for some, for a variety of reasons.  And yes, I am not a skinny size 8, but I can dead lift 125kg no problem!

Beauty comes from within.  It comes from a smile, or a nice gesture.  It comes with respecting others.  It comes with believing in yourself.  We all do come in different packages, and I love that GRRRL is all about embracing that.

So!  Not only are GRRRL helping me out on their journey, they are going to help all of you too!  They are in the process of creating a discount code, which everyone can use to receive a 10% discount on their already modestly priced products.  Please see my Facebook page to keep updated for when this code is released.

If you want to know more about GRRRL and to check out their clothing line, head over to their website – https://grrrl.com/.  While you’re online, check out the GRRRL Facebook page too and give them a like!

Check out their launch campaign below, featuring one of the most bad ass females in the world.  I won’t tell you who – you’ll just have to watch and see!

‘Find a man who treats you like a queen.’ – A statement girls everywhere out there tell their girlfriends, and their girlfriends tell them… But what happens when a guy your seeing just CAN’T?

image

 

Meeting (or, to be more specific, catching feelings for) my guy, C, was one of the most unexpected things to happen when I swapped locations for my job. At the start, he was NOT what I would usually go for, actually the complete opposite to my ‘type’ but I felt the vibe and just went for it. However, knowing nothing about him, we agreed to the ‘friends with benefits’ thing… Even though (being a woman AND and empath) the vibe and chemistry I was feelin’ was likely to turn into THE FEELS. Which, of course, they did…. Before we had even started being friends with benefits.

Now, I straight out told him I was feeling it, and I said to him ‘there’s not a doubt in my mind that you don’t feel the same way too’. This conversation sparked one of the 500 conversations of ‘THE TALK’ we’ve had so far (it’s only been like 3 months? But that’s just me!!) where he initially told me ‘nope no way never going to happen’. But I stuck to my guns and persevered through it all and just stood back and waited, all while the regular insecurities set in AND he left his job at DJ’s where we both worked. Spark MAJOR insecurity and anxiety and abandonment issues (ha!) So fast forward a month and we’re hanging out and talking more than we did when we worked together: phone calls to one another 3 times a day minimum, shit talking, advice giving, crying and stressing over silly shit (me) and catching up to do poor people things since we are both so broke right now.

ANYWAY, back to the queen treating. I’ve written before about knowing that a man likes you by how much effort they put in- this STILL stands! But, don’t get me wrong, everyone is different. Also, sometimes clingy men are REALLY fkn annoying! My guy is still fresh-ish out of a long term relationship, which involved a young child… And a partner who hurt the poor muffin. Now, I know there are two sides to every story, but from my end and my understanding, the last relationship DEFINITELY impacts on any future partnerships… Especially in the early days of being single. (It also explains the slow pace of this ‘relationship’ haha!) I wasn’t expecting myself to get feelings for C at all… Let alone want him to be my boyfriend (which I’ve vowed to wait around for while he gets his own stuff together). Some may say I’m stupid. Even sometimes I think I’m stupid myself for waiting around for a guy…. A guy who sometimes distances himself. A guy who admits to insecurity. A guy who is no good with romance or affection. A guy who has 2 children. But so be it.

Everyone is different. Sometimes, when a man puts all he has into a relationship- all of his heart and soul, thinking ‘this is the one’, only to be told ‘I love you, but I am not IN LOVE with you anymore’ – the way he approaches a ‘next’ relationships is surely going to be a lot different than the way he approached the first one. He is going to be sitting there thinking ‘if I put all of my love and effort, heart and soul into a relationship the first time around and ended up putting my life into 2 suitcases and being crushed with that reality… Then fuck that!’ And I get it. I fucking get it. His whole definition of the word ‘girlfriend’ is changed. Tainted. Damaged. Ruined. So, it is only natural to back off a little when another girl is chasing you and wants to be your girlfriend. Fact, he won’t be out there treating you like a queen just yet. You, my dear, have to be the one to treat him like a king. Because as I said before, EVERYONE is different. Sometimes, our partner or potential partner speaks a different LOVE LANGUAGE to us. And that’s ok!

image

By ‘love language’ I mean the way we express love. Some say it, some express it through affection or other gestures… Like ‘treating a woman like a queen.’
But sometimes, when you see something in someone you have never seen in someone else, and you have basically everyone in your life begging you to give the fuck up on your guy but you still continue to wait because you know it will be good when you get there, you take the mini wins. Like him answering the phone when he’s with the kids to talk for 5 minutes… Or him just calling to ask how your day is… Or him just holding your hand while walking around the lake when you know he hates hand holding, or him opening up little by little, or him expressing that he trusts you… Those mini wins are my favourite.

