Tag Archives: resting

When a Year Wasted Isn’t a Wasted Year

If the title of this post seems conflicted, it’s because I’m learning one of those lessons that the mind is quicker to pick up than the heart. The story starts like this: I slipped and fell down a flight of stairs. I wanted to help the UPS man carry some boxes down the back steps of the gym on a rainy day, and there you go. I don’t even know how I fell or how I traveled down so many steps, but all I know is that I thought my right elbow was smashed to smithereens (it wasn’t) and that my lower back was screwed (it was).

The scene of the crime.

The scene of the crime.

Though it’s not my first reaction, I have to consider myself lucky! I didn’t hit my head, I didn’t break any bones, and I’m not paralyzed. There are a hundred ways a fall like that could’ve been worse. Still, my first reaction was: OOWWW! Followed by hysterical tears, followed by ice and ibuprofen, followed by shattered expectations for the summer amateur boxing season.

I fell on the 17th of March, 2014 (to be exact), which was less than a week before the Georgia Golden Gloves tournament that I’d been preparing for. With six novice bouts under my belt, I was pumped to fight all summer, go open, and fight some more. I wanted to close the fall and waltz into winter with a nice stack of wins and oodles of experience. Right? Wrong!

Initially, we thought I’d still be able to box that weekend after the swelling and inflammation went down. The problem is, the inflammation never went down! My elbow healed up and that pain gradually disappeared after a few months. The lower-back-and-butt injury, however, did not. First, my uninsured self tried a slew of treatments:

  • Chiropractic adjustments.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Icing my back multiple times a day (every day for months).
  • Using a TENS unit.
  • Self-massage with a lacrosse ball.
  • Massage therapy.

I don’t know about the acupuncture, but the chiropractic adjustments were helpful for quick pain relief. Icing my back numbs the pain and the TENS unit covers up the pain, but the best treatment that has encouraged healing is the massage therapy. Not just any massage therapy, but the fantastic work by Jeff Trotti at Comprehensive Bodyworks. Side note: he ROCKS! A lady at the gym recommended him to me and I’m so glad. If you need help, go to Jeff. Now. (What, you live in another state? What’s the problem?! When I’m famous, I’m going to fly him around with me. He doesn’t know that, though, so don’t tell him yet.)

So June rolls around (almost three months after the fall), and I’m thinking that this is starting to get ridiculous and I just have to suck it up and go to a medical doctor. I’m pretty sure that ordeal was a colossal waste of money, but maybe it wasn’t. I got an MRI that showed good results, so at least there wasn’t a herniated or ruptured disc. And I tried some medications that didn’t work… The doctor’s conclusion was that I shouldn’t be hurting. (Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Orthopedic Specialist.) I think he dismissed me because I didn’t have insurance. It was definitely the worst experience I’ve had with a doctor. I recently got health insurance (hooray!), so I’m trying again with a different orthopedic doctor this week. Wish me luck!

From April through October, I tried my best to train around the injury. I rested for weeks at a time here and there, but never more than 2-3 weeks at once. I would get so restless and upset! When I say I was still training, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m talking about low-impact, six-round workouts that sometimes didn’t even require gloves. Nothing near the intensity of even average training sessions, and definitely nowhere near the conditioning needed for sparring and/or fighting. No running, either.

Meanwhile, I felt like everyone around me was training and fighting and having the time of their boxing lives. But this was a lesson in itself. Instead of being in the ring at the fights, I was snapping pictures of our fighters, filming their fights so they could watch themselves later, and cheering from the sidelines. It stunk, but it taught me about supporting my friends and teammates. I was supportive before, too, but this time I didn’t have my own matches to worry about. (That isn’t even true, because I was still thinking about when I would finally be able to compete again…) Ok, so I’m trying to sound all wise and learn-ed, but really I was just jealous.

Look at our boys and their belts! Who wouldn't be jealous? 9/1/2014

Look at our boys and their belts! Who wouldn’t be jealous? 9/1/2014

Even at home in the gym, I felt left out. When I could box, working in the gym was fabulous because it kept me close to what I love. When I couldn’t box, though, it was torture because it felt like all of the work with none of the fun. (It wasn’t so bad once I readjusted my attitude. Again.) It’s amazing how something physical can affect my emotions so much. I know many people have been through so much more physical trouble than I have and for much longer, but I still feel like this has been a long nightmare that still isn’t over. You can tell, right? Even though I’m trying to be logical and level-headed, you can hear that I’ve still got whine and boohoos under there. It’s all about perspective. So many other people are feeling much worse pain, but I’m not feeling their pain… I’m feeling mine.

