There are a lot of opinions and discussions out there about what it takes to be a champion.  This applies to mostly everything.  When people reference athletes though, the most common topics to come up are things like how hard someone trains, the way they train, how they treat their body, what they do for recovery perhaps, and finally, their mindset.
“Champions make habits, not excuses.”  “Champions go the extra mile/round.”  “Champions don’t quit.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar to you?
I wanted to write about this after seeing the UFC 207 post fight press conference with Amanda Nunes?  Did you all catch it?  It honestly made me love her even more and it spoke volumes to me about her frame of mind and why I consider he to be a true champion.
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Now let’s keep in mind how hyped this fight was.  It was rumoured months before the UFC confirmed it and it was high up on the list of fan requests.  Rousey making her big ‘comeback’ after a 13 month layoff and Nunes defending her belt for the first time.  After a victory like this, in environment that encourages smack talk, it would have been so easy for Nunes to be glib or arrogant in her responses.  Some people are immediately commented on Nunes ‘attitude’ post fight claiming she was arrogant in her interview with Joe Rogan in the cage.  I personally felt like she exuded confidence, walking that fine, sometimes indistinguishable line between arrogance and confidence.  At the end of the day though, haters gonna hate.
In the post fight press conference, Nunes fielded some pretty awkward yet obvious questions and I believe she handled things exceptionally well.
When she was asked how she felt about the promotion for UFC 207 being so one sided Nunes said that she had expected it.  She acknowledged that Rousey was the draw card for this fight and went on to say that she had asked Dana White for this fight and she ok with the promotion running in this fashion.  In return, it was in her favour to fight a big name.
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Nunes was asked about how she felt about the pay discrepancies and she said she was happy. She didn’t care. It allows her to buy a house, to look after her family and to help her take care of people that have helped her along the way.  It is the largest pay Nunes has received for any fight and she was just happy.  She said ‘I don’t know (how much I will be paid), but it’s gonna be a lot of money’ as she grinned from ear to ear.
She was asked if she felt bad for Rousey and Tate, having potentially retired the two biggest names in the division.  Her response?  ‘There is a lot of talent in this division and people need to see that.  Now people won’t only be talking about Rousey or Nunes.’
When asked about who should be her next opponent, Nunes says she doesn’t care. She will be ready for anyone.
It is so clear that Nunes is a passionate, driven fighter.  I think we all know that the reality is, fighting seldom makes you rich and famous.  Nunes talked and acknowledged that her win was not only good for her, but for the other talented women who have busted their guts getting to the UFC.  Of course she wants some recognition in the future, but I feel like that is just plain logic.
On the opposite side to this, it is no secret that I am not a Rousey fan.  Even when she was famous and on her winning streak I was not a fan.  However, taking 13 months off after a loss (and granted a very nasty knockout) is not, in my opinion, how a champion thinks.  A 13 month layoff is not something (barring surgeries and serious injuries) that I can really comprehend.  Losses are a part of any competitive sport.  And in fighting, when you look at it, when you walk into that cage (or ring), there are only really two possible outcomes (failing a draw which is incredibly unlikely at this level).   You win or you lose.
To be fair, Rousey is not totally to blame.  The UFC have enabled her to behave as she pleases.  They have enabled her extreme ‘time off’ and allowed her to shirk her media responsibilities.  And now, after yet another loss, it is likely she will not return to MMA.
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When Tate lost to Nunes, she still showed up to the post fight conference.  Tate being another example of an athlete who has the grace and mentality of a champion.  Rousey was no where to be found after both of her losses.
I’m stoked to see Nunes as champion again.  I think she is the prime example of the hard work, commitment and mentality that it takes to be a champion.  Every athlete is different.  Every athlete trains in a different way.  I would just like to see more champions conduct themselves in the way that Nunes does.

Given the robust talent in the greater Boston area, I am honored and humbled to be chosen as the Eagle Tribune’s 2016 Sportsman of the Year.

The Eagle Tribune has been in my corner every step of the journey. I am grateful for the support and friendship that I have developed with them.

Check out the article here

Or by clicking on this link!

http://www.eagletribune.com/sports/local_sports/sportsman-of-the-year/article_86a18317-eaed-5134-bcd9-56f5ad4a609e.html

Thank you all for the continued positivity and love. It fuels me in a way I cannot describe. Special thanks to my mom, dad, and brother, as none of this would be possible without you.

Thank you Crimson Aquatics and Andy Cannon at NorthEast Rehabilitation for keeping me on my “110% game.” Thank you NYOW for putting on a world class marathon swimming event, 8 Bridges.

Thank you to my sponsors: GRRRL Clothing, Vermont Peanut Butter, BRL Sports Nutrition, Knuckleheads Apparel and VOMAX…you have taken my training and performance to the next level.

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It’s no secret that this year has been more challenging than the first two I had spent abroad.  But when everything happens in so many small, unconnected incidences, it’s quite confronting when someone forces you to look back at the challenges you’ve faced.

I always try to be positive and move forward – always looking for new opportunities if I believe I can be doing better – doing more.  That is, after all, how I ended up in Berlin.

My time in Thailand has allowed me to become a complete master in compartmentalizing my emotions.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have my moments – hell – I have my days.  I cry, I throw tantrums, I feel sorry for myself and I just want to throw in the towel.  The problem now is that I am so used to burying my head and pushing forward that sometimes that I fail to take the time to acknowledge the challenges I have had and the impact they have had on me mentally.

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This year started out in pretty bad fashion and was a constant roller coaster of injuries, let downs and questions over my own personal motivations and if I could justify to keep going down this road.

After changing gyms at the end of 2015, I was so hopeful and optimistic moving into 2016.  I was training under James McSweeney at the newly opened Unit 27 Technical Fight Factory and the year was full of promise.  After taking some time off for treatments to my knee and shoulder I came back ready to rock and roll.  Not a month into training, I was kicked in the hand and my 5th finger snapped at a 90 degree angle.  It took 3 months of xrays and visits to the surgeon to ensure that my finger and the fractured bones inside had healed enough to put my hand back in a glove.

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Before my hand even had a chance to heal our gym was shut down.  I remained diligent in my responses to the reasons behind the fall of UTFF but my friends close to me know that I experienced one of the biggest betrayals in my career to date.  My coach vanished – moved to another country and never said a word.  He left behind an entire fight team who were relying on him and because I had been training with him the longest, everyone turned to me for answers.

Fast forward a few months and I was happily back at AKA.  I had joined the MMA program and although far behind in certain technical aspects, I was still managing to hold my own and earned the respect of my fellow team mates.

Just as I had gotten back I was struck down with a random viral infection that had me out for a week.  A few trips to the clinic and lots of IV bags later, I was slowly getting back into training.

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Not long after this, I was finally settling in to the program at AKA and it was there I suffered my first ever concussion.  As per most training incidents, it was a complete accident.  I was in the midst of preparing to be matched for a fight though so stopping wasn’t an option.

2 days later I am called to fight Muay Thai on short notice and after much deliberation, I decided to take it.  I hadn’t earned any money in 6 months.  And most of all I was hungry.  And fed up.  I just wanted to fight.  So I took a fight on 24 hours notice after already training 4 hours that morning.

The next night I fought and walk away with a win, a second concussion and 5 stitches.

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Yes.  I can hear you all now.  The eye rolls.  The head shakes.  The ‘oh what a silly girl’.

None of you are wrong.  I still roll my eyes and shake my head when I think about it.

Luckily the stitches alone meant a week of rest which I happily took.  The head trauma was extremely noticeable so I was happy to take some time to relax.

The problem in Thailand is that no one checks on you or makes you see a doctor.  No one checks before you fight to make sure that you are ok.  No one questions when you decide to return to training, it’s almost expected that you just will.  And for someone like me, who has been such an active fighter for these years, these things make for a bad combination.  The fact that I could find myself justifying training like this will haunt me forever.

At this time I was having issues with my left ankle.  I suspected stress fractures as this was an injury I had suffered on numerous occasions before and everything about the injury felt familiar.  But I pushed forward, still hoping for my first MMA fight to come.

About 2 weeks after the Muay Thai fight, I suffer a third (yet mild) concussion.  Mostly a direct result of not resting for long enough.  It was an unfortunate accident in 4 ounce gloves that landed me out again for another week.  During this time off I went to visit the doctor to have my ankle looked at.  Xrays showed I had stress fractures in my left ankle that were approximately 3 weeks old.

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I was set to very limited training for a few weeks following meaning no fights, only light boxing and no weights or Muay Thai.  I tried to use this time to continue to work on my appalling boxing skills, but unfortunately my limited movement made sparring extremely difficult.

Finally I received the all clear to resume, but in my time off I had booked a 6 week trip to Europe to reassess what I was doing with my career.

I ending up booking a fight 2 days before I due to fly out.  Naturally I took it on 8 days notice.  It was a local Queens Cup event but I felt it was a good way to end out training before taking a big break.

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After a solid win, despite being incredibly unfit, I ventured to Europe where I travelled, at good food, tried out different gyms and cities and eventually found my new home at Spitfire.

When I look back on things, I should have cut my losses and gone home.  I had many moments where I wanted to.  I spent most of the year in complete angst over the time I had spent chasing what seemed like a ridiculous and impossible dream.

I was so unsure of myself and my ability to make good decisions moving forward.  The only thing I knew was that my time in Thailand had come to an end.

I had spent two weeks in Berlin on my holiday.  1 week enjoying the sights and the nightlife and another week of training in what was to be my new training home.  It didn’t take me long to realise that a change in pace and scenery was just what I was needing.

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The European circuit is full of competition in my weight class and I figured it was a great way to fulfill my lifelong wish to live and travel in Europe, and also take on a range of new opponents both in MMA and Muay Thai.  K1 also remains an option and experience for the near future.

I’m now a few weeks in to my time here in Berlin and I am loving it.  Unfortunately though, I have since suffered my 4th concussion for the year in a freak BJJ accident.  (a post on this to come).

It was a truly frightening experience for me because I know that there are only so many times that this can happen before it ends my career.  I remember just lying on the mat with a stream of tears rolling down my cheeks.  I couldn’t stop it.  In that moment I felt so useless and defeated.

I’m certain everyone thought I was physically hurt, but the stress of another hit was a little more than I could bear at the time.  Moving countries, leaving all my friends in Thailand and Australia and being benched again.  I was at my limit.

After a night in hospital under observation I was released and took a week off to rest.  (I was actually banned from the gym but let’s call it rest ;)).

I’m finally back into training, with the year coming to a close.  No rest for the wicked though as I have now been cleared to spar and fight pending a second doctors check once I get matched.

It has been a weird and refreshing change to be in a gym where my well being comes first.  Not just to my manager and trainers, but even to my training partners.  “Health comes first”.

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Being in Berlin, starting my life all over AGAIN.  It’s not without it’s challenges.  But I definitely feel good about where I am.  Even though I am so new, I have been so supported over the past few weeks and the knowledge that the fighters in my gym have to offer is just incredible.

Bring on 2017.  I’m ready to take things to the next level.

Phuket has become an increasingly popular training destination.  Not only for Muay Thai fighters but for health and fitness addicts, and people wanting to improve their general health in some way.  It’s actually a great deal.  You can come and train, eat well, and soak up the wonderful island atmosphere, all at a fraction of what it might cost you at home.

After almost 3 years on the island, I’ve noticed quite a few mistakes that people make on their first training trip to Phuket and I have selected what I believe to be the most important, and have included a few tips to help the new traveler out.

“I’m going to train 15 sessions a week, every week.  I’ve got it all planned out!”

I genuinely enjoy people’s enthusiasm when they get here.  Not only that, I also understand it.  People arrive with the best intentions but often feel defeated a few days in.

The humidity in Phuket is almost always high.  Much higher than most have experienced or expected.  Coupled with those travelling into our high season and the scorching heat, those first few days (sometimes even the first week) can take some time to adjust to.

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Many people start off really strong, fighting through the jet lag and the heat (or whatever other obstacles may be in their way) only to fall short a few days in, exhausted and unable to train.

Don’t underestimate the change in climate!  Start of a little slower than you normally would.  Let your body adapt to the climate and training in these conditions.  It might take a few days, then you can train as hard as you like.

“Water is adequate for hydration”

For those of us who have acclimated over time, this might be true.  But for those coming from abroad, it’s a common mistake to make.

Training sessions are often conducted outdoors  at times where the heat and humidity is not too extreme.  Most people sweat just from being outside, let alone pushing their bodies.

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I have seen many people suffer from cramping, nausea and extreme exhaustion during their sessions without understanding the why.

It’s difficult to replace the amount of water you lose through sweat each session.  Electrolytes are a cheap and simple way to avoid symptoms of dehydration and it always surprises me to see how many people don’t actually use any.  Head to your local pharmacy or Supacheap and ask for some.  Even your local 7/11 will stock some.

“Beach erryday!”

For those training 1 session a day, going to the beach (when the weather is good) is very realistic.  For those training multiple sessions a day, you might find this a struggle.

You usually have a few hours in between training sessions.  Most will spend the first hour or so after training, showering and eating.

Hitting the beach in between every training session begins to take it’s toll for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, your rest period is usually in the middle of the day, right when it’s the hottest.  Why?  Because most people don’t want to train when it is that hot.  So when you hit the beach at that time, be prepared to fry yourself.  Most only last a hour or 2 at that time.

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Second to this, the heat zaps your energy.  A combination of extreme heat and possibly a little dehydration can leave you feeling exhausted, as can swimming in the ocean!

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen people do it.  Chill on the beach every day in between sessions.  But usually it is people who are only here for a week wanting to maximise their time and experience.

The beaches are beautiful and relaxing, just be sure that if you go, to stay adequately hydrated and make sure you leave enough time to rest and fuel up for your next session.

“Thai food is so healthy!  It’s going to be easy for me to lose weight”

I myself fell under this trap when I first moved here.  Thai food is so delicious and cheap, it’s difficult to resist sometimes.

People often think that Thai food is all vegetables and rice – which to be fair is not completely wrong.  What most don’t realise is that a lot of the food is laden with MSG and sugar.

All Thai dishes contain sugar.  All.  Even their omelettes have sugar in them.  Luckily, if you are aware of this, you can request your dish without.

