Ultimate Guide to Sports Bras for Karate and Other Kick-Ass Sports

If you wear a bra on a daily or nearly daily basis, you should be wearing a sports bra during your training. Your regular day-to-day bra is not designed for the rigors of a high-impact sport such as karate.

In fact, many “sports” bras are not designed for the rigors of karate. After all this time, I think I finally got this stuff figured out. The wrong bra means (at best) you’ll be uncomfortable and self-conscious when you move. At worst, it could mean serious back pain and even a pulled muscle.

Correct Fit

You’ll find some really good directions on how to measure yourself for a bra at HerRoom.com. I’ve found that you should subtract one cup size from whatever you measure using the HerRoom directions. If you’re an old pro at bra shopping and don’t want to measure (again), use your lingerie store measurements. [Read more...]

Food and the Fat Karate-ka

So, after Saturday’s Team WODs at CrossFit, there was a brief nutritional seminar. It was an introduction to Paleo and The Zone diets and I decided to stick around and see if I could learn something new.

The guy leading the seminar introduced himself, explained that he wasn’t a nutritionist, he just kind of figured stuff out on his own and from reading stuff online. Then, after losing some weight, he took the CrossFit trainer certification classes and learned why the stuff he did worked.

“And it does work,” he said proudly. “I lost 35 pounds doing this.”

And…that’s when I stopped listening. Don’t get me wrong, losing any amount of weight is an accomplishment. I don’t care if it’s 10 or 110 pounds. But, it’s like he just finished a 5K and now he’s telling me how to train for a marathon. Losing 35 pounds is nothing to sneeze at, but we’re not exactly coming from the same place. When you are a hundred pounds or more overweight, you look in the mirror and think something along the lines of “Fuck. I’m going to die.” If you haven’t had that thought, you don’t understand. Period.

Most of the people in charge of helping the overweight – trainers, nutritionists, counselors — seem to miss the fact that people who are seriously overweight (let’s say 75 pounds or more) are different in attitudes and needs than their moderately overweight counterparts. To that end, I’ve created some pointers aimed at those who are meant to help us:

1. Recognize that our journey is a lot different than yours. If you hold nutritional seminars or classes, you may want to consider having a separate session for people with serious weight issues. You don’t have to divide people up between the two different groups. When you’re announcing the seminars, just add “we’re having another session the following Saturday but it’s restricted to those who want to lose 75 or more pounds.” (Keep in mind that some who are further along with their journey, and only have 30 pounds or so  left to lose, may still identify with the seriously overweight group.)

2. Don’t give us a choice between Paleo and The Zone. To be honest, if I could make good food choices, I’m pretty sure I never would have ended up more than 100 pounds overweight. Just tell me what to do.

3. Don’t talk to me about Glucose, Glucogen, my pancreas or what my liver actually does. And, if you must tell me about this stuff, don’t throw it all at me at once. Over the years I’ve managed to retain some information. Patty Pittman taught me in one of her blogs that tryptophan is in all meat (not just turkey) and it helps stabilize your mood. Guess what? That was basically what the entire article was about. Well, that and a recipe. Give me the basics in bite-size, fourth-grade terms and I might be able to retain some of it.

4. I really, really hate the whole “30 Day Paelo Challenge” concept. I think one of the reasons I’ve been successful is because I never viewed Paleo as a “diet” in the traditional sense. Now, maybe the idea is after 30 days, we feel good, we’ve lost a lot of weight so we stick with it. When my hypnotherapist introduced the diet, he said, “This is how your going to eat for the rest of your life.” It was a little hard to wrap my brain around the idea, but there was a security in it, too. If eat like this forever, the weight can’t come back.

5. Don’t ask for the food journal too soon. Food is never “just food” for us. We’ve spent years hiding what we actually eat from other people. This is a trust issue. If you ask for the food journal too soon, we’re going to lie – maybe not purposefully. But we’ll … act better on days we’re keeping our journal. Give us time to work out the kinks, first.

OK, Fat Karate-ka, now’s your chance. Are these guidelines Stacy-specific or do you think they hold true for most of the “seriously” overweight? You’ve already started your journey. What do you want to tell fitness instructors and nutritionists that could help them help those of us who have much more to lose?

Identity Crisis


I am a scofflaw.

For the past seven months, I’ve blatantly ignored the laws of my state. My crime: I neglected to renew my driver’s license. I did this without guilt and for purely selfish reasons.

I could tell you I was busy or I forgot. But I’d be lying.

My driver’s license listed my weight as 260lbs. That was probably also a lie at the time. Or, at least, it was wishful thinking. Optimism, if you will.

My expired driver’s license was a reminder of how far I’d come in my “weight loss journey.” It is also my last tie to the person I once was. I wasn’t ready to let go, yet. In truth, I still don’t think I am.

I won’t speak for all overweight people. But, for me, being fat wasn’t just a weight issue or a body image issue. It was – is – part of my personal identity and it filtered into every part of my life.

When I got married, almost 15 years ago, I made my own wedding dress. I told my mom, who did most of the actual work, that it would be a bonding moment for us. I told my husband I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a dress I’d wear only once. The truth is, I longed to go to a bridal store and try on dresses. I wanted to bring an entourage of well-wishers and girlfriends with me, who would tell me I looked just like a princess as I tried on dress after dress. But, I had heard the sample sizes in bridal shops are size 12. I was a size 24, maybe a 26.

The only thing my husband has ever said about my weight was when he confided that he stayed up at night, listening to me breathe. He was terrified that one night, the laborious sound would just stop.

