Weigh Ins

Getting Ready for the Next Fight: Cutting Weight and Mental Prep

Next fights are always iffy, partly because it’s boxing, and also because I’m in the Masters (over 35), and female. There just don’t seem to be that many of us out there.

I went to weigh-ins for a match a month or so ago and didn’t get an opponent, which is fairly standard in boxing. In fact, 12 of my team went, and only 6 got matches.

This time I am a bit more hopeful, but I’m keeping my expectations tamped down. I’ll be very pleased to get the match if it does come through, but it will not be a huge deal if it doesn’t.

My opponent weighs 125, which means I’ve been cutting weight, which is miserable, since I’m already on a clean diet and normally fairly light (142). But I’ve been managing, and I hope to weigh in at 136 if I possibly can this weekend. If she’s gained at least a few pounds we’ll be in range and the match will be on.

I was chatting with Amy Scheer about this and told her about the weird rule in boxing (not all jurisdictions follow it) that you can’t weight in 1. Unshaven — no beard or ‘stache, boys, or 2. In jeans or pants. I told her that I plan to weigh in in my lightest ever undies, shorts, and a tank.

To cut the weight, I’ve mostly chosen to eliminate sugars and processed carbs. No Cheetos (aaaaugh!).  Goodbye to my periodic slice of whole grain toast. Tortilla chips reduced to 6 at any given time (I love hot salsa). No popcorn with the family (they have it all the time). No bread. No pasta. Bread and pasta were already nearly non-existent, anyway. Nothing processed or canned.

Even the sweeter fruits are gone — apples, oranges, and most bananas. Only raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and cherries remain right now.

I’m eating a ton of raw broccoli, almonds, bell peppers, fresh asparagus, lean meat, onion, spinach, egg whites, plain yogurt, cottage cheese with berries, almonds, smoothies…

And I’m adding more green tea and oolong tea. I drink at least 3 cups a day now.

I’m still fantasizing about what I want to eat after the fight. Hot fresh donuts are currently leading. (Hellllllooooo, fast carbs!)

And I learned something new from Amy as I described my eating plan and we discussed particular food choices. In addition to choosing the right foods and maintaining an excruciatingly careful timeline of eating every day (to avoid the insulin spikes), I told her about one cutback issue I’ve been aware of and successfully dealing with this time around.

There’s only a difference of degree between dieting and starving. When your leptin levels drop (because you’ve cut back calories, which I’m doing right now) so does your metabolism and fat-burning ability. It usually happens after a week of dieting. Leptin is doing it’s job to make sure you have enough fat and energy to survive. That’s not good when I want to cut weight.

So I have to increase leptin levels in order to convince my body I’m not actually starving.

Amazingly, this can be done with a whopper of a treat. It takes a week of cutting to drop leptin levels by half, but only one “overfeed” to bring them back up. So a hunk of greasy pizza, some mac n cheese, a coupla Reese’s PB cups — but only once a week, and not crazed. The point is to give your body a good dose of carbs and fat together and your leptin goes back up to normal levels.

Amy mentioned that this was called “Carb Cycling,” which I had heard of, but didn’t know what it was. I used my formidable Google skillz and discovered she was right.

The other thing I’ve been doing is following my normal mental prep plan.

This really only has three steps:

1. Envision all the women I see in the course of my day as a potential opponent.

I look at the women in the gym, in the grocery store, at the park and everywhere, and I size them up. Rarely do I immediately dismiss any of the women I see as potential opponents. If they are three times heavier than me, I think about how I will have to be fast in order to avoid their power hits. If they look small and quick, I run through my defenses against the inside game. If they have big biceps I go over my own strengths and brace myself for a slugfest.

This seems to really help with the shock of seeing your opponent for the very first time.

2. Work through a round or two of boxing in my mind as I go to sleep each night.

I imagine my opening moves, my defense, and my general energy level. I replay certain things over and over again, and make myself quick, strong, and mentally on my game. I try to go to sleep boxing well.

3. Radio silence at all other times.

It doesn’t help me to focus too much on the upcoming match. I just get worked up and have a hard time focusing on other things, like my full-time work, family, or the crazy eating plan I have to be on. So I maintain mental white noise on the boxing channel, which helps keep this whole event from draining energy.

And that’s it! That’s my plan, and it’s what I’m going with.

How do you get ready for a big event? Do you have a plan you follow, or do you just do everything on the fly?

