Archive for the ‘unemployment’ Category

I definitely should not have skipped dinner…

Monday, March 24th, 2008

…but there was no way for me to know that in advance.

Weight Cutting

Turns out I was a bit flippant in my last post about how easy it would be to sweat off 5 lbs. I woke up at around 7:30 and by 8 AM I was suited up with my sauna suit, sweat pants, two sweatshirts and a pair of socks (to catch the sweat that rolls out the bottom of the sauna suit). I spent about 30 minutes riding a stationary bike, jumping rope, running up and down stairs. The exercise wasn’t too bad, but the heat is really oppressive and it drained my motivation very quickly. After 30 minutes I stripped down for a weight check – 176.8. That meant I still had 2 lbs to go, ugh!

I suited back up and decided that I was just going to go for another 30 minutes because I didn’t want to do another interim weight check only to have to re-suit up again. After 15 more minutes I had no more motivation to exercise. My mouth was insanely dry (obviously you can’t drink water while cutting water weight), and was a bit dizzy at times. So, to take a break from exercise but keep the sweat coming I decided to get in my car and turn the heat all the way up. I even cranked on the seat warmers (which are usually my least favorite feature in the car). I was afraid it would look weird if I was just sitting in the car port in the car wearing a hooded sweatshirt, so I drove around the neighborhood. I think I still looked weird – people are alarmed by a guy sweating profusely in a hooded sweatshirt driving around a residential neighborhood with a pained look on his face and a car with California plates. Kinda shady.

Anyway, I came back home, did another 15 minutes of very light exercise and tried again. Whoops – I overdid it this time – 174. Oh well, that just makes me extra safe in case their scale weighs heavier than mine. I showered (and resisted the urge to drink the shower water), gathered my stuff together and headed down to the tournament which was about 30 minutes away.

When I finally weighed in, I was 173.0 on their scale (even with my shirt on). Crap – I made that much harder on myself than I needed to. Still, I was relieved to get to dive into the water and Powerade that I had bought. I didn’t plan ahead for food all that well, so I went down to McDonalds and bought a couple Egg McMuffins. You have to eat and drink slowly after you’ve cut weight like that, so I nursed my beverages and slowly nibbled on one McMuffin. I couldn’t get the appetite for #2 until it was too cold to eat. And then I sat and waited… and waited… and waited…

I think I weighed in just before 10:30 AM, and they didn’t even start organizing for my first division until around 2:30 PM. I had brought a book, but it was a little too tense and distracting of an environment to read. So I just watched the kids and teens divisions go first.

Masters Division

Masters doesn’t refer to skill level, it is a fancy marketing term referring to age. Once you’re 30 in this sport, you’re old and you can compete in the Masters division. That’s why they have Masters Beginners, Masters Intermediate and Masters Advanced (even though the first seems a bit oxymoronic). My first match was in the Masters Advanced division, and I thought it would be at 160 – 174.9 lbs. Nope. They called my name and I walked up to the ring and saw a big dude standing in the center. One of his teammates said (referring to me) “he doesn’t look like he’s in your weight class.” Well, apparently when they don’t have a ton of participants in their pre-defined weight classes, they can decide to redefine the weight classes. In my case they decided everyone from 173 to 189 should compete. Lovely. Glad I did all that sweating.

Well they were nice enough to switch it so the two biggest guys went first and I went against the guy who was only 185. My first match went ok, but I lost on points 10 to 4. Boo. It was a good match – a little bit back and forth, but I guess more back for me than forth. But wait, there would be another match to determine 3rd place. Guess who my opponent was… that big dude. Long story short, I won that one. He got sloppy with a takedown and I caught him in a guillotine choke 🙂 That gives me a win and 3rd place in this division. I’m happy with that.

Here’s a crappy picture I took of the big dude in a later match (he’s the white guy):

Big dude

Maybe 30 minutes later I had the men’s Advanced division (young and old alike). Again they juggled the weight classes so this time it was 173 to 178. Not a ridiculously wide range, but the whole point of cutting weight is so that worst case you’re the same weight as your opponent (best case you’re heavier). Oh well. My opponent is a tall lean guy. Again it was a good match – some back and forth, but he caught me with an armlock and my elbow got pretty wrenched before I tapped. I later saw that guy competing in the brown belt gi division, so I didn’t feel so bad about losing to him.

Once again, there would be another match to determine 3rd place. This time I face off against a strong-looking wrestler. He wasted little time taking me down with a very nice single leg. He lands in my guard, and after a couple of failed sweeps I was able to catch him in a triangle choke. Once again that gives me 3rd place in this division. Hooray.

Overall I’m very happy with how things turned out. These were my first two wins competing in the Advanced division, and it’s nice to feel like I belong in that division. I came home with two medals, a boost of pride, a huge appetite (that McMuffin was all I ate all day) and a sore elbow.

I Probably Should Have Skipped Dinner

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I’m nervous. Two minutes ago I weighed myself. 180 lbs. So why am I nervous? By BMI standards that means I’m very slightly overweight, but BMI is a very primitive and crude measurement. I’m not overweight – to the contrary I’m arguably in the best shape of my life. So why am I nervous?

I’m nervous because tomorrow morning I need to weight 174.9 or less, and that’s only the half of it. Why? Because I decided that I want to compete in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament taking place tomorrow. I think this would make me nervous under any circumstances, but this occasion has a couple of special considerations. For starters, I haven’t done any Jiu Jitsu in two months. I have, however, been working on strength and conditioning at a CrossFit gym here in Atlanta. Many people say that conditioning is the most important factor in competition. Still, two months is plenty of time to get rusty on my skills.

