So in my last post I talked about mainly stuff that only a teen would understand. Now its time for the stuff we can all relate to, like weight loss. In Jiu-Jitsu, I believe that technique can carry you far more than any physical attributes. But for a lot of the techniques in Jiu-Jitsu , it helps to be fit and somewhat flexible. I learned this pretty quickly as I decided to get more and more serious about Jiu-Jitsu.
It all started in Buffalo Wild Wings on the night of UFC 114. This is where my Dave Trader Jiu-Jitsu teammates and I always used to go to watch the UFC events. The place is usually packed, so some teammates and I had decided to get there early to reserve some seats for ourselves and the rest of our team. At some point in the conversation, my 6′ 7″ 400+ lb former powerlifting/strongman champion teammate Big Josh asked me how I thought I was going to do in the adult ultra-heavy weight division with him at the next Copa Nova. At that time I was at about 258 pounds (I had lost about 7 pounds since starting Jiu-Jitsu, but had a long way to go) it never occurred to me who I would be going against when I started competing in the adult divisions. That is the exact moment that I decided to get serious about losing weight. With Big Josh being a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, and Bill Nagle being a super technical blue belt and having lost over 50 lbs since starting Jiu-Jitsu, I asked them where to start. They gave me all types of basic diet advice – eating 5 meals a day to keep hunger at bay & blood sugar constant, protein shakes or meal replacement shakes instead of high calories meals or snacks, more salads, fruits, vegetables and leans meats instead of empty carbs, and the main one STOP EATING OUT ALL THE TIME and if you do eat out, eat something reasonable like a caesar salad. The words of Bill will always stick with me, ” Losing weight shouldn’t be easy, it sucks. There is no magic diet that can do it for you, you’re gonna have to work for it.” With all of this new encouragement I told them I would start my diet on Monday. They both shook their heads, next time the waitress came by Josh told the waitress, he will be having the chicken caesar. And so my diet began.
In the end I realized that losing weight isn’t so hard if you truly put your mind to it. The number one thing I learned was that if you want to lose weight, make it a priority. I have been trying to lose weight for most of my life and the only reason I lost it during Jiu Jitsu is by making sure I never cheated and that I made it my priority to eat on time and eat the right things. Not to mention the riding of my teammates everytime I wanted to eat something unhealthy.
Last but not least, if you are not the “gung-ho” mma fighter or BJJ competitor, how far up is BJJ on your totem pole of extrcurricular activities? If you have the choice between going out on that hot date on friday night or to go train for 2 1/2 hours, what would you do? How about going out drinking with your old buddy that never left high school? How dedicated are you to training? Personally I’m more of the “gung-ho” type, and I’m seeing more and more of my teammates become the same way. I feel like training is probably more productive than what I would probably be doing on a friday night anyway. So think about it, when you are not training, is what you are doing more productive than what you would be doing on the mats?
I was so excited, thinking that in only a year that I would be in the UFC kicking butt. A few months down the road I started to realize otherwise. By this time things weren’t going so well for me; my grades were in the drain (as usual) so my mom would only let me train twice a week. I also hadn’t lost any weight since I started, I felt a little bit better but it didn’t show on the scale. Everyone kept telling me I was getting so much better than when I started, I still didn’t see it. After 4 months I still haven’t passed a guard and I still haven’t caught a submission. Guys were coming in for their free week trial and totally dominating me. Then one Thursday night it finally happened, I passed the guard, settled in side control, and got the americana. Even though the person I got it on had been training a month and was about 100 pounds lighter than me, it felt good. That night after bragging to Facebook and everyone else I could tell, I couldn’t even sleep. I couldn’t be more excited to train the next day. The next time I trained we had a guard rotation and I actually passed a guard! It seemed like things were looking up for me. After class I decided to ask Dave when I could start competing. He said I should start training for the spring copy nova because it was local and a good place for beginners. With my grades still in the toilet it was hard to train more than 2 days a week. So I started to actually put forth some effort in my classes, within two months my grades were good enough to do jiu jitsu whenever I wanted. The problem was I could only train 4 days a week because my mom would only give me a ride on those days. The gym was ten miles away so there was no way I could walk or ride my bike. At the time I was only 16 so I didn’t have a licence or a car. So I just dealt with that for the time being. It seemed like I was really enjoying jiu jitsu and things were starting to come together more and more. I knew I liked jiu jitsu, but little did I know how much I would give up for it.
So….obviously my name is Andrew Babeu. I’m a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) student and competitor for Team Dave Trader Jiu Jitsu in Manassas, Virginia. Before I started training Jiu-Jitsu, I was a fat, sloppy, 15 year-old, 265 lb “wannabe gangster” and the only place I was headed was into more trouble.
When I was younger, I had always been a pretty good student and steered clear of trouble. Things changed quite a bit after my father died following a long battle with leukemia. Without my dad’s influence, I developed into somewhat of a trouble maker. I’m not trying to make any excuses for myself. I made the bad decisions. I just want you to have an idea of where I was coming from and where I am headed. My situation at school deteriorated in my freshman year. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd. Don’t get the wrong impression – it wasn’t really where I fit in. But I wanted to be in with what I thought was the “cool” crowd, and I paid the price for it.
My mom, a researcher for the Army, hoped she could straighten me out with some old fashioned military discipline and enrolled me in military school over the summer. She thought it would be great – I hated it. After that summer semester, my mom wanted to send me back to military school for the next school year, but when I told her she would have to physically force me to go back, she enrolled me at Emmanuel Christian School in Manassas, VA instead. Needless to say, “wannabe gangsters” don’t really fit in at Emmanuel Christian. Although I have to admit I was still somewhat of a troublemaker, I saw a great deal of hypocrisy on display during my time there.
Miserable and outcast at school, I wasn’t doing much to stay active. Although I have been overweight for most of my life, things got really bad after I got expelled from school. My mom punished me for getting expelled and acting out by taking away most of the freedom I had. Being hard-headed, I just adapted to her rules by staying home and eating, sometimes out of boredom and other times because I really didn’t have much of anything else that I enjoyed anymore. My mom started to notice and pointed out how much weight I had put on. She signed me up for a gym; she sent me to the doctor and to nutritionists; I tried every diet out there; and despite playing sports for nearly every season of my life, nothing seemed to work. I finally just accepted that I would be fat for the rest of my life.
To be continued……