Images by Peter Gordon and Ravensmagiclantern

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15 Responses to Getting Ready for the Next Fight: Cutting Weight and Mental Prep

  1. Margaret Reyes Dempsey November 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Very interesting post. I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to reading about nutrition. I hope you are able to make a match. Shave your legs before weigh-in. 😉

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe November 9, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      Btw, M, I now practice your trick of eating half of something and waiting 30 minutes to see if I can do without the other half. It’s hard, but there is definitely a shift in hunger levels after half an hour. Do you still do that these days? Or was it mostly to get portion sizes under control, and now you don’t need to any more?

      • Margaret Reyes Dempsey November 9, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

        When I remember. 😉 My portion sizes for regular meals (which do not include potatoes, bread, pasta, or any other grain product) are perfect. It’s the snacking that’s a problem. Don’t let anyone tell you that carbs aren’t addictive. Lies, lies, I say. 🙂

        I know that you pretty much do a Paleo diet. When you get a chance, pick up a book called Eat Right 4 Your Type. It’s based on a theory that your blood type determines what type of diet you should eat. I happen to be type O, which corresponds with a paleo-type diet. But a friend of mine who is pre-diabetic and not having any success with a paleo diet read the book and realized she is blood type A, which corresponds with a vegetarian diet. Sure enough, she changed her diet and she’s been doing quite well. I find this stuff fascinating.

  2. Amy Scheer November 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    I’d like to hear more about #3. What is “mental white noise on the boxing channel,” for you?

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe November 10, 2011 at 10:46 am #

      You know, just turning on some mental static to keep from letting boxing anxiety rule my life. When my mind goes there, all that it hears is the hiss of a radio tuned *between* stations.

      Works for me, anyway.

      Had good sparring last night. Heard a RUMOR that my opponent MAY be 6 and 6 (6 wins, 6 losses). That’s a crapload more experience than me, but it’s not like I’m gonna say No. I’m ready to MIX IT UP, women.

  3. Laarni November 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    It’s nice to read such a valuable blog post here, this gives ideas to those beginners in terms of boxing.

  4. niamh November 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Leptin? Have to say I never even thought about that, would explain a lot though! Thanks Lisa.
    And I cannot believe you walk around the streets making eyes at every woman you pass, that is priceless 😉

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe November 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

      I DO look at all the women! I glare at them, I size them up, I mentally dare then to try and knock me out… Bwahahaha! Do you suppose my husband has noticed me “checkin’ out” all the chicks? 😮

      AND I absolutely LOVE your new blog header! Those women look so tough and powerful! Beautifully done!

  5. Girlboxing November 11, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    The weight thing is so huge — especially in the master’s because you just don’t know who is out their to fight that eligible in terms of age (within 10 years — which you just can’t shave!) and weight. So it’s weight that has to give whether it’s up or down which raises the question of energy, stamina and ensuring that if you are losing or gaining substantive weight it’s not wrecking havoc with your body in other ways.

    I also know what you mean when you say that your diet is already so controlled! Knowing you, Lisa, it’ll all work out!!! Your incredible focus just won’t let it be any other way!

  6. isabella November 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    I never tried boxing before. But if for a big event, normally I just go with the it, no diet, no craving for Cheetos, and I can eat pizza as long as I want. But for you to stand all of those, you must really be one determined, discipline woman!

  7. Hillari January 5, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    When I told a guy at the gym that I have diabetes, he said, “It must be very hard for you to cut weight.” I try to eat four to six meals a day to keep the blood sugar levels right. But I still slip up and eat some things that I shouldn’t, even if it is in small amounts. Monitoring my eating habits remains a challenge, because I have a sweet tooth. Before a fight, I’ll increase the exercise that I do outside of the ring during the weeks leading up to it.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe January 5, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      I didn’t know you were living (and boxing) with diabetes, Hillari. Sounds like you’ve found ways to work with it. Amy Scheer (linked above) also lives with this — she’s done an incredible job of learning to help her young son navigate the ins and outs of diabetes.

      Props to y’all!

      • Amy Scheer January 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

        Type 1 or 2, Hillari? We’re dealing with type 1 here. Stop over to my blog for a chat.

        • Hillari January 6, 2012 at 12:49 am #

          I have Type 2, and I’m take pills (hopefully, I will never have to be on insulin).

          • Amy Scheer January 6, 2012 at 9:17 am #

            Fingers crossed that you don’t; it’s a big whoppin’ pain in the butt (and shoulders, and belly, and legs).

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