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MSG is the tricky one.  Here in Phuket, some cafes are advertising that they don’t use MSG.  Because of the rather healthy clientele and repeated requests to make food without it, it’s become easier to find places that no longer cook with MSG.

In addition to the MSG and sugar, traditional Thai meals don’t have a good macro balance.  You get almost 2 cups of rice with your meal (most people mistake it for one) and almost no protein (approx 50 – 70 grams per serve).

I’m not a huge advocate of stuffing yourself with protein, but if your nutrition approach requires a high level of protein, you’re best to stick with the BBQ proteins available.

In my experience, especially with grappling and MMA, every gym has a different style and program.  Most of what I know I have learnt through tips from other people or from watching fights on TV.  When everyone is on the same program it puts you on par with other students.  This recent change in gyms has really highlighted a lot of technical gaps and gaps in my knowledge.

My grappling is still very new.  Yes I dabbled from time to time in Melbourne, but nothing significant enough to warrant mention.  In all honesty I mostly went to spend time with my grappling buddies and to take a break from getting punched in the face.

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When I left Thailand I finally felt as though I had turned a corner in both my grappling and MMA sparring.  I went home and rolled with a good friend who had trained with me in Thailand earlier on in the year.  He had a lot of good feedback about my development in the few months in between which was a relief to hear.

Fast forward to Berlin and I don’t even understand a lot of the warm up.  I feel like the broken link in the chain slowing my partner down during drilling.  It’s the first time where things have been shown to me and I can’t put them into action.  It’s so frustrating to feel like I am starting all over again.

Fortunately, I am still a white belt and most people have exceptional patience with me but I’m eager to catch up with this program and to start developing again.  It’s a strange thing having your rolls be ok, but having no technical training against technical grapplers really shows.14753713_1814485248827455_8807372661076320949_o

I had my first sparring session over the weekend which was nice.  I almost backed out but thought it might be nice to see how I go on my feet – do something that I am more comfortable with.

One of greatest things from the past few months at AKA has been getting in MMA sparring 3 times a week.  I relied heavily on my clinch in my fights and never took the time to develop my striking until this year.

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It was a very uncomfortable beginning.  A few (accidental) concussions and some quiet (and some not so quiet) tears.  After a few sessions you decide to quit or not be the punching bag and I went with the latter.  I worked with people I trusted, people who would push me, and I grew.  My striking still has a long way to go but I am feeling a lot more confident on my feet.  Even in my exhausted and jetlagged state, I felt comfortable standing and trading.

It’s always difficult being the new kid at a gym – it takes time to see where people are at, what is acceptable in training and how hard people will push you.  Today was a great way to help me find my feet although I still feel like I was a few steps out of place.

I’m, however, definitely in the right spot for now.  I feel completely supported in my career and I have some really talented training partners.  I joined a team and a family and I’m excited to see what lays ahead for us all.

I am hoping to announce my next fight soon but this next week will be spent getting on the new program – getting some of my fitness back – and hopefully shaking my awful jetlag!

Stay tuned!

There should be no surprises when I say that moving back into the Western World was not without a little reverse culture shock.  It has, however, surprised me by the things that have taken some adjusting to and the things I am really enjoying!

Drinking tap water should have been the greatest thing in the world.  But I have been so wired to not drink tap water now that I kept forgetting that I could.  Couple that with the cold weather and I was extremely dehydrated my first week here.  The water tastes a bit funny to me but I am also not sure if that is just the taste of Berlin water or if I’m just so used to drinking the ‘recycled’ water in Thailand.

Everything is closed on Sunday’s here which is still throwing me through a loop.  It’s my only day off and I want to run errands but I can’t.  I was told over the weekend that this is impossible here (yes – the word used was impossible).  Aside from the local Spati’s (late night corner shops) almost everything is closed.

I have traded in my motorbike for a push bike which I am actually loving.  It’s so quick and easy to ride around here (although moderately terrifying because everything still feels backwards to me).  The extra exercise is great although I have been using it to justify eating bread and soft baked pretzels which is not so good.

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German efficiency is beginning to look mythical to me as the formal process to register my existence and apply for my visa is a stressful and taxing one.  Even with a lawyer it’s a difficult process and you always seem to need one thing in order to do another and vice versa.  I don’t know if this is simply the ‘German way’ or if they are trying to discourage the (quickly growing) number of expatriates living in the city.  A question for another day.

I have been surprised by the number of people who don’t speak English here.  On most accounts, general consensus was that almost everyone speaks English here.  This is simply not the case.  It makes training interesting because there’s a lot of hard work being done, and people shouting in German.  Sparring is particularly frightening with all the German yelling.

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I have to be very mindful to not fall into the lazy trap here.  Particularly with these colder months ahead.  Part of my moving here was to explore Europe and enjoy Berlin so I need to be diligent in doing so.  The two days off that I have had I have spent doing some touristy things.  A trip to the Zoo and the Berliner Dom have been my first two pits stops and I am planning to take a trip over the Christmas weekend – hopefully to somewhere I have not visited before.

Grocery shopping is challenging because I have had to Google translate a lot of things.  Meaning I spend a lot of time at the grocery store and often leave without things that I went in for (and a lot of things I didn’t go in for).  I have had some groceries delivered online so I could translate my orders on my computer but there is a noticeable price difference for doing so.

I have joined the ‘Free Advice Berlin’ group on Facebook where I can ask random questions and get advice.  It’s been very helpful in me avoiding committing any cultural or social faux pas, simply from reading other people’s questions.

Socks.  How great are socks!?!? Especially the warm fluffy kind.  And shoes!  I don’t even know where my flip flops are!  It’s a bizarre thing to be enjoying it, but I am!

There is a nice casual culture here which really suits my style.  My boxes still haven’t arrived from Thailand though so I am wearing mostly gym clothes and was forced to buy new jeans.  It could be worse, but I will enjoy having my things when they finally do arrive.

It is COLD!  But shockingly, I am enjoying it – provided there are no gushing winds.  It’s been a really pleasant change after walking on the sun for 3 years.  It takes an extra few minutes to get out the door because of all the layers I have to put on, but all in all, it’s not so bad.  I have more difficulty regulating my temperature between the initial cold, warming up by walking and riding, more cold, then extremely well insulated buildings.  I will get there eventually.

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DHL and other package delivery services are free to leave your parcels with your neighbours which weirds me out a little bit.  So far it’s been fine and it appears to be common practice.  Definitely not something I would want to have happen in Thailand.

The party scene and nightlife is not as obvious as I had expected.  Turns out Berlin has a great nightlife, but is, for the most part, a regular city where people get up and go to work.  Who knew!

I have managed to find a lot of random things that I thought would be difficult to find.  The other day I even found Matcha powder which was a huge win for me.

Wheat free bread is a thing here.  And gluten levels in regular bread are low.  So little to no allergic response to bread has been fantastic.  Very pleased to have been shown where the wheat free bread is though (hopefully when I go back there, the person can speak English…).

Berlin is proving to be quite a lonely city but again, I am not sure if this is due to the weather and being new.  I expect that summer will be a very different story.

All in all the move has gone well.  I love that I am here and I am insanely happy.  It was the right call for me personally and I’m excited by the opportunities that lie ahead.

I always liked to dabble in jiu jitsu.  It has often been a welcome break from my striking training, and a large number of my friends back home are grapplers, so it was a great way to spend time with them and have a little fun in between fights.  (pajamas and cuddles!  I mean, c’mon!)

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Going into MMA, I know I need to work my ground game A LOT.  I am far behind the pack, but with no regrets as I have spent this time developing my striking skills.  In the beginning I struggled to find the motivation to train consistently because I naturally wanted to go back to what I knew.

I really enjoy live rolling.  I always have.  But it was never really enough to keep me interested.  How was it that I spent 2 years doing 12 Muay Thai sessions a week but 5 BJJ sessions a week seemed impossible?  Why would anyone want to do that?

Fighting on the side has meant constant interruptions to my BJJ training, which personally, I haven’t minded.  I have felt that by taking a few consecutive days off the mats, that I come back and new things click into place and make sense to me.  It gives my tired old body some time to catch up to my brain.

One of the biggest problems I faced, was that I have always loathed training in a Gi.  Mostly because I got choked out with my own Gi a lot (which is both hilarious and frustrating) and I felt like no gi was the better fit for MMA.  I used that as an excuse to avoid training in a Gi.  Also, if I’m being totally honest, having a valid reason to buy colourful spats and superhero rash guards was also a big draw card….

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Before I went on my holidays, I found a new enjoyment in my BJJ sessions.  It didn’t matter how tired I was, I didn’t want to miss out on a roll.  I put it down to it still being so new, that the novelty would wear off.  But to my surprise – it hasn’t.

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One of my friends tagged me in an article we were discussing last night, which I felt excited to read.  The BJJ community is so large and there is a huge amount of information out there, passed down by people, once walking in our shoes.

I’ve been searching for tape to buddy tape my busted finger and to protect my poor poor spidey fingers because I love spider guard drills so much that I don’t want to miss out because my fingers are raw or bleeding.

I recently watched some great videos on foot and ankle control and guard passes because I get stuck there.  And then I realised.  It’s happened.  I’ve turned into a BJJ girl.

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I had that great light bulb moment where I rolled with a blue belt, and used his Gi to manipulate his and my own movements and finally understood why people enjoyed Gi training so much.  There are so many creative ways to maneuver, submit and roll in a Gi!

It’s nice to be able to continue learning and growing so much and doing what I love.  I am shocked that I have found so much love for this sport and I’m excited to keep pushing and seeing where I end up.

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I’m joining an amazing team in Berlin next month where I hope to start working towards my blue belt (something which never really mattered to me before).

Maybe it’s time to buy that second Gi….

For the longest time I was watching my friends (particularly in America and Australia) post about their gravity float or sensory deprivation sessions.  I knew a little about it from listening to a Joe Rogan podcast but had resigned to the fact that probably would not have access to, living in Thailand.

We lucked out here in Phuket when Joe and Steve came along and opened the first gravity float in Thailand – about a 10 minute ride from my house.

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I was quite curious about the whole thing so I booked in for one of their opening specials – an hour float for 1000 baht (probably less than half the price of what I would pay at home).

I was greeted by Joe and Steve and sat for a quick chat while the tank was put through it’s routine clean after the previous persons float.  They gave me a run down of the different experiences that people have had their first float and some sage advice for being in there.

Once the float tank was ready, I was ushered into a room where the tank is housed and am provided with a number of items to assist me with my float.  Ear plugs, pillow, Vaseline (for any nicks or cuts), a small towel to hang inside (in case I needed to wipe my face) and a large towel for when I was finished.  I am given a run down of the tank itself, how to get in and out safely, and the bell to listen out for when my time was up.  I was also shown the ‘panic button’, should I, for any reason, need to get out but can’t.

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Awesome!  I’m set to go!

I climbed into the tank, carefully placing my small towel on the rack, and closed the hatch.

Now I don’t know what I was thinking, but my first thought was ‘sh*t!  It’s really dark in here’.  Yes.  Yes it is.  Because it’s a sensory deprivation tank (d’uh!).

I slowly slide down in the tank and try to let myself float.  Easy enough so far!

I closed my eyes to try to visualise the fight I had coming up in a few days, and noticed that my body was slowly floating in a circular motion.  I went to reach for the handle bar on the hatch door, and couldn’t find it.  In a moment or slight panic and opened my eyes, looking for the dim outline of the hatch.  My eyes didn’t appear to be adjusting at all so I quickly sunk my butt to the floor to sit up and in all of my awkwardness, splashing myself in the eyes with the high sodium water.

I slowly found my way back to my starting point, attempted to flush out my eyes with the water bottle provided inside the tank, and continued to float.

I eventually found a few markers inside the tank to give myself an idea of where I was inside the tank.  Eventually I just forgot about it and continued with my float.  I figured there is only one way out!  I’d find it when I needed to.

I had a moment where I was fully focused.  I could see myself at the stadium, getting my hands wrapped, warming up…. and then I was thinking about my cat… and then thinking about training… and then thinking about my personal life… then thinking about needing a new media kit.  My mind went crazy.

I felt really frustrated that I couldn’t focus on what I wanted to.  In turn, it made me restless and I began squirming around in the tank.  I developed an insane impatience because I had no idea how long I had left and I felt a sudden urge to get out.

I convinced myself to just sit still but my anxiety got the better of me and I sat up and opened the hatch door.  I sat there for about 10 seconds and told myself it couldn’t be too far off finishing, so I took a long, deep breath, sunk back in and closed my eyes.  Next thing I knew the bell was sounding.  My time was up.

I hopped out and showered and took a seat out front with Joe and Steve.  They were both so eager to find out what my experience was like.  I told them I was so disappointed that I didn’t get what I thought I would from it, but they both assured me that it was ok and that my next float would be better.

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When I went back for my second float, I had a lot going on in my personal life and it showed.  I couldn’t focus on my next fight at all.  In a moment of frustration I told myself to just let it go.  What ever was going to pop up from my subconscious – let it.  Surprisingly enough, it helped me clear a lot of things out of my mind, which in turn helped me focus on what I needed to be ready for my fight.

I still couldn’t lie still for the entire hour.  What I estimate to be about 45 minutes into the float, I started moving my body.  Rolling my hips from side to side, stretching my arms and legs.  It was actually quite nice and I wasn’t bothered by it at all.  I felt a sense of accomplishment that I sat still for so long.  Meditation is not something I have ever mastered, nor is sitting still.

I didn’t feel panicked or anxious this float which made the hour pass by quickly.

By the time I went in for my third float, I was mentally and personally in a better place.  I was again, close to another fight, but I had such a different experience during my float.  I had a more calm sensation and was able to focus fully on my fight.  I spent my time visualizing all the things I wanted to achieve in my fight, combinations I had been working on and how I could implement them.

I still ended up moving around and stretching from time to time, but mostly because I was so stiff and sore from training that I wanted to increase the physical benefits of my float as well.

Aside from learning how to calm my mind and sort through my subconscious, I noticed a significant difference in my recovery and the extreme relaxation I felt after my floats meant that I came home and had some of the best sleep of my life.

I’m sad to be moving away from Float Indigo – if I had it my way, it would be part of my weekly routine.  Hopefully I can find something similar in Berlin!

