Here are some stats on my next-to-last week of training for my black belt test:

Days until Black Belt Test: 6
Weight: 116 pounds
Taekwondo classes: 5
Morning swimming workouts: 1 (I was shooting for 3, but wouldn’t you know, my bed is REALLY comfortable at 4:30 AM)
Yoga classes: 2
Physical Therapy/Personal Training/Butt-Kicking sessions: 2
Pain Scale of My Hamstring: 1.5-3 depending on how much kicking I do (YAY!!)
Pain Scale of My “Impinged” Anterior Hip: 0-0.5 (YAAAAAYYY!!!)
Number of sweaty sports bras drying out on a door knob somewhere in my house: at least 1 at all times
How much I want a cheeseburger and fries right now: 5,000,000
Productive things I’m going to do immediately after the test: 0

Sunday we had a communal dinner at the dojang to celebrate the 35th annual tournament and to thank the planning committee for their hard work. I hadn’t had a solid meal for dinner in a week, so I thoroughly enjoyed the Texas BBQ. I do eat healthy, hearty meals for breakfast and lunch, plus snacks, but in the evening lately I’ve just been having a protein bar and an apple, and maybe a small serving of nuts. Not a great nutritional choice, but I don’t like feeling really full late at night since it keeps me from sleeping well, and I’m still trying to get a little leaner for the black belt test.

I’m short and petite, so a little bit of weight gain goes a long way, and I can put it on fast if I’m not careful. I’m sure my eating method right now borders along the disordered territory, but it’s working, and it’s a good excuse to get a little thinner before enjoying the inevitable awesomeness of Thanksgiving and Christmas food.

Oh I still have my chocolate. Every other day or so I sneak into my boss’s office to grab a “fun-size” piece of slightly smashed candy from the communal bowl he keeps out for everyone. But seeing as I’m trying to stay “fun-size” too I keep that to a minimum.

My classmates and I have been working hard in taekwondo class to test our endurance and make sure our memories are sharp. I held up well during a hard kicking workout Friday night, and was able to help out my fellow bo dans with hand-to-hand and one-step sparring during Saturday class. The pain that was once excruciating in my hamstring is almost non-existent. At this point I feel calm, eager, and ready for the task at hand. Oddly enough, though, that sense of dedication and positive attitude didn’t reach its crescendo in taekwondo class. Instead, it bubbled up in my most recent physical therapy session to address my injured hip and hamstring:

Thursday at therapy was a full-on gym workout, and for an accidental jock like me, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon (well, maybe napping and eating fun-sized chocolate). After a surprisingly UN-painful psoas massage (even when he did the gross fishhook thing into my pelvis), I got to work with kettle bell dead lifts, balanced one-legged squats, and one-legged jumps.

We ended with the PT student who’s been helping out at the clinic holding my ankles while I, perched on my knees up on a table, leaned forward and did little reverse sit-ups using my legs and glutes to pull my torso back to the upright position. By the end of three sets I was grunting, red, sweating like a man, and feeling that little rush of painful pleasure that I always get from exercise….pretty much how I look whenever I work out.

“Need one of these?” my therapist Cody joked, waving a fluffy white towel at me as I rested my hands on my hips and slowed down my breathing.

“Oh you should see me after sparring,” I said, gratefully taking the towel and mopping my face. “I’m so red and disgusting. I caught a whiff of myself after class last night—Whew! I stunk like a man! My hair was so wet it looked like I had taken a shower.”

“But isn’t it cool that you can push yourself that hard?” he asked with a grin.

Yes, it is. Yes, it is. I’m ready.

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