You Can’t Just Be, You Have to Become

5 min read

Why You Shouldn’t Rush to be Promoted
If you ask a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioner’s goal in BJJ, the most popular answer you’ll get is: to become a black belt. Plain and simple. Yet there’s no simple, calculated, nor smooth-paved road to get there. It takes years of dedication and hard work. Your nearest belt up will, too, be a stretch. We all want to progress and get promoted, therefore we can’t feel frustrated or discouraged when asked to train more frequently, harder or for a longer period of time. You’re not just getting a different colored belt tied around your waist; when you are promoted it means you completely embody that rank. You have to grow not only on a technical level, but your BJJ mindset must match that of your respective rank.

Progressing in jiu-jitsu is a lot like growing up. You’ll go through different mental stages throughout your journey. When you’re young, the tendency to misbehave or make immature decisions is higher. In the same way, a very new white belt will try to use their strength rather than technique to get the tap. When we look at behavior – Everyone knows that person too prideful to tap, becomes upset or discouraged when tapped, or boasts when tapping a training partner. Sound familiar? Maybe you know someone like this. Maybe we were once this way. Ultimately, once we progress or “get older” in jiu-jitsu, our behavior and thoughts change. We’ll tap because the technique works and we’ll strive to learn how we got there so we don’t make the same mistake again. And we will have the utmost respect for our training partners, because without them we can’t learn.

So just like you can’t consume alcohol until you’re 21 years old because the chances of you making mature decisions at any younger age are pretty slim; you can’t just be your next belt because you, too, need to mature on the mat. Now, as you progress in jiu-jitsu, you’ll get to understand the technique in a whole new way. You’ll learn the ins and outs of it – how and why it works. You won’t do the technique a certain way simply because “you were told to,” but because you understand the mechanics and why those steps will make the technique successful.

Don’t stress over the amount of time it will take to get to the next belt, because the time will pass anyway. Train hard and consistently. Your mindset will soon evolve from the average individual’s to one of a mature martial artist. When the time comes for you to receive a promotion, you’ll have mentally and technically grown to meet the higher demands and challenges.

[Keep reading for a BJJ goals and game plan worksheet at the end of this article]

Improving Your Game
Wherever you are in your journey, one piece of advice to improve your game which I received from my professor is to “practice your techniques with lower belts (or the same level), but flow roll with higher belts.” That’s where you’re going to learn a whole lot. They have more knowledge than you so don’t try to kick their ass just to save yours, try to understand how they caught you and add those skills to your toolbox.

Prof. Carlos always says, “Choose your battles. Not every roll has to be till the death.” The other day, he and a student were flow rolling. They ended up in a new position from which Professor realized he could set up a submission. He was also able to successfully recreate the set up every time because he knew how he got there. If it had been a fast-paced scramble, he might have missed the opportunity to learn that new set up. So don’t force your way into submissions. Flow, and use your mind to follow along with movements, offenses and defenses. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is the hardest martial art to receive a black belt in, that’s why it’s so effective. It works not because everyone says it does, but because you have actually devoted the time learning the ins and outs of the techniques. Nowadays, everyone is so focused on finding the quickest, most convenient way to get what they want that they end up losing sight of the bigger picture – You can’t just be you have to become; mindset and all.

Take risks, fail and learn. “The black belt has failed more times than the lower belt has ever tried.” So if we do truly want to become a black belt someday we have to stay committed despite the length of time, fears, doubts and discouragement. In the end, we’ll understand that those challenges we thought we couldn’t get past were imperative lessons we couldn’t imagine our journey without.

My husband (and BJJ Professor) and I were discussing our BJJ goals for 2018 when he said, “The people who are not afraid to lose and get their ass kicked are the ones that learn so fast.” I was completely inspired by that. No one wants to lose nor get their ass kicked, but if you always play it safe just to avoid those “losses,” you could potentially never grow nor progress as a martial artist. So this 2018, let’s choose to live #focusedandfearless in our BJJ journey. We can be as open to failing as we are to learning. We can shoot for that take down and get guillotined, or fight to get to our knees but have our backs taken. Screw it! As long as we are taking those risks and observing how we can better ourselves next time. I want to learn fast. Who doesn’t? I’m willing to get my ass kicked to do that. It’s going to take a step, or 5, out of our comfort zone, but eventually it will become habitual and we’ll become mentally stronger. Are you willing to put your fear and ego aside to become a better martial artist?

As we go into 2018, I invite you to get clear on your BJJ goals and create a realistic game plan to launch you into jiu-jitsu success. Here are my goals and game plan. Print your own 2018 BJJ Game Plan Worksheet.