To anyone visiting Phuket, I highly recommend you check these guys out.

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In my experience, especially with grappling and MMA, every gym has a different style and program.  Most of what I know I have learnt through tips from other people or from watching fights on TV.  When everyone is on the same program it puts you on par with other students.  This recent change in gyms has really highlighted a lot of technical gaps and gaps in my knowledge.

My grappling is still very new.  Yes I dabbled from time to time in Melbourne, but nothing significant enough to warrant mention.  In all honesty I mostly went to spend time with my grappling buddies and to take a break from getting punched in the face.

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When I left Thailand I finally felt as though I had turned a corner in both my grappling and MMA sparring.  I went home and rolled with a good friend who had trained with me in Thailand earlier on in the year.  He had a lot of good feedback about my development in the few months in between which was a relief to hear.

Fast forward to Berlin and I don’t even understand a lot of the warm up.  I feel like the broken link in the chain slowing my partner down during drilling.  It’s the first time where things have been shown to me and I can’t put them into action.  It’s so frustrating to feel like I am starting all over again.

Fortunately, I am still a white belt and most people have exceptional patience with me but I’m eager to catch up with this program and to start developing again.  It’s a strange thing having your rolls be ok, but having no technical training against technical grapplers really shows.14753713_1814485248827455_8807372661076320949_o

I had my first sparring session over the weekend which was nice.  I almost backed out but thought it might be nice to see how I go on my feet – do something that I am more comfortable with.

One of greatest things from the past few months at AKA has been getting in MMA sparring 3 times a week.  I relied heavily on my clinch in my fights and never took the time to develop my striking until this year.

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It was a very uncomfortable beginning.  A few (accidental) concussions and some quiet (and some not so quiet) tears.  After a few sessions you decide to quit or not be the punching bag and I went with the latter.  I worked with people I trusted, people who would push me, and I grew.  My striking still has a long way to go but I am feeling a lot more confident on my feet.  Even in my exhausted and jetlagged state, I felt comfortable standing and trading.

It’s always difficult being the new kid at a gym – it takes time to see where people are at, what is acceptable in training and how hard people will push you.  Today was a great way to help me find my feet although I still feel like I was a few steps out of place.

I’m, however, definitely in the right spot for now.  I feel completely supported in my career and I have some really talented training partners.  I joined a team and a family and I’m excited to see what lays ahead for us all.

I am hoping to announce my next fight soon but this next week will be spent getting on the new program – getting some of my fitness back – and hopefully shaking my awful jetlag!

Stay tuned!

Phuket has become an increasingly popular training destination.  Not only for Muay Thai fighters but for health and fitness addicts, and people wanting to improve their general health in some way.  It’s actually a great deal.  You can come and train, eat well, and soak up the wonderful island atmosphere, all at a fraction of what it might cost you at home.

After almost 3 years on the island, I’ve noticed quite a few mistakes that people make on their first training trip to Phuket and I have selected what I believe to be the most important, and have included a few tips to help the new traveler out.

“I’m going to train 15 sessions a week, every week.  I’ve got it all planned out!”

I genuinely enjoy people’s enthusiasm when they get here.  Not only that, I also understand it.  People arrive with the best intentions but often feel defeated a few days in.

The humidity in Phuket is almost always high.  Much higher than most have experienced or expected.  Coupled with those travelling into our high season and the scorching heat, those first few days (sometimes even the first week) can take some time to adjust to.

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Many people start off really strong, fighting through the jet lag and the heat (or whatever other obstacles may be in their way) only to fall short a few days in, exhausted and unable to train.

Don’t underestimate the change in climate!  Start of a little slower than you normally would.  Let your body adapt to the climate and training in these conditions.  It might take a few days, then you can train as hard as you like.

“Water is adequate for hydration”

For those of us who have acclimated over time, this might be true.  But for those coming from abroad, it’s a common mistake to make.

Training sessions are often conducted outdoors  at times where the heat and humidity is not too extreme.  Most people sweat just from being outside, let alone pushing their bodies.

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I have seen many people suffer from cramping, nausea and extreme exhaustion during their sessions without understanding the why.

It’s difficult to replace the amount of water you lose through sweat each session.  Electrolytes are a cheap and simple way to avoid symptoms of dehydration and it always surprises me to see how many people don’t actually use any.  Head to your local pharmacy or Supacheap and ask for some.  Even your local 7/11 will stock some.

“Beach erryday!”

For those training 1 session a day, going to the beach (when the weather is good) is very realistic.  For those training multiple sessions a day, you might find this a struggle.

You usually have a few hours in between training sessions.  Most will spend the first hour or so after training, showering and eating.

Hitting the beach in between every training session begins to take it’s toll for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, your rest period is usually in the middle of the day, right when it’s the hottest.  Why?  Because most people don’t want to train when it is that hot.  So when you hit the beach at that time, be prepared to fry yourself.  Most only last a hour or 2 at that time.

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Second to this, the heat zaps your energy.  A combination of extreme heat and possibly a little dehydration can leave you feeling exhausted, as can swimming in the ocean!

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen people do it.  Chill on the beach every day in between sessions.  But usually it is people who are only here for a week wanting to maximise their time and experience.

The beaches are beautiful and relaxing, just be sure that if you go, to stay adequately hydrated and make sure you leave enough time to rest and fuel up for your next session.

“Thai food is so healthy!  It’s going to be easy for me to lose weight”

I myself fell under this trap when I first moved here.  Thai food is so delicious and cheap, it’s difficult to resist sometimes.

People often think that Thai food is all vegetables and rice – which to be fair is not completely wrong.  What most don’t realise is that a lot of the food is laden with MSG and sugar.

All Thai dishes contain sugar.  All.  Even their omelettes have sugar in them.  Luckily, if you are aware of this, you can request your dish without.

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MSG is the tricky one.  Here in Phuket, some cafes are advertising that they don’t use MSG.  Because of the rather healthy clientele and repeated requests to make food without it, it’s become easier to find places that no longer cook with MSG.

In addition to the MSG and sugar, traditional Thai meals don’t have a good macro balance.  You get almost 2 cups of rice with your meal (most people mistake it for one) and almost no protein (approx 50 – 70 grams per serve).

I’m not a huge advocate of stuffing yourself with protein, but if your nutrition approach requires a high level of protein, you’re best to stick with the BBQ proteins available.

For the longest time I was watching my friends (particularly in America and Australia) post about their gravity float or sensory deprivation sessions.  I knew a little about it from listening to a Joe Rogan podcast but had resigned to the fact that probably would not have access to, living in Thailand.

We lucked out here in Phuket when Joe and Steve came along and opened the first gravity float in Thailand – about a 10 minute ride from my house.

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I was quite curious about the whole thing so I booked in for one of their opening specials – an hour float for 1000 baht (probably less than half the price of what I would pay at home).

I was greeted by Joe and Steve and sat for a quick chat while the tank was put through it’s routine clean after the previous persons float.  They gave me a run down of the different experiences that people have had their first float and some sage advice for being in there.

Once the float tank was ready, I was ushered into a room where the tank is housed and am provided with a number of items to assist me with my float.  Ear plugs, pillow, Vaseline (for any nicks or cuts), a small towel to hang inside (in case I needed to wipe my face) and a large towel for when I was finished.  I am given a run down of the tank itself, how to get in and out safely, and the bell to listen out for when my time was up.  I was also shown the ‘panic button’, should I, for any reason, need to get out but can’t.

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Awesome!  I’m set to go!

I climbed into the tank, carefully placing my small towel on the rack, and closed the hatch.

Now I don’t know what I was thinking, but my first thought was ‘sh*t!  It’s really dark in here’.  Yes.  Yes it is.  Because it’s a sensory deprivation tank (d’uh!).

I slowly slide down in the tank and try to let myself float.  Easy enough so far!

I closed my eyes to try to visualise the fight I had coming up in a few days, and noticed that my body was slowly floating in a circular motion.  I went to reach for the handle bar on the hatch door, and couldn’t find it.  In a moment or slight panic and opened my eyes, looking for the dim outline of the hatch.  My eyes didn’t appear to be adjusting at all so I quickly sunk my butt to the floor to sit up and in all of my awkwardness, splashing myself in the eyes with the high sodium water.

I slowly found my way back to my starting point, attempted to flush out my eyes with the water bottle provided inside the tank, and continued to float.

I eventually found a few markers inside the tank to give myself an idea of where I was inside the tank.  Eventually I just forgot about it and continued with my float.  I figured there is only one way out!  I’d find it when I needed to.

I had a moment where I was fully focused.  I could see myself at the stadium, getting my hands wrapped, warming up…. and then I was thinking about my cat… and then thinking about training… and then thinking about my personal life… then thinking about needing a new media kit.  My mind went crazy.

I felt really frustrated that I couldn’t focus on what I wanted to.  In turn, it made me restless and I began squirming around in the tank.  I developed an insane impatience because I had no idea how long I had left and I felt a sudden urge to get out.

I convinced myself to just sit still but my anxiety got the better of me and I sat up and opened the hatch door.  I sat there for about 10 seconds and told myself it couldn’t be too far off finishing, so I took a long, deep breath, sunk back in and closed my eyes.  Next thing I knew the bell was sounding.  My time was up.

I hopped out and showered and took a seat out front with Joe and Steve.  They were both so eager to find out what my experience was like.  I told them I was so disappointed that I didn’t get what I thought I would from it, but they both assured me that it was ok and that my next float would be better.

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When I went back for my second float, I had a lot going on in my personal life and it showed.  I couldn’t focus on my next fight at all.  In a moment of frustration I told myself to just let it go.  What ever was going to pop up from my subconscious – let it.  Surprisingly enough, it helped me clear a lot of things out of my mind, which in turn helped me focus on what I needed to be ready for my fight.

I still couldn’t lie still for the entire hour.  What I estimate to be about 45 minutes into the float, I started moving my body.  Rolling my hips from side to side, stretching my arms and legs.  It was actually quite nice and I wasn’t bothered by it at all.  I felt a sense of accomplishment that I sat still for so long.  Meditation is not something I have ever mastered, nor is sitting still.

I didn’t feel panicked or anxious this float which made the hour pass by quickly.

By the time I went in for my third float, I was mentally and personally in a better place.  I was again, close to another fight, but I had such a different experience during my float.  I had a more calm sensation and was able to focus fully on my fight.  I spent my time visualizing all the things I wanted to achieve in my fight, combinations I had been working on and how I could implement them.

I still ended up moving around and stretching from time to time, but mostly because I was so stiff and sore from training that I wanted to increase the physical benefits of my float as well.

Aside from learning how to calm my mind and sort through my subconscious, I noticed a significant difference in my recovery and the extreme relaxation I felt after my floats meant that I came home and had some of the best sleep of my life.

I’m sad to be moving away from Float Indigo – if I had it my way, it would be part of my weekly routine.  Hopefully I can find something similar in Berlin!

To anyone visiting Phuket, I highly recommend you check these guys out.

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I always liked to dabble in jiu jitsu.  It has often been a welcome break from my striking training, and a large number of my friends back home are grapplers, so it was a great way to spend time with them and have a little fun in between fights.  (pajamas and cuddles!  I mean, c’mon!)

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Going into MMA, I know I need to work my ground game A LOT.  I am far behind the pack, but with no regrets as I have spent this time developing my striking skills.  In the beginning I struggled to find the motivation to train consistently because I naturally wanted to go back to what I knew.

I really enjoy live rolling.  I always have.  But it was never really enough to keep me interested.  How was it that I spent 2 years doing 12 Muay Thai sessions a week but 5 BJJ sessions a week seemed impossible?  Why would anyone want to do that?

Fighting on the side has meant constant interruptions to my BJJ training, which personally, I haven’t minded.  I have felt that by taking a few consecutive days off the mats, that I come back and new things click into place and make sense to me.  It gives my tired old body some time to catch up to my brain.

One of the biggest problems I faced, was that I have always loathed training in a Gi.  Mostly because I got choked out with my own Gi a lot (which is both hilarious and frustrating) and I felt like no gi was the better fit for MMA.  I used that as an excuse to avoid training in a Gi.  Also, if I’m being totally honest, having a valid reason to buy colourful spats and superhero rash guards was also a big draw card….

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Before I went on my holidays, I found a new enjoyment in my BJJ sessions.  It didn’t matter how tired I was, I didn’t want to miss out on a roll.  I put it down to it still being so new, that the novelty would wear off.  But to my surprise – it hasn’t.

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One of my friends tagged me in an article we were discussing last night, which I felt excited to read.  The BJJ community is so large and there is a huge amount of information out there, passed down by people, once walking in our shoes.

I’ve been searching for tape to buddy tape my busted finger and to protect my poor poor spidey fingers because I love spider guard drills so much that I don’t want to miss out because my fingers are raw or bleeding.

I recently watched some great videos on foot and ankle control and guard passes because I get stuck there.  And then I realised.  It’s happened.  I’ve turned into a BJJ girl.

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I had that great light bulb moment where I rolled with a blue belt, and used his Gi to manipulate his and my own movements and finally understood why people enjoyed Gi training so much.  There are so many creative ways to maneuver, submit and roll in a Gi!

It’s nice to be able to continue learning and growing so much and doing what I love.  I am shocked that I have found so much love for this sport and I’m excited to keep pushing and seeing where I end up.

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I’m joining an amazing team in Berlin next month where I hope to start working towards my blue belt (something which never really mattered to me before).

Maybe it’s time to buy that second Gi….

Recently I made the decision to leave Phuket and move to Berlin.  I’ve received an overwhelming number of messages that I have not had the time to reply to yet but I am very grateful to everyone for their well wishes and support.

Leaving the land of Muay Thai was not a decision that was made lightly.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Muay Thai will always be my first love.  Despite this, I’ve had to make a choice between the two for now and it’s time to give MMA a run.

While Muay Thai fights are plentiful here, MMA fights, especially for woman are not.  The pool of competitors is small, given that MMA is still, technically, illegal in Thailand.  So regardless of what happens, I will need to travel to fight.  This puts me in an awkward position given that I have had no MMA fights to date.  Promoters don’t want to fly nobody’s (which given the costs involved is totally fair) so I needed to look into where would be a good place to go, to continue on this path.