It’s important to redefine the ‘girlfriend’ label to guys who have been hurt, and who’s trust has been damaged. And to be honest, I can’t wait to show C just how different I am and how different I can be, to completely turn the ‘girlfriend’ label on its head and create only a positive experience for him…. Stay tuned beautiful! X

 

IMG_3362 (1)

It’s 3:45am in mid-January of 2009. Even for an early bird like myself, my body attempts to protest.

I’m awakening by the sheer fact that I am uncomfortable, sore in every way possible, and exhausted. In addition to the pain of leaving my warm bed, I then have to slide on my still damp (from last night) uniform practice swimsuit and waterproof heart rate monitor. I go over and wake my mom up, who gets the pleasure of driving me at this God-awful hour before her full day of work starts. I am headed to the pool at 4:30am to make sure I am not late for my 4:45 am swim practice. If you were late, you’d get locked out. You’d allow your teammates, who were also your fiercest competitors, to get the extra training… those extra milliseconds that may be the difference between success or not.

A “normal” high school experience (I imagine) consisted of going to school, doing your homework, having relationships with your friends, participating in clubs, holding a job, and going to the school dances. That’s a lot. Ours included all that but also completing it in the slim-to-0 window you had between practicing 2-3 times a day (depending on if you swam for your high school team…that was additional and not replaceable for a Crimson practice). Whether you liked it or not, you had a 98% attendance policy to uphold if you wanted to stay at this elite level on this team. We practiced 8 times a week/ about 24-28 hours weekly. If you were going to add that element of risk by going to that dance or having that party you better make sure you were at 100% in the morning …excuses were nothing to Coach Spring. Crimson Aquatics was and is still one of the most elite teams in the U.S.

At Crimson, we lived by a few mottos: “the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle,” “always expect the unexpected” and “if you’re not doing it, someone else will be.”

These quotes taken in literal form consisted of our weekly 3×1000 on 11 minutes test set, 100,000 yards over 7 days of Christmas vacation training, Saturday practices including 6-mile runs followed kettle bells, TRX workouts and then 2 ½ hours of intense threshold sets, or having Coach Spring ask his young daughter at a weeknight practice what her favorite number was, to which we would do that amount of repeat 300’s (her favorite number was 20 by the way).

We would push our limits, wearing sneakers and ankle bands having to tread water hands-out style for 28 minutes because someone miss-counted a set, used nets (which were screen door-like objects that clipped to the lane line) which made sure we got past 7-meters off every wall, and did on-land dolphin and flutter kicks continuously for 14 minutes (due to people putting their feet on the ground during the usual 5 minutes of kicking) before we got in the pool. You had to check your ego at the door because on deck you were a nobody (including swimmers with trial cuts, or olympians). Your a$$ was going to get kicked.

Why would you stay? First off, nobody was forcing you to do this, you could leave at any time. Sure, you could go to a team with less commitment, but at the end of the day nothing would replace the hustle you were taught at Crimson.

Simply put, we expected excellence because we trained though anything that could ever scare us. You learned to improvise, adapt and overcome any obstacle you could ever dare to imagine.

This kind of intense training took place every day over the 11 years I was at Crimson Aquatics.

This is why I am confident in my predictions, because I am so confident in my preparations.

This is why I was able to go from no marathon swimming experience to accomplishing what swimming aficionados call “the greatest open water swimming challenge in the world” on my first try… with no protest during the swim.

This is the reason why when someone says: “naturally talented,” I laugh. This is 16 years of maximal effort.

When I pick my big swims (like the 120 miles of the Hudson), I know if its up to me, I can accomplish it. That’s not because I feel that 6 months of focused training will be enough, but it’s because I know I have had 11 years of being broken… which is why I am unbreakable now.

When you have that ammunition, no fear or doubt will ever be in your mind.

I dedicate this to the ladies who have been there through it all: Samantha Hall (College of the Saint Rose, Captain), Carah McClure (UVM, recent LA Marathon completion), Selene Chilton (CCSU), Kasey Chilton (CCSU), Danielle Tagarelis (Assumption College), and Allie Hall (MIT). We’ve laughed, cried, celebrated victories, supported each other through defeat and gone through training that nobody will ever fully understand. Even this post doesn’t do it justice.

To me, having this kind of unconditional friendship is the biggest success story. I owe a lot to you all, and words will never do that justice. I am incredibly proud of where we all are today.

IMG_2486

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 4.17.55 PM
logo-nonutty
19703_162671323883254_495429513_n
vomax-header

Recently I was asked in an interview what I thought my greatest strength was/is? Immediately I said, “my mental game has been crucial to my progress.”