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Goal

Game plan

Train at least 5 days per week. Go to bed early and wake up early for training. Have some sort of caffeine and drink lots of water to stay alert.
Create a technique library. Record a video of technique taught in class to reference it later.
Practice techniques in a realistic setting. Roll at least 3 times per week. Record videos to catch mistakes and successes.
Increase strength, speed and endurance. Create a strength and conditioning plan specifically to improve my personal BJJ game.
Increase overall energy. Eat healthy, minimal processed food and stay hydrated.
Compete 2 times this year. (minimum) Create a successful training camp, save money to compete or find a sponsor.
Focus on one technique every month. Drill it every day, watch videos on it, practice during rolling, learn counters, and counters for counters!

What current rank do you hold in Jiu-jitsu? What are some of your BJJ goals and how to you plan to accomplish them?

Don’t forget to say hello on Instagram and Facebook!

Thanks for reading! –Jules

Christmas is Over! What Happened to my House?

Christmas just flew by and I don’t know about yours, but it left my apartment looking like a tornado blew through it! It’s around this time that everyone is hustlin’ and bustlin’ – crafting, cooking, baking. Hosting or traveling for the holidays. There isn’t much time to get your personal life together and especially not the house.

My apartment is a complete and utter mess! I’ve got wrapping paper on the couch, luggage we have yet to unpack, loads of laundry to do, and all the Christmas outfit contenders lying around. Dishes in the sink and mugs of half drank tea on the counter. Presents we received from loved ones crowded around our living room and Christmas décor still up. What seemed cozy then now seems like clutter!

We were away from home for the holidays which didn’t leave much in between time to tidy up. We went to an Ugly Sweater Party on the 23rd in San Diego at my sister-in-law’s house. We were so not prepared for this, but with all the felt I had lying around from my recent plushies crafts, we were able to put something together fast. My husband decorated his ugly sweater with a cut out felt piece of “Mr. Hanky, the Christmas Poo.” (Hand drawn by the way. My husband is an amazing artist.) He also colored the sweater with brown blotches from a marker LOL. It was pretty grodie but hilarious. I sewed a photo of my hubby on a sweater, glued on a cotton beard and a felt Christmas hat making him look like Santa Claus. (Not ugly – cute, in fact, but for lack of preparation and supplies, it was the only thing I could come up with. *Cue the tiny violins*)

The party had some really crazy ugly sweaters! Pizza slice boxes, candy wrappers, one random chancla (a flip-flop). I LOL’ed at the sight of that, and even more so when I saw a dude wearing a sweater with a big leopard print bra and a pink tutu. Next year, Charlie and I will be more prepared! Heck, even Peppercorn had an awesome Christmas sweater – baby blue with a snowman holding a broom. So cute. Feast yer’ eye on our sweater wearin’ selves below.

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We spent Christmas Eve at my husband’s parent’s house eating posole and watching ‘Home Alone’. On Christmas day, we headed to my parent’s house. We ate carnitas, told jokes and watched more movies. So lots of Mexican food and movies all weekend. FUN!

Since being away for the last couple of days, I neglected my little apartment leaving everything out of place. Once I tidy up, I’ll feel like I have my life together a little more. Here are my best tips on how to approach a messy home in a way that won’t overwhelm you.

  • Turn on relaxing music, a good show on Netflix, candles or oil diffusers. Anything that will get you into cleaning-mode. I enjoy using lavender essential oil; the smell is wonderful and soothing.
  • Have some caffeine. If I have to clean in the morning, I usually start after a couple cups of green tea to wake me up.
  • Get a short home work out, shower, and then start cleaning. Not only will you check that off your to-do list, but the endorphins you’ll feel after will make you feel pumped and motivated to take on any challenges.
  • Start in one room at a time – I either start in my bedroom or in the kitchen which is usually the messiest/hardest part due to numerous dishes in the sink, sweeping and mopping.
  • Pile all of the trash together in one bag – ripped up wrapping paper, tags, paper towels, notes, envelopes, receipts, broken tidbits, etc.
  • Put everything back in its place. Those cups need to be in the kitchen. Water bottles in the recycle bin. Towels hung in the restroom. Books back on their shelf. Anything that is not in its home, needs to go back there asap.
  • Hang all of your clothes that need to be in the closet and fold all of your clothes that need to be in dresser drawers.
  • Make your bed. Once it’s made, your whole room looks a little more put together.
  • Open the blinds and let light in. A little sunshine will brighten up any room making it look less messier than it is.
  • Sweep and mop (or vacuum) every room at the end.
  • Organize your dishes before washing them. This habit may not be for everyone as it may take more time to do, but it definitely works for me. I organize all of the cups and mugs in one space, pans in another, stack the plates, and all of the silverware and cooking utensils together. Getting everything organized beforehand helps me visualize how much I have to wash (It usually isn’t as much as it seems) and, in turn, I feel less stressed when approaching a sink full of dirty dishes.
  • Make your house smell amazing. Add a scented plug-in to every room for the finishing touch – kitchen, bedroom, office, living room, restroom, etc.

