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Advice & stories from a former MMA fighter

Diet Basics for New MMA Fighters

mma diet protein

It’s no secret that becoming a MMA fighter takes a lot of effort and dedication. In addition to devoting a good amount of time to training, it’s important to follow the right diet. Here are just a few diet basics that you should use if you’re new to MMA fighting.

  1. Protein, Protein, Protein

Protein is the most important thing to incorporate in your diet. Without the right amount of protein, you won’t be able to sustain and grow your muscle mass. In other words, you will never be able to become stronger. Protein also gives you the most amount of energy in the healthiest way.

So, what types of protein should you eat? While you could eat any type of protein, the best types of protein are chicken, steak, salmon, and turkey. Try to stay away from fattier proteins, like pork. And if you decide to omit some meat from your diet, tofu, beans, and whey protein powder are great sources of protein!

  1. Lean Vegetables

Another important aspect of your diet should be vegetables. But, you should make sure you’re eating lean vegetables that have the most amount of nutrients. In other words, opt for vegetables like kale, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, and even spaghetti squash.

Pro tip: spaghetti squash is an overall better alternative to regular spaghetti that will provide you more nutrients and health benefits, plus it’s tasty.

  1. Say Goodbye to Sugar

Like many carbohydrates, sugar will hinder your energy and overall nutrients. I know, it might be hard to cut out sugar, but it will be worth it in the long run. And although you might initially experience sugar withdrawals, you won’t crave sugar the longer you don’t consume it. If you really need a sweet pick me up, you could always munch on some fruit with a healthier dipping option like almond butter. It might not be as sweet as a candy bar, but it’s definitely tasty and nutritious!

  1. Be Mindful of Drinks

I’ve seen it happen so many times: a new MMA fighter complains that their new restrictive diet doesn’t seem to be working. So, I’ll ask them if they cut out drinks other than water and plain tea and coffee. And guess what they say? “No.”

When you’re working out for a few hours a day and eating clean, it might seem like drinking a few sodas or indulging in a large milkshake might not hurt you. In reality, those sodas or that milkshake could make you placebo. That’s why it’s important to only drink clean beverages, such as water, tea, and coffee. And if you want to indulge in a little bit of alcohol, opt for a lighter drink like plain vodka and avoid mixing it with anything sugary.

  1. Eat Five Times a Day

Although you might be eating cleaner, you should be eating more frequently. Eating at least five times a day will stimulate your metabolism and provide you with more energy throughout the day. Remember: the goal is to be restrictive in terms of what you eat, not how much you eat. If you ever feel abnormally hungry, eat a snack or incorporate another meal into your diet.

  1. Meal Prep

Since you’ll be able eating cleaner, it will be extremely difficult and expensive if you ate out all the time. That being said, get prepared to cook at home. But, let’s face it: cooking at home takes a lot of time, and you might not have the luxury of cooking for one or two hours every day. That’s why you should meal prep once or twice a week! Then, you can simply pop your meal into the microwave or oven, and have a meal ready within a few minutes.

  1. Cheat Days

MMA fighters are still human. In other words, don’t completely deprive yourself of food. Everyone has a guilty pleasure meal or snack, and you shouldn’t forgo those options just because you’re a MMA fighter. The key is to only indulge every once and a while. Depending on what your guilty pleasure food is, you could approach this a few ways.

For example, if you love ice cream and are never satisfied with any alternatives, simply limit yourself to consuming a small container of ice cream that’s worth a few tablespoons every night. On the other hand, if you can’t resist pizza, allow yourself to enjoy a slice or two of pizza after a big match.

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What Sparked My Interest in Martial Arts…

When I was young my parents got me into martial arts because, like most good parents, they wanted me to be involved with extra curricular activities and explore interests that I might enjoy. I remember being somewhat reluctant and nervous at the idea of trying it for the simple fact that it was new. I forgot how we landed on which martial art to get into but somehow we had come to the decision of Jeet Kune Do. This decision would ignite a passion and an interest in the martial arts legend, Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee was probably the first iconic person I had a real interest in learning all about. As I learned and studied his style of martial arts I also learn about his life and philosophy. I was absolutely amazed that a man who was so small in stature could be so powerfully strong and revered. I would watch his movies and videos of him performing and be in awe of his quickness. One thing I really respected about him as I studied what made this man great was his work ethic and commitment to the martial arts.