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Second to that, is that living in Thailand long term (without a work visa or education visa) is becoming more and more difficult as the years roll on.

I was extremely lucky to meet the requirements for a 12 month working holiday visa my first year in Thailand so I had no issues and no evidence of visa runs (border runs) in my passport so I was never flagged at immigration.  I then replaced my passport at the end of last year so that there were no obvious flags.  Getting through immigration the first few times were a breeze.

When I came back from my trip to Europe (check out my photos on instagram @missmuaythai) I was immediately flagged at immigration, despite having been out of the country for 6 weeks AND having a brand new, valid, 60 day visa.  The officer flagged me by mistake, as his supervisor took one look at my visa and said, this is fine.  But the questions came.  “You come in and out of Thailand a lot?”.  “What are you doing here?”.  I was half expecting them to request a copy of my bank statement or an ATM slip (which, they can actually ask you for so you can prove you have the means to support yourself here).

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At this point in time, another tourist visa is not going to help my case much and if I need to fly out of the country (to go home or to fight) means I will have more issues coming back.

And finally.  I and ready to rejoin western society, to work a little and get back into the swing of regular life.

Thailand is a wonderful place, and I am so grateful for my time here.  I’ve made lifelong friends and made irreplaceable memories, but for me, it’s time for the next adventure.  And who knows!  I’ll probably be back again!
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The Andovers: towns located in the North Shore of MA, which have a very rich history and legacy dating back to 1642. In addition to the historical landmarks, it is home to thriving multi-generation businesses and is concentrated with top and elite prep schools in the nation. My family has been lucky to call this area home for many generations, as my ancestors immigrated and resided in Andover. Being featured in their premier magazine is an incredible honor, given the robust talent and events that are in the area.

This article is written by Dave Dyer, who has been covering my story since pre- English Channel days. In addition to being an athlete himself, Dave is an excellent writer. He always asks questions that make me take a second to think about, and accurately conveys the points. It has been an honor and privilege talking to such a talented writer over the years. image1

This article documents my journey and highlights those who have played a fundamental role in my swimming and more importantly, my life. I am incredibly blessed.

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Grrrl has withdrawn its sponsorship of Julianna Pena over Ronda Rousey comments.

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GRRRL CEO Kortney Olson has withdrawn her clothing line’s sponsorship of UFC athlete Julianna Pena over her public bodyshaming of former UFC champion Ronda Rousey.

Grrrl is the first clothing label in the world not to feature sizing, instead helping women to match their body-type to a range of global female athletes’ figures. It also has a manifesto unparalleled in its commitment to right the glaring wrongs in the fashion industry.  Kortney today commented, “At the end of the day, GRRRL clothing exists to empower women. Not to sell more tshirts. I was extremely excited to bring Pena on-board, as I believe she has the fierce spirit of a champion. And has the potential to dominate the division for many years. She’s hard as nails, but unfortunately, her nails are rusty.  

To call another fighter ‘fat’ completely contradicts who and what we stand for as a brand. And while it may cost us to miss out on the publicity of Julianna winning a world title, we think it’s more important to stay true to what we believe.  There will always be an element of trash talking between fighters. It’s a big part of the lure of the sport. Humans love drama. However, calling out a woman by referring to her “fat arms” when she’s experienced bulimia is unacceptable and I won’t have a rusty fucking bit of it.”

Kortney added, “Active wear and sports wear brands like to present themselves as empowering women. In reality, it’s just a cynical marketing ploy by corporations, mostly men, that do nothing for women other than reinforce stupid, harmful stereotypes. And we want no part in that. As much as we believe in Juliana as an athlete, we have to look beyond that.“The very brands that pretend to support women in our industry are actually abusing, demeaning and holding women back. If you think I’m exaggerating, I suggest you google Chip Wilson of Lululemon, or fat shaming and Lorna Jane.”“We’re tired of billion dollar companies masquerading as female-friendly. We’re tired of the hypocrisy of brands presenting as female-focused when they’re perpetuating female stereotypes.” #grrrlarmy #integrity #GRRRL #ufc GRRRL Clothing

The post Grrrl has withdrawn its sponsorship of Julianna Pena over Ronda Rousey comments appeared first on Kortney Olson >> Konfidence By Kortney.

Here’s what this blog is not: me pretending I’m a MMA expert. That would make me a lousy human being. Equally as lousy as the fight/ football experts that come along during a big fight/ finals season. Folks if you love MMA, NFL or NRL so much try watching a gazillion games during the regular season. Follow a team all season, you might even learn something about the sport.
 
 
ROUSEY vs HOLM
  
Let’s be clear: I have always been and will continue to be a fan of Rousey. Growing up, I can’t remember any strong females that weren’t superheros or video game characters that I had to look up to. For real, Wonder Woman, Mortal Kombat’s Kitana and Milena, these guys were my idols, if you could call them that. Rousey is like the female Rock but more legit, she’s transcended into film, is highly marketable and has become a household name. She is not afraid to stand up and tell the world who she is and her views on things. She’s done some great things not just for MMA but for women in general. I like that. The world is lacking strong, alpha female role models for our youth, I truly believe that. But we’re here to change that, read on.
  
There are people who don’t like MMA; the blood shed, the violence. I also feel that the majority of people out there are uneducated on the sport as a whole. I remember watching the original UFCs on VHS.  It was kickboxer vs jui jitsu.  There were no crossbreeds and no disciplines meshed. These days, we have these entire hybrid warrior freaks. With Rousey vs Holm, we had two world class athletes testing the skills they have spent their entire lives harnessing.  There is so much mental skill and toughness involved. Should there be a rematch? Highly likely. But this is Hollys time to rejoice and bask in her victory.
 
 
Brutal beginnings of the UFC. Image source Fox Sports
 
Me? I was stoked that Holm had a dominant, clear win. She did some serious damage landing head shots in Round 1 and completely dominated in Round 2.  It was not a close call, a lucky shot or a win that can be discounted by any means, she dominated Rousey the way that Rousey typically dominates her opponents with a clear one sided victory. If Holm had won on points or landed one lucky shot to seal the win, imagine what the online experts would be saying then!!? The media is brutal!
 
 
DON’T BE SHEEP
 
Here is what is not cool sheeple: jumping on the bandwagon to diss Ronda now that she has lost one fight; she’s human and that’s the nature of sport. Who in the history of the world was undefeated forever?! Come to think of it Laila Ali retired from boxing undefeated after 24 wins. When your favourite sports team is failing to perform do you jump ship on them? No, you stick by them through thick and thin endlessly (Chicago Bears fans, I wouldn’t blame if you jumped though). That’s loyalty. Ronda is still and always will be a legend despite the cocky way she handled herself leading up to the bout. I want all females to win and these ladies both have, Ronda has taken the sport to new levels for women and paved the way for someone like Holly to come through! I’m reading so much garbage online, trolling is not cool – if you’re someone who willy nilly leaves your negative comments just for the sake of owning a keyboard and internet connection wake up sunshine. Even Rondas arch nemesis Floyd Mayweather is being supportive, sheesh.  
 
I feel as though these online trolls could be the same commenting ‘looks like a guy’ on fit girls photos. Now it’s part of having a public forum that people will give you their input even though you may not give a single you know what about it. I have a few things to say to said troll, for now let’s refer to him/ her as ‘Weasel’…
 
 1.       No Weasel, they don’t look like guys they look like women, who exercise. Probably more than you.
 
2.       Weasel if you want people to take you seriously get a profile pic. You’re a faceless box and nobody likes to engage with faceless boxes.
 
3.       Perhaps society has failed to distinguish them as womanly because cultures have been so behind the times participating in womens exercise programs; most people don’t realise what a strong, healthy woman looks like.
 
4.       The world has evolved Weasel and chipmunks are on their way out. All your small minded comments do is prevent other women from lifting or working out and enjoying a long healthy life. Young ladies have access to the net you know, your comment might (god forbid) influence some poor soul. Has the world forgotten that children are always listening?
 
5.       In the future Weasel, don’t be a dodo, high chance that the lady who posted the image reads your comments, chuckles, envisages stomping on you wrapping your limp body in her loin cloth we’re all cave women. I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR! *Insert eye roll here*
 
People can get so tied up with what’s happening online. You’ll be judged on your appearance by others who are insecure about themselves. Don’t let online fool you. There’s people with 10 likes that have plenty of friends, there’s people with 1000’s of likes that are lonely as hell. There’s couples posting lovey dovey pics that are in ugly, deceitful relationships yet private couples with no photos online in divine, genuine relationships. There’s people doing things they’re uncomfortable with in an effort to gain likes that aren’t real to get recognition from people who mean nothing to them, if they even know them at all. There’s people who spend all their money on designer clothes who are broke as hell yet wealthy people who are outside busy making this world a better place for all mankind. There’s people with broken hearts who put on a brave face for the sole purpose of showing the person who broke theirs that they’re surviving without them, but they’re barely. Online is great as long as we use it for good, not evil purposes. For motivation not jealousy, for adequacy not inadequacy. Life’s moments of value are spent looking into eyes, skies or plates of delicious food, not staring into a screen.
   
 
 
 
HERE’S WHATS NOT COOL
 
Being a punk. I was not cool with Ronda not touching gloves. Trust and respect by others is hard earned, yet can be permanently lost over the smallest thing. Now it’s no secret I am a complete asshole on the gridiron but not touching gloves is the equivalent of not shaking hands with the captains after the coin toss. You can bet your ass I hate you while we’re playing, that’s just the competitive frame of mind I get into, but the moment that final whistle goes and we are done playing I respect any female that is willing to go into battle and face an opposition ESPECIALLY in a contact sport or a non-traditional sport for women to play. That’s the greatest part when you all line up, smile, shake hands, hug and admire one another. And it’s not always the winners you’re admiring, perhaps it’s the one who got the bejesus smacked out of her, got back up and ran the ball again. Perhaps it’s the one you overheard encouraging her team mates when they were all down. Perhaps it’s the tiniest person out there courageous enough to mix it with the giants. In case you haven’t realised ladies, we’re all on the same god damn team! It’s for equality, it’s to flip the middle finger up to all the haters and naysayers who think football, MMA, rugby, cricket or soccer are mens sports, that women shouldn’t be taking part in that sort of thing. We are in fact unique snowflakes! We should be building one another up, not tearing down and criticising one another. Hey you know what, you can keep doing your thing (whatever that is) while we do ours.  It’s time we stopped passing judgement on others, that’s cool if you wanna be a DNB  I ain’t hating on you I just know I want to do something different.
  
 
GRRRL POWER
 
I’ll let you in on a secret, even lil ol me this confident, ballsy woman comfortable in her own skin has insecurities. As an athlete you’re always chasing your peak performance and your peak physique. You have goals to reach in your off season, pre-season, during season and along with your training & nutrition comes physical changes. I’ve always trained for my sport, not to appear a certain way, the way I look is a by-product of my workload.  It’s tricky not to make that comparison to when you were in your best shape. So when you book a photo shoot there is generally that sense of ‘uh-oh I should look my best’. Don’t get me wrong it’s cool to love yourself and also want to improve. So I booked a shoot for November a few months back and in the lead up had some fairly quiet, back of brain, muffled thoughts of ‘remember you have that shoot coming up’. Thinking back even though I had those thoughts I didn’t alter my normal routine and I’m proud of that. Once  I came to my fucking senses I realised the brand I was shooting for believed that women have more important things to worry about than conforming to media stereotypes of what they should or should NOT look like. For too long the fashion industry has misled women about how other women look. Then in the days leading up to the shoot as I heard more about creative direction of the shoot I had anticipation, excitement, hope for all womankind that FINALLY we would have a brand that represented us!!! We who represent the brand are not strong female cyborgs, we’re strong female HUMAN BEINGS who still occasionally have these thoughts but we’ve learnt to muffle them. We hope that through sharing our experience and profiles you can damn well muffle or silence your negative voices too.
 
 
 
Hollys first release of shirts sold out quick. Image source: Instagram Holly Holm
 
The athletes working with this brand are so inspiring and remarkable not to mention bad ass. This is where Holly Holm comes in. Yeah Holly’s with us, but you CAN sit with us! Just don’t be swearing as much as I do cause she ain’t into that. This special group of GRRRL athletes from around the globe were all quietly rooting for Holly before the rest of the world decided to take notice after she won her fight. We are beyond proud of our GRRRL Holly and not modest in sharing how amazing our sisterhood is! I don’t put my name and face to many brands so you know this brand is the essence of me and how I live my life. I am actually so grateful they found me but that’s how the universe works right?

Image source: grrrl.com Arnaud Domange

 

 
 
I want to share a truckload of things I loved about shooting the GRRRL campaign but I’ll chop it down for ya’all;
  
 •I was allowed to look like me, it was my choice to wear makeup but they would have been cool if I just wore my soul.
  
•Their sizing is not S, M or L it’s a particular athlete size, see below.
  
•It is their STRONG belief that a woman has 100% of the decision making power over how she looks.
 
 •They agreed to NEVER EVER airbrush, photoshop or otherwise manipulate images of their athletes (in advertising or on the website) what other companies and media outlets see as “imperfections”. Women are perfection already. Period.
 
 Kortney Olson (you may have seen her crush watermelons with her thighs ) and David who are running the show are an absolute pleasure to be around. Arnaud Domange with his French humour and wit behind the lens made it difficult for me to keep a straight face and Sir Gino Payne waving his magic wand just creating magic as Spielberg does.  They create this incredible aura (probably unknowingly) that oozes positivity and non judgement and made me want to hang around all day.
 
 

It might take you a moment to get used to the sizing code, which athlete are you??

Go check out the site and get yourself some dope threads. Use 10% off discount code ‘shari’ and you’ll get your gear cheaper, even sale items.

 
YOUR CLIQUE
 
So Albuqerque New Mexico has another claim to fame, after Breaking Bad put them on the map, now it’s Holly Holm. The UFC promo footage of Holly training in the desert, did anyone else think ‘hey that’s where Walter and Jesse drove the van to cook meth!’ I digress. Holly is a hero to so many girls now, not just girls who compete, this kind of courage can transcend into anything in your freaking life. Holly created one of the biggest upsets in sporting history. She was distinctive, different even. Her aura was intriguing. People would stare. She was intimidating outside, but caring and soft inside. Holly talked alot about her team of coaches, her family that there was so much love around her. There was actually way more love for Ronda which is unfortunately human nature. Holly talked about how many times she would sit in her car and cry after training after a bad performance then get back in the gym that night and keep working on perfecting her weaknesses.
 
