....where do I even begin?! I wish that I had taken pictures so that I have photographic evidence of how karate has altered my body. We have composite pictures hanging in our dojo from February 2008, and someone the other day looked at me and said "That's not you!" Upon looking closer at the picture, I realized that she was right!
... To give a little background on my body-shape history.... About three years ago, I stepped on the scale at someone's house (we didn't have one at home at the time) to discover that I was heavier than I was just before I gave birth to Collin. The scale was approaching 170 in a fast and furious way. Three years before that, I was down to 138, which was the smallest I'd been since college (oh, the stress of preemie twins and its effect on weightloss!). So three years of little physical exercise and consoling myself with food (a safer option than other vices I could have had...for the kids, at least), had gained me thirty pounds. I'm not a tall woman, so even 10 pounds can have an impact on how I look. It was time to do something!
...So I got a gym membership. And I blasted the cardio. Toward the end of my run at the gym, I'd started mixing in weights, but nothing that would really render me sore. My panic-point with the scale was in March 2006. By June, I'd reformed my eating habits and through that and exercise, I got down to 140. I went from busting out of size 14 pants to 10's and 12's. After a while, I stopped exercising as frequently. That fall, I quit the gym and started karate. At first, I have to tell you, I didn't really put my heart and soul into it, so it didn't really do anything to alter my physique. So, slowly, after a year of not working out as much, I started to gain inches and a little bit of weight. Back up to almost 150. I still looked a sight better than I had the year prior, but pictures of me in a bathing suit while on vacation really had an impact. About this time, karate started to get harder. I had to practice more and more to be able to learn the material. And guess what? The inches started flying off! I wasn't really losing too much weight. The weight loss itself was gradual. But my clothes really started fitting looser. And because I was having fun while doing it, it didn't seem like I was working out. I started really working at class... sweating through my shirt (which is my marker for how hard I'm working out). By Spring of 2008, I had to start shopping for smaller clothes. But because I only saw myself as my bigger self, I still was reaching for clothes that were too big (Thank you to my dear friends who went shopping with me and helped me to see the error of my ways). By the fall of 2008, I was working out for my black belt, and was practicing five or so times a week. I was able to get down to 125 pounds. It was a great feeling, because I'd not been that small since Collin was a baby.
...Up until this summer, I'd really not incorporated any other exercise into my routine. It's largely been karate. And, while the scale is starting to ever increase to 140, I'm more MUSCLE than anything else. I've had times where my clothes started to feel a bit more snug, but mostly, I'm still at about a size 6/8 with some 4's mixed in!
...Karate is one of those activities where you use your entire body, especially your core. You need your core to get power into your punches and kicks. Powerful stances mimic lunges and squats. Kata brings about a strength training and cardio at the same time. I can't say enough about the physical benefits of karate......