I really began to get engulfed by the martial arts culture as I took Jeet Kune Do classes and studied the man who created the style. I read books about him and even did school reports and projects about him. I was almost to the point of a mild obsession… but a healthy one, you know? My obsession also seeped into the physical training aspect of my classes and I became in the best shape I probably have ever been in. I excelled in my classes and made it through the ranks of different colored belts. The physical symbol the different belts provide was great but I was more focused on my personal growth and development throughout the classes.

Eventually, I quit the classes due to my instructor having a minor god complex and the practices of a bad businessman. Though it did not pan out with my classes I will forever remember the interest and passion it sparked in me. Getting into martial arts helped dial in my focus and instilled focus in me that I could utilize in every facet of my life. Whether you are into martial arts or not there is something to be learned from the life and his method of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do.

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Proper Nutrition for Martial Arts Training

healthy meal

Bruce Lee introduced a martial arts transformation and also motivated martial artists to damage the ties that bound them as professionals. Lee freed himself and various other martial arts professionals from the connections that limited the abilities of conventional boxers. After years of study and growth, Lee fused every martial arts element into one system.

Jeet Kune Do, according to Lee, is not an additional fighting style or method. It is a principle where various fighting strategies are used. Whether it is from Japan, China, India, or the Philippines, combat artists are urged to check out various combating systems and absorb their essence. Lee wished to produce a fighting style that was complimentary and also unbound, where motions are easy, straight, as well as non-classical. He later broadened the concept that the art ought to be made use of for personal growth as well as end up being a far better competitor. The last of training made for practitioners of Jeet Kune Do was the “no limitation” stage where innovative students were free to change and also discover their personal styles of battling.

Because of outstanding physical and also psychological training, Bruce Lee was able to achieve this task. He released himself of the stress and anxiety that hindered his training. He strengthened his abdominal muscles because these muscles play a vital role in the movement of martial artists. Furthermore, these muscles shield the ribs as well as other important organs. Lee regularly experienced and tried to accomplish maximum efficiency, and according to him, martial artists of his time did not have required physical conditioning to support their skill. There were many occasions where Lee would ride a stationary bike for 45 mins to raise his muscle mass, as well as decrease body fat,. He incorporated weight training with his normal exercise to enhance his performance and figure. The type of exercise he did was meant to prevent the buildup of substantial muscle mass that might hinder his martial arts movement. Furthermore, Bruce Lee educated himself correctly to stay clear of muscle spasms and back pain. Injuries might obstruct his training as well as influence his performance. He likewise took nutrition seriously and was rigorous in his diet. He drank his share of vegetables, apples, celery, carrots, and prepared it using an electric blender or food processor. Lee consumed plenty of high-protein drinks that included powdered milk, eggs, bananas, and also peanut butter.

Bruce Lee is among one of the most well known names on the planet, and he achieved so much despite living a very short life. His objective of breaking restrictive bounds resulted in the creation of several hybrid fighting styles. Lee did not become an experienced martial artist overnight; rather, his success was a product of intense, vigorous training combined with correct nourishment.

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Today’s Martial Arts Scene is a Joke

karate

“There is no challenge in breaking a board. Boards don’t hit back.” – Bruce Lee

Taking a look at the modern martial arts scene with this quote in mind makes me sad. I’ve been all over the city to martial arts studios and witnessed trainings where students are learning to do things that simply have no practical application.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a reason why it’s called “martial arts,” as it most certainly is an art form. I absolutely agree that students should study foundational techniques, even those which have little practical application. Watch any martial arts movie and it’s like watching ballet in a way. (Don’t laugh … hear me out.) Ballet takes an amazing amount of poise, strength, and self-control. I’ve actually been to a ballet performance and cried over the sheer beauty of it all, and I know the same thing can happen when you watch a martial arts “performance.”

But unlike ballet it’s not all about performance, at least not in an aesthetically pleasing sense. While certain poses and techniques can be beautiful, the end goal has always been and will always be self defense. If you’re not learning how to defend yourself, then you’re paying hundreds of dollars to attend dance classes that will afford you nothing when someone is holding a gun to your head and threatening your life.

