I’ve been steadily increasing my muay thai training (a martial art hailing from Thailand involving punches, elbows, knees, kicks and clinching) over the last couple of months, gearing up for my first fight (!) coming up on April 28. I’m excited to put my skills to the test; no matter how much you train regularly, spar (practice fighting) with your muay thai buddies, or condition your body through working out at the gym, when you step into the ring on Fight Night with 200 people watching and screaming, adrenaline pumping, it’s different.
There are a few components to my training and preparation.
First, of course, there’s the actual muay thai training and technique I do with my coach, including sparring (practice fighting) other training buddies.
Then there’s the regular gym, where I work with a personal trainer and on my own to strengthen and condition my body (so I can deliver strong hits but also be able to absorb hits that land on me without too much shock) and work on cardio- the type of cardio required in a fight of three rounds, two minutes each is very intense and deals more with interval training and spurts of energy rather than endurance. Fighting is done in short bursts, pushing forward with your attack or defending and countering, but without proper cardio preparation the fighter can “gas out” (tire) extremely quickly. A two minute round may not sound like a lot, but it’s extremely intense. And there’s three of them.
Mental preparation is also key. If I can hold my composure and not get flustered in the ring I should do ok. Prior to the fight, like many other athletes in other fields, visualization can help. A friend of mine called these “mind scripts”; you visualize yourself in the fight, defending and blocking moves thrown at you, launching your own attacks and counter attacks and “seeing” them land, running through sequences of the fight- and of course, coming out on top.
Lastly, there’s the issue of diet and nutrition. When a fight is on the horizon, many fighters cut weight (regardless of how fit or thin they are) as there are certain distinct advantages to fighting in a lower weight class. It’s a delicate balance between ensuring you’re able to shed a few pounds while at the same time obtaining enough clean nutrients in order to train- and train hard. Water is a key factor here too; I’ve taken to carrying around a half litre container of water wherever I go and try to get through 3+ litres daily.
I started in a good place for all of these preparations, having just come off Dr. Oz’s 48-Hour Weekend Cleanse. I hadn’t known I would be fighting shortly thereafter, but I had been looking for an appropriate detox and cleanse I could do while maintaining my training regimen. Most of these cleanses- although certainly healthful and detoxifying- do not provide enough energy or fuel in order to maintain the 15-20 hours weekly I was training.
The Dr. Oz two-day cleanse contains some protein in the form of quinoa for breakfast, which is crucial for athletic performance. It contains plenty of vegetables, fruit, chia seeds and more to account for nutrients, flax oil to ensure essential fatty acids and even has a serving of naturally-fermented sauerkraut which aids in digestion and healthy bacteria. Additionally, at only two days, I felt I could manage it and still remain strong and vital.
I loved this cleanse! The breakfast of quinoa with prunes and almond milk was so delicious I’ve incorporated it into my regular diet. The lunch of a blueberry-banana-chia seeds shake was tasty, although not filling enough. I found I turned to the unlimited snacks of specific vegetables and juices a lot and- although sustaining enough to get to dinner- let it be clear that you can eat as many celery sticks, cucumber, radishes and green beans as you want, you’ll still be hungry.
Dinner was on point, however, because just as I was starting to get increasingly hungry from lunch, it was time to eat again. Dinner is a vegetable soup you make yourself and although bland, you can spice it up with pepper. It is definitely filling. In addition to the soup, you eat a side of apples and sauerkraut, which surprisingly made for a lovely meal. If you’re thinking of trying it, I do recommend cutting the amount of veg listed for the soup in half; I couldn’t fit everything into my large soup pot, which even at half the amount stated, still made enough soup to last me a week, let alone two days.
The same menu is repeated for both days.
There are a lot of nuances accounted for in the choice of foods, such as the good bacteria and digestive enzymes, which as a student of holistic nutrition, I caught and deeply appreciated. This is certainly a well-designed, well-thought-out detox. Post-fight, I’ll be trying it again. Along with a warm epsom salt bath to nurse the inevitable impending bruises.