I’m also competing in the advanced division. It’s the right division for me, but it’s intimidating to know that you’re in the division with the best guys. The other circumstance is cutting the weight. I’ve done it before – in 2006 I competed at 168 lbs, but I had a little longer to get there and I was a little smarter about it. With things the way they are now, I’m going to have to wake up and put on a sauna suit for 30-60 minutes while working out.

sauna suit

If you’re not familiar, a sauna suit (pictured above) is made of plastic and promotes sweating. It’s actually not that traumatic for a person my size to sweat 5 lbs, but it is not pleasant either. As soon as I make weight I can go weigh in as early as 8 in the morning and then have a few hours to eat and rehydrate and prepare for the tournament.

I don’t have much in the way of expectations for the tournament. I’ve competed before and I have experienced winning and losing. Regardless of the outcome I know I will feel good for having done it and I will learn. So that’s all I’m hoping for tomorrow. It will be a nice bonus, of course, if I can win a match or two. Time will tell, for now… I’m nervous.

10 Things I’m looking forward to about Atlanta

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

A Disclaimer: I’ve kind of cheated on this one. I started this draft about a month ago, but I’ve now been back in Atlanta for a few day and that’s helped me flesh out the list. I created the post to make me feel better about 10 things I’ll miss about San Francisco.

1) Fewer Pedestrians – I admit I’ve played both sides of this argument. I’m sad I’ll be walking less, but when I am driving it’s much nicer when there aren’t so many pedestrians to get in the way. Atlanta is a car town. When I was in Atlanta over Christmas I did notice that the joggers like to jog at night and they jog a little recklessly, but I think I can handle it.

2) Sweet Tea! – I simply don’t understand why the rest of the country hasn’t caught on to how great this beverage is. I also won’t miss non-southern waiters & waitresses saying “no we have unsweetened tea and there’s the sugar.” Like it’s the same!?!! I also look forward to pronouncing it “sweet tay.”

3) Lake Burton – Sure, it’s not technically Atlanta. It’s really in Clayton, GA which is about 2 hours away, but that’s a lot closer to Atlanta than it is to San Francisco. Lake Burton is probably my favorite place to chill out. I’m really looking forward to being able to make weekend trips up there regularly (as opposed to twice a year like I’ve been doing for the past eight years).

4) Four Distinct Seasons – I really liked the weather in San Francisco, but there were really only two seasons – nice weather season and rainy season. There’s nothing wrong with those two seasons, but four is twice as many seasons (mathematically speaking). I’m looking forward to seeing the leaves change, then later breaking a sweat the second I walk out the door, then later watching the leaves fall, then later wondering if there will be snow this year. I think those changes are therapeutic – each change helps you appreciate the others, and I’m looking forward to living with them again.

5) Thunder Storms – Maybe this is related to the four seasons, but it took me a while to realize that there are never thunder storms in San Francisco. When I occasionally experienced on when I was in another part of the country I realized that I really like them and had missed them. I’m looking forward to having more thunder storms here (especially since we need them with the drought). I also MUCH prefer thunder storms to earthquakes!

6) A Band – I’m really looking forward to either starting a band or joining a band in Atlanta. I used to be in a band in New York, and some of my fondest memories come from those days. I miss it terribly – damn those graduate school acceptances that broke up our band! Sure, you can say I could have started a band in San Francisco. I tried it briefly and it just didn’t pan out. I don’t have a great reason about why I didn’t try again, except that maybe in the back of my mind I always felt San Francisco was a temporary stop for me. I foresee a lot of procrastination about this one, but now that I’ve stated it semi-publicly hopefully that will be more motivation to make it happen.

7) A Dog (maybe) – I don’t think there’s much chance I will get a dog immediately in Atlanta, but Atlanta is a much more reasonable city to have a dog than San Francisco or Chicago or New York. It’s nice to know it’s a possibility. I’m actually slightly allergic to most dogs, but I still love them. I grew up with dogs, so I’m sure I could just get acclimated to having a dog, right? Here’s some gratuitous picture of the dogs that have been in my family:


Whit and Missy

Sugar’s first day home:

sugar puppy

My sister’s dog Belle (who I often accidentally call “Sugar”):

Belle in a box

8 ) Huge Grocery Stores – This is something that I definitely took for granted when I lived in Atlanta before, and I forgot about until I got back. The grocery stores have like twice as much stuff!! I’m a guy who has to go down every aisle every time I go to the grocery store, and Atlanta has so much more excitement on every aisle!

9)Old Friends – I’ve been very fortunate to make good new friends everywhere I’ve lived.  It makes me feel so good to know that now I can travel so many places in this country and have someone to grab a beer with when I’m there. Still, there is no substitute for old friends – the people who knew you before you had a job. The people who knew you when the only thing you were trying to be was yourself. A lot of my old friends have left Atlanta, but some of the best ones are still here. And the ones who left are a lot closer to Atlanta than they were to San Francisco.

10) Family – I like my family. I mean I have lived out of town for 8 years now, but I still think I like my family most of the time. And I think I’m fortunate to feel that way. Not all of my immediate family lives in Atlanta, but it’s a lot more than in San Francisco (Ok, in the end I had two cousins living out there, but we were not very good about hanging out). I think it was important to explore the country, but in the long run it just makes sense to live near family.

Honorable Mention: Chick-fil-A, hot women.

A Few things I’m not looking forward to: Shaving every day, August humidity.