Yes, all of the other benefits of martial arts are great. You’ll get stronger. You’ll build solidarity with like-minded students who are “in the fighting ring” with you. And it’s definitely a confidence booster, especially for women (at least from what they’ve told me.) In short, you’ll feel like a badass if you master martial arts. But feeling like a badass and actually being one in the middle of a life-threatening situation are two different things.

We’ve got to stop teaching fighters to break boards. Just like Bruce Lee (one of the greatest martial artists who ever lived) said, “boards don’t hit back.” You gotta learn to fight against a person who will fight back. Actually, in most cases (if you’re applying the rule of self-defense that they teach you), they’ll be the instigators, which means you’ll be fighting back.

I understand why they teach people to break boards. It’s the mastery of a certain technique that perfectly balances strength, agility, and form to accomplish what seems impossible. But breaking a board is far from impossible. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to learn, and there’s really no challenge once you learn it. Challenge comes when you’re in a real-life situation where you need to apply what you’ve learned in order to safe yourself from being seriously injured or killed. Boards don’t move, and they don’t hit back, so if you don’t know how to defend yourself against a moving, living being without killing them in the process (unless it becomes absolutely necessary), then you’re gonna be in trouble.

This is a call to martial arts teachers today. How can we bring the techniques of Bruce Lee back into our classrooms? What can we do to ensure we’re not only teaching people martial arts as an art form, but also as a practical, life-saving, set of techniques that will be extremely valuable in a life-threatening situation?

Thoughts? I’m definitely not trying to start a fight here. (Ha ha, see what I did there?) Just looking to have an honest conversation about a subject that’s very near and dear to my heart. Feel free to leave a comment below.

(But be nice or it’ll get deleted.)

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Turning the Other Cheek

In my previous post, I shared some of my favorite inspirational quotes for fighters. One of them was “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” I wanted to expand on this idea a little more by talking about one of Jesus’ most well-known pieces of advice: turn the other cheek.

Some people believe that turning the other cheek essentially means becoming a doormat or a pushover, and that it instructs us never to defend ourselves against our enemies. I do not believe that to be true.

Although I advocate responding to hurt with love, sometimes, “turning the other cheek” (as the world defines that phrase) is simply not practical. In some cases, self-defense will be necessary to ensure your very survival. In those extreme situations, I advocate self-defense as a means of continuing your life and maintaining your own well-being, as well as the health and well-being of those around you.

Let me put it another way: if a man showed up at your front door in the  middle of the night with a gun and threatened to harm you and your loved ones, I would absolutely condone self-defense in that situation. You don’t need to shoot to kill, but shooting him in the foot, or using your own strength to disarm him so that he’s no longer able to hurt you would be appropriate.

Sometimes, we have a tendency to get defensive and if not careful, we end up being hurtful towards others who hurt us (intentionally or not). I believe that in calling us to “turn the other cheek,” Jesus is simply asking us to respond to hurt as lovingly as possible, and to only put up our defenses when it’s absolutely necessary, and to do so in such a way as to minimize harm to the other party.

These are my thoughts. Do you agree?

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3 Inspirational Quotes For Fighters

inspirational quotes for fighters

I’m a lover, and a fighter. What I mean is, when I fight, I do it out of love. Meaning I don’t do it to harm anyone. I do it when the outcome is certain to showcase my love for other human beings.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to fight for things. Things you believe in with your whole heart and that you know are for the good of humanity. Fighting to harm others is bad, but fighting for things that will only improve the world is good and very necessary in my opinion.

I seek to be a resource and an inspiration to everyone with whom I come in contact. As part of that goal, I frequently find myself sharing inspirational quotes and sayings that will uplift the spirit and feed the soul. That said, here are 3 of my favorite quotes about fighting that I hope will inspire you as you stumbled upon this post today!

Quote #1: “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Like I said, sometimes fighting is necessary. But when you’re doing it for revenge, it’s likely to create more harm than good. Only engage in physical force when it’s absolutely crucial for your own well-being or survival. Never put down others or verbally abuse them. Karma’s a bitch, and I can tell you from experience that it will come back to bite you. If someone tries to put up a fight in your presence, turn the other cheek and encourage others around you to do the same. Who wants to fight a guy whose hands are up in the air as a sign of surrender? No one.

