Many people struggle with their weight and join Karate to get fit, get back in shape, feel younger, regain flexibility among other popular reasons.
I have personally struggled with weight loss due to pauses in exercise and karate from injuries and appropriate healing time.
In my many years of Karate, it's been possible to "get back into fighting shape", cue the 80's rock anthem and montage of days of grueling training and eating raw eggs.
Truthfully, I am going to unleash some news you came for but probably don't want to hear, and it's why you aren't losing weight in Karate.
Kyoshi Colton, why am I not losing weight in Karate?
First let's look at a few potential aspects of WHO you are:
Are you older than 18?
Are you male or female (genetically)?
Are you able bodied?
Do you smoke cigarettes / drink alcohol?
How is your stress levels and work life balance?
Are you the Sensei or the Student?
Ok now that we have a clear picture in mind of who we are, let's disclose to any snowflakes out there that despite my bachelors degree in health science, I'm not your doctor, I'm a badass old school Karate teacher so my advice is awesome but not qualified to diagnose or treat anything, technically speaking. However, I think you may find it inspiring and because you're smart, you'll put together a plan that works. If this fails, you can always fork over the money for a dietician and personal trainer like any self respecting hollywood action star.
Ok Sensei, you are not going to like this part. You used to have a deadly weapon for a body, you could spar the whole class and slam beers afterwards. Heck, you were TURNING DOWN girls and now they look away. We get it, time is cruel. That's part of the problem. As we age our bodies have a harder time metabolizing so we have to eat right and exercise often. Let's also not pretend that now we aren't regularly standing around with our arms crossed the majority of Karate class barking out instructions in frustration because the students are not magically as good as we were in our prime.
The hours you spend at the dojo don't equate to hours of training at the dojo like you used to do. Between billing, marketing, life, and dojo you probably don't squeeze in many personal work outs. This is your wake up call to limit your caloric intake, set a regular exercise schedule outside of the dojo, and participate in classes a bit more as well. Your body, family, students, and passerbys at the beach will thank you for it.
If you want to lose weight by only doing karate it's going to be tough. Not impossible, I've done it. However, you need to increase your cardio by doing longer continuous practices of high intensity training like sparring, kumite, or full out kata. Try timing your work outs and pushing past 30 mins minimum 4 days per week. It's going to be very important that you limit your caloric intake. If you answered yes to the alcohol question, note that alcohol is high in calories and low in substance. Same thing with junk food. It creates a really high barrier for your work out to overcome and produce results.
Take a 30 day Karate challenge. You'll eat smaller portion sizes every meal, say no to any sugary foods and alcohol and when you feel hungry drink water until you are full. If this doesn't change your life I will personally call you and apologize. It works because I have done this MANY times and honestly I'm doing it right now. I started working on this website at the height of covid and gained about 22 lbs.
It's embarrassing to be overweight and be teaching karate online sometimes, but I have to be honest with myself. Due to a hip and spine injury, high impact sports like sprinting and weightlifting become very difficult for me, so diet and increased Karate cardio seem to work. I wish you the very best in your training, and I would love to see your before and after pictures from your 30 day challenge!
Females have a harder time losing weight due to genetics, along with receiving harder judgement socially. Judgement can cause depression or stress which increases hormone production that either exacerbates weight storage or causes us to seek comfort in food (this triggers pleasure in our brains as a coping mechanism). There is nothing wrong with being a bit overweight, in some cases it's actually healthy. However, having the right support network in your personal health, wellness, and exercise journey is very important.
Try to exercise with those who will encourage you and motivate you, you mental state, spirit, and outlook will contribute greatly to your success. Compare yourself to the you of yesterday and eat foods that nourish your body in appropriate portion sizes. Exercise at least 30 minutes of intense karate cardio at least 4 days per week. Cut out sugary foods and alcohol. Stay positive and have fun with your exercise journey, remember that you are working on your weight for your own health and not the judgements of others, and try not to compare yourself to others.
Karate can be a wonderful way to exercise and lose weight when practiced properly and for adequate amounts of time. Remember that your caloric intake may be the issue and challenge yourself to change for 30 days and see how it goes. Increase your intensity and decrease portion size, it will work! Also, as we age it becomes harder to lose weight so don't be too hard on yourself, just remember that changes will happen inside before they show outside. So, increased energy levels, better digestion, better sleep, and quicker reaction time may be something you experience prior to weight loss as well! Remember when you started Karate, it was a slow process and then with dedication one day it sped up and you were accelerating towards your goal of black belt.
Sometimes, we forget that feeling of accelerating towards our goal. We forget what it's like to feel like our body is a dangerous weapon. Let's work hard together to feel this way again and be very healthy in and out of the dojo. Let us all be the person who inspires our peers and friends to also be healthy and happy. After all, Karate was taught to enrich lives and protect the body, so let's do just that.
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About the Author:
Colton Woodard is a 7th Degree Black Belt in Kuniba Kai Karate Do and holds the title of Kyoshi as well. He loves to teach Karate, Kobudo, and Iaido and considers himself a lifetime student in pursuit of self improvement in both Martial Arts and in Character. Colton loves to visit Japan and speaks conversational Japanese and can write quite a few Kanji. He is a Karate competitor and coach and loves to exercise and make new memories with people all over the world.
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