 
Image Source: hollyholm.com
Which is why this is so relevant to everyone reading this. If your inner team, coaches, friends, family, people who you spend your time with are not supportive and offer you the love and support you need in life its time to pack up and move on. If you don’t, how will you ever know how great you could be, whether that’s with your career, fitness or other goals. Know what you have to offer is plenty, anyone who wants to walk away from that is on them. I also think it’s important to accept the fact you will grow apart from people you’ve had significant relationships with. You should be able to understand when someone no longer positively affects your life and let them go. Don’t hinder your damn growth! Thoughts are powerful cosmic waves in the universal sea of energy we live in. Don’t you dare be put down by anyone close to you saying things like “who do you think you are trying to accomplish that”.
 
You know that self image that is formed of ourselves growing up? The one that’s unconsciously formed from our achievements and failures, our embarrassments, our victories, the way others have related to us (especially in early childhood). Our behaviour, feelings AND our abilities are always consistent with this self image. They’re not always valid thoughts just programmed from birth and now so ingrained they’re automatic. These thoughts aren’t “the truth”, they’re handed down through generations someone put them there a long time ago. They’re nothing more than SPECIFIC NEURAL PATTERNS in your brain. Neurological research shows 95-99 % of all your behaviours are automatic. This is why we set goals, but don’t reach them. Setting them is a function of the conscious mind. Reaching them is a function of the subconscious mind. The subconcious mind is in the driving seat. Not the conscious mind. My point here is if you want to, you can reroute your entire existence.
  
Now your outer clique, these are random people of the world who share their opinions with you, the ‘Weasels’  either inadvertadely or otherwise, face to face or online networks. WHY do you care so much for their opinion? If Holly listened or cared for the opinions of those do you think she would have won? No chance in world could she have those thoughts creep into her mind, that sort of negative self talk would have her completely off her game.  Whats the message here??? Others opinions do not matter one bit. If you think of all the times in the world when you’ve let someone elses opinion stop you or affect you, all for what?? Nada. Go forth and conquer my disciples. 
 
Dear Samantha,
 
In regards to your article 10 Struggles of Women with Big Thighs I must say I disagree largely with a lot of your points, in fact felt so strongly I have responded below. To my readers, feel free to leave your comments via my facebook page or here on the blog as I am interested in the thoughts of the population.
 
 
1.        My pants NEVER fall down with big thighs.
 
Yes, they are often loose at the waist from going up a size to accommodate the thighs, but the thighs are the catchment preventing them from ever falling down. Perhaps you’re into baggy fireman pants. But yes, jean shopping absolutely sucks; denim with stretch is a must, and generally a high waisted fit is superior, as they taper at the waist instead of cropping wider at the hip.
 





 
3.         ‘Just the act of wearing shorts in general is terrifying’
 
It’s not terrifying; it’s fabulous to wear shorts with big thighs. I hope you are trying to communicate that shorts are difficult to purchase for the thick lower half/ small waist girls, but surely a few unconfident women just threw another negative log into their fire. The real problem here is fashion labels and society are constantly catering for and promoting unrealistic ideals. Magazines and advertorials generally feature models instead of looking at how most women are truly built and making clothing that accommodates them. If we refer to the renaissance in museums all over the world, there is a full spectrum of how women are built.

 
 
4.              ‘A thigh gap was never in the cards for you ‘
 
We should NOT be promoting the thigh gap as a benchmark for women. Nor am I suggesting we promote the thigh chafe as a benchmark. In reality a thigh gap can be more about the angle that your pelvis tilts than how big your thighs are. Sure, occasionally they chafe, you could always try body glide: it’s not some raunchy lubricant; it’s an anti-chafe product providing non-greasy protection against skin problems caused by rubbing.
 

 

 

 

5.              I agree: running can literally be irritating.
 
I choose to take fewer steps at a higher intensity.  Up a hill, for example. No exercise is terribly comfortable, but it still has to be done.  Expect it or prevent it and get on with it.

 

6.         ‘When a guy has smaller thighs than you (which is pretty standard) you immediately want to curl up in a ball’
 
This is laughable – reality is the complete opposite he’s the one that wants to curl up in a ball. It’s absolutely a compliment to your distinctiveness and hard work. If any man has a problem with them, pop his weasly head (no jacked dude will have an issue with your thighs; he’ll be jealous) between your legs, gently squeeze his neck until his cheeks turn blue and his eyeballs start to rupture blood vessels … sorry, I got carried away there. I digress; the point I’m trying to make is that women often care far more about their bodies than men do.  Ultimately, confidence is more attractive than thigh gaps or lack thereof. Rock whatever thighs you have with a smile and leave the conversation with smaller thigh boy who ironically now has self esteem issues of his own, knowing you’re a BAMF (sorry boys, I’m generalising greatly here.  Equality at its best, I realise).
 
 
  
7.        Even if the rest of your body is tiny and fit, exposing your bare thighs to the world is your nightmare”
 
I could not disagree with this more! Rock your bikini bottoms and your curves in them, and perhaps pop a sarong around if you’re more comfortable. Hold your head higher and your shoulders back a little more and remember that you’re a magnet to every thought you think. We as women should be proud of our bodies – that means all parts of it. Instead of listing the things we don’t like, focus on the things we do and how wonderful it is to be a woman. It is never about how much I weigh, it’s always about how I feel; I will never search for validation on a set of scales. Scales cannot remind me of how infectious my smile is, how purposeful my life is or how great my perseverance is when tested. I believe it is your responsibility as a journalist delivering lifestyle/ healthy living/ fitness related articles via the juggernaut that is the Huffington Post to be a more positive force!
 
 
 
8.              I’m an advocate for Turkish sausage legs over hot dogs legs
I’m the poster girl for the former, but BOTH versions are beautiful! Women experience an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day, while 97% of women admit to having at least one “I hate my body” moment each day. That is appalling. Telling you to “love your body” is about as helpful as placing an opened packet of Tim Tams in front of you after a break up.  It’s time to muzzle your inner mean girl by combating those thoughts and topping up with a positive one. It’s proven that positive thoughts are waaaay more powerful than negative, so keep an eye on that self esteem invoice  making sure you go to sleep having paid the days bill for your thoughts!
 









If combating thoughts is proving difficult, you should start to seriously research how to rewire your brain! Our self-image is something we form while we’re growing up. It’s unconsciously formed from our achievements and failures, our embarrassments, our victories and the way others have related to us-especially in early childhood. Our behaviour, feelings and our abilities are always consistent with this self-image. They’re not always valid thoughts just programmed from birth and now so ingrained they’re automatic. Newsflash: these thoughts aren’t “the truth”; they’re handed down through generations from someone who put them there a long time ago. They’re nothing more than specific neural patterns in your brain. Neurological research shows 95-99 % of all your behaviour is automatic. This is why we set goals but don’t reach them. Setting them is a function of the conscious mind, whereas reaching them is a function of the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is in the driving seat. Not the conscious mind. The point I’m making is if you want to, you can reroute your entire existence.
 

 9.         ‘When will thighs have their moment?’
WHENEVER YOU ALLOW THEM! My thighs are currently having their moment. All my thick friends thighs have been having their moment; every damn day! This gorgeous girl below Nicole Mejia  a model and fitness personality out of Miami, known for her natural curves and motivating perspective, has been inspiring women all over the world to accept and better themselves in a natural and holistic way. Nicole and her Fit and Thick movement are currently on a nationwide tour to bring the message to the women of America.  Nicole also started the hashtag  #thickthighappreciationday which I believe is on October 21.



Image Martin Murillo

Perhaps you’ll join the movement, we need more recruits if we’re going to get this positivity message through to a lot of ladies.

 
Sincerely,
 
Shari Onley
A woman with strong, thick thighs who loves every inch of them; whether they’re toned or soft, pale or tanned, covered or uncovered whatever they look like I LOVE THEM.

PS I briefly checked your website, some of your content is cool and light hearted so don’t take this too harshly, I think you’re alright  😉

‘Don’t be delicate – be vast and luminous’

 

 



I’m finally back in Sydney after being caught up in the fascination of Chicago. What a sublime city, I love so many things about the spectacular town and it’s charming people. I’m still not sure whether it’s like the brand new shiny toy that you love to bits until one day the excitement wears off. WARNING; this blog will make a hell of lot of generalizations so don’t get your titties tangled. It’s purely my experience. I’m sure I’ve only seen a fraction of what Chicago has to offer. 


Before I relocated to the Windy City my head coach at the Bliss said you’re going to love this city so much you’ll never want to leave. I already knew I would love it, every yank I’d met was awesome, dry sarcastic humour, loud and obnoxious, larger than normal humans and liked to swear… a lot. I’m an intelligent, classy, well educated woman who was perhaps a wharfie in a past life so I knew I’d fit right in.

Once I got to Chitown I realised, not only is the city visually stunning, rich in history and character, the mid west folk are friendly. My coach said ‘well you’re a pretty girl with a nice accent, of course they’re going to like you.’ Man they froth over the accent. Some team mates wanted Aussie lessons it was so popular (you can start by pronouncing it Ozzie). I was even told together with my eyes it’s an aphrodisiac, decent line right, we’ll get to the boys in a bit.


Chitown by night
Pic courtesy of Friedman Archives 
I was born and raised in Sydney, know it well. Whilst visiting 90% of Americans told me Australia is on top of their bucket list.  I am grateful to live 5 minutes from this breathtaking harbour. Now you yanks have someone to come and visit, me!

Sydney Harbour by night, ain’t no place like home toto
Pic courtesy of Layover Guide


Here goes….

COFFEE

Lets break this one into nations. The standard in US is drip brewed or filtered coffee, like you get on a plane. They pour water over roasted ground coffee beans in a filter, water seeps through coffee and passes through the bottom of the filter. Here they add “cream” (which is more like part cream/part milk) and sugar. While I could get my latte at Starbucks it was always burnt.

I did have the pleasure of sipping Costa Rican coffee fresh off the plantation while in Central America. A blissful, tranquil experience. Those beans were magic, the location may have contributed slightly. 

A typical Australian coffee is generally a latte or flat white. Coffee espresso shot filled with heated frothed milk add sugar. I fell in love with Malt Supper Club when last visiting Perth, the venue took me to an era I’m drawn to, through it’s music and the other wordly interior. I’d been up since 5am doing radio interviews, media and promos in the harsh sun. I was beat. I walked up to the bar wondering if they would have a coffee machine. I was greeted at the bar, ‘ciao bella’ a gorgeous Italian man dressed in a crisp white shirt, bow tie and braces. He took my hand over the bar and asked what I would like. If I wasn’t playing the Legends Cup the following day (have I mentioned we won?) my answer would have been your finest scotch whisky sir. Not only did he have a coffee machine he proceeded to make me an amazing latte, within a few minutes he had another 10 orders from my team mates. 

Winner: OZ When baristas make lattes all day long they get damn good at them. Anyone serious about coffee may find it difficult to get a decent cup in US.

Tally: Oz- 1 USA- 0


GYM 

I was a passport member at Xsport Fitness, I could visit any franchise across Chicago for $35 a month. The staff at my local Pipers Alley were super friendly and welcoming. The location had a lot to offer (albeit jammed into a small space) it was open 24hrs and came complete with a pool, indoor basketball, rock climbing, spa, sauna, beauty & tanning salons, yoga and crèche.

I also frequented Lifetime Fitness which was the absolute mecca everything Xsport had and more, a freaking creche for adults – lounges and plasmas everywhere, water slides, the works. Huge well kept facilities, everything you need to get distracted from what you should be there to do… hard work.


Interior of a David Barton Gym


David Barton Gym was an absolute standout. These facilities are opulent, Dubai nightclub luxurious. No expense spared on the fit out, décor and sound system. Bathroom products so quality we may have taken some home. A completely unique gym experience. Lighting so low it was a safety issue around free weights.



When I enquired at Lifetime about an olympic lifting platform or somewhere I could drop a bar from the overhead position he said I could anywhere. Dude Stop. At all Chicago gyms I visited the plates were jagged, they land unevenly and could jump out and seriously injure myself or those near me, not to mention the racket it would create without suitable flooring. Deadlifting for example; the bar touches on a jagged edge rather than flat edge on one of the plates, you’re twisted out of position on each rep. Resetting your foot position each rep is kinda fucking annoying.

I did have a great throw down with the cool cats at Crossfit New Lennox where the plates were round, unfortunately once I moved downtown the location was too difficult to get to.



In Sydney the plates are round everywhere, newsflash they don’t roll away from you. You can find gyms that aren’t crossfit with olympic lifting stations or bumper plates relatively easily. Although Sydney has 24 hour gyms they are the typically the fast food of the fitness world. As a side note you have to bring your own towel which you don’t in Chicago.

Winner: It’s a tie, I loved the luxury of spending my days training, recovering and relaxing at one facility before going off to practice at night. But Chicago you drastically loose points for those retched plates. 

Tally: Oz – 2 USA – 1


HOSPITALITY
 
You can be drunk in Chicago and still order drinks, you can be drunk, stumble into a bar and be welcomed by the security, you can be rowdy with your friends inside the club and not be warned/ thrown out. This is all via observation of course, I’m always on my best behaviour. You can do none of these things in Sydney. How is it Chicago is so much more laxidazy and I didn’t see one fight break out?


A special mention to Underground Chicago. Every club owner should take note of what these guys are doing. Every night of the week this place PUMPS. Different themes but one thing remains, the party is always on point. They call is the sexiest place in the world. Don’t know about sexiest, they lost that title when they let me in wearing gum boots after a festival but all the cool kids wear Hunters boots. The GM Scott is particularly personable. Always immaculately dressed in a three piece suit and oh so hospitable, the security guys are my favourite. I could go on but it would begin to sound like adoration.

Underground standard night

Rooftop bars are scattered all over the city, plenty of places are buzzing by lunch time with sky scraping views of Lake Michigan. Pubs, restaurants and bars are bustling on a weeknight, there is always something happening. 