In any endeavor, people will have opinions good or bad. It’s whether you give those opinions power or not that will determine your success. 10 times out of 10 you will suffer if you take to heart other people’s opinions and have an emotional reaction to them. A great strength of mine is to be able to observe, use logic, and be rational. If you let other’s opinions control you, you give them the power. I will never let that happen, and hope you won’t either.

17 years ago, I strapped on my Speedo Hydrospexs and slowly lowered myself into the water. My toes barely touched the 4 ft bottom but it was my first swim lesson and I was ready to go.

Secretly sliding off my arm floaties, fearless and flirting with danger, my mom knew it was time to learn proper swim safety and technique.

As the lessons went by I loved the feel of the water, the challenge each lap brought, and how I could dolphin kick like Ariel in the Little Mermaid (only to be cut short by getting heel kicked square in the nose to which I needed some medical attention to stop the bleeding).

I made major improvements over the few weeks of the lessons and had gone from a fearless novice, to a focused swimmer who managed to learn the basics of all 4 strokes. As the lessons were winding down, my hunger to keep swimming was just revving up. After diligently watching the older kids and hearing about the summer league team, I craved the opportunity.

However, when my mum asked the instructor about it after the lessons were done, the instructor responded: “In my opinion, I don’t think she’s good enough yet.”

My mum, being the saint that she is, didn’t want me to be discouraged, but also wasn’t going to sugarcoat it. In the car when I asked her what the instructor said she replied, “In her opinion, she thinks you need more practice, honey”

I didn’t give it too much thought, and I remember thinking to myself very plainly, “I’m going to work on my own to be able to swim on a team. I’m not doing any more lessons.”

If they close a door, crawl through the window…

After countless trips to the library checking out books on swimming mechanics… to hours and laps at Auntie A’s backyard pool with my dad serving as “coach,” we covered everything from putting on a bathing cap to technique. My dedication to making the team was unwavering and my skills improved. When my dad saw an ad in the Sunday Eagle Tribune about the top ranked New England U.S.A. club team (then called the Pirates) holding tryouts, I was there on a late August evening with my parents and older brother supporting on deck.

Long story short, my dedication was rewarded and I made the team. I had incredible coaches who truly believed in their swimmers (I’m looking at you Brenda Hogan and Patty Spring). I won state medals at 8-and-unders, broke a team relay record and even won the Coaches Award at the All-Team Banquet in the first year. I stayed with the Pirates (now Crimson Aquatics) under the guidance of even more renown coaches (Mike Spring, Sean Geary, Mark Taffe) for the following 12 years. (Blog post on that coming soon.)

Moral of the story, all that matters is how you see yourself and how you work towards the goals you set and proclaim. Opinions are opinions, and while they can be valuable, they can also be unnecessary noise.

As the Ancient Greek aphorism states at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, “know thyself.”

1238078_10151606811735976_644716764_n
IMG_6262

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 4.17.55 PM
19703_162671323883254_495429513_n
vomax-header
logo-nonutty

 

What’s up y’all!  I know it’s been ages since I blogged.  It’s like I’ve been in a perpetual state of writers block for months.  Or suffering from a massive case of ICBB.  (I can’t be bothered)

Today was an interesting day.  Most of you have been following me from the early 2008 days when I was blogging as ‘all natural ko’.  You may recall my first photoshoot with Tchalla Hawk way back in the day.  Well, today we shot for the umpteenth time in a row.  Every year we get better.  He knows when I’m going to blink, and I know I’m going to roll my eyes when he tells me to run for a photograph.

It’s weird to think back at how much I’ve changed on a personal level.  I’m somewhat confused nowadays.  Almost like I’m losing my identity a tiny bit.  Going from someone who flaunted her body around with pride from all of my hard work, and doing photoshoots primarily for a male audience who were ‘into’ female muscle, to now somewhat strictly focusing on empowering women, can be a complicated business.

_JCR1441

On one had, I feel like women can do, be, say, and act however they want and not get judged for it.  If I want to post a photo of myself in a thong leotard, with my asscheeks hanging out, then so be it.  But on the other hand, and especially after spending time with one of our 8 year old athletes a few weeks ago during our last GRRRL photo shoot, I’m not entirely sure what the hell I’m doing.

