TUF 26 Pre-Premier Post

We’ve been freed from the TUF house!

Well, it wasn’t really a house, honestly. It was more like a… compound? OK, that makes it sound horrible and creepy. And I wouldn’t say the TUF House was horrible or creepy, but it was bizarre at times. It was bizarre all the time, now that I think of it.

Now that I’m sitting here after the show, reflecting on how I got ready before the show, I’m kind of smiling and shaking my head at the things I thought would happen, that did not happen. Hindsight is 20/20.

I prepared as best I could, physically, mentally, and emotionally for what I could only guess being on TUF would be like, but I had NO idea what to expect. How the hell do you prepare mentally for something like TUF? Think about that for a second. How do you prepare for something as unpredictable as 16 women locked in a house together, stuck in front of cameras 24/7, that are all slated to fight each other in a wild 6 week tournament?

Yeah, I had no idea either.

The best I could come up with was to watch past seasons of TUF and try to find any consistent themes. Like, I figured there would probably be a woman in the house that was the “drama starter”. There would probably be a couple women in the house that I wouldn’t be able to stand. I figured there would be some unexpected upsets, a few arguments or fights between people in the house, and some drama between the coaches. Sounds about right, right?

I tried to imagine what I would do in certain situations: What if one of the women in the house was really mean to me? What if I caught someone stealing from me? How would I keep busy without any books or music? I would do my best to visualize, and practiced things I would say in certain situations. I made a notebook of daily reminders, motivational quotes, recipes I used regularly, and weight cut notes. My husband and team mates wrote me letters of encouragement and positive thoughts, and I brought those with me too.
I even messaged a few women I knew who had competed on TUF, and asked their advice on things. They were happy to share as much as they could about weight cutting, what to pack, what to expect, etc. I thought I had covered everything I possibly could (hint: I hadn’t).

Physically, I felt great. I had the best training camp I had ever had, and was in the best shape of my life walking into that house. My weight was comfortably sitting around 134. I practiced my weight cut at home, since I had never made 125 before, and it went really well. I completely revamped my diet, too.
Not long before tryouts for TUF, I found out have a food allergy. After having symptoms for a little over a year, I was tested at an allergy clinic and found out I am allergic to eggs. Yeah, eggs. I used to eat eggs all the time, especially during fight week to cut weight, and in camp for protein. I had been making myself sick for a while and didn’t know it! So I changed my diet completely: I stopped eating eggs, for one thing. I started eating a lot of raw foods, cut out most processed stuff, really started minding my water intake, and added more fruits and veggies for snacks. More whole grains, less white flour, white sugar, etc. I cut back on dairy. Anything with eggs as an ingredient I replaced with a vegan option, including any baked goods, because I was afraid the eggs, even baked into a bread, would make me sick. I started having occasional cheat meals, instead of frequent cheat days, and cooked for myself a LOT more, so that I could be sure of how my food was prepared and with what.
That egg allergy is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Changing my eating habits had a profound effect on my life:
*I lost about 15 pounds
*I had about 388,765,479 times more energy throughout my day than I had ever had in my life.
*My skin cleared up. I’ve had acne all my life, it’s always really bothered me. But when I started eating like it mattered, my skin cleared up and I rarely break out like I used to anymore.
*I rediscovered a love for cooking as a hobby.
*I became a lot happier, and just generally all around more positive. My attitude took a turn for the better in a lot of ways, I think because I felt better. It’s a strange and unexpected side effect, but there it is: I became much more positive and happier.

So I felt as prepared as I was going to get. I was ready to get after it and go get that belt! Mentally, physically, the whole works. I left home having done everything I could have done.

And now that I’m back and have some time to reflect… I am just shaking my head. As each episode airs I will be more than happy to let you guys know via this blog exactly how how wrong I was about certain things, things happened off camera, or answer any questions y’all might shoot my way. A lot of unexpected things did happen, and a lot of things I expected to happen either didn’t happen, or didn’t happen the way I imagined. It was a six week exercise in finding out I don’t know shit and would never make it as a psychic.

TUF 26 got me like

The theme of being wrong about pretty much everything has actually continued for me after our release from the house.
I was excited to get home and have some quiet time away from everyone. I think we ALL were ready
to be with our families, friends, pets, regular teams and coaches, and have some time without cameras following us.
I envisioned coming home and eating and sleeping a lot, in my quiet house, meditating and reflecting on my time on TUF alone, quietly, for at least a few days. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted quiet. There was just so much to talk about, and so much stuff that had happened- even without disclosing the things we are not allowed to talk about, there is still a TON of shit to tell people- that it felt really overwhelming. Where do I even start? Was the thought that kept going through my head. I didn’t know, and felt too tired to think about it. So I was planning on coming home, staying in bed, catching up on Game of Thrones, and ordering cookware on Amazon.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, we went to a friend’s going away party the night I got home from Vegas. The next day I went on a hike with my dog, and actually ran into a team mate from the gym, on the mountain we were hiking. Then that night I met up with my coach at a fancy Brazilian steakhouse. I stopped into the gym and of course saw a bunch of team mates, who I was happy to see and stopped to talk to for a while. There was family to call and check in with, friends texting for get togethers, groceries to buy, and a kid to get to school.
In other words, life went on and didn’t stop just because I wanted it to. And honestly, I’m glad. I’m taking my rest in pieces, and readjusting to normal life, whatever the hell that means.

My son started school while I was away. He’s a JUNIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL. Yes, my son is 16 years old, and he started his 11th grade year while I was filming TUF. Somehow he survived without me, but I like to think he could have used my sage wisdom to get him through his first week.
I wanted to hear all about his new classes, teachers, and friends, and his trip to Alaska he took for the summer to see his father. We had a LOT to catch up on.

We bought a house while I was gone. Actually, we bought the house that we currently live in. The deal officially closed while I was away, so when I came home to my house, I came home to MY house. It feels great to be a homeowner (my first home, you guys!) and I can’t wait to start remodeling some of it. I plan on making time around training to enjoy building my home space with my own two hands (with the help of my superman husband).

My first house!! Look! It has a TREE in the front yard!

My dog was a little mad at me when I got home, but she got over it quick with the help of a few new toys and treats.

We just needed a little snuggle sesh

And, of course, my husband and I both breathed huge sighs of relief. Joe and I are as close as two people can get. It was really difficult for us to be away from each other with no contact for six weeks. The emotional roller coaster of The Ultimate Fighter was crazy- to do it alone was insane, for both of us. He worried basically the entire time I was gone, and I….well you guys, you’ll see when the show comes out. I think it was harder for us than either of us thought it would be, but thankfully it also really showed us how tight of a couple we really are.

I am excited for the show to get started. I am as curious as you guys are on what they will show and how they will show it, and I was there for the filming! But like I said, there is so much that happened, and they can only fit in a portion of those happenings into a 42 minute episode. So the purpose of this blog, for the next few weeks, is to fill you guys in on any backstory, as I know it.

Here’s to the roller coaster ride, my friends