Upon my return to Sydney I paid a visit to Kings Cross on a Saturday night, clubs were empty and I could easily get a cab at 3am. Whats doing? Lock out laws have ruined you. There’s no denying it.

As a side note to this topic customer service in Chicago is tops, retail stores, restaurants, bars, train drivers you name it. I actually felt like they genuinely cared about assisting me! They won’t monotonely tick a box and greet you with their nose in the air, unlike Sydney, they are heartfelt and attentive. 

Winner: Chitown lapped Sydney on this one. RIP Kings Cross nightlife, we’ll always have the memories


Tally: Sydney –  2  Chicago – 2 


THE MALE SPECIES

Overall American men are much more confident than Australians. They have to be to keep up with the women who are loud and outspoken, some self righteous even. Men seem happy to say exactly what’s on their mind at that point in time. No game playing just direct and upfront with their feelings. There’s an attractiveness about a man who can communicate so freely without regard for ‘how keen’ he comes across. So pleasant, charming and well mannered. It was easier to get to know people, I felt like the wall was removed and people were so personable. Ironic coming from me, a woman of many walls but trust me, there’s an element of it that’s rubbed off on me and I love it.
 
Let’s compare a bar in Sydney, you can make eye contact with someone. Half an hour later after he’s skulled enough tinnies to work up the courage he might trot over. In Chicago you’ve barely fluttered eye contact and he’s either over introducing himself or he’s sent the bartender to fetch your drink. I know what you’re thinking, hot blooded males with perhaps one thing in mind, but more times than not they’d shake your hand, pleasure to meet and off they went. 

Even the whipper snappers had game.  Got chatting to a (6ft mature looking) 18yr old in a hideous Hawaiian shirt on the train. I was studying my playbook, he peaked over my shoulder and striked up a convo about football. Even he was smooth enough to ask for my number. I had to laugh and say ‘get outta here kid’ they sure can talk the talk!
 
I am pleased to say chivalry is not dead, it is far more alive in US. Men open doors, get the bill before you’ve had the chance to offer not once but consistently every time. Men will make sure a woman is well looked after. Strangers in the street, men of all ages will open a door for a woman, offer to help with bags and expect nothing in return. They are organizers, happy to lead booking restaurants, planning a day with you, making you know they appreciate and value every hour they spend with you. They listen to you, are very inquisitive and well in tune with women’s Venus tongue. Okay they’re still on Mars but are located on the side facing earth…. Aussie guys are chilling over the Jupiter facing side of Mars. 

Admittedly if I plucked an American species and popped him on a Sydney street, with his smooth talking ways and forwardness he would come across creepy. But in his natural habitat he hunts awfully well with his species. 
 
US men openly appreciate women of all different shapes and sizes. They actually want their woman to have curves especially a butt. Women are tall, short, stumpy, obese, voluptuous, hippy, curvaceous but one thing in common, they are all confident. Australia is catching on slowly but a woman with curves is still the minority.


Winner: Chicago no question, for me a confident strong woman I’m well suited to a straight shooter. Aussie guys I’m sure would be a hit with the American girls, but more often than not the girls may scare the absolute shit outta Aussie blokes with how forward they are. 

Tally: Oz – 2  USA – 3

WEATHER 

The weather is opposite, when it’s winter in Chicago it’s Summer in Sydney. Lets take a look at the difference in temperatures.


Chicago weather is bipolar, one day it’s snowing the next sunny skies. When I first arrived it was minus most days, the nasty snow was coming to an end to conclude the worst winter they’d experienced in 130 years! I will never complain about Sydney being cold again. I would literally look down on the street at outfits to get an idea of which pill the weather took overnight. It’s crazy.

Cars abandoned on famous Lake Shore Drive Chicago during a snow storm. The snowfall from the blizzard was 20.2 inches
Image & article via http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-snow2lsd20110202071217-photo.html


I tried to improvise with outdoor training equipment at my coaches place when I first arrived. In between each set I’d have to run inside and thaw my fingers over the heating just enough to grip the bar for the next round in between my nose bleeding. I like going on little adventures so tried running after the sun went down. The tiny part of my face that was exposed burnt like a chemical peel. Icicles run from your nose, speech slows to a drunken slur.

However the central heating is on point, every building, home or apartment block was superbly heated. Once the weather finally started to warm up it was like the population in Chicago quadrupled, people on the streets, seated at sidewalk eateries, out socialising – they were like caged animals over the winter!

Typical winters day downtown, still magic



Sydney summer is ace, we get a solid 2 months of it sometimes more. Beginning of Autumn is balmy. You can still get outside in Winter without your motor skills ceasing to function properly.

Winner: Sydney, the snow is picturesque but it affects your day to day activities too much.

Tally: Oz – 3  USA – 3


LFL 
 
The LFL competition in US is fiercer than Australia. It should be, it’s their national game, they’ve been watching/ playing it longer than Aussies. The average American is physically bigger than the average Aussie. In a nutshell the game was faster, the hits were harder and the girls were more physical in America. I loved every minute of it, I didn’t travel there to play patty cake, I went to become a better athlete and break new ground in my career, like rupturing my ACL. Mission accomplished. 

Defence chilling in between plays


 
Winner: Chicago, that’s a no brainer.

Tally: Oz – 3  USA – 4 



ANIMALS

 
Sure we have kangaroos, snakes, spiders, crocodiles & sharks but so does USA (or gators) in particular regions. Let’s get one thing straight. If you visit the outback in Oz you are more likely to come across creatures that would kill you in the night, same as a night in the rocky mountain ranges could prove dangerous. Sydney is a city and it’s highly unlikely you will see any of the above mentioned animals unless you’re visiting Taronga Zoo. I’ve never seen a shark in my life, I grew up in the water, living in a beachy suburb, surf life saving- I’m yet to even hear a shark alarm go off.
 
Australia is ranked the 2nd highest to the US in terms of global shark attacks with 704 unprovoked attacks. Where we rank first is the number of fatalities, our sharks mean business with 202 of the attacks proving deadly. 
 

  1. Region

Total
Attacks
Fatal
Attacks
Last
Fatality
United States
(Excluding Hawaii)
1055362012
Australia7042022014
Africa339932013
Asia129482000
 
 
Winner: Oz wins we’re all thrill seekers, danger is interesting, nobody wants to live the safe life, really, do they?
 
Tally: Oz – 4   USA – 4
 
 


SPORT 

Everyone supports the Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs or Sox there is a sense of patriotism and togetherness in this town which is magic. The people of Chicago are one giant mass, they’re not individuals, the city of Chicago is for the people.
They don’t just support their teams they are overtly passionate, loud and proud, wearing merchandise even on non game days. Tailgating at football games playing sport, everywhere, on weekends parks are jammed with adult softball and flag football competitions.

I got to several MLB games; White Sox at Comiskey Park and Cubs at Wrigley Field. It’s more a social event, fans go for the atmosphere rather than the game.



In Sydney we struggle to find a venue with a few TV’s that will show our LFL games on a Saturday night. I don’t recall walking into a pub/ bar in Chicago without a TV screen. We struggle to fill stadiums for AFL and NRL games, it’s expensive and inconvenient, people would rather watch from their couch.

The Bliss home games in Chicago drew around 2000 people, decent crowd considering our stadium was 1 hours drive from the city. What an amazing crowd, they would fire up with one word ….. let’s go ‘CHICAGO!!’ We were undefeated at home thanks to their support.

Winner: Chicago, it’s more than just a sporting game it’s a total experience, the atmosphere is electric even in between plays. 


Tally: Oz – 4  USA – 5

FOOD

I entered US with some visible abs, maybe 4, I left with one. I love my food, that’s no secret. I’d be the size of a house if I lived in Chicago the food is soooo delicious.

Severely hung


Notable mentions;

Garretts popcorn get in me!


When purchasing raw meat I had to be rather careful. Frozen chicken breast for example isn’t always 100% chicken it’s hormones and additives, some pumped full of chemicals, water and even pig skin. This isn’t just happening in US but I’ve never noticed it in Australia before. Grass fed beef in US is almost like a delicacy, I had to go to an organic store to source it.


Winner: Oz, you can’t beat Aussie beef.

Tally: Oz – 5  USA – 5


 
 
OTHER MENTIONS 
 
WI FI – Chicago has wifi almost everywhere, every store, stadium and bar. Nobody pays per data usage or download and they can’t believe when I tell them we do in Australia. Winner: US 
 
PUBLIC TRANSPORT – Between the CTA and the Metra trains, they arrive regularly and are reliable and safe. Sydney can’t say the same. Winner: Chicago
 
BEACHES – With the amount of majestic coastlines this one is easy. Winner: Sydney
 
I’m allocating an additional half a point each for the notable mentions section

 

FINAL SCORE
Oz – 5.5  USA 6
 
Says it all really, ain’t no place like home, but Chicago just pipped Sydney. I’ll be back for more one day Chitown, thank you for being so kind to the Aussie. X
 
I woke to text messages from more friends getting the news of my injury. Tears continued to flow, I felt exhausted. People I didn’t want to say goodbye to, I had unfinished business and cried at their individual responses. Such generous, genuine people I was so fortunate to call my friends. I had let my emotions run free until the early morning knowing today I needed to start the healing process. I wasn’t improving my situation moping around being sad and didn’t want to feel like I had the day before. My knee was sore this morning, more so than other days, it may have been the side I slept on. Last night both Allie and Chrisdell snored. I wondered if I snored when I was asleep? I listened to their snores with appreciation and gratitude. Just to be there in the same apartment as them I was thankful for. Every little part of them I wasn’t ready to let go of.
 About to go to war, the game day that changed our existence
I had begun to review my diet to optimize my healing. I made 3 basic changes anytime I was injured; 
 
1. Reduce grains. Digesting grains caused tiny perforations in the lining of the stomach. Essentially the more energy your body used repairing those, the less were available to heal the injury
2. Increase water intake. 
3. Increase Fish Oil. The omega-3 fats worked to produce beneficial anti-inflammatory hormones. 

 
Additionally to prepare for surgery I ate plenty of nutrient rich leafy greens like spinach. Also included fats, garlic, turmeric, green tea and pineapples since they were rich in nutrients helpful for combatting inflammation. 
 
Chrisdell sat with me before she left for work, hand on my knee she looked at my weary head, bloodshot eyes curled up in bed and said ‘I let coach know how I feel. You’ve sacrificed your body for us, you changed your whole life to come over here and play for us and spent so much money to get here. You are more of a vocal leader than anybody else who could travel to support and we need you on the sideline on Vegas. It wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t take you.’ 
Wrapped in a blanket stitched from Allies team jerseys collected over her career I played music from her iTunes, Sam Smith, Josh Kaufman. Normally these tracks wouldn’t be high on my rotation list, their not in my library at all but I wanted to savour every part of my experience with Dr Bert. My wife, my roommate, we had developed such a bond. A woman that if you ask others they would say she is scary, volatile. But underneath it all she was a big softie, just like me. She had amazed me since meeting her, such a walking, talking contradiction. In her residency as a dentist she famously fixed my chipped tooth after my Costa Rican white water rafting accident with such gentle hands I fell asleep in the chair. Yet watch her locked and loaded on the field coming up making plays like a maniac, or hear her roar viscously at whichever team mate had fucked up their assignment you’d swear it was a different human. Hybrids they called us.
Just being together was all we needed

 
Allie, Deena and I were like three musketeers, we would do everything together. With Deena and I rocking statuesque, visibly intimidating physiques Bert would constantly get called out ‘ oh do you play football too?’ She would respond by screaming something like ‘ do you want me to fucking choke you?’ She was 100% serious too. When we met new groups of guys I would set them up and encourage them to ask her if she played. She took the bait every time, would tear shreds off her victim, even after she saw me giggling in the corner. My dear Dr Bert said it exactly how she saw it, raw and blunt.

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuqoDKJ1Ph0&version=3&f=user_uploads&c=google-webdrive-0&app=youtube_gdata]

 
A unique beast, with blonde locks beautifully cascading behind her. By her own admission she would win a loogie competition, hocking from deep in the throat looking a million dollars while she did it. She would pick up chips she dropped on the footpath while still holding a full uneaten pack in hand and quip ‘I’m not wasteful you know, waste not want not.’ The bridesmaid who would almost break her neck falling off a cliff trying to rail slide. 

Allie literally thought she was invincible


Her and I could sit at a bar and be so totally engrossed in each other’s conversation for hours and hours. No fire, disease outbreak or gaggle of men could penetrate the force field around us. We were all each other needed right at that time, both yearning to learn about one another – how did the US beast operate VS queen beast from Oz. I was from a land far far away but aside from some minor operating differences but we were hardwired so damn similarly, she passed my Klokov Expirement.

A team player like no other
 
She was assertive borderline aggressive, comical and precious to me, she amazed me everyday. It didn’t surprise me when she came home having concocted a plan to solve my visa issues, we bear a child in a lesbian union, since gay marriage was legal in the state of Illinois. She’d already thought through a response to her parents who would declare it a ridiculous idea. Whatever it took, we’d get the job done. 
 
My team mate Heather Furr text me saying she loved me like crazy, had shivers up and down her spine when she heard the news, was so sorry and was there anytime I wanted to talk to her. She told me how much of an impact I’d had on the team in the short time I was there. Heather reminded me of myself back at the Surge, always organizing events, sponsors, networking, making sure we all had the best gear. At the LFL you look after your own. She has devoted her life to the team as I had back home. She was a unique leader one who no matter what the chaos on the sideline had the ability to calm the team and lead them onto the next series in battle. One of those irreplaceable team mates I hold in the highest regard. Happy to admit when she’s wrong, no excuses just admission, progress and ultimately success. So sad there would be no more cubs games with Furrball.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2OVDBlDois&version=3&f=user_uploads&c=google-webdrive-0&app=youtube_gdata]

 

 
 
My phone rang, I screened calls, I wasn’t ready to speak with particular people. Unless they would pull me from where I was I’d speak with them later. I did take Staceys call, I had grown close to him. We met on my very first night out in Chicago. He’d been playing pro basketball in Israel for years so knew what I was going through being away from my blood, I’d spent holidays like Easter with him grateful for someone who took me in as his family. He reminded me about the cousin he’d introduced me to at the gym one day, played for the Bulls. 7 knee surgeries later and he’s still dunking vertical. He would get me his rehab strength program to take a look at. Stacey never sugar coated it, always gave it to me blunt, sometimes to a fault, but this time, he soothed & settled me, he knew exactly what to say. It’s no simple feat entertaining an alpha woman, whilst there’s many loads of positives she’s saucy, stubborn and can go from 0-100 in 2 secs flat! If the man says leave your bags, she won’t, she’s knows she’s just as capable of carrying them. The man has to grab the bags first or sensitively but physically remove them from her.  Knowing which moments are healthy to have her assert dominance, and which you need to interject is a damn fine art! I knew he would visit me before I left. He was a genuinely good guy, I would miss him and forever cherish the time I spent with him and his family.
 