Just as a pick-me-up even though I still wasn’t in good shape, I did have a fight on November 1st at my home gym and won! That was a bright, happy spot that capped off the worst and shortest training period I’ve ever had before a fight. Whew! Tell you more about that later.

My hope right now is that I can start training again within the next couple of weeks and build up my conditioning and strength to fight and go open this summer. Just a year later than I was hoping for.

Happy New Year!

Ha! I thought I should liven things up. Here I am on my third anniversary of boxing (Jan. 4th), with entirely different thoughts and lessons than I hoped I would. But who’s to say one lesson is better than another, especially when there’s no telling what’s coming in the future?

I re-read my post from my first anniversary of boxing, and I’m proud that I can see so much growth in myself since then. Those lessons are still important basics for me, but I’ve learned so much more. Here are three big ideas that I’m still trying hard to digest:

Keep dreaming big dreams.

Keep dreaming big dreams, but don’t let your impatience to get there spoil what you have here and now. In this song by the Eli Young Band, the main line is: “Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart.” I’m not an aspiring country music artist, but I can relate to the lyrics because they tell me about reaching and reaching and reaching because you don’t have a choice. Scratch that! You do have a choice, and you’ve chosen this one thing, no matter what.

Get to work and expect fun.

When I return to training (whenever that may be), it’s going to hurt. My trainer and I will work together to make sure I ease into it the best way possible, but there’s no getting around the aches and pains that even healthy bodies have when getting back into something like boxing. I don’t care about that. What I’m excited about is boxing, and no pain is going to take the joy of that away. (Remind me of that when I’m complaining about it later!!) I’m serious about my boxing and I will focus and train hard, but I fully expect it to be fun and good because this is what I want and what I’ve chosen.

THIS: I can always learn and advance.

This is my number one boxing lesson for the year. For a while, I thought I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t train hard. In reality, when I shifted my attitude, I could do more than I realized. I watched a whole lot of boxing (in the gym, on TV, on YouTube, at tournaments…) and imagined myself doing everything impressive I observed. Everything sharp, slick and devastating—I can do all that. I practiced on lighter and faster bags, danced around with footwork here and there, and played around.

Not kidding: even though I trained so little this year, the few times I sparred or even moved around a little bit throwing jabs, I’ve felt and looked way better than before. Progress! Don’t get me wrong, the above activities were NOT a satisfying replacement for full-on training, but it was something. Involuntary resting absolutely sucks, but you don’t have to rest your mind.

Which leads right into that lesson I mentioned at the beginning: that I “know” in my mind, but still struggle with in my heart. This period hasn’t been a waste of time. It’s a set-back, no doubt, but I’ve still grown. It delayed my plans in terms of fights and advancing into the amateurs and eventually the pros… But the year wasn’t a wash. It didn’t go down the drain. I don’t know all the reasons yet, and I don’t know the end of the story! But I sure do have big dreams for it.

Next time, on a happier note, I’ll tell you about my fight in November, how I became a Mexican, and how I got a new ring name! :)

P.S. I’m not allowed to carry anything down those steps anymore.

3rd Time’s the Charm: Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 6

Exactly a week ago, I dozed in bed for as long as possible. The day of the fight had finally come, but I was so focused on trying to rest and think un-sick thoughts that I barely considered the actual fight coming up in just a few hours. I got out of bed around eleven or noon o’clock, at which point I was starving and back down to my normal weight. (So my weigh-in weight was shed overnight. That’s good.) In lieu of going out for a full-blown, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast, I had left-over steak with eggs—which still wasn’t too shabby. You’ve realized, by now, that I love eating.

Aside: My wonderful mother sent me a series of encouraging texts at intervals between 10:29 am and 5:05 pm. My favorites were “Go forth and conquer!” and “Have fun storming the castle!” The last message said: “This concludes transmission of the Encourage Kelsey Coalition. Good night. <3” Am I lucky or what? Even though she couldn’t be with me, she made sure that I knew she was with me in spirit. Don’t you wish you had my mom? (Too bad. Only my brother is as blessed.)