Which brings me to the next quote:

Quote #2: “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I think that speaks for itself, but I’ll elaborate a bit more. Offense is a choice. If someone emotionally hurts you, it’s because you allow them to get under your skin. Choose to keep your chin up when adversity strikes, and you won’t get hurt.

At the same time, don’t put up walls. Create transparency and friendship and you’re sure to receive those things a hundredfold.

Quote #3: “Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.” – Bruce Lee

One of my favorite fighters of all time. Wise words, Bruce. Wise words.

Don’t swing your fist at someone if they’re throwing emotional swords at you. Physical fighting does not remedy emotional hurt. At the same time, swinging back emotionally won’t do much good either. The only thing that works to fix hurt is love. So love passionately, and love more.

Has this inspired you in any way? If so, please leave a comment below and share this post with someone you know and love. If I start to get a lot of responses, I may turn this into a regular series on the blog!

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5 Strategies to Stay Positive When Things Start to Suck

flowers

5 Functional Ways to Maintain a Positive Attitude In the Midst of Hardship

Life’s not always rainbows, butterflies, hearts and flowers. The trick to being happy is maintaining a positive attitude even when you’re going through tough times.

Winston Churchill said it well:

“A pessimist sees the problem in every possibility; an optimist sees the possibility in every trouble.”

I’ve chosen to put together a list of various strategies that you can use that will certainly help you be more positive, even in the midst of hardship.

Every day I prefer to use my positivity as my stamina. I select not to stay “in the pits,” so to speak, but instead to overcome my battles as I look toward the future. Yes, there are days when I cannot do so, when I collapse under life anxieties, yet those days are a reminder of why it is so essential for us to remain positive and to pick joy, even in the meds of destruction and calamity.

1. Post a motivating quote on social media.

We might also make use of the forever-growing social media sites as a means to proclaim positivity over our lives, as well as to urge other individuals that remain in our inner circles. Specifically on those days where I simply really feel helpless, I recite bible quotes and publically share them on Instagram.

2. Live a healthy lifestyle.

Improving your self-esteem with a healthy and balanced way of living will lead to a generally positive perspective on life. I wake up in the early morning, drink a bottle of water, and exercise. Then I eat a healthy breakfast and take about 15 minutes to meditate and be alone so that I can ground myself in my purpose for the day. It’s not only important to take care of yourself physically. Meditation allow your mind to be cared for as well, which will help you to be more productive throughout the day.

3. Try to see the good in all things.

There’s a positive side to every scenario. Occasionally, as you may know, good things can actually come from bad situations, and you may be able to find good in unfavorable circumstances. Maintaining a positive attitude and seeing the good in every situation is a choice, and one that I intentionally make each and every day.

4. Lower negative thoughts in your life.

There are lots of pessimistic people out there that see the glass as half-empty by default. If you spend time with pessimists, you will probably become one yourself. You are who you associate with.

5. Do activities that bring a smile to your face.

Listen to tunes from by your favorite band, go running, write, drink coffee, take pictures, hang out with your closest friends, call your family members, play golf, take a Zumba class, talk to that person you haven’t seen in a while, prepare a healthy dish, learn a brand-new language, flatter someone … the opportunities are endless! Do anything that makes you happy! If you are really feeling down, do not simply mope around by yourself. That encourages depression. Be aggressive in your quest for happiness, peace, and love!

What are some other tips you have for staying positive when life sucks? Share your strategies in the comments below!

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Good Leaders Fight For Their People

boss-vs-leaderI once worked for a manager who was a complete pushover. Her boss would ask her to jump and she’d say “how high?” In fact, her boss might has well have been my boss, because she pretty much ran the show for our whole team. She never let our actual manager do her job — lead her team in the direction we should go in order for our department, and the company as a whole, to be successful. It’s like as soon as she discovered that our manager was a pushover, she capitalized on the situation.

Our manager eventually got fired and was replaced by someone who was basically a complete 180-degree turn from what we’d been used to. When this new guy came in, he did something that made me want to keep my job, where before I’d spend half my days scouring Indeed.com for other options.

He fought for us.

Good leaders fight for their people.

There’s a pretty popular saying out there: “if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” I wholeheartedly believe that’s true. Good leaders stand up for their people. If you believe in your people, you’ll fight for them. You’ll stand up to your boss’s boss, pushing back on stupid policies (even going so far as to call them stupid, if necessary), so that your people have a better experience when they come to work.

