How To Fit Jiu Jitsu In A 60-Hour Workweek

If you try to combine work, jiu jitsu and life all together at once, then you’re not the only one. Being a jiu jitsu athlete, and also a full-time medicine student, this blog is written on a more personal note. Here’s some tips and insight into how I juggle sports, study and sleep, and the ups and downs that come with that. 

I want to train

I always find it hard to not underestimate what a loaded timetable does to me, and my motivation to train. The first weeks are okay, but soon working week-in-week-out makes my motivation to train so delicate that any disturbance will knock over my carefully built timetable. 

Mornings start early in the hospital. I leave my house at 6:00 to start at 7:15.

How to deal with this? To help the fire of my motivation burning, I try not to get sad or demotivated to train when I miss the bus, or slept bad. These are things I can’t control, nor can prepare for. It’s just the way it is.

To make life easier, I do prepare everything I can control: I prepare my meals so I won’t be forced to get not-so-nutritious take-away food for dinner (and I have way more energy when I eat well!)

My nutrition plan is made by Saraï Pannekoek, whose advice is invaluable to me. Also, I’m really lucky to have a super sweet boyfriend who cooks for me, and even brings my gym bag to the gym.

Work is running late and now I’ll miss training

This one can be so frustrating. As much as you prepare your day and are motivated to train, sometimes work stops you. A meeting that goes on till later than planned, or unpredicted events that you didn’t see coming occur.

In my case, working at the surgery department was the worst place to be, since I couldn’t foresee when an operation would actually be finished.

Telling the surgeon I had to leave, “because jiu jitsu starts at 7PM“, wasn’t really an option. So that internship I gradually learned to stop looking at the clock and get frustrated about every minute that passed by, but just expecting the day to end late and be happy when it didn’t.

Again, this is about not stressing about what is not in your power. And yes, sometimes I actually missed training because I was off too late. And no, that’s not cool, but I was always able to replace training by going to the gym to lift weights, or decide to call it a day and go to bed early.

When there’s no jiu jitsu, there’s always squats!

It’s almost lunch time and I only had breakfast

Perhaps not recognisable in every work place, but definetely a yes when you work in the hospital. Even more when you’re a medicine student, trailing behind the doctor.

I have always been amazed by how the doctors who supervised me were able to not eat (or drink!) anything between 8:00 and belated lunch – if there was time for lunch – around 13:30. Then again, they don’t train every night so there’s a big difference in energy needs.

In the beginning, I would feel weird about eating snacks around my colleagues, especially because of the frequency (9:00, 10:30, 12:00), but hey, a girl’s gotta eat.

I also learned to pick my snacks wisely, meaning snacks with a high protein and/or carb content (because cucumber is not gonna cut it), and a food consistency that makes it easy and fast to eat (smoothies, yoghurt, bananas and nuts). This way, when the doctor brings in the next patient, I’m not still sitting there munching on my food.

Oh, and those white doctor coats? They have many, many pockets. Perfect for storing food.

How I survive the day: food (and coffee).

I’m so tired my eyes are falling shut

Whenever I get to this situation, the same question always rises: “Do I go to training, or do I skip today?” And I still haven’t found the right answer for this dilemma.

When I get to a situation like this, there are two options: 1) I go to training, but I’m so tired that I’m falling asleep half-way through the techniques, and sparring is horrible because I have no energy. Or 2) I skip training, go home, and feel sad that I skipped training.

Training or no training?

I think the doubt is there, because sometimes, a jiu jitsu training is the best remedy against my feeling of sleepiness, leaving me with a feeling of renewed energy. And also, there have been many times that I was tired before, but I still went to training and was happy I did.

I can’t always give in to that feeling of tiredness, can’t I? For me, it’s really about estimating how tired is too tired, and seeing whether a training is going to give me more than it costs me.

So: check the balance every day to ensure a good training.

The best training of all: Ladies Only BJJ Open Mat, every month on a Saturday (when I’m free!), at BJJ Academy Amsterdam.

On a final note, these are just my personal experiences, struggles and some tips that work for me. Comment below, and tell me what works for you!

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Rose el Sharouni

Rose is a brown belt at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy Amsterdam (Checkmat). Besides being one of the co-founders of Ladies Only BJJ, she is a full-time medicine student and holds a MsC degree in Sports Sciences.

6 Comments

  1. Hi! I appreciate you wrote about that ‘problem’. I have to struggle with it everyday. However, I find different problems too. For example, I would love to train no gi too but my weeks schedule doesnt allow me to do so. Same with conditioning or strenghtening trainings. As a result, I need to Focus on my priority which is gi. Its a shame we have to limit ourselves in some way but I believe only by doing something in 100% makes us happy and satisfied. In summary, having ability to prioritize things wisely is also helpful in our reality.

    • Hi Mario! That’s 100% true; prioritizing is key when you have a busy schedule! Hopefully you’re able to do what you want to do every week, or at least a part of it – it’s indeed what keeps us happy 🙂

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