On with the story! After eating, I flopped onto the couch for more napping. Part of me wanted to do something to “get pumped,” but I stuck with the plan: rest until the show. So I drifted between being awake and asleep for a few more hours, drinking plenty of water and having occasional snacks. Eventually, around 2:30, I got up and took a shower to ease my congestion for a while. My cousin, Garrett, arrived from out-of-town and we talked until hunger drove us to Subway. I bought and devoured a delicious footlong. That’s what I had for late lunch/early dinner before my first fight, too. Don’t know if it’s the best thing to eat, but it’s yummy…

In a blink, it was time to leave. I checked and double-checked my gear. I threw a couple of apples and a chicken breast into my duffel bag. (You never know!) I was told to bring a blanket and pillow, as well—not something I’ve ever packed with my boxing gear before. Garrett dropped me off at the venue, where I chatted with two friendly Lisas (who would fight each other later that night), wandered around and got up in the ring to feel it out.

Then: plop! I laid myself down on the floor in the red corner’s warm-up area and stayed there. I was so glad to have a blanket, because that floor was freezing. Leeann said she was jealous of me. Leslie said she’d throw a worm on me. I said, “I don’t care.” I never actually slept, with all the people going to and fro, but I snuck in a few baby cat naps. Terri came back once and shook me to ask if I was okay. I think she might’ve been more nervous than I was—or maybe she was just wound tight from making sure that everything ran smoothly despite several volunteers not showing up. (That might be it.)

I had my uniform on under my sweats and I already taped up the laces on my boxing shoes, so that I’d be ready to go when it was time. Ronda wrapped my hands a short while before the show started, after which I laid back down—but not for long. Once the first fight began, I felt that I’d reached my limit of resting. I got up, put away the bedding and joined the land of the living.

One of my friends from work (an unofficial mentor teacher who has made a huge difference for me) showed up with a friend. She saw me and came over to wish me luck. Later, two more teacher-friends arrived. It was too late for them to come back to the dressing area, but they held up a poster for me to see: “Go Kelsey Go! She’s #1!” They also had tambourines and drums that they brought with them from the classroom.

Here's the beauty! (I didn't crop y'all out 'cus I don't like you--just didn't know if you wanted to be on a blog. Privacy, you know.) Thanks to Garrett for taking the picture.

Here’s the beauty! (I didn’t crop y’all out ‘cus I don’t like you–just didn’t know if you wanted to be on a blog. Privacy, you know.) Thanks to Garrett for taking the picture.

I half-watched the first two fights of the night, while walking around, talking to people and thinking. I took my last pee break during the second fight, and then started warming up slowly during the third. I headed to the glove table during the fourth fight with my mouthpiece in and headgear on over my bandana. After checking to make sure I was good to go, the very friendly glove-table-worker signed off on my handwraps and gloved me up.

I continued warming up, faster now. There were a couple of times that I felt very tired while shadowboxing, but I just put that out of my mind. I’d had as much rest as I was able to get, and that would have to do. The fourth and fifth fights went by. I saw bits and pieces of them, but not much. When the guys in the sixth fight walked out, I realized: “Oh gosh. My turn is next!” I continued warming up. Terri came back to do a little pad work with me (without the pads), during which I was really slow. Really. I didn’t let that worry me, though. She re-iterated what I needed to do: the main thing was to control the pace of the fight so that I wouldn’t get tired too early.

The sixth bout ended. I don’t remember how I felt at that moment. The ring announcer called Shannon to the blue corner; then me to the red corner. (My ring-walk song: “The Downfall of Us All” by A Day to Remember, just like last time. Still love it.) My teacher-friends held up their poster and banged on the drums and tambourines, which tickled me. My cousin came over to film Terri and I walking in. (Terri was the only cornerman wearing a mini dress and high heels that night, I’ll tell you that. And she still got in & out of the ring with no problem. Now that’s skill.) After the ref checked me, she brought both of us to the middle to touch gloves and give us our last reminders. Back to our corners for the bell: ding!