Check out my printable Holiday Cleaning Chart and get your cleaning groove on! Making lists and checking boxes off helps me stay organized and feel accomplished rather than overwhelmed! I left some empty spaces for you guys to add anything else you want to check off your cleaning list plus a space to jot down any notes that will be useful for you. Enjoy!

There is no better time than now to tidy up, organize and reinvent our homes to reflect the clean slate we get with the new year. Happy cleaning!

How do you get into cleaning mode? Loud music? Candles? Hair up? Coffee? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading.
-Jules

The Confidence Code Review

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One of my goals this December was to finish reading The Confidence Code. The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman.

Number of pages: 203

We’ve all had feelings of self-doubt. Whether we’re too embarrassed to ask for more money at our job, nervous when giving a speech or holding conversations with people, or ruminating on all the things we did wrong instead of right. Why can’t we be more confident and take more risks? Is it simply wired in our DNA or is confidence something we can learn?

I’ll tell you straight up that this book is not one of those “self-help” advice kind. It’s more factually based with interviews and research from behavioral therapists, neurologists and psychologists.

It first starts off by interviewing women in different environments– sports, law, business. Anyone would think that these women in their professional settings would have sky-high confidence, but would you be surprised to hear that they, too, struggle with feelings of self-doubt? The book also talks about how confidence impacts us as children and the importance of letting our girls make mistakes instead of always praising them for being quiet, well-behaved and reliable.

Below are some key take-aways:

  • “A number of studies conducted with MRIs, before and after a short period of meditation, showed less activity in the amygdala (the fear center of the brain) after an average of 8 weeks of meditation.”
  • “It’s in school that girls are expected to keep their head’s down, study quietly, and do as they’re told. We didn’t charge down the halls like wild animals, and we didn’t get into fights during recess…” “The result is that making mistakes, and taking risks, behavior critical for confidence building, is also behavior girls are trying to avoid, to their detriment.”
  • “Research shows that when a boy fails, he takes it in stride, believing it’s due to lack of effort. When a girl makes a similar mistake she sees herself as sloppy, and comes to believe that it reflects lack of skill.”
  • “The fear center of our brain is the amygdalae. We all have two of them. One is associated with taking external action as a result of negative emotions, and the other with using thought processes and memory in response to stress. Men rely more on the amygdala that deals with action, while women tend to activate the memory/emotion amygdala more easily.”
  • “The key to creating a growth mind-set is to start small. Think about what you praise in yourself or your kids. If you praise ability by saying, “You’re so smart” or “You’re so good at tennis; you’re a natural athlete,” you are instilling a fixed mind-set. If, however, you say, “You’ve worked so hard at tennis, especially your backhand,” you are encouraging a growth mind-set.”
  • “Making a distinction between talent and effort is critical. If we believe that somehow we’re given talents at birth that we can’t control, then we’re unlikely to believe that we can really improve on areas in which we’re weak. But when success is measured by effort and improvement, then it becomes something we can control, something we can choose to improve on.”
  • “Claiming a top position always seems daunting, but coasting at the same level doesn’t increase our confidence. The trick is to recognize that the next level up might be hard, that you might be nervous, but to not let those nerves stop you from acting.”
  • “Confidence is a choice we can make to act, or to do, or decide.”
  • “Is failure really worse than doing nothing? And how often might we have triumphed if we had just decided to give it a try?”
  • “Failing fast. Do it, learn and move on.”
  • “Instead of saying, “I am not a failure,” it’s more useful to say, “Yes, sometimes I do fail, we all fail, and that’s okay.” It’s extending the same kindness and tolerance – the very same qualities we find so much easier to afford our friends – to ourselves, while coming to terms with our own imperfections.”
  • “The people who succeed aren’t always naturals. They are doers.”
  • “Upspeak when answering questions. Upspeak: Raising the tone of your voice at the end of a sentence in a way that suggests what you are really doing is asking a question, not making a declaration.”
  • “Praise progress not perfection.”
  • “Think less. Take action. Be authentic. Confidence is within reach. The experience of it can be addictive. And it’s greatest rewards go well beyond workplace achievements or outward success.”