 

I reached out to some substantial people in my life in Australia who gave me hope. Little feathers of hope which don’t weigh much on their own but joined together can keep you floating until you are ready to come up for air on your own. The kinds of friends you will have forever. The kind who know just what to say in the right moments, they know I rarely yearn for any type of help. Ever. I’m the independent woman who thinks she can do it all on her own. I hit up a few locals in Chicago, who had become close to me and broke the news. Everyone as floored as the next. But I hadn’t experienced the summer yet, the looong awaited summer the beautiful folk of Chicago had patiently been calling.


My coach Jason Gaffey at Surge told me to keep my chin up stay positive, something I always reminded him to do. We had build the Surge on positivity, constructive foundations. He admitted he selfishly wanted me back home anyway. There was a little glimmer of light when I thought of being back with my Surge family. Being home with them for some of the pre season I would have otherwise missed. Excited to see my coach Roger Fabri and re create those movement patterns, balance, something I had not sustained in Chicago. He was the expert, I felt a big loss not having him around to push me. 

 

Overnight the NSW Blues had won the 2 of the 3 State of Origin matches. This was HUGE news in Oz to break QLDs 8 yr winning streak, a monumental achievement. I immediately thought of the bro Josh Reynolds, Rugby Leagues nicest guy who had supported every step of my journey in NSW.  He had wished our season was longer so he could support at more games. I smiled at his achievement. Social media was going off but QLDers were very quiet…. ‘Despicable elbows and facials by QLD. Thurston is a grub! Hayne is a try saver! Greg Bird what a player. ‘ Another posted ‘Paul Gallen is one of the toughest athletes on the planet, I’m so convinced I’m on a website right now buying GHRP-6.’ I laughed. I love Paul Gallen he is the epitome of what I want to be as an athlete. Tough, determined, no bullshit, authentic, a spartan like warrior, no frills, a leader by action. How would he deal with this? I was inspired. My supporter the one who had my image tattooed on her arm, how would she expect me to deal with this? Often I was motivated knowing others looked at me as their mentor. I sat up straight out of my slump and thought to myself, It’s time to do what you do best. Go forth and conquer …. be the example. 

 



Ironic where your own motivation can rise from

 

 
The official game recap was released, we had a sloppy game, full of turnovers, a real disappointment to the city of Chicago and ourselves. We were the champs and whole lot better than this BS. But if we could tie the game with that many turnovers it was only up from here. Damn shame I couldn’t contribute to it. But I was healing.

Corey picked me up and took me to MRI of Arlington Heights Imaging. The last time I’d layed in a similar machine was for CT scans to test whether my melanoma had spread. This reminded me the knee was not going to be an issue. In the grand scheme of life it could be dealt with. We went to Tri Balance Holistic Health and Nutrition where Dr Andrew Hopkins chiropractor gave me an ultrasound to reduce the swelling.  We ate lunch at Whole Foods, I was a first time customer. A gigantic health goods store. A beacon in the night, a savior of souls amongst a country of over indulgence. 




We returned to SkyPoint Medical and waited In Dr Sameer’s office for the radiographers reports to come through. Dr Sameer had looked after my GP & prescription needs in Chicago, a genuine professional who made me feel very comfortable around him. We waited and waited until the sun went down and decided the next day would show more. I missed my first practice that night. Allie and ChrisDell came home and hugged me, we genuinely missed each other and had spent less than 24 hrs apart. Some players can be absent from practice and fly under the radar. I didn’t want to be one of those players, my team always need me, I need them. 

Waiting results at SkyPoint Medical

My body clock woke me at 7am, I ate my standard breakfast (1/2 cup rolled oats & Vitamin King protein shake), read my emails and caught up on how Dad had handled his knee replacement in Sydney. was anxiously waiting all day to hear from Dr Sameer so turned my phone on loud. I had my last Vicoprofen the day before at 7am, hadn’t needed another dose since. So why was I so tired? I fell back asleep until 10am.  There was an eerie weight bearing on me, on the room, on the apartment. Was it the suspense? Perhaps, but for now I just wanted to lay, I dozed back off after lunch for a 1/2 hr nap.


Waiting, wondering, medicated.

I played phone tag with Corey for a bit until I emailed Dr Sameer his lifting session for the night since I couldn’t get out to train him at the studio. He called me back immediately and said the radiographer report just came through showing a complete tear of the ACL. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had felt so positive, each day had been less painful, was now moving without crutches and felt so much improvement. In my mind I was already rehabbing for the July 3 Vegas game. My buddy Adam Curley would be in town to cover the UFC double header weekend, he was coming to watch me play, there were other Aussies in town and it was my first trip to the strip! I was devastated, mid food prep cooking chicken breast, trying to remove it from the oven with tears flowing, sobbing like a baby thinking don’t burn yourself, keep control, don’t drop the tray. With every inch of my being I had thought I was going to be fine. Everything you believe you attract, I get that, I had been envisaging good thoughts and affirmations, hadn’t I? Since you attract what you think about most it is easy to see what your dominant thoughts have been on every subject of your life. How had I caused this to happen?



I was completely dejected


I started to over analyze, women are great at that….where had I gone wrong? Your thoughts reverberate throughout the entire universe! Then it dawned on me. A friend had asked me to catch up with him Monday after the game. My response was ‘lets see where I’m at, so many things could happen’. The weather forecast was great, we were probably going to drink ‘winner piss’ (aussie slang for post match team bonding) for a few days before we knuckled down onto our next opponent. It’s sacred time we spend with our team mates and I didn’t want anything to disrupt that. There was a tiny iota that thought not specifically about injury but more so the body being so sore post game you don’t want to have plans except laying in a bath.  Your thoughts create the frequency, they create like pictures on the stage which is our life! I had caused this myself. In my head it was a simple mathematical equations I found my answer. 


I had a call from my friend Lovel Palmer a pro soccer player for Chicago Fire. He was new in town too having moved from playing in Salt Lake City. He had tried to phone me a few times but I hadn’t answered, he sensed there was something wrong. He’s the kind of guy who’s voice alone can calm you, an authentic guy with a positive, glowing attitude to life. His sister a Jamaiican Olympian track star with heart wrenching tales of her own was in the Sydney Olympics, damn they had some athletic genes. He told me of his knee troubles in Jamaica, an MRI report indicated a tear in ACL and tear in meniscus, they performed surgery immediately but after going under the knife discovered the surgery was unnecessary, the ACL was intact. Two lessons here…a) always get a second and third opinion and b) if you sense your friends need you they probably do. We organized to visit the top of the Willis Tower which overlooks Chicago from a completely glass sky deck before I left. 


The thought of leaving was heartbreaking


I reached out to Coach Hac, the man who made all this happen and coach John who had supported me with everything I needed once I arrived. They were shocked, disappointed, said nothing would be the same without me. We didn’t expect things to end this way.



Allie came home to me slumped in front of the computer screen reading the radiographers MRI report, She knew by my voice something was wrong. Knowing it was bad news she hugged me while I whimpered, told me she loved me and everything would be okay. ‘We were brought together for a reason, I don’t ever want you to leave me, I don’t want to go back to my life without you’ I sobbed uncontrollably. Neither did I. Not that life in Sydney was bad by any means, just different. Perhaps Chicago would get old one day and stagnant as my life had in Sydney, would lose the excitement and joy of something sparkling and brand new. But that day was not today.




I skyped my friend UFC Fighter Hector Lombard in Florida, he 
spent part of the call hanging upside down from some stretching machine. He could see I was hurting and made me laugh to take my mind off the situation, generally by being stupid but still made me laugh. He told me he’d pinched a nerve recently in his neck during a car accident. After taking a blow to the same area at training the condition was looking to impact his fight scheduled for August. Surgery was impending until Dana White hooked him up with a specialist who treated footballers. After some treatment he felt cured and was prepping for his fight without going under the knife. He warned me to get some further opinions before securing any plans. It turned out later he had herniated discs and unfortunate had to pull out the fight in the end. 






Corey phoned again and said they were teeing me up with an Orthopedic surgeon who looked after the San Diego Chargers Dr Brian Moss. I needed that piece of mind, I deal who are specialists in my sport, the best. They don’t waste time, know their content and treat correctly the first time. Corey could hear by my crackly voice I was still processing the grief ‘remember to breathe tonight, breathe deep, let it go and start the healing process when you wake tomorrow.’ 



Allie went asked me if she should stay home from her date that night, I told her to go and wondered if it would be as successful as the last one. Chrisdell had heard the news and came over to stay the night. She hugged me and told me to reach out to god, leave it in his hands. I would do that later that night. As I explained my situation, that I felt it was too early to leave her she could see I was hurting. She said ‘I look at you like my big sister, you’re always strong and sensible, my voice of reason, to see you so hurt is tearing me apart’ I couldn’t be strong now, I’m always the strong one for everyone, I stand and I deal. I knew tomorrow or the next day I would fine but right now I was a broken woman. I didn’t quite know how to deal with this flood of tears, so I let it go. Being a logical human being VS an emotional one had me struggling with these feelings. Together with news of ChrisDell’s uncle passing earlier
 it topped off what had been a horrible day for her. I felt selfish.

ChrisDell told me Shari I have a soft spot for you, I can never say no to you



ACL tears are so common in stop start sports. The NBA had blowouts all the time I was reminded of Chicago’s Derrick Rose. Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, New York’s Iman Shumpert, Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio, Oklahoma City’s Eric Maynor, Leandro Barbosa & Rajon Rondo Boston Celtics and Lou Williams Atlanta Hawks guard all went down. Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore, New York Giants CB Terrell Thomas suffered the injury during pre-season practice 2012.






The hurt I felt was nothing related to having surgery or rehab, my body was a well oiled machine. I would lose my fitness and strength quickly but it returned even quicker. I’d had surgery pre Australian season. A breast augmentation, then a double groin hernia which revealed an often un diagnosed very dangerous spitzoid melanoma on my calf. Further surgeries to remove lymph nodes in my groin confirmed the cancer hadn’t spread but left me completely inactive for 3 months. Not just unable to train, unable to cough, laugh or sneeze without immense pain.


I was hurting because I’d played only one game in US, well one game and a few minutes of another. I’d sacrificed so much to get there and had not reached anywhere near my potential as a middle linebacker. I hadn’t satisfied that hunger, it hadn’t even touched the sides! Pain is temporary memories are forever. Right now I don’t want these as memories, I wanted them in my reality, my existence, my everyday. I’d grown very attached to my new friends in Chicago, the city, the people had done so much for me. That’s the part that hurt the most. The unfinished business, the relationships I’d started to build would be cut short. Some I felt a connection with and knew I would be friends with forever. I guess now pen pal friends from a distance. 

It was 2.37am and I was still blogging and researching. I took a vicoprofen hoping it would settle me off and calm my being. Typing slowed becoming more inaccurate as my lids dozed. Before shutting down the computer at 4.06am I came across a Zig Ziglar quote ‘How you see your future is much more important than what has happened in the past.’ Tomorrows another day and I saw a glimmer of hope.

This, is a public apology for posting a picture of your dick.

Because I live that ‘spiritual life’, I’m responsible for my actions.  I take regular inventory of myself and call myself on my bullshit when necessary.

Dick pics.  Lets talk about them.

Now some of you may have noticed I turned my messages off on my Facebook fan page.  Reason being, is on average, I’d get 2-3 different dick pics a day.  That’s not such  big deal, right?  But when you add it in with the countless messages from men I don’t know (wouldn’t matter if I did know them to be frank), about how they want to:

-plow my big ass with their cock
-have me smash their dick between my strong legs
-etc etc

It gets old.

I get it.  Men are programmed to be aroused differently.  Us women want to have a deep and meaningful conversation while we stare into each others eyes, then hope you start out by kissing our neck gently.

dick pic

 

That has always remained the same.  But- somewhere along the way after the birth of the internet, there’s been zero education on how to ‘act right’ online, via computer, phone, or any other piece of technology.  Now with virtually anything accessible at your fingertips, life’s a very different place prior to before the internet.  It’s become ‘normal’ for men to talk this way to women they don’t know.

Now, I do my best to not judge.  As most of you know I spent close to 3 years in the ‘muscle fetish underground’ world as a ‘muscle goddess’, getting paid to stand around and flex, or demonstrate features of strength.  Nothing surprises me anymore.  And most of my ‘fans’ I got to know extremely well.  I don’t see anything as “weird” or “gross”.  Just “normal”, great men with a fascination or obsession with “different” aspects of arousal.  The only thing I do know now, is that life is not what it seems.  ALL people wear masks.  Whenever I get pulled over by a cop, or need to stand in front of a judge again (hopefully those days are gone forever since I quit drinking 7 years ago lol) I can silently sit and think to myself “ah- yes… I know what you like to do when you get off work behind closed doors…. put on women’s pantyhose and get slapped around!”.  Or even the dentist…

I digress.

The point is, the dick pics get old.  And they aren’t getting you anywhere.

Now, here’s the apology. Kinda-

A few months back, I had a one-way conversation start in my personal Facebook messages with a guy talking about his dick.  Along with pictures of it of course.  I didn’t see it for months, because I can’t keep up with my inbox.  I hardly catch my dad’s messages.  I’m actually contemplating shutting messages off on my personal page as well.  Anyway, I gave this guy a really good reply, and decided to share it in a closed group of women whom I lead, since the topic of dick pics came up (again).

