Most times when you have to give a talk about something, it’s usually better to start with the good to ease everyone in. But I’m not going to do that. I want to start with the worst of the worst, the dark, the twisted, and the psychologically scaring. The reason I’m starting with this is because I want to show everyone how bad it can get. Not just physically or mentally but how cutting weight can possibly have a deep emotional effect on someone’s confidence, self worth, and motivation. And I am going to use the best example that I have, me.
For most of my life I have had tremendous issues with my body. Mostly because I came from a family of fairly petite people and I wasn’t so petite. I remember it as clear as day. It was right around the time before puberty, when most girls gain weight, I was wondering why my legs were so much bigger then all the other girl’s legs. Then someone told me “your not fat, your just big boned.” That phrase, and one’s like it, seemed to be the common thread throughout my formative years in middle school and high school.
I never seemed to come to terms with the fact that I was tall, had wide shoulders, thick legs, and a barrel chest. I was not delicate in any sense of the word. I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t look anything like any of the girls I went to high school with. From that moment on, bigger was negative and smaller was positive. If I hadn’t started martial arts when I did I’m sure it could have been a lot worse.
With this underlying issue with my body, my weight has fluctuated over 50 pounds in my adult martial arts career. I have walked around as low as 140, where I felt very weak, to being as heavy as 195 my junior year in college when I started BJJ and Muay Thai. So my weight is always on my mind.
(Me at my lightest walk around weight, 150 lb)
The ugly side of cutting weight is when you don’t make weight and you feel like the biggest failure on the planet. You’re embarrassed, disappointed, and mad at yourself for the mistake you made. It leaves a big psychological scar deep in your psyche. Soon your biggest concern during the fight camp isn’t the fight, it’s making weight. It preoccupies every waking moment of your camp.
I have competed at many different weight classes and I have made weight and not made weight. But with all of these experiences that I have had, what it has done to me has made me value my entire self worth as a martial artist based on being 145. I view a lower number as success and a higher number as failure. When really all this number means is the Earth’s gravitational pull on me. To this day I still have an anxiety attack every time I step on the scale.
Just remember weight cutting has many effects on your body, your mind, and your emotional state. Things can go from good to bad and from bad to worse during the period of cutting weight. The effects of the weight cut though happen long after you step off the scale and the fight is over. It can stay with you for life, if you let it.