Everything has changed since then. Before, when I came home from work, I was so tired from spending all day sitting in front of a computer screen, I’d lie down. Now, I rush off to karate or the gym. On days I stay home, I practice my kata, work on the heavy bag or pace the house restlessly. Sometimes, I even clean.

Now, strangers make eye contact with me and smile – for no reason. Before, if someone made eye contact and smiled at me, they followed it up with a flier for their church and an invitation to be saved.

Men hold open the door for me. (Some even stop to flirt.) Strangers talk to me in line at the supermarket. All new experiences.

A small part of me feels like something is missing… lost forever. So much of who I am — who I was — was predicated by being the fat girl. With that part of me gone, I don’t know who I am. And, it scares the hell out of me.

Tuesday night, as I drove home from work, I was pulled over. It turns out, in addition to “forgetting” to renew my driver’s license, I had legitimately forgotten to update the sticker on my license plate. (Oops.)

With trembling hands, I provided the police officer with my license and a copy of my insurance card. He glanced at the insurance card and handed it back, walking back to his SUV with my license in hand.

When he returned, explaining he’d have to give me two tickets (one for the expired license plate and one for the license), I feigned surprise. “Oh, no way!”

“Yah, it expired on the fourth.” I looked at him blankly. “On your birthday.” (Busted.)

“Oh, yah,” I said glumly.

He fingered the edge of my license for a few seconds before tucking it into his ticket book. “I’m afraid I can’t give you your license back. You’ll have to get a new one.” The weird thing is, he sounded almost apologetic, like he understood my reluctance to move on. I wanted to cry.

“You know, if it was a year or more out of date, I would have had to arrest you.”

“No,” I said truthfully. “I didn’t know that.”

He pulled my license out again and looked at it. Tapping it against his ticket book, he said, “When you get your court date, just bring in your new license and the receipt for you license plate sticker. I don’t know exactly how it works, but you might not have to pay a fine if you bring that with you.”

He began twirling my license between his fingers, moving it back and forth between his knuckles. “OK,” I said watching him, fantasizing about grabbing my license and making my escape in some risky, high-speed chase.

He handed me my tickets, reminded me to drive carefully and returned to his car, twirling my license between his fingers the entire time.

Before pulling out, through my review mirror, I looked at the police officer sitting in his SUV. Choking back a sob, I said, “goodbye” and drove away.

An Overweight Martial Artist Asks for Advice

A couple of days ago, I received a comment on an old blog post “Karate? Really?!” I’m sure you don’t obsess over every single comment the way I do, but I wanted to make sure you saw this one in particular.

I am currently 130# overweight, and am re-starting martial arts after a serious injury several years ago took me out of commission. I can understand people’s confusion about someone my size practicing martial arts, but what really gets me is when people IN MY OWN CLASS giggle at my unbalanced, jiggling attempts. It is at that point I get really angry–and really, really hurt.

I know I look ridiculous, but I feel proud of the fact that at least I am not running from their ridicule. After all, hiding inside my house isn’t going to help me lose weight.

Any stories or advice you can offer would be MUCH appreciated.
- Heather315

Well, my fellow karate-ka, what advice do you have to share?

New Years Resolution: Frizzy Hair and Karate?

Like most women, I have issues with my hair. It’s very thick and wavy…almost curly. I go through Frizz Ease by the gallons and break pony tail holders twice a week. And there’s other women out there, who have straight and/or thin hair, who are wondering why I’m whining about it.

What amazes me is how different my hair looks when I go to the stylist. She’s able to smooth my unruly locks and create a hair style that doesn’t frizz up within minutes. She does this with no more than a brush and a hairdryer and little or no hair products. It’s amazing.

The thing is, she’s has the same tools that I have: the same hair, the same hair dryer, the same brush. But she knows how to work with what she’s given.

Strangely enough, that’s what I like about the martial arts. It’s not about changing your body or who you are. It is about working with what you’re given.

One of Sensei’s favorite stories about bunkai involves an argument between Steve Armstrong and another first generation student. They were arguing about bunkai of a particular move. Each had a practical application that he insisted was given to him by Shimabuku himself. Each was adamant that the other remembered the application incorrectly. Then Armstrong realized that maybe they were both correct. Maybe, each of them were taught a different application of the same move because they were different people with different physical size, weight and reach.

(Now, some Isshinryu history buffs may argue that Shimabuku didn’t teach bunkai. Armstrong and a few others claim he did. I don’t know which is true, but it doesn’t make the story or it’s moral invalid.)

We learn to do a vertical punch to hit an opponent (who is the same size as us) in the solar plexus. Guess what? I’m 5′ 5″. (That’s median height for a woman and I’m one of the tallest women in my family…I make no apologies for being who I am.) But, in practical applications, if I were defending myself against a man, that same punch would probably land much lower: in that delicate muscle between the belly button and the “junk.” (If you’ll pardon the euphemism.) A much taller person could do the same move and the punch could land on his opponent’s face or neck.

How cool is that? The same move means different targets and “bunkai” for two different people. We’re all  working with the tools we were given.

When I was heavier, I was able to use my weight to intimidate opponents. I used to say, “hey, you see a 260-pound woman charging at you, you get the F’ out of the way!” Almost 80 pounds lighter this doesn’t work any more. Now, when I charge at my opponents, they just hit me when I reach them. So, I’m working on new bunkai…or, in this case, I guess it would be actually using my bunkai instead of my size.

In any case, I’m trying to learn to work with my “fuller” hair and height and weight. My goal for the upcoming year is to learn to work with the tools I’ve been given.

What is your goal?