Not a problem, right?  If you send me a picture of your dick and continue to message me without me replying, that’s fair ground to put your shit out in public, isn’t it?  Well to some, maybe.  At the time it seemed fine to me.  But that changed.  And it only changed when the guy potentially found out about it, as he messaged me again and asked if I “blasted him on Facebook lol”.

Without blocking his name from the picture, this opens him up to anything.  And who knows, maybe he’d take his own life out of embarrassment by women being able to go and look him up publicly.  Although he has one of the most common names in the world, and his wall is covered in posts about the enormous size of his dick, the point is, all of my actions have consequences.  Potentially none to him, but other women may see that move as a display of character and that they might not be able to trust me.  So often we do shit without thinking all the way through.  Kind of like when I was still drinking…… “if I take this 10th cocktail, I miiiiiiiiiiiiiiight end up getting behind the wheel and running over a family of 4 walking down the street while singing to Prince too loudly whilst in a blackout”.  Never really thought about that shit!

Whilst I focus my life on empowering women not to judge other women, and more importantly, not to judge ourselves, I can’t have my cake and eat it to.  I can’t live my principles, and only apply them to certain classes of people.  As one of my teachers said, ‘by creating enemy’s we create separation”.

I don’t know this man.  I don’t know how he was raised.  Potentially without a strong mother figure.  I don’t know if he’s a drug addict seeking attention or help.

Upon taking regular inventory of myself, I can see when my actions don’t match up with how I’m aiming to live my life.  If I’m striving to be the best possible version of me, I have to address this stuff as it comes up, and realise the only reason why I checked my actions was because he potentially found out.

Lastly, a word of advice on dick pics.  Just as I said to this young man, “don’t bother”.  The single most attractive trait women find appealing in a partner, is quiet confidence.  I told him, “don’t attract women who just want you for your massive dick”, “whip it out when the time is right and surprise the shit out of her”…

In fact, here’s exactly what I wrote:

“No, i don’t think you’re sorry you sent a dick pic. i don’t know why i was compelled to look at your profile. you love toting that you have a big dick. let me let you in on a little secret: women love quiet confidence. stop chasing women who’d be interested in your big dick. much more satisfaction to hook up with a girl for reasons other than having a big dick. THEN whip it out (when the time is right) and surprise her. when you brag about it, it makes you look like a mark. confidence is the HOTTEST thing in another person. you have a big dick- and only you need to know that. rest assured in the silence that you have the biggest dick of all the land. and a lucky women MIGHT get to see it. don’t whore yourself out. Namaste”

As I read in a article the other day, it was suggested by this woman that men send pics of their dick as a power play.  They do it knowing that we can’t un-see it, and more than likely wouldn’t want to.  If you think about it, it’s not like a dick is a comparison of a beautiful bouquet of gorgeous smelling flowers.  Unless you’re a cougar who’s been locked up in a cage for years, and you’re in your prime, we aren’t going to view your dick pic as fresh meat.  Women’s brains aren’t programmed that way.  Yes there are some freaks out there who LOVE a dick pic, and that’s absolutely awesome.  But for the majority of us, it’s a strike out.  And we’re more than likely going to draw pictures on it and send it to our friends.

Namaste Bitchesssssssss!

And to the mystery man with the penis that hangs down to your knee, and Facebook wall with public posts about how massive your dick is, I apologise.

 

The post A Public Apology For Posting A Picture Of Your Dick appeared first on Kortney Olson >> Konfidence By Kortney.

If you’re not

A) A woman or,
B) A human being

then you might not have cellulite.

But, chances are, you are both, therefor rending you with some amount of dimple or ripple.  Some of us have more than others.  Diet, genetics, and level of activity all play a part in the amount.  For myself, I’m extremely active.  I work out 6 days a week, eat clean, haven’t drank or done drugs in 7 years, take probiotics and a lot of other supplements, drink pure aloe vera juice every morning (even on an empty stomach), sleep 7 hours on average a night, and more or less love my life.  However, I still find that I have a fair amount of cellulite on the back of my legs.

I know that a majority of it, in my personal situation, is genetic.  I also know that I create a lot of self perceived stress, and stress is the root of all evil in my life lol.  I also know that I take too many stimulants, and have jacked up my central nervous system over the past several years.

I write this to remind you that a lot of us forget the simple fact, that most women have cellulite.  Primarily due to the fact that most of us are not brave enough to post pictures of our ‘realness’ because we’ve been programmed to see it as repulsive, unsightly, and unattractive.  So what most of us see, are images of ‘perfectness’ from every other female, besides ourselves.  For example, here is a photo of me in the bathroom, from the side.  Looks pretty amazing right? (lol) <little too much side boob, sorry. get over it->

FullSizeRender (11)

 

But from the back with different lighting, it’s a completely different story, isn’t it?

 

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These particular pictures were taken in August, 2015.  For me to get from the above photo, to the below photo, took a lot of ridiculous, hard work.  Work that no one should ever have to do (aka, compete in a physique show lol).  I’m talking 45 minutes of fasted cardio every day, strict dieting, and aggressive weight training 5 days a week, for 4 months continuously.

 

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Point being, this didn’t last long. After a few months, the normal cellulite came back, despite the fact that I’m still, to this day, doing everything that I mentioned in the first paragraph.  So….. sometimes, this can mess with my head because I merely forget that

A) I’m a woman, and
B) I’m a human being.

Consider this your friendly service announcement.

:-)

The post Cellulite: We All Have It appeared first on Kortney Olson >> Konfidence By Kortney.

How I started a clothing company is not a simple feat.  Let me tell ya!

But, what I can say, is I NEVER saw it turning out the way that it has today.  You see, the problem we have when chasing our dreams, is that we give up simply because things don’t turn out the EXACT way we thought they would.

We do what Mike Dooley calls, “getting caught up in the cursed hows”.

Let me start at the beginning.

2009-2011 I stumbled into the “muscle fetish world” where I discovered an entire planet of men who would pay ridiculous amounts of money to experience some form of female strength  across the globe.  From arm wrestling, to wrestling, to being picked up and carried around, I had first hand experience that strong, powerful women were truly a “thing”, and that perhaps, all the Calvin Klein ads had been lying to me as to what is considered “beautiful” in society.  Ironic that happened to happen to a girl who had spent her entire life hating her body, her powerhouse.  Eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assault…

2011-2012 I launched a brand called Konfidence By Kortney where I could start making videos empowering women about all the truths I’d learned along the way.  Also sharing my tools from 12 step recovery and battling addiction.  I started realising that women were systematically being programmed by ‘the elite’ to see each other as competition, as well as to keep us preoccupied with being concerned around losing or gaining 5LBS so we’d stay distracted to the issues that mattered the most.  Never mind global warming and women’s rights- be concerned with Kim Kardashian.

I also spent WAY too much time on youtube researching conspiracy theories. (lol)

2013 I started Kamp Konfidence: A prevention based wellness program for teenage girls.  The vision was a world free from all forms of self harm for females.  The mission was the educate with the 5 habits, principles, and lessons that lead to the development of self love.  Then, creating a sisterhood of bonded sisters. www.kampkonfidence.com 

Here is a screenshot of 2013, where I messaged our designer and dear friend, Kelda from Hjello Designs, about creating shirts for the kampers:

SHIRT DOCO

The Kamp was extremely successful.  One of the initiatives we rolled out during Kamp, was this thing called “The Peldge”.  After we did the ‘body awareness’ workshop, where the girls learned the truth behind media and advertising, and listened to Jean Kilburn lecturing with “killing us softly”, the girls would take the pledge in front of their peers, then get a special wristband:

pledge

Kamp K went for a good year and a half, before one of my two partners fell pregnant, and we put it on hold.  I continued to pursue my network marketing business, as I thought THIS was the way I was going to fund Kamp Konfidence. No more relying on outside funding, AND I’d get to empower women to make money on their own terms along the way.  I did however, find out network marketing wasn’t for after a long ass year of trying too hard.

2014 My partner got a “vision” driving home from the office one day about creating a clothing line of athletic wear specific for each sport.  We would have “run like a girl” “hit like a girl”, etc.  5 days later, the #likeagirl campaign rolled out from US based feminine product company, Always .  Next day we went out and registered, “Like A Girl Clothing” pty ltd.  It sat and did nothing for the entire year.

Along the way that year, I started collaborating with a colleague named Jed, about coming up with images of empowerment for Women.  I wanted to start reaching the masses, instead of just 8-10 teenage girls every other weekend in Australia, through Kamp Konfidence.

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Well, fast forward to August 2015 and that’s when it all happened.   www.grrrl.com

Now, today, we have a massive movement in motion.  Women all over the world are starting to realise that we are meant to be united, aka the #grrrlarmy . Women realise that there is strength in numbers, and that we must fight this war of equality together in order to win.

Below is a photo of our #grrrlarmy members in Texas with our “American GRRRL” muscle tees on, ripping shit up, and playing hard.

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“The Pledge” is now on GRRRL Clothing as a hang tag, available for all females around the world to take and upload a video as documentation when doing the pledge.

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So you see, things didn’t turn out how I initially envisioned in my head.  Along the way they kept changing, but one thing remained the same: I kept showing up with the end result in mind.  The end result of creating a unified group of females, all striving for the same thing.  Judgement free, supportive, loving, and caring.  Empowering one another to be strong, and break free from the programming of “not good enough”.  Helping each other realise our true potential collectively.

I can’t tell you how many times I got upset and thought, “FK THIS! THIS IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN”.  But the truth is, the universe has a plan.  SO as long as we don’t get caught up in how we THINK it’s supposed to work out (the fine detail), it’ll work our eventually.  Keep your vision strong, and your muscles stronger.  And it’ll come to pass.  It might take you 4 years like myself.  It might take you 10.  But if you want it, and you don’t EVER give up, be 110% certain that the Universe has your back.

Namaste Bitchessssssssssss!

and PS, if you ever get a chance to see Mike Dooley do his “playing the matrix” seminar, I highly suggest you do so!

 

The post How I Started A Clothing Company: Manifestation appeared first on Kortney Olson >> Konfidence By Kortney.

sorry

 

I’ve blogged about this a while back.  But apparently I need to write about it again.  Probably because I spent so many years of my life in the dark in regards to HOW powerful language and spoken word can be, especially on a subconscious level.  Come to think of it, I believe the last time I blogged about this topic, I wrote about the word “just”, and how women in particular need to eliminate this word from our vocabulary as much as possible.

In a nutshell, words we often use, we think have a particular meaning.  Then, after a while, they become habitual, and unnecessary.  Without awareness, we continue using words that aren’t even needed, and instead of getting our point across, they actually have an adverse effect.  For example, the word “just” seems harmless, but often it comes across to others that we feel like we have to justify ourselves for thinking or acting a certain way.  In business particularly, women can damage themselves with the overuse of this word.

Lets say you’re in a board meeting.  Conversations are going around what the next best move is for the company.  A couple of guys start chiming in with their opinion and you strongly disagree.

John: “I don’t think management needs to be policing these departments.”

You: “Can I say something, John?”, “I just don’t think these departments have the right leaders to not need policing from management.”

Instead of answering, “John, I don’t think these departments have the right leaders to not need policing from management.”

Can you see how much stronger the second reply is?

Not only are you not asking for permission to speak, you simply state the facts from your point of view without feeling like you need to justify why- In other words, you bloody matter, and your goddamn opinion is valuable, and doesn’t need justifying.

The same can be said for words like “really” and “very”.  Again, women in particular tend to overuse these words to feel like we need to hit home our point, and be heard.  When in actuality, these words take away from the point you are trying to make.

Your daughter: I beat a boy up at school today for calling my friend Sally a fat pig.

You: “I’m very proud of you Jessica Ann!”

Instead of answer, “I’m proud of you Jessica Ann!”

Can you see how very takes away from being proud?

Now, the whole point of this blog was to write about the word “sorry”.  STOP USING IT.  NOW!

When I was running Kamp Konfidence, and talking and texting to teens on a daily basis, I cannot tell you how many times I found myself repeating myself: “STOP FUCKING SAYING YOU’RE SORRY!  YOU DO NOT OWE ME, OR ANYONE ELSE AN APOLOGY!”.  (and yes, dropping f-bombs when talking to my girls, works for us. I apologise in advance for offending any readers, but I’m sure as shit NOT sorry!)

Lets say I sent my mini me, Courtney a couple of text messages.  I don’t hear back from her for 30 minutes.  When usually, as most teenagers do, respond right away because their phone is in their hand.

Me:  Hey shawty!  How was schoo?  Did you smash that math test or what bissssssssssch!?

Court:  Oh heyyyyyyyyy babe!  Sorry for the slow reply, I was in the shower.

Me: What the fuck are you saying sorry for?  I didn’t know you had to be sorry for taking a shower??????

Court: Oh my gosh!  I never even realised that!

Saying or typing “I’m sorry” without even needing to, subconsciously tells ourselves that we are in a constant state of, once again, needing to justify ourselves, explain ourselves, or any other unnecessary bullshit that takes away from our power.  The word “sorry” has become an empty, meaningless word most often used by people who are prone to speak passive-aggressively.

“Oh- I’m SORRY that you feel that way.  and I’m SORRY that you think I was a bitch to you-”

lol- you see where this is going.  Is that person truly sorry?  NO! Of course not.  Instead of taking responsibility and communicating like a win-win assertive person, and responding (not reacting) with “Oh- I apologise you feel that way.  Is there something I did to cause you to feel I was a bitch to you?  Because it certainly wasn’t intentional, and I’d like to resolve it straight away.  I don’t want to fight with you.  We both deserve to be free from guilt and all that other bullshiiiiiiiiiiit!”.

 

SO!  In conclusion, lets set some things straight:

  1. be mindful/aware when using the words “really” and “very”.  they are not needed most often and actually take away from what you’re aiming to express.
  2. eliminate the words “just” and “sorry” as much as possible.  Instead, if you actually owe an apology for something, say “I apologise”.
  3. pay attention to your self esteem.  when you take time to be aware of your communication style, the words you use, and tell yourself you ARE worthy of great shit, you will attract such.  (and I use the “foul” language from time to time when I write because I want you to know that I am an average woman, with not-so-average strength hahahaha!  I’m not some communications expert with a degree.  I’m simple a woman who wants to empower people to take control of their lives and help them realise that we are ALL worthy)

Namaste Bitchessssssssssssss!

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