Round 1: Praise God, I didn’t feel unwell or tired. I figure sleeping for four days did some good. I went into the round and did what I knew to do, which got me my first knockdown. I went to the neutral corner while my opponent got up for her standing-eight count. My six supporters started chanting my name. (Those six people that I knew were cheering me on were on one side of the ring. Later, I heard my name shouted from the other side of the ring. I remember thinking: “Who’s that!?”) The ref finished counting and we continued boxing. The bell rang shortly thereafter.

I don’t remember everything Terri told me, but I do remember that she had to tell me to look at her because I wasn’t really listening at first. Oops! I think this was when she said that I needed to land a few more good rights (which was what got me the knockdown). She told me how to do it.

Round 2: I spent the round trying to follow Terri’s instructions. However, very few punches were thrown. Honestly, after watching it on video, it was rather boring!

When I got back to the corner, Terri said that I needed to make a statement to end the fight, since I’d been waiting around too much in the second round. She didn’t tell me anything technical—just to go get busy.

Round 3: I waited less this round—and still didn’t feel tired. The ref called for another standing-eight count on my opponent. After that, I don’t remember anything else about that round. Only that I couldn’t believe it was almost over, after looking forward to these six minutes for months.

After we were both stripped of our gear in our corners, the ref brought my opponent and I to the middle of the ring and held our hands. In my first two fights, this was the moment when I didn’t know if I had won or not. In this fight, I knew I’d won, but I had a moment of worry: what if I actually didn’t?! I just had to wait for the ring announcer—and he said it: I won.

The feeling of the ref lifting my hand (for a change) was amazing. I was ecstatic. I hugged Shannon hard and told her to be proud, because I know how it is to lose your first fight. After receiving the trophy, I started to make a bee-line for the ring doctor, but was called back for a little post-fight interview in the ring. The lady asked me about how I felt, about getting my first knockdown and about my charity. I’m sure I blabbered away, but I was too happy to care.

Then I went to the ring doctor, who asked me how I was. “Great!!” I don’t remember who I hugged first, but just know that there was much hugging: my cousin and roommate, my teacher-friends, boxing chicks. (People who love you: the ones who don’t care how sweaty you are!) A bunch of trophy pictures were taken, and I couldn’t stop smiling even when the cameras had been put away.

By far my favorite picture from the night: my roommate Rachel, me and my cousin Garrett. They're the best. The Best.

By far my favorite picture from the night: my roommate Rachel, me and my cousin Garrett. They’re the best. Best! (Picture taken by one of my teacher-friends. How’s that for a credit?)

It took quite a while to calm down. When I did, I went back to feeling tired. I kind of wanted to go to the after-party, but knew that I probably shouldn’t stay out. Instead, Garrett, Rachel and I came back home to watch a (bad) movie with some McDonald’s french fries, chocolate and Jack & coke. I mean, there wasn’t anything else to eat… I ate it all before the fight.

I went to bed at about 1 am, but couldn’t sleep. I wrote plenty about the night and the days leading up to it in my journal. I still couldn’t sleep, so I started re-reading the journal (frequently laughing at my younger self). I tried to sleep again, but no luck. I kept thinking about the fight, about the celebrating and—most of all—about the people who were there to celebrate with me. I felt overwhelmed by how much I love and appreciate them. It was after 5 am that I fell asleep, even though I was deliriously tired long before then.

I woke up four hours later with the same thoughts running through my mind, unable to fall back asleep. I spent the ensuing days being overwhelmed by Facebook notifications of pictures, videos, statuses, tags, likes, comments, messages… There were also some emails, texts and phone calls. That is what my next post will be about. Not Facebook, but what I learned about what’s really important. (Hint: not the trophy.)

———

If you can, you should check out Action Fighter Media‘s albums of photos from the show. Particularly the one that has my bout in it. (I like that one best.) This is the URL to the album, though I’m not sure if you’ll be able to view it.

You can also see some good pictures here: my bout is shown in pictures #129 through #143. Those shots are all from the first round.

To read about the same event from another boxer’s point of view, head over to The Glowing Edge.

cell phone photo credit

Weighing In: About to Pop

Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called…

Wait, wrong story. Instead, let me tell you about the days leading up to the official weigh-in, and how I gained 7 lbs the day of. When I last wrote, we had 10 days to go and were starting our last week of training. I’d say spirits remained pretty high throughout that week, though we were definitely tired by Saturday. I left the gym that day ready to go home and relax until the show. There’s nothing better than being ordered to put your feet up!