Overall, this book was very informative and compelling. I recommend it to all the women out there who want to understand how confidence differs in men and women; those who think they are alone in this self-doubt struggle – even professional basketball players, law-makers and CEO’s face daily mind-set battles, and the importance of raising confident daughters by encouraging mistakes and risk taking.

So how to we improve our confidence? Focus on less people pleasing. More action, risk-taking, and fast failure.

One of my goals this 2018 is to work on my confidence. Teaching BJJ to a group of students, mostly men, as a mere blue-belt takes courage and confidence, but I know that I pertain the skills to do so and that it’s my mind-set I have to convince.

Ultimately, confidence takes action and if that leads to mistakes and failure then so be it. I (and you) will eventually learn how to deal with it, accept our imperfections and adopt a growth mind-set.

Do you struggle with confidence? What is one thing you would do if your confidence wasn’t an issue? Leave an answer in the comment section.

Thanks for reading!
-Jules

How to Finish 2017 Strong

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Ah, December. The last month of the year. It’s been an eventful one for me – getting engaged to my best friend at the beginning of the year, wedding planning, getting married in the summer, road tripping to Oregon, taking my health serious, crushing my fitness goals, starting a blog, teaching three jiu-jitsu programs (adults, teens and children) all while learning confidence and self-love. Needless to say, I’ve accomplished a lot and though it’s been a busy year, it’s still not over yet. There are 20 days left of 2017 so let’s go out with a bang! Bust out your notebooks or a nearby napkin, and your favorite pen to jot down some ideas on finishing 2017 strong!

Need some ideas for your goal list?

  1. Travel goal. Where do you want to go? It can be local or even a plane ride away.
  2. Try something new goal. Feeling brave? Taste a new cuisine, bake a sweet treat, take a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class or attempt a Pinterest DIY craft.
  3. Productivity goal. You know that thing you’ve been avoiding? You should go ahead and just do it.
  4. Step out of your comfort zone goal. Do one thing that scares you.
  5. Keep in touch goal. Mail some cards out to friends and family to let them know you’re thinking of them.
  6. Health goal. Gain or lose weight, stop drinking soda, eat more vegetables, drink more water.
  7. Fitness goal. Run a mile in less than __ minutes, go for a walk 3 times a week, do 30 consecutive push-ups without stopping.

Here are a few things I said I wanted to accomplish by the end of the month:

  • Make jump-roping a habit (Haven’t jump-roped once)
  • Finish reading two books (Haven’t even finished the first one I started!)
  • Increase muscle mass (Haven’t strength trained in a couple weeks)

We won’t always accomplish every single thing we say we will; unless that’s your style (more power to you!) I feel that it’s important to set realistic and measureable goals in order to actually ensure you’ll achieve them. So if I’m being honest with myself (and you), I’ve decided to re-vamp my list of to-do’s.

I want to:

  • Make a diy craft
  • Finish reading one book
  • Clean out my closet
  • Donate to the Goodwill
  • Send Holiday cards
  • Increase blog following +3 followers
  • Paint an art piece
  • Gain 3 new BJJ students
  • Increase female students at Gomez Jiu-jitsu (If interested, comment on this post or email me bjjandselflove@gmail.com)

I know that completing this list will fulfill my soul and I’ll be content with how I ended 2017. So make sure to set some goals that will launch you into an amazing start to 2018!

What are some of your December goals? Comment or make your own list and tag me on Instagram @bjjandselflove to be featured!

Thanks for reading.
-Jules

10 Ways to Reset After a Holiday Binge

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I love the last couple of months of the year. It’s a time to surround yourself with friends and family, enjoy delicious food, find inspiration in the holiday décor and music, eat tons of yummy food, look back on all you’ve accomplished during the year, and did I mention eat lots of FOOD?

Yes, it’s that time of year where, personally, I’m likely to over-indulge in all of the holiday goodies lying around. I mean, how can you not have hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and marshmallows, home-made warm baked cookies, turkey, ham, and tamales, etc?! The holidays only come once a year so it’s okay to enjoy all they have to offer. However, if you do feel like you’ve veered too far off track, here are a few things that help motivate me after a splurge.