Optimizing employee experience is key to optimizing customer experience. After all, your employees are the face of your company. They are the ones who determine what kind of experience your customers will have. And in a fast-paced, digital society, where people are paying bigger bucks for better experiences, your employees sure as hell better matter to you.

This new manager pushed back on stupid policies that were making our jobs harder and negatively affecting our productivity. He implemented new policies that just. made. sense. And you should have seen how happy we became as a result.

He didn’t just change a few policies though. He literally changed our job descriptions. We went from doing menial, soul-crushing, task-based work, where quantity mattered most, to doing work that we enjoyed, that activated our brains on a daily basis. Work that counted quality above quantity, and above everything else for that matter. We went from sitting in isolated cubicles for 8 hours straight with our headphones in and music blaring to actively participating in meetings, where people appreciated our input as experts in our field. We went from being bored and actively disengaged to being stimulated and actively engaged in the work we did every day. Suddenly, our jobs mattered.

This guy also took the time to ask us how we were doing on a daily basis. And he genuinely cared about the answer. He wanted to get to know us personally and took the time to find out what made us tick. By tailoring our work to what he knew would keep us motivated, he engaged us and made us want to work hard.

Good leaders do this. They fight for their teams, because their teams are worth more than anything. Their teams will make or break their success as leaders, upon which the success of the entire business hinges.

If you’re a leader, I challenge you to fight hard. Fight hard for what matters. Fight hard for your people and they’ll work hard for you.

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What Are You Fighting For?

freedom fighters

With the upcoming presidential election, I wanted to provide some food for thought. Hopefully this post will motivate you to really think about the state of our nation and the direction we’re headed in.

But before I go there, allow me to briefly apologize for being MIA for so long. I’m a fighter, not a writer… heh. Seriously though, I’ve been going through some personal things that have prevented me from being entirely present on this site, but I’m doing my best to get back in the trenches again, starting with this post. So, I hope you can forgive my absence and move on with me as we continue these fighting conversations!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of these battles we’ve been fighting. And by “we” I mean the good ol’ US of A. We have wars for just about every conceivable thing – a war on terror, a war on drugs, a war on poverty, a war on cancer… etc. But is all this fighting really doing us any good? Furthermore, what are we really fighting for?

The war on terror isn’t working. The war on drugs has done little to eliminate drug abuse and addiction and a lot to increase incarceration rates in our country. The war on cancer? Well, that’s just laughable considering that 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime. And this war on poverty will do nothing to benefit the powers that be, so the way I see it, it’s just lip service to appease those to whom socialism appeals.

The upcoming election has us all fighting each other on social media newsfeed and forums. Disagreements are rampant. Differing opinions over candidates’ beliefs and proposed policies have served to divide us as a people, rather than unite us. Long-term, this is detrimental to our nation.

So my question is this: what are we fighting for? More importantly, what are you fighting for?

We should all be fighting to reestablish the USA as a great nation. We should all be fighting for true freedom. True freedom means being able to make decisions without government intervention. It means that if someone wants to use a drug for recreational purposes, they should be able to without the threat of incarceration, as long as it’s not hurting anyone. It means that if someone chooses not to vaccinate their children, they shouldn’t be reprimanded by the media or by their healthcare professionals for making that choice. It means being able to pay into things that will improve our communities voluntarily instead of being automatically forced to pay taxes. It means being able to opt for private health insurance, or no health insurance, if that’s what floats your boat.

We have stopped fighting. We’ve given up and we keep telling ourselves that it’s perfectly okay to just vote for the lesser of two evils and hope for the best. But what if we refused to vote for evil at all? What if we refused to go along with this whole charade and decided to unite together, as a people – one nation under God (or Buddha if you prefer that sort of thing) – and stand up for what we believe in? When did we become so damn apathetic?

It’s time to stop complaining and to start fighting. I keep seeing all these memes on Facebook joking about how this election might come down to Trump and Hillary and how awful that would be. But we just go laughing about it and accepting this as our reality instead of actually doing something to change it. Either we don’t know how to change it, we’re lazy, we believe we’re powerless, or we just don’t care. I hope for everyone’s sake that the latter is not the case…

I ask you again: what are you fighting for?

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