I know a lot of you, my readers (“my”… you know what I’m saying….) are here because you love female muscle.  I also know that a lot of you are here because you’ve enjoyed my journey.  You’ve enjoyed my years of spilling my truths.  You’ve watched me go from ‘muscle fetish godess’ where I blogged about how mind blown I was to discover this ‘muscle fetish’ world.  A world where men wanted to pay me 400-500 an hour to experience my strength in various ways, or worship certain muscle groups, WITHOUT sex- and yet, I’d spent my ENTIRE life trying to make my legs smaller so I could achieve the look of a Calvin Klein model or Kate Moss.  You read my distraught thoughts, and disbelief.  You read how I kicked so and so’s ass on the mats.  Or arm wrestling.  You also read about my real life experiences happening at the same time, such as me admitting to you that I’d been high on oxycontin for the past year, along with posting that photo of me crying on my blog.

You read about my journey in moving to Australia.  You read about my journey in being bullied by the mainstream media where I was labeled an “ex fetish porn star” while my husband was the CEO of a national rugby team.  You read my heartbreak and victory all in the same day, after being told by Big Brother Big Sister that I couldn’t mentor for them, and instead decided to launch Kamp Konfidence.  You THEN read all about my experiences with Kamp Konfidence.  You even read how I thought starting a MLM business (isagenix) was how I was going to fund Kamp K since I couldn’t get a church or any other institution to give me a cent because of my google wrap sheet.  You then read about my highs and lows during comp prep after deciding to get back into competing since I walked out on it and 2011 to instead pick up BJJ and crossfit.

And finally, you’ve read about launching a revolutionary clothing line called GRRRL.

And now, today, I can say that shit has changed.  and thank Goddess it has-  I’m fortunate to have this blog, and to have learned tools in 12 step recovery like taking my inventory on a daily basis (or at least do my best to…. sometimes I may go a few weeks before I stop and write in my journal.  or months, as you know, before I blog again)…

But it’s through taking an inventory, I can realise things like today being a very unusual photoshoot.  Normally, I’m doing everything possible to flex muscles.  To show as much skin as possible.  To look ripped up and buff.  It’s been my driving force for as long as I can remember.  But today, knowing that I’m somewhat morphing into a “lady” … ok, more like a GRRRLlady, was a really weird feeling.  I’ve never done a photoshoot with the intension of just ‘being’.

Finding that balance between being 110% OK with being soft and feminine (and I might add, this is an ongoing process.  Finding self love is NEVER done, in my experience. For me, there are highs and lows.  Like taking pre workout with DMMA or without it- some days you’re cracked out, and some days not so much <<lol>> ).  I’m still able to exude strength and power, without flexing or being ripped up.  It doesn’t have to be LOUD.  It can be silently spoken.  I like to use the analogy of Holly and Rhonda’s demonstrated personality last November.  Holly didn’t need to say a single word.  I don’t need to be in a sports bra to show off my arms.  You CAN SEE THAT SHIT though those sleeves.  <lol> But, strength doesn’t always come in the way of muscle.  It comes in being humble.  It comes from having integrity.  It comes from endeavouring to empower ALL females, even when they are acting like a bag of dicks.   It’s continuing to fight for your mission and vision, without stopping no matter WHAT-

After seeing myself in dresses, and some dresses that weren’t really flattering whatsoever, I was somewhat surprised to find myself not feeling disgusted with myself.  As most of you know, if I don’t see visible muscles on myself, I feel un-attractive.  Hence, why I was driven to launch Kamp Konfidence, and now GRRRL.

It’s crazy- I have so much IP after running Kamp Konfidence.  All of the stuff I taught to teenage girls, is completely applicable to women.  I’m happy we put it down to launch grrrl, because I truly feel that the two are meant to be intertwined.

I see so many other women who have had the SAME exact experiences and hardships as I, and know that they will make amazing facilitators for Kamp.  I enjoy being the MFCEO at the moment, but soon I’ll be ready to hit the road. My heart is sharing and teaching.  I am ready to share this IP with females across the globe.  Teaching them the 5 habits, lessons and principles that lead to the development of self love.

It’s time to change the game.  Just as I can now morph into being photographed in dresses and be OK with seeing myself not defined with bulging muscles, women across the world now have confirmation (that there are HEAPS of other women who “get it”) and permission to unleash their inner beast, safety (because you know there’s safety in numbers), and collectively find self acceptance and awareness, and finally, self love.  Collectively-

Wow…. this blog is a hot mess.  Now knowing that I have more women on my side than men (you know I love the men…. and most days I think I am one lol!), I feel like my mission has finally hit a tipping point.  I feel like we’re moving forward, full steam ahead.  I cannot wait to start filling auditoriums full of women, and sharing ALL of the information and experiences that I’ve had to help them (you) move forward in your journey in finding joy.

I love you grrrl.  And of course, all of you mens out there who have undoubtedly supported me year after year.

xoKO

The post First “Normal” Photoshoot appeared first on Kortney Olson >> Konfidence By Kortney.