  1. I accept that not too much time has passed. If you’ve been eating fairly healthy, working out at least 3 times per week then go and splurge at a family get together, relax. All your progress did not go down the drain. One bad meal won’t make you fat just like one healthy meal won’t make you fit.
  2. I acknowledge that every day is a new beginning. Isn’t it wonderful that every morning we wake up; we get the chance to improve our life? If yesterday you were too lazy to work out, today you can make a change and exercise for 30 minutes. 55f7db462eb7cd78ca6cd18e5bc2ce7aIf you were in a grumpy mood, today you can do a good deed for someone. Weren’t very productive yesterday? Get up early and don’t scroll through social media until you’ve finished everything you’ve been procrastinating on. We have the power to edit our day as if we were writing a page out of a chapter book and creating our life story.
  3. I increase my water intake stat! If you’ve indulged a little too much, chances are you’re feeling bloated. How do you get rid of bloat? By drinking water to flush out the excess sodium you just consumed. Yes, you may feel even more full but only temporarily. The more water you drink, the more your body can excrete the toxins.
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  4. I drink green tea all day. This powerful herbal tea can help you beat the bloat by increasing your metabolism thus burning calories. I did an 8-day experiment in which I drank 6 cups of green tea a day. The results were shocking. Read about it here if you haven’t already.
  5. I decrease my intake of sodium-filled foods. Sodium makes you retain water, something you don’t want to do if you’re trying to shed pounds. It’ll hold onto that water making you feel bloated. Stay away from salty junk and increase your water levels to stay balanced.
  6. I get a workout in ASAP. I always feel lighter after a quick sweat sesh’ both physically and mentally. You may not like the way you feel during your workout but you’ll feel quite accomplished after. Your endorphins will kick in and your whole attitude will change.
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  7. I recognize that the scale doesn’t matter. Don’t weigh yourself often and especially not after a splurge. The scale is just a number and it doesn’t mean anything. What matters is how you feel on the inside. Do you like what you see in the mirror? If you do, yay! If you don’t, get motivated, but don’t let a scale affect your mood.

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  1. I train Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Not only do I find BJJ beneficial to my physical health, but it has improved my mental health immensely as well. While other fitness related activities focus on improving your physique aesthetically, BJJ has helped me appreciate my body for what it can do rather than how it looks. Being a 114-pound female, there’s only so much that I can bench press, but that 185-pound dude over there? Yeah, I can sweep that 😉 I can easily break an arm or put you in a choke hold. I use leverage rather than brute strength to control someone and that makes me confident in my skills rather than in my appearance.

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  1. I look for fitspiration (fitness inspiration) related blogs, articles, watch health documentaries or scroll through Pinterest and Instagram. There is always some awesome recipe, workout, cute outfit I’d like to fit into or motivated person that inspires me. Whether it’s a picture of someone’s progress or a quote, I’m sure to get my ass off the couch and go make some green tea or get on my spin bike.
  2. I distract myself. I’ll go out and do something fun with my husband, start tidying up the house, read a book, play with my dog; anything to get my mind off of how I’m feeling.

These tips usually motivate me to get my healthy groove back after a splurge. It’s frustrating to fall off track so we have to remind ourselves that if we don’t want to keep starting over, we have to stop giving up. If all else fails, wrap yourself up in a blanket with a hot mug of tea and lemon, throw on your favorite chick flick, and get some rest.

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Thanks for reading!

-Jules

 

Ooey-gooey Healthy Chocolate Muffins

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With the holidays right around the corner, it’s time to dust off your muffin tins and shock your friends and family with your baking skills. This super easy 8-ingredient muffin recipe has some wholesome ingredients and it’s hubby approved so you know it’s yummy! These muffins are ooey-gooey and chocolatey – perfect if you’re craving something sweet without the over-loaded calories and sugar.

Ingredients

  • Chocolate protein (I used Designer Whey Gourmet Chocolate flavor)
  • Orgain Organic Protein lightly sweetened vanilla Almond Milk
  • Barlean’s Flax, chia, coconut blend mix
  • Jif creamy peanut butter
  • McCormick Ground cinnamon
  • Bananas
  • Medjool dates
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Add 1/2 cup lightly sweetened organic protein vanilla almond milk, 8 tbsp Peanut butter, 10 dates (Make sure you take out the pit), 2 scoops of your favorite chocolate protein, 2 bananas, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 3 tbsp Flax, chia, coconut blend mix to your food processor. Blend. Remove blade from processor. Stir in 3 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips to batter. Place your cupcake/muffin liners in your tray and fill with batter. Smooth over. Add a couple chocolate chips on top for extra delicious decor.

Bake for 20 mins. Makes 12 muffins.

Difficulty level: Easy

Note: You can be creative with this recipe. Add, subtract or substitute ingredients to make it suit your tastebuds/macros. Enjoy!