Working Out Work Outs


Dealing with a stress fracture has been an interesting experience. I have never had to monitor the pressure I put on my legs, and for some reason this was quite difficult for me. Another important factor in the process of getting back into shape has been my diet. Although I do feel that I have been eating quite “healthy”, I have realized that perhaps my new way of eating has contributed to the weaknesses in my bones.

BUIDING UP:

I decided that the swimming pool would be the first place to begin working back into shape.I am slightly ashamed to say that it was only recently that I learned how to swim with my pals back at the University of Miami. Perhaps it was the time when I was in Kindergarten living in Australia that stopped me from fully learning how to swim. I was quite traumatized when my best friend and I went swimming in the ocean and I was pulled by a Blue Bottle JellyFish ‘down under’. Or perhaps it was the time when the waves swooped us and we couldn’t catch our breath without choking on sea water. Or maybe it was in elementary school when I felt helpless after being knocked off my partners back playing that stupid water wrestling game (I don’t even know what it’s really called). Whatever it was, I have been scared to swim, and it wasn’t till recently that I realized I couldn’t live the rest of my life avoiding the water. Especially because I find such a peaceful bliss in the ocean. After overcoming my fears, I realized this was the perfect time to both improve my swimming skills and stay fit without putting pressure on my tibia.

I initially learned and gained some confidence with the breast and back strokes, and then I was faced with a more difficult task to hold my breath under water and consistently remain afloat. When I got back from PR, I swam for about two weeks almost every day at the Plunge in Point Richmond. To my surprise, swimming was more than just a cardio exercise. After about 15 minutes I would not only be completely out of breath, but also physically worn out to the point where I felt close to drowning in a 3 1/2 foot pool. As I would push myself to finish a lap, the grey hairs of my neighboring swimmers would swiftly move past me. Not that I was at all embarressed, but lets just say, I definitely didn’t feel like a professional athlete. It took some convincing and I finally came up with a workout that allowed me to work efficiently and effectively, without looking like a complete ammeter. I swam 30 X 25m with 15 second rests between each stretch, then got out and did 20 sit ups and 15 side crunches both sides twice. Now this may seem like a really simple workout, but for someone like me, having never swam for more than one length of the pool, this was extremely tough. I found myself often having to use a paddle board often to give either my arms or legs a rest. After two weeks were over, I realized two things, I was slightly fitter but I needed on land training to work up to performance-ready shape. 

Next, I hit up the gym. I started off doing bike for cardio and only a few arm/ab/legs workouts. I mainly worked on body weight exercises because I have always struggled with them and they seem to be most important for overall strength. In order to become the best athlete you first must know how to control your body. So I began with chin ups, pull ups, push ups, ab roll outs, ab circuits, bodyweight squats, and glute exercises. Over the course of a few weeks I have increased the intensity of these workouts by adding light-weight shoulder exercises, TRX exercises, and kettle bell exercises. I have been really struggling these past couple weeks, not because I’m in pain from my injury, but because I feel so out of shape from taking time off.  I often find myself laying face up on the gym floor out of breath, drenched in sweat, and pleading to stop. But something about my mindset won’t let me give up. I end up rolling over and doing even more than I expected for taking a short break. It’s like I’m competing with myself, and punishing myself for wanting to take a break. I’ve always believed in that quote that goes something like, “when you want to give up…work harder!"

EATING UP:

After avoiding milk for almost a year now, and drinking coconut or almond milk as a substitute, I have realized that my calcium intake has been quite low. I am not saying this is at all the cause of my injury, but I do think that increasing my calcium intake will allow my bones to gain some strength. So I have bought some supplements and I am taking them daily. I’m trying to maintain that clean way of eating because I know it will help my overall health mentally and physically. But I often find myself sneaking a few vegan donuts and cupcakes because I have these weird cravings and obsessions over the Oakland Donut Farm. Hopefully my slight sweet tooth won’t get in the way of my healthy living lol. 

Overall I think this stress fracture should have a speedy recovery. I am feeling really good and I am just waiting for the OK from my dr. to clear me to get back into running, jumping, and ultimately playing volleyball. 

video

Dear Young Brown Boy,

A poem I wrote which turned into a short film. I wanted to express something that is really important to me, and I hope it comes across. This is a With Grace short film, there will be plenty more to come.


Life's a Battle, but its Worth the Fight


My grandmother always tells me, “Life’s a Battle” whenever I tell her about problems I am having. I have pondered on this many times, because every challenge I conquer seems to be greeted with more challenges. I see this in others, and most recently, I have seen this in myself; I achieved so much graduating from University and then entered the professional world like a freshman again. I recently had to leave the team I was playing in Caguas, Puerto Rico due to a stress fracture in my shin. I am very grateful for my experiences in Puerto Rico, but I am also disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish the season and demonstrate my full potential. Disappointed too that my first pro experience in Turkey was terminated before it had even got started because they wanted someone else. I now am nervous that this will hurt my next season, putting me at a disadvantage from the start. But through my experiences, I know that if I am willing to take a few hits, I will gain something worth fighting for. 

In University I learned the hard way that there is glory in every battle. Its tough being an athlete because you witness the worst and best of people. While some can challenge you and become a new member of your family, others can make you hate what you’re doing. There are those I’ve met along the way that have single handedly and in a moment made me want to quit what I’m doing because of their relentless hatred for me. Whether it was giggles, teasing, bullying, or simply a look of disgust, they almost broke me down to the point where I didn’t want to continue being on a team. At times I would fake strength and try to stick up for myself, but at the end of the day, my confidence was distorted. 

In sports you are constantly fighting; every bone, muscle, thought, and particle of energy in your body is pushing and shoving you to be ‘the best’.  You're fighting with your teammates to be the best on the team, and you're fighting opposing teams to be the best in the league. And the hardest part of it all is that you’re fighting yourself; everyday you wake up and have to remind yourself its a war and you have to be ready to battle. Some days you’re telling yourself you aren’t good enough, and to be honest, the majority of the people around you want to see you fail so they can succeed. Unfortunately, every ounce of doubt brings you even closer to failure. Imagine a force of water pushing against a wall, if the wall cracks even slightly, the water has the ability to sweep down the entire wall down. I’ve often felt like vulnerable prey as wild animals take turns to attempt to bring me down. 

Life's a battle, and the only way to rise is to fight. When you allow others to have power to control your confidence levels, then you have lost the battle. Fight!! Once I decided not to allow others to control me, I had won. Don’t get me wrong, this alone has been extremely hard and I still can’t even say I do this on a consistent basis, but this is what I am working towards. I see this in so many people and have been often shook by the lengths at which this can seriously hurt people. But I am so happy when I read blogs and hear stories about how people are taking charge of themselves with confidence, not letting others bring them down. And when we achieve that sort of power within ourselves, we will see the best outcomes. For example, when I was fueled by doubt by those around me, I finally achieved what I had been trying to achieve since day one at University. I was Player of the Year, Academic and Athletic All-American, Senior CLASS Award Finalist, Magna Cum Laude Graduate, and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. It was almost like a ‘Fuck You’ to anyone who ever doubted me, and a ‘Thank You’ to anyone who supported me. I now try and take on life with a fighting attitude, I won’t rest until the battle has been won.