Sunday afternoon, I started sneezing. Then my nose started running. NO. NO. NOT ALLOWED. Did my body listen to my mental pleas? Nope. I woke up Monday morning with a definite, no-doubt-about-it head cold. I slept until late, and then texted my trainer to ask about miracle cures. The essence of her response was: “Go home now and call me!!” Luckily, it was MLK Jr. Day, so I already had the day off. My instructions were to stay in bed, drink a ton of water and keep eating. (We were scared that my bout would be canceled if I lost any weight—I was already at the low end of our weight range.)

I stayed in bed all Monday. I had to go to work on Tuesday for several reasons, but I let the principal know that I was going to take sick leave. I went right back to bed the second I got home. On Wednesday, I stayed in bed until it was time to go to the weigh-in, except for when I was raiding the kitchen.

See, my opponent sent me a message on Wednesday morning saying that she wasn’t sure she was even down to 137 lbs. Meanwhile, I was 130 with my sick sweat clothes on. I couldn’t remember if we had to be within 7 or 8 lbs of each other, but I didn’t want to cut it too close. She didn’t eat all day, and I did. (This was a new experience. For my past weigh-ins, I dehydrated to make weight.)

I ate everything in the kitchen. Well, not at first. I didn’t want to fill up too early, only to digest it before 6pm. I started out with a solid steak-and-egg breakfast and proceeded to empty water bottle after water bottle throughout the day. Around 3 o’clock, I heated up some Italian sausage and ate a whole long thing of it. It made me feel rather queasy. Closer to 4 o’clock, I ate a whole roll of Ritz crackers, which I stole from my roommate. (Thanks, Rachel! I’ll replace them today.) The crackers made me feel bloated and thirsty at the same time, so I stomached more water.

I took a break from eating to shower and take some medicine. Then I cooked up all the macaroni that was left in a box. I made the water salty and then added butter and olive oil to the noodles. Yum! Yes, it was way too heavy and made me feel sick, but at least it tasted good. (I love butter. And olive oil. Usually separate, though.) I only had time to eat half of the noodles before leaving for the weigh-in, so I put the rest in a Tupperware container to bring with me. I continued to sip on water on MARTA, but not too much. I vowed not to pee until after I weighed in, and I had a good hour (at least) left.

The weigh-in was held at the Hard Rock Cafe, which was a great venue for the event. When I arrived, I settled my tickets and cash with Terri, turned in my ring-walk song and all that jazz. I finished the other half of my pasta, then sat down at a table for some pleasant conversation to take my mind off my bladder.

Here I am representing Thaakat Foundation (Atlanta Chapter) at the weigh-in! (Picture taken by Caryn, co-founder of the chapter.)

I thoroughly enjoyed chit-chatting with fellow boxers, but I was glad when the weigh-in finally started. Boxers were called to the scale in bout order, which meant my opponent and I were 7th. They weighed her first: 133 lbs. I ate all that food for nothing! But at least there was no danger of the fight being called off. Whew.

When I stepped on the scale, the lady asked me: “What’s your normal weight?” I answered: “130.” She set the scale to 130. She pushed it over… and over… and over… I couldn’t believe it. The scale balanced out at 137 lbs. Holy cow. So if you see pictures from the weigh-in and think I look like I’m about to pop, I was.

After that, I came out and looked at the free buffet (free!), but I really didn’t want anything. Milana made me eat something, so I had some lettuce. I’d been feeling pretty good during the weigh-in—determined not to act sick—but I started wilting. After chatting for a while longer, I decided to leave and go to bed ASAP. Luckily the Hard Rock is right by a MARTA station. I headed over and tried to sleep leaning against a dirty wall while waiting for the train. I wasn’t successful, but at least I got to close my eyes.

I made it home and crawled into bed. I didn’t leave bed until early Thursday afternoon. And that’s where the post about the weigh-in ends, and the post about FIGHT NIGHT will begin.

“I got in one little fight, and my mom got scared!” To see how my mom actually behaved, stay tuned for the next post all about Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 6.